#RPGaDay2021 – Simplicity

Does simplicity make a game better or worse?

Simple games with simple rules are easier to grasp, easier to remember, generally use less paraphenalia and are easy to prep and improvise from. This is great, but it does come at a cost.

Simple games tend to lack depth. They find it harder to simulate complex or ongoing actions. They tend to lack the capacity for character improvement in a granular way, often lacking range in statistics, skills or powers, or not having enough different ways for you to advance. So they’re less suited to long term play, or rags to riches play.

Some players like all the fiddly bits to games, and so like games with more granularity, more depth, more expansive and granular opportunities to develop and change. Some Games Masters like it too, but the more fiddly and prep-heavy a game is the less easy it is to improvise, the more tempting it is to railroad.

The ideal game, perhaps, from both a player and GM perspective, would be one that’s simple enough in application that it’s low prep and easy to do thing, but which has enough granularity and system permutations to tackle a wide variety of situations.

Many games seem to make the mistake of an unsatisfyingly simple core mechanic, which they then fuck up the advantage of by layering hundreds of interwoven exceptions into (PbtA and Tri Stat, for example).

Can you think of a game that strikes the balance?

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