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1:00 PM
@eimyr I mean, it's still enough like D&D 3.5 that it's got the d20 System OGL text in the front matter.
@kviiri [tosses D&D players into Roll For Shoes]
@kviiri I prefer prevention to cures. Just don't default to D&D as the introductory RPG 101
Heck, I've used RFS a couple times as a palate cleanser for my own group when we're about to do a major system shift.
@eimyr Were it up to me, I'd do this.
@BESW RFS is RPG's ginger root.
@eimyr I think of RPG hobby (and many other hobby scenes) as spheres. People outside the sphere only see certain stuff, and as they get inside and sink deeper, they might see totally different stuff. And quite often, the outer shell is formed of stuff that's less common in the core.
And most of the RPG hobby's outer shell is DnD or tropes derived from it. No wonder people tend to start with DnD, it's just the only game they know.
1:10 PM
@eimyr Oh, so much. If I introduce new people to RPGs for the first time, it's a bit of probing and then looking for them or with them for a game they would like.
But that does not help for people already caught by some idea that All RPGs Are D&D.
I've introduced new players with RFS, Cthulhu Dark, and Fate.
Cthulhu Dark was... maybe not the best choice, on reflection, for that particular player.
@eimyr We actualyl have a few players whose main RPG background isn't DnD but Savage Worlds (in the form of Deadlands:Reloaded). But I'd almost prefer DnD at that point.
@Anaphory I usually go "Oh, so you say you want to play D&D, I'm not very good at this particular one, but I have a number of other games, some are similar. Would you like to see and find out if any interest you?"
@eimyr That's kind of what I mean.
1:26 PM
I would sort of like to continue with my DnD campaign, but it's just a very labor-intensive system to run.
While I'm not particularly fond of the core mechanics, I have some house rules in place to address that.
I've got a couple D&D settings/plots that I'd like to revisit in a not-D&D system.
I'm a bit sad about how my DnD campaign went, to be honest. I intended the first part to be a fairly normal tutorial to DnD and the second part to be sort of "my ideal vision of a DnD campaign", but I was too fatigued right at the end of the first part.
I could swipe the setting, but the magic would've been in the implementation.
1:59 PM
It took me a long time to realize that "tutorial" sessions are usually self-defeating.
If it's a tutorial, then it's not actually introducing them to the game you want to play.
I don't think it's that clear-cut - you can have multiple sessions of tutorial where stuff gets introduced gradually. First session is basic combat with a simple plotline, second session has difficult terrain and cover, third session has a level-up, and so.
@BESW huh, so like, tutorial portal-style: introduce them to the game by having them play it
But in that sense, DnD already is quite well its own tutorial in the sense that most cool and complex features are unlocked gradually.
3 hours later…
5:24 PM
@BESW are you anti D&D?
@inthemanual Are you just interested in BESW's opinion or happy to have a discussion with anyone?
@eimyr It was mostly about him, but I'd be happy to have a discussion. I know he plays other systems primarily, but I hadn't seen something that felt so anti-D&D from him until the referenced comment.
I don't want to speak for BESW, but I never got an impression he would be against the existence of a particular game (unless something truly egregious is being discussed)
5:53 PM
@BESW I certainly felt a lack of guardrails on my end, too. When a failed roll came I was often there looking at the list of DM/location/front moves and not clear on some guiding principle to help me decide which way to go. Maybe that's more DW experience, maybe some is writing better fronts, maybe some is a group gelling around common practices?
@nitsua60 I found that in order to prevent or counteract situations like that the GM needs to be good at improvising, not have any story or plot prepared and embrace randomness as a main driver of plots
@eimyr Whether I'm good or not at improvising (I don't know), I can imagine that creating the "not sure what the consequences of my failed actions will be" feeling I'm hearing from BESW.
Ever since playing PbtA I felt that the system requires all players (including the GM) to adopt plotline darwinism - the interesting plotlines will survive and the boring ones will wither on the stalk, therefore ideas can be random and not necessarily "good", because no measure of "goodness" can be used effectively unless the group is already very cohesive.
