Thursday, March 31, 2011

Things We Should Agree To Disagree About

(or, Some philosophical schisms I've noticed between DIY D&Ders:)

(I have not included familiar Old School vs. New School differences like Theme Vs. Randomness because everybody grown-up should already be used to that shit and be able to spot differences like that from miles away and not get into it.)

Like any typology of philosophical differences, the point of enumerating these differences is mostly to enable people to notice when a back-and-forth they are having is just one of these larger differences being pointed up and so to allow folks to not waste time arguing about them and just go You are this kind of person & I'm that kind of person and oh, I see...



Vinyl Experts Vs. Garage Rockers

Vinyl Experts really like and--perhaps more to the point--know a lot about various TSR products and other early game products. Garage Rockers see the simplicity of the early games as a nice, solid, three-chord chassis to build their hot rod on but have less specific attachment to the Word of Gary. Experts are more often into nostalgia, TSR-product exegesis, and combing message boards (also see Arcanists, below) and Garage Rockers often find themselves disagreeing with TSR as often as they agree with it and are more often into bringing non-RPG knowledge to the table. I'm definitely in the garage. James Mal is a Vinyl Expert. Jeff of the Gameblog seems like pretty much both.

The Integrity of the World/Campaign Is A Priority vs. The Social Thing Is The Major Priority:

Check out these two answers from the Beyond The Black Gate interview by Raggi and Me, respectively:

BTBG: Gygax said "The essence of a role-playing game is that it is a group, cooperative experience". How important to do you think this is, and why?

Raggi: For me that’s not the most enjoyable part, but it is the payoff and the justification for the parts I most enjoy. The best part is the creation of a world or adventure location, putting it together and making it work so that it feels like an actual place. The RPG context sets a boundary, and I find such parameters helps me be coherently creative. But all that is useless without real people to make use of it, to muck around, and to see if it breaks, and to see if they enjoy the process.

(Same question--these were emailed to us so we didn't see each others' responses.)

Zak: That's the most important thing, to me. A lot of people rattle on about the integrity of the Game or the World or the whatever, but if I just want to be a creative little snowflake--well, I'm a painter, I get enough of that at work. For me, D&D is like a party, and the DM is throwing it, and all the arts and crafts are wasted if it's no fun and everybody isn't better friends afterward.

I noticed this difference when I was helping Raggi edit LOTFP: Weird Fantasy--he made references to how over time you'd learn how the game works and thereby "improve" your game. Whereas my take is and has always been: if everybody shows up, has fun, and immediately wants to play again over and over forever, they could do everything "wrong" and the game would still be "good". The challenge for me is finding new kinds of fun every week, not upping the technical ante.

I do not want to argue who is right here, that would be boring and dumb--and you are boring and dumb if you do that in the comments. Obviously everybody who has a group who keeps coming back week after week has all the constituency for their DM style they need. Plus I've played with James DMing and played his modules and had fun and I like him and we get along and I don't consider him some morphodite loser and so obviously none of these differences will kill anybody's game. I just want to point out the different philosophies and some hallmarks of them. Here are some differences in opinion stemming form these differences in assumption--"integrity" position goes first and the "social" position is second (and please realize that, being an advocate of approach #2 I may have unfairly characterized the other guy but am trying not to, if you are an Integritist and would like to submit an adjustment, be my guest ):

-Greater willingness to let a part of the game be "boring" for some greater end down the line ("Integritist") vs. lesser willingness to let a part of the game be "boring" for some greater end down the line ("Socialist")

-Desire to find players who match the DM's preferred style vs. desire to tune the DMing style to match the players you want to play with or are playing with

-Impatience with their players not having their shit together vs. detached amusement with the players not having their shit together

(Addendum: I didn't mean "having their shit together" as in not panicking when they see monsters, I meant as in showing up with their own dice and a pencil and on time.)

