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Captain Plunderfucker.'s Journal
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Date:2010-07-14 18:31

Hey, just a note. I'll be at PAX and I'll be running Dresden Files RPG demos all day saturday and sunday.

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Date:2010-02-25 10:39

I'm going to run Combat Diaries on Sunday. I'll take the first six players who can absolutely play from 1pm to 6pm at my place.
Message here. This is cross posted from facebook.

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Date:2009-12-07 07:51
Subject:Con tip the third.

I alwas have a few games that play quickly and require little or no set-up in my bag. Some are story games that are written that way, and some are con scenarios with pre-made characters. I also keep a few small card and board games that are quick and fun too.

I do this because sometimes a slot falls apart for whatever reason and it's a good idea to have a backup plan.

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Date:2009-11-29 00:47
Subject:Another con tip.

The 3/2/1 rule.

I have no idea where this started but it's brilliant.

3 hours of sleep a day minimum
That's solid sleep not dozing off at a table or in the corner. Get at least a little REM, guys. This also goes up as you get older, but we older folks know that.
2 square meals a day minimum
A bagel and a cup of coffee is not a meal, neither is a bag of chips and a diet coke. Get protien, carbs, and some veg into yourself at least twice a day. Fiber helps too, trust me. It's also not all about the calories either, it's about taking a break and just feeding yourself while not going a hundred miles an hour.
1 shower a day minimum
Do I even have to explain this? You stink. I stink. We all stink. Get the stink off yourself, and change your fucking socks and underwear. Oh, yeah, and use deoderant. Use it.

This isn't actually a tip. It's a rule, a hard and fast one. If you break this rule keep your loopy stinky moochy self the fuck away from me.

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Date:2009-11-26 13:05
Subject:Stabbing Contest episode 31 with Hans Otterson

Hans called in from Portland so we and Mickey could have a chat about gamer community, compare and contrast to the religious community he grew up in, and get off topic all over the place, which always happens.

It was a fun conversation. You should listen to it here: http://media.libsyn.com/media/stabbingcontest/Stabbingcontestep031.mp3

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Date:2009-11-12 07:46
Subject:Con tip

Here's a new series about gaming cons, though a lot of this advice is good for SF and Fantasy cons as well as other esoterric geek cons.

Take Cash
A lot of small vendors and publishers either can't take your card or offer discounts for cash. It always seems like these are the vendors that have the book or trinket you want the most. Also, take your checkbook. While many of these vendors can't take your card, they will often take a check.
Another reason to take cash is that it makes getting meals a lot faster and easier, especially with big tables with multiple payment methods. This is almost guaranteed to get you to your game or event on time.
Lastly, quite a few small publishers run their own games and have some copies for sale afterwards, and cash makes that a hell of a lot easier.

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Date:2009-11-09 20:36
Subject:Ambercon NW 2

As an overall report the con was a lot of fun. It was great taking Ben down with us and hanging out with Jules and Yi Mei a lot.

The hotel, as always was a great place to be, and I drank more than I ever do, especially over multiple days.

If I had to pick a bad thing it was the main restaraunt. I'm really sick of the criminal practice of slicing up a steak for "presentation." Thanks for the dry, bled out steak. Also, seared ahi should be seared, not cooked through, and that was an uninspired sauce and some bland rice. I should have just eaten in the pubwhere the food is better and not rushed.

In fact, what I had in the pub was excellent, especially the pepperoni and mozzarella stuffed buger, and the chowder I had on friday.

As always their liqor selection is astounding. I poured a whole hell of a lot of Woodfor reverve down my neck for sure. Their new special drink the Bourbon furnace is quite tasty as well, although too sugary for more than a sip for me. Oh, and their new IPA is quite good and has a good flavor as opposed to most IPAs, which have no flavor.

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Date:2009-11-09 19:37
Subject:Ambercon NW

First up was Bliss Stage as run by Ben Bernard. It was just as harsh and emotional as I was hoping. The system worked well for us for the most part, and since Ben Lehman's other game finished early he got a chance to come and observe and take what he says were some really great notes. Everybody was really amazing roleplaying-wise and we all got to be totally heartbreaking in a really rockstar way.

