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Saturday 7 February 2015

Pundit-Notes From The Great Forge Reunion Battle of 2015: Addendum 3: GMing as a Magical Art

Pundit-Notes From the Great Forge Reunion Battle of 2015

Wherein Ron Edwards Complained That People Still Remembered "Brain Damage", and Were Still mad at him for it;
and Wherein Ron Edwards Tried to Take Credit for the OSR

Addendum the Last:
How Effective World Creation Really Creates a Virtual World

Yes, To Me, GMing is a Magical Art.

Yes, it's true, that the GM can't possibly map everything out or prepare for every eventuality.  But that's not an argument against the idea of the setting being a virtual world; contrary to the efforts of some, it does not make Immersion a myth or an illusion.  Nor is does it mean that the players are somehow moronically required to 'help out' with filling in the world... because the world is already there. 

Instead, what a GOOD GM does is that he Immerses too, in his world. He is infused with a sense of what his world is like. He becomes one with the world.  So when the player asks "is there a magic shop there?"  a good GM isn't just "guessing" or "making something up", he's going INTO that Virtual Reality and checking for the answer that ALREADY EXISTS, beyond him.

(see this? Pretty much a load of narcissistic New Age Bullshit in the real world, but pretty much exactly right in terms of GMing advice)

So yes, it is much less Immersive for a player to get to decide if the magic shop is there, because it means you're creating a fake world, one that has no Archetypal existence.  And the players (and GM) will subconsciously know that, they'll know that its all just a facade.

As a GM, you should be creating a world that exists, that is real, outside of your active consciousness.  You are the architect-god who set its framework, and then it operates at that level of your consciousness where you don't NEED to know every detail about it all the time, you can just tap-into it when necessary to get the answers about what should be going on in any given place or time of that world.

You are, in a certain sense, creating a "magical child" or a "thought-form" in the shape of a little universe. And whether you're any good at doing that or not marks the difference between game worlds that have a life of their own and those that just fall flat (and later make whiny assholes claim that there's 'no such thing as immersion').


Currently Smoking: Neerup Poker + Brebbia No. 7


  1. "So when the player asks "is there a magic shop there?" a good GM isn't just "guessing" or "making something up", he's going INTO that Virtual Reality and checking for the answer that ALREADY EXISTS, beyond him."

    In my game settings Einstein is wrong: God does play dice with the world.

    1. To me rolling dice to figure out if there is a magic shop there is very different from "you can just tap-into it when necessary to get the answers about what should be going on in any given place or time of that world." The latter sounds like you see the game world as some neo-Platonist form in some mental space that you can gaze into to see the pre-existant truth of the game world.

      Actually for me, magic shop is a bad example, as I don't need to roll dice for that. The answer in every game world I've ever run in over 40 years is "no" which doesn't require much of a reach. A stable that has horses to rent is probably a better example.

      When I GM either
      - the answer is known since I already created it;
      - the answer is known if it is a simple deduction from already established facts;
      - the answer is not known in which case I roll the dice.

      A lot of things fall into the roll the dice category.

  2. I couldn't agree more, Pundit! The Escapist had a great article on a related topic years ago.

    "J.R.R. Tolkien saw himself as a historian documenting a world, bringing to light something which was real. When Tolkien was once asked a question about Middle-Earth to which he had no answer, he wrote in his diary: "Must find out."

    "Must find out." Think about that.

    Obviously, as the creator of Middle-Earth and the author of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien was entitled to give any answer he would like to any question about the setting. But he didn't: He waited to learn the right answer. Tolkien understood that given the totality of his creation, there almost certainly was a right answer, a logical answer that made sense within his canon, his mythology, his history, and his themes. He respected his creation enough to be true to it, to work at discovering what that right answer was."

    1. Good article! I didn't know that about Tolkien, though I should have guessed it.

  3. Wow all your text is large and bold. Did the post came out wrong, or were you making sure everyone got it?

    1. No, there was something weird with the font, that I tried my best to fix. Obviously didn't fix it quite right.

  4. Is Fate a Storygame? Fits just about every one of your criteria for one. Feel free to ignore me and call me a baiter.

    1. Well, you're kind of being a baiter, given that this blog entry was neither talking about FATE nor was it describing any criteria about storygames.
      What "criteria" of mine are you talking about? And in which way does FATE fit into them?
      Go ahead and answer that if you're not a baiter.

