From map exercise to civilian training exercise to fine ar..

Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

RPGs evolved from wargames, which evolved from "map exercises."
Various militaries used map exercises to train their soldiers in
correct strategic and tactical thinking. I find that RPGs are fun when
they resemble a map exercise.

The same players who powered most of my White Wolf gaming experience
also were very much into Warhammer 40K.

I never got much into 40K, but I won the solitary battle that I fought
decisively. While my opponent was interested in how colorful the
miniatures were, I was interested in how I could use them to implement
real-world military doctrines I had read in U.S. military field
manuals. This resulted in a withering use of artillery. I played the
game as if it were a map exercise, and my opponent didn't stand a
chance.

Clearly there was a divergence in fun sources here. I had fun with
strategy. Other players didn't use much strategy, but enjoyed the
whole experience of 40K. They role-played orc voices when using orcs,
admired well-painted miniatures, and talked about the fantasy setting.


A similar divergence prevented them from ever taking an interest in my
campaign suggestions for Mage. Even when I was a Storyteller, I wanted
to give the players more power and more challenges than they wanted to
deal with. That much power would have required strategy and resource
management and a willingness to destroy the status quo. They preferred
social interactions in a stable world.

Some gamers object to power-gaming because they say it reduces
pencil-and-paper RPGs to the level of computer-based FPSs. In my case,
it would be more accurate that it turns them into "Settlers of Catan"
or a similar resource-management game. I would like to say that I turn
RPGs into map exercises, but RPGs are too abstract and disconnected
from reality to teach any useful military tactics.

A different objection is that if the rules can be used to wreck the
World of Darkness so easily, someone else would have done it already,
and that anyone disrupting the status quo ought to be presumed to fail
if they would endanger the metaplot. My assumption is that everything
in the rule books is a possible tactic.

Many RPGs have books that referees request their players to abstain
from reading. The tactic of keeping some rules secret from the players
is fine by me, so long as the rules really do exist. A lot of old D&D
modules have special situations that are unlike anything seen
previously in the rulebooks, along with special rules for resolving the
situation, and the resulting unexpected contrast is a lot of fun,
somewhat like a minigame in a computer game. However, a lot of
referees tend to say, "Oh, yeah, I've prepared a lot of new material,"
when in fact they just have a particular story into which they're going
to railroad the players, or when they have a rule in mind like, "No
matter what decisions the players make, I'm going to take them down to
half of their hit points before the next plot point happens." The
players know they're encountering a situation that is not covered in
the rulebooks, but their decisions are irrelevant to the result. The
end result, combining fantasy settings with referee whim, are just
silly pseudo-challenges. Militaries cannot credibly present such silly
pseudo-challenges in their map exercises, because their rules have to
accurately model history and military operations. (Of course, recent
invasions of certain dusty quagmires remind me that militaries are
willing to squander credibility.) Military map exercises cannot allow
infinite scope for the whims of the designers and the referees.

Some gamers enjoy strategy and are good at map exercises. White Wolf
games are so fluid, and rules are distributed so widely over a broad
range of expensive splatbooks, that very few players can read all the
rulebooks. This conceals the fact that White Wolf games do not make
good map exercises. I suspect this is because White Wolf games allow
infinite scope for the whims of the designers and the referees.

Ironically, I believe that White Wolf games are a form of training.
When successful, they train players to enjoy pop-goth attitudes and
fictional tropes.
11 answers Last reply
More about from exercise civilian training exercise fine
  1. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    On 1 Aug 2005 04:02:28 -0700, "Rip Rock" <riprock@adres.nl> wrote:
    >This conceals the fact that White Wolf games do not make
    >good map exercises.

    Did you ever read Exalted ?

    I'm not exactly sure it shows you wrong, but there's lightyears
    between the way rules were conceived, perceived by the game designers
    (IMHO) and written in VtM (for example) and in Exalted.

    Guillaume
  2. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Guillaume JAY wrote:
    > On 1 Aug 2005 04:02:28 -0700, "Rip Rock" <riprock@adres.nl> wrote:
    > >This conceals the fact that White Wolf games do not make
    > >good map exercises.
    >
    > Did you ever read Exalted ?
    >
    > I'm not exactly sure it shows you wrong, but there's lightyears
    > between the way rules were conceived, perceived by the game designers
    > (IMHO) and written in VtM (for example) and in Exalted.
    >

    I am almost entirely ignorant of Exalted, but I'm not likely to buy
    copies soon. I'd *like* to buy copies but I have a huge, huge list of
    to-do items with higher priorities.

    If I *do* buy copies in the far, far future, can you direct my reading
    so that I will learn the maximum amount with the fewest dollars
    expended?

    Thanks.
  3. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Rip Rock wrote:

    > I am almost entirely ignorant of Exalted, but I'm not likely to buy
    > copies soon. I'd *like* to buy copies but I have a huge, huge list of
    > to-do items with higher priorities.

