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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.


Last edited by OgreBattle on Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:28 am; edited 2 times in total
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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


Last edited by OgreBattle on Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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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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