Talk:Cranee Historical Society

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I've decided to work on some of the details of distances of Ghyll, using the facts that one nanit is "small" according to Bindlet Ball, and 18 nanits seems quite large as the basis for Ghyll distance terminology. I feel that sugro-nanit is really quite an irritating term, but I've used it and made it equivalent to a mile to give it some more substance. Cranee is to be between the Evesque Valley and Folktown, eighteen miles from Folktown and twenty five from the Evesque Valley. I'd say that a nanit could well be 20cm; that'd make the boxes 3.6m across, which seems about right for huge magnetic whatsits. A mile is 160934.4cm according to Google, so that means that there are 8046.72 nanits to a mile. Okay! That means that there are 144840.96 nanits between Cranee and Folktown, and 201168 nanits between Cranee and the Evesque Valley. To tie it back into earthly distances, I can say that Cranee -> Folktown is 18 * 5280 "paces", and then hope that Ghyllians are roughly the same size as humans--and I think that they should be, but I guess there's no way of knowing. Everything in the Ghyll universe could be different, so it's a case of making all the relative distances work. This section should go in the Talk page.

--Sean B. Palmer 03:44, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)


A Call To Order

Ladies and not-so-ladies: this is, in some respects, a protest and parody entry. As I've already confided to Morbus, I'm slightly worried about the direction that Ghyll is taking on many levels, and I am here proposing a reform. The main problem is that we simply do not have enough reading and discussion time in contrast to the writing time. We have ten to twenty entries per turn: we've had eighteen this week, and it's simply too much too keep up with. Keeping up with the entries themselves isn't even the biggest problem, it's that it leads to a proliferation of entries that are written in complete isolation from one another.

I propose that instead of having a week of writing time and zero contemplation and discussion time, we should try to balance it out somewhat more. Perhaps every five turns, we could have a period of two weeks where no one is allowed to contribute to the canon, and we have to discuss what's been going on in the wiki, what we hope for the characters, where we want the game to develop. There is simply no out-of-game discussion about the game at the moment, whereas I think that ought to be its principal feature! I think this comes from us wanting to keep our ideas to ourselves so that we can surprise people when we publish them, but I also think it comes from us not planning our entries out in advance, ot wanting to seek others' input, and often from just rushing the entries full-stop. We had three entries in the half an hour before the turn's deadline, and that's silly: as Morbus suggests, we ought to place a moratorium on entries before the deadline, but I think that it should be quite a bit longer than Morbus is probably thinking. A week may be too short a time anyway, so I'm thinking about having five days to soak up the entries and discuss future directions, and then five days in which to write all our dibs. So the process will be day 1: dib; days 1-5: discuss and plan; days 6-10: write entries. That we had three entries in the last half an hour of the turn seems to indicate that a week is simply not long enough for people to catch up with Ghyll (and I must admit that this is partly spurred on by me having some commitments over the next week or so that's going to make it difficult to play Ghyll), though the period that we had for turn A seems too long.

Cranee was written quite extempore, but when you look at the structure it's quite obvious that the top section is pedantry gone mad (the distance measures) and the rest is whimsy. I'm kinda irritated that people haven't been able to look into the easter eggs and puns etc. that I hid in my previous two entries, and I decided I wasn't going to waste the time on this entry doing the same--but I've also had not much time to check out the puns and cool references in other people's entries. Perhaps each time an entry is written up, people ought to discuss all the references in the Talk page instead of just leaving them all hidden. I don't think that just banging out entries every week can really be thought of as all that playing Ghyll consists of: you have to care about creating a large and consistent lexicon here, and I'm not sure what percentage of the players really feel that. --Sean B. Palmer 03:44, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Just What is the Intent of Play?

I hate to be a dork, but I'm not "feeling" the idea of a discussion period - it seems to change the focus of the game away from "let's challenge myself by letting others pervert my ideas" to "let's put ideas on the table and collectively write them together". If that's the direction Neel wanted to take in his development of "Lexicon the RPG", then he wouldn't need to stress the facts that "you are cranky, opinionated, prejudiced, and eccentric", and that "you can argue vociferously with the interpretation and introduce new facts that shade the interpretation". If the intent of the OOG discussions is for everyone to agree on what the direction and goals are, and then to write fiction supporting those goals, we're removing the need for scholars to be cranky and prejudiced (they're just documenting what everyone agrees on), and also arguments and introduction (scholars don't need to argue because the OOG player discussions have already done that, and new facts don't need to be introduced because they've already been agreed upon in the discussion).