Friday morninng I ran Nine Pieces of Flair. The players took the Amberite personalities and overlaid them onto the employees of Amberjack's restaraunt, one of those hellish places with shit all over the walls. It was a little daunting to try to do comedy in the morning, but once everyone decided that the key to the comedy was to stymie their character's ambitions.

Then I played in James Craig's Paranoia in Amber. It was artful. Hats off to Craig for running a classic Paranoia game and a classic save-the-universe Amber game and having them linked together. it was really fun.

That night was Sea Dracula, hosted by Pol Jackson, which was ridiculous and fun and definitely biased towards the lovely female players and their ability to actually dance. we played two games a murder mystery and a case of theft. In the first the jury decided that that, indeed, was an ugly lamp, and in the second we decided that, yes, Ms. Pouissonne Pouissoffe was prettier than Mr. Rogers. Nuff said.

I spent the long slot on Saturday playing Drew Wood's Dreadwood, a western horror rife with horrible things under the mines, ghosts, zombies, and unsettling feng shui. Definintely and old school mysterie game, and Drew kept us moving along at a brisk pace. The characters were seeded with secrets that preloaded action and clues. Nicely done.

That night I ran The Ruikei Project, an Amber/Akira mashup. Basically I gave psychic teens in Neo Tokyo hard choices that boiled down to have escalatingly awful things happen, or win by using your powers. Using powers set the story cclock forward and made things more intense for everyone. Unfortunately midnight snuck up on us and our actual ending was more contrived than intense. I am my own worst critic. Actually this was a really fun game, and I think I would play it every week. We all had a lot of fun being unabashed fans of the genre and framing scenes down to camera angles.

The last slot on Sunday was Scientific Progress Goes BOOM! a Girl Genius scenario run with Spirit Of The Century light by Jules Morley. It was a huge chaotic fun romp and everything I needed out of a final slot. Oh, and My Traveller boxer character (ala Mickey from Snatch) got to punch Othar Trygvasson in the balls.

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Date:2009-10-31 15:48
Subject:Episode 30 of Stabbing Contest (How We Came to Podcast, with Brennan Taylor)


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Date:2009-10-19 22:28

I am entirely unsure as to why lj shit out a single quotation mark instead of...

I just said this to a coworker "Now I run games to be creative and to foster creativity in my fellow players, before now, though, it was just pure egomania."

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Date:2009-10-19 17:32
Subject:Said to a co-worker


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Date:2009-09-17 20:22
Subject:Stabbing Contest episode 029 [South Philly Garbage Match with John Wick]

John and I geek out completely for about an hour about pro wrestling and the lessons you can learn from it to use in gaming. I always enjoy recording this show, this was was a real joy because it blended two of my favorite things and it was with somone who's just as crazy for the subjects as I am.

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Date:2009-09-13 16:22
Subject:Episode 28 of Stabbing Contest

Joel Shempert, Mickey and I talk about Nicotine Girls by Paul Czege and emotional exploartion in play.


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Date:2009-09-03 14:42
Subject:Requested post #7

mtfiercewrites "How to best redirect a subgroup of players who are going off to deliberately break your adventure?"

This is a hard one for me to answer because even when I was playing traditional games I was always flying off the cuff. years before I heard the term sandbox I was doing just that and more, just reacting and creating by the seat of my pants. I used to get down on myself about how I never did any legwork, but it was actually my strongsuit.

So what to do when a few players in your group decide they want off the path and head off in a different direction entirely?

I'm gonna have to go back to my old standby of sorting things like this out before there's any play at all. Buy-in is key in thiss kind of situation. If it's made clear that the adventure is going somehwere and they players need to play characters that want to get there then there can be discussion. Some people intensely dislike that kind of play and this is a great time for them to opt out. or for you to find something else to play.

