How many rules are in this rpg?!
October 5, 2011 6:25 PM Subscribe
I feel like I'm missing something about rpgs like Dungeons & Dragons. Can the hive mind explain it to me? In short: I don't see what the massive rulebooks are doing, since the core mechanic of the game seems so simple.
posted by philosophygeek to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The basic premise of these games, as I understand it, is that the participants are co-building a narrative adventure. One participant (the DM) is in charge of laying out the narrative framework and responding to the other participants' activities, and the other participants tell the DM what they want to do. So far, so good? This part makes sense to me. In fact, this seems like something that my friends and I would enjoy doing.
In order to tell the story, the players use the mechanic of character stats, dice rolls, etc. to help determine what can be done in the game, to give some structure to in-game events, and in general to keep the narrative balanced. So, a really difficult opponent will be represented with stats in a way that makes the degree of difficulty appropriate for the level of challenge desired at that point in the narrative, and dice rolls keep the game from degenerating into the whims of the DM. If this is close, I'm still on board.
Where I definitely get lost is in the rulebooks. There are hundreds of pages of material for any given game, and I have a hard time grasping what all of those pages are supposed to be useful for. The basic mechanic is story--ability/difficult level--dice roll; so what are the other 195+ pages doing?
My first thought was that the extra rulebook pages are for game-specific content, but even generic rulesets like GURPS or SRD seem to be pretty large.
There clearly must be a substantial value to all that additional content, since there's a market for commercial rulebooks (and the supplemental volumes!), but I'm not understanding what that is.
Hive mind, help me understand what's going on with these games and their massive rulebooks. If there's a relatively simple way to get introduced to this genre of games, I'd appreciate that too. Like I said, the basic premise seems like something that would be fun, but it also seems like there's some hidden complexity in these large rulesets such that I'm not understanding how the game really works.