Saturday, February 07, 2004

Avert Your Eyes From The Geekiest Blog Post, Ever

Blogging is all about the self and putting out what you have on your mind in the hopes of someone else reading it and perhaps coming up with a new idea. Since Game the World is about me, I'm going to write about what I want, so here it goes.

In various role-playing games, both table-top and on-line, on of the big difficulties is preventing the knowledge of the player from contaminating the knowledge of the character. Maybe the player has read the Tremere Clanbook and now his Order of Hermes mage just so happens to wander into the club where the city's Tremere haven is located. At the very least, just how aware is society in general that the Empire blew up Alderaan in Star Wars Galaxies?

A good role-player can keep setting information from influencing their behavior. What I have not seen discussed is how system information tends to influence character actions. I understand that the systems of damage and accuracy in combat will establish the tactics your character would use to come out on top of a fight. It is perfectly logical that your character would do that because training and experience will have shown what methods work and what don't. The way the rules and dice work in an RPG (role-playing game, not rocket propelled grenade, for you uninitiated) are the fundamental laws of physics in the game worlds.

I understand that people look for different things in role-playing systems. Some want maximum realism. The AD&D/D20 system is good for that. Personally, if given the choice between running a D20 campaign and having my testicles chewed on by feral rats, I'd need to know how many rats would be involved before giving my answer.

For my taste, I prefer a fast and loose, cinematic feel to my games. Let the characters pull of big stunts like Indiana Jones or face down well-nigh insurmountable odds like in the Lord of the Rings. My current favorite system for this is Savage Worlds by Pinnacle. My gripe has apparently crossed the minds of the guys there, but I still don't feel quite satisfied.

When I am running a cinematic game, I would like to occasionally have the characters in my clutches to put into the death trap from which they will inevitably escape. ("Do you expect me to talk?" "Why, no, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.") We all know those scenes, heck, in Stargate SG1 the characters have even mentioned having lost count and greet it with the been-there-escaped-that attitude. Unfortunately, players tend to resist that type of thing, putting up a successful fight to escape before even getting captured.

A little cooperation and trust in those circumstances would be nice, but there is another source to that problem in my mind. Oftentimes, the players will calculate "He is a standard thug with a low shooting skill packing an underpowered weapon that I can survive a shot or two from". I might prefer every so often the players acknowledging, for instance, that while the basic CDEF blaster in Star Wars Galaxies won't do one's character a lethal blow, to at least act like your character respects that it might just be a deadly situation.

Thus endeth the rant, for now.

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