Thursday, November 8, 2007

That Which Relates

So, how do you put that on a character sheet? Other RPG's have done a fine job of taking the literate worldview for granted; how can a story game give a player an experience of a verb-denominated reality? Firstly, animism not only suggests, but flat out demands a fractal like FATE's. Everything exists as a person: communities, lands, cultures, plants, animals, weather patterns, rocks, knives, clothing, you name it. Secondly, the importance of the relationship system to defining a character helps. But I don't think that gives us enough all in itself.

After all, how does a character run, move something heavy, etc.? If we see the self as "that which relates," then what can we say about skills and strengths? Here, we've reached the first of several walls I haven't yet figured out how to scale. I have some ideas, but I don't know if they entirely work.

My original idea dwelt on how people relate, and I came up with three aspects: the Flesh, the Breath and the Word.

  • The Flesh refers to the Merleau-Ponty sense; as David Abram described it, "the mysterious tissue or matrix that underlies and gives rise to both the perceiver and the perceived as interdependent aspects of its spontaneous activity." Our capacity for sensuous awareness and interaction.
  • The Breath would then speak back to the etymological roots of the word "spirit," embracing our ability to relate intellectually and emotionally. Animists saw breathing as the animating force, the "wind within," that united us with the same, exterior winds that animated other breathing animals, tree boughs swaying in the wind, dust on the ground, and everything else around us. It presents us with the imminent mystery of something palpable, powerful, and yet completely invisible, the potent prescence of the present. Importantly, animists do not see intelligence and emotion as purely human activities; rather, they take place as ecological activities, like the wind, happening between persons (human or otherwise), that persons can take part in and share in.
  • The Word comes when Flesh forms Breath, and it provides the social context of relationship, the ability to give one's word and to honor that word.

We have another idea floating about now, but that one will need its own post. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on these.

No comments: