One of the things I really miss about the Grognardia blog was how +James Maliszewski
would distill down OSR principles into INTENTIONAL design rather than accidental happenstance.
For example, the encounter roll that randomly gives you a reaction from NPCs/Monsters encountered in the dungeon is not just some "well, we don't feel like writing content so just randomly decide how they feel", but a way to let the Dungeon Master kind of read the tea leaves
and build implied story. These orcs are friendly.... why? Make up something on the spot for that..... maybe they are here looking for something and trying to avoid combat, maybe they are running away from something, etc. It becomes a fresh, unexpected thing. It's not an accident. It's not bad design.
So many people in the RPG community have such condescension for old design and see it as riddled with error rather than simply being intentionally different from what they are playing. So often I hear people say things like "RPGs are this particular way" when really they are just talking about how they prefer to play. Their way is not my way. This kind of thing is why I really put a lot of effort into the first chapter of Ambitions & Avarice where I talked about how a player should behave in my game.
Lately, I've been feeling like there must be a way to take the wisdom of old school design and create a mechanic similar to the encounter table that would help manage social dynamics outside of the dungeon. Something that would add a Game of Thrones feel to social interactions.
I have been rewatching the first season of Game of Thrones recently and I love the scene where Eddard Stark arrives in King's Landing and encounters Jamie Lannister in the throne room. This dialogue in particular, paraphrased slightly I'm sure as it's coming from memory;
Eddard: Beautiful armor. I notice there are no scratches
Jamie: People have been trying to hit me for years, but they always miss
Eddard: You have chosen your enemies well
Their entire conversation consists of barbs like this, thrown back and forth, ultimately breaking off with neither man the victor.
This is a social interaction. Each man is trying to intimidate the other. It ends in a draw and this raises the tension between the two characters. It could have resulted in one man feeling intimidated and backing down a bit. And as the interactions progress, tension continues to build until it is ultimately broken by one side turning to violence and establishing social superiority by the sword.
I feel that this happens in the Western genre a LOT as well, the classic showdown at high noon.
I think there has to be an elegant old school way to not just "handle this" but create it. Lots of it. And make the player feel both comfort in knowing what they are risking while simultaneously remaining risky.
Something I really hate about a lot of so-called "modern" game mechanics is that they give the player so much control over the risk that it becomes predictable and less exciting.
Not a FATE way. Not a Apocalypse World way. No offense to those ways. But that is not MY
Anyone else feel me on this?