In studying role playing games, players have noticed several ways in which they differ. These have become the basis of many discussions about the nature of gaming and games.
One outcome of these discussions is the theory that gamers should be matched to the games they play and the people with whom they play them.
This quiz attempts to identify a player's preferences in relation to two distinct models of game concepts:
Gamist, Narrativist, and Simulationist Goals (G/N/S)
Drama, Fortune, and Karma Mechanics (D/K/S)
The Gamist/Narrativist/Simulationist (G/N/S) paradigm is about gaming goals.
Gamists focus on the competitive aspects of a game. The adventure is a challenge constructed of obstacles to overcome in an effort to obtain a prize or reach a goal. Character development involves gaining advantages to assist in this effort. The object is to win the game.
Narrativists are developing a story. Winning and losing is irrelevant; what matters is that something memorable emerges, a tale worth telling again.
Simulationists are experiencing a world, a time and a place. The game is a set of rules that define the world and the people and events within it, such that as you play you discover what might have happened in such a world. It doesn't matter whether we like what happened; it is the discovery itself that has value.
The Drama/Fortune/Karma (D/F/K) paradigm is about event resolution, the mechanics which make the game run.
Karma mechanics are a straightforward comparison of character values: the character with the higher score wins a competition involving that score; in-game obstacles are overcome by those whose scores beat a difficulty rating for the obstacle.
Fortune mechanics use dice or cards or other randomizers to add a bit of risk to the outcome--there is usually a chance of failure even for the best, and the underdog might defeat a superior opponent on a lucky chance.
Drama mechanics place outcomes solely in the hands of people, usually the referee but often the players individually or collectively. Outcomes are based primarily on the decisions of people, not directly on either a die roll or a score comparison.
For each question, a statement or situation is given, followed by a series of statements about it. For each of those statements, rate the outcome from 0 to 4, where 0 does not represent your feelings or thoughts at all and 4 is a very close representation of your thoughts and feelings.
Answer each question based on the best games you have played, and on what you would like your games to be like in the future.
1) The characters are pursuing their enemy in a modern-day gritty secret agent RPG (no magic). They have been on his trail for many months (game and real time) and are about to raid his secret headquarters when his car bursts out of an underground garage and hurtles straight at them. They scatter, and one of them pulls his gun and fires a shot at the fleeing car. It explodes. The bad guy dies. End of story.
___A) This is a bad ending because there was no climax to the story.
___B) This is a bad ending because it's unrealistic for a car to explode on a single shot.
___C) This is a bad ending because the players didn't get to face the enemy and play out a victory.
___D) This ending is acceptable if it came from a very lucky die roll.
___E) This ending is acceptable if the character making the shot is extremely skilled at destroying cars.
___F) This ending is acceptable if the players are tired of this story and want to move on to other things.
2) You are finally up against the chief villain, what some call the big boss of the whole game. Combat begins, and it's going to be a massive fight.
___A) The rules can't be allowed to slow the action, so everything should be stripped to the basics.
___B) It's vital that every detail of combat accurately follow the rules for a true and honest outcome.
___C) At this point, strategy and tactics are most important, and mechanics are only a tool to be used.
___D) The only reasonable outcome is for the stronger side to win.
___E) Dice are essential, because they add that touch of unpredictability to the situation.
___F) The referee should skillfully steer the situation to a close win.
3) At the beginning of the new adventure, the characters are to be delivered to the new planet in cryonic suspension capsules. This mode of transport is not safe; two percent of those who attempt to travel this way, according to the rules, are never revived. A key player character, the party's best fighter, dies.
___A) The rule should not apply; this is plot exposition, explaining how the party traveled. The adventure begins when they arrive.
___B) It's unfair that the character could be killed without a shot at saving himself.
___C) The players knew the risk when their characters boarded the ship, so the result stands.
___D) These unexpected twists are an important part of the game experience.
___E) If a character had to die, it should have been the weakest character, not the strongest.
___F) The players should designate a non-player character to die instead of one of the player characters.
4) Your character is arrested and put in prison for a year. The game continues with the other players.
___A) There's an opportunity here to try to escape.
___B) It will be important that my character does what he can to keep healthy and fit while incarcerated.
___C) The situation is tolerable if my character can interact with the other prisoners and guards.
___D) I should have had a saving throw to avoid this.
___E) The game should have a 'get out of free' card I can use to end this.
___F) It will be important to determine whether I'm strong enough to bend these bars.
5) Role playing games are in some ways a lot like...
