Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Reader Participation: Disagree.

One of the ironies of the recent situation in games is that nobody really likes the RPG conversation right now--especially the people who joined the mob trying to kick me out.


From Wundergeek up there to Matt Mercer to Patrick Stuart to Cavegirl, basically everyone who participated in the harassment is interacting with the community less, there are fewer conversations about anything important, and there are endless complaints about how nothing comes of the endless Discourse and how circular it all is ("System Matters" anyone?).

Of course it doesn't have to be that way. Things are like this because evasive behavior--always acceptable in certain quarters--had a real renaissance during the last 2 years' orgy of cancellation of complexly interconnected industry figures.

So, anyway, here's what's happening: let's do it right.

Disagree with me.

Pick something important you suspect we disagree about (or that you disagree with someone else in the comments about), put it in the comments. I'll pick as many juicy disagreements as I can and we'll have a cheapshot-free conversation about them, without dodging, and we'll find some things out.

System Matters, Existence of God, Vance vs Moorcock, Blades in the Dark vs anything else you could be doing, the utility of D12s, whatever.

Then, soon after, we'll publish that conversation and show how things are supposed to work.
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74 comments:

Jose Kharlos said...

Any D&D campaing loses a lot of flavor and depth by not using a system of alignment.

Zak Sabbath said...

@jose kharlos

good one

Kyle T said...

Narrative and story-focused games and gameplay can be made good once the reliance on moralizing is stripped out of them.

maasenstodt said...

Speed factor initiative provides more advantages to a game of D&D than any other method (e.g., the default 5e rules, side-based initiative, etc.).

Zak Sabbath said...

@Kyle T

That isn't something I disagree with you about.

I also don't know how you came to think that.

Zak Sabbath said...

@maasenstodt

Good one.

Kyle T said...

That you disagree? Probably from reading too much into your distaste for Edwards relying on a heavily-moralizing playwright in your writeup of Narrativist play in your Forge articles. If not, then I'll think of something else, sorry about that.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Kyle T

Ron Edwards is, morally, a monster and his beliefs about games are objectively, provably wrong, but there's no evidence that a narrative-game can't be enjoyed by someone somewhere who deserves to be entertained.

Considering what the indie community has done, however, it would be very difficult to find an indie game that isn't objectively bad in the sense that giving the author money is evil.

Simon Tsevelev said...

I think we already had one about Stanley Kubrick on Twitter.
Okay...
Bards are fun, and should be used in tabletop roleplaying more often by people who understand that bards are fun and know how to play them.

Zak Sabbath said...

@simon

bold.

David Parkinson said...

99% of Tabletop RPG books do a really bad job of explaining how the game is meant to be played. That is why Live Plays on twitch, youtube etc have ignited a TTRPG renaissance.

Mark Cordone said...

The game system being played is not as important as the quality and imagination of the players and game master. Good role playing and a willingness to play a flawed character make for much better games than optimized character builds and endless modifications and character perks.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Mark Cordone

I don't disagree. It's also strange that you'd think I would.

Zak Sabbath said...

@david PArkinson

I don't disagree.

Mark Cordone said...

But there are many who do. I took your invitation as an opportunity to make a statement about something I feel strongly about, perhaps someone else reading this blog will take a position contrary to mine and spark a discussion.

Zak Sabbath said...

@mark

maybe

Jose Kharlos said...

Psionics should be more represented in D&D and its retroclones, since it's one of their differentiation factors from other fantasy RPGs. And the way it's done in AD&D 1e is fun and not too broken to work.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jose

Good one.

Jimmy Evans said...

Pre snake worshipping Alan Moore is not as sharp a writer as post snake worshipping Alan Moore.

Zak Sabbath said...

@jimmy

I don't have a strong opinion on it.

Matt Stuart said...

Mass combat is a crucial part of fantasy roleplaying and RPGs unable to support this are lesser for it.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Matt Stuart

I don't disagree.

Benjamin Cusack said...

