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All out for Gamism

Started by Clinton R. Nixon, April 30, 2001, 03:42:00 PM

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Clinton R. Nixon

Perhaps because it seems to be the newest evolution in RPG's, Narrativism seems to get a tremendous focus in terms of what elements are needed for a good Narrativist game.

I don't think we still understand everything about the other sides of the triangle, though. I've been trying to decide for months why I like the new edition of D&D so much--it didn't seem to fit in my view of RPG's I like, as the rest are relatively lightweight and geared toward Narrativism.

While I've been claiming on several online forums that I liked 3e because it was essentially Narrativist, I always felt that that was a bit of a lie. I've decided I like it because it's shining Gamism--Gamism treated with respect and taken to a new level.

Up until now, Gamism seemed to be "easy," a natural evolution that occured with great frequency, and therefore discussion of how to achieve it wasn't necessary. I've started to question that, though--Rifts would be held up as an example of hardcore Gamism, yet I would now purport that it is an example of a Gamist RPG done wrong, wrong, wrong.

Elements I see in 3e that strike me as important Gamist steps:

1) A clean advancement system with little room for subjectiveness.

2) A plethora of advancement options, yet a short, easy list of those options. (The real versatility is in the way you can combine those options, or classes.)

3) A very quantitative system for combat, yet one that runs quickly, and without need for mass amounts of calculation.

4) A system-wide system for judging and comparing abilities and resolution. (Someone with a +12 to hit attacks as well as someone with a +12 in diplomacy could talk you into an agreement.)

And the final, probably more controversial one:

5) A complete excisement of the need to think about the character's needs and desires, and the removal of moral ambiguity. (A player never needs to think about "in character" goals--she can concentrate on player goals.)

That last one sounded negative, but I quite like it when I want to play a Gamist game. What do others think about these as goals for a good Gamist RPG, and what are other goals that may or may not have been realized in an RPG so far?
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Ron Edwards

I'll second the motion that a good Gamist RPG is a fine thing. I'm reeeeeally interested to see what "Rune" will be like.

(Now, let's not forget that I cannot PLAY these games easily or well. I'm a rotten Gamist, in terms of talent and inclination. I'd be chosen last for Gamist role-playing.)

I'm not ready to comment on 3E yet, because we haven't tried it yet. But I agree that my reading of it suggests that it is "more itself" than perhaps 2nd-edition had become. And (again, based on reading) it does look as though Gamist goals would be easily met.

I'd like to see Gamist RPGs with better-defined instances and degrees of LOSING - more than just being "dead," which fundamentally ends up being a "re-set" button in many cases.

I'd also like to see games that formalize or make possible highly defined instances of WHOM one competes with - so you know when you're "up against the GM," or "up against the system," or "up against the other players." Maybe whole different tactics, strategies, and resources could be involved for each.



Hmm.  I'll have to cogitate on this.  The "other" forthcoming RPG from Dark Omen Games (Sugar & Spice) is an attempt to be a hardcore Gamist RPG.  So, input and thoughts on this thread will be greatly appreciated.

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown

Clinton R. Nixon

Ron wrote:

"up against the system"

This is such an amazing name for a revolutionary Gamist RPG.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games


I've got an D&D variant knocking around inside my head which is really close to what Clinton describes. The premise is that there's a lot of bored, immortal, super-magical elf-thingies who go around abducting adventures, monsters and bits of landscape, and running dungeon crawls with living playing pieces.

The idea is that players would play these elves. One player builds a dungeon using a point scheme (a pit trap is two points, an ogre is five points etc). The other players build D&D characters using a similar system. Then they play their chosen champions as they hack through the dungeon. If the heroes win, the elf-thingy who built the dungeon loses. If everyone dies, the elf-thingy wins.

Each round of the meta-game consists of each elf-thingy (player) building a dungeon and everyone else running through it. The funky things about the setting are
1) totally disposable PCs
2) a reward for good character design
3) a chance to play with lots and lots of options - you can play a monk one week and something else next week
4) a reason for dungeon crawling.

Clinton R. Nixon


If you haven't checked out the Rune preview, you should. ("> It sounds a lot like what you're doing.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Ron Edwards

Gareth's idea reminds me of "Hero," a late-70s game that was packaged like a record album. There were three little maps on a board, and each of three players got to stock the map to his left. Then, of course, each of the players ran his PC through the map in front of him, so everyone is playing a PC but GMing to his left.

Oh yeah! The idea was that each PC is a suitor to some princess who wants a "real hero" for a husband, so they all have to run this gauntlet. The thing is that if more than one guy makes it through, then she chooses her husband based on good looks as well as who killed the most critters (so just being the fastest might not be good enough). So you have to strategize during PC creation as well as during play.

I lack all skill at such things, but I remember liking the little silhouettes on the counters a lot - really fun art. I even owned this game at one point ... wonder if it's in a box somewhere?



I always thought that "Scud: The Disposable Assassin" would make a good Gamist RPG.

(wondering at the relevance now that he looks at it again)

Ian O'Rourke

I must admit, while we play 3e with a focus on characters and story, it is a very good GAME. In this sense Clinton is right. I would even go as far to say that the system is so finely tuned for pure enjoyment on a gamist level that it would be a well-deserved winner of the Origins award.

Unless I'm mistaking what the award is for, it seems a perfect candidate as it meets it's goals so well. The general thinking on the net though is something more 'original' should win, in other words read narrativist?

I think this is why the game is so successful, while it caters even better for the hardcore D&D crowd (the gamists), it can also work as a solid game when using a story and character focus (if not pure narrativist).

It can appeal to a wide cross-section.

I'm also looking forward to RUNE,so our group can have some outrageous fun designing dungeons for each other :smile:

Ian O'Rourke
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