    > If I *do* buy copies in the far, far future, can you direct my reading
    > so that I will learn the maximum amount with the fewest dollars
    > expended?

    There's a 2nd edition being released next year.
    --
    Stephenls
    Geek
    "You do your arguments no favor by insulting those you ought persuade."
    -Greg Stolze, Rites of the Dragon
  4. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Rip Rock wrote:
    <big snip>
    Firstly, congratulations on actually explaining an aspect of
    role-playing I have never understood. It is still not something I want
    to be involved in, but at least I have a clearer understanding of why
    people might want to "power game" without being cheesy.

    > Ironically, I believe that White Wolf games are a form of training.
    > When successful, they train players to enjoy pop-goth attitudes and
    > fictional tropes.
    I am not convinced, although they are a suitable vehicle for my dark
    stories. I think I must be at a different end of a scale from you - I
    consider WW games as a social exercise, and use/encourage social
    strategy as much as mental.

    --
    Picks-at-Flies
    Fly another day.
    http://www.werepenguin.co.uk/
  5. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Rip Rock wrote:
    > <big snip>

    Found a new group to troll, eh?

    Picks-at-Flies wrote:
    > Firstly, congratulations on actually explaining an aspect of
    > role-playing I have never understood. It is still not something I
    > want to be involved in, but at least I have a clearer understanding of
    > why people might want to "power game" without being cheesy.

    Eh, I didn't find it particularly enlightening, and I'm a power-gamer. I
    think the main place Rip's explanation falls down is that it describes
    power-gaming at odds with other elements of the game, which is not the
    case IME. Whenever somebody asks, "Why don't you just play Risk?" I
    explain that I value the tactical /and/ role-playing elements of RPGs.

    Another problem with his analysis was his expectation that you're not
    breaking the game as long as you're not breaking the rules. While some
    games are designed with that in mind, it's much more common that
    designers expect a bit of human judgment to temper the necessarily-
    limited rules. Some games just aren't well-suited to pushing the
    envelope.

    Frankly, his whole article was long-winded, adversarial, and mostly
    useless -- typical for Rip.
    --
    Bradd W. Szonye
    http://www.szonye.com/bradd
  6. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Rip Rock wrote:
    > The luxury of being flamed by Bradd is that it isn't necessary to spend
    > a lot of time composing replies. One can just refer to the massive
    > body of replies available from other folks whom Bradd has flamed.
    >
    > There are some really wonderful anti-Bradd flames that use Google
    > messages to show Bradd contradicting his own words ....

    Wow, you actually composed a file on me, in case we ever ran into each
    other again? You're a bigger kook than I thought.
    --
    Bradd W. Szonye
    http://www.szonye.com/bradd
  7. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Rip Rock wrote:
    > You think that when people don't share your opinion, they don't
    > understand the designers' vision --

    No, I think when you're trying to push the rules envelope in a WOD game,
    you're missing the point.

    > White Wolf has some wonderfully inspiring creative visions.
    > They have a problem with rules.

    I've heard of some major rules goofs in the WOD games, but they aren't
    really a problem if you play the game as designed.

    Rules vary in significance from RPG to RPG. At one extreme, games like
    Cops & Robbers have almost no rules at all, relying purely player
    discretion to resolve disputes. At the other extreme, games like
    Dungeons & Dragons offer rules comprehensive enough to stand on their
    own as a kind of small-unit miniatures game. Indeed, D&D grew out of a
    desire to role-play individual heroes in an actual minis game.

    Most modern RPGs take the middle ground. The mechanics on their own are
    not a complete game. Instead, they're just a tool designed to support
    the central role-playing elements: resolving disputes, providing
    systematic differentiation between characters, discouraging imbalances,
    that sort of thing. The rules don't stand on their on in this sort of
    game, and "playing the rules" makes about as much sense as it would in
    Cops & Robbers. Rules "goofs" are more common in this sort of game,
    because the rules aren't designed to stand on their own and therefore
    aren't tested with that in mind.

    Game designers do make mistakes. All RPGs have some dodgy rules and some
    major goofs, despite the designers' efforts to avoid them. However, the
    scope of mistakes differs according to the intended scope of the rules.
    Problems that would kill stand-alone mechanics are just minor quirks in
    a more advisory ruleset. In contrast, a problem severe enough to cause
    trouble in advisory mechanics seem like huge mistakes from the "rules
    should stand on their own" point of view.

    You obviously believe that all RPGs should be playable as a game per se,
    which is downright foolish; that's not what the market demands.
    Furthermore, by trying to play games in that style, regardless of
    whether they were designed to handle it, you break the games and
    alienate other players. Rather than realizing that you created the
    problem for yourself, you blame the game. That goes beyond mere
    foolishness into oblivious, pigheaded stupidity.
    --
    Bradd W. Szonye
    http://www.szonye.com/bradd
  8. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Bradd W. Szonye wrote:
    > You obviously believe that all RPGs should be playable as a game per se,
    > which is downright foolish; that's not what the market demands.

