Missing the Point

Missing the Point
Empathy is Awesome

A thing over in the Night Witches community has been rolling around in my head all day.

First: yes, very easy to score cheap laughs off the dude who wants detailed rules for very specific weaponry used maybe sorta-kinda in the same theater in which Night Witches takes place. You want to know blast radii of an explosive in a game about duty, honor, love and trust? Mmmmaybe just make “a bomb hits the airfield” a GM move? Fine, whatever. I scored that cheap laugh, because I can be an asshole. I still think it’s funny.

So, being both a jerk who likes cheap laughs but also an introspective, empathic adult (more often than not, I hope), I started playing with other allegedly funny missing-the-point gags. Like, hashtag that shit, let’s get something funny going.

And some of them were! Maybe. You decide:

* D&D frequently features violence that’s nonlethal to the PCs but one assumes still injures them. Given the recent focus on traumatic brain injury in football, has anyone come up with a way to deal with CTE in the realm of fantasy adventuring? Maybe drop INT by 1 each time you level up? What about effects on spell memorization and saving throws? Et cetera and so on, haha.

* Why no difference in carrying capacities of the Sasquatch and Ghoul playbooks in Monsterhearts 2? Seems like a tragic oversight. The Sasquatch should totally be able to haul more equipment to school or wherever.

* Okay here’s my hot elevator pitch: Glorantha, but set on Reagan-era Wall Street.

Right, so I started messing with this idea for a post. But then I was like…I’ll bet there are folks for whom these are unbelievably cool ideas. There are probably people who would very much play Bondquest and White Bear & Red Bull (later renamed Arbitrage Pass).

Every dumb idea I think is funny is quite possibly someone else’s genius mashup. Because what is creativity, really, other than surprising recombinations of ideas never previously combined?

It still leaves me scratching my head when folks simply cannot imagine a mode of play outside of their skinny-but-very-tall silo.

0 thoughts on “Missing the Point

  1. >Arbitrage Pass
    Trolled. One day my Cults of Forex retro expansion will reveal the true depths of the Issaries “merchant prince” religion! But the unit margins just aren’t there unless you throw in a lot of barbarian art to cover print costs.

  2. Mark Delsing I’ve modulated that to specifically raising an eyebrow at willful misinterpretation. Like, you know that feminist struggle is a core conflict of the game but you still want to hack it for Das Boot.

  3. When Night Witches first appeared, yeah. Although I think in their case it was more appreciating that Jason Morningstar had come up with a really good way to map/model the shifting focus of active military duty. And it’s true! But a pretty shallow take on what that game accomplishes.

  4. I frequent the forum where the question was posted. The question was a dig at more narrative game styles rather than something posted in good faith, so a cheap laugh can be had without guilt. Yeah, I know, I’m no fun.

    (That particular forum nanodrama is now over, too.)

  5. I tried to get something going like that writing contest where you come up with the opening line to the worst novel never written, asking people to suggest the worst game idea ever. Nobody wanted to participate.

  6. I actually think The Cold Equations-type “the hard facts” set of GM moves would make a pretty good addition. But I am the most laughable gamer. Who needs dignity when you can be in show business?

  7. It’s all fun and games until you find an actual Internet dude genuinely asking for detailed pregnancy modifiers in Prehistoric GURPS, as in hormonal and physical impediments, and then you ask yourself, beyond the obvious sexist bullshit behind the question – is he missing the point, or is he actually getting the comedy of horrors that is GURPS a little too well ?

  8. Joshua O’Madadhain
    Wait, so there are these things that explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate…and you can buy and sell stock in all of them?

  9. I’m down for any game set in Reagan-era wall street. As long as my PC gets to watch the market, buy & sell stock, and engage in trade manipulation.

    I’m not even joking.

  10. Jesse Cox If I’d worked out the details, I’d have a game (or at least a prototype), not a semi-joking concept. 🙂

    One possibility is that you have four players, each of which represents one of the Xs, and each of which gets currency each turn that must be used in order to take actions in that domain (you have to have explore currency in order to open up a new tile, say). In order for the non-explore players to get explore currency, they have to trade some of their currency for it (hence, forex).

    The problem with that as a game is that it would be hard (I would guess) to balance the relative power of each currency at different stages of the game. Forex ample, at the beginning of the game, everyone needs ExploreBucks, but by late-middle game maybe there are no more new places to explore and the value would crash. You might be able to finesse that by defining the costs of actions to make sure that each currency is worth something at different stages of the game.

    Hmm. Maybe I do need to work this out in more detail. 🙂

  11. One obvious thing to do with explorebucks — assuming you don’t have an abstracted or infinite map — is to also make that a major component of research.

    I like the idea of this being semi-cooperative — there’s both the question of how well the civilization is doing as a whole, and how many victory points you have individually accrued.

  12. Jesse Cox I hadn’t actually thought in terms of making this focus on a single civilization, although that’s an interesting idea, too; I’d been thinking of four archetype civilizations that are each natively only capable of generating one kind of currency.

    A tricky problem there is if each civilization truly can’t get other currency without getting it from another player, then if someone’s about to win then no one will trade with them. But I still like the idea.

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