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Reading-List for Forge Neophytes

Started by M. Burrell, June 19, 2009, 04:23:37 PM

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M. Burrell

There is, I'm aware, a vast backlog of articles, essays and protracted threads regarding the practice and theory of RPGs and their construction here on the Forge.
However, is there a collection of 'essential reading' for those new to the subject?

My apologies if the answer is obvious or my question inappropriate.

Ron Edwards

Hi Mike,

This is an occasional but nonethless regular question, but my answer to it tends to change. I'll set up some links for you when I get the chance. Give me a couple of days.

Best, Ron

M. Burrell

An expansive cornucopia of gratitude and praise empties itself about your ears! 

Ron Edwards

Hi M.,

My apologies for the ridiculous delay. I've also split the posts about compiling Forge texts into their own thread so I can focus on your question.

As long as we're talking about the ideas about role-playing as a process, as discussed here and as summarized by me (a subset), then the best bet is The Provisional Forge Glossary. I'm not referring to the technical glossary portion but rather to the first section, which contains a picture and seven (7) words of defined jargon. See also Wikipedia: The Big Model for a pretty good re-drawing of the diagram (note: I have not contributed to Wikipedia, for this or any other page) and David Berg's updated personal version of the Glossary (shoot, I can't find that link - help?).

Some crucial follow-up threads:

The trilogy of Simulationism aside, Ignoring the subjective, and Constructive Denial?, which as far as I can tell nailed down the "what is Simulationism" question for good.
Here are some of the strongest actual-play based illustrations of the Big Model: [Rifts] GNS my session, Frostfolk and GNS aggravation, Narrativist Game Design and V:tM - Questions, [Vampire 2E Sabbat] Of Evil and of Simulationism , [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?), and Champs, [Shadowrun] Combat Monsters (at least after I shooed away the trolls on the second page),

I've chosen threads which illustrate the ideas in action, as opposed to threads which provide the debate-foundation for the ideas' final, or rather most current forms. I hope that's in line with what you were looking for. There are lots of earlier threads and stuff which may be useful as well, such as many of Mike's Standard Rants, and perhaps someone can help me dig up a good assortment for purposes of someone coming to the Forge and wondering what we're on about.

Best, Ron

Christoph Boeckle


Here's the link to David Berg's thread about an updated provisional glossary.

One thread I really found extremely useful to understand more about how one can break away from the classic GM+Scenario combo was Silent Railroading and the Intersection of Scenario Prep & Player Authorship. Another topic I found extremely useful at a technical level is IIEE and DFK(itM/atE), which apply to the process of making "things" happen at all, but I can't seem to find any particularly good thread at the Forge (I learned it essentially from Vincent Baker at his blog, for example here, also check out the most recent Q&A).
Once those two points are figured out, it's easy to make sense out of a lot of moment-to-moment play situations (who is contributing what, and how is it established?) It helped me make sense out of unclear situations on a number of occasions (and then either suggest changes to the procedures for contributing or just quit the game). Very pragmatic and often easier to grasp than the more subtle concept of creative agenda.

Adam Dray

Adam Dray /
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at 7777

Moreno R.

Hi Ron!

I have posted the link to David's "Provisional Glossary version 2" in Italian forums, but with the caveat that it was still not "official" like the one you wrote. There are a lot of changes of wordings here and there (for example, the added "There is a point along the spectrum from total incoherence to total coherence when the group can be said to have a present Creative Agenda" in the CA definition) and you never posted about it.  It's inclusion in this list mean that you checked every definition and everything is all right? It can be used as the new provisional glossary for The Forge?

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)

Ron Edwards

Hold on a minute ... for everyone reading, so there won't be any confusion: there isn't any "official Forge glossary" or compendium of ideas worked out here. The essay's called the provisional glossary for a reason; it was current when it was written, and serves as a reference for that point in time.

Moreno, you phrased your question carefully to avoid that misconception, but I bet any number of people reading are missing it. So I'm being as clear as I can. The Forge exists as an ongoing dialogue, or better, symposium. The best way to learn what it's about is simply to join the discussion. I'd love to work out a way to summarize the conclusions so far, but even given the remarkable efforts on others' parts to help me do that, I haven't been able to find the time.

David's glossary is his own work for his own purposes, and others will benefit from looking at it if they want, but it should be understood as his contribution to the dialogue. The line you quoted is paraphrased from his and my discussion about the (sort of) Werewolf game he played; I'm not sure I fully see why he put it in there or how it helps clarify the concept, but the solution to that is to ask him - i.e., to engage in dialogue with his written work as part of the subject.

I am getting the idea that in various forums, especially in Europe, people are treating those documents and my esssays, as if they were some kind of finished and polished dissertation. They're not. They are signposts along the path of my role in the discussion, and the best thing one can do with them is to join in. I understand that the discussions have passed into other languages and therefore joining in at the Forge is not a reasonable expectation, but I can only hope that people engage in decent and thoughtful dialogue there in the way we do here.

Best, Ron
edited to fix format and also to be more reasonable and to remove "fucking" as an adjective - RE