thread: 2005-04-18 : The Structure of the Game

On 2005-04-19, Charles wrote:

My answer is a question. My question is this:

If Ars Magica had been more focused would we have gotten what we got from it?

I guess my answer to my own question is:

Possibly. If its focus had been correct. If it had focused on the idea of co-GM'd play and the idea of having the players play a small village, then it might have given us as much of what we wanted, without ending up with the baggage as well.

Or, if it had said: make up a cool (but playable) magic system, here's how, it would have given us something better than it did.

On the other hand, if it had been more focused about playing out years over the course of a campaign, and how to end up playing your character's apprentice from childhood to elder mage status, then we probably would have gotten nothing from it (much like Aria). On the other hand, if Aria had spent more time on how you were suppose to play it, then it might actually have been playable.

So I suppose I think focused is better.

I would be interested to see a game that was about how to make a sprawling detailed world, and how to play session after session of conversations between a bunch of not hugely important people somewhere off in a corner of that world. Just because the game book is tight and focused certainly doesn't mean the play style needs to be.

Certainly, a game book that spent all of its time talking about a specific, cool, sprawling world, without talking much about the specifics of how you build on it, or of how you play session after session in which no one ever faces life or death threats, and in which no one actually reveals their terrible secret, and make it gripping, would be much less useful, interesting, or likely to produce that style of play.

When I look at a game that details a really cool world, I usually walk away saying, "Okay, but how do I play it?"

I guess I do find it more interesting to read a game book that says "Have you thought about playing like this?" even if I'm not going to use those particular mechanics.


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