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Gamism does not require carefully pre-detailed rules; why is it Western engineering?

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Gamism does not require carefully pre-detailed rules; why is it Western engineering?

Gamism does not require well-defined and agreed-upon rules mechanics. Note that I am not claiming we do not have a pretty well-defined system (in the Forge sense: how we decide what happens next in the fiction). But the mechanics, as in how precisely we figure out what happens next, are loose and partially negotiated on the fly. Rulings, not rules, kind of, but a more extreme take.

Here is the rules framwork (in Finnish, feel free to try your lack with machine translation):

Summarizing: A character has attributes, rolled 3d6 in order, a background which tells what they can do, and then a special ability (player-chosen) or a bunch of spells (random but conform to a player-chosen idiom of magic). They have some grit (hit points) and some equipment.

The basic resolution is rolling d20 plus relevant attribute, either as a versus roll or against a static difficulty level. Characters tend to have d6 grit and a successful attack tends to deal d6 damage, and if hit points are not enough, there are rules for getting wounded and dying.

These are pretty baseline stuff and could trivially be replaced by any other basic mechanical framework without affecting gameplay much (and I have run this kind of play with different mechanical rules). The gameplay is the kind of challenge-oriented sandbox OSR play that Eero and I have sometimes discussed; neutral referee who simulates the fictional world and so on. The referee-facing rules are prepared adventure locations and NPCs, random encounter and other tables, reaction and morale rolls, etc.

My question is: what precisely makes this engineering-thought play? Is it that I often declare difficulty levels for things before rolling, or can in any case explain them afterwards? Note that the consequences are usually not declared, but they are often clear or implicitly communicated. Is it that the referee does not aim for a particular mood and genre and does not steer play (by genre I mean: comedy, tragedy, heist movie, war story; this depends much on how well the players do and what the dice give)? Something else?

I wrote a game report on Adept play:

I'm not sure I understand the

I'm not sure I understand the question exactly.

To me, that absolutely sounds like gamism if players are gladly engaging with it.

At worst, I guess you could call it a flavor of gamism that isn't to everyone's taste.

It certainly seems in line with Kriegspiel, and it's hard to get gamier than old Prussian military cadets and instructors.

I'm guessing this thread is

I'm guessing this thread is directed in response to Jay's thread about mechanics and creative agendas?

But, to follow this tangent slightly...

It certainly seems in line with Kriegspiel, and it's hard to get gamier than old Prussian military cadets and instructors.

Is... Is Prussian military Kriegsspiel gamey? Even though the point is to develop real skills for warfare? Is that gamism? I guess it has that element of playing to win, in the same way that warfare does?

If I were to apply the GNS terms at all, I would have thought of simulationism, because it's so strongly directed at something beyond the game itself (i.e., real warfare). Trying to develop an "elevated appreciation and understanding" of something, in Eero's terms. Especially the Verdy du Vernois style, where the point is to recreate the feeling of command and test decision making under uncertainty, more than to create a totally fair model battle.

I want to get a better

I want to get a better understanding of what Jay means by Western engineering thinking and lackthereof.

When reading the other threads, there was discussion about this and deterministic mechanics; I am not sure how this relates to improvised mechanics or mechanics by more-or-less explicit group consensus or rules-versus-rulings, as in OSR use.

Engineering vs Bricolage

I suspect to really understand what the dichotomy is supposed to mean, one might need to read Lévi-Strauss.

I am pretty cautious to engage with the topic myself since I'm not really confident in my own interpretation which is based on Jay's interpretation of Chris Lehrich's interpretation of Lévi-Strauss' interpretation of the beliefs and mythologies of different cultures. I have made a few attempts to read The Savage Mind and get closer to the source, but I find it almost impenetrable.

Excellent question!


Apologies to Thanuir for not responding to his excellent question. Been struggling through a low point in my depression and haven't had much energy to devote to deep thinking. Heck, I've not even had the energy to read the boards. Feeling a bit better and hope to have a cogent response for you soon.