"I know--that's redundant."
March 5, 2006 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Colbertfilter: Stephen waxes nostalgic with the release of Stormreach: DnD Online. Need a glossary? Len Lakofka. Lawful Good. Displacer Beasts. Beholders. GenCon. Mindflayer. Need some new dice? What DnD character are you? Grognards rejoice! You are not alone!
posted by bardic (165 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
When did "DnD" become the way to refer to D&D? Did someone someone misplace their ampersand key or something?
posted by Hildegarde at 3:32 PM on March 5, 2006


bummer that i didn't enjoy the game in beta. i'll still take paper and pencil D&D over the interwebs any day.
posted by teishu at 3:36 PM on March 5, 2006


True Neutral Human Ranger. 'nuff said.
posted by exlotuseater at 3:57 PM on March 5, 2006


Oblivion is 15 days away. Doesn't that mean anything to you?
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:59 PM on March 5, 2006


I used to game,(went to gencon 7-8 years in a row back in the day) and I always feel strange that I only played D&D once. I loved Colbert's piece. I think it was the knowing way he name dropped Len Lakofka as if everyone know who it would be or the Lawful Good Paladin joke.
posted by drezdn at 4:00 PM on March 5, 2006


Anyone else every play Rulemonster/RMSS/MERP? I cut my chops on AD&D 2nd Ed. but moved onto other systems fairly quickly.

/True neutral Half-elven Fighter.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:00 PM on March 5, 2006


Oh man, Smart Dalek - I'm sooo glad the release date is after my thesis defense date...
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:01 PM on March 5, 2006


He really does a fantastic D&D player, and I'm one to know. Would he do as good a basement-dweller of another flavor, or is there some personal history behind this?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:02 PM on March 5, 2006


A truthier look at Colbert on DnD.

My dream group? It would start with Stephen and Vin Diesel. And we'd play Rules Cyclopedia, baby. 3.5 is for suckers. Race is class!

Heh. But Oblivion does look pretty cool--I might forget to bathe.
posted by bardic at 4:14 PM on March 5, 2006


I'm not sure what you mean by "some personal history". It's certainly well known that Colbert put in his time as a player.
posted by Justinian at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2006


When did "DnD" become the way to refer to D&D?

Oh Lord. You used to play; am I right?
posted by Decani at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2006


Heh. Lawful Evil Corporate Attorney. Seriously, though, I remember spending $100s on those damn books, followed by GURPS soon thereafter.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:17 PM on March 5, 2006


I've heard Colbert say somewhere that he actually was a D&D nerd, so it comes from the heart. Of course, now that I've stated that, I'm completely unable to find any supporting evidence. Dammit. Oh wait. From the Onion AV Club interview a couple of weeks ago:

AVC: You were into Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, were you not?

SC: Yeah, I really was. I started playing in seventh grade, 1977. And I played incessantly, 'til probably 1981—four years.

AVC: What's the appeal?

SC: It's a fantasy role-playing game. If you're familiar with the works of Tolkien or Stephen R. Donaldson or Poul Anderson or any of the guys who wrote really good fantasy stuff, those worlds stood up. It's an opportunity to assume a persona. Who really wants to be themselves when they're teenagers? And you get to be heroic and have adventures. And it's an incredibly fun game. They have arcane rules and complex societies and they're open-ended and limitless, kind of like life. For somebody who eventually became an actor, it was interesting to have done that for so many years, because acting is role-playing. You assume a character, and you have to stay in them over years, and you create histories, and you apply your powers. It's good improvisation with agreed rules before you go in.


And I'm trembling in anticipation for the release of Oblivion.

(neutral good fighter/thief)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:19 PM on March 5, 2006


I used to play D&D.. until I lost my soul in Aftermath!
posted by stbalbach at 4:37 PM on March 5, 2006


It's certainly well known that Colbert put in his time as a player.

It is?
posted by brundlefly at 4:40 PM on March 5, 2006


Wow...I didn't know that about Mr. Truth. I just love seeing things like this bubble up into the semi-mainstream. Nerds Rising!

I still think he'd do a pretty good Evercrackhead, given his background.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:46 PM on March 5, 2006


my lawful good paladin.. i know it's redundant..

roflcopter all the way.
posted by drpynchon at 4:46 PM on March 5, 2006


drpynchon, my favorite line as well--cuz it's even funnier if you know that he' s 1st edition all the way. No Blackguards or 3.5 alignment variants.
posted by bardic at 4:50 PM on March 5, 2006


Oh Lord. You used to play; am I right?

Of course I did! AD&D 2nd Edition. Those were good times. Why, did it morph from D&D to DnD since the early 90s?
posted by Hildegarde at 5:00 PM on March 5, 2006


Come on all you former D&D'ers, own up to the goofy names you gave your characters. I myself chose not to go the classic fantasy name route. Instead, I had a fighter named Stud Machostrong and a thief named Naster the Nasty. Of course, I was fifteen and totally baked.
posted by schoolgirl report at 5:17 PM on March 5, 2006


Ah, the good old days. I started playing D&D when there was a single rulebook about 30 pages long and played well into second edition, at which point newer, shinier games caught my eye that weren't geared almost entirely around beating things up and had rules that weren't a complex and occasionally mutually contradictory accretion of minutae seemingly dreamed up by tax lawyers on hallucinogens.

Still, I have fond memories of the old beast, especially in these days when I am playing with GM's who for incomprehensible reasons insist on using GURPs, a system eerily reminiscent of D&D in its entirely needless complexity. I still have all the old AD&D rulebooks somewhere, in versions which were apparently later discontinued due to rampant copyright violations.

I recently heard that there have been some changes to the system since my day. Is it any less ridiculous?
posted by kyrademon at 5:18 PM on March 5, 2006


MINDFLAYER!!!!!!!

I totally forgot about the origins of that band's name. I wonder if I'll be able to bring myself to wear the T-Shirt again.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:27 PM on March 5, 2006


And I had a half-orc called Vereed... after Oliver Reed.

I also briefly held the Guinness world record for non-stop AD&D.
posted by Hogshead at 5:28 PM on March 5, 2006


I haven't played real penNpaper pen & paper D&D in many years. The few times I've tried to play as an adult I've found to be frustrating: either everyone is three sheets to the wind after a couple of hours or we're all distracted by talk about wimmin or work. Or all of the above. Ah, youth.

And I just can't seem to get into MMORPGs. I played the beta test of Ultima Online (a looong time ago) and HATED it. I played the beta of Asheron's Call (dittoooo) and HATED it. I don't have a 'puter that will run WoW, and the only game that looks interesting is EVE Online, which has been described as a "spreadsheet simulator" (and as a guy who used to write Excel VBA scripts for a living, that sounds kinda attractive in a terribly soul-killing way). I'll give DDO a pass, at least until I upgrade my computer throw out my computer and get a new one. But then I'll be playing Oblivion on it, and I won't need a MMORPG....
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:30 PM on March 5, 2006


I perused Vin's essay and Colbert's in Thirty Years of Adventure : A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons. Great book! Viva Gygax!
posted by ao4047 at 5:34 PM on March 5, 2006


Sorry but there's no way that a displacer beast would be able to defeat a 21st level palidan, even a mind flayer or a beholder would be toast because at that level making saves is trivially easy. Colbert's story rings false.

I loved that bit though, very funny.
posted by I Foody at 6:32 PM on March 5, 2006


I'm surprised no one has linked to rpg.net or EN World, both of which have huge communities of D&D players.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:45 PM on March 5, 2006


Since it was linked in the FPP, I will relay to anyone interested that DDO (D&D Online) is a Very Bad Game (TM). This coming from a true MMO enthusiast today, and also a long-time D&D fan back-in-the-day.

While instituting the insane 3.5 ruleset, they forgot to patch in the fun. It is one of the worst play systems I have ever encountered in any genre.

For those that were underwhelmed by the Beta (like me), retail holds nothing for you but more lag. I'm profoundly disappointed.

I wish I could get my $49.99 back, but since I can't, I'm going to put it on the shelf and try it again in 3-4 months to see if things have improved.

I want to like Turbine so bad. But everything they touch just turns to mediocrity. They're like the Bad News Bears of MMO Development.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:56 PM on March 5, 2006


Played a lot of D&D as a kid. Managed a game store for a number of years. Haven't played pen-n-paper in more than ten years. I came to the realization that RPGs, whether D&D or any other ruleset, were not and never would be (despite their aspirations) true interactive, collaborative storytelling. Anyone who claims that it is is pretentious and full of shit.

RPGs let you smash things and kill things and get loot. And that's about it. And much more slowly than you can do in a computer game. So I quit playing PnP, and switched over to computer games. There are much more interesting things I can do with my friends than sit around a table and listen at doors for rats.

So: I bought DDO; Stormreach. I pre-ordered it, played a week in the beta, played during the headstart, have been playing it a bit since the official release.

It's not all that fun, and there's very little content. It combines the worst aspects of both PnP and MMORPG; it is slow and plodding like PnP. It is full of children on crack like any other MMORPG.

So, yeah, looking forward to Oblivion.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:57 PM on March 5, 2006


Yeah, Ynoxas, I think we agree. Without powergaming, I'll have a level 10 cleric by the end of the month, and there won't be another month's worth of content in the next update. I might buy back in for a month every six months or so. Maybe.

But I'm just not having much fun. There's no dense of discovery. There are too many jumping puzzles. Kids on crack. The one barbarian in the party who kills everything. Bleah.

I have a sneaking suspicion that DDO might end up like Asheron's Call 2, too. Not enough buyers and sicontinued in less than a year.
posted by solid-one-love at 7:01 PM on March 5, 2006


I have a sneaking suspicion that DDO might end up like Asheron's Call 2, too. Not enough buyers and sicontinued in less than a year.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:01 PM CST on March 5 [!]


Really? It was shut down?

*looks at Turbine's site*

Asheron's Call 2: Legions" ceased operations on December 30, 2005 and is no longer supported.

Oh my.

AC2 was another example of a game where there just wasn't anything to do.

DDO doesn't even have common/open areas for "freeplay" or just grinding or killing rats.

I sincerely have no idea what they were thinking.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:26 PM on March 5, 2006


Heheh, very funny. I started playing Chainmail when TSR actually meant Tactical Studies Rules and moved into the D&D system after. Been a gamer-geek ever since, working on 30 years now.

I came to the realization that RPGs, whether D&D or any other ruleset, were not and never would be (despite their aspirations) true interactive, collaborative storytelling. Anyone who claims that it is is pretentious and full of shit.

I have to utterly, completely disagree. Not to toot my own own horn (or that of the people I've the great fortune to game with) but I've had game sessions that literally spawned feuds within our friendship group that lasted for months. I would love to relate those sessions, but honestly, it would several pages. These were not the silly antics of adolescents either.

I do WoW and CoH/CoV and love them. If I thought I could pull it off, I'd do a Nobilis campaign (previously mentioned). PnP is the only real roleplaying. I love the virtual versions, but they are pale, pale comparisions to the mesh of emotions you see across the dice field. Every campaign I've ever played was as much designed by the players as the GM and mostly that was me. To be honest, I'm not sure I could ever really play across a table without the friends I played with for more than two decades, so well do we know each other.

But damn, to catch that spirit again. Computer games are like tap water to the single malt scotch we now indulge in those rare occasions we manage to gather and dust off the books. And now we have our children with us. Bliss. Wish it happened more often.
posted by elendil71 at 7:51 PM on March 5, 2006


DDO doesn't even have common/open areas for "freeplay" or just grinding or killing rats.

It does, but there's no loot and the experience gain is so tiny that it's pointless.

I have to utterly, completely disagree.

My assertion stands regarding those who disagree.
posted by solid-one-love at 7:57 PM on March 5, 2006


Oblivion makes me feel funny in my special places...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:02 PM on March 5, 2006


My assertion stands regarding those who disagree.

Hehe. Good. More scotch for me. :-)
posted by elendil71 at 8:10 PM on March 5, 2006


Thank you, pseudoephedrine. I'm me over on RPGnet, as well. A small correction: While EnWorld is almost entirely D&D/D20, RPGnet is mostly people who play things other than D&D: GURPS and Exalted get a lot of attention, but pretty much everything is discussed there.

Also, it's weird that so many of you are talking about RPGs in the past tense. They're still a thriving hobby, and just as fun as ever. Maybe you should try to get a group together...?
posted by jiawen at 8:50 PM on March 5, 2006


"Anyone who claims that it is is pretentious and full of shit."

Screw you.
posted by kyrademon at 9:31 PM on March 5, 2006


It's not interactive storytelling, kyra. One person determines the plot; the other people involved have no authority to alter the plot. Thus, regardless of how enjoyable or rich the experience appears to be, it is not collaborative storytelling.

