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Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant






Starting a new thread for a discussion that tends to come up in other threads. Now we can all talk about it here instead of pulling away from those other discussions.

As much as specific game systems will come up (Dungeons and Dragons will likely come up often) this is not REALLY a discussion about any specific system. More a Pros and Cons about all of them and what it does to and for the people running and playing the games.



So to kick things off I wanted to point out a game I have recently purchased and not yet had a chance to play. Forbidden Lands, by Free League (based around an award winning Year Zero game system). In that game character creation is done by choosing a Kin (race) Profession (class, but not in the DnD sense. They provide optional tools but don't pigeon hole you into any specific role. A Sorcerer could be a hardened melee fighter) and a number of Talents (roughly equivalent to feats of DnDs 3rd edition or Pathfinder). But you also choose Age (which can impact the number of attribute and skills points you have to distribute), a Pride (something that your character is especially proud of, either a part of their personality or a thing they did in the past), a Dark Secret (something that would be damaging or harmful to the character in the world if it got out either socially or because others would come looking for them), and a short sentence describing your characters relationship to each of the other characters in the party. Some examples are given in the books for various professions and such. Example the Druid Profession has 3 example relationships of 1) ...doesn't understand her place in the world. I shall guide, but not teach. 2)... is drawn to the dark arts and must be kept under close watch. If needed it's my duty to stop her. 3)...is a slender oak that could grown into something great, given the right care.

Importantly, you are encouraged to reassess your pride, your secret, and your relationships after each game and adjust them if those things change. The Pride has an interesting mechanic where you can add 1 larger die to your dice pool 1 time per a game session when the roll would involve your pride. Like if your pride was "I have never run from a fight" your extra dice could be used to prevent yourself from breaking in fear. But, if you ever fail when doing that, you immediately loose your pride, suffer a penalty, and cannot choose a new pride until you have played 1 entire game session without one. Players are also given a reputation score, and as they complete deeds and tasks their reputation can grow making it more or less likely that others would have heard of them or their deeds. This can be a benefit but also equally a hindrance. When you delved into that tomb to aquire a giant slaying sword and then killed that giant inhabiting those ruins that reputation gets out there. Little do the players know a gem in the hilt of the giant slaying sword is a piece of another artifact and now that the story is going around factions seeking that gem are looking for them (every item and mechanic in the game is built to snowball stories in this way btw).

At the end of the game session when the GM is giving out Experience you get points for these criteria and it is encouraged for this process to be a discussion among the GM and players.

You showed up and played. 1 exp
You traveled into new uncharted (for you) lands. 1 exp
You discovered a new point of interest (called an adventure site, could be ruins and dungeon a town etc etc...) 1 exp.
You defeat 1 or more monsters. 1 exp.
You found treasure of value 1gp or more. 1 exp
You build a function in your stronghold (the game has rules and maybe even an emphasis on establishing a stronghold... it's very Old School Revival in this way) 1exp.
You activate your Pride. 1 Exp
You suffer from your Dark Secret 1 exp
You risked your life for another PC 1 Exp (the game can be VERY lethal)
You performed an extraordinary action of some kind 1 exp.

These provide a lot of tools not to tell the player what they can do (which dnd classes are all about) but instead WHO they ARE and how that impacts their relationships with the world and people around them.

RP is encouraged mechanically in a way that is open ended but the very system of character creation helps set you on the path to RP your character as a person in a world.


By comparison DnD 5th ed has background, flaw, and bond. 3 things that help establish the characters links to the world. They are used to constantly reward the player with Inspiration that allows them to roll 2d20 and choose the highest. While it does encourage roleplay it never comes with any kind of cost. Your flaw never REALLY comes back to bite you without work from the GM and often your flaw can just work to the benefit of you and your group. Or it could just never come up because honestly it does the same thing as your bond and and background. Coupled with the general lack of lethality in dnd and the level/class structure players don't really have a sense of danger or real ties to the world mechanically. They kill the monsters, collect the loot, grow in power to kill bigger things and move on. A "good" party behaves much in the same way that a "neutral" or "evil" party would because they are all rewarded in the same ways for the same tasks. The trope of the "Murder Hobos" is apt because even a team of clerics and paladins from good gods smash into the goblins/kobolds/orks homes and commit genocide. It plays like an action adventure video game. Link killing hordes of octorocs and moblins, Geralt slaying hordes of drowners (though at least in the Witcher your actions have consequences that come back to bite you), or Diablo where you smash through hordes of enemies to level up and acquire gear. DnD is a medieval fantasy loot shooter. And it's mechanics tell you the players to treat it as such.

DMs have to put in effort to set a tone and encourage players away from what the mechanics are telling them to do.



So thoughts on my examples or if you have any other examples of any kind of mechanic and what you think it does to and for the players toss um in for discussion.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/23 20:47:26



These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

While my own stance is almost the complete inverse of that, I will say that is very well put! The case you make is certainly a solid one, and your explanation does make a good deal of sense even though I do strongly disagree.

