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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 126 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: The Fantasy Role-Playing Gamer's Bible  (Read 2924 times)
James V. West
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« on: December 27, 2001, 10:13:00 PM »

Ok, anyone familiar with this book? Its written by Sean Patrick Fannon, pubished in 1996 by Prima Publishing. THE FANTASY ROLE-PLAYING GAMER'S BIBLE.

I bring this up because I bought it in 1996 and I thought it was the best thing in the world. Wow...a book about role-playing games. Cool.

Now, this isn't to say it's not a good book. I enjoyed it immensely back then and even now there are things about it I like.

What I'd like to know is, if any of you have read it, do you think the author (hell, the entire industry) had any idea that rpgs could be so much more?

In the book, the author breaks some games down into elements like "Task Resolution" and he puts a serious value on a game's "Versatility".

Here on The Forge there is much talk about concepts like "currency", "stance", and the whole GNS theory. This book obviously has none of that (not that it should, I realize most of this kind of thinking is spanking new).

I guess I've just been reading posts here too long. I can't grasp not thinking from the ground up in rpgs instead of thinking from the Old Rules out. Picking this book off the shelf tonight brought all my thoughts on rpg design into sharp, stark focus.

The times they are a changing.

James V. West
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2001, 09:28:00 AM »

Hey,

I recommend owning and reading Fannon's book to everyone, as well as the Mackay book, and an old clunker called Dicing with Dragons, and whatever else. That's because I'm a horrid pedant who thinks everyone should read everything, so there you go ...

Anyway, I found the Bible (the RPG one) to be useful in many ways, but also frustrating. I think that it is written to satisfy the priorities of both actual play/customer/practitioner thinking and industry/publishing/review thinking, and thus only manages to be superficial for both. In other words, it doesn't rip into the basics of play because it's concerned with "what the industry thinks," and vice versa. It's neither a usable manual nor an expose (even a mild one). Thus to my admittedly-brutal way of thinking, it's kind of a puff job.

Don't take me wrong though - I recommended it, and I meant it. There's a lot of great history in there, especially about the early 70s and how D&D actually came into existence.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2001, 09:34:00 AM »

Hello,

Yes, I own this book.  In fact, I believe I own a newer edition of it that came out just last year.  Funny, I've never really thought of it as a 'critical' examination or RPGs or the industry.  I've only ever viewed it as a historical text.  And as a historical text it is quite good.

Jesse
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2001, 05:04:00 AM »

I also have the book and have found it invalueable as a history text as well.

Three people have responded with this assessment.  This is definately a value point for the book.

In the interest of giving another point, it is the first place I've heard of the game Everyway.  Were it not for the FRPGB, I probably wouldn't have picked it up when I saw it for three bucks in Kay Bee Toys and, thus, would not have been primed for the radical ideas constantly batted around here.
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James V. West
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« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2001, 12:02:00 PM »

I was re-reading the history stuff in there last night. Yeah, I agree its very interesting.

What I was beating around the bush about was more like this:

When I bought the book it was because I had never seen anything like it. "A book about rpgs??". I had never been exposed to any critical thinking about the art form. Indeed, I had never heard it referred to as an "art form".

And the FRPGB didn't really push my limits of thinking as far is it could have.

When Fannon discusses Theatrix, he says "Frankly this game is not going to be for everyone The idea of throwing caution to the wind and getting into completely free-form gaming will intimidate many, especially novices."

What this said to me at the time was "Oh, so this is a game that is an exception to the norm and isn't really anything to get worked up about." whereas his categories of mechanics ("simple ability roll/complex ability roll/simple target number/complex target number")reinforced the idea that things Were A Certain Way and didn't encourage deeper thinking--in my experience of reading the book.

Again, I want to emphasize that I'm not picking on the book or the author. I was just reflecting on the fact that the kind of critical thinking I see going on here on the Forge and in other gaming circles is clearly not represented in Fannon's book or in anything else I can find on the shelf of my local On Cue store.

Are we really in the throes of a "rebirth" of the hobby/art form of role-playing or has all this stuff been floating around for 25 years but no one gives a shit?

Just thinking out loud.



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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2001, 06:21:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-12-29 15:02, James V. West wrote:

Are we really in the throes of a "rebirth" of the hobby/art form of role-playing or has all this stuff been floating around for 25 years but no one gives a shit?


Well, the thing to keep in mind is that Fannon has had a hand in and with the Hero System for a good deal of time.  Essentially, this means he's deep into the old school of gaming.  There is nothing wrong with the old school if that's what you like, but it will generally mean you won't understand or care for anything really different.

Someone like Fannon already has a game he really likes and has no need for anything radically different. (again, nothing wrong with that.  who wants to be searching all their life?)  It is therefore laudable that he mentioned games like Everyway or Theatrix at all in his book rather than simply ignore such strange and (perhaps to his mind) unplayable games.  (unplayable in the sense of "who would want to play them?")

I way too often quote the Bible, the bit where Christ talks about putting new wine in new wine skins because if you put new wine in old wine skins, the skins will burst and both the wine and the skins will be ruined.

So it is with these games were dealing with here.  We're looking for new players, a new kind of player, anyway.  Probably the sort of player who took a look at the amount of work a typical RPG require (by typical RPG I most likely mean D&D) and turned away in disgust and confusion.

I'm getting away from the topic here.  I suspect, James, that the seeds of these new theories and such have been around for a while but only recently have been grabbed by a group of people with any use for it or any desire to try something other than the typical.
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James V. West
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« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2001, 07:37:00 PM »

Amen Pblock.

And again in Fannon's defense, I picked up a used copy of Shards of the Stone: Core, which he had a big hand in helping to create. The book looks absolutely fabulous. Stunning, actually. I have no idea how the system is as I have not yet read it.

So, this wasn't intended to be a rant against his book, but an observation and pondering post.
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greyorm
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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2001, 08:30:00 AM »

Amusing...

I was just cleaning out my office and upon going through a box of gaming material came across my copy of Fanon's RPG Bible.  Seeing it and flipping through it, I immediately thought to myself: "I wonder what Ron and the Forgers would have to say about this."

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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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