Thursday, February 9, 2012

WOTC's 3 Pillars

Not sure I buy into this, but a mention on twitter of WOTC's 3 pillers of RPG (Exploration, Roleplaying and Combat) popped it into my mind. (EDIT: Dave rightly points out that Wizards views these as the three pillars of D&D, a subtle but important distinction)


  1. What I find interesting about this is that I tend to think in terms of the three overlapping areas when I consider gaming styles: Sandbox, Tactics, and Cinematic. I could happily play a game that focused 40/40/20 of Sandbox/Cinematic/Tactics.

  2. @Cam Yeah, I as I was filling in the overlap sections I had much the same thought.

  3. I am already mentally "Tacking" various RPGs onto that diagram.
    Well that and how much I want a "Charmed RPG"...

  4. I'll make a pedantic point and say that WotC views those as the three pillars of D&D, not of RPGs in general.

  5. @cam and @rob: Me three.

    It makes sense why we make/play the kind of games we make/play, eh?

  6. Not sure if it quite works as a Venn diagram (because I think I'm hearing two distinct versions of "Combat" when I do), but it definitely works as a list:

    Sandbox => Roleplay & Explore
    Cinematics => Roleplay & Combat
    Tactics => Combat & Explore

    Although I'd probably change Tactics to "Problem-Solving" myself.

  7. If we're talking the OSR sandbox definitions, I don't see roleplaying as being a key element. The idea that players decide where they go, yeah, that's absolutely exploration, but you can privilege either combat or roleplaying within that. Non-D&D sandboxes might be another issue.

    Likewise I'm wondering what's actually tactical about exploration. Tactics seems to live firmly inside combat, no?

    Which leaves me thinking that in the D&D context Combat is very well supported, Exploration is reasonably well supported, but Roleplay is not well supported at all. That matches the degree of mechanical support available for sure.

  8. I consider tactics to require an element of exploration because good tactical play involves setting engagement on a micro rather than macro scale. Without that, it ends up abstract.

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