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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Excited to see this game work.  (Read 5211 times)
Judd
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« on: September 04, 2002, 08:37:28 PM »

I have given alot of thought about what makes a game work and what makes it fail but I had not ever thought about the narrative structure underlying our hobby and how this structure might fail.

Anyway, I am excited to try this game in an alterna-western setting I am currently tinkering with.

Hope to get the game this weekend and get on the wagon.

Thanks,

Paka
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2002, 07:28:09 AM »

Hi Paka,

I'm not Matt, but I am excited about people playing Dust Devils. If I get the time today, I'll be chiming in on your shared-narration inquiry thread.

My question for you in this thread is: Why the alternative-setting Western?

I've read your thread on RPG.net, so I have a pretty good idea about it. It definitely sounds cool, and I'll be the first to say, if a notion grabs ya, then play it. So I'm not suggesting that you not do it.

But I am asking, purely for comparative and no-threat discussion, Why? One of the most appealing things about Dust Devils to me is that it's not western-plus-zombies, or western-plus-cyborgs, or western-plus-aliens. It's a western. Arguably, it's The western, which is a wonderful thing to find in role-playing. At GenCon, it was this very quality which drew so much attention: "It's a western without zombies? Cool!!"

So - and again, not to diminish your interest in the setting you have in mind, which obviously has a lot of resonance for you and which you can communicate readily to others - I'm interested in whether you might ever do Dust Devils ... "straight," so to speak, and why or why not.

Best,
Ron
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Judd
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2002, 05:52:24 PM »

Excellent question.

I had this world in my head before I found Dust Devils.  Matt chimed in and introduced it to me as a possible system for running this world in.

I didn't find Dust Devils and say, "Hey, I want to throw in Norsemen, Vikings and Roman mythology."

I read a poem and got an image of a scarab belt buckle that I couldn't get out of my head and started writing about the world around it.

So, it started with a belt buckle.

I'm not answering the question, am I?

If I ever got a story idea that had to be handled in the straight-up western setting I'd play it.  Nothing against that sorta thing at all.  My first western RPGing experience out of GURPS Old West didn't have any magic in it and it was awesome.

So, to answer the question:

I am writing an alternate western setting in which Greeks have settled Texas, Romans have settled the east coast, Egyptians have settled what we know as the Mississip and Norse-men have settled the pacific northwest and Canada not because I think standard westerns are boring but because it is what is rattling around in my brain a the moment.

Thanks, nice question,

P-
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Eddy Fate
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2002, 06:31:44 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
But I am asking, purely for comparative and no-threat discussion, Why? One of the most appealing things about Dust Devils to me is that it's not western-plus-zombies, or western-plus-cyborgs, or western-plus-aliens. It's a western. Arguably, it's The western, which is a wonderful thing to find in role-playing. At GenCon, it was this very quality which drew so much attention: "It's a western without zombies? Cool!!"


(Side note: Need... scratch... must... buy... Dust Devils...)

Anyhow, I've noticed this trend in RPG's in general - wackiness in historical games.  It's not a game about the Victorian Era - it's Castle Falkenstein.  It's not a game about the Old West - it's Deadlands.  It's not a game about the medieval era - it's Dark Ages: Vampire.

Granted, "straight" historical games seem to just now be popular, but there is this need for strangeness.  I like all of the games above, but was it the bizarreness, the historical period, or both?

I honestly can't say, but it's an interesting though.  Can a game "sell" without wackiness?  And why are we, as gamers, drawn to it so much?
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Judd
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2002, 08:08:47 PM »

Why strange twists on history?

Because its fun.

I don't know what else to write.

Narrative structures, gaming trends, Falkenstienisms aside, playing with history is just plain fun.

I think my favorite history fiddling is Ars Magica, rather subtle and tucked into historical fact.  I like games where I have to research history while I'm running it.

History...the ultimate meta-plot:

"Dude, I was playing a Templar and then the 1310 supplement came out and I got totally SHAFTED!"

P-
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2002, 03:04:01 AM »

I strongly suggest that the folks ponderin' Paka's historical shenanigans should go and take a gander at this here post:
http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=14513

I think it sounds great.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Judd
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2002, 03:56:28 AM »

Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen
I strongly suggest that the folks ponderin' Paka's historical shenanigans should go and take a gander....

I think it sounds great.



Thank ye kindly.

Garsh, thanks.

Seriously, the net support on these forums and over at RPG.net is really fantastic and is giving me lots of momentum.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2002, 04:43:44 AM »

Quote from: Paka
Thank ye kindly.

Garsh, thanks.

Seriously, the net support on these forums and over at RPG.net is really fantastic and is giving me lots of momentum.



No prob, hermano. I'd also suggest you read Joe Landsdale's stuff. Very cool weird western vibe -- and he wrote the screenplay for Bubba Ho-Tep (Elvis and JFK battle the Mummy at an East Texas retirement home).
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Eddy Fate
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2002, 04:54:56 AM »

Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen
I strongly suggest that the folks ponderin' Paka's historical shenanigans should go and take a gander at this here post:
http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=14513

I think it sounds great.


It does.  It sounds awesome.  It's still wackiness.*

Maybe the topic's been done to death, and I haven't seen it, or maybe this isn't the forum for it, but I think Ron brings up a valid point.  We didn't need zombies or scarabs to make Tombstone a great flick, or Young Guns.  Louis L'Amore didn't have demons from hell show up in his novels.  I'm not dissing on "alterna-history" games at all (hell, I run Deadlands, and love it), but it does bring up a valid point - why do we take wackiness over historically accurate games?

