Thursday, 23 July 2020
A theme I have returned to over the years is the necessity for there to be some form of constraint in order for creativity to truly flourish. This can be structural (as in most traditional verse forms from haiku to sonnets, or time signatures in music) or substantive (for instance, the genre expectations of romance, detective, horror or 'literary' fiction). Yes, ideas do come from the ether, as it were - broiling up from the subconsious when taking a shower, driving, or what have you. But the actual drawn-out process of creation of something worthwhile - something that people will want to read, touch, look at, hear - needs these kinds of restriaint.
Without any limits, absolute freedom tends to result in paralysis or wishy-washiness. I can think of no better elucidation of this point than this clip, from My Neighbours the Yamadas (ignore the first couple of seconds and forgive my shaky phone hand):
Most of the basic structural elements of D&D - character classes, stats, random encounter tables, hexmaps, monster stat blocks, and so on - can be thought of as a framework of constraints within which the imagination can be channelled and given effect. They prevent the DM from doing literally anything he feels like. Paradoxically, this results in more interesting results than most very loose and free-form games, which ultimately tend to achieve rather bland outcomes in actual play (in my experience).
Posted by noisms at 00:34