Fun over Functionality

Photo by Braydon Anderson / Unsplash

Words to live by, not just in game design, but in life.

Look, we’re not building rocket engines here, we’re not doing brain surgery or raising an AI- we’re writing a silly table-top role playing game in which you pretend to be goblins stacked atop one another and hiding under a trenchcoat.

Precision is not our goal.

“But Dan!”, you say, and I brace, for I know an objection is coming.

“Fun and Functionality aren’t opposed, you can have something be fun and functional!”

You’re right, of course. You’re technically right, which, as we all know, is the best kind of right.

Perhaps functionality isn't the right word to use, but it starts with the same letter as Fun, and that pleases me. So, that's what I'm going for.

The principle itself is an embodiment of itself, and you can't ask for more than that.

At least, not for anything less than 1 dollar a month by joining the Uncivil Union and getting access to every game I’ve ever written and every game I’ll ever write!

The idea behind this design principle is to not worry about the details- I’m not writing this game, or really any of my other games, for the grognards who spend all night debating the finer points of a specific ruling and arguing over what a specific wording in a game rule actually means vis a vis specific game/combat situations or the like. (Tho I do keep a grognard handy for consultation purposes, because it's always nice to know what objections they might have to a specific rule- if something is too easily misinterpreted or unintentionally broken, trust a grognard to find it!).

We’re here to have a bit of fun, my friends. We’re here to pretend to be goblins, and we want a game system that makes that easy, doesn’t ask a lot of us, and in fact encourages us to be drunk while playing it. The rules for 3GiaT are not really meant for sober contemplation and regard, they are meant for inebriated rambles and cries of “I seduce the town guard lol” around the table.

If the rules for our game make it so folks are taking more than just a couple of seconds to look at their sheet and know what they’re rolling when they declare they’re doing something utterly cartoonish, we’ve failed. But if the rules are so loose that every single action becomes a table-wide debate on whether a goblin really could do that, then we’ve also failed.

It’s a tight and careful line to walk, which seems to contradict the spirit of the rule, doesn’t it? Achieving a perfect zen state of balance is the kind of thing that people move to the mountaintops and forsake all of their worldly attachments to achieve, innit?

Well, we, unfortunately, don’t have the budget for mountaintop retreats and meditations into the nature of the self.

Not in this economy, anyway.

So we’re just going to take some shortcuts. They might not be easy, they might not be comfortable, and they may, in fact, break you, but they’ll get you past the finish line in your noble goal to create not just a game about goblins and trenchcoats, but in fact a game that encompasses all possible goblins in all possible trenchcoats.

We’re aiming big, my friends, and we can't afford to let a little thing like common sense or ‘actually being possible' stop us, are we? No, no we aren't.

So what does this mean for us? It means, of course, that as we design the rules and options for our game, our focus is going to be on coming up with cool and/or funny shit without worrying about whether it's balanced, or will work at the table, or even how we're going to make it happen.

Don't worry about it.

This is not the time for worries, my friends, this is the time to open up your brainmeats, part the two lobes like some particularly large shrimp, find that large middle vein full of all the random crap, and slice it open, let it spill all over the page and make a huge, disgusting, inedible mess.

It’s ok.

It’s alright.

The mess doesn’t judge you. The mess loves you. And, with time, you’ll learn to love the mess too. You have to love it. Otherwise, without that love, why would you cry when it comes time to brutally and efficiently carve off massive chunks of it and toss them into the incinerator, eh?

Are you enjoying this bullshit? You are, aren't you? Hot diggity! Well, did you know you can encourage Dan to do more of whatever the hell this is by joining the Uncivil Union over on ko-fi? It's true! Not only is this a signal to Dan that people want more of this, but you'll also get immediate access to The Vault, where you can pick up free copies of every single game he's written, and exclusive access to the in-progress docs for upcoming games.

Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel Rodriguez

The Bad Boy of Fandible. I like RPG's. Filthy leftist Social Justice Glitter Boy. Writes silly TTRPG games. Owned by a cat. He/Him. Demi.
New York, NY