Zak says "I HATE. HATE. HATE caves. Shapeless, organic, rounded hippy things devoid of rigor or civilization."
I assert that they have defined shapes and challenge in dimensions like pitch height, squeeze height, sump depth.
All things are organic.
Caves are not all round.
They are not sideways, they are vertical. They are not devoid of rigor or civilization, they inherently pose a challenge and are only ever seen by people who have skills, knowledge, equipment, physical or mental acuity, and if course, the desire to map and categorize and learn what is in caves.
This makes them inherently a space that almost only civilization would be able to completely plumb or discover.
So the only time caves are seen is in context.
When you add magic or creatures that live deep in the earth, the notion that caves have no civilization becomes absurd.
Your argument could apply to polar locations, deep underwater locations, moon/lunar locations, and other such inhospitable and remote locales. All of these have civilization because the only time they are seen/experienced is through the eyes of civilized or organized folk.

Zak Sabbath said...

@benjamin

That seems like purely a taste thing so hard to argue about

Luca Lorenzon said...

The long descriptions of npcs in 2nd Edition products aren't useless, even if generated with the word/money ratio in mind (but are you sure they were?). They add to the depth of the npcs even if they are just here to be fought.

Zak Sabbath said...

@luca

Oooh, good argument

DM Critic said...

Spellcasters in 5e should have access to cantrips.

Zak Sabbath said...

@DM C

Good argument

Zak Sabbath said...

@Karl the Sorcerer

Last time you were here you were asked questions and didn't answer:

https://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2021/09/ten-ideas-from-ten-years-ago.html

You're banned until you apologize and address that.

Jimmy Evans said...

Any disagreement will reduce into a difference of taste as long as no one hates what has been said. To hate something you have to care about something else. So all we have to truly disagree about is wether something is important or not. Either everything is important in some case or nothing is important in any case, which would go also for the case of showing how nothing is important in any case.

Everything being important in some case is how God exists—an absolutely infinite eternal manifold being is just that case where “everything being important in some case” is important.

So disagreement proves God exists.

Zak Sabbath said...

@jimmy Evans

"Any disagreement will reduce into a difference of taste as long as no one hates what has been said."

No Jummy, that's not true. If two people disagree about whether pie is good, that can devolve to taste, if two people disagree about whether it's raining, it won't.

Please address that in your next comment.

Jimmy Evans said...

@zak sabbath

Ext. Bus stop - Day

Two people wait for the bus. It starts to rain.

People 1: I love when the bus is on time as I so love getting to work on time. Oh, it is raining now.
People 2: No it isn't. That is not rain. It is totally sunny right now.
People 1: Huh? Oh, look: the bus--that I love!

The bus arrives. People 1 gets on it with a big grin on their face. People 2 stays getting drenched.

So like any disagreement will have a scene and characters--like a disagreement takes place somewhere and between people that would want other things at the same time. What makes the difference between a genuine disagreement and a difference of taste is wether the characters can abide each other being wrong. And that depends on the situation, the other stuff they want--what is important to them.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jimmy

Your story starts with the stage direction "it starts to rain". So: it's raining. Person 2 is 100% wrong.

Taste has nothing to do with it. It only would if it was about whether they -like- the rain.

Your story makes no sense and doesn't bear on your earlier claim.

Please address that.

Jimmy Evans said...

You said: "if two people disagree about whether pie is good, that can devolve to taste"

But the word I chose--specifically over devolve--was "reduce." Because the difference is of degree and not kind.

Is it appropriate to ask, before adding to my comment about my story, that you address your change?

Denim Chicken said...

Ettin did nothing wrong.

Jimmy Evans said...

Got an error message when I tried to send my reply and didn’t save what I’d typed BUT then I realized something…

Differences in tastes actually do agree with each other? Because that’s what taste is, being different, or like its just yours. So in my point “devolve” IS the better verb over “reduce.” And in that case yeah, the point is moot.

So like ambivalence isn’t really a thing and THATS how god doesn’t exist?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jimmy Evans

1. It's appropriate if you can explain why it matters which of those 2 words is used there

2. You still haven't explained why one person not perceiving rain is "taste"

Zak Sabbath said...

