2019-05-09 Poetry

I just heard an episode of In Our Time about Aphra Behn and how her rise in stature is perhaps also due to the rise in popularity of the novel and the fall of poetry and since I no longer read books as voraciously as I used to I started wondering about poetry.

Poems can be short and could perhaps be well suited for 500 characters. You need more than 140 but not a short story let alone a novel. I wonder about writing RPG vignettes as poetry. Would it work?

I’m listening to Kate Tempest, “an English spoken word performer, poet, recording artist, novelist and playwright.” You can find videos on her web page.

I want to write and read and run games like Kate Tempest playing on my phone right now.

Maybe it would sound a bit like this?

“In those hill we lost our children
Puked our fear into bushes, hiding
Pig men come, they say. Pig. Men.
Are not all men pigs?
Salty lips.
We cannot unhear what the mind hears.
We left our children to the pigs.”

Rhyme & Reason, by Alex Schroeder

What else do we need to know about the villagers and orcs of Salt Hill?

@awinter also pointed me to The Role-playing Poem Challenge. I don’t think it’s quite the same as I’m not interested in the session turning into a poetry slam, nor into a spoken word performance, nor in the rules being a poem, but in the writing for the game having more punch per word, more emotional density, to get away from the technical manual.

If indeed I do. Perhaps the dry manual style has a place in role-playing games? Perhaps this is something inherent about these game since the bending of rules, the rewriting of rules, is part of this game itself, like Nomic.

Or perhaps I should go back to D&D as an oral tradition: keep what you like, add what you need, drop what you keep forgetting. I keep recommending that thread by Eero Tuovinen. And suddenly, poetry has a place in this. It’s what the bards used to remember the epics. Rhyme, alliteration, repetition, idiomatic phrases.



@tootjard experimented with this a few years back: Ink Fiend, A Monster Poem.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-10 08:39 UTC

Have you seen this? https://twitter.com/hexaday

Michael Julius 2019-05-14 22:46 UTC

I had not! (Then again I’m also not on Twitter anymore.) Not quite poetry but super short and useful indeed!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-15 07:33 UTC

I haven’t looked in on it for some time (for the same reasons) but your post reminded me of it for its attention to language and imposed (character) limit.

I remember someone doing d6 tables of little location poems (who? don’t know). There’s a lot of possibilities as RPG writing can be like a coiled spring.

Michael Julius 2019-05-16 02:01 UTC

Yeah, for Hex Describe, same problem: It’s always easy to add more text to add details nobody cares about. To stay short and still be evocative, that is the art of the wordsmith.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-16 12:06 UTC

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