Monday, February 9, 2009
Adventure details, the heroic and mundane
I'm a big picture kind of guy. I lack the patience for details. At least when it comes to action and adventure. Ok maybe I do nit-pick movies a bit for detail errors. Like the wrong car/gun/uniform etc for whatever period the story is set in. Or number of bullets a gun fires. Adventure however is about action not what you had for breakfast. Its not about doing the laundry or taking out the garbage. Miraculous escapes, daring do and edge of your seat action. Ok I'm starting to sound like a movie poster. But movies exude a strong influence on how we tell stories. And they connect to role playing quite well. I frequently visualize the action in a session as how it would play out on a movie or TV screen. A common joke with my gaming group is that our adventures are a TV series. When one the PC's suddenly died we said it was because the actor demanded too much money from the show so the producers wrote him out of the script. D&D and other early games all professed a connection to literary sources. But when I was young and playing War or whatever Cowboys and Indians equivalent, it was movies and TV that were my source material. Graduating to RPGs when I was older, the connection reasserted itself in my mind. When I was playing I wanted things to behave like their on screen equivalents. Likewise when I started game mastering. I struggled to match the game style to my source material. I sought refuge in greater detailed systems thinking that was the problem. I tried things like GURPS. But I soon found that I couldn't handle the details. I was rated at a RPGA event where I ran a game. That I was great at the character interactions and setting descriptions but I wasn't good at mechanics was the group opinion. Running Shadowrun for a few years helped but they kept making the system more complicated. I was always more interested in style over substance. I began not caring about encumbrance rules or how many days rations the party had. I didn't want to worry about every little plus or minus on the hit calculations. I found games like Story Engine. I had some trouble with the rules. And I didn't think I could get anyone to play it. I then discovered the old school games movement. Classic games like Traveller and OD&D. Simple mechanics and open rules. But I still have a sense of foreboding. Even those games still count the bullets or arrows. And how many days rations might be important. I have trouble thinking about the worlds I want to build. How much detail to put in. In war games they call it rivet counting. I really don't want to worry about tracking the group's money or spell equipment. My creativity is cramped by the confines of detail. Maybe I'll just run Risus.