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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: What is a blade slinger  (Read 15192 times)
Jim DelRosso
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Posts: 23


« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2003, 07:05:40 AM »

I, for one, really like the bladeslinger concept.

It strikes me as a powerful archetype a player can build a character around, like the knight or the thief or the sorceror.  It's not the whole of the character, but it's an excellent tool for character-building -- a solid part of the character's structure.  The character concept is one that people are familiar with, if not necessarily in this exact context.

I also think that the concept of a bladelsinger fits very well into TROS's world of sorcerors and fae... it's a gut feeling, but it really seems to match the tone well, for me.

In terms of ways in which such a character can fit in the group, I think some excellent ones have already been metioned.  One more example that I'd add would the samurai from the Lupin III movies (whose name escapes me).  He became a memeber of Lupin's crew because Lupin offended him, and the samurai declared that Lupin's life was his, and his alone, to take.  Eventually, he actually becomes fond of Lupin, but that's another SA entirely. :-)

So, I think the bladesinger is a viable concept (both IC and OOC) that brings something interesing to TROS.  I also just think it's cool.
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JD
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2003, 07:24:47 AM »

I guess no one really read my post. (To "really read" = think, internalize, critique, incorporate into response)

Jake, I agree with you - I've been arguing the concept that the Man with No Name, Mad Max, Conan, the yojimbo, and dozens of others are eminently social characters for years.

Which is why I understand them perfectly as bladeslingers while speaking among ourselves, but consider the concept empty as a bucket from the in-game perspective.

Best,
Ron
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Jim DelRosso
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« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2003, 08:11:50 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Which is why I understand them perfectly as bladeslingers while speaking among ourselves, but consider the concept empty as a bucket from the in-game perspective.


I'm not sure I understand why you feel the concept is so bereft of meaning IC.  The concept of a gunslinger had meaning within the times and places such folks were extant; as did the concept of a ronin.  Why would the concept of a bladeslinger be so different within the concept of Wyerth?  Could you clarify?
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JD
Valamir
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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2003, 08:31:49 AM »

Quote from: Jim DelRosso
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Which is why I understand them perfectly as bladeslingers while speaking among ourselves, but consider the concept empty as a bucket from the in-game perspective.


I'm not sure I understand why you feel the concept is so bereft of meaning IC.  The concept of a gunslinger had meaning within the times and places such folks were extant; as did the concept of a ronin.  Why would the concept of a bladeslinger be so different within the concept of Wyerth?  Could you clarify?


Quite simply.
Re "The Gunslinger":
First your perceptions of gunslinger are highly colorized by hollywood, most were little more than bandits or hired killers historically.  But even taking the hollywoodizing as a desireable archetype, the gunslinger is an embodiment of individual freedom.  Of personal ideals held higher than social ideals living in a society which allowed such a man to prosper, if only at the fringes.  What made the American West so unique and what drew people from all over the world to it is that this feeling (which legend and story encapsulates in the gunslinger) was something that pretty much had never existed before.  

Can one concieve of a fantasy world where such a devotion to individual freedoms exists...sure (though I suspect not nearly enough thought would be given to the myriad of social ripples that such an ideology should have on such a world).  But I happen to like Wyerth and its roughly 17th century time period.  A time period where such sentiment did not exist to any measurable level.  We're still 100+ years before the American and French revolutions, and 200 years before westward expansion gave rise to the culture of mountain men and itinerant cowboys who are the model of the "slinger".  

This is why Ron says the concept is one he highly appreciates us as players having, but that he has no interest in seeing (nor do I) as seeing it immortalized in game.  Its an anachronism.

Re: Ronin.  I think us westerners identify with Ronin because we superimpose our love of the cowboy onto them.  Ronin were not fiercely independent men who lived by their own means.  They were disgraced outcasts who lived as best they could on their abilities as warriors.  The key difference is that it wasn't voluntary.  Most Ronin would have VASTLY preferred to return to life as an honorable samurai serving an honorable master as opposed to being some Katanaslinger.

