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Innovation in tabletop RPGs

 
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Guts
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Joined: 07 Aug 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:47 am    Post subject: Innovation in tabletop RPGs Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

What about we continue the discussion here?

Zinegata wrote:
Not talking about Shadowrun or Blades in the Dark specifically but...

Modern designers pay great attention to "user interface" and "rules creep", which are sadly two aspects that tabletop RPGs still totally ignore to this day.

More specifically, many games have come to realize that a very complex game system can be made more comprehensible through the use of intuitive player boards and iconography; of which Scythe must be held up as a prime example. It's a fairly heavy Euro 4X game with many subsystems (e.g. Technology, Military Combat, Production), but because the player boards are organized very well and the iconography is clear and consistent it's actually one of the easiest games to teach how to play.

By contrast RPG books still tend to be organized the same way as they were in the 70s; and still tend to be just a mass of rules with very few examples of play to facilitate teaching especially when no one in the group has ever played an RPG before.

Instead, RPGs have remained rooted in the mindset of bloat: More is better, regardless of what people can actually use. Never mind the fact that I probably only ever used less than 1/5 of the available creatures in the Monster Manual because so many are just "goblin with a gimmick". Meanwhile actual examples of how to actually run a game session tend to be taken for granted.


Zinegata wrote:
Would you have any specific examples of RPGs that have improved their organization and interface?

Sure, Shadowrun 5e... just kidding Mr. Green .I don't know much about Ptolus. Could you tell me more of it? In my limited experience and offg the top of my head, here are some games that innovated in the organization or interface in some way in the latest decade or so:

- Powered by the Apocalypse games (the crop of games inspired by Apocalypse World) created the concept of "playbooks", a combination of charater generation rules + character sheet + character specific rules, in just 2 pages (including advancement) as "tickable" options, so you create a character super fast by just ticking what you want, and never need to consult any other source of rules. Plus the GM needs just 1 page of rules to play. Examples: a set of playbooks for the Supers game, and another for the Icelandic sagas one. Notice how it combines usability with thematic color in both cases. That's something I really like in these games.

- Vornheim is a fantasy city book for supporting urban games with ideas and on-the-fly elements through the use of random tables. What is interesting (and a novelty) is that it uses the very book pages as "little boards" of paper for playing dice over, and immediately getting results. It's one of the most useful acessories I've ever seen. Take a look at it if you can. Here is a review (which coincidently cites Ptolus as a reference): Link

- Gamma World box set for D&D 4e. This one I never actually played, but I got it here and it's basically a very simple adaptaion of the 4e rules into a sort of gonzo post-apocalyptic theme. What's interesting about it is the fact it uses visual cues to organize play: Cardboard sheets, token chips, cardboard maps, even cards! The game is very visual and tactile in a way that makes it easier to learn and play. The downside is that it ended up depending on those same visual cues in the form of supplements with new cards and stuff. (I think the 3rd edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying attempted something similar, but I don't know it in detail or how successful it was).

I'm sure there are lots of new things being attempted these days with rules, organization and interface. Please post more stuff you think applies! Wink
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FrankTrollman
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Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Wait, did you just cite Apocalypse World, a book by Shitmuffin, and a throwaway 4e book? Are you trolling this board?

Backstory: we have to call the author of Vornheim "Shitmuffin" because he has his name on google alerts and has been known to come to this board and spam bizarre drunken rants where he claims that he is capable of great feats of game design and gives himself various bizarre challenges, which he then blatantly and hilariously fails at. And this is followed by him chain posting bizarre coke-fueled rants about how awesome he is that in retrospect read like Trump's twitter feed. Go ahead and search "Apple Stacking" if you dare.

Anyway, long story short: if you want to be taken seriously here, things are not going well for you. Apocalypse World isn't even a fucking game and Shitmuffin has burned all the bridges. And 4e still sucks and everyone hates it.

