Saturday, February 27, 2010

Answers for scottsz

Because he doesn’t have comments turned on. Not that I can blame him.

Yes, the story I’ve heard is that the Powers That Were at TSR felt the maps were the principle object of value in the modules, and so were printed blue to prevent photocopying. I imagine the modern digital world would have caused cardiac arrest in the folks who made that decision if they could have glimpsed the future.

D&D in libraries – You see that a lot here in Austin, but of course that’s Austin and, again, of course, the flavor on tap is 4e. Many also host dance lessons (salsa and other latin forms) because, according to the librarians, the places are crawling with kids but it’s getting hard to draw adults. Yeah, I wouldn’t have guessed that, either.

Erik Mona – I did watch the whole thing, and what fascinated me was how different his experience was from mine. I’ve very, very rarely encountered anything like organized play. Nearly his entire experience with RPGs has been centered around organized play, from the library club to the Living Greyhawk thing, and into his current work with Pathfinder. This implies a very top-down attitude towards gaming. The purpose of an RPG company, from this point of view, is to craft an experience for the participants. Mona is clearly a bibliophile, but yeah, books, not solutions, because solutions implies far more active agency on the part of the play group than I think the top-down model can embrace.

This should come as no surprise to anyone. Pathfinder is, after all, built on the idea of gorgeous, intricate, epic railroads. While they allow for, and even encourage lots of scenic loops and tangents, there’s an absolute path to be followed from one adventure to the next. I love the look of their books and a lot of their ideas, but when you get down to it, Pathfinder is the anti-OSR. Fight On! is a jumbled mess because the assumption is nobody can guess what’s coming next in your game. You might need a classic dungeon level, or you might need a penguin PC race, or you might need stats for purple death rays.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still happy to flip through the stuff Paizo puts out, and even steal some of it for my own games. It’s just not predicated on a model that fits the way I actually play. I’ll create my own experience, thank you very much. Or, to be more accurate, my group will create our own experience. My job, as I see it, is to supply mystery, verisimilitude, stability, and impetus. The players bring curiosity, energy, and action. We toss that in a pot with creativity and some setting elements, with rules and assumptions to keep it nice and gelled, and we have magic.

Adventure paths provide the mystery, verisimilitude, and impetus, and only rely on the DM to present what’s given to the players. The DM is, of course, free to elaborate, embellish, and alter the material given (though only to a point; change or add too much and you fall off the path) but they don’t need to. For a certain style of gaming and for certain groups, I’m sure that’s magic as well.

I don’t think it’s worth getting annoyed at Mr. Mona for what he said in the lecture. Most of the first half-hour was about what he saw at TSR and WotC, some of which served as object lessons for how things shouldn’t be done. It was also a talk about the industry, and so it focused primarily on the concerns of the industry. (Though, again, seeing how much organized play was a factor in his gaming, the line between industry and hobby may not be as clear to him as it is to others.) So I’d only caution about throwing out any babies with that bathwater.


Norman J. Harman Jr. said...

> D&D in libraries – You see that a lot here in Austin

Really, what? People are playing at libraries in my town? Which ones? Do elaborate please!

trollsmyth said...

Yeah, just check out the bulletin boards. I saw a posting in a library on the south end of town and another on the north side this summer. They seemed to be aimed at kids and may have only been a summer program. Not being the target audience, I didn't follow up on any of them, but I thought it was neat to see them.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

There was/is a D&D group in a library near me. Still, it seemed fairly ill fated from the start, as the DM got food poisoning when the first meeting was supposed to be. I ended up not getting into it.

Also, the verification word was rather strange. Who sets "bumroust" as a capcha?