Hold on a minute! A system for skills checks? Surely that’s heresy for those who prefer open-ended RPG gameplay based on player choice. Well, yes and no, as open-ended, intuitive gameplay seems to result neither from ‘kitchen sink’ rule sets nor limitless improvisation.
Instead intuitive gameplay appears to result from rules that throw-up frequent open-ended decisions/ challenges, which present to players as opportunities to influence, (but not settle), outcomes through player choice and improvisation.
In other words, as with a game of poker, much of the fascination and enjoyment in RPG gameplay may well result from striking and maintaining a balance, perhaps creative tension, between many possible outcomes, (the unknown), and the players’ capacity to influence those outcomes, (the known).
Poker is a very popular example of a game which operates in this way, as the straightforward rules constantly ask players to take meaningful decisions – which players can address through skill and improvisation.
Overall, if all gameplay is covered by countless rules there’s no room for improvisation and player ownership. However, (and counter-intuitively), if everything is improvisational outcomes become less open-ended and more predictable through increasing players’ capacity to deliver favourable outcomes.
The skill system posted yesterday is, therefore, more about presenting the option of adjusting the rules v’s improvisation dial just on either side of a balance. This is done with the intention of encouraging open-ended, intuitive gameplay – which invites improvisation without writing any blank cheques.
Thanks to shuttermon for the image.