You Know What Game Sucks?

Wushu.  Yeah, that’s right, Wushu sucks.

The first time I played Wushu, it was like the most amazing thing ever.  (In fact, if you haven’t played Wushu, it may be worth playing once to see how far from one’s basic assumptions gaming can get.)  However, with each subsequent playing, the Lie of Wushu became revealed.

See, Wushu isn’t really a game, so much as it is an exercise in roleplaying masturbation.  People go to great effort to come up with a bunch of kewl descriptions, but it often hits the point where you’re just talking to get more dice, not because it’s cool.  And with the principle of narrative truth, your actions are less cool, not more, because all you had to do was think them up and spew them out.

Does the cool maneuver you come up with make you any more competent, or enhance your ability?  No it doesn’t- the best way to ‘succeed’ at Wushu is to just talk and talk and talk.

If this sounds like a bitter, half-assed rant, well, that’s because it is.  Wushu’s hardly a game, and while it’s got some interesting nuggets in it, it aint worth playing.

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3 thoughts on “You Know What Game Sucks?

  1. josiah says:

    Well, don’t you also have this in Exalted to an extent? I like coming up with creative descriptions for what I’m doing, but it really drains me to have to constantly 1-up myself and my teammates every 5 minutes just so I get enough dice to do damage.

    Also, I don’t really understand why games make a mechanic out of it. It’s not like in any game you play the person running it won’t reward you for creativity in some way or another. And I’m apparently leaning towards its efficacy being more meaningful with rarity.

  2. Willow says:

    Exalted has it to an extent, but it has other stuff going on too. Can you play Exalted without stunts? Yeah, you can. Wushu is pretty much just stunts.

    Stunts in Exalted *do* enforce the idea that you should be rewarded, not penalized, for doing cool stuff, which is a good thing, but to what extent should game systems reward this? How do we maximize ‘cool’?

  3. SabreCat says:

    While I’ll agree with you on one central point–that Wushu doesn’t have much “game” to it–I have to disagree that it sucks or isn’t worth playing as a result, or that the problems you mention have to be dealbreakers for it.

    Talking incessantly to get more dice needn’t be rewarded. For one, there’s a Detail cap: set it low-to-middling (say, 3-5), and people trying to filibuster will hit the limit very quickly. If the descriptions are lame, show-stealing, inappropriate to the character, or otherwise frustrating, Veto them. And in my experience, the Details=dice rule has kinda faded out in play: we do a creative jam around what happens in a scene, and then everybody rolls dice to see who gets to narrate the ending or if we go another round–with even quiet players getting the full complement. The Wushu Open rules overemphasize the “character effectiveness from cool description” thing; that’s not as much what makes Wushu tick as Dan Bayn thinks.

    But yes, you’re right that it’s not much of a “game.” It’s more a light collaborative storytelling engine. If you’re playing it in a gamey way, lots of cool things about Wushu die off: players will narrate only stuff related to their best Trait, for instance. With a group that really wants to make up a tale based entirely around the “wouldn’t it be cool if” kibitzing mentality, with a few dice mechanics to aid pacing and decide the final word, though, Wushu is where it’s at.

    I also feel I should point out something regarding the Exalted discussion above: the rules as written there don’t require constant one-upmanship. Stunt rewards are objective: description beyond straightforward intent is 1 die. Description that uses/invents the environment, or serves as a riposte to other description, earns 2 dice. 3 dice stunts are fuzzier, since they rely on the subjective reaction of a particular group, but they don’t provide enough additional benefit to break things–they’re the “more meaningful with rarity” carrot. The only degree of one-upmanship is that you shouldn’t just repeat yourself over and over, a trap we creative RPing types don’t often fall into. (Also, stunts provide enough dice to do damage? o.O This must’ve been a heroic mortals game, I guess?)

    P.S. I tried to syndicate this blog to view on LiveJournal, but got an error that your RSS page isn’t XML formatted? Sadness!

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