On Being Replaced

I’ve been replaced.

I was reading Jason Pitre’s brilliant A Spark in Fate Core, which is an alternate take on the Game Creation chapter I wrote in Core. I recommend you read that if you like world-building systems. At the bottom of the first page:

This replaces chapter 3 in Fate Core.

It’s happened time and time again. I’m nearly 35, and I’ve held a number of jobs over a couple different careers. I’ve been replaced as a programmer in Californian government, as a writer or editor at a number of places, and so on. And it will continue to happen. That’s the cycle of creative works. And it’s awesome.

Let me tell you why:

I replaced Rob Donoghue as the make-a-setting guy in Fate, at least as far as writing about it in products went. He started City Creation in Dresden, and I finished the re-design. (And thank fuck for Clark Valentine, who helped finish the text on that chapter that I didn’t have the brain for.) You can see his DNA in the stuff I wrote in City Creation and Fate Core.

Now Jason’s written a replacement for that that has my DNA and Rob’s DNA in there. He made something that’s pretty interesting, building on what we did. We indirectly contributed to someone else’s awesome thing, and we didn’t have to do any further work to enjoy that. That’s pretty cool.

But that’s not even the coolest part. The part that is: by being replaced, we become free to explore and do other things. Leonard Balsera & I replaced Rob & Fred as “the Fate system guys,” freeing those two to focus on other things they were more passionate about: running a company and being fathers. Now Mike Olson & Brian Engard have replaced Lenny & I, allowing us to do work in day jobs unrelated to Fate. Someone will at some point replace them, and so on.

To be replaced it to be freed to grow as a creative person. And to be replaced is to give someone else a chance to grown in a spot you filled. You need both, because once you’re replaced, you’re liking to replace someone else in some other space.

Now, there are two kinds of replacement: one where your works are built upon and one where your works are scrapped. You might think only one kind is welcome, but fuck that noise — both are great. The former is great on a personal level, because you can look upon your works’ longevity, even as it changes hands. But the latter is also key, because people will make something that still reacts to what you did, even if they go a different route.

That’s effectively what I’m doing with the Technocracy. The old Convention books are (more or less) about them being villains. I’m writing about them being heroes. I’m not denying former canon or whitewashing, but I am scrapping quite a bit of the pure-villainy themes.

Nothing says that when you’re replaced, people won’t still love what you did. Fuck knows there are a bunch of Mage fans out there who hate what we’re doing with the Technocracy because we’re replacing what they loved (in some cases because of what we’re replacing it with, and in some cases simply because it’s being replaced).

So when I look at that note in Jason’s document, I don’t fell despair or disappointment. I feel pride; someone has built something on top of my thing and is getting praise for it. Good on him. Now I shall go do the next thing, and maybe in the future build on his works.

Replacement is necessary for the cycle of creative growth. And you can see how the converse is true: look at those who jealously fight against being replaced, and how they’re more often than not stagnant, making the same shit they made twenty or thirty years ago.

Allow yourself to be replaced, and you allow yourself to transcend. And you allow your field to become better for it.

– Ryan


2 Responses to On Being Replaced

  1. Ryan Macklin says:

    Addendum: it’s interesting to work on something you know will be effectively replaced. Once I’m done with the Technocracy line, Mage 20 will do its own thing, and my content will become something that happened in a previous iteration. (That said, I’m pretty stoked with what we’re doing with the metaplot, pushing it into the current day, and hope fans will play with that in their M20 games.)

    – Ryan

  2. Octavo says:

    “The old Convention books are (more or less) about them being villains. I’m writing about them being heroes. I’m not denying former canon or whitewashing, but I am scrapping quite a bit of the pure-villainy themes.”

    What I really like is that your team’s books read as the third iteration in a sequence: Classic Technocracy Convention Books > The Guide to the Technocracy > Revised Convention Books.

    Those old mustache twirling elements aren’t entirely gone, but they’re no longer the loudest voices in the convention (or they’re lost in space.)

    The cool thing about this approach is that it give the Storyteller a whole tools when dealing with the Technocratic Union.