2005-05-10 : How Do You Design a Mechanic?
Oh hey, just in case anybody's wondering: for the next couple of weeks I'm going to pull topics from the Game Chef comments instead of from the open house. I'll get back to the open house and some other outstanding topics after the competition.
In other words, how do you design a mechanic? As a model of reality (the keyword?). Based on the probability range you wish to generate? Based on the power it bestows on the player?
Never, ever as a model of reality...
...Unless it's the central, thematically charged reality your game is to comment on. Like, Sorcerer's demon rules are a model of the reality of abusive relationships. Dogs in the Vineyard's town creation rules are a model of the reality of communities in breakdown.
But, like, the details of your resolution mechanics? No reason for them to model reality, especially reality in a physical sense, no reason at all. In fact, designing your mechanics to model reality is a disaster, if that's all you're doing; it's only okay to model reality if your mechanics also thoughtfully structure the interactions of the players.
So! Design your mechanics to structure the interactions of the players (including the GM or GMs). This goes beyond "how much power."
Here's a very easy first step: whenever you write notes about a mechanic, in every stage of your planning, write what the people do. Don't write "sword attacks get +1," write "if you have your character attack with a sword, add 1 to the roll." That'll remind you that you're designing a thing for people to do, a process.
I'll post an example or three in the first comment.
Meanwhile, the point is: if you want to design a mechanic out of a keyword, think about the keyword in player terms, not in character or setting terms.
1. On 2005-05-10, Vincent said:
2. On 2005-05-10, xenopulse said:
3. On 2005-05-10, Ron Edwards said:
4. On 2005-05-10, xenopulse said:
5. On 2005-05-11, Tobias said:
6. On 2005-05-12, anon. said:
7. On 2005-05-12, GB Steve said:
8. On 2005-05-12, Vincent said:
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10. On 2005-05-12, Emily Care said:
11. On 2005-05-12, Sydney Freedberg said:
12. On 2005-05-12, Sydney Freedberg said:
13. On 2005-05-12, Neel said:
14. On 2005-05-12, Vincent said:
15. On 2005-05-12, Neel said:
16. On 2005-05-12, Michael S. Miller said:
17. On 2005-05-12, Michael S. Miller said:
18. On 2005-05-12, Neel said:
19. On 2005-05-12, Vincent said:
20. On 2005-05-12, xenopulse said:
21. On 2005-05-12, Neel said:
22. On 2005-05-12, Vincent said:
23. On 2005-05-13, Em said:
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25. On 2005-05-14, Green said: