Thursday, 23 August 2012

widely criticized for its flickering ghosts

Man-Pac Theology.

When all are eaten, Man-Pac is taken to the next stage

When all lives have been lost, the game ends

The Prophet Midway
  The enemies turn deep blue, reverse direction and usually move more slowly

When an enemy is eaten, its eyes remain 

  In even later stages, the ghosts do not become non-dangerous

Four enemies roam the maze 

  each enemy with its own distinct personality in order to keep from becoming impossibly boring

Despite the seemingly random nature of the enemies, their movements are strictly deterministic

The sacred text of Iwatani
 One life should be able to play the game indefinitely. However, a bug keeps this from happening

Based on the concept of eating.

 paku-paku taberu


Friday, 17 August 2012

A boy between the ages of Ten and Thirteen

has a head full of strange patterns, slowly coalescing. Like lightning seeking one particular point of earth and one cracked channel of air, then whipping a crest of ions, drawing down the fire, he is, without realising, looking for ways to be in the world. 

Not like a Hero, its not a job description, you don't really turn into that thing. But a pattern, something to improvise with. A shield between your assumption of yourself and the horrible things the world is about to do to you.

And, for me, at about the age of twelve, it was this guy

It was important that he didn't kill people, and I think it was important, somehow, that he didn't think too much about not killing them. When they point it out to him, he's forgotten and assumed there must have been an occasional casualty. He's surprised when he finds out he's the worlds best criminal with a zero death rate.

And somewhere in the back of a twelve year old's head, a little line gets drawn. Yes. That is how a man should act. That is how to be.

He got drunk and I didn't know what that meant or what it was like. He fell in love and I knew nothing of that. He was good, but he broke the law. He worked for the feds, but only to take down real monsters. When he escaped from training school, he pulled the remote destruct fuse on the ship he stole. Seconds after he did that it went off. He didn't know that they were all programmed to do that. They expect you to escape. They like to give you a little kick when you do to ensure initiative.

He fought dictators and power hungry butchers and awful soulless grey men. Sometimes he fought the military, or just the fact that there was a military. He hung out with aliens.

I can remember, with exactness, the day I bought the first book. I can recall the weather and the sounds. There was a lake. Someone was flying a model plane. The other kids were playing.

If you peel back enough layers, under nineteen years of resentment and fear, you'll find a twelve year old boy who, just once, wants to take down an evil dictator with a hijacked satellite and a sharpened fingernail.

Goodbye Harry Harrison. You changed my life. Not by much, like moonlight on an uncurled leaf, just a touch.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Rules Don't Cover Impolding Friendships

So it didn't really matter that I forgot to bring them.

After being mugged after a carousing roll and turning up naked at the tavern with one hit point and no money. 

Teen1 (about Teen2) "Cut his face."

Teen3 "No, tie him up naked."

Teen2 "Wouldn't they be suspicious that you're taking a naked man upstairs to saw his face?"

DM "No because you're already a couple."*

At the Eternal Feast of the Harvest Knight

"Oh so when it's in town and we're begging you not to drink THEN you get drunk, but you won't eat anything now."

"No because you never eat the food they offer a place called the Neverending Feast."

In the Dungeon beneath the castle of the recently murdered Harvest Knight.

"I'll follow you because something bad's going to happen and I want to laugh in your face when it does."

After pissing on the Mysterious Yet Impossible statue of a PC in said dungeon. And being wrestled to the ground by said PC.

"I don't care if I pee on myself, I'm going to pee on your statue."

Teen3 while holding down fellow teammate.

"Carve 'TIT' into his platemail."

And yet when challenged for a song to enter the feast of the Harvest Knight Teen1 and 2 broke into a perfect dual rendition of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. Teen3 chose 'I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts.'

They seemed happy by the end. I need to focus more. I was lazy, disconnected and unprepared this time. I owe them a bit better than than.

