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1:14 AM
Kickstarter: The Price of Coal: A Story Game of Labor Rights by Jennifer Adcock. A tabletop roleplaying game about labor rights and the Battle of Blair Mountain.
Evan Torner shared on twitter excerpts about "how debt/credit was actually tracked in previous times" from Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber.
Blackbirds by Batts. A character creation game and adventure guide.
POCGamer wrote a twitter thread talking up "some cool systems and games that other people have going on"
Eran Aviram is asking on twitter for "any #ttrpg that attempts to be activistic - to educate about a social issue and push the players to act."
Very Good, Sir by Ash Can Games (And So Can You!). A Game of Bachelors & Butlers
BAKA MITAI - a Yakuza-inspired city pop Paragon Playset by Misha Pa. A city pop, Yakuza-inpired Paragon Playset where disco dancing is just as important as street brawling
2 hours later…
3:16 AM
@ThomasMarkov you mean left-distributive, or right-distributive?
3:40 AM
@Trish if you want to expand this answer, I can point you to some links that seem to have main-character cast lists
1 hour later…
4:53 AM
Q: Do you have to hear the caster in order to be affected by the Command spell?

enkryptorThere are a couple of spells which explicitly work only when the target "can hear you": Suggestion — "a creature you can see within range that can hear and understand you" Compulsion — "Creatures of your choice that you can see within range and that can hear you" Animal Friendship — "a beast tha...

6 hours later…
10:50 AM
@BESW what's BOB?
Regardless, I've been doing some thinking about playbooks, RPGs and choices. Also how D&D is so popular on this stack and trying to articulate my guesses for why that is...
Ultimately RPGs give you a bunch of tools for play, but trying to think of them as tools is really tricky, because tools like hammers and screwdrivers have such a specific job.
Jul 8 '20 at 9:43, by BESW
"What does belonging outside belonging mean?" by Avery Alder on Buried Without Ceremony.
Jul 28 '20 at 21:34, by BESW
Nora Blake wrote a thread on itchio about "What is belonging outside belonging?" and "can I use the label?"
So I've started thinking of them as different size Lego bricks. The biggest bricks, are practically finished designs that have a few different connection points to attach your own things to. A master builder might know exactly where to apply pressure to remove part of the block and attach more to it, but it's not always easy (this is sort of how I see lady blackbird style playbooks). If you don't know what you're doing, it's hard to see what else is there to do with it.
Mechanically, BOB games tend to work in and around a loose system/engine called No Dice, No Masters, which is... imagine a GMless PbtA but instead of dice it uses a token economy somewhat like Fate points.
Next comes nanoblocks, pieces so small you can make almost any shape you want. There's immense freedom, but that can also be terrifying because nobody is holding your hands to show you the way (unless you're building as a group). This is sort of how I see things like FATE.
@AncientSwordRage I think you're not wrong, but counterpoint: only a master builder can understand a nearly-finished design well enough to identify how to finish it, while any novice can pick up a bucket of loose bricks and start snapping them together.
10:59 AM
Then in between are most trad/rules heavy RPGs, where each piece is well defined, with connection points but some heavy guidelines as to how the connections must be .... It doesn't really allow infinite creativity, but it holds your hand and you get to feel like you built something yourself, with not too much effort. It's at that sweetspot between ease and creativity
D&D's popularity is more about cultural presence than any inherent quality, and in my experience people totally new to TRPGs pick up Lady Blackbird much faster and get comfy with innovating in it much more readily, than they pick up and get comfy with D&D.
Pretty much everybody's got some experience playing pretend.
@BESW yeah my analogy is pretty flawed as it misses that out entirely
Like, why is D&D so massively prevalent on rpg.se? Because the Stack is built on SEO and D&D is the SEO presence for TRPGs.
I suspect that rpg.se's dominance by D&D has little to do with D&D's relative popularity, even, compared with the influence of the Stack's SEO priorities and how they reinforce and amplify D&D's presence.
