System matters, but it’s easy to not know that
Justin Alexander gives a succinct account of why rules matter but many players don’t get the experiences they need to realise this. Key quotes:
“… most RPG systems don’t actually carry a lot of weight, and are indistinguishable from each other in terms of the type of weight they carry.
In theory, as we’ve discussed, there’s really nothing an RPG system can do for you that you can’t do without it. There’s no reason that we can’t all sit around a table, talk about what our characters do, and, without any mechanics at all, produce the sort of improvised radio drama which any RPG basically boils down to.
The function of any RPG, therefore, is to provide mechanical structures that will support and enhance specific types of play.
… What I’m saying is that system matters. But when it comes to mainstream RPGs, this truth is obfuscated because their systems all matter in exactly the same way.”
There’s a robust simple procedure for running Into the Odd
As an example of the structure Alexander is calling for, have a look at Chris McDowall’s simple procedure for running Into the Odd.
“Diegetic” and “Non-diegetic” are useful terms for game design
Emmy Allen explained two useful terms for talking about rpgs. They weren’t new to all of us, but her explanation is clear and to the point. Next time someone asks, we can point them there.
Sean McCoy on Twitter then showed how those terms make explicit what he was implicitly trying to do while designing Mothership.
This is good theory — it gives us words for what expert practitioners do.