Game Mastery

Are characters ever aware of their own game mechanics?

by on Aug.11, 2013, under meta

This sounds like a dumb question.  I really want to insult myself for thinking to ask it.  But every so often I’ll make a comment about how RPG characters shouldn’t speak in game rules and I’ll get corrected because of course those characters are familiar with their stats and abilities.

I try really hard to be accepting of other player styles than my own.  When I get invited to a game, I don’t try to convert them to my style but I try to find the fun in their style.  Even if I don’t enjoy it myself, I try to be aware that there are players who do and I may even try to figure out who those players are.

But I can’t for the life of me figure out who would want to play in a game where the characters know their own stats, levels, and such.



Let’s get this out of the way first.  I agree that there are things on the character sheet that characters are aware of.  The more specific the rules are, the more the characters should know about them.  My mage knows he has Magic Missile and Fireball and that the first doesn’t hurt as much as the last.  My fighter knows he spent extra hours at fighter school learning how that damned Spiked Chain works.  My rogue knows he can stick you in the vitals more easily if you’re not watching him do it.  Things that characters do, buttons they can push, have to be known by the characters in some capacity.

I object to more abstract things.  Levels.  Stats.  The relationships of stats and skills.  It just doesn’t make sense to me that my character would know this.  I see them knowing the net result of these things, but I don’t see why a PC would have access to the numbers behind them.

For example, I can bench 290 lbs.  I know that I’m stronger than the guy next to me struggling with 135.  Does that mean I have a higher strength score?  Probably.  Is that because of my racial bonus (for whatever the hell race I qualify as)?  Or because I’m higher level than him?  Oh maybe our stats are the same, but my powerlifter skill is higher.  I do just have skills and stats right?  Maybe I took a feat for a skill bonus.  Oh, maybe that Starting Strength book I read was a Manual of Gainful Exercise +1.  How do I know I’m based on D&D stats and not some other system with Talents, Advantages, and Perks getting in the way?

Anyway, I can think of a million arguments for why I don’t think games operate in a universe where characters understand game mechanics.  That’s not what I’m trying to figure out.  What I want to know, and I’m hoping to get some helpful comments here, is why would you want to play in a game like that?

No comments for this entry yet...

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...