Chewing over some ideas about the worldviews encoded in game mechanics (a thread).

The most common type of RPG is a skill check system. Your character wants to do something, but the outcome is uncertain, so you combine your skill, the difficulty of the task, and a randomizer.
The implied model of the world is a very modern Western one. Characters are agents attempting to exert their will over a predictable external world. This is the clockwork universe model popularized by the Enlightenment. We relate to the world as a series of objects.
But we modern Westerners haven't fully internalized this model, and so it can create some consternation -- particularly when the same resolution system is applied to both physical and social tasks. Skill checks for social interactions literally treat other people as objects.
Thus some games try to avoid mechanizing social interactions altogether, or provide separate mechanics for social interactions with PCs, who seem less objectified than NPCs ("If the target is a PC, they may gain 1 XP if they go along ...")
These strategies preserve the agency of non-objects, but at the cost of separating social activity from the rest of the game's mechanics.
But the clockwork universe is only one possible worldview. For example, many indigenous cultures hold that everything you encounter is a *subject,* a being with its own agency. Successful interaction with "things" involves their consent and cooperation just like with humans.
Of course, I'm definitely not the right person to be making games based on indigenous worldviews. But this line of thought brought me to medieval European worldviews, before the Enlightenment brought the clockwork universe to prominence.
Grossly generalizing here, a key theme in both pagan and Christian medieval thought is the idea that the things that happen to you are divine punishments and rewards for virtue and sin. So what if we design a game engine around that idea?
Here's a sketch of how that might go. Each player has a playmat to keep piles of tokens representing the virtues they've exhibited or sins they've committed. On your turn, you ask to be punished for your sin or rewarded for your virtue, and spend a corresponding token.
The other players, in the role of the divine, set up a scenario in which your character is subjected to good or bad fortune. Then you decide how your character responds, using a set of B.O.B.-style selfish "sin moves" or self-sacrificing "virtue moves," and gain a token.
In a way, this system would be more true to LotR than D&D's skill checks. After all, Frodo succeeded in LotR not because he was the toughest or cleverest to overcome Sauron's machinations, but because he reacted virtuously to the situations he encountered.
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