Years ago, I read an essay explaining that anti-social behavior was the true test of any given RPG (or even game with RPG elements). When, in an army game, your Sergeant gives you a handgun, you aim it at him and fire… does it go off and give you a non-standard game over? Or do you not get to pull the trigger until you get outside of the base? If you’re playing a sword/sorcery RPG, can you attack the blacksmith or are your interactions limited to commerce?
Well, in a Vampire game, can you eat whomever you want?
As it turns out… well, you can’t. That’s okay, though. It’s smart enough to understand that the truly anti-social acts in any given story involve picking a side. The freedom to do whatever you want is meaningless if you don’t have the options of seeing the Big Bad as having a point. Or the “Meet The New Boss” Somewhat Different Big Bad. Or the “This Won’t End Well At All” anarchist Big Bads. Or the Third Player In The Shadows Big Bad. Or just saying “Heck With It” and moving on.
Well, that’s one of the kabillion things that made Masquerade so freakin’ perfect. On top of that, there was the whole “you can play as one of seven different clans” thing. On top of that, more or less each little quest you got had more than one possible solution. Sure, there was brute force. But there were also more subtle options. If there is a criticism to be made of the game, it’s that there were several areas in which you couldn’t avoid violence… and there was a definite difference between playing the game as someone good at violence and someone who wasn’t.
Ah, but that’s what cheats are for. Give yourself 255 experience points and load up on guns, melee, and fists, and go from there.
Man, I’m going to start a new character. I love that game.
So… what are you playing?
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