Friday, January 7, 2011

The Official Line

Funny.  I write a post about incorporating some sort of cards into the game and WOTC announces that they've done it.  In a really ... stupid ... way.

And gamers are upset.  Because if a corporation brings forth a different way of playing, it brings pressure against every DM in the universe to play the new way.  Ooooh, so much pressure.  Plus there's that whole blasphemy/heretic thing: oh no, it will further subdivide the hobby!

But really, mostly what I've seen is a whole lot of apathy.  This isn't quite the vitriolic outrage that accompanied the release of 4e, is it?  But then, perhaps its not as big as 4e.  Perhaps this is just a silly launch of a silly product that will almost certainly be taken up by mostly silly people.  And the hardened gamers know it.

Sometimes I wonder how much power corporations have over us ... or how much we allow them to have.  If the NFL decided to change the shape of footballs, making the official football six millimeters shorter, wouldn't every football in America change?  Are there still people, anywhere, making their own footballs?  There used to be.  But with the invention of the "official" product of whatever sports franchise you care to mention, there comes an enslavement of a people to the crap that franchise chooses to put out.  Even a kind of prejudice against those who aren't enslaved, as masses of schoolchildren jeer and scoff at the child who still has the ridiculous, enlongated football of last year rather than the new, zippy football of the right now.

But of course, what a cash grab for the NFL, when the coffers get a little roomy.  Which is all the WOTC has done here.  Everyone knows it.  Even those who will buy the cards.

It was mentioned a couple of days ago on this blog that cards would be a terrific fetishistic article to add to a player's character.  That there is the appeal.  For thousands of players who don't know what they're doing, who aren't sure what the game is about, who are looking for a greater tactile connection, the cards are great.  They're simple to understand.  They shift the game from deciphering incomprehensible books to stacking comprehensible status symbols.  Children will embrace them, as they have always embraced such things.  A real, official football for Christmas?  Thanks Grandma!

And as the children grow into adults with their loved D&D cards in their pockets, they will glare with mockish disapproval at the old farts that didn't buy in, decrying them as stodgy dullards who still play the game "like it was the dark ages."

This worries the community.  At least, those parts of the community who used to be the golden boys when 3e was on the rise and THEY were the smarty-pants players better than their OD&D peers.  But of course the OD&D faction has fought back, stamping out their approval of old virtues and values, claiming dogma left and right as 'proof' that the old way was always the right way.  Granted, old has always had its particular brand of cachet, the tradition that tradition is somehow special because it is old.  If it wasn't special, would it still be around?

Such is the way with factions.  Gotta belong to this group or that group to prop up the old ego, you know; to feel reassurred that we're not alone, that there are others just like us who approve of the same things and - without question - hate the same things.

Really early this morning, Mike Vavosa on the previous post asked why role-playing games would need a universal IMECH ... and the answer to that is, why bother trying to create one?  I'm certainly not.  I'm not very concerned with making anything universal.  WOTC really doesn't give a rat's ass if cards become a universal part of the game or not.  They're counting how many cards they can sell.  What's more, it's no nevermind to them if the cards even get used for D&D.  If someone figures out a way to making a drinking game out of the cards, played in public taverns, which results in more sales, WOTC will be really fine with that.

The gamer out there should realize that people and factions and corporations don't have any power to make things 'universal.'  They have only the power to browbeat, cajole, deceive or otherwise tempt people into pursuing actions beneficial for the source.  There's no one in existence that can make you play in any way other than the way you wish to play.  No power exists as a standard that all must follow.

But some will tell you different.

25 comments:

Carl said...

I think WotC's method of turning everything into a collectible card game is brilliant. They're amazing capitalists. Damn them to hell, but I have to admire them.

My own gaming methods have changed a lot over the last few years. I went from a module-driven, storyline-focused game to a open world. It wasn't too hard. There were some growing pains, but I think the game that has emerged is the best one I've ever run.

Alexis, it was your blog that showed me that if you create a place, a game world, and it makes sense and obeys its own rules, then the game will emerge from that. You don't need to write a story. You don't need to constuct a module. You just play. The thing will take on a life of it's own, and as long as you keep a calendar and take notes on what's happening, the world and the game will grow deeper and richer as time goes on.

