Friday, 23 September 2011

Circuses and bread, or good old gamers and the dust

I've had an odd train of thought start up, helped along by the memory of Brian's ruined stadium.

First I wondered if anyone had ever taken a Blood Bowl match off the field, out of the grounds and into the wider landscape as a game of Mordheim or Warhammer, as a riot of skirmishing fans.

I've never seen that done. But in the Warhammer world defeat might see release of great energies.

Then it got all propluristemic and I wondered if anyone in a tabletop roleplaying game ever had the characters appear on the tabletop itself, among the players as if the miniatures had come to life. Had them look up at the giants, wonder how their every action is foreseen, controlled, then desperately take cover behind a mug of tea, or scramble for the edge.

I got to the thought of the soldiers in a wargame suddenly realising they were pawns of powerful figures, that the ideals they were fighting for were empty words, dismissed by many as 'fluff'. That they weren't really fighting for a God Emperor, or their country - not even for treasure or notoriety. Just for the fun of destruction. Or to see who's better.

Or maybe only because those powerful figures - the players - were in thrall to greater forces in their turn and had spent years building up the armies. After all, there's no point having an army and not using it. What a shocking waste of money that would be.

And then I thought, blimey. What if those players looked around and saw their actions foreseen, and the things they believed in revealed to be false? And they carried their knowledge of strategy and world-building away from the table? Off the designated field, to challenge those very same forces? Could the future of gaming be not gaming?

Then I thought, man, who can possibly fit something like that in?

We're either working - or looking for work - or it's hobby time.


Andy said...

Interesting thoughts Porky, to which I'd add that Blood Bowl is *already* panpolycosmic, as it isn't really set within the Warhammer World, but in its broader multiverse :-)

Porky said...

Thanks - they interest me of course so it's good to hear the same from others. The world map is there to reinforce the overall point, but back in the day I actually wasn't a fan of the fact BB and WFB didn't quite line up. Nowadays I love the idea, as you can probably imagine, and I'd be happy to see the approach played up in the GW settings. A faction which plays with reality to a larger degree say, maybe something more quantum, and far more out there.

Jedediah said...

How about being infected with parasites that feed on strong emotions. They found that wars and murder are tasty, but really risky for their hosts. So what's better than getting us into playing games and telling stories - totally safe and yet we can live strongly through them.
I bet the Dromes would love wargaming and RPGs.
Just a thought, cued by players being played.

Cygnus said...

Have you ever read Harlan Ellison's short story "Eidolons?" One of the (minor, but complelling) ideas in there is that an evil man traveled through time collecting warriors from battlefields and turned them into miniature figurines for his amusement. How can these poor, cursed souls wreak their revenge...?

Porky said...

@ Jedediah - That for me is very clever. Mr Pratchett may have led the way there, but your extension is smart thinking, and very much in keeping with the fuller spirit of the post too. The question now is how falsifiable it is.

@ Cygnus - If I have, I don't remember it, but I agree completely it's very compelling, with intriguing parallels even to our own supposedly more mundane reality. But if they do want that revenge, how indeed?

Jedediah said...

I think we possess much less free will than we give ourselves credit for at the best of times. And the parasite thing is not all that far-fetched - Toxoplasma gondii is a fairly common parasite with humans and it does alter the behaviour of the host.

Or (totally off on a tangent now) consider grass, cereals to be precise. We think we're so clever because we made them into the plants they are today. But who's to say the plant hasn't used us...they could survive without us, but we can't. It can be a scary thing to consider oneself as part of an ecosystem, which is probably why we do it so rarely.

Paul´s Bods said...

Just like in the lliad, my minis have not yet fully realised the control I have over them. The chaotic sporadic intervention of my children moving or "adjusting" thier positions in the world has apparently been taken as signs of chance and luck, whereas mine are deemed as divine intervention leading to an inevitable fate. To answer cynus´s question, How can these poor, cursed souls wreak their revenge...? not doing anything..the whole intention of the captors plan then fails..easy or??

ArmChairGeneral said...

I have a very hard time just running simple games. They always seem to be connected to some greater thing.

Porky said...

@ Jedediah - I've read about toxoplasma and the implications are astounding. It's quite reasonable to wonder what else there is potentially affecting us like that, but not yet identified. The thinking on cereals is top notch too. Looking at ourselves as part of a system can certainly be scary, but it's also reassuring in its way.

@ Paul's Bods - A discussion like this always feels more complete after you comment. I like the different interpretations of the movements a lot. Something to think about for our everyday actions too. In the case of the Ellison story, that refusal would work only if they weren't already prevented from acting of course, but withdrawal of cooperation can be a powerful thing.

@ ArmChairGeneral - I also find it hard to see a story or game as isolated from larger processes or ideas. The adventures this month are showing that - the last had a shocking number of references out to earlier parts.