*On reflection, yes, yes they would be suspicious at the facial mutilation thing. Assuming gay couples in mock-feudal settings co-mutilate is insane. I was under a lot of pressure at the time. Sorry gays.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Ironic Situation

There have been several times playing RPG's when I've become frustrated and thought that the most effective way to progress would be to form the players into a tight military-style team with a clear hierarchy and relentlessly pursue the goal of levelling up. I have never actually played this way because it seems like to opposite of fun.

Its generally accepted that almost no group of players anywhere has acted anything like this. (If you have, or did, feel free to comment below.)

So we accept that players will act in a way that stops them pursuing the most optimal goal. This is so obvious to state about RPG's that it's a cliche.

And the most effective way to oppose the players is to persistently try and kill them with whatever resources the imagined world can reasonably provide.

So there is a kind of abstract, absolute version of D&D kind of operating in the background as people play. One where ruthless, dedicated teams of highly focused players try to outwit deamonically clever DM's in order to advance in level.

None of my games are remotely like that. The players, in fact, play against themselves to a high degree and I play against myself. I tend use the dice to ground myself and make sure I'm not going too soft on players. I roll publicly so I'm not tempted to fudge. The dice want to kill you. They are like dogs I own. I don't want you to get hurt but the dogs are hungry and they have to have their chance.

And now a bit of Reinhold Niebuhr.

'hey girl'

But irony is something more than comedy. A comic situation is proved to be an ironic one if a hidden relation is discovered in the incongruity. If virtue becomes vice through some hidden defect in the virtue; if strength becomes weakness because of the vanity to which strength may prompt the mighty man or nation; if security is transmuted into insecurity because too much reliance is placed on it; if wisdom becomes folly because it does not know it's own limits – in all such cases the situation is ironic. 

The ironic situation is distinguished from the pathetic one by the fact that the person involved in it has some responsibility for it. It is differentiated from tragedy by the fact that the responsibility is related to an unconscious weakness rather than to a conscious resolution.

While a pathetic or tragic situation is not dissolved when a person becomes conscious of his involvement in it, an ironic situation must dissolve, if men or nations are made aware of their complicity in it. Such awareness involves some realisation of the hidden vanity or pretension by which comedy is turned into irony.”

Virtue becoming vice, strength becoming weakness through vanity, security transmuted into insecurity, wisdom becoming folly.

This sounds like every good game I've ever run or played in. In fact it sounds like the best parts of those games. The un-plannable aspects that make the game different to everything else.

But the situation does not dissolve. We continue regardless, in full awareness of the irony. We continue because of the irony, hoping for it, playing towards it. What is this?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

"You know it's always more fun when we split up."

"Ok my backstory is that my parents were killed and I was raised by Dwarves" (who apparently named him after the city they lived in, Wiggleton) "but the corrupt dwarf king's men killed my dwarf dad and then I picked up a bar of iron from my fathers forge killed the kings guard and that's how I kind of became the ultimate person, oh, and I slept with the kings daughter."


Teen1 - "Do I have to take a WIS test every time I take a drink? I don't really feel like my characters an alcoholic."
DM- "I'll give you and Teen2 50 XP each if you can persuade Teen3 that it's a good idea to get drunk right now. Teen3 I will give you 100 XP if you can persuade them to stay sober."

30 seconds later

Teen1 - "If you take a drink now, I won't kill you."


Hold on! Do you think this monastery might be a very evil monastery?"

Two minutes after cutting the arms and legs off an undead monk in abandoned swamp-struck Hellmarsh monastery.


After a five minute discussion of the accuracy of scholarship surrounding the life of Jesus, the relative loyalty of Lizardfolk to a six-foot lunatic wearing enamelled plate mail with the Crown of the Lizard King gilded to the helmet, the poor conditions in the swamp around Hellmarsh monastery and the negative impact of human hypocrisy on possible re-settlement of an occasionally man-eating race because "we eat cows and nobody says we're evil.'

"It doesnt matter what the actual Jesus looked like. The Lizard Jesus can be a totally different thing. I can be Lizard Jesus wearing enamelled Platemail."


On the complaints of the relatively sane Teen3 when going through three separate doors in Hellmarsh Monastery with three separate characters.

"Come on, you know it's more fun when we split up."