Dunkelwurm: Confusion? Yes, please!

A few days ago, I switched from a list of 20+ character classes to a massive list of more than 200. I did that because I thought it would offer more variety to players. But in reality, what it did was it made Dunkelwurm boring. Uninteresting. Too much choice makes a game interchangeable.

So, I’m straightening out my self-inflicted mess. And I’m returning to Troika!-like classes.

In a guest post over at Thoul’s Paradise, author Dan Sell wrote (emphases mine):

(Troika) was built as a strongly worded objection to the vogue of transparency and usefulness. It still holds immediacy, since anyone can play the game in a matter of hours if they want. They just need to go limp and enjoy a state of comfortable confusion. The book doesn’t need to tell people that it expects them to decide what is happening for themselves since it offers few answers and the answers present are contradictory.

Planescape was a hundred times better when I was a child who only owned a box set and no context or rules. A single book hinted at places just beyond the horizon, a teasing joy in incomplete knowledge. But then you get older and realise you can just get up and walk, read all the books and know all the secrets, only to learn that they were banal, soggy-minded. The illusion was better and more useful than the words on paper telling you exactly how Lawful Good these allegedly complex but somehow easily and briefly explained people and places are. Information kills knowledge.

That post is true in so many levels. Let’s repeat the key points I can identify as most important for me:

  • objection to transparency and usefulness
  • comfortable confusion
  • no context
  • information kills knowledge
What does this mean for my design? 
I’ll move away from gazillions of classes. I’ll describe the setting IN the character backgrounds. This information might, no, will, contradict information provided in other passages. And THE REF will have to make their mind up: How do I interpret that thing? See? Creativity trigger, built right in.
Dunkelwurm FTW!

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