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Kihō no Monogatari
 
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Xavid's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, January 4th, 2018
11:54 pm
A Ryuutama Playbook
I got Ryuutama for Christmas and it seems really interesting! Much more D&D-y than I'm normally into, but I'm digging the Oregon Trail feel and the whimsy. I haven't gotten to play or anything yet. But in character creation I got frustrated at how non-self-contained things were, so I decided to prototype a PbtA-style-playbook-inspired character sheet. (As is my wont.)

(I feel when people think about Apocalypse World/PbtA they often focus on the dice and moves, but honestly I think the playbook encapsulation and the GM direction are crucial as well.)

Anyways, here's what I came up with. Of course, maybe when I actually play my thoughts will evolve, but I still feel like this works pretty well.
Wednesday, October 4th, 2017
8:38 pm
Overthinking Narrativism

So, periodically I have disagreements on the word “narrativist”, so in an effort to overthink games more, I’ve been thinking about how exactly I use it. Well, literally I use it mostly for story-focused tabletop systems and experimental-to-me LARPs.* But when I’ve historically described something as narrativist, I think I’ve been referring to one or more of the following distinct things:

  1. Meaningful Choices
  2. Shared Narrative Control
  3. Explicit Scene Framing/Narrative Structure
  4. Focus on Feel and Themes
  5. Bleed/Steering
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Friday, July 7th, 2017
11:39 pm
On Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
I’d had Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance recommended to me years and years ago, when I really liked Writing Down the Bones. I’m… really not sure at this point why that makes sense. But I'm glad to have read it and have lots of thoughts, some of which I’ll relate here. (Spoilers for a decades-old weird book.)

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Tuesday, May 16th, 2017
10:34 pm
Chuubo's Book 1 Musings

So, we recently finished book 1 of my Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine campaign, and apparently people liked it enough to keep going (after a brief Dogs in the Vineyard break). It’s been a lot of fun and really eye-opening in terms of the realms of possibilities for tabletopping mechanics. I thought I’d take some time to write down some of my scattered thoughts and musings. Collapse )

Monday, May 8th, 2017
10:33 pm
On Torment
So, I finished Torment: Tides of Numenera. It was good! It was very Planescape: Torment-y, which is exactly what it said on the tin. In the manner of one who spent the whole game comparing, I have some various and sundry thoughts. These… probably end up sounding overly harsh, but it’s really just that it’s easy to nitpick and overthink stuff like this. I’m going to try to avoid major spoilers, but perhaps talk about some late-game stuff obliquely.
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Friday, March 3rd, 2017
1:01 am
Thoughts on Singularity
So, I ran Singularity (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/186728/Singularity) last weekend. Five times, in fact. It was my first time running an in-print published LARP, and (depending on technicalities) probably my first time running a LARP I’d neither helped write nor played. It was a lot of fun! It was also a lot different than I’m used to, so I thought I’d write down some thoughts.

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Monday, September 5th, 2016
11:15 am
Librarians Errant: Facts and Knowledge
So, I’m not sure how much of that Truths stuff will actually make it into Librarians at this point; it’s probably a bit general. Here’s some other, more specific stuff I’ve been thinking about since then. (Thanks, Sarah!)

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Thursday, September 1st, 2016
12:35 am
On Secrets
So, there were a couple of things I was thinking about when I braindumped about Truths. One was about the role of player secrets, and more generally player knowledge and “metagaming”. Like with basically everything, how you handle secrets in a game depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and your intention.

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Thursday, August 25th, 2016
9:36 pm
Librarians Errant: Truths and Motes
So, mucking about with my ideas for Librarians Errant, I've ended up positing a system, working name "Truths", that's heavily influenced by my experience with Chuubo's, WTF, and Dogs in the Vineyard. It's still very much in flux, but here's a basic sketch of part of it… with examples almost completely of no relation to Librarians.

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Sunday, August 21st, 2016
3:04 pm
The Player/Character-skill Divide: Puzzles and Minigames
This is a followup for my last post, which talked about player skill vs character abilities in video games and LARPs, but focused on "combat mechanics". Player skill comes into other areas as well.