There are very few historical examples you can find which fits the bill of what a blade slinger is supposed to be that aren't, after a little digging, more accurately described as bandits or mercenaries.  The concepts embodied in the -slinger designation are simply foriegn concepts to the time we're talking about.  

So its great and fine for us as players to visualize this sort of character concept and build a character that fits the bill.  Its IMO (and what Ron is saying) not sensible to have this idea actually be an established feature of the world.

As a final note to those who may want to play in a fantasy world where such a character is sensible in world, spend some time thinking about what the ramifications of such an ideology would be to the social fabric of the wider world.  Its very hard to envision a feudal or imperial society whose rulers would tolerate the existance of such a man.  A killer, that highly skilled, who does not serve a master...is quite simply dangerous and seditious.  A fantasy world where "Bladeslinging" was a practiced and accepted (if fringe) profession would resemble the wild west far more than some pseudo feudal kingdom common to most fantasy.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2003, 08:39:02 AM »

Hi John,

Please review the thread in its entirety. You'll see people provide ample evidence that in-game terms like "ronin" simply do not correspond 1:1 with the out-of-game concept of bladeslinger (which Jake describes perfectly). You can have a ronin who's not a bladeslinger and a bladeslinger who's not a ronin.

Calling attention to the former ("ronins* existed, man!") doesn't mean a thing regarding an in-game justification of the latter (bladeslinger as a thematic character concept).

Best,
Ron

* The incorrect plural is intentional.
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Jim DelRosso
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« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2003, 08:44:36 AM »

Personally, I feel that the responses of the powers-that-be to such an individual are part of what make the concept so interesting as an estabilished part of the setting.  Sure, a masterless swordsman of such skill would be a danger, which is why some rulers will try to secure his loyalty... or try to eliminate him from their holdings, one way or another.  It's the stuff good stories are made of, especially when one considers that such individuals would be social creatures.

Furthermore, as Jake and others have posted, the historical record regarding such individuals is hardly cut and dry.  

I can understand not wanting the concept of bladeslingers in your game world.  But I do not see that the inclusion of such individuals will necessarily destroy the consistency of such a world, any more than the inclusion of Fae and sorcerers would.
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JD
Jim DelRosso
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« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2003, 08:53:29 AM »

Ron,

Not sure if you meant "Jim" when you said "John"... but I did want to address the issue.

Why is it relevant whether or not the concept of a ronin (or those individuals who fit that concept) corresponds exactly to the concept of a bladeslinger (or those who fit that concept)?  

While bladeslingers share some characteristics or ronin, or gunslingers, they are not intended to be synonymous with them (from what I've seen).  They are an element of a fantasy world which share some elements with real-world individuals, but constructed as to help explore the themes inherent in TROS.
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JD
prophet118
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« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2003, 08:56:24 AM »

sigh.... why get into quoting what the "spparant historical era" is?.....ive had that discussion with jake... he cant really nail down a specific time frame, and from what i gathered from him before, the different places you go to, will color that "apoarant historical period"......how else are you going to explain viking-esque people co habittating with french Ren guys?

valamir, you keep saying that people keep thinking of "the hollywood versions"........well i challenge you to stop referring to Wyrth is strict american terms........

maybe it is roughly close to our 17th century....doesnt mean some dudes from another continent are going to get pissed off at their king and go settle in the wyrth version of plymouth rock....you need to remember, this is a game, not real life, the same kind of historical ideals do not apply
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2003, 09:48:22 AM »

Whoops, Jim not John,

I believe you're misunderstanding my point  - which is to ask exactly what you're asking me. Since the ronin/etc do not correspond to the concept of bladeslinger, I am saying, do not force such characters to correspond to it.

Perhaps people are misunderstanding what I mean by "in-game." In-game stuff is what the characters know about, say, what the culture's like, what its terms are, and stuff like that. Metagame stuff is what you and I, John, Ron, Ralph, Jake, and so forth, say and know about the game.

