Mechanics or story?

The talented Dane Barrett kindly gave The Altimer a five-star review recently, in which he pointed one particular section out as “very strange”.

The section in question is one in which you lose some SPIRIT points, and then ultimately die. And in some ways it’s definitely odd to have to mark off something immediately before dying anyway – so it got me thinking: why did I do that?

1 The mechanics are telling their own story

Your SPIRIT score – or any score for that matter – should be more than just a number. If you’re reading and your SPIRIT score is 10, your character will be feeling invigorated and optimistic, whereas if it’s down at 1 or 2 you’ll be much more timid.

So a loss of some SPIRIT points when you take a knock is communicating something in addition to the text description. The fact that the section leads immediately to death is a continuation of that, and the experience (in my humble opinion) should be enriched by the loss of some points.

2 You might die!

The most important thing it’s adding, however, is the risk that you’ll die before the text says that you do. If you’re falling to certain death and bash against the side, the way you die will be different if you were already at the point of near-death when you started falling from if you had 10 SPIRIT points.

So I suppose I’m hesitantly concluding that I put that section in to remain true to the mechanics as well as the story.

It’s very difficult to see things through the reader’s eyes though, so I’m grateful to Dane for his observation and wonder what other people’s thoughts are…