Thursday, February 18, 2010

Addendum and Explanation

In the comments to my last post, Bill disagreed with my final phrase: 'So the question is not "Is it historical?" The question is "How historical is it?"' I agree with his point entirely, because I was not clear who should be asking this question.

This is the question a GM or group needs to answer before running an historical game. That this game will *not* be truly historical is a given. These PCs did not exist in history, so therefore all historical gaming is alt-historical, without exception. But does this fact mean you might as well throw out any pretense of being historical? Of course not. It means you need to answer this question for yourself, as to what your group wants. There are a whole spectrum of answers, all of which are correct. Taking pains to be as historically accurate as possible is no more correct than making the vaguest hand-waves about period feel. Answering this question tells you how to approach the game. It doesn't matter if the designer is all anal about historical authenticity if your group doesn't care about it, so don't let that stop you.

And now for a general disclaimer, and the reason this is a new post instead of a comment: I can't comment on this blog from my work computer. Not at all. I can make new posts, change the structure of the blog, edit old posts, comment on other blogs, or anything else, but I cannot post a comment to my own blog. I can either wait 'til I get home, or post a new message. Yes, this is weird. I have no idea why this works this way - it just works this way.


1 comment:

  1. hmm, I can get behind this one a bit more. An addition though, I would say that short of SME in the time period being played, it is impossible to play without anachronism and thus non-historical play charging in. I believe you might have a shot if you had a group that studied the period to a great extreme but even then, it is not a given as their actions (as you point out) will deviate from history. Else, you are re-enacting or performing a play.

    Quite often people miss the small details and the larger picture becomes occluded through a fog of movie history and popular culture. A true medieval adventure game? Probably tilling the fields for you lord and the Church while watching your loved ones die of disease. But that is not what folks want to play. They prefer settings where such things happen to others. Where you are the officer, the knight, the marine and not the sailor, the peasant, the civilian. Now I say most but there is a market these folks too and it is, on a grander scale, the level of detail in you r setting that is the key point. Do you want those plagues? Maggots in your food? A serf bond system that keeps you bound to the land? Usually, only as a backdrop. You are the leader of the rebellion. You are the unusually skilled archer. You have the very concept that things can be different, better. This is really a big step that a lot of folks miss about the modern world. It is not unique to the modern world but it is more prevalent...ahh, but that is a discussion for a different blog and a different time.

    In general, I agree.