Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Organic Game, Thoughts about Gaming Styles
What I call organic games are those where there is no script, but everyone has their own motivations and goals, and all are working toward their own ends. The purpose behind Organic Games is that there is no railroading, characters need an in-game motivation for their character (not a meta-game like xp, cp, levels etc...), and to simulate the Chaos of a world that is indifferent to the characters. Its organic in the sense that it has a life of its own, and I merely facilitate.
This game takes a lot of prep. I need to create an organic set up, that means fleshing out to some detail the motivations of a ton of PCs and having them put into motion. Of course I don't have to make them special or weird, already a lot of the real world motivations (love, family, security, status quo, frustration, etc.) are handy and create a whole lot of character and drama already. (I guess it comes in handy when players contribute to the NPC pool; they help generate a ton of other motivations that criss-cross the paths of their current characters and objectives)
A special trait of the organic game is that: "The world does not revolve around you", in fact it doesn't revolve around anyone. It can appear that it does character to character and from time to time, but it doesn't. This is one of those lessons growing up that has a valuable underlying insight: you cannot stay idle, and you cannot especially depend on the GM or any metaphysical force to help you.
It flows towards the rationale why characters are not safe. That they can die if the player is not carefull and all the risk must be fully appreciated. Characters having no safety net makes actions follow consequences.
Another interesting trait of such a game is that: there is no justice and there is no "deserving". Things happen and characters must deal with it. Bad things happen to Good Characters, and Good things happen to Bad Character. The GM is not granting any favors to anyone, sh!t just happen to happen in that way. The GM doesn't take special pains to make the world "just right". He/she shows the Game Setting and System as an Imperfect system, and what happens is, some of the time, the system is working the way its supposed to, and more often abuses and unintended consequences.
Anyway, this is a game players are really free to make mistakes. (I have my own rules to compensate, so that the pace of the game doesn't crash for one player or everyone, but I'm not going to pull punches with characters.). After playing so many RPGs for so long, real freedom is so dearly prized for me. Even if it craps out the story, I'm for freedom over a Scripted Story. In fact in such a game players make their best mistakes. When real factors are considered and really f-ed up sh!t happens, that's gold. It gets so real that everyone makes that connections. Its when ideas that normally aren't found together but happen to mesh perfectly in the situation
I'm pro-making mistakes. My favorite thing about RPGs is that I allowed to make mistakes without the severe consequences of the real world. In a Table-Top-RPG I get to do it in a fabulous, catastrophic, tragic, poignant and sometimes gonzo way.
I'll leave it up to the publicist (The creative writer who is in charge of weaving the game transcript; a transcript made by the VPGA) into some story. There was no "invisible hand" of the GM guiding events, things happen the way they did. Some of the plans survived, some plans didn't. Things turned into what they are, despite everyone's intentions. These things can be good, bad, somewhere in-between or something of an enigma.