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Fiddly Bits: Game Archaeology

New Directions

Larry D. Hols
May 18, 2001  

Welcome to the new incarnation of the Fiddly column! After a vacation from writing (mainly brought about by taking new employments some time ago), the column is being brought out of hiatus. What direction the column will take is the subject of this installment.

Over the months that Fiddly originally ran, I received email from interested folks with questions and observations about the individual columns. Some hated the theoretical explanations while others loved the same. Some wanted to explore specific concepts in detail while others wanted to hit each topic only briefly and then move on to another.

I also had folks ask about all manner of things that appear in roleplaying games. After a great deal of reflection, I've decided to offer my thoughts on matters in a structured fashion that will guarantee all topics get touched on in discussion. I'm taking a page from other columns, too-- Gareth-Michael Skarka designed Underworld a week at a time here, and that process was followed by many interested parties. That led me to adopt the approach I'm going to take in Fiddly for the foreseeable future.

I'm going to talk about mechanics in the context of designing games--three games, in fact. The intent isn't so much to highlight the process of game design--Gareth's column was a good example of that--but to show different mechanical approaches in designing a game. By involving three designs in the process, a variety of approaches can be examined and then shown in use.

The accumulation of character skills can highlight how this will be useful. One game will be class-based, another have an open skill system, and one a guided skill system. Not only will the different approaches get coverage, but contextual discussion as well. This also allows discussion without fans of every stripe raising hackles about commentary on their favorite or least favorite systems when I use examples.

The column will focus on the fiddly bits of the games, and matters of presentation and fine points of background and the feel and flavor of the text and so on won't be part of the discussion. The mechanics and variations on the mechanics are the important parts in this workshop.

The most provocative thing I plan on doing with the column is this: I will refer to the process of designing Descriptive Adventure Games. The term "role playing game" has lost its punch, I think, because far too many game forms reside under that rubric. Computer games have cadged the term (not rightfully, of course), and LARPs share it, as do story games found in chat rooms across the internet. I'm just staking out the territory a bit more clearly. The reader, of course, can refer to the games in any fashion he or she chooses. TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

What do you think?

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All Fiddly Bits columns by Larry D. Hols

  • FID 223: Analysis of die-roll methods by Torben Mogensen, 18jun02
  • Another Change February 28, 2002
  • Fiddly 101: 101 Character Classes November 28, 2001
  • Fiddly 101: Character Classes, Part Two: The Nuts and Bolts September 20, 2001
  • Fiddly 101: Character Classes August 23, 2001
  • In the Beginning... June 21, 2001
  • New Directions May 18, 2001
  • In Defense of Heroism April 25, 2000
  • A Philosophy of Realism December 30, 1999
  • A Philosophy of Fightin' Words November 9, 1999
  • The Philosophical Question May 18, 1999
  • Whittlin' Fiddly February 23, 1999
  • Fiddly to the Rescue, Part Two January 19, 1999
  • Fiddly to the Rescue December 15, 1998
  • Old-Fashioned Fiddly November 17, 1998
  • You Don't Know Fiddly September 22, 1998

    Other columns at RPGnet

    TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg