Thinking About the Purpose of Mechanics from a Neo-Trad Perspective

clearstream

(He, Him)
Where I was trying to go initially was to push back on the essay author’s suggestion that he should have just called it “OC” and not mentioned neotrad, but I’m coming around to his position. If neotrad is going to pull things back to design, it should be left separate (since the author mentioned these cultures were not about design). What I am suggesting (and I think he is as well) is to view them anthropologically rather than analytically. In effect, these cultures are akin to personas.
Yes, I aimed to concede that to @pemerton's earlier query. Although I see I wrote a rather lengthy post that didn't make that totally clear (my #285). OC seems right for the culture of play, neotrad for the approach to design.

The value of keeping them separate from design is they allow you to use them with different analytical and design frameworks. If I’m using MDA, I can determine the aesthetics for a particular culture and use that to shape my design. If I am using the criteria that Edwards laid out in System Does Matter, I can adopt the persona of a player in a particular culture (e.g., OC) and then ask myself: does it know its outlook and not waste mechanics on other ones, and is the resolution model appropriate for it.
Yes, and one "problem" for OC as outlined in the OP is - how do you design for it? If it is defined by what is not in the design, you can afford OC through how you invest in systems and how you leave space available (e.g. how characters are assembled and themed), but it would seem like OC-aficionados ought to be able to find any text potentially suitable.

For example, suppose as an OC player, I want a say over my character’s experiences, so I that I can inhabit my conception of it. My game is going to be a hack of Apocalypse World. Is it a good fit?
  • The mechanics center play on the characters, so that’s good. There are many ways for me to have a say over my character (e.g., how I answer questions, the moves I make, etc); but
  • The resolution method can put the characters to the test on a miss. I may have a say, but I am not guaranteed a say. This can result in my character changing away from my conception.
So my Apocalypse World hack is a bad game for an OC player. If that’s the audience I have in mind for my game, then I need to make (potentially major) changes to it to avoid upsetting the players’ character conceptions.
I additionally feel that PbtA playbooks typically go too hard into who the character is - territory OC would prefer to retain full ownership of - but then some PbtA offers flexibility (e.g. Starhold suggests variants on each playbook.)
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
I additionally feel that PbtA playbooks typically go too hard into who the character is - territory OC would prefer to retain full ownership of - but then some PbtA offers flexibility (e.g. Starhold suggests variants on each playbook.)

This is a thing that has sometimes struck me as problematic for some people about PbtA games for some time, over and above the people who aren't going to be on board the failure-is-good ethic (or perhaps the problems are complimentary).
 



GobHag

Explorer
IMO OC-play can be delineated between Positive Space(Powersets, Mechanical Rewards, Setting) and Negative Space(Backstory, PC relations with N/PCs, etc).

In fact, for some players the narrative satisfaction part of TradOC can be switched with ludic satisfaction--Playing a pyromancer means you're implicitly asking that the you don't meet too much fire-immune enemies but would like to fight against both clustered mobs and spread-out minibosses. In this case, the character isn't so much an actual character or a fictional person but a sort of ruleset robot/mech made out of abilities and powers.
 
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pemerton

Legend
The question I’m posing is whether I can avoid making an OC and still contribute material (and still have that be neotrad).
Is this a widespread approach to RPGing? I don't know the answer to this question, but have an intuition I will share.

My intuition is that contributing material would mostly be by reference to the player's character - their homeland, their culture, their family, for full-blown OC-ness their projected arc.

If the players contribute material but independently of their PCs - so we are talking simply shared world creation - then whether it is trad or neotrad or "story now" seems to depend on what happens next, when people actually warm up for play and then begin playing.
 

pemerton

Legend
Yes, consider Microscope, if you imbue the enthusiasm into say, a set of institutions and want to make sure they aren't 'ruined' by being taken in unlikeable directions, so you encourage the other participants to avoid doing certain things with their game-given authority to mess with it, that's going to have a lot of the hallmarks of Neotrad-- the sense of emotional ownership and game-authority mitigation is going to be very similar, in my eyes.
I had wondered about Microscope as an example, but wasn't confident in my knowledge of it - so I am glad you mention it.

But as I understand it Microscope is quite far from paradigmatic RPGing, in that the game doesn't progress primarily by players declaring actions for the particular characters (i) who are part of the shared fiction, and (ii) whom they own. So it makes sense that it wouldn't literally involve OCs.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Is this a widespread approach to RPGing? I don't know the answer to this question, but have an intuition I will share.
I was originally trying to determine whether OC and neotrad were separable because I wanted to push back on the idea of calling it just “OC”, but I ended up finding myself agreeing with the author about the culture being just be “OC”.
 


kenada

Legend
Supporter
I prefer calling it TradOC because I do still agree that it's very much a descendant of Trad design.
The author isn’t talking about design, and neither am I. It was recognizing that there is a difference between the culture and the design of games they play that prompted me to agree with the author’s suggested change to just “OC” for the play culture.
 
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