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Thread: Their is no "Sanity Clause": DM
07-21-1999, 04:25 AM #1
Their is no "Sanity Clause": DM
James Ruhland wrote:
> > In all honesty, it's been very successful for the past several years, so
> I just
> > don't see a real big need to endorse a new "style" of play, especially
> when I
> > don't see that style as being particularly new and different.
> It is your emphasis on a particular slice of play (everyone must play
> nicely) that I don't think is nearly as appropriate in BR games as they are
> in a normal adventuring party.
Now, now. I don't think I have ever once used the word "nice" in a single one of my
responses. I don't think anyone would really describe me as "nice" would you? I
don't think anyone is really advocating such a vile and outdated concept as "niceness"
around here. I'll put up with a lot of flaming around here, but calling me "nice" is
> > Guys, I feel compelled to mention that the "innovative thinkers" here are
> > arguing that attacking their neighbors and justifying it with racial or
> > religious intolerance is basically just a better (they've called it more
> > "realistic" or more accurately medieval) method of play.
> An inaccurate, distorted portrayal of what is being argued. What is being
> argued isn't that everyone should behave that way all the time, but that
> the ritualized denunciation and punative response which invariably follows
> when *some* people try to play a character (remember, we're talking a
> fictionalized person in a fictionalized world, and it almost seems like
> you're responding as if we held these opinions in real life for having the
> temerity to think they might be appropriate to be acted out in a game).
> Your "Guys, I feel compelled" speal is, by the way, exactly what you
> criticize "us" (if there is an "us", as opposed to discrete individuals
> holding similar but not identical opinions, "hive mind" humor not
> withstanding. Where was I:) is exactly what you criticize "us" of doing:
> attempting to force our view on others. In your case, you use an ad homenem
> device to try and discredit the argument.
Well, OK, if you insist. I similarly feel compelled to mention that this entire
thread began with the message about how tired you guys were of people who indulged in
"the ritualized denunciation and punative response which invariably follows when
*some* people try to play a character". Your post that inspired the above inaccurate
and distorted portrayal was:
> > There are often several things happening in PBEMs that I think
> > are decidedly unmedieval. I will address them below.
> Of course, I wholeheartedly agree and spout off as follows:
That's where the UNmedieval part of my post came from. That sounds like what I was
talking about in my message, and it was the main topic of the style of play you are
talking about. (Or at least it was a few messages ago....)
I could have sworn that this whole thread started out as a diatribe against people who
blast others in PBeMs when they are attacked without provocation and that diatribe
continued to describe the "NATO-like alliances" which form in those games as
unmedieval and went on to include religious intolerance and racism as the norm of
medieval society (and one that presumably should be translated into BR.) I've tried
to argue that it was neither more historically accurate, nor even a different "style"
of play, but both those arguments have gone largely unanswered aside from your
> And yes, the typical box is the one you advocate,
> your effort to call our suggestions the "old" way of doing things
> notwithstanding. I've played for nearly two decades now, and I think I am
> able to judge what is and isn't the "established, accepted norm" of play
> fairly well.
I don't see how this really refutes the argument that it is the "old" way of doing
things. Really, how is it different?
You also wrote in response to that earlier post:
> > 2.People accusing each other of racism/religious intolerance.
> This one's the worst. After all, in Cerilia "everyone knows" (or should
> know) that Half-Elves are just breeds with tainted bloods, humans are
> coniving, bloodthursty invaders, halflings are refugees who couldn't
> survive in their own realm and now want to snatch a piece of ours (ditto re
> humans, natch), Dwarves are greedy halfers who skulk around in caverns
> because they fear that the light of day will expose their underhanded
> double-dealing; and the less said about elves the better - pointy-eared,
> haughty hypocrites - who thought nothing of conducting wars of
> extermination in alliance with humans when it worked to their advantage,
> but now whine incessently because the shoe got put on the other foot, and,
> instead of them dominating all (as they desired), the "useful tools"
> (humans) ended up in charge. Tough luck. Get over it, point-ear. Next time
> I'm going to name my realm "Talisantia" and have done with it.
> And as for orogs, gnolls and goblins, well no need to discuss them in
> civilized company. They do make nice ballista fodder, though.
So I think I was pretty close when I described what you were advocating. (I
understand that this was an in-character message, but the point is that it is what you
were talking about and what I was pointing out.)
