Character Skill vs. Player Skill

Rampant Games' Jay Barnson took some time to pen a brief article on one of the most debated and important subjects when it comes to role-playing games, the concept of characters skills vs. player skills. Here's a sampling:
If success is principally dictated by your actions and skill as a player, then it's not an RPG. So if your character is supposed to be a mediocre shot, but as a player you are lining up and endless stream of head-shots for critical hits, then chances are that at least that aspect of the game is really not very RPG-ish. An RPG may blend the two elements by making your hits based on player skill and your damage based on character skill to try and strike a balance, which may satisfy many players. But there has to be some kind of cooperative give-and-take going where the actions (and skills) of the player are filtered by the character's abilities and limitations.

These days, that's a really, really fuzzy area, and not much of a dividing line. Are better weapons and armor an attribute of your character? Many games include (RPG elements) including some kind of upgrade mechanic. It's not a hard-and-fast delineation. It's a spectrum.

On the flip side, a game can't be all about character skill either, or it's not a game. It's Progress Quest.
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