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1:05 am
Playlist: Reflections
I'm trying this whole 8tracks thing instead of doing a bunch of links to places, in part so I can have audio for the obscure stuff. It has it's own weirdnesses, but *shrug*.

First Half

  • Fast Forward by Maximalism
  • Rewind by The Paper Raincoat
  • Can't Wait by Kate Klim
  • I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons
  • Nothing Changes by Anais Mitchell Feat. The Haden Triplets
  • The Times They Are A-Changin' by Bob Dylan
  • Superman by Five for Fighting: I both really like both these songs and like how they work as a pair.
  • Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down: I feel like the first version of this song I heard was one of the MIT a capella groups, but I can't find it if so.
  • I Wonder Where You've Gone by Girlyman: These two were probably intentional, because they're from the same CD, but they're one of the pairs that gave me this idea so they're staying.
  • I Know Where You Are by Girlyman
  • Right Here by Amory Sivertson
  • Long Distance by Hannah & Maggie

Second Half

  • Walk Away by Amory Sivertson: This playlist, in addition to lots of Girlyman, also has a surprisingly large amount of Amory Sivertson on it. I wonder what she's up to lately.
  • Just Stick Around by Nate Borofsky
  • Rising by Alba's Edge
  • Falling by Wishes and Thieves
  • Trees Still Bend by Girlyman: One early concept was more "contrasting parallel structure", hence flowers for trees, but that was too hard.
  • Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall by Simon & Garfunkel
  • The Question by Amory Sivertson
  • The Answer by Jason Tam/Joe Iconis
  • Above the Clouds by electronic orange juice: Hey, OJ!
  • Underground by The Orchids
  • Deer in the Night by Po' Girl: This pair is more of a parallel structure thing, and also amuses me overly much.
  • Moose in the Road by Girlyman
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
10:48 am
The Player/Character-skill Divide: Undertale and LARP
This post has some Undertale spoilers. You should play it!

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Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
8:40 pm
Complications
So, it's been a while since I talked before about interesting failures, and I feel like a lot of what I want is actually orthogonal to dice and more in the direction of "interesting complications".

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Saturday, June 25th, 2016
4:35 pm
Meaningful Video Games

Playing Undertale made me think about what video/computer games I find particularly meaningful or impactful. So here's an annotated list of questionable interest to anyone else.

RPGs:

  • Chrono Trigger: This is my choice for "canonical JRPG". It's noteworthy for a few places that break your assumptions, and time travel is great. (Also, I played it on the Shinkansen from Tōkyō to Ōsaka.)
  • Earthbound: Fun, quirky RPG with basic mechanics that are reasonably standard but a lot of straight-presented weirdness that gives it something of a Jenna Moran vibe.
  • Mother 3: Takes the stuff that made Earthbound cool and added extra layers of emotion an expectation-subversion. Fun, has impact, has some interpretation possibilities, and fundamentally solid.
  • Undertale: Goes without saying. Also, hard to say much about why its great without spoiling things, though it's a progression from/response to games like the above.
  • Planescape: Torment: super-cool and elaborate setting and use thereof, excellently done amnesiac-hero-that-learns-their-deal-over-the-course-of-the-game, best integration of philosophy and plot. Glad I eventually jumped through the hoops necessary to play it.
  • Persona 4: I must like it, I've written multiple LARPs inspired by it. The divide between the slice-of-life social day world and the monster-fighting night world is cool, though it's a bit on-rails for the relation between the two to reach it's full potential.
  • Honorable Mention to Kingdom Hearts: I feel like the metaphysics have lots of potential, but then they just keep introducing new classes of stuff instead of realizing that potential, and the metaphysics doesn't really impact the gameplay much.

Interactive Fiction:

  • Spider and Web: an excellent story that takes advantage of its medium well and depends on the player being clever and understanding what's going on beneath the surface.
  • Counterfeit Monkey: a really fun and zany mechanic of word manipulation that I totally want to put in a LARP sometime.
  • Gone Home: the 3D-exploration-based presentation made what might otherwise have seemed like a pretty standard linear story much more impactful and personally-connected, for reasons that are hard for me to full conceptualize. Definitely unique.
  • Spelunx: it's hard to imagine a game that's had a bigger impact on me, in terms of being a large part of inspiring me into a life of programming. It's a shame that modern games don't make it so easy to look under the hood and see how the game itself was made.
  • Honorable Mention to Spellbreaker and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: a lot of the classic Infocom games are really good. Those two are probably the ones I've played with the most conceptually interesting bits.

