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2014-05-11

It's Not a Movie!

It's one of my pet peeves when people use movies, novels, or any other type of media to compare with tabletop RPGs. Usually these are arguments for fudging dice rolls, saving a character from dying, or other ways to subvert the game in favor of the story. After all, "heroes don't meaningless deaths in the middle of the movie."

My main problem with this argument is... this ain't a movie! Or book, or whatever. Applying the conditions for what makes a good movie to a TTRPG is flawed. Books and movies allow their creators full narrative control. Emulating that requires railroading and a loss of player agency.

Second, risk is part of the fun. Most people that play video games will be familiar with the term "god mode". For the rest, this is a cheat in some games where you player become invulnerable. This usually removes the challenge of the game, the tension. For me, this makes the games boring. I know that some argue that "god mode" lets them just experience the story of the game, and that is all they want. But at that point, why not just watch someone else play? In any case "god mode" removes a level of player involvement in the game. If you are desisted to win, what have you accomplished by winning? It's a hollow victory. Why even have situations where the characters are at risk, if no real risk exist?

And that brings me to my next point: why are you playing a TTRPG if you just want to tell stories? Write a story or read one. Want to collaborate, then collaborate and write. If you want to roleplay, then pack up the dice and just roleplay. But don't call yourself a gamer if you don't actually like to play games. Maybe that is a little harsh, but I play and GM because I want rules and chance to play a part in my adventures.

What I don't want, is anyone to already know how the adventure is going to end. As a GM I want to be surprised! Fudging dice and forcing events to play out according to some script is boring and treats the players as spectators and not participants.

I'm not going to tell anyone they are having bad-wrong-fun, but don't try and argue to me that PCs need "script immunity". The "G" stands for game, and sometimes you "lose". Because if you can't lose, have you really won anything?