Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Merry Marvel Marching Society needs you!

I wanted some Stan Lee hype, but this early in the day I got nothin'. Excelsior!

Well, let me direct you to Zak S talking about how Old School Roleplaying = DC and New School Roleplaying = Marvel. It's an excellent analysis of both comics and RPGs, looking at the different things they focus on. Here's the thesis statement, for those of you who remember your composition classes:

DC Comics--like Old School D&D--are more about the world being interesting, whereas Marvel Comics--like new D&D--are more about the characters being interesting.

Zak is definitely a DC, while I'm Marvel all the way. As should be obvious from today's subjects...

Give me something to care about, and I won't miss a session.

Give me something to hate, so I can hunt it down. Give me something to fear, and I'll fight like hell to escape it. Give me something to love, so it's all worthwhile. Give me something to become.

Or let me create it myself. I'm not picky. I want to invest myself in some aspect of the game - my character, of course, but also in the broader world around them and the narrative they're building. This is an area where I think both the old-school Dungeons Must Kill You and the new-school Narrative Matters More Than Characters have gone off the rails. A big part of the fun, to me, is getting wrapped up in what happens. Not just paying attention to events, but caring about how they turn out - being happy when things work and disappointed when they don't. I'm not here to solve puzzles, or to endure a predetermined storyline. I'm here to get excited about what happens to my character (or to the PCs' characters, depending on which side of the screen I ended up on).

Mind-bogglingly dumb.

I know, I know, mind-bogglingly dumb "to me." But seriously - I'm supposed to get excited because someone rigged up a scythe-blade to swing out of a wall if I stepped on one of the black tiles? That's fun?

Wait, wait, wait. I'm supposed to get excited because I spent 20 minutes of my time - not game time, real time - describing how I prodded things with a wooden pole and tossed rocks at stuff and maybe herded a goat down this hallway, all for the purpose of seeing if a scythe-like blade would swing at anyone stepping on a black tile? That's fun?

Wait, wait, wait. I'm supposed to get excited because after naming my character and designing their stats and thinking of their history, the character died because they stepped wrong? HOW IS THIS FUN?

In the ~20 years I've been running RPG sessions, I can think of two times I've used traps. Once was in 7th Sea, once was in Champions, and the latter was a deathtrap rather than a straight-up trap. The classic dungeon-crawl-style trap is a perfect example of "player vs. environment" RPG thinking. Well, I don't want to wrestle with the environment. And I definitely don't want my character to be killed by it just because I'm not looking at things the way my GM expected me to. Mind-bogglingly dumb.

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