Wednesday, 5 August 2015

#RPGaDay 2015: Day 5 - ...if they're really out to get you

Prompt: Most recent RPG purchase

Happiness is mandatory. Are you happy?
My most recent RPG purchase is Paranoia, the latest edition of the classic game of Kafkaesque farce and Orwellian pratfalls. This most recent variation was a Kickstarter, so I don't actually have the game yet, but it is the most recent I have bought.

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So, from Paranoia, let's talk about avoiding the obvious.

Paranoia addressed this issue in its XP iteration with three play modes. Zap! was the mode usually fallen into by casual players and GMs, with clones dying left right and centre and the players spending much of their time in literally inescapable death traps and no-win situations. It's fun for an afternoon, but has very little campaign potential. Classic was the intended default, although as noted, default tended to drift easily towards Zap!, and was Paranoia as dark comedy. Straight was Paranoia played, well, straight, as a genuinely dark and moody dystopian setting, with any humour treacle-black.

And most games have an obvious implementation, either stylistically or narratively. D&D and D20 games in general lend themselves to combat (although see James Holloway's Day 4 video,) simply by virtue of having more rules for combat than for anything else. In fact, most games tend towards an action-focus, but this is not to say that they can not be anything other. Especially in later editions, it is perfectly possible to play D&D and broker peace between the goblins and the humans, or to seek a flower by stealth from the heart of a sacred wood, spilling no blood therein.  The key to such a narrative - and the reason you couldn't easily use both of the preceding - lies in defying expectations; in shaking up the PCs and players to see what happens. You change the story and you force the players to act differently, reexamining their goals and priorities and hopefully finding almost a whole new game in the process.