People use the term railroad like it's the dirtiest of words, but if I know I'm on a railroad and I like where it's going, then why not hit the drinks car, sit back, and enjoy the scenery? It's when I don't know why I'm on the train and i'm not happy about my unknown destination and the guards won't let me off that I get irate.

Look, kids, here's another hamfisted metaphor!! If you're halfway to your vacation and someone looks up and says "Skiing? I fucking hate skiing! Let me off the bus." then you've done something seriously wrong.

Wow, that WAS hamfisted, but it does illustrate my point that you have to get everyone to consent to a certain type of adventure if you're going to run that adventure...

...and I really, really hate skiing.

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Date:2009-08-29 22:24

graypawn  asks "Is it true that, once you've played Indie Games, you can't go back to playing Trad games? Why?"

Ben's answer was, simply, no, but mine is just slightly more detailed.

No, but your opinion of what makes a game worth playing might change.

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Date:2009-08-29 10:47
Subject:Requested post #5

jrcraig42 writes "D&D 4E: Great game, or greatest game?"

4E is a well balanced game that has potential for really fun tactical combat and provides some basic, but well designed roleplaying elements of the top of that wargame style combat. It's almost engineered rather than designed and the parts all fit together and actually work. It's amajor change from previous editions and as opposed to 3rdx the willingness to play it has not worn off in a few short weeks.

But it's still never my first choice to play, never.

So let's go with great, and hope it actually does what it's supposed to do, which is bring fresh new faces into the hobby.

Well, that was certainly short. Wasn't it?


Ok, so there's also the newly released Pathfinder system. I got a chance to flip through this hefty tome the other day and here are my thoughts. Firstly it's fifty bucks, which isn't bad considering that it's huge, full color, and basically a phb and dmg in one. The layout is solid, though unexciting, and the art is decent and well placed. Systemwise it's a bunch of patches put over many of the things that made 3.5 unpleasant for people who liked playing 3.5. That is to say, if you liked 3.5, but were frustrated by little things like thieves being shitty vs undead, then you'll dig on this, but if 3.5 wasn't your thing, then it probably still isn't.

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Date:2009-08-27 20:05
Subject:Requested post #4 part 2

In my last post I talked about heading off potential problem players before they have a chance to be problematic, but I get the feeling the question was more directed at a situation where there were already problems and there was a need to talk to the player at the root of it.

Yeah, that's fun. Ok, let's explore this excruciating subject with more tact that I usually ever have.

I was going to go on a long ramble about how you should take a long look at the situation and see where the blame really lies and yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah. Look, if things are so bad that you need this kind of advice, then you already know what's going on and you've reached the point of passive-aggressive avoidance. That hasn't worked either so you need to have a serious talk or the game is gonna die because it just isn't fun anymore.

Ok, I'm giving up on tact. I've written and rewritten this five times and I'm no good at phrasing this kind of thing lightly.

Look, just don't be a coward. If it's your job to have the conversation then have the conversation. Tell the player what the problem is and ask them to fix it. You can do that effective communicator crap where you avoid saying "You do this" and say things like "I and the group feel this way" and as long as you have a player who's so easily manipulated by bullshit pop-psych then, well, I hope that goes awesome for you. If the player has a mental level above twelve, though,  then I suggest you just lay it out straight and ask them to fix it.

"Look, Kevin, if you keep killing every npc I set out for Amy's romantic subplot just to piss her and I off, I'm gonna set your character sheet on fire and throw you off the balcony."

Ok, maybe you should avoid threats. I'll try again.

"Kevin, that thing you do where you kill all of Amy's character's boyfriends? It hurts her feelings and it pisses me off. I don't know why you're doing it, it's not funny anymore, and it never really was funny, so, please, stop."

Hey, you could even have that same conversation in the touchy feely way. Watch.

"Kevin. Amy and I feel that when you killed Lord Alfar, Thomas the Courtier, Sir Faris, Duncan the page, and Angus the man who pulls the dung cart, that you were acting out. Our feelings are hurt about it, and I don't know if you did it on purpose, but please think about that before you attempt to brutally hack another of her character's love interests into small pieces, ok? hey, big guy, let's hug it out. No, don't try to hug Amy, she's armed."