To carry on my train of thought from the last thread a bit more generally though, put as simply as possible my take on RPGs is that the fewer things you have rules for, the more I enjoy it. Obviously, combat is something that, in most fantasty/sci-fi games, you're going to want fairly detailed mechanics for. This serves both to engage the players on a meta level and provide plenty of options for what is inevitably the most detailed, if not the most important, part of the D&D-school sort of game. Likewise, to make it more than just a bunch of people telling each other how cool they are, you need some sort of pass/fail mechanics for most interactions. However, I do take the approach that outside of combat, those mechanics should be as minimalist as possible, especially in the realm of social interaction.

When I'm at the DMs chair, I generally value performance over dice. As an example, you're a wandering bard, desperately trying to win over a local lord and be granted a platoon of guardsmen to help defend your beleaguered village. You present your reasons, appeal to their pride or honour, threaten them with a dirty secret, so on and so forth. But at the end of it, there's going to be some form of dice roll that has a hand in how things go. However, my stance is that if you've made a crap argument that the lord would have no interest in accepting, that roll is going to be borderline impossible, or perhaps not even made at all as he simply refuses to give you any more of his time. If, on the other hand, you've spent the last ten minutes giving an impassioned speech, reducing the courtiers to tears and stunning the room into silence, the target for the roll is going to be so low that you'd be hard pressed to fail. It is, to some extent, decided before a die is even rolled, though with the potential for extreme results to tip things slightly one way or the other.

Obviously, those examples are extremes, and most encounters will fall somewhere in between a Shakespearean monologue and 'go on, give's an army then? Ta'. But ultimately, I don't particularly like the idea of the RP having less influence than the G in those situations. I'm playing these games to tell a story, and a story that's decided more by chance than by the actions of its principal characters is not necessarily a good one. There has to be some risk of failure, to stop it being an 'I'm the best' competition between players, but I'd prefer it remain something to be influenced, rather than to influence.

Now, the obvious flaw here is that players and their characters are different entities, and a particularly gregarious player might make that case just as well playing a low-charisma brawler as they would a charming minstrel. But I really don't see that as a problem, because to exploit it in that way, you'd have to wilfully play against the nature of your character and if you're going to do that, why even bother roleplaying when you could just go and play Warhammer or Diablo? I don't think expecting people to act in a way that matches their character for no other reason that it being the purpose of the experience is too big a leap.


And this brings me back to my comments in the other thread about why, from my perspective, the idea of a game 'rewarding' roleplay as an actual mechanic is anathema to me. Because if you're roleplaying, the only way that's going to be enjoyable, worthwhile and natural is if you're doing it for the love of it, rather than to gain something. Of course, your character is trying to gain something, but that reward is in the in-world outcome of their actions, rather than an arbitrary stat increase as a result of an abstract system of 'Experience Points'. And if you're not playing for those reasons, then giving you some kind of tangible reward for it isn't suddenly going to make you delve into the depths of a character's nature.

Likewise, when it comes to playing a character with a flaw; surely you do that because it makes them more interesting, progression and optimisation be damned? I always relish rolling a low stat, because that makes the character much more complex to embody. I often make stupid, near suicidal decisions in game because they are the natural response of the character I am portraying. I write events and secrets into their past that shaped them not because that will get me extra XP down the line, but because that allows the DM, should they wish, to draw a story from them, and seeing that story unfold is its own reward.

On the other hand, if some parallel universe version of me was showing up to kill things, take loot, get more powerful but had no interest in those elements of the game, telling him that he'd be one step closer to being better at killing stuff if he plays up a personality flaw or talks to a character instead of beheading them is hardly going to convince him to lean into those aspects more. It might make them slightly more bearable, but it's clearly not what he wants to be doing.

I guess, when it comes down to it, I just struggle with the notion that people need 'encouraging' to roleplay. You either enjoy it and do it for that reason alone, or you don't and the promise of 'progression' is not going to change that.

Moreover, the idea of 'rewards' as abstract numbers rather than in-world achievements are far less compelling to me. You mention the Reputation system, and to me, that's the
exact sort of thing that does not need tracking numerically or even being its own system; if you've done great or terrible things, of course people are going to hear of it, but any GM worth their salt is working that into the way NPCs and the world react to the PCs anyway, without it needing to be tied to the sort of progress bar you'd find in a video game where completing X quests gets you Y% better prices.


 Lance845 wrote:

At the end of the game session when the GM is giving out Experience you get points for these criteria and it is encouraged for this process to be a discussion among the GM and players.

You showed up and played. 1 exp
You traveled into new uncharted (for you) lands. 1 exp
You discovered a new point of interest (called an adventure site, could be ruins and dungeon a town etc etc...) 1 exp.
You defeat 1 or more monsters. 1 exp.
You found treasure of value 1gp or more. 1 exp
You build a function in your stronghold (the game has rules and maybe even an emphasis on establishing a stronghold... it's very Old School Revival in this way) 1exp.
You activate your Pride. 1 Exp
You suffer from your Dark Secret 1 exp
You risked your life for another PC 1 Exp (the game can be VERY lethal)
You performed an extraordinary action of some kind 1 exp.


And thus, all of this baffles me completely. You risk your life for another character? The 'reward' for that is that said character, who you presumably have some level of emotional connection with, is not dead. You discovered somewhere or found something? If that somewhere or something was relevant to the narrative or your character, that will have its own consequences as the story unfolds and if it wasn't, why should you arbitrarily be closer to growing more powerful because of it? Your past came back to bite you? You performed an extraordinary action? Presumably anything that extraordinary will have its own consequences or contribute to a significant achievement.


