Theory: Non-Simulative Minis Game Rules

Occasionally I return to the idea of a story-driven, Dynasty Warriors-inspired minis game. Here’s an interesting way to think about the goal of that design:

RPGs fall, roughly, into two categories. In some, the rules are a simulation of the physics of the universe. FFG’s Warhammer 40K RPGs work this way; when a player rolls to hit, the target number is based on in-world factors like distance, visibility, and the characteristics of the weapon.

Other RPGs direct the rules toward the narrative rather than what’s happening in the fictional world. A lot of indie RPGs (without trying to get into a debate about what counts as an “indie” RPG) are of this school. Polaris’ rules, for example, are all about which player gets to decide what happens rather than whether her character can then carry out the decision.

Current minis games fall into the former category. The rules are designed to simulate the in-universe rules of the world. Admittedly those rules might be strange, because the world is a magitech kingdom or an alternate dimension, but they’re still meant as a simulation.

The proposed minis game takes a completely separate tack. The rules aren’t about simulating a character’s attacks. They’re about driving the narrative forward and wrestling for control over the story.

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