A Wiki RPG
April 21, 2005 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Lexicon: An RPG - The basic idea is that each player takes on the role of a scholar, from before scholarly pursuits became professionalized (or possibly after they ceased to be). You are cranky, opinionated, prejudiced and eccentric. You are also collaborating with a number of your peers -- the other players -- on the construction of an encyclopedia describing some historical period (possibly of a fantastic world).
posted by robocop is bleeding (45 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Brilliant. Parallels to Borges' superb Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.
posted by Coherence Panda at 7:16 AM on April 21, 2005

smells like second foundation to me :) goodie..
posted by infini at 7:25 AM on April 21, 2005

This is good.
posted by nthdegx at 7:27 AM on April 21, 2005

Oh my. I'm about to graduate from my university on Saturday, and I've had this sickening feeling that I'll never do anything intellectually stimulating ever again. Of course, my fiancee responded, "Metafilter?" to which I could only say, "Indeed." Nevertheless I'm completely taken by this idea and I would like to immediately begin contributing articles to any made-up fantasy entry.

Someone set up the wiki - I'm ready, and armed with a library of style guides and macros. (citation nazi.)

Let's make one about something really narrow. Rather than, "System Brodus, Fourth Galactic Empire of the Third Age," it might prove more challenging to examine, in depth, "'Proke Ag'non!': The Poetry of Yurtis Milck, Assistant to the Royal Physician of Queen K'limpette III."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:30 AM on April 21, 2005

This is marvelous. I need to find a game to get into.
posted by mkhall at 7:32 AM on April 21, 2005

I used to enjoy Milck's poetry until I realized he swiped it all from the cave poets of the Ninety-seventh Dynasty.
posted by languagehat at 7:38 AM on April 21, 2005

Are any games of this nature in progress?
posted by sid at 7:42 AM on April 21, 2005

Why enforce the fantastic top-down with a topic like System Brodus, Fourth Galactic Empire of the Third Age? For one thing, that seems to bring along with it a certain kind of writing style and conventions. And when the subject is completely made-up, there's no shared background. There would be the risk of initial articles being wildly divergent, and a result of weirdness for its own sake.

Not that I have any positive suggestions. This does seem like an exceedingly awesome game, potentially.
posted by kenko at 7:42 AM on April 21, 2005

What screamed out to me was a desire to create a Lovecraftian style game. Not to use Cthulhu and Deep Ones and all that, but to create a lexicon of creeping dread that waits in the shadows of mankind as told by turn of the century scholars.

Lexicon seems similar to De Profundis, a game that I could never entice others to try during my RPG heavy days. But if Mefites want to get something a'going, I'm obviously in.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:45 AM on April 21, 2005

It'd be essential, I think, for players to not become frustrated when other plays do not confirm to their idea of how the game should proceed. I say this because I find that sort of thing very difficult to let go of (less so as I age). Might a MetaTalk thread be a good idea to garner interest for a MetaFilter edition?
posted by nthdegx at 7:50 AM on April 21, 2005

Fantastic stuff. Someone half-explained this to me recently and it sounded interesting then, but fascinating now.
posted by adrianhon at 7:50 AM on April 21, 2005

Reminds me of Credo, not that I've every played that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:51 AM on April 21, 2005

nthdegx—that's why it would be important, I think, not to have too narrowly constraining an initial setup (or to have a set of players similarly constrained).
posted by kenko at 8:06 AM on April 21, 2005

This is really cool. I'm in, for sure. What other rules seem essential?
posted by OmieWise at 8:21 AM on April 21, 2005

An agreement on the general theme/mood of the game would be helpful. So that way serious Tolkienites would not get upset at Xanth-like goofiness or a game in the style of light-hearted fantasy would not have articles cropping up detailing child-rape and mass murders.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:25 AM on April 21, 2005

XANTH! Yay! You just reminded me of something wonderful that I hadn't thought of in - DAMN! Just thought of the game.
I'm at, like, -1200 pts now.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:27 AM on April 21, 2005

This is really cool. I'm in, for sure. What other rules seem essential?

I'm not clear on how subsequent entries, i.e. those that have been cited but not yet written, are assigned to players as the game progresses.
posted by nthdegx at 8:29 AM on April 21, 2005

It's like Pale Fire, and everyone's Kinbote!

