Challenge in your games

July 24, 2014

There’s a LOT of stuff that carries over well from videogames to tabletop roleplaying games.  The relevant stuff starts at about 2:05.

Telegraphing/Sufficient Information to make choices.

The part about telegraphing, and sufficient information towards making meaningful choice is a critical one.

You can see a lot of old school dungeons where “gotcha” traps basically take people out without any sort of reasonable forewarning (which, may be a realistically great way to set up traps, it’s a shitty design for game play, though).  On the flip side, one of the principles in Apocalypse World that works really well is the Countdown Clocks and the difference between Soft and Hard Moves.  Effectively, these rules force the GM to start telegraphing problems before slamming players with the consequences.  Other games like Trollbabe and Poison’d also do this with injuries/harm to the character.

Iteration Time

This is one of the huge hurdles for tabletop rpgs, particularly ones where players can find themselves left out of play when a character dies.   High challenge works well for videogames because you can simply go back to a save, restart, or otherwise get back into play without much problem.  For tabletop games, you have to start with the fact that making a character might be a half hour, or much longer, making the “restart time” pretty punishing – and that also doesn’t take into account the time it takes to bring their new character into play.

Both of these ideas are important whether you’re making a roleplaying game, or trying to run a game based on Gamist Challenge.

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