Looney Labs Something Mailing list Archive

[Something] Re: Icehouse RPG

  • FromBrian Campbell <lambda@xxxxxxx>
  • DateTue, 6 Mar 2007 19:02:16 -0500
(per Carol's suggestion, I'm moving this to the Something list)

On Mar 6, 2007, at 5:43 PM, Joshua Kronengold wrote:

Brian Campbell writes:
Hmm. My point is more that any relatively limited sets of traits like
this doesn't really make for a truly generic system; it makes for
something more like "yet another GURPS."

I should probably look at the system. :)

As I said, upon looking at it further, it was less like "yet another GURPS" than I had thought at first glance. What's there currently is obviously a work in progress, so I've only seen part of the rules, but what's there is a character generation framework, conflict resolution framework, and some specific stuff for doing detailed movement in a combat/action oriented scene.

standard "universal" system, with "espionage" and "creative spark"
type abilities, and using the generic system's "wealth" attribute to
represent your resources, and so on. But I think it would be much
more interesting to design the system much more in line with what are
critical for the particular genre and type of interactions I want.

Or you could have a generic conflict resolution system (a la Hero
Quest or Dogs in the Vinyard) and have social conflict work using the
combat system -- with the skills most important to the game being the
ones that drive -that- particular interaction (whereas when it's an
economic interaction, or a combat, very different traits are more

Yes, that's true. I haven't looked at either of the games you mention, so I can't say much about them in particular, but what I find is that the most general sort of conflict resolution tend to be a bit bland because of their generality. They tend to be along the lines of "roll a die or three, combine it somehow with some sort of score, and compare that result to the other guy doing the same and/or a difficulty," which I think can miss out on the opportunities to build in interesting resource management mechanics, or interactions between people's actions beyond "success/failure/degree of success".

The most important thing is to identify what's most important -first-,
even when that's something basic like "at heart, a roleplaying game is
an experience where you portray your character."  Then design so the
most important things are highly prioritized.


Nah, I'm not fond of pure narrativism either. At a certain point, you

Actually, pure narativism is very much a game -- but with more angst.
You're probably thinking freeform.

Yes, what I'm saying is that the limit as narrativism approaches infinity (and game and simulation approach 0) appears to be freeform (or something like that). Without any form of game, or simulation, what do you have other than collaborative storytelling?

Really, I reccomend avoiding GNS terms -- they tend to poison a
discussion, especially since the vernacular meanings for them are very
different from the Forge meanings, and neither quite matches up with
either reality or any given person's instinctive ideas for the terms.

Fair enough. I am only passingly familiar with the definitions from the Forge (as in, I've read a couple of the articles and discussions from there, but don't know about a lot of of the baggage they carry around), and while I do find it to be a useful way to break down my thinking about different elements of the game, I should avoid using them too much.

But really, it's best to avoid the terms and talk about what you mean;
they're not really all that useful.

Well, the problem is that all of them are very fundamental concepts in roleplaying, and it's hard to use the lowercase terms (the ones lacking "-ist" or "-ism") without evoking the GNS/Forge terms.

Anyhow, I'll say, using lowercase terms, that what I like best in roleplaying, and find helps me enjoy the game, is where narrative and game are tightly linked and well aligned, and the game simulates the setting well enough for me to feel immersed and be able to suspend disbelief.

Sounds like a good Theatre Style LARP.

Yep, it was. Actually, it could describe a couple of Theatre Style LARPs I've played; I was pretty vague about the details. Sadly, I haven't gotten to play more than a couple, and it's been years since I've been able to. And this past weekend, I managed to miss not one but two cons where I'm sure I could have played some great Theater Style LARPs (Intercon and ProCon).

This is a nearly pure mix of narrativsm and gamism.  The players try
to win (within the limit of their characters and the rules), and have
to make decisions both from a character-choice centered view and a
strategic centered view; the result is whatever this results in
(rather than one fitting the GM's preconceptions of how the story
"should" go).

Yep, and I think this is an ideal mix. To me, this is what makes roleplaying games interesting; well, this plus the immersion and escapism that simulationism can buy you.

Ron Edwards, controversal (and often dead wrong) figure that he is,
talks a lot about how Gamism and Narrativsm are tied together at the
hip.  (naturally, he imbues "Simulationism" with everything he hates).

See, I like to think that it's best when all three are in balance. Simulation helps create the buy-in; the feeling that there really is a world out there where this stuff is happening, that it's not all just arbitrarily decided by the GM, but that there are actually physical laws that happen to be different than our own. Now, when taken to a ridiculous extreme it gets kind of silly; percentile dice, charts for everything, a dozen modifiers on each roll, etc. But any of the aspects taken to an extreme can hinder the game; too much focus on narrative and you might lose the player interest because there aren't really any goals, too much focus on the game and it feels like all you're doing is min/maxing or may as well play a board game, and too much simulation and you just lose the other parts which are the heart of the roleplaying experience.

Anyhow, all this theory talk after years of not actually playing anything more than a silly one shot here and there is making me really itch to actually play or run a game. Anyone here in Vermont or New Hampshire who'd be interested in getting together for some gaming?

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