Monday, 27 July 2009

Less Fill, More Force

I talked with theLoneAmigo about my previous post. He articulated a niggling feeling I'd had all the way through writing it.

It's filler.

Or, more specifically, most of the results it produces are bland, generic, and not really something you actually need a random table for. You have random tables to give you results that are either too complex or gonzo to quickly come up with yourself (if, like me, you have imagination lapses), to give you results that you wouldn't have thought of yourself, or else to give you a result when you can't make a choice between a variety of options because they're all cool.

The first two uses for tables are what I personally call Idea Forcers. They give you a bunch of data which you can, and hopefully will, turn into a cool concept with just a little interpretation. Unlike Filler, they make you be creative, rather than take the need to be creative away.

So, having been a bit nebulous with my definition of an Idea Forcer, I'll give you a few examples:

Essentially, each of the above Forcers features either fully-fledged ideas which require interpretation to integrate with a game or each other, or a wide assortment of small nuggets of information which you need to weld into a cohesive whole.

Now, jumping back to an earlier paragraph, remember where I said the other purpose of tables is to “give you a result when you can't make a choice between a variety of options because they're all cool.”? Well, that's what Jeff's Miscellanium is, as an example. Each table features an assortment of gonzo ideas, none of which are boring. He shows the unspoken wisdom that, just as you shouldn't roll to see if the characters succeed if failure will ruin the game, you shouldn't roll on a random table if it will give you results that are boring.

May the Force be with you.

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