I got a taste of the new WordPress UI and it was horrors.  Why do companies feel like making their products hateworthy?  Is there something about the age of product managers that they want things to look like some awful ’80’s, Basic style where everything is hard to read?

I’ve seen it with Google.  I’ve seen it with GoToMeeting.  Yahoo made Yahoogroups absurd, if maybe not quite as pastel blocks with low contrast text ish.

Anyway, I was reading the L5R RPG forum and, since I’m part of the blogosphere, one might even say a blognoscenti, I have to respond to thissums:  John Wick Stealing Ian’s Favorite Conceptual Concept Thingamajig.  Yup, I totally ownerize talking about balancification and RPGs.  No one else has ever thought to spew their own brainheadedness vitriol upon their audience when it comes to balance and RPGs.

Since I already said all that needs saying on such topics, I will segway into weaponspeak, well, I guess gearspeak.

I find gear tedious.  I actually used to get gun magazines (for those young folksers, talking about products made of a slick, paperlike product known as paper).  Whether a Walther P-88 was the most accurate 9mm in the world (circa 1988) when comparing cluster sizes of silvertip hollowpoints was an article or I might be merging wordstuff into an amalgam of unregardableness.

But, as much as it’s possible to handwave differences in gear, there is some feel in gear that has nothing to do with mechanics.  I am swordmonstermasterdude, master of monsters with swords.  I happen to have left my lamia-rapier at home.  Shouldn’t I be countervantaged?

Which got me thinking that there’s three states to handle gearstate.  A character can be countervantaged, ambivantaged, or ultravantaged.  Those terms are way too long, let’s try these:  “screwed”, “normal”, “fully rocket-packed autogyro-ed”.  Mechanically, this matters.  How it matters is a matter for the system of game.  If the system of game is akin to L5R 4e, we say that normal is 3k2 damage, screwed is -2k0 to attack and damage, and fully rocket-packed autogyro-ed is +0k1 attack and damage.  Note that this thought is quite similar to the D&D 5e idea of roll twice and take better or take worse depending upon how rocket-packed you are.  Whatever floats your fully rocket-packed space yacht.

Time for another cegweigh.

I can totally play Vampire or Call of Cthulhu like D&D.  I am curious as to whether the way I approach multiplayer CCGs or various other competitive games is due to some attempt to turn competitive ventures into role-playing games.  If balance isn’t a concern with RPGs (though I would say spotlight time is within the realmosphere of balance), that suggests it is a concern of other games.  I intentionally nadirbalance things for myself, which could just be because both variety and challenge interest me more than firsting, or it could be because introducing thematicality to games is more goodly.

Why does it matter whether I’m screwed or normal?  Because, duh, story.  My story of stopping the ’08 invasion of the blueberry-givers of Arcturus Minor 9 with only a few Synchro Cannons and whatever Sunbeams I have lying around is way more profound and humblebraggable than if I had some decent energy weapons.

Some folksies are into gearstuff.  Heya, what is BattleTech but the gearthing being your character?  I’m less into saying “No, bad gamer, do not bring your weapons compendium to my table of RPA (role-playing art).  I don’t care that it goes zero to 60 in 3.42 seconds, it’s still not going to get a better speed rating than Doctor Wicked’s Yugo.” than I am how to make happy feelings with some folks who care that my clip only holds 17 rounds with one in the chamber versus those who are “If I fire a gold-tipped arrow at a castle-spaceship trying to achieve escape velocity, how long before it explodes outside of our atmosphere?”

Certainly, the spotlight is crucial, but does it need to be based on competence or just player decisions?  Is it sufficient to have a NPC relationship be as simple as “If I am nice to the NPC, the NPC is happy and likes me.  If I am jerkalicious to the NPC, the NPC is unhappy and dislikes me.”?  There’s no measure of success factor, just a decision.  Ah, but this is too much in the Fortress of Solitude.  We need to have more than one thing happening at a time.  I combat victims with my combat.  Dice rolled.  Smiting and stuff.  More to life than combat?  “Tis this be true, yonder stage manager?”  Okay, in this scenario, that might be fine.  Competence and results are managed through smitestuff, decisions without regard to measuring success rule social.  But, what if everything is social?  What if combat is largely dictated by decisions and not character sheetness?

I can see where having full control over things is less engaging than partial control.  Yes, I’ve played a bunch of one-shots where everything was a matter of decisions, but there’s a reason I don’t see those sort of games working so well for campaigns.  For one thing, control of your fate is wearying.  Having dice or card draw or whatever removes some level of responsibility and brings the game into RPG.  That may be why some folksies are totally into videogame roll-playing because it’s more relaxing, less work.

“The spotlight, forsooth, it comes right for you, monsieur.”

“I ready my fauchard-guisarme.”

“It’s an 8 hit die monster with a blinding attack.  Roll to save against Paralyzation, Wands, and Spotlight Breath.”

“13, does that make it?”

“You are a 2nd level marketing assistant.  I’m afraid your soul has been shredded so that only a 36th level Psionicist-Owlbear can cast Unincarnation on you and you will lose enough XP to drop to 1st level marketing assistant.”

“My next character is totally going to have Heart of Hatred: Spotlights.”

“Sure, sure.  Roll 1d4-3 for your stats and put the lowest number into Wisdom.”

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