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who's your unteacher

Started by Paul Czege, April 06, 2006, 02:22:52 PM

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Paul Czege

Western academic and corporate culture is infested with the idealization of a certain kind of mentorship: the mentor imparts skills and wisdom to the protege, who thereby develops and grows in his abilities and ultimately emerges as a force of social or artistic significance.

Well, I've certainly had some awesome teachers at various times in my life, men and women who've had a dramatic impact on my social and artistic skills. But in my experience, the dramatic realization of a consuming artistic or social sense of purpose takes a different kind of mentoring. The acknowledgements in My Life with Master include the following:

    "Ron Edwards, who showed me what was holding me back."

And he absolutely did. My first effort at narrativism was running Everway in early 2001. I'd prep. And then I'd have a phone conversation with Ron about my plans, during which he'd take me to task for any railroading or deprotagonizing events I'd baked into them. Post-play, we'd talk about my decisionmaking during play, and he'd take me to task for railroading and obstructivist handling of NPCs. My second effort at narrativism was running The Pool. And that's when I nailed it.

I'm a believer that social and artistic purpose isn't something you learn by developing social and artistic ablities. Ron didn't concern himself with developing my game design abilities. And neither did he inject me with social and artistic purpose. He scraped away the cruft that was holding me back from achieving my own social and artistic purpose.

So, my question. Who unlearnt you? Who took the time to scrape away your cruft?

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans


"Take me to task", clarify what this means?

I don't need(or don't think so anyway) someone to unteach me in regards to studying. I need someone to take away the cruft regarding my social and emotional life. Hopefully the psychiatrist I go to will succeed, but he said he feels we're not going anywhere and he may have to stop meeting me the last time I went to meet him :(
Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010



For me, it would be Ron Edwards.  Specifically, through the Ronny contests.



Matt Snyder

Ron, definitely. Mostly just talking, mostly online, some on the phone later on. Although he had started earlier, he really took me to task on Dust Devils in its initial form (and, simultaneously gushed about it then, too).

Also, Jared. Mostly by doing what he does in his game, and lots by just hanging out with him at cons and talking.
Matt Snyder

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra


Fuck, I wish I'd had a mentor to talk to on the phone and cool shit like that.

I got stuck out in the cold with the fucking wolves and had to learn to build fire myself.

I mean, I did have a mail-order manual from Ron and occasional fights with people on the HeroQuest list, but it didn't stop the fucking savages from trying to fucking eat me.

Once I'd finally gotten a fire going, then and only then does fucking Mike Holmes come along and start telling me how to use the fire to make tools. Now, by then I was already starting to figure it out myself, crawling slowly out of the brain-damage of the cromagnon age -- but Mike did show me shit then that I wouldn't have figured out otherwise. So Mike will always have my gratitude for explaining to me how to make a pointy stick.

After that was my spazz phase, in which I'd flip flop in atavistic glee between staying at the fire and running off into the woods to eat bloody raw meat. It was Vincent, I'd say, who finally got me to settle down and realize that I liked the fire. Between Anyway and Dogs, I finally learned to stop worrying and enjoy it.
- Brand Robins

Joshua A.C. Newman

Joshua: I think my roleplayiing's broken. The players don't want to do anything. They keep looking to me to tell them what to do. I even had this system with a protagonometer, where it makes it clear who's a major character so it's clear to them that they're in charge.
Vincent: Then play only using their cues.
Joshua: They don't want to give me any cues. They're all clammed up.
Vincent: Then they're broken. Play with someone else.
Joshua: Oh!
Vincent: And use a system that does what you want instead of all that other stuff.
Joshua: Yeah! I... wait, such a thing exists?
Vincent: Not really, but I can show you some games that do things that the designers wanted, then you can make your own!
Joshua: Yeah, I can!

And then I did.

In fact, I moved where I live now so that I can play with awesome people instead of the other kinds.
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.


I am still fully mired in every kind of crust.


My brother, Sean (sirogit) was the one that brought me out into the light of day. If in no more profound way of going through with every gonzo idea we thought to play and proving me it could be done.

Ben Lehman

Yeah, yeah, Ron, Vincent.

But, seriously, Emily.

I remember staying up stupid-late the night I first met her, at the Baker's house, talking about our game designs.  I was talking about Polaris and how much conflict resolution sucked, because the pacing was off, and how I couldn't fix it, no matter how many widgets I added in from other Forge games.

"Well," she said, "what do you want the system to do?"

"I want it to force the players into hard choices where their knight has to bargain with a demon."

"Well," she said, "why not just do that?"

"oh." I said.

In the morning, I was basically done.


Eric J. Boyd

My first posts here, after about a year of lurking, were my fumbling attempts to put narrativism into practice in a game of Heroquest using a generic fantasy setting in the flavor of A Game of Thrones. I was concerned I wasn't doing it right - it being the awesome play I had read about here but never quite experienced in real life.

I'm sure those initial posts telegraphed my anxieties and showed how hard I was grasping for the means to shape or control things to reach the kind of play I had read about here. But Mike Holmes patiently answered my questions, offered thoughts on my actual play post of the first session, and helped me loosen up, to realize that you cannot control it - that grasping for control only squelshes the awesomeness. By the end of the game, I was left completely in awe of what my players and I had wrought, a blood opera with tragedy and pathos unrivaled in anything I could ever have planned out or railroaded. Needless to say, I've never looked back.

So thanks Mike, your replies changed gaming for me. 

Frank T

Nicolas Crost, over at GroFaFo. And I fought back, tooth and claw, for quite some time.

- Frank

Peter Nordstrand

A large portion of unteaching happened right here at The Forge.

Chris Chinn (Bankuei) began it all right here, designing Well of Souls. Then Chris and Mike Holmes helped me out a lot here, and here, here, and here. At least this is where it started. I keep unlearning in small steps. And sometimes a big lightbulb goes off, such as when I first read, and subsequently played My Life With Master last fall.

Thank you guys.
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law


You, Paul. And everybody else.
AKA Jeff Zahari

Graham W

I come from an Improv background so, for me, it was Keith Johnstone and various people who taught his stuff. They were BATS Improv in San Francisco, especially Laura Derry and Derek Cochran, and then Tom Salinsky and Deborah White at The Spontaneity Shop in London. But it was all Keith Johnstone's stuff.

Anyway. I'm aware those names won't mean much to most other people, but it's good to namecheck people you've learnt from.


Matt Wilson

Two people:



Probably in that order of impact. I might not ever have crawled out from under the rock if not for this place and Ron's essays and stuff, and there would be no Primetime Adventures, at least not in recognizable form, if not for Meredith.