Today, Captain Patch has up his second rant (the first was covered in Mountains Of Gold). This time around, he’s concerned with advancement and slaughter.

He’s peeved that characters in RPGs advance faster in abilities than they would in real life. That’s perfectly true. One does not become, for instance, an Olympic champion after just three months of training; it takes years of dedication and hard work.

But what relation does that have to a game? So your character maxes out in a week of playing, let’s say. Would anyone want to spend years in developing that character? What would be the point?

The simple fact is that RPGS compress time because no one wants to spend eons bringing a character to heroic levels just because that would mimic “real life”. We are dealing here with fantasy. With make-believe.

As I have said more than once, if we wanted “real life” we wouldn’t be playing these games in the first place. A certain amount of realism is necessary for suspension of disbelief. However, that can only go so far; too much realism only adds tedium, not fun.

His second complaint in the article is that experience comes almost entirely from combat; that characters are killing machines more than anything else. Here he has a good point.

Yes, we all like the fights, we all enjoy the satisfaction of taking down a tough boss, we revel in a certain amount of bloodlust. That’s part of why we play these games. Still, Patch is right: RPGs are elaborate combat simulators that reward slaughter on a large scale.

Even when a game has a story, it sits there in between the combats. Avernum 5 is a typical example. Aside from the straight FedEx jobs, almost everything you’re asked to do involves fighting of some kind. That’s besides the usual encounters outdoors with hostiles of one sort or another.

I wouldn’t mind seeing a little less combat in RPGs myself. They could use some more non-violent situations that yield good experience. You know, role-playing stuff. What we have said more than once is often lacking in these games.

Patch also mentions the suicidal impulses of the enemies: they always fight to the death. Aside from the occasional scripted event where a Boss might beg for life or offer a bribe, whatever you’re up against seems to have a death wish.

Yeah, it’s silly. However, why not? After all, do we want any of the “baddies” to get away and fight another day? Wouldn’t we be tempted to track them down and finish them off? Might as well get it overwith here and now.

So what’s your take on this second “inflation” piece? Do you think characters advance too fast? Is there too much fighting? Should more enemies run away when their side is losing?

Inflation In RPGS Part II on Hooked Gamers