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Well, between Gary's AD&D rant in Issue 1 , and Andrew's lament in Issue 2, we managed to generate a lot of heated discussion out there. The Forum is our new section dedicated to printing just such discussion. Here we will publish whatever opinions, rants or wild insults you care to send us. Of course, our regular letters page will still be used for less expansive correspondences we receive.
We're hoping this can be a home to some really informed and intriguing discussions about the industry. But if The Forum is to be a success, it will depend on all of you out there keeping it going. So don't be shy! Tell us exactly what you think, about any aspect of RPGs or the RPG industry, or any part of the magazine. And thanks to all of you who already have.
Email us and tell us what you reckon...
Thanks for your input!
I enjoyed the comments your magazine made regarding D&D, I think your questions regarding why D&D was and remains so popular can in part be because for many gamers, it is the social (out-of-game) activities they seek rather than the opportunity to become another person or explore another world as discussed by Andrew Rilstone.
D&D is quick to set up and the BASE rules do not
require gamers to invest much time in a character or game world.
As such, more time is left to talks about pizza, girlfriends (or
the lack thereof) and anything else which comes to mind. TSR
I think well understood the nature of their base gamer as not
wanting more and thus did not go out and adjust their systems to
catch up with advances in RPG developement and design. Gamers
who wished for more detailed worlds and systems had already
long let TSR for others (Champs, Castle Falk,
GURPS, etc.) when TSR started creating better product
and thus the better TSR product just did not sell.
I like your site, but in reference to the Andrew Rilstone's
article: All The Boys, I have a minor point. While
I like your article, and find many good points in it, I must
disagree with your views on story telling not being a true
part of roleplaying, for players this might be true, but no matter
what you call him the GM is and always has been a story teller,
he dictates the world around the characters and decides what
is going to happen next and in the grand scale. The best GM's
have the world carefully laid out in their heads and follow a
continuity, they make up everything around and what goes on,
they are story tellers and should be regarded as such.
Andrew Rilstone has made a serious mistake. He has assumed that the experience of roleplaying games is one thing for all people. It isn't.
He starts off well enough using the "I" word in describing a number of different gaming styles he does not appreciate himself, but this approach takes a sudden turn for the worse as He begins to extend his claims into broad-based, universal maxims.
He says that no one gets involved in roleplaying games in order to "tell a story". Bzzt. Wrong answer, but thanks for playing Andrew. I, myself, got involved in RPGs because I saw both the storytelling and roleplaying aspects of the games.
And if the question, as Andrew puts it, "when did 'role-playing' become subsidiary to 'story telling'?" my answer would probably have to be:
"Probably about the point when White Wolf released a very popular system referred to as a Storyteller Game."
This is Andrew's primary flaw (over-extending his personal preferences to infer that roleplaying games are useless at anything else). It is a tragic one because he has failed to realize what the true potential of roleplaying games is: The fact that they can be so many different things at different times and to different people. By limiting himself to just one narrow viewpoint of "what RPGs are" he has stopped himself from enjoying a broad range of possibilities and opportunities.
I am also slightly baffled by Andrew's abhorrence of "amateur dramatics" and his question of "In what particular sense is role-playing like theatre?" when he then goes on to say, "You role-played because you wanted to be a superhero, or a hobbit, or a vampire. You started to role-play at almost the exact same moment that you stopped 'playing' in the old, primary-school sense of the word."
Role-playing is like theatre in the sense that role-playing is acting, and acting is present in the theatre. Perhaps Andrew needs to remember that at the time of Shakespeare "actors" were known as "players".
Role-playing is an artform. And like all artforms it has many
applications. Andrew wants to explore only one -- and that's fine,
but I think he's missing out on the bigger picture.
Having been playing rpg's for a while, I have inevitably noticed that the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons system has many faults. I started off with D&D and AD&D and went through a good many other games in my time. I must admit, I have not seriously looked at any game system for the last 10 years, partly because of social and monetary commitments, but mostly because none of the systems I've glanced at really grabbed me.
I also tend to play with a cadre of the same players as well, with all the 'seasonal' change that happens in roleplaying (players moving or leaving, new players joining the cadre etc...) being the only real change. I must admit, that as a rule I prefer to play with a comfortable player whom I have played with before. Mainly because I still use as a base, AD&D first ed. and have taken the advice in the players handbook and DMG to heart. Take what you want, add what you want, leave the rest and be consistent! Because of this, my personal system is greatly different from the original system, modified, chopped, added to and tweaked, all in the directions and 'flavour' of my personal style. Because of this, it is usually experienced players in my cadre or totally inexperienced players that find it easiest to adapt to my 'rules'. Rules lawers are not welcome in my games, mainly because they don't know my rules that well. Because of this I feel a bit isolated from the gaming advances being made. But I have found that every so often I stick my head up and look around and find something I can use, or something on the market that is similar to additions and changes I have had in my system for years. Some are better or slicker than my changes, some are on the right track but,I feel, not the equal of my changes. Some hit me like a ton of bricks as an "why didn't I think of that!" idea.
I have had to develop organizational skills for the data and logistics of my campaign AND my personalised system. Yet, at it's heart it is still a variation of the AD&D system.
"Why is that?" you ask? Well it is not because I think AD&D is the best game/system, but because it is the one that allows me to become a storyteller. It is a framework I am comfortable with and which I know most of the limitations of. Which is why I modify it!
Some of my adventures are semi-rigid: A goal is given to the players, along with a guideline to the direction of the story I am telling, and the players know that this session is a bread and butter session, one that more closely follows my story thread than the usual adventures I run. I have had a few complaints, but when it is put to the players as a bread and butter session, and not too often, they play along with it.
By far the greatest moments I have had with my gaming is when my working the players through my occasional bread and butter adventures pays off. This is usually because I throw some fiendishly clever twists in and the players recognise something about them that I do not know, and then solve a problem/puzzle/kill the monster in a way I had not anticipated, or with knowledge I had carefully planted and fed during those bread and butter sessions. I find great joy in being occasionally outwitted by a CHARACTER because the player has learned more about my gameworld than I thought, and had the character act on that knowledge.
I suppose it is a bit like a teacher being surpassed by his
student. A bit of pride in myself. And a great kick for the
players who feel they have 'bested' me in an encounter. Because
of this, I feel, my game world isn't static, ever changing to
reflect the times and evolution of the world I have spent years
AD&D tool of Satan - but what about White Wolf?
I really liked Gary Pellino's article about AD&D, and thought it was very to the point and insightful. I have often had the same thoughts as those in the article. But what really gets me mad is the White Wolf gaming company and all it's money making schemes. I'm not much of a writer but would be thoroughly pleased if you would publish an article about them and what they do, if you take a look, you might see that they are on the exact same path as TSR. I have a few pointers and things I would like to see in such an article.
If you're still here and have read through my rantings
and complaints, I have accomplished my task: to make someone
out there listen. I hope you understand, and that someone out
there who plays the games reads this and knows what I mean.
Did any of these letters make your blood boil in rage? Or your heart leap with compassion? Or your soul sink with despair? Or your mind explode with the possibilities? If some part of your body did something interesting, why not tell us all about it.
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