Q: Why are list or idea generation questions bad?

inthemanualOn a few other stacks, I've come across questions that likely would be classified as list questions here, and closed accordingly. However, many of those were actually very helpful to me as a curious investigator, looking for solutions to my own problem. Sometimes the same thing that worked for on...

2 hours later…
7:55 PM
@inthemanual our group has generally lost most interest in D&D, we played a lot of it before branching out to trying a ton of different systems that specialize in things that D&D editions typically are not great at doing
I wouldn't say we are anti D&D but we have burned out on playing it constantly for sure (it used to be the only thing we played)
8:09 PM
Uhm... does anyone of you give out a dramatis personae of an adventure to the players before they started? Just names and descriptions?
8:20 PM
@Trish My group often creates major NPCs together during session 0.
@inthemanual I played D&D almost exclusively for the first eight years of my RPG experience (averaging about one session a year playing anything else during that time). Eventually, after much frustration and burnout, I figured out that D&D in pretty much any form is a poor match for my play styles and game goals, and I moved on with no plans to ever return.
I've since become open to playing a session or two in each new edition, if I can do it for free with a pre-made adventure designed to showcase that edition's strengths, because I'd like to have informed opinions--but there's basically no way I'll ever go back to D&D systems for a long-form campaign. Where there's bits of D&D I like, it tends to be better for me to explored them in another system.
(For example, I'm pretty fond of 4e's "Points of Light" setting but I feel like I played 4e itself to completion and the system has nothing left to offer me.)
8:50 PM
I understand that different systems exist and that many are better for various things than others. I'm personally trying to get my group to switch to Fate, because I'm not a fan of certain things in D&D. The message I replied to just seemed a bit hostile, but reading your response now, i gather that was just a mis-reading of tone due to it being through text rather than voice
I do have some strong resentment toward D&D, particularly 3.5, because it actively mislead me about its capacity as a flexible engine which could sustain any kind of play style.
...And the franchise shelters some un-examined elements of fantasy fiction which really need to be less widely accepted as a default state.
Liek whtat?
*like what?
It draws a lot of inspiration for form and content from genres like sword & sorcery, which have very problematic underpinnings. Concepts like "ugly is evil, beautiful is good," entire groups of people with inborn tendencies toward a particular morality, the idea that killing sapient beings is a good default problem-solving tool...
Honestly a lot of the language used to describe "acceptable targets" like orcs is lifted straight out of real-world justifications of oppression and genocide.
To be fair, innate morality or immorality does also beg questions on the nature of free will.
It's not like "orcs always Chaotic Evil" doesn't also present its own philosophical questions.
Alignment itself enshrines a massive set of problems on so many levels.
But this is not a game that wants to consider philosophy; those questions are entirely accidental and subtextual.
9:00 PM
I'm not sure I want to play a game that designs itself around these philosophical questions. It should be up to the players and the DM whether or not they want to tackle these questions.
The fact that these questions are entirely accidental and subtextual is a good thing, imo.
@BESW Also, to be fair, a lot of mentioned problems seem to stem from the setting content rather than the mechanics of the system.
@Yuuki As I said above, it shelters un-examined elements of fantasy fiction. It does this in the setting, but also by mechanizing the setting.
@BESW One member of my group in particular falls into that idea very strongly. Another tends to try and fight against it wherever he can.
@BESW It seems you view the setting and system as inextricably tied. Which is understandable, WotC hasn't really done a good job of divorcing the two as they seem to prefer to write only one setting.
But to say "D&D is bad because of <X>" seems to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater to me.
As far as your complaints ago, alignment is the only problematic mechanic I can think of and it's been so marginalized in 5e that I think it's pretty much vestigial.
And thank god that happened.
9:18 PM
@Yuuki Have I said that?
That's the implication I get from reading what you're saying.
@Yuuki To be accurate, BESW said he harbours resentment toward DnD over the setting, not that it is bad.
