I wrote the following at the forge, basically about kewl moves – which seem to be the big excitement for some but seem incredibly vapid from my perspective. There’s another poster there (not in that thread) who really seems to have this “OMG, way of the kewl samurai means wow moves all the time and that’s fantastic!”. And it just seems so hollow, except that perhaps it all works cause you’d be afraid to disappoint such an excited fellow. I do keep a scientific view on it though – perhaps it does work somehow and I do not currently see it. But my current evidence indicates it’s hollow.
I use the old happy days ‘Fonzie jumps the shark’ example, because if there had been a moral context to it, it might have worked (though perhaps there was one – I tried to avoid watching the show when younger). But as it was, it was just shark jumping.
Anyway, I wrote the following with a bit of a rant at the end. What might be useful to readers is the suspension of disbelief trigger I describe. Also at a philisophical level, it might be useful reflection as well.
What I was saying is this stuff only works in the context of a greater story. For example in a movie, hero guy is getting beaten up while the girl is about to be raped. And were all like “OMG, hero guy!!1! Beat them! Don’t let her be raped! OMFG!” and then he pulls off this move and it busts ass and were like “OMG yes, that’d beat their asses!!!!1!! YES!”But you know why we think that? It’s not because it necessarily makes sense or is logical. It’s because were all so damn invested in the girl not being raped we will believe in any damn excuse for it not to happen! We will engage is super duper suspension of disbelief, if it means she avoids rape. Because if you start to think about it clinically, you start having to stomich that she’s just have been raped, with no mercy and no greater good that stopped it. And we don’t want to accept something like that! Inside ourselves we shout out at a moral level that should not happen – and when that special move occurs we grasp onto that as the reason why it would not. THAT’s why it works in the movies!
Now strip out that moral context – the hero’s being beaten up and…he’s just being beaten up. They’re not even gunna kill him. Do we believe his special move works?
That’s what you’ve got here with body of fire – special move with no moral context to initiate a suspension of disbelief. You might say that’s up to the GM to write the uber story – but really everybody already owns a game where it’s up to the GM in this particular way.
That’s as I understand the issues of design. Hope I’m not just dropping this on you, as it actually seems to be (from my perspective) a wider problem in game design, where people go “Oh yeah, and then we shot the monkey cannon and backflipped onto the flying whale and it was awwwwwesome!” and I really think are you guys just working yourselves up so you can say it worked? I mean, my god, if it stopped the poor blind girl being killed, that’s an awesome way to save that girl! But without some moral context, it’s just colour and movement. No, it is not awesome. If you can actually do a backflip in RL, I’m impressed – but that you just talked the backflip talk in game – no, not awesome.