Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Whys and Heretofores of Grit

          Over the past few years I've given a great deal of thought to what it is that makes Grit different from the other Roleplaying Game Systems out there. In my original written intent while in the early stages of designing Grit, I spelled out two design principles. These guiding lights were simplicity and realism.
Now I realize that “realism” is quite a loaded word, especially in the realm of RPGs. I’ve come to the conclusion that “verisimilitude” is a far more accurate term. It better expresses the idea of a likeness, not a duplication. To try and represent the actual laws of physics with dice is really just a non-option. Nevertheless, one can create a rule set that consistently seeks a reasonable authenticity while demonstrating faithfulness to real-world possibilities. I believe that I have done so in a unique vein.
I have striven to craft this verisimilitude via simplicity. Granularity does not equate to authenticity. By paring down the mechanics into a pretty basic structure, I believe I've created a more satisfying, useful* modeling of actions than other systems. Hopefully others will agree.
There is still another very important design intent and theme in Grit: the characters are worthwhile because they are human.
The reason I never really cared much for 3rd Ed. and beyond D&D is that I don’t find the journey from Hero to Really Badass Hero to Super-Duper-Badass Hero to be all that fun or interesting**. To be fair it’s also why I didn’t really like 2nd Ed. after level 6 much either. What I prefer to play (and to run for) are characters who are normal men and women. Sure they may have unusual skill sets, but fundamentally what sets them apart from their fellows is their wherewithal. It’s the fact that they’re willing step up and outside the norm, to face new threats and terrible odds.*** This is what makes for adventurers and heroes not attack bonuses and sweet laser-eyes.
So, while there may be other races and magic and psychic powers as options in my system and settings, all these things will still be rendered on a gritty, harsh, and human standard. Though I've still got miles to go on this rewrite and many decisions yet to be made, I have the basic mechanics down. And, so long as I keep it simple, keep it real, and keep it human, I’m reasonably sure Grit will be a success.

*Usefulness here meaning, aiding in character immersion.

**Not to mention the overwhelmingly complicated, less-than-authentic system. If you need to write up a spread sheet to play effectively, I don’t want to play.
***This is also why I place more emphasis on character decisions than dice.

†††† Nothing is born in a vacuum. I’d also like to mention this article. It really helped to congeal a lot of loose thoughts and helped me define my play style.