I think this is what the designers of D&D had intended. It's an extension of "Let's Pretend"

The cards and the tokens and the fat rulebooks miss the point. They are the trappings of imagination, and they are hollow. They're symbols. Fetishes. Tokens. The rules aren't the game, nor are the dice or the cards. The DM and players are the game. The world they share is the game. All of the rest of it are tools to access game.

I've had great D&D sessions with no characters and no dice. Nothing but a campfire for light and rock-paper-scissors to decide the outcome of an action in question. It's OK to add to that, but like the guys with NOS stickers and airfoils on their cars, the accessories don't make you fast. It's what's under the hood that counts.

Keep pounding away at this core philosophy, Alexis. Continue to write about what the game is and how to go about running it.

James C. said...

Well said. Anything I would have added to Alexis's commentary Carl already more than handled in eloquent fashion. Keep pushing this rock up the hill. The journey has for me been an enlightening one.

Anthony said...

Does this point even have a necessary point? It is so sad that people have to be told that no one can tell them how to play. Defeats the purpose if they have to be told, no? I just don't associate with such gamers. Or I wait for them to finish puberty, that tends to work as well.

Alexis said...

Okay Anthony, so you don’t need to be told. That don’t mean there ain’t a hubbub, bub. Why does Tim Brannen on the Other Side say that dealing with gamers is worse than dealing with 3-year olds? Why does Cyclopeatron threaten that D&D will turn into something else? Why does Icosahedrophilia feel that DM’s might fear a sense of what he calls player entitlement?

Why does anyone care at all what WOTC does? Ever? Isn’t it because, on some level, there continues to be a pervasive belief that the final edjudicator on this game is still the parasitic corporation residing in the dead hollowed-out skull of TSR? And don’t they have that opinion because, ignorantly, gamers equate ‘trademark ownership’ with ‘the voice of god’?

You're damn right I’m going to say something about that. No matter how obvious it is.

Anthony said...

I agree with your overall point, Alexis. My comment came out a little more snarky than I intended (I blame the sinusitis). Either way, it is a general human condition and most definitely not restricted to gamers. Baseless appeals to authority are just so... infantile...

"Let's stop inviting the infants to the adult table."

and

"Let's give the infants a reason to improve themselves, to recognize that if they can't be of value, they won't be invited to sit. Let's create a community worth having."

This is where my wife and I diverge. She is a teacher, so she naturally falls into the later camp. I am more of the type to pretty much dismiss ignorance and wait for some maturity to develop.

Like I said, I agree with you. I'm just not the type to wade through the muck to lift out the promising individuals. I'm not trying to sell something or promote an agenda, so I can reside in my tower where the infants are left out in the cold.

Thank God that there are nurturing types out there.

Alexis said...

"I'm just not the type to wade through the muck to lift out the promising individuals..."

Then what the fuck good are you?

Anthony said...

LoL! Should I leave you to your quest then, one blog post at a time, so you may continue to drive away people who lack the strength of their convictions, who might otherwise be encouraged to continue posting naive comments here were you to be polite or considerate? To tell people that they are not worth having around by virtue of lacking inherent comprehension or knowledge?

I hate to use a movie quote for ammunition, but here goes anyway. What I gained from your "Disrespect" post is that you believe "you [should] criticize them a lot, and then they get so down on themselves that they're forced to change. And then in the end, they thank you for it."

You say that people who don't post anything relevant to the author's viewpoint should be abused until they offer relevancy or leave. I said I don't like to rake through the muck. I ignore, you berate.

In a general sense, pulling back from the specific example of D&D blogs, where is the line between those two perspectives?

Blaine said...

Know thy enemy...

This is why some of us care ultimately what WoTC does.

Its because while we have long left the enemy behind to cling to our various older incarnations of our byzantine rules... safe and secure in our knowledge... there are others out there.

These are good people... no matter what their tastes. Many of these are younger people who never had the taste of the dead beast that is TSR (which was never a kind overlord while it lived, lets not kid ourselves). To them, they might as well never have existed... they only know 4th... maybe 3rd in passing or as its new form of pathfinder. 2nd is lost to the ages... consigned to worn tattered tomes on used book shelves... and never in a complete set that can be picked up all at once.

To them, without the old guard to guide them, its a true Gordian knot... especially when compared to rules they are now used to.

