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Teaching RPG game design
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So some of the suggested course material brings up GNS theory

http://tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=49203&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
Is a long thread about why it's meaningless.

Is there any quick yet meaningful way to categorize RPG's by gameplay mechanics?

K says...
Quote:
GNS doesn't do anything because it makes no value judgements, sets forth no design guidelines, and doesn't even define anything in strict terms.

So something with value judgements, design guidelines, and strict definitions.

FrankTrollman suggests the Game Design Flowsheet:
http://www.tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=31521

I figure the flow sheet would be a fun exercise for new designers to think about a lot of complex things in a structured package.


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Zaranthan
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
standard attacks & resources schedules

You can also combine the two. Have your fallback/desperation move restore whatever your normal resource is, so you can use one of your good abilities next turn (or possibly this turn, if you've got a cheap swift action or something).
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...is the dead guy posthumously at fault for his own death and, due to the felony murder law, his own murderer?

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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

is there any articles out there explaining things like "a history of RPG mechanics"

I figure a history section for the class would be neat so students can go "so dice pools began with ___, classless point buy started with ___"
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You might also want to mention Braunstein as the proto-example of tabletop roleplaying games, and roleplaying games in general. The sessions David Wesely ran directly inspired Dave Arneson into developing Blackmoor; which led Gary Gygax to cobble Chainmaile into (Original) Dungeons & Dragons.

You'll have to copypasta the below link, as the board code does not like parenthesized urls.

Code:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braunstein_(wargame)


Specifically:

Quote:
Wesely thus contributed to the development of RPGs by introducing a one-to-one identification of player and character, and open-ended rules allowing the players to attempt any action, with the result of the action determined by the referee.

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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Blicero wrote:
GnomeWorks wrote:


So in JRPGs, in my experience, a given character's damage output is relatively stable - there is some amount of variation, but not a lot, for a given set of level/gear/whatever.

Ignoring the precise math at play, why does that work for JRPGs and not TTRPGs?


Does it work in JRPGs? Or is it just a conceit that is generally accepted?


In turn based RPG's like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest you can kill a mook in one hit, so this works as...

1) I kill a slime in one hit with my warrior
2) Oh no the skeleton takes two hits to kill
3) After getting a new sword my warrior can deal 80% of skeleton's health, which lets the wizard smack with staff to kill it instead of using precious MP
4) After leveling up my warrior 1 shots the skeleton

Think of the predictable damage as "threshold to one shot or two shot" with one party member or more. There's also the tactile satisfaction of hitting attack and watching something get deleted by your buster sword to a nice death animation/sound.

Also keep in mind these games have you control multiple party members, so "Mage uses AOE to reduce enemies to 50% health, warrior attacks to finish off one enemy, priest removes blindness from warrior to make sure his attack lands" is the actions of one player.
--------------


First class is comin' up, it'll be a casual interest gauging class so I know how much they know.

The homework assignment will be "write up a 6 person party", something straightforward. Then next class we'll share what that party looks like and what it tells us about our game, setting, expectations.

The RPG design flowchart is really good so I gotta share it


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Zaranthan
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
Also keep in mind these games have you control multiple party members, so "Mage uses AOE to reduce enemies to 50% health, warrior attacks to finish off one enemy, priest removes blindness from warrior to make sure his attack lands" is the actions of one player.


I recall a line in the Tomes where they mentioned that clerics, thieves, and magic-users were all real heroes while Fighting Men were meant to be a fair match for them in groups of three. I've also heard of games where each player has a stable of characters they rotate between, so somebody spending a slot on a meat shield or diviner doesn't mean they're watching everybody else play. I wonder if you could blend the concepts. Each player has a few slots, and you can hotswap your character in combat like Pokemon or Trine. Use your mage to drop some battlefield control, switch to the thief to get into a better position, then switch in the warrior to put a sword into somebody. That sort of thing.
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Koumei wrote:
...is the dead guy posthumously at fault for his own death and, due to the felony murder law, his own murderer?

hyzmarca wrote:
A palace made out of poop is much more impressive than one made out of gold. Stinkier, but more impressive. One is an ostentatious display of wealth. The other is a miraculous engineering feat.
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Almaz
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle, I think Bartle's examination of player psychology in MUs is way more relevant to gaming than GNS theory ever will be. I know that's outside of your purview as it is not tabletop, but you could mention it as part of branching the course from tabletop into the rest of the video game design coursework that they're likely to be doing, with a brief discussion of the earliest MUs and how much they ripped off D&D-likes of the time?

