Monday, July 17, 2006

Show Some Character

After the brief and admittedly somewhat fluffy introduction last time, now we can dig into a little more of the nitty-gritty of game design. To start, there is the hierarchy of what is important to all role-playing games. First and foremost should be the characters. After all that is what the players are going to assume the roles of when they play. It's funny, but sometimes that idea gets totally lost in the flood of ├╝ber-geek for other factors. Next in importance after character is the rest of the setting. Then the rules should come last. Of course this is not necessarily the order in which to write things or to tackle building the game in the first place, just what should be the most important and thusly also take the most time.

Like the creation of so many things there is a terrible back and forth, inside and out, swirl it around until you get dizzy and feel like you're going to upchuck complexity to fashioning something worth all the trouble in the first place, and to set yourself well on the way to an awesome game that everyone, GM and players alike, will enjoy. The characters have to be something great to play, good to sink your teeth into, and well, just plain fun/satisfying. The characters draw upon the setting as much as they taint it. The setting needs to be vibrant, and make the players want to trek their characters all over the place, sometimes more figuratively than literally, and other times the other way around. Then comes the rules which have to make the settings work and the characters capable of doing the things they are meant to, and the things the players will want them to do.

These three factors are incredibly tightly linked, or at least should be. The difference in importance between one and the next might be a fine line subject-wise. Together, they should form a cohesive and perhaps almost homogenous unit, at least from the outside perspective. There also might be--at least I believe there is--a fourth over-reaching factor that is maybe just as important, but is an aspect of each of the three. That factor is mood. I don't know if there is any creative endeavour that doesn't require at least a little bit of thought put toward the mood(s) that it will evoke. Sometimes its even a factor in physical designs whether it be architecture to toothbrushes to cardboard boxes--well maybe only the things inked on the outside of them for the boxes, I'm thinking specifically the fragile symbols and such.

Characters are essentially, as far as their own setting is concerned, living, breathing, emotional beings. As imagined playing pieces they are us and to not look at how they feel, both themselves, and to their players, pretty much defeats the purpose of the game in the first place. For a less emotional experience there are other similar and related gaming forms out there. Not that you have to get all deep and into it or anything, but a character should be, by its own definition, about more than the numbers and the cool things that it can do. Remember it's role playing not roll playing, even as I also stand by keeping the game aspect of things by not dispensing with the rolls either.

I guess that's enough for today, tune in next time.

Mood: rocking.
Music: No Prayer for the Dying by Iron Maiden and Inconclusion by Dee Snider.

Iron Maiden: No Prayer for the Dying
Buy these at
Click Images to Buy
Strangeland: Movie Soundtrack


Post a Comment

<< Home