Wish List

I have an Amazon wish list–which I am currently in the process of pruning, so don’t rush out and buy me things from it if you were for some reason inclined to.

Anyway, one of the features of this list is that Amazon will give you recommendations, that is, things the algorhythm thinks you’ll like based on other things you’ve said you like or own. But sometimes the computer gets weird. What, for example, does National Treasure have to do with Hitch? Or, since I have said that I own The Fellowship of the Ring on DVD, why does it offer me a different version of The Fellowship of the Ring on DVD? How in God’s name Knife of Dreams relate to Murder at the War, except in containing people in armor and murder? (If Knife of Dreams does in fact contain murder; I don’t know because I’m refusing to read the Wheel of Time books till Jordan finishes the series, if ever.)


Gamist Gaming

In the Sunday night Dragonstar game, my character has recently had some bad experiences–basically, seeing that her homeworld is being run by an imposter (of her) who is the tool of the chaotic evil black dragons.  Cordelia (and that is her real name and she’s not going to forget it, thank you) is True Neutral, though she really wants to be Neutral Good, and she’s basically a social monster (as opposed to a combat monster or a skill monster or whatever). 

There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem with Cordelia’s preferred method for working out negative feelings; does she use sex because she’s a social monster, or is she a social monster because using sex required her to become one?  Girl’s also got some identity issues, in that a large chunk of her skills are focused on allowing her to pretend to be other people, and in fact her continued existence depends heavily on not claiming her real name in public…but her recent trip to her homeworld showed her that her unclaimable identity as Grand Duchess of Vorbarra is actually important to her.  For that matter, she’s come to regret telling the other PCs that they should call her Ekaterin, her usual nom de guerre, even in private.

Now, D&D is not what you’d call Narrative-focused.  In fact it’s the flagship of Gamist gaming–witness how easy it is to gimp a character at first level with a bad feat choice.  So an important character issue, which in some games might be handled with “Secret Identity” or “Identity Issues” or whatnot on the character sheet, is instead a matter of me telling the GM that Cordelia makes it a point to use her own face whenever it’s not advisable to be someone else.

Right.  So back to Codelia and her bad experience.  She’s back with the rest of the PCs, and she’s feeling intensely stupid and self-destructive.  Being a social monster, she’s decided, mostly unconsciously, that the way to deal with this is to make someone else just as miserable as she is.  She’s picked out Krellit, the Geeky Mechanic ™ of the party, as the most logical candidate, i.e. the one most likely to, you should pardon the expression, fall for it.  It hasn’t really dawned on her yet that this is going to be Bad for Party Cohesiveness.  It should have dawned, mind, but I mentioned stupid and self-destructive, right?

Cordelia is aware that Krellit, not being an idiot, knows she can literally bluff the pants off him should she so desire.  So she went into it pretending to be awkward–the theory being that when blindsided by real emotion she’s just as unsure as anyone else.  And he went for it, and they have started a sexual relationship.  Which led to an issue.

It occurred to me that, while I am aware of the in-bed competence of Krellit’s player, Krellit the character is a different story.  And at some point I said, “Um…I have to roll dice.”  And the GM looked at me and asked for what, and Krellit’s player and I said, pretty much in unison, “Bluff”; that is, Cordelia was faking it (“I’ll have what she’s having.”).  Which led to the slightly injured question on Krellit’s player’s part of why I thought she was going to have to fake it.  How did we know Krellit wasn’t an erotic genius? 

Unsurprisingly, D&D doesn’t have a “Have Sex” skill.  It also doesn’t have anywhere in particular that one can be shoehorned in, with the exception of Perform. Problem is, Perform is Charisma-based, which leads to the ludicrous conclusion that unattractive people are ipso facto lousy lovers.  Amid much laughter, the GM went for Sense Motive on the strength of “paying attention to body language”, which was amusing but not IMO quite right.  Me, I’d go for a Dex-based Perform, or just a whole new skill, with possibly a Con check for how long the characters can, and I swear no pun is intended here, keep it up.

But anyway.  My problem is that I love D&D, I really do, and at the same time I adore games that center on or at least include issues that D&D just isn’t equipped to handle.  In some games, Cordelia’s identity issues would have gotten her extra points or provide a mechanic in some situations; in D&D it’s basically me looking at the GM and saying “I want to have a plotline involving this.”  (Note that the GM has provided one, it’s just that he had to do it with no system support pretty much at all.)  Similarly, it would be amusing if Cordelia discovered that Krellit’s watched enough porn to have a, hmmm, firm grasp of the basics and that she was actually having a good time, even if not so good a time as she pretended; lacking any way to work it out, we fall back on the image of the hopeless techie (“You!  Have you ever kissed a girl!?”).

I don’t know as I have any coherent point here, aside from a personal preference for Gamist mechanics and Narrativist play.  It’s just so hard to abstract things like a brilliant conversationalist…