Duelling banjos

edited April 2006 in Stuff to Watch
Has everyone seen the Pistols at dawn thread? 'Dance of the Straw Men', I'm calling it.

I'll say this for you, Levi--you sure are game.


  • Sometimes I agree with the views of the RPGpundit guy, but largely I disagree (and not from those forums, I'm talking about his long-running blog and the stuff he posted in various forums before getting invariably banned).

    But fuck, actually reading his posts is like stepping in a swirling, black vortex of DIRECTED HATE. That dude IS the whirlwind. When I read his stuff before, more than any other Ivory Tower Asshattery the words "Holy Fuck Dude, it's JUST FUCKING GAMES!" came to my lips: And this is coming from a guy who eats, sleeps and breathes games.

    Uh, that's not an official Story Games position or anything.

  • The entire thread made me tired after about the fifth entry.
  • You can always find isolated parts of somebody's worldview to agree with--even sections of Mein Kampf, read selectively. It's the overall system of thinking that's significant.

    Or, as a friend of mine said apropos academic debate, "It's not that I disagree with you, it's just that you're wrong."
  • I find the whole discussion pretty funny. RPGpundit is very well spoken, and has a likeable style of writing. I've seen way worse.

    The bits I particularly like are the bits where he explains that theory as an exercise is now permanently poisoned, and nothing useful will ever come from it. I look over the many things I've accomplished recently, and the many more I've seen accomplished, and I think "Gosh ... either I conclude that all of this stuff didn't happen or else I conclude that he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. Decisions, decisions."

    Still, what I've been impressed with more than anything is that they can keep up this arugment about the abstracts when they clearly agree on almost everything in terms of what they do practically, playing a game and relating to people.

    It's like two members of a (fictional ... I'm making this up!) religion that has an observance that they need to walk around on bamboo stilts for twenty days and twenty nights ... and these guys, they do it ... but then they kill each other over the question of whether the stilts represent the suffering of God or the difficulty of walking a virtuous path. Ain't human beings funny?

    And Hey! Levi! When you gonna challenge me? I'll take all comers! :-)

  • Man, and here I was hoping for a thread actually about banjos.
  • That RPGPundit guy is awesome. I think if he got more exposure we'd sell a lot more games.
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    Sorry, I'm not being very helpful.
  • Maybe not. But you are awesome.
  • Having dealt with his asshattery firsthand on RPG.net as an admin, I have a less-than-warm-cockles view of Mr. Pundit, aka Nisarg.

    Hand him his ass, Levi.
  • I especially like your point about theatrical ambitions not surviving contact with theatrical reality, Levi. That's a really fruitful idea that deserves a lot more thoughtfulness from me than "I agree" but let me just start with "I agree" and maybe I'll think up another thread about it later.
  • I've observed Levi has a habit of trying to hold discussions with people who are only interested in arguments.

  • edited April 2006
    Man, and here I was hoping for a thread actually about banjos.
    I know. I was hoping for a genuine music RPG. Where you could subdue someone with the power of your strings alone.

  • Levi is my hero.

    Seriously, I think he has done more to bring multiple different worlds closer together than just about anyone in the last 6 months or so. It's been amazing to watch him work.
  • i'm loving this duel; it is really being informative for me, as an amatuer gamer & wannabe designer/modder...
  • edited April 2006
    Here's the only opinion you're gonna hear from me on this for the moment:

    There is a *remarkable* amount of crap that gets tossed around in relation to RPGs, theory, and other such. Hell, I throw some of it myself; I try to throw most of it at the terms and details of GNS and the Big Model, but sometimes, monkey-like, I throw some poo at actual people. And then I feel bad.

    But when you really get down into the guts of what the people arguing with each other actually do when they sit down at a gaming table, despite talking all kinds of trash at each other, the actual goings-on aren't as different as many statements would lead you to believe.

    We are, in the end, one hobby.

    I was hoping that an extended scrap like this would illustrate both the size and tenacity of the differences (smal, but very tenacious), and the size and strength of the similarities (huge, and powerful), as well as being a fun and informative argument in and of itself.

    I'm personally satisfied with it.

    Tony, you'll have to wait. When I'm done with the Pundit, Ben Lehman is next on my agenda.
  • Tony, you'll have to wait. When I'm done with the Pundit, Ben Lehman is next on my agenda.

    So what you're saying is that someone needs to photoshop you into a Kill Bill poster.

  • Hey Levi -

    How do you decide who you're going to duel banjos with next?

    (I have some more questions related to this, but I'll wait until you tell me a little about your process . . . .)

  • edited April 2006
    Well, Ben spoke up first, elsewhere, and I have a few things I could debate with him about (the Big Model, theory, and other such stuff).

