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23956Re: [mythsoc] RPG fiction

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  • David Bratman
    Dec 20, 2012
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      "Joshua Kronengold" <mneme@...> wrote:

      >> I had to look up "PBEM" (play by e-mail). Well, there may be no
      >> significant difference between letter-games and other pbem games, but if
      >> so,
      >> they're very very different from tabletop games. Much more writerly
      >> exposition necessary.
      > Clearly. But while that eases translation, the overall structure is the
      > same;
      > you have rules (however simple), and characters, and somewhere a story
      > happens
      > around them.

      Actually, I don't see that as the soul of RPG at all, not least because a
      vast amount of fiction with no connection with RPG at all, or with what
      might as well be called "RPG style", fits the same broad description.

      What distinguishes "RPG style" to me is wandering around in an unknown world
      without a controlling plot, possibly with "the search for Adventure" being
      the principal motivation. We can discuss how much fiction actually inspired
      by RPGs fits that description, but it's essentially that which dissatisfies
      me about fiction fitting that description. And William Morris, whom I
      mentioned earlier, fits that description, though he wasn't inspired by RPGs
      at all.

      This separates it from sharecropped or shared-world novels, in which the
      details of the world are fully known by the authors, and by the characters
      as much as needed; and from something like "Sorcery and Cecilia" which is
      really just collaborative fiction. Turn and turn-about is one of the two
      main ways in which collaborative fiction is written; there's nothing
      specifically RPG about it, and taking the persona of characters in order to
      write novels about them is so common as to be totally unremarkable.

      >> Anyway, I did read and passingly enjoy _Sorcery and Cecilia_. And I
      >> suppose that's technically role-playing, so I must modify the sweeping
      >> statement to acknowledge that, but it is of a quite different kind than
      >> what
      >> we were talking about, so modifying "RPG" in some way is sufficient to
      >> maintain the point.
      > It isn't really clear what the point is.

      The point is to identify the features of "RPG style" fiction. We are
      currently in the stage of matching up the borders of the style with the
      borders of the phenomenon, thus the discussions of what counts as RPG.

      > IIRC, this started by your saying that the Jackson movies felt too much
      > like
      > RPG fiction.

      No, it did not. I got into the D&D/RPG discussion in the first place by
      expressing my opinion of it as storytelling in response to a post of Alana's
      which in turn was responding to the phrases "games oriented" and "D&D
      approach" which had been used by Dale Nelson and Larry Swain, respectively,
      in their criticisms of the movies. (I have just gone and looked all this

      Whatever Dale and Larry may believe, this is not what I consider a
      particular controlling flaw of Jackson. What bothers me about D&D as
      storytelling is a large-scale structural problem, and Jackson took his
      large-scale structure from Tolkien, so that's not the problem. What I said
      about Jackson was "American-style action/adventure movie".

      Consequently I'm not going to respond to your further comments about what
      you believe I think, because you have - quite innocently, it's easy to
      forget who said what - mistaken me for Dale and Larry.
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