(concerning a comment to Rich Staats) I thought the following might be of interest to you both, since you were discussing the bible espousing violence. I think part of the problem here is defining our terms... the following quotes seem to refer to protecting oneself from the lawless, for example. I included the one from Augustine because it seems to make that distinction nicely, while not encouraging violence per se.
When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace...
-- Luke ch.11 v.21 (King James translation, 1611 AD)
He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
-- Luke ch.22 v.36 (King James translation, 1611 AD)
(Jesus speaks here to his disciples concerning self-defense.)
Though defensive violence will always be 'a sad necessity' in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men.
-- St. Augustine (354-430)
To my knowledge there's nothing in the New Testament (note I did NOT say the OT here) that states, for example, that one should go out and kill folks that don't believe the same things you do. The OT is a whole 'nother ball o' wax when it comes to espousing violence. ;-)
Another thing which I'm sure you're both already aware of is that most of the time folks see what they want to see. If someone is determined to believe the bible explicitly condemns homosexuality, or outlaws the eating of pigs or mice, or some other silly thing... why then they'll find it in there. This is helped by the fact that the bible was written by many, many people, through many cultures and times, and thus unsurprisingly keeps contradicting itself. Unfortunately this means it sometimes gets treated like a smorgasbord for those who wish to pick and chose what they want to believe in.
However, I don't necessarily consider this a weakness of the bible. I think vagueness and generalization is why 'divination' tools (like the tarot, the bible, the I Ching, or any other such object) work. I believe they are designed, whether consciously or not, to most effectively reach a broad base of people, and thus are deliberately vague in their statements, 'prophetic' or otherwise. They appeal to generalizations and archetypes within the mind of the folks in the cultures they were created by... and thus are quite useful in causing one to think more clearly about the question one is asking. Which, of course, also means the bible must of necessity be interpreted differently and uniquely by every individual -- or that individual has to let someone else do their critical decision-making for them.
As an example of unique interpretations in action, I remember an interesting chat I had with a self-professed christian young man. We were discussing the book of Job, and he explained to me that it was Satan that was doing evil in the book, not Yahweh, even though it was Yahweh who'd given permission for the Adversary to torture a 'just' man. He seemed rather perturbed when I put it into a modern-day context, noting that if my father told me I could torture a small child the law would rightly see myself AND he as having contributed to the child's pain, and would justly condemn us both.
He didn't want to look at Yahweh's possible complicity that way at all... although he found my offered alternative interpretations even more unpalatable: I suggested that if Yahweh were indeed omniscient then he already knew that Job would not fail him... and so he allowed Job's torture so that he could a) be 'one up' on the Adversary in some sort of machismo game played with the lives of Yahweh's followers, or b) because he knew he couldn't stop the Adversary even if he wanted to. That was a case where we both saw the same text... but received extremely variant information from it.
Re your comments to me about organized religion: you make good points. I really don't have the information to argue cogently one way or another, as per your example, although I'd be interested to see any research you have on the subject. What can I say? I'm an information junkie ;-) However, I might suggest as an alternative point that people are perhaps more inclined to be spiritual beings than logical ones?
Also, I'm not sure I made my terms clear. By 'organized religion' I mean a religion that has become an integral part of the society; that is a supporter of the status quo. In such a case the religion is no longer purely a philosophical encouragement to thoughtful consideration of the deific. It has instead become a means to power for at least some of its adherents. It is in these secularly greedy adherents' best interests, in that case, to encourage the people not to think. Questioning the status quo means it might be changed or, worst of all, upset... which would certainly reduce the status quo-religion's power. Ultimately, a quiescent and accepting populace is easier to control. That's all I mean by 'organized' religion.
You mention places to look for new gamers. I accidentally discovered another means to do so... gaming rules books and/or T-shirts seen at restaurants! ;-)
What on earth is a minimalist gamer?! Inquiring minds want to know!
I read A&E for a while also. I quit, mostly because I wasn't a fan of either Top 10 lists, miserably poor reproduction quality that was painful for me to read, or incessant attempts to top each other in one or another subjects. That was a while ago... I've no idea what they're like now, of course.
I heartily agree, re GM organization. Years ago I ran a Fantasy Hero game that was started by Scott Ruggels, while he needed a break. It was my first try at GMing. I was fortunate enough to have three (later four) really good former GMs in my gaming group -- they all gave me their tips and secrets for running smoothly, and I adapted, used, and hastily improvised as needed.
