Iron Tower Studio ForumsRPGThe DepositoryOld Man's Ramblings: RPG sub-genres
Pages: [1]   Go Down
Author Topic: Old Man's Ramblings: RPG sub-genres  (Read 17935 times)

Posts: 7261

View Profile
« on: February 04, 2008, 10:17:00 AM »

Now that we've discussed the concept of role-playing game, let's take a more detailed look at different RPG types or subgenres. A few things to note first:

1) I'm not trying to define the genre or the sub-genres for you. There are many ways to sort and organize an imaginary pile of all kinds of RPGs. Some people, for example, will define action RPGs as games using players' skills and reflexes instead of the character's, or will prefer to sort games into real-time and turn-based. I'm simply offering you what makes sense to me and I invite you to discuss and argue these obviously very important matters until heads start exploding.

2) Keep in mind that while RPGs are normally a mix of traits, usually only one or two are dominant, and that's what I'll use to categorize games. Take Temple of Elemental Evil, for example. The game has a bit of everything: combat, quests, dialogue trees with skill checks, choices & consequences, double- and triple-crossing, non-linear design, elven porn, bugs, but in the end, tactical combat and dungeon crawling are the most dominant aspects of the game. It was never designed to be the next Fallout or Baldur's Gate and it can't be directly compared to either of those games.

3) What's in a name? Whether or not "action RPG" is a misnomer isn't important. It's a label describing a specific genre. Feel free to replace it with "hack & slash" or "mindless & pointless violence".

Now that I've enriched your life with this knowledge, let's finally jump to the point:

Action RPGs - games that offer nothing but fast, real-time combat. You kill monsters, collect items, level up, kill bigger and badder monsters, collect better loot. Rinse and repeat. Nothing distracts you from killing, looting, and levelling. Silly things like story and characters won't get in the way of your action. Choices mean "which item compliments this build more". The goal is to make an ultimate killing machine in the chosen class, capable of cutting through anything the game throws at you like a hot knife through butter, achieving the prized "IT'S OVER NINE THOUSAND!" power status.

Contrary to popular beliefs, the concept of killing things in real-time as the main attraction isn't a novelty, but a 25-year old veteran. Two biggest events are Gauntlet, an arcade 1985 game, and Diablo, a 1996 game that started the clone war mentioned in Star Wars. Condor Games pitched the idea of "Gauntlet with better graphics" to Blizzard and although the idea was laughable, Blizzard decided to give this craziness a shot, bought Condor and renamed it into Blizzard North. The idea was laughable because in 1992-96 huge behemoths like Darklands, Star Trail, and Daggerfall ruled the RPG world offering so much more to players. Ironically, the dinosaurs died, sticking with the the evolution program, and were replaced by waves of Diablo clones: Nox, Darkstone, Revenant, Lionheart, Space Hack, Harbinger, Blade & Sword, an army of Dungeon Siege games, Sacred, Fate, Loki, Silverfall, Restricted Area, Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, Titan Quest, that outstandingly horrible MageKnight game, Space Siege, Rise of the Argonauts, Mythos, and circle-completing Hellgate.

Diablo 2 still remains the king of the genre, offering brilliant and unmatched design.   

Tactical RPGs - the smart cousin of action RPGs. The focus is on using slow, turn-based tactics, not real-time speed and reaction, to kill things. Instead of clicking and watching monsters exploding like gore-filled pinatas, you plan, calculate, and ponder. If action RPGs are a party of 8-year olds, screaming and beating each other with rubber foam baseball bats, tactical RPGs are old men's "we aint got nothing but time" chess parties. Being ambushed in that ToEE's tower - your low-level pre-fireball party against 3 times as many enemies including strategically placed crossbowmen and spellcasters - and then trying different strategies for hours and amusement is every tactical RPG fan's wet dream. 

The Japanese gave the world Fire Emblem, Tactics Ogre, and Final Fantasy Tactics. The North Americans raised the bet with Wizard’s Crown, Pool of Radiance, Jagged Alliance, and Temple of Elemental Evil. The Russians made a grand entrance with Silent Storm, adding destructible environments to the overall tactical awesomeness. Then turn-based tactics became uncool, first on the PC, then on the consoles where action battle systems slowly replaced turn-based systems which were dubbed "an archaic exercise in tedium." Now turn-based tactical games can only be found in museums or handheld consoles where they tend to sell very well.

If you want to play great TB tactics of the olden days, get Jagged Alliance, Silent Storm, Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, or XCOM.