@Denim Chicken

Bold indeed--you get to be first!

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jimmy Evans

Jimmy I don't understand any of what you said

"Differences in tastes actually do agree with each other?"

How?

"Because that’s what taste is, being different"

Wel: tast is -enjoying different things-. It's one way to be different. But, for example: Being tall vs short is a difference that isn't about enjoyment.


"or like its just yours."
I don't know what this means.What does that mean?

"So in my point “devolve” IS the better verb over “reduce.” "
Why?

Adamantyr said...

Well Denim Chicken is a tough act to follow but I'll give it a go...

CRPG's are better than tabletop RPG's.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Adamantyr

Interesting take.

Adamantyr said...

I don't know if I 100% think that but it's a rich area for discussion.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Adamantyr

Normally Id' say only advocate for what you believe but I don't see any harm in trying on that one.

Adamantyr said...

I released a vintage CRPG late last year so I feel like I'm in the position to make some very good arguments for it. Looking forward to it!

Jose Kharlos said...

A game product with mediocre or even bad art is, in general, better than one with no art at all.

Zak Sabbath said...

@jose kharlos

I've never thought about it--i wonder if anyone else here has

Jimmy Evans said...

1 It's appropriate if you can explain why it matters which of those 2 words is used there

A devolution is when a thing becomes a different lesser thing. A reduction is when a thing still is itself, there’s just less of it.

And It matters because

2 because you say you dont know what I mean by taste in the scenario, and thats because you’re making a difference in taste a different lesser thing from disagreement. But thats not what I meant—I meant a difference in taste is just what its like when theres less disagreement—its reduced.

So

One person saying theres no rain when there is rain is not taste—but thats not what the story was about. There was two characters and a bus. The story was about both people—you need two to have a disagreement—and why the person who knows there is rain could happen to disagree to such a mild degree that it is

Like

a difference in taste.

I would change my statement to this after considering your questions:

“Any disagreement will reduce into

something like

a difference of taste as long as no one hates what has been said.”

Jimmy I don't understand any of what you said

Yeah…

I got freaked out that I’d been like, ghosted as a form of comment moderation, like id broke a rule and what i said wouldnt get posted (is this how commenting works—you approve them first, right?) then the more “careful” reply i tried got eaten by some error soooo in a panic I sort of hedged on everything to come to an agreement and save face. But it doesnt make sense, youre right.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jimmy

Ok, so back to the beginning of the question.

You said

"Any disagreement will reduce into something like a difference of taste..."

Then you said

"One person saying theres no rain when there is rain is not taste"

So how do these two apparently contradictory statements square?

Benjamin Cusack said...

Ok I thought a bunch on something you and I might disagree with.

The sentiment behind an action outweighs the action.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Benjamin Cusack

In games or in life?

Kyle T said...

@Jose Kharlos

Partial disagreement: Art is better for pickup and purchase of a product, but writing style is in general better for seeing the product get used.

Benjamin Cusack said...

@Zak.
In life.

Zak Sabbath said...

@benjamin

Oh that's insane. Let us definitely discuss that.

Zak Sabbath said...

So...

@Jose Kharlos
@maasenstodt
@simon tsevelev
@luca lornzon
@DM Critic
@denim chicken
@adamantyr
@benjamin cusack

So get in touch about doing this--email me at zakzsmith AT hawtmayle dawt calm and let me know your preferred venue.

The easiest is something with instant message capability (Facebook, Discord, Twitter DMs) but if you have another preferred venue to have the conversation let me know.

If you don't email within 48 hrs your comments above will be deleted.

Jimmy Evans said...

@zak

Something can have qualities of something else without becoming that thing—thats what metaphors do.

So I would change the second statement, to resolve the contradiction, to this:

One person saying theres no rain when there is rain is not

literally

a difference in taste.

Zak Sabbath said...

@jimmy

That doesn't explain anything or help at all. It still leaves me with the same question:

You said

"Any disagreement will reduce into something like a difference of taste..."