I also would suggest gaming movements could be dissected in terms of what motivations they have and the designs they produce in terms of game design influence. For instance, "Gamist" design might not be useful, nor "Simulationist", but we could obviously talk about Wargaming-influenced design, or Vampire: the Masquerade-influenced design, or GURPS/HERO-influenced design! It requires more effort, but putting in some real work on analyzing the artistic lineages of modern RPGs would potentially be more fruitful.


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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You're talking about this right?
http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

That's a good way to break things up. The Player Killer/troll is something we tend not to think about but is very much there. I figure most people on TGDMB are explorers who seek a perfect world.

The Magic: the Gathering player types also appeal to me


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Almaz
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Correct!

And yeah, Timmy/Spike/Johnny/Vorthos at least make predictions on "what sells a card?" which is critical. "Some X% of the playerbase is Timmy, some Y% is Johnny, some Z% is Spike, and some V% is Vorthos, how many cards does satisfying each require and how much in sales will we get when we do so?" etc.


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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ok so my class is around 6 students which is enough to run games with. I'm planning on running a short session of different games to introduce them to different mechanics. They understand the basics of role playing but as this is a course at a top university that's quite expensive I want them to learn and really understand how mechanics affect gameplay.

But what's a good list of mechanics to go with? Things that come to mind are...

- Munchausen style MTP with light structure: Get the students used to thinking on the fly and also being considerate of everyone elses experience

- Arkham Horror was brought up as a boardgame that's a good intro to roleplay, I havent played it though, I think the uni has it in the library I'll check.

- D20, this is popular due to D&D. Teach people about d20 RNG and d4 d6 d8 d10 dice growth.

- A dice pool game, the lesson will be how it feels in contrast to d20's. Maybe a point buy game so they can see how it feels different from a class based game.

What are the other 'engines' to tabletop RPG's?


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erik
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lemme see, other dice engines...

D100/percentile roll over. Roll under.
Bullshit variations like unknown armies.

Dice matching like one roll engine. This is just the Worst.

Fudge dice.
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nockermensch
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Also, roll and keep.

Also, shit like using rolling different dice for different values of your skills/attributes. fun with epicycles!
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

For a "dicepool" based game, you could try either Warp Cult, or After Sundown.

With After Sundown, you could have the players first make an Extra, or Origin Story, character. Later on make an In Media Res character (possibly an "update" to the first character). Later still make a Power Fantasy Character
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Almaz
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experience_level Could be a useful article.

A good thing to note, maybe: Wizardry made in 1980, based on D&D (Men & Magic was printed in 1974), went to Japan and inspired Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy a few years later.
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tussock
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

E. Gary Gygax was an actuary before he wrote D&D.

RPGs, are, if nothing else, where a bunch of short-term interest and focus and uncertainty inevitably leads to the same fucking outcome in a very predictable way. You kill the monsters and take their stuff, despite only being 55%-65% successful on each action taken toward doing so, while the monsters are 35-45% successful in trying to stop you.

It feels like it could go either way at any time, and then it doesn't and you win.

There are games which change that, so Rolemaster crits could just randomly kill you at any point, and those games were very bad because of that. People played them anyway, because the short-term interest and focus and uncertainty was totally there, but the end outcomes of the game really need to be "you win", or at least "most of you win", because while a few people played Rolemaster, everyone played D&D.

Then computers came along and let you roll massively more dice in the same amount of time, and you can level up like 200 times and still click away at palette-shifted goat-demons and feel good about it because it still feels like each one might finally be the one to go the other way, and then it isn't and you win, ding, 201.

It's like reverse-gambling. Gambling you feel like you could win, but in the long run you don't. RPGs you feel like you could lose, but in the long run you don't.

Also, there's multiple people playing and you can tell stories about what happened along the way to winning as if it mattered. Which it does, in that you choose actions within the game and winning just sort of falls out of that mysteriously, so you can only really talk about your actions at all.

There were also games that said they were all about the stories and not just rolling dice, but people just rolled dice and told retro-active stories about the results anyway.

D&D5 is an example of failed design where the game suggests you ignore the dice and have the players win in the end after struggling a while because they couldn't get the dice to output those results for them, on account of Mike Mearls sucks at game design. But that is good RPGs, and how they work, and why they are popular.