Then let me be clear: D&D is not a game that meets my gameplay needs, and is designed to tell stories I don't want to tell. Some of these are structural, like its focus on combat over other problem-solving modes. Others are thematic, like its unquestioning adoption of the worst of the fantasy genre's racist and colonial heritage.
Some of these things are not inherently bad; combat-centric groups can play into D&D's combat-focused design.
And its prejudices can be ignored or challenged by individual groups, and there's some value in that--but it doesn't make the game itself stop having them.
D&D certainly places a lot of mechanical focus on combat, but I'm not sure that's a detriment to diplomacy and social maneuvering. The latter is nuanced and subjective to the point where I think adding focus and more concrete mechanics actually makes it more difficult to solve problems in a non-combative manner.
For everything I could use D&D to do (that I actually want to do), I've found another system which does it more consciously and deliberately. I can choose the system which does what I want, and change systems to meet my changing needs, rather than trying to shoehorn the entire breadth of my RPG experience into a single franchise. That'd be like saying "I play video games" when I mean "I play Counterstrike."
I'm frankly not interested in trying to convince you that my personal experience with D&D is my own true personal experience and I'm not somehow mistaken or deluded that I had those experiences.
You seem to want to convince me that I should play D&D. I did, exclusively, for nearly a decade.
It's a bad system for me and my group.
9:33 PM
@BESW That's not what I'm doing but I guess I can see how it would be taken that way.
I have not said anything about it being entirely without merit, nor have I said anything about what anyone should do who is not myself or a person I play with.
I'm not "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" (implying rash, thoughtless action) I'm saying that I stayed in a bad relationship for far too long and it took deep thought and self-realization to get out.
If you want to talk about why goblin dice are or aren't a problem with skills vs combat, and how various editions have mitigated the problem without ever really solving it, that's a different conversation.
I didn't go into D&D looking for reasons to stop playing it. I eventually, waaay too late in the game, stopped blaming myself for the frustration and burnout my RPGs were causing and slowly started noticing the many ways my chosen franchise was making friction with my table goals.
@GreySage Less about the setting, than about the lies. The d20 System in particular existed in this bizarre bubble of self-delusion that it was a "universal" game engine capable of handling any kind of story with only minor cosmetic tweaks. And I bought into that illusion whole-heartedly for many years.
@BESW Hmm... that's a fair problem but I don't think any roleplaying system solves goblin dice given that they're all attempts at abstract simulation. I can't imagine anything that solves meaningful social conflict other than the obvious.
@Yuuki No, see, the thing is: in D&D, in order to resolve a particular task (defeat the ogre, convince the king, pick the lock) you roll many more times in combat compared to out-of-combat actions.
This smooths the goblin dice problem over, and lets your modifiers come forward and have reliable influence... in combat.
Outside of combat, your modifiers may have diddly-squat to say about your success if you've got one chance to pick a lock.
And, well. Lots of systems have cracked that nut.
D&D doesn't necessarily require that combat has more rolls than non-combat
Fate uses dice with a really hard bell curve on a much smaller spread so that the times your dice get to make your modifiers irrelephant are few and far between... and it gives you a currency for reliably overriding the dice when it really matters... and it lets you ignore the dice and negotiate a success at cost instead...
9:48 PM
@inthemanual Eh, kinda does.
Hey guys, whats you're opinion on a tabletop where your dicerolls were actually ideally suppose to be low since it subtracts from a pool of talent. Like your stats and talents give you a total of a 10 on something, if you're completely outside you're field of proficiency you roll a d20 for success (or progressively smaller dice). Get over a zero for a mild success and it gets better the closer to the 10 you are.
Like would you actually find a system like that enjoyable
...and most importantly, it uses the same mechanics for action resolution regardless of mode.
but yes, much more of the rules are delegated to combat stuff and it's a combat focused system.
How do you attack an enemy? Roll your attack (to see if you hit) and then roll your damage (to see how hard). How do you jump over a gap? Roll to see if your Athletics/Acrobatics surpasses the DC.
