Hello, (Imaginary) World!

print("Hello, World!")

Anyone who has spent some time with programming languages knows that the very first program you typically learn to create is a “Hello, World” program. This program performs one of the most basic functions: getting some text on the screen. Each programming language has its own style; I’ve included Python above, since it’s the only language I know enough of. It’s not hard to grasp. Java, on the other hand, can look a bit more intimidating.

With game systems there is often a bit more you would like to demonstrate than a few simple words. Roger Firth addresses this issue in interactive fiction with his “demo” game, Cloak of Darkness. The idea is to provide a standard that demonstrates some of the basic properties of languages used to create interactive fiction. Each implementation must accomplish the same tasks: moving between rooms, picking up items, and so on.

My question is this: why doesn’t such an implementation exist for tabletop role-playing games?

Admittedly, there are differences in RPGs that aren’t easily reconciled. You can’t use goblins, for instance, in most future space opera games, and they are certainly out of place in Dogs in the Vineyard.

But there’s gotta be a way to crack this. Some basic setup that demonstrates, through a simple transcript of play, how a conflict works, what a stat block looks like, and so on.

Any thoughts are welcome. I hardly have a solution right now.