Most times your problem players don't know that they're problem players. They wonder what the fuss is about. Most people who want to sit down and roleplay together are friends and friends usually don't want to actually truly piss each other off. Your average beef in a game is usually a wind up gone too far, or a bad habit that needs to be checked. If you do find out that the player is actively trying to hurt feelings and piss people off, then what the fuck are they doing at your table?

Here's the very small list of things I actually will kick someone out of a game for.
Repeated no-shows without warning.
Breaking lines and veils because you don't care about the other player's issues.
Things I would kick you out of my house and/or life for anyway.
"I don't see what the problem is. It's just a game."

Let me go off on a small rant about that last one. It's not "just a game." it's what we all took time out of our busy fucking workday lives for and made a fucking commitment to. We have relationships and work, and housework, and some of us children, and other hobbies and all sorts of shit to do because we're in our thirties and we've long since discovered that being an adult fucking sucks. So the fact that we cantake a few hours out of our depressingly busy lives to all sit down and do something for funmeans that it should be fun and that it should be free of fuckheaded problem children who make our time at the table miserable and make us wish we'd just stayed home and done laundry.

If I bring you a problem with your behavior and you blow it off by telling me it's just a game you're insulting me and everyone else who took the time to show up here. How much shit could you pull on a golf coourse before you got thrown off and would saying "it's just a game" help? Would that shit keep you in a bowling league? What about in a relationship? If you acted like a dick, diidn't take it seriously and broke dates all the time without warning, how would that go?

"Just a game." Don't waste my time. Get the fuck out and wipe the smudge your ass leaves on the door off with your shirt. If you're not willing to take it as seriously as the rest of the group, then don't commit to play in the first place.

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Date:2009-08-27 12:24
Subject:Requested post #4

sgtjesse wants to know how to approach difficult players, and I'm gonna guess that he means about their difficult behavior, not how to invite them to games or ask them out or something.

There's a lot of discussion lately about whether or not it's ok to kick people out of a game or not. The one thing that almost everyone agrees upon is if you'd kick someone out of your house for something, and I'm talking about social behaviors here, not in game behaviors, then it's perfectly valid to kick them out of your game.

Where this gets a little fiddly is what constitutes a social behavior and what's an in-game behavior. Is constantly bringing up material that makes other players uncomfortable an in game or out of game behavior? So, let's start there with some simple social rules to govern in game behavior.

1. Discuss appropriate subject matter.
The game theory crowd refers to this as the Lines and Veils discussion. Where are the lines when it comes to subject matter? It's best to know beforehand. If something really bothers someone and they'd rather not have it come up in the game fiction then it's best it comes up early, so that there's no surprises later.

A veil is something that is ok to come up, but players would rather it fades to black instead of being described in detail. Sex often comes up as a veil, players might be ok with characters having sex, but don't really care to hear it described in loving graphic detail.

2. Discuss the kind of game you all want to play and decide how much focus will be given to the styles and themes.
I've harped on this before, but if everyone is interested in a game where party unity is key and one player wants to play the thief who steals everyone's shit, there's probably gonna be a problem. If that player knows at the outset that stealing from the party isn't ok, then they have no room later for the "but that's what my guy would do" argument. Putting this to the forefront during character creation let's that player know that they should make a character that wouldn't do that.

My lunch grows ever shorter and I find myself repeating a lot of stuff, so I'll boil it down to one magic rule.

Discuss what's ok and what's not ok before the game even starts.

I'll follow this up with a post later about how to talk to problem players about their behavior when these rules break down later.

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Date:2009-08-25 17:31
Subject:Requested post #3


caliban1227writes "What do you feel is the best catalyst for the creative process in a new gaming group?"

I play a lot of con games which is kind of like starting a whole lot of new gaming groups all the time. So, I use several approaches.