Players do stuff, it feels like it might fail because you get hurt and bla bla bla, but then you win, or at least most of you win, eventually, given enough dice.

Diceless RPGs aren't actually a game. Bear world isn't a game either. They look like a game, and a clever GM can make them feel like you're playing a game, but you're not, it's a meta-failure of not-even-wrongness.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

There's some old discussions on here about different dice mechanics and the outputs they produce, I saved some notes...

FrankTrollman wrote:
Your characterization of rolling dice and looking for a target number (like After Sundown) and rolling dice and checking for arbitrary features of die result relatedness (ORE) as being "the same", or even similar is batshit. Those aren't even remotely the same. That's like saying Champions (3d6, roll under) is the same as Craps (2d6, repeated, looking for matches). It's not.

Basically you got:
  • Single Result, Flat RNG. In this system you roll a dX, and you apply modifiers to either your roll or the target number, and you try to roll over or below the target number. The dX is commonly a d20 or d%, but it could just as easily be a d10 or any other random number generator you wanted. The primary draw of such a system is that every +1 changes your odds by 1/X.

  • Single Result, Curved RNG. In this system you roll two or more dXs and add the results togethter. Then you add modifiers to either your roll or the target number and try to roll above or below the (modified) target number. Common choices for this are 2d6, 3d6 or 2d10, but really the sky is the limit. Some games try to subtract numbers from the result (Fudge uses 4d3-8) or have one of the dice subtract from the other - but these sorts of shenanigans do not affect the odds at all. The primary draw of such a system is that bonuses mean more in absolute terms the closer to the center of the curve you get. The secondary draw is that the most extreme results are comparatively extremely rare, which can make crits/fumbles similarly uncommon.

  • Variable Dicepool, Fixed TN. In this system, you roll a pile of dice and count how many land above a specific number. Usually these are d6s or d10s, but in principle, any die could be rolled. The primary draw is that average results are easy to calculate (dicepool * Chance per die), but variance rises as dicepools rise. This means that your chances of total failure never go to zero even with very high dicepools, meaning that threats never completely expire.

  • Variable Dicepool, Variable TN. In this system, you roll a pile of dice and count how many land above a variable number. This is theoretically able to generate virtually any conceivable chance of success, but in reality it is crazy nightmare realm shenanigans. Back in 1989, people thought this was a good idea. It is not.

  • Fixed Dicepool, Variable TN. In this system, you add modifiers to the number rolls on each die, and roll a series of dice. It's basically the same as the flat RNG, single result option, but it matters best two out of three, or whatever. This makes more likely results more likely and less likely results less likely. You'll note that is very similar to simply having a curved result on a fixed RNG - and it's almost close enough for me to label it a cosmetic change like shifting the average point or inverting one or more of the dice.

  • Various Poker Bullshit. Lots of games roll dice and then check of fives or matches or straights or something. Yahtzee gaming systems exist, but are generally shitty enough that I can't even suggest an advantage they might have.


-Frank


FrankTrollman wrote:
The positive/negative die is statistically identical to using 2d6 added together and then having a target number that is 7 higher. FATE uses the positive/negative dice too, and again it maps perfectly to simply rolling positive dice and looking for higher target numbers.

Percentile dice systems are used fairly often, and were a lot more common back in the 80s. Palladium, Call of Cthulhu, and so on were all based on percentile dice. The most common mistake is to have them be a "roll under" setup where you roll dice and try to roll less than your skill. That is stupid, because it makes degree of success pointlessly difficult to calculate. What you should do is add your skill to your roll and have the target number always be 100. Either way you suffer from the problems of fixed target numbers - which is that you can't have secret modifiers because the modifier, the target number, and the die roll are all on the players' side of the MC Screen. But if you're cool with that, it's fine.

There are also systems where you search for features in your dice. Cthulhutech's Framewerk system works like this, so does Deadlands. This taks forever and the odds are so hard to calculate that the authors never bother. Do not want.

But basically you have three good choices:
  • Flat Curves. Roll a number between X and Y, where all numbers are equally likely. Adding bonuses increases your chance of success linearly. This has the advantage of being easy to calculate odds for, and the disadvantage that adding multiple modifiers pushes you off the RNG really fast. Having a bigger spread of numbers makes the there be more different chances available but also makes the numbers you have to keep track of bigger. Common choices are d6, d20, and d100, but theoretically you can use any numeric base.

