Not who, but how... | KingSpoom's RPG Design & Theory Junkyard

Not who, but how...

Pencil and Paper rpgs are made for different reasons. A lot of commercial rpgs are made to generate money or to create a base consumer for future products. A lot of indie rpgs are made to fill a niche that more popular rpgs don't cover. Still more unpublished rpgs are made just for fun, or for entertainment within a small group. However, even if we knew who they were made for, only the individual developers may know how they were made for them.

It's no secret that I'm working on my own pnp rpg. I've read numerous blogs, articles, and forum posts. I've talked with other designers. I have, however, seen little discussed about the target audience other than the scale. I'm not talking about a demographic; I'm talking about specific little nuances that occur in roleplaying games. Things that may be related to GMs, Players, or Characters. The kind of things that don't often make it into a design. I'm talking about rules to alter how you play.

What little I have heard is that games should be designed for good players. Players who can handle everything that comes with a tabletop roleplaying game. The kind of player who doesn't sour for a poor reason, or tries to disrupt anyone elses process of play. I can't help but wonder if that's just not doing the industry any favors. I'm not suggesting that games be designed to specifically deal with all types of bad players or that they should receive more attention than good players. I just think that many of the common negative tenets of roleplaying games can be solved through a few rough, but not overbearing, guideline-styled rules.

The loner. A lot of rpgs cannot handle a loner character well. It is usually left to the GM to deal with the loner and to help him cooperate with the rest of the group. This has been a long-standing problem in roleplaying games since I have been playing them. A few have a solution, but I am hesitant to accept some of the solutions. Instead, I prefer to look at the situation objectively (and perhaps biased to my situation). The loner isn't a character who is going to join up with the party. He isn't a character who cares about every little thing (such as a peasant in trouble). He isn't a character who attaches himself to anything, and therefore is likely to split from the rest of the party at any opportunity, even if they have been together for a long time.

For my solution, I assume a couple of things. I assume that, although the loner resists joining the party, the loner's player knows that it is functional to do so. I assume that the position I put the players and characters in won't affect the game as much as you would expect it to. I assume that having a loner character in the game is problematic, instead of enjoyable. I probably assume other things as well. For me, it is a little effort for a large margin of advantages. For my solution, I am more or less forcing the loner to work with the party.

So, even though every player would come into the game knowing this, is it still right to design a system to curb the slightly problematic players? Even if it works perfectly in the setting?