[Necro] Something that was lost

Calithena

Fantasy Roleplayer
In an article from New West in August 1980, "It's Only A Game...Or Is It?", Moira Johnston recounts the following conversation with Lee Gold, a name every gamer should know - she's the editor of Alarums and Excursions.

"...Gold sees communication between the different games systems gradually breaking down, as the increasing differentiation of rules, worlds and cultures leads to incompatibility. "San Francisco runs 'high entropy' worlds - lots of magic and power; Long Beach and Boston, 'low entropy'. RuneQuest is talking strike rank; D&D is talking dexterity rolls. They can't talk to each other. It's like the Tower of Babel," she says. Characters can no longer adventure freely from one world to another, as they could in the early, simpler days of FRP, from Arduin to Mistigar, for instance, without severe culture shock. "The trend," Gold says with the regret one feels for the collapse of Camelot's Round Table, "is to closed-world campaigns."

How many of you younger gamers can even make sense out of this text and reaction? How many of you older gamers remember a time when it was a social practice to move from one group's game to another?

This, I realize now, was the main thing that attracted me to 3.0 at its release: the dream of a gaming universe that was bigger than any one person's campaign, but which also wasn't managed top-down, like Living Greyhawk and its ilk. That was what we had in the early days when I started playing; everything was simpler and easier and there was a kind of meta-community around fantasy gaming that was really infectious.

Of course there's a million reasons to go to closed world campaigns, different systems, and a lot of other ways that we've gone. But I think one thing that old-timers who wax nostalgic for the early days may be remembering was this time when everyone's dreams could kind of reach out and touch each other, when the world was new. It was an intoxicating time. What other people did mattered to you in a way, because it was in a distant way part of you too, out there in the infinite worlds of maybe of ten thousand different fantasy games.

It also made very interesting interactions possible between different gamers; check out this passage"

"The liberal immigration policies of [Deanna Sue] White's D&D-based 'open universe' allows characters to visit from other worlds and universes, making Mistigar an intergalactic entrepot. "Whenever I'm in Los Angeles, I call to see if Deanna's having a run," says Clint Bigglestone, Bay Area fan and producer of the FRP convention, DunDraCon. His characters adventure through Mistigar, returning to the Bay Area with wounds and stories that spread Mistigar's network of contact...

"The FRP network has become so sophisticated that it is now possible for jealous, upstart worlds from all over the country to attack Mistigar. Two attempts to thwart her world have already been thwarted, one by Bigglestone, whose chraacters discovered, while campaigning through Dave Hargrave's world near San Francisco, that evil members of Hargrave's Black Lotus Society planned to attack Mistigar. Loyal to White, Bigglestone's characters attacked and killed the plotters..."

Other parts of the article describe people mailing their characters halfway across the country to visit or defend or attack other worlds.

I always thought this sounded incredibly cool. We had a little meta-community like this with my various junior high and high school groups, but only a little one, and artistic ambitions to make a world as cool as Glorantha or Tekumel wound up leading many of us in the 'closed world' direction as well.

I wonder

(a) does anyone have experiences like this of their own to share? Maybe this idea of a broader role-playing meta-community that relates to actual play hasn't really been lost, maybe it's only me that lost it.

(b) would there be some way of doing something like this today? Are there any serious on-line or other communities that organize visits/forays/wars between different people's worlds and ideas as a kind of meta-campaign? Because boy, I've always thought that would be neat. It would take a lot of maturity from the DMs involved, but with the right organization it could be cool.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with the group, because it's a perspective on and method for RPGing that's pretty different from anything I see out there today.
 
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tetsujin28

Guest
Re: Something that was lost

Man, I miss Lee's stuff. I used to be a big A&E junky. Now, I just don't have the time. I wish she'd maintain it as a site, rather than as an APA 'zine.
 

Patrick O'Duffy

Man I hate fractions
Validated User
Re: Something that was lost

Wow. That sounds just... awful. I honestly can't imagine ever wanting that kind of play environment; it seems like the ultimate reduction of character to 'play token', the dismissal of setting and theme to less than set dressing.
 