-Emphasis on the world or campaign as an important creative act vs. indifference to campaign or world features unless they translate into gains a the table

People Who Look Real Closely At The Differences Between Holmes & Moldvay And Shit Like That (or Rules Arcanists) Vs. People Who Don't (Scramblers)

Looking over the Wiki, I've noticed there are some people who have written interesting stuff that I've used who aren't on my blog list. The reason they aren't is because they are Arcanists and so like nine posts out of their ten I just glaze over--not because they're bad but just because they fall outside my area of D&D interest. About half of the DIY D&D people like looking through the old rulebooks and figuring out how to make them work and about half just sort of are trying to scramble around and make the game they happen to be running at the moment run smoothly by whatever means necessary. I'm definitely a Scrambler but I think of Arcanists kinda like I think about astrophysicists--I am happy to listen when they come up with something cool, but I lack the knowhow and patience to make watching them try to figure it out fun for me. My primary interests lie elsewhere.

Like the d6-for-all-weapons-or-not? damage rule might interest me more if I was about to start a new campaign with people who've never played or who had played so much they were kinda let's-try-whatever about the rules, but my players aren't going anywhere and we have been playing one campaign for a few years and they came to play this game with weapons working like this so that's what's happening and so that's what I'm worried about.

My feeling about the Arcanists is they tend to be people who have played a lot of D&D systems and who run games with strangers a lot. So they are starting new games all the time or have spent a lot of time comparing how X campaign came out compared to how Y campaign came out.


People Who Are Worried About WOTC Vs. People Who Aren't

Although I'm pretty much in category 2, I can see the POV of the WOTC watchers very clearly: Whatever the current edition of D&D is, that's the gateway drug for a lot of new players. This is where a large potential pool of new players comes from. So if WOTC trains these new players to want shit that DIY D&Ders can't provide or weeds out people who might otherwise want what DIY D&D can provide then it shrinks the potential group of people who might play with you. Plus talking about what you think WOTC is doing "wrong" often points up things you like about your way of rolling. Plus a lot of bloggers have been playing D&D regularly for decades or more and following the TSR and WOTC releases as they came out and so have watched the game slowly move out of their own personal sweet spot and so have a sort of emotional history with the D&D industry.

Since none of my players except Satine began with WOTC D&D and because I have a steady group full of players I like--and because I suspect, running in the circles I do, most future players I have would tend to be people with no RPG experience or with TSR-era experience--I don't think about this much. But if you do, ok, fine.


Provocateurs Vs. Straight Shooters

First, Provocateurs aren't Trolls--Trolls think electronic communication with strangers is, in itself, a marvelous and perhaps unparalleled entertainment and are willing to say shit just to hear what the internet says back, no matter how actually inaccurate or dumb what they have to say to get that reaction is--Provocateurs believe that only by saying inaccurate, dumb shit can they get people to pay attention to actual points they're trying to make. Straight shooters, on the other hand, try to say exactly what they believe to be true no matter how dull it is.

There is, of course, no point in telling Trolls to stop arguing with anyone-they have enough spare time to consider internet arguing a hobby in itself and do not do it out of curiosity about the underlying differences in assumption that lead to differences of opinion or out of a desire to destroy error--so this is only a message to Provocateurs and Straight Shooters: Realize when you are dealing with each other--you can use this...
(which was dug up by Jeff on twitter)
...and realize that in order to successfully make your point you will -have- to know which kind of person you are dealing with.

Provocateurs tend to see complacency about the state of RPGs as a mortal sin and straight shooters tend to see inaccuracy about the state of RPGs as a mortal sin. Therefore they can easily offend each other without knowing why. Long-time readers will note I am a hair-trigger straight shooter and will strike down inaccuracy with great force and furious vengeance around these parts--RPGPundit is a Provocateur. Both of us, I'm sure, believe our positions to be the only responsible ones in these troubled times.

