On Advice on Advice

ive been thinking about writing advice a lot lately, remembering old articles from university, books i liked, things i carry with me. It's a difficult genre to do. Good writers are bad at explaining it, and people who are good at explaining it rarely have anything to say.

I don't like procedure. Procedure is a trap. Every writer has a different system so you can safely ignore any suggestion of a method. No one cares what pen you use, what desk you sit at, what font you pick, what program you use. Write it on napkins, buy a ridiculous leather book and a £300 fountain pen, just get on.

The only method is sit down, do the work. Or don't. 

Recharging your imagination can be work. Reading, mostly. Films and TV are a little useful but the time:value is not great. One good book can nourish you for months, most films are barely a snack.

Social media is not work. Communities is not work. Writing is work, preparing to write is work until it isn't. 

Don't be your own critic. Others will do that for you for free. 

Always always look at the back catalogue of anyone telling you what to do. Feel free to ignore me.

Be brave. Write the game you want to make and ignore everything else. Experiment with structure and form. If you want to have a 10,000 word read-aloud box of a diegetic novel in you adventure then do it. Have the entire adventure in one room. Tell me where that cup came from in such a way as being entirely impossible for anyone to find out through normal means. Don't eliminate yourself from the work in pursuit of an audience. This isn't penicillin, we can experiment with the formula. If you aren't then you're committing the cardinal sin of inflicting boredom

Be ugly. Never be afraid to look cheap and nasty. Similarly don't be scared of being too beautiful, too expensive, too much. But don't feel you have to be one or another for someone else's benefit

Finish it. Just finish it. Then make people pay for it. People who think you're making toys will pay it, they're used to it. People who know you're making art will pay it, they know what you're dealing with. You need to eat, you need to escape the cycle and breathe. 

Even if it is bad charge us for it we will buy it

Do not try to please anyone. Do not be dungeons and dragon. Be small, be specific, be interesting.

Nothing you do before writing matters. Sit down and write. Whatever got you to that position is what you need to do to keep on doing it.

Ignore assumptions, reevaluate accepted systems for how books are laid out or approached. And for the love of god look at things outside RPGs. All it takes is for someone to play boardgames, read history, read something not in appendix n, and they look like a genius innovator. We're not. None of us are.  We're looters who travelled further from the village.

Steal harder. Write an adventure that is a criminally close copy of a novel you've read. Transform it. You'll learn things.

Be inconsistent. Change everything, ignore everyone, write. Be only consistent in that you sit down and write. Even if you are bad at it, write. Write more, finish more, ignore audience ignore clicks and fame, people will recognise something special if you just keep doing it. 

Think: Eventually a body of work can't be ignored. The size might vary, but it speaks for itself. You don't want a mad success, steer clear of it. They are poison, full of switch-backs and madness. Slog in the dirt, write, finish. There isn't anything else, no way out.

I have more but it is 5:50am and I'm bad at it

Best Social Combat

Social combat like physical combat is merely an impasse.

I want your things, you don't want to give them, impasse. Fight.
I sneak up on a guy, stab him in the kidney, dead. No impasse no fight.

I want them to tell me where the shops are, they don't want to. Impasse, pry.
I ask them to follow me, they don't mind, no impasse no talky.

We all know how combat in Troika works. Social impasses are like that, there is parity. Parity is important to reduce any sense of superiority in any one. Unless you want that.

Social combat, like physical combat, will be idiosyncratic. Troika does fighting in a very specific way so it stands to reason it should also do social combat in a very specific way.

Fighting in troika is about fickle fate and a loss of control.
Social conflict in troika is about manners and cultural bindings.

Social combat in troika is to trap people in the rules of social convention
If either party is not interested in engaging in the game of convention then they cannot "win", only appeal to raw intellect. Which is madness!

The Etiquette advanced skill can be seen as a coppiced system. A "fight" skill if you will.

Etiquette can be expanded to each distinct section of society. Per people, per court, per club. Miss Kinsey's Diner's Table Talk, for instance.

