August 5th, 2008


(no subject)

Has any body else noticed the shift in roleplaying games of late?

It used to be quite clear that the GM was in control and ran the game, they set the story and depending on their style you got as much or as little freedom as they wanted. It lead to some bad experiences with control freaks, but it was a system that was more or less stable.

These days it seems the game makers are trying to take more and more power away from the GM and giving it to the players. While I get that this isn't a bad thing if you have a good play group, with the shift, many of the newer players seem to no longer want to tell a story but just want to be heroic. I look over posts here often and it feels like people are wanting to play Final fantasy in pen and paper, rather than making an original and interesting game. It's always "My character has a magic sword, but he's only level 2, but clearly our group is fated and we're gonna win!", to me this just isn't cricket.

If you're level 2 then you're just some idiot wielding a shiny bit of metal, who will get his face eaten by something with real power. The moment you go and cut a path through a vampire's minions or start to pick up the trail, he's going to turn up and go "okay kids, which one of you dies first?". Traditionally this would be a great plot point, do your characters stand and face their death (or even 1 make a heroic stand for this purpose?) or do you run like hell, go underground and try to survive the next few sessions while you flee the area, with unknown spies all around? To me that is much more interesting than a bunch of Mary Sues (Dead family, revenge, etc.) acting like they are the only adventurers in the universe and so must never lose.

This brings me back to my original point. With the advent of the control shift ("roll a dice, never say no") this type of story becomes all but impossible to implement, because newer players don't seem to have the concept of being faced by something they can't kill. Even the intro packs for 4th edition D&D threw things into the mix, clearly to encourage you to stand and fight insane odds. One of the fights was against 2 statues, which had insanely large HP to the point of my play group getting bored of rolling the dice to kill them. Not at any point did any one go "Hey, these things are too strong, we should flee", it was just "Lets wail on them some more! We can't lose!".

To me, pen and paper roleplaying is dying. With geekdom moving towards the mainstream, we are picking up more people who want to play a different game. We're no longer telling a heroic tale of quest, but following a story line. Maybe some people prefer this type of game, but I find it sad.

- I am a wargamer, roleplayer and gamer. I am not saying FF isn't worth playing, I'm saying that as a medium we are losing our character because people with no exposure to create your own content all expect to be Cloud and his rag tag band of flying, magic throwing, giant sword wielding cross dressing lady boys.
Voodoo Dolly

Saying the Unspoken Rule

Just a quick thought -- there are some 'rules' in RPGs that get repeated (here and elsewhere) time and again, and really, you'd think it would be a no-brainer that these exist... so why do they need repeating ad-nausium? They usually only seem to aggravate the situation, since people already know these as 'common sense'? As a little experiment, I'm wondering what 'well, duh' rules you guys have for RPG debates.

The two I see invoked a lot are:
1) What one player / GM considered fun isn't necessarily fun for other people.
2) Just because it is a different style of play doesn't make it wrong.

To me -- these are obvious. But they don't really add anything to the debate, and could easily miss the point of one of the other people involved. The person responding to one of these could easily just delete the line, continue reading what else the person replying had to say, and answer that -- the two points listed above are a non-issue.

Me: I like games where unexpected failure and death are an option. I like the idea that the PCs can fail, and fail spectacularly -- but it is right up there with the chance that the PCs, through cleverness, thinking ahead, and luck, could win spectacularly too. I find these kind of games fun.

Reply: <insert #1 here>

Which, of course, completely negates any intelligent discussion, since #1 is kind of obvious. It completely misses the idea of discussing what different players and game masters like, and what they'd like to see in a game, or reminiscing about spectacular wins / fails in people's personal campaigns, and so forth. And if #1 is stated, followed by such examples? There wasn't any point in even mentioning #1 now, was there? The OP would probably simply say 'well, yeah, of course', ignore it, and continue the discussion based on your other points.

Anything else do you think could be added to the list?

(Edit: And, by the by, thank you for all the replies which followed the spirit of the post. :) A lot of very good points were raised.)
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