So. Based on my latest roleplaying experiences, an increased trend of social situations and dialogue-based activities can be found. I am even quite forgiving and hate to see the players fail in something grand, something which I wish to learn out of. So why am I attracted to d20, the notoriously rules-heavy concoction?
First of all, d20 is a way to bring excitement into conflict without having to generate it yourself. I’m sure an eloquent and smart player can describe a conflict in a way that everyone around the table can find exciting. But for the little guys, the people who can’t create a heart-stopping situations with their words alone, for them a system brings chance and real uncertainty to the situations where their characters are in danger of failing. I find it difficult to maintain my freedom when there are no rules to back me up. This is what I said in my last post, and the most important point.
Second, d20 structures frantic situations. Trying to mentally keep track of the doings of four people plus any non-player charactes in a scene is pure madness. D20 does it for me and enables combat to take place. True, it does not do it quite realistically since the game is turn-based. But it is intuitive to use and most people can suppress their disbelief on the matter. I haven’t seen any system that enables that level of stucturing narrative while remaining in ‘real time’.
Third, d20 is fast and easy to learn. Roll a die. Add modifiers. Check against a DC. Get success or fail. When stripped of everything else, the basic premise of the system is a piece of cake. I find this quite attractive, since I find numbers easy to count.
So. What can we extrapolate? I like to use gamings systems in conflict resolution. Just deciding whether or not someone succeeds myself is beyond my zone of comfort; I feel like I had too much power in my hands. When I need to give the players a sense of difficulty and uncertainty, I like to roll dice. And since most gaming systems tend to have some sort of structure,why not use it?
One reason. If it is too heavy. This is why I like D&D 4th edition more than I liked 3.5 or Pathfinder. It gives me framework for combat, makes creating a challenge easy, yet remains vague enough to accomodate storytelling. A good example is the Acrobatic Stunt-application for Acrobatics-skill: Describe an acrobatic stunt. If the GM allows, roll Acrobatics at DC 15. If you succeed, you manage to do the stunt. The GM is given a tool to let the character succeed or fail, while letting him decide how much realism and description the player must add.
Light, fast and cinematic. That’s how I roll.