Thursday, 7 January 2016
10th Anniversary Classic Rant: Lethality: Or, a Get Off My Lawn Moment
It's time for me to talk about the good old days. Kids playing RPGs these days are a bunch of fucking wimps.
In the olden days, it was perfectly understood that your characters WOULD die; it was the rare and wonderful PC who managed to survive all the difficulties of lower-ranked play and emerge into an unstoppable unkillable uberman.
Character creation was not a chore, it was usually a kind of pleasure, the opportunity to start again, the promise of something new and different, maybe unexpected. It was part of the fun, not a hurdle to get over into the fun.
And the fact that it was relatively easy for characters to die was not a signal that "this game is not for combat"; it was, on the contrary, a sign that combat in "this game" rocked. There was risk, and there was great reward; and the understanding that without that risk the reward was pretty fucking pointless.
So what the fuck happened? Why are current gamers a bunch of wusses who can't stand to see their character die, and think that danger is something not only to avoid in a game but all too often to be systemed-away creating no-risk rules and adventures.
Part of what changed is that perception on character creation. Too often, people don't find it part of the fun anymore, and all too often, that's because it isn't fun anymore. Most systems take out any element of surprise from character creation, and tack on a ton of form-filling drudgery, assuring that character creation is seen as a chore before the game can really begin, and that its an experience best repeated as little as possible. So systems are set up to discourage the possibility of PC-mortality, and even penalizing frequent lethality.
And the idea, beyond any specific system and into a wrong-headed general mentality among gamers (embraced wholeheartedly by the Swine, of course) that those few games that do still have high mortality rates should "not be about combat" as a way to avoid and mitigate that lethality, has become increasingly and annoyingly universal.
What will fix this? Making character creation quick and fun again; and encouraging players not to be little pussies about their characters' lives.
That, and getting the fuck off my lawn.
Currently Smoking: Ashton Old Church Rhodesian + C&D's Crowley's Best
(Originally Posted March 5th, 2009)