Dungeon Crawler - This time the focus is on dungeons. You explore dungeons, find hidden doors and passages, fall into bottomless pits, play with pressure plates, trigger traps, fight the denizens, and look for treasure as you are descending further and further for one reason or another. It’s not about tactics or killing, it’s all about the dungeons and staying alive long enough to see the super VGA sunlight again.

The first dungeon crawler was a wargame scenario revolving around crawling into a castle via its dungeon. The scenario proved to be a lot of fun, calling for bigger and better dungeons and less wargaming and eventually leading to Dungeon Master, Wizardry, Might & Magic (before Heroes hijacked it), Anvil of Dawn, Stonekeep, and the mother of all dungeons crawlers – Daggerfall.

Daggerfall made you fear the dungeons. It was no longer a quick hit-n-run business. For the first time ever in video games history I entered dungeons without being sure that I’ll be able to return. Descending to yet another level greatly increased both your chances of never coming out and a feeling of great accomplishment when you finally emerge from a dungeon weeks later. Levers, pits, flooded levels, air shafts, climbable walls, huge underground halls made playing Daggerfall a very special experience. Buggy? Sure it was buggy as hell, but what great RPG isn’t?   

Story-driven RPG - the focus is on the story. After all those years of killing monsters and looting dungeons for the fun of it, you have a higher purpose, like stopping ancient evil once and for all (or at least until the next sequel) by killing monsters and looting dungeons. While the advantages of having a good story to follow are obvious, stories are restrictive by definition and every now and then the control will be yanked away from the player and handed to the storyteller dude. That’s when you’ll be betrayed, fall in love, will be thrown in jail, do something stupid, decide to travel to the ends of the Earth, gain awesome powers, kill all party members, be defeated even though you are capable of wiping out armies due to an unbalanced combat system, allow your enemies to escape you again, etc. That is the real reason why Aeris died, in case you are wondering. No, it wasn’t your fault, son. 

If you’re looking for some interesting story-driven RPGs, I’d recommend Planescape: Torment (simply the best), Mask of the Betrayer, the first two Realms of Arkania games, the Baldur’s Gate games, the Witcher, Knights of the Old Republic games, and for good measure, Betrayal at Krondor and Betrayal in Antara.

Sandbox RPGs – the focus is on exploring and adventuring in a “visiting all kinda places and looking for work and fun” way. Here is a huge land with hundreds of places to visit and loot. Have fun, see you in 6 months.  The sandbox reference means that much like in a real sandbox, you can do whatever the hell you like. Such games are open-ended and over-abundant side quests usually add a lot more than optional and extremely patient main quests.

I’m pretty sure that 1992’s Darklands was the first and the best sandbox game, but I could be wrong.  Other notable games of the genre are Daggerfall – second only to Darklands, Morrowind, indie Mount & Blade, and Gothic 3.

Classic RPGs - the focus is, surprisingly, on role-playing. A role-playing game focused on role-playing. What kinda nonsense is that? Anyway, classic RPGs offer choices & consequences. Anything else is secondary. It doesn't matter whether the game is turn-based or real-time, first person or isometric, filled with action combat or Hamlet-approved monologues; as long as the focus is on making decisions fitting your character and enjoying ass-biting consequences, we're talking about classic RPG here.

In classic RPGs non-combat gameplay, filled with dialogue trees and skill-checks, often becomes the main attraction, overshadowing combat and even saving games with uninspiring or plain bad combat. You rarely follow a story; instead you craft your own story using the overall theme and easier-said-than-done goals ("find a waterchip").

Best games of the sub-genre: Fallout, Arcanum, Bloodlines, Prelude to Darkness, Mask of the Betrayer.

Roguelikes – games that are too cool to have graphics, unless you think that ASCII worlds are real pretty. What’s ASCII? Well, let me put it this way. You won’t have to worry about advanced shaders, bloom, and anti-aliasing when you’re playing an ASCII game.

As the name suggests, Rogue (1980) was the founder of the sub-genre, offering you to fight your way to the bottom of a dungeon and a very good chance of dying before getting there. Twenty eight years later we have hundreds of roguelike games, offering every setting known to man, but Nethack and ADOM are probably the most well known and well polished representatives of the genre.

So, why should you play crappy-looking games straining your blinded by frequent exposure to bloom eyes? For the freedom to do anything you can think of. Roguelikes offer unmatched interaction with everything: environment, items, even easy to piss of deities. You will lose hundreds of character (no, you can’t save your game and thus you’ll die many, many times learning what you should and shouldn’t ever, ever, EVER do the hard way), but finally mastering such a game will give you more satisfaction than beating Heavenly Sword in a day.   