    I could fight with Tony about competition in RPGs, but my heart wouldn't really be in it.

    Why? Got something worth taking to the field?

    There's no real process; I'm just trying it out, and I like it a lot, so I figure I'll keep doing it.
  • No, actually, I don't - or at the very least, I may have things that would be worth talking about, but I find the format really personally off-putting. I'm glad you're doing it, but I'm even more glad that you're doing it with other people.

    I was just wondering if you're taking up the people who happen to be the most vocal about their opinions, or the people who interest you the most, or people that you think represent different role-playing communities who could try to understand each other, or people you happen to know personally, or what. Each of those would put what you're doing into a very different context.

    Are these meant to be ephemeral? Who is the audience for these arguments - your own community or whoever happens to be observing? Are you planning to collect these somewhere, a la the Lincoln-Douglas debates? What happens if nutkinland nukes your thread with RPGPundit? Do you feel that you will have achieved what you'd hoped?

  • edited April 2006
    People with interesting and strong opinions are who I'd like to debate. It's more fun that way.

    The actual questions, in order:

    Doesn't matter to me.

    Both, really.

    No, but sounds like a neat idea.

    That'd suck, if I didn't get my favorite stuff copied off first.

    Well, I'd like to save some of the stuff there, as fule for later conversations.
  • Reading the debate, it suddenly struck me as analogous to the gay marriage issue. One of the pundit's main thrusts seems to be "you'll screw it up for the rest of us" and "who are you to think you're special," while Levi's response is "we just want to do our thing and be allowed to do it," and "no one - we just don't want to be marginalized and discriminated against."

    Which of course means, we're all gay.

    But seriously folks, I'm at lost to understand what the hell the issue is in either case. How does the sale of Dogs fuck up the pundit's (or anyone else's, for that matter) game of D&D? How can the diversity that small press games bring to gaming culture be bad? And by analogy (and I think this one is completely bidirectional, so feel free to answer either one) how can enfranchising a vocal segment of our population be bad for us as a culture?
  • edited April 2006

    Droog, you ain't kidding about "dance of the straw man" -- the entire thread seems to consist of "RPGpundit" knocking down straw men rather than engaging with what Levi's actually, you know, talking about. My fave so far was, out of nowhere, bringing up the throughly discredited "role-playing vs roll-playing" argument -- it's like he's looking through a lens that only sees things 10 years away.
  • And by analogy (and I think this one is completely bidirectional, so feel free to answer either one) how can enfranchising a vocal segment of our population be bad for us as a culture?

    It's not - as long as that very vocal segment isn't the ONLY vocal one.

  • it's like he's looking through a lens that only sees things 10 years away.

    Actually, I suspect he's looking through a lens that only sees things within ten feet.
  • I always get this WTF? expression on my face when any point made by Levi about AD&D is met with a frothing "You all hate AD&D!!! You think it's a terrible game!!! You all think that your games want to wipe AD&D off the face of the planet!!" from RPGPundit.

    He seems to be under the impression that "The Forge" hate AD&D, whereas I think it's been shown several times that most people recognise that it's a pretty good system for what it does. It's a strange defensive reaction.
  • edited April 2006

    Oh, and having read quite a bit further into it (I'm on page 5 now), Levi, you kick ass.

    Things like

    GNS-inspired games often don't match what people outside of that >already-existing circle of players bring to the table, and only some of them do a >really good job re-educating the players on what they actually should expect. >This leads to all kinds of "I don't get it", which quickly turns into "I don't like it" >when people that are enthused by these games push people to like them even >before they've bothered to show others what those games actually try to do."

    Manage to simultaneously skewer some of the bogons in the indy community while responding to Pundit's point at the same time.

  • I could fight with Tony about competition in RPGs, but my heart wouldn't really be in it.

    Dude, no. We fight about whether players have any obligations to each other at all. I'm pretty sure we actually, deep-down, disagree about that.

    But yeah, I'm willing to accept that we may simply be too close in our opinions to make good argument-fodder. Curse my easy-going, agreeable nature.

  • edited April 2006

    [whiny]But Tony, I thought you were ¡Muy Macho![/whiny] Sniff.

  • edited April 2006

    Oh God, this is getting awesome.

    I wish Levi would refute his "Forge people hate D&D" idea, though. It's unbearably untrue.

    Right now:

    a) Ron Edwards is running D&D for the kid down the street from him.

    b) Ben Lehman loves his blackguard.

    c) Some of the top-selling and best-loved indie RPGs are all either like D&D in some way or straight up homages - Burning Wheel (which I'm pretty certain is the best-selling indie RPG ever) and The Shadow of Yesterday (my hubris knows no end, but man, it's D&D-love in pure form). And Sorcerer's a Champions-supplement gone mad, so it's not so outside of what Pundit's defining as an RPG.

