Friday, June 02, 2017

A Winner Is You

A few days ago I ran the first playtest of CUFFS SHRIEK, the -- long-gestating if not long-awaited -- follow up to Forgive Us. The players torpedoed the adventure but I came away with lots of ideas for improvements and tweaks; I hope to run at least one more test online in the next couple of weeks, but this isn't about that.

In the post-game discussion one of the players asked what the win condition for the adventure was, and I had no idea how to respond because I have never thought of role-playing games as having winners; indeed one of the key features of rpgs for me, the thing that distinguishes them from other types of game, is that there are no winners and losers.

That said, I know what he means; even if there's no winner as such the players are competing against the adventure in a way, so in that sense there is a way to win, even if it's just surviving the adventure or getting to the end of the story. Even so, the question caught me off-guard.

I think one big reason for that confusion is that I don't tend to play to win when I'm playing with other people, even if it is a competitive game. I'm much more happy engaging with the mechanics of the game and exploring them just because they are fun, rather than to win. I suspect this is a source of frustration for my gamer friends as I ignore the most optimum strategy and instead wander off to build a fun little mechanics engine in one corner of the board.

I suppose that means I lack the soul of a winner, I will never amount to anything, and if he were still alive, the Ultimate Warrior would be disappointed in me, but so it goes. Play on!

1 comment:

  1. It was probably me who asked that. I see these one shots like I see Tournament modules from my early years in 1e AD&D. Where players have objectives and there are rewards for meeting them... which gives them an incentive to play a certain way.

    A key problem for LotFP... (one of many IMHO).. is that it is predicated on giving xp for loot. Rather than for meeting personal objectives/ exploring/ Roleplaying.

    We broke the game (ie ran away) since our pcs did not have a big enough incentive to risk our lives against the odds to complete our personal objectives. I don't see gaming about winning as such. But for any pc of mine to take risks 1) they have to be worth it and 2) they have to be done in character. Since we could escape to get help, we did!

    If the setup was clear from the outset that without immediate action by ourselves, we believed that 20 villagers would be sacrificed... then that situation requires action - and action now!

    It was in interesting setup. And I'll happily replay it! So don't despair!