I may have mentioned (though not on this blog, at least not recently) that I’m developing a tabletop RPG. Since I couldn’t find anything worth posting about today, I thought I’d talk about doing research… on YouTube.
Let’s start with a clip from the BBC. This video illustrates not just some cool things about how firearms wound, but also how modern armor protects against firearms.
In and of itself, this is not enough to build any mechanics or gear stats off of, but it is additional info to add to the hopper, and can suggest other avenues for research. (What kinds of modern ballistic vests are there? What game stats should they have?)
Next is a cool video from one of my favorite channels, “Smarter Every Day”.
Entertaining and informative. Again, not enough on its own to build game stats or rules off, but then again nothing really is. You study a lot of different pieces of information from a lot of different sources (filtering out the garbage, and leaning on the more accurate ones), and use that info to piece together your rules set. (You did watch until the end, didn’t you? After the commercial, there’s some additional coolishness.)
Last, Lindybeige, the single biggest research time suck. You click on a video about why halberds had those peculiarly shaped heads, then find yourself watching a video about why platoons and companies have the manpower they do (actually helpful for [CAN’T TALK ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW SORRY]), take in how to make and use slings, and finally end up with this little ditty about longbows. (I skipped literally ten other videos in that chain, just to make it simpler, including one on medieval siege warfare. Just in preparing this post, I watched two other Lindybeige videos, and loaded another three in tabs to watch later.)
Now some people are gonna read this post and say “What, you do all this research? PFAW! You’re gonna drown your players / GM’s in details, ain’t you?” No, or at least I hope not. You have to simplify to make a tabletop rules set. But if your base your rules on other games, who based theirs on other games, your world is a copy of a copy of a copy, and you have no idea what the real world is like. Do some research, and you just might find your game (or book, for writers) is much better for it. I have.
Throwing together a rules set is easy. Game design is hard. Research doesn’t make it any easier, but it does ensure that you’ll know what you’re talking about.
More or less.