This post is actually two posts—maybe three—but I’ve chosen not break it up because they’re all entangled in my head so I’m sharing this more or less as it occurred to me, which is honest, at least.
An idea you don’t agree with might come to you in a metaphor. That metaphor is like armor on a bugbear. Striking the metaphor does not harm the bugbear.
Analogies, even weak analogies, can be ablative. Attack them and they may break apart, only sometimes revealing the argument underneath. You then have a chance to combat the argument—but this is where a lot of Internet discourse stops. The forumite writes, “Your analogy is imperfect, ergo your point is mistaken,” but that’s not necessarily true.
Fortunately, Sage LaTorra knows this. He has a good metaphor for how modular, home-altered rules can be relayed and function in the wild and he’s using it to make his position about the next edition of D&D (i.e. “D&D Next”) clearer. I think. (I sometimes disagree with Sage even though he’s a proven, cunning, forward-thinking designer. As if Dungeon World wasn’t evidence enough of that, read this post of his about putting D&D in a lunchbox.)
The metaphor: RPG rules are cookbooks.
This is about inspiration. This is about narrowing down an infinite array of potential attitudes and ideas into a smaller headspace, a common playground with a common language — someplace where I can say the word viking and conjure the right kind of image. This is about getting our instincts and imaginations to overlap, so we can communicate quicker, visualize sharper, and play together.
This is a primer on some of what makes my current D&D campaign what it is, presented for two purposes: First, because I like to talk about what I’m playing. Second, because I want to talk about how we translate inspiration into a play space.
I’ve given the campaign the underwhelming but somewhat telling title of The Northsea Saga, and I’ve described it on Twitter as “Brian Wood’s Northlanders versus Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.” This post isn’t much concerned with the fantasy lore I’ve cooked up for the campaign — that’ll come later, if you’re interested in it — but about the bloody battleground inspired, to me, by the hard intersection of these two very different sources: one lyrical and one vulgar, one classically poised and one frankly brutal. This is what I’m after, and this is why.
It’s not as remarkable as discovering, say, a beautifully preserved Senet board, but for game fans this is still something. Have a look at the condition of the 1893 baseball-themed board game discovered in the eaves of an estate house in Missouri: according to this short video report from CNN.com, it is one of only ten surviving copies in the world. What’s more, it seems to be the only intact copy anyone knows about. (I thought intact board games were mythical.)
[via Chris Pramas]