Friday, June 23, 2006

Lesson: Resolution - Mechanics

Resolution mechanics are a fairly simple idea. Resolution is when players resolve differences. Mechanics for resolution, then are just overt procedures or rules for resolving those differences. Mechanics are commonly confounded with system, but at the simplest, mechanics don't need to apply to the imagined part of play. For example, if players vote at the beginning of a session on who gets the comfy chair, then that is a mechanical resolution, but not part of the system.

Resolution mechanics serve an important role in resolution in general, they are approaches to resolution which can be treated as an object of its own. Indeed, between arguments over rules and discussions over ways to collaborate during game, mechanics give us a handle on resolution, and let us resolve differences about how we do resolution.

This makes mechanical resolution extremely powerful, but it also comes with a danger. Mechanics are ultimately things which players resolve to use together, not the things that let them resolve those initial differences. At the most basic level, resolution is non-mechanical, if only to determine which mechanics will be introduced when. Just as system is only a part of resolution, so to are mechanics only a piece of the puzzle which is how we play.

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