Thursday, 1 November 2012

Nagademon 2012 - What the...?

So it's finally November, and it's time to get to work on my NaGaDeMon project (which I will henceforth not bother with capitalising in that manner since it's a pain and looks awful). I would assume anyone who's actually reading this post already knows what Nagademon is, but in case you don't there's a link in the sidebar.

This is my first time doing Nagademon, and I have no idea what to expect. I am not the most... organised person on the planet, so I will be doing this day by day and see what happens. No fancy schedules or calenders for this game designer!

So what is my project? Well, it's a roleplaying game of course! I opted for this course because it's the subject in which I am most familiar, and to be frank because it seems the easiest. Maybe in the future I may build up the courage to try a boardgame or something but this year it's definitely going to be an RPG.

What kind of RPG? Well, here's where I need to get my talking hat on and do a lengthy explanation of what it is I am trying to achieve:

In the modern RPG hobby there's a trend in the indie/small publisher scene towards more and more games with a definite heavy narrative focus. These games are games in which the rules are designed to facilitate storytelling above concerns like balancing the rules to make the game fair and tactical or making them in such a manner where they simulate the way reality or at least the game world in which they are set works. I am talking about games and publishers like Dogs in the Vineyard and Evil Hat with their variety of Fate-based RPGs as well as many others.

I wholeheartedly support this trend. I much prefer my RPGs to be narrative, and when I GM I will shamelessly and blatantly ignore the rules for the sake of the story. But, I was asking myself, should I have to? If I just want to tell a story, then why do I need all these rules about various mundane things and whatnot when I will just throw them aside when they don't fit the situation for the story? Do I need to know in exact numbers the relative skills and abilities of different characters when I as a GM will in the end have those skills and abilities be whatever is necessary for the story to proceed in a pleasing direction rather than what it says on the character sheet?

Of course I don't. I don't need any of that, if my goal is just to tell a nice cooperative story. Sure, in certain situations it's nice and even the gamiest of crunch has its place. I'm not trying to say that RPGs are shit because they have rules, not at all. Different games provide different experiences, and that's fine. I'll gladly play a retroclone or a traditional big-name publisher game that's out there even if they are everything but narrative in focus (you all know which game I am really talking about here, so I won't tempt any lawyers by naming any names, but sufficient to say it involves winged reptiles and spelunking), but I'll play them on their own terms and those terms do not necessarily appeal to me most of the time.

So what I want to make is a narrative RPG, but not just any narrative RPG: I want to make the most narrative of narrative RPGs that is possible without reaching the point where it ceases to be an RPG and instead becomes a pure cooperative storytelling exercise. I want to take the trend that's been going on of games (within a certain subset of the hobby) becoming successively more and more focused on the narrative and take it to its logical conclusion.

This is ultimately my goal for Nagademon this year. It may sound lofty and ambitious, and most certainly there's a heavy dose of pretention in there, but it's what I want to do and by various sorts of divine entities (or not) I have a pretty good idea how to do it!

Tomorrow I will talk about the guiding principles I have set up for myself when designing this game (which I have already named Primetime, but more on that later.)

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