thread: 2009-04-27 : Dice & Cloud: a Symmetry

On 2009-04-28, Jono wrote:

Oh, yeah!  Moreno said:

"Think about Monopoly. Think about playing it like a rpg..."

This reminded me of something.  I used to play Warhammer 40k.  It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an RPG, but it has a sort of fiction.  Players have all read the same "fluff" (background, setting material, etc) and have an idea of how their own army fits into that fluff (reinforced by their unit selection, customized modeling, painting, naming their characters, etc.)

Sometimes this interesting thing happens in play.  Somebody rolls an extremely unlikely result.  Like, say, a single Grot slays a Demon Prince in one-on-one combat.  In between laughing and cursing, the players will make up a story about what just happened.  "Oh yeah!  My grot was posessed by a moment of insane heroism, so he climbed up your Demon Prince's back and found the loose coolant tube connected to the fusion reactor of the Demon Prince's power armor, yanked it out, and jumped to safety before it exploded."

Nothing in the game text tells players to do this, yet they do.  Even in a tournament setting.  It's almost inevitable that this happens.  What's more, moments like this become WH40k players' most treasured memories.

They were creating fiction based on game mechanics.  Warhammer 40k has a left-pointing arrow.

But the grot's insane heroism and the loose coolant tube and the fusion reactor explosion don't have any effect on play.  They can't.  If you tried to refer back to one of those narrated events to justify giving yourself a die-roll bonus, people would look at you like you were insane.  It's not an RPG.  It doesn't have a right-pointing arrow.

It's not an RPG because it doesn't have a right-pointing arrow.

Am I going too far if I say that the existence of a right-pointing arrow is definitional of role-playing games?


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