RPG XRAY

007 Systems

February 09, 2024 The RPG XRAY Team Season 2 Episode 7
RPG XRAY
007 Systems
Show Notes Transcript

This episode’s topic is Systems. Unlike video games, role playing games separate game engine, game concept and game level into distinct pieces.  We dig into the various ways that RPGs split authority for the design of each piece between designers, game masters and players. What effect do these choices have on the experience of the game, and how can you use them to foster great play at your table.

This episode’s hosts:


This episode’s Appendix X


Games discussed in this episode


Games mentioned In passing


The podcast episode delves into the nuances of role-playing game (RPG) Systems, emphasizing the contrast between universal and specialized systems. We compare the experiences provided by generic systems like GURPS with those crafted by more setting & scenario focused games including many indies. We discuss the trend in video games of moving from proprietary to universal engines and relate this to RPG development, pondering whether a generic RPG system can capture the distinct feel of different genres.

We cover the appeal of one-shot games versus long-term campaigns, the enjoyment of learning new mechanics in one-shot games (which often have bespoke systems that enhance the thematic experience). Why is it that once played, the interest in revisiting these games tends to diminish? We chat about whether playing a variety of self-contained indie games or engaging in a traditional extended campaign would be more enjoyable.

The final part of the discussion addresses the design intentions behind RPG systems, particularly concerning homebrew settings and the adaptability of systems for such purposes. We tackle the importance of setting expectations when introducing a new system, emphasizing the need for clear communication abou

Erik:

Joining the x-ray team today are Jason Beaumont, hey Jason, Ethan Schoonover, and myself, Eric Saltwell.

Ethan:

Greetings humans.

Erik:

As always, before jumping into the main course though, we like to start things off with an amuse-bouche we call Appendix X.

Ethan:

So in Appendix X, we do a little summary of all the media that we're consuming currently with a particular eye toward how it could be applied to gaming.

Erik:

Yeah, so I have been walking through play guides,

Ethan:

You wanna start us off?

Erik:

like Prima guides for the game Hitman World of Assassins. And the reason for that is, yeah, exactly, the video game.

Ethan:

The video game. Okay, just making sure there wasn't an unknown RPG system based on the Hitman universe that I wasn't aware of.

Jason:

[LAUGH]

Erik:

I mean, like maybe there, I would not be surprised if there was, but I don't know of one. So I was playing Hitman and they do this really interesting mechanic, which they call opportunities. Which is that as you're going through a mission, and Hitman is a game about taking, assassinating people, and you often have to infiltrate in. And as you're coming into a place and infiltrating, they will drop clues that are intended to give you an opportunity to have an easier or more fulfilling kill. And I was thinking about this in the context of improv heist scenarios, like you might see in Blades in the Dark. And how one of the things that I always have problems with, with those types of improv heist scenarios, is they can feel very generic and they can feel very samey. And I was thinking that this concept of even having a table or some way for the game master to think about opportunities and how do I drop them, even like in Blades, there's an information gathering phase. And using and collecting opportunities in order to enrich that experience. So I've been walking through every mission in World of Assassins, and looking through their opportunities to maybe pull it out and make it more generic.

Ethan:

Can you give me an example of a specific opportunity?

Erik:

Yeah, sure. So you might walk by and you'll hear somebody talk about,"Oh, the person that you're putting a hit on is having a meeting in the back garden with so-and-so." And you might be able to take that person out and then impersonate them. Or you might find out that somebody is going to a location where it's going to be easier for you to snipe them. Or you might see somebody walking along who has a uniform where they're supposed to be at that location with an eye towards, then you can knock them out, take it, and then now all of a sudden you have an entry in. So those would be, I think, example opportunities.[COUGHS] Yep. Yep.

Ethan:

Yeah, I was just thinking the same thing, Jason. Exactly, that was what was going through my mind, is the first thing that you present as an opportunity to the players becomes the fait accompli.

Erik:

Yep. So what's interesting, I think, in Hitman is they're pretty on the nose about what is an opportunity or not. I feel like you can go into an escape menu screen and they list the opportunities and it's pretty in your face on the nose.

