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Friday, 1 March 2013

Robin Laws and player typology

Recently read Black Vulmea's post on his blog about Robin Laws. And since I've read the same sentiment expressed in different places, I kinda decided to post my comments.

When reading Laws' typology, it''s important to remember that parts of your "main trait"'s description aren't going to apply to you.
That's normal. The description of Tactician in Robin Laws' book is like the description of Tactician, if somehow you got a Tactician 100%, (Method Actor+Butt-Kicker+Storyteller+Power Gamer+Specialist+Casual Gamer)=0% player.
Tactician is more about approaching any situation as a problem to be solved using the principles of tactics - resource management, looking for weak spots to maximise your efforts, creating temporary advantages, and so on, and so forth. These all apply to relationships as well as dice games as well as battles, as you probably noticed. Yes, many Tacticians would prefer battlefield problems, but they might apply the same skills to emotional manipulation, or to constructing a narrative.

The same applies to the other archetypes.
Let me give you an example: It says I'm a Tactician, too. It's true. I also think battlefield solutions are best left for last resort (unless I'm playing someone who just likes fighting and wars).
It also says I'm a Method actor, which is my second highest, and therefore don't care whether the system supports me. That's... flat-out wrong as anyone knowing me can attest. But that's because I'm not just a Method actor.
So, all of the "archetypes" in Laws' book have characteristics, but they only apply in as much as they don't clash with another one. Otherwise, it would be impossible to combine them, as they're often in direct opposition.
How do you determine which one would apply? Well, look at the whole range. Than make an educated guess. If you doubt about something, ask the person whose reaction you're trying to guess. And if you're sure about your guesses, ask for confirmation.
In my experience, some time thinking how a given person's trait pay off well when you're starting a game. Or they might be totally useless. But something that works more often than not is still better IME than having something that only works some of the time. And for me, Robin Laws' book works more often than not.

Enough rambling for a first post.