I'm getting tired of this discussion. Can we move on, now? All of this hulllaballoo boils down to the equivalent of "what if we made a roleplaying game without levels?!?"

Of course you can make a game without player characters. But taking something out does not create a game, and we can't really comment on what effect that now-missing element has when we don't know what's going in in its place, or what other elements will be there in its absence.

What do GURPS, Lacuna, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Shadow of Yesterday have in common? Answer: They have no levels. Can we really say anything worthwhile about all of these games? Not really. So can we stop wanking off about games that have no PCs?

-- Josh, grumpy today.

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Heh. Okay, now I'm going


Okay, now I'm going to prove that I like taking contrary positions.

I think that at least SOME people who are talking about this, have got ideas about replacing primary character ownership with something else.

But yeah... at least some people just want to knock that one foundation-stone out and see if the building collapses.

I'm sure people have

I'm sure people have alternate structures in mind. Let's talk about them.

It's not quite the same idea,

It's not quite the same idea, but I have a thing-in-process where the major *tagonists aren't individually-owned-PCs. The players' most direct mode of influence over the Big Important Characters is through the relationships between the supporting cast and the BICs, which can be used to steer the BICs in one direction or another.

Not quite sure exactly how it's all going to come together, but that's what I'm aiming for.

That sounds neat, Mark. So

That sounds neat, Mark. So something like playing the Scoobies to influence how Buffy works?

Heya, I'm with ya Josh.


I'm with ya Josh. It's going to take at least 6 months before someone comes up with a useable, playtestable design that incorperates what all has been said lately. Let's let this idea percolate for a while then come back to it after we've meditated on it. Then we'll be able to better see how it can be applied. Same thing goes for Push-Pull stuff. It takes time to really understand all the potential of the initial idea.



Damn, I thought I was being

Damn, I thought I was being all original over here. I had an idea for a game about marketing where the player characters (that is, those that are unquestionably one player's character) were either ephemeral fragments of the zeitgeist or totally off screen and had to influence a common pool of regular characters through P.R., corporate shenanigans and advertising. Apparently its old hat before I even got a chance to post to Indie Design about it.

I just read the Shadows and Strings post, too. Should I be inspired or go back to the drawing board!?

Dude, be inspired and run

Dude, be inspired and run with it. Less on my plate. :)

This debate defiinitely needs

This debate defiinitely needs games, LOTS of them, that people can actually play and evaluate, before it's going to get beyond "Is so!"/"Is not!".

Hi Joshua (and all), I'm

Hi Joshua (and all),

I'm not sure that transition to PC-less games is quite as simple as "no levels". Taking away levels does not change the moment-to-moment play of a game. But taking away the concept of a PC does. It rather significantly restructures the way a game is played, somewhat like a GMless game does.

But also like a GMless game, I think it's completely doable. I do, however, have some serious questions for the direction Vincent seems to want to take the idea. It *seems* Vincent wants to move towards raw concensus, or one where everyone owns everyone's character... At least that's my perception, maybe I'm wrong. It is my opinion that to keep a game focused, players need to have ownership over certain elements. Or rather, it's a more effective design to give players ownership over specific elements. (This has been my very very limited experience with Universalis.) But without any PC-less games to analyze, my hypothesis is just an educated guess.

Hey, Tim. Consider the

Hey, Tim.

Consider the difference between games where character development happens between sessions (D&D levels, GURPS experience spending) and games where character development happens in the game in the conflicts (Dogs in the Vineyard, Hong Kong Action Theater). I'd say that the difference changes a lot of the moment-to-moment play. And for a whole lot of gamers out there, levels are as intrinsic to roleplaying as player-characters are.

As for what Vincent's doing -- I'll wait to see a game. ;)

"Of course you can make a

"Of course you can make a game without player characters"

You are lucky. You get this. Loads of people don't. Unless they do, we can't talk to them about HOW to make a game with no PCs, or where you aren't a protagonist, or anything like that. It may well be that the conversation and debate is useless to you, but it isn't useless for everyone.

The best way to express the

The best way to express the idea to the people who don't get it is to write a game -- not say, "Hey, what happens if we remove PCs?" S'all I'm sayin.

Heya, I'm with Josh here.


I'm with Josh here. The people who don't get it don't because there is no model to draw experience from. Until there is, it will be much harder for all of us to visualize exactly what's being said. Actual Play will go a long way in helping us understand the non-protagonist character and character multi-ownership.



Well, duh. Of course an

Well, duh. Of course an actual game will help the people who don't understand the concept. Those aren't the people that Vincent is talking to right now. He's talking to us, the game designers, so we can understand this concept better and use it in our designs if we want to.

If you're not designing a game that might incorporate this "no PC" concept, you don't need to understand it. Really. But for those of us who are seriously considering this as a future design option, we need to keep talking about it and figuring it out. We'll have some games for you eventually.

We’ll have some games for you

We’ll have some games for you eventually.


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