Monday, March 13, 2017

Rayism in your World Build


If you are reading this, you might be a D&D player interested in Rayism. I am sure you have many questions about it. In this post, I am going to try to cover as much as I can to explain a few things about Rayism.

Where did it come from

Keeping it short, my son was forced to play D&D one day. He drew up a character to stop me nagging at him. The character was a  standard elven ranger. To get out of playing, he tried everything he could to kill his character as quickly as possible so he had an excuse to quit. The character's name was Ray.

Ray would not die. Not for lack of trying. Not for lack of the DM just letting him die either. The dice would not let that character die! Between extraordinary dice rolls and fantastic, unbelievable events that happened, Lady Luck did not want that character to die. (As  DM, I didn't outright kill off any character. That is boring. I decided that if Wesley was going to kill off Ray, by the Nine! it was going to be in a blinding, blaze of glory that would last the ages in myth.) This, of course, began to backfire as the DM and the player tried to kill Ray in the strangest and weirdest ways possible. 

The dice just wouldn't let him die!

Because these strange anomalies began to shape the world build, As the DM I was forced into an unlikely scenarios in which I had to explain WHY. Why did these things happen? The other players needed some rational explanation for irrational dice rolls. I said, "Uh...wild magic is chaotic and there is  no explanation."

Because that is what DM's do. When faced with a world glitch, "you blame the wizard." ( a real Lucy Lawless quote, "Xena; Warrior Princess") 

As a DM, I would love to say that the real reason for these extraordinary die rolls is that my dice are old. As many players discovered in 2014 (or so) that a huge amount of D&D dice were made wrong. Hundreds of thousands of biased dice were released to unsuspecting players and they have been playing with them for years! I am a very lucky person in that for years I have been playing with D20s that are horribly biased to the 20 side, five of them in fact.

However, that does not explain the dice in my collection that are so freaking old, (Late 80s early 90s) They are not biased. How is it that Ray got lucky with those? The fact is, there are lots of biased dice. Not all are biased to 20 side, some are biased to 1 or 13. And thus, in those cases, how is it that Ray did not die?

There is no explanation other than, "Wild Magic is chaotic and there is no explanation for it."

As time went on, the internet suddenly exploded with this idea of Rayism. It is an actual thing that popped up around 2007 (ish). Our Ray had been around before that, so I don't know where "Rayism" came from as far as internet is concerned. Internet Rayism is very similar to our Rayism. And at the root of it, exists the idea of Coin's Edge. You can find it in the D&D wiki on google somewhere. 

Rayism is different from the standard Chaotic Good trickster characters in that Rayism must be true neutral. That does not mean they are unmotivated. It means they are concerned with balance and try to maintain that balance for themselves and the world around them. Too much Lawful and there will be corruption. Too much chaos and there will be corruption. So, the focus of Rayism is the elimination of corruption. A benevolent Lawful Good king has the same amount of danger of corruption as a Chaotic Evil tyrant. Followers of Rayism will do whatever it takes to level the playing field for the benefit of others.

The Luck Domain

As a DM, I have to rationalize it myself. I am the the builder of Tarkazia. That world is my domain. I created it. How can I rationalize a character so completely off my own map, as the creation goddess? (Cause when you get right down to it, that what a DM is..the god of their own world.)

Fortunately, I am not the only world builder with this problem. Anyone who has read Disc World is familiar with "The LADY" The Lady is an undefined Divine being who plays chess with DEATH and the main patriarch god. She often will bias the dice or game piece to her favor. Sometimes she wins, and sometimes there is a draw, but she never "loses" a game. This, I believe, is Lady Luck, a Chance and Fortune Goddess of Disc World. Just as Rincewind is her "favorite game piece" in the Disc World; Ray, the elven ranger, is her favorite game piece in Tarkazia.

This makes Ray a trickster character. Imagine Loki or Kwaku-Anasi as an elven ranger. And more often than not, a trickster character is not powerful at all. Rincewind, Loki, and Anasi do not wield much power on the face. In fact, it isn't completely out of the formula if the trickster has no power at all. That isn't how things work for a trickster. The power comes from "Luck". The only thing needed is their presence and a simple action or word to cause catastrophic, world burning events to occur. Rincewind, Ray, Loki, and Anasi are all butterflies that cause the butterfly effect. These butterflies appear to "stumble" into trouble, then appear to dance out of the fire, laughing at the same time. (These characters aren't laughing at the carnage. They are laughing at what happened and the fact that they know they should be dead, yet they survived.) It is stress laughing.

