Role Playing in the 3rd Dimension

The third dimension of role playing is what I built the Power of 12 Role-Playing System for:  The why, the panache, the gusto, the style, and the “boo-ya!”

I apologize if there is an official term “3rd Dimension of RPG” or something like that that I may be walking on.  Part of designing your own games, in my mind anyway, is making up your own rules – not just rules of the game, but rules ABOUT the game.

To me, RPG is not a field of study.  It is a field of exploration.  Unlike the Earth, there will always be places to go.  New ideas to try.  Or new ways to shake out an old idea.

The 3rd Dimension of Role Playing, to me, is that part that you talk about after your game is well over. Even years later: that red dragon you finally slayed, the amazing amount of treasure you found in the lair of the Dark Elf Kingdom, or the magic sword you finally found after years (in game years that is) of searching.  Even the Inn you and your fellows built and named after the mule you bought that died five minutes later to a random encounter.

Very few gamers that I meet brag about the deal they got on spikes and pitons out of the players’ book, or the hour and a half they spent searching books to find the obscure rule that lets you wield two one handed weapons even if the off hand one is larger than the primary hand one.

No one tell’s stories like that.  They brag of their accomplishments, of their triumphs, of the 3rd dimension.  What are the other two dimensions?

1. Other players.

2. A game world you can see your character adventuring in (spying in, fighting in, hacking computers in, selling your services to the highest bidder in – depends on the genre)

I wanted to have all three dimensions, but skip that 4th dimension that many mainstream games seem to add: shopping!

Most character creations in mainstream games are shopping: some folks call it min-maxing, but to me it’s shopping.  Scanning the grocery store isles (game books) for the best price on the ingredients needed to make the best seven course meal (your character) while spending the least amount of money (build points, or character choices) so you can buy EXTRA stuff from the electronic store (supplement books).

In the Power of 12 Role-Playing System, I purposefully skipped the 4th dimension.  Great science fiction concept, not what I want.  Many people seem to want it, and I don’t knock it.  It’s just not what I want.

Shadowrun is my favorite example.  I have every 3rd Ed. book they put out.  LOVE the game world.  So did many of my friends.  Total shopping experience.  I got into Riggers.  Big time.  In the end, I just wanted to be a cyber-dude who controlled robots for fun and profit in the corporate maze that was Seattle in 2064 (or other dates, they changed them).  But the amount of work necessary to do so was… work!

So, in Power of 12, no shopping.  You want a nice two-handed sword?  You got it.  You want a sniper rifle with a high power scope?  It’s all yours.  What the Power of 12 system does do is ask you to role-play that you have what you say you have, to work with it, to run your character that way.  The guy with the sword is just as effective as the guy with the sniper rifle.  The rules don’t differentiate.  What was 4th Dimension (shopping) is now 3rd Dimension (something you brag and tell stories about when the day is done).

The game does not force you to have a large flail because it does the most damage in the system (assuming you have the right perks and flaws, skills and feats… there is a library research project.  For those of you who took Library Science at a college or university, you will understand why it is a 1 credit course no one wants to take).

The Power of 12 Role-Playing System lets you wield two daggers OR a flail, OR a two-handed sword, OR a spear and shield with equal game effect.  It is up to you to role play why you are so good with two daggers that you can take a guy with a massive flail.  That’s all I ever wanted.  So I designed a game that lets me concentrate on the 3rd Dimension: my character’s identity and heroics, his legends and history.

Thanks for reading.


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