I started a new game recently. There’s a lot that’s different about it from normal: it’s not in a style I usually play, the system and I aren’t near as compatible as I’d like, the players are multitasking their characters… and most importantly, it’s a playtest, so I need to be able to recount what happened if asked.
When I got up from the table last night after a couple of fights and a little bit of character interaction, I got it in my head to relay both the events of the game and the numerous conclusions I’d come to in highly self-referential stick figure comic format. On the one hand, it’s probably a silly idea; it’ll take extra time to put the thing together, the message might get lost somewhere along the way,
And yet it seems like the right thing to do. Part of it, I think, was just a way to get a little more hilarity out of our get-together before I went home; I mentioned the idea to my two playtesters, and they immediately jumped in with jokes I could add or refinements to some of the ideas I already had. Some of it is a coping mechanism; the test required me to work with mechanics I don’t care much for, and it’s always easier to manage there when I have something else that I’ll be able to take advantage of later. It was a silly game, and playing it for all the humor I can get might be a way to mask how awkward I feel about some of the assumptions I’ve made regarding the game world. There’s the fact that it’s a lot easier to sit through a game recap when there’s a bit of context rather than just “and the [class] did [such and such]”–something I know I have a problem with in my own recaps. And I want the people I’m explaining this too to have a little fun as well.
I think a big one, though, is that a lot of the things I found myself hanging up on were the kinds of absurdities that tend to come naturally from too determined attempts at balance. I’ve addressed these things directly during design processes, but it’s always easy to be talked down; I rather wonder if I can make a better point by showing just how silly a certain mechanic’s phrasing or exceptions can get.
As long as the results get across, it shouldn’t matter too much how they’re relayed, right?