13 February, 2013

Skills and the Ghostbusters-inspired simple system. Also, rantage.

Dammit, I just realised that if I run a fantasy game with the GB-style rules, I'm gonna have skills.  Only four per player, but... nngh.

I believe that skills take away from a gaming experience rather than add to it.  They tell you what you can't do rather than what you can.  You can do these things, but no other ones.  You fell into a river.  What's that?  You don't have Swimming on your list of Skills/NWPs?  Oh, dear, dear me.  It looks like you're going to be able to go fishing in your lungs now!  Yay for you!  I find it far better to do away with skills entirely.  Adventurers are considered to be the unusual ones for various reasons.  If your raison d'etre includes stomping about in haunted ruins, falling into rivers and other stuff that your average citizen likes to read about but never ever actually do, you probably have all the basic skills you need for such activity.  Swimming.  Horseback riding. Knowledge of rope use.  If I didn't spend the slot/points for Rope Use, I don't know how to make a knot?  Seriously?  And doing away with skills leaves the necessary room for player agency.  If you can't fast talk your way out of a situation with a die roll, guess what?  You have to actually do the talking.  If you don't have Find Secret Doors on your character sheet, you'll have to ask the GM what things look like, whether there's a loose stone or pivot point or hollow section of wall, by interacting with the game world.  You, the player, with the soda in your hand.  Yeah, you. Because what are you here for if not to role-play?  I've often heard "roll-playing" contrasted to "role-playing", but if you just roll your dice for success all the time (combat mechanics aside, of course), you're "roll-playing".  And you might as well go play Neverwinter Nights or Worlds of Warcraft, at that rate.

I also am of the opinion that weapon proficiences are for the birds, for fighters at the least.  I just read an article by Gygax in a Dragon collection wherein he denounces weapon profs (as well as critical hit/miss systems, which I also disdain).  In my Saturday game, our group has been dropped into a place where we're being hunted and we don't have any of our equipment.  It's not kept the machine gun dart thrower from punching people to death (it only takes a few hits from a dude with +11 to damage from strength to make most opponents fall the hell over), but the others, such as the bard and the militant mage who are proficient/specialised in longsword have to wield short swords at a slightly reduced penalty due to familiarity, are having some troubles.  If you can use a sword, you can use a sword!  Use it!  I don't care if you've been in the SCA for eleventy billion years!  This is a game, not a simulation.  I don't care about 'sword and board' and how it *really* is!  Augh!  Ahem.

So... what was I originally talking about?  Right, the fantasy Ghostbusters system thing and the skills and whatnot.  That's something I'll have to deal with when I get that off the ground.  Can there be a happy application of player agency when the players have skills on their sheets, or is that just my pessimism reinforced by ten years of playing with "roll-players"?

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