Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What do we want out of our games?

Okay I have to admit it, I was fibbing last post. The mechanics i listed may in fact work for a very loose abstract representation of every contest in a game universe by making extremely likely events extremely likely and extremely unlikely events extremely unlikely. But do we really want that in RPG land?

What do we want mechanics to solve? Do we really need a mechanic to tell us a 10 tons weight dropped on James Bond's head will kill him? Do we ever need to compare Aunt May and Galactus in a head to head bout? How about an apatosaur stomping on Kongor the Dinosaur hunter?

If we decide for or agaisnt those extreme cases being solved by a game mechanic over GM judgment how much granularity between cases matters? Is it worth having a difference between A Zwiehander and a Dagger? Are butcher knives and stilettos all that different from each other?

What do we want? Plausible mechanics to resolve human scale conflicts? Plausible mouse vs mammoth resolution systems? Do we really need one mechanic to rule them all?


  1. extremely likely events extremely likely and extremely likely events extremely unlikely.
    ...I'm guessing something is wrong here but I don't know what, exactly.

    Speaking strictly for myself, I want 4 things out of game mechanics. Most of them contradict each other.
    1. to mirror my experience of the world and feel natural. You can call this simulation or whatever you like, but I don't want to have to think outside my own head to apply a game mechanic or guess what it's going to tell me. I don't want any mechanic to become a bone of contention between players because it doesn't make sense. And I want to be able to look at a number on the character sheet and know what it means in practical terms right away.
    2. to get the hell out of the way of playing. So I don't want to have to remember a ton of subsystems or open a book when the fur is flying.
    3. to satisfy my inner tinkerer/munchkin. I think the original Battlemech design rules are perfect for this: you can squeeze this much into the chassis, or you can make it go that fast, or you can control the heat. A few variables that yielded particular strategies/in-game effects. (But I don't want tinkering to be mandatory or to get in the way of fun play, so no 4e type character building... see the problem yet?).
    4. to tell me about the world. So a universal mechanic like the one in your last post, while clean and clear, doesn't help me much because it's too generic. It doesn't help me visualise how all the things in the world are structured like WW's dice pools do, or Dr. Who's pyramid of power/costs, where the difference between marginally capable and Olympic gold is only 7 levels, but the costs rise (not quite) exponentially.