Friday, October 28, 2011

Seriously. Let's just do Cyberpunk or something instead.

So that's my RPG philosophy. Do I practice what I preach? Not at all.

The whole idea is that everyone in the game should have fun. And a lot of the people I play with don't like the same things I do. If I'm running the game -- and I probably am -- it needs to be a game that they'll like too. F'rinstance, my wife has no interest at all in acting like a character, developing a persona, or exploring her PC's personal goals. She wants to solve puzzles and interact with her environment in clever ways. As a GM (or as a fellow player) I need to make sure that she gets to do some of that. If each person has some fun, every person has more fun.

Or if my friend Mateo is in playing, he'll go so far into the method-actor style that he'll forget his own name. That's farther than I want to go, but it's what he enjoys. There should be some space for him to do that whether or not it's my cup of tea. With some experience, you learn that Mateo will crash the entire game on the shoals of his character concept, so he takes some handling. But it's worth the effort. He's fun.

I read an article in Dragon magazine years ago that explains play styles better than any theory or model or whatever. It broke players down into three basic groups. At one end of this spectrum was the powergamer, which we used to call a "munchkin" before Steve Jackson took that word back. The powergamer wants to Win The Game -- have the best character possible in terms of mechanics and abilities, regardless of impact on the rest of the game. At the other end was the method actor, who wants to Be Somebody Else to the fullest extent possible, also without regard to the impact on the rest of the game.

But in the middle you find the vicarious participator, someone who's playing a game and being a character and having fun, but is fundamentally being themselves.* Whatever the details of their character, it looks a lot like who they are in real life, or maybe a reflection of who they'd like to be. Whatever the details of the game, they aren't something the player is driven to master. This is how my wife plays -- her characters are very much like herself, only with daggers. And it's how I play -- my characters are the fast-talking con men that I don't get to be.

The point, if I still have one, is that while I think there is One Best Way To Play, it's not what's going to be the most fun for everyone. And maximizing the fun is the most important thing. Would I have more fun if everyone played the way I do? Perhaps. But it's more important to play with the people I like, and they enjoy all kinds of styles. If Kevin doesn't want to share any background or history for his character, that's how it's gonna be, even though I love working with that stuff.

All that said, I still don't wanna play through your dungeon crawl.

*Or possibly "being themself." It reads badly both ways.

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