Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

September 13, 2006

Lexicon! (or When Academics Attack!)

Filed under: now playing: anything — lexifab @ 11:54 am

Mister the ChrisT has cast about some interesting corners of the intarwub and has come across a neat little writing/roleplaying entertainment by a guy named Neel Krishnaswami (I had to mention that because his name is so very cool): Lexicon. To quickly summarise before going into more details after the cut below, Lexicon is a game where each player is an scholar writing pseudo-academic entries on some historical period or event or place or whatever. In the first round, everyone creates an entry for a subject beginning with the letter ‘A’; the following round everyone does a ‘B’ entry and so on. Of course, each player is making up the details of each event or object or historical personage as they go along. At the end of the game (which can be competitive but we won’t be playing it that way, at least not at first) you have a “complete” encyclopaedia of the nominated historical period.

Click on the link above to get the general gist and then come back and read on, if you are interested in playing:

ChrisT has identified a free wiki service which we think we can use. You’ll need to register with it if you want to participate, but since it doesn’t require you to register an email address I don’t think there’s any danger of getting spammed as a result (unless you can see a catch that we’ve missed). It looks like it has some text markup functions which are a bit different to html, but nothing that looks especially complex. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.

So I’ve just gone in and registered an account (named Lexifab, naturally) – looks like the only thing about the Terms of Service is that they have advertising links or popups or something. Don’t know how offensive they will be – I’ll do some checking and see whether it’s going to be a problem.

Okay, so to the game itself: so far we have ChrisT, Jimbo, Simno, Lindor and me on board, but there’s room for any number of players. We figure that we’ll be going for a schedule of one round per week, which would mean the game will go for six months, except that I’m sure we’ll find we can manage a more accelerated rate.

Entries will be of 100-200 words each – too much more detailed than that and you’re probably straying into territory which would warrant its own entry. We’ll be following the suggested rules of citation – everything is true once it’s written, you can’t follow up your own citations, you must refer back to one previous and forward to two unwritten references except in the intial and final couple of rounds, and there should be no more entries for any given letter than there are players in the game. One of us will probably act as informal GM (or traffic controller, really) to resolve any possible conflicts, like too many ‘P’ references, or three people all simultaneously deciding to write up the “Quaxatic Sporkbill” entry, but apart from that the game should run itself.

In order to make it more like a roleplaying game, each player will start the game by doing a brief description of the “academic” they will be playing, noting their particular interests, obsessions, rivalries, biases or delusions, as the case may be. If we can work out how to do it, we’ll also set it up so after each entry, the other players can comment on, enthusiastically suuport or ruthlessly repudiate each entry in the style of blog comments. These comments will not themselves be part of the academic work, but should be a fun way of playing up the characters, establishing alliances or rivalries and generally behaving like boorish, insufferable and temperamental prima donnas. Glee!

So, if you are reading this, you have an open invitation to join in. We have a specific subject in mind which one of us will set out shortly (it will be a fairly lighthearted subject – Simon suggested it and we all went for it straight away) but first I would like to get a gauge of whether anyone is keen to join us. If this sounds like fun, drop a comment below


  1. Ooh Ooh pick me! Wait, how much free time do I have? Hmm none….What would be the frequency of having to write stuff? I could handle 100 words a week, but writing lectures and papers as well means my mental writing energy is highly brain sucked out of me at the moment. Not to mention Cruise of Cthulu. If it weren’t for the players failing their sight and smell rolls all the time, we’d be well into me having to make up a new story territory.

    Comment by Jenny — September 13, 2006 @ 1:50 pm

  2. Hmm somehow I missed that whole paragraph where you said how often you’ll play. Please ignore everything in the previous comment after “ooh ooh pick me!”

    Comment by Jenny — September 13, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

  3. *raises hand and jumps up and down gleefully, just like Jenny*

    I’m sure I couldn’t manage to play a boorish, insufferable, temperamental academic, but I will do my best, he said, in a voice of knowing self-mockery. Tell me the topic, and I shall describe my new alter-ego…

    Comment by Dr Clam — September 13, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  4. Sounds like fun – I’ve been working on a game wiki, so a completely made up one will be amusing. Note: if you’re working with actual wiki structure then each article should have a ‘discussion’ page where academics such as ourselves can slander each other and make unkind comments. Don’t know if the variation wiki being discussed has the same structure, but discussion pages are pretty much the norm.

    Comment by Andrea — September 13, 2006 @ 6:19 pm

  5. Yay! We suspected you guys would all go for it 🙂

    Andrea – that’s what we hope to have, but until we actually poke about in the innards at Schtuff, it’s not clear what we can do. But I’m about to go and do some investigating and I’ll post an update when I have some more solid info.

    Comment by lexifab — September 13, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

  6. OMG, yes.
    How totally sweet is this game?
    Please, count me in.
    VoodooPad is the wiki prog I have. It’s free (if you get the lite version). I’m not sure how it works though. I’ve been a little busy.


    Comment by emmajeans — September 13, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  7. BTW… Cruise of Cthulhu?

    Comment by emmajeans — September 13, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

  8. Cthulhu is remarkably good at shuffleboard.

    Comment by Andrea — September 13, 2006 @ 9:43 pm

  9. I hear he cheats with non-Euclidean shuffling…

    Comment by lexifab — September 13, 2006 @ 10:12 pm

  10. Game system: Tsai
    Concept: Call of Cthulu, on a 1920’s cruise ship, doomed never to return to land…at least…not normal land. The characters are only just figuring out something is wrong. No-one is panicking – yet. Heh.

    Comment by Jenny — September 14, 2006 @ 9:51 am

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