On Starting The Blog

Posted: 18 May 2012 in Administrivia
Tags: , ,

The genesis of this blog can be traced pretty neatly to a recent series of posts on game structures at The Alexandrian.  I’d been reading the blog for about a year or so and liked a lot of the ideas that Justin had, but this series was something of an epiphany for me.

The series was about Game Structures, the systems of mechanics inside RPGs that allow us to actually do things.  They’re what inform us on what to do next and how to determine success.  I came relatively late to the hobby, and if you’d asked me a month ago to answer those questions I would have said something like, “whatever makes a good story” and “roll a d20 against a DC,” respectively.  It had never occurred to me to think about game structures, and I had never examined the game structures I had available nor considered that there were other structures out there.  I read the Player’s Guide and DMG cover-to-cover and that’s all I needed to know, right?

In fact, no, that’s not all I need to run a good game, and now that I’m thinking in terms of game structures I can put context to a lot of the difficulties I’ve had with running games.  Why haven’t I been able to make exploration or travel compelling? Why does everything boil down to a Dungeon Crawl or Combat Encounter?  Because those are the only tools I have, and when all you have is a hammer you approach every problem as a nail.  So I’m starting this blog as a way to build up my DM’s Toolbox, to talk about game structures, collect the neat things I find on the web, and hopefully build a useful resource for others who come after me.

  1. casewerk says:

    Oh awesome. It was these realizations that prompted me to examine what I really want out of a game, and prompted me to sit down and study a large number of systems in a very short time looking for what would really suit what I wanted. It was a fun, fun process.

    I keep tinkering of course, but having this perception helps me really break down why I do or do not want to use a particular system, because I have learned to examine what sort of play, what sort of experience a particular system really supports.

    I look forward to continuing to read your posts. 🙂

    • One of the things that’s occurred to me, and I hope to address this big-picture later, is the idea that a lot of these structures are system agnostic and as a corollary most RPGs that are out there are fundamentally incomplete because they don’t address these. I think that every game is going to be incomplete to some extent, but in a lot of ways it seems like they need a disclaimer, “this is not a standalone product, a copy of Classic Game Structures is required to play,” the way you’d see on an Arkham Horror expansion or something.

      • casewerk says:

        Ah yes indeed, this is the case, though the system used does have a profound impact on play itself as well based on what it does or does not reward, facilitate or encourage, there are a vast plethora of the extremely important things outside the game rules structure that must be attended to.

  2. This seems so awesomely exciting… and I’m so outta my depth. YAY for new information. Will try to connect with others who might find it interesting also…… AND I think when all you have is a hammer then every problem = a hole in the wall, but maybe that’s just me.

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