  • I've published multiple D&D, d20, and OGL materials. I'm a pseudo-Forgie. So, you know, there is another data point.
  • There are actually a lot of things I'd throw in if I were involved...but then, that's one thing that makes it interesting as a duel -- that the multiplicity of other approaches to argument -aren't- involved, so there's a greater clarity of discussion.
  • I was feeling that "but what about" thing for most of the debate, until Levi did his post 50 round up, and it became clear that his strategy had been to give the Pundit rope. And now he's slinging the other end over scaffold.
  • edited April 2006
    I was trying to stay away but then the Pundit sayeth:

    bq. You know who gaming WILL appeal to, though? Teenage white boys. So why not focus on those we DO know it will work for?

    Game, set, match to Levi.
  • I keep trying to read this thing, and I just can't keep reading this guy. =P
  • The RPGPundit, or whoever the hell he is, is ultimately a sad fucker. For all of his smug ranting and psychotic babbling, I don't see him having any effect on people playing RPGs at all. Sorcerer, Burning Wheel, Dogs in the Vineyard and Shadow of Yesterday (etc etc) sell, so he can say whatever he wants and really, who gives a rat's ass?
  • Oh, and more importantly, those games are played and enjoyed.
  • He is something of a sad creature, yes. I can't understand how anyone could play and enjoy HERO, I regard it as the exact opposite of fun, but I have love for all my fellow beings, and if that's what makes them happy, and mote it hurt no one, they can enjoy whatever version of HERO they want in the privacy and comfort of their own home.
  • Sorry, Clinton, I had to cross-post your comments. You can thrash me later as a bastard, if you like.
  • heh. Nice sig, Levi.

    He seems to have an endless supply of straw men hidden in that monolithic, hive-mind conception of RPG THEORY he keeps on trotting out. It's really quite amazing.
  • edited April 2006

    I'm on the record for admiring him [the Pundit]. I think when he talks about his play, it rocks. They sound like a blast. And I think it's good to have people who will throw a fucking shotgun blast at anyone who begins to get all bullshitty.

    My only two problems with him, which are admittedly big, are that he (a) indicts everyone the same (but, man, this is always my problem for running a forum dedicated to independent fucking publishing for Pete's sake and then it becomes a haven for theory, which is great, but I'm there for the Xerox and staples) and (b) he has this idea that he's the arbiter of fun.

    Anytime someone points a finger and says "they aren't having fun" or "their game sucks," I'm with the Pundit. But, man, he should pay the same courtesy to others. If I'm having fun playing Sorcerer and I talk about it online enthusiasticly, and he wants to call me elitist, he's right in the wrong, much like someone who would say D&D players are stupid is also wrong.

  • I am basically a person who shares the opinion of Clinton on this subject.


    P.S. Behold my cult-like devotion to my Forge masters! Quail in terror at their mind-control beams!
  • edited April 2006
    Oh gee, there is a saying that leaps to mind, but I can't remember the proper version of the orriginal.

    It's something like, "A man of small ability who dies in a great cause is a hero, a man of heroic abilities who dies for a poor cause is a fool."

    It's a really amazing thing how fast a few bad decisions and stances can ruin anything good you might have to say. Perhaps rather than hating the Pundit, we should learn from him. I mean, there is another saying about what makes one a wise in relation to the mistakes of others.
  • Anyone think Ron Edwards would be up for a debate? I'm thinking about asking him...
  • Heh heh heh!

    RE! That's good.

    Did you have to point the Pundarg at little ol' Story Games, Levi? I'm going to move to the US and live in your building, so I can convince a family of large, unruly rednecks to move in with me.
  • edited April 2006
    You know, people have told me that Ron would never talk to me about this thing or that thing before. And then he did. So, uh, why is it funny?

    As to sending Pundit here, I agreed to give honest answers.
  • Honest answers is one thing. A big flashing sign saying CLINTON SAID THIS ON STORY GAMES is another.

    And as for the Ronster, you go for it. Brain damage?
  • A quick correction to your post, Levi...rec.games.frp.advocacy WAS the pit for flamewars for many, many years. You can do a search for my name and those old articles will come up, he said embarassedly. Then it sort of died out. That's when the theory people moved in and took it over with Threefold yackin. Ah, the Threefold. Poor stupid Threefold.
  • If Ron has time, I'd really like to see that.

  • What I have learned from this excercise is that Levi looks like an adorable baby turtle, which I now think of every time he posts.
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