And I agree - the 1310 suppliment totally screwed up "Templar: The Moneychanging".  :-P

*"Wackiness", as I've used it in this thread, is "something that is obviously not consistant with how the world worked at the historical time portrayed".  It is not, in any way, meant as a bad thing, and is more all-inclusive than simply "the supernatural".
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Eddy Webb
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Judd
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« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2002, 04:55:10 AM »

Quote

No prob, hermano. I'd also suggest you read Joe Landsdale's stuff. Very cool weird western vibe -- and he wrote the screenplay for Bubba Ho-Tep (Elvis and JFK battle the Mummy at an East Texas retirement home).


I've read some of his Jonah Hex comics but haven't seen any of his books.

I'll take a gander after I'm done devouring myth and folklore books that got these batteries charging.
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Judd
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« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2002, 04:58:16 AM »

It is that we are taught that history isn't fun because we often aren't instilled with the idea that history is this tragic, beautiful, exciting, funny story that is about US?

It is because we feel that once we take on a historical game the added responsibility of being true to history is a pressure gamers don't feel comfortable with?
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Eddy Fate
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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2002, 05:02:02 AM »

Quote from: Paka
It is that we are taught that history isn't fun because we often aren't instilled with the idea that history is this tragic, beautiful, exciting, funny story that is about US?


This is very true, but I tend to see this more in the US than in other countries (specifically, the UK, which is the only other 'gamer culture' I'm pretty familiar with).  But then, we play as many medieval European games as they do American Western games, it seems... :-)

Quote
It is because we feel that once we take on a historical game the added responsibility of being true to history is a pressure gamers don't feel comfortable with?


Now that's a very valid point.  Maybe it falls under the same reason that some licensed games don't work well - because people feel the pressure to "conform" to the source material.  That's a good point, Paka.
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mahoux
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2002, 06:42:50 AM »

History can be a bear to work around.  It does also make the metaplot a pain in the arse.  In a strict historical setting, Lincoln gets shot, the Depression happens, Korea, Vietnam and all the outside influences...

Essentially, it could turn the characters into bit players and possibly make them feel like they were in a sense de-protagonized.

That's why in Knights of the Road, I keep history the same but the players are by their very nature bit players in the big story.

But back to Dust Devils.  I think this is one of the best western games around because, as Ron has pointed out, it is a western.  No creepy zombies, just life and history.  And that makes for so much more interesting roleplay, rather than just falling back on a D&D character translated into a new setting.
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xiombarg
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2002, 07:14:15 AM »

Quote from: Paka
It is because we feel that once we take on a historical game the added responsibility of being true to history is a pressure gamers don't feel comfortable with?

I think Ken Hite put it best. When you're dealing with an alternate history -- even a slightly alternate one - the players feel freed from the contraints of real history, and can act how they want.

Done properly, this can be a good thing. I think what RPG manufacturers need to learn is that you can get the same effect without "zombie zombies zombies" -- imagine a game set in the Wild West after Lincoln manages to survive being shot.  Not much of an effect on the Wild West, per se, but it tells the PCs that they don't have to worry if they shoot a famous gunslinger early in his history or something, and perhaps sends a message that the game isn't as lethal as history is.

On the other hand, I think part of the appeal of a "mixed" system like Deadlands is consumers think they're getting more of a value. If you want to, you CAN run a straight, non-supernatural Wild West game with Deadlands. The magic rules are a bonus. This has a long history in the gaming industry: Chainmail (the 1970s original verison, not the recently-cancelled WoTC version) was a historical miniatures game with a fantasy battles add-on included as an appendix... The fact that that those fantasy rules took over and became D&D should tell you something. I think people are uncomfortable being creative with history.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2002, 07:52:26 AM »

Quote from: xiombarg
On the other hand, I think part of the appeal of a "mixed" system like Deadlands is consumers think they're getting more of a value.


In addition, it's just novel. The synthesis of the two settings creates entirely new things to ponder and play about. Note that even in what are often consdidered "historical" settings, there is a Situational element that serves this purpose. For example, a Pulp RPG would be about the historical world, but with pulp heroes.

How many RPGs have you seen that did not postulate at least something that was contrary to reality? This is because RPGs are about Imagination and exploration. They already ask "what if this character existed in this place and time", why not ask other what ifs as well? Anyone interested in such imaginative stuff as RPGs will probably just not be satisfied with History as a backdrop.

And I agree about the mental problems that occur with historical backgrounds. These occur with liscensed products as well. I even have problems with playing Glorantha. Wouldn't want to ruin it.

But this is what makes settings like "the Old West" and "the Pirate Carribean" attractive as possible "historical" settings. They are both very romanticised in our experiences. We don't think of them historically so much as mythically. In real life, gunfights in the old west were just not fought as the movies portray them. Pirates were never really honorable rogues. So, we are actually playing away from historic when we play these settings. We are playing in imaginative mythic realms. Just like any other RPG.

This is not to say that you can't play historical. You can. It's just that in that case, the only imaginative elements, really, are the characters. And often that's just too clinical. Why not play in Mythic Europe, instead of the real europe?

Why not indeed?

Mike
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