Previously, on Corvidae Corner

So, I barfed up something in response to brand_of_amber buried deep, deep in an earlier post, which was roundly ignored.

But I wanna talk about it some more, and I’m a flaming egotist*

So yeah, we can talk about stances, we can talk about distribution of GM functions, we can talk about enabling or frustrating CA’s, we can talk about conflict vs task resolution.. but what we fight shy of is getting games as a whole into “Story games”, “predestined games”, “finite games” boxes.

So, what categories would be useful, and what would you put in them? Let’s start with “Conventional Games”:


but isn’t that only useful if we define the conventions:

1 GM, many players.
1 character per player.
Characters organized into adventuring parties.
GM presumed to write adventures, players to “run through” adventures to the end.
Task resolution.
Incremental increase of character abilities over time.

Any use? Wrong tree barking?

*in fact, I am The Flaming Egotist, junior member of the super group Challengers of the Fucking Pointless


5 thoughts on “Previously, on Corvidae Corner

  1. I’m not sure how useful the exercise is. But if we have to come up with categories: * How many GMs? One, many, none * How many players? One, two, a few, many? * Task resolution vs. conflict resolution * No character improvement * Reward systems? Points for showing up, points for defeating challenges, points for addressing premise… * Unified core mechanic vs. few mechanics vs. many mechanics * Roll under vs. roll over vs. dice pool vs. something else * Opposed dice vs. one guy rolls * Hit points vs. wounds * Different damage systems * Point buy vs. random rolling * Skills vs. class/level * Class/race vs. templates * Indie vs. corporate * Genre vs. universal * Constraint (“here’s what you do”) vs. open * Karma vs. Drama vs. Fortune * Diced vs. Diceless There are so many categories here that I’m not sure that categorizing RPGs can be useful.

    1. well, we can break it down to differences that make a substantial change to the flow of play: 1. GM duties: which are defined, who gets to do what 2. How do we handled imagined conflict in the imaginary space? 3. How do we handle conflict between players? IN fact, 1 is just a conventional application of 2 & 3 Moving on: 4. How are characters defined / quantified? 5. What are characters presupposed to be? 6. What are characters presupposed to do? These are vital, because for me the definition and use of characters as the primary method of interaction is the defining qulaity of a role-playing game. 7. How are players rewarded? 8. What are players rewarded for? Because this will decide what players actually do. Now, forgive me for saying this, but many of the categories you’ve introduced are, well, cruft. Many of them are false dichotomies, or otherwise spuriously opposed. Within the 9 questions above, each will have a range of answers, but by no means an infinite range. Patterns can be picked out, and hopefully applied

      1. Oh, I’m well aware that most of the stuff I spewed was, in fact, shit. But I’m almost certain that if you were to go back to that thread, you could find someone who claimed that Capes is not an RPG because of one of those shit reasons. Also, it’s useful to at least get some of it out of the way. Very much reminds me of some of the Hero vs. d20 threads on the Hero boards. People were giving reasons for not liking d20 like “It uses polyhedral dice!” 1-3 above are the Lumpley Principle. 4 is pretty much any system and is a fundamental part of what we’re getting at. I was going to say about 5-6 that I’m not sure they’re necessarily features of a game — look at GURPS and the Hero System, for instance. But perhaps those two aren’t instances of game so much as system. More thought, perhaps. 7-8 are, I’m pretty sure, what Ron Edwards had in mind when he wrote System Does Matter. You are correct in that those are ultimately what drives play.

      2. I think, more importantly, your list is a list of what drives most of the arguments on And they’re pootling around the edges of the form of RPG’s; it’s like trying to talk about Solaris (Tarkovsky) while everyone around you is discussing Star Trek classic vs Next Gen. “Listen, I’m not saying it’s bad, but if it doesn’t have everyone in Lycra, it can’t be SF! Can we call it squiddly doodly fiction and not get bent out of shape?” Yep, the list is shameless ripoff of Forge theory in application, but I’m trying to focus it down to system classification with a view to defining genres of play style.

      3. oh, and… 5 & 6 are necessary for any game “as she is spoke”, for a game to be played. The definitions may be local to the group, but any chosen rule set will fix parameters on this.

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