Even the most skilled classical improvisational actors can pull off truly collaborative storytelling maybe once in ten thousand attempts. A bunch of role-players sitting around a table (or worse yet, dressing up and LARPing) have not succeeded yet, ever.

Yes, I'm trolling, just a little bit, because my assertion is guaranteed to provoke the kind of pissed-off reaction it provoked in you. That doesn't make it any less valid or accurate. Playing pretend with your friends, acting like you're courtesans in a steampunk version of Napoleonic France or whatever the latest piece of pretentious RPG shit uses as a background doesn't make your game any more special than kids playing D&D and bashing storm giants with their +5 flaming hammerheads of self touch.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:53 PM on March 5, 2006


Not to toot my own own horn ... but I've had game sessions that literally spawned feuds within our friendship group that lasted for months.

Look, we've been over this and over this. You took the last fucking lightning bolt beanbag and you missed the fucking Ogre. How could you miss Trevor, dude? He's, like, seven feet tall when he puts that suit on. He can't even fucking see through the eyeslits! And you miss with the last goddam lightning bolt beanbag. Jesus. Fuck. Next time, see if you can hit him with your purse. I could've leveled. Fucking magic users.
posted by frogan at 9:54 PM on March 5, 2006


soid-one-love: sounds like you just had crappy DMs or boring players. A good DM knows how to leave enough open ends for the players to get creative and is willing to work with their improvisation. Sometimes our group would figure out a clever way to completely subvert the storyline the DM's storyline and he'd spend the rest of the session improv'ing around what we were doing. It doesn't happen every time, but when it does it's damn fun storytelling.
posted by rhiannon at 10:28 PM on March 5, 2006


It's true that most DMs are not so good at improvising, and try to make the game go "on rails" reducing the players to striking poses in between dice fests. On the other hand I've run and played in many games where the players did have real choices and what happened next in the world depended on which way they went, what they did, how they approached things, etc.

I'm not saying it was some kind of collaborative fiction any more than any other game of pretend or make-believe is. But that doesn't make it any less valid and accurate when I say that solid-one-love is both wrong and an asshole at the same time. The dweebs who run game stores often are: they only see the lowest common denominator. They don't give a shit about the quality of anything, they just want it to sell with (very) minimal effort on their part.

Good RPGs are like a good game of poker; solid-one-love's just some drone playing nickel slots. Bashing monsters and getting treasure ain't all there is; if you think so, maybe you're just too unimaginative and lazy, dude.
posted by fleacircus at 10:43 PM on March 5, 2006


"One person determines the plot; the other people involved have no authority to alter the plot."

Only in GM'ed systems. I have played in any number with completely player-determined plots and no GM. Not that a provided framework invalidates the other systems, anyway.

But frankly, there are a whole number of different points I could easily argue with you about this, but since you've admitted you're trolling and therefore presumably have no interest in hearing other points of view, I won't bother, but will instead also let "my assertion stands regarding those who disagree", namely:

Screw you.
posted by kyrademon at 10:46 PM on March 5, 2006


s-o-l - yeah, what other people have said.

I've played in and GM-ed games where player's knees shook. Literally. Or when a player gets red in the face and overheats and storms out of the room in order to cool down. I've also had players run out of the room because they couldn't contain their insane laughter (which wouldn't be in-character for their character).

Yeah, it sounds really stupid, but is it any more craptastic than people who cry when watching a movie?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:01 PM on March 5, 2006


Ah, hell with it. I have insomnia. I will issue a refutation, pointless as it may be to do so.

First off, let’s look at what interactive storytelling is, by definition. It is the act of more than one person creating an imaginary plot (storytelling) in a manner that calls for “on the fly” response (interactive) as opposed to structured rewriting at leisure.

One of your primary objections seems to be that the storytelling is not truly interactive in gaming, but rather that one person creates the plot and the others merely respond to it. And, for a classic “dungeon crawl”, with a completely set world, goal, and set of circumstances, where the only real variable is the order of occurences and the details of each individual plot point, I might (*might*) be convinced to agree with you.

However, that completely ignores, for example:

- The multitude of GM’s who provide little more than a framework and improvise in response to player action, making it essentially a call and response of main characters (players) interacting with world (GM), as their assigned or chosen roles in the improvisation,

- Non-GM’ed systems, in which the plot is *completely* determined by the mutual assent of all participants,

And so on.

However, reading between the lines of what you say, I don’t think that’s actually your reason at all. Based on what you say about bashing-monsters-to-get-treasure and classically-trained-improvisors-only-do-it-one-in-ten-thousand-times and blah blah blah, I think your real argument is that role playing games aren’t *sophisticated* enough to be considered interactive storytelling in your view.

Of course, the concept of interactive storytelling makes no mention of sophistication, so that argument is ridiculous on the face of it. Five-year-olds playing cops and robbers is as much interactive storytelling as the Serpent’s Tooth Theatre, and so is everything in between. (I also, incidentally, made no mention in my definition of whether everyone has to have the same or equal roles, whether the narrative framework is provided or also invented, and whether the interaction is structured and guided by arbitrary rules or guidelines or whether it is not. Nor should it include such factors – why on earth should those variants be invalidated?)

But let’s take a look at the merits of (what I admittedly am presuming to be) your argument – are RPG’s necessarily, by their very nature, less sophisticated than other forms of interactive storytelling?

Well, no. A good RPG can have thematic resonance. It can deal with and make statements about important human issues: love, prejudice, war, ethics, creativity. It can feature characters who are fully fleshed, multi-faceted people. In fact, it is *better* at that than many other forms of interactive storytelling, because it involves people playing a single role for months, even years at a time, rather than for a single evening or short period. Very few other interactive storytelling media allow for character growth across the span the equivalent length of (or longer than) an epic novel.

How do I know these things are possible? Because I’ve participated in such RPG’s. Why do you posit they aren’t? Presumably, because you haven’t.

Sorry, but you’re not going to disprove my experiences by pointing at your own.
posted by kyrademon at 11:21 PM on March 5, 2006


(Oh, and, since you're trolling, I think it's reasonable to assume you'll once again respond by saying I'm pretentious and full of shit, so let me pre-emptively reply once again in turn: Screw you.)
posted by kyrademon at 11:24 PM on March 5, 2006


They're not silly names! Case in point: I played Zocor, a bard or somethingorother.

(prescription drug names are perfect for this sort of thing...)
posted by lester the unlikely at 11:29 PM on March 5, 2006


And while I'm being such a dork, this place sells interesting dice, if you're brave enough to pay in Polish zloties.
posted by fleacircus at 11:31 PM on March 5, 2006


On reflection, it's kind of like listening to someone 30 years ago attempt to explain why comic books weren't and couldn't be literature, because they were only good for telling stories about superheroes and funny animals. You'd ask why they were restricted to that, and how on earth that made them not literature anyway, and they'd just sneer at you smugly. Pissed me off then and it pisses me off now. I wonder if those people quietly changed their mind after Maus and Berlin and Moonshadow and etc. etc. etc., or if they've just clapped their hands over their eyes and shouted "LALALALALALA" for the last few decades so they could keep their feeling of superiority intact.
posted by kyrademon at 11:45 PM on March 5, 2006


Kyrademon, I feel you, brah, but I also have to point out that what made those comic books literature was the fact that they were published and sold to other people outside the sphere of creative influence. D&D is only interactive storytelling to the extent that the participants in that particular game at that moment feel that it is -- it can't be transmitted effectively; ie, there's no story left to tell. (I guess you could film a bunch of people playing D&D and tell THAT story, but then you'd be telling a story about people telling a story.) I would have loved to have participated in the campaigns you describe -- it's the whole point of what attracted me to the game in the first place.

NB: I do not want to interject myself in your flamewar with single-one-love, I just want to make a couple of comments and go on my merry way.

That's why I'm drooling over Oblivion, because an open-ended world that reacts to my actions is as close as I will probably ever get to the perfect game of D&D, and I fully expect to get 100+ hours of gameplay out of it. Strange how MMORPGs have missed that mark, but a single-player game may very well achieve it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:22 AM on March 6, 2006


BitterOldPunk - yes, but I would never try to claim that RPG's are literature. I was just drawing the parallel. Interactive storytelling doesn't necessarily need to have an audience other than the participants. In fact, in many cases, it's extremely boring to anyone who isn't participating, since the entire point is the interactive experience. Which does, admittedly, make its better points harder to demonstrate to other people. :)

I have very fond memories of stories in which the characters were trying to keep jazz from being turned into a museum piece instead of a living art, or where the whole plot was us trying to make a movie, and even just the two year long evolving love story one of my characters had with another player's character ... but, god, I wouldn't have wanted to sit on the side and *watch* any of that.

I tend to avoid the single-player games because interaction with other living players is one of the things I like best, and the MMORPG's always felt to me like role-playing with the role-playing removed, leaving me wondering what the point was.

Hope you don't mind that I responded - trying not to send any flames your way. I respect the truce flag. ;)
posted by kyrademon at 12:33 AM on March 6, 2006


For anyone who's looking for a real pen-and-paper RPG but can't find one: did you know about chat-based roleplaying? It's possible to do RPGing with pretty much all the advantages of pen-and-paper roleplaying without the actual face-to-face part (which is, admittedly, a very big part). There are a lot of systems out there that are based on IRC or similar chat protocols, and they can provide a remarkably good RPG experience. Some programs include character sheets, die rolling, maps, ways to move avatar/minis on the maps, etc. etc. You can have a complete game with almost all the interactivity of face-to-face games, but without the need to commute!

Check my webpage for a short summary of most of the chat-based RPG programs available.
posted by jiawen at 1:09 AM on March 6, 2006


I think I've pegged the pretentious bit. Whether you're full of shit is impossible to say, since anecdotal evidence isn't really evidence at all.

And, IMHO, RPGs whereby the plot is driven collectively cease to be games. A game requires aspects of competitiveness within a framework of rules; in a free-form system, there are no rules except those agreed to by all players, which is to say that there really are no rules at all. In a system where you have a gamemaster, there is an adversarial system and thus a game structure.

(I'm sorry for trolling, seriously. It's just that there's almost nothing more fun than telling role-players that their Baron Munchausen games, or whatever, really aren't collaborative storytelling, and watching their pissed-off reactions. And I've yet to hear any compelling argument otherwise among vehemently angry words spat through red, spittle-faced cheeks. I also like telling LARPers that they aren't actually playing a game.)

Sure, maybe RPGs will, one day, fifty years from now, achieve some semblance of 'art', as comics have. I wouldn't hold my breath, though. But in no way can a top-down game system be considered collaborative storytelling, and in no way can collaborative role-playing systems be called games.

Whatever. Again, I apologize for trolling on this subject, but its always worth it.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:17 AM on March 6, 2006


Or when a player gets red in the face and overheats and storms out of the room in order to cool down.

Put six 14-year-olds around a table with a copy of the Player's Handbook and that's a given, no? ;-)
posted by solid-one-love at 1:20 AM on March 6, 2006


If you didn't play Ultima Online in the glory days of dread lords or noto-pk, you have never experienced a worthwhile MMORPG. Period.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 2:13 AM on March 6, 2006


A game requires aspects of competitiveness within a framework of rules; in a free-form system, there are no rules except those agreed to by all players, which is to say that there really are no rules at all.

You've never read Finite and Infinite Games, have you? In all games, not just free-form games, there cannot be a game unless all players agree to the rules. It would be ridiculous for two teams to walk onto a field and for half of them to play using rules from soccer whilst the other half played using rules from rugby. Nor can you force players to abide by rules. As Carse likes to stress: if you must play, you cannot play.

Carse also talks a lot about storytelling. Here is an example:
Storytellers do not convert their listeners; they do not move them into the territory of a superior truth. Ignoring the issue of truth and falsehood altogether, they offer only vision. Storytelling is therefore not combative; it does not succeed or fail. A story cannot be obeyed. Instead of placing one body of knowledge against another, storytellers invite us to return from knowledge into thinking, from a bounded way of looking to an horizonal way of seeing.
It's pretty obvious how this relates to p&p RPGs. They are, firstly, games. Secondly, they are open-ended - they are not played for the purpose of determining a winner and a loser. Thirdly, they are collaborative - the referee, gamemaster, dungeonmaster, what-have-you does not possess all the answers even in the most railroaded plotline.
posted by Ritchie at 2:51 AM on March 6, 2006


*sigh*

I'm sorry, but the tone of solid-one-love's last post has nailed it for me:

Shut UP, Comic Book Guy.

And anyone who apologizes for trolling isn't sorry, by definition.

Much love to kyrademon. May you make your saving throws.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:53 AM on March 6, 2006


One person determines the plot; the other people involved have no authority to alter the plot. Thus, regardless of how enjoyable or rich the experience appears to be, it is not collaborative storytelling.