Here dice rolls essentially map onto difficulty in your characters abilities.
9:50 PM
@Yuuki That's not an equivalent comparison. "Overcome an obstacle" is the common shared goal, so the entire set of attacks you make during the combat scene maps to "one roll to jump."
@Skyler Yup, it's actually pretty common.
Basic Role-Playing (the engine behind Call of Cthulhu) is probably one of the most well-known.
@BESW yay, thanks for the direction. Anything you dislike about that system?
It's kinda directionless? I prefer systems that aren't trying to be objective reality simulators.
@BESW how about that mechanic in particular, vs say dnd and their ilk
BRP provides a lot of granularity in terms of comparative competence: your skill is between 1 and 100, with higher being better. You roll d% (2d10 or 1d100) and try to get a number below your skill rating.
@BESW I dont think that's a fair comparison either. Overcoming a group of goblins feels more like breaking into a house. You might have to climb a bannister, jump from a railing, pick a lock, then avoid detection by the sleeping owner. A fight is a complex obstacle, not a simple one.
9:56 PM
@Skyler Because it uses such a wide spread of numbers, improvements are incremental. A +2 is literally a 2% improvement, where in D&D it's a 10% improvement and in Fate it's more like a 30% improvement.
But specifically rolling under instead of rolling over? Eh. It's just another way to read a die.
There's a whole subset of games where you roll OVER for one kind of action and UNDER for another.
(That mechanic has its roots in Trollbabe and All Outta Bubblegum, but Lasers & Feelings is probably the mechanic's apotheosis.)
In Cthulhu Dark you want to roll high in order to succeed more effectively, but if the green die is highest then you check it against your Sanity and want it to be lower than that number.
13th Age uses a pretty standard D&D 3.5 approach to resolving primary actions, but often asks you to check the raw d20 for other qualities like "Is it less than 5?" "Is it 15?" "Is it even?" and adds extra effects based on that.
(Kind of like the "natural one/natural 20" concept, but more aggressive and with more interesting effects.)
How about the dice getting smaller part. So for example if someones magical affinity is fire and they cast a fire spell, the d20 decreases one dice size to a d12, if they've inherited that spell through special rituals from their family, it decreases a size again to d10. I kind of was picturing a system where you make it so that a person as they become more competant is signficantly more stable in their set of behavior.
Games like Dogs in the Vineyard and Danger Patrol use variable dice sizes to represent whether a particular quality is more likely to be a help or a hinderence, but I can't think off the top of my head of a system which combines variable dice size with lower-is-better.
eg, in Danger Patrol you roll a handful of dice and count the number of 1-3 results as "Danger" and the 4+ results as "Hit." So your awesome abilities add d8s to the pool, and complications and threats add d4s.
Basically the idea is that being untrained makes it something of a shot in the dark, though if you are inclined to that type of action by your characters ability its decently better than a warrior deciphering an ancient tome, and as they stack on two or three levels of reasons they are good at something, they start to be able to reliably be competant
Similarly Dogs in the Vineyard uses a poker-like mechanic where you roll your dice and then "bid" with the results. The fewer dice you use to match or raise another PC's bid, the better.
So if you're fighting with your brother, you get d4s in conflicts that involve him. When you patch up the relationship you might advance them to d6s because it's good to have him around in a conflict now.
ok, i can see how that works
10:11 PM
DitV enforces its themes this way: you don't lose a conflict until you've run out of dice, which makes it tempting to bring in problematic elements in order to keep things going, even though they're bringing in lower dice that may make trouble for you.
How do you get dice though
Dice are assigned to qualities associated with your character: "My brother 3d4," "My gun 1d6," "My faith 2d10."
You roll the dice for whatever qualities are involved in the conflict.
If you want more dice you change the narrative of the conflict to include something new--like drawing your gun to add 1d6 to your pool.
and then they recharge how often?
or is it that you always have these things
and you just need to add them to the narrative
You've always got 'em, but you can't use 'em more than once per conflict.
