aryllian: (Default)
I think one of the reasons tabletop roleplaying is more difficult for me to get into properly than books or watching tv, or than other forms of roleplaying that I've done, is suspension of disbelief. (Which is not to say that most of the time it doesn't work great, just every now and then...)

Books and movies and tv are not interactive in the same way, so you can just completely suspend disbelief (well, as long as the disbelief doesn't get too big and snap that rubber band suspending the disbelief -- but whether it works or not, that's how it's supposed to work).

And more social or collaborative fictionish forms of roleplaying often have the same sort of deal: this is what is, because I said so, so please accept it as presented. Or sometimes they have specific ways to step out of character and deal with the "that doesn't make sense" moments.

But tabletop is often (in my experience) rather explicitly players trying to figure things out, and so sometimes it is in fact correct to say "That's weird." But sometimes it's not, sometimes you're being an annoying nitpicky sort of person who has just read about something obscure but relevant that the GM clearly has not read about, but just made some assumptions.

And sometimes it's obvious, but sometimes it's not.

I just think that's interesting.

(On second thought, you can get the same sort of thing in books, where you can't tell if you're supposed to suspend disbelief or whether you're supposed to smile and/or laugh and/or commiserate with the clueless characters who are all so totally wrong...which second option can be quite clever if used very sparingly, but sometimes may be too clever? Because as a reader, unless it's an author I trust, I tend to assume the worst...)
aryllian: (Default)
Often, when reading fiction, I read to find out what happens, and how. This causes me to read things from the start through to the end.

If I were to write to find out what happens, I would enjoy roleplaying, because the input of others keeps me from knowing what happens, so I have to keep going to find out. But when writing things of my own, I would stop before the end, because I'd already know what happens, because even if what I had planned didn't pan out, whatever happened would have to come from inside me -- and I know me.

But sometimes, I read to enjoy a journey I already know. To find out the little things I've forgotten, not the big sweep that I remember from having read something before. To enjoy the way the words fit together.

Sometimes, I write that way too. But maybe I should try thinking about it that way more often.
aryllian: (Default)
In the Cool Stuff Theory, you put in more cool stuff. In the Mary Sue Theory you take it out, because if you give your character too much cool stuff, obviously that character must be a Mary Sue.

(I know, it's about balance, or possibly parity. The problem with the concept of Mary Sue is me, not it. But I still dislike the way every time I think of something especially cool I have this can't do that counter-reaction, mostly because of Mary Sue.)

We Shadows

Jan. 5th, 2008 02:47 pm
aryllian: (Default)
This one is associated with a current character (but not written by, though this character would be allowed to write poetry/songs if I could manage something that he might write). The title isn't mine; the title is the reason this exists. It fascinates me because I'm pretty sure it's meant to be from Puck's speech at the end of A Midsummer Night's Dream, but I've always interpreted that line as meaning if we have offended shadows. But it could go the other way, and actually mine is probably be the weird interpretation. Looking at it again, I'm not sure why I assumed the one with the weird word order when you can have an interpretation that makes sense without a weird word order.

This is meant to be a song, too, actually. I don't know how well either of these would actually become songs, but it's enough to make me wish I could write music, so I could find out.

We Shadows

[anything in parentheses is echo-like and fading]
[anything indented is sung overlapping the previous line, like a round]

And there you are (there you are there you are)
There you are chained to the floor of a cave
And you can't turn your head (turn your head turn your head)
And you can't see yourself (see yourself see yourself)
But you know who you are  (who you are who you are)
You know who you are from the inside

There you are (there you are there we are)
There we are up on the wall of a cave
For anyone to see

We are the shadows
The darkness unfurled
We are the fire, the shapes, and the movement
(we are the shadows the shadows the shadows)
 We         are         your        world

So there you are (there you are there you are)
There you are watching the wall of a cave
And the flicker of fire (fire burns like your pain)
And the shapes of desire (you desire in vain)
Are your world and your truth (and the weight of your chains)
And your truth is the only truth you know

And there you are (there you are)
There you are (there we are)
There we are (there we are there we are)

We are the shadows
The darkness unfurled
We are the fire, the shapes, and the movement
(we are the shadows the shadows the shadows)
 We         are         your        world

So here we are (here we are here we are)
Here we are chained to the floor of a cave
With the fire behind us (the light that defines us)
Before us a wall (the wall is our all)

And here we are (here you are here we are)
And here you are (here we are here you are)

If we shadows have offended
Think but this and all is mended

We are the shadows
We are the dream
We are the vision in firelight and darkness
We are the echo, a scared child's scream

We are the shadows
           You are the shadows
We are the dream
           You are the moment of losing a dream
We are the darkness
           You are the darkness
We are the scream
           You are the echo, a jubilant scream

You are the shadows
            We are the shadows that yearn and aspire
You are the dream
            We are the dream that will always inspire
You are the darkness
            We are an outline of darkness and fire
You are the scream
            We are an echo of love and desire

We cast shadows and
        You cast shadows and
We see shadows and
       You see shadows and
Our truth is the only truth we know.

