On Decisions & Delvers

Did you hear? We're playing D&D.

There's no sense in calling it something different. Because it is D&D -- there's not one part of this that can't be implemented in the game you're playing now.

What are our virtues?
  • Lucid Agency "Player Agency + Informed Choice"
  • Negotiated Rulings ("stakes") and Negotiated Fictional Positioning
  • Simple to start, easy to learn
  • Quick, abstract, resolution of combat
  • Focus on play for the players
  • Pleasure-Convergent Significance (game-play)
  • Strong Fictive Structure (associated mechanics, logical and natural consequences, and verisimilitude)
  • Player skill focused
  • Simple flexible classes that are "philosophies of problem solving"
  • Impartial Adjudication

What a mess of buzzwords! Bullsh*t and double-talk you say!

Me too. How about in English this time?

Lucid Agency: The players have an idea of consequences before they perform actions and they are free to perform or attempt any actions they wish. This includes unspoken consequences such as, "Things inside dungeons are dangerous and can kill you without warning" as well as explicit ones presented before characters declare actions.

This also means no mind-reading, pixel bitching, palette-shifting, or illusionism.

Negotiated Rulings: The players and the DM discuss the rules before action is taken. The players are given options of actions and the consequences for those actions are made explicit. They player may then choose to take the action or not.

Negotiated Fictional Positioning: Where the players are actually located within the game world is not always immediately apparent. When there is some question as to the location of the players, their locations are determined as a group. The metric the group uses to decide the location of the characters is one of verisimilitude.


Simple to learn, Easy to start: No big rulebook. Random non-gaming friends should be able to join with little difficulty. Game play is focused on easily enumerable choices (7 +/- 2) with clear consequences presented in plain language.

Quick, abstract, resolution of combat: This is not a wargame, nor a study of tactics. The interesting part of this game is the problem-solving and decision-making. That is the focus. Combat remains very abstract in structure.

Focus on play for the players: The game requires no activity from the players outside of play to be successful at it. They do not have to worry about builds or spend time outside of the game thinking about the optimum advancement path for their character. They may choose to spend time outside the game engaged in thinking of ways to further their characters goals, but time spent in this way will not cause one character to be more successful than another in the play of the game.

Pleasure-Convergent Significance: I know, right? Bzzzzzzzzzz. All this means is the metric by which we decide what we do at the table is 'which of these things is an interesting and significant choice with interesting consequences'. What is interesting is constantly in flux and dependent on the people involved.  Obstacles are not put in the way of players who wish to reach these activities at the table.

Strong Fictive Structure: This means that the game is focused and set within a flavorful fantasy universe.
Lords of Shadow and Darkness manipulate things from their ruined lairs. Malign Titans absently rule all men, distant Autarchs ensconced within abstruse acropoli. Hideous Tarragons take form and seek to rend the world open to the elder realm. Dragons, hideously deformed beasts from elemental forces terrorize the land. Strange arcane crossbreeds stalk the hidden wilds.
The Gods are absent, gone or long dead, for what use is a heavenly lord when amaranthine titans stride tediously upon the earth, leaving only their perpetual selves to praise man.
Death stalks the world, astride a bacchanale of winged terrors from antediluvian nigh-black ruins and serpentine buried temples of forgotten demons. A hideous terror behind silk-hung walls that humanity cowers from, trusting in the uncaring extrinsic titans.
This fictional structure provides a grounding for the play. This isn't a mechanical numerological masturbatory fantasy -- it is a game based off conversation, imagination and fantasy.

Player Skill Focused: Your success at the game has little to nothing to do with how many plusses are on your sheet. The numbers on your sheet merely relate to your philosophy. Your skill at problem-solving, critical and lateral thinking, and creativity will define your success. Impulsively act, actively ignore information, and try to solve every problem the same way and you will be rolling up new characters often, no matter how high your bonuses.

Simple Flexible Classes: You should be able to play your ideal character, within seconds of starting play. No needing mechanical things in order to make your character work. Your characters are abstract (Fighting-man, Sage, Expert) to allow you to color and characterize them any way you wish right from the start. And what's more, each class exemplifies a method of solving problems (Respectively: Strength and brute force, Planning and resource management, and Smart risky and bold heroics). Specialized classes involve specialized methods of play (Psionicist is creativity; Alchemist is craven manipulation)

Impartial Adjudication: The people playing the game are more engaged in auguring the reality of an unknown realm rather then 'attempting to win'.

5 comments:

  1. You think like a Vulcan.

    I just play without all the rpg theory !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!

      You can play any game without theory! That's the great thing about them.

      Delete
  2. Scene:

    Four adventurers have made camp for the night and sit around a fire in the woods. Two relax, conversing amiably. A second, presumably the warrior of the party, cleans and polishes weapons, while the fourth appears to be taking great joy in cooking some sort of freshly killed foul over the open flames.

    The would-be cook rummages around in his pack, hands emerging with small pouches of spices which he prepares to apply to the roasting bird. All is domestic peace when suddenly the warrior perks up and sniffs the air. After a beat he takes decisive action, slapping the spices violently slapping the seasonings from the cook's hands.

    "What the hells are you doing!?" barks warrior in a tone conveying shock, anger, and incredulity. The cook just stares on fearful and uncomprehending of the warrior's rage.

    "Don't tell me you're unaware?" says the warrior, reigning in his anger, as he realizes he must be dealing with a true neophyte here. "I thought it was common knowledge, man: the tarragons of this world are hideous! Some say the infernal things are in reality demons who've but taken herbal form as a ruse to rend the world open to the elder realm."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tarragon: Origin:
      1530–40; earlier taragon < Middle French targon, variant of tarc ( h ) on < Medieval Latin < Medieval Greek tarchṓn < Arabic ṭarkhūn < Greek drákōn literally, dragon; compare Latin dracunculus tarragon

      Delete
    2. Always learning something new.

      In the minimal research before posting I'd noted that it's alternate name was "dragon's wort", but didn't make the connection. Figured it must be a bad auto-correction of "paragon".

      In the end, bizarre paragons trying bring about the entelechy of some ancient and alien existence was an intriguing idea, but a minor spat over demonic herbs held more visceral appeal to my imagination.

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