The more radically different WoTC takes the banner name way from the older ways... the harder it is for the old guard to be able to convert newer gamers to play our games. Sitting at the local shop talking shop with the usual crew starts to look like the old guard talking to themselves...

Its tough trying to pry people away from what they know... and the easier the entry point is... the more people know of it. Wonderful! Bigger pile to have to sift through...

But that bigger pile is a pain to sift through to find the gems when it is a mess... and thus, why paying attention to WoTC is important... because not enough people play the other systems... no matter how hard some of us try to work to get them to enjoy it...

and if we do manage to get them to like the old ways like we do... it becomes a pain for them to get the books they want (because I don't know many gamers who DON"T want their own copy of a rulebook, especially after a few sessions of having to wait for it)...

So, Time... entropy of the source material... and WOTC is ultimately our enemy.

Knighthawk said...

What I want to know is where was everyone at about this when the cards were announced at Gencon 2010? We get Gamma World, see those cards and everyone says cool aspect.

There were people up in arms about needing the cards for game day but people showed up, bought the cards and they played. And enjoyed it.

WotC learns from that lesson about needing the cards for game day. Says you do not need them for Encounters but they will be featured as a part of it.

It is an option but we know how that goes, the completest in us gamers will demand we own the entire collection. WotC will make more money and continue with more D&D.

The circle of life in the gaming world.

Blaine said...

Where were we?

Complaining in private.

During a recent cleaning of the gaming boxes to make room for a guest computer station in the house, I stumbled across two ancient relics. Well... three honestly.

Box 1 was the usual old CCGs that most played during the tail end of the 90s. Nothing of note. Just a beaten up pile of cards now so outdated they were scrap. The artwork was nice though.

Box 2, a re purposed model box, was a bunch of power cards for a first edition white wolf storyteller game.

Box 3 was a large pile of... Dungeons and Dragons cards... the old classic AD&D variety. Compared to even the late 90s or the modern CCG... they were terrible... but it was like looking at a time capsule or long lost prototype of what we were seeing today. Evidence that we bought them... toyed with the idea and the tossed them aside to gather dust.

I knew the final box was there but I didn't know exactly where. Can't tell you how many times I thumbed through them in passing but never did they actually come onto the table... there wasn't a need. I don't remember if they were collectible though.

That's the bugbear in all of this... the fact that it is 'collectible'. There isn't a set that can just be purchased that has all that we need in it.

We, the general gaming population, is expected to purchase now a collection of rather pricey books (watching young new gamers have to choose between food and a core book brings back memories), maps (since the game revolves around them in the modern incarnation), tokens/miniatures, power cards, and now... a collectible booster pack system ala M:tG. It was as if being a game master wasn't pricey enough already.

So perhaps prior to now, I was just quiet about it. My mistake. I didn't think about it much. I was too busy playing and running the games I enjoyed, not thinking of WotC till it came up here... only recently deciding that posting a response to a blog actually had merit. I'll admit that this was my mistake.

But needless to say, looking back at the piles of ignored cards that have been purchased, used for awhile, and either were discontinued, underutilized, or became outdated by rule updates... I am seriously leery about WotC making randomized collectible cards important.

I got enough 'collectible miniature game' pieces to melt down a build a battleship due to earlier WotC marketing schemes.

This is where some of us were.

Anthony said...

Why the proselytizing though? What purpose is served by convincing people that their particular leisure activity is not as 'good' as our particular leisure activity? Sure, people who are engaged enough to write blogs and participate in discussions obviously hold a hobby in high enough regards to really care. Yet, to everyone else, efforts to convert people to the superior hobby are just laughable.

In the end, this proselytizing is simply selfish. You are either selling something or showing off a smug superiority.

And yes, I realize I am disparaging the very community I am participating in. Don't think the OSR doesn't fall prey to the same appeals to authority; let us all worship at the altar of Maliszewski, Raggi, or the clones over the originals. I just can't stand the smell of this bullshit where thinly veiled edition wars are elevated into terms of converting gamers, working to get people to enjoy this game over that game, and otherwise establishing the OSR as the ultimate answer in gaming.

Or worse, elevating stupid commercialism into a commentary on the human condition.

James C. said...