I think that "Lexicon the RPG", the name, and specifically, "the RPG" is telling. If you've never played a game of Dungeons & Dragons or anything similar, then you don't know about the challenge between the players and the game master. The game master has a story inside his head, and it contains plots, characters, and locations. The players are playing in his world, but the plot is now dictated by their actions. It is very common for the GM to make this wonderful plot line, and then to have the players accidentally (unbeknownst to their knowledge) kill a crucial figure, thus destroying the intricate events the GM had planned. This is the challenge, and fun, of roleplaying games. Sure, game masters can say "uh, don't do that", but that is generally vilified: players don't want to play a game on the rails, where their actions are constrained to set points and results - they want the plot to revolve around them, for they are the reason the game is being played.

In "Lexicon the RPG", we are all players, but we are also all game masters. We game master the entries we write, presumably with a world view, but then the other players pervert our ideas with their own course of action. As game masters, we're constrained by the rules to accept what the players do with our ideas - as players, we're vindicated knowing we're not on the rails.

With all that said, I do agree, however, that the three entries immediately before midnight is a very bad and slippery slope: going back to the RPG, it'd be like the game master inventing his plot line for the night's gaming session five minutes before it happens. Players will notice that you've come unprepared - the game stops being fun, and the effort stops being made.

I do think, however, that justification could be a decent advocate of contemplation. One of my favorite pleasures is listening to DVD commentaries, or to read "developer notes" or "change logs" in games or computer software. They give me an extra level of enjoyment over what I own, read, or use every day. What if, for example, dibbing and writing occurs from Saturday to Thursday, and Friday is spent writing justifications for your entries in the Talk: namespace? These justifications wouldn't be plot revealing... I wouldn't explain why I suggested that Windsor Creame didn't murder Daniel Mboya, but I could reveal that the Folktown Records newspaper was inspired by children's magazines like Ranger Rick or Highlights, or that I really wanted a grey area between "wait, he worked for the paper for 12 years, and he flips out to the point of murder?!" --Morbus Iff 09:30, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)

I've sent Neel an email pointing him to this page. Perhaps he'll weigh in too. --Morbus Iff 09:39, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)

What about a mandatory OOG discussion note for each entry where each author explains any hidden subtext/gives a brief explanation of why they wrote how they did? Also, I agree a week might be too short once the enthusiasm wears off- what about requiring a draft entry at the end of the week, then a week for exploring the other new entries, looking for new opportunities to connect entries, asking questions, making suggestions, and refining your own work? --Bast ResNovae 09:53, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)

A Continuing Call To Order

The point about a discussion period is not that it takes away the room for debate, but that it fosters it. Not only can the debates still happen, but we can talk about the debates too, tell each other why we're debating in the manner that we are (if we so choose), etc. For example, I might be arguing just for the sake of argument, because I have an actual point, or because I'm trying to protect some plot nuance which is being marred.

I see your point about the RPG, and I don't want to take away from that--I want to just make sure we don't fall into pitholes of inconsistency. I also rather dislike the proliferation of so many new things without substance... who cares if Smoldock the Pinghopper fucknuzzled Gangliest Mifferfuddle III on -75/8/1 EC? Only Smoldock's girlfriend at the time, and that certainly wasn't me. I've been as guilty of the shallow invention problem as anyone, and I'm not even sure it's possible to fix now, but imagine if we decreed a rule saying that players can only create a set amount of new nomenclature per turn, or perhaps none at all. Do you think that we'd be able to get along? If you could only create one new thing to interact with the entire Ghyll world as it already exists, what would it be? That's a question which really gets you thinking, whereas the ability to create another Pluzzhucker The Hoobervlonking Ganglesmaking Fridgemagnet Collector seems to not be working as effectively. It's like being constrained by metre and rhyme in poetry--poems tend to come out better when you don't restart the basic building blocks from scratch.

In other words, I'd really like to get to know the things that are currently in Ghyll and then proceed very cautiously to investigate what we've got. For every current entry, I'm sure that there are a huge portion that have secondary ideas that the authors are hoping to expand upon later in the game, and I'd like to know them. I suppose for something like Agony Uncle I didn't actually want to know because the mystery was the best part, but I think to a great extent that was an absolutely archetypal entry. If Andelphracian Lights has to any extent fuelled the trend of creating a set of boring assed organizations and other entities then I very much regret it--I wanted to first define the toenail clipper manufacturers, the strange luminous scum that you get on the underside of some rocks in the Evesque Valley, and the strange configuration of pips that you find in Fefferberries. I don't think I can point to a single entry in the game that I've really enjoyed yet, but a handful of them show some really great promising threads that I'd love to extract and have form the proper basis of Ghyll. That's why I keep raising the idea that after the round we all vote between us which our favourite parts are, and then just stick to those and start all the rest over from scratch.

