This month’s Symposium, hosted by Pat Holleman, is on the Disgaea series. Quoting Pat:
The Role Playing Game was the product of two designers who started from very different places, in terms of design. Dave Arneson had been playing a variant of Diplomacy with his friends, but found that the game needed clearer structure. Gary Gygax had created a set of character skills which could be thoroughly represented as the result of fixed attributes and chance. Their combined ideas led to the form which we know today. The interesting thing is that the two influences on the product would come to define so much of the RPG legacy. Although it is a slight simplification, we can see Arneson’s influence as the Dionysian strain in RPGs, and Gygax’s influence as the Apollonian. Because their combined masterwork, Dungeons & Dragons, was so artistically complete, most of the RPGs in its wake had to focus on either the Apollonian or Dionysian aspects of the RPG in order to create a unique product.
Disgaea is one of the most Apollonian (Gygaxian?) RPGs ever created. Nearly everything in the game is represented by a numerical system which can be directly altered by the player. There are statistical systems embedded in statistical systems which allow for hundreds of hours of content, but relatively little in the way of dynamic character development or choices in the plot. This week we’re going to discuss the implications of such a numbers-heavy RPG, and how it compares to the more plot-and-character-driven RPGs and adventures which are the usual fare of VGHVI.
We’ll be meeting this Thursday, May 5th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT; talk to you then!