    2. Well this whole thing started about Forge Games. I didn't know wether to post on earlier Pages or the newest relevant one. I thought it was relevant because you posted this page as a response to the design ethic of Forge games. If not so, then I apologize.

      And your criteria was influencing the game world not through character actions but narrative control, and taking away power from the GM. I was also very confused about what exact criteria there was for storygame, and you assumed I was a troll because of it.

      A: In fate the Players work together with the GM to make the world and the setting. Its not nearly as aggressive in grabbing power from the GM or demoting him as in for example Other Worlds (I know you made that review years ago, Im just going by what I understand of you). In a sense the players don't know as much as they want to not know. It does say that the GM is the final Arbiter in play, but with all the rules being designed to make a story, Im not sure how that matters.

      B: It stresses its a game about Narrative (Story in any other term). It stresses how its set up to bring apon a story, and create story arcs. It stresses that very muchso. Many of the mechanics feel like they are designed to create a story then a RPG.

      C: You add story details with your mechanics. Its right in there front and center. Its what fate points do. You can make another characters written down flaws take into effect, or make yourself not fail a roll at the exchange of having something narratively bad happen (Which is another form of Narrative control), or simply put influence the environment or the world.

      And if Im wrong please explain, so that I may learn the subtleties of things as such.

    3. In answer to your points, I think it very much depends what "FATE" you're talking about. FATE is a system. So if you're talking about a particular book, what you say might be true; but there are plenty of books that don't. Otherwise it's like saying "D20 system has sanity points which you can lose by encountering supernatural creatures" just because CoC D20 had that.

      I've run Starblazer Adventures and ICONS (both campaigns lasted between 1-3 YEARS of actual play, so I'm not talking just a passing one-shot either), which are both FATE games. Neither involved my players doing any of the 'world making' (except their own characters, of course). Neither 'brought upon story'. And the 'add details with your mechanics' is one single use of fate points, which can be eliminated completely (as indeed I did) without otherwise negatively affecting the game.

      So one test as to whether FATE (or any other RPG) is a Storygame is whether you can remove whatever storygame elements of it exist, and still actually have a playable system, or if on the other hand it is impossible to play as-is after removing the storygame elements (i.e. without adding any new houserules to make up for what you removed).
      In the case of fate, the rule-set itself, if you remove any of the storygame elements any of the various versions of Fate games might have (and some have more heaped on them than others), you still end up with the FATE system itself, which is completely playable without ANY of those storygame elements and without adding anything else to replace them.

      Ergo, not a storygame. Though sometimes an RPG that people add storygame elements to.

    4. Its Fate Core. The latest edition I think. But base system. But to your point just about every game still functions even if you remove the story-game elements.

      I downloaded the Summary version of Other worlds (Im not shilling out for a full version), and its almost identical to Fate Core in terms of mechanics. What makes it different is that it by base says that the GM is not allowed to break the rules, and the players are more in control.

      But the rules that support this playstyle are just as easily removable/ ingrained as the rules from the FATE rules I read.

      Otherwise it still is playable even if you remove every single Storygame aspect. Bare bones, but Playable. Like Fate Core. I will check out ICONS and see if there is a difference.

    5. First, I find it kind of curious that out of all the games I've talked about, you'd suddenly zero in on a game as obscure as Other Worlds.

      However, the comparison you're making is not apt at all. FATE is not left 'bare bones' without the storygame elements, almost EVERYTHING about the system remains.

    6. Its because you reviewed it, and identified it as a Storygame.

      Whatever. Because I ask followup questions and don't clap like a seal, it must be because Im out to get you or something.

  5. The Director is clearly just trying to bait you. He's done it before and will do it again. He has nothing to contribute to the discussion. He just wants to argue about "story games."

    1. I found it interesting that he chose Other Worlds, since it's not a particularly well known game, and isn't even a major choice in the storygaming world.