RPGaDay 2021 #29: System

Today’s RPGaDay 2021 prompt is “System”. It seems hard to write something about this that I haven’t engaged with already over the past month!

Both Fub and I have been participating in the RPGaDay 2021, and have posted regularly about RPG systems, mechanics, and their interaction with storytelling. It’s been interesting to engage with him, as he is more of a narrativist with some gamist interest, whereas I’m more a gamist with a narrativist flair. Our ways of looking at games are similar but our conclusions differ, which frequently leads to interesting debates. I think we’ve established that both of us are convinced that system should serve narrative (i.e. that games are fundementally about something), but the main question that remainds is how much system is preferable to achieve this. He’s in the camp of using as few rules as possible to achieve your goal, whereas I don’t mind how many rules there are as long as the experience is interesting.

Having been prompted to think about this over the past month, I do see an unexplored implicit idea in my thinking that some mechanical modeling is required to more interestingly engage with narrative. I have a disinclination towards strongly rules-light games, because they seem like storytelling interactions to me, which I’m not so much interested in. I’ve tried some of the more gamist versions, such as the various Mafia/Werewolf/Villager party games, and they don’t grip me as much. To me, they seem flightly and ad hoc.

This is why I’m interested in playing in a game of Nobilis run by Fub. I’m pretty much expecting that I won’t like the system, but I’ve found it’s always a good idea to have somebody who’s pretty excited about something introduce you to it. They’ll have a way of showcasing the best part of something and so there’s always a chance of learning a new perspective on it. He’s partial to diceless systems, and so is one of the other players, so I’ll be interested in seeing what my experience with the system will be like.

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