Note also that there are Straight Shooters whose opinions are unpopular enough that they can be mistaken for Provocateurs by those with limited experience of the world. Like I used the word "fuck" once in a press release on account of that's just how I talk and I didn't even realize it was in there but some people thought it was part of some calculated strategy to enrage role-playing game enthusiasts on the internet.

Also, as a sidebar, there are Rubberneckers--a subclass of both Trolls & Lurkers who see watching other people arguing about things they themselves don't care about (or are immune to persuasion about) via electronic media as a fun way to spend their spare time and who will point to internet fights and go "oh that was great, I loved that one, I laughed my ass off", and there are--on the other hand--people who think that their own personal existence has managed to have gotten itself organized in such a way that they have more fun ways to pass their limited span on this mortal coil. Again, I pass no moral judgments here, but I do feel a responsibility to point out, for the benefit of all, that such differences in the essential nature of the Lord's creatures exist.


Expressionists Vs. Utilitarians

Expressionists write things because they think them. Utilitarians write them because they perceive some game-related end will be served by writing that belief down. Again: each should know when they are dealing with the other, it will save time.

53 comments:

Fitz said...

I like the cut of your jib, me lad! (Jib... you have one, right?)

This is an interesting analysis; laid out like this it's pretty easy to see where my own interests fall, and how they intersect (or not) with those some of the people I read on this wonderful Internet, the Great Mother at whose capacious teats we daily suckle. I'm glad there are people like you to make this sort of analysis, because if I attempted it I'd surely lose interest half-way through, shrug, and go back to doodling heavily-moustachioed Edwardian dudes riding unfeasibly tall bicycles. Or something.

Simon Forster said...

I think there is room for everyone, but you're quite right, we should all just try and get along. The world– virtual or 'real'– is big enough for diverse opinions and ideas.

Not sure what my new blog comes under, but for me it is all about putting down ideas that pop into my head, because if I don't clear it out I find all these thoughts get in the way of other stuff (such as writing; abandoned too many stories recently because my head was full of D&D and rpg-related plots). That, and sharing the ideas, in case someone out there wants to use them. You never know.

I like this blog, it's one of my daily reads and there's always something interesting. Keep up the good work.

Oh, and looking forward to pre-ordering Vornheim tomorrow. I don't think I'm going to be disappointed; I'll let you know what I think of it ; good reviews only; if I don't like it, I'll keep my negativity to myself, because that never helps anyone; although constructive criticism is something else ;)

Talysman said...

I think it's interesting that I'm an Integretist for exactly the same reason that you're a Socialist: if I want to socialize, I have ways to socialize, so I see the act of creating a fictional world as far more important.

But on the other hand, I'm not sure I can claim to carry about the *integrity* of the fictional world so much. So maybe I'm some weird mutant.

Captcha word: Gambo. The most bad-ass game player of all time.

Telecanter said...

I wonder if part of the integrity/social dichotomy comes from the fact that a lot of the creativity and time spent making happens away from the actual social part of the game.

I know for me, I enjoyed cogitatin' for days about how rotating dungeon rooms might make them interesting. It was pleasurable in and of itself. But, then, I was pretty disappointed when game day came and what I had was a fancy linear dungeon and my players were kind of bored.

Gregor said...

I can't neatly place myself in any of these categories (maybe because I'm not exactly a D&D DIY-er either), which isn't to say I'm disagreeing with you - I like this. If anything, I'm a straight shooter who often says Provocateur-sounding stuff because I get excited and enthusiastic and forget that certain banalities might offend people.
---
And for what it's worth, I think the whole new-school vs. old-school debate is pure bunkus: no such thing as either. There's just people grasping for identity, building sand castles. Fact is, there's just one beach - maybe the sand is a little more wet over there, and a little more white over there and there are more seashells over here, but it's all a shifting, mixing, rich whole.

I don't expect anyone to agree, but that's why we agree to disagree.

Zak S said...

