Game Design: Not Quite An Argumenton December 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm
I break things all the time. Here’s one of the latest atrocities I’ve committed, a weird question in the form of a logical argument (which it isn’t):
Where class is the summation of combat features;
And race is the summation of social features;
Therefore, what is theme?
I like to think that I’ve contained just enough of my insanity to create bizarre situations like this which I can then think my way out and have innovative stuff. But really, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around different aspects of character for a good long time. Most roleplaying games don’t get classes right, much less anything else.
I might be the only one who thinks this way, but the idea that Wizards of the Coast would try to add yet another dimension to character creation when they’re still relying on the feat system to shore up design holes is laughable. I’m working almost entirely on my own and I’m still uncovering new layers of this insanity.
Character class must be many things, and race must be many more things. For character theme to be yet another thing, the designers would have to acknowledge that they know what the other two are supposed to be, and I’m not sure they’ve ever done that. For example, how are there half-elves/orcs and no other half-things?
Older editions of the game actually dealt with some of this cross-breeding stuff, there were tons of alternate races, templates for representing various racial modifiers and stuff, but since “what makes a race” has never been solidified, the idea of representing combinations of different fantasy races is … again, laughable.
You’re combining a bunch of numbers A with a bunch of numbers B, and trying to posit that they work because shut up that’s why. Since setting aside classes to focus on races again I’ve come up with a few things that should probably be defined by “race.” Remember my astrology post? Age, Generation, Social Structure? All that stuff.
If classes can combine various aspects of a character like their combat training, their magical capability, and a number of other various bizarre things, then races should probably combine just as many esoteric eccentricities as well, right? As long as everything is made “playable,” then it ought to be there.
“No shortcuts” is my main rule here. If a race is going to have some weird ability to warp time, or has an extra heart or something, then it needs to be explained and have some consistent effects. Not just a “throw it in” approach, but a clear, “this is what we mean when we say immortal,” kind of thing. Frames of reference and whatnot.
My, that was a rambling post.
Maybe I’ll have something more productive before the end of the day.