I do accept with all of this that as a gamer who has been lucky enough to play with people who need no encouragement to roleplay, my perspective might be somewhat limited, and as someone for whom the narrative elements of RPGs vastly outweigh the appeal of the mechanical aspects, I do have a clear bias. But as a counterpoint to that, I'm able to reconcile that love of storytelling with a system you suggest is unsuited to it, D&D 5e, and I've not found there to be any form of dissonance whatsoever. At no point have I ever felt that the rules in front of me stop me from telling the story I want to tell, or playing the character I want to play.
,


Automatically Appended Next Post:
 Lance845 wrote:
The trope of the "Murder Hobos" is apt because even a team of clerics and paladins from good gods smash into the goblins/kobolds/orks homes and commit genocide. It plays like an action adventure video game.


As an aside, there's a rather amusing coincidence here with a game I ran last week.

Spoiler:
Our party, led by a Paladin, did in fact run up against the the Orc population of an entire region, from women and children to the oldest veteran warriors, who had received (and misread) signs from their gods telling them that the doom of their race was at hand and that they must assemble to face it. The PCs, with an army of Dragonborn at their back, could have slaughtered the Orcs to the last with relative ease, but instead (after one brief skirmish after the Orcs refused to surrender and disperse, believing as they did that this was their apocalypse and intending to face it with honour in battle) ended up noting the odd behaviour and composition of the Orcs, meeting with their war chief and securing an alliance with them. They were able to provide context to the signs that made the Orcs realise they'd read them wrong, and now they helm an Orc/Dragonborn alliance of all things.

Now of course, this is only possible because of the players staying true to their characters (each of them have very different reasons for valuing the alliance) and a not insignificant amount of setup and worldbuildng on my part, but isn't that literally the point of the game? I don't think anyone here is doing anything special or out of the ordinary, and yet, the PCs are advantaged, the Orcs un-genocided and the story moving off in an entirely new direction with a major conflict averted.



Obviously anecdotal evidence and all that, it doesn't necessarily prove the point but it was just a fun coincidence given your use of that particular example!

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/06/23 21:59:33


   
Made in nz
Stealthy Dark Angels Scout with Shotgun






 Paradigm wrote:
Obviously anecdotal evidence and all that, it doesn't necessarily prove the point but it was just a fun coincidence given your use of that particular example!


I think anecdotal evidence is pretty legitimate for discussing different RPG mechanics, as I really think it's perhaps one of the most subjective things people can discuss...pretty much ever, in all honesty. It depends on so many contributing factors it isn't funny, any system can be used well and be fun. I don't like 4th edition myself, but some people like it etc and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm a bit like Lance, I love a system which mechanically encourages RP, especially in character creation. I've begun GMing a Rogue Trader campaign and I love how much options you have for your character even in the core rule book (which I will go more in-depth here later) All of my players have had strong ideas for what their character will be and the options seem to fit them very well indeed.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/23 22:42:30


"The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.

My story! Secret War
After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1

 
   
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Likewise, when it comes to playing a character with a flaw; surely you do that because it makes them more interesting, progression and optimisation be damned? I always relish rolling a low stat, because that makes the character much more complex to embody


Ah. This sort of thing I definitely disagree with.
When I see a low stat at a table, its for one of two reasons: min/maxing or the player wants to be a problem child. Both are annoying.

Character complexity is completely independent of stats. Being the stupid one/weak one doesn't make a character more interesting, it just makes the character more of a burden to everyone else- characters and players alike.


Stupid and suicidal decisions don't make any sense as a natural reaction of anyone. And they become a table problem, as a small group engaged in life and death battles would get the person help or get rid of them as expediently as possible (depending on what falls into setting appropriate norms).

Efficiency is the highest virtue. 
   
Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant






A couple point in this I want to bring up.

Reputation as a tangible number is something that is added to a dice roll to see if a given NPC knows of you or a thing you did. The system works off a hand full of d6s. A 6 on any of them is a success. Your Reputation is how many d6s the DM rolls with the more successes he generates from that roll the more the NPCs might know of you.

Yes, Reputation doesn't HAVE to be mechanical, and if it serves the story the DM should just allow the NPC to know or not know a thing. But having a tool the players can see and the DM can use for their infamy is not itself a bad thing.


The second is about the Exp hand outs. In another system (my current favorite) by Eden studios the experience hand out at end of session runs similar but is based on different criteria.

-You showed up. 1
-Each instance of particularly good RP. 1
-Ingenuity in solving a problem 1-3
-Heroic Role Play (sort of a misnomer. It really means playing the character correctly especially when it's to the detriment of the character and the player knows it) 1-3
-The players advance the games plot. 1-3 depending on progress.
-The players advance their personal story (i.e. the character learns things and grow as people) 1-3

I like this spread better than what Forbidden lands offers. especially the personal and overall plot advancement. I like asking my players what they think has happened and hearing them talk about what their players thought and felt as the session unfolded.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
I don't think combat should be more complex than anything else. I feel like combat should work within the same universal mechanics of the rest of the game. Swinging a sword or casting a spell is a skill like any other.

