Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Life as a Gamer: You Don't Need to Roll Damage For Your Guns, Bob.

One of the things that continues to hamstring the medium of tabletop RPGs is an approach to abstraction that stems from the wargame culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which is itself informed by a lack of reliable and verified factual information as well as a far more constrained access to (and comprehension of) information. Hit Points, Armor Class, Movement Rates, all of that- all stems from that wargame culture.

Today is a very different world. We have access to so much information, useful and verified information, that we need not rely on abstraction and the game mechanics that routinely stem from it to have a satisfying gameplay experience with tabletop RPGs anymore. We can, quite frankly, strip down tabletop RPGs to the barebones and just use real world information. No need to roll damage dice for when your guy pops a dude with his 1911 anymore; we've got plenty of videos demonstrating how well .45 ACP does against all sorts of targets, so that sort of abstraction isn't needed anymore. Just "Did I hit you?" and (maybe) "Did I juke/mitigate the hit?" is enough.

What am I getting at?

That, for tabletop RPGs, less is more. You need only some manner of objectively measuring a character's abilities, and a yes-no mechanic for setting "Did I do the thing?" questions. The rest you can adjudicate on the spot, using real-world measurements and examples, as your game requires. Embrace the trump card that is a well-informed Game Master and toss everything else aside.

And that, folks, is why this unique medium of game--if catering to its stregnths--is a completely hopeless business opportunity. You have to lobotomize the medium to make it viable as a business niche, and that means making it like competing media- and therefore demonstrate how better they are to your fucked up TRPG.

Abandon the business. Embrace the hobby. That's all this should have ever been, and all it will ever truly be.

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