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John Wick on RPGs

The Radioactivist

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http://johnwickpresents.com/games/game-designs/chess-is-not-an-rpg-the-illusion-of-game-balance/

Hope I'm not too late posting on this. But I had to. A brilliant read. Someone gets it. (Or rather, gets it again).

Roleplaying, to me, is something a computer will never be able to do. (Well, at least until we have really awesome AI).

I had this happen to me. Running D&D 3.5 Ravenloft. Tearing my hair out trying to make stat blocks, balanced encounters, reams of paperwork. I was 40. Wife, kid, mortgage, no damn time. The campaign was failing.

My friend (who is a RL fan) decided to guest GM. His game was AWESOME. Especially when he had a player lie down on the floor to demonstrate how a very powerful weird man plucked out his PC's eye and replaced it with another. We all shuddered. (Of course, the old man was a Domain Lord). He didn't let us roll, or attack, or anything. It just ... played ... out. When we questioned whose initiative it was, he simply said ... "just let me play this out ... you'll see."

Later, I asked him where the hell his adventure notes were. What level the NPC was. How the heck he convinced us to go along with it?!

1. His adventure was one side of a single sheet of paper with some scribbled ideas.
2. His stat blocks? None - He said "I just roll a d20 and decide if it works or not. Rules are for the PLAYERS." - i.e. game balance DOES NOT MATTER.
3. You went along with it because it was cool, and horrible, and I didn't simply KILL the PC. I made the story (in this case a horror story) progress.
:cool:

It's odd how we (I) keep having to relearn simply lessons of telling great stories. Of playing great roles. Of ... roleplaying.

Yeah, I know this is probably stepping into someone's pixel-bitchy minefield. I just wanted to say his article moved me, and reminded me of my friend, a great Ravenloft GM.

EDIT: BTW, I am not saying there are not gaping problems in his blog post. Just saying it really got me to thinking. I think people who enjoy weapons list (actually I kinda liked weapon vs. armor type and speed factor) are just fine. But I do think a better summation is "story first, then mechanics." Just sayin'. Now I'm waiting for the napalm.
 
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Alex_P

the cat respecter
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I like your post more than I like Wick's. :)

You went along with it because it was cool, and horrible, and I didn't simply KILL the PC. I made the story (in this case a horror story) progress.
I think this is straight-up *THE* reason you had so much fun. But let's generalize it a bit. I suggest...

RPGs are awesome when the folks at the table all enthusiastically embrace (and "play into") each other's ideas, because they trust each other to come up with awesome stuff and look out for everybody's fun.

-- Alex
 

Bailywolf

bwakbwak
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I agree with some of what he says, particularly about game balance, but he's got this whole Old Man Yells At Cloud thing going on otherwise, and I hate all that gatekeeping bullshit about what is and isn't a real rpg. If it's bullshit when the rpgpundit does it, then it's bullshit when anybody else does it.
 

Skywalker

Back Off the Buddha!
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I agree with some of what he says, particularly about game balance, but he's got this whole Old Man Yells At Cloud thing going on otherwise, and I hate all that gatekeeping bullshit about what is and isn't a real rpg. If it's bullshit when the rpgpundit does it, then it's bullshit when anybody else does it.
Yep. All of this.
 

Baulderstone

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I like your post more than I like Wick's. :)
Same here. Nothing Wick had to say that Radioactivist cited is anything that hasn't been said before, and other people have managed to say it without a side helping of "D&D isn't a real roleplaying game". Still, its the first time I have heard Wick's name in a decade, so good for him, I guess.
 

Sabermane

Proud Fianna knight of hope and peace
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Huh, just put a blog up about that...

My thing is this--RPG's aren't stories. Yes, there's storytelling elements, but we create random chance and gambling to make it more interesting. Technically, NONE of the mechanics in an RPG are needed to tell a story.

If you want to tell a story, tell a story. If you want to play an RPG, play an RPG. we're comparing monkeys and rodents--same family, different species.
 

Sage Genesis

Two
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I'm not too keen on anything that sounds a little too One True Way. There's a lot of games where the gun chart might be unneeded, but... look, just because The Expendables is a stupid action flick doesn't mean it doesn't count as a movie. His own movie analogy falls apart entirely for me because a Riddick movie is not like a Mary Poppins movie or a Shawshank Redemption movie. Not all movies would fit teacup-murders and not all games need to handle them that way either. Not all RPGs are alike. They serve different playstyles and require different tools.
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
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As I've been saying about that article since reading it, it's really too bad that Wick seems unable to discuss the things he likes about gaming without also ranting about how people who do it differently are doing it wrong. He has some good points in there. Too bad they're lost between cries of badwrongfun and onetrueway.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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I agree with some of what he says, particularly about game balance, but he's got this whole Old Man Yells At Cloud thing going on otherwise, and I hate all that gatekeeping bullshit about what is and isn't a real rpg. If it's bullshit when the rpgpundit does it, then it's bullshit when anybody else does it.
Yeah, I had enough of people telling me I wasn't paying enough attention to what roleplaying was really about a good 25 years ago.
 

AMARDA

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Bad blog post is bad.

"I am right! Rules are not needed!"

Role Playing Game. There are three parts to that title, we are not telling a story, we are making a story up using a rule set. Telling a story is boring because there is no chance of failure and we could just go an write a book at that point.
 
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