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Author Topic: "Not enough rules"  (Read 2072 times)
Jack Spencer Jr
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« on: July 22, 2001, 10:57:00 PM »

Over on the Elfs board I mention playing briefly w/ the wife.  (The game.  The game.)  AFterwards I asked for her impressions and she said it could be fun but wouldn't work for an extended campaign.  I asked why not and she said "Because it doesn't have enough rules."

This struck me since not too long ago I had read a thread here on on the Forge where someone (fergit who) posted their experience with Everyway and a friend who complained that the game didn't have enough rules.

This is a topic ripe for discussion.

What does it mean?
Why do they say that?
When is enough too much?
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joshua neff
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2001, 05:48:00 AM »

I used to complain the opposite way--too many rules. I've since come to find that my problem isn't too many or not enough, but not enough appropriate rules. I want RPGs that facilitate the goal of the game--if the goal is too widespread (& yes, I'm talkin' GNS here), the rules get all confused & don't faciliate play effectively. Hero Wars is pretty rules-heavy, but the rules are all geared towards the goal of myth/legend-creation. Sorcerer, on the other hand, is rules-light(er), but again, the rules are directed towards its goal.
Of course, effectiveness of rules goes to other rarely-discussed subjects, like character currency & rewards, as well.
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2001, 08:22:00 AM »

While, I agree with Joshua that the REAL issue is not enough appropriate rules I have other ideas on this matter as well.  As my own GMing style is slipping more and more towords narrativism, the first of my predicted conflicts is begining to arrise.  My hardcore gamist is starting to have serious objections to my choice of game systems and my expectations of the players.

It took me a long time to figure out what the root of his problem is but I finally found it.  When playing an RPG he simply doesn't see a reason to care about any other character (NPC or PC) but his own.  As a result he feels that a 'party' with a common 'quest' is esscencial to a good a role-playing game because it gives you a REASON to care about another character.  And it's a caring that arrises from utility NOT character or persona.  "Dude, I'm worried about player x's character dying because then we won't have a divine spellcaster anymore."

It took me a while but I finally figured out what it was about D&D3E that reminded me of some other type of game.  It reminds me of a CCG.  The core books are your starter packs and each new sourcebook is a set of boosters.  I find that people who need lots of rules have the exact same mentality as a CCG player.  The only reason to continue playing is to improve my character (deck).  "Oh, Dude, I so want to try out this combination of feats, skills and spells, but I won't be able to until I'm 10th level."

If a game doesn't have a detailed and customizable ruleset then some people see no incentive to play.  They're interested in playing a GAME and trying to work out cool and unusual combinations of those rules.  Just like a CCG player.  Any sort of 'story' that results is completely a side issue.  It's about the problems and overcoming those problems through interesting combinations of the rules.

Jesse
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2001, 09:02:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-07-23 09:48, joshua neff wrote:
I used to complain the opposite way--too many rules. I've since come to find that my problem isn't too many or not enough, but not enough appropriate rules


Quite agree.  The issue ought not be rules-light vs. rules-heavy.  Rather, it ought to be elegance of design, where the system functions well with sufficient structure.

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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2001, 09:11:00 AM »

Hey,

Since Josh and Jesse have said all the good stuff already, I only have this to add:

I think that the connection made between "enough rules" and "long-term play" has to do with reward systems and the notion that LATER you can do something that you cannot do NOW.

We have a LOT to consider about reward systems, story creation through role-playing, and long-term play. As it stands, the shared in-culture view of these things is a mess of often-repeated platitudes ... maybe we can get a better foundation started.

Best,
Ron

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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2001, 09:32:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-07-23 12:22, jburneko wrote:
...Any sort of 'story' that results is completely a side issue.  It's about the problems and overcoming those problems through interesting combinations of the rules.


Interesting insight.  This goes a long way towards remedying the "new narrativist convert zeal" that can and does happen.  That is, being someone who has newly discovered narrativist gameplay, it's easy to think it's the One True Way to role-play since you find it so much better than what you were doing and since you're still excited about this new thing you're doing it's also easy to think everyone else will enjoy it, too.

Actually, storytelling has been around for centuries and I would put forth that anyone could enjoy a story orientated in the proper mindset.  But then there would be items from the old style of games that would be missed.  I know I'd miss the tactical combat of most RPG combat... at least the way my GM tended to handle it.  It's not so much the nostalgia of it as play this was indeed actually fun.

But all of this belongs on the GNS forum, doesn't it?

Back to the Not Enough Rules topic.

I have asked my wife several times over the past week or so to explain what she meant by "not enough rules."  Fact of the matter is she never did give me a solid answer.  Many times she refused to answer.  (Women, can't live with them, can't get them to strut around wearing nought but cowboy boots)  The closest thing to a solid answer she gave was there were no skills or similar items.  Therefore, not incentive for play due to character advancement.

This comes right from Kubasik's Interactive Toolkit about RPG designers and players being creatures of habit.

She didn't see anything to sustain an extended campaign in ELfs because there wasn't anything to spend your experience points on (besides raising Spunk, etc. but we didn't get that far w/ the game so she doesn't know about that).  Now Elfs may not be the best game for extended play.  (I'm sure milage may vary but there seems to be some weird bias out there that humorous games are not taken seriously.)  But she was looking at it purely from an old school, D&D perspective.

The point was not getting your character into difficult situations and enjoying the story as it unfolded, but watching your character increase in ability.

This is odd because she is not the dyed-in-the-wool gamist type, you see.  She isn't playing the game like a CCG as you've describe (a brilliant metaphor, BTW)  She is into the stories and characters but she still carries this baggage.

Quote

Ron Edwards sid:

I think that the connection made between "enough rules" and "long-term play" has to do with reward systems and the notion that LATER you can do something that you cannot do NOW.


hmmm....
This is an interesting concept.  While I have nothing, I suggest this.

Old school games deal with what a character can and can't do.
Maybe a new school of thought would be about what a character would or wouldn't do.

What would Jesus do?
What wouldn't Jesus do?

I'm sure I got that idea from somewhere else.  

Addendum:

I was thinking about my friend Ted.  Those who frequent GO or used to may remember me ranting about the guy.  Ted's not his real name but I always wanted a friend named Ted.

Anyway, without giving Ted the benefeit of actually trying one I am willing to predict that Ted will not like a narrativist game.

That is, it's not that he doesn't like stories.  Like many he thinks he can write.  But in the role-playing context, he likes games as the CCG-esque sort of thing.  He enjoys the strategy of it but that's mostly because he's better at it than anyone else.  (He's sure better at it than I am.)  Some of the concept that can be found in narrativist structured games would put him on more-or-less equal footing with everyone else.

More-or-less, I say since it would depend on the game in question.

I believe Ted would indeed complain such games do not have "enough rules" so that he cannot build himself a better character with the same number of points or similar bits of one-upmanship.

To be fair, this may be a ficticious version of Ted in my mind.  

But this may be another reason for this comment.  Not that there's anything wrong with the way Ted plays either.  


[ This Message was edited by: pblock on 2001-07-23 14:00 ]
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