Let's get a grip, Blaine. If you want kids to play the older editions, play with kids. It's really that simple. WoTC is not your enemy. If there are those with the company that even know you exist they are likely sympathetic ears. If you've read what Alexis has posted here about his daughter and her friends and what younger OSR enthusiasts like Odyssey have to say you'll see that not only are there kids hip to the older ways they, too, have access to the internet and read all about whatever the hell it is we're doing here. You want to reel them in? Start a blog and make something of use.

P.S. Anthony, you're not ignoring them.

:)

Padre said...

"Why does anyone care at all what WOTC does? Ever? Isn’t it because, on some level, there continues to be a pervasive belief that the final adjudicator on this game is still the parasitic corporation residing in the dead hollowed-out skull of TSR?"

Amen. While I don't always agree with your various posts, I always go away thinking about their relevance to my own game.

Mike V. said...

Well here's my problem with this line of thinking "old timers vs the new kids"... I've been roleplaying since I was 15 , good old 1991. I've seen roleplaying games come and go through the decades and I have seen TSR get swallowed up by WOTC.

Now I realize that a lot of what us oldtimers were used to in D&D was changed with 4th edition. Some for good, some for bad. In my opinion WOTC made a very smart business decision.

Table-top roleplaying was being gobbled/digested and pooped out by online MMORPG's. First Evercrack, then WoW.

Why not borrow from their recipe a little? If the fans liked that style, its either adapt or go extinct.

I have no problem with 4th Ed, actually like quite a few of the rules clarifications. I do prefer the Essentials line of classes, which harken more to my old-school approach, but I see no complaints with the new style of play, the new "powers" etc...

Once again I say. Adapt or go Extinct. WOTC won't stay in business pandering to aging gamers (like us) ...they always have to have their eye on the next generation of gamer.

And frankly, a lot of the complaints and ideas raised are redundant. Whether it be the introduction of cards in the game (hey WOTC did that with GammaWorld and now encounters) or a watered-down success-based IMECH skills challenge system.

You guys are all railing and ranting about the "system" being flawed, needing clarification or improvement. We'll maybe you take a look at the new edition? That's why companies release updates, to make improvements, respond to customer issues, etc.

I think 4e was very successful in responding to customer demand. Is WOTC more money-hungry than TSR? Nope. I remember all too well the marketing campaign TSR followed, supplement after supplement.... the introduction of miniatures to the game (good old ralpartha, rest in peace).

So before we villainize WOTC let's maybe remember that all gaming companies, especially RPG companies, follow a very tried and true formula: When in doubt release another hundred-page supplement about who cares what?

It will sell.

Shame on us for biting and shelling out our money everytime they did.

Once bitten, shame on you.
Twice bitten, shame on me.

Arduin said...

Mike V, I'm not entirely sure what to make of that.

If you're trying to argue that Alexis and others should, rather than improve the game they've chosen, find a new one, then I'm pretty sure there's no helping you.

If they wanted 4E, and powers, and all that bullshit, they'd have already gotten it.

But they don't want "powers" because frankly, it's stupid and goes against the purpose they want to inject into the game.

4E is about narrativism. Older editions are not. Even 3E, for all it's foibles was still primarily a game of simulation.

4E is not even trying to simulate anything. There's no way to look at a given part of it and say "This makes sense, given the context of the implied setting and the other rules". I say this as someone who played for two years.

Trying to say "adapt or die" is just stupid, because adaptation is precisely what the older editions are about. They list reading materials, suggest research about the periods and equipments, give detailed lists of medieval professions and titles, and they tell you to get your lazy ass out there and use them to make your game better.

Having read the 4E DMG, PHB, and the subsequent releases of the 2nd versions of those two books, this idea of improving the game using outside resources for the purposes of realism is not present.

You state that tabletop was "gobbled up" by MMOs. And that's just stupid, because they aren't nearly the same thing, at all. They have similarities, yes, but you'd have to be a complete tosser not to understand just why they aren't, and never will be, the same. Taking a lesson from the MMO is the last thing "old-school" gamers want.

Because MMOs are fucking boring.

WoTC's 4E is not about customer service. It is about, like the MMO industry, putting out a product, incomplete, hoping people get addicted and trying to patch things up over time.

