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Robin Laws continues to be brilliant

robin_d_laws  continues to be brilliant in this entry on Risk in RPGs.

What's clarified for me here is something I find very frustrating in play, but never found a definition to fit it. 

Years ago (in the late 1980's) I started advocating for a play-style I called "cinematically correct".  If it would look good on film, it was good. 

If I was playing, I'd seek out mechanics that would let me crash through the skylight and land on my feet, or at least have something really interesting happen if I failed.  If I was running, I'd flat out tell players that if they could persuade me something would look good on film, and frame it like a shot, I'd do my best to help them find a way to make it happen in the game.  Or at least have something really interesting happen if they failed.

Go read it.  Robin Laws is Brilliant.

WWAWMIn other news, halfway through the month all I've done on Toccata and Fur in A Minor is develop a map of the neighborhood and begin drafting personalities for sample cats.  I do have an outline of the events, but it needs fleshed out big time.



( 9 comments — Roll the dice )
Jun. 14th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
that's a good read.

I've been struggling with my own unwillingness to kill PCs in a grim and gritty setting, and I like the commentary in this thread about establishing the risks before the dice hit the table.
Jun. 14th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
re: cinematics
The game system called "Torg" was run essentially on what you are talking about. There is a newer game system called "Femg Shui" that also runs on the 'cinematic' premise. You might find it interesting, especially since Robin created it. "Torg" was earlier, like 1980's/1990's.
Jun. 14th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
Pretty much, that's exactly what I do with compels in Spirit of the Century a lot of times - they're my tools for cinematic correctness.

"What? You want to jump down from the roof right into the ballroom and land in front of the king's throne? Badass, well, how about I give you a fate point, and we say you do that, but your 'Rival, Baron Raster' is there and he's going to demand your immediate arrest."

And so on.
Jun. 14th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
That post is brilliant. I think I will link to it as well, if that wouldn't be copycatting!
Jun. 14th, 2007 09:17 pm (UTC)
That is indeed a good piece. Risk aversion is something that I've been butting my head up against in playing/GMing as well. I stopped playing Rolemaster because I couldn't leap across the table at a target without losing most of my initiative for a turn. Drove me NUTS.

I have to admit, it's something I've been guilty of as a player as well. I think it's instinctive in gamers to not get your character into too much trouble, because you don't want them to die. I also think that most people seem to think that being captured by the bad guys is a BAD thing, and they will do everything they can to avoid that. And yet, sometimes it's the best thing that can happen to a story...
Jun. 14th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
Risk in roleplaying has long been a topic of discussion so, in my mind, Robin is just rambling on about an obvious recurring problem without suggesting any solutions. Although I continue to admire Robin's work, that doesn't strike me as especially brilliant. One thing Robin's post fails to convey is that risk aversion can be entirely sensible when playing grittier fare. The issue seems to be discouraging risk aversion in a more cinematic play environment.

People obviously did find solutions, not always for the better, which no doubt accounts for the myriad AD&D house rules and the explosion of new game systems which characterized the gaming industry through the '80s and into the early '90s. The current trend toward games which reward risk-taking, rather than punishing it, is merely a continuation of this overall trend. The popularity of more tactically-oriented games says a lot, though.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the people gathering around the gaming table and the social contract which they have established. Allow your players to be awesome, and they will be. You as gamemaster may need to teach this to them, as risk aversion is a fairly ingrained reaction for us hairless apes. I think the key can be found in the words of a short, warty, green-skinned elf: "You must unlearn what you have learned."

Train your players patiently and well, and in the end you'll be rewarded.
Jun. 14th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
I think what I find so brilliant about Robin is that he can say pretty succinctly what I know deep down, but have difficulty focusing into clear statements. He speaks my mind when I can't articulate it.
Jun. 15th, 2007 06:00 am (UTC)
Not saying Robin isn't brilliant... I've owned all of his roleplaying designs save Pantheon at one point or another... I just didn't find that exact post to be an example of his brilliance at work. But then, I've been hearing that exact same question hashed over for the better part of a decade... long before there was a Forge or any discussion of so-called indie RPGs (we called them 'small-press game companies').
Jun. 15th, 2007 03:54 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link........
that does look interesting:)
( 9 comments — Roll the dice )

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