"Roleplaying Dice are Dead"

edited December 2009 in Story Games
http://www.rolepages.com/forum/topics/roleplaying-dice-are-dead-or

I'm shaking my head so hard to this my neck is starting to hurt. I wanted to write a comment to the author but I'm not going to bother to sign up on the site.

Anyway, wow, just wow.

Comments

  • Bwahahahahahahahahaaaaaa... (tear)...

    oh, oh yeah. Awesome.
  • edited December 2009
    I feel like a Spanish priest looking at South America circa 1500 and thinking "We have sooo much to talk about!"

    [edited for historical context ^_^]
  • I'm not sure what this blogger is actually trying to say, except that it sounds exceptionally wrongheaded. I do think that game designers need to get over the notion that RPGs "need" to have randomness, but stuff like dramatically unsatisfying random character death is to a substantial extent a matter of how the rules make use of randomness.

    But I think a lot of people have figured that out already...
  • My favorite lines:
    "This is a great idea in theory; it allows people to simulate the effects of a video game without the need to consult a computer."
    "Roleplaying dice are used to simulate video games."
    And here was me thinking that computer RPGs were simulating the dice and mechanics of tabletop role-playing games...

    All in all, it reads like someone who has never actually played a tabletop RPG but only heard them described in vague, simplistic terms, telling everyone why they are terrible.
  • edited December 2009
    It may be worthwhile to note that RolePages is a freeform play-by-forum community. Its members tell stories about their characters, they do not use their characters as pawns to create communal stories of importance transcending their own avatars. In that culture, it makes perfect sense to make the claim that randomness affecting your intricately crafted stories is uncalled for. What's ridiculous is claiming that the sentiment applies to RPGs as a whole (or that anything, ever, has anything to do with video games).
  • It really sounds like the author has never played a game. He or she seemed to express the sentiment, i believe, that everything in an RPG is determined randomly. Maybe that was hyperbole, but if not...
  • When engaging in face to face, or even computer to computer, free form roleplaying, dice really have no purpose.
    I think this core statement nobody would argue with. If you are free forming, dice aren't needed or wanted.

    The rest of the post is just the usual misidentification of "the thing that I call roleplaying" with the all the other things that other people call roleplaying.
  • Yeah, this article is a bunch of assumptions built on another bunch of assumptions.

    Zac, that's a really weird simile.

  • Posted By: fnord3125It really sounds like the author has never played a game. He or she seemed to express the sentiment, i believe, that everything in an RPG is determined randomly. Maybe that was hyperbole, but if not...
    ...then maybe he/she's been playing entirely too much Maid RPG. (¬.¬)
  • The responses to the initial post are pretty solid. I especially liked the line, from the first reply, "rpg / roleplaying is not storytelling it is a game."
  • But surely there's no need for an article in that case? It'd be like an essay titled, "Why skis serve no purpose in the 100 Meter dash."

    I mean, I guess if someone had never heard of other sports besides sprinting, and they heard about this weird "bi-athalon" thing, they might get all hot and bothered and go "OK, listen, FIRST thing, the skis have got to go. They're just going to slow you up and serve no purpose. And that business with the rifle, that's REALLY going to kill your time..."

    It just seems so strangely insular. I'm glad Mikael pointed it was a freeform forum-play site; saves me from the impulse to go over there and explain how dice are used in Dogs in the Vineyard...

    Peace,
    -Joel
  • Jason,
    I thought of that analogy because, as other people have said, this guy may not have much experience with RPGs, or at least he might have had some profoundly *bad* experiences - Lord knows that if I'd only ever played Dungeons and Dragons (for example), I would assume that dice = random character death = unsatisfying play.

    The second, more important reason why I thought of phrasing it that way is 'cause I've been trying to work on being less proselytizing for indie RPG play-methods - basically, I want to convert the author to my way of doing things, but then again, he might not be any happier with his storytelling experiences post-conversion. This is me restraining myself ^_^
  • edited December 2009
    Oh, ha ha, a person who hasn't come to the same conclusions our ridiculously small community has come to after years of faux-academia and mutual masturbation.