Then you said

"One person saying theres no rain when there is rain is not literally a differencein taste"

So how do these two apparently contradictory statements square?

The first one says all disagreements can be reduced to taste.
The second one is an example of on that can't.

WTF?

Jimmy Evans said...

Now that were comparing a portion of my initial statement to statements I made while answering questions about it, would it be appropriate to say that

"Any disagreement will reduce into something like a difference of taste..."

Is true enough to consider the second half of the sentence

So long as no one hates what has been said.

Or possibly some other part of the comment?

Zak Sabbath said...

@jimmy evans

I have no idea what you're talking about on any level. I can't understand it at all

AGAIN:

You said

"Any disagreement will reduce into something like a difference of taste..." (there's more, but its not relevant here)

Then you said

"One person saying theres no rain when there is rain is not literally a difference in taste"

So how do these two apparently contradictory statements square?

Jimmy Evans said...

I have no idea what you're talking about on any level. I can't understand it at all

Right, sorry, I posted that before I’d seen your other reply.

The first one says all disagreements can be reduced to taste.

The second one is an example of on that can't.

Yeah, you’re right. I see that how I’m changing my words now is to get away from this straightforward point I made about taste. And It doesn’t square. Like the rain example shows it isnt true.

Its interesting, I thought that I could make what I said make sense after the fact but this was in a way avoiding your question. I was more focused on the part of your question that was me not making sense than actually answering it.

I learned something—thanks

Zak Sabbath said...

@jimmy

No problem!

shanepatrickward said...

While Skyrim is an amazing game, the choices, freedom and challenges (and sheer size of the world) in oblivion make the game far superior.

Zak Sabbath said...

@shanepatrickward

Put in about an hour on Skyrim and never played Oblivion, so I'm not going to fight you on that.

Kredonystus said...

Really controversial.
Dogs are better pets than cats. They are happier, cuter and kill less native animals.

Zak Sabbath said...

@kredonystus

Hot take, but not an issue likely to soothe the fires of the RPG community's seething soul.

I like them both, personally, since animals are usually nice to me and none have ever lied about hate crimes or felonies.

ZCE said...

Adam Koebel did nothing(egregiously) wrong

Zak Sabbath said...

@ZCE

Email me to set up the discussion--zakzsmith AT hawtmayle dawt calm

Hans Vermhat said...

Mandy did nothing wrong.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Hans Vermhat

Email me to set up the discussion--zakzsmith AT hawtmayle dawt calm.

shanepatrickward said...

I'm all out of things to argue about except hockey and maybe record producers.

Zak Sabbath said...

@ZCE

Erased. You're not allowed to leave new comments until you deal with the last one--you left the "Koebel did nothing wrong" response, I told you to email me to set up the discussion. Please do that.

Zak Sabbath said...

@ZCE

Erased. Again: Regardless of intent, you're not allowed to leave new comments until you deal with the last one. Please do that.

Arfarf said...

System absolutely matters, but players tend to optimize the fun out games if they find a repeatable decision point that optimizes net gain over potential loss. This is a big problem with exhaustive rule sets, they paradoxically want to support player agency with capital R RULEZ, but they fail at this mainly for the reason given.

That being said, system matters =/= exhaustive rule set or focused rule set. There's a reason why people still use B/X over free form and it's largely because they have procedures/moving parts that create a lot of interesting emergent situations and they facilitate this kind of "fiction" or whatever the kids are calling it by allowing the rules parts to easily talk to the fiction part.

Zak Sabbath said...

@arfarf

not sure I disagree with all that

Nerzenjäger said...

Whoever said a gamebook with mediocre or bad art is better than one with no art at all is wrong.

Many RPG books nowadays are filled with the same woodcut or public domain art, usually thrown together without any rhyme or reason. The meta going on here, of me spotting these usually right away, actually lowers my enjoyment of a book. Some art I just find awful, so that, too, would lower my enjoyment of a gamebook.

In such cases, I'd rather have a clean layout so I can immerse myself in the text and conjure my own mental images. It works for novels and textbooks, why wouldn't it for gamebooks?