Monday, 2 March 2015

Do Players Need The Rules To Inspire Them?

I am the Warden!!

For the past couple of weeks, I've been reading through Fate Core and listening to a couple episodes of Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff, reflecting on Robin Laws' DramaSystem as I listen. While I'm only 2/3rds of the way through the Core and never read a damn thing on DramaSystem, the fact that both systems are known for incorporating character personalities and motivations into the game and offer a mechanical incentive for players to embrace weakness and flaws has seeped into my work on ScreenPlay.

At this stage in the game (a phrase which I'm using as a pun and not literally, but I guess it works both ways), I've focused almost entirely on the action component of things. Yes, there is definitely room for characters to flex out non-traditional aspects of a character as the Potentials work similar to aspects from Fate yet focus more on descriptive/experience traits of the character. For example, you can have Incredibly Strong, Quick Like A Bunny, or Bounty Hunter as a Potential. What's not built right into the game are mechanical benefits for embracing your characters flaws, which is instead left to the Director (GM) to work into the story as it progress.

So my question is this: do you truly need to create a mechanical benefit for accepting character flaws during play? Is it not possible for players to simply follow their own understanding of storytelling honed from years of reading and watching other stories to know it's boring as hell to have a character who is only awesome? Or do they need to receive a point of some kind like a music student getting a gold star on their sheet music every time they accept their character's goofs?

Personally, I'm in the No camp on this one, though I'll admit it really depends on the player and the type of games they experience. Seeing as ScreenPlay is not intended for just any roleplayer and every group, it seems fitting to me for there to be an understanding that people gathered around a type labelled as Writers rather than players would create interesting characters with strengths and idiosyncrasies. And that having those quirks come up during play serves the story more than it should provide a mechanical perk to your character sheet. However, this is only my opinion and so I want to throw it out to the masses for some feedback. Where do you stand on this topic? 

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