    So this guy's coming late to the party no one told him about, is that really worthy of our scorn? This guy might be taking the first steps towards AGREEING WITH THE GENERAL IDEA WE'RE ALL HERE TO TALK ABOUT, and we look down on him for that? 'Cause he doesn't have the brilliant understanding of fortune mechanics that we civilized folk do? That's like laughing at the amazonian tribesman who crudely builds an electric light bulb out of leaves and mud but it's not fluorescent so he's clearly an idiot? What?

    If anything this mutual admiration society should look to this as an avenue of outreach. "Hey, we sort of think like you, maybe you would like some of these games that agree with the spirit of your post."

    Come on story games, have a heart.

    [edit- x posted with the rather reasonable Zac]
  • Erick Wujcik did it better.
  • edited December 2009
    Kevin, I didn't see the level of scorn in the posts here that you seem to be seeing... but...

    Anyone that, out of hand, dismisses an idea without more thought or experience with it than this article demonstrates is deserving of some small amount of scorn, in my opinion. Granted I am continuing to operate under the assumption that the writer of the article has essentially no direct experience with playing tabletop RPGs that use dice. But, if that assumption is correct, I will give this person the same amount of scorn I give someone who says, "Yeah, sure I've never tried sushi, but I already know I hate it and it's disgusting." I'm not ashamed to say that I raise an eyebrow in incredulity at that kind of close-mindedness.
  • To be fair, looking at the history of D&D, the dice have played an increasingly smaller role.

    In the beginning: random character stats, semi-random spell selection, numerous monsters at first level with save-or-die effects.

    Over time there seems to be a clear trend: fewer things are being left up to Fortune.


    And something else I just noticed: all the traditional explanations of the use of Fortune that come to mind -- makes things unpredictable, makes things more exciting, etc -- suddenly seem to ring a bit hollow for me. But that's probably a topic for a different thread.
  • Posted By: Kevin Allen JrOh, ha ha, a person who hasn't come to the same conclusions our ridiculously small community has come to after years of faux-academia and mutual masturbation.
    [snip]
    If anything this mutual admiration society should look to this as an avenue of outreach. "Hey, we sort of think like you, maybe you would like some of these games that agree with the spirit of your post."
    [snip]
    It's not that he has come to different conclusions. He has come to the same conclusions, but in his lack of knowledge/experience, he uses this conclusion to condemn all roleplaying games instead of seeing potential for progression (which has been realised, outside his knowledge).

    That's just it, I would love to point out all the cool stuff that has been happening in gaming. I'd do it For Others and With Love. I think it's awful that some people have had so much exposure to bad play or perhaps so little exposure to games in general that they see roleplaying this way. You know it's like being a mathematician and seing some kid go "Math sucks! Our teacher gave us way too much stupid homework and he smelt of cabbages!"...or something.
  • Posted By: Kevin Allen JrOh, ha ha....
    yes, haha! Life is considerably more bearable when we laugh at self-important, myopic generalizations (regardless of the topic). It's good to laugh when seeing your 16 year old self struts by. :)
  • Posted By: Joelsaves me from the impulse to go over there and explain how dice are used in Dogs in the Vineyard...
    I've got that impulse too, to explain the thinking error in "using dice, it is possible for a character, through no fault of their own, to be killed 5 minutes into the game."

    Given free reign and a few beers, I might also go into the notion of the liberty of constraint, the tyranny of the white page and the paradox of the directed process of pure rationality.

    But nowadays, when I read this kinda stuff, I just get this vague feeling that I ought to be taking it to the streets and running more demos. No one -- especially not a manifesto writer -- is gonna learn anything through explanation. But maybe me and Beast Hunters / Danger Patrol / etc could show peple something they didn't know existed.
  • edited December 2009
    Oh shit, guys, don't you see what has happened? A hole has been busted in reality, and we are looking into an alternate dimension!

