Not that the rest of the roleplay community works within the idea of artistic expressions, but something struck me about that today and I thought I’d have a chat with myself about it!
It occured to me that someone elses art can just be flat out boring to you. This isn’t terribly controversial – I’m sure we all like some types of music or paintings, but to other types of them we go ‘Meh’, while other people might hail them. Not controversial.
But it struck me that if I took a board game and plugged in spaces for artistic expression to occur (like someone describing their characters move), I’m putting in work and effort into something that, if I look at it calmly, can not be exciting at all. It could be entirely boring, simply because I don’t dig the art the other person expresses at that point.
Why add something that adds nothing? The art has a chance, perhaps a fair chance, of adding nothing. Indeed, why go out of my way to fit it into something which would have worked perfectly well as a board game? Why spoil a good board game will dull blanks? In fact, go to the effort of filling a good board game with dull blanks? It doesn’t make sense, yet that only just occurs to me.
So I thought about it and realised I’ve sought of thought along these lines before and suddenly a hybrid appeared in my mind (and some steam wafted out of my ears). Basically I’ve thought of an imagination coupler before, but it was fairly rudimentry – the classic “Get +2 to hit if the GM feels prior narrations would grant that”.
Here it’s slightly more complex. Say you had three moves (how many doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s atleast two/a choice). Upper Cut, Roundhouse, Flying Kick.
Now the first thing is that as designer, I choose moves that atleast I find exciting. So these are all exciting options that thrill me, the designer – instant reward for designing! The second thing is, the player chooses one of these moves as his move, BUT he can also describe his move. And if the GM so whishes, he can construct a bonus to hit and damage that suits that narration (perhaps working within a certain budget – how much he spends of the budget depends on how poweful he feels the prior narration was). Or the GM can just take it that the move they stated, happens. The third thing? The player gets the stats described to him and can either choose to take it OR the previous move he stated (which was one of the following: Upper Cut, Roundhouse, Flying Kick).
The good thing about this coupler is that something I as designer think is exciting, will always happen! No ‘dull art’ moments. Either one of the moves happens, or in play if I as GM think the art is exciting, then it gets implemented (assuming the player goes with it – if they don’t, they go with one of the pre set exciting moves). There is only what I think of exciting – there is no forcing imagined moves into the design, even though they can pan out dull as dog poo.