20 September 2010

Inspection Success, Gamer Diets and Crunchy Rules.

Hoi, chummers.

  Well, our fire inspection was a success.  Thanks to Lieutenant Mike Heard of the RRFD for the inspection, conversation, and encouragement.  Now, Mary and I have to go back to school - parenting school.  We have Behavior Modification class Wednesday night.  I'll abide by the rules the State of Texas lays down as a licensed foster parent... but I don't have to agree with it.  Personally, I think since the dawn of kinder, gentler parenting that each generation of kids has gotten increasingly less and less able to cope and socialize.  They don't have the opportunity to fail anymore, and thus they don't learn how to deal with it.  They're spoon-fed their education by frustrated educators who have to "teach to the test" rather than TEACH.  Why is 30 the new 20?  Because these kids don't find a direction, or in some cases a will to get out of the house until they're 30.

  Sorry to digress, but in our game group we've got several twentysomethings.  One of them has done 4 years in the service.  One of them barely passed High School.  The third is quite successful as a computer technician making more than I do because I'm in higher ed and he's working for a medical firm.  They all recently moved in together to an apartment.  Prior Service is living off GI Bill and a %25 disability for hearing loss.  Barely-Passed has no job.  Computer Tech is bringing in all the bacon.  They asked me several times why they are not treated like adults and respected as such within the group.  The simple reason?  Read their facebooks.  "Beer pong"  "Keg party"  "Got soooo drunk"  "Beer pong"  "Kegs at the lake"  etc.  Not a running car between them, and some of them have gone months without a cel phone.  30 is certainly the new 20.  The friggin TEENAGERS make fun of them for getting drunk all the time and being generally irresponsible and undependable.  I personally feel for Computer Tech, he's smart, has a good job, but has the fatal character flaw (which I share, doubly so when I was his age) in believing that the best thing he can do is do right by his friends.  Sometimes you can swim with the millstone... sometimes it drags you to the bottom. 

  Back to the update stuff in this post.  I got back on WiiFit after 44 days.  Yeah, sue me.  Anyway, it says I'm 9.5lbs lighter than I was last time.  My jaw dropped.  See, people are telling me they can see that I've lost weight, but I don't see it in the mirror and I definitely don't feel it.  In fact, some days I feel heavier.  But my clothes are fitting more loosely, and I nearly lost my wedding ring doing dishes the other day.  Low-Carb is working for me.  Dunno about Mary, she doesn't ever do the WiiFit thing either, but we're starting to change that today. 

  Now, on to the interesting musing part.  This weekend we had a small group of us talking about gaming, and I brought up the excellent "Prime Time Adventures" indy game by Matt Wilson.  Upon describing it's uber-simple mechanics, one of my long-time players blinked at me and asked "Are you OK?  I mean, *you* would actually run that?"  By this she meant that my tastes generally run toward crunchier games - or at least I thought they did.  I love games with some crunch.  Rolemaster, Palladium, 2300 AD, Twilight:2000, Battletech, etc.  Why then would I be extoling the virtues of this almost rules-less game?  Well, perhaps it's because as I've gotten more seasoned in my gaming I've learned that it's more about the story and less about the system.  Now, to be honest my jury is still out about this one, and here's why.

  I like systems that allow for a certain amount of simulationism.  Abstraction is part of role-playing, but too much abstraction can actually dull the sense of being immersed in the story.  On the other hand, too much detail can also have the same effect.  See, I like things like fatigue points and CON checks.  Why?  Because most players will decide their character can carry a full combat pack for a week through the desert with no water without sleeping.  When there's a pool of fatigue points steadily draining, it's a mental fuel gauge letting the players know how exhausted their character feels.  I like that sort of data being in game systems, as it helps to make the characters more 'real' and vulnerable.  I like wound penalties, so that characters don't just fight like they're fresh and rested until they hit 0HP and then drop like a sack of rocks.  Problem is, all these things can - if not used correctly - slow the game down to a crawl, and turn more into an accountancy course than a role-playing game.

  Too much abstraction seems to make the game more like a game and less like a story.  I think D&D 4e has a bit of an issue with this, as game mechanics worm their way into player's decision making processes before dice ever hit the table.  It's no longer just a matter of putting your high stats where they'll matter, but the correct 'build', choice of feats, weapons, powers...  And once on the battlefield, players know there are minion enemies out there, and will ask the DM which ones they are so they don't waste a precious daily or encounter resource on them.  This sort of meta-gaming takes you right out of the story and reminds you you're playing a game.

  So too much abstraction is bad.  Too much simulation is bad.  Not enough of either is bad.  So what's a GM to do?  There's the question.  I'll be trying to find out over the course of... oh, the rest of my gaming life...

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