Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Simulation versus Mechanics

fairly frequently I hear people utter such phrases as " But that just doesn't make sense" in reference to a larp rule. Now I am all for the multitple views of gaming, I understand that some players want a simulation and some want a story. I can wrap my mind around the desire to simulate medieval life with some canon fantasy elements thrown in, but the most basic rule must still survive, everyone must have fun.

Simulationist systems like the SCA or Dagorhir are fun on a limited scale. Generally speaking the games take place with combat games interspersed with hanging out, maybe some of the hanging out is in character but mostly not. I love these types of games, I have fun when I go to them, I started in the SCA but these are not really LARP in the strictest sense. They do not schedule like a larp, there is not a constant state of in game that lasts for an entire weekend. They do not generally run modules and field battles and they do not have to scale their encounters. IN a simulationist game like this, "Making Sense" has some relevance. It is far easier to determine what is making sense in a limited, combat only capacity, when only interplayer combat needs to be scaled. Also scaling issues are far less prevalent in a game with a combat system as simple as most of these games, most of them do not use hit points, weapons all do the same damage, there are not spells or classes. These games are the essense of larp combat without the complex rule system, and the can make sense.

The more standard view of a larp game is NERO and its cousins and brothers. "Making Sense" from the perspective of these types of games makes less sense(Heh). The whole rule system is a series of mechanics for governing the game, none of them should be required to simulate anything. Boffer combat resembles sword combat, barely. It is fun and exhilirating, but there is no reason that a hammer should do more damage than a dagger unless the mechanics call for it. A spell has no real world equivalent so it lends no credence to its realism to make a fire spell set someone on fire unless of course the effect is desired for a story reason or for scaling. The concept of realism in a fantasy game is limited by the canon of the fantasy and by the mechanics of the game, no rule should be implemented which does not increase the fun factor for at least one group of players.

This gets us to my premise that realism makes sense in a combat game larp but not in a traditional larp. The limited scope in which we do need to insure realism in our fantasy games extends only so long as the mechanics in question are as fun as possible. Discuss.

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