Friday, September 20, 2013

I was the page from yesterday's calendar crumpled at the bottom of the waste basket

We killed a naga with burlap sacks in Rappan Athuk yesterday, and one in Qelong, with fire, the day before.

The story keeps going for those characters, but I could happily stop there.


Thanks Wikipedia Entry On Raymond Chandler:

In his introduction to Trouble Is My Business (1950), a collection of twelve of his short stories, Chandler provided insight on the formula for the detective story and how the pulp magazines differed from previous detective stories:
The emotional basis of the standard detective story was and had always been that murder will out and justice will be done. Its technical basis was the relative insignificance of everything except the final denouement. What led up to that was more or less passage work. The denouement would justify everything. The technical basis of the Black Mask (a pulp Chandler worked for) type of story on the other hand was that the scene outranked the plot, in the sense that a good plot was one which made good scenes. The ideal mystery was one you would read if the end was missing. We who tried to write it had the same point of view as the film makers. When I first went to Hollywood a very intelligent producer told me that you couldn't make a successful motion picture from a mystery story, because the whole point was a disclosure that took a few seconds of screen time while the audience was reaching for its hat. He was wrong, but only because he was thinking of the wrong kind of mystery.


This was what I took a lot longer to say a long time ago here when I was talking about how "story" in a classic RPG was episodic (but still a story) and "story" in allegedly story-centric games was classic drama.

The "standard detective story" Chandler talks about is built on the classic drama--the end gives meaning to what came before: intellectually--the (single) puzzle is at last solved--and morally--the characters final actions tell you what the whole thing meant.

In a Chandler story, whatever meaning there is, it's right there in the words on every page.
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7 comments:

Gort's Friend said...

I'm always struck by how much the story in D&D tends to resemble the average tv show, in that the long story is often only recognizable in retrospect, rather than as in a great deal of art in foresight, as Chandler lays out. Sure we borrow freely from the great and not so great epics. We've read Campbell and cribbed freely from a thousand tales, but ultimately the form is a result of chaos and improvisation of the moment. I think quite a bit of this comes from the fact that most television, but not all, is written by multiple writers. Which is how you must view the narrative of all but the most anal retentive run campaigns. Despite every DM being somewhat a megalomaniac, he doesn't control everything. He can shape events, he can bring back characters, but in the end, he is not the sole craftsman. Not in the way that movies are written by a committee, but in the way jazz and some other forms of live music are played in the moment

An apt analogy, if not one I am always comfortable with, as under analysis, I have to say with the exception of music, I prefer much of my art to be much more the classic drama to the episodic. Even when reading pulps, I preferred Bradbury or Asimov to Howard

Zak S said...

episodic entertainment (tv, comics, serial drama) resembles episodic entertainment

Stefan Poag said...

If we are talking D&D type games, what tends to be fun, in my opinion, usually doesn't resemble a story that I would enjoy reading that much. The fun is usually more in the participation.

Nate L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate L. said...

I was talking to one of my players about this the other day. He just moved to Brooklyn and wants to start running his own game. He was going, 'Dnd is like.. participating in a story and it's awesome... uh... how do you handle story arcs though...?' As if he thought that the job of a dm was to write a story for the players to play through. I explained that we PLAY dnd, because it's a game, and TELL each other stories about the game. He seemed satisfied.

Jack Mack said...

This is not my experience. The best games have always been something I would enjoy reading. The rest have obviously been fun, because participating and changing the direction of the story and chatting with friends adds a lot, but the creme-de-la-creme games have always resulted in great stories on top of that.

Zak S said...

I can't imagine how I'd _determine_ if I'd "enjoy reading" a story just from what you get out of an RPG session.
The quality of a story is in the style of the sentences, and an RPG session, like life, has no sentences until its written down.