Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rules Are Made To Be Broken

I try to keep this blog in E-Prime, so writing that title pains me. Yet, that old slogan fits my topic today too perfectly to pass up. It seems to me that one of the primary functions of a rule in any RPG lies in the opportunity to break it. Who can break it, and when, becomes one of the primary means of defining a character.

I considered adding an idea to the playtests at GASPcon, but decided to try the simpler version without it first. I considered making several cards, allowing each player to choose one for his or her character. Each would announce a particular character trait, and with it, a specific rule that the trait allowed the character to break. So, for instance:
  • Ungrateful. You can have 12 Debt before you die, instead of just 10.
  • Contrary. Using the ritual phrase, "I have never heard of such a thing" costs you no Debt.
  • Wistful. Choose a Memory. You can use it twice in this game.
  • Famous. You have a bonus Name.

I don't know if it would fit into the poem, and part of me worries about including a list like this. On the other hand, it offers so much more room for people to define unique characters that I keep coming back to the idea.

When combined with an idea like Trouble, it presents even more opportunities. For instance, you could incur one more Debt to attach one of these to a Trouble. So, you take on four Debt. You take three coins of Trouble, and put them on a new Trouble called "Wandering Mercenary," with "Famous" attached to it. The person who eliminates that Trouble becomes "Famous," so he can gain another Name because of that victory.

I don't know if this idea will work, but it seems to open up enough opportunities to warrant playing around with it to see where it might go.

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