The Memory Dome, in which Halls all is retained, and all is forgot - a bit too abstractly philosophical, I think. I can see how it could be made strong, but also how it could easily slip into nothingness
Any idea about how put that strong in the wording? If not, I'll discard it until something better comes in mind to me.
I'm getting a very dream-like vibe from this, something like...
"The caverns of Morpheus, where all is forgotten yet everything remains."
ehh, still doesn't feel strong to me, but there's a kernel of something worthy there.
When I was asking what the game actually is, I was grappling with the idea that the game is this phantasmal thing--a kind of living imaginary process that resides strictly in the minds and the conversation of the players. The written text of the game---even the unwritten "text" or system, and things like maps, miniatures, artwork, dice, etc., can all represent and interact with the game... but they are not the actual game.
It's like music. A CD or an MP3 file isn't music; lyrics aren't music; sonic vibrations aren't music; only the experience of music in the mind & body of the listener is the music. The music might be generated by all these other things, but is not identical to them.
It's a little different to a board game. When I play a game like Monopoly or Risk; I'm absorbed in the physicality of the game--the board, the tokens on the board, the dice, the cards, etc. Even the rules, as you point out, are generally unambiguous in a board game and point directly to acceptable behaviour. At least, that's how it is for me. I've never really asked my friends where their attention is when they play, but perhaps it's time I did.
Andre, way cool. I love this kind of discussion, though I don't think there's any real answer to it, so I won't blabber on and on about how everything is ephemeral & postmodern. I post here just to say: I don't think it is different in a board game. What's the game? The rules aren't, they're just the rules for how to play the game. The board & cards & pieces aren't, they're just the medium for the game, same as talking & mutual confirmation of what's said & any pieces are the medium in rpgs. The game is just an after-effect of what happens when you follow the rules and interact with the medium. So I guess I do have an answer after all. Hopefully this is helpful to your thinking.
Another thing: both times I've played, getting to the Goal has gone pretty traditionally (story-wise, not gaming-wise, but probably that too), in that we both play that it's not easy to reach and build up to winning/losing it. The emergent effect of this is that the Lover is often a tool to help the hero achieve the goal.
The game enforces the build-up to the Goal somewhat in that you can't totally have it/not have it until the Match is resolved, but I'm interested in playing with the Goal a little bit: seizing it right the hell up front and seeing what happens. I suspect that this will divorce the Lover from it and leave the Lover-chasing/spurning aspect of the story to develop more on its own, apart from the Goal.
I got to play again yesterday, another one-shot (but not with Brendan this time). I won't write up the full AP but I'll give salient details that illustrate what I want to talk about.
First, I was the Lover/Monster in the first go-round, and I consciously stuck to the descriptors much better this time, to good effect. We were in "The city of Rats where thieves pay taxes," and I chose Fast/Up-Front/Savage/In a Group. I didn't make any notes other than a mental one that "the monster is probably the Rat-men that infest the city", which it did turn out to be, and flowed nicely from the fiction, I thought. They kept swarming at the hero savagely, which all came from me sticking to the descriptors. There was one Rat-Beast that stuck out and kept coming back, but he certainly wasn't the only adversary.
The Hero player chose "I slew men to win my freedom, but never again." She was a woman called "The Crimson Moon," who had fought her way free from the slave pits of the city and was returning to it for the first time in years to seek her goal--finding her daughter.
the Lover was kind of a fawning simp, the son of the head of the merchant's guild, who was Innocent/Approved/Manipulative/Knowledgeable. He stuck to those pretty well, all though Manipulative was less a skewer to prick the hero on and more a "I'm manipulating you to get my physical/emotional needs met." It wasn't a strong element in play, but it was there. He started out Approved, but I realize now that later on the love was very much not Approved--his father, the head of the merchant's guild, was in league with the Rat-men and had Crimson Moon's daughter. This doesn't seem to be a problem, though: it started out approved and as circumstances changed in the fiction the "approved/forbidden" switch got flipped. Perhaps I'm looking at that switch too narrowly, though, since I'm only viewing it from the eyes of the Lover's father.
The one other thing was that the Lover's father seemed to kind of merge with the Monster in the end, as he was the main adversity to the Hero's goal and was in league with the rats. Still, I think it was mostly okay since only the rats ever really threatened her (well, barring one scene where Head Merchant barged in after some lovemaking with rats swarming all about him). It was a little messy, but not problematic for either of us. I'm wondering: How could the game have been better if I had stuck more firmly to the Monster and not conflated it with something else? Is there not a problem here, or am I missing something?
The second round went swimmingly; in both of my plays the first round has acted as a kind of warm-up and we really are able to lean into the game with much more ease on the second round.
My only real note from this one was: While it was satisfying, it wasn't satisfying enough. I've been reading Sorcerer & Sword lately and after the game I thought to myself that my hero, "a Lordly Knight respected by all, whose mind remains his own," would really smoke in long-term S&S play. He was an old man with a limp, but solid beneath his ceramic armor. His goal was one of the main reasons I wanted to see his story play out more: "To find the one spell that can kill my corrupt master," which he did. But there's all kinds of juicy details to a story like that that we didn't get to in the in-the-moment-action of our play in the centerless Igai Desert.
After some thought, I realized, I don't need S&S to do him justice, I simply need to actually play out a whole game of S/lay! I left the session really needing to play that guy more. I don't know if I'll get to, but playing a whole game of S/lay is on my hot list right now.
What you describe sounds pretty similar to my own approach, with, as you suggest, a difference of degree in how much we can predict what will happen in the future with the character.
What you say about what we have authority over in terms of past actions kinda makes sense to me. If I think about Aaron's decision to sleep with Sarah, I think I have some insight into his reasons for doing that, but not much. Like, if someone was like "He's been into Sarah all along, and was just faking it with Rachel" I'd be like "I really don't think that's the case", but on the other hand, if they said "Aaron did that to punish Rachel for pulling him out of the dream that time" I'd be like "maybe?" But I think I'd be basing that on my interpretations of the scenes we've seen, rather than any priviledged insight into Aaron's psyche.
Hmm. So maybe we do have different approaches. I'm not sure I'd ever say "no, you're wrong" about a character of mine. But then, I kinda think that we can't have knowledge of a person's mind either, even our own, so I'd tend to answer the same about myself.