Sunday, May 5, 2013
“Gritty” vs. “Mundane”
Let’s set a stage - imagine it’s the early 60s (1960s - I know it’s a fantasy blog, but please keep up) and all you’ve had to read are Superman comics. You know - Clark Kent changes into Superman, gets threatened by kryptonite, then saves the day and turns back into Clark Kent. You know - BORING!! Then this guy Stan Lee comes around and brings Spiderman. Peter Parker has to actually worry about his personal life, things like paying rent, holding onto his job when he mysteriously disappears, keeping the cops off the tail of that masked vigilante, etc. If you think about it, it’s backwards. By bringing a breath of realism into the story, it got more interesting. Less unbelievable stuff = more fun. So, I’m like Stan Lee. I had to put that out there. I don’t really think I’m “like” Stan Lee. Wish I was! OK, I was inspired by Stan Lee. That’s a lot more accurate. Huh? Let me explain - no, takes too long, let me sum up. With Legend Quest, I brought in things that other games wanted to forget about: brewing, sewing, the exhaustion caused by running, bleeding damage, armor weighing too much, but having skill levels to offset it. Legend Quest, following the model set forth by Marvel Comics and Spiderman, brought a touch of realism into a world previously completely devoid of intelligence and believability. And in so doing, by that slightest twinge of reality, all of a sudden, things became actually believable and therefore got a lot more exciting. Legend Quest has been called “mundane” for including skills that don’t relate to combat. It has been called “gritty” for its bleeding damage (which prevents you from standing in a fight and being perfectly offensive when you have only one drop of blood left in your body) and armor rules. I didn’t like either description, though gritty is a lot easier to live with than mundane. But I can accept their point of view - just not agree with it. I see it this way - there really is only one kind of physical damage you can take, the kind that reduces your hit points or life’s blood or vitality or whatever you call it. So many games put so much emphasis on coming up with a variety of ways to cause that damage that they don’t bother making any sense out of the differences. Whether it is fire damage or blunt damage or rainbow magic it doesn’t really matter. In Legend Quest it matters. Every point counts. Soldiers (including adventurers) typically have about 36 Life’s Blood (compared to 24-30 for a civilian). A long sword or heavy crossbow can cause up to 20 points, plus at that point, you would be bleeding to death. 36LB - 20 piercing damage = 16 left or less than three minutes before you bleed to death. Oh yeah, there are first aid rules too. So - for anyone who really liked those boring Superman comics of the 50s and 60s, play the other games. You can come up with dozens and dozens of ways to do exactly the same thing, overcome the kryptonite or do damage. But if you’re more into a touch of realism that brings the excitement to life - Play Legend Quest. Have a fully rounded character that is what you wanted, not one of four choices. Do something in your role-playing game besides just damage.