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alt.magicK KfaQ#02: RPG magic? (kreEePing oOze faQ)

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Archive-name: magick/kreeeping-ooze/part02
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Revised 9501

Kreeping FAQ #2: "What about role-playing game magic?  (etc.)"

Role-playing is mythos-creation gaming in which characters are assumed 
during a group co-creative fiction.  The setting and character-types vary 
depending on the particular Game Master and system in which the characters 
explore/live.  D&D, perhaps the most well-known role-playing game, was 
created by Gary Gygax as an adjunct to war games and this developed into 
a self-contained game all its own.

Gygax and company took the weaponry and other physical arts/crafts directly 
from physical history and lifted the mythology and legend of many cultures 
and time periods (largely focussing on the European and making some things 
up whole cloth) when fabricating their background fantasy material.  This 
included magic.  

Simlar to Julian Jaynes' model, the Gygax fellowship set about developing 
self-consciousness amidst their plebian warriors.  The silly break-down 
of personality-factors ('character-statistics') and comical use of the 
term 'levels' all through the system speaks of their attempt to provide 
a psychic life to their otherwise objectified selves.  It was a simplistic
beginning, and, as with all beginnings, it had its difficulties.  It
did NOT attempt to approximate 'reality'.  It was a role-playing game
arising out of war-games.

Mages are generally associated with wonder-working or thaumaturgy, and the 
majesty of role-playing game magic is in its mythological appearance.  
Very important psycho-spiritual data may be found within many role-playing 
game magical systems (cf. Paul Hume's lovely supplement for the Shadowrun 
system, _The Grimoire_, or such entire systems as MAGE or Ars Magica).

Since D&D many more 'realistic' systems have developed, yet most of them 
(along with the fiction books which are co-inspired with them) retain that 
'magic-user-as-psychic-manifestor-of-physical-wonders' type of character 
because it is MYTHICALLY powerful.  It is intended as a co-creation of 
mythos, not a description of physical reality.  As with all mythos, it is 
bereft of its value when it is 'explained away and changed to suit the 
(physical) facts'.

As Gygax and others drew upon the pseudo-scientific thaumaturgy to create 
their 'magic-users', in many game systems the source of the power is 
described as the MAGE, not some god, which was described as method for the 
'cleric' or theurgist.  How we reconcile these outside the bounds of gaming
(i.e. when people refer to Jesus as a 'magician' and the like) is quite 
interesting, I think, but it has more to do with our relation to divinity 
than it does to specific delineations among traditions or disciplines.

Role-playing games can be very important tools for self-transformation, and 
ridicule for such activities or for valuing the more mythic descriptions of
magical feats only speaks of specialization and immaturity on the part of
the heckler.

nagasiva, tyagi

I have a feeling that FRP has positive contributions to magickal study (or
more properly to the foundations for magickal study):

        It is an exercise in "willing suspension of disbelief" - which
        is often necessary in order to grasp a new framework.

        It improves visualization skills - which are valuable tools
        for exploration of reality and formulation of will.

        It offers us the opportunity to participate spontaneously in
        extreme situations - and so creates a path whereby our subconscious
        fears, desires and motivations can reveal themselves.
        It enables us to explore perceptions and feelings from a perspective
        other than our normal ego-place - which is essential in order to gain
        a truer understanding of the world and the beings with whom we share it.

        It offers even young children the opportunity to construct and explore 
        very intricate things - which is a relatively rare opportunity.

        It is an exercise in both intellect and passion - likely to result
        in the development and growth of each.

        It often serves as a microcosm wherein we can observe how things
        might unfold, and what the possible outcomes are of alternative
        behaviors and world-views - and thus creates new growth opportunities.

I'm not saying that FRP is the 'path of the arrow' ... but I am suggesting
that if one were looking for a way to 'plough the fields' in preparation for
magickal studies or an inner-path, that FRP actually has much to offer.

(is this you, mark kampe?)

I've always felt that RPGs allowed us to feel like we were the central
figure in a story developed just for us (if the player) or to feel like 
we were God, developing the whole thing from scratch for the benefit of
beings which we allowed to have free will (if the GM).  In other words
I always got the feeling that it was quite a mainstream *Christian*
activity to engage in this activity, whatever its imaginational content,
since it sets up a pattern of game play which appears to proceed directly
from much of the foundational cosmology inherent to that religion - the
telling of a Story/Logos by God/Creator/Writer.

When I wanted to buck this type of thing I started to make games wherein
players could discover that there were actually no rules and that, in
discovering this, they could co-create the game with me; or games in which
suddenly as their character died it transformed, via some magical object,
into an exact replica of their nongame self (the other players deciding
on their characteristics :>).  I started to merge the nongame and game
worlds and in this way break down that God/Creation mythotype, or perhaps
at least bend and twist it.


================================================ END OF OOZING FAQ #02 =

This document is Copyright (c) 1994, authors cited.

All rights reserved.  Permission to distribute the collection is
hereby granted providing that distribution is electronic, no money
is involved, reasonable attempts are made to use the latest version
and all credits and this copyright notice are maintained.

Other requests for distribution should be directed to the individual
authors of the particular articles.

This is from a series of continually-updated posts responding to recurrent
questions in this newsgroup.  Please debate anything in here which seems
extreme and add your own response to these questions after the post.  I'll
integrate what I can.  Thanks.

tyagi nagasiva
tyagI@houseofAos.abyss.coM (I@AM)

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