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Author Topic: My Life with Father  (Read 3405 times)
eruditus
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« on: May 08, 2006, 07:36:20 AM »

My first attempt at running My Life with Master can be found here...  http://eruditus.livejournal.com/21224.html#cutid1

This is a breakdown of the master and characters.  Tomorrow I will post the game session.
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Don Corcoran, Game Whore
Current projects include The Burning Wheel, Artesia and Mortal Coil
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eruditus
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2006, 07:46:32 AM »

My first attempt at running My Life with Master can be found here...  http://eruditus.livejournal.com/21224.html#cutid1

This is a breakdown of the master and characters.  Tomorrow I will post the game session.

And to bring it into perspective for AP I am particularly interested in questions about "how did a certain aspect come about", something I may have flaked on expressing and also how others might have handled a particular scene or theme.  I know that, in retrospect, there are directions I may have gone that would have been either more effective storytelling or more effective mechanically.

Additionally this is here to allow others to have a starting point for a convention game or where you might not know where to begin. 

One change I would make for a convention game is that I would have made the Fear/Reason 3s instead of 4s.
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Don Corcoran, Game Whore
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Ian Charvill
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2006, 07:43:29 AM »

I want to ask you a question about something I see as quite common in MLWM actual play reports, to see if we can talk about where the feature originates: with the text, or with the group.  I'm going to focus on a particular element of the character write-ups.  In particular, three of the four characters.

Oleg the Butcher -- Less than Human - His missing legs makes him slow and lumberous unless in the Soup Kitchen or his shop (where he uses his wheeled cart)
Deacon Fyodor -- Less than human - The deacon has a horrible stutter unless he is speaking on matters of faith
Alexei -- Less than human - The deacon has a horrible stutter unless he is speaking on matters of faith

There seems to be, and this isn't limited to your AP account, an easy association between "Less than Human" and physical or mental handicap, disability, deficiency.

My question is, is this something that comes from your playgroup, as people, making a judgement: handicapped people are in some sense "less than human"?  Or is this something the text encourages by example or explicitly.  Or do you think this comes out of gamer culture in some way?  People draw parallels between  "Less than human" and traditional physical or psych disads and slot them in without thinking about the rhetorical weight (because I doubt anyone would say: you have a horrible stutter, you're subhuman (actually I don't doubt that, I just doubt how common people like that are)).

So I'm interested in your thoughts of where that comes from in your group.

Ian Charvill
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Ian Charvill
Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2006, 08:49:26 AM »

My question is, is this something that comes from your playgroup, as people, making a judgement: handicapped people are in some sense "less than human"?  Or is this something the text encourages by example or explicitly.

I don't have my copy with me at the moment, but I'm pretty sure there's a line in the text about good Less Than Humans being traits that make interacting with Townspeople difficult. In a fast-paced convention session where everyone is trying to create their minion quickly so that play can commence, physical handicaps are quick to leap to mind. "He has trouble talking to people because he studders." They're easy to play and to understand. They fit with the genre expectations of gothic horror.

What would you consider Less Than Humans that problematize interaction with Townspeople but aren't classified as "physical or mental handicap, disability, deficiency"?
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2006, 09:51:16 AM »

Hey Ian,

I want to ask you a question about something I see as quite common in MLWM actual play reports, to see if we can talk about where the feature originates: with the text, or with the group.

Check the "Understanding More and Less" section of the text on pages 48-50.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2006, 10:13:22 AM »

As I see it, one of the most important things about the entire game is that the very terms "More than Human" and "Less than Human" are lies. They represent how the minion sees himself or herself through the lens of their repulsive, victimized relationship with the Master.

It is essential to the role of Love in the game that the Connections can see the minions as really human, with their "less thans" not diminishing their humanity after all; and also that their "more thans" actually do diminish their humanity, rendering them things instead of people, because those are really the only aspects their Master values, what gives them utility toward his ends.

Therefore when I see a minion with a Less Than Human defined as stuttering or a lame leg, or anything similar, it fills me with anger on behalf of the minion, because it means the Master and the Townspeople both unjustly reduce the minion's Humanity through their behavior and belittlement of this very trait. It is through this feature, more than any other, that the minion is humanized in my eyes.