Posts: 377

View Profile
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2008, 02:45:15 PM »

Nicely done. I think Torment fits in both the "classic" and "story-driven" categories, though.

(I think it would be great if you included this and other rambling articles in the AoD manual. Smile)
Posts: 120

View Profile
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2008, 05:41:54 PM »

I would put bloodlines in story driven. Past Santa Monica, the game is linear; driven by the next mission you are given. Of course, the whole game goes downhill after Santa Monica.

Posts: 41

View Profile
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2008, 10:01:35 PM »

Good read! You should do more articles explaining non-linearity, multiple-solutions, and other things.

Posts: 7261

View Profile
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2008, 10:06:34 PM »

That's the idea.

Posts: 418

View Profile
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2008, 01:43:59 AM »

I agree with most of it, but that Classic RPGs part just doesn't seem right. Isn't classic something that uses well established standards? Wizardry, Might & Magic, Ultima, Dungeon Master, those are the pioneers of the genre when it was becoming popular, the classics. Very few rpg's coming out at that time focused on story/quest based choices & consiquences. To me Fallout and Arcanum are a part of the new wave of rpg's that focused on those exact things. I just don't see how labeling them as classic is appropriate, since their gameplay focus is very different from the classics.

Also, the dungeon crawlers. Many of those games have a really strong focus on tactical combat, sometimes more so than on puzzles and dungeon exploration. Icewind Dale and Gold Box series for example.
Posts: 1636

View Profile
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2008, 04:27:27 AM »

This is certainly useful, especially in acknowledging that RPG and Classic RPG are not the same thing. That used to be the source for much misunderstanding in our Codex discussions, I think. I am not sure if "classic" is a good name, as there are really so few good examples of this style and they are from different times, while "classic" implies there was a whole age at the dawn of the genre where nothing but RPGs in this mold were made. How about choice-driven, character-driven, or decision-tree RPG's?
I am not sure dungeon crawlers deserves a category on their own. Most are action RPG's, some are sandbox, some are tactical.

Personally I would prefer a system of descriptors instead of a fixed classification, although it gets a bit unwieldy.

Combat style:
Hack and slash (Diablo click n' fight)), Action (Gothic, MW), real-time with pause, Turn-based

Story linearity:
Linear, branching, sandbox

Character style:
Main character & Party, Full control party, single player

Character creation:
...with given character, ...with free character creation

Character progression:
skill-based, skill-use base, Exp-based

Degree of player input:
Character skill driven, player skill driven, modulated player skill (e.g. target wobble)

top-down, isometric, 3D-isometric, 3rd-person, first person, free camera, fixed camera.

Story design:
Linear, branching, modular ¦ continuous, chapter-based ¦ multiple endings, single ending

Game world design:
seamless world, location based, level-based

high fantasy, low fantasy, low magic, post-apocalypse, historical, Sci-Fi, etc...



"Merely killing those being mean to me. It's not my fault it's everyone in the world of AoD". (Vahhabyte)

Posts: 7261

View Profile
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2008, 10:12:29 AM »

I am not sure dungeon crawlers deserves a category on their own. Most are action RPG's, some are sandbox, some are tactical.
What about Icewind Dale or Wizardry? Wiz isn't actiony, isn't tactical, and isn't a sandbox.

I agree with most of it, but that Classic RPGs part just doesn't seem right. Isn't classic something that uses well established standards?
There are 20 definitions of the word, but the first one is good enough for me:

1.   of the first or highest quality, class, or rank

Wizardry, Might & Magic, Ultima, Dungeon Master, those are the pioneers of the genre when it was becoming popular, the classics. Very few rpg's coming out at that time focused on story/quest based choices & consiquences. To me Fallout and Arcanum are a part of the new wave of rpg's that focused on those exact things. I just don't see how labeling them as classic is appropriate, since their gameplay focus is very different from the classics.
Well, concepts evolve. How would you define "classic literature", for example? 

