140 Characters and Nuance and Online Dependent Table Top RPGs.
Twitter doesn’t do nuance very well. There is a debate today about whether online dependence in a table top RPG would be a bad thing. The debate started with this post very little of which I disagree with. Rob Donoghue is talking about the difficulties third party developers face with 4e D&D, some of which are due to the electronic tools that WOTC has put out. Robertson games followed with this post which got me to wondering whether this is true. At this point thanks to the micro nature of twitter the conversation fragments a bit, 4e isn’t online dependent, WOTC should make better tools, etc. I really don’t disagree with anyone in the chat, it would be great it the WOTC tools were more open to third party input, I don’t think you have to use DDI to enjoy the 4e game, WOTC really should do a Mac version of their tools and other good points. What I want to get back to is the idea of whether a table top RPG (lets forget 4e here) could ever be online dependent and still be good. All this is theoretical obvious, this horse doesn’t exist at the moment.
Table top RPGs are all about having fun playing an RPG with some friends. Currently this is done mostly with pieces of paper, both by the DM whose notes, encounters and maps are all on paper and the player who’s character sheet is also paper. This is already starting to get chiseled away at however by laptops and smart phones. I expect to see this more and more, there are already fights at the local game days for who sits where so they can plug in, and this is at shops with no internet connections. So paper is the common delivery mechanism today, but lets jump up a couple of years.
The DM’s module is delivered to him as the game runs by the designer of a world wide event. Everywhere around the world parties are playing part of a massive campaign event with live connections to the designer who tracks the results and sends updates out based on how the parties are doing around the world. Minipaper versions of this occur today with battle interactives, they could easily be done globally as well. Everyone plays it today and your group can change the way the entire event comes out. Could be a lot of fun, one day of real hard core table top rpg energy that is entirely online dependent. Is it likely anytime real soon, probably not. WOTC is the big dog and I don’t think they could pull it off today, but could it happen? Certainly. Don’t get too hung up on the delivery mechanisms, online or paper don’t matter if the game is fun. That is the point I was trying and failing to get across in 140 characters. Hopefully 500 words will make the point better.