ViO#9rlKQ|^ T>tF=U\w0% $I!F<ۛ)蚹^1E!P*5Ӕl%qL7D2'THl.>UA]!Ɍ >^B~J:i-ο +tWOa0{ˋ Xh!c۳MǦ9+"+c7z̍JIY#oKWT$~ p++nSp )(̛*Yu@FSo!'w&>qFx u+ 3QB=Č,ŧQJ=3S: |8!,lc}&.5ҩcV^ڵF"³:< ur+_0 C FYF& OZS `ƸFꖵ,9Ybh4eBMkѴ2_cmB[N-$LM>7SNcXB69T^2%i¨jYpgK\2.JҪei b z·,p̡zyZK}L$;1h^NKAz]; RL!8ChV|>&@C 9RwEBoCF K5)нbʲPȉ65N9urH?dy@N*!OVݩ¬Xd3QtMKg^(@}9>/1F^\7Tql5Yπ{6LZQ[3cm2nVrl`ʦ4XZC" QZ!q˥>:9+j4뒵oy?p\xbD!Ż>1e{^&eiWIo]VzYze1jާؑiQkUtSpC*Mb:sh6(8Krz1>ܤkY';E/cSQ&;;DL{ ?L6x98v@Q_rw IO=|v8a݆*^z\WsU|-ʈE^Ͱ{XZyLvX&mȦZ^Shpe)n3{\4T?)];}\gWl+hP

Soapbox: About the Industry

The Hazards of Non-Combat Gaming

by Sandy Antunes
Aug 05,2005

 

The Hazards of Non-Combat Gaming


by Sandy Antunes

While the cognoscetti often lament the lack of alternatives to the standard dungeon crawl, truth be told I haven't seem many flock to the alternatives.

There is a tiny, tiny subgenre of gaming that seeks to avoid combat. Focusing on puzzle-solving and, in place of combat, the act of deliberately avoiding combat, this 'sneaker' genre exists in both tabletop RPG and in first person shooters.

And in both, no one buys them. Hmm... let's examine this.

In first person shooters, you have the game "Thief" and, umm... its sequels. That's it for 'first person sneakers' in the computer world. Those wishing to debate this can check an older slashdot thread. I mention "Thief" here to show that, hey, the market for non-combat-focused stuff in a combat-heavy medium is hard all over.

Okay, to RPGs, those brilliantly crafted collaborative epics of roleplaying and character. Where everyone wants to bash someone with a sword (or just shoot them).

No, correct that. Many people run games that are combat-light. But it's rare to see a game that doesn't _allow_ for combat, even if it deemphasizes the necessity.

It's not that we all want to kill our enemies. We just want that to be one of our possible options. Even in "Call of Cthulhu", we arm ourselves to shoot raving cultists, minor monsters, and (when the big beastie appears), ourselves.

I have standing to rant on this, because I've been writing non-combat stuff for a while and, gosh darn it, sometimes I get so little response I just want to shoot someone. But I can't, because in the real world, you just can't do that-- all the rules are _against_ it.

Is the presence of combat in games simply part of the power fantasy, the wish fulfillment then? Well, duh, yes.

But it doesn't have to be. For Thrilling Tales' Ace Reporter, an ace reporter is a problem-solving machine. They specifically can do end runs around combat to finish quests and get answers. Sure, they can pack heat, but they don't have to-- they can bend the rules of the genre instead.

But "Rocket Ranger" outsells me. Ouch.

For Redhurst Academy of Magic (a great "Harry Potter sans Harry Potter" D20 world), I wrote a 'sneaker' called "What's In Her Name" specifically as an avoid-combat challenge because, well, call me old-fashioned but I just don't think teachers should be requiring teen students to be fighting each other at school.

I wasn't able to get webstats on how it did versus their second one, but they stopped printing free PDFs shortly after. Coincidence-- or the curse of non-combat?

For the 24 Hour RPG Challenge, I created The Monitors, a near-future SF world where combat literally was impossible, the titular Monitors preventing it. All conflict had to be non-combat.

It got a B+.