Jorjowsky

Registered User
Validated User
Re: Something that was lost

Calithena said:
In an article from New West in August 1980, "It's Only A Game...Or Is It?", Moira Johnston recounts the following conversation with Lee Gold, a name every gamer should know - she's the editor of Alarums and Excursions. (...)
Could someone shed a light on who Lee Gold is? And also, what is/was Alarums and Excursions? Thank you. :)

~~ Jorjowsky, humble ignorant gamer
 

SJE

Bibliomancer
Validated User
Re: Something that was lost

I think it sounds great- harking back to heyday of all those sci-fi stories where someone found themselves a stranger in a magical land. And really character is all you have left when moving from rules system to rules system- its your personality that survives the transition, not yer stats.

After all theme and mood have nothing to do with personality characterstics (you can be happy in the WoD, or depressed in Oz if thats the way your personality goes), plus it sounds like all those early fantasy campaigns had stuff in common- fantasy European mediavael settings and a dash of sci-fi- transitioning from one to another wouldnt be hard.

SJE
 

Patrick O'Duffy

Man I hate fractions
Validated User
Re: Something that was lost

SJE said:
And really character is all you have left when moving from rules system to rules system- its your personality that survives the transition, not yer stats.
Character is context. Character is your relationships, your history, your habits and methods. It doesn't exist in a vacuum, and it doesn't stay the same when you sever it bleeding from where it belongs and slap it down somewhere else.

SJE said:
After all theme and mood have nothing to do with personality characterstics (you can be happy in the WoD, or depressed in Oz if thats the way your personality goes).
Of course you can. Because that personality is a reaction against those themes and moods; because Happyguy in Happyland is an entirely different character and playing experience than Happyguy in Everythingsfuckedtown.

And that second comment is also from a GMing perspective. The idea of letting just show up and attempt to crowbar some character into one of my games for a session, then walk away without thought of the consequences of that intrusion, just makes me shudder.
 
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pawsplay

Guest
Re: Something that was lost

I remember it being quite possible to play in pickup games with established characters, and it was fun.
 

SJE

Bibliomancer
Validated User
Re: Something that was lost

Patrick O'Duffy said:
Character is context. Character is your relationships, your history, your habits and methods. It doesn't exist in a vacuum, and it doesn't stay the same when you sever it bleeding from where it belongs and slap it down somewhere else.
I disagree- personality characteristics are (in the short term) not related to your environment- a man could have a lying, decepetive, manipulative, cowardly personality and still be that person even if he goes through the wardrobe to Narnia. Over the long term, I agree, people personalities can be changed by their environment and new relationships, but short term, you are still the same person, however many planes you hop or worlds you walk!.

As you say, character is your history and you history doesnt change just because you character is visiting another campaign world- instead you just acquire more history.

Patrick O'Duffy said:
And that second comment is also from a GMing perspective. The idea of letting just show up and attempt to crowbar some character into one of my games for a session, then walk away without thought of the consequences of that intrusion, just makes me shudder.
I've had people only play one or two sessions in a long running campaign (with one-shot characters), and it hasnt been that bad- tends to shake things up for a bit and move the PC's relationships from complacency to a more dynamic state for a while. As ever, it depends on the player- if you had a fuckwad, then yes, I agree its a problem.

SJE
 

Xeno

New member
Banned
Re: Something that was lost

Well, I have to say that's the single most pointless article I've read in at least the last couple of weeks.

It almost seems like the person being interviewed thinks that diversity is a bad thing.


Well I'm sorry, Lee Gold, but when the day comes when all roleplaying game books are required to have blonde hair and blue eyes and all the copies of Mechanical Dream, Blue Planet, and Fading Suns (all twenty of them) are herded into concentration camps, well that's the day I stop being a gamer.

Didn't someone once say something to the tune of "All internet debates officially end when someone mentions Nazis?"
 
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tetsujin28

Guest
Re: Something that was lost

pawsplay said:
I remember it being quite possible to play in pickup games with established characters, and it was fun.
Yep. I loved those old days.
 
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