April 09, 2007

Reinventing RPGs

supersida.pngSupergänget by Tobias Radesäter is a nice example of form and function fitting perfectly. It is a little Swedish superhero RPG written in cartoon form. It is a short (28 pages), simple game intended and suited for short games.

What really delighted me was self-referential style. The cartoon describes how the players at a RPG session sneak away to act as costumed crimefighters (which is also how game sessions are intended to start in-game). The GM walks away to his secret identity as the game designer, explaining the game while the plot goes on. It all reminds me of Scott McCloud's relaxed walks through his comics.

Roleplaying games have never become very stuck in any fixed format, despite the popularity of various rules-heavy systems. There is both an obvious freedom to select new settings and ways of roleplaying them, and rule systems are explicitly visible to players and GMs alike. This invites tinkering and experimentation far more than other kinds of games where consistency of rules is paramount. Again, roleplaying games tend by their nature as multilayered fiction to develop self-referential and self-modifying loops. Be it the designer considerations stated in the open in Skymningshem: Andra Imperiet or the deliberate self reference metaplot in Over the Edge, the subtle parody of HackMaster or the self-critical rants Violence, roleplaying games are not afraid of tearing down the fourth wall.

Posted by Anders3 at April 9, 2007 10:26 PM