Game Kōan

edited September 2011 in Story Games

So, it occurred to me that, however the word "zen" gets used in normal English, Ryan Macklin's game Hit a Dude is really very Zen.

And then it occurred to me that we have game poems.

So let's try to write some game kōan.

(And I'm not talking things like "What is the sound of one +5 sword whiffing", but rather short gamelets that leave you with no rational approach. Honestly, I think Hit a Dude is in this category already.)

Comments

  • edited September 2011
    Paracthulhu
    GM, read this:
    "For reasons you know best, you have summoned Quachil Uttaus, the Treader in the Dust. It grants immortality to any who have no doubt that that is what they want. But if there is any hint of doubt your heart for any reason, the terrible Treader will reduce you to the Dust in which it will leave its peculiar footprints. Either you will live forever, or you will be utterly destroyed. You know the answer, but you can never tell me."

    The player either follows the rules and never tells the GM, or does not follow the rules and isn't really playing.

    (Edited to change snarky title and clarify wording)
  • I mistakenly at first thought that you wanted games as haikus. Which would be a different challenge (can you condense rules down to seventeen syllables?).
  • You.

    In this game, you play yourself.
    It starts when you next wake up.
    You have entered a world slightly different than our own. Only when you spot the differences will you be allowed to return home.
    What are the differences? Have you found them all?
  • A couple modified ones:

    What happens to the character when the sheet is gone?

    In thinking, keep to the simple
    In conflict, be fair and generous
    In game mastering, don't try to control
    In playing, do what you enjoy
    At the table, be completely present
  • Attack the thing that is nearest.
  • Once Gandalf came to Aragorn and Sauron and said, "I have need of your aid. There is a creature who bears a ring..."
    Aragorn replied, "Should this conversation not be happening in a tavern?"
    Gandalf said, "But this creature needs protection from those who would slay him."
    Sauron, overhearing, sighed and said, "Are not all ring-bearers thus?"
    Upon hearing this, Aragorn was enlightened.
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanYou.

    You have entered a world slightly different than our own. Only when you spot the differences will you be allowed to return home.
    Terrifying.. I must tell this to my daughter.
  • At the center of play is communication.
    At the center of communication is communion.
    Sharing a thought, an idea, an understanding with another.
    The single most impossible, and magical, thing in the universe.
  • The actual play which can be communicated is not the actual play.
  • What was your original character before the first Players' Handbook was published?

    (Just to reiterate, while I do find them amusing and interesting, I'm not looking for gaming-themed reworkings of classic kōan, but rather games that themselves function as kōan.)

  • edited September 2011
    Land of Kôan

    You are not you in this game.
    Let yourself die now.
    You are dead.

    You live as the character. Give birth to it now.
    You are a character. Name your character.

    The character live in the hamlet Nodo.
    It has friends in Nodo. They are characters.
    Give each friendship a scene, in Nodo.

    Nodo is tiny in the land of Kôan.
    The land of Kôan is wide, and deep, and full of wonders.
    There are fabulous buildings there, and fantastic beings, and wonderful artifacts.
    And there are gruesome evil about, vile servants, and shadows of disrepute.
    Beware, friends, when you explore the land of Kôan.
    The land of Kôan may turn friend into foe.

    Each character give a scene to its friends.
    A scene may make them shine, or struggle.
    The first round of scenes will reveal traits amongst the friends.
    Each active character discovers a trait in each scene, in the first round.
    The trait is written down, under the name, as part of the character.
    The end of the round is a scene with all characters,
    discussing what has happened, and what to do.

    When giving a scene, state the place and the situation.
    Name any willful beings present, and act them out.
    And let the characters shine on them, or struggle with them.
    Make the scene come alive with the words
    and the actions of the characters.

    Each character give another scene to its friends.
    A scene may make them shine, or struggle.
    End each round with all characters in a scene.

    Leave the land of Kôan when one character dies.
    There is nothing for you in the land of Kôan.
    You leave your character there, to die.
    You come back to life.
    Who are you?
  • What do you do?
    To do it, do it.
  • Would "say yes or roll the dice" count?

    - Ryan
  • Ryan, I saw your name here and I thought "Hit a dude. Play passes to the left."
  • Roll a six sided die, and use the result to guide your narration.
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanRyan, I saw your name here and I thought "Hit a dude. Play passes to the left."
    Well, given that was the spark of this post... :)

    Also maybe:
    When life is uncertain, roll one of these dice:
    image


    (I'm on a kick about these dice.)

