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Colonial Gothic — A Note about the Word “Cinematic”

November 5, 2008

Regardless of the approach to history one takes, Colonial Gothic, as stated numerous times earlier, is a “cinematic” roleplaying game, at least when it comes to action and adjudicating tasks. What this means is that neither the rules nor the advice presented here fixates on minutiae, the nitty-gritty details bogging down the flow of a game session and be of interest only to experts on the period. Colonial Gothic unapologetically takes it cues from movies and television and other “non-scholarly” approaches to history.

Cinematic does not mean “low brow” or “thoughtless.” Just because the game does not include complex rules for handling inter-colonial commerce or lengthy charts outlining the orders of battle for different British regiments does not mean its’ approach to history is simple-minded. Rather, the game focuses on those things deemed most likely to be of general value to players and GMs of all persuasions who play this game. Naturally, if individual Game Masters believe they need complex rules for inter-colonial commerce, they can do some research and build upon the rules presented here to create them. Most players, though, won’t notice the lack of such rules nor will they demand them.

As a cinematic game, Colonial Gothic focuses first and foremost on the heroes and their actions. Yes, they live and act in a tumultuous time filled with great events and great people but the heroes remain the stars of the show, so to speak. The Game Master must never lose sight of this. Certainly, no hero will ever pen the Declaration of Independence or cross the Delaware but then neither will Thomas Jefferson face down a black magician or George Washington battle a werewolf and live to tell the tale – well, they might, this being a secret history game, after all! The point is Colonial Gothic is not about Thomas Jefferson or George Washington; it is about the heroes you create. They are the most important people in the world from your perspective and you, as GM, must bear this in mind at all times. So long as players feel that what they do matters, they will be happy and all the concerns about approaches to history will be a sideshow to the real game – the adventures you’re running with your players.

The more I work on this game, the more James and I share our ideas and thoughts, the more I love this game. The above is just part of a much larger chapter I am working on (Chapter 9) and was written by both James and myself. It is a summation of what we like about the style of games we design.

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