Monday, January 9, 2023

Gaming in the Abstract

I was thinking about a more general, abstract way to describe play in RPGs the other day, and I'm still sort of working through these ideas, but wanted to get down here what I've been considering so far. Partly so that I don't forget, and partly to get feedback from the community. 

I'm thinking of how a DM/GM/Referee and players interact during a game, at the encounter level. Obviously, the "logistics" phase of the session, where players get set up, check character sheets, add/subtract equipment or various scores, update things, wrap things up, level up, and all that would have separate moves than these. This is a start at describing the "moves" of an RPG. Other than Initial Description, there is no set order for these, and they are of course recursive until the encounter is completed. Also, these should be able to apply from any sort of situation from entering a simple dungeon room to traveling through other planes of existence.

The Encounter

Initial Description: GM move. GM gives an initial description of the encounter.

Question: Player move. Players request more details about initial description or information gained from other moves.

Examine: Player move. Characters look for more specific detail about one element of the encounter.

Interact: Player move. Characters manipulate one element of the encounter (including talking to NPCs/monsters).

Search: Player move. Characters attempt to find possible hidden elements of encounter.

Travel: Player move. Characters move from current location to another.

Engage: Player move. Characters initiate some sort of conflict, or react to NPCs/monsters engagement.

Avoid: Player move. Characters refuse to interact with encounter.

Explain: GM move. GM provides more information in reply to player moves above.

Stipulate: GM move. GM explains pertinent rules or obvious consequences of proposed player moves so that players understand the stakes.

Adjudicate: GM move. GM engages in game mechanics (or calls on players to engage in game mechanics) to find the results of a player or NPC/monster move.

Resolve: GM move. GM explains results of moves taken by players and/or NPCs/monsters, or of game mechanics adjudicated.

Updated Description: GM move. GM provides pertinent details of changes to the encounter after relevant moves have been completed.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Chicken Littles

Much angst in the RPG online spaces these days. Much spleen being spilled about the new OGL 1.1 document leaks. Many predictions of the end of all but WotC product for D&D. 


While I'm not a lawyer, it has been clearly established that game mechanics cannot be copyrighted. Write your own presentation of a set of rules, and there's not much that a big giant corporation trying to squeeze every penny out of the player base can do. Sure, a few smaller companies and individual people may refrain from publishing for "OneD&D" after the release (assuming the text of the new OGL doesn't change between now and release), but if they really want to get their material out, they can find ways to do it. 

Besides, all these games already exist. They will continue to exist after the OGL 1.1 comes out. Some may become harder to find, but they'll still be out there. And you can still play them.

It may be scarier for small publishers to put out their stuff. And while little guys like me have no chance of battling WotC in court, I can see a class action suit from places like Drivethru and the smaller publishers, plus people like you and me, having a chance to defend the legality of OGL 1.0 and 1.0(a) products in court. If that never happens, or it fails, that will suck for a lot of small publishers. But we can still make our works and put them out for free, or try to make a bit of money under the radar.

Gygax's words from way back in the 70s (at the end of the Greyhawk supplement? I forget where he said it) still ring true. Once the game has been released, YOU do not need a game company. The game company needs you! Why should you let them do any more of your imagining for you?