Monday, July 11, 2016

My Life as a Gamer: Fuck Game Balance

Tabletop RPGs have no need to be balanced out of the box. That job is on the Game Master running the game at the table. The job of the Designer is to provide a reliable mechanical framework for Game Masters to employ when running their games, because the only game that exists is what goes down at the table.

This is why I keep coming back to games like RIFTS. All that unbalanced stuff, that isn't because I take the time to curate what I will allow players to access at my table. A game of Coalition soldiers on foot in occupied territory is not a game of Tolkeen operatives conducting an espionage campaign against Atlantis. I just need the rules to work, and I need not massive module series to do run that game.

I control what is at my table. I don't need the Designer to do that job for me. What the Designer needs to do is to make the rules work, and to clearly say that it's on me to make the content that the game requires. Tabletop RPGs began as tinker-friendly wargame derivatives, and they still work best that way, so stick to the proven success that made RPGs great. Do the engine, and leave the games to the tables.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen the "need for balance" push as well. Great settings where the campaign ended because the DM didn't want to balance things, just go by the book. Current Deadlands is a big one. Too deadly for actual play by the rules.