I’ve been continuing to work on Et in Arcadia Ego, my Regency-magicians game. The current issue is how the magic in the game should work. For magic to be weird and a bit wild, it has to strain the boundaries of something very important to a story-game: cause and effect.
We’ve been talking a bit about games without GMs, particularly as we work up Lucid for the con. (Quick teaser: it’s an RPG about lucid dreaming. We think.) In so doing, it’s exposed an interesting point. The idea of what a “game master” is depends on the system you’re playing. Adversary? Guide? Prompt? All plausible roles. All different in how they play. The part that has me going is that this is a different distinction than who has control over which elements of the story. It’s not concerned with how, but why. Why has always been a more interesting question to me, if a bit troublesome.
I’ve brought up the unease with which I view things like The Big Model before, but I don’t think I’ve ever really explained why the whole mess gives me hives. Ironically, I haven’t had the words to express what my problem with it is succinctly. Now that we’re out of the woods with editing Becoming Heroes, I have a better sense of my own mind and want to put those thoughts down before I lose them.
A curiosity of language is its inseparability from context. Sure, we can use words and have a limited success at conveying them without context, but when we try and convey meaning, we’re inextricably bound to interpretation and contextualization. Which means that names and jargon are both impossible to avoid and unavoidably shaping.
Great news! We finalized our print layout and are ready to accept orders for Becoming Heroes. You can pick it up here. We’re still working on the PDF/digital formats—we’re hoping to create a full-size and tablet version, and should have them soon. This is the culmination of a year of work for us and we’re very pleased with the results; I hope that you all feel the same.
In other great news, we will have a booth at Gen Con! Number 1745 to be precise. We’ll be in the back right of the dealer room in the space reserved for first time exhibitors. You’ll be able to pick up print copies of the book, sets of beads, art from the game, and a copy of our free leaflet RPG Lucid. (What’s Lucid, you ask? Swing by to find out!) Alas, we’re still playtesting some changes for Piece of Work and have decided not to rush the game for the convention.
If you’re going to Gen Con, you should also stop by the various indie booths on display. Of course, the DriveThrough RPG booth (767), but also the amazing folk over at Margaret Weis Productions (1619); we are uncertain if Evil Hat or Bully Pulpit will be in attendance. [Edit: Bully Pulpit will be there. Rejoice!] All of these people have been a huge influence on us and we owe them all collectively a beverage of their choice. (Feel free to swing by and collect—we will make time for you!)
Expect traffic on this blog to drop during the con. Until then, look for several posts over the next few days!
You’ve gotta do more than one thing. It really helps feed your brain. In my case, I’m a linguistics doctoral student. Right now, I’m taking classes at the LSA 2011 Summer Institute, which happens to be in Boulder this year.
One of the classes I’m taking is about working with endangered languages, and particularly about responsibly and respectfully interacting with the communities that actually speak these languages. One of the professors, B’alam Mateo-Toledo, was talking about his experience working with a Mayan-speaking community in Guatemala.
He was recording speech in a number of contexts, including some ritual and ceremonial ones. He had the full consent of the speakers, with their full understanding of the uses to which the audio would be put. But at a certain point, other people in the community realized that they were not comfortable with the idea of ceremonial speech being archived in a way that would allow anyone outside the community to access it.
Some games have what I call “grabby”. That special something that makes you feel, viscerally, the desire to play them. For me, Dogs in the Vineyard has it. World of Darkness had it. It didn’t have it when I read it, but after playing it, Apocalypse World has it in spades. And I’m beginning to suspect that Becoming Heroes has it.
Rob Donoghue has recently mentioned that it takes more than being a great game to get a place in his collection. I think that, for me, grabby is part of this additional something. So what’s grabby? I doubt I can answer that, but I can at least explore it.
We at Transneptune Games have recently discovered that we are pretentious.
This came to light while we were editing our game Becoming Heroes (which is the final title of In a Dragon-Guarded Land). One fine editor was kind enough to point out that our in-text language was a little on the pretentious side. At first we were (briefly) dismissive of his point on the grounds that it was okay to be so. After all, we’re indie gamers. We speak of IIEE and narrative authority as casually as sane people might talk about their coffee this morning. But after sleeping on this criticism and re-reading the game, we realized the horrible truth of the matter. We were not just pretentious, we were unbelievably pretentious.
3:16 Carnage amongst the Stars action announcements Apocalypse World authority balance Becoming Heroes being awesome blank pages boundaries cards character creation choice D&D death design designers Dread epic Et in Arcadia Ego Exalted Fiasco fun game tasting gaming Gen Con GM history How We Came to Live Here Leverage mechanics models motivation Mouse Guard My Life with Master narrative space Primetime Adventures setting situation Spirit of the Century story theater theme theory world-building
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