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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 86 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Purpose of rules  (Read 25857 times)
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2341

« Reply #45 on: January 22, 2002, 10:13:31 AM »

I came to the conclusion that "metagame" is the wrong term. It refers to rules "outside of the game", but what it really refers to are rules that apply "outside of the game world".

Whooah! Shlooow down! You just destabilized some long-standing RPG terminology.

And with Ron negotiating his IICE/IIEC terminology in another thread, my reality is feeling disorientingly soft.

Y'see, I think there really is meta-game. Ten years ago, when I rolled into an AD&D game with a group of guys I barely knew and managed my character into being one of the two most significant in the campaign in under two game sessions, that was meta-game. It was intangible in the context of the game rules. I did it by being charming, by the way I interacted with the other players and with the GM, and by the aggregate of choices I made for my character. I did it through personal mojo.

Where the confusion arises is with games that implement "metagame mechanics" to regulate player mojo metagame, to formalize and distribute character significance in ways that minimize my ability to exploit being a nice looking guy into game-related significance for my character.

And so "metagame mechanics" are equivalent to metagame mojo and the term is saved for continued use! "Metagame" isn't "rules outside the game" or "rules outside the game world," but influence external to the character.

Whaddya think?


My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans

Posts: 43

« Reply #46 on: January 22, 2002, 03:03:47 PM »

Patience, please for this Johnny-come-lately to the discussion but...

IMO, it is hubris for a game designer to think he has produced a game that is inviolate, or tamper-proof.  Now, there are games that have very well designed systems, such that the method of tampering is merely "personalization", but it is still going to be monkeyed around.  Hell, I can't play a game without changing things here and there, or trying something new.  I tend to stick to the core mechanics, but nothing is sacred.

Why?  Because it's my game, damnit.  Once I pay for the game, by God it's mine.  If I want to muck it up, I will.  Whether I shell out ten bucks or two hundred, if I want to change things, I do.  Even straight-out board or card games get modified.  How many variations of poker, or rummy, or chess have been created?  House rules for Axis and Allies?

That being said, another comment essentially said that people like me are frustrated narrativists (those who fudge systems, rules, etc.)  To tell you the truth, I don't know how to classify myself anymore, given the recent discussion on the GNS threads.  Since I, as a GM, consider myself primarily responsible for story, with limited metagame power provided to players, I am probably a sim-explorer of story/character/setting, occasional situational override, with a half-twist of narrativism, Jupiter in the seventh house, and a side of fries.  I like 'em french-fried pertaters, mmm-hmm.  

However, for years, I GM'd Rolemaster with tweak upon tweak and folders full of customized charts, tables, spell lists, skills, blah blah blah.  My play style was not closet narrativist, nor was it frustrated sim.  I just liked to customize things to suit my world, my desires, and the way I felt it should be.  I think there's a tendency to classify behavior according to the model that simply doesn't have any place there.  And, in my humble humble opinion, a GM or player who wants a level of customization that isn't readily available within his game system, but who still enjoys playing that system for the other reasons, is not suffering from GNS-itis.

I am, nowadays, in favor of systems that provide less detail, and rely more upon the good judgement of the players to agree upon what is important in game play.  Ron is spot-on for me, in that "FBI agent" is much more meaningful than a list of skills describing those talents.

I also agree with the majority of Lumpley's statements regarding the social contract and "da rulz."  Some of this may be unspoken with a familiar group, but in the broadest sense, the social contract encompasses everything, from an understanding that we won't throw beer bottles at each other, to the fact that some die rolls may be more, um, fluid than others.  

However, I do understand that some players (including GM's) tend to prefer mechanics that do not cross over into the Dark Side too often.  By that I mean the nebulous areas outside of the explicit rules-set that players invariably enter, no matter how well-designed the game.   I don't think this has anything to do with GNS, or comfort-levels, or security, or even trust.  It is just a preference, and nothing wrong with it.  I tend to be more seat-of-the-pants, not because of GNS, or laziness (maybe a little), or lack of prep; I prefer it, because I find that my players prefer to follow tangents, and discover new elements of story, or do things that are more fun than I could have planned.  I am, however, still the GM, and I do most of the cheating.  I am also the primary author, with little shared authorship, which pretty much rules out Nar.

Anyhoo, just wanted to chime in from the corner.  I'll put my pointed hat back on, now.


Scott Heyden

"If I could orally gratify myself, you'd have to roll me to work."
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