@gregor

The old v. new dichotomy is extremely real and to doubt it is inaccuracy (a mortal sin, remember). Read one of the many very articulate Barking Alien posts which references posts on this blog and you will see the difference clear as a bell.

Different people want different things out of games. No doubt.

John Evans said...

This is pretty interesting. I was especially intrigued by:
"A lot of people rattle on about the integrity of the Game or the World or the whatever, but if I just want to be a creative little snowflake--well, I'm a painter, I get enough of that at work."

...because I think for a lot of people, they don't get to be very creative in their "daily lives", whatever that may be. So, D&D is a valuable way for them to express their creativity.

So, it's just interesting to see a different point of view.

Beedo said...

I'm a vinyl arcanist with integrity problems. Dingle.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarity of this post; it helps me understand a lot of things. (I guess I'm a garage-rocker socialist scrambler provocateur utilitarian. And I don't care a bit about WOTC, thank you.)

One time I got flamed in the comments of another blog for saying how I would integrate some D&D house rules into my Runequest game. In your terms I am so much of a Scrambler that I don't care that I cross rules to that extent, but I think it just *infuriated* one of the people I was dealing with. I didn't get it at the time, but this post made the light go on for me.

Anonymous said...

Great post of keen observations. There's nowt as queer as folk. :-)

Erin Palette said...

Garage Rocker Integrist Scrambler Provocateur* Expressionist.

And I'm not worried about WOTC but I enjoy watching it flailing about as it realizes the mistakes it's been making since 2008, so I'm in the Schadenfreude sub-category.

*on account of my sarcastic nature

WV: Troutrib -- now I'm hungry for surf & turf, dammit.

hüth said...

Different people want different things out of games. No doubt.

But is the dichotomy there? Am I–someone who's, frankly, too young to be anything other than 'new school'–going to fall mostly in the Venn diagram of 'Zak/Barking Alien/the blogospheratorium's associations with new school'? Can we grab some old copies of Alarums & Excursions and start classifying letter-writers based on that tendancy? Or is there a use to articulating it as new school/old school versus some alternate terminology? Or could this be a player-alignment thing expressing itself as wishful GM blogging, which falls apart in-table?

hüth said...

And I'm not worried about WOTC but I enjoy watching it flailing about as it realizes the mistakes it's been making since 2008, so I'm in the Schadenfreude sub-category.

Didn't like the Lorwyn block?

Zak S said...

@huth

Is it a dichotomy? I see a tree: the tree has a major fork I'd call Old school v. New School indicating different expressed GM and player desires. Many branches grow from each branch. Some of these smaller subbranches may grow together and mix inhybrid ways, but I haven't seen that happen much here on discussions on the internet i pay attention to or in my real games (Satine is pretty solidly grounded in the New School cloud, for example). And that's what this post is about.

Zak S said...

and, p.s. attributing genuine differences in taste that someone has managed to label so they can talk about them is useful. Far more useful than just insultingly attributing the labels to a desire to "belong" or to not belong.

You walk into a store. You need to know what you want to buy. Words help.

mordicai said...

I am a Integrist Arcanist, by nature, but in practice I'm a Social Scrambler. I spend a lot of my free time being an Arcanist ("I want an elegant rules system!") but am surrounded by Players & peers who just...don't care. Especially since I run the World of Darkness system-- anybody know any good WoD Arcanist blogs?

I'm definitely an Integrist, but that is for ME. I'm the Narrator, & I get a kick out of worldbuilding. My players-- well, sometimes they care about the integrity of the story-- but it ain't all about Mordicai. So I bring stuff to the table so we can all have fun. In my heart, though-- Integrist!

I care about WotC & about White Wolf because I don't mind paying for products that are of professional quality. Thus, when they produce products that aren't professional quality, or that are of no use to me, I am unhappy, because it means they might stop making books that aren't any use to me, or that are good.

Zak S said...

@mordicai

Outside proofreading and graphic-design consistency I have found the term "professional quality" to be--well not so much an oxymoron as a non sequitor--like "grumpy croissant"--in RPGs.

