“…a good RPG will talk back.”

Wrote something over at Story Games, on the thread, Keys, aspects, beliefs, etc. – are they really all that? that I wanted to save here and present for further discussion if the rest of you folks who decided not to take the geek pilgrimage this year:

There was an interview with Jared and Luke on a podcast recently and one of them said something really interesting. He said something about, “you can role-play or talk in funny voices with any type of game but a good RPG will talk back.”

Aspects, Beliefs, Keys are more than just incentives, more than just positive reinforcement for role-playing. They are a tool for communication, a way to let everyone at the table know what you want the game to be about, what kind of situations and choices you are looking for at the table. These things start a conversation. These things make that conversation as much a part of the game as a hit point, they put that conversation on the character sheet.

I am reminded one of the Evil Hat crew, I think, who said something like, “The character sheet should be a love letter to the GM.” But it is more than a letter, it is a dialog, a conversation that the mechanics can help along.

2 thoughts on ““…a good RPG will talk back.”

  1. The useful thing about Flags is they cut out the usual 2-4 session flailing people often do about trying to figure out what each other’s characters are about.

    So far, I haven’t seen any really useful objection about Flags – “We don’t NEED these mechanical things to roll play” is kinda like “We don’t NEED wheels to be round” – if it makes things easier, why do it the hard way?

    So far, most of the objections I’ve seen basically boil down to “Rules = Bad”/”Metagame communication = Bad”.

    (The other way to avoid the flailing is to have resolution mechanics that find out very quickly what players do and don’t find important, but they’re even more invasive from a traditional roleplaying point)

  2. I am considering character sheets for all of the students in my high school classes. How great would if be if each sheet really did inform me, the teacher, what each kid wants the experience to be like!? The catch will be to deliver and still do my job in the state’s eyes.


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