I don't like the idea of classes placing characters into prebuilt boxes. People are not like that, characters shouldn't be either.

I don't like the idea of levels. Because they often are accompanied by a growth that strips the world of any semblance of the real world. A warrior dieing to 2 arrows at level 1 and laughing off 20 at level 15 is insanity. And it's hard for the players to treat something like that as the threat it should be when mechanically it's just a tickle.

Likewise, when a player is doused in dragon fire but survives, fighting at full efficiency and then taking an 8 hour nap and it being like it never happened.... what story are you telling at that point?

And finally I really dislike DnDs Armor Class mechanic. The thing about game play is it is about making choices. The player has no say in how they deal with any attack coming their way and they test nothing to see if their reactions are successful. They simply passively sit and wait to find out if they take damage or not. Yes, the DM spices that up with descriptions. But the bulk of the burden is then placed squarely on the DMs shoulders with no actual tools to help mitigate making the 100th sword swing interesting from the earlier 99.

These are all mechanics that take the players further away from RP. They encourage them to feel less like people in the world and more like those video game characters I mentioned. An arrow needs to always been an arrow for it to feel like you are a person in a combat. And the player needs to have something happening to them and then get a chance to answer the question "What do you do?"




Automatically Appended Next Post:
 Adrassil wrote:
 Paradigm wrote:
Obviously anecdotal evidence and all that, it doesn't necessarily prove the point but it was just a fun coincidence given your use of that particular example!


I think anecdotal evidence is pretty legitimate for discussing different RPG mechanics, as I really think it's perhaps one of the most subjective things people can discuss...pretty much ever, in all honesty. It depends on so many contributing factors it isn't funny, any system can be used well and be fun. I don't like 4th edition myself, but some people like it etc and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm a bit like Lance, I love a system which mechanically encourages RP, especially in character creation. I've begun GMing a Rogue Trader campaign and I love how much options you have for your character even in the core rule book (which I will go more in-depth here later) All of my players have had strong ideas for what their character will be and the options seem to fit them very well indeed.



@Adrissil I agree the anecdotal evidence is good here.

@Paradigm But I do want to point out that that only occurred because of the efforts of your world building by your admission. And I think we can all agree that it is generally the exception not the rule. DnD encourages the DM to build encounters as combats and the monsters are not people with motivations and lives but stat blocks to smash and exp and loot to hand out. The work you did is great and the reaction the players had is exactly what we all want from these games. But you and they had to go against the grain of the mechanics to get there. Good on you doing it.

This message was edited 5 times. Last update was at 2019/06/24 03:22:38



These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in gb
Soul Token




West Yorkshire, England

Personally, when it comes to rewards, I prefer some kind of metagame currency (spend this for a reroll) over experience that you're using to permanently improve your character. First, it's less hassle, and I've come to value low-hassle mechanics more and more compared to when I got into RPG's in the 90's. Second, it doesn't give uneven player progression (especially if someone misses a session).

I've come to think that the worst way to handle flaws is the "points up front" model that you saw in old World of Darkness games, and many other places. The behaiour that rewarded was taking the full allocations of flaws that would impact you the least ("OK, I take Enemy since we're going to have enemies anyway, this way just gives me more spotlight time, a phobia of piranhas since that's not gonna come up more than once tops and a pile of flaws that tank my social skills, because I can just go quiet and let the face-man do all the talking") and then never bringing them up in the entire game. My favourite example was in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG, where all the premade characters had "Enemy: Demons and Vampires" Because, you know, they'd totally have left you alone otherwise.

Though as a little counterpoint to the dislike for D&D in this thread, I do want to give some respect to the Legendary Action mechanic for boss monsters. It neatly solved a problem I'd been struggling with for years across different games--you come up with this big bad nemesis, this is going to be an epic fight! And then--

Five PC's attack. Damage spikes happen, he fails a save, and now my nemesis can't actually take an action this turn. Repeat another three times, and the encounter's turned into an anticlimax. Overcoming the action economy advantage is often hard without making the enemy powerful enough to one-shot characters, which is just anticlimactic in a different way. And letting bosses take extra actions in response to what the players do neatly solves that. It's gamey, but it feels like a one vs several encounter should--if you look at that sort of encounter in comic books or movies, it seldome feels like the heroes are getting twice as much done as the villain, who can react to each of them.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/24 07:47:54


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Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

Voss wrote:
Likewise, when it comes to playing a character with a flaw; surely you do that because it makes them more interesting, progression and optimisation be damned? I always relish rolling a low stat, because that makes the character much more complex to embody


Ah. This sort of thing I definitely disagree with.
When I see a low stat at a table, its for one of two reasons: min/maxing or the player wants to be a problem child. Both are annoying.

Character complexity is completely independent of stats. Being the stupid one/weak one doesn't make a character more interesting, it just makes the character more of a burden to everyone else- characters and players alike.


Not by itself, no. But when I roll, for example, a low Wisdom stat and decide to play that up as a character who, due to years of manipulation and mental abuse, is very easy to lie to and control, that's allowing me to tie together their narrative background and their actual mechanical abilities in a way that is satisfying. If I wrote that into his background, but at the table he was just as strong in that department as someone who hadn't had those experiences, there'd be this huge, clanging dissonance between the story I'm telling and the game I'm playing.