JoetheLawyer said...

Garage Rocker/Integrity of the World/Scrambler/Worry/Provocateur/Utilitarian is where I came in. Interesting. I hesitated on Provocateur due solely to the description wherein you state: "...only by saying inaccurate, dumb shit can they get people to pay attention to actual points they're trying to make."

I'm clearly a provocateur, but I don't think that most of what I say is inaccurate---just the opposite in fact. But I will say whatever it takes to make a point---laying out a definitive opinion on something that has no definitive answer (except in my own mind), so yeah, provocateur. Dumb is a subjective thing---I am usually astounded by the brilliance of my posts, so they clearly aren't dumb to me. Other lesser mortals may feel they're dumb, but hey, whatever. :)

Anonymous said...

You know Zak, Mordicai raises an interesting point. No doubt I'm also mostly an Integretist. I put a lot of care and thought into world-building. But at the table I know there's only so much of that the players are interested in, so it's like there's this (hopefully) great depth they can plumb given the inclination, but they can also just have fun skimming across the surface.

For some Integretists a lot of the fun is just knowing that what you've made is there if and when needed. A friend of mine once likened it to the set for Bladerunner. The Integretist's world is a lot like that set... constructed in such a way that one can point a camera anywhere and get a good shot. It all looks real, even years later.

And this sort of brings me around to my main point. While the labels above seem accurate and applicable to me, the usefulness in presenting them is not just in navigating the time-waster of online debates, but getting what we need out of playing when we actually sit down to do so by better understanding some of the other people around the table .

Thanks.

Zak S said...

@James

For me the most key (and interesting) thing about the integritist is not so much the amount of time spent on worldbuilding, but the feeling that the game experienced could always be "improved" and that you'd want to seek out players who could match your GM style. Like you'd rather play the right game with a stranger than a tweaked version with a friend.

Pretty much every GM likes a little excessive worldbuilding.

Anonymous said...

If the main criteria has to do with seeking out players, then I may not fit the mold... most of my players are friends of mine before we roll dice. But... I'm always thinking about improving the game and I do see it as something that transcends just having a good time with friends. I've got friends I share other interests with that I wouldn't necessarily bring to the table, though they may know I game and I'm not weird about it.

I guess as far as your interest in my experience goes, it's a matter of how common it is across the spectrum.

Roger the GS said...

My high school campaign failed because I was too much an Integritist (and also a pre-retronym Vinylist in the sense that I felt the need to use even the bad rules from AD&D.) So yeah, these distinctions are useful.

The axis I notice the most is nostalgia vs. innovation, which maps onto a couple of Zak's dimensions. There are some bloggers who innovate a lot but need to tie it back to the old rules somehow, some who thump the Old School Bible and some who go out on a limb. I do not honor nostalgia for its own sake but I do think about what makes a game identifiably "D&D" and part of that common language.

hüth said...

I see a tree: the tree has a major fork I'd call Old school v. New School indicating different expressed GM and player desires.

So when did the branching occur? AD&D? 2nd ed? Why did the clumps clump?

Far more useful than just insultingly attributing the labels to a desire to "belong" or to not belong.

But the desire to belong, or to identify oneself as not-belonging, is the first step in creating a label...

You walk into a store. You need to know what you want to buy. Words help.

Well, wait, if you don't want to buy something, why are you there?

hüth said...

@mordecai

professional quality

RPGs are the only entertainment media where professionals primarily make the equivalent of build-your-own-instrument kits and guitar tabs. I'm not sure how many actual professionals such an industry can support...

Jeff Rients said...

I used the word "fuck" once in a press release on account of that's just how I talk and I didn't even realize it was in there but some people thought it was part of some calculated strategy to enrage role-playing game enthusiasts on the internet.

That's pretty funny.

Zak S said...

@huth
Inaccurate.

When did the branching occur? Different for different people.

