This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
NOTICE: Some online security services are reporting that information for a limited number of users from this site is for sale on the "dark web." As of right now, there is no direct evidence of this, but change your password just to be safe.

Author Topic: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?  (Read 1895 times)

tenbones

  • Poobah of the D.O.N.G.
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5234
Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« on: January 10, 2022, 12:07:26 PM »
Don't give me some fence-sitting answer and say "both". Think really hard and pick which is more important.

If you need help deciding, simply ask yourself if you'd ever play your favorite setting in a different system. Yes I realize that some systems are tied irrevocably to a setting, but are those mechanics what define what is cool about that game or is the setting itself what drew you in and spent your hard-won gold to buy it?

Gold is at stake here people. GOLD.


Bedrockbrendan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12548
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2022, 12:26:28 PM »
Don't give me some fence-sitting answer and say "both". Think really hard and pick which is more important.

If you need help deciding, simply ask yourself if you'd ever play your favorite setting in a different system. Yes I realize that some systems are tied irrevocably to a setting, but are those mechanics what define what is cool about that game or is the setting itself what drew you in and spent your hard-won gold to buy it?

Gold is at stake here people. GOLD.

I don't quite think it is fence sitting. I tend to find both genuinely important. I wouldn't want to play the Ravenloft setting using Runequest, but I also wouldn't want to play Glorantha using the Ravenloft and 2E rules. That said, if I had to give it a percentage, 60% setting, 40% system. Ultimately I can't deny that what drew me to Ravenloft was reading knight of the black rose, and the setting is what caught my interest. But if the setting didn't have stuff like powers checks and all those rules and advice for customizing monsters, I might not have stayed as long as I did there.

Itachi

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • I
  • Posts: 1189
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2022, 12:37:28 PM »
Mechanics.

Good mechanics can carry a weak setting. But a good setting can't carry weak mechanics.

jeff37923

  • Knight of Common Sense
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17233
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2022, 12:40:39 PM »
Don't give me some fence-sitting answer and say "both". Think really hard and pick which is more important.

If you need help deciding, simply ask yourself if you'd ever play your favorite setting in a different system. Yes I realize that some systems are tied irrevocably to a setting, but are those mechanics what define what is cool about that game or is the setting itself what drew you in and spent your hard-won gold to buy it?

Gold is at stake here people. GOLD.

Mechanics.

However I judge mechanics by how well they emulate the genre of the setting. I prefer Traveller/Cepheus Engine mechanics because they emulate the literary science fiction that I read. I can't see myself playing any other anime style giant robot game without using the Mekton rules because they emulate the genre so well. Star Wars has got to be d6 system because in play it just feels like the right mechanics for the science fantasy genre.

Likewise, mechanics will turn me off of a game for the same reason. I tried to love d20 Star Wars, but every time I played it was like D&D in Spaaaaaaace.....Same thing with Stars Without Number and host of other OSR SFRPGs that try to be Traveller with a D&D type character and combat system, actual play again feels like D&D in Spaaaaaace.....because of the mechanics and how they interact with the genre emulation.

In my mind, the D&D based mechanics are only fitting for D&D style fantasy gaming.
"I do not want to create a story, I want to create a stage. The player characters will perform on that stage and interact with the setting. When the players talk to their friends about what their characters did, then there will be a story."

Bedrockbrendan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12548
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2022, 12:48:12 PM »

Likewise, mechanics will turn me off of a game for the same reason. I tried to love d20 Star Wars, but every time I played it was like D&D in Spaaaaaaace....
.

I played d20 star wars for years and had the same reaction. I think with Star Wars especially it was an odd fit. I tend to have less of a reaction like that with the post 2010 OSR stuff, but games made in that d20 boom really had a feel that sometimes pulled me out (I did like d20 Cthulhu though, despite initially thinking I wouldn't). Personally I do like having lots of different systems that are fit to the setting

Bedrockbrendan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12548
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2022, 12:50:33 PM »

Good mechanics can carry a weak setting. But a good setting can't carry weak mechanics.

