- Sep 7, 2019
- Reaction score
I meant substitute "feature" where I inaccurately used "trope." Since that's what I initially meant.Huh? Those aren't synonyms, so why are we substituting in those terms? I think that's just going to muddy the waters too much, and cause misunderstandings/misinterpretations.
Sure, that would be counter to player agency. But I haven't actually played a game in which the rules force players to serve a plot. Among the systems I have played extensively that often get trotted out in "story game" discussions are Dungeon World and FATE, which get classified as story games, but really aren't. If anything, FATE's metacurrency increases player creativity, while DW's "succeed at cost" forces the same because you have to interpret what makes sense in the situation, rather than succumbing to binary pass/fail outcomes.The players are, through the rules, forced to ct artificially to fulfill the needs of the clices to recreate the "atypical plot".
Now, at this point does wthe game represent the horror genre? (go ahead and reread the various plot synopsis quoted above)
...OR, are they being forced to recreate the most inspid, unimaginative, post-Halloween slasher copycats made by lazy film-makers where characters act artificially in service to the plot?
And "forced" is the relevant word here, going hand in hand with artificiality. Because a player's choices are cosntrained to artifical behaviours, this directly interferes/impedes the act of role-playing, and deliberately removes the element of RPGs that sets them apart from every other form of entertainment.
Long story short, I accept and agree that complete service to someone else's choices is not a desirable outcome. But here, too, it depends on what the table wants. You and I may not dig that. Others, I guess, do (not entirely sure why, but some folks don't mind the railroad).
This made me think of "Masks" here (which I'm personally not a fan of). I will say that, in systems I've used where players can build whatever they want, I've found some expected emulations ("I'm a man out of time, with a shield!") and stuff that's totally off the wall ("I'm a mime, but what I mime actually affects the real world"). "Supers" indeed.So, at this point, no doubt, one may be asking "why this hypothetical situation? Why not specify the games where this plays out analogously to your complaints?" Well, originally I did. The reason this response took so long is because I spent an afternoon writing up a very specific example of another genre dear to my heart (superheroes) and compared it to how cliches ssociated with superhero comicbooks were translated into a particular modern game system.
Well, this harks back to my initial assertion that this was about personal preference. The fact that you have a rather lengthy dissertation supports that. Sorry if my questions made you feel you had to spend so much time on an explanation. I did appreciate it, though, and agreed with, eh, well, let's say a lot of it.I think it's enough for me to say that, over the last twenty years, as more narrative-based game mechanics have enter the vogue in RPG design, I began noticing the situation I'm criticizing here often enough that it to this day stands out to me as something that 1) happens frequently enough to warrant a mention of it as a trend, and 2) anyone who groks what I've written in this post should very easily be able to identify in games on their own and come to their own conclusions regarding.
That said, this trend, more than anything else, is why I shy away from new ostensibly genre games that advertise themselves as containing "story-driven mechanics" with extreme prejudice.
For my part, I guess I just don't have a problem with the use of cliches (or, "expected genre features"):-) in RPGs, mainly because I don't think we can escape them. If the system doesn't have them, the players will create their own cliched characters, and behave in their own cliched ways, because, when we sit down at the table, we're playing some sort of role, and that role is based on equal parts who we are, and what we like (both of which are shaped by experience and exposure to the world, and its many stories, both real and imagined). That role can have depth, over time and with investment, but how many times have you sat down and played with players whose characters have:
(1) experienced some sort of personal tragedy
(2) lost everyone they loved/knew in said tragedy, and
(3) is now edgy, antisocial, shattered, and/or near-sociopathic because of said tragedy?
Have I seen this before? Yuuuup. Is it my favorite thing? Nooooope. Would I still let the player play that cliched piece of garbage? You betcha. First, is what it is. Second, the character is still an individual creation of the player, and an expression of that creativity. I'm not one to say this piece of creativity is any "better" than anyone else's. Preferences, y'know.
Just to sum this up: I do agree with you that forcing players into boxes where they have no choices is a completely undesirable outcome. However, I haven't played a system that does that, mechanically (or, I don't think I have, at least--none of them have felt that way). Now, I've played with PEOPLE (GMs) who try to force an outcome, but that's another story, for a different discussion.
Thanks for taking the time to respond. Appreciated.