The Myth of Story Preservation

Some songs comes out of the ground like a potato. Others you have to make them out of things you’ve found… like your mother’s pool cue and you know, your father’s army buddy and your sister’s wrist watch and that type of thing. You’d be surprised what you can find if your, y’know, resourceful.

– Tom Waits

Joe’s post

Mick’s post

Mick writes: “I think it has a lot to do with the difference between what many people think “Story Now” means in roleplaying – .ie. making decisions based upon what works best for ‘the story’ – and what I believe it actually means – organically exploring the premise in the moment as a group and letting the results spring forth as they will from that communion.

In Story Now play you are not at all thinking about making a good story. You are not making decisions for the good of the story. Eff that in the aye.

The goal of games, even narr-heavy thematic games Story Now, is not to make a story. Story happens.

The goal is a night of people making meaningful choices at the table. Story is a by-product, like exhaust coming out of a car.

It is also a by-product of gamist play and sim play. Story just happens.

Looking out for the story leads to constipation at the table. Story does not need to be preserved or looked out for. It is not a just hatched chick that needs everyone to be careful lest it is trampled. Just play the damned game, make choices that are brave. Look at your character sheet, let your character surprise you and story will just happen.

Do not preserve story. Shitty stories are made in those times everyone is being careful not to ruin the story, leading to cowardly decisions and furrowed brows and serious thinking about serious things. Story is fun, let it out of the cage. Let the story get damaged and messy.

I like my stories with only one headlight, the other smashed and a dinged up fender. I like my story with an engine that shouldn’t work, that mechanics insist should not run anymore because there is no spark plug and no engine oil. I like them messy and loud with chipped paint and a spider-web crack in the windshield. You should look at them and know they survived something to get to ya.

Stories just happen in RPG play. Relax. Let them occur.

More on this at Story Games

Ode to Uncle Kurai


We were fans of the Legend of the Five Rings collectible card game. It seemed to be the first post-Magic game that was worth its salt in game play and the setting it managed to evoke on those little cards was impressive. Our favorite rule in the game was the Imperial Favor.

I have little to no memory about what the Imperial Favor actually did, only that when we picked up the RPG, eager to play in Rokugan and leave our mark on the setting in a Kurosawa-inspired blood operatic epic. When we read the rules, we were puzzled that the Imperial Favor was not in the game, so we put it in.

Uncle Kurai, pictured above was our Imperial Favor token and also an NPC in the game. The GM could give a player the Imperial Favor for doing something cool and the player could either spend it (in which case it went back to the GM) or give it to another player for doing something cool.

Legend of the Five Rings was set in this alien culture and we were really excited about capturing that feeling of bushido, honor and glory. Uncle Kurai was our way of letting our fellow players know that their play was exemplifying the setting in a way that was interesting to us, that they were doing their part to bring the table to Rokugan.

In play, we rarely spent the Imperial Favor. When we did, it had to be a really intense circumstance. We found that we liked having this thing, this ability to give someone else a kind of nomadic trophy for good play.

Looking back, I see it as a kind of proto-Fan Mail mechanic. It was a bit clumsy but it reeked of flavor, handing the statue over felt like a big deal and holding it was like holding the table’s honor.

Nowadays, Uncle Kurai sits on my friend, Pete’s computer desk and seeing him brings back all kinds of warm memories: The Death of Bayushi Dorokhan, at the Seige of Usagi Castle and others. It is nice to have these kinds of artifacts, living pieces of fictional memories.

The Clusternomicon

The data known as the Clusternomicon is a myth, like Earth, like the Lost Generation Ships and aliens and so many other bits of folk lore that come out of the void.

Here we will gather what we can, using Chapter 2. Clusters, page 13-30 of Diaspora and share what we know of the universe. Please share what you know about the clusters in your ship’s navigational computers, so that we might make the void a little less cold.

Data found here.

I decided on 3 systems in the cluster but other than that, I rolled up the stats for each system randomly. It is really fun. I have only read that much of the book so far.

Great moments from tonight’s BW Fantasy Noir game

Thread over at BW

I just want answers,” Rifkin said over and over again, trying to convince his former friends that he wasn’t going to go on a revenge-fueled kill-crazy rampage.

The city itself is a splendid thing and its growing in neat ways. A Great Wolf gang leader named Dog. An orc landlord named Blood-Collector (short for He Who Collects Blood to Hold his Land) and a brothel on the nice side of town owned by a Demi-Goddess. We’ve got feuding wizards, crooked city watch lieutenants and former thieves turned fences. In a great homage to MoBu City’s main inspiration, Mieville’s Bas Lag books, Pete referred to the Great Spiders as Weavers. Nice.

Y’know, Rif, wizards steal shit too. Did you know that? Yeah, only they do research and call it adventuring. What a fucking racket!

Just Turned Friday

Reading: I am making my way through Diaspora and still reading about the Khan.

I am tempted to just start making up star clusters.

Planning: I’m thinking of running a 5k this weekend and getting some schoolwork done. I have a few projects due in the coming weeks and they’re not difficult, I was thinking of getting a headstart on them, rather than the sleep deprivation model I generally work on.

Visit a friend of mine who just had a baby.

MoBu City on Friday night.

Wearing: Green button down and a pair of jeans. Also, my new belt.

Writing: I took a fantasy setting piece I wrote and just fished it out for stories. I labelled each story as a chapter and just wrote a blurb about what will happen in this chapter. When I’ve had a moment this week, I’ve picked a chapter and written for a bit. It is an oddly satisfying way to write. I’m wondering if it will come together.

And you?