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Re: (TFT) HT's views on complexity

Hello everyone. I'm new to this list so let me introduce myself. I'm Ray. I live in central Georgia and play RPGs with a small group here who enjoy trying different games.

I've only been play RPGs for a short while, less than ten years, but I'm a long time historical miniatures gamer and board gamer (my first board game was Luftwaffe in 1974)

Since I've gotten involved with RPGs I've started collecting old games. I now own many The Fantasy Trip, Tunnels & Trolls, and many old stand-alone TSR titles. I own the core books for GURPS (latest and previous), the Star Trek and Lord of the Rings by Decipher. In other words, I like reading and analyzing rules. Oh, yea...and playing too.

I've been reading (catching up) on this thread and the discussion of cross pollination between rules. Interesting. I certainly am learning a lot about who did what when.

When I look at the many rules that I have and the designs that they represent, I'm struck by how similar many of these games appear to be. Yet they seem to have no historical connection to each other. I can only explain this as "parallel development". You see, I too am a computer guy. I once worked in the advanced development department at a major computer company. Parallel development was quite well know to us. It stems from a group of people, working for different companies, who have similar education and experience drawing on a common pool of knowledge. These people tend to "invent" similar things at the same time. The smaller the community of inventors, the more frequently parallel development occurs. The application to the game design world is obvious.

Another thing that I have observed is that there are only so many ways to generate probabilities with dice. The designer can choose to incorporate the probability curve into the tables and charts, or he can use the dice to generate the curve. The most striking example of these two methods in current games is D20 and GURPS. In D20, single die is used (for the most part) which generate no curve. the dice probability is flat. The curve, therefore, must be built into the tables. The non linear tables in D&D, for instance demonstrate this well. On the other hand GURPS (and by extension The Fantasy Trip) uses three dice to generate a normal curve. The tables, then can be more linear.

The latter design (TFT) few games use two dice. 2D6 doesn't generate a very good curve; more of a triangle, if you will.  3D6 produces a smoother more bell shaped normal curve. 4D6, even better. However, few games require more than 4D6 as the physical rolling of dice seems to become unwieldy.

So what does all this mean? As far as I can tell, without knowing what was in a authors head or clear documentation of collaboration, it is pretty darn near impossible to draw conclusions by simply comparing the rules by different authors in isolation.

There are many, many, very similar game mechanics that have been developed of the decades of RPG design. I'm following this discussion with keen interest. Perhaps it will lead me to understand better who influenced whom and which developments and designs are simply a result of parallel development in a very small design community and knowledge pool.

Thanks for listening.

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