Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Inspiration II

To understand what makes for great entertainment it pays, I think, to study all forms of entertainment and ask, "What is it about this that I love?", and then try to see how to apply it to whatever it is you do. In my case it's my concept of my world and how to play it.

Check out Quicksilver Messenger Service entertaining a crowd with 'Mona' in this
Great live moment from 1969.

Then when you come back to earth, consider - what made this such a great performance? What is that the audience enjoyed about it?

My impression: Great Music (skill/talent), Great Story (lyrics/meaning), Great Spirit (energy/inspiration).

Applying this to RPG Design may seem a bit of a stretch, yet I think it is worth striving for. But of course, nothing is as easy as it seems until you 'get it' and as any Zen Gamesmaster will tell you; to achieve Mastery you must find your center without striving to find it, and know yourself without striving to know. Tune in, Turn On, Fly Over.

In the future, as the tools come together, simplify, and advance, that new art form may be Role Playing Games, though not necessarily in the form we are used to thus far. Well, naturally, Gamesmastering is all about creativity at the core. And the deeper one delves and opens the mind to the myriad of possibilities, the more excitement is generated, and from there one can drink at the well spring of the spirit and find inspiration.

Best wishes this New Year.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

On Inspiration of Art

Here are some clips of Beatles Videos which capture the essense of their magic and charm. The question to ponder, from my point of view, is what makes them so fantastic? Was it the sound of their voices, the humor of their witty reparte, the nonchalance of their moods. Was it the story of love that they told?

Within and Without You
Kansas City
Yesterday 2nd version
Hey Jude
Lady Madonna
Midsummer Nights Dream
Please Mr. Postman
One after 909
Tomorrow Never Knows

For those who see the link between this art and ours there is a hint here pointing in the direction of the potential for story telling, and Gamesmastering of a kind which the world has not yet known.

Am I saying we can duplicate what the Beatles did? No, of course not. What I am saying is that in the future we may find that our new art form could inspire things as great, or greater, perhaps. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to revisit the Beatles. They were truly, magically, wonderful.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

New Beginnings & Transformation

What better than to practice New Beginnings? Reinventing ourselves with the stories we tell ourselves is something we do throughout our lives. We often take the stories of others, those around us, in whom we have placed our confidence. And so stories are viral. They get around. Some to everyone, some to few, some to no one but the teller.

Transformation is the process of engaging in new beginnings. It is a process we often enjoy, but just as often do not, and much depends on our age in life. New beginnings of course come with the most frequency to the young. And so the young should be aware of this and engage in the process with understanding. To constantly think when one is young they have learned enough, or have a great understanding, would benefit to consider that perhaps their facts are misplaced, or perhaps along the way they were lied to. And so as life goes on we form new opinions out of old. And life transforms us.

Stories are the vehicle we use to make sense of our transformations. We have stories going on in our minds all the time. These stories we tell ourselves we also tell to one another. We even go so far as to invent stories just so that we can tell them to our friends, or share our experiences with others through fiction. As a kind of alias, least our imperfections be presented as such.

The process of shamanism seems to me to be one of exploring the other world. With an animal guide at ones side moving through the unheralded world between the worlds where the invisible creatures roam. To engage in that world. It is from this place, this divine realm, from these places beyond the veil that we derive our most ancient stories. The stories which have come up through time and never ceased to haunt our imaginations. Beowulf. Gilgimesh and Enkidu. Arthur.

From the depths of the ancient stories we have seen continuously replenished generation by generation the themes. Humanity has scarce changed since man first began to till the land. "There is nothing new under the sun". And yet, there are New Beginnings.

Role Playing provides New Beginnings. It provides stories. And these stories speak of our transformations. And sometimes they may bring healing. Other times they may bring us sorrow, or laughter, or joy. It all depends on who happens to be playing, the quality of the Gamesmastering, the verve of the players, and an ability to suspect disbelief long enough to experience something new, and transform.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A short reading from Beowulf

The Video

From a GMing perspective I am giving a small illustration of how Gamesmasters might influence the mood of play by adopting a Gamesmaster's Persona. In this case I am Gamesamstering as Grey Falcon of Elthos. The voice, the intonation, the speed of oration are all part of the delivery, and set a particular mood for the Elthos World. This is something that I talked about in a prior thread on LRPGSW titled On The Proper Disposition of the Gamesmaster II. This video is an experimental presentation of what I'm shooting for in this regard.