(Them that asks no questions is never told a lie)

So watch the wall (the stony wall)
Yes watch the wall (the shadows call)
We watch the wall (our world, our all)
The wall is where the shadows lie.


Jan. 5th, 2008 02:42 pm
aryllian: (Default)
Greatestjournal, where I've been roleplaying on and off for a few years, seems to be on the way to disappearing. I'm moving a couple of things that I like over here, so I don't lose track of them. (Things? Specifically, poems -- anything else would be too long and not right for this journal, though I do like a bunch of it.)

This one was in the first entry of the journal of the only character I've ever tried to play more than once (I only tried it because the first game died prematurely). He quoted it as being the lyrics of a song that he liked; it was meant to set up a bit of what the character was like.


When winter comes
All motion stops.
The world becomes


Frost and ice and silver air,
The white flakes of snow fall like diamonds, in drifts,
Cold that chills a heart of flesh
To frozen despair: winter's gifts.

Today is the first day of winter.

And the ice glows in the sunlight like a gem of rarest worth
Light reflecting and refracting from the sky that gave it birth
And everywhere I look I see but snow upon the earth
In winter.

Today is the first day of winter.
What can I do?

When the spring comes it will melt and form a river
A river that will bear my heart away
Away into a summer that could melt a thousand winters
A thousand winters of despair
A thousand

Today is the first day of winter.
What can I do?
I do what I can.
aryllian: (Default)
When I'm roleplaying in a fantasy setting, a lot of the time all the answers I think of depend on magic. Sometimes, even in a fantasy setting, it's good to remember that solutions can be mechanical, biological, social, etc. And should be, because magic probably isn't the easiest solution for the character most of the time.

Interestingly, this came up most recently in tabletop. Interesting, because now that I think about it, things are much less likely to be magical in tabletop because you can't just make things up, there's a shelf full of books you'd have to look through to find something that does what you want, and the character may not have the specifically defined skills, and...
aryllian: (Default)
I was all set to complain about my own expectations regarding types of writing and why I really like something like [ profile] empire_of_years (if it hadn't died almost immediately, that is--but it was fun while it lasted) much better than writing a novel*, so why do I consider that sort of thing to be lesser writing? And then something happened behind the scenes in my other roleplaying game, and I have decided that the reason roleplaying isn't real writing, no matter how much I might have learned from it and no matter how much I might enjoy it, is that there are too many other people (which is also the big draw--funny how these things work).

But it makes me wonder. I can't think of any online game I've been in that hasn't had differences of opinion between the people running the game and the people in the game at some point. The only recourse the people in the game have is to give up what they want for what they can get, or leave. (Or be thrown out for not doing what those in charge want, sometimes.)

And it's really sort of funny to me that when left to ourselves we set up (or join) dictatorships. I mean, it's not like it matters, it's a leisure activity and leaving is an option, but...when I was in college, if you wanted to start a club, there was a certain template you followed in order to get university resources. And no one and no group of people had the power to just throw someone out (though thinking back there were politics some of the time, depending on the club, and people might have left over politics, but that was their choice, not because they didn't have any options for change no matter what).

And I'm not saying I believe in democracy in creative endeavors, because that would only work if you have an amazing group that is always primarily concerned with consistency and creating something good. I guess what I'm saying is that roleplaying, especially the kind where consistency and goodness is valued and there are lots of players, doesn't have a very satisfactory model of government. It all depends those in charge not being jerks. (Most people aren't jerks most of the time, but anyone can make a decision that other people don't agree with and look like a jerk.)

And leaving something that you've come to care about because you don't have any rights isn't very satisfactory either, even if you joined knowing that's how it was.

And answers, just thinking.

(As a player, I've gone the give up what I want for what I can get route, and the issues have mostly been fairly small because I don't usually want a lot, just for the record.)

* Had I mentioned here that my current writing project is writing a novel? I figure that going on the assumption that I can't finish anything**, at least with something longer I can write quite a bit more of it before I stop. Or, going on the assumption that I can finish things***, I get more fun (writing) per unit unpleasant but necessary**** (sending things out, getting rejections).

