John Wick challenged me…..

role-playing-games

…Okay, not literally, but in an article. He brought something to the forefront that has bothered me for a while in the role-playing industry. There has been a creep towards less role-playing focus and more “roll-playing”. You all know what I mean. I own a lot of games (last count was something like 30 on the shelf) and I want to say most of them are not focused on combat. I loathe games that are just “You fight a monster, slay it, and then get the loot….”. Rinse, repeat. One of my favorite games (as told in my previous post) is Song of Ice and Fire Role Play. It is focused, not on the combat aspects, but instead on the character development aspects. I played 4th edition D&D for around six months, and I have to say, I was not impressed. It felt more like playing a miniature skirmish game. So, how do I decide if a game is for me? As always I will break it down to three easy things (even though it can be more complicated):

1. Does it allow me to tell awesome stories, in spite of the rules? If this is not met, then forget about it. I don’t do a lot of crunchy games. The ones I do play I house rule the hell out of. The rules have to allow the story to proceed, not limit it.

2. Does it focus too much on any one aspect of play? If the rules focus too much on skill challenges or combat then it probably isn’t for me. The rules have to flow easily together and be of a single mind.

3. Is most of the book rules? This goes back to my distaste for crunchy games. If 75% of the core book is rules, then I don’t normally touch it.

What kind of things do you look for when you are looking into new games? Crunch or story-driven? How do you decide what is best for you?

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4 thoughts on “John Wick challenged me…..

  1. I definitely agree with you as far as crunchy games. It’s a hard line to walk for me – my group tends to dislike games that require too much role playing as much as they dislike games that sink into endless combats. Still looking for that game that perfectly balances puzzles, role-playing, and combat.

  2. It’s about the play, not the rules. You can have great, in-depth roleplaying experiences with any ruleset. You can have 4E game that has players invested and involved, and you can have an Amber DRPG game that is boring.

    • I agree in theory with you Rocket, however a lot depends on both the GM and the players in equal but different areas, and I have first hand experience with a 4E game being “meh” with a group of experienced players & run by a long experienced DM… In that case I believe that the DM’s love for all types of gaming (including skirmish games) was a definite hindrance, as the players were forced to play a table top skirmish game 3 out of every 4 sessions, and to a lesser extent the players for not being emphatic enough about our distaste for the skirmishing as well as the blandness and limitations of the characters ‘powers/feats & skills’… So in essence we ended up playing a game we (at least the players) didn’t really enjoy overly much every 2-6 weeks for a whole year to “give it time trying it out”. I don’t even mind using minis in regular games, as long as they don’t become a hindrance, which they definitely do in skirmish type games like 4E.

      I think the biggest gripe I had personally, is that I more and more frequently as time goes on, slide back towards more old school and OSR type games… Ones where the rules are a lot smoother, there are few if any actual skills (with the exception of BRP which I still love oddly enough) to deal with, and the GM is the real arbiter of whether or not something can be done. Not the mentality that modern games (and players who only know 3e/PF and onwards) tend to have of “Well it’s not on my character sheet, so I can’t do it.”. I’ve even seen modern GMs tend to fall into that trap, where they can’t figure out what to do if it isn’t a standard skill or ability check.

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