Best, Ron
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ObLaDan
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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2006, 02:56:36 PM »

Ron just sold a copy of My Life with Master.
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Dan Knutson
eruditus
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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2006, 05:41:32 AM »

As far as my group both previous comments are on target.  This was their first session.  I assume further sessions will allow the players to develop more well-thought-out More/less thans.  The group was focusing on getting their heads around the ideas here after decades of dugeon crawling :) 

That being said this is an interesting comment.  Thank you for bringing this up (really).  We, of course, never questioned the assumption here, no matter what the subtext was (per Ron's comment).  We just immediately sought traditional handicaps with a twist.  That is not to imply we think folk with such handicaps are in any way Less than Human yet that is the message to the casual reader.

On the otherhand there are SO many more aspects of this session that could send someone off in a huff.  In the privacy of our own homes our group threw political correctness to the wind and yet here these issues are out in the light (good thing I do not mention my players by name).  My sincere apologies for those who are offended.  Not that I feel apologies are neccessary but we cover some pretty rough topics (and my LJ is not often PG).  I am certain I do not have to say this to most however I hope most realize that these topics are not displayed for the purpose of callousness or malice, rather to explore a darker side of humanity and to learn more about ourselves. 

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Don Corcoran, Game Whore
Current projects include The Burning Wheel, Artesia and Mortal Coil
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eruditus
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« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2006, 06:00:04 AM »

BTW This is turning out to be longer than I had anticipated.  I will be posting Part One of the Story tonight... I suspect it will be four parts - one for each "round" of play where each of the characters are given an instruction by the master an do an overture for Love.  I am not only trying to capture mood but also some of the inner dynamics that were displayed during chatter.
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Don Corcoran, Game Whore
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2006, 06:05:16 AM »

Hi there,

I look forward to your accounts of play. What I'd really like to know is, has any real person expressed any actual offense regarding the contents of your game? Has any real-live, actual person ever expressed the Less Than Human rules in play as literally marginalizing people with handicaps?

Or are you constructing an elaborate defense (including, I think, being unfair to the text on the basis of this "casual reader" that I think you're inventing) against your fear of such reactions?

The game text is absolutely explicit that the minions are fully human. You can find that very statement in black and white. You can also find that the definitions of Less Than and More Than are very clear - the former concerns the perceptions of the Townspeople and the Master, and the latter concerns the utility to the Master. They are not defined as actually "less than" human, for instance.

These are not dodges or qualifiers or attempts to obfuscate an underlying/actual meanness of the text. The text features no such meanness.

I'm going to base my point where it should be based: actual play. Are your players, the people who used the text and invented the minions, treating the minions as less than human (in the marginalized, contemptuous sense of that term, the one you're fixated on), or are they utilizing those features as inroads to humanizing the minions?

Let's not get into a wrangle about this in an abstract sense, and I don't want to derail your posting about play. For maximum payoff for this topic, in your upcoming accounts, I'll look forward to an explicit description of every Connection scene you've played so far. That, and only that, will address the issues you're talking about here.

Best, Ron
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eruditus
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« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2006, 06:50:21 AM »

Hi Ron,

Quote
I look forward to your accounts of play. What I'd really like to know is, has any real person expressed any actual offense regarding the contents of your game? Has any real-live, actual person ever expressed the Less Than Human rules in play as literally marginalizing people with handicaps?

LOL... Not at all.  However, these are some of the things we learn about ourselves and our view of the world and I don't want to seem blind to those realizations.  There is a point where one can over analyze such interactions but I did feel Ian's point was an astute one on a few levels.

Quote
Or are you constructing an elaborate defense (including, I think, being unfair to the text on the basis of this "casual reader" that I think you're inventing) against your fear of such reactions?

You are correct in these were constructed to disipate any such reactions.  Truth is I don't really trust forums/email as a good medium for certain types of communication and I since folk don't know each other I wanted to be sure others didn't think I was being callous about various issues (because I don't appreciate when I feel someone IS approaching a subject without any regard for those who may participate in a group).  For instance we handle some icky Catholic subject matters, handling taboos and juxtapositions of roles.  I would not want an audience to think we did so lightly or casually or that this was done with the disdain or prejudices often associated against the Catholic Church (although not Catholic I am Jesuit trained and have a great deal of respect for traditions).

Quote
These are not dodges or qualifiers or attempts to obfuscate an underlying/actual meanness of the text. The text features no such meanness.

And what I meant by "casual reader" is that I think someone reading such posts or skimming the text could come away with the same questions for those who may be sensitive to such issues.  "Casual" as in the very term Less Than human has meaning outside of the context of the game itself.  It requires a deeper, closer reading of the text to understand you very solid point.

