Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Special: Mechanics for Sports

So, to all the people in the U.S., I hope you had a good Thanksgiving day and enjoyed the turkey, potatoes, and other such things - my family does ham as well, but we've gotten weird responses from some people for it. In honor of Thanksgiving, and the fact that the three things associated with it are a parade, turkey, and sports, I wanted to do a small post on sports in RPGs.

Sports are tricky things to mechanize, especially for table top games. Don't believe me? Then think about it for a second. Compared to a fight (or a fighting based sport like Karate or Fencing), a team sport is amazingly complex. Don't believe me? Then think about it for a minute. How do you run the mechanics for a single play of American Football? Look at how much is going on. Discounting the snap, which is automatic, and all the stuff that goes on before it, you still have the Quarterback having to either make a throw, or hand the ball off. You have the linemen trying to keep the defense away from the QB. You have the wide receivers and tight ends trying to get open for a pass, or help block. Then you have the running backs trying to find a hole to run through, help block, or go to get a pass.

In those 6-8 seconds that a play can take, you end up with 22 people doing any number of weird combinations of opposed checks. This can be done on a computer quickly, just look at the success of the Madden franchise, but for a pen and paper RPG it gets a lot trickier to handle. It would almost be better, easier, and more authentic to instead handle the football plays as opposed strategy roles, with modifiers for quality of players and how the offensive and defensive plays match up. Doing that, however, can take a lot of the individual moments of glory that make Football so great out of the picture.

Football isn't even the worst sport to mechanize, as for all that the 22 people are doing, the game is very heavily structured with defined roles, and a defined defense and offense. Compare that to the likes of Hockey, Basketball, and Association Football (soccer/football depending on where you live), and you can end up in a real mess.

By contrast, sports like Baseball can actually be very easy to do. Baseball is very much an individual (the batter/base runner) versus the opposing team's defense. Once you handle the batting (a simple opposed roll, to a whole game in itself) you just have to check their speed against how quickly the other team can get the ball to the proper base.

So, what is the point of all this? Honestly, I think there could be a lot of fun to be had if someone could find a way to mechanize a sport while keeping the rules simple and flowing enough to be fun. There are a lot of types of stories that could be told with it, as well as numerous other ways to use it. Think about it, how many times have you played a local sports star, or at least player, in a modern day game? Wouldn't it be fun to actually play one of the games out?

Anyone have other ideas on this? Is there any actual interest aside from mine in being able to run a Sports based RPG?

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