One of the most useful tips I got was to use the GM screen as a support for the various pieces of paperwork I had to hand. The most important was the speed chart, which had for easy reference not only the speed, recovery, body, and stun of all the players and NPCs, but also that of any monsters they were likely to meet that night.
I also had color coded dice. In a Hero 'attack' there is a 'to hit' roll, a 'damage done' roll, and sometimes a 'body damage multiplier' as well. I had a handful of dice, with colors assigned to each needed roll. Once the monster attacked, I'd roll the handful of dice behind the GM's screen. Green was if it hit or not. Red was the damage it did, and blue was the multipliers... which meant that I didn't have to keep collecting up dice and rolling again -- all the info I might need was right there in front of me, in one simple roll.
You're quite right, I think, about taking your job as GM seriously, so that your players will too. I wanted very much to do a good job as GM on my first try, so I worked very hard at it. One thing I came up with, which others have since told me was a very good move, was how I dealt with arguments about rules interpretations. I wasn't terribly familiar with the rules, so I came up with a simple system for handling disputes.
If a player thought I'd made a mistake he'd raise a hand, and politely ask about the rule he thought I'd misinterpreted. I'd pause the game at an appropriate spot, and ask him about it. The player would lay out the thing he thought I'd done incorrectly, and usually I'd ask him to look up the rule (I really didn't know the rules at all well, after all). While he was doing so I'd keep the game moving so the flow wasn't ruined, and when he was ready he'd raise his hand again.
We'd pause at an appropriate point again, and he'd read the rule. Everyone was encouraged to contribute to the ensuing discussion, as I had several really good rules manipulators in the game (i.e. folks that had done the math to see what happened when you tweaked the rules). I allowed about two to five minutes of discussion on how to interpret the rule -- no more -- then we'd all make a decision together, although I had final veto power. Amusingly enough I never had to use the veto... folks would come to reasonable compromises that I agreed with.
After that sometimes I'd have to re-arrange how something had happened in the game, and sometimes I'd have to state that since we all strongly disagreed with how the rule interpreted real life action, from this point forth we would ignore that rule.
It was a pretty amicable, democratic way to resolve disputes. Of course, we were a group that both trusted and respected each other ... I think that was the most important element in that game, in fact. Unfortunately at about two years of GMing I burned out... I couldn't keep up the amount of preparation needed to do a good job, and I preferred not GMing to GMing poorly.
Re your comment to Rich Staats regarding how concepts such as "good" & "evil" are interpreted, I quite agree. I was in one game that had as one of its characters a 'fallen' angel, in the sense that was put forth by Steven Brust in his fascinating book "To Reign in Hell." The premise was that Yahweh and all the so-called 'sons of god' were the first sentient entities, all engaged in a desperate and constant battle to fight off the ever-encroaching chaos.
In a very rough nutshell, the 'fallen' angels were those that refused to capitulate to Yahweh's demand that he be worshipped because he was one of the first sentients. In a huff, Yahweh tried to get rid of all the dissenters by making them leave the safe area they all lived in. Going back into the chaos would have murdered them all... and yet some chose to try to find a new place to defend, rather than stay under Yahweh's thumb. Thus the title of the book, from the old saying 'Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.'
The angel character in the game was well-played, I thought. He took his duties quite seriously -- he was there to stave off the chaos in defense of the helpless and unknowing humans. He was emphatically not there to constantly adore and supplicate to a distant, jealous, and greedy entity, and he considered Satan the first hero to strike a blow for freedom of choice and self-determination. He had some rousing in-game speeches, in fact, to the other characters. I imagine the game would have offended some, but it made for fascinating moral dilemmas in-game for us, as we explored the concepts of good and evil.
Ah, someone else that doesn't like Fuzion! Join the ever-growing club... please note, the following is doubtless just a story made up by me, strictly for amusement value, and surely has nothing to do with the actual facts of the matter -- whatever matter that may be... ;-)
Howsoever that may be, when the rules for a particular simplification-of-a-popular-game-system were being written, the original-popular-game-system person that made sure the mathematical parts of the game worked was out of town for about a month. During that time the guy in charge of the-gaming-system-that-doesn't-have-any-basis-in-mathematical-realities managed to get the other original-popular-game-system partners to agree to disregard the mathematical parts of the rules, so it would mesh with his game better.
