Friday, August 22, 2008

Down to the Felt

Posit: There is no such thing as a role playing unless there are emotional stakes involved in the game. Ergo: Other stakes are essentially meaningless.

Life is a gamble at times. There are times when you feel as if you have only one chip left, which is the difference between a steak dinner and a cab ride to the Vegas Airport, or going hungry and thumbing it. Never mind, the problems you'll face when you get home. That one last chip is all that stands between you and utter misery for the rest of the night...

And yet. It is also the one thing that could open the door to getting it all back. This kind of thing could be considered the beginnings of madness, but it could also be that part of the Legend that you decided to step into when you put that last chip down and took the dice into your hands for one last roll.

Gamblers don't gamble for money. Oh sure. money comes into it. but it's not the primary reason. It's the emotional roller coaster. Nothing in their lives seems to have as much punch as the wild ecstatic emotions that you can find at any game of chance, especially when the stakes are high. Problem Gambler have the additional problem of being addicted to these highs and lows, and being unable to find that same wild ecstasy in anything else.

As a player and ST who hews to the aesthetic that Role Playing is a form of collaborative improvisational art, I am of the opinion that Role Playing, as an artform, is all about the emotional lives of the players and the NPC's.

You've heard me go on about investing in your character. This bit of understanding is one of the very basis's of making a character get up and live. And the main reason why is, it's all up to you.

That gun in your hand is meaningless. Unless it means something to you.
Those powers you've acquired are meaningless unless they change something inside you.
That mansion you are watching burn is meaningless unless it was the home you grew up in.
That pulse in your characters heart is meaningless unless you decide to find some thing in the world your willing to risk it for.

Combat is a distraction my young Padawans! The only problem that combat presents is that it if you die in the middle of it, you'll be unable to finish your character arc. You do plan to GO somewhere with this PC of yours, right?
As a result, most combats that don't involve some sort of emotional stakes tend to be dull as dogshit.

Don't even front. You know it's true.
But get a player on the right day, give him a premise that resonates with him, and he might just look up and connect. He might just get all invested in SAVING THE GODDAMN WORLD!

And when that happens. Well, there's just no telling what they'll do. How they'll go.
Whether they'll put that last chip on the felt and say, "Let it ride."

So. The reason why i bring this to you, is because, essentially, i am perhaps becoming a little more permissive in my old age. I still understand the concept of "Game Balance" But it's largely meaningless, except as a kind of fence, to keep unruly players who haven't grasped the larger truths from tearing up the whole sandbox.

Lately, people approach me and ask for things, I am, for the most part inclined to be indulgent. I'm not even really asking much in the way of justification or anything. If it's an off the shelf thing, sure, have one....Hell. have six.
I'm more interested in where you are going, and what you plan to do, rather than what's in your damn pockets. God knows, i'm more than capable of stripping it from you if I think it will serve the story.

And if it doesn't hurt when it's taken away, then it was freaking meaningless in the first place right?

Here's a tip: if you're playing a character that's an orphan with no friends and has no personal hobbies or obsessions, then essentially, your character is meaningless. This is not to say that you can't BECOME meaningful, but some people, equate detachment with coolness. Problem is, you have nothing to hang on you until you CARE about something.

And these days, it's just not cool to care. Which is a philosophy that i VIOLENTLY disagree with. Piss on that cynical crap. Caring is the only thing that enables this world to freaking turn.

And if you don't care, you can't risk. If you can't risk, role playing is much like a broken pencil.

Sono Finito.


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