Bullet Point Friday

  • If you think the reason your games are not raking in big bucks and critical acclaim is because the amateurs are hogging the spotlight, then at some point you are in for a very rude awakening. Be thankful for the amateurs; they keep you from seeing yourself.
  • I seriously wish it was possible to do modern weirdness without getting Grant Morrison all over it. he has leaked into everything, and it makes me crazy. I love a lot of his stuff, but for some reason it’s become a template for weird, and it’s made weird boring.
  • Also, the universe made much more sense when I checked the American to British dictionary and realized the British word for terrorist is fascist.[1]
  • Tony DiTerlizzi is the greatest argument for the power of art in RPGs. I’m not saying he’s the best RPG artist, but rather that the two lines defined by his signature look (Planescape and Changeling: The Dreaming) would both have been vastly more uninteresting without his images to ring them to life. In both cases, his art made a promise that was so compelling many of us were willing to forgive it when the delivery fell short. Contrast this with Hunter: the Reckoning where the art was also greatly disconnected with the text, but it did not have the unifying force of a single artist. H:tR did not create a promise in the mind of readers, it merely created a conflict, and in turn a mess.
  • I love talking about old Mage because of the ways it sucked. Taken as a whole, mage was an absolute mess, but if you zoomed in and took any particular slice of it, that slice was probably absolutely awesome. But what’s most awesome about that is that mage fans seem to embrace this. They all love Mage, even though they love radically different games, and they’re ok with that. Amber is the only other community I can think of that does this. Now, I love new Mage because it’s close to the slice of old Mage I liked best, but I admit it suffers for not having this sort of magic.[2]

  • I made an assertion on Twitter that I could fit Danny Ocean into any game except Burning Wheel in 4 pages or less. This lead to some interesting questions that mostly answered themselves in my mind[3], but I figure I’d elaborate a bit here because it usually takes far less than 4 pages. Really, it’s 3 things.
    1. Danny knows things. If you want to support him (and by extension, good capers) then you give the player more information than is traditional. You put him in a position to be proactive, not reactive.
    2. Danny makes everyone around him more awesome. He can do some stuff, but mostly he creates opportunities for other people to do their thing.
    3. Danny sometimes knows things the audience does not. In some situations he needs to be able to tweak the plot.
    Which is to say, all you really need to do in four pages is create plugins for those 3 things. Given that, it doesn’t seem so hard, does it?
  • I spend too much time thinking about how to arm and equip mortals to fight the supernatural in the Dresdenverse.
  • I always though Mage’s ‘good guys’ fell down from there being too many of them. The Akashic brotherhood is far more compelling to me when it’s a dojo of 15 guys in San Diego, with one or two smaller satellites in other cities. Mage had too many mages: it made things bland, and it made the Technocracy less compelling as a threat (though that was only one of many reasons). More broadly, I’m a big fan of games where there are less than 200 people of whatever category makes the character’s special. It allows for more engagement, and it dismisses a lot of unpleasant social myths.
  • I worry sometimes that I paint myself into a corner with my old man game thoughts. I’m not mad at my father or fighting the man, and I don’t think the suburbs are ritually draining cities of their mojo[4]. I am not sure I am resentful enough to make a game setting that appeals to the market these days.

1 – It will hurt me if I have to explain why this is not literally true, but is all the same very very true. it’s not about what the words mean, it’s about how they’re used.
2 – K?

3 – I’m just saying: A Ganakagok game centered around your team of cool glacier dwellers planning to steal the sun? Awesome.

4 – Urban, suburban and exurban development are actually really fascinating issues in their own right, and the suburbs have no shortage of problems, but they are much more interesting than “Wah, it’s all whitebread!”

6 thoughts on “Bullet Point Friday

  1. Seth Ben-Ezra

    Urban, suburban and exurban development are actually really fascinating issues in their own right, and the suburbs have no shortage of problems, but they are much more interesting than “Wah, it’s all whitebread!”

    On some appropriate day, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

    You know, since we can’t have that conversation over a beer. 🙁

    Reply
  2. Rogan

    Thinking about your first bullet point – My wife asked me once why I didn’t do more game writing than the little I do as a fan from time to time. I said, “You know that salary I get as an IT admin? Do you know what game writers make?”

    I’ll prod along doing 1PG and OGL stuff as whim compels me.

    Reply
  3. Noumenon

    More broadly, I’m a big fan of games where there are less than 200 people of whatever category makes the character’s special.

    3.5 D&D can’t be one of those, right? Because opponents need class levels?

    Reply
  4. Rob Donoghue

    @nou yep – it also makes d&d suck for using recurring villain groups. But there are trade offs that come with that, so it’s not a flaw with D&D, just a matter of the tool for the job.

    Reply
  5. semioticity

    Now you make me want to design an old Mage hack where losing your Humanity-equivalent (I totally forget what it was in Mage) simple means you agree with the Technocracy (and probably switch sides), as they have the Best Solution for the Greater Good.

    Reply
  6. semioticity

    Oh, and re: Grant Morrison, I just finished rereading his four-part Flex Mentallo miniseries from the mid-90s…and it doesn’t hold up well. It’s textbook early weird Morrison, full of crazy awesome but signifying next to nothing.

    Reply

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