Storytelling is entirely summed up by a plot? A plot is never ever influenced by the actions and decisions made by the characters that live inside it? Well, at least we know solid isn't a writer.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:19 AM on March 6, 2006


Phht. You all aren't old school. This is old school:

* Spending an afternoon around a table not gaming but arguing about who has memorized more of the rulebooks by quizzing each other on what lives on which page. I still, to this day, recall the content of page 85 in the first Dungeon Master's Guide.

* Colbert met Len? Bah. I gamed with the president of RPGA, and then she published one of my articles in Polyhedron.

* I once got drunk in a Milwaukee hotel with a bunch of wackos that worked at Wizards of the Coast. Well, they were the only employees of the company at the time, but they were still wackos.

* Gary Gygax has, at one time or another, signed all of my rulebooks.

* Ed Greenwood once stopped me in the hall at Gen Con and said: "Aren't you that kid running that game I'm supposed to join?" When I said: "Uh, no.", he looked embarrassed, and I covered for him by being a fawning fan and gushing about Dragon Magazine for 10 minutes straight.

* I once had an overnight party with 10 of my friends. We split into 2 groups of 5, rolled up some impromptu characters, and tried to see which group could run through the Giants/Draw/Queen series the quickest. It kind of lost its fun, however, when one guy kept saying things like "I go to room #15, and I look behind the painting for the hidden sword. Then, I go to room #18, being careful not to step on the hidden trap..."
posted by thanotopsis at 4:51 AM on March 6, 2006


Case in point: I played Zocor, a bard or somethingorother.

Haha my wife did the same thing. In Everquest she had a druid named Luvox and a Necromancer named Fluoxitine.
posted by illovich at 6:15 AM on March 6, 2006


Shut UP, Comic Book Guy.

Funny, but that's exactly what I thought when I read what I could of Ms. Pretentious' posts.

I thought of Ralph Wiggum when I read yours.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:32 AM on March 6, 2006


If you didn't play Ultima Online in the glory days of dread lords or noto-pk, you have never experienced a worthwhile MMORPG. Period.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 4:13 AM CST on March 6 [!]


Amen.

I don't play UO anymore, but for 4 years I did, if only casually, and honestly I don't expect to ever have that type of experience again. I don't know that I can reproduce that feeling of awe when I first walked up to the Minoc bank and realized practically every avatar on my screen was another human being somewhere in the world. Then being able to not only look in their backpack, but help myself to some of their stuff.

Having to hide your key under 2 stacks of gold and reagents to keep someone from STEALING YOUR HOUSE.

Good times.

Also solid, I understand a lot of what you're saying, I do, but I think what you may be missing is that PnP RPG's are as diverse and varied as the people playing them. I have been to "visit" some groups in my life that were awful to the point of being cringe-inducing. People standing on their chairs and yelling barbarian battle shouts, that sort of thing.

In fact, I'm fully convinced that my group is the best group of all time, populated with a large, dependable, stable group of very intelligent players who were all witty and funny and creative.

I had a weekly D&D group for about 7 years through high school and college. In those 7 years, we played maybe 4 modules. The rest of the time it was a loose framework managed by our two fantastic, truly gifted, DMs who alternated about every 6 months.

I would say on any given play session, 85% of what we did was unscripted.

So, it was, for lack of a better term, free-form collaborative storytelling within a framework of rules that described a world. The framework is what prevents the stories from veering off into absurdity at every junction.

Better put, the framework is required to have truly collaborative storytelling, to insure that all parties are acting in good faith.

And like kyra said above, I truly enjoyed my time playing, but I would never have expected a non-participatory observer to have found it to be even slightly enjoyable.

So, perhaps it is collaborative storyCRAFTING, and is a success. But perhaps it fails as collaborative storyTELLING, meaning in a way that would be enjoyable to those hearing the story.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:40 AM on March 6, 2006


I do, but I think what you may be missing is that PnP RPG's are as diverse and varied as the people playing them.

I agree. And you could number all of these people individually by the count of Cheetos molecules adhering to their bodies.

So, perhaps it is collaborative storyCRAFTING, and is a success.

I maintain that games are not (and cannot be) stories and stories are not (and cannot be) games. I argued this way back when the misnamed "Storyteller System" was released but don't feel the need to revisit it or defend my assertion. And the fact that I was arguing against Vampire players meant that I couldn't be wrong. ;-)

Greg Costikyan agrees with me. I'll let him handle it. He's talking about computer games, but it applies equally to PnP (and I know for a fact that he does apply it equally to PnP).
posted by solid-one-love at 7:01 AM on March 6, 2006


solid-one-love It's just that there's almost nothing more fun than telling role-players that their Baron Munchausen games, or whatever, really aren't collaborative storytelling, and watching their pissed-off reactions.

You need a good hobby, then you'd spend less time being rude to people for fun. Have you tried role-playing? You get together with your friends and create some stories together. There are lots of ways to do it and different styles.
posted by alasdair at 7:04 AM on March 6, 2006


I maintain that games are not (and cannot be) stories and stories are not (and cannot be) games.

Okay, this is your thesis statement, and what we needed a long time ago.

I see what you're saying. If it is a story, already laid out, then that prohibits a game. And if it is a game, where anything can happen, then it can't be a story because a story is already decided.

I guess my position is that a story is crafted whilst playing the game. It is not a story a priori, but it does, indeed, wind up as a story. *shrug*

So, the accounting of the pathway of the game would certainly have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Next time you have an RPG experience, designate someone to record the actions of the group, leaving out the dice roles and other "mechanics" of the game. You started in Feldormar, you went to the Cave of Eternal Peril, you defeated the ogre king Mok'Lok, and you returned home with new treasures and new battle scars. The end.

That's a story, isn't it? Therefore, you CRAFTED a story, but didn't necessarily TELL a story.

But, in computer games, I see this as being practically impossible for reasons I'll have to save for another day.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:31 AM on March 6, 2006


Blargh. This thread sums up just about everything that pisses me off with gamers (mmo and pnp) in general.

I've played both extensively.

DnD groups always have one 'old dude' who can't fucking comprehend that we're not still sitting in his mom's basement in 1972 staring at a 'battle map' with a bunch of hand-painted lead figures all over it.

The rules have greatly improved since Tactical Studies Rules published their craptastic, totally unoriginal collection of crap in 1846 or whenever.

"Let me get this straight - you want to roll a really low number so you can hit the 'giant' but not when it's your turn to go? I thought high numbers are good."
"No - high numbers are good but not when you want to beat their thac0."
"Beat their thac0? I thought thac0 was my number. like...what I needed to roll."
"No. It's not that complicated..."
"Yes it is. I'm not dumb. If it doesn't make any fucking sense to me than it's complicated."
And that's just 2nd edition!

Third edition:
"High numbers are good!"

And old, bearded fat guys with wolf t-shirts and tight jeans get all pissed off because "version 3.5 is like a video game."

No, it's like a game. The rules are intuitive and make it easy to pick up and play. This allows me, the DM, to flex and weave the story when the players chose to modify the course of the plot. Pre-third-edition is like trying to write software without knowing any code. It's the least intuitive experience on Earth.
And you old dudes with your black tennis shoes, driving your beat-up geo metros to the comic book shop so you can harass the 16 year old kid behind the counter - you revel in the sport of making the game painful. You love to transform into rule lawyers so you can by superior at something, anything. Like I said, blargh.

And mmo traditionalists who gripe about how Ultima was the only good mmo can take a flying leap. You people make me sick.
Have you actually played FFXI? Have you? No. You haven't. Do you know why? Because it takes 75 DAYS of play time before anybody even notices your character. And you won't invest that sort of time in a game because you're all sad and weepy about how nobody thinks your UO character is cool anymore. And maybe your mom shrunk your wolf shirt in the laundry.
Eve Online is an AWESOME game. It is complicated, it is a world where people totally depend on each other. I've seen it suck people's faces off. (I've got personal experience watching them take over people's lives in the same way DnD took over people's lives in the 80s and early 90s - before we were rescued by MUDs) Believe me - mmorpgs are just starting to heat up.
DDO was a flop. But did anyone expect any different? It's just a more-complicated, crappier version on WoW dependent on brand loyalty - there's no way it could ever be as cool as tabletop.
But griping about how GREAT uo is makes you sound like my grandpa shouting about "they just don't make stuff like they used to."
Someone in Second Life made a vending machine that dispenses vending machines.
That is freaking sweet.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:50 AM on March 6, 2006


you're all making me agree with solid-one-love.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:50 AM on March 6, 2006


You need a good hobby, then you'd spend less time being rude to people for fun.

Being rude to pretentious gamers for fun is among the best hobbies conceivable.

Have you tried role-playing? You get together with your friends and create some stories together.

No, you don't.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:09 AM on March 6, 2006


jiawen - thanks, for that link to resources; I've been meaning to put togather a game of Call of Cthulhu via IRC over on metachat.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:23 AM on March 6, 2006


Yep. Useless, as I thought.

"He's talking about computer games, but it applies equally to PnP"

No it doesn't.
posted by kyrademon at 8:39 AM on March 6, 2006


I loved Call of Cthulhu; I bought way too many editions of the rulebook. I do, however, find it ironic that it is one of the games most often cited as being a storytelling experience, while being based on the work of a writer (H.P. Lovecraft) who could create neither compelling plots nor characters. ;-)

The adventure "Spawn of Azathoth" sticks in my mind as one of the best ever, and one of the earliest attempts in an RPG to turn the game into a collaborative storytelling experience. It failed, as they all do, but it was still a good adventure.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:40 AM on March 6, 2006


No it doesn't.

Yeah, it does. Google "games are not stories" and get back to me when you've finished.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:42 AM on March 6, 2006


No. Go fuck yourself and get back to me when you've finished.
posted by kyrademon at 8:48 AM on March 6, 2006


It's like you were created just to provide me with an example of everything that's wrong with that specific, pretentious subgenre of gamers. You react so perfectly and predictably, shaking with apoplectic rage at every button I push, that I'm worried that people will think you're my sockpuppet.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:08 AM on March 6, 2006


...while being based on the work of a writer (H.P. Lovecraft) who could create neither compelling plots nor characters.

Good job, s-o-l. Now you've managed to piss off the one non-roleplayer reading this thread! :)
posted by brundlefly at 9:13 AM on March 6, 2006


solid-one-love learns that if he acts like an asshole, people will get mad. Revels in his power. Film at eleven.

Whatever. Glad you're having fun.
posted by kyrademon at 9:14 AM on March 6, 2006


balrog: you misunderstand about my appreciation of UO, but because of your tone I don't have the desire to try to disabuse you of your poorly formed position.

(BTW, I have played the following MMOG's: UO, EQ1, AC, AC2, AO, MCO, TSO, E&B, PS, DAoC, SWG, CoH, WoW, and now DDO, and testing AA.)

So basically, I know what I'm talking about when it comes to MMO's and my own experiences, so please, spare me.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:16 AM on March 6, 2006


OK. I gotta ask. I'm really curious.

solid-one-love, what are you getting out of this?

You've pretty much stated that your purpose was to make people with my point of view angry. OK, it worked, I got angry. Then you basically danced up and down and said, "Ha, ha! You got angry! I win!"

OK, ya got me. Congratulations.

But, seriously, why? Why does that make you happy? I really don't get it.

I know this is off topic, but it's so rare to meet a troll that comes out and admits, Hey! I'm a troll! that I thought it would be a rare opportunity to ask.

Is it that you have some kind of specific issue with people who think RPG's can be interactive stories? You think they're all pretentious, and this makes you (for some reason) enjoy getting them angry about it, even if they're total strangers on the internet? Or do you do this more generally? And why do you like doing it?

Serious question. I'd like to know.
posted by kyrademon at 9:39 AM on March 6, 2006


Colbert is a pretty funny guy. I loved Strangers with Candy.

I stopped playing D&D right around the time the second edition came out, mostly because of new interests - girls, music, skateboards, etc. I tried to play Top Secret again in college, but that was a disaster. I also dug Dr. Who and Call of Cthulhu.

I remember some cool D&D games, but I mostly remember staying inside for way too long on nice days, getting in ridiculously heated arguments, having headaches, and being pretty much bummed out after most games. After a while, it wasn't fun anymore. It's always very surprising to me to learn that people are able to find people to play with for so long - maybe I'm just not cut out for it or have been unlucky, but I found that people took the game so seriously that when things went bad, it was almost always taken personally (like the GM had slighted them.) Anyway, it's surprising to me that people still find them fun.
posted by drobot at 9:50 AM on March 6, 2006


Good job, s-o-l. Now you've managed to piss off the one non-roleplayer reading this thread! :)

Aw. c'mon. If I said that, say, Arundhati Roy couldn't create compelling plots or characters, someone might get pissed off. But Lovecraft was an idea guy who lacked the skill to, y'know, write. Even most Lovecraft fans (like myself) will generally admit that his stories were ugly wrappings around beautiful cores.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:28 AM on March 6, 2006


You've pretty much stated that your purpose was to make people with my point of view angry. OK, it worked, I got angry. Then you basically danced up and down and said, "Ha, ha! You got angry! I win!"