The same character also has really low Strength. I decided to write this in as the side effect of a procedure he went through some years ago to completely change his identity, essentially having alchemy and magic reshape his physical form, but at the expense of its strength; his bones are now fragile, his muscles somewhat atrophied.

On the other hand, that character carries around more arcane firepower than anyone in a hundred mile radius. He's not the 'weak one', he's not a liability or the burden, he just have flaws that, thanks to the stat rolls and the narrative I've built around those, give him justified weaknesses. As such, him failing a Wisdom save against some kind of Charm or Control spell isn't just a combat effect, it's a narrative hook for me to bring to the fore his long years of suffering. It creates drama.

Honestly, something that really annoys me is when people have low stats and just do all they can to avoid using them. Just because you have low Charisma doesn't mean you shouldn't ever talk to people. Just because you have low intelligence doesn't mean you can't contribute to the solving of a puzzle. Lean into those, relish the storytelling opportunity they grant you.

Min/Maxing doesn't come into it when you're talking rolled stats; I'm not gaining anything mechanically by having a low score somewhere. And I'm always one to favour rolling stats over choosing them, because that is what encourages min/maxing.


Stupid and suicidal decisions don't make any sense as a natural reaction of anyone. And they become a table problem, as a small group engaged in life and death battles would get the person help or get rid of them as expediently as possible (depending on what falls into setting appropriate norms).


On the other hand, the vast majority of characters in a game aren't going to be tactical geniuses. They're not going to know the optimal move in every situation, so why should the players make them if it's not appropriate? For instance, the DM creates a situation where your PCs see one of their beloved allies ruthlessly murdered in front of them. They are outmatched and outnumbered, and the logical response is to flee, but again, they've just seen a dear friend slain. Are they going to think logically, or are they going to charge the bastard that did it and do all in their power to bring him down?

Honestly? It depends greatly on the character. The military veteran with years of experience is going to react very differently to the bookish wizard who's never seen this kind of murder before, who in turn is going to act differently to the rage-filled berserker whose honour demands that he avenge his ally. Stripping away all of this, and only making the optimal moves sandblasts away all the narrative potential of a combat encounter and just makes it an over-complicated skirmish wargame.

Think of any movie, book, TV show. When presented with adversity, do the characters react with a cold, logical appraisal of the situation? Or do they make rash, impulsive decisions based on an emotional reaction? Most of the time, to some degree, it's the latter, and its written as such because that creates drama, and drama is the bread and butter of storytelling. The way I see it, tabletop storytelling should be no different.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
 Lance845 wrote:

I don't think combat should be more complex than anything else. I feel like combat should work within the same universal mechanics of the rest of the game. Swinging a sword or casting a spell is a skill like any other.

I don't like the idea of classes placing characters into prebuilt boxes. People are not like that, characters shouldn't be either.

I don't like the idea of levels. Because they often are accompanied by a growth that strips the world of any semblance of the real world. A warrior dieing to 2 arrows at level 1 and laughing off 20 at level 15 is insanity. And it's hard for the players to treat something like that as the threat it should be when mechanically it's just a tickle.

Likewise, when a player is doused in dragon fire but survives, fighting at full efficiency and then taking an 8 hour nap and it being like it never happened.... what story are you telling at that point?

And finally I really dislike DnDs Armor Class mechanic. The thing about game play is it is about making choices. The player has no say in how they deal with any attack coming their way and they test nothing to see if their reactions are successful. They simply passively sit and wait to find out if they take damage or not. Yes, the DM spices that up with descriptions. But the bulk of the burden is then placed squarely on the DMs shoulders with no actual tools to help mitigate making the 100th sword swing interesting from the earlier 99.


I will concede that these elements have the potential to create a dissonance between storytelling and gameplay, and that is something I sometime wrestle with. Honestly, as a DM I often find combat incredibly boring to run unless there's sufficient narrative around it that dramatic moments can occur at the same time. However, I kind of view the complexity of combat and the presence of a levelling system as a concession to the fact that this is a game. People want some element of challenge, and they want a sense of progression on a meta level, and that's entirely fair.

So when it comes down to it, I'm very happy for those elements to largely affect combat, because I'm already conceding that combat is, half the time, something that's going to bring a pause to the drama anyway. On the other hand, the increase in HP and damage and number of attacks and such is a contrivance, but a contrivance that lets me pit folks who were once facing town soldier against a dragon or a giant or a demon, and these act as narrative beats in a way, showing the progression along the heroes' journey. Basically, levelling up as a system let's me take the PCs from being Luke in ESB, outmatched entirely by Vader, to Luke in RotJ, evenly matched and with a shot at actually achieving victory. That is satisfying both to players and characters, and thus I'm happy to accept it.

As for the 15 arrows thing, I see that as a nod to the conventions on genre fiction. The ability for a PC to take a dozen hits is the same thing that lets Aragorn face down an Uruk horde, or Captain America not get immediately shot to death by laser-wielding alien armies. Maybe its their own fortitude, maybe it's the hand of some unseen fate protecting them, who can say? It allows for those epic moments, so it's something I'm happy to deal with.



