On his blog the other day, Coyote mused about “breaking up the routine” in RPGs. I don’t know why he bothered, because it’s a topic that’s come up so many times before.

We’ve discussed “story” and “side jobs” pretty much to death. We’ve agreed that those little “do this for me” tasks are repetitious and boring. That stories are often dull, combat mostly monotonous, and many NPCs cardboard characters at best. That some innovation would be a good thing.

What Coyote wondered about in particular is whether we could skip the “grind”, the “dull parts” and move right on to the “fun stuff”. The problem is, without the routine, how do we improve our characters?

Unless we “help the helpless”, kill the critters, and nab Neat Items, we’re not getting anywhere in the game. RPGs are built around “doing the grunt work”.

I agree that it would be better if we weren’t always faced with “same-old, same-old”, doing variations of the big three: kill something/find something/deliver something. Perhaps then “the grind” wouldn’t seem so tedious.

There’s also the matter of what, exactly, constitutes “fun stuff”. What are the events or situations in the game we want to skip to? Can you think of any? In the RPGs you’ve played so far, what situations would you have skipped to, zipping past the grind? (No cute remarks about “the end”, please ;)

Which brings us to the conclusion we reached long ago: that RPGs need more creative thought in the jobs we’re handed, the story we progress through, and the NPCs we interact with.

Breaking Up The Routine on Coyote’s blog