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Soul reviewed

Started by Balbinus, February 12, 2002, 05:58:31 AM

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J B Bell

A brief note, having just read Soul again:

I would add to the above points that R-Maps as Ron has defined them are particularly well-suited to stories meant to address questions around gaining or losing humanity, with a somewhat implicit idea that of course you also have the idea of "what is more or less human?" in there.

Sorcerer is a game about capital-H Humanity.  Some of the sources listed are really more about Community, Loyalty, Alienation, and so forth--these tie into Humanity quite strongly, but if you want to focus in on one of them, e.g. if you want to make a story about a company of Army Rangers, then ties of loyalty, as stressed by the threat of the enemy, the need for self-sacrifice, and possibly stupid orders from above, would be what you should map.  I don't want to know if Sgt. Rock slept with G.I. Joe (well, I do, as that's still gonna be huge, but I mean it's optional for this kind of story), I want to know if he got Pvt. Joe's best buddy killed because of his crappy tactics in the last operation.  I want to know if there's a soldier there who pretends to back up his buddies but actually is so scared that he cravenly serves only himself, and I can map that as a line of "weak loyalty" or suchlike.

These are not less powerful stories, but they are more specific to given eras and cultural values, so the author may need to work at them harder (depends on his/her experience, of course).  And even a really good story may not be as grabby for an audience if they don't care about its premise--e.g., I find many of the tales of "honor" in Hagakure, a bunch of samurai stories, totally repugnant to my sensibilities.  Fortunately, the GM is more likely to understand the players' mores, so this is less of a problem in RPGs.

Well, I digress.  I hope I've not done too much violence to what Ron's intention with r-maps is; in any case, I think this may help people highlight for their own use how to relate an r-map to a premise.

"Have mechanics that focus on what the game is about. Then gloss the rest." --Mike Holmes

Gordon C. Landis


Seems to me there's lots of good stuff in this thread, but it's pretty un-focused.   Looks to me like my main thought - "There are stories for which making a map based on blood & sex is NOT the best way" - is not a 'blasphemy' to at least some of those that like blood & sex R-Maps, and certainly the claim "blood & sex R-Maps can be a good way to engage player interest" is not anathema to me.  If this thread is to lead anywhere further (and there's no reason it should/has to), it seems to me we need to  leave the generalities there, and stay focused on some specific issue.  Just a thought.


No disrespect taken - while I tend to be very (over?) careful when "criticizing" others, I've a got a very thick skin myself - you think I'm off-base, lay it on.  You make some good points, but I mustn't have been clear in my statements, as I think those points are (mostly) entirely consistent with my issue with a major blood & sex focus . . .

When you point out the importance of delivering significance of a character in the eyes of the other players . . . if what we've got is a spy game, isn't it the spy-affliation that is going to invoke that significance?  Yes, the thief-interest in your example is likely to fail to interest the other players - I would not propose a blood & sex map should replaced with a character-attributes map.  Instead, I guess I propose an "Issues Map", where the thematic values of the story are exposed for use during play.

Your point (and I paraphrase) about how the WAY in which kinship and sexual relations are used/exposed being important . . . HELL YES.  I intended the "exposure" of my Mekton experiences to reveal a probably UNfair bias I might have against the "use" of kinship and sexual relations, having experienced some over-use of the elements (NOT, obviously, within an R-Map) in the past.  Unlike Gareth, I find Buffy uses 'em in an entirely effetive way, so (again) I'm certainly not claiming that you can't use 'em as the basis of a great story, or even that you SHOULDN'T do so for some RPG stories  - as others have pointed out, given Sorceror's Humanity focus, it may be particularly appropriate there.

But (going back to the R-Map clarification post Ron made at the start of this thread), the standing claim about R-Maps seems to be wrapped up in his quote "yes, intent, organizational affiliation, and ideology are important for role-playing. I do not suggest that they be ignored or pushed aside or otherwise left out. But they gain their importance insofar as they reinforce or violate the lines of a relationship-map."

And again I repeat - it seems to me, FOR SOME STORIES, exactly the opposite is true - the "realtionships" only have meaning insofar as they reinforce or violate the lines of intent, affiliation, and/or ideaolgy.

If someone disagrees with that statement, I'd like to hear more - otherwise, I really am ready to "put it to the test" and just see how various methods work out in actual play.

And James,

Thanks for the clarification - I can certainly see GREAT ways for some stories to use that kind of "violation". (under construction)

Mike Holmes

QuoteAnd again I repeat - it seems to me, FOR SOME STORIES, exactly the opposite is true - the "realtionships" only have meaning insofar as they reinforce or violate the lines of intent, affiliation, and/or ideaolgy.

What Gordon has stated so well here is exactly the point I was trying to make.

Ralph, you misquote me. I was not speaking of westerns in general, but specifically spaghetti westerns. You may have an argument for Fistfull, but I really don't see it for The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, High Plains Drifter, etc. It's not that the protagonists don't come across people with family relationships in these cases, but that these realtionships are almost never an issue in these films. Alien and Aliens are two very different films. There is no mother alien in the first film which may be why I like it better. And you didn't discount the other ideas.

The point is that there are some stories in which these relationships are ancilary to or missing entirely from the story being told. For these purposes, I agree with Gordon's statement above. If Ron means that his method is superior for Sorcerer, or for games that do focus on these things, then I agree it's a better method. But as TQuid points out, there are some good ideas out there for stories for which this sort of map is not superior; for which another sort of map would be better.

For example, say I want to run a game something like Bridge on the River Kwai (something I have frequently contemplated actually doing). The players are to be charaters like William Holden's character who are just holding on when the British arrive. What I need is a map of the relationships between the camp commander, the British commander, the British doctor, the Brittish NCOs and officers, the camp personell, something that gives me an idea of where loyalties lie, and how the characters feel about each other. I'll have nothing if I try to use Ron's method.

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