Recorded on Wednesday, September 23, 2020
This is an in-depth look at the Adept Play website and at Adept Press. This lengthy interview opens with an overview of the site and its features, then moves into specific examples of how those features are put to use:
Welcome – Actual Play – Seminar – Consulting
The interview then segues into discussing each of Ron Edwards’ games from a practical standpoint of what they are and how they do what they do. We then conclude with a brief look ahead at what is to come.
Part 1: Adept Play Overview
Actual Play – 1:09
Seminar – 2:35
Consulting – 9:50
Part 2: Adept Play Specifics
On shared Actual Play – 12:27
Expectations for Posting AP – 22:00
Example Seminars and Labs – 43:34
Example Consultations – 54:21
Part 3 – The Games 1:10:57
Sorcerer – 1:12:00
Elfs – 1:15:05
Trollbabe – 1:17:41
It was a mutual decision – 1:20:54
Spione & Shahida – 1:23:45
Circle of Hands – 1:28:25
Champions NOW – 1:31:28
Cosmic Zap (forthcoming) – 1:32:51
S/Lay with Me – 1:34:56
Part 4: Summary & Closing – 1:42:02
Dreams of Fire – 1:42:22
3 responses to “On Adept Play – An Overview with Ron Edwards”
Books with games
I'm not sharing lots of depth of thoughts for the moments… But things come into my mind, bit by bit.
Understanding that Shahida and Spione are not games, but books with little games in them changes totally the way I see it. Mostly because I think the "audience" is not the same, at least in terms of "who in my direct relations would play those game with me" and how I would present them the game. "Let's talk about the civil war in Beyruth and its stakes, and let's play a little story game to know more about this situation" would work better – at least for people who are not generally interested in games (those "gamer's girlfriend" profiles) and know nothing about the cultural background and moral entrepreunrship behind the notion of "story game". I know a few of people who are not RPG players who would be interested to "play a little game where we play a lebanese family in the civil war, because I have a book about this", where "playing d&d" do not appeal to them at all!
In 2005, I wanted to leave
In 2005, I wanted to leave the hobby and industry of role-playing entirely. The activity made sense to me. I knew that I understood the structural and social features well enough to continue to develop their potential, and that the activity was not only worth doing, but urgently desirable in the modern day. But those features' historical identity, standards for production, commerce, community of use, and discourse had shown themselves to be almost entirely without merit. I knew that the hobby (as social construct) included many people like me who tolerated it in order to play. But I also knew that the larger culture included many people who would play, if the activity were not identified as and partook of the negative aspects of the hobby.
I must clarify. These negative aspects are not "geekdom." They are not "being awkward." They are not "outsider" qualities. They are absolutely the opposite. I will be even more explicit. Fandom is a bad thing. All of it. It is the opposite of liking and enjoying something, even as it hides behind the pretense of liking and enjoying things. The fact that role-playing (an inexact term; I refer to what we do here and discuss here) is only construed, understood, commercially constructed, and discussed as a subset of fandom damns it entirely.
My new goals turned toward that larger society of participating and liking this activity, but, obviously, had to focus on people discovering it. Spione and the planned series of work that accompanied it were my means to do this. As I mentioned in the interview, the series was to include in addition to Shahida another set in Cambodia/Laos (set in the early 50s and the late 60s), and another set in parallel play between (the-called) Rhodesia and Cuba, with Amerikkka planned as the final publication. Yes, I have an extensive library for these easily comparable to the references in Spione and Shahida, and yes, I have read it all and have extensive design notes and text drafts.
In 2006, I put my goals in motion. I failed. That is not a term I use casually regarding the events of my life.
It surely is disappointing.
It surely is disappointing. The goal seems very ambitious to me, and daunting.
I'm not sure if it helps, but I hope it does: if I don't take the stance of the marketing consulter, but just look at people I know and could be interested, I can see three categories of people.
1) some really deeply involved in political engagement – be it humanitarian workers or political activists from arabic countries banned from those countries and that actually fought in the 1982 civil war mentioned in Shahida. They are generally not interested in games – most of the time is devoted to political activities or human relationship. They would discuss the book to know what it says about this period and how it helps in anything today.
2) The "gamer girlfriend", which is a very bad description, but people not specially interested in RPG, generally never played at it and not interested into the perceived "geekdom", and are a bit interested in political essays but don't know where to start. Generally, we talk and share specific books as starting points, such as Kishore Mashbubani. Generally, they take interest gradually by being shoked by something specific, but I'm not sure they would be interested in a "book about the lebanese civil war" – except if presetend through this story now game. It is a smart way to enter the subject for people who wants to, but don't want to read an academic book or complex essay that needs a whole review of the art. My friends who were interested in Sorcerer but never played a RPG game, I talked about them in this post.
3) People from the Arabic cultural center, and mostly the people attending the learning arabic classes I'm following. Some of them are working in refugee associations, some are second generation migrants from Marocco that speaks dialects and wants to learn to read/talk classical arabic, some are European Union employees, some are lovers of palestinian poetry and some are just interested in languages. Not all of them, but I'm pretty sure some of them would be interested.
I'm still reading Shahida – among lots of things, so I'm slow, but I plan to talk about the book in those three spaces to see what kind of reception it takes – both for the form and for the content.
Interestingly, I see here that I don't talk about my roleplayer friends. Maybe some of them would be interested, but I'm not sure. I'll try anyway. But they want to play a game and analyze everything in game terms. "What kind of game do we play". My feeling is that you can't really appreciate this book or be attracted to it by asking this question, and even less if you meet this question with a history of "hey here is story now and I come from Intuitive continuity!". But I'm just thinking out loud, and my plan is to come back with answers during 2021.
I really liked the book, and I enjoy it more now that I see them as books more than games. I feel a bit dumb to write that, but it's true. Reading the book by "looking for the game in it" made me read it with the mindset of trying to understand a RPG, and I don't know, it's not the same. Can't figure why, but I'm looking forward to it.