I have played role-playing games since 1979 or ’80. This summer I was bringing my RPG Collection on RPG Geek up to date and realized that I have a lot of games. I started thinking about what I like, and don’t like, about a particular game.
In trying to map out my games, I found myself coming back to a three-axis assessment:
- System Crunch – This is my totally subjective assessment of how “crunchy” the system is. Not to be confused with how crunchy the setting is. I loosely define System Crunch as a combination of the Core Mechanic and Combat Resolution. For example, in Classic Traveller the Core Mechanic is a simple Roll 2d6+Skill Level = 8+ for Success. Combat Resolution is really a look-up table where one compares the weapon to the armor of the target. Not very crunchy; unlike the Third Imperium setting which can get really crunchy (building stellar battleships and plotting entire star systems).
- Simulationist – To be taken in conjunction with the third axis, Narrativism. Simulationist is my subjective assessment of how strongly the rules force a simulation of the reality. Traveller 5 (T5) is a very Simulationist system in that it has many rules to cover many events.
- Narrativism – In conjunction with Simulationist, Narrativism is my subjective assessment of how much the RPG system encourages narrative play. Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is a more Narrativism-based game in that the the system encourages narrative play over strict rules interpretation.
Looking back over my games, I can see an interesting evolution of my RPG interests over time. I also see how the industry has changed over the years. When I look at my RPG collection from this perspective, I can see a change not only in the industry but also in my own interests.