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Monday, November 29, 2010

Of Manifestos and Magnificent Garbage

I've been re-reading Andre Breton's Manifesto of Surrealism which you can find online here, here, here, here, or learn more about via Wikipedia hereSurrealism is very much integral to Riskail and the other settings/campaigns that we're developing via Netherwerks.  We have several posts/articles concerning various aspects of Surrealism in-progress for the blogs and elsewhere and so I decided to make some time to go back and re-read Monsieur Breton's Manifesto(s) while I was waiting for our new chair to get delivered.  In the course of re-reading this document I found myself wondering about a gamer manifesto.  Gamers are a nerdly lot, and such a thing would undoubtedly appeal to numerous egos flapping about in the various niches and market segments of gaming. 

A quick search led me back to something that I had all but forgotten--a real gamer manifesto.  In fact, my favorite Gamer Manifesto of all time.  It's the Rolpunk Manifesto from Uncle Bear.  This is an excellent one-page rantifesto and I agree with the sentiment a great deal, which shouldn't come as any surprise, what with the word 'Heretic' prominently featured up above on the masthead like a textual Jolly Roger.  I don't give a poop as to what edition anyone else plays--and I stay off of most forums precisely because I'm not inclined to waste time squabbling over silly crap like editions or styles, or what have you.  That gossipy timewastage is for nattering old hens with no teeth and less sense.  Play your games.  Play your way.  What more needs to be said?  Polemics and commentary takes time away form actually playing, thus it ought to be avoided.

If ever there was a manifesto for the grognards...aside from the above-mentioned Rolpunk one...it might resemble this piece by Lin Carter which was extracted from his introduction to the Beyond the Gate of Dreams anthology.  Every generation has their grognards yelling at the kids to get off of their lawn while simultaneously extolling the virtues of the childhood they fondly remember--when they were the kids getting yelled at by the creepy old guys who were far too encyclopedic in their knowledge of Theda Bara, Clara Bow, or Betty Page for anyone's good.  Just swap-out 1944 for 1954, 1964, 1974, 1984 and re-read Carter's rant-roduction.  It could easily get re-posted as a fresh new thing ... and someone may well already have done just that.

Carter's rant just goes to show you that Toynbee was right, this stuff we like to call history is all cyclical and it's probably best not to take it all too seriously. Far from pitying anyone deprived of the dubious wonders that we grew up with, it better serves us all to explore together the new opportunities available to us all here and now.  Living in the past not only makes your butt look big, it leaves you smelling like rancid cat-piss, stale Kool-Aid and moldy baloney sandwiches.

Nostalgia is best as a precursor to inspiration, not an end in itself.  We could use a few less creepy old guys yelling at kids and more of the sort of fresh, fun stuff that we all remember discovering when we were kids--and it's great good fun to see people like ScottMcKinney, Raggi, Mr. Stater and others do just that.  The wheel fire rpg has been invented already; what interests me is what can we do with it.

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