Yes, that's right. Sometimes doing a thing for enjoyment is enough, without it having to be something it isn't. Sort of like games and stories.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:30 AM on March 6, 2006


Anyway, it's surprising to me that people still find them fun.

I don't find them fun anymore, but I'm not surprised that other people do. I am surprised that other people find them meaningful, or artistic, or some other trumped-up attribute. It's like calling a hockey game a 'triumph of the human spirit, emblematic of the struggle of blah blah blah.' It ain't.

People who want to create collaborative stories do so. They make movies. They co-write novels. The create art: creative works intended to provoke an emotional response in an audience. Without an audience, there's no art. Without plot, character, climax, denouement, unity, narrative drive, and so on, there's no story.

I found that people took the game so seriously that when things went bad, it was almost always taken personally

I agree completely. There's at least one person in this thread who takes her games so seriously that she takes it personally. And so seriously that she couldn't possibly be finding the games fun.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:42 AM on March 6, 2006


Ah, OK. Still don't understand why you enjoy that, but I least I understand better where you're coming from regarding RPG's. Which I guess is ... something.

You probably don't care, but I don't actually disagree with you. Most games I play are just that - games. And I like that. But I've also played ones that were stories.

You said in earlier posts, essentially, "Well, if it's a story, it's not a game! Games have to have rules!" Well, OK. They weren't games, then. So what? I enjoyed those for what they were, too.

In all honesty, any defence of anything of this nature can sound pretentious if you want it to, once it gets beyond the "yes it is/no it isn't" level. If you had said, say, "Rock and roll is not music, just noise, and anyone who thinks differently is pretentious," and I had responded with a point by point defence of rock and roll, you could just as easily have said "See? You're pretentious! Big long wordy defence of rock and roll, for god's sake!" No-win situation. Which, to be fair, is I guess what you wanted, for some reason.

Anyhow. You've made clear you don't want to have a discussion about any of this, really, which is why I stopped having one and started just telling you to piss off. So ... I'll stop here. But congratulations on, um, winning. I sure did get mad at your rude remarks, there. Yep.
posted by kyrademon at 10:44 AM on March 6, 2006


D&D online isn't that great. You're not allowed to wander outside of Stormreach (yet), there is a level 10 level cap, and it takes forever to level up (you have to gain experience to fill five seperate sections of each level).

But for what it is, it's a good game. I also hear they will be raising the level cap by 2 every two months. The next update also has Monk and Bard (I think) as playable classes. They may even be expanding the areas, since the map shows a lot more than just Stormreach.
posted by 29 at 10:50 AM on March 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


“One person determines the plot; the other people involved have no authority to alter the plot.” - solid-one-love

Sounds like you had some shitty DMs. I allowed an array of plots (as a DM) and pretty much let the player’s drive the story wherever they will. Sometimes this resulted in spectacular failures, usually pretty good results if I worked hard at covering a variety of contingencies, and occasionally resulted in absolute brilliance.
*pats self on back*
...GM-ing “Toon” is excellent practice.

If you don’t rule mongering or arbitrarially manage the plot you can have great games. But that depends on the players. I prefered simply to create a world, set it in motion and allow players to find themselves in it. The hard part is not being an NPC foil, the hard part is doing several days worth of details on a certain town, castle, cave system, what have you - and sucking it up when the players decide instead to head off into the barren wastes.

I’m willing to cede your point on “truly collaborative storytelling” partly because I’m not sure what you mean by that - partly because I think your saying that there aren’t purely balanced communal organic story generated by all players (in which case I agree) - and partly because I think it’s besides the point anyway.

Even in the greatest most skilled improvisation the goal is ultimately only to have a good time and enjoy it.
Whether the subject matter itself is purile or soaked in mythos, detailed and high fantasy or hack and slash low fantasy is relevant only to those pretentious bastards you mention.
Create a system for players to flourish, and they will. They’ll define their own characters and roles, create backgrounds and motivations, live within the bounds of the world as well as define new frontiers you have to react and adapt to.
You don’t want to call that collaborative storytelling, fine. Seems to me by that definition it wouldn’t exist in moviemaking either.

“RPGs whereby the plot is driven collectively cease to be games...A game requires aspects of competitiveness within a framework of rules...there are no rules except those agreed to by all players, which is to say that there really are no rules at all. In a system where you have a gamemaster, there is an adversarial system and thus a game structure...But in no way can a top-down game system be considered collaborative storytelling, and in no way can collaborative role-playing systems be called games.” - solid-one-love

So on the one hand it isn’t a game because there’s no competition, but on the other hand there is because you have a gamemaster who is the adversary and thus creates competition. So it isn’t storytelling, because it isn’t a game, but it isn’t storytelling because it is a game.
p º ( p Ú p )

p º ( p · p )


Dude, you’re so way smarter than we are.

“...almost nothing more fun than telling role-players that their Baron Munchausen games...”
- solid-one-love

Hey, let’s talk about one of your hobbies and how much of a shithead you are for liking it.

From the Greg Costikyan piece:
“....are basically not a lot of fun, precisely because they try to reconcile the contradictory requirements of game and story....Their repeat playability, one of the most important aspects of any game, is close to nil.”

Well...what about your earlier point on improvisation? “Who’s line is it anyway?” is on t.v., it’s all improv games some people must have fun watching it.

Ok, so it’s not ‘gaming’ it’s mini-theater. Whatever. Why is this at all significant empistomologically other than as an excuse for you to enjoy fucking with other people you consider “pretentious”?
Indeed - why assume such people are here when the subject of whether RPGs is truly collaborative storytelling or not wasn’t broached?
/as far as I saw...perhaps I missed it.


“Being rude to pretentious gamers for fun is among the best hobbies conceivable....I apologize for trolling on this subject, but its always worth it.”

Fuck you.

Sorry.

But fuck you.

/seriously though, sorry

/but again, fuck you

/if I wanted to emotionaly harm you I’d say something more personal instead of reflecting the form of what you were saying back at you and giving you honest feedback.

/but seriously, fuck you fat ass troll. You’re a blight on honest discourse.

/sorry
posted by Smedleyman at 11:16 AM on March 6, 2006


I don't find them fun anymore, but I'm not surprised that other people do. I am surprised that other people find them meaningful, or artistic, or some other trumped-up attribute.

This is such a strange statement to me. You're not surprised that people find something fun, but you are surprised if people find that their fun thing is also meaningful? How are those two things exclusionary?

You'll receive no argument from me about whether or not RPGs are art: they're not, for the lack of audience reason that you have mentioned. But how does the lack of audience preclude an emotional resonance for the participants? This is the part of your argument I just don't get.

As for story, well, the game's purpose isn't to tell stories, I agree with you there, but that doesn't mean stories don't happen in the end. Even writers sometimes just follow their characters to see where they end up. Most of the time, that doesn't make a story, which is why there are so many unfinished drafts in so many wastebaskets around the world. But that's only most of the time.
posted by Errant at 11:20 AM on March 6, 2006


“Yes, that's right. Sometimes doing a thing for enjoyment is enough, without it having to be something it isn't. Sort of like games and stories.” - posted by solid-one-love

Pissing off kyrademon (et.al) for no reason is a game. I see. Prick.

I think I’ll make fucking with you my new hobby. Every comment you make in mefi, or in your blog, or anywhere online, I will deride and mock you. Your every thought, everything you believe in, everything you say. Mostly because your whole life is a joke, but partly because I think you will like the attention. Since y’know, trolling is a game - which requires competion an all. You seem to be indicating you want to play.
In fact, why limit it to just us? I’ll round up oodles of folks online and we can all play!

Gosh, does that seem unjust in some way? Nah, just a game
posted by Smedleyman at 11:23 AM on March 6, 2006


Smedleyman: I can't tell whether you bit the hook or whether you're having fun. Either way, I laughed and enjoyed it; good show.

You're not surprised that people find something fun, but you are surprised if people find that their fun thing is also meaningful? How are those two things exclusionary?

Meaningful in the context of the current discussion.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:24 AM on March 6, 2006


“I can't tell whether you bit the hook or whether you're having fun.”

Speaks volumes about your character doesn’t it?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:27 AM on March 6, 2006


Meaningful in the context of the current discussion.

i.e. meaningful inside the frame I wish to keep the discussion in.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:28 AM on March 6, 2006


Ah, I see, yes, you bit, which makes it even more enjoyable. You have fun with your 'threat', you funny little man. Knock yourself out with that. I guarantee that I'll have infinitely more fun fucking with you than you will trying and failing to fuck with me.

I knew there had to be some deranged loser who would get even more angry than kyra because I've shattered their gamer-nerd worldview. Thank you for showing yourself.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:29 AM on March 6, 2006


"It's just that there's almost nothing more fun than telling role-players that their Baron Munchausen games, or whatever, really aren't collaborative storytelling, and watching their pissed-off reactions."

So tell us why the Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Hogshead Publishing, 1998) isn't a collaborative storytelling game? I'm really interested to hear your thinking behind this one.

Hint: if your justification involves redefining either "collaborative" or "storytelling", don't even start.
posted by Hogshead at 11:40 AM on March 6, 2006


So tell us why the Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Hogshead Publishing, 1998) isn't a collaborative storytelling game?

it isn't a game by any useful definition. I don't have to redefine 'game' for this to be true.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:44 AM on March 6, 2006


I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll.
posted by Richard Daly at 11:44 AM on March 6, 2006


“Ah, I see, yes, you bit, which makes it even more enjoyable.”

Er...bit what? I ceded your point. I think it’s a tautological argument, but as you define your terms, sure I’m perfectly fine with it.

“You have fun with your 'threat', you funny little man.”

I am funny thanks. Little? Compared to someone with your fat ass I suppose.

“I guarantee that I'll have infinitely more fun fucking with you than you will trying and failing to fuck with me.”

So you took me seriously on that? As opposed to recognizing I was - as I directly stated, so probably hard to miss - holding a mirror up to you.
And I’m the one who “bit”?

“...I knew there had to be some deranged loser who would get even more angry than kyra...”

So it doesn’t matter what kyrademon or myself, or others do or have done in life to help the world, what our jobs are, what kind of parents we are or what have you, because we hold certain opinions (or in my case - in your opinion, contrary to direct statements by me, I hold certain opinions) on role playing games, et. al. we’re deranged losers.
I see.

You also state that your sole purpose was to deride “gamer-nerds” and that you are looking to bait “loser”s and I’M the one who is deranged?
Please.

You’re on the internet looking to antagonize people you percieve as lower than yourself to gain some self-esteem because you’re obviously - and from your profile self-avowedly - unhappy with yourself.

Mefites aren’t your personal whipping dogs.

Check yourself into a clinic or something man.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:45 AM on March 6, 2006


the only game that looks interesting is EVE Online, which has been described as a "spreadsheet simulator"

EVE is not nearly as boring as a lot of reviews make it out to be. In fact, I don't think EVE is boring at all -- it's slow, yes, but not boring. It takes a while to get from point A to point B, for example. Mining takes a while. Heck, most things you want to do take a while. But you adjust to the pace very quickly, and the open-ended world the game provides is unbeatable. You can do whatever you want to do with your character -- there are no skill caps, no levels, no classes, and no required missions. It is what MMORPGs ought to be.
posted by vorfeed at 11:47 AM on March 6, 2006


Okay, solid-one-love, what about it isn't a game? It has a finite duration, it's competitive and it has a winner.
posted by Hogshead at 11:49 AM on March 6, 2006


Whoa. This got ugly.

"you misunderstand about my appreciation of UO"

ynoxas: I apologize. You appear to be way more of a dork than I, going so far as to brag about your beta-testing-prowess - you are probably some sort of awesome video game programmer like I see in all those ITT tech commercials, right? Is your wolf-shirt on too tight? Ultima Online has been around longer than FFXI and Eve and WoW, and maybe I'm wrong, but it really looks like my piece of pie is bigger than yours.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:53 AM on March 6, 2006


Compared to someone with your fat ass I suppose.

I think you're the second person on MeFi to attack me by calling me fat. Yeah, I'm tracking my weight loss on my blog, but I ain't fat. I suppose you're trying to "emotionaly harm" [sic] me, but that dog don't hunt.

But I have pegged you as an overly sensitive gamernerd.

So it doesn’t matter what kyrademon or myself, or others do or have done in life to help the world

Oh, I'm sure that the zen life you lead^H^H^H^H aspire to has benefitted thousands.
Check yourself into a clinic or something man.

