Re: Visibility, Transparency, Reality and Game System

From: Alexandre Lanciani <alexanl_at_...>
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 19:48:40 +0200

John Hughes:

> First, a rank newbie question, and a possible one for the FAQ.
> What are the practical limitations on casting spells/using magical
> abilities/performing ceremonies?

        Practically, I would say that you are limited by your chances of failure. After all, often failures equate with backfires of the spells' effects.

        From a more realistic (i.e. Gloranthan) perspective I don't know, unless you want to assume as realistic a game construct. But after all since rules are supposed to simulate - no, to model - reality maybe this would be the right way to go.

> (I know that the constant
> conscious referencing to game mechanics will become less intrusive with
> usage, but it's been a MAJOR stumbling block to my group).

        The rules are quite easily mastered, and IMO they don't even require a synopsis, which is quite an achievement since the game makes use of tables.

        But it's true that being more abstract they don't translate immediately in game reality. Indeed they look to me more like a "random story generator" than actually a RPG rules system. IMO you don't roll the dice to see if you hit, you roll the dice to see which development of the story is followed.

        OTOH being more abstract they leave you freer from in-rule thinking as opposed to in-character thinking. On this point I have still to make up my mind: if on one hand they give you this freedom on the other I'm always ill at ease when a player asks for an augmentation. Not that the mechanic in itself is counterintuitive, just it embarrasses me to ask: "At what bonus/edge/amount of APs are you aiming to?"

> My own confusions seem to spring from the fact that HW does not
> sufficiently
> distinguish between its own mechanical and descriptive mechanisms, and the
> Gloranthan 'ethnographic' reality upon which these mechanisms are
> based. The
> murkiness seems further accentuated by the intrusive nature of the game's
> vocabulary.

        Yes, this last sentence sums up in a nifty way what I had a hard time trying to elaborate above. The game's vocabulary is intrusive.

        As for the distinction between the game generated reality and the reality it is supposed to model I think there is not much distinction insofar that HW mechanics are so abstract as to have no direct relationship with what they are simulating.

        Let me explain a little better: I think there is a certain difference between what we could call metarules (definitions, principles, like characteristics' definition and the percentile rule - the mathematics of RPGs) and the actual rules, i.e. the application of these metarules in order to provide a comprehensible simulation of the setting - the physics. Well, it seems to me that HW is only metarules, no actual rules. A fact in favor of this opinion is the lack of explanation for feats.

        IMO one strength of HW is, paradoxically, this distance between rules and reality. You can think in terms of setting's reality, as if you were playing a ruleless game, and then use the system to make the story unfold in a somewhat consistent and surprising way, both for the GM and for the players.

        I know I've been largely incomprehensible, but if you've make it this far I hope you are not too upset for what I wrote or for how I wrote it!

	Obscurely yours,

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