___A) Fictionary or Malarky, where description is a valuable skill.
___B) Stratego, because the trick is assessing opponent strengths.
___C) Risk, where a lot depends on luck.
___D) Civil War Reenactments, because it seems so real.
___E) Improvisational acting, as you craft the story together.
___F) Football, in that you give it everything you've got to win.
6) To continue the quest, you must cross a six-foot wide chasm. You have no special gear, and there's no running room.
___A) I check my character sheet to see if I can jump that far.
___B) I remind the referee that I cleared eight feet as a track and field athlete.
___C) No matter how good I am, the dice could go against me.
___D) The chasm is a natural part of the terrain which makes the caves more real.
___E) The chasm is a challenge to overcome to reach the goal.
___F) The chasm increases the dramatic tension at this moment.
Enter your answers from above on this table; place the rating next to the letter for the answer in the row for the question.
|Sum the columns||____||____||____||____||____||____|
|Divide by 6||____||____||____||____||____||____|
Range of answers:
Below 1: You are averse to this aspect of gaming.
At least 1 through 1.5: You are somewhat antipathetic toward this aspect of gaming.
Above 1.5 but not 2.5: You are somewhat indifferent to this aspect of gaming.
At least 2.5 through 3: You have a preference for this aspect of gaming.
Above 3: You have a very strong preference for this aspect of gaming.
Question by Question Analysis
The first question presents a potentially unsatisfactory ending to a long adventure. It determines goals (G/N/S) by focusing on why the ending might be unsatisfactory; it determines resolutions (D/F/K) by asking what might make it acceptable.
The first answer focuses on the missing climax, that the story is over but unresolved. This is a major narrativist concern.If you rated this 0, you indicated no concern about the climax of the story.
If you rated this 1, you showed little concern for this.
Your rating of 2 here shows that story concerns matter to you to some degree.
A 3 rating shows significant concern that stories have satisfactory endings.
If you gave this the maximum rating of 4, it is a major concern for you.
The second answer balks at the idea that a car hit by a bullet would explode. This is a concern about the representation of the reality, a Simulationist concern.You had no problem with the car exploding on a 0 rating.
An exploding car bothered you, but not much, if you rated this 1.
This was enough of a problem to catch your attention, if you rated it 2.
Arguably, a 3 rating shows the explosion snapped your disbelief suspenders.
You found the unreality of this unacceptable, if you rated it 4.
The Gamist plays for the contest, and the third answer suggests that the player was cheated out of the opportunity to play the battle scene.You had no eagerness to face that battle, if you rated this 0.
A 1 rating suggests you would have preferred the battle, but not greatly.
A 2 here says you enjoy a good fight, but can take it or leave it.
A 3 here shows you like the action of a battle and would want a chance to fight.
Those climactic battles are a key point in your gaming, a 4 rating suggests.
For years Fortune-based gamers have said 'The dice never lie', and this question allows you to defer to them as a reason for this outcome.A 0 rating here suggests that you would as soon be rid of dice here.
On rating 1, you probably accept the results but not happily.
A 2 suggests that a die roll makes you feel a bit better about bad results.
A 3 here suggests that you aren't terribly bothered in this situation.
You probably like the idea that a lucky roll gave you a win without a fight if you said 4.
Karma resolutions look to the abilities of the characters directly. The fifth answer asks whether the skill of the character matters.A 0 rating here suggests that this would leave you dissatisfied.
Rating this 1 suggests that skill does not matter.
You find this a moderately acceptable suggestion, if you rated it 2.
Strong skills and abilities play an important part in the game on a 3 rating.
A 4 here says that you like this outcome if based on character strengths.
If you would allow an out-of-game issue change an in-game situation, you probably like Drama-based resolution.A 0 here says that no one should be able to end the game for non-game reasons.
A 1 here suggests that you're uncomfortable with this.
Rating this 2 suggests that you might do this once in a while.
You are likely to end a story early by fiat rather than just drop it.
You like the idea that you control the story and can scrap it if you want.
The second question asks how you handle a major combat which is also a major plot point.
