Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Minimalistic Gaming

My gaming  background is Basic D&D, AD&D for many years, jumped to GURPS before 2nd edition hit and stayed with it for several more years and most recently its been retro clones and other systems.  Kinda went full circle. 

+Ken H started this thread, +Chris C. picked up on it and then +Rob Conley just posted also about the subject of minimal gaming.  All of them discuss their strategies and concerns about running a minimal game.  A game where there is a single class, maybe two to choose from.  Little to no magic.  Healing becomes a scared thing and needs to be obtained and protected.  This is done to allow the rules to stay far in the background while players explore.  Where fighting becomes a last ditch tactic, not the go to bum rush.  Players develop their own ideas and concepts of how to interact with their environment without relying on a roll to determine the outcome.

Individual taste will always determine whether this is of interest or the equivalent of paint drying.  From my perspective this sounds like a blast.  I've run several low level magic campaigns and high magic campaigns.  I like the low level magic  campaigns a lot more.  I use the mind set of a Arthurian world where powerful magic exists, but it is behind the scenes.  It moves slow.  There are weaker, petty magics such as alchemy that can reproduce magical effects on a much smaller scale. 

Take this a step farther where even plate armor and swords are rare.  They would be considered valuable treasure.  In a world full of leather armor and spears the man with plate armor rules.  I like campaigns and rulesets that cater to making simple items that fantasy tropes assume and the become valuable by making them scarce. 

Does this create a bland, vanilla world?  Only if you allow it.  Some people just won't enjoy this kind of game and that's understandable.  But I think most would find a game where exploration and survival are valued over the accumulation of power and fancy babbles more interesting.  How many games have you been in where you had to decide which magical weapons to use?  Or the party goes into town to sell off all their scrolls because its just more weight to carry around?  Or the party needed an Excel sheet to keep track of all the treasure they carry around?  I like a world where the discovery of a sword is a big deal.  Where exploration is critical to discover more resources. 

I may have gotten off track a bit.  Just a wee bit.  But system and world using minimal rules does not restrict  player's freedom.  It does not restrict options.  If anything it cracks the possibilities wide open.  When the GM asks "What do you do?"  You don't look at your character to your character sheet to see what you can do, but you starting grinding out ideas, limited by what a group of people can think of.  And that's a scary lot.