thread: 2005-05-06 : A complete game has...

On 2005-05-09, Neel wrote:

So, I guess I'll disagree.

Here's a game I ran once, when I was in college. It was a "puzzle SF" game, inspired by old SF short stories by Issac Asimov or Poul Anderson—in each scenario, I put the PCs in a situation with a scientific problem in it, and the players had to use deduction and their science knowledge to find a way out of it. For example, part of one game was basically lifted directly from Poul Anderson's "A Three-Cornered Wheel", where the players had to move some heavy equipment from point A to point B, but the alien natives had a religious prohibition against the use of circles in wheels. How do you move the equipment without angering the natives, when you have only medieval-equivalent tech to work with?

It failed most of your criteria, but was one of the most fun games I've run. I'll run through 1-6.

1-2. It missed on all counts. The closest we came to mechanics was that I'd publically do back-of-the-envelope calculations to figure out if a player's idea was reasonable. (The public part was to ensure that I was modelling their actual idea, so they could argue about my assumptions, and to check my work.)

It totally lacked any reward or positioning mechanism during play. The reward was outthinking me, and I suspect that the players would have been strongly opposed to adding any of that—it would have said, socially speaking, that I didn't think their naked brains were good enough to beat me, since mechanics are often seen as "belonging" to the GM.

The only other thing was that if they failed to solve their problem, I was expected to outline a solution that could have worked, to prove that they hadn't faced a no-win situation.

3. There were no guidelines here. This wasn't a problem, because brainstorming tends to draw everyone around the table in—the hardest part of GMing for me was to stay quiet as the players talked and argued.

4-5. The PCs were basically tokens representing resources and constraints, so the players would figure out what to do and then have their PCs execute. The situation and the setting were provided by me, and helped form the problem for the players. I think you'd be happy with the setup here.

6. Nope, none of these. But science surely deserves its own category, right?


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