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Author Topic: What is a blade slinger  (Read 15776 times)
Jake Norwood
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« on: January 28, 2003, 12:09:33 PM »

Gareth brought up an interesting point in this thread, which I have taken completely out of context as a springboard for this discussion.

Quote from: contracycle
The attempt to posit some sort of socially recognised adventurer in order to provide a common structure has IMO generally tended toward the utterly implausible.


This got me thinking about the BladeSlinger. Now, understand, once upon a time the BladeSlinger was going to be a very important part of the TROS mythos (as it were). I would still like it to be.

I think what makes the BladeSlinger stick out, in my mind, is that he isn't a "socially recognized adventurer" at all. He's probably a bastard or a wierdo, really. I'm thinking guys like Kurosawa's Yojimbo or First Knight's Lancelot (ack...we won't talk about First Knight). They are men that value their own values and ambitions, but who aren't seeking world domination. Instead it's something more selfish, more attainable, and more feasable...they're looking for *something* that's just for them and no one else.

I'm not sure what I want to say, except that I want to talk about these guys. I want to "get in their heads" and make something more tangible, more understandable, and more...real...out of them.

Jake
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Brian Leybourne
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2003, 12:43:11 PM »

For me, the quintessential example would have to be "The man with no name" from the Sergio Leone trilogy. Yes, he carries a gun instead of a sword, but he's exactly the kind of guy you're talking about, just in the wrong time period (IMO, anyway).

I think the greatest barrier to those kinds of characters in TROS is that they tend to be loners, but roleplaying is a social activity and usually involves miltiple PC's. I'm interested to hear others' opinions on how such loners fit into a group dynamic though.

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2003, 12:58:23 PM »

Personally I found the blade slinger to be among the least interesting features of TROS.  I think the man who is tied to the world around him makes for a better TROS character than the man tied primarily to himself and his riddle seeking.  The loner whose apart from the world but keeps getting mixed up in it is a staple of TV and movies, but its much harder to pull off in an RPG.  Characters in a movie don't have the option to simply say "nope not interested I'm moving on".  

The TROS SAs are there to define what the character is interested in and therefor what he shouldn't "move on" from, and it just seems to me that this is more powerful and effective when those things are real people, places, things and causes, rather than some more abstract mercenary riddle seeking.

Plus it grates on my historic sensibilities.  There really wasn't such a thing as the lone wandering warrior historically.  At least not on purpose.  There were certainly the disenfranchised (especially mercenaries after their employment contract was up), but these people were primarily interested in forming new ties and seeking new patronages, not in avoiding such ties.

The movie Rob Roy does a great job of highlighting the Fop's quest for patronage (despite being a tremendous swordsman) and the things he's willing to do to INCREASE his ties not sever them.  Likewise the Musketeers were all about patronage and finding a profitable place for themselves WITHIN society rather than apart from it.
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Spartan
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2003, 01:07:26 PM »

Quote from: Brian Leybourne
I think the greatest barrier to those kinds of characters in TROS is that they tend to be loners, but roleplaying is a social activity and usually involves miltiple PC's. I'm interested to hear others' opinions on how such loners fit into a group dynamic though.


Yeah, that could be true.  However, Aragorn was a loner that fit into a group dynamic.  Bladeslingers could also be bounty hunters that find their quarry is a also a foe of the group.  How about a person exiled from his family/homeland and is in search of a new group to belong to?  Bladeslingers can want a sense of belonging, too... they are not immune to feeling despair at being alone in a cruel, dangerous world.  Bladeslingers are first and foremost human beings with all the needs and desires that anyone else might have... and life without companionship, especially in a world where you have to stick together to survive just might drive a person mad.

I sort of envision bladeslingers as tragic loners trying to find their place in the world, with the conflicting desires to be self-reliant and to be part of something greater than themselves.  They're on the outside looking in, so to speak, not sure on which side of the glass they belong.

-Mark
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Shadeling
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2003, 01:09:28 PM »

I think that there were men like this in history. I just don't think that it is necessarily a puiblished fact. Humans seek to better themselves-at times byu themselves, and it isn't hard to fathom a warrior seeking his own path and own enlightenment, without bringing others into his crusade.

The myths and legends of are world are at one point based in fact. There are legends of lone masters of their art, who teach those who seek them out. At one point there had to have been real people to spawn this myth. I mean even today, there are lone men who are great martial artists or smith's, who keep to themselves improving their trade, but will teach those who really want it. I think this goes hand in hand with this as well.