    That's a wonderful Bradd-style value judgement. In fact there's no way
    to prove what "the market" demands. The market is an abstraction that
    even economists don't really have a handle on. You can justify any
    corporation's behavior by saying that the market demanded it, but
    that's an assumption, not a proof.


    > Furthermore, by trying to play games in that style, regardless of
    > whether they were designed to handle it, you break the games and
    > alienate other players.

    Bradd conveniently ignores the previous post which showed that at least
    four non-game-designer White Wolf forum members, plus an additional
    White Wolf game designer, agreed with me.

    So in fact I'm not alienating everyone; I'm not even alienating all
    White Wolf game designers. I *am* alienating Bradd, but since there's
    no way to make Bradd happy I don't lose sleep over it.


    > Rather than realizing that you created the
    > problem for yourself, you blame the game.

    I'm not *blaming* it for any particular thing that's ever happened
    while I have played it. Some sessions were good; some were less good.
    It's like drinking a can of mediocre beer. It's not great, but when
    you tell other folks that the brand of beer is mediocre, you're not
    *blaming* the beer.

    (The obvious pun between "homebrew" game systems and "homebrew" beer is
    waiting to be made...)

    My friends and I sometimes choose to drink beer that is not the best
    brand in the world, but is the best brand available within practical
    limits. Likewise, my friends and I sometimes choose to play White Wolf
    games, inconsistent rules and all. I suppose Bradd is free to regard
    this as stupidity, but many others will regard it as practical living
    in an imperfect world.
  9. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Bradd W. Szonye wrote:
    >> You obviously believe that all RPGs should be playable as a game per
    >> se, which is downright foolish; that's not what the market demands.

    Rip Rock wrote:
    > That's a wonderful Bradd-style value judgement. In fact there's no
    > way to prove what "the market" demands ....

    Riiiiight.

    > Bradd conveniently ignores the previous post which showed that at
    > least four non-game-designer White Wolf forum members, plus an
    > additional White Wolf game designer, agreed with me.

    Ooh, good for you! Some people agree with you! That obviously means that
    you are right, instead of a dull and incomprehensible kook!
    --
    Bradd W. Szonye
    http://www.szonye.com/bradd
  10. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Bradd W. Szonye wrote:
    > Bradd W. Szonye wrote:
    > >> You obviously believe that all RPGs should be playable as a game per
    > >> se, which is downright foolish; that's not what the market demands.
    >
    > Rip Rock wrote:
    > > That's a wonderful Bradd-style value judgement. In fact there's no
    > > way to prove what "the market" demands ....
    >
    > Riiiiight.

    You disappoint me, Bradd. I had been hoping you would provide
    hypertext links to online economics textbooks arguing in favor of your
    claims.

    You're obviously educated and intelligent. What do you have against
    supporting your opinions with reference to other authors?

    You obviously enjoy arguing. Why don't you actually argue non-trivial
    questions, like what the market is, whose decisions drive it, and what
    it really demands? You're *capable* of abstract thought: why are you
    shying away from it? Don't you have a genuine curiosity and a desire
    to learn?


    >
    > > Bradd conveniently ignores the previous post which showed that at
    > > least four non-game-designer White Wolf forum members, plus an
    > > additional White Wolf game designer, agreed with me.
    >
    > Ooh, good for you! Some people agree with you! That obviously means that
    > you are right, instead of a dull and incomprehensible kook!


    Well, Bradd, you ought to know by now that when something interests me,
    I discuss it in detail. I don't ask anyone to agree with me because
    it's "obvious." I just ask for their attention while I trot out reams
    and reams of potentially useful evidence to be considered.

    I imagine you think the evidence is dull. That's a little surprising
    to me, since you seem to be proud of your professional accomplishments
    in computer science. I imagine you can read thousands of words at a
    fast speed, understand them all, and process the data much faster than
    a person of average intelligence. It should not test your patience
    much, because you are clever.

    Apparently you think I am incomprehensible. That shocks me to the
    core. If I am illogical, a good computer scientist ought to be able to
    cut to the heart of my contradictions in an instant. If I am logical,
    a good computer scientist ought to be able to comprehend me. You *are*
    a good computer scientist, Bradd -- why don't you *want* to comprehend
    my words?
  11. Archived from groups: alt.games.whitewolf (More info?)

    Rip Rock wrote:
    >>> That's a wonderful Bradd-style value judgement. In fact there's no
    >>> way to prove what "the market" demands ....

    Bradd wrote:
    >> Riiiiight.

    > You disappoint me, Bradd. I had been hoping you would provide
    > hypertext links to online economics textbooks arguing in favor of your
    > claims.

    That's because I am not that kind of obsessive kook.
    --
    Bradd W. Szonye
    http://www.szonye.com/bradd
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