When you come down to it, most games out there, in one way or another, their game mechanics focus on conflict resolution. Sure there are other things that happen in a game, but in the end experience, progress, and what-not usually tend to revolve around what happens when "X" meets "Y", with the presumption that it is some manner of challenge.
Then I think about why I do this - to be able to roleplay: stepping into the role of another person, from another world (even its a variant of ours), and then exploring what that character would do and how they develop over time. And no matter how a rule set might try to be different, in the end, the focus of game mechanics does tend to focus on conflict resolution. Even Smallville, which uses its character generation rules to help world-build ... still becomes a mechanism to collect powers and skills.
And then I realized just how much fun I am having playing Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine.
Fine, its been around for about five years and the rules are very, very, very idiosyncratically written; more of an odd conversation with a strange friend than your traditional tome of rules. I can certainly understand that folks more used to more straightforward rules would be turned off or end up scratching their heads. Being relatively new at it I'm still doing quite a bit of the head-scratch bit myself.
But instead of focusing on conflict resolution (fine, there are conflict resolution rules - I remember reading them somewhere) it's the first game I've seen in a long time where the focus of the game is inter-character relationships and character development. Interestingly play-by-post was actually considered in its design. I suspect because in a good play-by-post game what you write becomes the expression of your character and how you relate to folks.
Without getting too much into it, the driving mechanism is the Quest. And it's not a quest like "Have fun storming the Castle" (but it could be) but some manner of quest/goal/direction/development that is important to your character. It's very probable that your character may be involved in multiple quests and the other characters are on a whole different set of their own personal quests. Basically they are Things Important to Your Character.
Experience is not given out for killing things or beating other people (but it could if somehow that was part of a quest) but for your progress in accomplishing your quest, doing things related to the quest ... and just as importantly, how you relate to the other characters.
This is actually where Chuubo's as play-by-post is better than tabletop. One of the major components is a tabletop mechanism (the emote) which is basically the two-by-four to the head of a Player that says "Hey we are having a moment here" because sometimes - and we all have had this happen, especially when someone is reaching for the dice - us Players can be really oblivious. And to be equally honest, some folks (players) are better than this than others. That said I have yet to need it in play-by-post and those who truly immerse themselves in their characters probably don't need it either.
Downside: Like Runequest and Glorantha, Chuubo's and its isolated-from-everywhere-else-world setting of Town (where Chuubo built a wish-granting machine in his backyard) is extremely game-world centric. In some way this is not unexpected - because of the nature of the game, you need a setting where you can show what a quest is and have many example quests for players to fit their characters, a setting that supports this manner of interrelationships and with a variety of cultures/groups/folks deep and dense enough to encourage roleplay and character development. This actually makes up the majority of the rulebook.
Thus while technically Chuubo's could be used for almost any flavor of game (and has the supplements and mechanisms to support it) tearing it away from its setting of the Town and Fortitude would be quite a task. I understand the scale of work involved because I did a similar thing for The Heartwood using Runequest.
It's not a game for everyone - as for me, so far it has lived up to its promise of being a great way to play in a Studio Ghibli type of world.
And yes, there are some things I've found that are very strange but charming.
Like no map of the town. Why? Because in the grand scheme of things why does it matter if you go down street x, turn right at y, and then stop at building number 1245. Instead what's more important is what your character remembers, how they feel about a place, making a location more along the lines of - between the Place-Where-the-Bus-Sometimes-Stops and Where-You-Saw-the Rats-Swordfighting.
Or that the game has the suggested skill "Stare Down Cats". When I told Kel she really liked that one.
Interestingly it's been quite helpful as I plan out my next Heartwood story. Not that I would use Chuubos as a set of rules, but it reminded me of what is important in a good Heartwood story - for example the Forest Folk arc was more about the nature of being a person than just beating up the evil Prince and blowing up a Fortress.
As I stated before, its not a game for everyone. On the other hand, if you are looking for something character-centric with an emphasis on roleplaying, then Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine might be worth a peek.
Last edited by Wolf; Mon 29/06/20 03:40 UTC.