Ethan:

Right.

Erik:

And I thought, actually, I thought for sure that I was going to hate that. But without it, a lot of Hitman missions actually just, they feel very samey. Either you're going in guns blazing and killing a ton of people or you're playing a stealth mission where you're sneaking in. And so I just, but I agree with you guys.

Ethan:

Right.

Erik:

There is definitely that risk that you can't have more than one opportunity because if you do, people will just take the first one.

Ethan:

Interesting though, I mean, what if you presented some sort of UI to the players, like, you know, I'm thinking about, you know, like playing cards, right? Like, let's say that, let's say the players always know that there's going to be more than one playing card that shows up or like two or three playing cards, and they represent discreet choices or opportunities that could be made in a given scenario.

Erik:

Yep. Yep.

Ethan:

Right.

Erik:

No, I like that idea. Yeah, no, I think there's an opportunity there to build tension where if there's some kind of a doom clock ticking, you're making that play between, do I want to go get more opportunities and put more cards on the table? Right?

Ethan:

Interesting.

Erik:

Versus, but, oh, if I keep doing this, then my doom clock is getting closer and closer.

Jason:

>> Yeah, maybe like you're risking exposure, or it's almost like a stealth mechanic, right? Like the more you kind of are opening yourself up to get some of these things, then you're risking a chance of being spotted or being conspicuous in some way.

Erik:

Yep.

Jason:

So, yeah.

Ethan:

Yeah, I mean, I wonder if you could almost tie it back to like, yeah, like, it's a limited, you're spending some limited resource to explore more opportunities in the world.

Erik:

Yep.

Ethan:

So like, I wonder if, you know, like I'm using cards as an example, if it was like a finite pool of cards, and they can be spent on various things, they can either be spent on exploring opportunities, or just waiting for the opportunities to show up.

Erik:

Yep.

Ethan:

You know what I mean? But if you wait for three cards to lay out in front of you, that's it, those cards are gone from the pool. So you have spent that pool resource to give yourself choice.

Erik:

Yep. Yeah.

Ethan:

You know?

Erik:

I really like that concept of the laying the cards out and people realizing that, oh, if I put a card out, there's probably another card coming. And that's really nice.

Ethan:

Jason, should we go on to you? What's your what's your appendix X this week? Don't tell me that you're gonna make me feel guilty for not finishing it because I love it. Can you do you want to summarize what control is and it's in its rich and storied history? Okay. Can I just mention Can I just mention the SC? So there's, okay, this goes back to I want to say it goes back to a genre of media and like TV and probably fiction, weird fiction. I always think of it going back to a mini series called the room.

Erik:

[LAUGHTER]

Ethan:

