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This Week's Update - 11/09/2009 - For real this time! Print
Written by Nick Huggins   
Sep 14, 2009 at 05:58 AM

Okay! Back in the seat by the keyboard! And I'm able to think properly now... for certain values of properly. Sooo...

This week we've got an articles week - Brian's talking about NPCs and Mary Sue (I think I've rolled dice with her once or twice) over in Natural20's Random Thought Table, and across the hall in LARP Experiments I'm expounding on randomly generated backgrounds for LARP characters in theater-style games.


User Comments

Comment by GUEST on 2015-11-22 06:41:05
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Comment by GUEST on 2015-11-23 05:58:21
There were some excellent conmtmes on this post that I read previously, but unfortunately got lost perhaps they will come back at some point and some of my conmtmes may seem redundant, but for now I'll comment as if I have firsties.'In short, its my experience that rules definitely affect role-playing, either by hindering or encouraging it. You can't make someone role-play well some folks have a talent and passion for it, and others don't but a well crafted rule system will free up the player's mind to get into character, and even enforce situations where role-playing can occur.The term rules is very broad it was clear from the now-missing conmtmes I read here yesterday that each commenter had their own idea of what the term rules indicates or includes. That is well and good, but to add a bit of framing around my own points, I'll break down the general term into three more specific ones:1. Environmental Rules. These are so core to the world that most players probably don't think about them often. When designing a game, the designer is making game-balance decisions about how easy it is for a player to die, how easy for them to succeed, how quickly they should climb in experience or power, etc. Environmental rules set a background tone for players, a probably mostly-unconscious attitude that affects how they approach the game and their role within it. My goal these days is to create a fairly challenging and dangerous environment, where death is always a very real possibility I find the background threat level helps to pull the player into the world, and thus more deeply into their character. The more the player forgets that they aren't their character while they are playing the game, the more I find that good role-playing happens. 2. Atmospheric Rules. These are rules around what I might describe as the more hum-drum parts of game play logistical rules about how a player performs non-combat functions in the game. Do players perform in-game actions to advance their skills, or do they walk into a logistics office, turn in some tags, and tell a marshal what new skills they want their character to have?As one example of this, when I worked with Ford Ivey to design The Isles game system, we made a internal design rule that said that any game-affecting action required a physical action from the player. That game has a production system, where players can obtain raw materials, refine them, and produce game items from them. To obtain the raw materials, players actually venture out into the woods to search for physical representations of the materials. They then must bring these back to centralized refining' areas, where there are basic rules about how much time the player must remain there to refine their materials. The same time-required-at-a-locale rules apply to turning the refined materials into final products (swords, armor, potions, magic items, etc). There are three such central locales, each suited to groups of similar or related tasks.Part of the goal there was to enforce situations where players gather at central points for periods of time in fairly relaxed circumstances. We can't force them to role-play while they are there, and certainly can't make them role-play well but we can set up the rules in such a way that players are pushed towards assembling in non-combat situations, and hope that role-play ensues.3. Situational Rules. Here I'm talking about the rules that govern intense inter-player or player-NPC situations combat and the like. Our philosophy on the game that Ford and I are ramping up now (the Osiris Sanction) is that the more transparent and built-in these types of rules can be, the better the game ends up being. Situational rules that are complex or require the player conveying in-game information via calls or other verbal description (calling the amount of damage your sword swing does, for example) force the players to think out-of-game in an in-game situation. Games based on such systems are perfectly valid and enjoyable, but its our belief that the less we force you to think out-of-game while you are playing, the more enveloped you can become by the story. We find that the more we can envelope you in the game world and your character's situation within it, the more natural and good your role-playing becomes.

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