This so disrupted the game balance and concept the original original-popular-game-system math guy had in mind that he decided to drop out of the original-popular-game-system company. However, if he'd done so his partners couldn't have afforded to buy him out... so they persuaded him to remain in name only. That's why the simplification-of-a-popular-game-system doesn't work... and why the newest version of the original-popular-game-system is most likely going to be rampant with rules abuse. So... confused yet? ;-)
Re my comments to David Dunham about marriage, I must admit they were more along the lines of train-of-thought ramblings than any real condemnation of marriage per se. I simply think that marriage as presented by the christian church isn't doing its job very well any more... else why do we have a 50% divorce rate, y'know? If I remember my sociology training correctly, that kind of 'failure rate' is a sign that individuals are trying to re-create an institution that no longer fulfills the society's needs.
All that said, I still think folks that are willing to give commitment a try deserve all the help they can get -- it's a tough row to hoe, after all. So... congrats on your impending wedding, and good luck in your life together! And speaking of commitment... wow. How time flies. I just realized my sweetie and I will be celebrating our eleventh anniversary this 4th of July! ;-)
Oooh, I want to find that C. S. Lewis quote -- it sounds like a good one! Lordy, it's been ages since I thought of ole C. S.... as a child I absolutely adored his Narnia books! If depth and sincerity of desire could qualify one for one's own little heaven, I would have been in Narnia in a flash! ;-)
Couldn't agree more, re your comment about wanting to be in groups where the players are all willing to contribute to the game. I've been in games where the GM said to make something up right then and there; it didn't matter that much who or what we played, since we were just going to be doing combat-of-the-night... and I've been in games where the GM had a well-developed background, and helped each person create their character, and make sure there was some connection between them all. Guess which game cratered, and which ran for years and is still remembered fondly by its participants?
That latter-mentioned game was one where the GM was occasionally startled when players came in with things for the game that he'd not asked for or required... obscure information relevant to the game, or little hand-made paper vans to use on the battle map, or laminated 'secret base' ID cards (complete with magnetic stripe and photo!), or quick-sketches of individuals in the game, or even just one of the players spontaneously arriving with munchies for everyone... there was a real feeling of 'group' in that game. I think we all contributed so much because we all felt it was our game -- we'd all helped make it as fun as it was, and the GM knew that, and appreciated us.
I think that's the basis of a really successful game, actually: mutual trust and respect. All the other things we've talked about -- GM tricks to make the game run smoothly, character links in game, screening of new players, all the other things -- they all help; they make it easier for the trust to occur. But even if they all work perfectly, even if you've made the most careful and stringent of choices... if there's no mutual trust or respect throughout the group -- the game will fail.
Thanks for the compliment re my IR article in #6!Leaders... y'know, I think you're right. Most US folks do seem a little balky at the idea of picking a leader for a group. I can't help but wonder if that's a byproduct of our society. I had an anthropology professor who said once that societies which consider all their individual members to be peers have the most stringent, complex societal and conversational processes to suggest ideas without the suggesting individual actually appearing to take a leadership role... and that US society didn't have that.
As far as roles within the team, well, I know we once successfully assigned the roles of 'PR spokesperson,' 'public leader,' and 'combat leader.' The roles were assigned to folks that had demonstrated competence and wanted the roles. We also had 'buddies' assigned, as in if the group had to flee precipitously we all knew who'd be grabbing whom and speeding/flying away. We also knew where to head for so we could gather back together for mutual support -- especially if the bad guys tried following one of the buddy-twosomes. The GM had some REALLY nasty bad guys, and we learned early that he who runs away lives to fight another day! This occurred after we'd been gaming together for quite some time, however.
Hmm... interesting thought. Perhaps that's why most groups won't agree on a leader -- they've not learned to trust each other yet? I know I've been in games where the consensus of the majority was to have a particular person as leader, when for one reason or another I did not trust the person in question. In such cases my character has always followed the leader's instructions, but kept a stringent eye out for her own safety... mostly because she didn't trust the leader to do so for her. The leader could earn her trust... but he did not automatically start out with it.
On the other hand, I've been in games where there was a leader, but it really didn't seem to matter. I think my favorite example of this was a game where we had far too many players, and most of them had known each other for a long time. I was the newbie, and quite startled when the most loud-mouthed and bossy player character there announced he was going to be leading -- and no one said a word in dissent! I'd seen this guy 'leading' before, and his absolute lack of tactics and utter lack of respect for his opponents appalled me almost as much as his complete disregard for the safety of his teammates. So, after much argument, I got them to agree to make the leadership role a rotating position, instead of only this individual being the leader.