@Paradigm But I do want to point out that that only occurred because of the efforts of your world building by your admission. And I think we can all agree that it is generally the exception not the rule. DnD encourages the DM to build encounters as combats and the monsters are not people with motivations and lives but stat blocks to smash and exp and loot to hand out. The work you did is great and the reaction the players had is exactly what we all want from these games. But you and they had to go against the grain of the mechanics to get there. Good on you doing it.


My experience of tabletop roleplaying isn't necessarily wide enough to disagree (I've only played with a few groups, and they've all been like this), but it's pretty sad if what I'm doing is the exception rather than the rule. If GMs aren't setting up events, preparing narratives, building a variety of encounters and catering for various outcomes, what exactly are they doing? Turning up each week and just saying 'yes and' to players? Opening the monster manual and glancing only at the statblock, instead of all the lore the books give you to create these stories with? As I say, you're not necessarily wrong, but I'd be greatly disheartened if you were right.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2019/06/24 08:21:56


   
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Well it's as easy as picking up a DnD adventure and looking at each combat encounter. How often do they describe whats going on with the bad guys and how often are they just like "In this room are these monsters, stat blocks on page xx". In the 5th ed starter, the red cloaks are just "a band of thugs who will try to kill the players". They are humans, arguably just extortionists, gladly committing outright murder on strangers and who get murdered in return as you walk room to room through their base. Things constantly fight to the death in DnD and I can only think of a few exceptions where an adventure calls out a specific named NPC who would stop at x HP and try to beg for their life or flee.

Death is treated with all the commonality of a gritty brutal game like Conan but with none of the weight or consequence and never for the players (in that death is so rare).




Automatically Appended Next Post:
And to be fair these are not just problems with dnd. Its fairly common in all level/class based games. Dnd just gets used as the example because they are so up front and center. We all share it as a common point of reference.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2019/06/24 13:10:06



These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

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Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
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So is this just a D&D bashing thread? OK, carry on.

"The 75mm gun is firing. The 37mm gun is firing, but is traversed round the wrong way. The Browning is jammed. I am saying "Driver, advance." and the driver, who can't hear me, is reversing. And as I look over the top of the turret and see twelve enemy tanks fifty yards away, someone hands me a cheese sandwich." 
   
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 Elemental wrote:
So is this just a D&D bashing thread? OK, carry on.


Its not meant to be. Again, its just our most common point of reference. If you think dnds mechanics do something particularly well for the story telling, toss it in there.



A general mechanical question. What do you think it does both for the gm running the game and the players when the players are built and run off different mechanics from the majority of the rest of the world?

If a human, a kobold, a fearie, and a dragon are not treated as racial packages but instead the human is built in one way and the others are built in another, what are the advantages and disadvantages for all involved? Does it create a us vs them kind of narrative dissonance? Does it change the way a dm preps them?

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/24 16:57:38



These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
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 Elemental wrote:
So is this just a D&D bashing thread? OK, carry on.


That's like saying any thread talking about computer operating systems in a Windows bashing thread. It's impossible to talk about a subject while ignoring the largest dragon (heh) in the room.

I find this thread fascinating. I'm still new to tabletop RPGs and have only played two system thus far so even if I find the idea of making social interactions mechanical not very fun in prospect, it's still cool to see people talking about how mechanics work and what outcomes they produce.

I've seen different home rule versions in every game I've taken part in so far to try and encourage good RP.

One GM threw out Plot Points for RPing your character, but I didn't like this system. Mostly you just got rewarded for doing something entertaining or cool, whether or not those things produced a consistent character wasn't taken into consideration. The way we used the points was also maybe too strong, since characters could use them to increase the result of any roll by +1 and even give their points to another character. Thus the wacky bard who was an amazingly dedicated RPer had a massive amount of points that trivialized a lot of fights and challenges.

Another GM ran inspiration for successfully making use of the personality stuff on your sheet, but added in demotivation as a flip side. That gave disadvantage on roles if you weren't RPing the character consistently. Mostly though this was used to punish people for RPing "badly," and I really hated it mostly because the group at large really just wanted to dungeon crawl and didn't care for RP. That group didn't last very long...

My favorite method is the use of Hero Points by one GM. Every character gets some each level and they can be used to assure an outcome of a roll (make it a crit etc etc). But you have to RP it and it has to fit the character, and this has worked fairly well practice, even if its a little clunky and like the first option kind of easy to abuse at critical moments.

I honestly can't say any of these mechanics made me feel like RP was really worth it. RP is fun because its RP, but sometimes the group just isn't into that, and mechanical attempts to encourage it have all thus far felt really clunky to me. I think I'd really rather just have a group that dedicated itself to RPing their characters which is what my favorite game is like at the moment. We've had entire sessions with no combat, just social interactions and checks when necessary (trying to haggle a better price, or convince someone to help etc) and it seems to be working really well. The only downside I see to it is that the players have to be completely into it, and it demands a lot from the GM since they need to work out all the NPCs and play them all as separate characters which I'd find exhausting but the guy doing it right now is really into it.

   
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I agree with your conclusions there lordofhats.