Narrativists want to focus on story, and move combat at a quick pace, by ignoring details.A 0 here suggests that plot doesn't matter as compared with other concerns.
A 1 here says that combat details are more important to you than story.
Rating this 2 suggests that you would give a little for story reasons.
On a strong 3 rating you probably cut corners for story.
You care more about story flow than the details of play, if you give this 4.
By contrast, Simulationists want major moments to be letter-perfect.A 0 rating means you don't care about the accuracy of combat details.
A 1 rating suggests that detailed combat annoys you when it slows the game.
A 2 rating tends toward compromise on this.
With a 3, you are concerned about simulating the combat accurately.
If you rated this 4, it suggests accuracy in simulation is very important to you.
Gamists will vary on the degree to which mechanics may slow the game, but they agree that you win by using the rules to your advantage.Tactical use of game rules probably seems like cheating to you, on a 0 here.
A 1 suggests that tactical use of game rules disinterests you.
If you gave this a 2, you probably see the tactical use of rules as part of the game, but don't do it much yourself.
You consider taking advantage of the rules to be part of play, if you give this 3.
A 4 says that the tactical use of game rules is a significant part of your combat approach.
For some, the better man-or side-should always win. That is the Karma outcome.A 0 here says you don't think relative strength should ever be decisive.
A 1 here suggests that relative strength should be a minimal factor.
Relative strength plays some part, determining some but not all outcomes on a 2.
3 suggests you are comfortable with a system that gives an edge to the strong side.
If you rated this 4, you probably prefer to settle conflict by direct comparison of abilities.
Fortune players like dice because they create uncertainty.You don't, if you gave this a 0.
You would rather keep uncertainty to a minimum, if you rated this 1.
A 2 suggests that uncertainty has its place, but shouldn't dominate.
Given a rating of 3, a chance element is important to your combat experience.
A 4 suggests that diceless systems probably annoy you, and rolls are very important.
With a drama system, the outcome is decided by people at the table, usually the referee, who can easily arrange the desired result.If you gave this 0, arranged outcomes strike you as contrived.
A 1 suggests you're uncomfortable with the referee having too much control.
You recognize some referee control as natural, within limits, on a 2.
On 3, you probably like the idea that the referee works to keep you from losing.
You would prefer to know in advance that someone has decided the outcome in your favor.
The third question posits an introductory scenario which leads to a dead player character at the beginning of play.
Narrativists wouldn't start applying the rules until the players take action, so this wouldn't happen.0 says the rules should always apply even without player involvement.
A 1 indicates that you're reluctant to skip the rule, although bothered.
You probably would prefer to ignore this outcome, but will live with it, on a 2.
On a strong 3 rating you probably would ignore the outcome.
If you gave this a 4, you probably never even checked this.
Gamists hate a situation in which they lose with no control, so want a way out.The choice of 0 suggests that you don't mind losing so much.
A 1 rating suggests you see some unfairness here, but you'll accept it.
A 2 rating might mean that you don't like this, but don't see an alternative.
With a 3, you're a fighter, and look for ways to keep your character alive.
If you rated this 4, you insist on control of your character's fate.
For the Simulationist, it's not unfair if the player knew it could happen.A 0 entry says you think it's unfair anyway.
A 1 suggests that you recognize it as technically fair but don't like it anyway.
With a 2 here, you probably see this as a valid but not preferred approach.
You give this 3, suggesting that you consider this normal play.
A 4 says people who complain when this happens are just whining.
Only the Fortune mechanic creates plot twists which surprise everyone.A 0 rating suggests that you consider these quirks annoying and inappropriate.
A 1 here suggests that you accept these, but you don't like them.
On a 2 you likely take disappointments in stride without thought of alternatives.
3 suggests you consider random setbacks important to the game.
Rating this 4, you probably like the challenge of overcoming random setbacks.
Having the weakest character die is a Karma-driven outcome.A 0 says relative strength should not have been an issue here.
You would hope strength would be a factor, but probably not decisive, if you voted 1.
A 2 suggests that you would accept a karma mechanic as a fair alternative.
If you gave this a 3, it suggests that you would prefer a karma-based outcome here.
At least in this situation, a 4 says it should be based directly on strength.
With Drama systems major elements in the story are decided by people, sometimes democratically; and player characters usually don't die without agreement.A 0 says you object to players having that kind of story control.
