After listening to episode 350 (milestone alert!) about retcons, I had to go back and listen again to the definition Brett provided and then compare that to examples provided in the episode.
After a second listen, I thought maybe I needed to call BS… but no, it wasn’t wrong. Then I thought I should call the Gaming Police and they told me there’s a special branch that handles these kinds of cases…
The Improv Police.
[cue Law & Order classic SFX]
“Ok, what’s the next case?”
“The People versus the Gaming & BS Podcast, your honour.”
“Thank you, your honour. The People have accused the Gaming & BS Podcast of third degree Misuse of Improv Techniques after they provided examples during an episode about retcons in RPGs that tread on and misidentify standard improv techniques as corrections to the story created during play. This contrasts to the verdict in the 1997 lawsuit of the Screenwriters of Good Morning Vietnam vs Robin Williams where the court ruled Mr. Williams was indeed retconning the script because it had been written prior to shooting those scenes.”
“So what’s the difference here, council?”
“Your honour, if a GM is running a game in complete improvisation, as per the standards and guidelines set down in the Off Broadway Accord of 1986, a story and/or elements of a story that are improvised have not been presented in the medium in which the story is being told. In other words, it wasn’t written down and therefore has not been revised as per the definition of a retcon. We plan to prove these are examples of adaptations as they are created collectively by the players during play, much in the same way improv performers are adapting their story as it unfolds.”
[Brett and Sean sit at the defence table, holding their heads in their hands. Their lawyer rises.]
“Your honour, my clients are not improv performers, they are RPG podcast hosts. And yes, while they are beloved by their fans and idolized in a cult-like fashion that has been deemed a threat to national security, they cannot be held to the laws of this court. For starters, they have real jobs and friends who aren’t annoyed by them. We demand this case be remanded to the Gaming Police for judgement.”
[The judge holds up a hand and the court goes silent.]
“This is not the first time such jurisdictional confusion has come into this court. Have the two sides tried mediation to resolve this matter?”
“No, your honour. We thought this written parody of a courtroom drama was funny and went straight to that as a crowd pleaser.”
[The judge bangs the gavel.]
“You improvers have been warned about these kind of shenanigans before, including when you brought forward cases as a fake news report, a fake weather forecast, and that time to you presented your case against the Misdirected Mark Podcast using only a pool noodle and a set of chopsticks. This court demands both sides discuss this matter and settle out of court before someone calls out for the name of a place where you would go shopping. Court adjourned!”
Ok, in all seriousness, it did seem there was some alternating examples in this episode between retconning something that was expressed during the game and adaptations made during play. To me, it feels like some examples were indicating that launching a fireball into a room means you have to retcon that the room is on fire rather than adapting to the fact that room is now on fire. Sure, the book doesn’t say the room is on fire when the PCs arrive, but that’s doesn’t feel the same as Brett’s example of his kids searching for a secret door that wasn’t there. Unless Brett had mentioned earlier that there are no secret doors in this room, is it a retcon or is that adaptation?
A Guy Who Definitely Sat On The Toilet Too Long Typing This Post