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Author Topic: Mechanics in submissions: Help or Hindrance?  (Read 604 times)

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Offline Chaosmark

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Mechanics in submissions: Help or Hindrance?
« on: September 21, 2012, 10:18:04 AM »
For those haven't quite picked it up in their journey around the Citadel, the general population tends to dislike it when a post includes system-specific mechanics in it. Scras brought this to the forefront of my brain with his comment this morning:

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Scrasamax: Not bad, but it made me think of something. Our aversion to any sort of system or mechanics can sometimes be a hinderance


I believe I understand why we tend to dislike mechanics in posts. It's not that we all dislike mechanics or think that they detract from a submission's usability; let's be fair, I'm quite sure all of us have at least referenced a setting- or system-specific module before, and those always have mechanics in them -- the average GM isn't going to want to stat-out an entire module before they use it. For that matter, we all have to use mechanics in the end, when we run the games ourselves. So our problem really can't be the mechanics themselves.

I think the big issue we all have is with people that take a name, throw stats on it, and call that a submission worthy of and creative enough for the Citadel. When placed alongside the more awesome works in the Citadel, such as The Mountain of Boats, the quality of such works becomes completely clear, and our voting reflects it as such.

That said, I think our distaste for submissions relying purely on stats and mechanics to support them has gone a bit overboard; any mechanics whatsoever is now considered anathema, and makes people downvote submissions as if they were the aforementioned stats-only scraps, even when they clearly have good content that could stand on it's own without the mechanics. I honestly think this detracts from the usability of the works we have; we're sacrificing something that, if an author has the desire to include it, could simplify the task for others of picking up a submission and dropping it down in their games. Any suggestions the author makes are always subject to modification, so why should we be so attached to "story only" submissions when one of our core goals is to provide usable game content to GMs?

I'm not suggesting that we lighten up on "submissions" that rely on mechanics without providing any supporting content, but I do think we would do better to not be quite so hammer-of-god on the submissions that support their content with a little bit of clarifying mechanics.
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Offline valadaar

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Re: Mechanics in submissions: Help or Hindrance?
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2012, 10:27:58 AM »
I'm not really sure they are as persecuted as they once were.  One of my more recent subs(:))

http://strolen.com/viewing/Chardiss_Impeding_Arrows

Being struck by this arrow slows down the target.  Affect per arrow is a -5% decrease in movement-based defences.  If the target is brought to -20% net penalty*, they become immobilized. The effect of each arrow ends after 1 minute.

...

*Any bonuses are lost first, so a target with a bonus of 20% would need to be hit by a total of 8 such arrows before being immobilized.  D20 based systems would mean a -1 Dex modifier per arrow, with immobilization at -4.


Now, this did seem a little awkward in its wording - the sub was made as a 3-minute magic item sub, so it could bear more work, but it did not attract any negative comments for the mentioning of statistics.  Votes were in the low range, but more likely due to the abbreviated nature and the thinness of the sub material itself.  It is as close to a stats-only submission as I have gotten.


My own take is stats are fine unless you _must_ understand them to make use of the sub, in which case you have significantly shrunk your audience.  Its your call if you want to break up the flow of your stats with stats blocks and the like.




« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 10:30:01 AM by valadaar »
   
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Offline Strolen

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Re: Mechanics in submissions: Help or Hindrance?
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2012, 11:04:21 AM »
Hmmm. No, I hate stats pretty much in any form. Yes, I suppose I am biased but also welcome the conversation!

I can lean towards Valadaar's point a tiny bit without too much heartburn. Would probably spit up in my mouth a little though:
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My own take is stats are fine unless you _must_ understand them to make use of the sub, in which case you have significantly shrunk your audience.

And I would add another caveat, that if they are specific to any game system, again, they lose their usefulness for every person that doesn't play that particular brand of game.

So stats, to me, are useless to most gamers and do more harm than good. If we do stats do we pick Pathfinder, one of the multitudes of D&D versions, my favorite is Palladium so that is all I would use. How much help would that be to most folks? Again, all these stats are useless unless the site is built to support a certain game system and those players/GMs come to find specific things to their system.

We don't support any game system. We support creativity. Stats are so simple to make up on the fly that adding them is almost insulting in many cases. GMs adjust them on the fly to meet the requirements of the game (or they should).  Sure, you can throw a -20% effectiveness in a sub but I would much rather you simply say that it looses some effectiveness. The percentage just annoys me because I won't use it anyway! Most people change your stuff once they go to use it so why waste your time with it?

We had the discussions before about making a stat box or a translation table between them to offer stats but I never really did like the idea. Too much time and effort for so little return.

Sure, sprinkle some in an Idea below the sub or something, but don't ruin your idea with it....it doesn't need it. I would say that is the safest thing to do for your sub if you insist on having stats. Write the sub, submit it. Then write an idea with a Stat idea/comment separately. Who is going to complain about that? Not me! However, there will never be something that requires stats to help explain it. I can't think of any example that words can't replace stats. The closest things come to numbers is random charts, and those are AWESOME!

Yes, I have a strong opinion about it. Sorry if I came in strong and impassioned about it...but I kinda am.  Not sure if I ever took off points for stats....but I might of....and wouldn't regret it.

Bottom line, they are your subs to do as you will. But they are our votes to do as we will. Those that like them will give kudos, those that don't won't. I don't intend on making or supporting any statement on loosening the common understanding about our negative take on using stats in submissions. Strolen no likey and occasionally I take a stand.

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