A 1 here suggests that being in control of situations beyond character control would bother you.
A 2 suggests you might like to put control with the players, but fear abuse.
On a 3, you prefer to have player control of things beyond character control.
A 4 rating shows a strong desire to keep control of the story with the players.
In the fourth question, a player character is taken out of the action by a story point.
Gamists view the imprisonment as an obstacle to overcome, part of the challenge.0 says such individual challenges don't interest you.
On 1, escaping seems a burden on the game.
A 2 suggests you would try to escape, but would prefer to do something else.
Your 3 says an escape attempt might be fun, if it doesn't take too long.
If you gave this a 4, this must sound like fun to you.
Playing the experience of the hardships of prison life is a Simulationist interest.The choice of 0 suggests you find this idea repellent.
A 1 rating says you have little or no such interest.
On a 2, you probably expect this part of the game, but don't pay much attention.
With a 3, this type of play is probably an interesting variation for you.
A 4 rating says you like the different experiences simulated by role playing.
Narrativists don't want to be out of the story; but if imprisonment is part of the story and not just a time out, it can be a positive aspect.A 0 entry says you don't value such character interaction and development.
A 1 suggests that you would probably play this, but expect it to develop into something you can use later in the campaign.
With a 2 here, you'll go through the motions of this, waiting for the next part.
If you give this 3, it suggests that you enjoy character interaction for itself.
A 4 says character interaction is a major part of your game enjoyment.
Fortune mechanics usually require some kind of die roll before characters are thrown into negative situations.A 0 rating says you deem such a roll unnecessary.
A 1 here suggests you might like a roll, but will play without it.
On a 2 you likely take other circumstances into consideration.
3 suggests you would feel railroaded if you didn't get to roll.
Rating this 4, you would insist on such a roll.
Cards which affect plot points are a popular Drama mechanic, giving players limited control over major events.A 0 says you would feel like you were cheating if you used such a power.
A 1 rating indicates that you probably wouldn't use such a power if you had it.
Your 2 suggests you like suggesting plot direction, but it's not vital to you.
A 3 says you want some plot control as a player.
A 4 indicates you think players should control the story above all else.
'Being strong enough to bend the bars' makes the most sense in a Karma system, where abilities are applied directly to tasks.If the notion of a direct check of ability received a 0 rating from you, you dislike karma.
A 1 here suggests you expect some things to be directly based on ability.
A 2 suggests abilities matter to you, but shouldn't be strictly determinative.
On a 3, you would prefer for many tests of ability to be directly determined.
A 4 rating is a solid vote for a karma mechanic in direct tests of ability.
Question five invites you to compare RPG's to aspects of other games and recreational activities.
Drama mechanics often favor articulate creativity such as in inventive bluffing games.0 says you don't consider this an appropriate part of role playing games.
A 1 says this is a very minor part of role play in your mind.
A 2 suggests you see value to being articulate, but only to a limited degree.
You think the ability to creatively describe events is a major part of play, if you gave this a 3.
If you gave this a 4, articulate creative description is central to your gaming.
Karma-based systems encourage strategies which pit player strengths against discovered opponent weaknesses, like Stratego.Such strategies don't interest you, if you indicated a 0.
You don't care much for the strategic consideration of opponent strengths, if you gave this a 1.
On a 2, you recognize such strategy as part of the game, but leave it to others.
With a 3, strategy plays an important part of play in your mind.
A 4 rating says you'd like strategy to be key to success.
Dice luck is a critical part of success in Risk, and similar Fortune mechanics play a role in many role playing games.You would prefer to be rid of such chance factors, on a 0 entry.
A 1 suggests chance factors bother you, but are still part of your expectations.
With a 2 here, you probably see dice as necessary but not central to play.
A 3 says your dice are central to your games.
With a 4, your games are very much driven by chance factors such as dice.
Civil War reenactments, like many games, attempt to Simulate another world.A 0 rating suggests that detailing the world seems a waste of time to you.
A 1 here says that you're aware of the setting, but it doesn't matter to you.
On a 2 setting is a part of your game experience, but a very minor part.
3 suggests the feeling of the world matters, at least in broad strokes.
IF you rated this 4, you pay attention to the details of that simulation.
