You can do anything!

Considering the only limit in games is your imagination (according to ye olde box sets) I wonder why so many of them have to spell out what you can actually do?

Thinking some more about both Fate and Savage, they both have basic, generic actions to encourage players to do cool stuff. In Fate it’s the Create Advantage action, in SW, it’s Taunts and Tricks. Other games have similar. I’ve noticed that unless someone points those rules out, the actions don’t get attempted. It’s strange, but it’s true. I think the writers added those actions in because they really thought they would come up a lot, not because they wanted to encourage their use.

They happen all the time in other media, and perhaps we unconsciously want to have our RPG sessions be as whipsmart as a scripted and polished consumable. But RPGs aren’t like that, and I’d submit that players aren’t either.

That said, once the rules get explained, and the possibilities become clearer, they get used a lot.

Perhaps we do need to have mechanical heft to the sort of actions we want to see used.

Example: fleeing. Rarely do I ever see a party flee from an encounter (and subsequently get involved in a chase). Equally rarely do I see any rules for disengaging. Coincidence?


1 Comment

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One response to “You can do anything!

  1. Jay

    “Example: fleeing. Rarely do I ever see a party flee from an encounter (and subsequently get involved in a chase). Equally rarely do I see any rules for disengaging. Coincidence?”

    That’s because far too many RPG combat scenes are are by design balanced in favor of the PCs. Sure, the GM might want to make the players sweat a little, but the heroes are supposed to win. If you’re supposed to win why would you ever disengage or flee?

    This is a major problem in the RPG player’s paradigm because it makes victory worthless. If the encounter is designed for you to win then you’ve won nothing. If you blow a few rolls and lose the encounter then you’ve LOST a fight you should have won. A GM should go out of their way to expose players to fights that are obviously not fair from the start just to break them out of the mold. For example start the session off with a single antagonist that demands the PCs “fight him fairly”- one at a time. Then later have 30+ hostiles swarm them. Make it obvious that they can’t take all 30+ of them alone. Force them to retreat. This win do wonders for the player’s perspective, but even better for their morale and enjoyment of the game. When a “win” is actually a “win” and not just the forgone conclusion they’ll have that sense of accomplishment that just doesn’t come from grinding out another encounter.

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