We are very fortunate and honored to have Professor Kory Curtis himself online today to field a few of your questions. He won’t be able to stick around for comments, as he really cannot afford to be late to Philosophy 102 again.
Our first question in the mailbag comes from a Joshua A., of Comstock, California:
Dear Professor Curtis,
Help! My group and I are stuck on the meaning of “story”. Do we need to actively mold our game to produce story, or can we simply expect it as a byproduct of good gaming? For that matter, what would you consider the playstyle of a group playing an immersionist game of Shock set in the Serenity universe that discarded the social combat rules in favor of the “give” mechanic from Dogs In The Vineyard? I’ve read everything I could find on what you, Ron Edwards, Vincent Baker, and Clinton R. Nixon say on the matter, and I’m hopelessly lost. Plus, most of the G/N/S essays seem to conflict one another halfway through. Tell me what to do! --Joshua
I would love to have this conversation with you, but I must first ask that you read the following discussions:
-The Index of this site
-Alexander R. Galloway’s Gaming, Essay on Algorithmic Culture
-Is Director Stance Real?
-The Fetzer Vineyards Mission Statement (read between the lines on this one)
-“Mildly Disappointed” thread at the Forge’s HeroQuest forums
-The fact that Sorcerer is nothing like Rifts
-Paul’s Letter To The Ephesians
In addition to these, I will assume you are already familiar with the main body of my academic work. I really must insist that we continue this discussion after and only after you are well-read and flawlessly proficient on all those subjects. –PKC
Dear Professor Curtis,
My group is trying to decide what game to play next after completing an extremely successful Warhammer 2e campaign. We’ve gotten our choices down to Star Wars d20 or Star Frontiers. Any advice on which one to pick? --Jim B., Watseka, Illinois
I sense a lot of social conflict in your group. Sadly, I believe this all stems from your group having played Warhammer 2e, which I can assure you in a professional professorial manner is responsible for the bed-wetting problems that no doubt have plagued you since you started playing it. From your letter, I can gather that you are all desperately unhappy playing outside the Correctionist fold, which is where I think you want to be. If you are fixated on playing Star Wars d20 or Star Frontiers, my advice to you is treat it as you would the latest novel for a book club: instead of rolling dice and actually playing the game, have everyone read the text and come back the next week ready to go around in a circle telling a story inspired by what they read. I think you’ll find this much more fulfilling, but be warned, using Star Wars d20 even in this approximately Correctionist manner may still result in fetal damage to any children you or your spouse plan on having. –PKC
Dear Mr. Curtis,
I’m having trouble getting my independent game off the ground. I suppose it is what you’d call traditionally rules-heavy fantasy game, but I’ve worked very hard on it, and feel that it has something to offer people, and I’m especially proud of my scale percentile dice mechanic. However, the Forge won’t give me a forum for it, and every time I ask for feedback at RPGnet, I’m told my game is a “fantasy heartbreaker” and therefore worthless. Why can’t I find support out there? -- Darren Fowler
First off, I would thank you to refer to me as Professor Curtis. I didn’t get accepted to community college on my first attempt to be referred to as “Mr.” Curtis!
Your problem is a very common one I witness among those would-be indie game designers attempting to garner support for their game. You see, designers such as myself, the good learned men at the Forge, and the esteemed professional gaming hipsters at RPGnet have to be very careful as to what we endorse. Simply put, we have yet to see nearly enough of you posting profound italicized passages in favor of our work on gaming sites and blogs. Until we can be certain you will not poison the Movement with Wrongist and Bankruptist alternate theory, you will have to peddle your gaming in the opium dens and tarnished backwaters of gaming society. As the forefront of independence and individualism in gaming, we must be certain we are in lock-step at all times concerning theory. –PKC
Lastly, a question from the self-identified “RPG Pro”, Chuck Spindler:
Despite your arrogance, I think it's time to give you a second chance. I understand that since you aren't yet an insider, it's natural that you would lash out against the gaming industry. You haven't had a chance to meet Steve Jackson, or have a beer in the same bar as Monte Cook. It's clear that you're jealous…
Just stop right there, “Pro”. You’ll get nowhere with me by bandying about key figures of the Bankruptist school of non-thought. I suggest you follow the links I provided young Joshua above. Indie game design is a harsh mistress, and I really need you conditioned for the journey. Now, I could easily take you down to mere nothingness using the intense skills I learned playing Breaking the Ice, but that would be entirely like shooting monkeys in a barrel, so to speak. We’ll speak further soon, my new acquaintance. (Oh, and if I might make a small suggestion, perhaps you could start your newfound path to the heights of gaming excellence by ceasing to post far-fetched threads every other day on RPGnet regarding D&D 4th Edition acting as though you have insider knowledge on the topic? That’s 1 down, 247 to go…).
By the way, is there any way you can get some of my products into the ENnies? Because that would be super. -PKC
I’m afraid the Professor has to run for now, but I think we’re all a bit wiser after that intense Q&A session!