@BESW I don't know if they're entirely. They stem from a well-documented lineage of fantasy literature which didn't always wreathe itself in glory dealing with (or ignoring) these issues. I suppose one can forgive the wargamers thinking "hey, playing at Napoleon killing Russians is fun, let's play at elves killing... hmm... we'll need someone to kill, I suppose."
10:15 PM
@nitsua60 I mean within the game's text.
Like how Dogs in the Vineyard's text explores the nature of faith and authority, but leaves its colonial themes un-examined.
Dogs seems like a really hard to get into setting with a really cool mechanic
I suggest trying The Princes' Kingdom for a rather less... awkward... application of the basic principles.
Though I'd strongly advise talking with your players about how they want to handle the potential for child endangerment/fatality in Princes. It can be hacked to whatever your group is comfortable with, without too much effort and little is lost.
(My first and so far only game of Princes ended abruptly when a PC pre-teen got trampled by a horse and we all went "....oh.")
It's not as well described within the confines of a quick google search. Care to give a rundown?
I shared in link in our facebook group to the wiki article on dogs, and two players have already latched onto it.
i wish there was an easy way to bookmark things here
@Skyler copy the direct link to the message, then bookmark that
10:26 PM
meant more at the stackexchange level but good point
@Skyler Click on 'room', then select 'create new bookmark' if you want to save a bunch of messages for later use
Both Dogs and The Princes' Kingdom are about a group of young people (teens and pre-teens respectively) who travel between isolated communities (rural settlement towns and islands in an archipelago) who are united by a single leader (religious administration and king), whose authority the PCs represent without question.
Their goal is to deal with issues that threaten community function by enforcing a small set of simple rules, and they have the authority to do so by whatever means necessary--though they have no actual backup from the central authority and the locals may resist.
The real tension of the game is intended to come from disagreement between PCs about the methods used; when all the PCs agree on a solution, it's usually easy for them to implement it, though in both cases the underlying question of the game is "What and who will you risk in order to do what you think is right or necessary?"
It's a Forge game, which means that it relies heavily on the players to curate their actions and make choices within the intended framework of the game.
never heard that term before. Is it a category, a developer, or something else?
The Forge was an early 2000s online community dedicated to exploring the nature of RPGs systems as a tool for making players experience particular feelings.
@BESW Why teens and pre-teens?
10:38 PM
Being a Forge game also means that one of its primary table-level goals is to make the players (not just the characters) have real feelings about the difficult decisions they're making in the game.
To attract younger players?
PK does try to be playable by younger people, but DitV doesn't seem to care. There are a number of possible reasons and I don't know what might have actually influenced the choice.
DitV's setting has real-world parallels which might have driven the choice (one of the reasons I'm not as comfortable with it as with PK), or maybe they just thought that it'd make for a better game if the people making the tough decisions were untested teens rather than adults with more experience of the world. It makes for a decent built-in character arc for each PC.
DitV is based on history, no?
It's... loosely and somewhat callously (but very obviously) inspired by early Mormon settlements in Utah.
No Mormons seem to have been consulted, and the Mormons I've spoken to about it preferred PK.
@BESW What about ex-Mormons?
10:43 PM
I have not, to my knowledge, spoken to any ex-Mormons about the game.
@BESW Which inspired the history nerd and the religion-obsessed comedian in my group to be the ones to latch on to it
As a non-Mormon person of faith myself, I found DitV a bit thoughtless with its religious themes. Also it plays into a number of Noble Savage and Magical Native stereotypes with its version of the First Tribes who were displaced by the invaders.
Personally I find that Bubblegumshoe is a better system for me and my group to explore the nuances of community tension.
We don't need a system that forces us to ask questions about what we'll risk to do something; Fate taught us to value failing forward and making big, risky, non-optimized choices, and we've cross-pollinated that into our other games.
But we do have trouble keeping relationships with NPCs at the center of our problem-solving, and Bubblegumshoe enforces that nicely.
