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Author Topic: "Story" RPGs for non-Story Gamers?  (Read 1019 times)


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"Story Games" for non-Story Gamers?
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2007, 07:34:34 am »
Quote from: Abyssal Maw
I think 'anti-story' is a mischaracterization, but it is the inevitable result of what happens when people try to redefine simple concepts like "story" into marketing language.

Everyone values story. What people aren't looking for is the story simulator, with predetermined canned Approved Moral Messages and artificialities like 'conflict resolution' as a special supremacist concept.  

But stories? Everyone loves those.

This is a good point

And I think traditional games are optimal for creating stories and facilitating immersion at the same time.



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« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2007, 11:21:30 pm »
  This is just a suggestion, but I think you need to highlight the elements that are familiar or appealing to that demographic.
  Like if you want to appeal to a D&D gamer, figure out why they play D&D and then highlight what the game has that they are already looking for.
  Maybe D&D gamers like flexibility in character creation and support for multiple power levels. If you game can claim either of these, express it in a clear and concise way. and not as a statement of gap analysis, but as a positive statement of the games features.
  Most non-indie gamers like to discuss their gaming and some love to do nothing more than discuss the games they love.
  Anyways, I hope that helps and ood luck man!
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John Morrow

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"Story Games" for non-Story Gamers?
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2007, 01:58:12 pm »
Quote from: Abyssal Maw
But stories? Everyone loves those.

What do you mean by "story"?  Defined broadly, that's probably true.  Defined more narrowly, I'm not sure it is.
Robin Laws' Game Styles Quiz Results:
Method Actor 100%, Butt-Kicker 75%, Tactician 42%, Storyteller 33%, Power Gamer 33%, Casual Gamer 33%, Specialist 17%


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"Story Games" for non-Story Gamers?
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2007, 06:23:16 pm »
Quote from: phasmaphobic
Hey folks, I'm kinda new here, and I admit I was drawn here by the loud ranting of RPGPundit, who I usually tend to disagree with rather intensely.

I'm late to the show, but I think you've raised an interesting point or two. Welcome to the forums.

Quote from: phasmaphobic
I've lately grown fond of some of the "story gaming" notions on role-playing, and some of the current mainstream systemic themes from that camp (conflicts, scenes, descriptive traits, etc).  

As a matter of semantics, I'm leery of using the word mainstream in a sentence with "that camp" meaning indy RPGs. The story-now game movement is far from the mainstream, and not what the majority of gamers are looking for in RPGs. There is nothing wrong with story games or incorporating story elements into games, but I think some people tend to overestimate the appeal of "story" amongst the general RPG populace.

Quote from: phasmaphobic
I've even been designing a game system (hasn't everyone?) using some of those concepts, and so far the experience has been very rewarding.

This made me chuckle. I've got my own system in the works as well (but I only work on it sporadically, and most of my time is spent rewriting a part I thought long-finished. Seriously, is everyone designing their own system?

Quote from: phasmaphobic
My problem here is that while I'm enjoying the game design process, and enjoying using the themes and "story mechanics" in my games, I'm not sure I enjoy discussing it over on their typical gathering spots (Forge, Story Games).  For one thing (and maybe I'm wrong here), I constantly get the feeling that there's really only about 20 or so people over there patting each other on the back.  They're all really passionate and intense gamers, but sometimes I feel that they're only thus for the sake of being pretentious.  Heck, in a casual discussion of simple terms in games one of them, completely unprovoked, insulted me with the term "playstyle imperialist."  Seriously, what does that even mean?

I don't visit one of those sights at all anymore for very similar reason. I've even noticed a lot of invective aimed at fellow story-now gamers and designers (not just the non-story traditionalists). So, it's not just you.

Quote from: phasmaphobic
This brings me to my question.  How do you design a crunch-lite, story-focused role-playing-game and target it at people who are not the typical "indie rpg elite," specifically so your target audience will actually enjoy it and not feel insulted by the terms and different perspectives contained within?

Ah, an excellent question.

Firstly, you need a solid rule base. You need to work on the crunch. The basic system mechanic, combat, ability scores, skills, feats/qualities/whatever - figure out how the numbers work. Keep it simple. Savage Worlds is a good example of about the level of complexity I would start with. I would get rid of the card based initiative (stick to just one randomizer like dice for the sake of simplicity) and get rid of any use of minis. The SW system itself is relatively rules light. Another example would  be unisystem - there are too many add on rules and exceptions to rules in that system for my taste, but the core is decent.

Now the real key, after you've established a solid foundation, is in the details. Exactly what skills are available, what special qualities or disadvantages can character's take etc. Characters need to be different from each other and be able to focus on different things. SW falls short because it tends to focus on combat with many more combat edges than useful edges for non-combat oriented characters to take.

If characters are able to be well differentiated from each other and are able to specialize and excel in things other than combat, you're headed in the right direction.

The game itself needs to be solid, rules light, and allow for interesting and varied characters.

After that, the burden will fall onto the GM to exploit these various character descriptors and present opportunity for things other than combat.

Most GMs listen to players and overhear various player thoughts and ideas on who could be behind the latest mystery and such. I often use these ideas instead of what I had originally planned, because they sounded much more interesting. In this respect, I'm taking player input and using it to construct the story. Ideally, the players don't know that I'm letting them do the work for me, they feel like they've "figured it out".

At the very end, if you want more player directed narrative or story-rules, throw in something simple like action points or action dice. I don't mind giving the players access to something that gives them a bonus for critical situations, and it can be extended (like in the old Adventure! game) so that if players spend an action point, they can dictate a narrative detail. (In one of my games, I spent a point to state that there was an elaborate crystal chandelier hanging overhead in the main ballroom, which my character used to foil the villian).

Story oriented rules should be an option or a minor part, the most important part for traditional gamers will be the basic mechanic and core rules. I think a lot of indie games are designed around a story-game premise, and the rest of the rules are just thrown on top in a haphazard fashion. A better approach that might appeal to traditionalists more, would be to design from the bottom up starting with a very serviceable, non-crunch yet functional core rule set, and then adding in a few elements to facilitate story as needed.

So that's all I've got. Hope some of it was helpful.