No, the first step in creating a label is not the desire to belong or not. It is having a taste preference for one thing over another. One doesn't eat peanut butter instead of butter (and therefore learn they have different labels) out of a desire to belong to a Peanut Butter eating constituency. That's completely nonsensical. They taste different and you can tell.

Please don't write things that make no sense without thinking on this page.

Also, please don;t write things that make no sense WITH thinking on this page.

As for "if you don't want to buy something" no-one said anything about that. The question is WHICH thing to buy.

mordicai said...

"Professional quality" is utterly a fungible term, & the fan community is doing huge work-- totally agreed. That being said, there are issues of art & playtesting that the big guys bring to bear that can pay off...when it does pay off. Or at least, should in theory-- again mentioning White Wolf...the fan made stuff is...not so fresh. By & large I find fan made stuff either broken, goofy, or too narrow for wider use.

Basically I want a system set, then I want the keys to that set-- I want the Arcana Unearthed, for instance. Maybe that is the Arcanist in me. The fact that there is a shared language is huge as well. Obviously I think that "fan made" stuff is huge & awesome-- I'm here, right?-- but hey, I'm also ready to buy Zak's book when it comes out, too, right? Which, is self publishing the middle ground between the "big" publishers & the blogosphere.

Zak S said...

@mordicai

My book is not self-published.

hüth said...

When did the branching occur? Different for different people.

But then... why is it the same branch? Or rather, why do you have that categorizational mapping applied onto individuals in terms of a linear metaphor, instead of something cloudier? Why do you picture a tree instead of a scummy pond of algae?

It is having a taste preference for one thing over another. One doesn't eat peanut butter instead of butter (and therefore learn they have different labels) out of a desire to belong to a Peanut Butter eating constituency. That's completely nonsensical. They taste different and you can tell.

Yeah, but you don't need a label until you're trying to say something to someone else; until preference for peanut butter on a sandwich someone else is making (as opposed to marmalade) is something you're trying to communicate (as in 'Today, classify me as That Which Is Not To Be Served Peanut Butter').

Also, please don;t write things that make no sense WITH thinking on this page.

Well, I'm trying (poorly, I guess) to get to why it doesn't make sense to you. Or conversely, why the first point makes sense to you, while it's gobbledegook to me. Reverse-Provocation, maybe.

As for "if you don't want to buy something" no-one said anything about that. The question is WHICH thing to buy.
I didn't say 'what if you didn't want to buy anything?' Or, maybe I did, but what I'm trying to get at is that you don't go to a store (alone) without a need or some desire to be fulfilled, and that if you're already feeling that desire it's known needs testing against the categories of objects in front of you, not translated into verbal signals (unless it's a pictureless mail-order catalogue, I guess).

hüth said...

Well, I'm trying (poorly, I guess) to get to why it doesn't make sense to you. Or conversely, why the first point makes sense to you, while it's gobbledegook to me. Reverse-Provocation, maybe.

...Or should Catgegorizational Embrace vs. Catgegorizational Skepticism be another paragraph in this post? : P

Zak S said...

@huth

point is: you don;t label things out of an abstract or emotional "need to belong or not"

You do it so you can say communicate useful things, to the blogosphere or store owner: "I like blue things"

And then they can give you recommendations for blue things, not red things, or green things.

And why the tree metaphor? because cultural differences are evolutionary--differences emerge over time and become more extreme after initial differentiation. This is a tree. They use it in biological evolution all the time.

It also works well to describe cultural evolution, in all media. Small differences occur early, then become more and more extreme.

Zak S said...

@huth

also these categories are DEscriptive not PREscriptive. no rule says one person must be one way or another, and many aren't.

What is true is: certain disagreements arise time and time again about randomness and thinking about themes and how much energy to put into character gen and whether PCs should die and how often. The New School v. Old School fairly well sums up the root philosophical differences that lead to these particular arguments--just as "made of beach sand or not made of sand" is one accurate way to sort castles.

