Tuesday, June 7, 2011


While I often talk about the importance of letting people play the type of game that they want to play, I almost exclusively talk about it in reference to people who hate against stick jocks. However, it's important to note that the other side of the coin does exist, and needs to be addressed. A game can be too combat focused.

Over aggression exists whenever the plot team's (or players) put so much combat into the game that characters are unable to enjoy uninterrupted roleplay. This can be something basic, like orcs constantly attacking a tavern filled with merchants, or something more invasive like enemies permeating barriers that should normally be impassible.

When you look at the biggest and best games (like Conquest), you'll note that there are parts of the camp that are non-combat roleplay oriented and there are parts that are combat based. If you want to fight, step into the fighting area. If you want to be a merchant/surgeon, you can do that without fear that you'll get hit by a sword in the middle of a speech or procedure.

While the games we play are often too small to facilitate a separate area, it's important to keep these things in mind.

Make Breaking Magical Barriers Rare
While I have no problem with a big bad guy putting the entire town on the run, invading magical barriers should be a rarity. Additionally, the magical barriers themselves should be rare. The trick is to find the happy medium that allows the maximum amount of safe roleplay, makes it difficult for players to abuse these areas, and maintains the continuity of the game.

Promote Total, Non-Combative Roleplay
A lot of characters want to roleplay heavily, but often have a hard time making ends meet in a game where items/gold play an important role. For this reason, you should give your RP heavy players a reason to not go kill that goblin for the silver it has.

Build Support Roles into Plotlines
Just because a player wants to be heavy roleplay doesn't mean they don't want to be in the mix. But sometimes, it doesn't make sense for them to even attend the same modules as the combat heavy folks. Make sure to include some support roles that happen in parallel/serial to to the combative plotlines. While you can work some stuff into the combat modules (which makes for dynamic encounters), having full on non-combat modules helps make those non-combat characters indispensable.

Non-combatants are players too. The trick to running a successful game is to give both the stick jocks and the flurbs an environment where they can focus on playing the game that they want. While I personally might think that it's a good idea for players to step outside their bounds every once in a while, it's still very important that you don't force players to do that.


  1. What the heck is a "flurb". Is that like a Flubber Scavenger?

  2. Not sure. It's a term from Dag, Amtgard, and Belegarth for someone who roleplays.

  3. I think that in a good game, you wouldn't see this clear division between combat and role play. If you're into role play, it doesn't necessarily mean that you like talking to an NPC for hours with nothing exciting happening.

    To me, an RP intensive game is one in which the encounters are meaningful to my character. The NPCs have colorful personalities and characteristics. The game's setting or concept is interesting to talk about.

    That stuff creates a foundation for interesting role play. My character will relate to the game differently than the other characters. I can pick a motivation and pursue it in creative ways. This is what makes quality RP, not some safe zone / ghetto for flurby players.

  4. While I agree that most players like a mix of roleplay and fighting, there are players that have zero interest in fighting. Those people pay their money, same as everyone else, and they have a right to play their kind of game.

    And obviously, you don't have to make up safe zones that seem forced/out of place. Just avoid it for the most part.

  5. Bare in mind, usually, the combat oriented players can murderize the RP oriented players... pretty much at any time.

    And, typically, might makes right in life and larp.

  6. Well, PvP without reason is griefing. You would hope that the game staff would be able to stand their ground and eject a player who griefs others.

    You'd hope...