In any case, I hope you enjoy the art-video. :)

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Dust Bowl

For eight years dust blew on the southern plains. It came in a yellowish-brown haze from the South and in rolling walls of black from the North. The simplest acts of life — breathing, eating a meal, taking a walk — were no longer simple. Children wore dust masks to and from school, women hung wet sheets over windows in a futile attempt to stop the dirt, farmers watched helplessly as their crops blew away.

This is utterly fascinating, and frankly, a bit terrifying. And it also raises an interesting set of considerations about how weather, geography, agriculture and policy can work together to create huge effects, socially, economically, and physically. As such, it makes for an instructive read for Gamesmasters and World Weavers. I have not yet played a game that involved the conditions of The Great Dust Bowl, but it is now firmly positioned in the Book of Possibilities.

Please to read: About The Dust Bowl

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Creative Enterprise

I think that at the bottom of RPGing generally is a desire to express one's creativity. That expression can take on a myriad of forms, including improvisational theater, artwork, story writing, rules creation, to name the ones that come to mind off the top of my head. I think it's one of the greatest art forms ever created. A game that incorporates so many other aspects of art. So our endeavour at LRPGSW has been to try to assess how to take our RPGs to the level of literary quality. What would be means by which this could be achieved. We are not saying that RPGs must be like literature, by the way, or follow any rules of literature - but only that whatever we produce will aspire to be at the same level of quality as great literature. That's the aim. As for how, we leave that to the members of the LRPGSW to figure out and hopefully achieve themselves.

To get to this mythic place I've proposed a number of means that I believe at the very least help to point in the right direction. Firstly reading great literature would be helpful. This includes those literary masterpieces that relate to the genre that the Gamesmaster and Players are interested in. For standard Fantasy RPGs that would include, most likely, "Lord of the Rings", "Conan the barbarian", "The Princes of Amber", "The Narnia Chronicles", and the like. If one wants to get fancy about it, you might include the source materials for the masters who created these works, which would of course include all works of Anglo-Saxon mythology, Arthurian Romances of the medieval age, and even the classic myths of the Greeks and other ancients. All of this makes for great source material, of course, but more importantly it infuses the Gamesmaster and Players with the mental space from which the concept of Adventure originated. That's got to be a good thing.

Other aspects that lend themselves toward a literary quality for world weaving might be to watch great films as well. Adventure films such as The Seven Samurai come to mind. Short, sweet, encapsulated stories that resemble in many ways incredibly well played RPG sessions. So one might gain inspiration in many pools.

There's also the possibility of focusing on the quality of one's world in the same way that a craftsman would focus on the quality of the work of art he is creating. With a commitment to quality one can achieve great things. But it takes work, perseverance, and an eye toward continuous improvement over time.

Well, these are some thoughts. Oh yes, another one might be taking one's world in different directions than simply role playing them. Perhaps the world's adventures might make a good book, or film, or play? Or work of art? Also to be considered.

The basic gist of it is that one can make their RPG experience a journey fully and completely through all the realms of art, and be a successful RPGer and artist, both.

Coming soon... art-video experiment #2: "Samauri Dreaming"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Terra Nova Blog

For those interested in the idea of a PhD in RolePlayingology here is a group of PhD researchers studying Massive Online Role Playing Games from a variety of academic angles.

Recent titles include:

Dec 03, 2006 The Trouble with "Addiction"
Dec 02, 2006 Games with a purpose
Dec 01, 2006 The History of Virtual Worlds
Nov 27, 2006 Meaning, Games, and Bureaucracy
Nov 26, 2006 Anshe reaches $1 Million
Nov 20, 2006 Endgames and Expansions

This is an academic bunch so the papers tend to be, well, a bit dry perhaps. However for those interested in academic perspectives on MORPGs this is a must read site.