A Nervous System: A Nervous Interlude

Posted: March 27, 2011 in A Nervous System, System Design
Tags: , , ,

Gah! Alright, it’s been ages since I posted – I’m sorry. The problem is, in the last post I suggested that the next post would examine my goals for the system in RPG theory terms – and I still haven’t been able to fully work out how it fits.

In particular, I thought I had it mostly figured out, and then I read another article that turned my previous perspective on its head. Since then I’ve been trying to mostly-figure-it-out all over again.

Sadly I haven’t got enough material nor enough time to write a full post on it just yet – but perhaps I can at least recommend the articles I’ve been reading.

They’ve mostly come from The Forge – which won’t surprise anyone who’s been looking into RPG theory already, but may be new to people who haven’t. I strongly believe that good systems (RP and any other kind) only come about as the result of good design, which itself follows on from good theory – and that seems to be one of the central goals of The Forge community.

So here are the articles that really got me thinking about RPG theory and how to apply it to my own game design – in what I consider to be a sensible reading order. Perhaps it’d be useful for me to put these on their own page, but for now this post will do :-) Note that the summaries are my own – the original writers might not agree with them!

  • System Does Matter – an explanation of why it’s important to design your system to suit the play style you want.
  • GNS and Other Matters of Role-playing Theory – a more detailed examination of the ideas raised in “System Does Matter”, showing how to analyse a system to see what sorts of play it will encourage. In particular, formally sets out Ron Edwards’ GNS theory.
  • Simulationism: The Right to Dream – the first of three articles each examining one of GNS theory’s “core” play styles. This time, Simulationism – the desire to explore a shared fiction purely for the sake of exploration.
  • Gamism: Step On Up – the second such article. This one covers Gamism – the desire to play a roleplaying game in order to use the mechanics to overcome a challenge.
  • Narrativism: Story Now – the third such article. This time it covers Narrativism – the desire to address a premise through play, in order to produce a story as the primary goal of play.
  • Applied Theory – an article looking at how to apply all of the above theory in real mechanical terms.
  • 3 Resolution Systems – introduces some interesting points about the relationship between the game fiction and the game mechanics. With diagrams!

Alright, so they’re almost all from the Forge in fact. It’s not that I necessarily agree with everything in those articles – but I do think they’re an excellent way to prompt your own thoughts about RPG design & theory. Other non-Forge things can be found in the links in the sidebar – in particular for RPG design stuff I’d recommend anyway., Deeper in the Game, Some Space To Think and Transneptune Games‘ blog.

So with that, I’ll lazily sign off – and come back next time with something a bit more concrete.

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