Yeah, y'know what? I'm gonna pass on that. See, I'm not the one shaking with impotent rage about something someone wrote on an Internet message board. If anyone needs help, Chuckles, it's you.

Yeah, it's you.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:53 AM on March 6, 2006


James, the discussion of whether or not AoBM is or is not a game has been hashed out so many times on rec.games.frp and various other message boards that nothing that you or I could add would serve any purpose. It ain't, I'm satisfied it ain't. You think it is and are satsfied it is.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:54 AM on March 6, 2006


Meaningful in the context of the current discussion.

Uh, yeah. You said "meaningful" first in this thread, so can you clarify that? You're surprised when people find "significant quality" in their gaming? I really don't see how that could surprise you, given not only the amount of passion displayed in this thread but that you've expressly intended to provoke that passion. So, while I'd actually like to talk about this because I find the topic interesting, it occurs to me that maybe you do not and are just being disingenuous for effect. Could you let me know if I'm wasting my time? Thanks.

On preview: probably any actual conversation won't survive what this thread has turned into, anyway, so never mind. Maybe another time.
posted by Errant at 11:57 AM on March 6, 2006


solid-one-love appears to be mentally imbalanced again, much like that hilarious time on MeTa when everyone pointed out what a fucktard he was being.

Go team fucktard.

I loves my kyrademon and Smedleyman, but you I could give less of a fuck about. Here's hoping you're the next flameout you godawful tool.
posted by longbaugh at 12:00 PM on March 6, 2006


Well, since The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen got shortlisted for Best New RPG in the 1999 Origins Awards and is about to be republished by MIT Press, clearly there are quite a few people who are pretty damn sure it's a game.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, on the other hand, isn't a game. It's a movie by Terry Gilliam.

You're not the guy I argued to a standstill about this four years ago who claimed he knew everything possible about the game, consistently mis-spelled its title, and failed to realise he was discussing the matter with the game's author and publisher even though though I was signing my posts with my name and company, are you?

Solid, I know you're Canadian, it's on page one of your passport that you have to be bitter about everything. But you're not coming out of this discussion very well. Do the words "Terry Austin" mean anything to you?
posted by Hogshead at 12:03 PM on March 6, 2006


Well, since The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen got shortlisted for Best New RPG in the 1999 Origins Awards

And there was some controversy about that, since it's not an RPG, even if one concedes that it's a game.

You're not the guy

No, that wasn't me, JW. And comparing me to Terry Austin is just silly. I'm right more often, he's entertaining more often.

And longbaugh, I knew it wouldn't take long for you to show up and say nothing in sixty words.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:09 PM on March 6, 2006


If you consider Austin -- the kind of guy who'll post "Suck my cock" repeatedly to the same thread if he disagrees with the other posters -- entertaining, I think we've got the level of your "right". Thanks. You can go now.
posted by Hogshead at 12:19 PM on March 6, 2006


I guess I've been away from usenet for so long that I missed Austin's switch from nutbar to ubernutbar.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:23 PM on March 6, 2006


Yeah, Errant, no point, now that Boaz has guaranteed that the thread'll be locked, just like every time someone posts an unflattering photoshop of a member.

I've had fun, y'all. Hope you did, too.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:27 PM on March 6, 2006


The pic was deleted, it looks like.

To avoid similar fun in the future, adopt the spirit of E-prime if not the rigor and assume any argument about what this or that really is is a huge waste of time.

"is": a sneaky way to foist absolutes on everybody.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:30 PM on March 6, 2006


“I think you're the second person on MeFi to attack me by calling me fat. Yeah, I'm tracking my weight loss on my blog, but I ain't fat.”

I wasn’t talking about the weight loss on your blog, but the fat in your head: poorly formed arguments, stated trolling, acrimony for the sake of acrimony etc. But really - who the fuck cares as long as we’re talking about you, right?

“But I have pegged you as an overly sensitive gamernerd.”

How so? My issues are solely with you being a shithead troll. I ceded your point on RPG vs. “collaborative storytelling” here and stated it several times. Want it again? I think RPGs aren’t collaborative storytelling. I happen to think you make a poor argument on it. But that was my only problem until you started shit just to be a dick. If this thread concerned anything from Muslim heritage to the Red Rain of Kerala my beef with you is the same. It has nothing to do with RPGs.

Yes, I’ve played the game. I liked it as a way to waste time. A hobby that I’m not into anymore. That’d be about it.
You “Played a lot of D&D as a kid. Managed a game store for a number of years.” and I’M a gamenerd? Wha?

“I have a sneaking suspicion that DDO might end up like Asheron's Call 2, too.”

Yeah, f’rinstance - I don’t even know what the fuck those are.

“See, I'm not the one shaking with impotent rage about something someone wrote on an Internet message board.”

Rage? It’s irritation. I doubt you could actually make me angry. But I’m not the one pissing on people for no reason on an internet message board. And I’m not the one who’s impotent, Chuckles.

To reiterate for your abysmally fat and slow head: your opinon on gaming - I have no problem with. Get it? Me no care.
/preview - Shakespeare.

Your narcissistic need to initiate arguments solely for the sake of interpersonally exploiting others? Yeah, I have a big problem with.
I had no dog in this hunt until you pissed all over kyrademon for no reason.

Or exactly what part of “Yes, I'm trolling” did I misinterpret?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:33 PM on March 6, 2006


Wow, sonofsamiam, thanks for making me look up E-Prime; that's an amazingly cool movement, and I especially liked Robert Anton Wilson's piece.

Errant: meaningful, as opposed to trivial. The passion that people display for trivial things is always surprising to me, whether it's their favourite RPG or Game Seven of the Stanley Cup or their favourite clothing designer or the right shade of paint for their car.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:37 PM on March 6, 2006


Rage? It's irritation/

Pretty sure it's rage, chief.

I had no dog in this hunt until you pissed all over kyrademon for no reason.

Actually, if you read very carefully -- y'know, in order -- she pissed all over me first. I didn't direct any comment at her until she said "screw you."

Then she was fair game. Just like you are. And your buttons are so, so much bigger.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:40 PM on March 6, 2006


Smedleyman, I read the Greg Costikyan piece too (if that's the one you mean), and noted that it was written in 1988. One of the issues that I had with it, until I noted the date was the lack of game references. I found the Baldur's Gate series to be as good or better than a lot of sword and sorcery novels, I really like the tension and story and slowly-unfolding plot of Half Life, and Neverwinter Nights was on my computer for about 2-1/2 years with all the mods for it.
(Before I get tarred here, I'm not disagreeing with you.)
Morrowind, and I'm sure Oblivion will too, had a great story and most of the sub-plots and side quests helped further the backstory and history and made the world seem more alive. Perhaps the line between stories and games has blurred enough that things are no longer one thing or the other, and Costikyan's essay is no longer completely relevant.
I've heard mixed things on D&D Online, which is a shame - I might've picked it up and not played EQ2 so much. Definitely looking forward to Oblivion though.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:41 PM on March 6, 2006


Zack, Costikyan has written quite a bit on the subject since 1988. A lot of it can be found on his blog. He's very much in the 'games are not stories' camp.

I found the Baldur's Gate series to be as good or better than a lot of sword and sorcery novels

See, to me, this is like saying "I found Crash to be better than this ripe navel orange".
posted by solid-one-love at 12:44 PM on March 6, 2006


Hey Hogshead ... is that as in the publisher of Nobilis? I love that game.
posted by kyrademon at 12:47 PM on March 6, 2006


(The only effective rebuke for a troll is to advance the discussion beyond him. More on this later.)

For those of y'all interested in discussions of games, game design, &c. I propose the following points.

1) What elendil71 said about Nobilis. It's the only role playing game I'm afraid to touch (though I want to) because I doubt I'm up to the challenge. This has nothing to do with the rules of the game, which IIRC are simple. Yeah, I think it's better than I am.

2) I don't know if it's been mentioned elsewhere, but Rules of Play is a pretty good introduction to serious game design study (of course, YMMV).

3) The Forge is a group of gamers and independent (read: hobbyist) game designers that turns out some pretty good stuff. I haven't been there in a while, so things might have changed, but the level of discussion was at least MeFi quality.

Finally,
(4?) I'd like to engage in some conceptual aikido. It is my pet theory that trolling is best defeated by treating the troll kindly, and taking all their negativity as constructive criticism whenever possible. With this in mind I read the linked article.

It's interesting, but is overly focused on computer games for our purposes.

His initial point about the "triangle of experience" in games vs. "linear" stories is a good one. Good games do put their players in a decision making role, where stories do not (normally) provide reinforcement for a variety of player decisions.

But when he talks about "adventure" games and their limited number of game states, he's rather inappropriate to this discussion. While this is a criticism of some computerized RPGs, tabletop RPGs are unique in their possibility for intermediate states. Where a computer might require a finite number of paths through the game, each clearly delineated, games played between people are far more granular with a wide range of potential outcomes.

Ironically, The overall tone of Costikyan's article is not to disparage games (as S-O-L has done) but to highlight stories as insufficient to the demands of games. I'm not sure that Costikyan agrees with S-O-L as much as S-O-L thinks.

Oh, and…
MetaFilter: a blight on honest discourse
posted by Richard Daly at 12:56 PM on March 6, 2006



“Pretty sure it's rage, chief.” -solid-one-love

Your perception needs fine tuning in more than a few ways then, sport.

“she pissed all over me first.” - solid-one-love

You came in - as you yourself stated - looking for a fight.
You want to call it a misunderstanding, I can accept that. What is unacceptable is your defense of trolling simply because you believe your opinion is superior to anyone elses. Others who disagree are “pretentious” or whatnot.

“Then she was fair game. Just like you are. And your buttons are so, so much bigger.”
- solid-one-love

And there you have your attitude. I just want to read the thread, contribute a little, chat about Colbert, whatever. You want to troll.
Feel free to continue masterbating thinking I’m upset in some way. As I’ve reiterated - my only irritation with you is that you want to piss people off (as you have stated).
I think it gets in the way. So I don’t like it.



“Perhaps the line between stories and games has blurred enough that things are no longer one thing or the other, and Costikyan's essay is no longer completely relevant.” - Zack_Replica

Well, my observation on that was linked to solid-one-love’s assertion that collaborative roleplaying is rare even in improvisation groups. Applying Costikyan’s standard of repeat playability and the contradictory elements of game and story - improvisation can never be story. So in essence I agree with you on relevancy.

“Before I get tarred here, I'm not disagreeing with you.” - Zack_Replica

I understand where you would get that idea. But vehemence in opposition to trolling doesn’t equate to abuse on my part of anyone who disagrees with any given position I might take. Moot point in any case since we’re ultimately in agreement. Albeit from different perspectives and for different reasons.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:58 PM on March 6, 2006


He's very much in the 'games are not stories' camp.
So I see. Now I don't have the time to read everything he's written right now, but I do agree with this
"To think that stories are somehow more legitimate than games is like thinking that music is somehow more legitimate than poetry, or poetry more legitimate than painting. It's comparing apples to oranges."
Comparing different media is usually unfair so, no, perhaps games aren't stories. I believe that they do have merit as a different type of story. Perhaps we need a new word for it. Some interactive tale/adventure/thing. This is why I can definitely see your point when you say this...
See, to me, this is like saying "I found Crash to be better than this ripe navel orange".
...I see the whole game as being an interactive story as just saying it's a "game" doesn't, to me, really get across everything it contains.
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:02 PM on March 6, 2006


I don't think I'm disparaging games at all, Richard. I'm just saying that I think they're one thing and not another. They entertain some, yes. They do what they do, and I think that people who think that they do what they don't do, doo de doo de doo.

Smed, my opinion is superior because I'm right, and many people are choked because I'm annoyingly so. A hunnert-odd posts and no compelling arguments that my trollish thesis -- that RPGs are not collaborative, interactive storytelling and that those who think they are are pretentious or full of shit -- is false. And plenty of posts supporting it.

In any case, I didn't start with a personal attack. It was an impersonal one; it required interpretation to be offended, and kyra's response was just begging for further button-pushing.