Oh, okay. I think I think it was called the room. No, sorry, the lost room, I think is what it was called. And the lost room was a mini series, which is near and dear to my heart. It stars the guy who played the mechanic in the usual suspects, who I forget his the actor's name, or he's in there. Anyhow, the the core concept is and the guy from six feet under the core concept is that there is a this mystical hotel room. Okay. And it sort of exists in no space or time. It is trapped in both time and space. And there is a key that opens it up. And you basically the owner of this key, whoever it is, at any given time, can insert it into any lock in the world, and it will open up the hotel room. And so they Yeah, so they can walk into this liminal space. And it turns out that the other objects in the hotel room also they were given some sort of like some power or some ability was sort of instantiated into them. And so like the pen, if you click the pen that was in the hotel room, something happens, you know, maybe if you use the comb, something happens. There's like a bus ticket, I think, where if you tap it on somebody, they're like, they're spirited away to like this random location in Pennsylvania or something. So it's that all that stuff. That was a mini series. It's I recommend it actually, as part of appendix X, I guess. I want to go back and rewatch it. But there's this whole wiki that was sort of developed in sort of the same vibe called SCP. And I forget what that stands for. I should remember as a true fan, but some of them are really well written. Some of them are not. It's a wiki. And, you know, you get what you pay for, but they're basically like if all those items from the lost room were itemized by a government agency, that's what the wiki was. And control comes, I think, directly from the fans of that wiki who then like turned it into basically this game. Right. And I think it's kind of explicitly based on SCP, if I remember correctly. Oh, that's right. Yeah, I think it is explicitly connected somehow. I mean, I don't know, like, what the what the IP relationship is. I don't even know what the license terms of the wiki are. It's maybe Creative Commons. So maybe it's like, sure, you want to make a cool video game that we all love now based on this stuff. Go for it. Yeah, so that's the deep lore. And I've never finished the game and I feel bad because I feel like it's a pretty well done, you know, experience. Yeah. Jason, I have been thinking so much about that because, you know, we we have played Yellow King role playing game together. Right. I game mastered that. And Eric and Jason were both in this game with me, along with other folks. And I I still feel like I have not cracked the nut of what reality horror means. And I would so I would love to think some more about that, because that vibe that you get from like SCP, The Lost Room, Control. Yeah. That idea of like corrupted reality. But it's it's there's a fine there's a vibe to it that I didn't quite crack with Yellow King. I feel like. Thank you. That was me fishing. I'm going to I'm going to reel back in now. Cool. And wait, Eric, we haven't we. I haven't done myself. Just try. I was trying to like sneak past stealth role failed. OK, so I've been reading books primarily been doing a lot of technical work this past week on ham radio, which is like one of my other hobbies and reading just tons of that. So it's sort of monopolized my time, but not sure if there's any way that that ties back into role playing games, other than the fact that I did make a role playing game analogy convincing somebody to learn ham radio, where I said that the rule set is very simple. There are no variations. It's just physics. So, however, I've been reading Umberto Eco, who I'm a big fan of. Hopefully everybody is seeing things like Name of the Rose and maybe people have read Foucault's Pendulum, but I'm reading his. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm reading on Beauty, which is a nonfiction work, sort of a survey of beauty through the ages by him. And he's just a beautiful writer and, you know, a deep thinker. So and the way that that ties back into RPGs for me is just, you know, I I really love reading historical sources when presenting scenarios, historical scenarios. I like reading, you know, what's going on in the times, how do people live sometimes maybe even going too deep into that stuff. But it's one of the things that really bothers me is when I when I personally present a historical source or sometimes when I see it presented and people are very much 20 late 20th century characters or 21st century characters that are they just happen to be either played. These historical characters are played as if they're just modern characters. And, you know, it's a game. They're historical games. Yes. To an extent, we're always going to bring our modern sensibilities to our historical characters. And there's a lot of the historical world that we want to leave out, like all the bad things sometimes like the racism and sexism. And so we sort of it's very nice to kind of be able to paper over that and have some diversity in our characters historically. But there are other things where I'm like, how do we present what it was like for people? Like, what did they find beautiful? What did they find horrific? What did they find ugly? And to think about those things. So this is this is great to look at it through the ages and see how it's changed. Right. Yeah.

Erik:

