Friday, October 2, 2015

...of Simulations and Sandboxes

By George, I've GOT it! (I think...)
While stuck at work on a slow Friday night, I've been mulling over the "What I Want To Play" series (#4 is sitting half finished in draft now), D&D, & RPG's in general, when I had another minor epiphany.

While thinking on some of the other games I'd like to play that I haven't covered yet versus D&D, two words burbled up from my subconscious that have been rattling around in my head for a couple of weeks now:



While re-reading the 4th edition "Pendragon" RPG (one of those "Games I'd Like To Play") and looking up things online in regards to it, I stumbled across one quote that said (paraphrasing from memory) that "Pendragon was less of a RPG and more of a simulation" due to its system of Virtues and Vices to ensure that characters behave in a certain, consistent way, to their beliefs and character.

..."less of an RPG and more of a simulation." I rather liked the sound of that.

I think one of the things I've been consciously seeking, without necessarily being AWARE of it per se, is simulation in my RPG's. I want tables and rules that run the world and everything that happens in it, other than my character. (Hence my recent comment that I want my games to be "virtual reality" and that I want "to control my character, and the game to control everything else".

I know one of the reasons, among others, that I chose D&D for my first Solo was the huge amount of material available for it. Random tables for nearly any occasion and situation if you look hard enough. I think this is one of the reasons it worked so well. That kind of plethora of material powers the Simulation.

The other thing I want (that I've been more aware of) is for all of my games to be like a sandbox. Less "sit down & just have an adventure" and more "go anywhere, do anything, live the life of my character". Again, this is why D&D worked so well. Plethora of material, fits the style of play.

And I think this is also why I've had such problems otherwise (except for the "Monster-of-the-Week thing, which by its NATURE is episodic, thus I DON'T want or NEED a Simulation OR a Sandbox).

The problem I've been having is I want a bunch of the other games I'd like to play to be Simulation Sandboxes.

Star Trek? I wanted to live the life and career of a Star Fleet officer fresh out of the academy with an open world space sandbox to explore and unfold around me.

Superheroes? (Another genre I'd like to be playing) I want an open world sandbox simulation city where my character can and go and patrol like Spider-Man and crimes, events, and THINGS just HAPPEN, while maintaining a personal life, a secret identity, and so on.

Now, to be fair, I have scoured far and wide on ye olde intrawebz, and HAVE acquired a fair number of resources for both of the above (and maybe a few others). Supers in particular I was able to amass a decent collection of "stuff" to enable this type of play.

But for some reason I think I've had a harder time of wrapping my head around a "hexcrawl" sandbox-y style of play for the above. (Though I feel like I'm close to a breakthrough on a Supers game...there's something in my subconscious that just feels like the pieces are ready to fall into play and make sense...)

With D&D, there is so much material available, and sandboxing and hexcrawling are such well trod paths, that it wasn't a huge stretch to get started, to figure out what to do, or how to do it.

With others, even though there IS material available (as stated above), there is still lots of prep to be done, and the style of play for these genres feels like strange, uncharted territory, that when contemplating, I've had trouble figuring out where to start, how to approach.

I don't know if I have any point to make. Just thinking "out loud" here. But I think quantifying and qualifying, putting a label on,  what it is you're trying to do in Solo RPG-ing (and maybe life in general, really) helps in some way to accomplish it. When you do so, it clarifies, sets guidelines, expectations, helps identify what the challenges actually are.

Maybe now that I have a clearer idea of what it is that I really want to do I'll have an easier time figuring out how to do it.

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