Friday, December 24, 2010

More Thoughts on Module Writing

Yesterday's post can be summed up in one sentence: Be an explorer of the world, not a creator.

It's a simple sentence, but there's a lot of assumptions in it. Firstly, it implies the type of play that I prefer - world-focused. World-focused play (as opposed to character-focused play) is based around the idea that this pretend fantasy world really exists, and the characters are explorers and dwellers within that realm. The player characters are no more special than their abilities and actions make them; they are no more special than any other dweller of the world.

Character-focused play, on the other hand, puts the characters as the center of the universe, and the setting alters to fit them. Character-focused play, IMO, is most-explicitly seen in some character-dynamic crpg worlds, wherein when a character ventures throughout the world, the level of "random monster" challenges they meet scales based upon what level the characters are. The implication here being that the world alters itself based upon the character.

Of course, neither of these two viewpoints are really accurate. The only accurate viewpoint is "This is only a game, not a world that exists independent of character power, nor a world that adapts based upon character power. There is no world, only game." This I call game-focused play. I'm not a big fan of game-focused play. I find accepting it as the primary driver results in an "it doesn't have to make sense" gaming experience that I find unsatisfying. IMO, it's the source of ancient red dragons in 10x10 rooms and monsters that never have to poop or drink or eat. I believe that one should remember that it's only a game at all times, but not take that as your primary design aesthetic.

Be an explorer of the world, not a creator. A simple sentence with a lot of implications. The big one, the one implication that really is an eye opener however is what I'll write about tomorrow. For a Game Master, there are two games.

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