John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane

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RPGaDay2020 in August - August 4th: Vision

We continue on with #RPGaDay2020 in August.

Day 4 - Vision

There are a lot of different paths of thought that one could on for the prompt word of the day, but I think I'm going to take a more obvious route. Vision, sight, whatever - the primary sense.

One of the debates about roleplaying games and sets of Attributes or whatever one wants to call them these days is the character's senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste) and how they should work in a roleplaying game, whether as Attributes, as Skills, special abilities, or whatever. I'll be focusing here strictly on the sense of sight (Vision). Whether Vision should be an Attribute or a Skill depends on how one views them in the game.

For example, my player character walks into a chamber in a set of ruins that my fellow adventurers and I are exploring. The GM tells me what I see in the room, and perhaps describes it also through the senses of smell and hearing. But let's concentrate on what I see here. After having the room described to my character, the GM likely prompts me for what I'd like to do. Assuming there's nothing threatening in the chamber - or at least, not an obvious threat! - I will react to what's in the room based on my (the player) and the character's interests in life. For example, if the GM has said there is a moldy, threadbare tapestry on one of the walls, that might get my character's attention based on his hobbies, his interests, or even the desire to know more about the tapestry. Whether the GM has given me any more information about the tapestry likely depended on the lighting conditions (and what the characters are using to light their way through the darkened interior of the ruined structure). Let's say in the flickering light given off by our torches, the GM said that the tapestry might have portrayed a forest scene but we'd have to approach closer to see for sure. Or better yet, let's assume that as I get closer to the tapestry, the GM adds that little detail in. I then decide to ask the GM what else I can make out in the lighting about the tapestry. The GM tells me I need to roll the dice.

So, the question becomes what do I roll? There is the possibility here that the GM will just tell me what extra details I can make out about the tapestry, without having to roll the dice at all, because the tapestry doesn't play a role in the adventure. There could be some value to the tapestry, even in that current condition, but that might require an Evaluate, Craft, or other such roll to determine. However, the question here really boils down to: "What else do I see or note about the tapestry?" What abilities I use to make the roll for this purpose are dependent on how the perceptual skills and abilities work in the game, assuming they are used at all.

My own personal preference in this regard, is simple. Both as a GM and as a player, I prefer systems that define Vision (since we're talking about that!) as part of a sense using an Attribute called Perception (or its equivalent, perhaps, the Attribute "Senses"). If the game uses Skills as well, I would use a general Skill such as Observation, Notice Detail, or whatever the game would call such a Skill, but other Skills might be of use here as well. A Craft Skill (with an appropriate bonus if the Skill uses specialties), an Evaluate/Assess Skill, or any number of other appropriate skills (as agreed to by the GM and the player) could be used here. If the player lacks an appropriate Skill for this purpose, than the straight Attribute would be used, perhaps with a bonus/penalty modifier if the GM deemed that appropriate.

All of that said, however, the real key with the Vision sense is simply this: Roleplaying games are very much verbal games of theatre of the mind, and as such description is central. Regardless of what game mechanic is being used in the game to represent the senses, Vision especially, it is imperative that the GM be able to describe visually what the player characters see at any given time. The other four senses are added bonuses to this, enhancing the players' (and hence the characters') experience as well as promoting that "I'm really in the game world!" feel. And the players have to trust the GM implicitly to tell them what they see and that this is the truth of the situation. But that, perhaps, is a different topic altogether. :)

Needless to say, this particular subject can be debated at length. But I've said enough for now. :)

And there you have this fourth post for this #RPGaDay for August, 2020. Comments, thoughts, questions, etc. are all welcome, of course. :)
Tags: #rpgaday, #rpgaday2020, gaming hut, personal, rpg hut

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