WoTC's ridiculous policy of subscription for errata (and the suite of piddling tools anyone can find with a good Google search for free), costing even MORE than an MMO usually does, is something that pisses me, a potential customer, the hell off.

As a business model in a monopoly market? WoTC is doing fine with nickel and diming all the people who are either A. Unaware that there are other products/companies out there. or B. Don't care.

But don't assume that ridiculous fascimile of an MMO is what's going to make us happy.

Read the fucking blog, and you'll find NONE of the things Alexis has developed are included or even touched upon in 4E. Not one. No method for realistic economy. No generation of river-flow, or equations for dealing with 200+ combatants in a real-time rolling situation for mass battles. You will not find detailed descriptions of the workings of the assumed setting (medieval to early renaissance), and you won't find a detailed background generator which puts some damn flaws in your character, because for whatever reason 4E has you running the equivalent of "King Arthur as Captain America".

Seriously, Mike. Get on the ball here. We're playing at the big kid table, so please pay attention.

IMech systems are being discussed, not because WoTC has done it already, and we're quibbling, but because basically no game in existence has created one. Ever.

Not an effective system by which PCs and NPCs are subject to the same penalties, to create something akin to a pseudo-realistic result. It's not redundant, and is in fact very relevant to RPGs in general.

If you'd been paying attention, to anything, you'd see that while combat is something RPGs do well, social interaction is generally handwaved to DM fiat and a Charisma/Diplomacy roll.

Basically Mike, your whole post has pretty much proved that you are the exact sort of person described in the above article.

Mike V. said...

You know I had a long reply typed last night to Arduin's heated commentary, then I thought it wasn't really worth the effort. I am still a fan of Alexis. I will never "drink the coolaid" and be a 100% blind follower to his vision, but I do like some of his ideas.

Arduin. Let's just agree to disagree.

Alexis said...

Mike, that is entirely uncalled for. People are not 'blind' followers here. They just like seeing something different. Please appreciate that.

Mike V. said...

Alexis.

please go back and read Arduin's post to me, before you label anyone's commentary "uncalled for".

I think your idea of this blog is intelligent enlightened pursuit of D&D. If that means sometimes people will agree or disagree then so be it. To be blinded and only see one point of view limits your perspective.

I think its funny how the site villainizes me for my commentary, most of which has been "anti-Alexis" , not that I personally am, just trying to raise points that I think are sidelined or often ignored.

Well I will formally apologize to the BLOG. If you don't want people to comment or raise questions about your writing, then just say so Alexis.

When you admonish Arduin's commentary then I will consider this forum a meeting of the minds. As it stands I guess I'm the outsider.

I'm fine with different. It's what brought me to some of the ideas you raise on your site. Because I am not a follower of your world as a whole, doesn't prevent me from appreciating the ideas you raise, or your style of commentary.

But I'm not fine with being blasted for having a different point of view.

Like I said though, once bitten shame on you, twice shame on me.

Alexis said...

Mike,

Everyone is an outsider.

Arduin blasted you for taking a stance on 4e that he didn't like. Somehow you equated that with blind drinking of koolaid, as though Arduin hasn't the sense to pick and choose from the junk I write about just as you do. I don't really care about all the insults - it's in innaccuracy of the line that annoys me.

I have repeated and repeated that "I want people to comment or raise questions about my writing." I could repeat it a thousand more times, and still be misunderstood. That is because I also believe, in addition to making your comments, get ready for the shit-storm that is likely to follow. Get ready to be villified. If you haven't got the courage of your convictions, too bad for you.

Arduin's return at you was ON TOPIC ... even if it was somewhat insulting. If you haven't got a better rejoiner than "Wah! I've been insulted!" that also happens to be on topic, that why did you say what you said in the first place?

Arduin's points were that your "adapt or die" line made no sense ... so prove it does make sense. Arduin argued that WOTC hopes people will get addicted. Tell him how he's wrong. Arduin argued that gamers aren't adopting 4e because they think its stupid; explain why that's incorrect. Arduin claimed my blog offers solutions to gaming you can't find in the 4e books. Dispute that. For god's sake, put forth an argument. Don't get huffy because he didn't buy your argument 'blindly.' Defend yourself! Fight! Win!