Turn eight colours of red all you like, but you cannot honestly make the claim that I pissed all over kyrademon for no reason.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:07 PM on March 6, 2006


“The only effective rebuke for a troll is to advance the discussion beyond him. More on this later.”- Richard Daly

/Indeed. I haven’t gotten the knack of dodging rhetoric. I suppose on some level I hope there is the possibility of resolution and abeyance of the trolling. Perhaps some realization. I suppose it’s often as disruptive. My apologies for that.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:12 PM on March 6, 2006


Richard Daly, Nobilis can be hard to get your head around at first conceptually, but once you do it comes pretty easily.
posted by kyrademon at 1:12 PM on March 6, 2006


(Eh, don't worry, Smedleyman, it's depressingly easy to fall into that kind of trap. I mean, sheesh, I just got lured into an *internet flame war about role-playing games*. I have given my gf permission to make fun of me about this for days as a lesson. :) )
posted by kyrademon at 1:15 PM on March 6, 2006


Kyrademon -- yes, we did Nobilis. Or rather Rebecca Borgstrom did Nobilis, and we added pictures and typography. I'm still very proud of what we achieved with that game and every time someone says they like it, that's my day made.
posted by Hogshead at 1:16 PM on March 6, 2006


8th level Chaotic Neutral Mage Represent.

Oh man, Colbert just makes life easier.
posted by Hexidecimal at 1:19 PM on March 6, 2006


“...those who think they are are pretentious or full of shit...but you cannot honestly make the claim that I pissed all over kyrademon for no reason...” -posted by solid-one-love

“...I didn't start with a personal attack. It was an impersonal one; it required interpretation to be offended, and kyra's response was just begging for further button-pushing...”

“...my opinion is superior because I'm right.” - solid-one-love

Yeah, nothing provocative in attitude there.

There’s plenty of posts supporting you being a troll (your own as well), yet you refuse to acknowlege that point.

“Turn eight colours of red all you like, but...”

See, your obsession with trying to anger people is obvious. In what world do you think you matter to me enough to upset me?

But perhaps you’re not a narcissist. Perhaps you’re the opposite of a paranoid and go around with the insane delusion that people find you relevent.
Either way, you are noise. I - and others - are telling you you are noise apart from any point you may have valid or not.
So - you want to tone it down a bit? Thanks.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:22 PM on March 6, 2006


You're right to be proud. And it's a lovely book as well as a great game.

I got to know Rebecca a little, not long ago, through some mutual friends. Interesting person.
posted by kyrademon at 1:23 PM on March 6, 2006


I must assume that you agree that Kyra had it coming, since you brought up so many other quotes to illustrate no point at all.

There’s plenty of posts supporting you being a troll (your own as well), yet you refuse to acknowlege that point.

I refuse to acknowledge that I'm a troll when I have stated outright that I'm a troll and you agree that I have stated it outright?

Wow. Just wow.

It's like the world is a fantasy game and you keep playing it despite falling on your -2 dagger. It's the only way to explain your complete disconnect from reality.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:54 PM on March 6, 2006


balrog: Oh I see now. I knew you were being a dick, but I didn't realize you were an idiot.

I don't mind discussing things with dicks who are well informed. Solid is well informed, he just happens to be mired in a semantic discussion and doesn't know it.

My point, that you were obviously too dense to grasp, is that I, likely, have more experience than you playing MMOG's. I am a very casual player; right now I am putting in about 8 hours a week in WoW and as of yesterday 0 hours a week in DDO because it is such a bad game.

However, I have more than a passing familiarity with every large MMOG franchise since the genre has appeared. Just because I don't play the one game you do doesn't mean I'm ill-informed.

Those who played UO know what it was like. It was different. I'm not even saying it was superior, but it was certainly different from anything you can get online today.

My main point was that you can't go back again, I don't think any game will be able to recreate the wonder of seeing your first MMOG, regardless of which title it was.

Also, can you try to figure out whether I am an uber-nerd or not? In one post you chastise me because I wouldn't have 75 days /played in FFXI, then in another you insist that I'm flaunting my beta-testing prowess? (No prowess, just a member of the beta. Nothing fancy, I beta test probably 3 games a year, and it requires super abilities like being able to fill out a form with your name and email).

At any rate, you don't know what you're talking about, it's obvious, and it's shameful.

75 days /played? If that is what is required for success in FFXI, then I can see why it is so badly reviewed by western players. I've got like 14 days /played on my Lvl 60 Rogue and I feel somewhat ashamed of that much.

Why is it so important that I be some nerd for you to feel superior to? For the record, I see nothing wrong with people who graduate from ITT or similar trade schools to better themselves and increase their marketability. I have a few working for me, and they are generally good employees.

But me, I hate to say, I am a middle aged top level executive in healthcare, who went to full universities for both undergrad and graduate school. I have two main hobbies: online video games, and motorcycling. Now that the weather is starting to improve here in the south, I'll be playing less games as I spend more time on two wheels.

So not only am I the guy more likely to be signing your paycheck, but I'm also the guy more likely to make you nervously say "I'm sorry" if you bump against me in a bar.

I know it's difficult being wrong so often and so publicly. And I expect you'll respond with some ridiculous hateful nonsense, but I do feel pity for you.

And I apologize for trying to include you in the grownups' conversation.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:58 PM on March 6, 2006


Ynoxas: I apologize for offending you. My post was thoughtless and obviously offended you. I'm sorry.

Please don't beat me up.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:08 PM on March 6, 2006


“I refuse to acknowledge that I'm a troll when I have stated outright that I'm a troll and you agree that I have stated it outright?” - solid-one-love

And yet, despite having stated it outright, you deny your complicity in your acrimony with me or kyrademon and refuse to acknowlege how it is disruptive. Despite trolling, admiting trolling, you refuse any responsibility that results.
Wow. Just wow.

“It's like the world is a fantasy game and you keep playing ....It's the only way to explain your complete disconnect from reality.”

Yeah, here’s the thing. I brought up points concerning the form of your argument and criticised your methods in general. Anyone who knows me knows I like metaphor and prefer arguing from form. If you had read any of my former posts you’d notice that (and what I think of internet tough guy-ism, and probably wouldn’t have ‘bit’).
You continue to bring up RPG references in discussing this with me for some reason. I believe you do this in much the same way, and for much the same reasons that, say Fred Phelps attacks homosexuality. Clearly you know more about RPGing than I do. Obviously you prefer to use fantasy terminology while maintaining - whatever the hell it is you’re on about.

If you agree you are a troll, admit you were wrong and stop. If you continue, you are an asshole. I don’t see how I’m disconnected from reality for attempting to point that out.
That is my sole assertion. That’s it. Fantasy games, - 2 daggers or whatever don’t enter into it. It’s your fantasy buddy. I’m not arguing some kind of semantic point or anything related to the thread with you. I played RPGs when I was a kid. I don’t play them now - so it’s not a salient point. I’m not sure how this - 2 dagger nonsense legitimizes your trolling in any way.
Just pretty much the “hey don’t troll you fuckhead” point that I’ve been re-asserting.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:26 PM on March 6, 2006


Most likely Balrog is a Bitter PK Victim, and anything you say isn't going to make up for the fact that he foolishly allowed his house deed to be town stolen, dropped a 60k stack of gold only to never see it again, or was killed en route to macroing magery and lost hundreds of regs.

Whoa, I think I just got the chills.

Anyway, some people didn't like UO for the blending of strategy, real time, and development of character. They would prefer being known purely for their skill (Mmm I do love Counterstrike) or just for their ability to run from point A to point B for 75 days, thereby filtering out anybody who expects more out of a game, so they can sit at the top having accomplished little more than sinking X number of hours into the game.

I played Warcraft for a while, but it just felt like I was wasting time rather than having fun, and when I finally did get around to killing people, they were just running right back at me, and I had nothing to show for it. From what I heard, the end-game was even more grueling. People spending 14 hour stretches doing runs that would be botched by one moron out of 40 (get 40 people together you will have more than one moron), or be successful only to get someone they kinda knew the next step up on the ladder for a weapon.

Balrog, your opinion is hardly represented, so it is nice to hear it and be able to exchange with somebody who feels that way. If you read WTFman or lumthemad.net back in the day (now he updates his own blog Broken Toys where he will often talk about gaming theory and just why any given game isn't worth the 18 dollars a month you pay for it) you will likely hear more of the same.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 2:27 PM on March 6, 2006


I'm working up a lengthy response to this thread. I only hope people are around to read it when I finish. I'd actually like some discussion.
posted by Richard Daly at 2:42 PM on March 6, 2006


s-o-l, just for the sake of discussion, while I haven't RPGed for over a decade, the last game I played was Mage (a whitewolfy game). At the end of a session we'd roll for who would GM next and how many sessions they'd take (up to three). That person had to take NPCs, themes and plot threads previously developed and work them coherently (or ocassionally not, but with good reason) into the next sessions.

Without plot, character, climax, denouement, unity, narrative drive, and so on, there's no story. We had all of these. The person who finally decided to end the storyline managed to do so in a coherent, satisfying and mostly logical way (no small feat considering the diverse stuff we came up with), and the rest of the elements were definitely there - similar to, say, a TV show that has episodes, season arcs, and an uber-series arc, all with different writers, who may not have been aware of the ultimate form. In what way is this not collaborative storytelling?
posted by Sparx at 2:48 PM on March 6, 2006


GooseOnTheLoose: I wasn't pk'd a bunch. And I'm not trying to be a troll.

Honestly, I'm reacting to special slice of gaming culture that constantly espouses this whole, "God damn kids and their new stuff - it's all just a bunch of hogwash," attitude.

I had a shitty day at the office, too.

But you see it in any subculture, I guess. Try bringing up the new batman comics or Masamune's use of CG in his new stuff at a comic book convention. There's always some 40 year old dude ready to jump down your throat (or tell you about his motorcycles and threaten to beat you up in a bar.) Exact same thing with DnD, exact same thing with mmorpgs. I've even heard someone go so far as to say, "You'll never have the kind of community we had in SmurfMUD." That's just ridiculous.

Really - honestly - (I'm gonna be totally honest, here) I can't stand that guy. That guy. The 40 year old nerd who has to suck away everyone else's fun by telling us we don't know what we're talking about, everything new sucks, and we're too young to know the difference. Honestly, yeah, he's a little like the 'comic book guy' from the Simpsons. But I see him all the time. Everywhere. And it sort of pisses me off.

Nerdery is not an exclusive club. We play DnD because it is open and accepting, not because it's some sort of elitist group where the guy who's memorized the psionics handbook wins. Being a gamer means you are a part of an open culture - not something where the guy who's played the most beta-tests wins. What does he win? Nothing. He only succeeds in alienating others.

Maybe I spend too much time helping noobs.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:01 PM on March 6, 2006


To my way of thinking, I don't see how an RPG can't NOT be a story. Everything can be a story. I can tell a story about looking for an overdue library book. It might not be a very good story, or a very interesting one, but it's still a story. Just because something's a story dosen't mean it has any pretense of quality. At the end of any session, adventure, campagin, or what have you, there is always a story, even if it's limited to, "Solid-one-love ran a shitty railroaded dungeon," or "Blackleaf and I killed the zombie and got the Real Power."

The difference between other games, like say, baseball, is that with baseball, you can only really have a narrative of the gameplay itself, (a play-by-play,) with only a small degree of elaboration ("The hated Yankess were defeated by the forces of good,") before you get into George Will-like metaphoical mumbo-jumbo.

In an RPG, however, you have both the gameplay narrative, ("My 2nd level bard totally kicked the ass of that higher-level mage! Solo!") and the, for lack of a better term, character narrative. ("A spy for the Camarilla and his unknowing hangers-on attempt to establish themselves in Anarch held Los Angeles.") Now, the GM is going to have a fair amout of influence on the narrative, but not all of it, and if they're any good, will respond to player action naturally, and not force absurd results in order to advance a "plot." In my last example, the only that was GM supplied of that sentence was "Los Angeles." Now, the situations and people we encountered there, were determined by him, but our reactions to them, and what we explored and persued we're entierly player motivated.

Add in the random element of dice, and it creates a a situation that is impossible to predict the outcome to. You could take the starters of the story, (the setting, the characters,) and create a story with it, but I highly doubt you would come up with what was created by my group, or other groups. It might not be a story particularly interesting to other people (it could be,) but it's a story nontheless.
posted by Snyder at 3:11 PM on March 6, 2006


Apples and Oranges, Balrog. MUDs vs MMORPGs vs PnP, you have to be discrete. I was not talking about MUDs or PnP (though others certainly are), and I would hardly call the majority of WTFman forum members and Lum-fans out there "the lone 40 year old guy who just ain't hip anymore." This discussion has filled its share of pages: why UO was so great, and why Other Games are so bad.

I played PnP. I played MUDs. I didn't think MMORPGs were an atrocity, I really liked a lot of them (I wouldn't have played them if I wasn't having fun). However, looking back, they all were only a fraction of the entertainment that UO provided. It is not so much an issue of UOers not getting with the times, it's more along the lines of UO was the first endeavor into this MMORPG market, and they mistakenly made their game fun and realistically competitive (read: whiney bitches quit a lot). Now, without an addictive (there are studies!) and time-sink model (to keep the pseudo-content from disappearing), you won't be able to collect the maximum monthly $$$s.