** I had about a month's worth of free(er) time recently and was going to try NaNoWriMo (or something along the same lines--I'm sure it doesn't really count if you're not doing it during November) because as I understand it, most of the point of that is to finish and that would be nice. But I wrote two chapters of complete junk and then 1) couldn't stand the pace and 2) realized that it was completely worthless and if I kept going it would just get more worthless because I would be building on the wrong initial interactions. But the work wasn't completely wasted (yet)--that's the novel I'm working on now. I really need to come up with a workable set of goals for it, because the goal part was great and very helpful except for the fact that it was way too much. Also the I'm not going to stop and do research or worldbuilding part was probably worth keeping. I always get stuck when I stop to do worldbuilding.

*** I finished a short story recently, so every now and then this does work out.

**** Technically, not quite necessary, since I could finish it and then set it aside and forget about it, but I have this niggling feeling that actually selling something might be fun.

Letter game

Jul. 4th, 2005 11:26 am
aryllian: (Default)
Empire of Years, a letter game.

It may not work, but there's no way of knowing if I don't try. And I just want to say here, I hate advertising. I feel like this is not exactly a standard rpg, and it's not exactly just looking for a writing partner (though it might be closer, but I don't know where to advertise for a writing partner anyway), so I don't feel like it really belongs anywhere.

All the same, it will be interesting to see if anyone is interested in this sort of thing.
aryllian: (Default)
Yet another (long) roleplaying game inspired post.

It's not that the roleplaying game is dying, because there are are still a number of active players. It's just that it has slowed down noticeably and nothing much of interest has really happened for a while. And I blame this on the government of the game.

This is how it works. Every fairly important plottish kind of thing, even if it's entirely character based, goes through the mods, of whom there are five. As I understand it, they generally try to get all or at least most of them to sign off on things. So getting mod approval can, in my experience, take a while. And major plot points all come from the mods, so far as I can tell. Not being a mod, I don't know for sure how much effect other players can have on major plot points.

Anyway, of late, some of the mods don't seem to be around much, and their characters -- some of the more active characters in terms of stirring things up -- haven't been doing much. Now, I'm not saying they should be around. It's a long term game, they're busy, and in any case everyone needs a break every now and then. I haven't been around much for that matter, so...*shrug* I'm just saying that because of the way things are structured, it's very difficult for the active people to fill in.

It come back to the balance between rules and trust that I talked about before. To a certain extent, ordinary players in this game are just along for the ride. The plot unfolds around us, and we react. There's a certain amount of room for improvisation, but it's limited.

But when I try to figure out another form of government for such a game (a purely theoretical exercise, because while the idea of putting together a game is briefly tantalizing, I know my limits), I keep coming back to the size issue. The game is too big to let everyone in at an equal level, in my opinion. It would be chaos.

So imagine it smaller, or rather, imagine a smaller game where everyone can join on an equal level. Now the problem is trust. How do you find a small number of people you want to work with, and that you trust not to go too far? I suppose I'm showing my elitist leanings here, and I'm sorry to say it, but there is a gigantic difference between my current game, which is pretty picky about accepting people, and my previous game, which pretty much accepted anyone who could fill out the application. So I feel there does have to be some way of picking people, but I'm not sure an application is sufficient to foster enough trust to place everyone on a truly equal footing. It's very difficult to tell much from an application, even a cleverly designed application, and if it gets too long people won't want to fill it out.

Actually, I think the whole candidacy leading to impression on PernMUSH is a fairly good system for picking people when people need to be picked, but it requires a large pool of people who are willing to go to a lot of trouble, and I don't think it would work very well in any other context. And despite all the formalisms, it can lead to people being upset. Of course, any system that rejects some people is going to lead to some people being upset. Or possibly all the rejected people being upset, but only some of them quite vocally.

So basically, I think there's a problem, but I can't figure out even a theoretical solution, and even if I did, theory is quite different from practice. And it's always possible that the problem is me.
aryllian: (Default)
Fair warning: I'm talking about my roleplaying game again.

This game has a lot of rules, some of which, like the limit on the number of NPCs, drive me nuts. I can definitely see the need for rules, with some number between about 30 and 60 players (I don't know how many people have two characters) all playing in the same world, which will hopefully remain consistent. And yet...

