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Context drives human behavior. We know Monopoly isn't a roleplaying game, so we don't roleplay its pieces having conversation as they pass each other on the board.

(Though my son used to when he was six. Children are driven by different contexts than the ones they'll learn by adulthood.)

Video game players assume incongruous or anomalous elements might need to be puzzled out. They'll poke at them to try and figure them out.

But RPG gamers would never approach an RPG text like this. There's no context for it. An RPG text is supposed to aspire to clarity. Any oblique or intuition-defying elements are reckoned and tolerated as unintended creative or communicative failings.

@paulczege Within the text of the game itself, yes, but within the context of an adventure, elements that don't initially make sense may be readily seen as pieces of a puzzle. RPG gamers, like video gamers, will recognize puzzle pieces, seek out the rest of the pieces, and try to fit them together to complete the story. As an example, Earthdawn 1E has a scenario called Blades, where the player characters gain possession of magical weapons, and slowly begin to realize there's a larger pattern.

@paulczege Proposed interpretation: the text is not the game. The text should make it possible for you to play the game, and so the text should be clear. The rules (not the text) can more easily have oblique or intuition-defying elements, though they have to still be things that people will remember to do.

@paulczege Or to put it another way: most roleplayers have a skeletal default rpg framework in mind into which they fit the games they play. This framework is useful when it bridges gaps inherent in most traditional rpgs. The challenge for indie rpgs is to make clear how they re-write and override these assumptions, but being clear is not always what a particular game needs to achieve its own agenda.

I'm personally in this place with The Clay that Woke: I love the obliqueness of the game and the sense that it is trying to do something different, but I know that I need to sit down with it and spend some time figuring out how to make it work if I'm not going to default to rewriting it as I play.

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A Mastodon instance for tabletop gamers.