07 March 2012

GameTalk - Narratives

The solitaire boardgame "Ranger" uses a "turn-to page #" scenario-book to progress gameplay; the Lock 'n Load series uses a "reveal story element" when a unit enters a special hex; and build-your-own adventure books were once (semi) popular with the RPG crowd. Is the "wargame with a story" a useful and enjoyable mechanic, or are they too much story and not enough game?

By: Jack Nastyface


Guardian said...

I like a good storyline in games because it gives some context, meaning, and motivation to the action. Without a storyline, a game can devolve into something reminiscent of "Letter from A Dungeon" at http://www.designersnotebook.com/Columns/027_Letter_From_a_Dungeon/027_letter_from_a_dungeon.htm, which I consider to be a classic commentary on RPGs (especially computer/console-based RPGs).

The fact that I primarily play single-player computer and console-based (as opposed to multi-player tabletop games) is a big influence here.

Brant said...

What about Twilight 2000? Is that a narrative wargame? I don't mind some special / random events, because those can be significant on the battlefield. The question is one of focus - do the events become the focus of the game, or flavor to it. If there's a chance they don't even happen, then the story can't overwhelm the scenario.

Anonymous said...

My comments...
The problem (as I see it) with certain story-driven elements is that you minimze the replayability of a scenario. The LnL scenarios advise "don't read beyond this point"...which is fine the FIRST time you play a scenario, but not so great if you want to replay it.

Admittedly, Ranger uses a scenario book, but much of that book could just be replaced with a set of tables. So instead of reading a paragraph that says "you an in the jungle. nothing happens. Turn to page 5", you could just as easily have a table that says "In Jungle: roll 2-8: nothing happens; roll 9 -12, sh*t happens". Etc.

The build your own adventure book idea were good for a couple of play throughs. I recall playing Green Circle Blues for Car Wars, and had two good plays with it, but it had limited playability after that.

RPGs are a very different animal, and are play best when largely story driven. I am interested in playing a new Vietnam RPG - Carry - for that precise reason.

Back from vacation and yours in gaming,

Jack Nastyface