I’ve always been fascinated with pen & paper role playing games and with how their designers attempt to reinterpret “reality”* within frameworks of dice-based probability and interactive storytelling. There’s a balance between a group narrative of your band of heroes cinematically taking down a bunch of baddies and abstracted mechanics represented by fistfuls of polyhedrals and pages of reference tables.
Infinite Versions of the Same “Reality”
Every role playing game system has its own way of answering the basic questions in a combat encounter:
- Who gets to go first?
- Did character A hit character B?
- Based on the natures of the attack and of the defense, how badly is character B hurt (or not)?
- Does character B stay in or is taken out of the fight?
Or something along those lines with as much or as little complexity thrown in, because you’re either a detail-obsessed munchkin or just a goshdarned storyteller.
Where “Realities” Overlap and Blur
Never mind the tales of woe surrounding the much-ballyhooed Cyberpunk 2077 video game; the folks behind the CPIP (Cyberpunk Intellectual Property - I just made this up) have finally released the full version of the updated P&P RPG (pen & paper role playing game), Cyberpunk RED!
Included in this thick tome detailing the personages and the histories around the quaintly dystopic world of 2040’s are rules defining how good your character is with weapons. In particular the paragraph regarding handguns stood out:
Given what I’ve been able to do at the range, on the open deck, and at competitive matches, I’d generously rate myself a Base 12, as I’m not that good (consistently, anyway) for a 14, but I’d say I’m definitely above 10. As someone pointed out, Jerry Miculek would be a Base 20 at least, along with John Wick, Madlax, and so on.
“Reality” Used to Be a Frenemy of Mine
All this made me think of other game systems that describe gun combat, from the original edition of Traveller to d20 Modern to good old Warhammer 40,000.
Trying to line up and normalize how things work (or don’t) in the real world with what someone(s) drew up with paper and dice can be a fun (if questionably useful) mental exercise. If anything, it can define goals to work towards in one’s practice and training. I think that being able to shoot a coin-sized target at 12 meters is an ultimately achievable one, so I’ll likely practice on that somewhat seriously in the near future.
“Reality” is the only word in the English language that should always be used in quotes. - thanks, Thrill Kill Kult!