John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane

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RPGaDay2021 in August - August 21st: Simplicity

We continue on today with #RPGaDay2021 in August.

Day 21 - Simplicity.

Today's word prompt is a pretty good one.

One of the things that seems to be lost these days in roleplaying games is simplicity.

Game mechanics and rules for roleplaying games these days can run the gamut from being overly simplistic to overly complex. One way of determining how complex a game system set of rules is to look at the page count. Run for the hills if the rules and mechanics take up 100+ pages. That's going to be a bloat of rules that's going to be difficult for the GM to master (no pun intended), and there had better be some examples of the rules (especially combat) to help the potential GM get a grasp of the rules for that game. On the other hand, you might want to run for the hills if the rules and mechanics take up 10 pages or less. In this case, the rules will be soooooooooo light as to potentially cause friction at the table, notably with players debating with the GM how to handle certain game situations.

But again, no pun intended, it's not as simple as that. When it comes down to it, the system of a roleplaying game needs to be defined by separating it into the dice mechanics and the game rules for handling combat, social, and other game situations. Regardless of the type of dice used for the game - and I do not like game systems that require multiple types of dice (i.e., a D10, a D6, a D20, or worse 3D6, 2D10, and 5D20s) - the rolling of dice for tasks and abilities, regardless of what they are, should be the same for all situations (except possibly combat, but that's another subject for another day) and have an internal consistency. The use of other rules when it comes to the dice, such as the use of Fate/Story/Hero Points to provide more dice and modifiers that provide bonuses or penalties to the dice roll, should be consistent in the game. They should also be easily grokked (does that date me? :)) by both the players and the GM, though they may take some getting used to. And there should be no complicated mathematics involved with the dice, beyond simple addition and subtraction, maybe some multiplication, but no division or high-level math stuff involved. That's what makes the dice mechanics of a game simple.

The rules for handling, combat, social, and other game situations, on the other hand, should be kept simple in that they play off the dice mechanics, and again should have an internal consistency to them. While no roleplaying game set of rules can cover *every* situation that will be encountered in game, the idea should be to cover the most common situations - falling, swimming and drowning, damage from various sources (such as fire and other materials that might be common in the game), illumination and ranges of vision, and others that I'm sure the reader of this entry can think of. Simplicity here can be aided by keeping the writing on these subjects concise and precise. Simplicity can also be assisted here by providing examples of such game situations, as well as keeping them consistent with the other game rules and dice mechanics. The simplicity of rules for handling game situations is a much more complicated subject than I can cover here in this blog entry, and I'm not going to try, but I'll be interested in hearing what others have to say on the subject.

And just to complicate things... Sometimes, a roleplaying game wants to have more mechanics, which will provide good structure and guidance to both the GM and players...which will make the game simpler to play.

'Nuff said. My hands, arms, and shoulders are both hurting, so time to stop typing for the day.

And there you have it, my thoughts on this twenty-first day of #RPGaDay for August, 2021.

Comments, thoughts, questions, etc. are all welcome, of course. :)
Tags: #rpgaday, #rpgaday2021, gaming hut, personal, rpg hut

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