So I think that the justifications are certainly good ideas, and I'd probably support any extension to the turns' deadlines and reflection periods. But it's probably a good thing, as you've said yourself, to keep the turns fairly short as it'll force commitment from the players. If you consider my five days and five days proposal, though, note that the actual time in which we can edit is only five days, so that's less than the week that we have currently. And the ten days overall is only three days more than the current period for a turn. I don't think you can force justifications to be written on a single day--that's really restrictive and so people are just going to ignore it.

In summary: I'd like to foster out-of-game discussion of debates, restrict the shallow invention problem, instigate the five days and five days turn pattern, and require justifications to be written by players in the second five day period. I'd also like to hear what others think about these proposals. --Sean B. Palmer 10:30, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Continuing Exasperations

"Or because I'm trying to protect some plot nuance which is being marred" worries me. If the plot nuance is only a plot nuance in your entry, then it's not a fact merely a suggestion, and you can't stop other players from taking it in their own direction. Hell, I could have said that, yes, Windsor murdered Daniel, but any scholar would be able to "introduce new facts that shade the interpretation", creating a murder mystery because of newly discovered evidence. This is the challenge, and perversion, of our ideas, our truths... the inspiration and reason to play a game is arguably more important then the rules that govern it. Give and take is a part of RPGs - if things progress believably, players will accept that the villian or plot device they just killed has come back from the dead, and the game master will be back on track with his previously devised plot. Of course, accidental or idiotic disregard, say that Besq boats are made out of cake pans and not trees, is call for foul - if it's not believable, if there's no justification, then it needs to be addressed.

We have both, and always, agreed on the proliferation of namealoo and macro entries - we both believe that micro entries, as per the archetypal "Agony uncle" are stronger, and we attempted to stifle macro entries by the grey area of dates, and a plea not to create new geographic locations. These pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears, and arguably, we're having this discussion (again) because certain players aren't seeing the grander picture, aren't visualing the future of disparity, or simply don't care enough to start inwards and work outwards. I can stare at my desk, and if I were beginning an encyclopedia, describing things within five feet of me would take a rather long time to describe, and I could do each without needing to expound on its history or place of origin.

Instead, we've now got a rather large area to work within, long running conflicts and history (which I exasperated in an attempt to shrink our geographic location, but also chose not to be formally recognized in an attempt to minimize its influence). None of this really gives me, as a scholar, and more importantly, an inhabitant, of the Ghyll world, any inspiration to wake up in the morning, drink a cup of fefferberry tea, read the week's Record, or tuck my daugher into her nursing sack.

As for timeframes, I personally think, and suspect others do as well, that deadlines should be based on anniversaries - every week, every two weeks, every Sunday, etc., etc - that'll be far easier to remember then "damn, has ten days gone by? is it Monday or Tuesday this week. oh bugge... oooO, J.Lo!". I think we're (ultimately) in agreement with our justification/discussion suggestions, as well as macro/micro. Per your suggestion, just waiting for everyone else to weigh in. --Morbus Iff 11:13, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)

A big part of the game is "The best laid plans of mice and men". I was going to introduce a really good twist to the Daniel Mboya story (and it would have both been subtle and also tied it in to something else) but there was no way I could get that into the story of a sailor from around 200 years ago, and I considered it more anti-social to have a Mexican stand-off around who took the last undibbed entry and who got to create their own from scratch, so I didn't get to add to that story. Also, Betrothal march got defined in a way that goes completely against my ideas of it. But that's where the uncertainty comes in that makes playing this different to sitting at my computer writing poor speculative fiction. --Talliesin 14:11, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)

And, not targeting you (of course), the above is exactly what can't happen in these sorts of OOG discussions that Sean is proposing: if, at any time, someone says "well, this phantom I made, this is how I see it playing out", then the game will no longer be fun. We'll either have people writing fiction that is exactly how others have envisioned it (where's the challenge in that? the fun of Lexicon is integration not supplication) or we'll have the scorn of players saying "wait, that's not what I said on IRC the other day - you just ruined my next turn! I thought we had this discussion!". --Morbus Iff 16:30, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Exactly! I'm really pleased with what happened to Betrothal march (and tri-menth), it was totally consistent with what I'd written and totally different to what I'd thought - cool.