    Bell Curves Roll NdMs. Numbers in the "middle" are more likely, numbers at the "end" are less likely. Bells are loved by armchair statisticians because the results approximate the normal curve, and modifiers therefore act similarly to how things work in statistical sampling. What this means practically is that the modifiers that provide a large enough bonus in the middle of the range are a smaller portion of the total range, which allows you to add more modifiers before leaving the RNG completely. Unfortunately, this comes at the price of requiring combinatorials to calculate the odds of individual die rolls.

    Dice Pools Roll NsMs, counting how many dice rolled X or better. Has the advantage of infinite extensibility in one direction (adding more dice) and incredibly easy calculations of averages (dice/chance pr die = average hits). Unfortunately, system breaks down completely at the low end (as you have no more dice to take away) and the calculation of the chances to get a specific number of hits with a single roll is a ghastly N-polynomial that is not normally doable at the table.


-Frank


Would you say certain mechanics are better for certain genres? Then again I think D&D became what it is today not out of intention but the dice outputting results in a certain way and people just becoming familiar with it.

Some basic stuff is "d20 flat curve is good for when you want people to go off the RNG compared to one another, Shadowrun dice pools are good for when you want people to always have a chance in opposed tests"
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Zaranthan wrote:


I recall a line in the Tomes where they mentioned that clerics, thieves, and magic-users were all real heroes while Fighting Men were meant to be a fair match for them in groups of three.


Honestly, that's just genre convention and resource management and math.

If we're going back to the JRPG, pure fighters generally have better sustained DPS than other classes, but mages can nova, and clerics buff and heal, and thieves steal the good equipment, which you then give to your fighter.

Take, for example, Final Fantasy X. In the end, magic doesn't matter and everyone just uses overdrives for massive damage, and the fighters have the most damaging overdrives.

Or Chrono Trigger. By the end, Ayla's normal attack is the most powerful attack in the game, and the mages need to nova their most powerful spells to keep up with normal attacks from melee fighters.

But in a JRPG, it's all combat. Combat is the easiest part of the game to design.

The problem with the fighter in D&D and its derivatives is lack of support.

The cleric and the mage each have giant lists of things that they're explicitly allowed to do, called spells. The Thief has a smaller list of things that he's explicitly allowed to do called skills. The fighter has a giant blank space. What he can do is determined by DM fiat.

Can the fighter climb a rope? Logically, he should be able to. But the Thief has a percentage chance to climb, and the mage has Spider Climb, and the explicit existence of these two things implies exclusivity, so many DMs would rule that no, the fighter can't climb a rope. This problem was partially solved with the use rope and climb skills, but that just created more problems.

4e attempted to solve this problem by giving everyone narrowly assigned rules and reducing the game to grid combat, but this failed at being what anyone wanted.

Fighters were better in early D&D. They have the best saves, the best attacks, and most importantly, the rules for the other classes were finicky and incomplete. Spell lists were tiny and many rules were extremely vague, with instructions for the DM to just make shit up.

The fighter became less and less powerful as the rules were fleshed out and became more complete. Spell lists became huge and bloated and fighters got nothing but variant classes that were strictly better than fighter, and which eventually became core classes of their own.

That's really what made fighters weak.

Every other class got useful stuff, and they didn't. The more the rules for other classes were fleshed out, the more fighters sucked, because fighters had less to do. The more the rules were fleshed out and expanded, the more fighters sucked, because they had fewer rules. But when everything was either roll under stat or magical tea party, they were pretty good.

And this leads us to the obvious conclusion, that the more material published for an option, relative to other options, the more powerful that option will be, relative to other options.



I'm going to go against the grain of the den and say that math doesn't matter that much. There's a lot of games with terrible math that sell extremely well. What really matters if flavor, taste. It has to be something that people want to play. And people will play games with shitty math if the flavor is right.

The key, then, is creating an interesting setting in which to play, and to give the players the ability to play in that setting. Which is why licensed games like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings do poorly. Because those settings have fixed plots and you're not going to play Tywin Lannister or Fordo Baggins, you're going to play Ser Bumfuck Sheepfucker at best, in both cases. And outside of Call of Cthlhu, no one wants to play "random knight who gets eaten by a dragon so that the real heroes know how serious things are." That's just not a fun character role (outside of Call of Cthulhu).