I think you came here with an argument that you tried to make fit the situation. That Guy annoys the shit out of me, too, but he manifests himself in many aspects of life (music, movies, tv, education, advertising, slappin'-yo-ho-when-she-be-all-up-in-yo-grill, etc), so to carry the chip on your shoulder exclusively for gaming is a little absurd.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 3:20 PM on March 6, 2006


“The 40 year old nerd who has to suck away everyone else's fun by telling us we don't know what we're talking about, everything new sucks, and we're too young to know the difference.”

There’s one of those guys in every crowd. Lot’s of guys bitch about rice rockets, iron ammunition, art, sports, etc. etc. etc.

mmorpgs and SmurfMUD - just pops and whistles to me. But I think a lot of groups go out of their way to exclude other folks. Nerds and D&D nerds included. Obviously there are exceptions. But people tend to band around - whatever - and if you’re not up on the new - whatever - you’re just a n00b - etc.

I agree but - alienation runs a lot of directions is what I’m saying. It seems to be a localized effect.

What I like about Colbert is he’s self-deprecating without being completely derisive. And you can do that with whatever you’re geeky about, but many folks don’t.
I suppose he’s exactly the opposite of that fun sucking nerd. He hits the “Boy was I geeky” without delving into solid-one-love’s “pretentious or full of shit” schtick or the Rodney Dangerfield “Hey, this looks like a hat you get with a free bowl of soup, Oh...it looks good on you though! (snicker).”
He makes it fun to laugh at it without insulting anyone. Try doing that with bikers.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:25 PM on March 6, 2006


I'm having a shitty day at work, too, BB. Much sympathies.

I think we all hate That Guy (and perhaps it's particularly jarring when That Guy is touting something like the wonders of old school D&D which was, for all my fondness for having played it as a kid, a shitty system. Truly. I mean, come on.)

Some people have a need to rain on any parade which isn't their parade. I guess it makes them feel better about themselves. I'm not sure why. But it is irritating.

Anyway, some of us older types actually like to try the new and interesting stuff. I'm pretty much a pencil-and-paper type, but if someone convinces me to play Dungeons and Dragons again at some point, I hope it'll be the newer version, and I hope it's better. I don't need a reminder of why the old one worked best when we ignored the rules.
posted by kyrademon at 3:25 PM on March 6, 2006


“when That Guy is touting something like the wonders of old school D&D which was, for all my fondness for having played it as a kid, a shitty system. Truly. I mean, come on.”

Agreed. I think what That Guy is trying to do - poorly - is simply wax nastalgic about when he was a kid.
I remember screwing around with my friends fondly as well. D&D was some of that. I suppose if I subjected D&D to some sort of systemic analysis it might indeed be shitty. But you don’t remember that, you remember the screwing around having fun part.
It’s a shame That Guy expresses it that way.

/Indeed, looking back, I did some insane things as a kid I wouldn’t dream of doing now.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:36 PM on March 6, 2006


I wonder if the D&D thing has opened any doors for Colbert?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:41 PM on March 6, 2006


I don't game any more (but I wouldn't mind getting back into CoC or trying out All Flesh Must be Eaten), but I enjoy reading the forums at rpg.net and dragonsfoot, especially the "edition war" threads (Basic/Expert vs. 1st ed. ADnD vs. 2nd ed. ADnD vs. 3.5) if only for the sheer geekiness of it all. I agree with Smedleyman that the Colbert piece could only be done by someone who had "been there," and is willing to make fun of himself a bit.

That said, s-o-l reminds me of an older neighborhood kid I lived near growing up. My group was way into Red and Blue set basic/expert, and this guy and his group was getting into "Advanced" (2nd ed., I think), where you could do these amazing things like be an elf that was also a magic-user! So we started playing at his house, and of course our characters were and never would be as powerful as the older kids' established PC's, and the DM had a habit of being ruthless with rolls regarding the fate of my PC's, and just generally being a raging dick.

So me and my original friends went back to our places, eventually, and back to Basic/Expert, with simpler rules but a lot more fun. I wasn't joking when I said that if I ever played DnD again, it's be with the Mentzer Rules Cyclopedia, wonky as all hell--because it was fun then and it might be fun now. 3.5? No thank you. It's about as thrilling as a math class.

Then my parents sent me to Christian camp because they thought I was possesed by Demons. But that's for another thread. (Honestly, considering all the dumb, dangerous, destructive things a kid can do, or at least that I did, I think my parents were pretty happy that I spend five-hour chunks of time in a basement with some other geeks rolling dice and fighting evil. And I had a hell of a vocabulary for a 12-year old.).
posted by bardic at 4:02 PM on March 6, 2006


Sooo... any pretentious people feel like spending an hour or two per week playing Neverwinter Nights with me? You can be as full of shit as you want. Email address is in my profile.

You're invited too, s-o-l. Hell, you can even DM.
posted by Ritchie at 4:27 PM on March 6, 2006


I will now attempt to take S-O-L's contribution to this discussion and re-forge it into something constructive. Lets see how this goes.


Before:
Haven't played pen-n-paper in more than ten years. I came to the realization that RPGs, whether D&D or any other ruleset, were not and never would be (despite their aspirations) true interactive, collaborative storytelling.


After:
Many games in S-O-L's experience, while clearly aspiring to be interactive, collaborative, stories, fail in one or more areas. S-O-L Proposes RPGs are inherently unable to attain this goal because of… um… structural incompatibility between stories and games? Help me out here, S-O-L?

Reply:
Traditionally, any game emphasizes what it supports. Because of this, games like D&D (which, for the record, I'm getting back into, now) - which have exhaustive support for tactical combat - tend to emphasize tactical combat play.

I don't see any particular reason why a game can not be interactive. Soccer clearly is.
I don't see any particular reason why a game can not be collaborative. A great many of the "New Games Movement" games (like the Knots game where everyone gets their arms all tangled together and they try to untangle them) clearly are. Games seem to be sometimes interactive, and sometimes even are collaborative.

Further, I propose that collaborative games are subset of interactive games, since it seems difficult to have collaboration without interaction. So games in general can be collaborative, what about Role Playing Games, in particular?

At the informal level, at least, it seems like they can be. A group of kids playing cowboys and indigenous peoples are playing an interactive game, and have some level of required collaboration in the absence of any formal rules.

S-O-L might complain that Cowboys v. Indians isn't a true game. It does lack a formalized rules set, but there are strong informal rules determining the nature of the game. Space aliens might enter the game, for example, but probably not marbles or jacks.

--

Before:
One person determines the plot; the other people involved have no authority to alter the plot. Thus, regardless of how enjoyable or rich the experience appears to be, it is not collaborative storytelling.

After:
Games in S-O-L's experience have a centralized authority. Because of this, other players have no authority over the plot. Because of this, there is no collaboration. Further, this disempowerment reduces the enjoyment or richness of the experience to a mere appearance.

Reply:
Most RPGs seem to be interactive, but some more than others. As others have said, a lot depends on the nature of the moderator (GM, ST, DM, etc.) and the expectations placed on the moderator by the game's structure. A common critique of the White Wolf brand games is their use of the storyteller role. Storytelling may be anti-interactive by its nature. One person tells, others listen. To the extent that the story is moderated, it probably isn't collaborative, because it doesn’t even rise to the level of interactive.

When the Moderator leaves an outcome to chance or Player action they are not telling the story themselves, and yet a story (narrative, or plot, if you prefer) is created none the less. Often a Moderator will frame the decision, leaving players options to chose from, but other times there is little or no framing, and the players are free to create.

S-O-L hits on the issue of authority. Some game systems explicitly share authority between the players. One example is The Window where players are encouraged to authoritatively invent detail when describing their characters actions. Rather than ask, "Are there any rocks around I can pick up and use as a weapon in desperation?" players simply say, "I grab some lose stones off the ground."

Other games take this much further. For example, some games might require a player to take authority for any roll outcome. One game I can barely remember had the rule, "Whenever you fail a skill check, explain your partial success, and how the situation has been made more complicated." A player might attack a goblin and kill it, but because the die fell poorly, that player might also invent two new goblins that start to sneak up on his character from around the corner. This level of authority sharing does exist in role-playing games, but it seems like those games are beyond S-O-L's experience.

--

Before:
Even the most skilled classical improvisational actors can pull off truly collaborative storytelling maybe once in ten thousand attempts. A bunch of role-players sitting around a table (or worse yet, dressing up and LARPing) have not succeeded yet, ever.

After:
S-O-L seems to think that stories are Hard, and should be the work of rarified professional artists.

Reply:
As others have written, Whose Line is it Anyway? seems like consistently repeated collaborative storytelling 5 nights a week. Hell, my college improv. group did fine. I know how to tell a story, and so do my friends. I understand literary analysis as well as the next guy. If a RPG has the creation of literary themes and devices as an explicit goal, properly supported by mechanics that encourage literary construction (as opposed to, say, 8 chapters on combat) I don't see any reason stories should be rare or difficult.

For example, there are games that require players and the moderator to sit and develop a character web before play, mapping out the relationships between characters. Then, and only then, do players chose which characters they will play for the evening. Integrating writers exercises into the play of the game make games more hospitable to collaborative storytelling than improv. acting, not less.

--

Before:
[...] RPGs whereby the plot is driven collectively cease to be games. A game requires aspects of competitiveness within a framework of rules; in a free-form system, there are no rules except those agreed to by all players, which is to say that there really are no rules at all. In a system where you have a gamemaster, there is an adversarial system and thus a game structure.

After:
This seems like a clear statement. I can respond to this as it is written.

Reply:
First, this argument rests on a normative definition of the nature of a game. Notwithstanding the perils of normative definition (lumpers v. splitters), this argument just seems wrong and out of place.

Firstly, not all games are competitive between the players. To site a different New Games Movement game, "Dragon" is not competitive among all players. All the players form a Conga Line, and the front of the line tries to tag the back of the line, while the back tries to evade. Players in the middle just act however they like, and that's the fun of the game.

Secondly, while S-O-L does point out that there are no rules - except for the agreed upon rules - in a "free form" system, this is actually true for all games. In any game, the only rules are those the players themselves agree to. If the players do not agree to the rules of the game play inevitably breaks down as a result. Play can only begin again when all the remaining players agree to the rules.

Mutual agreement to the rules is a requirement of the rules of play. The agreement of the players to the rules doesn’t force those rules out of existence. It is the only thing that keeps those rules in existence in the first place.

--

Before:
Sure, maybe RPGs will, one day, fifty years from now, achieve some semblance of 'art', as comics have. I wouldn't hold my breath, though. But in no way can a top-down game system be considered collaborative storytelling, and in no way can collaborative role-playing systems be called games.

After:
Perhaps I am reading S-O-L incorrectly, but the scare quotes around 'art' indicate that comics are not art either, in S-O-L's eyes.

Reply:
First, there is no reason here why a collaborative role-playing system must meet an arbitrary standard of what is or is not a game before it can be art. Second, RPGs are a new media, and should be given great flexibility to develop. This sort of ridged thinking which desires to put everything into a neat little box will not be helpful to the development of the field. Third, while I've never been a fan of relativism or post-modernism, attempts to categorize things as "art" or "not art" seem, well, downright imperialist.

--

Before:
I am surprised that other people find them meaningful, or artistic, or some other trumped-up attribute. It's like calling a hockey game a 'triumph of the human spirit, emblematic of the struggle of blah blah blah.' It ain't.

After:
RPGs are not meaningful, artistic, or otherwise triumphant or emblematic.

Reply:
Consider Ron Edwards's game Sorcerer. The game seeks to address the question, "What would you do for power?" If that's not a meaningful question in today's society, I don't know what is. Criticize the game, if it's poorly executed (and I don't think it is), but it's a serious game with a serious literary intent.

Consider Jon Tynes's meta RPG (Case File, I think it's called) where before and after every session of, say, D&D, the player and the moderator work through a meta game. In this meta game, the moderator takes the role of a psychotherapist and asks the player questions about morality. "Is it right to kill people? Should you steal from people. Are people different from you less worthy of life?" The D&D game is a delusion of the Case File character. It puts a different emphasis on killing every Ork you meet.

--

Conclusion
There, I hope I've used S-O-L's stated positions to provide material for further discussion. Also, Lemonade. Oh, and Hogshead, if you're hiring summer interns, I can fetch coffee with the best in the industry.
posted by Richard Daly at 4:43 PM on March 6, 2006 [3 favorites]


The John Tynes meta-RPG you describe is called "Power Kill". We did a print version of that one too.

Though it's still my username, I left Hogshead and the RPG industry in early 2003, and current rumour says the company is no more. Current rumours also say I may be planning a return to the industry. Current rumours might be correct, though I can neither confirm or deny them at this stage.
posted by Hogshead at 5:18 PM on March 6, 2006


Holy crap, Richard Daly. I might have to MeTa that comment.

