Friday, April 5, 2013

405 - Method Not Allowed

I know, I know, these crunchy number posts are far too gritty to be really liked.  Better the grand conceptualizing posts, that cause the reader to look at D&D a whole new way.  Wait, you'd rather have the academic posts, where I wax long and deep about the development of electricity in the western world.  That is, if I'm not writing something ranty or funny or more roleplaying based.  And there's never enough sex.

Sigh.  I get this all the time.

I think enough people know me well enough now to suspect that I could, if I wished, sit down and write any of the above on a whim.  The ranting stuff is certainly easy enough ... I just have to go read whatever Mike Mearls has written last and off I go (you notice the higher the tier, the less he has to say about it?).  Funny is a bit harder ... like the demon who preferred to possess dwarves in order to be more well-rounded.  Yes, I can do better than that, but it takes more time by a geometric progression to be funny, and right now I'd rather talk about not talking about what people would prefer I had said yesterday when speaking - and there is always someone who says I should say something else.

Granted, I'm holding back on a lot of the conceptual stuff because I'm saving it for the book.  I don't want right now to talk about DMing, or how to manage your players (or indeed if you should), or what is the purpose of a setting or why in hell I love the game.  I have to save new viewpoints for awhile ... and yes, there are NEW viewpoints.  There are always new viewpoints.

They sort of come at me from a lot of different angles, and the reason that's relevant is because I'm not sitting down thinking, most of the time, what this blog needs.  I'm too busy trying to keep up with answering all the random bytes of information shooting at me from every direction.  I overhear a conversation, or some bit of dialogue from a movie, or someone asks a question and bang, my fertile little brain immediately starts looking at how to twist and turn that into a blog post.  And this is happening constantly.

Yesterday, I listened to Pink's most recent album, The Truth About Love ... and the second time through it (not the first), this lyric hit me:  "Let me be lighter, tired of being a fighter." 

Now, if you know Pink, you know what that's about ... but I'm a fighter too, I've been one for ages.  And when I heard that, I got a little smile.  See, what's funny is that I haven't been tired of it since - I just have no idea.

Nobody likes a fighter, until you happen to have one on your side.  I have never been anywhere except on my side, so when someone happens to agree with me it is entirely by chance.  This blog collects, regularly, a set of people who last for a few months, who get to like me - who are then stunned to find me screaming about something they hold near and dear.  They hadn't quite realized I wasn't like them.  They just happened to be on my side for awhile.

Of course, the other side always hates you.  Particularly when you won't stop when they want to.

When you're young, this fighting program is exhausting.  You're not sure you're in the right camp (particularly if you can't even find a camp) and holy shit is there a lot of stuff to fight about.  I mean, practically everything.  So if you have the fighting gene, you pretty much have to start making decisions in your early teens, about how much is being liked important to you, what do you care enough to fight over, blah blah blah.  We don't have to go into all that.  You pick your battles.  You recognize your limitations.  And still, year after year, you always find yourself thinking, "I just can't do this shit any more."  The years grind you down and stage by stage, you grow lighter.  You let things slide.  People want to give higher prison sentences for abusing dogs than for raping women?  Fine, fine.  Gun store owners can go for years without an audit?  Fine, fine.  Two young business execs next to you on the train, hunched over their ipad, laugh about fucking a 'bitch' while the 30-something woman behind them visually shrinks?  Fine.  Just fine.  The world is a messed up place.

You let it go because you can't change it.  That's the blissful realization of time.  You don't crack together the heads of the two guys on the train (they'd have never seen it coming) because you realize it isn't going to change the world, it's only going to seriously change your life.  You know that anything less than cracking skulls is pouring water on a tin roof and expecting something to grow.  So you don't do anything.  You know the shrinking woman is going to get tougher.  You know the two guys are going to slide into a life of slow and gentle misery.  Karma will settle all accounts.  Such is the perspective of age.

