Comments on TWH #176


Mark Swanson

My sympathies regarding your balky Mac and the *emergency* zine!

Retirement. Hmmm. Well, in most of the campaigns I've been in that both played and ended well, I didn't really have any desire to continue the story. There was some vague feeling that the PCs continued their lives, and there were further adventures, but I was mostly satisfied with what happened.

Unsatisfying campaigns are a different story entirely. I guess you could say I got into GMing because I was dissatisfied with the endings of some campaigns. You see, for a short period of time, I had access to only two GMs. One of them had a bad habit of starting and ending campaigns almost as fast as we could think up PCs. The other game had a player in it with whom I clashed. I don't really know why -- we get along fine in everyday life. But in games, we were constantly at loggerheads. Since the GM wasn't sure how to handle this problem and no-one was having fun, we stopped the game. This meant I was left with a neat PC and that nasty unfinished feeling. Since my sweetie (sorry, "SO" sounds so bar-coded generic!) was in those games, I'd run basically a solo game for just the two of us. It was in the same backgrounds, and it was mostly to give a feeling of completeness to the unfinished PCs. It was fun. Eventually, I tried running for more than one. Now I'm GMing. *sigh* :-)

Glenn Blacow

Re the last two covers -- Thanks! I love compliments! Thanks also for the sympathies on my zine not appearing.

As far as the use of the term "storytelling", remember I am using the way it is used here in the Bay Area. I quote from Peaceable Demeanor #2:

"I have put in quotation marks some of the phrases that reappear frequently in the vocabulary of the person(s) espousing the particular style of play under discussion. These phrases turn up constantly when someone is trying to proselytize for their favorite style of gaming, and seem to be important if one counts the frequency of their use. Perhaps they will at least clarify my explanations."

I found your article on the Four-Way Path much after I first heard "storytelling" used as a descriptive term concerning a type of GMing. A friend had a copy which he loaned me. I rather enjoyed it, as it gave me ideas for both different ways to GM, and another zine.

As far as playing your PC wrong, I guess I phrased things poorly. The PC, to me, is what is in the player's head. The character sheet is what the GM uses to try to understand what is in the player's head. I agree, "lying" on the sheet about your character is wrong. However, as GM, you can ask the player to buy off any disadvantages they refuse to play. If they still refuse, sure, tell them to take a hike. But the character sheet isn't the "be all and end all" concerning the character. To quote an exasperated friend of mine holding a character sheet: "See the black stuff? [the writing -- comment from me] That's the rules. See the white stuff? That's the character!"

I heartily concur with your assessment of social and nonsocial (?) gamers. I'm currently in a game with that problem. The social gamers show one other characteristic which you may not have had to suffer with- er, which you didn't mention. ;) They think of the PCs as a fluid thing, following the flow of the game. As an example, the GM said a particular thing (the creation of A.I.s) was evil, and contributed to the fall of civilization as we know it. All the PCs decided they hated A.I.s. Then the GM dropped an AI in our laps. Two of the PCs have reacted with fear and loathing. The other two think this is a neat moneymaker. The "fluid PC" players' comments were that the GM wouldn't have put the thing in the game if we weren't supposed to like it. *sigh* This should be interesting, using a Chinese definition of the term.

Re your comment to Maranci -- there are people that say the media problems TSR has are the same problems that catapulted it to national attention lo, these many years ago. A friend of mine has written a "popular amongst gamers" or "well known in the industry" game (does this make sense? :-). His comments concerning TSR's media problems ran along the lines of an envious desire to get the media angry at his game, since (like TSR) sales would then go through the roof.

Look at what happened to Elvis' popularity when the religious fanatics decided he was morally bankrupt. Remember, this is the guy who believed J. Edgar Hoover was "the greatest living American"! I wonder if it unconditionally follows that being accused publicly and nationally of moral bankruptcy makes you whine forever after about your ethical uprightness? :-)

Dana Derryberry

"The Hunt for Aqua October"!? Glerpf!

Interesting idea on time jumping a Vampire game -- was that what you meant to say?

