Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Zak said

Over at Playing D&D with Porn Stars, Zak is exploring some of the same issues I've experienced attempting to talk with Forge adherents about what, exactly, gaming is and is supposed to accomplish.  I pointed out Glenn Blacow's excellent article about different kinds of gamers, which is itself an exploration of the different expectations that people bring to the gaming table.

So what's my point?  Simple: the process of negotiating the kind of role-playing game you want to play takes place between players as a part of gameplay as a social activity.  Whatever you conclude becomes the basis for your social contract to continue - but there's no requirement that this be codified in the rules of the game.  I would go further and argue that to codify such requirements into the rules places limits on role-playing within gameplay.  Whether or not you want those limits is collectively up for negotiation.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A modest accomplishment

I have completed three character "sheets" for three different games: Original D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and Mutant Future.  They are all 3x5 card sized, as they should be.  I'm feeling accomplished.  :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Peasants Are REVOLTING!

Well, maybe they had a good reason - at least insofar as Terry Jones can tell:

What's interesting about this is pretty straightforward.  In a quick half-hour show, Terry provides a glimpse of medieval life for peasants and that's pretty useful for the aspiring RPG referee.  Past that, some of what Terry talks about gets even more interesting if you start to mix in magic and its place in a D&D society.  Unfortunately, not many campaigns actually explore or reflect how magic is itself a kind of technology.

If you think about it, a D&D world might have some pretty sophisticated approaches to health care, farming, town planning - you name it.  Some of this analysis was done in early issues of The Wild Hunt -  unfortunately, I don't think I own most of those.  Something to dig up out of the past!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Feeling unmoved

Wizards has recently made two announcements.  First, about the development of 5th Edition D&D, and then about the release of 1st Edition reprints (with new covers).  I think the idea of reprints to benefit the Gygax Memorial Fund is a great idea, so I'm all for that.  But as for a new edition of the game, I'm...unmoved.

To begin with, let's get something clear: Wizards is probably making the right move to move smartly along from 4th Edition, and from a business perspective, a new edition possibly makes sense.  But the entire reaction to the announcement of 5th Edition strikes me as similar to the reaction from the fan community when TSR announced 2nd Edition, or when Wizards announced 3rd Edition.  But "new" is not necessarily "better." From an individual gamer perspective, I do not need a "new" edition to improve my game.  In fact, if I have added enough of my own imagination to my existing game, a new version may not be as good as the one I've got.  This gets back to a post on Facebook by Jeff Dee, where he observes that the gaming hobby and the gaming industry are two different things -and while I wish Wizards the best, I'm not at all sure that the genie can be put back in the bottle.

Past the initial hype, a particular reaction which has spread like wildfire has been the notion of a version of D&D "for everybody."  As someone put it on Facebook about 1st vs. 4th Edition, "One side is rules light and DM dependent while the other is rules heavy and player empowered. Where's the middle ground or the modular to get us all to the same place[?]"  I'm pretty sure I don't agree with that analysis, and I am very sure I don't need a "middle ground."

Don't get me wrong; I'm not an "old school purist" - I simply doubt that it is necessary (or even possible) for there to be a "one big tent" version of D&D.  James Maliszewski expresses surprise that there are a noticeable number of old school gamers that seem to want a new edition, and I'm with him in that surprise.  What worries me more is that there may be a lot of gamers who will ardently get behind 5th Edition, only to be disappointed when it doesn't deliver.

Regardless of what Wizards intends, however, let's hope it doesn't turn out like THIS.