Because there were so many characters, the GM would on occasion split us into two groups. One group would have some interpersonal stuff, and the other group would have a combat that night... and the next week the group roles would be switched. This worked fine usually, and let everyone have a chance to participate.
One two-week combat sequence in particular stands out in my mind. The first week's combat group consisted of the PC group led by this obnoxious individual. The group I was part of was the 'interpersonal stuff' group. The combat group's combat was an unqualified disaster. The enemy group not only trashed the supers group, leaving them badly beaten and injured, but they also left with the macguffin. The only reason they didn't kill the unconscious 'good guys,' or take off their masks and humiliate them publicly, was because the GM decided to be nice.
The second week had my group in combat, and I was eager to see if tactics would make a difference. Instead of loudly commanding everyone as to what to do (and often having that demand ignored) I had my character quietly suggest things that might help, like two supers ganging up on one bad guy. Instead of having everyone match up with the bad guy with similar powers, I suggested to folks that they swap around -- that way they were more likely not to come up against someone that might have a super power specifically designed to negate their abilities. Also that way they might be fighting someone they could actually affect -- as the GM tended to make his bad guys have abilities that could negate supers with similar powers. Furthermore, instead of immediately rushing off to beat up someone new as soon as the current opponent fell down, my character suggested hitting the defeated bad guys carefully one more time, and keeping a surreptitious eye on them, to be sure the bad guy stayed down.
It was wonderful. I was so proud of the group I was in. The example couldn't have been clearer, I thought... our team captured all the bad guys, and the macguffin, AND no one on either side was seriously injured! Such a resounding success -- we were veritable studmuffins! Now we'd see some real teamwork and leadership, because my fellow players couldn't fail to see how useful they were!
Surprise. The next week we went right back to their old, usual way of gaming. The loud-mouth was still ordering folks around; characters still automatically lined up to fight like-powered bad guys; teamwork meant nothing more than standing together for the team photo. I was quite disappointed.
In retrospect I suppose I shouldn't have been so surprised. The group didn't care if they won or not, because that wasn't why they were there. Even if they lost this week they knew the GM would let them win the next week. I realized only late in the game that the game they wanted was not the game I wanted. The term 'leader' meant next to nothing to them, because their leader accomplished next to nothing. Their team leader was the team's leader because it was easier to let him claim the title and mostly ignore him, than to actually have the position of leader mean anything, or affect how they played. They were there mostly to socialize. I was not... and so I quietly withdrew from the game.
So what was all that rambling about? Mostly to explore the idea that leadership, like role-playing gaming, means different things to different folks. If the view of 'leadership' that your fellow players had could be 'tilted' slightly, perhaps roles could be beneficially assigned within the game. Leadership to me has always meant responsibility for those depending on you, far more than it meant any perceived power or hierarchy. If leadership doesn't mean 'I can make you do anything I want!' or 'I get to loudly boss everyone around!' but rather means 'I'm the person that's to blame if we don't all get out safely' or 'I'm the person that shields my team from the press's harassing questions' then perhaps it wouldn't make folks quite so uncomfortable? Leaders aren't work managers, after all -- or at least good leaders aren't. Perhaps if we can somehow disassociate the concept of leadership from that of hierarchy, we'll all benefit? Just a meandering thought...
I was wondering if you could explain one of your statements further, btw... it sounded rather interesting, but I'm not sure I understood it correctly. You state:
Plots that elicit change or self discovery from the PCs are much prized in role-playing, and well remembered when they happen. But they usually require a good match of plot to character, something role-playing doesn't do very well, and so they're fairly rare.
I agree that it is the change and growth within a character in a long-running campaign that affords me the most pleasure while gaming. I'd always thought that matching plot to character was something a good GM does, though -- that it was not due, per se, to 'role-playing.' Under my assumption it would follow that good role-playing takes advantage of a good GM's matching up clever plot with the right character. Thus role-playing would be neither cause nor effect, but reaction -- rather than role-playing being the effect of good plot-character matches. This does not seem to be what you're saying here, but I'm not sure. Am I misunderstanding the thrust of your argument?Prospective players, as per your comments to Rich Staats: I think saying 'no' has to be the hardest part of dealing with players. I know that I wrote a zine ages ago where I cheerfully and firmly announced that honesty was the best policy, and you should simply talk to the unwanted player, and gently let them go... that there was no excuse for waffling around or making their life miserable in-game in the hopes that they'd leave on their own. I was writing that because I'd been on the player end of that garbage. A GM hadn't bothered being honest with me, but had done his best to make my character's life utter hell -- all because he was apparently afraid to ask me to leave. What an utter jerk! I'd thought, upon discovering this -- I'd have left quietly if I'd just been asked... and so I wrote the article. I would never do something that cowardly to some poor player, I promised myself!
