Posts Tagged ‘story by the throat


Roleplaying by the Throat

OK, enough preamble–now it’s time to take these concepts and wrestle ’em to the ground. I’ll focus on roleplaying to start with, since that’s the central activity for this blog.

In “So what the hell does THAT mean?” I wrote:

Story by the Throat in the context of roleplaying is passionate engagement around the whole gaming table in making a story together. It’s roleplaying with heart and fearlessness that really shows what our protagonists are made of, in the tradition of the gutsiest fiction. It’s switched-on, fired-up, total excited attention to what’s happening right this moment.

Let’s unpack that a bit. “Passionate Engagement” is of course the key, the centerpiece to the whole philosophy. It’s a basic commitment, when we as roleplayers sit down together, to build an enjoyable and fulfilling experience that satisfies our aesthetic and emotional standards. Something we can be proud of. Not because we “made art” in any hoity-toity sense, but because we were vulnerable enough to invest something of ourselves in our shared creation, enough to generate some intensity and genuine emotion and possibly grow as humans and friends.

There’s a tradition that sometimes rears its head in roleplaying culture, of non-investment: “It’s just a casual thing, let’s just chill and munch some snacks, roll dice, slay a dragon, crack some jokes. Don’t…y’know…make a thing of it.” Even when players sink a ton of their time, effort and money into the hobby, this “don’t take it too seriously” vibe can rear its head. RPGs in this case are less creative exercise (which is a kind of exertion), and more blowing off steam (which is an escape from exertion). Which, sure, is a valid goal. But it’s not my passion. I’d prefer either a passive entertainment or a non-story activity for that purpose. For story, I need engagement.

Engagement with what? Look at the next part of my little rant that divulges the very reason I roleplay: to see what our Protagonists are made of.

I don’t mean anything as basic as “Can Hero McBadass slay the dragon? Roll Dice! Yes, he can! He’s BADASS!” After all, what does that show us about Hero Mc-B? Did we discover anything about him as a human being? Why did he slay the dragon? What hardship did he endure? Did he have to sacrifice anything to slay it? Who was hurt, and who benefited, by his actions? Did the act change him, irrevocably, for good or ill?

That’s where Story by the Throat lives: right there in those moments where the character is in the heart of the fire and we ache with the uncertainty of what he will do and what it will cost.




Hit me, I can take it!

NOTE: this post is one of my earliest attempts at understanding and promoting the kinds of conversations I want to have at Story by the Throat. I’m leaving it up for archival purposes, but it’s pretty outdated. For my current guidelines on participation, see the page Tell Your Story, Ask a Question, Listen Generously.

There’s something I want to get straight as this exploration progresses: I’m OK with any of my readers challenging my views. In fact, I depend on it. Without vigorous discussion I’m just talking to myself, and that’s no good to me and probably little use to you. So by all means! Comment! Dissent! What sounds really cool, and what just rubs you the wrong way? Let’s have a conversation.

There are only two guidelines:

1) All experience is valid. Don’t tell me or anyone that I didn’t feel what I feel, or have the experiences that I did. And don’t tell anyone that their feelings or experiences are wrong. Feel free to contrast my (or anyone’s) experiences with yours, or describe how you would feel differently in my situation. But let’s not argue over what is. All posters are assumed to be accurately and honestly reporting their experience.

2) Be respectful. For the record, “I disagree strongly” or “your argument’s totally invalid” is being respectful. “You suck” or “You’re stupid to like/do/think X” isn’t. (And cussing isn’t disrespectful in my book. It’s all context. “Your argument’s fucking invalid” is fine. “You stupid fuck” ain’t.) It’s a judgment call sorta thing, but I trust we can all self-police, and call each other on our lapses.

So there we go. Please tell me what you think! I hope we can all learn from each other. Expect my first meaty post by the end of the weekend.