I'll tell you briefly about my dream game.
And then I will prattle on
for an ETREMELY LONG MEANDERING POST.
You have been warned
A couple of friends come over and one says "I want to make a
UIY))ASD LSHDHA &* SKJHD for my character" and the other wants
to be a SD&*& SJH D() &* (SD". They aren't certain what that
gibberish means, but they have a few more ideas about that than
I do (they've both been thinking about it for a while I guess).
They both contain some identical sequences: parenthesis (sp?), &*
and at least SD...and the players really seem to think that what
they've said is meanigful, in the sense that it conveys
So we start to puzzle it out.
The dream probably ends there, but I wake happy.
Race as Class discussion thread derailed briefly into meta-game idea - a pretty abstract sociological one perhaps, the differences in the experience of playing RPGs now vs then. There's some 'differences' in 'play attitude' or 'player/DM expectations' in this newschool/oldschool thingee...it's really pretty hard to pin down what the fuck we're talking about EXACTLY, or even close for me. Been cooped up with no internet for a few weeks. Do forgive.
It makes me want to analyze this strange ill-defined concept in terms of Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I don't own a copy of it these days, but it is a pretty remarkable book.
RPG as an science/art with a system underpinning it. The particulars of that system can be changed to the point that they break. If it is a spartan frame (simple) it can be embellished. It seems this is easier to do than removing parts from a complex assembly - assuming that it is important that the system maintain enough consistency/integrity to remain playable (no rules that say "Roll d20. If you roll 8377..." or "Roll on Table X.4" but that table isn't in the book...
(Anybody actually play any Tri-Tac? Tried Fringeworthy at a Con once...)
Instead of rolling dice and hanging-out at a table, we could all get up and try to do it in real life? Since playing a game is not a life and death experience, we must agree on WHAT SYSTEM ARE RESULTS JUDGED BY (i.e. reality is not doing that for us).
So what are the fundamentals of a game then? There is a world and there are things in it, and these things interact with each-other. Players of the game have some degree of control over some number of the things and interactions in the game. One player has some degree of control over the world in addition to some (usually very many more) quantity of things in the game. I'm trying to be very simple because, well, because.
Every player hands over some degree of autonomy to chance, usually die rolls.
Very many of the interactions in the game 'world' are rule based. Consider the term 'elf' the imposition of order on chaos. It means something (exactly what is debatable). Take the term 'race'. It does to, in the set of relations between 'objects in game world' and 'game world' and 'other objects in game world'. This is tangential (at best).
So theres a world and the things in it and the 'rule' that they interact.
How do these things interact?
What can these things do to each-other?
(World can kill characters/characters cannot kill world)
How can the results of interactions be measured?
(the introduction of scores/stats/points)
Fundamentally 4e is as maleable as 0e - it is up to the players/referee to change things. add things, ignore things, modify, tweak with, etc. This can be done with ANY game - you can add cardplay to chess - play without bishops - change pawns into rooks - etc. The point here is that
no game system cannot be changed.
So D&D or RPG-in-general as revolutionary process, a different paradigm in the intellectual environment - not really a whole-cloth NEW idea: games have existed for as long as we have (?).
And it was certainly not a brand new idea to apply rules to play/pretend, to introduce random chance into such a system of EXPERIENCE.
It synthesized several 'modes of thought/creation/play' into a revolution?
One somewhat cynical observation that we would seem to be in an 'aftershock' period - where the immediate results of the paradigm shift/introduction are disseminating and the each of the participants are demanding more fine-resolution, more detail, more control. Or at least enough (players) to 'hog-tie' a DM if they feel like it. (yes, I prefer benevolent despotism...but I still roll dice to see if the giant snake bites you or not...)
WAYS TO CHANGE GAMES
Only add things to system
Only ignore parts of system
Add parts to system and ignore parts of system
I'm going to stop now.