These characters are unbelievably useful when it comes to pushing the game along. When the party of adventurers start to argue over gold or something else just as stupid, the DM can use the "game piece" to divert the parties attention in another direction or get them going again. When you have a player who has picked up on this, it is even more useful. It took Wes a while, but when he finally accepted Ray, it didn't take much prodding to get him to play into that character. And by 3rd level, he had an instinct for my exacerbation of the players bullshit. He would take it upon himself to enter the trapped door, smack the monster on the behind, or take the magic sword without anyone looking and walk away with it.

Any character like this is "just lucky" and that is it.

The Trickster Character Type

The trickster character type, whether you are talking divine or not, has similar attributes. Most trickster characters are Chaotic Good. These type of characters value freedom and choice. They will actively be against things like, slavery, tyranny, racism, prejudice, and any other behavior type that enforces the will of  the one on the many. 

Rayism tricksters are different because followers of Rayism understand that sometimes, those things are necessary. My best example of this is Rick and Morty, season 2, episode 3, Auto Erotic Assimilation In this case,  Summer and Morty are Chaotic Good and Rick is True Neutral/ Rayism.

And now that I am on the subject, Ray and Rick are peas-in-a-pod.

How to add the Coin's Edge

Personally, in my games, if I want to give my players a quest from "a divine being", the character will always have a dream. This dream will compel the character to motivation. If the player resists or refuses, the quest will happen anyway, it just won't be a pretty sight.

And that is how it works in reality and in the Heroic Monomyth. Harry Potter didn't want to be the Chosen one. Too bad, Harry! That is why the Jedi call it "the Force" because the character is "forced" into a purpose beyond their own will. The harder the character resists, the harder it is for the character to do anything else. The force will take away everything that has been given to the character up to that point, including health, sanity, wealth, power, home, family, friends, equipment, clothing, hair. Nothing is sacred and the force is merciless for an uncooperative character.

The character is usually sent off for a seemingly uneventful quest; save the village, retrieve the artifact, release the prisoners, whatever. During the quest, your "Ray" character will do something that might seem out of character, say something extraordinary, or do something that seems normal at first. 

As the DM, you must recognize that seemingly insignificant moment and jump on it. Make something happen and don't worry about "killing off the character." Start the domino effect. One thing leads to another, and then suddenly anvils rain from the sky. Trust me, "It just works"

Don't be boring! 

Every RPG game has "collect the thing" or "save the thing" or "gain the favor of blank" Honestly, if players want that shit, there are video games that cover that area. Tabletop should be and is different! This kind of thing separates the mundane, pre scripted boring of pre written modules and programs into a fantastic game that everyone plays for entertainment and socializing!

You want your players to come back for more. You want "some" bitching from your players about "fairness" and other bull shit. You need them to love to hate it and hate to love it. And at the end of the day, it is a game! It is supposed to be fun. If it is fun, they are going to go out to their other friends and talk about it. Because it was fun.

As the DM, you have also created a sense of belonging and purpose within your group. This creates a mini-culture within a circle of people. And that also, helps in bringing them back for more play. Very few people know the story about "Matt worming himself" it is a legend among our group and is still spoken about today. Create your own legends by not being boring.

Doesn't have to be Rayism

"Rayism" or "Coin's Edge" are just words for an idea that centers around "beneficial chaos." It flies in the face of the rational and works out to be better in the end.The why and how is inexpiable, unpredictable, irrational, and weird. Wild magic doesn't give a honey-badger about physics, rules, guidelines, or status quo. (Which is why D&D rules lawyers hate it with so much passion! My response to that type of person is very blunt and bitchy. It goes like this: "If you don't like it, leave and go play a video game.)

Side note:

If you are lucky enough to get a Rules lawyer who is willing to play, That is great! A DM is still just a person and can't remember every bloody thing about guidelines to the game. I do find some rule lawyering to be beneficial. 

Back to the show:

Now, he label "Rayism" doesn't have to be used in your game. You are free to make one up for your own world. It is also easy to add this in under a pre established religious order for any divine trickster. All you have to do is to adjust the alignment from CG to TN. Which is easier than you might think it is. Alignment is just a set of pre established ideas of cognitive behavior. That is it. By changing your ideas and thoughts about the world,  any character can change the world, including yours.

Your World is Your Domain

Your world is your domain that you are sharing with others. As a DM, it is not important to understand the rules of how and why of somethings existence. Sometimes, it is only important to know that something is there and "it just works" That is the difference between Intelligence and Wisdom. 

Magic is science that we have yet to understand.

One beings demon is another beings god.

Sometimes, "It just works."

If you have any more questions, you know how to reach me.

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