The gentle reader may want this blog to follow a certain pattern, to produce more posts of the kind that particular reader likes, but I can't promise that.  I have a lot yet to say about hex generation - I mean, really a lot.  I've spent many, many years looking at blank, empty spaces on maps, aching to find some means to fill them.  I've read lots and lots about the sad failures of wilderness crawls, about the inability to grasp any sense of cohesion in cities or macro-structure for the sandbox game.  I'm definitely onto something; I'm immensely pleased with the results.  I'm thrilled to have a generation scheme that doesn't fit into a two dimensional, two-columned table.  I know I'm really way out there, on the vanguard, and that I'm designing something that's more suitable to a video game than to the reader's gaming table.  No, this just isn't something you can generate easily during play.  No, its not something you can comfortably scratch out on paper.  To use it, you'd need to learn how to work a computer, and more than that, some sort of design program.  They've only been about fifteen, twenty years, and you've never considered what they would add to your game - or you've tried, and failed, and that's it for you.

I can't let the decisions of other people define how I write or what I write about, for a simple reason.  I'm bored with what people want.  People want to live in a world where a dog never gets hurt.  People want guns.  People want to fuck bitches and people want to live in a world where no one ever wants to do that, or call it that.  People want, want, want ... and in the long, long run, it's much easier to fight than to try to give them what they want.  It isn't the fighting that grinds you down in the end.  It's the trying to figure out what other people want.  It's worrying about it, it's listening to it or thinking that if you don't meet the criteria, you won't survive, you won't be paid, you won't have a job and you won't be loved.   It's exhausting.

I love that many of you like this blog.  I greatly appreciate that many of you take the time to throw in a bit of praise, a bit of encouragement, even as backhanded as it often is.  Backhanded praise is the best kind.  It's promises that you don't want what I want.  It promises that you're still measuring your life by what you believe and not by what anyone else does.  It promises that there's hope for you.

What I really love to hear, just the same, isn't what the gentle reader likes about me, or what the gentle reader dislikes.  What I want to hear - what really ratchets up my dopamine - is hearing what I've said that's wrong.  When I hear little, or nothing ... its an odd little place.  It says on the one hand, I've said too many things that were right, so good on me; and it says, I'm way the hell and gone out there, and no one's getting enough to deconstruct it.  The second makes me very sad.  I always hope its the first.

Well, it's a null program to tell me what to write, or even to hope I write something.  Thus the title of this post.  I expect this blog to wash over you.  I expect it to make you feel uncomfortable.  I expect that you'll demand explanations and address practical issues.  But I'm not looking for permission to write this blog.  I'm not looking for guidance.  The request line allows only for valid resources.


Carl Nash said...

This seems like a very honest post.

I used to be in the fighting program. It came very naturally to me. I loved knowing things, and I loved proving to other people that I knew more than them, or that they were wrong about something.

The standing joke in my family was that you couldn't tell me anything without me responding that I already knew that. When prodded I usually already did know that, measuring my hauls from the library each week proudly in pounds (my backpack weighed 32 lbs this week!) and devouring it all before the next visit.

It was the summer before 7th grade when I decided I didn't want to prove people wrong anymore. It was too easy... but the real problem was, grinding someone's nose in their own failure wasn't a satisfying objective when it came to interpersonal communication for me anymore.

Ever since, I have been actively working on curbing the impulse to tell someone they are wrong, or that I am better at whatever they are doing than they are. It's not always easy, and of course there are times when it would be idiotic NOT to tell someone they are wrong.

Sometimes I find myself taking the fighter route in a reverie, reliving a conversation, letting some idiot that I encountered recently know exactly how wrong they are. I think I could still dual-class as fighter if I wanted to - I have the stats :)

Hmmm. Every time I start to write a comment on one of your posts I end up writing much more than I mean to. You seem to provoke that in me. Sorry

Keith S said...

The hex-population series of posts has been amazing. Clearly, it will take a while, and some experimentation, to explore the system. I'm looking forward to spending some time with it this weekend.

In response to this post, I don't see much to be gained telling you what you've said that's wrong. When you start from "I've said too many things that were right, so good on me" and go to "I'm way the hell and gone out there, and no one's getting enough to deconstruct it", you assume you're right in both cases. Which doesn't leave room for dialog.

PatrickW said...


Bryan D said...

I like your mapping stuff. I like some of your crunchy stuff. When I have time to read them, I like your theory stuff.

I disagree with you on many things, and don't presume that you think as I do, but I occasionally enjoy considering how you see things.

So... keep it up, I guess?