#RPGaDay 2018 – Day 20 “Mechanic”

Week 4: Which         Prompt 20: Which game mechanic inspires your play?

This is the 4th week of the event and we have moved on to the next theme, and the next key word: which. The theme revolves around games as they are on the page and how that speaks to us as players. The first prompt for Day 20 of #RPGaDay2018 is another one where you have to keep an eye on the questions still to come. Tomorrow is specifically about dice mechanics, and today is thrown open to any of the procedures and processes that occur in a game that you find help to elevate or ‘inspire’ better play. Toward that end, let’s explore descriptive narration a little bit.

Flying Purple People Eater…  Purple People?

As gaming matures and as more and more people take the time to explore different ways to game, ways to write games, and ways to conceive of games, some also take the time to talk about their experiences. That leads to innovation, but it also leads to clarification and a spread of ideas that designers and players find to work well. One such idea is to share the load of description during  play.

There are quite a few mechanical ways to ensure that people who are not currently the GM are adding to the descriptive narration during play, but one that I find easy to communicate, quick to adopt, and can be readily relied upon is the mechanic of assigning descriptive narration to the “victor” so to speak of a task resolution of any type, including combat. This way, the imagery forming in the players’ heads can respond to the results of rolls (or whatever other device, mechanical or otherwise, determines outcomes) as they might if it were actually happening.

A player declares that they want to bypass the security on a terminal. This leads to a skill check and their roll succeeds. Rather than finding out how that goes and what they did to do it from the GM, a quick glance at the dice can show them that they should just keep on narrating how their intention manifests as action. The GM can slip smoothly into that description as needed with what that success allows and what is gleaned from it, and the penetration of the facility continues…


A grim struggle against a guard on a balcony goes against the player. The GM in this instance might pick up the narration after the player’s declared intention and describe how that intention was balked.


The player might be asked instead to reveal how their intentions were foiled at the last minute.

They are alive! They’re human beings!

I find this mechanic of assigning clear requirements for narration to be inspiring because it retains momentum during play and the investment from each players spurs greater investment and effort in the the others. It encourages each player, including the GM, to reject passivity and embrace activity. When description in a game is better, and when the flow of description is smoother, play is better all around.


We continue the fourth week, “which,”  and dip into our dice bags for some enjoyment. The prompt for Tuesday, Day 21 of #RPGaDay2018 is to discuss dice mechanics in RPGs that we enjoy.


As has been my habit since the second year of #RPGaDay, I am also keeping pace with the prompts on video. The content of the videos and the blog overlaps, but is not exactly the same, and where the greater emphasis on detail resides varies from day to day.


This begins the fourth week of the fifth iteration of the monthly roleplaying gaming celebration launched by Autocratik for all forms of social media. Share your responses however you prefer to share. If you want to get involved, grab and share the infographic with the prompts and jump right in!

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