    Over there on "Earth 2," we'll call it (for entirely self-centered reasons!), what they call "roleplaying games" are actually some sort of play-by-post pretend-you're-a-vampire* storytelling game! Apparently Dungeons and Dragons never blossomed into our amazing culture of having actual person-to-person conversations across a table, facilitated by rules and conventions forged** in the fires*** of this recent decades' revolution in electronic communications, but instead, is some sort of "poor-man's video game."

    But look! They are having their own existential debates over player authorship!

    My friends! I, too, feel like a Spaniard gazing out at the America of the early 1500s, seeing for the first time a land populated by hills full of gold and primitive, ignorant savages. Come, let us venture forth, so we might KILL THEM AND TAKE THEIR STUFF!!!


    * And whatever else those weirdos are pretending to be. I mean, seriously!

    ** "forged," get it, get it? Ahhh, I slay me. No, I mean: I S/Lay me! Aaaaahahaha!

    *** Or flame-wars, take your pick.
  • edited December 2009
    I mean, Come On! This is priceless:
    Posted By: AlekzandriaI just do not see how some mindless arbitrary machine* that has nothing to do with honor or right and wrong or skill or anything else of value could be helpful.
    [*A dice-roller, she's talking about].

    She totally pwned everybody in that fudging thread!
  • I liked the bit about contrasting refereed dueling with a council of elders. Whatever is up with that, I wonder?
  • edited December 2009
    Could be a bunch of guys referee the duel instead of one, or the elders are there to hear appeals by folks who feel they were treated unfairly by the lone referee?

    You notice how she didn't even consider randomness in conjunction with "skill" (ie stats), though, eh?
  • Posted By: Kevin Allen JrIf anything this mutual admiration society should look to this as an avenue of outreach. "Hey, we sort of think like you, maybe you would like some of these games that agree with the spirit of your post."
    As I said, I had half a mind to do just that...but realizing that this was a freeform forum game community put the final nail in that coffin. There's just too much territory to cover to gain common ground, too thick a potential web of confused assumptions, to even figure out if we're talking about the same thing, let alone explore differing ideas about that thing. And honestly, I don't think his vision is that close in spirit to "ours" (whatever "ours" is). I mean, I guess he's diagnosing some of the same problems, but if he's prescribing different cures, that's a pretty big difference.

    Anyway, my reaction wasn't so much "ha ha," as "sput! sput! But that's not how--sput! What about--sput! And--sput! sputter! sput!" I was, as I say, taken aback by how great a gulf separates our experience. My reaction was incredulous, but not mocking.
    Posted By: johnzoBut nowadays, when I read this kinda stuff, I just get this vague feeling that I ought to be taking it to the streets and running more demos. No one -- especially not a manifesto writer -- is gonna learn anything through explanation. But maybe me and Beast Hunters / Danger Patrol / etc could show peple something they didn't know existed.
    Right on. I've been meaning to do that too. There's a bitchin' game store in town, and if I was down there a wee bit more often with cool games and scenarios in hand, who KNOWS what could happen?

    Peace,
    -Joel
  • It's pretty curious, though - if the gulf of experience and intent is so wide, how come these forum roleplaying things always seem so crude instead of incomprehensible? Is that just a natural viewpoint bias I have due to not understanding the nuances, or is this form still mainly practiced by teenagers, or what?
  • Posted By: Eero TuovinenIt's pretty curious, though - if the gulf of experience and intent is so wide, how come these forum roleplaying things always seem so crude instead of incomprehensible? Is that just a natural viewpoint bias I have due to not understanding the nuances, or is this form still mainly practiced by teenagers, or what?
    Probably a combination. One thing that's extremely difficult for the form is that centralization is virtually impossible. The form is mostly illegal in America (relying as it does on the reproduction of copyrighted and often trademarked characters) and virtually none of the practicioners are willing to pay for it, given that there's so many free sites (rpol, Yahoogroups, etc.) that will give them what they currently want for free. So there's not much advancement in the form over the last five years - the games that collapsed five years ago collapsed for the same reasons and in the same ways and the ones that are collapsing now are collapsing. They seem crude because institutional pressures have set them up to remain crude. What you are observing is what tabletop roleplaying would look like if printed material was banned.