Also, the dungeon crawlers. Many of those games have a really strong focus on tactical combat, sometimes more so than on puzzles and dungeon exploration. Icewind Dale and Gold Box series for example.
Some, not many. That's why I put ToEE into both categories. Not sure how tactical IWD is.
Posts: 1636

View Profile
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2008, 10:36:56 AM »

I am not sure dungeon crawlers deserves a category on their own. Most are action RPG's, some are sandbox, some are tactical.
What about Icewind Dale or Wizardry? Wiz isn't actiony, isn't tactical, and isn't a sandbox.
I haven't played either so I don't know  Smile . Maybe you are right, but it's clearly gonna be a category with a lot of overlap with others. Which is acceptable, of course.

I agree with most of it, but that Classic RPGs part just doesn't seem right. Isn't classic something that uses well established standards?
There are 20 definitions of the word, but the first one is good enough for me:

1.   of the first or highest quality, class, or rank
But that's a classification based on quality, and thus taste, not on gameplay, as seems implied by all other categories and your own definition. But its semantics. Your extended definition is clear enough, so the label isn't really important. Only it would be nice to have a labele that doesn't have to be explained every time you use it in a discussion.

"Merely killing those being mean to me. It's not my fault it's everyone in the world of AoD". (Vahhabyte)

Posts: 178

View Profile
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2008, 12:13:32 PM »

It's funny because I just had a discussion about RPG genre catorigization recently on the Fallout3/PC board on Gamefaqs.  I felt like part of the reason we (Fallout fans) have such a hard time getting through to critics and mainstream media is because the games we're fighting for lack a defined subgenre.

I arbitrarily gave Fallout games a "pRPG" label (for being modelled after PnP roots).  This is why I think it's so important that we clarify this stuff:

Quote from: LOSTONE on Gamefaqs
The reason behind my argument is that I think the current method of labelling and comparing RPGs is fundamentally flawed. Right now we have a game developer coming in and completely changing Fallout. When fans raise this issue the response is that, "It's still an RPG we're just doing it 'our' way."

If the genre were better defined we could argue this point and refute their statement logically. As it is, however, we're limited to saying things such as "It's not a true RPG." or "It's a shooter with stats, not an RPG." which gets us nowhere because from their perpective, the game is obviously not a shooter it's an RPG and the shooter combat is controlled by stats.

If we had defined lines though we'd have a much stronger position. Continuing to use my arbitrary label for the sake of this discussion, let's say Fallout was labelled a pRPG, and the aspects of that subgenre were defined as sticking to its PnP roots as closely as possible => no player based skill, and everything controlled by character skill. Then we could point out that Bethesda isn't just modifying the combat and perspective, but they're actually performing a genre shift, which is one thing you DON'T do with sequels. Spinoffs sure, sequels no. They would not be able to say they are making a pRPG, and they'd have to admit they were making an aRPG or p/aRPG hybrid.

This defining of lines and categories would make the Fallout fan's position more clear to others. No longer will it be, "Oh they're just stuck in the past and can't move on." Instead it will be, "They are fans of the genre, and they're not getting a sequel that holds true to the genre." Even if people prefer the new direction, they could understand when correlations were drawn.

What if Blizzard said Diablo 3 is coming out, but it''s turn based and combat isn't really that much of a focus anymore? People would flip even though to me that sounds like a better game. That's because they want a sequel that's part of the genre they like to play.

Game journalists that aren't Fallout fans don't understand our plight. If the lines were drawn it would expose exactly what's happening and make it clear even to those who aren't emotionally involved. As it stands, however, Bethesda is just "making progress" and "innovating". Ugh.

Posts: 7005

S:6 D:10 C:8 P:8 I:9 Ch:4 Sp 7 D 8 CS 7 Cr 10

View Profile
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2016, 02:26:04 PM »