    - Ryan
  • Rob, if I could +1 your post, I would.

    Thanks, guys, I love these. Keep them coming.

    (Part of this is also feeding into a game I want to make some day, Jātaka, a game about playing through many incarnations of a being that will eventually reach nirvāṇa. To do things, you have to want them. To escape saṃsāra, you have to not want. How unplayable is that!)

  • Your character sheet is a 5x7 mirror and a dry erase marker.

    (It needs more, but I'm not sure what. But this idea is neat and I wanted to share it.)
  • Posted By: kobutsu(Part of this is also feeding into a game I want to make some day,Jātaka, a game about playing through many incarnations of a being that will eventually reach nirvāṇa. To do things, you have to want them. To escape saṃsāra, you have to not want. How unplayable is that!)
    I'm picturing something like the Tomb of Horrors. But with more Zen.

    That's probably not what you mean, though.
  • This game has no rules, and it also has Rule Zero.

    How many rules does this game have?
  • The old man playing games points the way with the dice.
  • edited September 2011
    Posted By: kobutsuWhat was your original character before the firstPlayers' Handbookwas published?(Just to reiterate, while I do find them amusing and interesting, I'm not looking for gaming-themed reworkings of classic kōan, but rather games that themselves function as kōan.)
    Games often feel like the inherent opposite of a koan to me. A game usually tries to build a picture in my mind of what is going on, while a koan is trying to clear my mind.

    Also:

    The eye with which I see my character, is also the same eye with which my character sees me.

    Fundamentally, the roleplayer is playing himself.
  • Garret, right! That's why I'm interested in kōan-like games, as a kind of radical divergence.

  • I've got a fuzzy idea floating in my head, but it is definitely not anything useable yet.

    Playing yourself as a character, but it's not you. Then being in situations where you are trying to find the relevant truth in it. There are no correct answers, but there can be wrong answers. I think the major difficulty would be in constructing scenarios that people could grab onto and giving them and the rest of the group tools to find a truth that works for them but is still relevant to the purpose of the game. A zen story/koan to illustrate:

    The head monk was preparing to open a new monastery and was trying to pick someone to be it's first head monk. He asked all the monks at the temple to the main room where a jug of water was sitting. "Whoever can best name this thing without saying it's name will go."

    The senior monk stepped up and said "No one can call it a wooden sandal."

    The cook walked up to the jug and tipped it over with his foot.

    The cook was sent to be the new head monk.
  • They asked Master Ju, "What is zen?"

    The Master responded, "A 10' pole."
  • If the game master is above the rules, then are they really rules?
    And if the rules are above the game master, is he really the master of the game?
  • They asked the game master: What is the game?
    The master responded: Not a game.
  • What is the game?
    An excellent statement.
  • Student: What does a roll of 20 mean?
    Master: It is a role of extremes.

    Student: What does a roll of 1 mean?
    Master: It is also a role of extremes.

    Student: So, they are the same?
    Master: They are the ying and yang of character and action.
  • (Can I reiterate that I am looking for games that evoke the same non-rational response as kōan do?)

  • Posted By: kobutsu(Can I reiterate that I am looking for games that evoke the same non-rational response as kōan do?)
    Yes, but what we're doing is also fun. :)
  • Michael,

    Yes. I don't mean to say it's not! I just want people who are thinking of the other thing to feel that they can contribute, too.

  • Posted By: kobutsu(Can I reiterate that I am looking for games that evoke the same non-rational response as kōan do?)
    I made a poor try:
    Posted By: TomasHVMLand of Kôan
    Sigh!
  • Hey, I loved Land of Kôan! Very interesting for various reasons.

  • edited September 2011
    Everyone comes up with character ideas. Player A (this role rotates) frames a scene. Roleplay until a resolution is required. Player B frames the central question of the scene/conflict into a single sentence. That sentence is fed into cleverbot. Player C interprets the response, and the players roleplay the conclusion. Then the players rotate the three roles. Continue until you get bored. (ETA: or become enlightened, I guess.)
  • Jeff, you just described an awesome hack of our mini-game Lucid.

  • edited September 2011
    When you go aggro on someone, roll+hard. On a 10+, they have to choose: force your hand and suck it up, or cave, do what you want and suck it up. On a 7-9, they can instead choose 1, but only if it does not make sense in the context of the game world:

    * get the hell out of your way
    * barricade themselves securely in
    * give you something they think you want
    * back off calmly, hands where you can see
    * tell you what you want to know (or what you want to hear)
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