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What's the Next Great Leap Forward in RPG Mechanics?

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Well, the obvious answer is "logical, self-consistent results" but I'm not entirely sure logical self-consistency is entirely at odds with "realism" per se.

Who said they were at odds? Not me!

You were the one who put logical and realistic together, and asking what we were looking for. I'm merely pointing out that some people may be looking for the logical, but not so much the realism.

Magic, for instance --- if you postulate magic to functionally operate as some kind of controlled interaction between the matter-to-energy or energy-to-matter spectrum of physics, it's entirely "realistic."

Yes, except that large swaths of the fantasy genre *fail* on that point - we get matter or energy coming from nowhere, or other violations of the laws of thermodynamics. The origin genre cannot be said to be realistic, in general, so I don't see how you'd ever guess that realism would be the ultimate panacea of RPGs.

Of course, this does go a bit back to the whole idea of "process sim" that's been brought up so many times in other places around here. Are we trying to create mechanics that model discrete process outputs, and if so how "high up" are we abstracting them? If you're not doing discrete process output, what are you modeling?

Do you mean "we - RPG players in general" or "we - people in this thread"? I'm guessing the former, as you were talking about a panacea above, and "pan-" means "all". And if that's the case, I think we can pretty easily say that "we" are then not all trying for *any* particular goal. "We" aren't all the same. "We," are looking for different things from games. We are not all "trying to model" something. "We," are not actually a single, unified, monolithic body.

It then follows - there is no single panacea, no One True Way. And that's okay.

If you are talking about some select sub-group... then it follows your panacea is still then just a... someacea, a "thesepeopleacea".
 
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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
It then follows - there is no single panacea, no One True Way. And that's okay.

If you are talking about some select sub-group... then it follows your panacea is still then just a... someacea, a "thesepeopleacea".

Perhaps "oligacea"? Healing of the few? :p
 

innerdude

Legend
It then follows - there is no single panacea, no One True Way. And that's okay.

If you are talking about some select sub-group... then it follows your panacea is still then just a... someacea, a "thesepeopleacea".

I see where you're coming from, and I'm not trying to push any one view as being superior or inferior to any given goal or playstyle. But I do think we can objectively determine if one set of mechanics realizes one objective better than another.

For example, if the objective is to "provide fast, easy to resolve situational mechanics that primarily originate from and produce process sim outcomes," I think we can evaluate that.

But I'm even extending the question broader than that for the time being. I'm genuinely questioning if there's any other kind of possible mechanical "interface," or "input / output" statements that RPG mechanics can hook into that aren't either process sim (discrete resolution of individual actions processed through the rules / game world as being representative of the world's physical reality), or direct fictional positioning (mechanics directly contain, direct, or embody the fictional reality).

I'd actually really be interested to hear from [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] or [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] on this one. Is there another option?
 

pemerton

Legend
[MENTION=85870]innerdude[/MENTION], I"m not 100% sure about what the parameters are for answering your quetion, but here goes:

Burning Wheel uses "objective" DCs, and uses RQ or RM-like character sheets and skill mechanics to determine what pool of dice a player will bring to bear against a given DC.

It uses "fail forward" in the context of "intent and task" declaration to determine the consequences of failure (and on a success, the player gets what s/he wanted).

It uses "say yes or roll the dice" to determine whether or not a DC is set and a roll called for at all.

I suspect that 5e could probably be run in a similar sort of fashion, using inspiration instead of the fate points et al of BW, and lacking quite such an elegant "similar skill" and helping mechanic (because in 5e helping doesn't stack with inspriation).

Is this process sim, "fiction first", or some intermdeiate?
 

I see where you're coming from, and I'm not trying to push any one view as being superior or inferior to any given goal or playstyle. But I do think we can objectively determine if one set of mechanics realizes one objective better than another.

<snip>

I'd actually really be interested to hear from @pemerton or @Manbearcat on this one. Is there another option?

I'm going to answer this question because it speaks to your OP here. If I'm flaking on not directly answering what you're looking for in the above quoted post, please forgive me.

Dogs in the Vineyard (2004): Dice (and Fallout) mechanics modeled off of high stakes poker (probably Texas Hold 'Em given the nature of conflict escalation sort of looking like The Flop > The Turn > The River). The point of play is for the escalation of conflict (from words > to fists > to knives/guns) to crystallize what your PCs care about and to force them to prioritize virtues and relationships.

Dread (2005)
: Horror genre with the Jenga Tower mechanic dictating that the game's pulse (and that of the players) is ever-increasing as the awful, lurking thing claims the lives of the PCs. Again, a different kind of escalator that is hinged upon lethal suspense rather than the dramatic conflict of Dogs.

D&D 4e (2008): Combat chassis. Specifically the aspects of (1) control, mobility, immediate actions, terrain and (2) NPCs having their power front-loaded, the healing surge mechanics/intraparty synergy. These together create a "Swashbuckling Rally" narrative for pretty much all violent combats. Errol Flynn meets Rocky Balboa meets the X-Men. You can't get away from this even if you wanted to (but why would you!).

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (2012): Doom Pool mechanics do something similar to Dogs. However, in the case of MHRP, rather than the immediacy of escalation that occurs, this escalation accrues over time as the showdown with Magneto, Mr Sinister, Thanos, Galactus looms more and more ominously over the heads of the heroes until the BBEG finally plays out his hand (modelling a comic book).

There are plenty more I could tick off, but these are varying mechanics for recent games that are especially innovative and especially coherent/reliable in achieving their sought ends.
 

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