Hi there. My name is John and I design games. Lots of them. Over twenty years, I’ve designed over twenty roleplaying games. I’ve had a hand in card games and board games, too, but the thing I’m best known for is roleplaying game design.
Now, this isn’t an article about game design, but rather, an article about being a game master. But, in order to get to that advice, I need to spend a little bit of time talking about game design. Trust me, it matters.
So, I’d like to begin by asking you a question. You’re playing a science fiction roleplaying game and your character is about to face Vin Diesel’s character, Riddick, in a fight and you get to choose which weapon he uses.
Do you pick sword, gun, hammer…
How about “tea cup?”
A follow up question. Same situation. Except this time, you’re facing Sean Connery’s character from The Presidio, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Caldwell. You get to choose which weapon he uses, but he says, “I don’t need a weapon, I’m only going to use my thumb…”
How much damage does Sean Connery’s thumb do? What’s the save vs. Sean Connery’s thumb? Does it have an initiative bonus? Can it block or parry? Does it do Megadamage?
When I first started designing roleplaying games, they appealed to me because they were kind of like writing a philosophy: “this is how I think the world works.” Games like Call of Cthulhu and Pendragon were great examples of this. The systems were tailored for the setting. And in the world of Riddick and Lieutenant Colonel Alan Caldwell, a tea cup and a thumb can do a whole helluva lot of damage.
One of the most common features of roleplaying games are weapon lists. Especially guns. You could tell a gun porn enthusiast just by looking at his stats for guns. Different damages for different calibers, range variants, range modifiers, rate of fire, burst fire, on and on and on.
Same thing with sword porn. Reach modifiers and different die types based on the target’s size and bashing or slashing or piercing and… gulp… speed factor.
And yet, here’s Riddick killing guys with a tea cup.
And so, again, I ask you, what weapon do you choose for Riddick?
It’s a trick question, of course. It doesn’t matter what weapon you give Riddick, he’s going to kick your ass with it.
Does the tea cup have a speed factor? How about Sean Connery’s thumb?
More important question. In fact, perhaps the most important question: how do any of those things–range modifiers, rate of fire, rburst fire, slashing, piercing, etc.–help you tell stories?
Just a moment ago, I called weapon lists one of the most common features in roleplaying games. These things are not features. They’re bugs. And it’s time to get rid of them.
Why? Because they’re screwing up your game. They’re distracting you from the focus of the game.
Because the focus of an RPG is to tell stories. Let me explain.
Chess is not a roleplaying game. Yes, you can turn it into a roleplaying game, but it was not designed to be a roleplaying game. If you give your King, Queen, Rooks, Knights and even your pawns names and make decisions based on their motivations–instead of the best strategic move possible–you’ve turned chess into a roleplaying game.
You can successfully play chess without roleplaying. In fact, roleplaying can sabotage the game. Now, the definition of a roleplaying game is fuzzy at best, but I think you can I can at least agree that if you can successfully play a game without roleplaying, it can’t be a roleplaying game.
Video games like World of Warcraft call themselves roleplaying games, but are they? Can you successfully play WoW without roleplaying? In fact, you can. Can roleplaying sabotage your enjoyment of the game? In fact, it can. My friend Jessie tells the story of being kicked off a roleplaying server because he was talking in character. Another friend of mine tells the story of how she was wearing “substandard” armor and equipment because “my character liked it.”
Choices such as “How do I level up my fighter?” do not make a game a roleplaying game. In that case, games such as Dungeon and Descent are roleplaying games, and even their designers would probably tell you, these are board games.
World of Warcraft is a very sophisticated board game. The goal of WoW is not to tell stories but to level up your character.
Remember the Three Questions:
•What is your game about? Leveling up your character.
•How does your game do that? Loot drops for killing monsters and completing quests.
•What behaviors does my game reward? Bigger loot to kill bigger monsters and complete more difficult quests.
Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro asked their community, “If you’ve stopped playing D&D and switched to WoW, why?” Their answer? “Because I get the same experience from WoW I got from D&D.”
Listen to that answer again. “I get the same experience from WoW I get from D&D.”
You know why they get the same experience? Because World of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons have the same design goals.
When 4th Edition came out, there was an almost universal negative reaction. Why? Because the designers had given up the ghost. D&D was not a roleplaying game. It was a very sophisticated, intricate and complicated combat simulation board game.
A very sophisticated, intricate and complicated combat simulation board game that people were turning into a roleplaying game. Just like giving your rook a motive, players used a board game to play a roleplaying game.
Can you successfully play D&D 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition without roleplaying? Yes, you can. Notice I didn’t mention 5th edition. That’s a different kettle of fish that I’ll have to talk about at another time.
The first four editions of D&D are not roleplaying games. You can successfully play them without roleplaying. Call of Cthulhu, on the other hand, is a game you cannot successfully play without roleplaying. If you try it, you get… well, you actually violate the basic tenant of the game: to make yourself scared through your character’s choices.
