Encounter based gamism vs. Illusionism

August 6, 2013

I’m reading this pretty interesting article on the videogame “The Last of Us” and it makes a pretty interesting distinction of how stories and narrative gets used in action games – as an addition to gameplay without being actual gameplay.

When we’re talking about encounter-based gamism, the sort of roleplaying where the GM puts you on rails and the core point of gameplay is going from encounter to encounter and figuring out how to tactically best it, you have a similar situation.  The story is an addition to justify and color the fights, but the core of gameplay is the fights.  You may not get any meaningful input into the story or the fiction, but you will get to make choices in terms of tactics and strategies.

In contrast, with Illusionism you don’t even get that.  If a bad guy is supposed to have plot immunity, they will be fudged to be safe.  If the dice are coming up towards a Total Party Kill, the GM will either fudge dice or have an NPC arrive dramatically in time to save everyone.  The only choice you get in play is maybe how fast you go through the expected path (or branching path tree) the GM has laid out for you.

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