Thursday, 2 December 2010

When lives co-world (1)

These past few days I've been pondering the many imaginary worlds of wargamers and roleplayers, and more specifically how we interact with these spaces.

So what's cooking? Well, that rather depends...

It starts with Games Workshop's unreleased Stormraven, a possible pic of which has emerged. Opinion is divided. Two discussions at Bell of Lost Souls (one and two) show some commenters, such as Snord, Tynskel and our very own Satiran, are able to recognise in their positive critiques that compromises are necessary in sharing a world. In wargaming the world is more fixed and the wargamer accepts it more or less as it is.

In roleplaying the world is more fluid, perhaps frighteningly so. There are advantages. To take the Stormraven example, the DM or GM has only to show a good likeness (from concept ships?) and let the players imagine their own details. This is both more work and less, for everyone involved, but it is liberating. Then again, having a physical model does help with interactions, which is why miniatures and 2D or 3D maps have their place in RPGs too. The extent of the crossover is surprising, and I tried to reflect it here.

Agreement on change is hard to find. In wargaming naturally more so. Here I referenced a discussion on the future of Warhammer 40,000. At issue was the death of the Emperor, an enormously significant event in the 40K universe if ever it happened. Compare that to this discussion at The Other Side on the death of a god in D&D. A piece of cake! Reshape the universe? Cup of tea, a biscuit and away you go.

To be fair, the edges of wargaming are also blurred with house rules and conversions, even scratch-built models and armies. For me personally they really should be. Just be careful - as Natfka at Faeit 22 well illustrates, not everyone wants the same thing. This is highlighted by the ongoing comp incidents, my contribution to which debate is here.

That aside, there's a lot to say in favour of the more fixed nature of wargaming even beyond the game world itself. A recent article at Roll With It showed how a wargamer really is a free agent. He or she may not be the master of the world, or even influential in it, but can master every tool needed to enter that world on the first level. It also means two players meeting for the first time need only set up models to begin. A short exchange I had with a serviceman a few days ago covered this. Not sure I'd want to play 40K with guns around though...

Of course, the narratives of roleplaying are often far more involving and so the bonds between the players grow with the bonds between their characters, or lack thereof. There's certainly a place for this too. But just because roleplaying is living in a world doesn't mean wargaming can't be. In fact, the two categories are so vast they are essentially the same hobby seen from different angles.

The point is then that there's plenty wargamers and roleplayers have in common, and much to learn from the complementary ways of doing things. Part of my interest with this blog is placing the two side-by-side and seeing if they can't get closer still.

So what about that Stormraven? Well, for the love of the wider game, those of us who may not be convinced do have to accept it, and may as well do so with good grace.

In the meantime, sci-fi vehicle users of all gaming persuasions, have a look at a cool tool Andy at Little Lead Heroes has cooked up for Dirtside II. Some goodness there for all.

Bring a dish, share the recipes and tuck in.


Papa JJ said...

I dig it, Porky. : ) I've been trying to bridge the two approaches somewhat for my own games of 40k by writing out the background for my own Imperial Sector. That way in my gaming group we still feel like we have freedom to shape the course of history, but just in our remote region of the Galaxy and while staying true to the canonical 40k fluff. It's been a fun process so far and something I'm enjoying quite a bit working out the details.

Porky said...

I like the sound of that. This is the strength of a scope as broad as the 40K background, that you can set up world-changing stories that are still no more than distractions on a galactic scale. Sounds like you've seized the chance. This is the approach Fantasy Flight Games have taken of course - great minds think alike!

On which subject, another attraction of the 40K universe is the number of game systems it has or has had, from Battlefleet Gothic, through Epic to 40K itself, and on to Necromunda and the Fantasy Flight RPGs, not to mention the fan-made expansions like Kill Zone. So much potential for linking it all up.

I'm glad you liked the post.I think you know the feeling - you send it out into space and wonder how it will be received. First comment's encouraging at least. I'm very interested in what the players from the pure roleplaying end of the spectrum have to say.

Brian Shore said...

you put an interesting perspective on thinks Porky. I now nothing of the role playing world but it seems to me that whilst 40k has rigid rules their is more scope for using your imagination some people might give the game credit for. The complaints I have seen about the Stormraven not looking like it could fly seem like a waste of energy to me. It can fly you just need to try harder.

Porky said...

I agree and I hope that scope becomes clearer to more players. It can only add to the enjoyment, and the collective imagination growing stronger and brighter is good for us all.

Chocolate Guns said...

That's why I love the Imperial Gaurd because even playing Cadians and fluffing your army as Cadians, you still have a ton of room to tell your regiment's story. Which is just one example of how the setting is so expancive that you can almost make anything make some kind of sence fluff-wise.

As far as the Three Games go, I'm writing a Dark Heresy game for a group of inducted guardsmen that serve the ordo xenos. I'm going to adapt the squad mode from Deathwatch to Dark Heresy, which really isn't that hard, to demonstrate "platoon manuvers"...renamed some abilities and make up some new ones. Deathwatch giving us some good stats for stuff like Daemon Princes, Tau Crisis Commanders and Hive Tyrants was an awesome addition.

The stormraven isn't as bad as it could have been. I've deffinatly seen better fan kit-bashes, but so is GW. I'm of the mind-set, if you don't like it...mod it til you do.

Porky said...

I'm of the same mindset. After all, if we're imaginative enough to accept the imperfections in the simulation - whether in the history and setting, the rules, the models or the terrain - we're imaginative enough to mix and match and patch them up to our liking.

For anyone worried they lack the skill to do what Chocolate Guns is suggesting, Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly tells us that 'skill to do comes of doing'. Time to get cracking I say!

Satiran said...

The fusion you've described here is one of the main things that keeps me with a hand in 40K, and I’m blessed with a small but stoic gaming group who are all generally of the same mind.

I love the part about killing a god in D&D: Remold the Universe around the gap in the fabric of reality, tea and biscuits and away you go! *grins*

In a sense, the more rigid nature of 40K has lent our tiny metal alter egos a kind of godhood. In the abovementioned group I play with, most have modeled and painted their various commanders, given them appropriately bombastic and over-the-top names, and bring them to the fields of glory every time. No matter that Prince Tertius got squashed by a Chaos Terminator with a power fist…stretcher bearers have rushed him to the aid station in the reserve trenches. He’ll be recovered in plenty of time to muster the regiment for a spirited counter attack.

Yours in Service to the Divine Throne,

Prince Glorious Pious Maximus Tertius
Imperial Regent of Satir
Commanding, 1st Satiran Conscript Fusiliers