So, I hope what I said makes sense.
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Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2003, 01:16:45 PM »

I think Shade you are allowing modern sensibilities to color your thinking a bit.  Throughout most of history there was no real concept of individual independence.  Everybody was tied to and beholden to somebody.  The form this took in ancient Rome was different from the form it took in the middle ages which was different from the form it took in the renaissance / age of reason.  But virtually no one was ever "free" to the extent to decide to just up and leave and seek his own path.  Such people usually wound up either dead because they had no one to turn to for protection, or were simply considered outlaws.  It is extremely difficult to conceive of a highly trained phenomenal warrior who'd both WANT and be allowed to wander around on his own doing what he wanted.  Even in the 1800s that concept was pretty rare and was one of the magical things about the west that drew men from all over the world to it...because it was pretty unique.

For most of history there was no upward mobility without patronage for the vast majority of people.
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2003, 01:43:41 PM »

Well, there is the example of the ronin of Japan, who could end up in a wandering position.  However, this actually supports Ralph's comments, because no one chose to become a ronin; it was forced upon you.  Even the name ("wave-man") indicated someone who was outcast.  Of course, there were those who took advantage of ronin status (Miyamoto Mushashi being the most famous example), but this doesn't mean that ronin status was sought by the samurai of the day.

Of course, this doesn't help answer the question about Bladeslingers.  I'll have to think on this and come back to the subject.

Seth Ben-Ezra
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2003, 03:18:27 PM »

Hi Jake,

For me, it all comes down to whether "bladeslinger" is a metagame concept held by the GM and players, or an in-game concept held by the imaginary characters, PC and NPC alike.

If it's the former, I'm on it, and the title character of Yojimbo is a bladeslinger. If it's the latter, instant yawn, he's not, and I'm going to play with some other group of people.

Best,
Ron
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prophet118
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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2003, 08:51:03 PM »

i enjoy the conceot of the bladeslinger, and i think one element that people are forgetting....its a game, a fantasy medieval RPG... nothing more, nothing less..

but you dont have to use things you dont like...

the bladeslinger archetype gives people the chance to play cool characters, and not have to owe allegiance to a king......come on how truely fun is it to play a character that is playing second fiddle to an npc?
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allahlav
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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2003, 10:34:15 PM »

Just to add my 2 cents.  There clearly were what we would refer to as 'Bladesingers' in Japan.  Read Miyamoto Musashi.  The title character, a real, documented historical figure, was the embodiment of the search for perfection through arms.  He was not a ronin per se - he was given leave to travel Japan to learn from other masters (which mostly meant fight and kill them), some of whom were militarised monks, criminals, samurai in service and so on.  

As for this type of character being a loner, that may be true in many cases (and was for Musashi), but not in all.  Musashi's first battles were against warriors (the Yoshioka School) whose ancestors had founded schools based on their teachings, in the exact same way other martial arts were taught in China.  These schools were often open only to the same family or to a lord's retainers, but they were used to instruct many students, only a few of whom might have the discipline necessary for dedicated following of the "Riddle"
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2003, 11:47:18 PM »

Let me say a little about what I'm seeing here. I know that Ron and some other old forge-ites aren't into the BladeSlinger thing. I think that they are (or Ron is), but they want to see something other that what it is (which is understandable, given how vague the concept is in the book).

See, Yojimbo is definitely a BladeSlinger. Definitely. Is he a loner? Sort of... Is he unatatched? Only at the begining.

That's the thing. Bladeslingers existed in history and are all over our favorite literature...especially pulp Sword and Sorcery. Conan...totally! These are men that *think* they're unatached, but aren't. They get attached quite easily, in fact, which could be part of why they're always on the move...they don't handle relationships well but they always have them. Alternatively, they handle relationships fine but are volatile in the face of conflict (what SAs are all about), and that ruins their relationships (more SA conflict) and sends them packing again.

Let's assume that a Bladeslinger is a lone wanderer. Why is he alone? It obviously is explained in the detailed backstory the player either wrote or has in his head...a backstory that should be apparent in his SAs. Is he going to randomly wander? Hell no! He's going to wander into conflicts that are tied to his own issues, either intentionally or otherwise. That's what literature does...it places people into convenient situations for the creation of a cohesive story.

Examples?
Lancelot in First Knight. He's got nothing to live for, right? Wrong. He's seen Guenevere *once* and he's got "Passion: Love Guenevere 4" on his sheet already. Later he gets "Passion: Loyal to Arthur" (right near the end of the film, as I recall). Add to that "Passion: Hate Mala-whateverhisnamewas" after a little while and you're dealing with 4 of his SAs allready (you know he's packing Luck). And that's a movie about a "loner."