I think you're now tweaking the argument a little bit rather than face the weaknesses
of the original, but if you'd rather argue that "the ritualized denunciation and
punative response which invariably follows when *some* people try to play a character"
is bad, then I'll respond to it instead....
So let's assume that some people like playing a military-style game while others like
playing a diplomatic version. Let's call these kinds of players "generals" for the
sake of identification, and the diplomats as "politicians." Wouldn't "generals"
gravitate to the more militant realms of Cerilia and concentrate on building their
armies, making invasion plans, etc. while "politicians" would chose realms with weaker
military potential, but more opportunities for trade, diplomacy and alliances? So
along comes round 2 of the PBeM. The "general" has spent gobs of GB raising troops,
while the "politician" has spend time making alliances, trading or building up his
realm. The "general" declares war and crosses the border and attacks the
Why would you expect the "politician" to respond in a strictly military manner? Of
course he is going to respond politically. What you describe as "the ritualized
denunciation and punative response" of the "politician" is perfectly in character for
him because that is the role of his PC. If your argument is that YOU are merely
acting in character by attacking another realm if your character is a militant one I
really think you should recognize that a player who is playing a more politically
inclined PC is just acting in character too. It's not a "punative response" at all if
the person you attack has been out making friends in the period of time before you
started making enemies. That's simply the fruits of his role-playing.
Honestly, I seem to see a lot more hack 'n slash types on PBeMs than storytellers,
despite your insistence that it is the other way around. Perhaps it is the tendency
of storytellers to write voluminously (this message included, of course) which makes
them appear to be more prevalent.....
> By the way, please go back and read my own posts - I have never said it
> would be "more realistic" to play this way (though it may, or may not be. I
> frankly don't care). I *have* said that it might be more enjoyable to break
> out of the typical box.
Well, you definitely agreed with the unmedieval part, as noted above. Describing
someone else as playing in an "unmedieval" style reads as making your style "more
realistic" or "more historically accurate" to me.
You can describe my playing style as the "typical box" if you like, though I don't
think anyone on this message can be familiar enough with my style to describe it as
"typical" anything, because I don't think I've played with anyone who reads these
things.... I know the players in my game don't.
I think I've argued that the "style" you are describing isn't really a style at all.
It's a reversal to the "old days" of RPGs when things were basically hack 'n slash.
Maybe the problem is that I'm just unclear on what this style is that you are
proposing. To me "style" in AD&D means something like "the thematic basis of the
game." Of course, I come from the hideous "storyteller" style. In general, however,
I would call the style of play I prefer a "literary" one. Several people have
described their own preference of a "historical" style. Those seem to make sense to
me, and are pretty well described.
So, please, tell me: How would you describe the style that you are talking about? If
it isn't hack 'n slash at the domain level then how does it differ? How is it
anything more sophisticated than a wargame or any other strategy game? What exactly
are the role-playing opportunities it opens up that are unavailable to me and other
box dwelling "literary" and "historical" gamers?
Near as I can figure this is what you cut out:
> Now, there is nothing wrong with a good, old fashioned, hack 'n slash
> adventure. I enjoy playing in them from time to time, and I like DMing them
> once in a while too. But describing that as a "style of play" that is somehow
> innovative or imaginative is really... well, a little overstated, shall we
> say. That's how we played way back when the books were tan pamphlets and Gary
> Gygax was harumphing his way around the TSR offices. I certainly wouldn't want
> to base an entire campaign on that "style", and if I was going to run a PBeM I
> wouldn't want to dedicate so much time and energy to officiated something that
> was really just a multi-player wargame. There already are computerized versions
> of that sort of thing that you can play on the web that are much better than the
> stuff in the BR materials.
Ah, c'mon. That was cute and everything with the Gary Gygax reference.... Certainly
not as objectionable as all that....
> > I've put a lot of work
> > into PBeMs before as a player just to have the game fall apart because
> > decided to attack other players apparently because he had a lousy day at
> Who suggested doing that was acceptable? Name the person who argued "I
> should be able to attack others simply because I had a bad day." Name the
> person, if you can.