It comes down to ownership. Practically speaking, when it comes to making up the things that happen, the players own their characters and the mods own everything else. Which means that the amount of collaboration is limited unless the players get together and chat. It can't just happen as part of the game. Again, I suppose this is inevitable, with the number of people, all of whom can't really be expected to keep track of everything. And if the player didn't own the character, it wouldn't be roleplaying, would it?

Or would it? What I'm having trouble with is the nature of pre-established relationships. Everyone knows X and Y are friends because that bare fact is part of canon, but the players of X and Y aren't actually friends, and don't know the history of the friendship, and don't know how X and Y interact. So, in acting like friends, they must, to some degree, make assumptions about how the other person will react, and the other person is constrained to react within certain bounds because otherwise it won't look like they are friends.

Or, in other words, who owns the relationship?

And if this blurring of lines is necessary, what of the rules that state most clearly that no one can define things about other characters? Though on looking at the rules again, it seems possible that the rule was only meant to apply to actions, not attitudes, which seems backwards as actions can be explained and made to mean something else but attitudes are much harder to redefine.

Which is all a bit of a diversion, because what I wanted to say originally is that a certain (understandable and probably necessary) lack of trust is what leads to the creation of rules, but rules are not an entirely satisfactory solution because their presence makes it harder to trust, even in situations where trust is necessary. At least for me. But I'm not all that trusting anyway.
aryllian: (Default)
I've been thinking about what I said in my previous entry, and I don't think I put it quite right. When I said "Before, I was always playing to say what I wanted to say or do what I wanted to do through the thin facade of a character," and then went on to compare it with what I was doing now, being more true to a character, I was creating a dichotomy that seems to favor what I'm doing now. It sounds bad to not be true to one's character.

And yet -- the writer or role-player has a responsibility to one's self, as well, and in the case of role-playing, to the game. Create a character that doesn't work for the game, or the story, and you have a mess on your hands, no matter how true you are to that character. Create a character you don't want to work with, and you have an equal mess.

So in my previous entry, I wasn't stating a better or a worse, just a change of interest. Or rather, I was, by implication, but I've changed my mind about it.
aryllian: (Default)
I am playing two characters in a journal based roleplaying game, and trying not to be obvious about it. It's actually rather difficult. It's not just sounding different, which I can do if I pay attention -- or at least I think I can do it, but then how would I know? It's thinking differently. I'm pretty sure it's an Egan book that has the idea that the definition of self is the person who one can always predict the actions of. If I play two characters who are interacting with one another, then the problem I'm going to have is that unless I sit down and plan it, the one is never going to be surprised by anything the other one says. Whereas I am surprised by other people's characters all the time.

I'm not sure if this makes a difference from the outside, or if it only feels different from the inside. I'd like to know, but of course, asking someone else in the game would shatter the illusion, if the illusion is still there, which I have no way of knowing.

This game is, by the way, quite different from the roleplaying that I've done in the past, though I've only just begun to realize it. Before, I was always playing to say what I wanted to say or do what I wanted to do through the thin facade of a character. That is an interesting game, and fun in its way, but the new game is also interesting. It is to be absolutely true to the character no matter what I want, to the limits of my ability. I don't always succeed in completely repressing my own inclinations, but that is the ideal, and it is a much harder game. It also often requires research, so it can't really be done with any satisfaction in a real time or semi-real time type of roleplaying, which is what I've usually done before.

I'm convinced all of this about roleplaying and characters also applies to writing stories and characters; I haven't worked out exactly how. Surely stories are more than just roleplaying in which I am playing all the characters. For one thing, stories require plot.

I think that might be my greatest weakness as a writer. I'm not very good at plot.

Why does deciding that something is my greatest weakness feel like hubris?
aryllian: (Default)
I don't know why, I feel the need to remember my first roleplaying character with fondness and bewilderment. Technically, he was my second roleplaying actually, technically, he was my third. But the first two didn't last very long, and are easily forgotten (obviously), but this character I played for years and pretended I wasn't being absurd when I claimed I was very like him, and believed I wasn't being absurd when I claimed I was very like him. And I suppose I wasn't completely unlike him, and the pretense was fun, and is still compelling. But...I don't know. It seems so very long ago, and yet...

Bittersweet. Memories. Memories are often better than reality. Not always.

He was very like a Mary Sue, looking back. Funny how that never registered at the time. Funny how I have this urge, remembering, to do something with him. Who would he be at 45? It could be interesting.

