ACES HIGH: a no-nonsense role playing game system, by Von

beat ronin

I hope many more people read this Von, it’s very insightful. I felt excited reading it, like you’ve noticed something that no-one has ever noticed before. I certainly hadn’t thought along those lines before; that the game as a whole (not examined for its merits as a game) is important mostly because it facilitates adult use of imagination in a socially sanctioned way.

Where do we go from here?

You know what would be interesting? Start playing an RPG without any rules and see at which points people get uncomfortable with things not having a mechanic. then you’d know precisely what a system actually needs.


Rob Kuntz said…

The perfect set of rules would be a mere one or two pages. At least OD&D was sparse by comparison to today’s continued bloat. But that is what one can expect if they blindly support the game-as-consumer market that won out a long time ago and created a marketed-to generation who will “define” what RPG is all about. Cash, not creativity. Purchases, not personal power. Girth but not growth.


Mo said…

For example, traditional roleplaying systems have focused heavily on conflict mechanics. In their best known form, two or more individuals come into conflict (the GM and PC(s)) for the purposes of resolving a fictional situation.

Fiction is often suspended while procedure is discussed (who is involved in the conflict, who is taking what agency, what action, in what order, and how we should proceed). Individuals call on rights and privileges (what they are legitimately allowed to bring to the conflict based on the rules of the game and the stats on their character sheet). The participants defer their conflict to an external system of resolution that is separate from all participants and aims to ensure fairness in resolution (a dice roll). The participants return to the fiction and incorporate the judgement into play.

This sequence exhibits obvious justice orientation, and that’s not surprising given that the origins of the hobby were predominately male and strongly informed by other predominantly based male hobbies (e.g. war gaming). People generally and understandably build the systems they are best equipped to build, and which serve their needs to the best extent.

However, today, woman are (in many RPG communities) a pervasive part of the hobby. What can this mean to her relationship to the system, the game, the experience, the people she plays with and the hobby at large? And while women seem to exhibit preference for care mediation, there are male care-mediators too. What does this mean for them?


This is what I’ve been thinking about recently.

This is what I’ve come up with, as a start.

It’s by no means ‘done’ and it certainly doesn’t do the traditional ‘what is a role playing game’ thing (which I’d probably do with examples of play) but it’s two pages of rules, one page of tips and one page of justificatory essay. I reckon, with an example of play and a page of world/character building tips and a page of soft skills tips, it’d be about ready. And then I’d use it for everything unless someone presented me with a very compelling reason to do otherwise.


Author: Jon

Sententious, mercurial, and British as a bilious lord. Recovering Goth, lifelong spod. Former teacher and amateur machine politician, now freelance writer and early-career researcher.

3 thoughts on “ACES HIGH: a no-nonsense role playing game system, by Von”

  1. Ha ha! F*cking love it!

    You may have just invented the next evolution of RPGs. I just have three quick things to say at the moment (I’m at work unfortunately but couldn’t wait):

    1: When you say “current GM”, does that mean you can sort of challenge the GM to take over from them at any time, in the standard card-flipping fashion? Or do you mean the GM for that session, as decided before-hand? If it’s the former, I keep thinking of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? where the couple vies to control their imaginary son. It could get very mean . . . in a good or bad way.

    2: This really demolishes the traditional character creation process and even the charatcer sheet. A PC could be anything from a post-it note with “Jim the Bard” written on it to a book-length biography, or even exist entirely in the player’s head. Extraordinary.

    3. I could be wrong but I think “Aces High” was the name of a supplement to the fictional Wild West game Cattlepunk, as played by the Knights of the Dinner Table in the old 90’s gamer comic. Just a fun fact.

    1. 1. I may need an example of play to clear up that part. Whoever has the idea for the scene runs the session, but it shouldn’t be their job to keep having ideas all the time, and they can hand over the responsibility if they’re feeling tired or burned out or just that another person can do it differently/better/more interesting. It’s how our WoW-RP events tend to work; our guild leader runs most of them, especially the social/scientific ones, but I tend to run big, mad action sequences and experiment with the environment lots, and another of us runs huge things that include people from outside the guild. Basically, whoever’s good at running what you want to do at the moment runs it, and you should swap midway through a session if you want or need to do so.

      2. Again, that’s just… how we do things. Nivienne, my main WoW-RP character, started off as a sentence; “drunken, neurotic aristocratic runaway; likes explosions”. That told me pretty much everything I needed to know about playing her. Since then, she’s developed a bigger biography and bits of her past have been fleshed-out on demand, but there’s still nothing set down about what she can and can’t do; we’ve just sort of agreed on it in the context of play.

      3. Really? Heh. Never a new idea under the sun. I was thinking of poker, or maybe the Iron Maiden song…

You may now commence belching

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s