The ontological concept of happiness, among other things

Second session of the current Cosmic Zap game, displaying one of the game features that it’s robust relative to player attendance.

Rod mentions at one point that it’s the most self-indulgent role-playing he’s done, either lately or maybe ever. That’s why this time the lead image for this post is a link.

I call attention to a couple of things.

In the first situation, Blue Streak gets into the long-standing role-playing conundrum concerning interrogation situations, in which “he’s demanding that I tell” and “I try to figure out what’s going on.” I’ve been discussing for a long time how such situations in play represent a breakdown, either flailing or maneuvering concerning uncertainties, anxieties, or power. In this case, it lets me talk about a ceding of power away from what the game affords, almost as if the player is saying, “well, I know it’s going to go the GM’s way anyway, so I’ll just kick it over there, either he’ll spill what the guy wants me to tell, or he’ll give me the information I’m holding out for, he can’t just ‘interrogate’ me forever.”

I am not saying Ian did this specifically; I’m saying that what you see in the video allows us to talk about that issue when/if/how it may apply. Cosmic Zap does a nice job of making it a non-issue, because the Narrator (the main GM) is third in line, not first, to take on the responsibility or authority of saying either of those things. Ian could very well say either both all by himself as the spotlight player, in opening the situation; Rod could well take on either or both by acting as the “attacking” player, which would also enlist me as the obligatory narrator of the contest that would entail; and only in the absence of either of those, would I take on either or both by playing the interrogator, which may or may not entail a difficulty-based contest. 

Since I didn’t “feel” the interrogator or that entire situation particularly strongly, I was happy to let it play out as it did when Rod “felt” Stutterstep as a new character and moved in with him for the second option.

Throughout, you’ll see me being pretty vocal about what players can or might do with the rules. That’s a function of showcasing or teaching the game as well as playing it, and I really prefer to draw it down as wel go along; I fancy that you can see it diminish steadily throughout the session, and that it will be practically gone by the next one.

But since that’s merely a fancy, I want you to consider when and how much anyone’s “do this,” “you should do this,” is supportive vs. intrusive. Tone and delivery are much less important in this than one might expect, and I think it’s best assessed by watching what actually happens, i.e., when the input is received relative to the fiction being establishd, an how much the people involved do put in what they want or have arrived at themselves following the input.

You can also see me teasing or joking, pretty hard actually, perhaps obnoxious to some. That’s a function of having played some pretty thorough stuff which both of the others, especially recently, and I submit you see less of it relative to Juan (in the prior video) and will generally see it directly correlated to my intimacy with the specific other person.

But this is an issue I want to investigate here: when anyone besides the obvious designated decision or statement person, mainly me as the obvious top contender or offender, intrudes via humor or commentary or system options, does it support play or disrupt it. Can we tell the difference? How? What constitutes the difference? When? Among whom?

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3 responses to “The ontological concept of happiness, among other things”

  1. Self-indulgence

    "Lately", yes. "Ever" . . . probably not. (Back, memories!) In my defense, I think the album in question is a pretty good class/cultural marker for Jane and her mother (and, well, me). It may be interesting to know that in the weeks between sessions, I considered erasing it and replacing it with something stronger, like another character, but decided that since I wrote it down I should keep it out of respect for the process. I think I was answering some urge to test the merit of that choice when I pushed the ability forward as a candidate for possible use.

    • I harshed way too much! The

      I harshed way too much! The album is such a cultural marker it's almost too much for me, as if, "no, you can't use that," and especially, "I get to make fun of it so no one else does, in defense of the era." Add to that how overplayed it was at the time, so that my enjoyment of individual songs is almost scrubbed away.

      I think the merit is unquestionable, as a game component, which is why I led with the image in partial apology for being Mr. Snotty during the session.

    • Ron, no worries! I totally

      Ron, no worries! I totally understand the impulses you describe and rather enjoyed the sass. In fact (and pursuant to your discussion topic) I think it did a good job of building up the acquaintance between Ian and myself, through some kind of social transitive property.

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