1. Share out the burden of creativity: Don't let anyone sit back and watch. If everyone helps make the situation and the setting, then no one is allowed to say that they just aren't interested in anything going on. Ask one player to name an npc, ask another player what that npc's best trait is, ask another what their worst one is, figure out how these traits motivate the npc in relation to the characters, play.

Example: D&D4E generic points of light setting. A wayside tavern the party has entered looking for food and drink only to find the tavernkeeper and his family freshly killed and their killers sitting at the long table.
GM: (setting miniatures out on the grid) "Steve, this cult leader, what's his deal? Why does he kill people like this?"
Steve: "He's a sick fuck and he thinks that his goddess will reward him for all the souls he sends her."
GM "Ok, Sara, what's his biggest flaw?"
Sara: "Other than he's a murderous sociopath? Uh, he's really sensetive about how he sounds because of his broken teeth."
GM: "Broken teeth? You just want me to sound funny."
Sara: "Yes I do, mushmouth."
GM: "Hey, Robin, Who broke this guy's teeth?"
Robin: "I did, and I'm about to finish the job by breaking his neck."
Group: !!!
GM: "Oh, it is on. Prepare to be marked. (adopts mushmouth for npc dialog) Brushers, kill shat shunuvabitch for our goddesh!"


2. Create characters as a group: Sit down together and plan out who the characters are, what they're relationships to each other are, and why they'd have connecting stories. Even if someone wants to be the new guy/outsider/lone wolf type then everyone can brainstorm ideas about why this outsider type would end up with everyone else.

Example: Grey Ranks
John: "I think Pavel is from a much poorer family that the rest of your characters."
Liam: "So how come he hangs tight with us?"
Skull: "Radek and Pavel were altar boys together."
John: "Yeah, I like that."

3. Use some simple warm up excercises: As a GM I have a small toolbox of things to get people ready to play and ready to contribute. For silly games I tend to use an old silly improv game called bounce-pass where you makes a silly noise and pass it to someone by miming passing a ball and that person repeats your silly noise, then passes a new one to someone else. For more serious games I do a few rounds of word association with the players answering as their characters. The one I use the most for games of any tone is something John Harper taught me. I ask leading question in a pretty rapid fire manner.

Example: Spirit of the (Last) Century
Me: Pointing at Filbert. "Who's the leader of this group?"
Filbert: "I am."
Me: Turns to Geronimo. "Who's the real leader of this group?"
Geronimo: "I am."
Me: turns to Lord Pennythorn. "What's with those two?"
Lord Pennythorn: "Filbert knows what he's doing on the ship, but Geronimo knows how to lead in a fight. I, personally, find their bickering quite annoying."

So what does this do? It gets everyone at the table considering how the characters react to each other,but it also breaks the stupid taboo of "you can't say anything about my character. I'm the only one who gets to say anything about my character." Which brings us to...

4. Consider yes:
Look, if something comes up that you don't like, then say so, but consider it first. Last night Mickey ascribed to my character in the Marvel Supers game we were playing that he was an amazingly bad judge of female companionship. It wasn't what i'd thought about the character before, and in fact I hadn't thought about how the character dealt with his love life at all. So I considered for a moment, and decided to roll with it. Now I have a nifty thing about my character that might make for some fun scenes.

Consider yes means getting over that knee jerk impulse to balk at anyone else describing your character. Think about what they've just suggested. Is it interesting? Are they doing it so there will be some tension and conflict? is it entertaining? Consider it. Which brings us to...

5. Be sure everyone is on the same page first: Is everybody here to play? Is everybody here to play the same game? Do you want to play a game about vampire politics and intrigues and stab each other in the back? Does the GM want to throw outside monsters at you like it's a fanged version of Supernatural? Does someone else want to try to hold on to their mortal relationships while tragically doomed to alienate or destroy all they love? Ok, you guys better talk to each other on the double, because otherwise some feeling are definitely in the field of fire. All of these different agendas can be spliced together to make a game that everyone can have fun with, but not if no one talks to each other about it, and they just pursue their agendas at the expense of everyone else's.