Or not. Put the memories back; there are more interesting things to do now. A moment, every now and then, is enough.
aryllian: (Default)
It has been a long time since I wrote anything here. The reason for that is because I've been obsessed with my new livejournal roleplaying game. Not the one I was obsessed with a month ago--that one very quickly became nothing but relationships and thoughtless worldbuilding and there were issues with the management and a lot of the interesting people quit, so I eventually quit too. But since I had only whet my appetite for roleplaying with that little taste, I joined another one.

This one is much better run, at least, and notable in that I am playing a character that doesn't come naturally to me. That is, parts of it do, and parts of it don't. And sometimes I spend a lot of time considering how my character would react, only to go with my first instinct, having refined my mental picture of my character to include my natural reaction. I fear if I'm not careful, I'll have my character acting just like me, but for different reasons. This happens to me in roleplay--though usually more in the kind of roleplay that happens in real time. I think having time to consider the major plot points will make a difference. But even if it doesn't, I feel like I'm getting a lot from the process.

But the problem with being obsessed is that I haven't been writing anything except posts and comments for the game, and I have very little inclination to do so, since mostly I'm using the sparks of ideas that come to me for roleplaying instead of for writing stories. I'm not sure if I'm okay with this or not.

On the one hand, why do I write except in the hope that possibly someday someone will read what I write? And if I write for my roleplaying game, I can be fairly sure that some of the people in the game will read my posts (and possibly other people--this one is public). And livejournal roleplaying is much closer to actual writing than any other kind of roleplaying I've done, because while the comments are simple reaction, the posts are telling a story.

On the other hand, it's not exactly real writing because the world is someone else's world. Also, some of the characters in the game are someone else's characters. Mine isn't, really--the name and a very bare personality archetype were provided, but everything else is mine. But basically, if lazy writers either write fanfic or roleplay, then I must be very lazy, because I'm doing both.

I think what I need to do is set aside some time every day for "real writing". I did this for a while in the spring, and it worked fairly well until I fell out of it because it required getting up early. But aside from the getting up issue, I really like writing in the morning, and then I can be lazy and do whatever I want (roleplay!) in the evenings.

Though it's sort of silly to have decided this now, because next week is going to be busy and is probably not the best time to start doing this. Ahh well. I shall start the week after. Yes, really. No excuses allowed.


Aug. 5th, 2004 09:07 pm
aryllian: (Default)
I have been spending entirely too much time keeping up with my new role-playing game. And it's fun for now, but I'm not sure it's feasible for any longer amount of time. Of course, part of the problem is that I keep checking in to see if anything new has happened. If I could just break myself of that habit...

Speaking of silly habits, another quiz:

What a surprise... )


Aug. 1st, 2004 11:32 pm
aryllian: (Default)
I joined a livejournal roleplaying game recently, and today roleplay started. I am faced with an issue I don't usually think about very much: vocabulary. The problem is, I'm playing a character who is supposed to be sixteen years old. Admittedly, I've played characters who are younger than me before, but somehow it seems different when the only thing that can be directly attributed to my character is conversation. I have a different way of using words when I'm talking (or writing conversation).

But for writing a journal--I'm fairly sure that I know more words now than I did when I was sixteen. I just don't know which ones they are. Of course, my character doesn't need to know exactly the same words, but my character has a style which is just a bit pretentious, and I fear I might overdo it without even realizing it. Is being truly pretentious something that comes with age and experience?

Ah well. Writing about it, the whole idea is starting to seem silly. Which is a good way to deal with problems. Write about them until they disappear.


Jul. 6th, 2004 09:44 pm
aryllian: (Default)
Someone said (in a discussion I would link to except that it seems to have disappeared) something about fanfic and roleplay being what lazy people who like to write do. I have to admit I agree, at least about the roleplay part. And lately, I am feeling lazy. I want to roleplay.

The problem is, I can't figure out where. I don't have time to hang out on a MUSH, which would usually be my default choice when I get this feeling. The tabletop game I was in just dissolved, and that's not writing anyway and I wasn't very good at it, but at least it was something. The PBEM games I've been in have all divided people up arbitrarily and then wherever I end up turns out to be slow and I lose interest. And I can't think of anything else. Actually, some people write fictional livejournals, which looks like a lot of fun, but I'm not sure how you find a group of people to do that with, unless you know people, and I don't. And if I were to do it by myself, it would be too much work. I have plenty of real writing I could do, but that doesn't quite satisfy the "I want to write and also interact with other people at the same time" feeling.

What I really want is somewhere that's fairly fluid, that you can find the people you want to roleplay with somehow, but which is not done in real time, because I don't have time for real time. Ah, well, if I don't find anything, then I'll have more time for real writing.

If only it actually worked that way.
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