Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to NOT Kill Things and STILL Take Their Stuff!

One aspect of roleplaying game that I feel is frequently overlooked in most rule books is the game outside the charts, tables, lists and rolls.  To some extent, 3e did us a disservice, as it went too far into defining a character, their abilities, feats, skills, etc.  It took much of the magic and imagination that the PC / Player shared and turned it into a multi-page character sheet.

A Basic D&D or even AD&D 1e character had depth beyond the sheet.  He HAD to, as there was so much left to be defined that wasn't covered by a rule or written on the sheet.  Heck, back then, you could have written your character on an index card with little problem - I know I did.

See, rules in our RPGs tend to be written to cover success and failure in events that can't be role played.  The thing is, with 3e (and even more so in 4e) events that were once role played were now played and decided with the roll of a die.

Still, there is an advantage to the mechanics, especially with the older systems - play them enough, the rules are learned to the point that they fall into the background - role play begins to trump roll play.

The OSR games that stick the closest to their sources seem to be the most successful at bringing out the "role play" in people, but I think that is more because our gaming muscles still remember the rules as we knew them.  Our gaming instincts are less distracted by rules.

From what I've read so far, it seems that Dungeon Crawl Classics, much like Hackmaster before it, adds too many complications to rules that most of us are already familiar with - to the point that gaming the rules will take precedence over ruling the game.

Or, to put it most simply - familiarity with the rules facilitates role play.  Learning and constantly referring to the rules (such as the numerous charts required for spell casting in DCC) will promote roll play.

When you know the rules you no longer need them (to take stuff from Things), when you don't know the rules you need them (to kill things and take their stuff)


  1. I'm inclined to be a little more generous with DCC, but I do agree that providing simplified mechanics allows those mechanics to fade into the background, permitting more immersion.

  2. Hey, I pre-ordered sight unseen, and my funky ass dice arrived today.

    I fully expect to get some roll / role play in with the DCC rules at some point, even if it is just at a Con this summer

  3. I'm not sure "the things that were once role played", always were. A lot of people have very rigid views of how a game is meant to be played and if there is no rule for it well it doesn't happen and if there is a rule written for it it can't happen another way. Take the whole body of OSR arguments for and agaisnt a thief class. With the presence of a thief class for a lot of people the only way to be sneaky and to steal is to have a thiefly character do the job and oft times the thief would resolve actions simply by rolling. I used to run a thieves skill rolls as a saving throw agaisnt stupidity or for those areas where description couldn't certainly lead to a result but that surely wasn't universal.

    Some rules are good, even a lot can be fun if they make sense, misusing them is bad.


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