Played a bit of Numenera last night and it brought some things to mind.
God damn I revel in a good Role playing game fight.
You see this is not going to be about Numenera in general but more about kicking the shit out of things in our imaginations.
Lest face it pretty much all big time RPG’s over the years have a detailed “combat system.” Smaller press RPG games have at the very least a “task resolutions mechanic” that is used mostly to beat things up.
Where I’m going with this is that violent conflict is generally a big part of role playing games.
(What? no way?! duh …)
Is it that rpgs' grew out of a war-gaming tradition? Is it our pent up aggressions, testosterone, inferiority complexes, inner angst, machismo, the id telling the super ego to go take a flying jump? I don't know though I will admit.....
It’s an awful lot of fun to You know, bash things.
In what has traditionally been a male dominated hobby (slowly changing thankfully) Hitting things with other huge things made of sharp steel has been a main ingredient in the game scene since RPG's first crawled out of the war-gaming ocean and used it's flippers for feet. (at which point a guy named Lancelot saw it and cut it's head off..I digress)
I ‘m not a great role player, I am not going to make up long colloquies or artful speeches, I stay in character, I play my part. In a fight however, that’s where I shine. Stupid quips, observations about enemies, descriptions of things my character does to targets and things targets inflict on my character, they all just kind of jump out.
Last night t in our Numenera game, we fought a giant decapod crustacean with crab claws and stalks on its back. Each stalk was topped by the animated screeching heads of the beast’s former victims.
|like this only with alot more crazy fuckedupness going on.|
It was not until the giant shrimp-crab-baddie had my character caught in both claws, and I was face to face with a gibbering, animated head which preceded blabbering cryptic warning signs at me did I really start to feel the character. I got stunned, I threw up, and I smashed one of the heads off of the beast like I was hitting a ball off a tee. I started to look at my edge and my abilities granted by my Foci way more seriously than I was when we were just chatting up the local bartender.
|Yeah it was kind of like that... only on a crab... stawlk.. Sorry Dr. Hill|
Combat in RPG’s is the great distiller of focus. Once you get into a fight you will learn how the skill system works, you will start looking for every edge and bonus you can sneak out of your character, you will start talking, exploring your character sheet. In combat there is something to loose, the character could get killed. Yes I know this is not the end of the world, but mechanically it demands your attention unlike anything else.
Why is Combat so pervasive in Rpg’s? The same reason movies that are just two people sitting at a table smoking butts and talking to each other for 3 hours are called art films and while they have their place, they are not as common or as exciting as Legend of the Drunken Master.
See what I mean?
Characters are built to DO things, to move the story, to bring the action, to create the fiction that drives the narrative, to (insert your own RPG catchphrase.) Combat forces a player to DO.
I do not believe that Combat should have it's own system in a game, I think resolution is resolution. resolution should not change if you are picking a lock swinging a sword, or talking teh mayr into giving his daughter's hand to you in marriage.
I also do not think that combat is the be all and end all of a game. I love the interactive part of the game the talking , exploring, the making connections, and living the story. But in the end conflict , particularly physical conflict brings things to a point. As a bonus It also grants us the chance to describe how we hit an imaginary baddie in the face with a flail.
|I'll only say this ONCE....|
And really isn’t that what we want? For our characters to be Doing things, making the awesome?
Let me know what you think
Question comments and shenanigans welcome.