It doesnt necessarily need to be mechanics that force or mechanize social interaction and rp. It could be NOT having mechanics that encourage you not to.

Between dnds classes (and how they are all geared towards combat) and levels and loot and the scaling of hp and how no injury effects you mechanically until you hit 0 and all injuries are recovered with a nap, its less that you need mechanics to incentivize rp and more that if you want to treat being lit on fire as a person being lit on fire you have both no mechanical support to indicate how you should act and your specifically told to kind of act like it didnt even happen.


One game system i played had endurance. Like hp but for getting tired. When you got to 10 or less you had a -1 to all actions (probably close to a -2 in dnd). At 5 or less its. -3. At 0 you roll to not pass out from exhaustion. Hiking through rough terrain, combat, fear, lots of things could drain your endurance.

It was more micromanaging then i liked. But what was interesting was players would start acting tired and asking the group to stop and camp when they got closer to 15ish endurance. The hard work their characters did impacted the way they behaved BEFORE a mechanical penalty came into play because they had something to show them their character was human and tired.

If dnds systems more acurately represented injury and threat and people in general you wouldnt need extra systems to get players to rp. They just would. Diferent systems do better or worse at that while creating anything from way too much book keeping to very little. But i always find it interesting how players are influenced by those mechanics. Nobody says they HAVE to start getting tired. But the players just start doing it because they can see its impact.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/24 18:55:02



These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
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 Lance845 wrote:

If dnds systems more acurately represented injury and threat and people in general you wouldnt need extra systems to get players to rp. They just would. Diferent systems do better or worse at that while creating anything from way too much book keeping to very little. But i always find it interesting how players are influenced by those mechanics. Nobody says they HAVE to start getting tired. But the players just start doing it because they can see its impact.


This is entirely dependent on your group and not the system though. How much a group of players will role-play and get "into character" has nothing to do with the rule set.

Example: White Wolf (at least back in the day I don't know about their recent editions) had die pool penalties based on how messed up you were. Bruised? -0, keep fighting. Wounded? -1, you're slowing down. Crippled? -5(!)

But none of that forced anyone to actually say anything. Nothing forced me to comment on it as anything other than a mechanical issue. "Crap, I'm losing 5 dice because I'm crippled." D&D may not use anything similar (incidentally 5e introduced the Exhaustion mechanic, which is separate from HP), but even in 3e before 4e introduced bloodied, we would be able to include how hurt or exhausted or whatever we were based on our current HP. "Tirg is looking rough, he's swinging his sword slower than usual, but he still forces himself between Liara and the Beholder."

 Lance845 wrote:

Between dnds classes (and how they are all geared towards combat) and levels and loot and the scaling of hp and how no injury effects you mechanically until you hit 0 and all injuries are recovered with a nap, its less that you need mechanics to incentivize rp and more that if you want to treat being lit on fire as a person being lit on fire you have both no mechanical support to indicate how you should act and your specifically told to kind of act like it didnt even happen.

If you need "mechanical support to indicate how you should act [on fire]", then I don't know that you should be in a role-playing group. You play your character, you know your character, you should know (and act) how your character would act. That's regardless of system, mechanics or whatever else. If my current Dragonborn character was lit on fire, he'd be annoyed but given he was raised near the inside of an active volcano, probably less likely to panic about it. (also he's resistant to fire damage). It doesn't mean I wouldn't try to put myself out immediately (because who wants to be on fire?) but it does mean his instincts for self-preservation might take a back seat to helping someone ELSE who is on fire (and maybe not resistant to it).

I'm also not even sure what you mean by "specifically told to kind of act like it didn't even happen". Like, what?
   
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Lance845 wrote:Well it's as easy as picking up a DnD adventure and looking at each combat encounter. How often do they describe whats going on with the bad guys and how often are they just like "In this room are these monsters, stat blocks on page xx". In the 5th ed starter, the red cloaks are just "a band of thugs who will try to kill the players". They are humans, arguably just extortionists, gladly committing outright murder on strangers and who get murdered in return as you walk room to room through their base. Things constantly fight to the death in DnD and I can only think of a few exceptions where an adventure calls out a specific named NPC who would stop at x HP and try to beg for their life or flee.

Death is treated with all the commonality of a gritty brutal game like Conan but with none of the weight or consequence and never for the players (in that death is so rare).



Admittedly, you have a point here, if the modules are written in such a matter-of-fact way (I've never actually used or read one properly) then that is maybe a barrier to more nuanced plotting, but equally, I'd say that's more of a style issue for those particular books that a system-wide flaw. You could just as easily an encounter that's mechanically identical, but specifies that Greg is a nervous wreck who will surrender if the other members of the gang are killed, that Baelin has a special hatred of Dwarves so will gun for any Dwarven PC with a bloodthirsty ruthlessness and Bodger has a 40% chance of running at the first sign of trouble.

And in the interests of fairness, for all the adventure modules that just put up a list of things to kill, the various monster books are a lot more generous on the lore front. The main MM does mainly offer tidbits and hooks, but Volo's Guide and Mordenkainen's Tome do have about half their page count dedicated to more in-depth lore on certain races, cultures ect. All that stuff I mentioned with the Orcs was modified from the chapter dealing with them in Volo's, for instance. That material is there if people are willing to put in the effort.

