3/28/2011-Mark well upon my lance, It bounces whilst I dance

My older brother stopped by unannounced the other day, okay somewhat announced, he called five minutes before-hand to make sure I had pants on.  I am a notorious nudist within my own home; I find it is a great deterrent against the neighbors’ small children from knocking on my glass doors to get my toy dog’s attention.  I don’t know why this neighborhood has so many toddlers besieging both back patio and front screen doors, but every summer some two year old has made the connection that my Chihuahua will come barking if they rap any of my glass doors.  Apparently, the parents have no awareness in enforcing boundaries and live within that military mentality that it is easier to ask forgiveness than actually doing anything; oh no, the military is more refined-they just don’t want to ask permission.  Anyway, let me tell you, nothing will define neighborly boundaries than a naked fat man asking a parent for privacy behind his own screen door while a toddler rams their tricycle into it.  That makes such a deeper scar on adults than children-the kids are only upset that they didn’t get to play with the dog. Fortunately for my brother, I had had a repairman out that morning and I informed him that not only did I have pants on, but I was showered as well.  I am a hermit, not a troll.

To make a long intro, portent; we went to the closest good game shop in the area, over twenty minutes away.  We spent over an hour looking at board games and miniatures.  I bought the new Wrath of Ashardalon D&D board game, I’m a risk taker, while my brother stuck with an old reliable, Talisman.  Naturally, we swung back to my place and played both.  I think it has been twenty years since I played Talisman.  God, am I old.  

Playing both games back to back was an interesting experience.  We played Talisman first and the D&D board game afterwards came off so flat in comparison.  I think it is ironic, because I felt more like role-playing with Talisman than I did with D&D.  There are a few reasons for this, but I just want to address one for this long blog; alignment.  Surprisingly, the D&D game has no alignment; players have to work together so the designers do not bring in a divisive mechanic.  Talisman has alignment; players can be good/evil/neutral and it does have supporting mechanics that effects play.  I was really amused by playing an evil hero and purposely avoiding areas that favored good heroes.  This reminded me of a comment made by Luke Crane in a lecture of his titled “Game Design is mind control.” 

In this lecture, Luke claims that Chainmail went from a war game to a RPG when they introduce mechanics about good and evil.  They were not trying to make a RPG, they were just adding a tactical behavior, evil monsters would attack good guys first and some abilities were only available to specific alignments.  What happen was unexpected, by having a player declare if they were good or evil prompted the player to make choices that would reflect that trait and the first RPGs were born.  I have to admit, I sort of scoffed at the idea.  I did agree with Luke that it did probably influence the development of role-playing; but he seemed to place a greater importance than I would.   After playing these two games back to back, I have to say, his idea has a lot more credibility than what I gave him. 

I do love ideas and theories but I am always amazed when I actually experience them.


Game Design is Mind Control:


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