One of the models of Narrativist play is improvisational acting.You apparently consider this too far from the concept of a game, if you rated it 0.
A 1 rating indicates the interactive story process is a small part of your play.
A 2 suggests you're aware of the story creation process, but it's not paramount.
A 3 says you often think of your role as similar to acting in some ways.
Your game is very much about such interactive narrative, if you rated this 4.
To the Gamist, this is still primarily a game, and you should focus on winning.A 0 says that winning is the furthest thing from your mind.
A 1 suggests that there are matters more important that victory here.
You would like to win, a 2 suggests, but it's not that important.
On a 3, you play to win, but you're here to have fun.
If you gave this a 4; your friends probably call you a munchkin or a power gamer.
With question six, we're asking how you view a game obstacle.
Absolute certainty that you can jump so far is consistent with a Karma system.0 says nothing should ever be certain, that failure is always possible.
With a 1, you expect that some things should be automatic, but this might or might not be one of them.
A 2 suggests you have a fairly broad concept of what should be automatic.
The idea that many successes should be determined directly from character scores is strong in your approach to play to rate a 3.
If you gave this a 4, you would probably solve most problems directly from character skill ratings and ability scores.
Many Drama systems expect players to explain why their character can succeed.This would annoy you, a 0 suggests; it would seem like you were arguing for a specific result.
A 1 says you would do this if you thought you should have succeeded but didn't.
On a 2, you probably do this, but more for story color than outcome resolution.
With a 3, you consider it a normal part of play to explain why your character should succeed in some situation.
Presenting a reason why you should succeed seems the best way to resolve most situations, if you gave this a 4.
Fortune mechanics almost always present a chance of failure, which leaves some room for the unexpected even in seemingly simple situations.You would consider it the height of injustice to miss this jump because of a die roll on a 0 rating.
While you see the possibility of failure here, a 1 says you don't like it.
With a 2 here, you're resigned to the possibility the dice could roll badly.
A 3 says that chance of failure is important to the tension in your games.
With a 4, death by misadventure from a bad die roll is considered fair and even right if it happens in this situation.
Some players think about the world description only as the setting for events. A chasm is what it appears to be, part of the Simulation of the scene.A 0 rating says nothing in the game world is just part of the scene.
A 1 here says you're aware of its place in the scene, but that's not important.
On a 2 you can visualize the scene and the chasm matters, but there's probably more to it than that.
3 suggests that this is primarily part of the scene, although it might be something else as well.
If you rated this 4, you think of this as part of the scene above all else.
To the Gamist, the terrain feature is a problem to overcome above all else.Playing like the whole thing is a puzzle or contest bothers you, if you said 0.
A 1 says part of you knows that this is a challenge to overcome, but you don't think of it that way.
A 2 suggests you know the game is built of challenges, but it goes beyond this.
A 3 says your game is a series of challenges within the context of role playing.
Some might say that you see role playing as the thread that connects the challenges of the game, if you said 4.
To the Narrativist, the terrain is a story element, and the chasm creates drama.Talk about such things as story element probably annoys you, if you said 0.
A 1 suggests you see the dramatic tension here, but don't usually think in those terms.
The story matters to you, including these elements, but you don't see it that way during play if you said 2.
On a 3, you see the story unfolding and the chasm as part of that.
You are probably very much aware of events and settings as story elements, if you rated this 4.
The concept analyses will be presented with gamer goals first, game mechanics second; within each paradigm, the concepts will be examined alphabetically. That is, scores will be examined in the order Gamist, Narrativist, Simulationist, then Drama, Fortune, Karma.
The Gamist has winning as an objective; he is trying to beat the game. He probably enjoys computer role playing and combat games, puzzles, and board games, and possibly competitive sports.
Question 1C addresses how important it is to get the chance to face the villain in one final challenge.
Question 2C asks to what degree game mechanics are tools to be used tactically.
Question 3B addresses whether a player should always have some chance to save his character.
In question 4A, you are offered the opportunity to think of a setback as a challenge.
The degree to which role playing is a competitive challenge is addressed by question 5F.
Question 6E looks at setting and story events as puzzles or challenges.
A Narrativist is building a story. Whatever makes the best story is what he wants to have happen. He probably likes to create game worlds and write stories, and to watch movies and plays.
