Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Reverence as Vice

I think I'm going to scrap my plans to run a FUDGE game set in the Village of the Prisoner. As much as I like the idea, I don't think I can make it work and here's why: I take the source material too seriously. The idea of getting it wrong fills me with dread. I think this same problem hindered me when I attempted to run Nobilis as well. (Though that game had other problems as well. The game group was a wreck. And Nobilis isn't the easiest game for me to wrap my head around.) This reverence for the source material is a terrible habit for someone trying to work creatively. Fortunately, I only suffer from this malady occasionally. Most of the time I'm fine. For example I love S. John Ross for writing Encounter Critical but in no way do I feel I owe it to him to cleave unto his original vision for EC. As far as I'm concerned it's my toy now and if I want to pull the limbs off and melt the head with my magnifying lens that's exactly what I'm going to do. Ditto most other games. I'm utterly breaking the World of Greyhawk in my current campaign partly as a way of weaning myself off of the need to hold Gary Gygax's campaign as the Platonic ideal of fantasy gaming. It isn't that at all. It's a great example of one way to do it. With Nobilis and the Prisoner and a few other things I don't feel that same sense of ownership or empowerment or whatever. I think my 80's Marvel game grew difficult for me because of this same issue.


  1. I'm in kind of the same boat. The fear of "getting it wrong" is one of the things that has kept me from running, say, Fading Suns and other games I'd otherwise enjoy.

    But you've gotta let it go, man...let it goooooo....

  2. The whole "getting it wrong" thing is part of the reason why I frequently make my own game backgrounds and frequently systems to fit said backgrounds.

    I can't get the tone of my own stuff wrong, especially if I'm using a rules set of my own creation.

    The whole getting it wrong thing is also what keeps me from running anymore long-term Feng Shui games. I love the game. I like the system, and I do a pretty good job running it. Frequently though, I stumble upon something in the game's metaplot that makes me question if I'm running it correctly.

    Just some thoughts...


  3. Anonymous9:12 PM

    What you're talking about is probably most of the reason that I like "generic" settings. I tend to develop a complex about getting everything wrong, doubly so for franchise properties. Take "Serenity" for instance. I'm a big fan of Firefly/Serenity, but can't bring myself to run a game in that setting because I don't want to somehow "sully" it with my own less-than-Whedonesque imaginings. Somehow, it will then be less than perfect to me. Strangely, I don't mind it when other people re-imagine or add to an existing franchise. Sequels and remakes to movies don't bother me, and if someone writes a crappy spin-off novel then it's not going to get me's like I'm the only one I'm tough on.

  4. My wife would tell us -all of us- to stop worrying about it and just run a damn game.

  5. Anonymous2:54 AM

    " [...] but in no way do I feel I owe it to him to cleave unto his original vision for EC."

    And if I ever write anything that makes anyone feel otherwise, someone needs slapped (maybe me, maybe the other guy, but someone) ... Source-Reverence is, like, the emotional cousin to Canon-Lawyering, and both are maladies that medical science must one day cure, lest the species suffer unduly :)

    I know a girl who wouldn't run Pendragon because she feared getting it wrong. The group coaxed gently, and all was well and a good Pendragon was had by all ... but it did take some coaxing.

    I loves me some Prisoner gaming. I just re-watched the series, recently, and I've had that itch again ... I do a very creditable Leo McKern, if I do say so :)

  6. RHM: To me the metaplot/background/whatever is the weakest point of Feng Shui. You (and I mean both you specifically and the general you) could run a kickass campaign just ripping off a different action movie or two every couple of sessions. Or here's another take: take your favorite soap opera (Dallas, All My Children, Monday Night Raw, whatever) and add in 30 ninjas and ten thousand bullets per episode.

  7. Anonymous11:45 PM

    I, too, tend to avoid other people's settings unless I'm gutting and rewriting them (CP2020) or using a previously-unexplored corner of the setting to do my own thing (my Cleveland Buffy game.)

    And unfortunately I feel much the same way about historical settings. I love history, and I love gaming, but when I try to run a game tied to a particular time and place I get hung up on details.

  8. Anonymous12:47 AM

    Jeff's comment about Dallas, 30 ninjas and 10,000 bullets an episode made me think about how to do it...

    Take the cuts of Dallas, overdub them and and drop in ninja/gunfire shots ala the old DynaMan series, and post to YouTube. Anyone have the first season of Dallas and the American Ninja I-IV epic?

    I have got to stop reading Jeff's blog late at night.

  9. Anonymous8:25 AM

    Eh, that sounds as if you might be approaching Nobilis from a slightly skewed direction: as long as everyone enjoys themselves, you can't really be "getting it wrong". The game as written has an overarching cosmology and a wealth of distinct details, but everything in between is up to the players. Have fun with it.