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How many Tools do you Need?

Hussar

Legend
Lizard posted an interesting point (I thought)

Lizard said:
It says "Here are all the mechanics you will ever need. Here's when you should use them, and when you shouldn't."

I'd rather have a kit of 100 tools than just a hammer, even if all I need *at the moment* is a hammer.

Is this a good way to design games though? Do we really need mechanics that cover 99% of the situations, when we can design simpler mechanics that cover 90% of the situations? How much more complexity do we add in order to cover that last 9%?

What do you think?
 

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Hussar said:
Lizard posted an interesting point (I thought)



Is this a good way to design games though? Do we really need mechanics that cover 99% of the situations, when we can design simpler mechanics that cover 90% of the situations? How much more complexity do we add in order to cover that last 9%?

What do you think?

I'm with BRP or Unisystem Lite on this. Give me the basic skeleton, one flexible enough I can adapt it as necessary, and I am happy. Give me too much and it is cumbersome and it imposes on my freedom of action. The best game systems get out of the way.
 

The Little Raven

First Post
Hussar said:
Is this a good way to design games though?

If I'm building a car, I just need automotive tools and equipment. There's no point in being able to lathe chair legs when I'm not a carpenter, despite any genocidal extraterrestrials showing up and requiring me to lathe a rocking chair for their spaceship's observation deck.
 

Professor Phobos said:
I'm with BRP or Unisystem Lite on this. Give me the basic skeleton, one flexible enough I can adapt it as necessary, and I am happy. Give me too much and it is cumbersome and it imposes on my freedom of action. The best game systems get out of the way.

I think it's possible to take this philosophy too far. I've played all sorts of games, and I tend to find that those that try to be too generic, to be all things to all people, get overly boring, overly complex, or both.

I'd much prefer a game that does one thing, and does it well, than one that tries to be a toolbox good for all uses. I firmly believe that a game that tries to do everything will never do anything as well as a game that's focused.

For D&D? I'd much rather a game that does heroic fantasy well than one that tries to provide a generic toolbox that happens to be fantasy-focused.

I loved 3E, don't get me wrong. But I found it the least flavorful and inspiring of all the editions, and I believe that's partly--not entirely, but partly--because it tried to make itself too broad. When I pick up D&D, I want a fantasy game that also provides tools, not a fantasy toolkit that can also be used as a game.
 

Mouseferatu said:
I think it's possible to take this philosophy too far. I've played all sorts of games, and I tend to find that those that try to be too generic, to be all things to all people, get overly boring, overly complex, or both.

I don't mind boring systems, personally. I really only mind systems that require a lot of attention to detail. But I agree, I also like a good dedicated system. I find BRP does my gritty "realism" (Hah!) about as well as anything else, Unisystem Lite for all my mid-range cinematic needs, REIGN for fantasy, World of Darkness for WoD purposes, Unknown Armies and GUMSHOE...I like a lot of systems, but they're all simple. I'd say that Storytelling is about the most complex and demanding I can tolerate.
 

VannATLC

First Post
Real tools are a bad analogy.

Better analogies are programming languages, because that is what a gaming ruleset *is*

Do you want a tool that you can build other tools with? Or do you want a toolset that is complex, internally interlinked, and very difficult to modify, but covers 98% of the possibilities?
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
I think a game should be designed to deliver a certain play experience.

It needs whatever mechanics are necessary in order to deliver that experience.
 

Professor Phobos said:
I don't mind boring systems, personally. I really only mind systems that require a lot of attention to detail.

Ah, I see. Yeah, those two often, but not always, go together.

Part of the problem, for me, is that a boring system--or a system that's too generic--often lead to boring and/or generic prose. And I'm a religious adherent to the notion that an RPG book's purpose must be to inspire the imagination at least as much as it is to convey the rules of the game.

If I come away from a sourcebook without it having sparked my imagination, I consider that book a failure no matter how solid the mechanics might be. And I believe, as well, that bad flavor is still better than no flavor, since even the worst favor can still be inspiring.

Obviously, no game can make up for a lack of imagination on the part of the players--but it must aid that imagination, not ignore or rely on it.
 

The above, BTW, is why I consider Worlds and Monsters a solid and worthwhile purchase, even though it doesn't preview a single mechanic. The descriptions of the planes, combined with the artwork, inspired a veritable flood of campaign and plot ideas.

And it's why I consider Libris Mortis the weakest of the various monster-specific 3E books; even though it was 100% mechanically sound and useful, I found it far less inspiring, in terms of the imagination, than Lords of Madness or either Fiendish Codex.
 

SSquirrel

Explorer
Mouseferatu said:
The above, BTW, is why I consider Worlds and Monsters a solid and worthwhile purchase, even though it doesn't preview a single mechanic. The descriptions of the planes, combined with the artwork, inspired a veritable flood of campaign and plot ideas.

And it's why I consider Libris Mortis the weakest of the various monster-specific 3E books; even though it was 100% mechanically sound and useful, I found it far less inspiring, in terms of the imagination, than Lords of Madness or either Fiendish Codex.

Hell Ari, I bought the 2 preview books for 2 reasons, a)I love behind the scenes kinda stuff..it's why I skip so many single disc movies in favor of their double or quad disc versions heh, b)to see where it is they're taking this game I've played for 20 years and c)to know WTF people are talking about when they refer to side panel 2 on page 37 blah blah. Better arguing on ENWorld FTW!!

Edit:In the words of Bupu, "2! 2! No more than 2!"
 

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