Three cheers for generalities and excluded middles: Hip-hip, WHO CARES? Hip-hip, WHO CARES? Hip-hip, WHO CARES?
Blather on about all the exceptions and how you do some of each. This analysis draws on the extreme edges to highlight the contrast.
Progressive Characters: Invented the concept of handing out trophies for participation. You might not finish exactly where you want, but everybody will work to make you feel special just because you’re at the table. Your special snowflake character starts off the game with a whole host of unique and special powers and trinkets, and together we explore how that character works his inevitable way up to being even more special and snowflakey. Your character is a reflection of what you think successful people are like – cool and awesome from birth, naturally granted all the good stuff in life, and those who succeed because the odds are stacked in their favor.
Conservative Characters: You’re gonna have to work to earn that shiny gold prize. Your character will start out as just another drone and will be virtually interchangeable with a dozen other characters of his class until he does something special. He’s probably going to fail. Repeatedly. You may run through a dozen characters until your smart and lucky and plucky enough to work his not at all inevitable way up to legendary status for his achievements. Not for following a pre-plotted character path. Your character is a reflection of what you think successful people are like – hard working, risk taking, and those who succeed despite knowing the odds are stacked against them.
The easy conclusion would be that Progressives are generally storygamers while Conservatives are generally old school renaissance types. It’s also the right conclusion – the fact it’s easy doesn’t make it wrong.
Oh sure, people cross the boundaries from time to time, and some games straddle the line, but come on. We both know the score here. Don’t be a pinko – game with real risk, real consequences, and real rewards. It’ll be almost as satisfying as a real life achievement!