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  • Theory and Gaming

    Heyyy, have any other DMs incorporated theory in their games? Deconstructionism, phenomenology, subaltern studies, etc?

    How do you go about doing it?


    Hayley Margules, historian and Onyx Path writer
    Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras and Companion, Beast: The Primordial Ready-Made Characters, and Dark Ages: Tome of Secrets

  • #2
    I'm also interested in the answer to this, because I like all of those things you just said but have a hard enough time getting any of my players to put that much thought into my games.

    (Subaltern studies is drawing a blank though, and while I think I can guess at the word phenomenology, I have no idea what that would look like in a gaming context)


    "Nihhina kalekal-zidu kal masun, kal manudanadu. Nihhina kalekal-zidu nukal shaghu-desasudu — nihhina kalekal-zidu kal innu-desasudu udhkal samm." Arthur Ashe
    Check out my tumblr for Chronicles of Darkness-related musings

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    • #3
      In terms of subaltern studies, I think pretty much any attempt at an accurate historical game requires focusing on the "subaltern." The vast majority of humanity in the past was "subaltern" and yet western history (if not all of history) likes to focus on a specific minority of the population.

      It's easy enough when the protagonists of your Colonial America game are all white landowners and maybe an escaped slave, but if you want to play an Indian (like actual Indian) trader in Boston or basically any kind of Native American or, hell, even a woman of any race or creed, you need to dig a little deeper than just The Patriot.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by RomulusGloriosus View Post
        In terms of subaltern studies, I think pretty much any attempt at an accurate historical game requires focusing on the "subaltern." The vast majority of humanity in the past was "subaltern" and yet western history (if not all of history) likes to focus on a specific minority of the population.

        It's easy enough when the protagonists of your Colonial America game are all white landowners and maybe an escaped slave, but if you want to play an Indian (like actual Indian) trader in Boston or basically any kind of Native American or, hell, even a woman of any race or creed, you need to dig a little deeper than just The Patriot.
        Glad to see others agree. I have to admit, my games tend to be Eurocentric, but I still push a real historical literacy. When I think of the Subaltern, I tend to start by thinking of a focus on Asia (where it started) and on thoughts from the bottom up, but I think it was Laura Briggs who started applying the theory to other traditionally oppressed peoples and places (she did it with women in Puerto Rico in her book Reproducing Empire). And Subaltern Studies is definitely a different sort of theory than, like, phenomenology.


        Hayley Margules, historian and Onyx Path writer
        Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras and Companion, Beast: The Primordial Ready-Made Characters, and Dark Ages: Tome of Secrets

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        • #5
          I do, in a way, touch on some of these in most of my games in various degrees.

          I like to add a lot of tiny bits of deconstructionism. Most of it is to add a touch of realism and depth. Thinking of it, most of the possible examples of it is portrayals of leadership in a lot of the splats (notably Changeling).

          As for subaltern, I had to look this up. If I'm reading this right it is a look at history or events from the majority non-elite rather than the elite minority (aka looking at the events of the the Battle of Ticinus through the eyes of average citizens of Pavia rather than from Scipio or Hannibal). If, I'm understanding it right, I like to use this approach to most of my games. I like to highlight the players as being one of many but, just like life, intrinsically unique and layered. The group of changelings interact within the freehold as any other new changeling would and with other groups doing the same. The approach isn't always good but I like what it brings to the complexity most of the time.



          Frequent Story Teller for the Circle of Five gaming group.

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          • #6
            Deconstruction and subaltern studies are pretty much the thing my group uses 3.5 for these days. It may seem like a weird choice but its high degree of customization, in-built emphasis on characteristics of race, and implied assumptions of the fantasy genre have actually made it a surprisingly rewarding system for these purposes.

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