Josh just posted a list on his Bernie the Flumph blog called “Twenty Things That May or May Not Be True About Orcs.” You should go read it. It’s entertaining and educational. It’s also a concept that begs to be stolen---I mean, expanded upon to include other monsters, which is exactly what I’m going to do for this week’s column. Since Josh focused on the cannon fodder of most fantasy worlds, I’m going to hit the other end of the spectrum: the mighty Dragon.
- A dragon’s horn, when blown by a war leader, will inspire unshakable courage in troops.
- A dragon’s scale may be used to determine someone’s guilt or innocence. If the accused is guilty, he cannot lift the scale.
Since I’ve gotten used to playing QAGS, I feel limited when I play RPGs (at least traditional ones with distinct GM and player roles) that don’t have some kind of mechanic that allows players to bend the rules and take narrative control. At this point, I think every game needs some kind of Yum Yum/Hero Point/Fate Point/Whatever mechanic, and I usually advocate adding them even to systems where they’re not built in. Here’s why:
About a month ago, someone on Reddit asked for tips on using dream logic in games. He or she planned on introducing a trickster villain whose presence twisted reality into a dream-like state. I posted some suggestions and thought “that would make a good blog subject,” then promptly forgot about it. Now I’ve remembered that dreams would make a good blog topic, so you’re going to get an expanded version of the post I just linked.
Last week, I applied Timothy Leary’s definition of a “game” to role-playing and ended with a promise to discuss other passages in his presentation “How To Change Behavior” that, despite having nothing to do with role-playing, are strangely applicable to our hobby. Here’s the first passage I was talking about:
“All behavior involves games. But only that rare Westerner we call ‘mystic’ or who has had a visionary experience of some sort sees clearly the game structure of behavior. Most of the rest of us spend our time struggling with roles and rules and goals and concepts of games which are implicit and confusedly not seen as games, trying to apply the roles and rules and rituals of one game to the other games."
This article, which reprints Timothy Leary’s International Congress of Applied Psychology presentation, “How To Change Behavior,” recently showed up in my newsfeed. What does Timothy Leary have to do with gaming? Well, in the case of “How To Change Behavior,” the whole presentation starts with the idea of looking at behavioral sequences as games:
“The use of the word ‘game’ in this sweeping context is likely to misunderstood. The listener may think I refer to play as opposed to the stern, real-life, serious activities of man. But as you shall see I consider the latter as a ‘game.’”