Question 1A asks whether a long story can end in an abrupt climax, and suggests that this would be irksome for story reasons.
Question 2A gives you the power to throw out mechanics during combat in order to enhance story flow.
In question 3A, you are asked whether rules which could kill a character should apply even when the character is not in your control.
Question 4C takes what appears to be removal from the game and turns it into an independent storyline. It asks whether character interaction and background are interesting alternatives to action.
The degree to which role playing is interactive story creation is addressed by question 5E.
Question 6E looks at setting elements as plot devices.
A Simulationist is experiencing a new world. He has asked 'what if', and wants the game to give him a true answer. He probably likes science fiction, history, biographies, museums and battlefields, and other opportunities to learn.
Question 1B measures the degree to which events must be realistic within the stated world definitions.
Question 2B reflects the degree to which you expect the mechanics of combat to produce a fair and true outcome.
In question 3C, you are asked whether the application of a rule should hold because it is a rule, regardless of whether it leads to a desirable result.
How realistic and detailed you expect settings and events to be is addressed in question 4B.
The comparison to Civil War Reenactments in question 5D presents the idea of role playing purely for creation of a known story, very like scripted acting.
Question 6D sees the setting primarily as representative of a reality, possibly used for story challenges but not essentially about them.
Drama mechanics use the decisions of people to control the outcome of events. Outside of role playing games, they are most common in games in which players vote on or otherwise choose winners.
Although drastic, question 1F asks whether game events should be affected by player concerns.
Question 2F reflects the degree to which you expect the referee to control events and steer them in the players' favor.
Question 3F gives you the opportunity to save a player character by sacrificing a non-player character.
Cards which allow players to alter situations or plots are a popular drama mechanic. Question 4E asks whether you would want such an option.
To some degree, drama mechanics rely on being creative, articulate, and convincing, like the games mentioned in question 5A.
Many drama systems let the referee decide the outcome based on the evidence presented by the player, as in question 6B.
Fortune mechanics use dice or cards to inject an element of uncertainty into outcomes. They are most like gambling games, but are part of most board and card games.
Question 1D asks whether you would forgive the dice for an unrealistically good outcome.
Whether you want an element of chance in your ultimate combat is reflected in question 2E.
Question 3D asks whether you would forgive the dice for an unexpectedly bad outcome.
Saving throws provide a chance to escape a seemingly inevitable bad situation or outcome. The degree to which you would want a random factor to be able to derail an undesired plot or event was addressed by question 4D.
With fortune mechanics, the fight is not always to the strong; as with combat games like Risk, the dice can bring defeat from victory. The degree to which this is part of your concept of gaming is examined in question 5C.
The expectation that there's always a chance of failure is inherent in fortune mechanics. The degree to which you accept this as part of play was seen in question 6C.
With Karma mechanics, the best man always wins. These mechanics reflect the degree to which strength and strategy determine outcomes. They are basis for chess and other strategy games and for individual competitive sports.
Question 1E allows you to rate the degree to which character ability should allow otherwise unrealistic results.
The degree to which you think the fight should be to the strong is measured by question 2D.
In question 3E it is suggested that the weak should die and the strong survive in adverse conditions.
The idea of being 'strong enough' to do something in question 4F is in essence a Karma concept. It eliminates chance and choice from the event, treating it strictly as a test of strength.
Under karma mechanics, strategy and tactics become very important, as it is necessary to outmaneuver or outwit a superior opponent to win; question 5B.
Getting a yes or no answer to the probability of success of a skill or feat before attempting it as in question 6A is only possible with karma mechanics.
Thank you for trying this gamer quiz. The author is interested in the results you've obtained. You may contact him by e-mail.
The author would also like to thank many of those who contributed through the Gaming Outpost forums and articles to his understanding of these concepts and to the questions used to approach them. Of particular mention should be Sorcerer author and narrativist Ron Edwards, whose exposition of these concepts in the article 'System Does Matter" is invaluable; Scarlet Jester, whose defense of games which avoid fortune mechanics is enlightening; Seth Ben-Ezra of Dark Omen Games, who devised part of question one; avowed simulationist Balbinus; avowed gamist Lugzan; and too many others to name.
You are also invited to try Multiverser: The Game, the role playing game designed for flexibility, in which all worlds are possible and many styles of play are supported, of which the author of this quiz is co-author.