Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tell me I'm right about the Romanian thing

Long gap in posting here. For the price you're paying, what do you expect?

I read another thing on Grognardia that struck me: "I had hoped that, as in the earliest days of the hobby, individual characters wouldn't become the focus of the campaign, that role being taken by Dwimmermount itself."

Lots of things on that blog strike me. It's a labor of love, and obviously the work of a talented man, and he routinely says things (like the quote above) which seem to be in some language foreign to me -- perhaps related, as Portugese is related to Romanian, but not something I really understand. When I read that sentence, my body reacted. I squinted and leaned in to the screen, entirely unconsciously, as if to puzzle out the hidden meaning in that combination of arbitrary shapes.

What is a roleplaying game, if it's not about the individual characters? I admire the OSR, and I'm happy to read their blogs and steal their stuff, but I don't belong to it. Couldn't -- roleplaying is all about the individual characters. I have trouble recognizing my hobby in the quote above. Which is nobody's problem but mine, and I don't think it's a problem, so there you go.

I like the idea (from Robin Laws, maybe?) that a player's character is their way of telling you what kind of game they want to play. So I like a game that gives you a broad range of acceptable characters, whether it's through extensive Champions-style mechanics or very loose Star Warsy ones. It's all about characters. The environment, however lovingly detailed or cunningly treacherous, is window dressing. Not because the PCs' story is so very fascinating, but because it's theirs.

(I seem to enjoy writing about this top-level "how should you play?" stuff more than the posting of mechanics and the discussing of rules. Dunno why.)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting point.
    As a player, I want to play something that will be fun; "fitting in" to the setting is nice but an afterthought.

    I do get James Mal's desire for his setting to be memorable, distinctive, etc., and as DM I want my game world to be more than a blank canvas ... but not a character. My NPCs exist to be killed, defrauded, exploited, etc. by the PCs. My dungeons and locales exist to be looted and hopefully kill some PCs or at least their henchmen.

    I don't think I'd go so far as to plan NO SETTING and just riff on whatever my players make up as characters ... but my setting has to be interesting enough to me to motivate me to make stuff up for it and for the players to want to go there. I can't say I want to be "main character" ... IF that is what Mal is saying about "main focus".