I’ve been thinking about a post I read a couple days ago about gear rules in RPGs. I don’t have a problem with gear per se except when it’s boring, but it did get me thinking about the top three things I don’t think any RPG has ever modeled or expressed or whatever to my satisfaction. Which may mean I just haven’t seen them! So tell me where to look for example of games that get these right.
Oh lordy, becoming a parent made it obvious that this is one of the Great Huge Topics that RPGs just haven’t gotten right. So, sure, pretty common to see “they kidnapped/murdered your child! Revenge!” Whatever. But the ongoing other stuff, as far as I can tell, is utterly unaddressed.
I think it’s easy to express parenting-specific insights in the fiction of nearly any game with other parents. But on an intentional procedural level? Or as a core theme of a game? Never seen it done.
I’m really hoping Ryuutama changes this. I have the PDF but I haven’t read it yet (damn you Urban Shadows, let go of my eyeballs). But honestly, as someone who has traveled an awful lot, it is constantly dismaying to see how it’s treated in gaming. The One Ring has some interesting ideas that I’d love to try out: not just the map game and navigating your way across the countryside, but also in how you interact with strangers.
What I’ve found is really missing is the transformative power of travel. How seeing the world changes people. I don’t mean earning XPs, either. I mean more in the Mark Twain way:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”Mark Twain
Was there ever a more badly treated subject in gaming? I think this reflects general social awkwardness that many gamers, I think, struggle with. So they treat Charisma as a superpower and/or a dump stat and/or something it isn’t, i.e. hotness. Hurr hurr look at that body, that’s what CHA 18 looks like yo.
Terrible. Embarrassing. The broader category of emotional intelligence (yes, it’s an imperfect term) just hasn’t been handled right in any game I’ve ever seen. I’d go so far as to say that the traditional approach has been downright bad for learning how actual people actually work.
My actual list is a lot longer but those are the topics that spring to mind hardest and fastest.
What topics do you think have been most mistreated in gaming?