It does not say everything, but it accurately describe why certain phenomena happen.

hüth said...

The New School v. Old School fairly well sums up the root philosophical differences that lead to these particular arguments--just as "made of beach sand or not made of sand" is one accurate way to sort castles.

I guess–maybe this means I'm firmly entrenched in a New School game culture in my city, or something–I haven't noticed this dichotomy emerging around me, so when I hear it it's only in this context of 'so-and-so on The Internet is New School,' most often when someone isn't trying to belong as trying to not belong (and here's where the normalcy-privilege digression would happen).

I'm mostly blanking on what you do with these categories...

hüth said...

(ps. capcha: Lizedl, frizzy-spined distractible yuan-ti librarian in coke-bottle Glasses of True Seeing)

Zak S said...

@huth

What you do:

Simple--when Christian or Barking Alien or Satine starts talking about death or character development or "story" you realize that their attitude to it is fundamentally different than yours (If you're me) and so you don't discuss it. Or you discuss it in terms of "Well I see the fun in the game in a different place" and so you understand why they say what at first seems irrational or counter to the aims of the game.

Like when Barking Alien is like "How can I roll a random 'Why?' table?' or "Here's my random monster table but I never use them" or "I can't play with people who aren't (relatively) serious and centered about the game"

Then you -don't- go "Wait, what? Why? Clarify..." because you know "Oh, New School, different assumptions, 'story', 'themes', characters, right..." and then you can move on to talking about other things that you do -not- already understand rather than things that lead places you've been before.

The same reason if you know someone's Catholic you don't have to ask why they always feel guilty about things. If they weren't then there'd be a mystery to solve when they started acting guilty.

hüth said...

I guess my question is whether you find it easier/harder to run games by trying to pin people to a part of the tree? Is there a post-taxonomy process, or is it just a case of 'how to avoid donkey-child interactions'?

Zak S said...

@huth

It's always good, when preparing a meal, to know who's a vegetarian.

darren e said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
darren e said...

People who can successfully roll to hit with 2d6 vs those who cannot...
I am purchasing this so that we may play when you return:
Battletech 25th Anniversary Box Set

Dice that girls would buy in a heartbeat vs dice that are neat but don't cost a ton...
Kinda makes me wanna dice-shop like our lady friends:
Thorn Dice

richard said...

This is the best and most useful comment post I've read in a long, long time. Thank you. I'm also thinking that, if I ever come to edit an academic journal, in particular the straight shooters/provocateurs bit is going right in the colophon. Roughly a third of all humanities academic arguments revolve around this issue, between people who say "how can we think about this?" and people who ask "but what's actually true?"
...I would sometimes like to be a provocateur, but here, in my day job and almost everywhere I wind up being a straight shooter. Now I can provoke and link to this post to explain what I'm doing.

Also, between this and the alignments post it seems like you have a pretty good model of player behaviour. I wonder what the next design chapter would be in a Roleplaying Roleplayers metagame product?

richard said...

...so now I know I'm totally garage rocker/scrambler, wannabe sociable, usually straight shooter, guiltily expressionist*, would-be sneaky, queasily greedy, strongly curious, mildly fancy and frequently laid back. And I care about WOTC exactly to the extent it affects the player pool.

What does it say that now I'm tempted to fit attribute scores to these?

On the new/old axis I think I could enjoy both styles but I've never actually tried playing Forge or Turku. Or 4e, for that matter.

* like you couldn't tell from this comment.

hüth said...

It's always good, when preparing a meal, to know who's a vegetarian.

Hmmm... Assuming you're (the hypothetical you) the metaphorical vegetarian, do you ever try to say 'don't think of it as a fake burger, think of it as a barbequed bean pattie in a bun' to maneuver around any expectations of where the here-there-be-fundragons on the map are for other types? Do you think it can/should/shouldn't be done?

Zak S said...

