Guiding Principles

Photo by Dan Clear / Unsplash

Having closely examined the constituent parts of the existing Goblin Features, both in the original work (as translated from broken Enochian by the Chartreuse Method, of course), and those in the far more accessible, if critically mixed, 3 If By Trenchcoat, I've come to some conclusions.

Let's face it, the decision to base the game's sequel around the killing fields of the Revolutionary War, and trying to balance the natural hilarity of goblins with the serious geopolitical ramifications of the birth of this world's most ruinously influential exporter of Capitalism, led to a certain segment of the population approaching 3GiaT 2: Electric Boogaloo with a certain sense of... trepidation.

What did it mean that I had chosen this particular setting for the sequel to such a deeply influential and, frankly, seminal work in the ouvre of ttrpg's, as 3 Goblins in a Trenchcoat, which, not coincidentally, is just one of the many amazing games and other perks you can receive by joining the Uncivil Union for just one of your American "dollars" per month.

Did the choice to wrap a whole-ass trenchcoat around the Revolutionary War and then shove in a handful of goblins herald the coming of a new, inflamed near to bursting sense of patriotism and conservatism from yours truly? Nay, for the goblins were clearly not American. Or at least, not solely American- witness the fact that there were both blue and red-Coats available to our goblins to use.

Then perhaps this would be a satirical take, delivered by yet another Woke game designer determined to shove their liberal bullcrap down our throats? No, of course not. I save that for these blog entries.

No, the reason I chose that topic was simple: because it would be funny as fuck.

Now, humor is in the eye of the beholder, sure, but I feel like, given people's reactions to the game, I was generally successful in harnessing that guiding principle into the game, and that's really what I want to talk about today- guiding principles, and how they shape the game you're building.

Let's go back to yesterday, and the game we were gushing about, Red Giant. Visually, tonally, and in terms of game and rule design, that game clearly has certain guiding principles that harness and form its creative juices into something special. The grimdarkness and hopelessness of the game world, the themes of everything coming at a price, even the color scheme, all work together and in turn serve these guiding principles to ensure that the work, as a whole, is consistent and effective.

Is it possible to achieve the same thing even when we're talking about goblins? Can we even consider such a thing doable when what we're making is not a single specific setting? We're creating a toolkit here, and sure such 'guiding principles' have no place in the cold, sterile environment of a World Forge, no?

By now, you should know that the answer is, in fact, of course we can!

Tools are not empty of meaning, my friends. The famous proverb of 'when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail', implies that there is a certain worldview, a hammerness, if you will, that is imposed upon the individual that uses said tool, which leads to such individuals approaching and interacting with the world around you in a specific way.

Tools shape our worldviews, but tools are not free of agendas. A hammer wants to hammer things in. A screwdriver wants to twist, while a spade is meant to dig. More than that, each tool once had a maker, and that maker had a certain approach to their tool- some may have focused on durability, others on control, and yet others purely on the aesthetics with little regard for functionality- and while a skilled artisan can craft equally beautiful objects with any of these tools, the tools themselves tend to inform the kind of things you can do and make with them. A master artisan can often tell what kind of tool a craftsman used just by viewing the unique marks each individual tool leaves on the final work.

And so it is that, knowing that our tools are not just blank slates, soul-less lists of stale statistics and numbers, but living, opinionated instruments capable not just of creation, but of a specific kind of creation, given form and voice by the guiding principles that formed them in the first place.

So, as we end today's entry, it bears to spend some time meditating on those two principles that inform not just this project, but all my work, in some way or another:

  1. You are all bad people, and you deserve this.
  2. Fun over functionality.

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