    There've been a lot of threads about it here in the past, I bet you could find some on search.
  • RPGs are hard to classify with a single brush, and this guy's post proves why! Let's change from dice to coin toss. Far less random-only two options: either you do something or you don't.
  • I would like to see a game in which roleplaying dice are alive.
  • edited December 2009
    I'm glad the Story Games groupthink community bands together to fight this threat to our commonly held values!

    "Dice are bad"? We HAD that thought twenty years ago, and then we abandoned it, because we found out ALMOST ALL BY OURSELVES that it was wrong!

    There is NOTHING these people can teach us! If we all yell together, we won't need to listen to what they say!

    Let the dogpile continue.
  • Posted By: MatthijsLet the dogpile continue.
    Well, we've not got two or three posts decrying the dogpile, so we're starting to form a meta-dogpile, which is even more... something.
  • Yeah, I'm all over the meta. I'm decrying the decrying.

    OMG, we are laughing at a manifestos! How dare we! This shows that STORY GAMES is forever b0rk3n, and we must disband and scatter to the winds, for our community is so small that our incestuous offspring will have five noses.

    Lighten up, decriers.
  • Man, I did not expect such a thread.
  • Ry: +5 for saying b0rk3n. It has officially entered my webnacular.
  • I used to participate in a play-by-post webforum roleplaying game. It was called the Edda of Rhye, and was set in a mostly non-magical (only stuff like priestly miracles was allowed) Medieval town called Rhye. The core players, who founded it and drove most of what went on, were adults in their late 20s. Some others were in their early 20s, and there were a few teenagers, of which I was one.

    I recall the introduction to it stating clearly that "this is not a numbers game, like D&D" and a number of other remarks that disparaged the math-and-resource driven play of D&D and its ilk.

    I found the game very, very, very difficult to play. This was due to the lack of an overt system, beyond PM negotiation, through which to affect the fiction. (Unlike TT RPers, they didn't get all sweaty when you called it "the fiction" instead of "the gameworld," and I consider that a good thing). I constantly froze, because I had no handles to hold on to.

    At the time, I was also playing and designing Purist-for-System Right to Dream games. Which weren't the sorts of games for these people, I could tell, and I was okay with that. I was also interested in getting into what they were doing, which had, like, y'know, plot and stuff, without being pre-scripted by one person.

    I wish I could get in contact with those guys again, meet up in real life, and play Sorcerer or Rustbelt or something with them. I think they'd love it.
  • edited December 2009
    I really think everyone who plays RPGs should play in a lot of different play-by-forum or -Yahoogroup freeform games, preferably based on a fan property of some kind. It's really pretty amazing. For one thing, it's actually pretty cool that often quite young teenagers will work to get punctuation and grammar right, and value description and detail in their writing. They are learning writing via a group of peers. Very awesome.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyFor one thing, it's actually pretty cool that often quite young teenagers will work to get punctuation and grammar right,
    I am far too prejudiced to actually find out if this is true or not, but if it is, it is made of win.

    Are they learning the values of editing, too? (This is something college kids of today do not seem to have.)
  • Not really. They're actually very touchy if you try to even give suggestions as to what "their character" would do. (It's often some other author's character, ironically.) They really really really love their character and desperately want their vision of their character to be reinforced rather than challenged or modified.

    I know, that would be rad to the max, right?
  • Man, I wasn't even thinking content editing. If they're at least trying to learn punctuation and grammar, I was hoping they might take some hints on structure too, or just be open to corrections of purely technical stuff. After actually finding out what people write in post-secondary, I think it's enough that they're actually reading and writing on a regular basis.
Sign In or Register to comment.