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Play, then theory

August 6, 2007

There is a crashcourse of games I recommend to just about anyone really interested in the roleplaying hobby.  It’s Inspectres, 1001 Nights, Primetime Adventures, Riddle of Steel (or The Shadow of Yesterday), and Dogs in the Vineyard.  In that order.  (there’s more, but those games I find are both easy to get into and easy to digest)

Each of these games pushes and breaks traditional assumptions and boundaries and shows you a different way to play as well as some great design decisions.  If you want to know a broad range of ways to play, and ways to design, those games will show it to you, usually in the span of a single game.

A variety of play, this becomes paramount to both play theory and design theory.  If you’ve only played games that fall into a narrow range of play, it’s rather like trying to talk about music theory having only heard/played one kind of instrument- you’re not  going to do so well, even if you’ve spent 20 years mastering the clarinet.

I thought I’d just repeat this idea, especially while helping out at the First Thoughts forum at the Forge and watching yet another round of folks agonize over whether they should use 4 dice or 5 dice in their game, or whether their elves’ ears should be 2.5 inches or 2.75 inches long, all the while imagining they’re breaking boundaries.  I don’t think these guys aren’t intelligent, they just need to play some more games is all.

Because I really look forward to seeing anyone break boundaries in rpg design & theory.

That’s when the real fun starts.

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