#RPGaDay2022 -Day 7: System

Sundays for #RDGaDay2022 will not be the same as those of previous years in that they offer variation, not only from the prompts for the other days, but also within their own category. Each prompt will ask something a little different of you. This first Sunday, for example, invites us to share something about a system we like. In other words, it is an opportunity to give some insight and context to something which people cannot see for themselves in a posting on an RPG e-store or on the shelf at an FLGS.

Do you have this memorized, yet?

Describe a cool part of a system that you love.

In keeping, at least in part, with the theme of introductions to RPGs, I want to go back to a time when my beloved Ubiquity Roleplaying System was new to me.

In my first read of a Ubiquity game, I liked everything in it with the exception of the metacurrency of Style Points. I could see in the math why they were a necessary part of pulpy play, and I could see their potential benefit on the social layer of play. I also noted with approval that the use of Style Points can take place without discussion on the system or player layers. Regardless, I felt disappointment to find them in the game and seriously considered the most challenging implementation of the system proposed in the core book: not using them.

Fortunately, by the time this happened to me I had been down such a road many times before and knew that I needed to combat whatever instinctive biases I might be experiencing, and any rules misunderstandings I may have inadvertently developed in my reading of the book, with Actual Play. It didn’t escape me that I liked a lot about the mechanism despite supposedly NOT liking it.

As soon as we started playing it, the clouds of unsubstantiated bias were torn asunder to be scattered to the four corners of the universe by the uplifting winds of unfettered enjoyment.

I quickly converted to loving Style Points because in a very simple but dramatic way they can emphasize character and reinforce genre, and they can do it without interrupting the flow on the character layer of play.

Form

As a finite and actively exchanged ‘currency’ in the game, StyIe Point are typically represented by poker chips. They are awarded and later spent by physically passing the chip. This exchange is visible to all and is always clear in context – it simply never needs to be discussed. Of course, they could be represented by anything – even, in a pinch, by memory alone – but in their chosen form of poker chip they bring a certain resonant simplicity coupled with the intimation of a gamble. Their clatter when spent is the laughter of the bravely bold tilting at the perilous teeth of capricious chance.

Follows

Style Points are earned in many ways, not the least of which are meta things which improve the quality of experience for the group, but the way which pleases me most is when they are earned through the truthful portrayal of character. In other words, by deciding on and carrying out action, reaction, and interaction befitting the nature, skill, and genre of the character – by embracing their Style – the player brings joy to the table with the vehicle of the character and the appropriateness and creativity of their play. That play builds a momentum which is both expressed and fortified by the awarding of and subsequent spending of Style Points in the ebb and flow of a character – defining positive feedback loop.

Function

Style Points basically enable the player to add more dice before a roll or to lower damage scored against them at the cost of spending Points and a relevant description. This places them as a strong link between character and genre while further forging a bond to the fun sought by the group. Although it is the GM who typically awards Style Points, this is often, in play, based on the response of the entire group to the portrayal of the character. In other words, the more people at the table enjoy what the other people at the table are doing in play, the more the Style will flow.

I like that a lot.

I just had to overcome with experience a knee- jerk reaction caused by prejudice.

Tomorrow

New questions with a different and perhaps more obscure subtheme start tomorrow. The first, it may seem to some, has already been asked and answered.

Who introduced you to RPGs?

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