To find examples of non-combat, I can reach into gaming sessions from the past, sure, but these were always in games where combat was a likely prospect. The absence of combat was occassional, but the risk of hostilities was always present.

Even the kid-aimed "Faery Game" upcoming from Firefly has extensive combat rules because, some days, you just wanna fly around and kick butt.

My question is, does an audience exist that wants no-combat scenarios, and the publishers I wrote for are just not reaching them? Or is there no real market between "folks that like tabletop RPGs"and "people wanting no-combat scenarios", meaning we'd have to invent a new market to get further on this?

Indeed, it seems the main alternative to a combat-heavy dungeon crawl is... a post-modern revisiting of the concept of dungeon crawl ala Hackmaster or Return to Tomb of Horrors. Such irony.

But the true irony is, some days I just want to game and not kill anyone. It's getting harder to do every day. 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?

Go to forum!\n"; $file = "http://www.rpg.net/$subdir/list2.php?f=$num"; if (readfile($file) == 0) { echo "(0 messages so far)
"; } ?>

All Soapboxes

  • See What Sticks by Sandy Antunes, 06jan06
  • Simple Gifts for Pre-Gamers by Sandy Antunes, 09dec05
  • Col vs Blog by Sandy Antunes, 04nov05
  • Running a First RPG for Kids by Sandy Antunes, 07oct05
  • Making It Pay by Sandy Antunes, 02sep05
  • The Hazards of Non-Combat Gaming by Sandy Antunes, 05aug05
  • Just-in-Time Pre-order Hell by Sandy Antunes, 01jul05
  • Cassandra's Industry Report by Sandy Antunes, 03jun05
  • Fiction or Non-Fiction by Sandy Antunes, 05may05
  • I am not a Storyteller by Sandy Antunes, 08apr05
  • A Better Job by Sandy Antunes, 01apr05
  • Advice For Working Writers by Sandy Antunes, 04mar05
  • Startup Fever by Sandy Antunes, 04feb05
  • Why Blogging is Lame by Sandy Antunes, 07jan05
  • Being a Pro Writer by Sandy Antunes, 10dec04
  • Viral Marketing Invitational by Sandy Antunes, 05nov04
  • The 24 Hour RPG Challenge by Sandy Antunes, 08oct04
  • A Decade of Distilled Advice by Sandy Antunes, 03sep04
  • Go Ahead, Hit Me! by Sandy Antunes, 06aug04
  • Promoting Yourself by Sandy Antunes, 09jul04
  • 10 Hurdles to Selling Your Game by Sandy Antunes, 11jun04
  • Let's Team Up! by Sandy Antunes, 07may04
  • Beyond Role and Pla(t)y(pus) by Sandy Antunes, 08apr04
  • Slow Improv and the Post-Kilgallon by Sandy Antunes, 05mar04
  • Paradox Redux by Sandy Antunes, 06feb04
  • Mad Scientists and the Kilgallon Paradox by Sandy Antunes, 09jan04
  • It's Not Your World, It's Mine by Sandy Antunes, 05dec03
  • Murphy's Law for Adventure Writers by Sandy Antunes, 07nov03
  • Eigentesting by Sandy Antunes, 09oct03
  • Atomic by Sandy Antunes, 05sep03
  • Is Writing a Commodity? by Sandy Antunes, 06aug03
  • Designing Amidst the Tides of Gaming History by Sandy Antunes, 08jul03
  • Buy This Book by Sandy Antunes, 05jun03
  • Hobbies by Sandy Antunes, 08may03
  • The Websites That Wouldn't Die by Sandy Antunes, 10apr03
  • The Path to Atrocities by Sandy Antunes, 06mar03
  • Cattle Mutilation: The Game Design by Sandy Antunes, 06feb03
  • Gaming With Children by Sandy Antunes, 09jan03
  • How To Be An Industry Poser, Part 1 by Sandy Antunes, 05dec02
  • all i game with, i learned from kids books by Sandy Antunes, 19nov02
  • TCG: The Total Cost of Gaming by Sandy Antunes, 10oct02
  • Game Publishing & The Law by Sandy Antunes, 06sep02
