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Whatever Functional Application of the Rules Text I Please

Started by lumpley, October 07, 2005, 11:42:28 AM

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Spun off from The Role of Fortune

Quote from: ewilen on October 06, 2005, 05:02:50 PM
Quote from: lumpley on October 06, 2005, 11:49:28 AM
What none of you've provided yet is the purely procedural function randomness serves in GURPS. You've listed a bunch of ways that randomness contributes to what happens in the game's fiction, but nothing about how randomness contributes to what the actual people actually do.

I could speak a little more coherently on Runequest or The Fantasy Trip, both because I've played more of them and because their use of dice is more restricted. But again I would point to the "wargaming roots" of both games and say that dice are simply there as a simulative tool (according to a certain philosophy of simulation) within an overall freeform procedure...

If that doesn't address the issues you're looking for, I'd respectfully like to turn the question around and ask what purpose randomness serves in your choice of old-school game assuming whatever functional application of the rules text you please.

Ah, now that's kind of interesting, yeah.

Let's see. In my own old Ars Magica 2nd ed play, for instance, for a while we used randomness as a way to signal procedural indifference. Reaching for dice or saying "wanna roll for it?" was a way for me to say "I defer creative control of this particular in-game circumstance - to you if you want it, to chance if you don't." We used randomness to pass the buck, and in a game that was procedurally all about who owned what, this was a pretty important function.

But overall, my own personal old school play didn't use randomness in any consistent procedural way. It accomodated randomness, sometimes successfully and sometimes grudgingly, and ultimately it let randomness just fall away.

Now, what may be more interesting is the fact that lots of our procedural developments here started out as individual play styles. Conflict resolution, certain approaches to IIEE, Fortune in the Middle, were ways that people played before they were named and acknowledged procedural, uh, thingies. Techniques.

That means that, out there in the wilds of old-school play, yes, probably some people were using randomness to provide context for the pressure to escalate; probably some people were using randomness to make it so that the person whose opinion had final weight was sometimes not the person whose character got her way; probably some people were using randomness to make it so that the person with the most to invest wasn't always the person who won. This quite independent of whether they were using GURPS' or D&D's or Ars Magica's resolution rules.