You can play board games such as Rex and Battlestar Galactica and even Settlers of Catan without roleplaying… but roleplaying seems to make them more enjoyable. Talking in character, making (apparent) choices based on character motives… but if you go too far in that direction, you’ll lose. And the goal of those games is to win. Roleplaying, in the end, sabotages the goal of the game.
But if you try playing games such as Vampire or Pendragon or Our Last Best Hope or World of Dew orDeadlands without roleplaying, you’re missing the entire point of the game. In fact, I can’t even imagine what those games would look like without roleplaying.
I’ve been trying for many years to come up with a satisfactory definition for “roleplaying game” and while I’m not entirely happy with it, this is what I’ve got so far:
roleplaying game: a game in which the players are rewarded for making choices
that are consistent with the character’s motivations or further the plot of the story.
Like I said, I’m not entirely happy with it. It’s a working definition and far from complete, but I think it’s a good working definition.
Now, with all of that said, you’re probably wondering, “John, what does this have to do with game mastering?”
My friend, it has everything to do with game mastering.
Because if the most important part of your game is balancing the damage, rate-of-fire, range modifiers, damage dice, ablative armor, dodge modifiers and speed factors, you aren’t playing a roleplaying game. You’re playing a board game.
And you need to stop it. Because all that crap is getting in the way of telling a good story.
As a GM, your job is to help the players tell the stories of their characters. “Game balance” has nothing at all to do with telling good stories. It’s an archaic hold over from a time when RPGs were little more than just really sophisticated board games. Or, as someone once told me, “An RPG is a strategy game in which you play one hero rather than a unit of heroes.”
If that’s the case, HeroClix is a roleplaying game. And I think that all of us can agree that HeroClix is not a roleplaying game. Why?
Because I can play it successfully without roleplaying.
“Game balance” is important in board games. It means one player does not have an advantage over another.
In a roleplaying game, game balance does not matter.
Let me say that again:
In a roleplaying game,
game balance does not matter.
What matters is spotlight. Making sure each player feels their character had a significant role in the story. They had their moment in the spotlight. Or, they helped someone else have their significant moment in the spotlight.
Whether the fighter is balanced with the wizard is balanced with the thief is balanced with the cleric demonstrates a mentality that still thinks roleplaying games are tactical combat simulators with Monty Python jokes thrown in for fun.
The reason roleplaying games are a unique art form is because they are the only literary genre where wewalk in the hero’s shoes. We are not following the hero, we are not watching her from afar, we are not being told the story. As Robin Laws now famously said, “A roleplaying game is the only genre where the audience and the author are the same person.”
I think it’s even more than that. In his classic game, Runequest, Greg Stafford created a world where mortals go on vision quests into the spirit realm where heroes and gods live, become one with the hero, and live out one of that hero’s stories. He comes back to the mortal realm transformed by the experience.
That’s the genius of Greg Stafford. He made the very act of playing a roleplaying game a mechanic in his roleplaying game. You step into the hero realm as your character who then steps into the hero realm to become transformed by the experience of becoming a hero and by doing so, you are transformed by the experience of becoming a hero.
And what exactly does speed factor have to do with this? Or ablative armor? Or rate of fire? None of it.
These days, as a GM, as I’m reading through a game or as a game designer, making my own games, whenever I encounter a new mechanic, I ask myself, “How does this help me tell stories?”
If it doesn’t, I throw it out.
When I run Vampire, I keep the Humanity rules and throw out the initiative rules.
When I run Call of Cthulhu, I keep the Sanity rules and throw out the gun chart.
I don’t want you to think I just get rid of combat mechanics. On the contrary, for Vampire, I usually get rid of that whole Social trait thing entirely. Why? Because this is a roleplaying game, and that means you roleplay. You don’t get to say, “I have a high charisma because I’m not very good at roleplaying.”
My response to that is, “Then, you should get better at it. And you won’t get any better by just rolling dice. You’ll only get better by roleplaying.”
If you want to get good at playing chess, you play chess.
If you want to get good at first-person-shooters, you play first-person-shooters.
If you want to get good at roleplaying, guess what?, you roleplay.
And if that’s too much of me to ask, you can go right across the room to the RPGA where they let you make as many charisma rolls as you want because the game they’re playing is not a roleplaying game.
So, GM’s… I now ask you… I urge you… I beg you… go through your favorite game. Right now. Get it off your shelf, pull it out of your back pack, and open it up. Get yourself a big, fat sharpie. And go through each page and ask yourself this question.
“How does this rule help me tell stories?”
If you can’t get an answer in ten seconds or less, get rid of it. Because all it’s doing is getting in your way. It’s another hurdle you have to overcome. It’s another minute of wasted time while you or another player look it up to make sure you got the rule right because that’s what’s important… getting the rules right. Game balance. We must make sure our game is balanced.
No. You are not playing a board game. You’re playing a roleplaying game.
Start acting like it.

“In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell, 1984
Pages: [1]   Go Up
Jump to: