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Ergo: Could/Should be a Forge Article?

Started by Jonathan Walton, November 02, 2002, 08:46:06 PM

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Jonathan Walton

If I had to pick a single document that revolutionized my thinking as a game designer, it would not be Ron's GNS Essay (which I only encountered recently), but this baby right here:

Ian's got a new site now, but I probably read this, oh, 3-4 years ago?  It's basically a long, in depth treatise on GM-less roleplaying.  I have never actually used Ergo as a model for constructing a game, but this document blasted open the misconceptions I had about what roleplaying could be.  According to the new site, Ian's currently working on a revised version (on a "geological timescale"), but I was wondering if the Dynamic Duo (Clinton & Ron) would be interested in seeking permission to host Ergo on the Forge.  It's not a perfect model for GM-less play, but it's the most thoughtful and detailed explanation I've yet to see.

Along with Universalis and Rune, Ergo forms (at least in my opinion) part of the "(un)holy trinity" of GM-less game structures:

-- collaborative/antagonistic control (Universalis)
-- taking turns having GM-like responsibilities (Rune)
-- dividing up GM responsibilities among players (Ergo)

Of course, other models will doubtlessly arise (and I'm not sure exactly how the great Baron M. fits into this dark trinity), but those are the chief ones I can think of.

Someone would have to contact Ian, but I wanted to check out this idea first, before doing anything rash in the Forge's name.  I just think Ergo deserves a place alongside some of the other great essays we have, since it really does address some interesting ideas and misconceptions.


Andrew Martin

I agree totally.

I'm impressed and influenced by Ergo.
Andrew Martin

Emily Care

Thanks very much for pointing Ergo out.  I agree completely that an article based on it belongs in the Forge article page. It could help open up new ways of approaching role-playing to many, I imagine.

The principles of collaborative play in Ergo One put into words many of the principles that my play group (including myself, Meguey and Lumpley) use. I've been wanting just such a document.  Now I don't necessarily have to write one myself.  :) Yay!

--Emily Care
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

I agree it's a wonderful article. I'm uncomfortable linking to it directly from the Forge articles section unless the author likes the idea. If possible, it'd be nice to have it in the Resources section, along with other articles or sites that provide good food for thought.




Pretty good link, His Ergo covers alot of the major points in doing shared RPing. However, games showing parts of these ideas date back pretty far. Probably the most notable is of course Ars Magica, with it's multiple player Character's, Covenant design and Long scale narrative about covenants, singular research period stuff, etc. It has alot of these ideas in action since way back in the day. Then there is of course Aria, the first in print RPG to focus on shared world design and extra-character narrative action.

My game, in eternal development is a sim/design focused collaborative setup.

Anyway, it is definitely a good link, maybe some people around here will actually respond to one of my threads then, or something:)

As for The Baron's Game, it is more of an Antoganisticly shared narrative, with basically no game or setting/role elements. But it is certainly influential too, for putting forth the idea of bidding mechanics and point
economies among players


Rob Muadib --  Kwisatz Haderach Of Wild Muse Games --   
"But How Can This Be? For He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!" --Alyia - Dune (The Movie - 1980)

Jonathan Walton

Well, I'll send Ian an e-mail telling him that the Forge would like to put his work somewhere, and then see what he's open to.  Maybe we can convince him to come hang out on the forums too, since several people are working on potentially GM-less systems right now.

And Rob, I agree that ArsM and others had bits and pieces of these ideas long before.  I'm justing saying that, before I read this article, I hadn't seen these concepts articulated as clearly.

And if you guys like Ergo, you should check out some of the other games and articles on his new collaborative roleplay site.  I haven't gotten a chance to read them all yet, but they're definitely neat.


Shreyas Sampat

So, is the site you linked to an old site, or is it the new site you've been referring to?  Looking it over, I didn't see any reference to an older or newer incarnation (indigitation?) of the same.

Jonathan Walton

"Collaborative Roleplay" is the new site, the old one was, but that doesn't seem to exist anymore in any form.  He used to have some mindlessly entertaining Flash games up there, as well as Ergo and the other essays on GM-less play.  Oh well...


Mike Holmes

FWIW, we've had the author over here at least on one occasion, IIRC. And I believe that his essay Avatarism and the Myth of the Red Queen was talked about quite a bit by the community, probably back on GO.

Jack Spencer referenced him in this thread:

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Jonathan Walton

Thanks for the link, Mike!

So Ian did come hang out on the Forge long enough to make one post.  I wonder why he didn't stick around?  At least now I've got an email address that might still work.  "" bounced back to me yesterday...