On the Nature of The Game

By: "Hart, Joanna" (hart1j@nectech.co.uk)


"The Game isn't a matter of life and death. It's more important than that."

--Termagant, the Arbiter

Now I know a lot of the damned seem to have the idea that 'The Game' is just a codeword that we sometimes use to mean loyalty and dedication to the cause. It's one way to look at things, certainly saves a lot of them from having to think too much about the implications (which is just as well in many cases) but each and every one of you who is reading this knows in your ichor that there is more to it than that. There are very few certainties in our existences; the ways of the divine and the infernal are often deliberately vague, frustratingly so at times.

The Game defines us, we are those beings who play The Game. Through its rules we can build for ourselves Princes and Barons, lowerarchies and spheres of competence; where g** has refused to make rules and define things for us, we are now able to do these things for ourselves. You are part of The Game, and as well as being a pawn you are also a player. Play it well and you will progress, the things you want will be realised - play it badly and you'll get screwed over.

But win or lose, the important thing is that you have to play by the rules. We can't afford to let standards slip, and it's for everyone's bad. Whatever freedom we have here in hell is due purely to the existence of The Game. Remember that and never gripe about it.

Now this isn't an easy thing; I've mentioned rules and all of you will know some of them, even if only the ones which define your nature and duties. Screw up on those and you're toast.

There are other rules though, rules that are easy to forget or misplace, especially when the Prince of The Game takes a turn and decides to change a few when you aren't paying attention.

In fact we can separate the rules of The Game into two categories. Rules of Piece and Rules of Play. I'm going to speak with reference to chess (you do all play chess I hope, if not I suggest you learn the rules as fast as you can), one of the more popular and virulent of the Game variants we release on mortals.

A rule of Piece defines what a playing piece in the game may do, how it is allowed to move and what its capabilities are. All celestials are pieces so that means /you/. Questioning, neglecting or disobeying a Rule of Piece is usually regarded by arbiters as cheating. The Lord of the Game dislikes blatent cheating and such pieces will be removed from the playing area. In chess, the rules of Piece define that a bishop may move any distance along its diagonal and stop at any point before reaching an obstructing piece. Rules define the other pieces also.

A rule of Play defines how Pieces may legally interact with each other. Each superior can define some of these for you (and will do); if the rules of piece define what you are, then the rules of play define how you can actually get things done. Taking the time to learn the rules properly; who you ask for X, what the procedures are for acquiring Y, which forms you need to fill out in triplicate for Z, et al will pay off enormously in the long run. The penalties for infringing a rule of play are largely settled in-game, in that you will find that better players will gain advantage over you. Servants of The Game comprise some of the most competent gamers hell has to offer, unnaturally.

Bureacracy is a highly significant part of The Game. In its mortal form, it is one of the ways in which mortals can also take part. The Game is not restrictive; everyone must play. Many servants of The Game, contrary to popular opinion, are not solely concerned with arbitration of demonic players; it is due to our concerted efforts that the spread of bureacracy has been so successful. Understand that The Game is also a metagame, you know this already of course, but it includes every manner of game which has stringent rules. Although individual pieces may have objectives in advancing themselves, the object of The Game is simply to play by The Rules. Finessing the rules of Play is not only acceptable but laudable, especially if accomplished with flair and subtlety - disobeying the rules of Play or ignoring them is a certain way to ensure that your own play will not progress and may be mired down for a considerable time.

Naturally, these rules are not written down in any simple and widely agreed form. Learning the rules of play is part of The Game.

I've been asked also about the 'other side' - as in, do they also play The Game? Instinctively, they avoid it and seek to avoid its gentle and generous cohesion. The corridors of bureacratic institutions are not places angels often dare to tread, and for good reasons. The Game is contagious, it can be addictive - it is widely rumoured that more of 'them' have fallen due to becoming drawn into the Game than for any other reason. Thusly, if you have an opportunity to entwine your opponents with mortal paperwork, red tape, rules and more regulations and yet more rules, then do so. My superior takes a deep interest in acquiring new pieces, and especially such as are unfamiliar with these mortal things may quickly be drawn into a true competitive spirit.

Remember, it matters not whether you win or lose, but how you play The Game.



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