Ah, experience... ;-) I still believe honesty and communication are the best policies, but I now understand better how easy it is to slip into a self-deluding state. Oh, sure, at the end of the last game you promised yourself you'll never let that idiot game in your game again! But here it is almost time to game this week, you've not told him he has to go yet, you know it'll be such a fuss... it's easier to let it slip -- just one time more. And then you inadvertently take out your frustration on the poor schmoe and he's got no idea why you just mutilated his character!
Gosh no, would I make a mistake like that?! sigh...you bet. I was an idiot. It wasn't until my sweetie pointed out to me that I'd just hurt the poor guy's feelings in the last game that I realized it was time for me to put my money where my mouth was. It wasn't easy asking him politely if he could please withdraw from the game... but I think both of us were tremendously relieved once it was over with and out in the open. It also gave me an unexpected view into myself... as a GM, I should be careful to take a moment, and see what my stories appear to be 'saying' to my players. If the same character is the 'golden child,' or gets smacked by misfortune, EVERY TIME in your game... maybe you need to take a moment and see what's wrong, instead of just carrying on with 'business as usual.'
And from the player's side of the screen... I don't know what other folks are comfortable with, but I know that for me, a GM that doesn't want to be part of my character creation process is one that I don't want to game with. Games, as you noted, are best when the plots and the characters are closely matched. If the GM has no idea who I'm bringing into the game, how do they know what plots will work well for my character? In fact, how do they know my character is appropriate at all for their game?
Thank you for the lovely compliment on my zines! ;-)
I heartily agree with you and Joe Teller about not rewarding players for being absent. After all, what is a reward supposed to do? It's supposed to encourage the rewarded to repeat the behavior they were rewarded for! As a former animal trainer, I am constantly astonished at how few people think about what their actions are telling the individuals around them.
I heard my favorite example of this during my stint at a teaching zoo, in my first time in college. The professors would give real-life examples to illustrate their lessons. One professor was discussing positive and negative reinforcement with us. The ability to use positive reinforcement precisely is quite important when working in a zoo, since frequently the animal you're working with is stronger, faster, and perhaps even angrier than you are; whereas negative reinforcement, used carelessly, could leave people dead.
The incident in question concerned a huge male silverback highland gorilla. Highland gorillas are extremely endangered, and the zoo was doing its best to find a female for their male. However, in the meantime the big male (a gentle, clever, and curious individual) was living alone... and subsequently quite bored.
Once a day his cage had to be thoroughly sprayed down and cleaned. In order to do this he had to be coaxed down a short connecting passage to a small holding cage. Once he was safely inside the little holding cage the keepers would go clean the big cage, and then he was released back into it. The problem was getting him through the connecting passage -- he would amble into the middle of it, then sit firmly down. And sit. And sit... and sit... and stay there for like an hour while all the keepers did their best to coax him into the little holding cage.
They tried everything: bananas, other fresh fruit, his favorite toys... they piled up goodies in the holding cage, they crawled all over the wire of the connecting passage to drop goodies into the passage next to him and in a trail to the holding cage... all to no avail. He'd just sit there for like an hour, happily watching them... and then for no reason they could tell -- he'd get up, amble into the holding cage, and that was that. Except, of course, for the fact that by the end of that hour or so the keepers were all red-faced, furious, almost screamingly angry, and HATED working with this gorilla with a passion!
They finally hired an animal behaviorist to help them with this problem, when one of the keepers suggested just shooting the gorilla with a tranquilizer-dart gun... they decided things had gone quite far enough when one of the keepers (also usually gentle, clever, and curious individuals) were suggesting such potentially harmful means of dealing with one of their charges. So the behavior specialist came in, watched one of the attempts to move the gorilla... and then walked into the head keeper's office, and announced he knew how to fix the problem.
It probably would have been funny to the poor keepers, were they not so frustrated by that point. They'd forgotten the critical rule -- Know What Behavior You Are Rewarding! Think about it... the poor bored gorilla that lived all alone got, once a day, a wonderful show! The keepers would all come and pay attention to him -- they'd dance around, yell and scream and gesture madly, they'd throw him delicious treats... and he got a pile of goodies and toys at the end of the show!
The solution was really rather simple. The keepers were all given careful instructions for the next day. The connecting doors were opened, the gorilla ambled halfway into the passageway and sat expectantly down and... nothing. No keepers to play with, no treats showered down on him... after about 5 minutes he sort of shrugged, then got up and ambled into the small holding cage. Immediately, much to his surprise and pleasure, all the keepers descended on the cage, bearing treats and feeding them to him through the wire, giving him extravagant praise, swinging his favorite toys around in the cage with him, and generally just taking a nice, hour-long 'play with the gorilla' break! Needless to say, the bad habit was easily broken, once the desired behavior was being correctly praised with the positive reinforcement.
I took that story to heart, and it frequently helps me in my dealings... both in past animal training, in present dealings with other folks, and even in handling myself. Yes, just like the gorilla, I am willing to endure boredom for a much-desired goal. In my case it was the boredom of horribly long hours of study... because I always gave myself something I REALLY WANTED at the quarter's end. And of course anyone that's had a rude, obnoxious, or destructive guest in their home knows that the answer to that behavior is to ask them to leave, and not to reward them in any fashion... whereas pleasant, well-behaved, and interesting guests are rewarded with your attention, and perhaps even the offering of food or drink. Of course, I suspect anyone with kids is already intimately acquainted with the ins and outs of positive reinforcement. ;-)
Interesting commentary to Kiralee McCauley in regards to a role-player possibly being more flexible in terms of their accepting that role-playing might not be a universally good influence, than a christian would be in regards to christianity. There are perhaps two other possible reason for this (well, probably two of many): role-players are not taught a doctrine since childhood of the infallibility of their deity. There is, in fact, no central, omniscient, omnipresent deity at all for role-playing. I suppose an argument could be made for Gygax claiming infallibility, so perhaps we could consider him the pope of gaming...? ;-)
Ooh, someone after my own heart! You too agree that the illegality of drugs and consensual sex crimes produces a 'forbidden fruit' situation? I've always found it asinine that the laws artificially create and perpetuate the very social setup they purport to address. I can't recall who it was, but I've always agreed with the gentleman who said roughly, "Prisons are built of bricks of law, just as brothels are built from bricks of religion."
Have you read Peter McWilliams' excellent book "Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society"? McWilliams has written some apparently boring 'self-help/feel-good' books, but I've never seen them... and this book is astonishingly readable, as well as one of my favorite quote sources. I highly recommend it.
Re how a GM's attitudes affect the attitude of the team, I quite agree. I've always agreed with Agatha Christie that a group frequently takes its emotional lead from its leader. I can think of two clear examples... in one case the GM was careful, thorough, and well-organized. He told us what he was looking for in characters, helped us design them all, made sure we had some links between us... in short, he's the GM I mention above as having the well-beloved game that lasted for years.
The other GM I'm thinking of started his game on a whim, and had no spine to speak of -- the players could get him to do anything they wanted just by complaining loudly or long enough. Unsurprisingly the players divided up into aggressively oppositional factions, there was no consistency in the game or the characters, and bad feeling ran rampantly through the (mercifully) short-lived game.
This second GM had one characteristic I found both odd and discomfiting... he let his players mock and ridicule both their enemies... and their NPC allies. Perhaps I'm weird, I don't know... but I know that during about a decade of showing in horse-back riding shows my parents did their best to hammer into me the ability to be a graceful loser AND (what is probably more difficult) a graceful winner. Making fun of folks' names, or verbally 'kicking' them when they're down, feels painfully juvenile to me... I got over that in middle school. Since then I have never considered such behavior particularly witty or intelligent, but rather more an indicator of the insecurity and immaturity of the player.
Furthermore, it always seemed to me that the GM was treating his NPCs more as expendable foils to the characters, rather than like real folks with their own sense of pride and self-worth. Where's the heroism in that? I know if I were playing a villain and someone was that maliciously asinine to the villain... the villain would probably make sure the 'hero' ended up in a dark alley somewhere -- dead. But this GM just let the characters treat his NPCs like emotional punching bags... apparently so the so-called 'heroes' could make themselves feel bigger and more important. I'm curious... does anyone else ever see this peculiar behavior in any of the games they're in? Am I being too stringent in my definition of heroism here perhaps?
