Wednesday, March 30, 2011

an interesting case from Dr. Holmes

Thanks to interlibrary loan I was able to to track down a copy of J. Eric Holmes's Fantasy Role Playing Games (Hippocrene Books 1981).  I just started reading it, but there's a great insight into Holmes's idea of DMing on page 26:
Using percentile dice as described above, one can ask, "What is the probability that this hideous orc we've captured is carrying a key to the cell door?" or "What's the probability that my sneaky thief can sidle up to the captain of the guard and pick his pocket?" The Referee thinks for a moment and says "Twenty-five percent." The two dice are then rolled.  Anything less than a twenty-six means "Hooray! I've got it!"
The second case (the sneaky thief) is a well-understood game operation. It's the first case that I find a lot more interesting.  The thinking here meshes nicely with the main idea in my favorite paragraph in Holmes Basic.  I think Holmes views the idea of exploring the imaginative world of rpgs as a joint player-GM effort.  It's not as one-sided as "You make PCs, I make the world".  The players don't necessarily have "narrative control" in the modern indie game sense, but their ideas and input should be respected by the GM.  And the GM, under the Holmes interpretation, should be flexible enough to allow some of these ideas to have a serious impact upon the campaign.