We’re in the home stretch for this year’s RPG-a-Day! Today’s prompt is ‘System’.
Paulo, who has been doing RPG-a-Day too, had some interesting thoughts on my entry from yesterday and our differences in playstyle.
He is right in that I want the rules of a game to support its theme (I’ve written about that before this month), but our preference on how the rules interact with the narrative differs. I finished reading Floria, which is a Japanese RPG. Those games tend to be quite gamist: the scenario has to be finished in one session, so you need to get a move on and not dither and chew the scenery too much. So one thing that I noticed is that these games have tests that are part of a ‘procedure’. Like in Ryuutama: if you’re traveling, you roll for how you fare that day. If you miss your travel roll, you lose half your HPs. And while that is fine from a gamist point of view (you follow the procedures of the game to produce occurrences that turn into a narrative), it’s something I have trouble with — it just doesn’t sit right with me. Same with Torchbearer: you miss a roll, and as a result you become Angry.
As someone with a more narrativist preference, I want the rules to follow the narrative (“ok, so you try to cross the river? Roll a test to see if you make it.”) rather than the reverse (“ok, you missed your test, you lose half your HP. How did that happen?” “Oh, when crossing the river.”). It’s a subtle difference, but one that is (somehow) important to me.
As for Paulo’s apprehension for the Nobilis rules system, I don’t really have anything to re-assure him. The rules kick in in specific circumstances (when you want to perform a miracle), but that (probably) won’t be the focus of the campaign. That’s also why a diceless system works for Nobilis: You only engage with the rules in specific circumstances, and the setting is such that those circumstances will happen, but probably not that often. Most of the intrigue is social in nature: your relationships with your Familia, other Nobles and Imperators and with the various spirits are the true driver of the game. And your character talking to an NPC is just that: talk, no real rules needed. And you’re so competent/powerful that most actions simply don’t require any special action. Crossing a river is no challenge at all for a Noble with Aspect 1 and above, so there’s no rule to engage with.
It’s probably quite different from what he’s used to, but it’ll be fine. 🙂