@BESW I don't think it's just SEO, d&d is prevalent else where as well
And of course there's the other thing that biases rpg.se toward D&D questions: its massive database of non-rigorous texts which are nonetheless couched in terms of rigor, are a good match for the specific kind of questions and answers that the Stack was originally built for. Especially good, compared to the kinds of questions that arise around games like Lady Blackbird or Fate or Balikbayan.
@AncientSwordRage Absolutely. But rpgse can't be taken as representative, because its own structure massively skews the data.
11:06 AM
@BESW that's an excellent point
So there's a big difference between "why is D&D so popular" and "why does rpg.se have so many D&D questions?"
Yup! My analogy is also about how I see the different styles of RPG system as well though
The answer to the first has a lot to do with cultural capital, and the second to do with the Stack's own strengths, before we ever get to specifics about the nature of gameplay.
Your analogy is interesting and useful! Just... not particularly relephant to the original question that spawned it, I suspect.
D&D is its own outlier.
@BESW that feels on-brand for me
The other day I saw somebody saying that D&D does a poor job of emulating genres and settings because it's designed to emulate itself, and I think that's a useful way to approach any attempt to understand its position in the hobby as well.
There's a lot of other games which are very similar to D&D in terms of structure and complexity, that surpass it in many ways; but which have little chance of keeping pace with D&D, much less outpacing it, because of the impetus of its sheer cultural capital.
That's one reason I'm so interested in Hasbro's decision to pass over WotC and give major toy franchise licenses to third party TRPG studios which design market the new games independently of the juggernaut brand.
11:17 AM
vote to close, it's about a video game
As for your analogy, I definitely agree that some people find the structure of more D&D-like games -- with mechanic-to-mechanic engines and lists of pre-made collections of mechanics to be chosen from and followed -- very helpful and engaging. It provides puzzles to solve outside of game time, and it gives a clear sense of rails and safety nets for people who don't want, or aren't confident, to head off into the hills of improvisation.
But in my own experience just as many people, if not more, feel stifled by such things. When I bring somebody totally new to TRPGs to my table, in D&D they say "I'm a dragonborn, does that mean I can fly?" and I have to say no. But in Lady Blackbird they say "I have the Secret of Stormblood, does that mean that I bleed lightning?" and I can say yes.
The eagerness to innovate and extrapolate and lean into awesome stuff is something they all bring to the table. The eagerness to pre-plan builds and explore mechanical interactions and and anticipate qualifying for features weeks or months later... that's learned at the table, or they learned it from a game like WoW.
@BESW I think right now I'm not comfortable being told I can't fly as a Dragonborn that the idea I can just decide I can bleed lightning
Okay, so let's compare oranges to oranges.
In D&D, what does it take to get a dragonborn to fly?
Not glide, fly.
If I roll up a level 1 dragonborn without a plan to get flying and I decide I want to fly --with dragon wings, not spells-- how long does it take me to get there?
11:28 AM
Wait, I got it wrong I might be thinking of another edition... There's no flight feat
@BESW quite a while
yeah in 3rd edition it would take being like, at least a mid level caster or having a weird prestige class, still probably taking a lot of levels
I think D&D is as strict as @BESW says, but that's what we (me at the very least) like about it? We're playing a game with set rules, that yes, has some wiggle room for interpretation, but a the end of the day what you can do is written somewhere, be it your character sheet or the handbooks. You can do original things, you can reflavor things, but at the end of the day you are playing with what you have.

I have played other games with more abstract limitations, wich I also like, but they both scratch different itches.
If I'm playing Lady Natasha Siri and I decide I want to fly, I need to spend 3 XP. I get one XP each time I do something that's very in character (demonstrate my superiority, use my nobility to overcome a problem, take action to reunite with my lover, or fool someone into thinking I'm a commoner) or two XP if it puts me in danger, or five XP all at once if I dramatically defy one of those character traits and remove it from my sheet.
