Thursday, May 14, 2015

Measuring Marigolds


I used to believe in things like this - pithy sayings that encapsulated an idea, that were meant to motivate or enlighten somehow, sending the individual off (it was hoped) on a vision quest.  As the years pass, however, I grow progressively more jaded, more certain that change only results from pain and unhappiness . . . and that when it does result, it is nearly always in a bad direction.

Oh, I suppose that someone hard against it, beating their head against their life and realizing they've been on the wrong track for a decade, might see something like the above and grasp, clearly and for the first time, where their errors lie.  The reader will undoubtedly have a story or two about when this has happened to them - in a given place or time, seeing words written on a wall, shaking them to their core and starting their lives anew.  Or something like that.  I doubt very much, however, that the reader has, right now, read the above on this blog and had that experience.  Most of you will have read the above and recognized, "Oh yes, that's true."  You may have gotten a small dopamine hit from the recognition.  But I would wager it is something the reader already knew.  I would wager that this was not new information.

How much time do we spend reading the same information over and over, reminding us of those things that have become obvious in the extreme?  How often have you sat at the table with Mom and Dad, talking over something that's happened, only to have one of them dig into their big bag of cliches in order to fill the next ten seconds air with something everyone at the table knows?  Oh, and not in a general way, either.  I am writing of a way where that thing is so known that repeating it actually desecrates anything worthy that might have been said.

Let's face it - there are a whole lot of us that have nothing to say except that blood is thicker than water when its learned that Uncle Gord has emptied Aunt Urethra's bank account - again - in order to lose it all at the casino.  There must be some reason we keep inviting Uncle Gord back to Christmas dinner, rather than reflecting or considering that maybe Uncle Gord may not be a positive influence in our lives.  Nope, not going there.  Blood is thicker than water.

The same can be said - dragging this blog back to a D&D relevant place - for yet another discussion about what charisma or wisdom is or what it stands for.  I'm sorry for writing that piece the other day.  I meant to provide some insight on describing charisma for game purposes, but somehow it degraded - again - into the charisma is blank discussion.

Let me clarify about that.  Charisma is a game mechanic.  Wisdom is also a game mechanic.  The actuality of each is defined by how it modifies die rolls occurring during functional game play.  There is some value in conveying each in order to encourage a certain behavioral responsiveness from the player within the game structure - however, as has been demonstrated by 40 years of participation, players plainly do not need more clarification in this regard.  More clarification, here, would only be telling us something we already intuitively understand.  More clarification would be pithy, impractical and ultimately repetitive, given that decades of this sort of chatter has failed to produce any notable result.

We get it.  So let's drop it.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, I know we're not going to drop it.  Suggesting that we do so was pithy.  I understand that.

Culturally, we have a lot invested in measuring marigolds.  There is a certain fetishistic satisfaction in digging out some small, irrelevant concern and writing a few hundred words about it - the meaning of charisma, giving our personal, profound and lengthy opinion about characters already discussed to death, the benefits of killing in a game versus not killing, blah blah blah.  It fills empty screen, it jogs the readers mind and reminds them of that old debate, that old character, that old bugaboo about experience giving, all accomplishing nothing but describing the length and breadth of petals that will be gone and forgotten less than a season away.  We turn to the internet to learn something about the game and we get dribs and drabs hither and yonder, banked, buttressed and shored by things we've read before, that we've read a hundred times, that we've read so often it is hard not to let our eyes roll from their sockets.

Write, repeat, read, repeat, draw, repeat, paste picture, repeat, repeat, repeat.

I am at my best when I am working, then describing what I have worked upon.  I am at my worst when I am telling the reader what the reader already knows.  The reader is better not reading this, but turning aside to go work.



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