Like, I could make an complete RPG called Dragonshit, which takes place entirely in the digestive tract of a dragon, and it would be more interesting than a Game of Thrones RPG, even though both of those games end up in the exact same place, for the simple reason that Dragonshit wouldn't come with the baggage of a pre-written narrative in which your characters do not matter.

Which is ultimately why Star Wars works, I think. The Star Wars universe is big enough that characters who aren't named Luke, Han, or Leia can have fun adventures without detracting from the plot of the movies.
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Pariah Dog
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hyzmarca wrote:


Like, I could make an complete RPG called Dragonshit, which takes place entirely in the digestive tract of a dragon, and it would be more interesting than a Game of Thrones RPG, even though both of those games end up in the exact same place, for the simple reason that Dragonshit wouldn't come with the baggage of a pre-written narrative in which your characters do not matter.

Which is ultimately why Star Wars works, I think. The Star Wars universe is big enough that characters who aren't named Luke, Han, or Leia can have fun adventures without detracting from the plot of the movies.


I disagree. While Not-Luke, Not-Han and Not-Leia can fuck off in another part of the Star Wars universe, they're not going to overthrow the Emperor and stab Darth Vader in the face.

Just like Not-Tywin can either fuck around in Essos running a mercenary company or leading a Dothroki Horde around burning and pillaging or lead a band of Ironborn raiders into attacks along the coasts. They're just not going to Marry/Kill Danerys and lay siege to the Seven Kingdoms and sit on the Iron Throne using Tyrion as a footstool.

Hell theres even the history that mentioned lightly in the books like Robert's Rebellion where we know a few details but the rest of the battles aren't set in stone. Or even events prior to that.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I never quite understood why RPGs of licensed properties don't feature what-if campaigns in a more upfront way at all.

Like, it's the motherfucking Star Wars Galaxy, BUT instead of Luke Skywalker, the hero is _____________ and she meets the smugglers __________ and ________ at Mos Eisley cantina and the game is on!

It's Westeros, except that the Starks (or the heirs of Targaryen and their entourage) are <the PCs>. Go go go!

Maybe later you'd feel ashamed to relay the tale where Hugo the hobbit rode Shelob (by dangling the One Ring before her eyes) straight at Mt. Doom's caldera only to be saved by the acrobatics of elven princess Lallaine at the last moment. But everybody involved at that game would have had a fucking great time.

Also, think on the infinite replay value.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
Then again I think D&D became what it is today not out of intention but the dice outputting results in a certain way and people just becoming familiar with it.


D&D had some pretty good math heads behind it early on. As much as the printed editions work better with a few fixes, and are hopelessly complex in many ways, 1e to 3.5/PF have core mechanical outputs that basically do what the designers intended, including having Human Wizards rule the world with maybe a Fighter pet or three along for the ride. The 3.0 previews were very clear about wanting Clerics to be everyone's first choice for a change, that was not an accident.

5th edition is very much a cargo cult attempt at D&D, based on "feels", and it can output whatever the DM wants it to output. Which is a step up on 4th edition in that at least it's possible to have a good game with it by using the "rules".

Quote:
Some basic stuff is "d20 flat curve is good for when you want people to go off the RNG compared to one another, Shadowrun dice pools are good for when you want people to always have a chance in opposed tests"


Stuff like sometimes your dice mechanics are bad and you should ask players to MTP that part of the game instead. But other dice mechanics are good and you should ask players to not use MTP in place of them. Lastly, some dice mechanics are indifferent and using MTP instead isn't a big deal either way.

Mostly they just need to present the necessary outcomes in a dramatically appropriate amount of time, neither too quickly nor too slowly.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Pariah Dog wrote:
hyzmarca wrote:


Like, I could make an complete RPG called Dragonshit, which takes place entirely in the digestive tract of a dragon, and it would be more interesting than a Game of Thrones RPG, even though both of those games end up in the exact same place, for the simple reason that Dragonshit wouldn't come with the baggage of a pre-written narrative in which your characters do not matter.

Which is ultimately why Star Wars works, I think. The Star Wars universe is big enough that characters who aren't named Luke, Han, or Leia can have fun adventures without detracting from the plot of the movies.


I disagree. While Not-Luke, Not-Han and Not-Leia can fuck off in another part of the Star Wars universe, they're not going to overthrow the Emperor and stab Darth Vader in the face.

