Game Aesthetics (Ravyn Makes a Wish)

It’s been a long week. Which means I can afford to be a little selfish today, so I’m going to go on a personal tangent. A lot of people have been asking about things that make me wonder what it is that I want. In a game. In a story. In a world. And hey, the answer will probably say a thing or two about where I’m coming from, so I may as well go for it.

I want a game that plays to my skills. That lets me depend on my own wits, rather than on how well I’ve been able to string numbers together to create a character. (This is why I dislike playing characters less intelligent and less socially effective than I am: it means I have to hold back, and I’m not good at holding back.) Where I can come up with crazy plans, back them up with my own reasoning, and have a chance at convincing whoever holds the job of creating the world that this might be vaguely doable. Where I can engage in social maneuvering or come up with new and inventive uses for seemingly mundane magical effects, and know that the opposition is going to be fair opponents. Where, if I find myself in a position that involves delegation, minutiae, and assigning resources, I can try my hand at those skills. (Good practice for having to do the same in the real world, right?)

I want a game in which the rest of the group and I are a team and not a gaggle. In which collaboration is the default rather than something that happens on special occasions. I want to be able to settle down for hour-long discussions of “Okay, so we’ve got Objective X, Resources Y, Q, and P, and Obstacle Z. What’s the most interesting, plausible, and cinematically audacious way to use these resources to get past this obstacle and reach this objective?” Preferably a week early so we can modify the plan, and refine it, and make it even more balanced between plausibility, amusement and cinematic audacity in the interim.

I want a game that appeals to all my emotions. Where I can choose to play a character who hides behind masks, but at some point she can feel comfortable enough to take the masks off. Where there is joy as well as sorrow, elation as well as frustration.

I want to run a game (or tell a story) in which there are mysteries everywhere, hinted at in every session, just waiting to be found out. Where everything has a reason, and where every reason is an intrigue. Where the players know this, and act accordingly, turning over the rocks and asking the questions, tracing the little mysteries back to their sources. Where, if I were to spy on their conversations during the week, I might hear them comparing notes: “So what do you think her problem is?” “Well, according to a conversation another friend of ours had with me about a month ago gametime….” Where people go over all the details with a fine-tooth comb, and when the one solution they didn’t think of turns out to be the answer, there’s a chorus of “Oh, THAT’S why…!”

I want a world that’s consistent and alive, no matter what my role is in it. Where everyone has a stake in its development, and will cheerfully take the time to add a few little details. Where people can plot against themselves between sessions and see the fun of it during session.

That’s what I want. What do you want?

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