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Manticores R us

My latest consult with Tor brings us his working title, "Belitsunnu's Manticore," and extensive discussion of winning/losing, procedures for player input into preparation, and improvised tactical play.

Please add the collective intelligence to this one. We raised tons of questions and I tried not to drive toward answers - help me round out and deepen the questions so Tor's muse and/or subconscious can surprise him with the right answers for his game.

I really don't know whether the image I chose is right for the game, as we didn't discuss the associations or themes. Tor, let me know.

Department: 
Consulting

Comments

Many of the issues around challenges and playing to win and so on are very familiar, but there is a certain difference in approaches to solving some of them that I find hard to articulate. Is it only in the language or is it in the substance? I do not know yet.

In any case, it is a strange uncanny valley -like feeling that makes it very hard to comment in a constructive way.

Ron Edwards's picture

At the time of this video, four and a half years ago, I think I was able to help Tor, but I was also not yet armed with the right striking-devices to arive at full clarity about it.

In the intervening time, I'm a lot more able to say what is up here.

  • Confusions about the Crawl as offering some special wonderful ur-role-playing experience, as opposed to being a fun thing to do among many others
  • The effort to insert qualities (e.g. bonus mechanics) and context (people relationships, settings) so that the Crawl will be become wonderful

You see the complete contradiction here, I hope? That a person wants X because it's supposed to provide a pure or special form of role-playing experience, but when they play X, it's just itself, perfectly good as such, but not the enlightenment + blowjob they thought. So they try to make X+Y or X' or XXX to "fix" it. But they're doomed because whatever modification they make, it deviates from X, and they know it, so the original goal is as far away as ever.

Put this into context with the content of the Finding D&D seminar series and the Three Fantasies course (preliminary content was posted here), and you’ll see all the problems discussed in D&D as habits and culture and Conversation: D&D play culture.

Therefore, yes, I see what you mean about the Uncanny Valley in this consult, but I think we know a lot more about the confusions now. They are resolvable, but not by invoking terms like old-school or sandbox; in fact, I think those terms inject direct harm largely because they introduce mythologies, and disrespect and obfuscate what some great old games actually were or can do.

I see the contradiction.

Though I also see the crawl (resource management, pushing one's luck) as one side of a larger goal, which would be finding out how to win at dungeon crawling; strategy, tactics, doctrine, taking more and more factors into account (light, stress, etc.; many possible directions to expand to).

Another way to expand the game would be to wilderness exploration, or to social situations, and so on. The creative impetus, playing to have the character succeed in the fictional circumstances, remains, while the crawl becomes one scenario template among many; a pattern the players can notice or frame the scenario at hand in terms of. An investigation is another pattern on the similar level, I guess, but not have thought through carefully.

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