Playing to win

12 12 2007

Over on the Knife Fight, there’s been a ton of talk today about the idea of “playing to win” as it pertains to RPGs, as opposed to game games, like chess or poker or parcheesi. Vincent in particular seems really compelled by this idea, and it sounds like there are a lot of people with different ideas of “winning,” and people who think “winning” is impossible in an RPG anyway.

This is really interesting to me in the context of Audeamus, because it’s very much a game which can be won or lost. As I mentioned before, the conflict resolution mechanic is to stack dice towers; there’s going to be a map, with various points where you can start your tower. When the tower falls, where the dice fall on the map determine the type of effect you get, and the number of dice in each section determines the intensity of the effect. If your tower falls before you’re done stacking your dice, the other dice go unused, and this weakens the possible outcome– so even if you succeed, it won’t be quite the success you were hoping for.

One of the things you can do is take dice from other players and replace them– so if you’re trying to sabotage another senator’s agenda, you can exploit their weakness, take one of their d6s, and replace it with a d20. (Or d4, if you’re being a butt.) The less stable their dice are, the more quickly the tower will fall, the less dice they get to use.

But here’s the thing. The other really important part of this concept is the creed– sticking to your personal code of honor. If that’s what’s most important to your character, you can win by never compromising your creed, even if it means losing your agenda in the senate. Or, you can win by getting your agenda in the senate, even if it means sacrificing everything else that’s important to you.

Hm. Looking at that, it sounds like it’s less a win-loss mechanic, and more just points to the idea of hard choices. I don’t know. What’s it look like to you?