Thanks so much for your compliments! Good luck with your dream house. ;-)
Hmm, interesting thoughts about the mental images the term 'teamwork' inspires. Perhaps that's another part of the reason many folks are leery of picking a team leader -- it brings to mind images of work hierarchies, or an office manager? I think most folks game to get away from real life, after all. I know I do.
So... how to define the goal. For myself, I think what I'm looking for re 'teamwork' is more a situation where the characters aren't actively fighting or undermining each other. They may not be a well-oiled fighting machine, but I'd find a game that was nothing but battles pretty dull. I guess I'd want a game where there were at the least some friendships between the characters, and where, in the face of conflict, they were at least somewhat mutually supportive. I think, for example, it's a danger sign when the individual members of a gaming group always turn to NPCs for help, instead of to each other -- especially when the skills needed exist within the group.
I'd have to agree as far as 'forcing' teamwork -- all the times I've seen teamwork be effective we did it because we wanted to, not because the GM or another player demanded it -- and it didn't happen overnight. We had to learn each others' abilities, as well as to trust each other. In fact, it was in the cases where we were told we had to be a team that I saw this most actively fought. And yes, I've never seen anything beat communication for keeping groups running smoothly together.
Erk. So you want to know about gaming groups that didn't make it? Heh... that's pretty much a zine in and of itself. Interesting thought though... all right, I'll try to put one together on the subject for my next zine. I'd do it this time but I'm a little pressed for time and I want to get this zine in by deadline.One-on-one gaming addictiveness -- oh my yes! The most intense, challenging, and absorbing games I've been in were all one-on-one. I don't know of any better way to deeply and profoundly search the personality of a character, nor to do the most difficult and personally 'stretching' gaming I've ever done. I love 'em... but I wouldn't recommend them for everyone. The only times I've cried in a game, or really sweated about a character's possible death was in one-on-one games. It was also one-on-one games that allowed me to mentally hash out many of the ethical and moral questions I had when younger, when I was trying to figure out what a 'hero' was, and how an ethical person within this society should behave.
On the other hand, I've been told one-on-one gaming is too intense for some folks. There's something to be said for both the randomness and emotional distance that other players give.
Your con report was amusing, and inspired me to go searching on the web for a Babes with Blades web site. There is one here, and during the searching I found a wonderful quote as well... thank you. ;-)
If one man taking one step on the moon proved mankind is capable of space exploration -- why don't thousands of women fighting in hundreds of wars over 6,000 years prove that women are capable of serving in combat?
The final bits I wanted to comment on in your zine I left for last for a few reasons, and I'm conflating them with my comments on David Dickie's zine. Please see below.
Both you and Dana Erlandsen had comments in your zines that were of a roughly anti-gun nature. This did not bother me, since I believe that is your right in an open forum such as this. After all, we live in the US, where freedom of expression is mostly uncurtailed, and I love a good, friendly debate. However, since this is a text only format, I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to interpretations of the written word. Thus, even though I'm not sure this is actually how you both felt, while reading your zines I 'heard' both your 'voices' as somewhat annoyed (and perhaps beleaguered) concerning a subject neither of you really wished to discuss any further.
Furthermore, this is a gaming APA, and I very much do not want to see it degenerate into acrimonious flaming over subjects unrelated to the APA's theme, as I've unfortunately seen happen before on on-line forums and in other APAs. Thus, while I may still think that there are viable points of contention in both your arguments, I'm not going to continue to argue them unless you specifically ask me to, AND we agree that this is but an interesting issue to discuss -- and NOT a measure of any of our self-worths. ;-) Instead I'm going to try to use the discussions we've had in a gaming context, and thus hopefully both keep my commentary relevant to the zine and its participants, and avoid ruining a nice place to chat.
To that end it's my intent to give this some thought (since both gaming and guns are complex subjects), and hopefully write a good zine on possible ways to usefully and constructively implement contentious issues safely and interestingly in a game.
And now I've got that sort of 'eeeh...' feeling I get when I know I'm done with a zine -- so I'll finish with an old TWH cover that never saw print. Hope you're all doing well, and I'll see you in the next ish of IR. Till then! ;-)
Last Updated: Sun Jan 30 2000