Thursday, October 30, 2014

I Keep Saying This in Different Ways

So anyway, I'm contemplating running a tabletop RPG again, which I haven't done in several years, and I'm going about it in this really backwards, sideways peculiar way. I described a vague setting to the players and asked them who they were in that setting; with their answers I asked some more questions and settled on a system, then produced more information; two of the prospective players have given me some solid character backgrounds, one has declared a class (the system chosen being class-based), one has given me enough background to give me a point around which to solidify the geography, and one is working Renfaire and hasn't given me much so far.

The idea here is to get as far away as possible from what we've been doing, as at least two of us are sick to death of the power creep, railroad plots, and sheer lack of story logic of the Pathfinder modules we've been running. I hope to create a low-powered, custom-tailored, sandboxy campaign that relies heavily on random chance, player initiative, and the GM's sense of story.

Because I kind of suck at game mechanics, but with supportive players who are good at the mechanics, I find, a sense of story logic serves pretty well, instead.

People are way too focused on learning how to do stuff. People trying to cook have meltdowns because there's an ingredient in an otherwise yummy-sounding recipe that they never heard of, or which is only available in large quantities and to use it up they'll have to search for other recipes that include it, and invariably those recipes have another ingredient...

People trying to write for publication want to know how to do it, what are the steps, what do I do next?

Would-be artists want to know how to draw, what's supposed to be in the portfolio, what will get them a commission?

And they don't want to do things until they know how they're done. Which often means, they wind up not doing it and eating another lousy meal out of a can.

Knock it off.

Yes, you need skills. Yes, if you want to go public there are protocols to follow. But - breathe, okay? You know how you learn to do things? You do them.

Recipes are not necessary if you know what you like and how to do a handful of basic cooking tasks. Write your story the way you need to write it, play your game the way it's fun, write and draw and film and snap photos and shove most of it in a drawer and write and draw and film and snap more photos. Burn a pie or two and throw it out and make another pie.

I'm making pants this week. I'm making the same pattern I made before, months ago, the ones I'm wearing today. That time, it took me three tries to install the zipper. I wrote a note on the pattern about it. You know how many tries it took me to install the zipper this time, notes and all? Three. I also cut the waistband the wrong length and had to rip it all off again when I thought it was all done but the hook, eye, and hem. So what? Next week I'm gonna have a new pair of pants that Miss Thai has not yet lovingly shredded during laptime. I could've had 'em this weekend, but what's the hurry? If I have to go to the farmer's market or the game in a pair of pants with cat claw snags all over them, anybody who notices will forget in five minutes and in any case what kind of person notices things like that and actually cares about them? Nobody whose opinion I respect.

I don't know how that game's gonna turn out. I don't know what we'll be doing in it in more than very vague outline. But I'm not on deadline, I know my audience intimately, and I'm quite sure that, even if it's a train wreck, we're gonna have fun and we're gonna laugh a lot.

My WIP is also kind of a train wreck. But there's a lot of potential there. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, maybe in the end this'll be the one that puts me on the roster of classics; or maybe no one but me will ever read it. But nobody's gonna read it if I don't write it.

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