As for my twist to the Daniel Mboya case, maybe it'll still get in there, but if it doesn't then that's just the way the game goes.

Still, if anyone dibs Darvekian Party next round I'll give their legs such a smacking! ;p~ --Talliesin 17:21, 18 Sep 2004 (EDT)

I Simply Want The Lot Of You To Die Horribly.

I like the longer-turn idea. Boo to the large talk-page discussions. I got his with a poisonous dart a while ago, tense talking before I pass out. I think the EPRs are really crucial to the whole of Ghyll, as they are subtly telling you what to do. Perhaps too subtly. Perhaps even in not enough detail. Players right now have an irritating habit of both following them too heavily, and totally ignoring them. We'll soon have around 6 historical societies all centered around the Evesque Valley. It's up to the Encyclopedants to make sure that we don't have 5 different ghylls, and up the the players as a whole to make plots. Too much dissidence. My keyboard just hissed at me. Plots should be secretive in nature, and developed by a bunch of people in rapid succession. Foomistress lays down the groundwork, Foomatic builds up on the story, we see a branch, Bardude1932 builds a story on the branch. Barista makes a plot twist on the main trunk. All of this is organically happening, no sharing of plot details needed. My desk is now an odd shade of purple. There should be a lot more cohesion. --Melik Fizzou 22:12, 18 Sep 2004 (EDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD ...

On Control, Controlling People and Just Letting Go and Having FUN

Right, so, the game has taken an unexpected turn. Well, at least, it has for some people. Personally, it is precisely what I thought it would be. Massive, confusing, complicated and filled with entries of wildly varying focus and content. Wasn't that the damn point?

The world is not a nice, well-defined place. There are grey areas. People don't agree on many, many things. Often. I think this is accurately reflected in the Encyclopedia. What's more, I think it's the entire charm of the game. There are some entries that, in my opinion, really shine. Alas, I don't think mine are any of them. Yet. We've only been through two complete rounds. Most of us are still gettting the hang of this entire concept, not to mention the specific rules. Give it time! Be patient!

For example, I am not a professional writer, though at a weak moment in my life, I dreamed of that. So, my writing is somewhat less polished than, say, Morbus'. Still, I hold my own. Also, I fill most of my day not with writting or RPG-related thought, but with troubleshooting servers. That is what pays my bills. So, when I get the chance, I read the other entries and occasionally make notes. Mostly this is done at lunch or while I'm loading software or rebooting a server. It is haphazard and "catch as catch can". Still, I find it quite fun and very recreational. Especially when I let go of how my phantoms were being used. I assure you that Ball Lightning Liqueur was not intended to be an explosive! However, that was the risk I took making the *phantom* instead of hoarding the ne entry for myself later. In fact, after prompting some additional information (ie. a reference to the Anise Engine) which was missing, I rather enjoyed the odd turn of events. In future entries, I hope to refer back to Ball Lightning Liqueur and change the interpretation of its significance.

Of course, it *is* your game and your server and all that, so you can do whatever you want, but I think you have a much better game than you realize. Try just letting go of your own expectations for the game, its progress and its direction and having some fun. That is what the *game* component is all about, right? Having fun? That *is*, after all, why we spend so much of our free time doing this, right? Because we're all having fun?

Just a thought. --Doctor Phineas Crank 12:44, 19 Sep 2004 (EDT)

More random remarks

Since all of you folks are writing extensively on this matter, I thought I would take the opportunity to say, emphatically, ME TOO. :-)

What I find most delightful about writing fiction is how stories write themselves and unexpected things happen. Writing collaborative multi-perspective fictional historical fiction in this matter amplifies that to such an enormous extent that it makes it almost like real life. Positively delightful.

Someone dibbed an entry that I had practically all the way written in me brane. (I set my alarm for 11:45pm so that I could be the first to dib it. Apparently I had the volume turned down. Bah.) Them's the breaks.

And I have an entry almost completely written for something several turns in the future. I will be muchly distraught if someone else gets it. But I'm not going to try to circumvent the rules of the game for that. Although I'm sure my idea is better. ;-)

I'd like to see a moratorium on any more friken organizations/religions/secret societies/guilds/whatever, since these seem to be getting just a touch out of control. Yes, I contributed a political (I think) party to the malaise, so I'm just as much to blame.