The problem that anyone has with a Bladeslinger is the erronious idea that a loner is actually alone. Loners are people who get so over-involved in personal relationships (which they can't handle) that they avoid them...but they're drawn to them like to flame. Sure, they try to set up something more important (Riddle-seeking, for example), but it's hollow to them when compared to the real problems they have...they can't stay out of relationships that they know they'll destroy. So we have our 5th SA for Lancelot..."Destiny: Destroy what I love."

The real inspiration for Bladeslingers isn't Musashi (though he is the inspiration for Riddle-seekers)...it's Clint Eastwood and the like. It's the gunSLINGER that inspired the like-named bladeSLINGER...someone that will kill more often than a rational person might, because they handle their failed relationships through violence of some form (for example).

A BladeSlinger, I think, is like a hired sword, a wandering (or rather running) man with "nothing to lose" so he'll take to the sword. But that's only the image that the public sees. He's lost a lot, he hurts, and he doesn't want to lose more...but he can't avoid gaining relationships that he's destined to lose. Sad? Heck yeah. That's the beauty.

See where I'm going with this?

Jake
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Ashren Va'Hale
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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2003, 12:20:54 AM »

ever heard of the story of captain blood, fits this discription to a T jake, the main character was a doctor who was wrongfully (in his view) imprisoned for aiding a rebel soldier. The king sentences him to death and to make the story short he gets away and turns to violence and piracy (the sword) in order to flee his problems and try and right the mess of his life.

To me the blade slinger is ALOT like the famous gunslingers of the west, you have your doc holidays with nothing left to lose, your jesse james crusading types, your lawman who takes the role of judge jury and executioner whether appointed as law enforcement or not. In the end, I suppose the blade slinger to me is a guy who, having failed all other recourses, turns to his blade for answers and solutions. Perhaps he wants to right a wrong or maybe he just wants to get rich, either way he manifests his drives, passions, and maybe faith through his skill with the sword. When a problem confronts him, the blade slingers first instinct is to cut his way to a solution and to hell with the consquences. With several of my blade slinger characters (PC AND NPC) the reason he would do this was because he absolutely was pathetic when trying to solve a problem any other way, another character sought this solution style because having lost everything to some tragedy that could have been solved with a bullet in teh right plac so to speak, the character vowed to himself never to let that happen again.

One of my favorite blade slingers took to the sword because the feudal system had failed him in providing justice so he took up his fathers sword to achieve justice himself while slaying those who would stand in his way whoever teh hell they might be.

I think the misconception that bladeslingers cant have powerful SA's is due to a misconception of teh archetype, every one has a reason for what they do and the blade slinger is no different.
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Shadeling
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« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2003, 01:14:32 AM »

I think the Moorcock's Eternal Champion character, especially Elric of Melnibone' are bladeslinger characters. I mean, they fight Chaos pretty much alone. Definite Destiny SAs for them.
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Valamir
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2003, 05:52:11 AM »

I see where you're going Jake, I just don't really like the concept myself.  Perhaps that's just a personal preference, perhaps its me seeing the "gunfighter" archetype as having been done to death and has very little left new in it anymore.  Perhaps its me attaching too much importance the obvious historical inspiration of Wyerth where such an individual would be virtually non existant (riddle seeker, certainly.  Blade Slinger...doubtful).  Perhaps its simply that I've NEVER seen this concept actually work in an RPG.  Work in a movie, yes.  Work in a book, yes.  Work in an RPG?  Haven't seen it.  In my experience all "professions" like bladeslinger do is open the door to munchkinized combat monster whose players plead "playing their character" as their excuse to min-max combat skills out the yin yang.  While there certainly is nothing wrong with that for those who enjoy such things, it clearly isn't what you had in mind for the role.

Are there bladeslingers in history...maybe.  Maybe 1 in a generation, although I expect most of those could better be categorized as bandits or mercenaries.  Not enough, IMO to warrant a "class" write-up in the rule book where there will shortly be 3 in every village.  

Its a cool image I guess, but it doesn't light any fires for me.
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prophet118
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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2003, 06:10:50 AM »

you do know one thing though.... you know of blade slingers working in RPGs..... you just dont know them by that name... here let me help dispell the horror factor surrounding that word........do you know what they call a blade slinger in other games ?....... A RANGER.... look at the class from any AD&D/D&D game, or other systems... thats what it is... and do they work?... hell yeh... hell i have a ranger in my TROS game... hes not your typical blade slinger, in that hes mainly an archery guy, but he is simply put, a wanderer, traveling from one place to another, living from day to day by his own hand, and his own weapon
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