Friday, December 11, 2009

Poetry in Gaming

There should be more poetry in roleplaying, and not just from the party's bard. Looking back over the years, I can think of only one campaign I was in that regularly featured poetry of any kind. Back in 1999, I ran a Legends of the Five Rings campaign. I awarded extra experience points for various out of game and in game actions. You could earn bonus xp for bringing Asian food to the game, showing up early to watch chanbara movies, wearing appropriate costume (we had a lot of ex-martial artists with a gi or two), or writing a haiku from your character's perspective. There was a lot of haiku (and egg rolls) and some of it was pretty good.
Going beyond that, I have been pondering the role of prose in game books. Every one I have come across explains the system and setting in prose, some of it narrative, some of it very dry and technical. Why not try verse instead? Imagine a game system entirely laid out in verse, and thus open to wild interpretation. This would not be for everybody, especially rules lawyers and strict simulationists. However, it would present a very interesting take on the standard in game design, knowing that the readers (and thus the players) of a game will be free to take things in wild new directions.

I'll leave you with a little gaming haiku:

The moment of fate
Let the dice fall as they may
Natural twenty plea

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