STRESS is a mechanic which represents characters pushing beyond their physical limitations. For every 1 point of STRESS, a character is -1 to attack, armor class, saving throws, stat checks and skill checks. A character reduces the STRESS penalty by their WISDOM bonus. So it is not uncommon for some characters to carry a limited amount of STRESS without adverse effect. If a character has more STRESS points than their WISDOM attribute, they will become unstable and may go mad, endangering themselves or friends. If a character has more STRESS than WISDOM they must make a will saving throw each time they accrue additional STRESS, including their current STRESS penalties. If they succeed, they keep everything in check. If they fail, they suffer a mental break, reacting wildly. See the FLIPPED OUT chart.
When I was working my way back toward the fundamentals of our game experience last month, just before I reached the point of discussing social interaction I mentioned mechanics. Mechanics are the stuff that makes games work, that makes games games. In a sense, it is game mechanics that separate games from all other forms of social interaction. That is, a game has rules. It has objectives which are to be sought, methods which are legitimate approaches, and penalties for breach. Like a story, it has conflict and resolution; unlike a story, the conflict is defined and resolved by specific limited tools, the rules of the game, the mechanics.
And if our faith is to infiltrate our lives completely, we may need to ask ourselves how it affects our regard for the mechanics within games.
In discussing the mechanics specifically of role playing games, three broad concepts of resolution systems have been identified. These have been labeled drama, fortune, and karma. And if we understand these concepts aright, we realize that they are present in all games in one form or another. We also begin to see that each of these concepts has aspects which fit our faith well, but each has aspects which are problematic for our faith. We’ll look at them individually. Read more