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[d20 Fantasy] Bangs don't always stop the Railroad

Started by Chris Geisel, June 29, 2005, 08:09:41 PM

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Mike Holmes

I've refered to this split in the elements of gamism as spliting the arena from the challenge. I agree that it exists. But even so, in most of this style of game arena selection is simply a meta-challenge.

Take, for instance, a game like Omega, a "Roguelike" game on the computer. That game presents a whole world and you can go anywhere and do anything. But one of the challenges is discovering the difficulty of the different arenas of conflict. One of them is, actually, the arena in the city, where you can combat every increasingly more difficult to take out monsters, gaining wealth and status in the Gladiator's Guild (or somesuch). The weakest of the "dungeons" is the sewers in the city. Once you've done that for a while, the rewards of playing through it become small enough that you want to head out of the city and find more difficult dungeons.

So, while it's certainly possible to present arena selection as a separate element from the actual individual challenges to be overcome, in gamism you still tend to get players looking at the arenas in terms of the ratio of the rewards/ability to the danger presented by the arena.

To the extent that players are deciding to select arenas based on what's important to their characters, etc, this is sim supportive hybrid play. Which has the annoted tendency (note, not saying it always happens) to fall into incoherence as the gamism motives try to over-run the sim ones.

There's also that form of "gentelmen's gamism" where the player uses the arena selection moments to use more narrativism-ish decision-making processes understanding that if they make a poor tactical choice here, they're merely "handicapping" themselves in the upcoming challenges.

Can you make a game where this works functionally most of the time. I'd say take a look at The Riddle of Steel. Yes, you can do it in D&D, or any other primarily gamism supporting game. It's just a lot harder to get the players to understand what you're doing.

So do they always think it's a trick question? Well, no, but without some mechanical indicator, they do tend to do so. Thinking that the option that you present is more like the Omega option, than a sim or nar one. Do we go to the dungeon with the "4-7th level" on the cover, or the one with "7-10th level" on it, if we're mostly 7th level? That's a challenge question. Many players will think that your question of which way to go is such a question, unless something informs them otherwise.

With the elves situation the gamism think goes something like, "Well, if we stick with the elves, what can they give to us? Maybe we'll be heroes when we return to town? Or they can become henchmen? Or maybe we can conquer the orc shaman, get his EXP, and loot? OTOH, it might simply be safer to go with what the shaman wants, get the EXP for killing the elves, and come back later and kill the shaman when we're higher level.

No, not everyone will play this way. But some will, when presented with such questions. Interestingly, even if you tell them not to use this sort of decision-making process. The system informs play.

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Ron Edwards

I believe we have experienced significant thread-drift. Let's close this one and take up related/daughter topics in new threads of their own.