In the interests of scientific accuracy, long-windedness, political correctness, and any other "ness"'s you can think of, you should realize that women also miss too-subtle flirtations. There is nothing so embarrassing as commenting to a friend that you really liked a particular person at a party and would like to know them better, only to have your friend ask why then didn't you respond to his flirtation more -- he liked you too! "Flirtation? *gulp* He was flirting with me? Uhh... I didn't notice?" (deep, uncontrollable, very-funny-to-everyone-else blush!).

"...a good hickey?" Again, glerpf! I think I've been in the medical profession too long! All I could think of when I read that was a dissertation I read some time ago on the nature of bruising, blood vessel damage, and how long that kind of damage takes to heal! :-)

David Dunham

Beaming smile! Thanks for the cover compliments! Her face was kept "mysteriously" covered because she was pathologically shy. Being over six foot tall makes it hard to hide, but she started the game as a five-two alley brat. Old habits die hard.

What's time-slicing and interrupt processing? Inquiring minds want to know! Agreement on your comment on incorrect PC play.

Are you referring to Cyberpunk #1 or #2? I got to help playtest some of #1, and we rapidly realized that reflex was the "GOD" characteristic; that is, with enough reflex you were untouchable. I had the amusing (?) experience of playing a solo with 12 reflex in a stairwell with a squad of well trained, well armed guards trying to kill her. She never drew her weapon. All the guard deaths came from their autofire shooting each other, and the grenades they kept throwing around. At the end of the battle, she walked out of the stairwell, leaving a trail of bloody footprints. She was not only the only survivor, but also uninjured. When asked in horror how anyone could have survived such carnage, she calmly replied, "I dodged." Which was nothing less than the truth, mechanically speaking.

Interesting point about conservation of complexity. My initial thought is to agree; I'll have to think about it.

I vehemently agree with your comments on talking to the GM concerning character reasoning. I've had several GMs think what I had my character do was wrong for the GMs' perception of the character's motivations. Usually, if the GM is willing to talk to me, I can successfully explain the character's reasoning, and help the GM understand the character better. This is one of the reasons I don't believe the GM can accurately say you are playing your character wrong. Playing the character sheet wrong, yes. The PC itself, no.

Re your comment to Dana Erlandsen -- according to what I see in the store, the majority of gamers are adolescent and older males. One thing I'm positive of: they sure aren't adolescent females!

Dana Erlandsen

Thanks for the cover comments! Also for the sympathies on the omitted zine. Interesting zine on LRP -- have you ever been a part of the SCA? What do you think of the SCA, if anything? When I was a member, we were a beginning chapter, and were there to have fun, not to wear "intimidating costumes". In fact my first outfit for the SCA was based on a sketch of the Valkyrior in the TSR Gods and Demigods book, a (then) highly recommended source material! We even had one event where we basically ran a LRP game. It was a blast! On the other hand, I have heard about parts of the SCA that are real costume fascists.

Douglas Jorenby

What do the bits in brackets under your headings mean? Am I missing something obvious?

Gasp! Full frontal nudity for us prurient females! What is becoming of this APA's morals!?

One of my roommates works for SSI, so I get to see a fair number of computer RPGs. I find I disagree with the label, though. To me a role-playing game is one where there are different possibilities in the roles. If I meet an NPC I can be friendly, aggressive, rude, or whatever, depending on how the GM is running the NPC. Also, I have other PCs to play off of. We can have entire games that are just the PCs interacting, if we wish. You could label it "human interest stuff". To me, the ability to do that is role playing.

In a computer game, I can't respond to human body language, and I sure haven't figured out computer body language yet. To me that isn't "role" playing, although it arguably is "roll" playing. I love the multiple humans interaction, and the computer just can't give me that. There are very few games I know of where one of the NPCs is having a bad day and consequently snaps at you, when only yesterday (game time) he was pleasant and co-operative. I can't deny, however, that my roommates seem to enjoy the games immensely. Diff'rent strokes.