Other:

  • Braid: puzzle platformer with great exploration of different ways of doing time manipulation that holds together really well and ties in with the story well.
  • Link's Awakening: Link to the Past is probably my favorite Zelda game overall, but Link's Awakening is definitely the most philosophically interesting.
  • Ossuary: Most Discordian game ever!
  • Honorable Mention to Portal: I liked it a lot, and it's got great characterization. "But it's too mainstream."
Monday, April 18th, 2016
1:24 am
Dice and Interesting Failures
So, thinking about dice in tabletopping while dicelessly HGing Chuubo's has got me thinking about what I like about random dice roles in tabletopping. And I think it mostly comes down to interesting failures.

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Monday, April 4th, 2016
5:41 pm
Playlist: Spring Phoenix
In response to Zan's Spring Rebirth playlist. Some of these are just Spring-y and some of them are just wings-y, but it's all good.
Friday, April 1st, 2016
9:31 am
A Chuubo's Playbook
So, I talk up Apocalypse World a lot. One thing I like about it is that all the stuff that's specific to a character fits on a single sheet of paper. Not just your stats and stuff, but the definitions of all the special moves/key stuff you have, and the ones you could get by leveling up. Apocalypse World does this by having well-defined character types and having concise, focused moves and mechanics.

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Wednesday, March 30th, 2016
5:51 pm
The Lie
Fanfic. Inspired by OJ's Beyond the Wall game concept.

“You are a slave, Neo. You, like everyone else, was born into bondage… kept inside a prison of smell, of taste, of touch.” Morpheus leans back in his worn leather chair. He smiles. His eyes are a night of falling stars.

“The Lie is everywhere, it's all around us, here even in this room. You can see it out over the lake, or looking up at the sun. You feel it when you go to work, or go to a shrine, or buy steamed buns. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the True Thing.”

“What True Thing?” Neo looks uncertain. The wind rattles a pane of glass.

“Unfortunately, no one can be told what the True Thing is. You have to see it for yourself.”

Morpheus gives Neo two pills.


Neo falls through the static and the storms. The world around him breaks into fragments of violet and gold. He feels himself torn apart, torn from his dreams, his curiosity.

And then he lands, and he sees bleak and lightless gates, and beyond them ancient walls and towers made from stone and brass. The sky is sunless and alive with stars.

And Morpheus is there, leading a pale horse. "Welcome to the Bleak Academy, Neo. Here is the True Thing, beyond perception."

Neo follows him through the gate.
12:21 am
Dice and Ovals
So, a while back I talked about how I didn't necessarily feel it'd work well to add dice to a Chuubo's-like game. But for some reason I've still been thinking about it periodically, mostly in terms of a hypothetical Chuubo's x Apocalypse World game called "A Wish Chang'd World". But I hadn't really convinced myself of anything until I started thinking about something unrelated, namely "too many bubbles".

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
7:31 pm
Awakening
Inspired by a writing prompt from Sarah's Patreon

You hear the ice crack. You hear day and night pass in their endless dance. And you awake.

Things are different than you remember. Fewer trees to the north. The soil by your pond is drier, gritty. It is too warm by half, throwing all the rhythms off. And the pond is fuller. With mud, and other things.

Still, it's good to be awake, to be alive. The rabbits, as is their habit, have woken before you. They're already deep in their preparations for the season. The ducks and sparrows are eager to tell you the winter's news. Some geese have stopped to visit; you invite them in, ask of their travels, wish them pleasant winds.

The trees, the ones who remain, are slower to notice. For a moment you fear that too many have been lost, that they've been cut off. But no, not this year, at least.

You'd survive even then, you know, as long as the brook still flows. But their lot's plenty painful as it is, without isolation to compound it.

But no, even in the drowsy whispers you can hear the resonance, despite the losses and the cuts and the bitter air.

And you know, so long as you are able, that you will continue in your duties, do what you can to keep the wheel going a little longer.

But now, while those around you wake, you have a moment, at least, to just sit and enjoy the spring.
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