I'm not the ref. I took personal umbrage at you calling my loyal readers "drinkers of koolaid." That was the entire point of my comment. That's why it was only 21 words long.

Arduin said...

In my own defence.

I like the blog. And I respect Alexis himself as a thinking person, playing the game intelligently and doing what he thinks can improve it.

I don't always agree with the method, and even I can get touchy at his more umbrage-filled posts.

But honestly, Mike, your post just annoyed the hell out of me.

You call the arguments but forward by this and other blogs redundant, but your own answer to the problem presented is "look to the new edition". As if that wasn't even MORE redundant.

The new skill challenge system is exactly like every system before it. Roll a few times, get a result. It is also exactly as unsatisfying, and comes up with exactly the same rigidity of results.

You griped about how "the fans" decided they want 4E, completely ignoring the plain and simple fact that...not everyone who games is a fan of 4E. The emergent popularity of Pathfinder puts the proof to the idea that people are still gaming without 4E, en masse.

That's part of our hobby. We don't need the company. Which is why I put forward the MMO model of business WOTC follows. Keep them addicted, keep money flowing.

It makes sense from a business perspective, but not from a quality perspective. There are complaints in many places about WOTCs errata policy turning the books themselves into so much deadweight. What I am pointing out to you, Mike, is a problem that people have with 4E and WoTC. A visible problem.

The older editions also have foibles. Nobody is dumb enough to imply they don't.But the starting model, one of world simulation rather than narrative-gamist power-flinging, is what Alexis and others prefer to build from.

It suits them better, and your own tact of "just move on" frankly reeked far more of sugary kool-aid than anything I said. Which is essentially a summation of my last paragraph in the post.

I have been speaking entirely from experience here. I bought 4E at launch. I defended it vigorously to try and convince my two groups to play. And we did.

And then, one long, frustrating journey later, I discovered that the system did not do what I wanted to do with roleplaying. I discovered that 4E's attitude wasn't right for me, and my group agreed.

We wanted simulation, to create a world that felt complete and real, and to build characters who had flaws and stats that weren't mostly 14+. We found that in other systems. Currently, we deal in a crossbreed of the two editions of Hackmaster, while we wait for Kenzerco to release the full set of the new edition.

I know how to look at a new system, and so do others. Everyone saw 4E. So if they don't have it by now, it's because it was seen, and dismissed. Not because of stodgy-headedness. The people here are more than capable of examining a concept on its own merits.

Did I insult you? Most assuredly, I did. And I don't regret it. Because you insulted me first, damnit.

You invoked my umbrage with your ridiculous assumption that YOUR game had the answers others wanted, and that we were too blinded by our own fuddy-duddyness to see it.

I appreciate the intellectualism this blog and others put forth. I enjoy the idea that I can take an aspect from any game, and with a little tweaking, use it to make my own experience better. It is proof that your "adapt or die" statement is bunk. The blogs devoted to previous editions are direct evidence that the game adapts, long after the company doesn't give a shit.

What I do not appreciate is people evangelistically preaching their system at the expense of intelligent thought. I got over that when I was twelve, thank you.

If you had an actual hypothesis to posit, Mike, you might have found my reply more genial.

As it stands, I'll leave you with a repeat of last time.

We're at the big kid table. So please pay attention.

Anthony said...

Is Mike someone's strawman sock puppet?

I swear its not me...

Mike V. said...

Sorry guys, I am no puppet.

I was never taking the Pro-4E / Pro-WOTC stance per se. And if everyone looks back my reply was directly in reference to the Cards System WOTC announced in correlation to Alexis' post regarding a WAR/card deck for IMECH concept.

I am in no way a 100% die-hard proponent of 4E. Truthfully I think there are better systems out there than D&D (in terms of mechanics). I am however a D&D game universe fan, and that theme is currently relevant to my gaming circle and thus in my focus at this time. If I were to choose the Golden Age of D&D I would have to pick AD&D 2nd Ed. The rules cleaned up tremendously from 1st Ed, and not overencumbered by all the extraneous nonsense of 3rd ed (and later 3.5).