Today's topic is systems and the relationship between systems and games. And in order to understand this, I want to give an analogy. And my analogy will be to the video game Assassin's Creed, the very first one. So, the contention here is that there are three pieces to a game. There is the rules system, or the game engine in a video game place. And in Assassin's Creed, this includes mechanics like eagle vision and leap of faith and doing parkour and stealth and alarm levels. Then there's kind of a core game concept or conceit, or sometimes it's just setting. In Assassin's Creed, this is you are a religious assassin in the Middle East during the Crusades era. And then there's the actual level or level design or adventure design. And in Assassin's Creed, this would be a very specific mission, right? So like, oh, here's this one mayor who you need to go assassinate. And these three things in a video game are all specified by the game designer. But in a role-playing game, it's actually much different. I think this is something that is unique amongst role-playing games, or maybe close to unique, where you might buy a product that is just a system, right? Like, I think Rifts is really just a bunch of rules without any concept of a game conceit or a setting or a specific adventure. You might buy a game that is, say, a homebrew campaign of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, where you get a core conceit. It's a fantasy role-playing game where you're adventuring heroes, and it's got a full rule system with advantage and disadvantage. But it's the GM who is actually doing the level or adventure design. And then sometimes you might have, well, I'm running a published adventure, like I'm running Masks of Nyarlathotep, and there it is the game designer who specifies the system, the core conceit, and the level or adventure design. And actually what's great about role-playing games is that for each of those three levels, sometimes the game designer specifies it, sometimes the game master specifies it, and in some cases for improv play, it can be even the players who do this. And so the question that I wanted to get at today and talk about is, what effect does making these choices have on your experience of play? How do you use it? What types of, say, rule systems lend themselves to people homebrewing, settings and adventures, and how do we use this and interact with it? So, yeah. Thoughts? Yeah, I totally agree. Uh-huh.[Laughter] Yep. So, yeah, I think what I love about that there is that, of course, there are people who make very fun at-the-table experiences out of doing that, right? Like, you know, people have a great time playing role-playing games, and if you want to take your 5E game and move it into the modern era, or you want to make a horror game out of it, or an investigative game, I'm sure you can do that and have a fun time. But it is, I think, I totally agree with you, Ethan, that you are, you know, you're definitely using those Oreos for the thing that the Oreo wasn't designed for, and that's right, and that has -- [Laughter] Right, that has consequences. Yep, totally agree. Totally agree. Totally agree. Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep. I think what's interesting there is that, like, talking about Star Trek and genre and existing licensed IPs, that those are games where so much of the investment is in the concept and the setting, right? And system and even level and adventure, those are things that I think really are subsumed by wanting to have an experience of playing in that concept and setting, and the system is supposed to create that experience, and the adventures are supposed to remind you of experiences of that, which is interesting, but I think is dangerous. I actually -- I mean, we recently played both Star Trek and Dune and Blade Runner, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed that, and I've been loving it, because I feel like the more you invest, especially in licensed IPs, that you feel like you are playing in another player's concept or setting, right? So, like, if you're playing Dune and you're not Moadib, then, you know, is this just performative busywork, right?

Jason:

Right.

Erik:

So -- and, I mean, like, I know I've played games of Lord of the Rings where I definitely felt like that, right? I felt like there's somebody else's story going on, and I'm just kind of dicking around in that world a little bit. Yep. Yep. Yep. I think that that's probably pretty right. Now, let's contrast that with -- I know we were all having a discussion on Discord the other day about systems that don't have any implied concept or setting, and therefore don't have any implied adventure or level, and these are systems like Rifts, which were designed to be kind of GURPS universal role-playing systems, and I think one of us -- I think it was you, Ethan -- was talking a little bit about how those were -- kind of the current zeitgeist is that those are not successful, and I was wondering -- and we were comparing that with maybe Forged in the Dark games and Gumshoe -- yeah. Right. Right. But it's like a concept, right? It's a conceit for the game. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yep.

Jason:

Right, right.

Erik:

Do you think that that has to do with the fact that systems like Gumshoe -- I don't know about Gumshoe, but definitely Forged in the Dark or the Powered by the Apocalypse games -- these are systems that were invented in the course of making an actual game that has a mode and a conceit, even if it doesn't have a setting, or maybe it does. And do you think that that's part of what's played into making them successful?[laughs][laughs]

Jason:

>> No, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, Halo invented their own engine. But like, yeah, in video games, there definitely was a shift where in the 90s, you would see people in early to mid 90s, they'd create their own engines for their own games.

Erik:

[laughs]

Jason:

Then you started to see the rise of some more universal engines that people use to make their own world within that engine of the game. And now I think I would say it's very commonplace to use another engine. It's just not when you have another company that's spending hundreds and hundreds of people working on an engine, it's not really cost effective for you to do a kind of a mirror version of that on your own. Whereas I would say for role playing games, I think this kind of gets back to Eric's point, because the engine is so deeply intertwined with what the experience of the play is going to be, that the generic engine, like I wonder if a GURPS spy game, how much it feels like a GURPS romantic,

Erik:

[laughs]

Jason:

chivalry King Arthur game, how similar those feel in tone and in play, because the mechanics are the same, versus if you were playing Pendragon, where the rules very much hone in on a style of play at the table

Erik:

Sure.