Anyways, I guess what I'm saying is that things seem to be going roughly as I anticipated - mostly chaotic mult-track story development, evolving in wholely unexpected ways. I don't want to see more stringent control, really, although it seems that evolving rules based on problems as they come up, seems completely reasonable.

What I don't want is someone telling me that I wrote a particular entry *wrong* because it's not what the phantomer had in mind. I'm moderately sure that the things I phantomed won't turn out the way I envisioned, just as I'm sure that Morbue (damn his eyes) won't write about Cataract Road in the particular way that I had planned before he beat me to the dib. Again, them's the breaks.

I'll quit before I get as verbose as some of the rest of y'all. I should have stopped after "ME TOO."

--DrBacchus 14:11, 19 Sep 2004 (EDT)

I'd agree that there are enough organizations and places right now. Show us some inventions, people! And I'd also agree that a "disscussion period" would lead to all sorts of pre-planning, etc. etc., and miss what seems to be, at least to me, the intention of Ghyll in the first place: People taking ideas off in unexpected directions. I had no idea what to do with betrothal march at first. What I came up with is interesting, at least, and nothing like what Talliesin had in mind. And that's the intent, right?

Oh, and Talliesin, don't get to attached to the Darvekian Party... --Darus Ixa 7:12, 19 Sep 2004 (EDT)

I didn't say there's enough places. There are 27 cities with Bindlet Ball teams, after all. :-) --DrBacchus 06:44, 20 Sep 2004 (EDT)

You know, I could stand to have a few more cities, in particular, and more places don't seem a burden, but perhaps we need to slow down on the creation of "new" words. For instance, "Cresent Bay" is just as good a city as "Cranosticknarf", but it's not a new word for people to have learn.

OTH, I'll be damned if I'm going to stop having fun just because someone doesn't think the game is going as planned. This is the most fun I've had in months and months and I'm not going to let a stick-in-the-mud keep me from it. ^_^ --Doctor Phineas Crank 07:23, 20 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Darned kids these days --DrBacchus 07:55, 20 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Yes, we're a big short of cities, but let's hold off on inventing more unless we really need a city other than Folktown. Also, I had to break the rule and invent the Dagger Seas (probably, I'm still at first draft) since I had a sailor to describe, and nowhere for him to sail. I did opt for Dagger Seas rather than Dxorthian Seas or something else totally made up on the one hand or Really-Stormy-In-The-South-Calm-In-The-North-Good-Fishing-During-The-Warmer-Seasons Seas on the other. Dagger's a normal word, but I can think about half a dozen completely different reasons why seas might be called such without really trying, so hopefully whoever gets it will do something good with it. --Talliesin 08:06, 20 Sep 2004 (EDT)

I'm pretty sure "Dagger" means "Really-Stormy-In-The-South-Calm-In-The-North-Good-Fishing-During-The-Warmer-Seasons" in some dialect or other. ;-) --DrBacchus 08:26, 20 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Well, if you hold a dagger with the blade down, and consider down to be south, then the blade represents the stormy part of the sea and the hilt represents calm...

Just an observation. --Darus Ixa

Everyone else is chiming in, so I might as well. Rather than just a "me too," I'll say that the good Doctor Phineas Crank summed up my opinion pretty well. The "fun" of the game (for me) is precisely the lack of control. I think an OOG "talk" page for everyone to hash out where things *should* go in the story is the wrong answer. However, I also share the concern of others over the rampant, implicit, creation via new nomenclature spread through-out an entry. I'd like to see more focus on filling in existing loose threads. How do we get there from here, and keep things fun? First, stop the hemorrhaging. I suggest a rule (or merely a suggestion with the backing reasoning) on the front page for all to see that says something like:

"Please do not needlessly create places/people/organisations/etc... in your entries beyond
the subject of the entry and your two phantoms.  It is the desire of many of the players 
to have a cohesive Ghyll, and that is difficult when every entry mentions, without really 
defining, something like "Blorflmancy," "squidgeroos," and "Nimdick The Uptight" when none 
of them are the subject of the entry, nor its phantoms.  Please keep Occam's Razor in mind
(i.e. entities should not be multiplied needlessly).  If you feel you really have need, 
go ahead and add, but before you do, see if there is anything else in Ghyll all ready 
which could serve your purpose just as well as some new invention.  If there is, use 
that instead, and help us get a handle on keeping Ghyll fun and connected.  Thanks."

After that, I think simple encouragement via subtle, or not so subtle proddings in each Progress Report should begin to pull us back to a more cohesive story. --Qwentyth Pyre 19:58, 20 Sep 2004 (EDT)

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