Oh hey look it’s tomorrow.
On a long enough timeline, every day is tomorrow.
Write that down, it’s probably important.
Now, “yesterday” we mentioned at the very end of our ranting that the choice to define the Two Stats not as physical constraints, but as philosophical and, in fact, ontological constraints, helps flavor the game. What do we mean by this?
Well, let’s start with a counter-example. Let’s look at a typical character from a typical game: you’ve got your physical stats: strength, dexterity, constitution. How strong, how fast, how nimble and how tough you are. These stats imply that your character will be interacting with the world around them at a physical level, they may face challenges or come across situations in which their strength, dexterity, and constitution will be tested. A game of physical, direct action.
Then we have the ‘mental’ stats, right? Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma. How smart, how wise, how charming your character is. This implies a whole other set of interaction with the game world- there will be challenges that test your character’s intelligence, that measure their wisom, that rest on their charisma. Perhaps a game where you solve puzzles, face moral dilemmas, and navigate courtly politics?
There are, of course, many more aspects to a character: special abilities, spells, equipment, etc. etc. etc., sure, but these are their core stats, and they define the kind of interactions you’ll have with the game world around you. They imply and suggest a world of adventure, of delving into dungeons and facing fiendish puzzles, powerful creatures, and manipulative dragons. You see those stats, and, to a point, you know what to expect from the game.
And then, you look at our Two Stats, and perhaps a light bulb comes up over your head.
Lying. Cheating. Health.
Just two simple stats, not the dazzling 6-stat array of your more traditional game. Immediately, we run into a roadblock, however: these Two Stats don’t seem to describe my goblin! How do I know how strong, or how fast, or how smart they are? What stat will they roll to evade a clever dungeon trap? How many dice do they get when translating an ancient mystical text?? These stats tell me nothing about my goblin! Nothing!!!
Oh, is that so?
How… human-centric of you.
Sure, if you were playing your typical human (or humanoid) in a typical game, you’d have a point. But this, dear reader, is 3GiaT, and it’s not that kind of game. And yet… and yet the universal truth of your stats helping shape the game world remains. When all you have are adventurer stats, everything looks like an adventure. But when all you have are goblin stats, well… you get the idea.
In their own way, the Two Stats are as much a guiding principle of design as anything else. By keeping that constraint, by making sure that the way goblins interact with the world around them is in the uniquely goblinesque way of Lying and Cheating and (mostly losing) Health, the game itself stays focused on what it’s meant to be: madcap hijinks and goblin depravity.
And who doesn’t want a bit of that, eh?
Why, hijinks and depravity are basically my middle name, really.
That’s really the message I’m trying to get across here, as we talk about things like guiding principles and design: As the designer, it's your job to make every aspect of your game serve the goal, the purpose that you've set out for it.
In the case of 3GiaT, that goal is to punish you for being a bad person and daring to pick up this game provide a quick, easy to play, simple, yet focused way to let your inner little shitgoblin out into the world to cause chaos in their own, unique, bumbling way.
This approach, of course, is not without its challenges. For one, it can be difficult for the more literal-minded among us to figure out if a situation calls for Lying or Cheating. Such folks might think to themselves, surely this would be easier if I just knew how strong my goblin is! Here's the thing with that, though: you're thinking like a person. Like a human, playing a game. You're looking for the stats that match what you, the player, expect.
But you’re not playing a human. You’re playing a goblin, and those little fuckers don't think in terms of strength or dexterity or wisdom. They think in terms of Lying, and Cheating. This means that we need to approach our actions in a different way. It's not ‘how do I do this?', it's actually ‘how would a goblin do this?’.
And while it’s not always the easiest approach, I think it makes a real difference in the way the game plays and the way the players grow to embrace their inner goblinity. All of which, of course, leads us into our next topic, coming tomorrow: 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.