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Topic: Misc comments. (Read 4436 times)
Steve Marsh (Ethesis)
November 29, 2005, 06:20:08 PM »
What is your game about?
Killing monsters and taking their stuff.
What do the characters do?
specialize their abilities (classes), work in groups, improve on a linear scale to face progressively tougher monsters and get progressively better stuff.
What do the players do?
Players: direct a single character's actions, make tactical choices in combat and during character advancement. GM: control the environment, direct all secondary characters and antagonists, provide appropriately scaled challenges and rewards.
Kind of misses the point. D&D is usually about progression, you do that by killing monsters and taking their stuff.
The question that lots of game designers miss is "how do the characters and players go about doing what they do?"
Just paged through a bunch of game projects and concepts at the Forge. Alien Bimbos (a cute concept) -- the "what" is that they fight against the androids, seek to impart FTL knowledge and have sex. The problem the game has is just how do they go about doing that? Mechanics are important because they either make it easy to do what the game is about (and make enabling that fun or interesting) or they get in the way. To answer "how" you need to design a good core scenario.
Whenever a book ships with a good core scenario, I know that the designers have figured out the "how" part well. Whenever a game starts shipping with bad scenarios, I know that the designers have lost track of the "how."
Heroquest is really about the characters/players interacting with and learning about Glorantha and becoming part of the story.
I think a lot of people mislead themselves in the analysis because they have miss stepped on their way to the elements. You don't do that, but some of the other people do.
For all the weaknesses and neat things about
, it does provide a method for the game to go about doing what it does and the mechanics work well with that.
's good and bad scenarios and expansions demonstrate the times the designers hit that and the time they miss it (though Chaosium saw it as "this is a product for powergamers who came to d100 games/Chaosium and need something that resonates with them").
Call of Cthulhu
design in scenarios really comes together or falls apart based on whether or not the particular designer has the concept down about "going about what they do" or has missed it.
Not to mention, some of the better computer games hit that on the nail.
is all about the search for better stuff, especially
, especially in the context of maximizing character design. The campaign is about one thing, but longevity is driven by the other. Diablo clones consistently missed that part of it. What is fun is the way
reacts to what was done wrong in the
and the fan expansions).
It has been a long time since I dropped off the face of the earth (heck, it was back in 1992, following dropping off in 1984), and I've only been really paying attention for a year or two.
Steve Marsh (Ethesis)
Re: Misc comments.
Reply #1 on:
November 29, 2005, 06:31:56 PM »
Until AD&D there was not a comprehensive rewrite of D&D. AD&D was a superset of house rules, aimed at creating a uniform experience. The Holmes Basic set was a medical doctor explaining to Gary that having done a textbook, and being a doctor, he could do "it" right. That was an interesting flop, but led to D&D Basic-Advanced (and Master and Immortals -- the last of which is pretty sharp). Then, with both the Arneson flap (Dave may have been quick to point out in print that Gary got everything wrong, but he was even quicker to realize that there was money to sue for) and other issues, TSR decided to do a D&D that was a return to the tradition, which led to Moldvay doing the first book of the D&D, I did the second (the Expert Set) and Frank Metzer did the Immortals.
One neat thing was that Judges Guild predicted the appetite for material that kids playing 24/7 would have. No one believed that there would be a real market for scenarios until JG proved it.
Runequest has been interesting, as is the on-line Yahoo group and playtest. Chaosium slipped up, in a way, as did Avalon Hill, when the trademark registration lapsed, which led to Greg Stafford getting it back. Though RQIII/IV/Stormbringer --> Delux Basic Role Playing without Glorantha vs. more RQII/revisted/Glorantha -- > Mongoose Runequest hits a marketing riff off of RQII and what they can add to it, that should be an interesting market, if it has any impact at all.
Years ago, I played with things in that line myself. You can see the stuff in an on-line archive at
In addition, the old drafts of the original elemental planes for D&D finally surfaced and I auctioned them off through Paul Stormber. Actually, what got auctioned was an editor's copy. The original documents are still missing (but being looked for). If anyone knows what happened to them at Mayfair, I'd love a line at getting my things back.
Some day, if I ever get enough time, I'll have to go through, outline everything I've got on-line, and redraft it to be coherent and consistent, rather than reflecting different stages of flux.
I did get started writing a bit when I was contacted about Starstrands, but the guy who contacted me dropped out of touch again. He got the original documents at TSR and has been running a Starstrands campaign on and off since the late 70s or early 80s and Gary got us together. Don't know what happened to him (last I heard was a couple years ago), but you can see what the result was for me at
I've a pdf a friend burned for me of the Mistworld proof of concept rough draft. Anders was going to do some scenarios for it and I was going to rewrite it to fit the "current" Basic Role Playing when it was rewritten ... but the project underneath it (BRP with Magic World, Superworld, Futureworld, Demonworld, etc.) fizzled out.
If anyone is interested, I'll be glad to e-mail you a copy of it. Just drop me an e-mail. My co-writer was supposed to do some scenarios, that never happpened, alas. I may yet rewrite it all when BRP Delux is finished.
Just some misc. quotes and comments.
(for my artwork)
(for my heroquest stuff)
(for some scenarios)
(for setting/rules materials)
(for more misc. scenarios)
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