Wednesday, February 6, 2008

observations re: Mechanical Decisions

Part One: Dice ≠ Challenge. Part Two: Decisions = Challenge.
Those two posts discuss the need for challenges in RPG scenarios, and what does or doesn't constitute a challenge. This post addresses some observations regarding one sub-set of challenge: the Mechanical Decision.

Here's five inter-related observations/criticisms, in regards to mechanical and resource decisions:
  1. Resources that grant only a small bonus rarely generate much fun. +5% or so is weak enough it doesn't feel like your choice really impacted things much. As discussed previously, the bigger the decision, the more fun it tends to generate.
  2. Resources with randomized effects (especially those with the possibility of granting no advantage) do not add to challenge and rarely add to fun. Spending the resource and getting nothing makes you want to shy away from similar decisions in the future.
  3. Resources with multiple affects or options, provided they aren't balanced against each other, face a similar issue. Over time you'll find a "correct" use for them, and rarely divert from it.
  4. Resources that replenish too easily offer little challenge. The correct decision is almost always to spend them, as you'll get them back very soon.
  5. Resources that replenish too slowly offer heightened challenge, yet do so at the cost of fun. If you're regretting the expenditure for multiple sessions, you'll probably be gun-shy next time.
In the next couple posts we'll look at some mechanics from RPGs I've GMed.

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