Monday, July 9, 2012
Just Keep the Damn Earth Flat
Let's talk about the player's weapon.
Above we have what I am sure at three completely modern-produced swords, despite the website they came from (not important). The origin of the swords does not matter. What matters are the blemishes and the nicks and chips that the sword may be conjectured to have lost or gained. Did that black spot come from a dragon? Was it discolored when it came into contact with the polar worm's gullet? Were the carvings added later, by the King of Wisteria?
We have no idea. All we have is a word, "sword," written on a character sheet. We can't begin to know the effects of combat on the weapon, because to work out the effects of combat on a weapon with dice would take a ridiculously long time. It would take a long time to throw the dice, it would be painstaking to write out said effects - and it would take far too fucking long to draw out the sword every time the "visuals" changed.
Hey, you know what doesn't take a long time to do shit like this? Computers. A computer can compute two swords hitting one another; it can compute (given perameters) the damage one sword does to another sword; and it can RENDER the image of both swords, so that as you fight, you can see minute, moment to moment changes affecting your weapon. In this marvelous age of computer graphics and terabytes, this is possible.
Oh no, wait, it isn't. We mustn't replace dice with anything closer to reality. That would be wrong.
Still, it might be sort of interesting if everyone's weapons were recorded on their lap tops; if we incorporated a kinect-like graphic into the system so that you chose the weapon you were going to use, you reached towards your laptop, you 'grabbed' the handle of the weapon ... and then swung the weapon, generating those random numbers and then waiting, breathlessly, while the computer calculated the effect. You could play the system both ways - incorporating your actual swing into your chance to hit ... or simply retaining the swing for the sense of doing something, and letting the computer roll the effect strictly randomly.
Oh, wait. Yeah, that would be boring. Why should it happen that the mace I have in my equipment list swings different or odd compared to someone else's mace? That's boring. Why should it be that my sword hits a bit less now since it was bitten by that gorgon, leaving that big scorch mark that sort of looks like that bitch Kardashian. Fuck, that is SO boring. What I really don't want is a sword that has complex modifiers that change and develop over time, depending on how the weapon is reforged or how long I've had the weapon, and how used to the handle I am. Heck, I don't want to have to put up with slightly shittier effects from a NEW weapon I haven't broken in yet. How fucking boring is that?
Yep, just give me those dice. Those static, inflexible, limited, unchanging, nuance-free dice that give me all of twenty possibilities when I roll them. Wow, just think: TWENTY.
Fuck, that's enough for any game. I don't want animals with complicated personalities that require me to make careful choices about how long to ride them and what food to feed them and what I say before I mount them. "Horse" on my equipment list is ALL the information I need, thank you very much. Anything more than that and I start to feel, well, inadequate. It's just too much information, you know?
Yes, true, the computer handles all that information and I just get an answer that says the horse is a bit "spooky"this morning - but fuck, just because the computer can automatically account for my class, level, wisdom, previous experience with the animal and so on, and instantly flash that up on a screen for me, that doesn't make it better than writing things on paper. Damn, I just so love writing things on pieces of paper, especially when I've forgotten to bring my character or I can't find the sheet that's important right now or I forgotten to write it down. You know what's even better? When the four other people at the table are rifling through their character sheets to find three words written about the mule they bought last week. Now that's goddamn roleplaying!
Look, it's your game. You can be happy with this two dimensional approach forever, or you can ruin the game by incorporating tools that have been invented since 1990. Obviously, we know where I stand.
Fuck those computers. Let's have a sword just be a word on paper.