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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why Does Rules Light Equal Fewer Choices?

Should Role-Playing Games say "Don't Panic!" right on the cover?
I was browsing for more Pathfinder RPG opinion and news today and came across this post on something called the Apathy Blogs. It provides a nice little summary of industry events leading up to the development of the Pathfinder RPG. The only part of it that bothers me is this little paragraph:
I think the biggest strength of the system is also its greatest weakness. The d20 system has always been a very customizable rules set. Characters can mix and match classes at each level. There are a wide variety of feats a character can use to add variety to abilities. So while building a first level character is fairly easy, a new player joining a high level game for the first time can be overwhelmed with choices. If you want a game that has the potential for a lot of complex customization, this is it. If you are looking for a light rules system there are plenty of other good choices out there.
Why is it that "rules light" seems to equate to fewer player choices? Why are player options in a game system considered overwhelming? Why is this a weakness?

Personally, I think this is an irresponsible statement about any D20 rules set one hasn't tried for a good length of time, much less one that's been as refined over time as the Pathfinder RPG has. It's taken over 30 years to get here and that is a good thing. I mean this isn't rocket science? No one's in mortal peril if you pick the wrong feat. It's a game?!

The statement above is purposeless overdrama and to new players looking to grow into a great game system filled with nice touches of history and tradition, yet expressed without vanity or ego, the Pathfinder RPG is a completely valid choice for new players.

The Pathfinder RPG isn't the new car built from scratch, accompanied by new defects, it's the one made with with a serious effort to stamp out the defects of prior models.

Also, let me point out that the statement above addresses a very specific scenario: a beginning player joining a high level game. Okay, how often does that really happen? One little misread and new players are headed for the hills. C'mon, if you're a new player joining a high level game you're obviously going to have help building a character or have time to read the information. This is a game, not a final exam or job interview.

We live in a world where people complain when they don't have enough choices, particularly here in America. As a result there are 17 different kinds of rice to pick from at the grocery store. Is that a bad thing? No. Eventually you might get tired of white rice and want to try a different variety. Choice is not a weakness.

1 comment:

Zanysite said...

No I pretty much agree with the assessment, rules lite systems offer fewer concrete legislated "player options" as you characterize them, making them less overwhelming, whether you're a new or experienced player, age 16 or 40. As far as too many options being a weakness, that is of course subjective, it is only a negative if the person in particular feels it is; I don't think anyone disputes that.