... now with 35% more arrogance!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mustard Over Ketchup

I want to follow up on my previous post on mustard vs. ketchup varieties and how they relate to RPG.

I prefer mustard to ketchup, both as a condiment and as an analogy to RPGs.

There are, quite definitely, tastes in roleplaying. People on RPG forums wouldn’t argue about the exact same topics every 4 to 6 months and reach an impasse unless there are features of RPGs that people simply cannot agree on, not because of stubbornness, but because they have incompatible preferences.

So I do not agree with Ozymandias, who says, “where it comes to taste, there is no right answer. Where it comes to gaming, there is.” Even if we restrict the domain of “gaming” to just the Class and Level Exploration Fantasy (CLEF) genre that D&D dominates and ignore other RPGs and other kinds of games, it’s very clear that one size does not fit all. Perhaps in a very limited sense, you could say there is only one answer: for example, if a game says that characters advance a level when they earn 2,000 experience points, but there are no rules governing experience point awards, then very clearly the game designer has done something wrong. But within a single setting, experience points could be replaced with advancement rolls and it would work fine, so long as that matched the players’ tastes.

WotC clearly thinks that Class and Level Exploration Fantasy RPGs are more like ketchup than mustard. That is, they believe they cab fine-tune one product’s ingredients (mechanics) and get 70-80% of the market, rather than tuning two to four products to capture specific tastes, which would add up to less than 70%.

I, on the other hand, believe D&D/CLEF RPGs are more like mustard. By this, I mean that they capture about 50-60% of the CLEF RPG market by creating a single balanced product, but could capture more of the market if they had two or three products that split along the taste boundaries. I have some ideas about what the distinct tastes are, and which tastes could be catered to with a few tweaks to a base game, and which require a distinct system.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mustard v. Ketchup

I appear out of the mists of obscurity to share a link to this article. It has no direct references to RPGs, nor does it include anything potentially gameable; it's about how mustard went from one variety to several, and explains why ketchup is having trouble doing the same. Mustard, it seems, as well as most other things like coffee and spaghetti sauce, can be sorted into several "market segments", or personal preferences, if you prefer. Ketchup, on the other hand, has been perfectly blended to have universal appeal; creating different varieties, so far, has only resulted in tastes that tilt too far in one direction or the other.

The question I have that ties this all back to RPGs is: is D&D mustard, or ketchup?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Lazier Ammo

I thought a little bit more about tracking ammo for missile weapons, and although the way I described was pretty lazy, it’s not lazy enough. Here’s my improvement: instead of rolling for how many shots we used, we roll for how many we lost. Per the previous post, we use 1d6 arrows or other missiles per attack roll and can recover up to half. Every time the players make a roll, set aside 1d6 (no point in tracking each individual player’s attacks, just track how many rounds of missile fire occured.)

At the end of the combat, roll the dice you’ve set aside, once for each player.
  • Did the player skip recovering arrows from some reason, such as fleeing from a monster? The number rolled is the number of arrows lost.
  • Did the player have plenty of time to recover arrows? Halve the number rolled.
  • Did the player recover arrows in a rush? Drop the lowest die rolled and total the rest for arrows lost.
If one or more players didn’t fire as many rounds, you can drop a die or two before rolliing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.