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giants by Sandy Antunes, 01aug02
  • Buying Time by Sandy Antunes, 04jul02
  • April 10, 2002 13 New FAQs
  • March 1, 2002 Give Me A Closet
  • January 2, 2002 Let's Go Shopping?!?
  • December 13, 2001 Conflict, Ethics, Winning, and Money
  • November 13, 2001 Secret RPGnet Operations Document Leaked!
  • October 16, 2001 Leadership and D&D
  • September 4, 2001 Leading Industry Site Reports Secret: Sex Sells!
  • August 7, 2001 Any, Anyone Can Be an Internet Success-- Why Aren't You?
  • July 3, 2001 Fine Print, Part U
  • June 5, 2001 Fine Print, Part I
  • May 8, 2001 Pushing Limits
  • May 4, 2001 RPGnet State of the Union special feature
  • April 6, 2001 The Other Magic: Niche Hobbies and Other Markets
  • May 9, 2000 Running a Business as an Old Style D&D Party
  • April 14, 2000 First to Market
  • March 20, 2000 Labor Pains
  • February 15, 2000 One Trick Pony
  • January 6, 2000 Creativity is Bad, Hard to Sell, and Great for Business
  • December 14, 1999 Oranges versus Bananas: Entertainment Costs
  • November 2, 1999 Why Editors Lie
  • October 5, 1999 How to publish a quality game, accept criticism gracefully, and lead a happy life: Pick Any Two
  • September 7, 1999 It Takes a Village (to publish an RPG)
  • August 3, 1999 All Gamer Money Isn't Equal
  • July 6, 1999 Tides of Cash Flow
  • June 1, 1999 Ad-itudes
  • May 4, 1999 Who, What, Give me a Guiness
  • April 6, 1999 The GAMA Trade Show '99
  • March 2, 1999 Roleplaying would have saved Millions
  • February 2, 1999 Games That Won't Suck
  • January 5, 1999 Dangerous Games
  • December 1, 1998 Making Gamers the Old Fashioned Way
  • November 3, 1998 The $1K Company
  • October 1, 1998 So You Want to Start Your Own Company...
  • September 1, 1998 Holy Grails and Marching Morons
  • August 4, 1998 Gamers Must Die!
  • July 7, 1998 Profit versus Prophet
  • June 2, 1998 Acquire! Acquire!
  • May 5, 1998 Power
  • April 21, 1998 The GAMA Trade Show Report, Part 2 (eventually)
  • April 7, 1998 Schroedinger Games, or, the GAMA Report
  • March 3, 1998 Culling the Herd
  • February 3, 1998 Horatio Hornblower's RPG Company
  • January 6, 1998 Double Feature (Us and Them/A Clash of Images)
  • December 2, 1997 "How to Scam Games for Free"
  • November 4, 1997 "Women in Gaming?"
  • October 2, 1997 "Fear of a Gaming Planet" (Welcome to the RPG ghetto?)
  • September 2, 1997 "Rush" (fame and adoration in lieu of pay)
  • August 2, 1997 "For the Money" (convention mating rituals)
  • July 2, 1997 "Good Deeds" (the dearth of evil game companies)
  • June 2, 1997 "Dirty Laundry" (copyright and slander on the net)
  • May 2, 1997 "Communications Breakdown" (company and player schisms)
  • April 2, 1997 "The Quick and the Dead" (dying companies versus new ideas)
  • March 2, 1997 "It's All in the Timing" (on hype and late deliveries, and on genres)
  • February 2, 1997 "Insiders and Outsiders" (who's who and who uses the web)
  • January 2, 1997 "Fits and Starts" (web presences, print runs, live roleplaying)
  • December 2, 1996 "Procastination Season is Over" (delays and new products)
  • November 1, 1996 "Best of Times, Worst of Times" (on rumors, survival, and larps)
  • October 1, 1996 "Post-Con fallout and not that many new games"
  • September 1, 1996 "Our launch, news from GenCon, demos, new LARPS"
  • Our reason for existence

    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