Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Tuning

Master has directed me to prepare for the Final Rite.

I drew a bath and collected the oils so as to sanctify my body. As I slipped into the pool I thought of my training up to this final hour. . .

"Every action is preceded by a want that comes to your awareness after you have begun it."

I could feel the Second Sphere around me in the water. Master tells me that the Final Rite -- my Tuning -- would loosen the Second Sphere from my body. I wondered what this would feel like. Master's words again echoed in my Mind.

"We are all born with a Soul Caul. Our Order has perfected the Art of removing this Caul, whose tail is located around the back of the Brain -- the organ that houses your Mind. You will practice our Order's many exercises to sense and push against this Second Sphere.

"You will feel a pinching and then a pulling as the skin is opened in the back of your skull. You will then feel a hammering and a grinding as we apply the Trephine to the bone."

I reflected on the majority of this past year's training. The many Ordeals were designed to tolerate greater and greater amounts of pain so as to loosen the psyche under the Soul Caul -- that I may Flow following the Tuning.

I tried to nap while soaking in the pool, but sleep would not come. I could feel the energy in my Gross Form already preparing itself for the Order's Surgeons. "They are preparing the Ritual Chamber," I thought. I imagined the table I would be secured to. I imagined the leather and metal restraints they would need as my body seized while they pulled my Second Sphere by the tail away from my Gross From.

Bringing my hands to my face, I felt the Gross Form of my face. My fingertips reached to the back of my skull. "Soon, my own Tuning mark will be there." I remembered the pride and far away stares on the faces of my older cohorts.

"It is time." Master had entered the room without me noticing.

Suddenly, the Order's Surgeons were upon me. The slipperiness of my limbs were no matter as they had loosened their Unseen Servants, doubling the arms restraining my Gross Form.

"I had no plans that it would be like this!" my Mind wailed! But Master's Unseen Servant was upon my face, holding closed my mouth and nose. My lungs stretched and flattened. My Gross Form rebelled and then Seized as all went Black. 

"Wake, child." Master's voice.

"The Final Rite, the Tuning, will now commence. You will be Awake for this. You will feel pain. We will rip the Soul Caul from the insides of your skull. You will be Free."

As Master spoke to me I felt the pressure of a razor upon my head as a Surgeon removed the hair from my Gross Form's head.

"Many have come before you. Many will come after you. All have undergone the Ordeals as you have. Not all survive the Tuning."

Panic inside. But it was too late to turn back now.

I now felt the pinching and pulling as a Surgeon removed skin so as to target the correct location of the Soul Caul's Tail. Coldness drooled down to my face as the Surgeon continued cutting. . .

"Now the Trephine."

I heard the clattering of a large metal instrument. The Trephine -- the machine that makes us More Than Others and Less Than Born.

"Child. You will be with Us no matter the state of your Gross Form." Master addressed the Surgeons. "Begin."

It felt like falling on the back of one's head. At first there was a stop. But then the falling continued. Falling, falling, falling. . .


Ozzie Pippenger said...

Sorry, this comment doesn't quite belong here, but over on the Tao you mentioned a feedback system for players that you were working on. I have a blog post about similar questions here (https://alonzocredanzo.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/why-do-players-play/comment-page-1/#comment-44) and a forum thread here (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=13607366470A23476000&page=1#3)

Is there another, more sophisticated way you would get this feedback? Right now I'm getting mixed results. Sorry again for the non sequitur. This really belongs on the Tao, but Alexis doesn't seem to want to talk at the moment.

Rev. Dane Black said...

Hi Ozzie: I don't have much to add to those discussion directly (as I both play and DM, and enjoy both about equally), but here are my initial thoughts on receiving feedback.

1. Feedback should be specific. What is it, exactly, that the feedback is about. Describe it. Name it. Cite it.

2. Feedback should be constructive. This part is important. "It's Great!" or "It Sucks!" are not constructive. What -- exactly -- worked well, what did not work so well.

3. Feedback should include Contrast. Some players may find it easier to be critical or praising (depending on whether they generally like or dislike their experience). Getting that player to share something of what they did NOT like (if they liked everything) or DID LIKE (if they hated everything) can be a catalyst for getting some of the BEST feedback.

There are some specific ways of operationalizing the process of getting this quantitative or qualitative feedback, but that is outside of the scope of responding on a comment.


Ozzie Pippenger said...

I like it, but it seems specific to evaluating a particular game. It would certainly help in the day to day running, but I think I can more or less tell that from talking with players after the game.

What I originally wanted to do was satisfy my curiosity about why players play in the first place, when there seem to be much more convenient ways to kill time. I get a certain kind of emotional fulfillment from conceiving of a world, planning it, and watching it become real as other people experience it. From the other side, the game doesn't appeal to me, and yet players come to my games week after week, sometimes many times a week. What I want to know is why. It's less about becoming a better DM in the short term, and more about gaining a more complete understanding of the game.

I'm starting to think I'm overestimating the effectiveness of surveys and essay prompts. Maybe I should just join another group as a player, and try to see what I can enjoy about it. Thanks for posting this though. It could still potentially be very helpful, even if it's not what I originally wanted.