Tight rules vs. loosey goosey

I’d like to get y’all’s ideas about this.

Last weekend I played in a Feng Shui game. This was the first time I’ve played what I would consider a “new” RPG – new as compared to Traveller or D&D or Champions.

I’ve been trying to articulate how it is different.

As many of you know, I run Traveller. While it looks like it is kind of complicated to some newcomers, it actually runs very easily. It seems simple to me.

Feng Shui, for me as a player, was pretty easy. But for some reason it feels a lot more “loose”. It was a lot of fun, which I think is the point, but harder for me to take seriously as a game I’d want to use for a campaign.

Is it the greater involvement of the players creating the narrative? Am I just a grumpy critical old man trying to get out?

What are your ideas on this? I had kind of the same reaction when I saw FATE played on the Tabletop show.

Please note: not asking for a grognard hate-fest. I’m not into that. Just would like to hear some ideas.


I think you may be hitting it when you say the “greater involvement of the players in creating the narrative.” Games that ask the players to act as the GM, or have some sort of overt story control from their narrative, can feel pretty loose and less structured until you get used to it.

I’m not 100% used to it myself, but I chalk that up to me not spending enough time to really get into them. Do I want to get into them? Maybe? I honestly don’t know if I want to spend that time.

I think I was raised up in gaming to think of the scenario as a problem to be solved – something that mostly preexists my character. So as a player I think of operating within this world that I have little control over. And as a GM, I try to put forth an engaging game world for my players to do the same. I’ll certainly consider their actions and sometimes modify things on the fly, but to a great extent my game world is what it is, and it’s their job to work through it. In my mind that’s what makes it a “game” and not simply collaborative storytelling. And of course the borders between the two are fuzzy, and of course I am programmed to think one way.


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I can’t dog em, as I’ve never tried, but I will say that I think I don’t have the time/ bandwidth for that gear change. Given how much I enjoy gaming “as is”, I think I’ll stick with “traditional” games, and let people who enjoy those other games enjoy them.


@LaramieWall I think I’m in the other spectrum :rofl::rofl: but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them both types of play. I’d say there can be some learning from both types. To me, it helps to know both sides as it permits me to tailor my session on the fly to understand where those players are coming from and how they’ll behave. That has helped me a bit when you’re at the table (or online) with random strangers that you know nothing :grin:.


I agree with you, for sure. I think it helps to know both sides, but my needle falls more into a groove of tailoring my players to my style, than me trying to bend my style to the players that show up. Example: Just started a Castles and Crusades campaign. I sent an email telling everyone: This is going to be overland exploration, it will not be a railroad from stop to stop, you will have to explore. Since it’s exploration, I’m expecting you to track days of food and water, because you’ll be in the wild. So, you will be tracking food, water, arrows, spell components, etc. And It’s a “no skills” system. You can’t just roll for sense motive.

I think NOT warning people sets everyone up for failure.