Long-ass reply to Nick Brooke

From: Ramos-Tavener, Doyle Wayne (st670@Jetson.UH.EDU)
Date: Fri 03 May 1996 - 20:11:16 EEST

Nick Brooke sez:

>Duh... so you think it requires "much more discipline" to write and participate
>in a six-player tabletop broo-bash than an eighty-player freeform game? Well,
>Doyle Wayne, I ask you if this "discipline" is really such a good thing, since
>it makes certain types of game impossible. Isn't it perhaps a straitjacket?
>you ever played in a Gloranthan LARP, or talked to anyone who has? And what do
>you think the "goals" of a LARP are, if not to provide an opportunity for
>players to have creative fun with Glorantha?
>(I wish I'd realised how damn' *EASY* it was to write HtWwO while we were doing
>it: it would've been *SO* reassuring to know that the two lever-arch files
>packed with characters, plots, notes, etc. represented far less work than Doyle
>Wayne puts into each one of his crack, disciplined tabletop gaming sessions :-)

You mistake discipline for work. The discipline that I refer to is the
discipline used while playing the game, not in the amount of work done
before hand. My experience with LARP is restricted to a number of CoC
freeforms (no rules-total live action) games, hosting a Masquerade game,
playing in a year long Masquerade campaign and a C-Punk one shot. All of
these experiences lead me to the conclusion that LARP is very labour
intensive, and I have nothing but respect for those who invest so much time
and energy in such an endeavor. I have no experience with a Gloranthan LARP
game, but frankly I assume that the effort invested is comparable (i.e. a lot).

However when I speak of goals and discipline of table top role playing vs.
LARP I am refering to something a little less obvious. By "discipline" I
refer to the concentration and compromise necessary in a table top role
playing enviroment. At this time I feel rather obliged to qoute from an
unpublished essay that I wrote which addresses this subject.

Imagine a typical role playing session around a table. The players have all
created their characters based on the Rules and Background that the game
master has chosen. In each individual player's imagination they are using
their faculty of Fantasy to create images of their character and their
environment. But these are static images, because there is no plot to move
the characters along in time. Once the game master starts his Narrative,
however, these images begin to become dynamic, and acquire that "inner
consistency of reality". When the players and the game masters begin to
Improvise, their Collective Fantasy really begins to fly! Each word that a
player utters changes all the other individuals' Fantasy. Of course each
individual Fantasizes slightly differently, people are not going to be
imagining the exact same images. But the closer these images, these
Fantasies, are to one another, the more "in sync" the players and the game
master feel. This "in sync feeling" is the non-verbal communication that I
talked about earlier. It is in this wordless communication that such things
as theme and mood are communicated. It is in this wordless communication
that art may be achieved.

By discipline I refer to the necessary self control and self awareness to
sustain both suspension of disbelief and that "in sync" feeling with the
other players and the Gamemaster. LARP, while certainly sharing elements of
it's makeup with table top role playing, posits a different dynamic. In TTRP
this dynamic relies on the participation and compromise of all involved. In
LARP, if you are not satisfied with the current role playing situation you
find yourself in, you can always walk away, and try to find another. In my

experience(a phrase which is always a great conversation stopper, but I
don't mean it as such) this encourages some of the worst excesses of TTRP,
such as excessive ego inflation and cliqueishness. Further, roles that
people take up and role play quite well in table top (the opposite sex,
other classes and races, athleticly endowed individuals) fall flat in LARP.
Nick sez above that TTRP straitjackets him, preventing certain sorts of
games. I find that LARP seems to be incapable of doing many things that TTRP
does quite well. These include focusing on the individual over time, mass
combat, skirmish combat, Low Power role playing, the participation of the
entire group in the unfolding of the story, etc.

Because of this, I find it rather absurd that some declare that LARP is the
saviour of role playing or similiar nonsense. To be fair I have *never*
heard Nick Brooke claim this. But I do percieve a subtext of this assumption
on the list and in the fanzines. The implicit nature of this assumption
seems to be the guys who use the old roolz are losers, the guys who are
trying to come up with new roolz (i.e. RQIV) are losers, so this (LARP) is
the main way those who truly enjoy and understand Glorantha to participate
in it. Yuck.

As to my perception of LARP goals, the implicit assumtion of LARP seems to
be "sink or swim". If you are clever enough, charismatic enough, and have a
touch of ruthlessness about you, you will have a wonderful time, otherwise,
fuck off, as you are probably not talented enough to be participating here

I am being a little harsh here, as I have had only one bad experience in
LARP, a C-Punk One shot at Origins a few years back. However most of my
experience has tended to confirm the claims made here, though I would be
very interested in hearing a rebuttal.

No hard feelings, Nick? If you are at Gencon this year, I'll buy you a drink.


Doyle (and just Doyle)


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