If I'm playing a different character in Lady Blackbird, who doesn't have the narrative justification already like Natasha and dragonborn do, then I'd need to spend five XP to fly.
So in D&D 5e I'd have to invent entirely new rules to say "yes" to a player who wants their dragonborn to fly, but in Lady Blackbird they can probably fly by the end of the same session.
@Helwar Yeah, I'm absolutely not saying that quality of D&D is bad or undesirable.
A lot of things about D&D are terrible but that's not one of them.
@BESW Yeah I got that! I was agreeing with you ^^
(In D&D 4e a dragonborn can get limited winged flight by... level 12. And full flight by level 16. But it requires no dedicated character build, just one choice at level 11 that any dragonborn can take and is designed to be a decent choice for any dragonborn.)
The fact that I still know that is testament to my engagement with D&D's mechanics on its own terms.
11:39 AM
In 5e they try to avoid giving natural flight to characters, wich is somewhat understandable at low levels but towards the mid tier most fights turn 3D anyway so I feel they should not be as stingy with it by then :/
But gosh I had such a hard time introducing friends to TRPGs through D&D, be it 3e or 4e.
It was a massive sunk cost and until they'd gained some level of mastery their experience at the table generally consisted of "can I do [cool thing it makes sense for my kind of character to be able to do in a book or film]?" "No, you can't learn that for another five levels." "Oh, how long will that take?" "About two months." "oh."
4e was better than 3e, at least, because it was less punishing at lower levels and did give a solid spread of interesting things you can do right away.
(Compare 4e's level 1 Fighter to 3e's level 1 Fighter, and weep.)
This answer chronicles the sort of challenges that I'd never have to deal with in any other system I've ever run:
A: How can I keep my campaign challenging when dealing with players of vastly different skill levels?

BESWShort Version: Maybe P is overwhelmed by bookkeeping and it's distracting him from situational awareness. Help him make a mechanically very simple character without fiddly bits or conditionals to keep track of, so he can focus on making good choices rather than having good bookkeeping. Invite the...

@BESW that's definitely part of the trade off d&d asks for
And in my experience, it's a tradeoff that people are happiest with if they're coming from a very specific kind of gaming background.
@BESW Yeah I had that... I introduced a few people a couple of months ago into D&D, and one has said that it's not for her... She wanted spells so I recommended the simplest spellcaster I can think (the warlock), and she got minor illusion as a cantrip. She kept thinking about things like: "I make illusory jaws bite him and hurt him!"
And I had to explain that low level illusions don't cause harm, not even psychic. Or she tried to cover an entire house in a minor illusion, or use it to change someone's appearance.
She had the idea that she was some kind of goddess of illusions, she's a fan of super hero comics so I might see where she got that idea
She wanted something more "make believe" than rules heavy and eventually left :/
Somebody here in chat many years ago, while reminiscing about playing D&D as a tween in the 80s, said that one of the things which really attracted them to the game was that it was so complex --obscure vocabulary, lots of maths-- that it felt 'forbidden' and 'adult' and so mastering it gave them a sense of both maturity and transgression.
I think about that a lot, when I consider D&D's appeal.
11:52 AM
Yeah there's a certain appeal to that, it's like building MtG decks, you try and make the pieces fit so you're doing something you enjoy
@Helwar that definitely checks out with me
stuff being described here is what had me switch to other systems
It was stimulating, but got tiring, and I got even more tired of not being able to just invite friends to drop in for a quick game of a thing they'd never played before.
"can i do [cool thing appropriate to the character and the kind of story we're telling]?" gets an answer of "yes, right now" or "yes, soon."
I like more open systems too, but I think they appeal to a different crowd... and I'm in the middle of the venn diagram. There is something with D&D that "clicks" with me. I can see the rigidity, but I like playing within it.
11:59 AM
if it's a no, it's "no, this system can't really do that at all" (healing in Fate)
Yesterday i was building a witch character with a friend who wanted to make sure she had some fun features that were available in D&D, so we were looking at stunts, and after a few minutes of talking I was like: "hold on. you can already do these things. you're a witch, you can just use the normal actions to do this stuff. let's look at something exceptional."