You can play with all those things in the same game. Watch, it's easy. The monsters of the week are being sent by other vampire factions to destabilize the PC's cabal. This wouldn't concern the heartbroken new vampire if it didn't constantly put his mortal loved ones in the line of fire. What makes that especially tragic is that he has to become a monster to save them, thus scaring them and straining the relationships. Maybe if he just helped the other faction andbetrayed the group, the other faction would quit threatening his loved ones with the monster of the week.

Now, which is easier, a GM trying to move all of the wheels in place so that all of that works, no feelings are hurt because of "your backstabbing bleeding into my tragedy, and where do all these monsters keep coming from, anyway?" or everyone having a nice little chat, and making suggestions about how each other's plotlines could dovetail together to make something really interesting, or at least mostly interesting to everyone all the time.

Ok, I'm tapped. Discuss amongst yourselves.

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Date:2009-08-25 11:27
Subject:Requested post #2

So benlehman  wants me to talk about shared mythology, how it's created, how it works and what part of our lives it plays.

Ok, well, I'm not really that kind of Campbell style of thinker, but I'm stuck at home caring for my sick wife, so I'll give it a shot.

Ben gives some examples in the comments to his question and I'll further illustrate here to give some context.

It's a silly example, but here it is. When I was still in high school my gaming group consumed a huge amount of the same media. it was a smallish city without much to do, so we watched the same shows, passed around the same books and comics, and listened to a lot of the same music. We watched a whole hell of a lot of comedy on cable. We would tape it and play it for each other. Richard Lewis was a particular favorite of ours and there was this one bit he did about going to dinner with David Copperfield and how stressful that was for a neurotic guy like Lewis.

"Please stop doing magic. it's disturbing and I just want to eat my meal."
"Sure, ok, oh it seems your fork is in your ear."
"Really stop. I get it. Could we just talk about something normal? Have you seen the new exhibit at the aquarium?"
"Funny you should mention that. Oh, look! A squid! a squid pulled right out of my ass!"

For some reason we thought this bit was hilarious. It became an inside joke. Didn't have enough hands to carry everything? Hand something to the squid up your ass. Lost something? Maybe your squid had it.

Somewhere along the way it went from strange late night inside joke to a sort of mythology. There were rules to the squid. It could only hold ten things. If you didn't bring something important it was because the squid forgot. There were arguments about whether a squid could hold ten more squids, thus allowing the storage of one hundred objects. Real arguments with structured logic, point and counterpoint.

So how did a silly bit turned inside joke become a form of mythology so potent that we could have reasoned debates about it?

It seems to be a function of how long something imagined holds your attention. We're constantly hitting upon little ideas that say: Wouldn't it be interesting if cats could talk? Wouldn't it be funny if I had a cephalopod in my ass that could hold things for me? Wouldn't it be convenient if i could teleport? These are flights of fancy, pure whimsical creations that we muse over for a few seconds and let go of. Sometimes.

I think, however, that the longer we muse these ideas the more the rational part of our minds become involved. We apply rules and restrictions, address inconsistencies and problems, build models to test our theories, and we do it all inside our heads.

It's always amazing to me that we can use the rational parts of our brains to impose rules and order upon the absurdest of concepts. Fantastical fiction is all about this. Look at any fantasy world and you'll see ideas that are complete fantasy, but with a working structure built around them. "Magic is real,"says Jim Butcher "but there's a bewildering array of rules about how it works." "The dead walk the earth and hunger for human flesh," says George A. Romero "but a bullet to the brainpan will make them behave like normal copses again."  We like these structures and constraints. htey give us fictional pathways to wander  around in and explore. If only parselmouths can open the chamber of secrets, what if Ron learned enough parseltongue to open it? Would that work? Is it possible to learn something like Parseltongue? The longer you mull something like this over, the more of a myth it becomes, and this is regardless of whether you share it with anyone else or not. However a shared myth takes on a life of it's own.

The more people you share a myth/concept with, the more it grows. Conversation starts, questions are asked and people take the concept and muse off in other directions with it. Directions you never considered in the first place.

