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.


  1. Can you recast that "it's okay" paragraph? It's only clear what you're getting at, but the example seems hard to model.

    1. I think I was trying to get at how people need to give themselves permission to ignore popular wisdom and whatever this month's orthodoxy is. Whatever people say there is no rpg canon, no real hard classics to learn from, no experts. It's all too new and we need to let go of stuff faster. Things like GNS theory and D&D are cul-de-sacs

    2. The term OSR makes me chuckle a little, cause it's like "yes there is a roleplaying revival" it was called dungeons and dragons. Like RPGs as such are *new* but that magic that happens at the table is a very old art. We're just finally ready for it again. To weave our own reality and tell our own stories. I can't wait to see what humanity does with it now that capitalism blown out its' reach (while trying to kill its' magic).

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