Seems like a lot of work, though, and it might cease to be fun if the other players have different ideas from yours, or if they're really crappy writers.
posted by aparrish at 8:29 AM on April 21, 2005

ROU_Xenophobe: The game Credo is better in concept than in execution. It actually plays a lot like Nuclear War. Various events happen that allow you to persecute opposing churches, reducing their number of members. Voting on statements in the credo simply allows those who won the election to persecute (and reduce the population of) the losers.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 8:39 AM on April 21, 2005

Looking at the example game I posted, it looks like 'cited but not yet written' articles are dibbed by people on the turn they'd be created.

So if you create a phantom for "Tree Zombies" I'd wait until the T round begins and try and dib the entry so as I could write it.

Work-wise, I don't think it'll be too bad once folks get in the groove. As for crappy writers, well... that covers most scholars in the first place, neh? ;)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:39 AM on April 21, 2005

Here's an interesting Lexicon game (completed) based on the darkly humorous sci-fi RPG, Paranoia.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 8:41 AM on April 21, 2005

This sounds fantastic. I'm in.
posted by papercake at 9:08 AM on April 21, 2005

I'm in, if I may...
posted by infini at 9:21 AM on April 21, 2005

I would provisionally be in, depending.
posted by kenko at 9:25 AM on April 21, 2005

Hmmm . . . so does anyone want to try and get this party started? Sounds like a lot of interest out there . . .
posted by Coherence Panda at 9:29 AM on April 21, 2005

OK! I'm starting one, right now. It's called "LiteraryReview" and it will combine something I hate (Lit Review) with something I love (Science Fiction/Fantasy). I'm looking for "A" submissions between now and May 1. Start a thread. For the purposes of this game I'm looking for threads that will review literature from realms that do not exist.
Good: The Cave-Poets of the 97th Dynasty (Based on fictional works in fictional realms)
Bad: Robert Heinlein Wrote Crappy Books (Based on real works)

I'm going to use SeedWiki because it's pretty intuitive. I'm looking for grammar nazis and citation fiends. Knowledge of lit review preferable. I've had a couple of problems with the seedwiki interface but I'm getting it figured out right now. I'm starting the first entry and it should be ready in a couple of days. I'll have the rules up in a couple of hours.

Literary Review: an RPG based on Neel Krishnaswami's "Lexicon."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:44 AM on April 21, 2005

B_B- Are you looking for any input about rules/restrictions etc? Would you like us to discuss it here or at the wiki? I'm very interested, although I have to admit that I've only ever seen the movie based on the works of the Cave-Poets. I swear I'll read any of the books I review, though.
posted by OmieWise at 9:56 AM on April 21, 2005

B_B, I can be a grammar nazi, but am unfamiliar with both citation formats and literary review (unless by this you mean reviewing literature, as is practiced in, say, the NY Review of Books). Is there a place for me in your heart?
posted by kenko at 10:11 AM on April 21, 2005

I think the forums on the Literary Review wiki will serve best as a discussion point - though, if no one objects, this thread could make a fantastic starting/discussion point for these things.

I'm posting a skeleton outline for the rules right now, it should be done in about 15 minutes.

BTW - I found the movie lacking. Even after I shelled out $30 for the six-hour director's cut. It emphasizes the Tredis Wars to the point of tedium, though I suppose that only reflects the industry's infatuation with "epic war stories".

Kenko: Style Guides are your friend. I don't think we should limit ourselves by engaging in APA vs. MLA warfare, but some sort of continuity amongst the individual authors would be helpful.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:16 AM on April 21, 2005

This sounds incredibly ambitious and entirely entertaining. I would be all for joining in, were it not for my continuing school obligations.
posted by jenovus at 10:36 AM on April 21, 2005

Jenovus, dude. This is just like school, except we are actively learning nonsense! There is no better means of contributing to a truly liberal arts experience.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:39 AM on April 21, 2005

Actively learning nonsense is the best.

A friend and I recently had a long lunch discussion about how Ireland is best understood historically as part of Eastern Europe, and detailing the specifics of the migration from Eastern Europe to Ireland between 1400 and the mid-1800s.

(B_B, got a link for the forum page? Can't find it immediately on the main literary review page.)
posted by kenko at 11:15 AM on April 21, 2005

Baby Balrog - your FAQ, Rules and site ROCKS... thankee kindly, and I beg to differ with your evaluation that the movie over emphasized the Tredis Wars. In the context of the sociocultural changes that were the direct result of the Wars, the impact is still being felt more than 6000 blergs later.
posted by infini at 12:52 PM on April 21, 2005

And furthermore, these sociocultural changes and their magnitude are best gleaned from Progglet's classic series "The Tredis Wars I - IX", sixth edition, from Proxima Centauri to be exact.

