Celebrating Crunch

A lot of folks these days express an appreciation for rules-light games. And with good reason! A lot of us are busy, and gaming can take up a lot of time. This is part of the reason why I wrote Nigh-Invulnerable: The Guide to Simplified Supers (available here: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/106156/Nigh-Invulnerable-The-Guide-to-Simplified-Supers). Invulnerable is kind of crunchy, and Nigh-Invulnerable makes it easy to get a game going fast.

But there’s nothing inherently wrong with crunch. I’ve always held the opinion that “you get out of it what you put into it.” When you know and love the rules, using them is a joy, not a burden; when you spend five extra minutes thinking about your character, you’re a little more attached. There’s a break-even point, of course, and this isn’t desirable for every game (I wouldn’t want a player to spend an hour on a character for Tomb of Horrors, for example!), but for the campaigns I’ve run, this has been a good rule of thumb.

Crunchier games just require a slightly different focus, is all. A good blog post on this is at the RPG Blog II: http://www.rpgblog2.com/2013/07/thoughts-on-rules-heavy-rpgs.html

I like games with some meat on their bones. After running a half-dozen sessions of Swords & Wizardry Complete recently, I switched to OSRIC. Why? I appreciate the stripped-down, lean-and-mean design of S&W, and I understand the “rulings not rules” idea. However, I’m just as comfortable with glossing over rules that aren’t critical right this minute, and I like having those rules to fall back on.

People like different things, and that’s okay. Maybe I like systems with lots of bells and whistles because I work with computers for a living, thousands and thousands of electronic components, millions of lines of code, amazing intricacy. But I don’t need to keep it all in mind every minute, just the part I’m working with right now. I don’t let it scare me; it’s a tool, my tool.

Especially when I’m gaming, and there are orcs to slay.

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