RPG Wednesday: Triumph

Wednesday , 20, February 2019 1 Comment

Jameslafond Week continues with a surprise discovery of Triumph, which are RPG combat rules, expandable into “episodic short-fiction” adventures (as opposed to the long campaigns we experienced playing D&D). Bottom line, the body and mind cannot sustain long periods of combat without breaking down.  I defer to James on all matters related to the martial arts but I know enough to agree and that the human body does not heal 1 HP per day.

All serious RPG gamers should read the extensive sample.

Some excerpts:

Triumph is based on human [Yes, you dwarves and elves have just suffered the most profound form of discrimination.] characters with attributes defined as a measure of human potential, expressed with a percentage. [Get a lot of 10-sided dice.]  Note: nothing stops someone from modding in different demi-humans and monsters like the ugly shaman to the left.

Triumph is geared more toward an episodic ‘short-fiction’ model, than an epic campaign model. Keep in mind that many good fantasy and sci-fi movies, like Blade Runner or Total Recall [the first one], are based on short stories or short novels.

Because of unrealistic combat systems even good ‘questing’ campaigns result in a psychopathically frequent level of violence. Perhaps the worst serial killer in American history was the self-described monster Carl Panzram. However, many peace-loving hobbit characters in standard role playing games rack up a higher body count. Unrealistic combat systems require a lot of combat for various reasons.

In role playing fighters learn like college students, gaining more knowledge until they finally become highly trained action-heroes; professors of combat if you will. This model stems from the fact that educated people design these games, and that the martial model used by educated people is Asian-based martial arts training, as practiced in the modern world.

Combat sports, dueling traditions and pre-modern martial cultures would have served as better models. In reality a fighter peaks early, an active fighter earlier. I coach stick-fighting. If I take a person who has never picked up a stick and fight him one time—I mean beat his ass!—and he has the psychological makeup to not break mentally, he will—then and there—become as effective as a man who has spent years doing stick-fighting drills but who has never fought with a stick.

This points to the worst aspect of adventure gaming, the fact that characters face no psychological hurdles or emotional costs for combat. This is achieved by having the world populated by thoroughly dehumanized enemies—indeed, often not human at all. If, in an authentic adventure game, a character must contend with antagonists he is capable of empathizing with, then we actually come to the crux of the human condition that makes such classic movies as Unforgiven possible.


One Comment
  • james lafond says:

    Scott, thank you. I must add that I made no attempt at making Triumph smoothly playable. I wanted the combat rules accurate and clunky, thus discouraging combat frequency. It would make a good system for a gladiator game where the players manage stables of fighters. My hope was that the feeling of time slowing down which accompanies combat would be approximated by the laboriously involved combat rules.

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