@huth

Past a certain point of abstraction, even my vast wisdom cannot encompass all possible simuloludic scenaria. Your hypothetical vegetarian DM may have to actually, like, get to know his players and figure it out.

hüth said...

I guess I was assuming this was all past the familiarization stage and into the 'how do I rebrand this for them to grok it' stage.

hüth said...

i.e. what do you call an new-school RPG to get an old-school-RPGist to put aside their expectations of what they want from a game in order to let the new things be actually new most efficiently (attempting to outflank the 'it ain't broke, why'd they fix it, et cetera, et cetera').

Assuming their dislike for other-schoolness isn't emerging from some deep, grimy, unutterably ancient place in their jungian unconscious.

JimLotFP said...

>>-Impatience with their players not having their shit together vs. detached amusement with the players not having their shit together

I don't think this is a dividing line between Integritism/Socialism.

I generally encourage groups to break down...

("Here's a Deck of Many Things!"

"THE DEAD HAVE RISEN!! YOU'RE TRAPPED!!!!"

"There's TWO barkeeps now!")

... but that's because I try to make things so if the group keeps their heads together and doesn't fall for the foolishness, they'll get through it all so easily they'll think it's boring. :D

Chris said...

Dang Zak! That's a lot of ways to carve up Apollonian vs. Dionysian. :)

Yours' Truly: Garage-Rocker Socialising Scrambling WOTC-Kremlinologist Gabshite* Utilitarian

I make no damn sense at all. (no surprise there)

* Mouthy end of the Straight Shooter claque. Means it sincerely, but often overstates case.

Anonymous said...

In my OD&D campaign, vinyl-expert arcanist digressions fill the space we'd use to figure out mechanical interactions in a rules-heavy game; we don't stop to look up & argue about how magic missile interacts with spell resistance, but rather to go on about how it has changed from this edition to that, where it first appeared, etc. It's like we have this essential need for geeky pedantry; I'm happy that it can be slaked with scholasticism rather than rules-lawyering.
- Tavis

Zak S said...

@Jim

(I didn't mean "having their shit together" as in not panicking when they see monsters, I meant as in showing up with their own dice and a pencil and on time)

limpey said...

While I applaud the effort/thought that went into your post (especially the flow-chart), I think it assumes that people will agree to discuss in good faith... and, from my limited experience of life (and internet), amny people do not.
Thus, in step 1 "Do you envision anything that will change your mind on this subject?" many people will answer "yes," but, after I have wasted a lot of time on discussion with them, it will become obvious that they were lying (either to me or themselves) when they said "yes."
Some people just have contrary natures.

hüth said...

Some people just have contrary natures.

That chart is just presuming that people have minds about subjects when they start talking. Since the internet consists of bored people, procrastinators and those who are trying to sell things to those people, most arguments emerge out of some rorschach-test-like refinement of some stupid offhand comment someone made originally out of boredom or procrastinatory urges, which they then feel obligated to defend if someone objects.

For example, if someone objects to something in this random half-assed 10-second comment, I might (if drunk or overcaffinated) might feel obligated to furthur refine those categories into some sort of archetypal structure of internet-related activities in order to classify the objection or something. Then someone will say 'That's bullshit,' et cetera, et cetera, dragging a 30-second comment out until the sun expands to a bloated red supergiant and is devoured by whatever eats the corpses of stars.

DaveL said...

Old school vs. New school? There's a school?? The trouble I have with 4e is the trouble I have with 1e, it gets really complicated really fast. Gary & Co. had a habit of just adding more crap, more tables, more rolls, more complex mechanics, at the cost of making the game more enjoyable. I threw out half the rules in AD&D because it slowed the game down too much and detracted from the overall enjoyability of the gaming experience. Still looking for the perfect gaming system, still haven't found it. Maybe I'll just cherry pick a 'best of' collection of rules and Frankenstein them together somehow.

DaveL

Zak S said...

@DaveL

uh, ok Dave, sounds good...