December 16th, 2008


I am starting in a Transhuman Space, GURPS game. I'm excited about it. For the longest time I wanted to get into table top role playing but all the people I knew who were into it lived 2 hours away. I saw then occasionally, but couldn't committ to anything and so never really bothered to learn. Recently I moved to where they are, and I tried out D&D, played in a couple sessions and got bored (which is funny cause a friend told me to not play D&D). Then I joined my World of Darkness game and I love it. I actually understand RPG terms (and can laugh when people make jokes). It seemed all so confusing at first! The reason I didn't like D&D was that it was too combat heavy. Here is how I explain it: With rare exceptions, I do not like turn based video games (yes, this includes Final Fantasy). I just think it's boring to sit there watching a bunch of cut scenes then going up to an enemy, "ok do you want to punch or kick this person. Press A or B", you hit, ok now the other person is going to do something, they missed. Your turn. Who fights like that? I want to play the cut scenes (I love tha analogy!) I like the role playing side of it, with a bit of combat or rolling to see if I can do something. With D&D it seemed the whole session was about combat. At least in the one I played. Anyway, here is my back story from my GURPS character.

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Explaining yourself

While writing the body text for Diaspora, I find a lot of game design notes, justifications, and explanations creeping in. Do you want, as a consumer, to understand why rules are what they are or do you prefer to just be told what they are? Does it make your life easier or harder? Is it different if the explanation is in a sidebar, a text box, or other typographic differentiation? An appendix? An URL?

It seems to me that RPG rules are in the awkward position of being both a pedagogical tool -- a text to teach with -- and a reference for use, which are kind of exclusive writing styles. A discussion of "why" belongs more in the former, but perhaps not really in either. Your thoughts?