Jason:

that supports the setting, versus I don't have a good spy engine game, Top Secret, from the 80s or something. Yeah, yeah.

Erik:

Uh-huh.

Ethan:

And just to present one other -- this isn't an answer to your question, Eric, but I feel like it's an important data point that we should kind of tease apart, too. And it's, again, you know, Gumshoe is an example of a mode-based system, Solve Mysteries, that gets applied to many different settings.

Erik:

Yep, yep. Also, too, I feel like maybe you get a little bit of that

Ethan:

So you have, like, oh, you want to do Cthulhu? Well, you can do the Gumshoe mode of that, which is just mystery forward. Yeah.

Erik:

with Powered by Apocalypse for kind of survival games, right? Because it was originally -- I mean, Apocalypse is in the name -- or the trophy line of games where you have Trophy Loom and Trophy Dark, and these are all about kind of missions where you go out into the wild and have a kind of horrific experience and come back with stuff. That's interesting.

Ethan:

And I guess Blades, like, you know, Forge in the Dark would be more like heist crew forward play.

Erik:

[laughs]

Ethan:

He's 3D printing right now.

Erik:

It's gonna happen.[laughs]

Ethan:

He's 3D printing right now. Yeah.

Erik:

And I think, too, in Blades, I totally agree with you that it optimizes for gang-style play. It also, I think, optimizes for mission play, where it's really in kind of the same way that you used to have Monster of the Week games. Blades is built around a concept of like,"Hey, you have a position in the world, and that position changes because you go and do a mission, and then the mission ends, and then the position changes, but what you play next week is really a totally different mission," and compare that to kind of traditional long-form campaign play like you find in Dungeons & Dragons, where it's almost one story that takes, you know... Yep. Are you focused in that statement on the "in media res"? Yeah.

Ethan:

That bookkeeping aspect of play is definitely blown away. I mean it's, you know, I agree, it's because we're older, we're time poor now, and we're no longer time rich like we were when we were kids.

Erik:

Yep.

Ethan:

There's a cultural expectation that boring bookkeeping gets automated now, right? You use QuickBooks, you use whatever to automate that stuff out of the play. And somehow we managed to make it part of the play for so long. Like, this is the fun part. No, no, we're going to do this, we're going to sit down and do some double entry bookkeeping together. And it's going to be awesome. Awesome.

Erik:

Yeah, I feel like we should do an episode at some point about planning

Ethan:

[Pause]

Erik:

and bookkeeping and the role it plays in games. So I feel like we've talked a little bit about system-heavy games like GURPS, where really the designer only is specifying the system. We've talked about concept-first games where it's like Star Trek and Dune, and I think there are two, just like you guys said, is Band of Blades is in there, Gumshoe's in there. Now, what do we feel about level and adventure-centric? And I will give an example here that I think about all the time. So you have GURPS on one end, and what's on the other end, right? And I think you find a lot of modern indie RPGs on the other end. And I'm thinking of Bluebeard's Bride, I'm thinking of Kagamatsu, I'm thinking a little bit of Troll Babe. These are where really all three of these, systems, concept, and adventure, are bundled together, and you can't really tease apart the system from the actual level that you're playing itself, right? Like the whole game is designed as you're in Bluebeard's Bride case, you're the bride of Bluebeard, and he just went away and he said,"Don't look in any of my rooms." And then, you know, horror ensues. But that is like a whole system and concept and adventure that is really about telling that one story. Same thing with Kagamatsu, right? You're in a Japanese village, and winter's coming, and all the men are gone because of a war that happened, and now you're kind of SOL, and what are you going to do, right? And a guy walks into town, and he's your chance of savior, and it's a game about playing with gender issues. But this is a game where you couldn't go, necessarily, and invent your own adventure. The work that we classically do as GMs in making adventures is something that there isn't space for in those games where the adventure is tied so closely with the system that you can't get outside of it. And I actually have a lot of trouble, or as an example, Cyrun would be another example of this, right? This is a game that is about you wake up and realize that you are all amnesiacs, and there's somebody chasing you, and you're just fleeing. And if you play that game a hundred times, you're kind of playing that game, that scenario, over and over a hundred times.