Hmmm. Well, if the above text isn't a good enough sample.... You wrote:
> (Btw, don't mind my agressive polemical writting style. I have to find some
> way to vent my frustrations. And since I can't do it via Actions in a BR
> game, I do it via rants *_+ Nothing personal.)
which hints you wanted to use PBeMs as an outlet.... Part of the problem here is that
no one has responded to the original response. The original message was about how
there shouldn't really be alliances because there weren't in the medieval period
(untrue) declaring war was viewed in a negative manner unreasonably and unmedievally
(again untrue) and that playing a character who attacks other PCs in a PBeM is somehow
just a different form of role-playing. I've asked several times exactly how that aids
role-playing, but gotten very little response.
Aside from that, however, I'm pretty sure I made those comments in response to reading
the following kinds of posts:
> Oh, you've forgotten though: to some folks, if you express a view at
> varience with their own (and the one they want everyone else to follow),
> then it is *you* (but never then) who is "forcing your views on others"
> (even though, by trying to browbeat you into silence with such tactics, it
> is they who are trying to enforce one perspective, theirs. . .)
> Some players are better at rolling
> with the punches than others. Some (like myself - and I admit this is a
> flaw) need to vent for awhile to someone (sometimes it's been the DM,
> especially in a couple PBeMs where I know the DM doesn't mind), or fellow
> players (comisserating), before settling in and devising a response.
>From your argumentative response in:
> > > I personally think the DM should provide the adventure hook,
> > > outline and motivation and then guide the players through it.
> Hook, line, and sinker.
I went and deleted the messages that blasted "storyteller" DMs, but I think a lot of
it came from that as well.
> Otherwise, I must say you have a very bad debating style: setting up false
> straw men, calling them "our" point of view, and then knocking them down. .
> .all the while ignoring the real arguments, then pretending you
> "successfully showed them as being false."
Well, that's another pretty good example....
I set up straw men and knocked them down? I think you set up the straw men and when I
knocked them down you decided to go "No, not THOSE straw men.... I meant THESE straw
men over here." That's certainly an ad abscurum argument if I can be permitted
tossing a few Latin phrases back your way....
> I'd absolutely hate to play in a PBeM where no player would be allowed to
> oppose or attack another PC realm, though that *seems* to be what you are
> arguing for (that all participants of Birthright games, including PBeMs,
> should react as if they were members of the same adventuring party, and
> only engage in conflicts with NPCs - c.f. your arguments about the
> situation "not being very different.")
Well, yeah, actually that is what I'm arguing. I'd like to see someone run a PBeM
(Lord, I wish I had the time) in which the DM played the NPC realms and set up
conflicts for the PCs to deal with. That's how a typical BR game goes, isn't it? Why
should a PBeM be so different? Making every realm available to players (as seems to
be the norm) turns the guy(s) running the game into a referee(s) rather than a Dungeon
Master(s), and turns the game into a PC vs PC slugfest while ignoring all the
background materials and adventure hooks in the published materials. To me, the
majority of PBeMs very quickly turn into glorified board games with the emphasis on
military tactics because of exactly the "style" of play you are talking about. Why
bother with that in BR? Why not just set up a strategy game with BR-like rules
(though why you'd want to use the slightly lame BR warcard rules is beyond me) and
have people spend their time empire building?
> No one, as far as I can tell, has said that character's should not be role
> played. But role playing Grabrend Sontrene (nice work, btw, Tripp, if
> you're on the list. You should post more in the C-House. I miss his style.
> . .) is not the same as role playing Gerad el-Arrasi is not the same as
> role playing Hierl Diem is not the same as role playing Eirene Mierelen is
> not the same as role playing the Count of Taeghas (who's name slips my mind
> at the moment), and role playing any of them is not nessisarily the same as
> role playing one's own character who assumes rulership over that realm.
> Note also that I picked all realms that have the TSR stamp of approval for
> "PC use". It would be. . .unusual to say the least. . .to play these
> Regents as if their interests were compatable (as if they were all members
> of the same adventuring party), as if there were no potential for conflict
> amongs them, and as if that conflict could not take the form of warfare of
> some kind. And yet that *seems* to be the point you are arguing.
I think there is a pretty big difference between what I am talking about and "no
potential for conflict amongst" PCs. Conflict between PCs can certainly happen in a
game whether it is a PBeM or a Pen and Paper game. What I am saying is that in most
of the PBeMs I've been in the game rapidly turns into one long battle, back and forth
battle. Eventually one person gains a position of dominance (if the game lasts that
long--which it usually doesn't because it is already BORING) and then the game falls
apart. I can't understand why you would want MORE of that, which *seems* to be the
point you are arguing....
> > .
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