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The Thursday Thing #12, September 16, 2021

Steve
United States
Allen Park
Michigan
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That's probaby some crap over there.
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From gallery of sdonohue

The goal of The Thing is to highlight contests and other interesting things on RPG Geek.

Obviously, the banners and The Thursday Thing are still evolving, but I think the banners are getting better every week as we replace my "art" with Patrick's.

Suggestions are still welcome.

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On Mechanics
by Hida Mann

So, my car was making this funny noise the other day...

What? Oh, right. Sorry about that.

>AHEM<

Why are some systems crunchier than others? Apart from the obvious answer "because we all like different things'?

On the Board Game side of things, people often use an imaginary scale like this to 'measure' board games:

Theme ----------------------------------------- Mechanics

It's not too hard to recognise that a binary system like this is flawed and fails to account for a lot of people (subtle political metaphor). The easiest way to prove this on the scale above is to ask about interaction between the players - you could argue that it's an aspect of mechanics, or that it's a symbol of successful theming, but the truth is that it's a third tier of measurement. We do have to be careful, because this way lies madness - we could make anything a unit of measure for a game. How blue is it? How sour? How good is it for playing on a speedboat?

But the basic problem of dichotomous measurement is apparent; a game can have great theme and great mechanics, but not be super fun for people to play, which defeats the purpose of it being a game.

Back to roleplaying. Why can't we just re-theme games over any set of mechanics we like? Boiled down, the challenges in an RPG are the same, right? an action that isn't certain needs to be overcome through some form of random element, action economy or resource expenditure.

Side note - yes, of course generic systems exist. My favourite of them is Fiasco and my least favourite is GURPS - but my question here is a little bit bigger than choice of system and deserves a bigger answer than 'you can re-theme games over any set of mechanics you like'

Personally, I have two answers I'll offer you. Agree with me, disagree with me, just put more traffic on Steve's post and pump those metrics, baby!

Firstly, 'Crunch' and 'Narrative' tickle different pleasure centres in my brain. I like playing Pathfinder because it challenges me to create, build and develop a character in interesting ways. It asks me to play in a tactical fashion, making the best combat choices and skill choices, and do so as part of a group. I like playing 7th Sea7th Sea because it tells me I can do anything I like for an action, while inviting me to say 'yes, and' when other players do the same. Moreover, I like it because it puts the focus on me and my friends being swashbuckling adventurers, achieving outrageous feats of derring-do without worrying about having a +2 bonus from a feat at any point.

The mechanics for these two games are utterly different and virtually incomparable.

This brings me to my second answer - there's a magical place where mechanics and narrative meet. Probably the best example of it, for me, is the chase mechanics from SpycraftSpycraft. Parties involved in a chase choose a manoeuvre, roll to see if they succeed at it and then compare their results to figure out what happens. Both can succeed. Both can fail. Things happen either way and the narrative to explain that is endlessly fascinating to me.

There are absolutely other truths about narrative, mechanics, dichotomies and why people play games - I'd love to hear some of them!

In guild RPG Newscasters Guild

2021 24 Hour Cartography Challenge - RESULTS
The 2021 24 Hour Cartography Challenge results are in. Come join the conversation and praise!


In guild RPG Newscasters Guild

Legacy of Dragonholt - A Positive Review
The Legacy of Dragonholt crosses the divide between board games, RPGs and solo RPGs. August Stapput provides us with an eloquent review. Please go and add comments!


In guild RPG Newscasters Guild

21st Century XDM Man
Join a crew on an interesting journey.
ctimmins wrote:
"As it develops, the page-ripping incident is worse that death."
ctimmins wrote:
"I fully expect to see a notary hobgoblin sitting at a desk. I fully am disappointed."

In guild RPG Newscasters Guild

Every day there's a new Question of the Day. Most of them are game-related but once in a while we get one that'a more geek-related like favorite movies or books. The question changes every day and you can even suggest a QOTD. When you check out this week's Question of the Week, you can see a link to all the old questions and the chance to suggest a question of your own. Here's this week's QOTD: QOTD SEP 3: How do you learn a new RPG?


In guild RPG Newscasters Guild

Everyone needs a little help every now and then. Steve has a lot on his plate currently and real life has taken hold. The keen eyed of you saw this getting populated a bit at a time tonight. I (Bifford) will try to do this each week, but I'll need to wait for the auto-post to kick in before I can do so! Please be patient each week till Steve can resume his position as awesome dude of the Thursday Thing. Oh, and send me your Thursday THing article instead of Steve for now.


From gallery of sdonohue

Here are some other things you might want to check out.
Behind the Screen is an archive of advice by and for GMs written by members of our community.
Geek of the Week Month is a chance to learn more about our community members.
Contest Subscription Thread os where we go to find contests on the RPG side.
US RPG Chain of Generosity 2021 is where people in the US swap things they don't want for things they do.
Kickstarter RPG Game Books - 2021 is updated with all the latest RPG offerings.
RPG Spotlight Event Tracker is a focus on different games with questions and ideas. It's new, but gaining steam!
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