That was huge.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:27 PM on March 6, 2006


This is not a sentence I ever thought I'd say, but: Thank you, Richard Daly, I agree with you completely.
posted by Errant at 5:40 PM on March 6, 2006


Wow, Richard Daly you must have been shaking with impotent Elf rage in your fantasy world scrawling that rant.

Seriously, that was an excellently defended position(s). Cogent, linear, but open to further explication of any given point.
/frick! why can’t I do that?

While I disagree that certain games within my experiance are, by S-O-L’s terms, collaborative storytelling it’s quite obvious that my experiance is limited.
I was of course open to the possibility that I don’t know everything in the world - but I wasn’t aware of some of the games and methods you mentioned.

Wish I had more free time on my hands to explore some. I think once you get older you just want something you can just sit down and play. With your kids or whomever. Simple rules, decisive, etc. Probably why trivial pursuit, monopoly, etc, are so popular. Case File seems interesting.

CSI: Greyhawk.

Sgt. Drow: It looks like someone mutilated this dwarf.

Lt. Halfling: Whoever it was must’ve been chaotic...evil.

*music swells: The Who’s “Boris the Spider”*
posted by Smedleyman at 5:44 PM on March 6, 2006


MeTa.
posted by dersins at 6:03 PM on March 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


s-o-l wrote: In a free-form system, there are no rules except those agreed to by all players, which is to say that there really are no rules at all.

I beg to differ.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:14 PM on March 6, 2006


This thread is depressing and pathetic on so many levels.
posted by empath at 6:22 PM on March 6, 2006


Good post, Richard.

Many games in S-O-L's experience, while clearly aspiring to be interactive, collaborative, stories, fail in one or more areas. S-O-L Proposes RPGs are inherently unable to attain this goal because of… um… structural incompatibility between stories and games? Help me out here, S-O-L?

All games in my experience. Plus all the ones I've seen played. Plus all the ones I've had described to me. RPGs are inherently unable to attain this goal because games are not and cannot be stories.

I don't see any particular reason why a game can not be interactive. (etc.)

That's not the issue; they cannot be interactive collaborative storytelling.

Games in S-O-L's experience have a centralized authority. Because of this, other players have no authority over the plot. Because of this, there is no collaboration. Further, this disempowerment reduces the enjoyment or richness of the experience to a mere appearance.

Not all games in my experience have a centralized authority. Games in which multiple players have authority over the plot aren't really games in any useful sense, IMHO. And regardless, they aren't interactive, collaborative storytelling. (I'm just going to assert this again; I have defended this adequately elsewhere in the thread.)

S-O-L seems to think that stories are Hard, and should be the work of rarified professional artists.

I never said or implied that, and so will not rebut.

Firstly, not all games are competitive between the players.

To site a different New Games Movement game, "Dragon" is not competitive among all players. All the players form a Conga Line, and the front of the line tries to tag the back of the line, while the back tries to evade. Players in the middle just act however they like, and that's the fun of the game.

But there is still competition.

Secondly, while S-O-L does point out that there are no rules - except for the agreed upon rules - in a "free form" system, this is actually true for all games.

In the meta-sense, sure, but I don't think this is a useful nit to pick.

Perhaps I am reading S-O-L incorrectly, but the scare quotes around 'art' indicate that comics are not art either, in S-O-L's eyes.

Yes, you are.

First, there is no reason here why a collaborative role-playing system must meet an arbitrary standard of what is or is not a game before it can be art.

Never said or implied, and so will not rebut.

RPGs are not meaningful, artistic, or otherwise triumphant or emblematic.

Correct. And I disagree that any example you could name, including the one you did, meets any of those criteria. But this is, of course, merely an opinion. Since the nub of the issue is "why I don't play", it's a valid one.

I can restate my first foray into this discussion more politely and thoroughly as: "I stopped playing pen-and-paper RPGs because (i) killing monsters and getting loot is expedited in computer games, (ii) there are better ways to spend time with friends, and (iii) the height to which PnP RPGs aspire, that of collaborative interactive storytelling -- a trait that computer games don't aspire to (at least in the same way) -- is a failure; I might have kept playing if that goal was achievable, but I don't think it is, and those who claim that it has been realized are incorrect at best and pretentious and disingenuous at worst."

I know that my reply is terse and doesn't do justice to your post, as well-thought-out and interesting as it is. I think you misstated some of my thoughts, and I disagree with just about everything you wrote, but I do think it was a good post.

(Ritchie: I'm looking forward to NWN2.)
posted by solid-one-love at 6:40 PM on March 6, 2006


I haven't followed or played in a few years, but it seemed some of the most interesting interactive stuff was being done by Atlas Games with "On the Edge" and Daedelus with "Nexus." They put an emphasis on acting like the character, to the point that for better gamers, it was suggested that it would be possible to tell the gamers the loose outline of the story, and then decide how their PCs would act in the environment.

Both game sets had only the most basic rules, more of an outline if anything. The OTE creator (J. Tweet) went on to work for TSR on D&D 3rd edition I believe.
posted by drezdn at 6:45 PM on March 6, 2006


Im not a huge fan of RPGs and havent played a pen and paper game for YEARS, but I have had experiences playing the game when it WAS interactive storytelling, and great fun. Particularly playing "silly" games like Paranoia and Toon, but also playing "serious" games like Vampire, Cyperpunk, Castle Falkenstein and even D&D. In fact, the most fun I had playing games were with my hard-core dice throwing friends made a serious attempt to play Vampire as a "storytelling" game.

Unfortunately, Magic: the Gathering, came out soon after and I took a long detour from playing RPGs, and by the time I came back to it, Goths had discovered Vampire and had thoroughly drained all the fun from it.

The best DMs, even in D&D games, even with pre-scripted modules do engage in storytelling, because they guage the wants and needs of their audience and react to them as the game progresses. And I would definitely say the best of the best games I played in qualified as true art, by and for the people creating it.

S-O-L-- if your games were all about loot, and you didnt have fun with the players that you played with, Id say that was more a problem with you and your friends than it is with the game itself.
posted by empath at 8:01 PM on March 6, 2006


Never said or implied that they were "all about loot" or that I didn't have fun, empath. Just said that they aren't stories and that there are better ways to spend time with friends and better ways to monster-bash.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:06 PM on March 6, 2006


"Over the Edge", I think you mean, drezdn. Another of my fave games.

(Back into the breech ... don't know if this is worth it, but hey, it was such a nice post on your part, Richard Daly ...)

I think part of the problem here, as others have pointed out earlier, is that the disagreement is to some extent semantic. Or maybe not. Despite s-o-l's statement that he has made his position clear and has no need to reiterate it, I honestly have no idea what it is.

When I responded to his one link on the subject by simply saying that, despite his contentions, it didn't apply to non-computer games, I was trying to be dismissive, since I didn't think he wanted to seriously discuss the matter, but I was also being honest. All of the things the link discussed, such as always restarting from the same point, imposed plot arc, etc., etc., etc., seemed to not necessarily - and usually not actually - apply to RPG's. Not a one did I see why it necessarily had to be the case.

Reading his latest post, it sounds like he's arguing more as a matter of what he enjoys rather than what is the case. He got frustrated with repeated failed attempts to make RPG's into interactive stories, and he figures if all it is, is smashing monsters and taking loot, he might as well play computer games. And he's convinced that anyone who claims to have had more success where his groups failed is, I guess, lying or deluded. Which is ... an odd point of view.

There are differences, I'll freely admit, between a game and a story. They have different goals. I've done a lot of things where the goal was clearly more story-like than game-like. He's dismissed those as "not being games". Which ... fine. OK. Whatever. I don't see why that matters.

Honestly, for me, I think the point was best summed up by my gf when I sheepishly mentioned to her that I'd gotten involved in an internet flame war. She asked what it was about, and I said "Whether or not RPG's can be interactive stories." She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Duh!" She couldn't understand how anyone could argue that they can't be. I pretty much agree. s-o-l doesn't. And ... I don't think there's going to be a meeting of the minds here, really.

Anyway. Moving on. I've never played Neverwinter Nights. What is it?
posted by kyrademon at 8:15 PM on March 6, 2006


Well, I quit playing regularly when I was old enough to go out to bars, so I'm with you on that.
posted by empath at 8:16 PM on March 6, 2006


(s-o-l, if you care to respond, please check my reply to you in Metatalk first.)
posted by kyrademon at 8:36 PM on March 6, 2006


kyrademon: Neverwinter Nights
posted by Ritchie at 8:51 PM on March 6, 2006


“Magic: the Gathering”

Ugh. For me, everything that’s wrong with fantasy and modern card game systems rests there. The whole “buy more cards” thing seems fairly obnoxious. I had a gf try to get me into it. I liked the pictures on the cards and some of the concepts, but the system itself I really didn’t like. To echo s-o-l’s point - there are better ways to spend time with friends.
I liked playing the old Illuminati card game with the little paper dollars. That was a while back tho.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:11 AM on March 7, 2006


S-O-L: You don't seem to know what a story is. Or at least have never played with a freeform DM. One of the most important places where there's a collaborative storyteling element is in the creation of backstory for characters— to be worth playing well, there has to be a high level of discussion of who a character is and why they'll be played. Narration is not the sole mark of a story, but when I was running games, that's about all I'd provide. I would answer questions, describe a setting, and basically let the characters figure out what they wanted to do. Sometimes this worked swimmingly. Other times, it was a massive clusterfuck. Often, I'd have to impovise new settings on a large scale very quickly.
Further, one of your central contentions is that games cannot be collaborative storytelling, and that's just fundamentally false. I've had a fair amount of improv training, and improv games are called games for a reason— they're fun, and they involve mutually agreed-upon structures. They also tell stories. The only difference is that RPGs involve more rules, often in order to set up a system of fairness.
(Oh, and comics are art. RPGs can be as well.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:40 AM on March 7, 2006


solid-one-love: I stopped playing pen-and-paper RPGs because (i) killing monsters and getting loot is expedited in computer games

Eh, true. But if you wanted to get things done in as little time as possible, I don't think pen and paper RPGs were ever right for you.

(ii) there are better ways for solid-one-love to spend time with his friends

There, fixed that for you. (Not a slam, by the way, I just don't grasp how this is a universal truth and not solely your opinion.)

and (iii) the height to which PnP RPGs aspire, that of collaborative interactive storytelling -- a trait that computer games don't aspire to (at least in the same way) -- is a failure.

....I've read the whole thread, and I still don't think I understand what you mean by this. I understand each individual word in the critical phrase "collaborative interactive storytelling", but there's an itch in the back of my brain that leads me to believe you mean something other than what those three words together should mean.

To collaborate is to work with others, usually towards a specific goal.

To interact, or to be interactive, is to communicate or otherwise relate to others. Future actions by parties to the interaction may be altered by the exchange.

To tell a story, or storytelling, is to describe either verbally or graphically an account of events.

I will admit to not having had a ton of sessions playing RPGs, but I do recall very clearly doing each and every one of those things every single time. So as I said previously, I don't know what your definition of "collaborative interactive storytelling" is, but it isn't mine. Which is fair enough and everything, but it's mildly annoying to see somebody else traipse around lauding their personal conception of something as the One True... uh, Truth.
posted by quantumetric at 11:38 AM on March 7, 2006


S-O-L: You don't seem to know what a story is.

My god. You're right. That writing degree I have is a sham. I've wasted my life!

To echo s-o-l’s point - there are better ways to spend time with friends.

True dat.
posted by solid-one-love at 7:44 PM on March 7, 2006


Ah yes, the fabled English degree. Tell us, prithee, how exalted you've become with it, oh arbiter of stories and judge of fables.
And farbeit from me to imply that one can get a degree in something and still be rather a fool when it comes to the subject.
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 PM on March 7, 2006


Writing, not English. Kinda hard to make it past first year without knowing what a story is. Like getting a math degree without being able to describe an integral.

You have only your assertion that I don't know what a story is. I have the knowledge that you're wrong. You have a good day, now, k? Say hi to Fandango in the killfile.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:08 PM on March 7, 2006


Heh. I have your assertion that you know what one is, despite all evidence to the contrary. And again, even those with degrees in subjects often know fuck-all about it, especially on judging the bounds of their subjecct. Is Hopscotch a story? How about the grocery lists of Bartholme? How about the improv game where each person adds one word? Is that a story?
Oh, but better to run off to the killfile, huh? Not just a sissy but a wrong-sissy.
posted by klangklangston at 8:17 PM on March 7, 2006


This thread is interactive storytelling.
posted by Durhey at 11:02 AM on March 9, 2006


This thread is interactive storytelling.
posted by Durhey at 1:02 PM CST on March 9 [!]


Winner.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:39 PM on March 9, 2006


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