Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stepping Away from Fantasy RPGs

Stripping skills out of the game was like a slap in the face. It cleared my mind in a surprising way. Despite all the work that's gone into this game bent toward accomplishing its main objective of making the choice between hope and destiny a primary and continual one, there was still a tremendous amount of influence from historical design, for no reason other than that's the way it's always been done.

Take spellcasting. When I got to talking to my friend about the various aspects of the game, I discovered why he had been insisting on including mages, even though he didn't particularly like them: he didn't think you could have a fantasy game without them, not because he particularly wanted them. Now they're coming out. Just because D&D has mages and clerics doesn't mean that this one needs them.

It reminds me of Conan. The first Conan film focused on a trio of characters, none of whom were spellcasters. Yes, they did know a wizard, but from an RPG perspective, he was more an NPC than PC. When you get to Conan the Destroyer, there's a much broader diversity of character types, and the movie sucks in part because of that. It loses focus, and needs to play shifting spotlight just to give everyone a chance to do their thing, even when it makes no sense.

The first film is more of the fantasy that I think this game should emulate. The second is what a lot of games wind up feeling like.

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