Jason:

Right.

Erik:

Personally, I have a hard time gelling with games like that, maybe because I want to engage on the level of, like, no, I want to be the level designer. I don't want you to be. And as a GM, I need that to feel really engaged. What do you guys think? Yeah.

Jason:

I enjoy the kind of all-in-one package that you just described for when we're all in the mood of doing like a "let's explore a new system," "what are we gonna play tonight? We have some people missing, so we're gonna kind of like, you know, fit something in." None of them feel durable to me, right? They all feel like

Erik:

[AUDIO OUT]

Jason:

they're gonna do the one thing. And when we play that style of game, I am way more excited to learn the mechanics because they feel always so bespoke and interesting and something neat like that they're doing that is really gonna be some of the theme of the play tonight. Like I would say for Cyrun, when we played Cyrun, I had very little interest as a player in uncovering why the bad guys were chasing us. I had a lot of interest in uncovering the mysteries of my character. And in this game, in Cyrun, your characters are amnesiacs, and as you kind of push your selves, you end up learning parts of the mystery of yourself through I think the DM has created all the memories, you know, for you.

Erik:

Yeah. That's right.

Jason:

And I found that a ton of fun, but I'm completely aligned

Erik:

Yeah.

Jason:

with you, which is like now that we've played it, zero interest in playing it again. I actually don't even have any interest in running it for anybody because I feel like I've

Erik:

That makes sense to me.

Jason:

experienced all it has to offer.

Erik:

I also feel like there's a little bit of-- if a game is really that bespoke, and they've constrained it that far,

Jason:

Right.

Erik:

I feel like even as a player, I have a hard time getting myself into engaging with the character, because I feel like the amount of creative control I have feels, even in very improv games like when we play Inspectors, which, again, that's one game over and over again. Right? You get hired in order to come in and be ghostbusters.

Jason:

Right.

Erik:

And there, it's very improv. The players are the ones who end up making the adventure. They define what is the scariness going on. But even there, I feel like the scenario has been so constrained that it doesn't-- I don't know. Maybe I should say it doesn't pique my curiosity enough. Uh-huh.

Jason:

Fifth. A Z.

Erik:

Yep.

Jason:

So here's a question for you all. So we have a, you know, regular Tuesday night game that we all play together. Would you have more fun if every week we did another one of these self-contained games? Or would you have more fun if for a year straight you were in the same campaign and you're exploring the character and the world and the mechanics of that system? Which is more fun for you all as DMs, as GMs, and which is more fun for you as players? I'm curious about it. A Z. Yeah. I see. That's very you. Yeah.[laughs] That's a great way to put it. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Yep.[laughs] Yeah.[laughs] Eric, was there something else in this topic that you wanted to explore today that you feel like we haven't hit? Right. Yeah, and maybe the way into this topic is exploring a little bit how bare-boned Lasers and Feelings is, and then a little bit more how prescriptive Ashen Stars is, and then how extremely prescriptive Star Trek Adventures is, and what is it that makes one open up, I guess what you're getting at is almost homebrew more than another, right? And I think that to me, and I'll start kind of on the far end of the spectrum, with Star Trek just as a system it's like, why would I ever even choose that system if I was going to do anything other than play kind of canon Star Trek, right? I think even if I was someone who's like, "I really wish that there was a game about Klingon romance," I don't think that I would choose the Star Trek rule system to go have an experience of where my players are Klingons falling in love, right? I would pick something where romance was kind of the mechanic, right? Whereas with Lasers and Feelings, if you were saying, "Great, I'm going to go create a homebrew world on it," you would look at that single-page PDF and you'd say, "Well, there's nothing here that helps me create the homebrew world. I'm going to have to just go, I guess just write down whatever my imagination says." And this is why I've always enjoyed, although never really been able to play or experience much, things like these extensive kind of hex crawl systems or things that are about, you know, what Ethan likes to call "lonely play," where you're sitting down and you're rolling dice and you're just as a DM kind of playing for yourself and building out the world there. And so in that example, the rule system you're looking for is something that is generically simulationist enough, but where in my world, I would want a supplement that can kind of make use of the rules of the simulation to make it so that when I roll up Kingdom and the monsters that are within it, there's some method to getting to the mechanics of the rule set, and it's not just me writing down whatever fantasy ideas come to my mind. To me, that's where I think there's a lot of really design intent that has to go into something like a D&D, where there's an implied setting, there's published settings, but it's also generic enough that people could go create their own homebrew worlds into it. I'm not an RPG designer by any means, but my guess is as an RPG systems author, you have to figure out kind of your approach to homebrew pretty early on in your design process. Yeah, I need something to hang off of it mechanically, or I need some sort of supplement. This is where GURPS does shine, which is you can go and buy a supplement for almost anything you can imagine, and it's going to give you enough to create that homebrew world, right? Yeah, right, right. As a... As a... Sixties, yeah, sixties, yep. Yeah, I think more like early seventies, yeah. Isn't it? Right. Yeah. Huh. Yeah. As a... Right. As a... Thanks. Yeah. It's a good... It's 'cause they're all trying to do a very similar genre, but in different altitudes, right? Yeah. As a... I still think it's trying to do Star Trek. It is a gumshoe game, yeah. It's, yeah, and it's very much like that kind of procedural television show moment, to the point where it even talks about A-plot versus B-plots in TV shows. It very much is like you're playing a Star Trek The Next Generation episode in that game. Yeah. Yeah, no, very much so, very much so, right? And it... Absolutely, and it's actually really, to me, inspiring to watch how he's been able to make an observation."Oh, you know, the TV shows that we enjoy are all structured in this very similar way." I can then kind of fan that out across a lot of different RPG genres, and I can just make some tweaks to setting and system that allow you to enjoy that kind of style of play. And I guess, to me, and maybe this goes to Eric's original question about homebrew settings and things in the system that support the homebrew settings, to me, there was just enough in the Ashen Star rules that I felt like I could go write any part of that universe that I wanted. There was enough of an implied setting that kind of gave me a foothold, that let me not have to write everything from whole scratch. There was enough mechanics in the rules where I kind of knew how to represent different characters or worlds that you'd interact with. I guess that's a great example of one that is able to be, I think, very homebrewed without going into the full GURPS, like, "All I'm giving you is a simulation sandbox," kind of mentality.

Ethan:

I'm going to try to push myself a little bit to what I'm taking away is pushing myself to explore some of the other systems that I haven't really dug into too much like Blades and I just haven't you know, haven't made that time to really dig into it and I'd love to run a campaign or play in a campaign where I'm exploring, you know, like what would it look like to take the same setting, could I do a late 1800s Paris Blades setting that was like similar in terms of the IP that I'm drawing on or the world that I'm drawing on or the world that I built and run it as a very different, like what would the experience be of running it as like a heist forward instead of a mystery forward.[Pause]

Jason:

For me, it's about communicating some, like, a point of view to the players right when we sit down to the table to play a new system. This is something that, Eric, you do exceptionally well, where you'll say things like, "Hey, tonight we're gonna play X. This game is really all about A, B, and C, so you should expect to like Y and Z," right? And I've noticed you do this, like, exceptionally well, and I think that that really sets kind of an idea. Like, "Oh, is this game mainly meant for campaign play, but we're just doing a one-shot? Or is this something that's always just kind of about one-shots? Is this something that has, like, a really extensive world that if we get really excited about it, we can ask Eric to play more in? Or is this really kind of like all this thing's about, and it's really just about kind of what we're gonna see tonight?" Right? So I like the fact that our discussion today helped me better identify that those are some actual, like, that's deeply baked into the game that I just, you know, I'm gonna sit down and play. And I think just kind of making that player-forward at the beginning, or player-facing, rather, at the beginning, I think will be something I add in to my DMing. Yeah. Right. Right, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.