I'll say it again: (1) "Bladeslinger," specifically referring to Jake's description above, is a wonderful metagame concept and central to The Riddle of Steel (perhaps you haven't read my review; see its comments on the Premise of the game). (2) "Bladeslinger" as a unique entity justified or defined in-game, as stated by the people in the game, as conceived by them, is uninteresting and frankly intrusive.

I'll clarify: Sam is a player and Sebastian is his character. We, the players and people, can call Sebastian a bladeslinger and know exactly what we mean and enjoy it. The people in the game, and Sebastian himself, never use the word or think it. They call Sebastian whatever it is he does for a living among them.

I'll clarify further: Regardless of a character's profession in the game world and what others call them, the character can be a bladeslinger. In-game, he or she is a cook. A prostitute. A pirate. A king. Are they carrying out a role in the story like that seen in the sources already quoted? Yes? Then they're a bladeslinger. No? Then they're not.

As a corollary, no meaningful in-game term or category that exactly corresponds to the metagame term "bladesinger" is needed.

Best,
Ron
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Jim DelRosso
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« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2003, 10:47:10 AM »

Ah!  Now I see what you're saying.

But I was of the undertsanding the th term "bladeslinger" was used as an in-game term, much as "soldier" or "mercenary" would be.  At least, that was the impression I received from the book (and from this discussion).

A bladeslinger might take up work as a bounty hunter, or a mercenary, or even as the Duke's lawman in a remote farming village... but ti would still be possible (likely even), that someone would look at her and say, "Nothing but a lowly bladeslinger."  Or children of a knight, training at arms, would tell tall tales of their futures as wandering bladeslingers, even though nine out of every ten would cast those dreams aside as childhood fancy; of course, the one in ten who chooses that life, or has it thrust upon them, make for very interesting characters... :-)

In any case, I don't see the concept as jarring, or restrictive.  Even if you choose it, I can think of so many different bladeslingers, with so many different motives.  And this would be the same for thieves, and soliders, and sorcerors.

In other words, I see bladeslingers as a definitive part of Wyerth, something that characters in Wyerth are aware of.  I don't think it needs to be limited to the metagame.  YMMV
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JD
Ville
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Posts: 31


« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2003, 11:08:16 AM »

Imagine being someone who feels a craving for something.
Something but can't seem to find out what.
You wander the Weyrth, make friends, lose them, make enemies, kill them, travel to mythical places, see kingdoms fall before armies, but nothing seems to satisfy your craving.
Perhaps you embark on the philosophical journey to find The Riddle, whatever that is.
Perhaps you just seek enjoyment in perfecting your martial abilities, living on the edge with the constant adrenaline rush of combat seems to give you something. For a split second you feel alive when under the threat of death.
But still something is missing...
To be whole you'll have to find it.

That is how I see them.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2003, 11:45:13 AM »

I think we're getting some intelligent conversation going here. This is good.

Valamir- See Hanson's book Carnage and Culture. It outlines how the idea of personal freedoms throughout European history is exactly what makes Europe (or "the west," if you include America) the most militarily successful region/tradition in the world. An amazing book, btw.

Ron- I agree with you very much in the metagame area, but on some angles I don't. Again, it's a matter of definitions. What was a "gunslinger?" A wandering hired gun. A mercenary without a mercenary regiment. An assassin? Yes, but not the creeping-ninja type. These guys *are* attested to in European history. They were generally commoners who were "masters" of the sword. On and off they ran their own schools, but sometimes there was better money to be made (and fewer strings attached) in traveling about teaching nobility that had a judicial duel coming up and needed to learn to fight...or someone to fight for them. It is a great myth that the best swordsmen were knights and gentry--they were good, sure, but they had some margin for error in the way of laws protecting their persons, retainers, bodyguards, and armor (on the battlefield). The common man didn't have these things, and could be killed in a duel or mugging with only a glimmer of legal "restitution," but not prevention...restitution is no good to the dead. Many of the historical fencing masters fit this paradigm rather well--Musashi in Japan, Donald McBane in Scotland, Hans Talhoffer in 1400's Swabia, Joachim Meyer in the 1500s (TROS is right between Talhoffer and Meyer, most of the time, historically). Not everyone was a noble or a surf. This is highlighted by the idea of a "freeman" in TROS, who in the middle ages would have been someone that lived in a large city (a small percentage of the population, yes, but a real one).

