The title for this post, and the image, is from a marvelously funny article on Cracked by Winston Roundtree, 5 Reasons Your Online Dating Profile Isn't Working. Except for David Wong, who is brilliant, and the occasional bright spot, Cracked has been slipping lately, but I still read it. I'm glad I did today.
That's because, apart from the context Roundtree addresses, that is a pretty goddamn good representation of the difference between a railroad and a sandbox. For all I've written about it, I concede I've not written anything as brilliant as "... you might forget that reality is all improv."
Nor the very clear representation of those things on the left which fall under the heading,
THINGS YOU'RE ENTITLED TO
I love it when my brain cells pop the way nitrogen deposits do when someone massages my back.
Several people on this blog and elsewhere have been railing (hah hah) about the bloodymindedness of people who hate the expectation of having to work really hard in order to produce a world that is flexible enough - free enough - to allow the players to do whatever they want, for as long as they want, without the expectations of the DM fucking them over with a lot of pregenerated, pre-expectant rigid material.
Sorry, dear reader, if you have been one of those taking this tack ... we've been terribly, upsettingly misguided. The game forces crying foul in the community are not those who hate work; they are not those who cling to the old way of playing the game because they haven't learned to play it some other way. Nyet!
I'm ready to admit my error in this. It turns out, those DMs are tasking the players along the tracks of Destiny, with the players as paying riders, because all the shit the players feel they're entitled to demands, DEMANDS I say, that the game be rigged to get it for them.
All you need do is replace "anthropomorphized collection of ideal attributes" with "quasi-materialistic icons proving potency." Yep, that's the game, kiddies. If you don't pour sugar all over the motherfuckers and get their red, yellow and green lights going, the whole damn bubble's gonna burst and leave those players flat and impotent in Reality-fucking-Central, where success for them is going to depend on the same crappy skillz that are already failing them in life.
Shit, that's what fantasy is, ain't it? Having all that handed to you on a silver-freakin' platter, where nothing is asked of you except to push your broken-down handcart along tracks built expressly for you and your funny-instead-of-attractive best friends.
I have to have been worse than the devil to all you poor damned souls aching for your dream shit and your dream glory, slapping you in the face with the prospect that the game of D&D should be about you never getting laid ... er, em, figuring out how to tell the difference between your dick and your sword. Jesus. I'm sorry. I hadn't realized. See, I've been looking at this whole gaming thing from the point of view of someone who isn't a loser, who isn't afraid of improv, who's arcing fairly comfortably through life, who just happens to see the game as arcing through a different life in the 17th century. I swear to God, it just never occurred to me that actually getting off the fucking bed and getting to the game was all the self-motivation you had.
My apologies. My deepest, deepest apologies. Sincerely, no sarcasm. I just hadn't realized, not until Roundtree's article, how desperately your type of player depends on that wee bit of escapism.
I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. I didn't know.