On RPG Theory: F

Next year, if I do this, I'm going full on content, instead of analysis. Today's letter? F. today's number is in binary 01111111.

Once more unto the RPG Theory Glossary breach:

Fantasy Heartbreaker: Aw man, they act like people publishing their house rules and calling it by a slightly different name is a bad thing. This is one of the coolest things about our hobby, the fact that D&D has inspired such disparate interpretations.

 Fidelity: This has to do with reducing play to a line (Beeg Horseshoe Theory), on one end with story and the other with game. Fidelity is a word in this used to refer to internal causality and consistency. This consistency is representative of the exploration of the world in play (sort of that simulationist perspective). Not that this is functionally equivalent to having an actual triangle of experiences, oh no.

"I'm going to have my own thing! And it's going to be different!"
"But you just renamed everything I already created and left it the same?"


Firewalling: Finally, another useful definition. The act of keeping in character and out of character knowledge separate.

Force: Uh, we like to call this railroading.

Fortune-at-end/Fortune-at-middle: Using the random mechanic to determine an outcome at either the end or before the description of action. Another useful discussion - Do you describe the events and then roll for the result, or do you roll for the result, perhaps over several turns and re-contextualize the events based on the final results?

Fourfold: Wow, maybe there are more than three types of reasons people game/types of gamers! (the No Sh*t Sherlock principle).

Freeform: Man, do you have a 2 year old? Cause then you know how to play like this. Also referencing some of the coolest games I've played - Fudge and Over the Edge


  1. Actually that's not a fair characterization of Fantasy Heartbreaker. Edwards made it very clear that they broke his heart because of the combination of actual inventiveness. If you read the original essay he makes that quite clear. In fact, he closes with these paragraphs:

    These are indie role-playing games. Their authors are part of the Forge community, in all the ways that matter. They designed their games through enjoyment of actual play, and they published them through hopes of reaching like-minded practitioners. It is not fair to dismiss the games as "sucky" - they deserve better than that, and no one is going to give them fair play and critical attention unless we do it. Sure, I expect tons of groan-moments as some permutation of an imitative system, or some overwhelming and unnecessary assumption, interferes with play. But those nuggets of innovation, on the other hand, might penetrate our minds, via play, in a way that prompts further insight.

    Let's play them. My personal picks are Dawnfire and Forge: Out of Chaos, but yours might be different. I say, grab a Heartbreaker and play it, and write about it. Find the nuggets, practice some comparative criticism, think historically.

    Get your heart broken with me.

    In fact, I own several of them from both essays and have longed to play five: the two Edwards said were his picks, Legendary Lives, Fifth Cycle, and Unforgiven. Forge Out of Chaos is the first RPG reading it not only made me want to play it (many do that) but made me want to play it with the authors because they clearly rocked.

    Finally, to classify any of the ones I own as merely house rules of D&D isn't fair to them as games.

    While a lot of the Forge stuff is annoying and pretentious this is perhaps the one thing I'll defend them on. Read Edwards' essay and he's more correct than not and very fair in his treatment of these games, which is more than I can say for the average gamer.

  2. Herb - blogger flagged your comment as spam, which is an apt commentary on the nature of Forge Theory Advocacy.

    I did in fact read the whole article - including what you posted which is easily accessible through the link in my post.

    This does not change the fact that the article paints D&D imitators are engaging in some sort of quixotic effort, when anyone who is aware of the retro-clone market can see that it is not only is it profitable (even when it's released for free!), it's some of the most well researched and successful game design in the world. The author of Swords and Wizardry even released his core rules in doc format so people could print them with their own house rules in the actual document as a service to the community.

    Statements like "groan-moments as some permutation of an imitative system" and "overwhelming and unnecessary assumption, interferes with play" shows a clear ignorance and misunderstanding of the very principles that made the game Dungeons and Dragons one of the most successful, longest running and most played games on the market.

    Your post did in fact show something I had yet to personally experience. Forge Theory Argumentation that points to the original article and says, "you wrong, because you didn't /read/ the original article /close/ enough."


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