Thursday, February 13, 2014

Find the Path: Violence

Here's another bit on Pathfinder.  Its been in my head lately, and it seems sensible for me to put my musing up here.  I've got another short story in the works.  It will come, but I need to get the outline for it figured out first.  Meanwhile, though, I've got short things like this I can throw out there.

Pathfinder inherits its relationship to violence from D&D and the culture around RPGs since their creation.  Violence is not only accepted, but the main goal or means in a good many RPGs.  Violent means are used, and rules exist to expand on how or why they get evoked.  Physical violence is a staple of the genre, to an extent.

I understand the need for violence, to a degree.  But just as some forms of violence in Video Games feel like they go a step too far, sometimes I feel like the rules in RPGs are too quick to make reveling in violence a enjoyable experience- and sometimes, encourages it to be the only experience.  This is a narrative complaint, and should and will vary by group.

Its the rules I point to.  Violence becomes a chief means because its the easiest means to use.  Its expected to be used.  Good narratives can come out of asking whys about the use of violence.

But is there any more you can do to change how players treat violence in a tabletop roleplaying game?

John Wick's Houses of the Blooded treats Violence as simple as possible.  Its a single roll, and a lot of other times, violence just happens regardless of dice rolls.  In Microscope and others like them, the game isn't about violence, except as a means to a single end.  Other systems try to create new rules for things that aren't tied to violence at all, so that players have something else to use or spend time on.

I have my own thoughts on the subject, and its a simple Hack for Pathfinder.  I posted it on some forums before.  The responses I got were... well, they ranged from complicated rebuttals to very mild interest.  Very mild.

I call it Violence, but you could change the name to whatever you'd want.  IDK.  Its a 7th ability score.  Base Attack Bonuses are removed from the game entirely, instead being replaced with this ability score.  Violence is added to Strength or Dexterity whenever you are attacking, etc.

First of all, this means there isn't a big stat that goes up when you level that also is primarily about attacking things.  Thats the main reason for the idea.  Base Attack Bonus sounds like its for hitting things, and it goes up with each level.

Second, I think it might make for some interesting interactions for characters.  Violence measures a character's willingness to commit violence against others.  The higher it is, the easier it is for a character to attack others without regret.  Some wizards might have no compunctions about killing, while some Paladins might be hesitant to strike that blow.

I do know the problems the idea of this raises, of course.

I'd tie the 7th ability score into more house rules in order to create a different sort of balance on various things.  A magic system that is different from the normal Pathfinder rules, so that martial characters aren't ruined by this.  More manipulations between pairs of ability scores.  And so on.

Still its one of those ideas.