Take for example fanfic. I don't give a shit if you think it's a valid art form or not.  These writers hook into a concept and muse about it. Whether they go far off the path or simply expand upon what's already there, it's a form of discussion and questioning. Fanfic communities are based upon these questions and conversations and often they take on a life of their own far and away from the source material. Often so far that the original creator has no idea about it and when they make a decision in their fiction that flies against the mythology created by these communities people become quite irate. they forget that it's not their concept, because they've made it their concept.

Here's another example. I go to Ambercon Northwest every year. It's a convention based around the Amber Diceless RPG, which is in turn based upon the Chronicles Of Amber novels by Roger Zelazny. There's always a lot of discussion about the characters and,since a lot of the games ask you to play these characters, how people play them. One of the things I've noticed is that there seems to be three levels of information about each character, book canon, game information, and play-culture mythology.

When someone says "Well, you know, i was playing Julian, so you know how that went." Does that mean they were playing the Julian glimpsed in the novels, the Julian as presented in the bios in the Amber game books, or the slightly sleazy sexy roguish romance novel character that he's become in certain segments of the ADRPG play-culture? Furthermore, which one is really Julian, one, or all of them, and who sitting at that table has the same thing in mind as anyone else? What often happens is that the person portraying Julian gives a few quick clues with action and deed and the rest of the players nod their heads and say "Oh, that Julian."

This is a great subject for the discussion of roleplaying games. As we sit at the table, the more engaged we are with the fictional elements of play, the more we create a mythos about what's going on in the game fiction. We start to ascribe life and breath to the characters and setting involved. We also start to impose restrictions upon what can and can't be in the game.

Ron Edwards call this the shared imaginary space. We create a fuzzy cloud of ideas between us and we use constraints and facts to give it sharp edges we can see. Everyone ultimately sees something different, but because of the shared constraints and rules, what we see isn't as drastically different as it could be. The best part about gaming, especially collaborative story gaming, is that we can lay these constraints down as we play.

For example, a game has goblins, which are described as short and ugly and damaged by the sun, but not much more, and there's no illustrations. Three characters are fighting some of these goblins in a dark abandoned house. One of the players takes a swing and misses, he describes his sword swiping over the goblin's head as it ducks and nearly hitting another character in the stomach, another player describes doing a single point of damage as his character punching the little guy in his warty yellow nose with the pommel of his sword, and yet another player describes doing a killing blow as tossing the hapless goblin out of the window where the sun petrifies it into a chalky yellow cracked statue.

think about what your mind envisioned as you read that paragraph, how short were the goblins before the sword sweep? Were they yellow and warty before the punch? What did the sun do to them before the poor bastard got tossed out the window? and now what are you thinking about? Are all goblins yellow and warty, or just that one? Does the sun do a variety of entertaining things to goblins?

Back in our example someone kicks open the shutters, and it kills two goblins unlucky enough to be where the sun's rays burst in. They petrify into those same chalky yellow statues.

Ah, now we know that's a thing goblins do, so if someone were to describe a goblin exploding into a disgusting bloody spray of blood and chunks when the sun hit him, we would question what was going on there. Was there something special about that goblin? Did the narrator get it wrong?

"Scott, what was that about it exploding? I thought the sun petrified goblins."
"It normally does, so there's something strange going on here."
"I think I'll use my magesight to see if there's something weird about the exploded goblin."

The rules we put on our mythology also, as you can see above, allow us to see exceptions as an avenue of interest and a possible place to create new additions to our mythology. The more thought and questoning we put to a muse the more substantial it becomes.

I'll end this by asking you to give me examples of where this breaks down and your thoughts as to why. When is there too much stricture and where is the violation of stricture unacceptable?

For example, are the sparkly daywalking vampires of Twilight worthy of the nerd rage they get, or should non-fans shrug their shoulders, realize that there's room in vampire fiction for new takes on vampirism, and get back to criticizing the book for it's bad writing and anti-feminist themes?

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