Fight to Survive and Rules Transparency
Updated: Mar 6, 2022
The development blog of table-top role-playing game "Fight to Survive: Martial Arts Meets Heart" by James Kerr
There are many RPGs where the rules recede into the background and become invisible, informing play only as gentle boundaries, but never getting in the way of fun. This is not one of those games. Fight to Survive has a strict Phase structure to its year-to-year events. It is very obvious that you’re playing a game. You are constantly running up against the limitations of these Phases, as players, as they restrain your behaviour and even in some cases prevent you from “having fun”. Why did I design it this way? Isn’t a rule that compromises fun necessarily bad design? First let’s talk about why the rules are so obvious and strict, and secondly let’s talk about fun.
Fight to Survive wears its rules on its sleeves for a few reasons. Firstly, because these limitations are necessary for strict genre emulation of its primary inspirational sources. (Just as "why didn't you run away as soon as anything creepy started happening" is a trope of horror, martial arts action movies have their own restrictions.) This helps direct thinking of what is possible and not possible within the setting, limits choice paralysis, and keeps the action within genre.
Any RPG cannot always be fun. Fight to Survive seeks to take those un-fun moments like sitting out of a fight, getting injured, or making bad decisions, and feed them back into the greater emulation of the setting. Yes, maybe it’s un-fun in the moment, but it has more long-term pay-off as a rich and interesting part of the overall game experience.
That’s the idea, anyway.
Fight to Survive's Kickstarter is currently in pre-launch, and you can sign up to be notified of its launch here.