INSILICO

Thoughts on Insilico's Role Playing System

I'm going to take an intermittent look at the Insilico role playing system, largely examining its rule mechanics highlighting areas I believe could use some work, reasoning and explanations will be provided in concert with all points of order.   

I've chosen to do this as a blog post rather than a forum post due to forum posts being lost over time, here I have direct access and can edit more readily for what I envision will be ongoing, periodic contributions.  

What this is not intended to be is a purposefully negative review or an exercise in nitpicking. I don't believe in criticizing something provided for free, what I intend to do is simply express an opinion in order to highlight areas where I believe improvements to the system could be made. I have purposefully avoided analyzing the role playing system since I created my character Mikolaj precisely for the reason I can address points sequentially as I intend to examine in tandem with successive blog posts in a sort of stream of consciousness type of review with a bit of grammar and text polishing here and there.    

One of the big draws of Insilico for me is that it features its own tabletop role playing system, to be honest if it wasn't for this factor and appreciation of the cyberpunk genre I would have oohed and aahed at the pretty sim for a while and then moved on with Second Life travels. In fact, my main reason for Second Life is that I see it as a tool to expand the virtual gaming table and I'm always on the lookout for sims providing the option of tabletop role playing as part of the experience, unfortunately they are few and far between.  

To be honest I don't really enjoy pure role playing, it's pointless in my opinion because there's no permanency to anything beyond the scope of the imaging within the contributors minds. It follows that if all acts and actions are consensually dependent on the actors contributing then the same can not hold over the course of successive and varied contributions by multiple actors. In addition I feel unless held in check by those familiar with setting lore pure role playing can stray from its origins and become somewhat fanciful.      

And on the other end of the extreme we have the combat meter system, which I suppose you could say is pure mechanic. I.E collision detected either you or I fall over and pretend to be dead for approximately three minutes and then get back up again if no one is kinder sooner, maybe due to lag I'll accidentally fall off a high ledge next time </sarcasm> Or to phrase it another way if I wanted to play space invaders that's exactly what I would do.  

The role playing system not only offers a happy medium of these polarities it also provides a means by which progression or in fact regression can be measured over time by way of numerical information approximating the make up of a character creating a permanent record of the character's Insilico experiences. This to me is the most enjoyable aspect of any role playing game and why I wish to promote the use of the role playing system above any other resolution and is why I wish to examine the system in order to highlight any areas that could be improved.  

So with that said, let's crack on.....  

------

So the first thing to address is cosmetic, it makes sense to tackle character generation first and foremost following the almost obligatory ‘What is Role playing’ introduction. This is because the user is initially drawn to this page because he or she wishes to create a character but instead is reading about how to make tests without knowing anything about the skills and attributes that govern those tests, which I suppose is fine if you already know ‘what is role playing’, for someone new (not uncommon) is a different matter. In fact instructions on how to create a character begin halfway down the page; I think reorganisation here may assist readability.

It’s established the role play system is percentile and involves rolling below a certain target number, there’s also varying degrees of difficulty modifier that may be applied to make the task more challenging. In the example provided describes the action of bypassing an electronic door’s heavily secured AES. The way it’s worded reads to some extent as if the physical action of hacking through a door (with an axe?!! Here’s Johnny) is being attempted.   

The text then goes on to ask the question when to make a roll and ‘whenever you want’ is the long and short of it.  Using the role playing system in the security bypass example above is the province of a player and G.M type interaction more so than player to player because as we know hacking a door is ‘serious business’ perhaps an example of how the role playing system can apply to social interactions between players would be more appropriate? Example of which could be two characters meet for the first time they agree to use the role playing system to form first impressions of one another, so the appropriate skill to check would be Intuition. Player A forms a general impression of Player B’s mannerism, a modifier (or lack thereof) is set by Player A & B’s agreement depending on how well he or she intends or believes those motivations are presented. Perhaps player B is being interviewed for employment by Player A, is nervous and doing their best to conceal it. How blatantly conveyed or hidden that feeling is depends largely on Player A’s Intuition, the dice roll and the modifier imposed by Player B.