Quote
I'm going to base my point where it should be based: actual play. Are your players, the people who used the text and invented the minions, treating the minions as less than human (in the marginalized, contemptuous sense of that term, the one you're fixated on), or are they utilizing those features as inroads to humanizing the minions?

Excellent question!  That's a trick question.  I can't say it's completely the expected later choice.  On player (and one who does not normally do such things) never chose to humanize the character.  He never rolled once against the master and never sought any connections other than stabilizing the moods of the other characters.  He was largely unredeemable (a hardened heart some would say) and although he added to the creepiness and enjoyment of the game he left the endgame to the others to persue.  Yet his less than human qualities were only accentuated by the except clause (as all should see soon) and made the characters creepy - not when his "disability" was in function, rather when the exception displayed.
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Don Corcoran, Game Whore
Current projects include The Burning Wheel, Artesia and Mortal Coil
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Ian Charvill
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« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2006, 01:30:33 PM »

Hi Eruditus

First thing to say is to echo Ron's advice about not cringing or focussing too much on the element that I asked you about.  Worrying too much about what people will think about the account you give.  That won't make anyone happy.

The analogy that occurs to me is when you hear the formulaic start to a usually bigotted joke.  "There was an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman" or whatever. Jokes like that don't always turn out to be bigotted, but often they are, and when you hear a few of them, if you're not inclined to find bigotry funny, the start will make you wince a little, become uneasy.  Now, as I wrote, jokes starting like that don't always end badly but the good chance that they might and that chance makes you wince.

Now I'm physically handicapped, and I have an inecapable awareness of the way mainstream media treat handicapped people.  The stereotypes, the condescension, the revulsion at times, the freakshow at times.  So when I see something starting Less Than Human - etc. then I wince.  I know that this may not end well, given the beginning.

Michael -- the pattern is there, whether it's a con game or not so I don't think it's just that, although I take your point fully about wanting to get on with the game might leave you with your first and not particularly inspired choice.  For a non-handicap related eg: I don't know, off the top of my head, maybe "Can't be seen but only heard by anyone they try to interact with, except when coming to do violence when people cannot look away"?

Paul -- I don't have a copy of the text.  I want to stress personally, that I'm not assuming anything about your game.  I wanted to discuss a particular issue that I feel a measure of disquiet about -- I hope the above explains why -- and Eruditus's thread came along and presented an opportunity to raise the issue.

Ron -- thanks you for your post, it was humane and touching.  I'm still curious as to why the specific motif of a handicapped person is used in this context so regularly to generate this particular emotional connexion.  I may be more interested in that particular thing than most people though.

So, back to Eruditus: only focus on the issue that I raised to the extent that it interests you to do so.  If you think: well that was interesting to think about for a bit, but I'm more interested in this other thing, then write about the other thing.  But if you want to respond to my point, here or PM, then great.  That goes for Michael,  Ron and Paul too.  I'm open to dialogue on this.  But I don't want to hijack the thread.

All the best
Ian
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Ian Charvill
eruditus
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2006, 02:27:27 PM »

The First "Round" posted here: http://eruditus.livejournal.com/21737.html#cutid1

Please let me know what details you'd like to know.  I don't think I can duplicate rolls but I may be able to approximate them (especially when I did or didn't give intimacy/desperation/sincerity dice).
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Don Corcoran, Game Whore
Current projects include The Burning Wheel, Artesia and Mortal Coil
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eruditus
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2006, 02:34:15 PM »


So, back to Eruditus: only focus on the issue that I raised to the extent that it interests you to do so.  If you think: well that was interesting to think about for a bit, but I'm more interested in this other thing, then write about the other thing.  But if you want to respond to my point, here or PM, then great.  That goes for Michael,  Ron and Paul too.  I'm open to dialogue on this.  But I don't want to hijack the thread.

Thanks Ian.  My words of interest and concern were not empty.  I think you bring up an interesting and evocative point.  My education (Sociology of Race Relations) makes me equally aware of similar social psychologies and how we often do not consider the deeper meanings of our words and actions.  To be honest this is more why I role-play.  It's not for escapism or mere entertainment, rather as a way to interact on different levels than we normally would.  Did I answer your questions above appropriately?
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Don Corcoran, Game Whore
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Ian Charvill
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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2006, 08:02:42 AM »

Absolutely.  Your actual play account would I think be, by my tastes anyway, more meaty, there would be more to go on, if you talked more about what the people at the table were doing and used that to give a context to the fictional bits, rather than focussing on an account of the fictional events of play.

Ian
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Ian Charvill
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