And I'm not saying that flippantly, because I spent years doing everything I possibly could to streamline the introduction to D&D, eliminating sunk costs and finding how to make a first session that didn't wind up being more frustrating the more creative the person tried to be.
(to be fair it's been a while since i've run an RPG or i'd have realised that much quicker)
@doppelgreener I had an idea about that, actually, but I don't think it'd be satisfying for people who are used to healing be "the thing goes away entirely."
@BESW Oh, I'm interested. What is it?
So first, you don't heal stress because stress isn't wounds. So we're looking at consequences, right? And those last a long time. The standard skill check to allow a consequence to start resolving, or the stunt to reduce a consequence's severity so that it goes away in scenes rather than in sessions -- neither of those really scratch the "magic healing makes the wound go byebye" narrative itch.
So instead...
> Magic the pain away. Because you have the hands of a healer, when you successfully help someone recover from a physical consequence you can instead allow the target to re-write the physical consequence as a mental or social consequence (which now needs a different kind of skill to begin resolving).
Purely narrative fluff, but it dramatically changes the impact the consequence will have over the time it's resolving.
12:07 PM
I like that a lot.
Because in Fate, everything is narrative fluff.
> Take the pain in. Because you have supernatural empathy, when you successfully help someone recover from a physical consequence you can instead let them remove it from their sheet entirely and write a mental or social consequence on your sheet in a slot of equal or greater value.
> An irresponsible use of power. When you Take the pain in mark the consquence on your sheet. While you have at least one marked consequence, you can use Empathy to make attacks by touching a target. These attacks get weapon:2 for each marked consequence.
Those last two are, ah. Based on a true story, shall we say.
They sort of remind me of The Green Mile?
I've never seen it, but based on the wiki description... kinda.
I don't know the details of what I've seen, because it's not my business and some knowledge is dangerous.
At any rate, the original stunt I posted seems pretty solid.
Narratively the wound goes away, no complications remain, but something else is a lingering problem for the person. Maybe they're ridden by an overwhelming emotion like shame or vengeance, maybe they made a personal enemy on the battlefield, perhaps they learned something tragic or lost something important...
12:28 PM
Yeah, I dig it.
I think that's the best way to handle healing in Fate that I've seen.
You do heal. Like, it's not "I spent a whole stunt on this and now you're a little better but until you're actually better very little has changed". Instead it's "You're all better and everything has changed."
1:20 PM
@BESW it's ultrasolid, I love it (based on what I know of Fate)
If I was gonna publish the stunt, I'd make sure to phrase it so the choice of "begin recovery" vs "change the consequence" is very clearly in the hands of the target.
It's a stunt that gives somebody else an extra option.
It makes me think the best system for a m&m character I made years ago might be Fate? It was one of the few characters I made without knowing the system first so there's not a perfect match between how I imagined them and how they work in that system
Fate likes characters that have goals and take bold action to meet those goals, have areas of action in which they are quite competent, and are regularly impeded by obstacles and complications which make the combination of "competence" and "bold action" necessary to get near their goals.
2:06 PM
@BESW I can check out 2/3 of those
2:29 PM
They were a take on Spider-Man, but they turned into a tarantula person... Instead of Spidey sense they had a fear inducing power. And instead of webbing they had different poisons. Also really good at grappling.
1 hour later…
3:49 PM
I think the discussion omits that in Dnd the answer can always be, yup you can fly and it takes the dm's decicion to do that.
How close to the dnd balance do we want to play is always a table decision.
And dnd offers that a table balance but also a rule 0 that allows you to throw it out at your leisure.
4:05 PM
I played "dnd" with five-year-olds - without any introduction to the system at all. There is no need. What takes time is introducing people to the balance that the system has in mind, but you can play "dnd" at your table without any consideration of that balance.
