Lunchtime Poll 4 :: 2d or not 2d?

Lunchtime Poll #4: 2d or not 2d?
Narrative Guy says, “Some of the best games I’ve ever played didn’t involve a single die roll; we decided what our characters could do and the GM took us through a story.”
System Mechanic says, “That’s not gaming. If you don’t have a mechanic, then the characters are subject to the capricious whims of the GM. And how can you make sure everyone is on the same page? Also, you lack the random element.” So…what do you think? Make your case!

Wow. The debate of much not-convincing is here.
If a rpg is to have something like a competition of skills where you play skills you don’t have, then you need a system mechanic. Otherwise, you tend to get a echo set of the skills the Players do have. The guy who knows martial arts will somehow seem more martial-ly. The social chatter will someone seem more charming.
However, since each Player and their GM is a ‘random element’ in themselves, I don’t think you have to have dice or cards or coin-tosses to make a system mechanic work. There are some very interesting games out there now that work on ‘bids’ of resources, or poker hands, or pools of dice that escalate conflict.
All that being said, I prefer to move as close to Narrative as possible, leaving system to be some trick of the narrative or a simple scale that all can keep in their head without reference to books or charts.
If I’m going to refer to notes or data in game, I’d like it to be something directly supporting the story. Better still if I don’t have to do any of that.

sidenote: Why does MT sometimes make hash out of punctuation in quoting other blogs? I get that from Ginger and Li. Macs? Why would MT fumble Mac text? I get quotes and apostrophes translated to number sets which do not display right at all.



  1. Smartquotes. Macs and PCs do not agree on smartquotes one little bit.
    So if you have anything but straight quote marks and apostrophies (and OSes just love to help you by substituting the prettier ones), they don’t always translate correctly.

  2. “…since each Player and their GM is a ‘random element’ in themselves…”
    You betcha. My standard answer to those who insist diceless roleplaying is inherently flawed because it lacks a random element is: “Um… generally my fellow players are pretty random all by themselves….”
    (…usually followed by muttering, “Silly mortals….”)

  3. There’s an MT plugin (and, I guess, a WordPress one) that I use that subs those smart quotes in. When you copy and paste, it gets the symbols rather than the HTML.

  4. We need to define “gaming” I would think. I “play” a character. My job, then, is to do and act as that character should (at least my interpretation of a character).
    Gaming denotes no real strategy. Gambl**g is gaming. Candy Land is gaming. Three Card Monte (if you aren’t being swindled) is gaming. Each has hard-wired rules that adds a random effect playing off of just plain dumb luck. For those of you out there who believe that luck should play so prominent a role in Role-Play, why not start off the game flipping a coin to see if your character lives or dies, and those that lose will be able to do something else for the 4 hours or so.
    Here’s the deal: Narrative MUST have some mechanics or there would be a common frame of reference. Mechanics MUST have narrative or it’s just playing craps with no bets. If I had to choose of the two, though, Narrative wins. I’ll take a good book with a set outcome any day over rock/scissors/paper.

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