-Frank
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Cervantes
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Joined: 28 Jul 2014
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

yeah i don't like PbtA either, the fucking "succeed with a drawback" thing is just too infuriatingly vague

i can't judge Vornheim based on Shitmuffin having been the writer. also bc i haven't seen it. if it's just a supplement that's useful then i don't see the issue

i can, however, judge any sort of attempt at post-apoc using d20 because is at odds with the setting of post-apoc. love to get strong and tough enough to shrug off shotgun blasts. unless there's no guns, in which case wtf?
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Zinegata
Prince


Joined: 17 Aug 2009
Posts: 3860

PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:02 am    Post subject: Re: Innovation in tabletop RPGs Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Guts wrote:
Sure, Shadowrun 5e... just kidding Mr. Green .I don't know much about Ptolus. Could you tell me more of it? In my limited experience and offg the top of my head, here are some games that innovated in the organization or interface in some way in the latest decade or so:

- Powered by the Apocalypse games (the crop of games inspired by Apocalypse World) created the concept of "playbooks", a combination of charater generation rules + character sheet + character specific rules, in just 2 pages (including advancement) as "tickable" options, so you create a character super fast by just ticking what you want, and never need to consult any other source of rules. Plus the GM needs just 1 page of rules to play. Examples: a set of playbooks for the Supers game, and another for the Icelandic sagas one. Notice how it combines usability with thematic color in both cases. That's something I really like in these games.

- Vornheim is a fantasy city book for supporting urban games with ideas and on-the-fly elements through the use of random tables. What is interesting (and a novelty) is that it uses the very book pages as "little boards" of paper for playing dice over, and immediately getting results. It's one of the most useful acessories I've ever seen. Take a look at it if you can. Here is a review (which coincidently cites Ptolus as a reference): Link

- Gamma World box set for D&D 4e. This one I never actually played, but I got it here and it's basically a very simple adaptaion of the 4e rules into a sort of gonzo post-apocalyptic theme. What's interesting about it is the fact it uses visual cues to organize play: Cardboard sheets, token chips, cardboard maps, even cards! The game is very visual and tactile in a way that makes it easier to learn and play. The downside is that it ended up depending on those same visual cues in the form of supplements with new cards and stuff. (I think the 3rd edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying attempted something similar, but I don't know it in detail or how successful it was).

I'm sure there are lots of new things being attempted these days with rules, organization and interface. Please post more stuff you think applies! Wink


Huh, thanks, I'll take a look at them.

Also, Ptolus's main innovation was that it was organized more like a tourist guidebook rather than an RPG book.

For instance different districts within the city were marked with different-colored ink that could be seen on the binder, so you know the "red" sections referred to the Docks District and the "blue" section referred to the Government District and so on. Basically a bit like how a Paris or London guidebook would look to a clueless tourist.

I thought it was a pretty nice way to help people get into the setting quicker; but I've never seen anyone try to follow its "interface improvements" until you mentioned Vornheim.

Oh, and I did actually play a game of Warhammer 3rd Edition. Good idea in concept, too fiddly in practice. But that's partly due to FFG's obsession with tokens.


Last edited by Zinegata on Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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Cervantes
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Joined: 28 Jul 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Vornheim looks like just a random setting supplement with a gimmick random table. it's KIND of cool that you can generate a 2nd level wizard with 14 int and 3 HP/Lvl with a single roll but I feel like the need to do the cross referencing makes it so that just rolling 3 different kinds of dice is faster

"supporting urban games" uhh seems like it's just for this one damn city and whatever you want to use those random tables for. not seeing how this is innovative other than being stylized like an emo kid's myspace
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Aryxbez
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Joined: 15 Oct 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I am definitely interested in RPG Innovations, and I do like the Character sheets themselves in Apocalpyse World Games, though the game itself is bad.

Guts does seem to have increasingly been coming off as a Fan of Bear World games, leaving his criticisms to be quite suspect, especially here ("Gonzo" is commonly used by Bear World enthusiasts).

