There’s a trend in nerd culture or fandom to attribute moral failings to the things we don’t like. It’s not enough for something to be not our cup of tea, or bad, it must also be harmful, destructive, problematic, etc. And to be sure, there is a great deal of harmful, destructive, and problematic stuff in fan culture and media. I bring it up only because that is what I don’t, in this case, want to do for some of the games (or types of games) I talk about generally here. I don’t think these games are morally corrosive or even necessarily bad. I’ve enjoyed a few, in specific circumstances. They just, generally, lie firmly on the “not my cup of tea” end of the spectrum, and I’d like to talk about why.
I’ve been thinking about the core, basic mechanics of roleplaying games recently. It seems everyone has their own unique theory on the basic particles that make up a roleplaying game universe, but I was taught that in order for a model to be worthwhile, it needs to offer some sort of insight. Hopefully I meet my own criteria.
To summarize, I believe there are three ‘core’ things a player does in a roleplaying game. Characterization, action, and resolution. Everything else; combat, story, adventure, is built from these three core aspects. Lets see if I can’t break this down a bit and show you what I mean.