Sunday, March 17, 2019

Learn to Fish

"You probably won't enjoy this training.  It probably won't be fun.  In fact, writers usually complain, because, they're like, 'This feels like math.  And I want to be a writer because I hate math.  When can we do the fun stuff?'  You cannot do the fun stuff until you are an expert at this."
~ Corey Mandell, Creative Integration

Apart from this being an appalling motivation to write, I furiously appreciate Mandell's perspective on this.  You want to learn how to do this.  But you feel that you want to learn how to do it in a way that doesn't try your patience or require hard work.  You think it should be fun.

You're not going to learn how to do this.

I don't care what it is: writing, gardening, brand marketing, mathematics or working as a sanitation technician.  You're going to work to fill in the gaps where you're weak, or you are never, ever, going to learn to perform this job well.

DMing gets a pass because, conveniently for 40 years, the leash-holders of the industry have taken every possible step to ensure that the people who are playing are off balance, at each other's throats, battling impossible to achieve rhetoric or have been fed heaps and heaps of books written as pure junk.  This has convinced a lot of people that no, DMing does not require work ~ and there is even a philosophical cult out there pushing the bullshit that it "shouldn't" require work and that if you're working, "you're not doing it right."


I was directed to the youtube video by the Grumpy Wizard, linking this post on a site that shall not be named.  On the post, Travis makes an argument that I've made a hundred different ways on this blog.  Break it down; figure out how it works and make the parts work better.  I greatly appreciate I'm not the only one (though of course, I knew I wasn't.  My regular readers are like me, too).

Make sure you watch this video, and think about what it says to the philosophy, "You do you."

Notice how the G.W. went outside RPGs to find his advice.  Notice how other people, dealing with the same problems ~ how to get better at something that seems fuzzy and uncertain ~ are solving those problems by teaching and demonstrating a process that others can follow.  Notice how they speak of their successes and can point to people in their field and say, "This person has vastly improved their abilities, once they were shown how."

When do you hear the Company ever chirp about that success?  When have you seen the company release some book, then take the next obvious step to say, "John here was a really crappy DM.  But now John, and thousands of others like him, are really good DMs.  If you're a crappy DM, we can teach you."

No, what the Company says is, "You do you, buy our books, best of luck.  Keep buying our books."

And all the little drones surrounding the company repeat, "You do you, buy their books, it will all work out, you'll see."

But we never see, do we?  We never see that.  We go to the cons and there are people stumbling around and asking questions, and saying they really like this book or that book, but there's never anyone teaching anything and there's no one who says, "Wow, this class or this course was amazing!  You have to take it."

A course in being a DM doesn't exist because: a) the Company can't figure out how to market it and actually accept being held accountable for the value of the content; and b) the stupider and more desperate you are for inspiration, insight, maps, scenarios, character classes and so on, the more you'll have to buy from them.

If they teach you how to do it, you won't need them.

And that's why we teach people, isn't it?  We teach the fellow how to fish so they can go out and get their own, and we can stop giving them our fish.  But if we have the monopoly on fish, and the fellow has to pay us, then it is in our interest to create all this bullshit that says, "Ordinary people can't or shouldn't or wouldn't know how to fish as well as we fish, because we're fishing specialists, just look at all this fish you want to buy."

If we learned how to fish, we'd destroy the company in just a few years.

They're not saying, you do you.  They're saying, you do us.

It starts when a significant group of people in the community takes a pledge to stop buying their fish.


JB said...

No comments. Huh.

Alexis Smolensk said...


Sterling said...

Well, I'm not buying the fish. I bought three fish in 2014 because I hadn't bought any fish in more than 10 years and I was curious if their fish had gotten better than mine. Nope. I'll keep fishing for myself.

Rosenritter said...

I'll bite: I think you're adding something here. "The company" never says "you do you" - that's all third party. Their model is entirely standardization based, sinxe it sells the best. Nor are they the first: their predecessor pushed to standardize the moment they realized how profitable it was, and crushed all of the competitors attempting to offer different ways. The company did offer to some people - the OSR crowd - through certain mouthpieces, that you had more freedom. But that's not what 90% of the customers are seeing, nor the ones who actually make the big money (those being the whales who put out for each new release). As it stands I don't need any of their trash in my tackle box, and inherited a much nicer rod; but I've seen the customers, and know that what they're looking for isn't their own gear - it's a day to day rental from the bait shop.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I can't say for sure; I'm sure I can find a number of places in the 5th Edition Players Handbook that boils down to, "Do whatever works," or, "Just go with it," which is effectively the same as saying, "You do you." The exact words don't matter. It's non-committal garbage. 5e is full of it.

I have hated the "company" since I began playing in 1979. So I am perfectly happy to shit on the whole crowd.

Every person who reads this blog and contributes to my Patreon is looking for their own gear. I don't give a flying fuck what the majority are looking for.