I simply found it ironic , just as Alexis did, that his exploration of an IMECH lead him to the ideas of others, which in turn lead to a card-based system, just as WOTC announced a "card system" of their own. Of course they aren't identical. I simply found it ironic. Everyone seems to think WOTC exists in a bubble. They don't. WOTC won't react knee-jerk because their forums are innundated with negative-4E. However, anyone who can read between the lines will definitely see the connection with their Essentials line up of "classic D&D class structure" to the older editions. Yes most players from previous editions didn't like the change in format to the classes. I didn't either. I didn't like the World of Warcraft Class structure. But that doesn't mean I throw the baby out with the bathwater. And low and behold, a couple years later Essentials appears. They still want to sell a product(s), so of course they're going to adapt to their customers' wants and needs.

Alexis , you made a post several back regarding one of your players ( a thief I think) who was elated that his character cheated death, and how passionate he was about the connection to his character and how he related how that same character (who he very much connected with) had cheated death several other times prior. Times that while forgettable to Alexis as the DM, were memorable and cherished to the player. That post to me embodies the reason why we as gamers eschew console games, tabletop miniature wargames, or MMO's. Because we make a connection with that alter-ego of the character...and lose ourselves not only in the moment, the story/adventure/world, but the excitement. Yes it's only death of a persona. Death of a sheet of paper, a series of numbers, etc...but to that player that "character" is more than the sum of its parts.

To me, both as a DM and player for almost 2 decades now, I will proudly say I am narrative-focused. Arduin made mention of the level of detail Alexis has put into his world. River flow charts, currency models, historical accuracy, etc. All very highly detailed facets of a world that I am sure go into making it rich. And yet, do the players really care? To that thief, is he ecstatic over the level of detail of a stream of water? Is he thrilled over the depth and detail of a currency model? The answer to anyone honest is no. He was passionate about how his character cheated death. That sounds to me a strong vote : narrative.

I challenge everyone who reads this to tell me what is more important? Simulation to me sounds like playing SIMS ROLLERCOASTER TYCOON. Is that really why we play? No. We play for the story, the camraderie, the thrill of the unknown around the corner (in the players eye), and the thrill of seeing the anticipation/wonder in the eyes of our players (for DMs).

So there's my stance.

I do challenge the claim that Simulation supercedes Narrative.

Alexis said...

I was with you, Mike, up until you started telling me what the thief in my world thinks. There you lost me. The thief is, in fact, an actual, real person, and has his own opinions about what is important to him.

Given that I actually know the fellow, and that he lives with my daughter as her common-law husband, and has for nearly four years, I think I am more prepared to speak for him than you are. Particularly since I have heard him express a view directly in contravention with your view. Moreover, my daughter has also expressed words exactly opposite your view, even going so far as to beg me to write down more about how the complexity of my world works, so it won't disappear from this earth when I am dead.

I don't think that the subject boils down to what is "more important." An engine in a car is unquestionably more important than the heated bucket leather seats, but that's not an argument for replacing the seats with benches. Somehow, there's room for everything you like, and everything I like, at the same time.

In addition, the question of Simulation vs. Narrative was never the point of this post. So now that you've had your say about it, I'd like it if you'd stop. There are many points that you and Arduin have both made that really, aren't part of this topic ... but I'm willing to be somewhat flexible. Still, there seems to be a huge effort on your part to save face or somehow prove that you can piss further, whereas Arduin - and myself - are expressing mostly our anger at your need to piss and piss and piss.

I'm really not interested anymore in your further thoughts about 4e or simulation or anything else not directly on topic. The topic is, to wit, "Be it resolved that WOTC is no longer relevant to D&D gaming, except for those who choose to make it relevant."

Please limit your comments to that subject.

Arduin, I would ask you at this point to stop attempting to sort Mike out. He obviously isn't interested.

Mike V. said...

You do read the blogs you write don't you ?

http://tao-dnd.blogspot.com/2011/01/ranger-rolled.html

There's your post.

"The paper manufacture of characters aside, the players' emotions rise and fall with the success or failure of these imaginary beings. We invest in them as strongly as we would any hoped-for, and never realized fantasy ... for the fantasy of the game is not found in the rules, or the type of game played, or its intrinsic nature, but in the absolute love given to the creations of our imagination."

Your words not mine.

Alexis said...

I do read my words. ALL of them. Note, please, the fantasy of the game is not found in the rules. But the mechanics are.

Seriously. Let it go.