For the #RPGaDay2015 the question on day 25 relates to ones favorite revolutionary game mechanic and as openended questions goes, this one is tough. Picking out a specific game mechanic is one thing, but picking a revolutionary is whole different thing – but then again it may just be something that was an eye opener for one’s own way of playing.
Day 25 – Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic
In a sense Hit Points from Dungeons & Dragons may be a revolutionary game mechanic as well as Experience Points. Now a day they are everywhere, but that was not always so, and most applications of the HP and XP systems can be traced back to D&D. So some of the most common mechanics now a days may be more revolutionary, than you’d think, once we go back in time to have better look at them.
For me a revolutionary mechanic is one, that changes the way, that I play. One such mechanic or rather group of mechanic were those, that came we with indie wave back in the early zeroes. Besides being the focus for much controversy regarding how to play RPG’s there came a lot of interesting ideas and concepts from the now defunct Forge forum.
From the Forge forum came a set of tools, that made it easier to describe the act of roleplaying and talk about what happened at the game table (whether or not you buy into the GNS model or some other model), and secondly there were a bunch of games, that used this awareness to play around with the usual order of things. From distributing the right to set scenes to defining who get’s the right to describe the outcome. Those were not elements touched upon by any of the classic roleplaying games (D&D, World of Darkness, GURPS, Shadowrun, Basic Roleplaying, Savage Worlds), and that changed a lot for me. It was revolutionary to play My Life with Master, Polaris, In a Wicked Age, Shock: Social Science Fiction, It’s Complicated, Lacuna, Contenders, Annalise, Primetime Adventures, The Shab al-Hiri Roach, Mouse Guard and so on. Some the new concepts had been touched upon sparsely in older games, but now they were put front and center – and with those experiences I could go back and also expand on my more traditional games of Nephilim, D&D, Call of Cthulhu and so on.
To pick one mechanic from this whole movement is not easy, but two that was important to me was the focus on Conflict Resolution rather than Task Resolution and secondly granting or winning the right to narrate the outcome of a scene.