So what if we take these guys, and the in-game people refer to these wandering sometimes teachers, sometimes champions, sometimes assassins as BladeSlingers instead of 'Mercenaries?' The difference? A mercenary has lots of friends. A bladelslinger has few (the "adventuring party") or none (the solo game...fun for 1 on 1 play, but not much else, I'd wager).

Now a very valid point that's been coming out is "just because this works in film/literature, does it work in play?" Some of you say "no." I think that Boba Fett doesn't work in play (there have been several threads that cover this area), but I think that the "Bladeslinger" does.

So here's the question: What elements/aspects of the Bladeslinger make it less attractive to play? (The question is, of course, directed at those of you that feel that way.) This will help us all understand both each other's definitions and ideas, but *more importantly* it will enable those folks that like the idea of bladeslingers in play to do it well.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Valamir
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« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2003, 11:46:02 AM »

The reason its jarring to me Jim because it is essentially exactly the same thing as running into a door to door vacuum clearner salesman, or jet pilot, or hobo.  Its the same thing as meeting a family driving down the road in a cart and asking where they're going and getting "well first we have to drop little Jimmy off at Boyscouts and then pick up Sarah from soccer practice".

Its a mentality that is so completely out of time that it just doesn't fit.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2003, 11:57:59 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
Its a mentality that is so completely out of time that it just doesn't fit.


Ralph-

I take it that it's the "self determination" mentality that is so out of place with you? Please specify.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Valamir
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« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2003, 12:33:53 PM »

More or less yeah.  That and the overall social structure which ensured pretty much everyone was beholden to someone else above them.  I realize I'm making some sweeping generalizations to make a point but it would not be all that inaccurate to say that a man was only safe to the degree that other people feared the man's master.  Being subservient to someone today is considered distasteful.  For most of history being subservient to someone was the road to survival, security, even prosperity.  It would be fairly difficult for a person who grew up in such a society to spontaneously develop a desire to be seperate from the system, to sever those ties, go out on his own and assert his independence.  Sure, on an individual level (like what a PC might be) but not on a level common enough for such behavior to be recognized and institutionalized (as acknowledging a "bladeslinger" would be).

A society where that sort of mentality were common place enough for such a profession to develop I think would have some very significant differences in its social dynamic structure from our own history.  Given that Wyerth is very much grounded in our own history, I find it hard to accept that a 17th century social / political structure exists side by side with with a 19th century frontier social structure.

Brotherhood of the Wolf is an excellent example of this.  Everyone in that movie was beholden to someone above them.  The main character to the King and King's officer, the italian prostitute/agent to the pope and so on.  The main character submitted to faking the body of the beast because his superiors told him to do it and he relied on their patronage.  In fact one could argue that the central force for change in that movie was the italian agent who was working on behalf of the pope against the cult.  The cult priests crime?  Not his machinations against the king, not his satanic cult imagery...rather that he was supposed to be subordinate to the pope as an agent himself, and had struck out on his own setting up his own powerbase outside of the existing power structure.  THAT was his crime (as far as the pope was concerned), he'd overstepped his authority and status.

I'd say that 1) this sort of attitude is vastly more common than any sort of Eastwood character, and 2) for me is vastly more interesting to play.  Choosing between what I know is right and what the people I'm beholden to tell me to do...between suffering in my concience or suffering the punishment for my defiance...THAT is far more interesting than doing whatever the hell I want because I'm an independent badass and relying on my superior swordsmanship to get away with it.   IMO of course.
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