Shining Dodecahedron

One geek's views on role-playing and games in general.

This place is all about discussing paper-and-pencil roleplaying games. I'm Jay, and I run this joint, but that doesn't make me smarter than you. This will all work best if I say things, and you say what you think about them, lather, rinse, repeat. With luck we can all understand the hobby a little better. If you have a topic that you would like me to start a thread about, post a comment here. If you've got something to say about characters (my ongoing topic du jour), post a comment here.

Monday, June 13, 2005

You Don't Have to Change the World

Ben at This is My Blog (see the link to your left) brought my attention to this post at YUDHISHTHIRA'S DICE. It touches on some of what I have been thinking myself in the past months.

When I started reading the Forge and thinking hard about theory it consumed me. It was great that I was thinking about the hobby in new ways, but it also hurt my designs. I have focused for so long on trying to do something cutting-edge that I forgot about how much I like some traditional RPG techniques. So I'm going back to my older designs for Gallant and actually writing stuff instead of worrying about staying on top of theory and making it happen.

I think we can all learn a lesson from Luke Crane's The Burning Wheel Fantasy Role-playing System. At its core, Burning Wheel is a fairly traditional FRPG. It innovates in a few solid ways, but stays pretty true to its roots. It doesn't try to rock your world with new ways of role-playing so much as it tries to make the way you already role-play better (or at least refreshingly different). Then he made the revised edition and added more innovation after the core of the system had been tested and played by real gamers. The craft is there.

What I'm saying is, don't sneer at the games that are out there just because they're "old school". If you are moved to make a game, make it now. Don't try to change the world of role-playing all in one go. Write your game. Get it out to players. Then make your next game, or your next version. But whatever you do, don't let a flood of theory stop you from designing the game you want to play now.

At least that's what I'm doing.


Blogger John Harper said...

I agree with your sentiment, but not its application, really.

What I mean is, the world already has lots and lots of good traditional games. It doesn't need another to throw on the pile. A game design needs to do something wholly new and special -- even if it's just one component -- or it's just a vanity project. Don't expect gamers (indie or otherwise) to care.

Any so-called "game design" that amounts to setting material + task resolution system + "GM Advice" is a waste of paper, IMO. And I say that having written and published one of those myself.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 5:05:00 PM  
Blogger Jay Loomis said...

John -- Um, we probably don't disagree as much as you say. I totally agree that a game should provide something new and special. My point is that that doesn't mean that every game has to be a drastic departure from role-playing as we know it.
I'm also saying that aspiring designers (especially folks like me who have been designing games for many years without ever finishing one) should not add the pressure of fixing gaming to the reasons why they don't ever finish a game.
Now, if your game is a tired retread of D&D without any innovation at all, you probably won't get much response from folks. But I guess I'd say that getting it done will still help your next game be better. Or it will help you decide that making games isn't something you really want to do.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 5:29:00 PM  
Blogger John Harper said...

Agreed. You should certainly try to finish your game designs, without putting extra pressure on yourself to re-define the act of roleplaying. Every finished game adds to your skills as a designer.

But my point about vanity projects still stands. Just finishing a game is not enough to make anyone else care about it.

Anyway, we're in agreement.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

don't let a flood of theory stop you from designing the game you want to play now.

Amen to that. I would go further and say that the point of theory, at least the point of theory at the Forge, is to enable you to design the game that you want to play. If it isn't doing that, or if it is counterproductive to that, it isn't doing its job and you are totally justified in ignoring it.


Thursday, June 16, 2005 8:53:00 AM  

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