Just like Not-Tywin can either fuck around in Essos running a mercenary company or leading a Dothroki Horde around burning and pillaging or lead a band of Ironborn raiders into attacks along the coasts. They're just not going to Marry/Kill Danerys and lay siege to the Seven Kingdoms and sit on the Iron Throne using Tyrion as a footstool.

Hell theres even the history that mentioned lightly in the books like Robert's Rebellion where we know a few details but the rest of the battles aren't set in stone. Or even events prior to that.


I think the critical mistake here is trying to set the games at the same time as the novels you're drawing from.

I thought about this a lot reading Wheel of Time. The game world explicitly has a basically-undocumented two thousand year history of stuff happening. There are world-spanning century-long wars that get like ten pages of discussion total; and the world has a social role for "hunters for the horn" who are pretty explicitly "D&D adventuring parties who go digging through ruins looking for treasure and artifacts". It's really easy to set a role-playing game during any of that.

And on the other hand, the series ends in an unstable world with a large number of new competing political powers, and great chances for former nobodies to make a name for themselves and determine the balance of power. So it would be really easy to set a compelling game during that period.

It's only hard to make a compelling game that takes place in the period starting like fifty years before the novels start---because we know everything important that happened then. If you just set the game in that world at any other time, it will work much better.
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Omegonthesane
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I was in three SIFRP campaigns that reached completion.

The second was a sequel to the first, in which we massively massively changed the timeline starting with the War of the Usurper in ways that weren't actually supported by the text - one of us was an alchemist even though our house was in Dragonstone, and this led to us blowing up the Red Keep and accidentally sacrificing Aerys II as well as our heir's boyfriend to hatch a dragon egg. (And before it even got that far off the rails, a PC had Jaime Lannister himself as a nemesis.)

The third was similarly not supported by the actual game, in which we were a band of peasants managing a village amidst the Dance of the Dragons.

So yeah, basically if you're not willing to disrupt the canon to hell and back you're gaining relatively little by using an established story setting.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

nockermensch wrote:
I never quite understood why RPGs of licensed properties don't feature what-if campaigns in a more upfront way at all.

Like, it's the motherfucking Star Wars Galaxy, BUT instead of Luke Skywalker, the hero is _____________ and she meets the smugglers __________ and ________ at Mos Eisley cantina and the game is on!

It's Westeros, except that the Starks (or the heirs of Targaryen and their entourage) are <the PCs>. Go go go!

Maybe later you'd feel ashamed to relay the tale where Hugo the hobbit rode Shelob (by dangling the One Ring before her eyes) straight at Mt. Doom's caldera only to be saved by the acrobatics of elven princess Lallaine at the last moment. But everybody involved at that game would have had a fucking great time.

Also, think on the infinite replay value.


I was thinking about this last night while thinking about narrative timing in a campaign; and how the "ideal" way would be for the PCs to be part of something like "the retainers of the court of Gilgamesh". Sort of in the vein of the "Dux Brittanica" rpg ideas that were hashed out as an explanation for why Elennsar's "Artorius" project was doomed (i.e. couldn't understand that "PCs fail 70% of the time" and "PCs win despite the odds" being impossible to have simultaneously).

The idea being that the PCs are the actual characters doing the job; and are lavished rewards by their masters in exchange for not taking the credit.

Which would help to better explain why the heroes in myths have strings of success. They're seldom at risk, and they use agents to swallow the loss of life necessary to accomplish their goals.

The overall campaign structure would be to have a series of adventures that narrate the original content. Beowulf involves: Grendel murdering the people in Hrothgar's hall, Beowulf & others racing across serpent infested waters (in armour), Beowulf facing Grendel, Beowulf facing Grendel's mother, Beowulf dying to the Dragon.

Ultimately, the known end doesn't matter so much as telling a satisfying story in the interim.

Hypothetically, the player's "character class" could be narrative stereotypes (Gruff Captain of the Guard, Decadent Ambassador from a great court, Miserly Chief Treasurer of the realm, Master of Spies & Assassins, General of Martial Art, Master of the Courtly Hunt, Primate of the Holy Faith, Factor in chief of Alchemy, Ecologist Agronomist General, Chirougen General Practicioner, Vizier of Geographic Exploration, Court Archivist of Records & Events, etc.). In order to help inform player perspective of their characters perspectives.
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