I don't think the mechanics to the setting are weak, but I love HARN and have almost never played it using the actual mechanics (I have played it using different systems). Generally I tend to agree with you. But I think there are settings that are so compelling on their own, or fit such a niche, that they are worth using with other games (I ran HARN modules using both AD&D and my own system and it has always been a blast; and I had a GM who ran a HARN campaign using 3E---I believe, it could have been another system as it was some time ago--- and it still worked wonderfully).

rytrasmi

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 269
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2022, 12:58:36 PM »
Setting sells to me.

I've been known to buy games based on setting alone, without even knowing what the core mechanic is.

The main reason is that I don't really know how the mechanics will really work until I play or run the game a like dozen times. Even if I know the core mechanic, how it meshes with the setting and how all the sub-systems work are hard for me to visualize without playing the damn thing a few times. So, when in the market for a game, I don't spend too much time worrying about mechanics. That said, if I'm familiar with the core mechanic and I hate it, then that kills the sale.


Brooding Paladin

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2022, 01:01:21 PM »
Mechanics for me.  I usually supply my own setting.   ;)

Steven Mitchell

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • S
  • Posts: 2807
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2022, 01:18:55 PM »
Mechanics. 

It is a rare setting that I like as much as something else that I do myself.  Plus, it is very difficult to hit the sweet spot of enough setting to be useful to a wide variety of people without dumping a lot of filler into it.  Not least because everyone wants something slightly different.  In this age of constant rewrites, it seems crazy to say it, but people can see that a system is "done" and stop tinkering with it substantially.  The temptation to keep tinkering with a setting when it ought be to done is at least an order of magnitude greater than system.

HappyDaze

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • H
  • Posts: 4535
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2022, 01:26:49 PM »
Setting gets my attention initially, but mechanics are the decider for me. I've walked away from cool settings that have crap mechanics (like Polaris) and I've flatly dropped a cyberpunk game when the GM decided two weeks in that he was going to switch from CPR to GURPS.

Greentongue

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1534
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2022, 01:59:44 PM »
Setting.
Mechanics can be handwaved if needed but if I don't like the feeling of where the game is being played, Full Stop.

VisionStorm

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1275
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2022, 02:06:06 PM »
Both.  :-*

But also this...

Mechanics.

Good mechanics can carry a weak setting. But a good setting can't carry weak mechanics.

,,.but then gain, if System > Setting, that means setting is still a viable alternative for purchase, since you could just get a game for setting alone (assuming it's an original setting and not a licensed IP you could just get from film/TV shows or fandom wikis) then use the setting and swap the system with one of your preference. So...

Both (or either?).  8)

Jam The MF

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 394
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2022, 02:25:45 PM »
Mechanics always matter to me.
I spit on your pronouns!!!  If the world goes crazy, and I need to use the pages of RPG books to start fires for cooking and warmth; D&D 4th Edition will be the first to burn!!!

Jaeger

  • That someone better.
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1041
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2022, 02:26:51 PM »
Setting gets my attention initially, but mechanics are the decider for me. I've walked away from cool settings that have crap mechanics (like Polaris) and I've flatly dropped a cyberpunk game when the GM decided two weeks in that he was going to switch from CPR to GURPS.

This.

Settings /game play concepts get my attention, but if the mechanics look naff, I walk.

This is why although I love the setting conceits; I don't own the new Conan game.

Nor will I buy the One Ring 2e. And it just doesn't matter what the new people do with the Star Wars RPG if it keeps using funky dice.
"The envious are not satisfied with equality; they secretly yearn for superiority and revenge."

https://hereistheevidence.com/
Join Date: October 11, 2006

rgalex

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 365
Re: Mechanics or Setting - What sells a game to you?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2022, 03:32:13 PM »
The setting needs to get my attention first and I've bought plenty of games for the setting material alone.  Some of them despite the mechanics attached.  I don't think I've ever said "Well the setting here sucks, but those mechanics... woo baby! Come to daddy!" ;D