In respect to Vornheim, the same author also came out with Maze of Blue Medusa. The adventure has an insane number of rooms (304? I think), but cited as allowing for minimal/no prep from the Dungeon Master due to the way its formatted, so I'm curious if anyone could confirm that to be the case? It also apparently has unique non-combat-like encounters, and Magic Items (Sword that turns blood into wine) which is cool, but seems like any actual combat itself would be lame.

Frank Trollman do you think there's any "innovations" in RPGs you could cite? I know you sometimes find some pretty good treasures from the 80's themselves, and seemed like After Sundown's Level-up Mechanic was novel.
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Zinegata
Prince


Joined: 17 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:
Vornheim looks like just a random setting supplement with a gimmick random table. it's KIND of cool that you can generate a 2nd level wizard with 14 int and 3 HP/Lvl with a single roll but I feel like the need to do the cross referencing makes it so that just rolling 3 different kinds of dice is faster

"supporting urban games" uhh seems like it's just for this one damn city and whatever you want to use those random tables for. not seeing how this is innovative other than being stylized like an emo kid's myspace


I got the impression that it actually created a city map, which is a pretty useful tool if you're creating something on the fly.

I definitely found myself raising an eyebrow at the writer's history however.
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Zinegata
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Aryxbez wrote:
In respect to Vornheim, the same author also came out with Maze of Blue Medusa. The adventure has an insane number of rooms (304? I think), but cited as allowing for minimal/no prep from the Dungeon Master due to the way its formatted, so I'm curious if anyone could confirm that to be the case? It also apparently has unique non-combat-like encounters, and Magic Items (Sword that turns blood into wine) which is cool, but seems like any actual combat itself would be lame.


The only reviewer of the adventure who doesn't seem to be high definitely says it is not a no-prep adventure:

https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/16/16839.phtml

I don't think a maze should be all that hard for a DM to run if it's already been laid out, but it seems the designer threw everything but the kitchen sink into this adventure.
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zugschef
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ok, it's clear that you are a troll. Go fuck yourself. Smile
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Mask_De_H
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Joined: 18 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You can say a lot of unbearably terrible things about Apocalypse World, but the playbook structure is golden. I would bet money the ease and accessibility of the playbooks, MC and player, is why anyone even talks about it.

One sheet of paper with everything prefabbed for you, two sheets, back and front, with all the rules the MC pulls results out their ass for, two sheets, back and front, with all the stuff the MC needs to stock their colon with results. It's a successful example of making a quick-run kit for an RPG.
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Blicero
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Aryxbez wrote:

In respect to Vornheim, the same author also came out with Maze of Blue Medusa. The adventure has an insane number of rooms (304? I think), but cited as allowing for minimal/no prep from the Dungeon Master due to the way its formatted, so I'm curious if anyone could confirm that to be the case? It also apparently has unique non-combat-like encounters, and Magic Items (Sword that turns blood into wine) which is cool, but seems like any actual combat itself would be lame.


I don't think the authors of Blue Medusa intended for it to be no-prep. What I saw suggested was "MC reads through entire adventure and then can run it with minimal prep-time between sessions". As compared to what you have to do with a lot of WotC adventures, where you (1) read through the entire adventure, (2) write up more condensed and legible statblocks, (3) go through the adventure again with a highlighter, (4) write up summaries of character/faction motivations and plans. Medusa tries to achieve this, despite being quite complex, by having good layout and being willing to repeat itself a lot. I'm not sure to what extent this goal was accomplished.

It's worth noting that the assumed ruleset is 5e or an OSR thing, so there is minimal expectation for mechanically complex combat encounters. You get combat complexity instead out of having larger number of participants with disparate motivations.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The 1997 Tenra Bansho Zero lets players spend narrative points to decide to some degree what the next scene will be about or insert themselves into a scene. The goal of that game was to make a session feel like an OVA or few chapters of manga.

The fixed version of skill challenges mentioned on here (You try to succeed X times vs a turn limit), has any RPG implemented that?


Last edited by OgreBattle on Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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