What exactly is an "S&P" Code? Sex and Perversion ("live up to our standards of perversion or else")? Seagulls and Penguins? Sororities and Paternities?! ;-)

On a more serious note, WRT your comments on seeing real war: when I was at the University of Florida, I saw a film which I think was titled Hearts and Minds. It's a film with uncut Viet Nam war footage. I admit, I'm prejudiced -- I had a very protected childhood (violence-wise), had never seen or imagined much of the behavior shown in the footage, and was very young and naive regarding human behavior. I completely broke down after the movie. However, I clearly remember one scene where a bound prisoner is shot in the head and killed. The camera held steady and filmed every last dying twitch. I've never been so thoroughly shocked, and repulsed, in my life. It's strange, but twelve years after seeing the film, I still get tense thinking about that bit of footage.

Anyway, the point I'm getting to is that I believe violence is as deadening as an anesthetic -- the more of it you see, the more it doesn't bother you. I distinctly remember being the only person in the entire audience to vocally react to the shooting. I'm not sure I would anymore.

George Phillies

I haven't commented much on your fiction. I do enjoy reading it, somewhat to my pleased surprise, since I usually don't enjoy zine fiction. I have some questions, though. Why is Pickering insane? It seems almost a cop-out to me. You know, like the player who says their PC is chaotic neutral, so they can get away with any behavior they feel like. Pickering seems so well balanced; friendly even (hmm, must be a psychopathic killer -- they look just like the rest of us!). Why does he have to be insane?

Also, why is Eclipse so determined to make her life as difficult as possible? She's had several situations arise where telling people what was happening or had happened would have made them at the very least more receptive to her problems. She seems fairly normal for a twelve year old budding goddess (I think!?). She must have a good reason for acting this way. What is it?

Other than that, keep on writing! I want to know what happens next.

Peter Maranci

Thanks for reviewing The Primal Order -- I like it when good products get support. Check out the next product: The Primal Order: Pawns. It also is very nice.

I'm also enjoying Nereyon. My sympathies on the player of Vlad. I hope he left before he disrupted the game too much.

What's a Siggraph?

Re comment to Doug Jorenby on Pallas Podium -- I've responded to the questionnaire and received an issue, but I don't quite trust myself to write a zine yet. You've very nicely illuminated some of the reasons I'm loath to start writing yet.

One of my friends, knowing I am something of a humanist (not a feminist, sorry) gave me a book for Christmas concerning some of the leading feminists in the field of pagan spirituality. I read about half way through, then had to put it down. I could intellectually understand that the patriarchal culture they had been raised in had emotionally scarred them in terribly damaging ways. This did not in any way excuse for me the universal hatred they seemed to have for all things male.

One wrote with pride of sneaking through a female-participant only ceremony for a baby, while the father was ignorantly present in the room. She was very pleased that the father not only didn't know something was going on, but didn't get to participate in the ceremony at all. To me this is a perverse way of "getting back at" individuals that have never harmed you. How could she espouse this behavior? It's a good bet this was the same secrecy she had been forced to practice while she was "just a put-down woman." If she has advanced so far spiritually, why does she advocate lies and secrets?

My final thought was pity for these women, and fear for the movement they are trying to build. I worry about any movement where the movers and shakers are so obviously bitter and hateful towards half the population, most of which have never met them before! I don't think there can be a healthy growth of that kind of spirituality until healthier people are leading the group.

Thanks for the cover comments!

Regarding V for Vendetta: I agree with your opinions. However, you didn't mention one thing which you may not be aware of, and adds tremendously to the story (at least it did for me!). The "grinning theatrical mask" was based on Guy Fawkes (sp?). If I remember correctly (English History was many years ago!), Guy Fawkes was a cavalier trying to overthrow Cromwell's Puritanical regime. He planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament, but was caught, tried for treason, and killed. Guy Fawkes' Day is still celebrated in England. Children make up a scarecrow-like dummy of poor Guy, put a mask on him, and go around with the dummy in a wheel barrow asking for money so they can buy fireworks, kind of like our "trick or treat." That night they make a huge pile of flammable material, the bigger the better, put the dummy on it, and watch it burn, while setting off the fireworks. I don't know if Guy was actually burned at the stake, although it wouldn't surprise me. The date "V" succeeded in blowing up the Houses of Parliament was the anniversary of Guy Fawkes Day. It was a cool bit.

I enjoyed your Newtling life cycles.

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    Last Updated: Mon Aug 4 1997