*sniff* philistines
posted by infini at 12:55 PM on April 21, 2005

I've got a wikis that I was going to use for various things that hasn't panned out well, I might start such a game for MeFites, hmmmm....

Ack, not for a couple of weeks. Not until the semester is over.
posted by JHarris at 3:05 PM on April 21, 2005

Wow, cool, MeFi link! (I run the 20' by 20' Room group blog, which I egotistically think is worth reading if you like roleplaying games. Mostly cause Neel occasionally posts brilliant stuff like the Lexicon.)

There are a bunch of Lexicons out there, some complete, some not. The Paranoia one is really great, and Gamegrene has a good one in progress. There's an incomplete list of games, too.

We've taken to using them to generate roleplaying campaign backgrounds. A friend of mine ran a pulp one which sadly flamed out. I know of one which is being used to define a library in a fantasy game, so each entry is a book.

Advice for running one: start out with more than one letter per entry slot -- so instead of one entry per letter, you're writing one entry for A, B, and C combined. That keeps it from getting overwhelming early on. Also, you need to have someone being pushy about getting entries in. Sad but true.
posted by Bryant at 4:48 PM on April 21, 2005

Wait a sec, so is this strictly collaborative story-telling, or once you run through the alphabet and create your world, you then role-play it with characters?

I'm with you, robocop is bleeding -- I'm all about the Lovecraft. The whole world concept entrances me.

Game I loved for its collaborative element was Ars Magica, but could never get a bunch of standard, competitive role-players to accept it. Each player takes a turn as GM telling one complete tale with the others playing characters, so each GM has to be fair or he/she will rather direct karma when another player GM's, and it also means sharing world creation. That and it's all about the mages and NOT about unrealistic balance.

Ooh, much love for Paranoia, too. I'd also be pleased with a Shadowrun-type theme.
posted by dreamsign at 4:54 PM on April 21, 2005

Bryant, do locals participate so it's in-person, or is the playing actually done over the web once creation is complete?

Have not attempted any kind of RPG activity on the net but I've got cable and (some) time and much willingness. Definitely worth a try.
posted by dreamsign at 4:56 PM on April 21, 2005

Ok! The shit is on!

"Literary Review focuses on reviewing literature (primarily fiction and poetry) by people who don't exist within a non-existent science fiction fantasy realm."

Now accepting topic submissions, we're going to run three topics (threads) at a time, including player vs. player competition, winnings, scores, all based on literary brilliance, scathing rebuttals, and depth of critical analysis!

If you enjoy SciFi/Fantasy, want to play Lexicon, and think making fun of other people's work is enjoyable, bring it to the wiki. It'll be like MeFi nerditude 2d12 critical hit x3 poison 2d6 for 1d8 rounds *falls out of chair*
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:39 PM on April 21, 2005

dreamsign: it's up to the Lexicon. I've been part of some which are purely designed to be complete in and of themselves. I've also been part of some which are designed to create gameworlds which we played in later. It's a cool flexible concept.

We've done it for local play (but certainly had some friends who weren't local playing the Lexicon portion of the game). No reason why you couldn't do a Lexicon for a game to be played over the Internet, though.
posted by Bryant at 7:17 PM on April 21, 2005

I've dreamt of playing with my old group in my hometown (is there any better?) by way of Charlie's Angels-style speakerphone.

the mage's hands begin to glow as he weaves them through the air, incanting with a growl, a mad look in his eyes.

- Crossbow -- regular shot -- try to disrupt the casting!
- I'll throw a couple of daggers in his direction and dive behind some cover.

ok, what about you, dreamsign?

-- ah, I'll whip my hand axe at him... huh, another 20!

Well, that sounds very cool. May give the literary thread a try. Would definitely like to find a group again to do some actual role-playing, providing they're not toooo bizarre (man, is there a greater degree of difference in *any* other pasttime?)
posted by dreamsign at 9:40 PM on April 21, 2005

I'm so down.
I've got 3 months inbetween finishing my MA and starting my PhD. Bring on the fake scholarship!
posted by papakwanz at 10:15 PM on April 21, 2005

[this is good]
posted by safetyfork at 1:20 PM on April 22, 2005

I wanna play. I wanna be a scholarly but oft-drunk famous author, so's I can PUI (post-unner-the-influence.) 'Kay? Suggestions? Tks!
posted by Shane at 5:10 PM on April 23, 2005

In some ways, this is very reminiscent of the Fantasy Rules Committee, particularly as a collaborative writing exercise and the goal of producing a consistent work. In other ways, very different, to be sure, but I wanted to note FRC as something of a predecessor to Lexicon.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:49 PM on April 25, 2005

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