Water Margin Forms

2008 Jan 19

Going through the expanded Water Margin oracle that I created yesterday, I made a list of the following, commonly appearing words or phrases which describe the manner in which characters performed actions. Plus marks indicate duplicates.

  1. in headlessness, in a careless instant, through accident;
  2. in drunkenness +++++;
  3. in battle;
  4. by guile +++++++;
  5. with his fists;
  6. alone ++;
  7. secretly +;
  8. lets fly an arrow, with his arrow +++;
  9. without great pains;
  10. in his wrath, in a madness of anger;
  11. by the light of the moon, by night ++++++++;
  12. because of friendship, through great mercy, justly;
  13. disturbs, makes a mighty turmoil, makes a great furor, rouses evil passions ++++++++++++;
  14. captures, seizes, conquers, traps, takes, steals, robs ++++++++++++++++++;
  15. kills ++++++;
  16. attacks +++++;
  17. using his magic;
  18. in the robber’s lair ++++++++++++;
  19. through wind and snow, on a snowy night, upon a snowy day.

It’s only after reading through the chapter titles carefully and verifying them against the original Chinese titles that I see how much the name of Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, the Cultural Revolution era “model opera,” is drawn from the Water Margin. I mean, if you were “taking tiger mountain by strategy” in this game, you’d roll the dice for Captures (same characters that are translated as “taking”) and By Guile (same characters translated as “by strategy”). Makes me wonder about a “model opera” oracle.

In any case, now I either need to distill this into a list of six or, perhaps, make a longer list and have individual characters have slightly different lists of forms, picking the six that they have. Also, is six forms really the best number? How would a game work if you only had four forms? Would it be more iconic?

A different (and provocative) idea would be to take all the characters explicitly mentioned in the titles, which is only 30-some characters probably, and make the forms for each character the phrases that are explicitly associated with them in the titles. This would give each character more of an individual flavor. Some would be drunken and some would be just or have magic. Hmm…

4 Responses to “Water Margin Forms”

  1. Willow Says:

    This is based on IAWA, yes?

    Your most common ones are Drunkenness, Guile, At Night, Taking Stuff, Turmoil Making, Killing, Attacking, and In The Robber’s Lair, which seems awfully specific.

    Killing & Attacking = Violent
    Guile, At Night = Covertly

    I suspect the basic forms may work for you- Disturbs, Making a Great Turmoil seems to be Acting Directly.

    The only two that don’t obviously show up are For Myself and For Others, so if you wanted to reduce it to four, you would have Direct, Covert, With Violence, With Love (not terribly stated in the examples, but appropriate for an opera, and replaceable.) I worry that four forms will give too few options, since if you aren’t acting violently or lovingly, you’d have to be both direct and covert- ???

    Drunkenness is probably a particular strength- and a common one at that.

  2. John Harper Says:

    I think it’s worth experimenting with custom forms for each character. That may not be the right answer, but you probably need play to tell.

  3. Jonathan Walton Says:

    Yeah. Definitely going to try it out in play and see how it works. Glad you’re excited too, John.

  4. Willow: Thanks for your analysis. I’m definitely thinking over the forms carefully, going forward.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: