Re: Black Friday

28 11 2008

I just finished reading this post on Exchange of Realities, by Ravyn. I’ve never before heard of such tradition, and believe me it was entertaining to be informed such. I believe that the reason why such practice is popular stems from a couple things you mentioned:

  • rarity of the occasion
  • spectacular offers
  • competition

Now bear in mind that these three do not have to be real in order to be effective. I remember a paper that I had read some years ago while I was doing Sociology at the University that made a province wide analysis at supermarkets and big store behaviours when it came to making really great offers. The results were fascinating…

First of all, the offers were very limited in scope: you had to buy this product in this particular quantity, and there were only these many in stock. Second, the payment had to be done in a particular way, cash, or maybe a certain credit card or certain number of installments. Third, the offers were a lot of times… not offers at all! A “50% OFF!” had been preceded by a 200% increase in price or a gift that came with a product had been preceded by increasing the price of the product (thus paying for the gift.) Fourth, the offers had very limited time frames. Thus maybe the offer was valid only this Thursday, or (like this Black Friday event) only for a few hours on a particular date. Finally, even if the offers were real and the timing was gentle enough the dynamics (and the geography) of supermarkets made it that they payed for themselves since most times you ended up buying things that were not being offered at reduced prices (and that, a lot of times, had price increases as well.)

That being said, people still rushed towards this apparently miracle offers with reckless abandon. Why? I believe the answer is a mixture of all the elements above. One the one hand there is a miraculous object (the offer, the sale) that appears at the reach of mere mortals for a brief momment (the rare occasion.) But not just everyone can place their hands on such dear price… oh no, only the brave and worthy who pressed on despite of the difficulties could obtain so dear a blessing! It was then, not only a competition amongst themselves, but also within themselves. Thus they were able to feel good, to feel better than (others) because they had the strenght and the wit that was needed to obtain the price.

Now, is the ‘insaneness’ of Black Friday really a deterrent for this brave souls? Nay! Tis the very thing that makes it so alluring in the first place. Even if the price is no price at all, how much money would you pay for the feeling? “I’m saving so much! I won’t let that supermarket people screw with me no more! Now I have more money to get [blank]!” Of course, as I’ve said, a lot of offers are indeed big deals (I’m not saying that everything is a ripoff per se) and this adds to this “feeling good” that I talked about.

Let’s go back to RPG characters (as suggested by our dear Ravyn.) Most likely (but not always), these are extraordinary people, and certainly they are simply more relevant (in a narrative way) that the common Joe/Jane. How could they let such a wonderous opportunity go? Wouldn’t actually be shameful, wouldn’t people laugh at their pretended might and their flaring courage if they would not lead the charge? Or maybe the people would feel resentful (“Bah, she thinks she’s too good to take advantage of the sales, does she?”) Maybe she fanatically see’s this Black Friday as an evil plot that drowns the town in a hecatomb of savagery and chaos…

So, my good people (and of course, Ravyn in particular.) I will ask once again, what can Black Friday do for you?


Getting started

15 11 2008

Recently I’ve been a tad naughty regarding my idea of finishing the Rules Cyclopedia. I have not abandoned the project but I’ve also stayed away from actually reading the book. I believe that this stems from a lack of precision in my objective in doing so. In particular since my current role-playing situation is pretty much devoided of… well role-playing, I believe I have this subconscious little feeling that even if I do end up reading the bloody bastard (although heck of a book) I will have no person to play it with. Read the rest of this entry »

Realistic D&D Combat?

6 11 2008

I’ve always been on the fence when dealing with proposals for more realistic mechanics. On the one side, I want a kind of realism that could be called coherence: that is a matching of expectations between what the gaming group expects as a probable outcome from combat and the results produced by combat mechanics. On the other hand I want to stay faaaar away from GURPS like exactitude: I don’t want anything to do with the idea of simulating real combat with mechanics so that they, by themselves, would mimic whatever concept of reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Rules Cyclopedia

4 11 2008

After a bit of a dry spell I’ve decided to dig into this vintage gaming piece of roleplaying. Introduced first to the old AD&D book by my new (on-line) roleplaying group, I started to get interested in the old D&D books. The sticking point… they’re fun to read! Who would have though about that? Read the rest of this entry »

Taking your Fluff Back

8 10 2008

Should we really get rid of the fluff? This is a valid question since fluff, in the form discussed in the previous entry, does a lot of things for a lot of people. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been writing and re-writing a sort of practical article to follow the points I raised in the previous one. I found, however, that I kept running into a problematic spot. There was a question that kept coming to mind: How can I address fluff in a less than positive light (as I was trying to do) while at the same time aknowledge that there’s a kind of gaming that uses it and that works fine as it is?

My plan is to take a step back and try to look at the forest. Examine the reasons this apparent dislike of fluff exists in the first place to pinpoint what are the effects that we’re trying to avoid, and to see if these effects are even problematic or not for different styles of gaming. Read the rest of this entry »

Get Rid of the Fluff

18 09 2008

Fluff has bad nutritional values. It’s not surprising to hear a lot of people claiming that they “don’t like books with a lot of fluff” or that “that kind of gameplay is too fluffy” simply because they have been experiencing this kind of nourishment and sometimes assume that everything non-mechanical (something which is also defined rather poorly -some other time though-) is by definition fluff.

I disagree (read: you’re wrong.)

Join me in this first trek into the territory of gaming evil as I try to sweep the fluff out of our gameplay. Also, I’d like to say ‘hello!’ to the readers coming here from the RPG Bloggers Network, I hope that you have a good time reading the articles in this site. As always comments and critiques are more than welcome! Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s get Something Clear

15 09 2008

Because I’ve seen some general confusion regarding this topic, I thought I would shed some light on an issue that seems to be corroding the minds of the youth worldwide… Read the rest of this entry »

How to Create a Magic Item

11 09 2008

I’d like to tackle the magic item creation process with the spin that I usually take for my games: start with meaning and derive mechanics. I’ve tried to make the nature of the process abstract enough to be applied to any particular system in which you’d like to introduce a magical (or the equivalent of that) creation and still be practical enough so you can just sit down and follow the steps.

As always, the goal is efficiency: the procedure that follows strives to be simple and easy to follow and also produce solid, usable results. So get a pad of paper, notebook, PDA or text program and let’s do some forging! Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a Goblin in my Soup!

1 09 2008

After a fantastic week of undisturbed migraine, I come back to the land of the living to bring you a live report on a recent play of Dungeons and Dragons. This time, it’s the heroic tale of both Julius the brave Warlord and Rhynae the insightful Cleric as they faced a pseudo horde of greenish hell in…

There is a Goblin in my Soup!

What sleight of hand will destiny have in store for our heroes, what fiendish plots unravel behind their backs? We will know this and lots more… some other time. This time, raw and uncut, we get to marvel as both these paragons of justice trample over a happy goblin family having lunch. Read the rest of this entry »

Gorilla Jam! ep2: Good Vibrations!

23 08 2008

We’re picking up the pace in the second episode of Gorilla Jam where we take a look at the makings of a D&D character. Each time we’re moving closer and closer to roleplaying heaven, but before we get there, it’s time to have a little taste of the crunchy D&D cereal bar… remember kids, crunch well to grow up into your paragon years!

This time we tackle the second chapter of the book and have a look at “Making Characters.” Although it should be more accurately named something like “How to Begin the Long and Wonderful Process of Making Characters” I support Wizards of the Coast decision for a shorter and cleaner title. But enough of my rambling, let’s get ready for… eh, more of my rambling! Read the rest of this entry »