Sunday, June 8, 2014

One Last Excerpt

Now and then, as I am writing, I find myself needing to augment some small element in the text, which leads to a larger thought that needs explanation.  Here is one that I found myself having to detail after several hours of research.

From How to Run: an Advanced Guide to Managing Role-playing Games, part IV, 3rd draft:

"Behind what the party sees, behind the facade of the landscape, the faces of the residents, the rolling of the dice and the words I speak, there are the bare bones and sinews of the campaign’s structure. This is the true composition of the world, for the setting is not managed by drawn images and touchie-feelie wish fulfillment, but by numbers, lists, tables, programs, algorithms, files and rules. All of these – save one - act as tools or information systems that enable me to produce the semblance of chaos out of simplicity, with varying degrees of calculated randomness. The rules stand apart from these other elements, for within chaos the rules provide order."

(section removed)

"I should now return to the ‘semblance of chaos’ that I casually tossed forward. My world includes hundreds of small, simple and easy to use tables that serve to determine success at combat, skill, knowledge, interaction and survival, or which insert random elements such as whom the party meets, what the weather may be like, what details may be hidden temporarily from the players, what hazards may exist and so on. Each random roll upon these tables produces potential for connectivity with other similar rolls, that, strung together, produces unexpected permutations reflecting complexity. To enhance the value of these simple strings, I have algorithms which concatenate the little events into moments of greater complexity, which may manifest itself at any time during the sessions. Therefore, even though the actual tables may be simple, and though the moment-by-moment rolls upon those tables during the game can be performed in a linear fashion, one after another, the overall effect within the campaign is to produce synthesis, in which larger events – coupled with here and now interpretation of the data, as described in the section on presentation – develop as aggregates for the campaign as a whole. With enough die rolls, upon enough tables, a complex system emerges, from both chaos (unexpected die rolls) and detectable patterns. This is in fact called ‘emergent behaviour,’ and is believed to be the manner in which non-intelligent atoms combine to form complex systems that are able to think.

"To produce synthesis of this kind requires a vast number of interactions – but die rolls upon die rolls do produce such numbers. While many of the results will be irrelevant, or negligible in relation to the whole picture, or certain results may produce null effects, there is a point at which a critical mass is reached, where emergence occurs. I believe that role-playing compels our attention because we are witnesses to this process of emergence – a process that is happening all the time during the actual game. That is utterly fascinating to us. We cannot help but look."

5 comments:

Tom said...

Just sat down and finished How to Play a Character which I received the other day. I found myself not wanting to put it down and when It ended, I was wanting for more. There was some very insightful stuff in there ( but I wont go into the particulars). I was surprised to read material from you that expressed a different "tone" from what I am used to reading in your blogs ( which I follow regularly).

I eagerly look forward to your next book

Alexis Smolensk said...

Thank you Tom.

Please do me the favour of either mentioning the book on your blog, or writing a review on the Lulu page offering the book.

Tom said...

Will do. Ill also post it onto my facebook D&D group site as Its bound to get a lot more notice there. I often post articles from your blog onto my group site that I find of interest in general.

Particularly when it is of a topic that is in discussion at the time (the last one being the topic about Choices and how the game has evolved to allow for too many players choices and in the end players feel that either they are paralyzed by the overwhelming options and fear they might make the wrong one, fear after running the character a while they dont like the choices they made, or that they spend ALL their damn time woring about all the choice options available to them and how to best build their character level tree from 1st -20th level with these choices. Instead of just playing the damn game). Yes I know you touched upon this in How to Play a Character, and I hope for more on this topic.

Tom said...

Posted to both my blog and my Facebook group page. Good luck with the book and looking forward to the next one.

Tom

Alexis Smolensk said...

Scott. If you're wondering where your comments went, I've removed them for the following reasons:

1) One was not on topic.
2) One was clearly self-aggrandizing.
3) One was completely irrelevant to the topic.

Don't take it personally. If you cannot be part of the conversation, you're still welcome to read.