On 2005-05-01, Collin M. Trail wrote:
I've been reading this site for quite awhile, but this is my first post. I'm a 23-year-old physics grad student who has been running games for various groups for about ten years off and on. I'm currently running an Ars Magica game for my group which is going very well. I'm primarily interested in this stuff for use with my group, but I do a little design for my own purposes, tailoring or creating systems for the sake of a game.
I'm not sure if this is the right way to propose a question for discussion, but I was wondering if anyone could clarify the issue of theme in roleplaying for me. I've heard it recommended frequently that in order to have a game deal with interesting human issues, it should have a strong theme. Maybe I'm not too strong on the meaning of the term, but this somehow seemed strange to me. Would this be like deciding the theme of the game is the conflict between duty and justice, and having everyone make characters who have conflicts related to this one and making the games all focus on different aspects of that question? Because although that is one way to focus on an important human issue, it strikes me that there must be other good ways to organize such games. I often think of "The Princess Bride" as being a movie which it would be fun to run a game like, but although that movie has some very strong emotional moments and deals with gripping human issues, I can't think of a strong unifying theme that the movie has. Can anyone help clarify the purpose of theme for me?