The awesome thing is, you can even combine that to have the adults at the table play with that balance. 5e has a "freeform" button. Any table has the makeup to decide how much of that system they want to bother with, regardless of the system they use. If you say "you can't do that," what you mean is that your table made the decision to agree that you don't want that to happen, and if that means you aren't doing what you want to do - you should always be able to do something that you want to do.
@Akixkisu the thing is Rule 0 is part of the game, but not something that the rules really support you doing? So it's less part of D&D and more the reality of how some people choose to play RPGs
@AncientSwordRage In 5e, it is priciple at the core of the rules.
So yes, the system support you to do that.
What kind of tools does the system offer is interesting.
@Akixkisu what I mean is, unless I've misread it's mentioned in one place and not elsewhere in the rules? I don't think there's much about making your own feats or items or helping your players customize their characters
I think it is interesting to talk about "how much" systems put you into a position to walk into specific failings, but at the core of RPGs in general, and also supported by 5e in particular lies that you can resolve restrictions at your leisure.
@AncientSwordRage 5e has so much guidance about how to make things happen according to its balance.
hundreds of pages.
3.5e has thousands of pages, overwhelming amounts.
@Akixkisu ahhhh ok, I wasn't aware of that
4:15 PM
I think "you can't do that" is always a table failing. Sometimes that faling is to play within the balance of a system such as 3.5e.
How would you get a 1st level Dragonborn flight? I was thinking you could reflavour an Aarakocra
You could do it like that, but you could also just give it flight.
@Akixkisu I can dig that
It really depends on what kind of adventure your table decides to play.
@Akixkisu is that balanced though? Or are you saying that's not as important?
4:17 PM
You can make it work if you want a balanced experience, but it is also not important unless your table agrees that it is.
And when it is important, then you can still do it.
There are things that don't function within dnd balance at level one, like " I want to blast an ion canon from outerspace."
You probably don't want to make that work and instead play a different system.
One of the really neat things is how many things dnd offers you to do within its balance.
A staggering amount of things.
But you can also always throw that out of the window.
Or play a different system.
And even if you want to blast an ion canon from outerspace, you could make an esoteric adventure based on that - though your character would not do the blasting via abilities on their sheet, but through some sort of adventure design.
Some of these failings that people like to associate with dnd are table failings, and we should separate those from system failings.
@Helwar I gave you a shout out in an answer for the excellent vetting process you have (with your group) for finding a new player. How's the game going? And please let the others know how much I appreciated how they approached the "find a new player" process (as I experienced it). Big Thumbs Up to all of you. 😊
@KorvinStarmast If you'd enjoy a bounty on that answer remind me when that question is eligible. I think it is fantastic.
@Akixkisu Sure, glad you liked it.
@Helwar This answer. Makes me consider asking a question on 'how to best vett new players in the on line environment' .... which is a bit different than finding new players, I think.
@Helwar there are some super hero RPG systems that I suspect she'd like.
@Akixkisu We are play testing a home brew of the "dragon rider" class with four subclasses that a player found on reddit. It's bloody OP, but we are working our way into bringing it more into line. We also all thought that if you only had two players, if one was a dragon rider then the other needs to have a side kick per essentials/Tasha's. That would make for a fine two player group.
Not sure I can fit that into my answer, since our play test and balancing exercise is still very much a work in progress.
7 hours later…
11:28 PM
@AncientSwordRage I devoured 3e's make-your-own-stuff rules. I mastered them and embraced them and they shattered me into an uncountable cloud of incoherent bits because the game spent a lot of text making claims that it simply didn't meet.
"The table can make their own rules" is only an accurate statement about a system if the text supports it; otherwise it's a universally true statement that, when presented as a system feature, absolves the designers of any responsibility to make their game playable.
Aaaand D&D has a long history of claiming to explain and encourage homebrew while failing to do so effectively. (3.0 "spell seeds" I'm lookin' at you.) If there was effective guidance texts for making compatible homebrew, we wouldn't struggle so much reviewing homebrew on this site.

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