The Czege Principle is an idea in role-playing game theory that it isn't fun for a single player to control both a character's adversity and the resolution of that adversity. The principle is named after Paul Czege, based on a comment he made to Vincent Baker at The Forge after playtesting one of Baker's games.[1]

Name[edit | edit source]

The principle was dubbed the Czege Principle ("half-in-fun") by Ron Edwards.[2] Although the above meaning of the Czege Principle is widely understood, Paul Czege himself has said (perhaps also half in fun) that the name of the principle is really called The Lesson of Chalk Outlines, and that the real Czege Principle is "all principles other than the Czege Principle are named after Lumpley or one of his games or play experiences".[3]

Formulations of the principle[edit | edit source]

There is no single codified version of the Czege Principle. Ron Edwards' post that popularised it worded it as:

creating your own adversity and its resolution is boring[2]

This was very quickly amended by Josh Roby to:

creating and running your own opposition isn't fun[4]

Ben Lehman has also worded it as:

when one person is the author of both the character's adversity and its resolution, play isn't fun[3]

Adam Koebel has stated it as:

satisfaction drops when the player is the author of their own adversity[5]

Criticism[edit | edit source]

The Czege Principle has faced criticism, particularly in relation to the way some formulations are worded as absolute statements of fact. Players of solo role-playing games used the existence of such games as proof that the Czege Principle is now out-of-date.[6] Commenting in September 2019, Avery Alder said:

"In my opinion, there have been a wealth of amazing solo RPGs that have effectively challenged the Czege Principle. Creative answers have emerged to the question, "how CAN it be fun for a player to introduce and resolve their own opposition?""[7]

One such creative answer is the Surprise by Complexity Principle, which says "when you create the adversity, you should not be sure you can solve it".[8]

References[edit | edit source]

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