(And does it without child endangerment, racism, imperialism, or weird religion-as-narrative-tool... I don't even know what to call it except "paladinfall contamination.")
("Paladinfall Contamination," by the way, would be a great name for a power metal album.)
10:58 PM
bubblegumshoe is like scooby doo, right?
teens solving weird mysteries
Yeah, Scooby is one of its less central inspirations.
Lots of Veronica Mars influence. Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, the Bobbsey Twins, the Three Investigators, the Boxcar Children, that whole YA genre of "teens solving local mysteries" when the real mystery is how little adult supervision they have, which started in the 19-aughts and has been a regular staple of YA lit ever since.
@BESW we won't make any NPCs in session 0: first of all, the backdrop characters are imported from the background world, second, the main cast of the actinc NPCs are established by the dventure module I try to run. And third: The Dark Eye holds little means for players proactively designing NPCs unless they have the contacts merit or enemy flaw afaik...
Bubblegumshoe puts a lot of focus on the community the teens are in, so it's got more in common with Encyclopedia Brown than, say, the Hardy Boys.
@BESW "the real mystery is how little adult supervision they have, which started in the 19-aughts and has been a regular staple of YA lit ever since." This is something that bugs me often about YA.
and fourth: we had made characters in session 0.
11:05 PM
@Ash I take it as a pre-supposition of the genre, part of its wish-fulfillment element.
Though I must say, my favorite DC Comics character will always be pre-52 Jaime Reyes because he talked to his parents about his superpowers at the first available moment, and they have ground rules like "Ask us before you fight a supervillain, but for natural disasters you can just go."
...Hm. I wonder how BGS maps to MacDonald Hall?
@BESW That makes sense.
BTW, @Ash, have you ever read any of the Dana Girls books?
I have not.
I've only read one, and I keep going back and looking at it because it feels more like a bad trip than a real book one could actually read.
in other case: there is a really rude answer in the low quality posts queue
11:14 PM
@BESW now I am curious :P
I'm convinced it was compiled from discarded concepts that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew ghostwriters wouldn't use.
Like, in one chapter a main character is kidnapped by a prison warden, her kidnapper's car crashes, she gets lost, falls down a well, and is rescued by a mysterious hermit taking care of a baby in the woods.
And that's neither the opening scene nor the denouement. It's just the conclusion of the first act, if we think of it as a three-act structure.
For the actual conclusion, they wrap the bad guy (who is guilty of multiple federal crimes) in a rug and drive around with him in the trunk until he's properly chastised and repentant, having "become a new man from the experience," then they buy him a train ticket and send him out of town to start a new crime-free life.
@BESW wait, that's one chapter, not one book?
hey there @Ash
heya :)
@Ash Yes. The same book has a plot about a stolen statue, a case of mistaken identity that Wilkie Collins made a whole doorstop novel about a hundred years earlier, and the "trunk conversion" ending I describe above.
Oh, and boarding school hijinks.
It's a mess.
11:29 PM
@Ash how's this Saturday look for our dungeon run btw?
@Shalvenay Any chance we could do Sunday instead maybe?
@BESW .....what the hell
That's SO MANY THINGS in one book
And it's not like it's the first book, so they needed to do a lot of work to establish the tone and themes and world or anything.
It's the fifth.
@Ash what time on Sunday? Saturday works much, much better for me but I might be able to make Sunday night work...
11:32 PM
...Looking it up, the fifth book was the first by a new ghostwriter, because the ghostwriter for the first four had quit because he didn't like writing girls books under a woman's name.
(He'd been writing Hardy Boys previously.)
@Shalvenay Not sure. I just noticed a local friend invited me to a board games night at their place on Saturday so I was considering that
@Ash would sometime during the day on Saturday work for that matter?
I work til 5 EST :(
@Ash hrm. I think Sunday night may be all that's left for options then...
Either that or bump to the following Saturday
11:41 PM
@Ash which would be a stretch to make work
Man, our schedules really don't align well :/
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