You might be thinking how’s that supposed to work? Like anything else by co-operation, I don’t agree that player to player interaction using the role playing system should be inherently dissimilar to G.M to player interaction. Simply it requires upfront agreement to utilize the system in a sort of hybrid role as co-G.Ms

Speaking of which before I wrap this one up, the door example raises an intriguing consideration. In the example ‘hacking the door’ obviously there’s going to be a difference of opinion between the entrant and the securer and inevitably will require D.M intervention. An open to all repository is one possible solution which could contain relevant role playing statistical information for a plethora of ‘things’ sim related. We know for example the side entrance to ‘the Blue Ant’ has an encryption bypass difficulty modifier of X, it has hit points of X, damage resistance of X among other details. I think not only will this encourage further use of the role playing system and contribute toward promoting player independence within it but also help to bring the sim further to life.

Me signing off……      

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Comment by Miko Okami on January 22, 2017 at 1:36am

Interesting that you've already decided what type of blog contribution I'm making before I've even made it. Absolutely everything you've typed has absolutely nothing to do with what I intend to address. To help clear up your misunderstandings I'll highlight where you went wrong.

'...many people within the sim that are working on ways to add nuance and depth to the RP.' Aside from reading like a pretentious blanket statement, nowhere in my blog post suggests this is a bad thing. Just to clarify your understanding of what I intend to do, I should explain again I intend to write a commentary of the role playing system (if you've played Dungeons and Dragons you should know what I'm talking about) the portion of text on this site outlining a way to add tabletop role playing game aspects to the sim. Incorporating table top role playing elements is, to my mind, a positive thing, the review will take a look at game mechanic aspects and the type of considerations that follow from examining these aspects.

'It's all about working together instead of individually. You end up focusing so much....' and so on.
I've no idea what you're referring to here you seem to be going off on a tangent, I already know how to 'build' the character archetypes I have in mind using the role playing system.

'I will admit, IS is slow right now...' Is it? Good. In all honesty I haven't noticed and your words are reassuring.
The less people, the less chance of introducing garbage to the Insilico setting.

'Those people have the best ideas to move forward with the sim, and the lore will expand in proportion to it.' Do you mean adding adding 'nuance and depth'? Yes I've already suggested one or two myself, namely a revival of the resources system with added accounting and finances and compiling a canned account of sim role playing history since inception so as to further contribute to the background material already contained on this site. But again, these blog posts will not be concerned with moving the sim forward or expanding lore.

In summary, I should request before commenting again you try to understand what the blog post are about and make responses in direct relation to them rather than make them about something altogether different.

Comment by Stark Osterham on January 22, 2017 at 1:58pm

Thank you for taking the time to let me know your views on our rp system. I have to say that you make some very good points. I personally do not like only roleplaying as well and break it up with development and events. Some strait combat shooting but that's me. The system is not perfect and not widely employed in the roleplay. there are moments when i hear two people are dice rolling only to find out they are just rolling high and lows. But I do have to admit there is a lot of freedom to be able to choose what system you want to employ. Speed is critical sometimes and I dont really feel motivated to post watch youtube until someone else posts, but i digress. 

The system is not perfect, it has not been thoroughly tested. The time and energy that is required to filly flesh this out is a bit daunting for a single person. So I am aware of its shortcomings. I did think about your comments and I am flattered you actually took the time to read it all and think about it. I would say that is more flattering than those who skim/ignore it altogether. If you want to banter on this you can IM me directly in world. Or we can start a discussion on the ning to continue with suggestions. 

Comment by Miko Okami on January 23, 2017 at 1:05am

Bear in mind I haven't really started yet just touched upon the first few paragraphs of the role playing system concerning making dice rolls. I don't really intend it to be a regular thing, just pick where I left off even if that happens to be several months later.  

As I explained to your partner if it absolutely has to I will move this text to the forum. Bear in mind the result will leave my blog a bit empty as I'm not one for writing in character journals, information about characters is something I prefer to be the product of role playing. It always amuses me the 'Warning Information Strictly For OOC Use' ignoring the fact people assuredly will use that information I.C even if it's just subconsciously.    

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