Sunday, November 23, 2014

The One True Tao

How odd that there are people still who seem to believe that I am preaching the 'one true way.' Perhaps it is the title of the blog - the apparent insistence that I know the path the reader must tread, that I am demanding that the reader tread it and that if the reader refuses, the reader is an idiot or a fool.

I do not a preach a religion.  I propose an argument.

Let us suppose that you wish to be a DM.  There are a number of reasons why you may find yourself in that way of thinking - the act of creating a world appeals to you, you want to act the part of conductor for a change, you feel you have things to say or that you have a vision you wish to share, you simply like the idea of being able to manifest your design, etcetera.

These are worthy ideals.  Not because I say so, or because I believe them, but because the participants themselves describe their motivations in these words over and over.  We have an established codec for reasons why people want to DM - and whether or not I choose to make a list of them, I did not invent the codec.  Your reasons for DMing and mine are both part of that.  Both have an equal value.

My part is not in attempting you to believe you should DM for other reasons - but to propose an argument that states that there are other reasons, and that discovering those reasons can expand your self-awareness.

Here, for example, are the reasons I DM.  Here are my motivations.  Here are the ideals I personally seek to achieve.  Here are the effects I've recognized these motivations have had upon my players.  This is the first part of my argument.

Conversely, the second part of my argument continues:  here are reasons I have seen others express for why they are DM.  Here are the motivations they have related.  Here are the ideals they seek to achieve.  Here are the effects that I've seen, or that I believe will result, once these ideals are impressed upon the players.

This is what I write about when I argue.  This is all that any argument consists of.

What I have seen is a measure of my experience in playing.  My experience derives in part from my own campaign, campaigns I have participated in, campaigns described to me by others, campaigns I have seen described over these 35 years and so on.  As I have played and read all this time, I have considered, evaluated, tested and discarded many ideas and efforts to produce a game that is not now my own.  The game I run today is not the game I ran ten years ago.  Why?  Because I have rid myself of the parts of my game that were not working.

I expect that every DM does likewise.  Some consistently, some inconsistently, some willingly, some from having to concede to players who threaten to storm out.

Upon what, I ask, will the reader, as DM, base their further evaluation of their world?  Experience.  Their own, that of their friends, that of people they read on the internet.

I am on the internet.  I expect that some DMs will read what I have to write.

Should I write material and opinion that runs counter to my own experience?  I have no reason to do so.  Should I cater to the present culture in some way that appeases or pays lip service to what others believe or do, simply to be considered tolerant and therefore more likeable?  I do not see this serving anyone, except those who prefer satisfaction to change.

The 'way' is a path.  We move upon the path.  Forward, back, slowly, painfully, losing our way and returning to our course, but it is action we seek, not commendation.  It is a destination we seek.  I am not interested in promoting satisfaction in the world you have - but in promoting tools and methods for you to employ to produce the world you do not have yet.

Do I express the one true way?  Far from it.  My path is not your path, it can never be your path, for my world is my world and yours is yours.

Will it seem, however, that in building a world of complexity, in promoting that world, in flashing it before the noses of others and claiming that it is worthy to work hard, that I am spitting upon the worlds of others who will not work as hard as me to produce their worlds?  Of course.  The harvest of commitment and achievement is to call attention to friviolity and inadequacy.  It is to say, "I have done this.  What have you done?"  And to receive in reply anger, bitterness, disrespect and excuses.

"Just because I haven't chosen to 'waste' my life making a world as stupid as yours . . ." goes the counter argument.

Should I have made less world?  Should I have kept my world hidden under a bushel? Should I not have talked about the things I have learned these years?  Should I have never started a blog?

I think better that I should say, Ignore Me.  Do as you will.  But recognize that your condemnation and your brackishness does not derive from what I have done or from what I believe, but from what you have done.

Those who will do, who are happy to do, will take encouragement in knowing there is a path to tread.  They will concern themselves less with who leads them upon the path and more with the path itself, grateful in their knowledge that there IS a path.

One that we are walking upon together, arguing, challenging one another, pointing out details along the route, enjoying the movement of our limbs and the clear, crisp pleasure of our active minds.  We are engrossed in the way onward.

1 comment:

Ray Doraisamy said...

I'm an addicted lurker who admits to wondering if you were indeed advocating a 'one true way'. I appreciate this post for clarifying that.

As a DM, I have found your economic system and Civilization series indispensable.

While I have taken the other aspects of your world building as a logical extension of the same goal that led to both those results, it was confusing at times to see it's application elsewhere.

This post explains that it's okay to have methods that suit your own style and preferences, even if we seek the same things from D&D as you do.

The confusion probably comes from DMs unaware of what they truly want from a game, and assuming that you're trying to give them the answer,