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Showing posts from 2021

On RPG play-styles, Part 1: Should you kill off the tourists?

Should you be acting out a part , telling a story , or playing a game ? My answer is Yes . Players of RPGs do all of these things and more all at once, of course, in varying degrees. They always have. It's simply a matter of which aspects individuals enjoy more or emphasize that differentiates cliques and factions in the never-ending battle in quest of the Holy Grail: the Best Game Ever. It's really all about personal preferences , not something that can be right or wrong. Yet it's not rare to find discussions about which play-styles are correct or incorrect, or discussions of the hobby's journey from pristine purity to subsequent corruption. Sometimes these discussions are about the history of game mechanics or game companies or cultures of play. Sometimes they are finger-wagging lessons in the morality of play and aesthetics. All of these discussions have something to contribute. Sometimes, though buried in these discussions, and in the responses to them, are implicit

Coins in D&D and Found Advancement

Every D&D adventurer is a coin collector. Every old variety of D&D and similar games posit one game-mechanical goal for characters: collecting coins (and other treasure evaluated in coins). Coins are a symbol in these games for the characters' trying experiences that explain their personal improvement. We all know that gathering gold does not make one a more skillful fighter or wizard or thief. The coins accumulated represent the achievement of the tasks , and it is carrying out tasks that serves as training in skills. As a symbol for experience, the gold piece has been pretty sufficient, as it's still widely used. Adventure scenarios contain hidden and protected coins, and other treasures evaluated as coins, which are the inducement to adventure. Players are spurred by the knowledge that coins are out there to take risks with their characters, producing a fun social event with elements of gambling, risk-free vicarious danger, cooperative problem-solving, and role-pla

"Arnesonian" play

I have come across a number of discussions among those who seek to discover and recapture an original, "natural," unbounded, or otherwise pristine form of role-playing game. Some of them find the roots of this mode of play in the person of Dave Arneson, one of the two original authors of Dungeons & Dragons . These fascinating discussions have two things at stake. One is the quest to find a style of play that may add more to your current game, a never-ending quest. The other is the implicit, and occasionally explicit, notion that original is better, purer, more pristine gaming as intended , as originally conceived. Intended by whom? By the founders, by the discoverers of this new form of game, that's who. It's Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Or else it's either Gygax or Arneson. Take your pick. Generally, the pervasive notion seems to be that Arneson was a referee who made rulings on the spot, that he favored a "free-wheeling" kind of game. Gygax, by c