HOW DO I TALK?
Everyone involved draws initiative (call it a soiree if you like)
On their turn they can do whatever they would normally do, including engage in social manoeuvring
Roll vs the appropriate rhetoric they are utilising
The winner rolls on the appropriate table
Exhaustion by rhetoric enables the winner to gain an answer or extract a promise. An answer is always truthful, the gm will transfer the knowledge to avoid any chicanery. A promise, if broken and as determined by the gm, will cause the player to lose 2d6 Luck. An NPC will always perform the promise in a way befitting their nature. A promise forced out like this cannot last or cause a change more far reaching than a handful of days. Or d6 worth. Real, binding promises must be negotiated cleanly.
Yes you can use these during fisticuffs and vice versa

Knidotic Conundrums
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7+ 
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10 
 0


Miss Kinsey's Table Talk
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32 


Bythotic Placation
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Vennish Formal Fatalism
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100 


Troikan Meiosis
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12 
12 


Manticoric Bdelygmiasm
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7+ 
 4
12 
16 
24 



Originally posted here but tables don't bloody work

Immanent Gods

Consider the source of the numinous. Your basic RPG thinks very little of it or places it in a watered interpretation of the greek pantheon. In this case the numinous is transcendent, coming from without and inwards. It is probably more common in reality for the numinous to be seen as immanent, coming from the inside out.

Consider the burning bush which Moses happens upon. God talks to him and makes it very clear he is temporarily inhabiting, or maintaining a situational relationship with, the bush to make a point. A culture which held to the immanence of the numinous would be speaking to the god within the bush, of and probably named Bush. Remind players laughing at the idea of experiencing the numinous in a bush that they seemed cool with the idea of their RPG gods being the cast of Super Friends, maybe a bush isn't quite so stupid.

The immanent god is named for what it is, or what is named is for the god. Since neither is distinct it becomes a moot point. This raises questions for language: if god=thing then your names for things become strong choices. Is CORN the seed, the plant and the food? Is the transformation significant? If humans can transform gods what does that mean? Are these gifts or are these powers? The religious hierarchy would have feelings about this.

This should not necessarily be taken to be too dogmatic. Religious thought is a product of the people who have it and can be flexible. Importantly, trying to show the full complexity of the numinous in a game is a road to trite simplification. Instead show facets, tenets, never the whole. Religions are complicated and any attempt to explain them fully will reveal a lack of convincing texture.

The god of thunder could logically become also the lion via the roar. The lion might leave behind the thunder over the centuries, or maintain it in an emblematic or prodigal state.

A god of a thing may come to resemble its worshippers over time while retaining an emblematic relationship with their portfolio.

A god of a great thing may be separated into sub-things. The tree god might have its roots split of into serpents and its fruit co-habit and methodologically entwine with harvest gods.

Add literary greebles



EDIT:

Immanent gods do not have interests outside of their links. A god of the reeds cares about the reeds, about houses, about music maybe. A god of a specific city cares about that city. Gods are huge and unimaginative cogs. They are not people.

Even as immanent gods become more human over time they will still be represented by their original emblems. The relationship becomes les literal and more familiar to us in our metaphorical Judeo/Christian world

Some unstructured thoughts on structure

I've covered some things before here: https://whatwouldconando.blogspot.com/2018/05/troikan-bumble-logic.html

I'll re-cover those points at random in all likeliness.

We should be critically examining our presumptions regarding story. They are all artificial and in no way an essential part of storytelling. Therefore we can remove them, ignore them, or otherwise do as we please without worry.

Heroes & villains are false. This does not means we should move to "grey", that's just pulping them together in feigned maturity. It's very easy to find examples of cultures that have wildly different ideas of what is good or bad. Remove all assumptions about morality except that people will have it. The absence of a moral code is impossible, it's just a rejection of a specific code and a resulting tangled interaction with it.

All people you meet in Troika believe in something being right and something being wrong. This might not be good or evil. They all have their priorities and they are not judeo-christian. Their life is wild and dangerous, they do not have the privilege of being non-committal with their world view

Conflict is not essential. It can be replaced as a central mover. Filling the gaps isn't easy but it's possible and should be attempted. Consider a world where there are desires that do not cross others. To accomplish something doesn't require anything external. Puzzles exploded outwards. The desire to go places and a need to figure out how. Conflict can be viewed as moments where the breaks slam down and we have two wills meet where only one can continue on. Instead consider compromises. In Troika conflict is dangerous and arbitrary. Occasionally one sided and always unfair. Compromise will keep you alive.

Core loops are for products, not art. Heroes journeys are for propaganda and bedtime stories. The philosophy of hylics.

Arcs are only to be applied by historians to past events and are always abusing our need for patterns. Philosophy of psychics.

The world was created by the demiurge, there is no meaning no arc no hero no journey, just an up and a down. Stories can just start and more importantly just end. A search for meaning in media is childish. Meaning isn't a universal thing, a treasure to be found. Meaning can exist in only one person, the one who made it, or, like Holloywood films, only exist in the audience.

The only universal is that there is a way towards gnosis and we all believe we are moving in that direction and that others have chosen a divergent path. The demiurge created the pattern and the pattern is bleeding to death. Walking the pattern will take you in circles where you'll be held up above the most base. If you break the pattern you'll be considered a savior and clung to in desperation. Ignore the pattern, leave them to follow their feet, and build something buoyant.


Armour in D&D

I have definitely talked about this before. I'd link it if I was smart.

Anyway, we're talking old D&D 'cos 5th is fussy and I don't know it. I'll assume it's identical.

Things that guys in plate are scared of: Poleaxes, cannon balls, being hit with a club A LOT, loads and loads of arrows, getting pinned down and jabbed in the eye or armpits with a dagger.

Other armours do different things. We could make them all do a unique thing, but this requires knowledge and controversial assumptions (more so than usual). So what kind of common thread does, say, chain have with plate?

Assuming full and unrealistic coverage of the body, they're relatively similar. Swords are bad at both. Both are hoping pointy things don't get lucky. Both don't like getting whacked with large blunt objects very much.



Verisimilitude is a better word than realism. Realism can go do one, I wanna feel it. Feel and real are far apart.

Armour either works or it doesn't.

What if it has a defence profile? Melee weapons are only doing 1-12 damage, baring super strong people.

When you take damage you look at the table. / means no damage. It stops at 12 'cos that's the human peak. When the dragon bites you in half it ignores your tin hat.

Plate
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Chain
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Breastplate
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And so on

Alternative Troika Skill

1d3+3 creates a feeling of unfairness in some players. Which they don't like. Each to their own.

Here are some other ideas:

Everyone starts with 6 Skill. Done.
Skill doesn't exist. Roll 4d6+12 for Stamina. When you want to Test Your Skill you spend 1 Stamina to behave like you have 6 skill. If you don't want to spend stamina you just use your Advanced Skill rank.
Skill doesn't exist. Add 2 to all existing Advanced Skills in backgrounds and just use them. Reduce all enemies by like 10% skill. If you don't have an appropriate skill you must Test Your Luck to succeed.
Everyone starts with 6 skill. When they are reduced to 0 Stamina they are removed from danger somehow and reduce their Skill by 1. They probably can't get that back. It's an injury. Possibly have some kind of magical healing thing if you're a wuss.

Done!

Theory July 2nd: Spiders

I want a game to tell me my parameters. I don't want to push against them, I don't wanna make D&D into something it isn't 'cos that's just sticking a plaster on it and saying it's all good. If what a game is is "gross" "stupid" or worst of all "boring" then that's what it is and I don't want people to get better at hiding how dull they are or else we might arrive at a time where Hasbro tricks me into thinking they're good people and trying to make good art.

Don't fix things, break them and abandon them for better things. Make better things. Let boring and awful things and people be boring and awful. The only thing worse than a massive spider on your wall is a spider that was on your wall until just a minute ago.

The centre from which things are made will be only that which needs to take shape at that point.

Theory July 1st: It's Ok It's Ok

I'm not good at following instructions so I'm just going to write in the state that I am on learning what I should be writing about today. So there.

I design with absolute insincerity. It is not me speaking from my soul or anything like that, it is me creating a space that will force the viewer to enter it in the shape I want without them knowing. This is possible because RPG writing and reading is naive and trusting and I exploit that.

Mindreading is fake but it works. If I tell you mindreading is fake and then do it anyway it creates a different feeling.

When I read a book on psuedoscientific theory or weird anthropology I always take it in good faith and believe them utterly while I'm there. Then I take that belief with me after and hold on to it like a keyring from the giftshop on the way out. I will believe what is most pleasant or interesting to believe.

Gene Wolfe lies to his readers all the time. Good books can lie.

Writing anything is magic. It's a spell. Literally a spell. You write magic words to create an effect. The greater the effect the more powerful the spell you need. If I want to topple the western world I'd have to be a pretty potent magus.

Voice is not natural. If every book sounds the same then what's the point.

If an RPG is just rules on how to play a game then it's only a fraction of a complete game. If an RPG book doesn't make me feel the game with every bit of my body then it's weak magic. I should be able to read a book and then be so overwhelmed with power that I must expel it immediately by making something.

Good writing always makes you over filled with magic that needs emptying.

If you want someone to do something you don't say "do this thing" you make them want to do it themselves without asking. You've created a play cycle, or a mindset.

"It's ok. It's ok." Sometimes you have to break a spell. Say "you do not need this" over and varied. Say "you may do this" and some people will be released from a decades old curse. Often they need stronger magic. It's whacking the radio.

RPG design should also consider the spaces between the games. How will the game exist outside of the play environment. Unlike a novel it is reliant on a social space. If your solution to creating that space is "marketing" then you are weak. Marketing is a vector to deliver your game's power. It's a magic wand, a fetish. If you are weak then you will die when you run out of money.

Ok I'm done for today.