Tuesday, July 21, 2009

OSR - Meta Ideas II

Okay, let's try again. I think what I have come to is this: What players want, what companies want, even what DM's want may not make for the best game at the table.

So what would make for the best game? I don't have the experience to answer that, I'm still learning. Maybe a way to approach this is from the other direction, what do these three groups want.

Players want powerful characters and they don't want to die. They want a lot of gold and magic items. They also want to have fun and be excited, scared and wowed as they play.

DMs want products to help them shoulder the burden of creating entire worlds from whole cloth. They want settings and adventures rich in detail and preparation that they can revise and reuse in their own settings. They want to provide more logical rules and they want play at the table to be fast and fun.

Companies want a product that gamers find so useful it will provides steady and reliable income. They want a larger market. They want to sell more products while building a good brand.

Okay, I cheated a little. Those are all written from the angle that problems will be caused if they are fulfilled, or they are in opposition to each other. I'll shut up now and just ask you:

What can the OSR produce that would make for a better game at your table?


  1. Here is an online article that I found helpful and interesting, although I disagreed with it (mainly the author's contention players basically have only one approach to gaming).


    I'd be interested to hear what you think and how this applies to the "Player" category.

  2. Well, first, I realize people have been doing a lot of theorizing about games when I was out of the loop for a few years. I *have* read a little about GNS, but I offer my opinion humbly.

    I think the essay is mistaken. I think we often get what we want in unintuitive ways. The author is asserting that you get narratives out of roleplaying games by playing narrative games and by using particular game mechanics. Well, my last two sessions of S&W seemed to have produced pretty exciting narratives, just narratives with some aspects of the story out of player hands. And narratives that ended in player deaths.

    I'm ignorant of story games, so I can't comment on how fun they are or how well the rules work. I can only speak from my own experience with, largely, 1e D&D and my own crazy simulationist streak and how it absolutely works against what I want. The more "real" I tried to make the rules the more the game felt like accounting. The minimal and, arguably in some ways, kooky S&W combat rules on the other hand resulted in fast paced, desperate battles that felt like something was on the line. They felt "real." This is not intuitive.

    I think we have a lot to learn about games by playing them. At least I do.

  3. Personally I think that roleplaying just happens over time. That is, one starts playing some fairly generic character and as they experience the game world, they become more complex due to the things that happen to them.

    Usually I will start with something simple and over the top, say a goody two-shoes paladin or Beavis the Gnome and, depending on what happens in the game, they become deeper.

    For instance, Beavis the Gnome started off as a play off Beavis from Beavis and Butthead, but a couple of lucky rolls when attempting to rally the townfolk into battle and he started to become more of a responsible leader. He kind of grew from an one note character (which would soon have annoyed the other players to death) to something more subtle and even contradictory, just like real people.

    With a game system with too many rules determining personality, that couldn't happen. Which for me at least, would have been a shame.

    That's my two cents anyhow.

  4. No, that's cool! I think that's what I'm getting at: sometimes what you want is emergent from a system that doesn't seem like it should produce it at all.