Mechanics v. Communication

Rules in tabletop adventure games often revolve around limiting and enforcing character or referee actions. Inventory and encumbrance is there to prevent characters from carrying more than is realistically believable. Injury systems in some games penalize stats or certain actions to simulate the injury and prevent the player from just ignoring it.

These rules are often unnecessary and can be substituted with a simple question: “Ok, but how do you deal with ____ ?”

  • A character has a broken arm, they attempt scale a low all.
  • “But how do you do that with a broken arm?”
  • A character tries to carry 4 suits of armor and several swords.
  • “Ok, but how do you carry all of that?”

A simple question can re-frame the situation in the players mind and force them to creatively deal with the obvious problem as if it where real. Instead of forcing players to engage with mechanics, reinforce the the fiction and allow them to engage with it by cleverly solving the problems through narration:

  • “I push a crate up against the wall so that I can climb over it using just one hand.”
  • “I tie a rope to my shield and use it like a sled to drag items around behind me.”

Stat penalties and mechanical widgets are unnecessary. Allow imagination, creativity, and good player-referee communication do all the work.

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