Though as I say, I have no reason to doubt that adventures are written in such a way as you say, and if that's the case then yes, that's not ideal. On that note, I think an interesting metric in this regard might be how many DMs actually run those modules, versus how many work from scratch in bespoke setting and stories? Obviously, the latter gives you a lot more freedom to put more nuance and depth into proceedings, whereas trying to bend an adventure into a more complex shape than it was written as might actually be more work in the long run, even though the world and narrative are their for you.



Lance845 wrote:


A general mechanical question. What do you think it does both for the gm running the game and the players when the players are built and run off different mechanics from the majority of the rest of the world?

If a human, a kobold, a fearie, and a dragon are not treated as racial packages but instead the human is built in one way and the others are built in another, what are the advantages and disadvantages for all involved? Does it create a us vs them kind of narrative dissonance? Does it change the way a dm preps them?


Iff I've read this right, you're essentially talking about the difference between a PC's Character Sheet and an NPC/Monster's stat block? For me, the answer is that it doesn't really change things at all in terms of prep. If I've a specific character in mind for an upcoming session, the form they take might vary a bit but the process remains the same. I might use a stat block if they're not easily accommodated by a specific class or race, or if I want to give them some kind of ability inaccessible via building them as a character sheet, but equally, I might build them a character sheet if I think I'm going to need easy access to their non-combat skills, proficiency ect in more detail. Sometimes, I know there's absolutely no chance of a character getting into combat, so I'll just make rough notes on their capabilities and be done with it. Rather than Mercury being a Level 17 Conjuration Wizard, it was enough for me to know that the PCs needed someone to cast Teleport and he was powerful enough to do it.

But the process is still the same, with anyone of note being designed as a character first, rules second. Regardless of the stats I'm using and what form they take, I tend to draw up notes on personality, what information they might have or want, what services they offer or are in need of, their general attitudes long before I get to any number-crunching. And in that regard, it doesn't really matter whether it's a Tiefling enchanter, a Dragon who's made a Warlock Pact or a lowly Duergar mage trying to con the party into doing his bidding.

Of course, it's never going to be meticulous. Half the characters will be improvised on the spot and their details filled in later should they be likely to come up again. Sometimes, I'll prepare a villain to have a grand scheme that kicks off after an opening battle from which they flee, only to have the PCs utterly smash them in said battle and thwart that before it even happens. Sometimes they'll breeze right past the character I've put hours of thought into and spend half an hour talking instead to a randomly improvised alchemist. But that's the nature of the beast really, and all part of the fun.



In terms of the Class structure though, I do think it's somewhat unhelpful for people to define themselves so readily by the Race/Level/Class trifecta. It's a convenient shorthand for swapping stories of course, and to some extent it'll give you some idea of what they're talking about, but I feel it does lead to some implied pidgeonholeing. For all their mechanical rigidity, I find 5e's classes offer a great deal of flexibility in actually creating a character that deviates from the archetypes (or rather, they offer very little impediment to it). While not so much a mechanic, this is where I do like to pull in something from another system. Numenera instead asks players to define themeves as 'An [adjective] [noun] who [verbs]'. Now, this could be 'Dragonborn Paladin who uses a sword and shield', but it could just as easily be 'a determined idealist who longs for peace but knows he must fight for it.' I just described the same character two different ways, a PC from one of the games I run, but I think the second description gives you far more of an insight into his nature than any breakdown of his level, class, race, capability ect would. So yeah, if you can call that a mechanic then it definitely does help roleplaying (or at least how you perceive a character), but crucially it isn't anything that intrudes into the minute-to-minute playing of a session.

That's why I'm generally more ok with roleplaying mechanics kicking in at the character creation stage. Anything that helps you turn up with a more fleshed out character and gives you more options to reflect who you want to be when you draw up that persona is great. I just feel that stuff should be left behind once the game actually begins. It's the fuel for your journey, rather than a part of the journey itself.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/24 19:30:16


   
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Your numineria description is an argument i have made with people before in that listening to people describe their characters often boils down to describing superman.

So hes invulnerable, can fly, super strength, cold breath, heat vision etc etc... Its a list of powers. Not a person.

Where as the game should focus more on a spiderman.

Hes a nerd who struggles with maintaining his private life while the power and responsibility keeps pulling him towards saving others at the expense of his own goals.




Automatically Appended Next Post:
Also, yes, if someone has no interest in rp they wont rp regardless of system and if someone just want to rp they can find a way to regardless of mechanics. That is true. They are capable.

That doesnt mean mechanics have no impact. In game design you build your mechanics to get the players to want to do what you want them to do. If the game is ultra lethal the players wont kick down a lot of doors and charge around like lunatics getting into dozens of fights a day. If the players are nigh invulnerable they wont think twice not to. One is not less valid than the other, but the mechanics certainly nudge the players one way or another. Of course an individual can do what they want within those confines. But what is the game trying to tell you to do? Somebody brand new, no guidance, who grabs the book and starts playing, where does he go with it?

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/06/24 21:56:37



These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

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Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
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I have used several rpg systems in the past, predominantly 2nd AD&D, 3rd D&D, Warhammer and Gurps. The first two encouraged a min/max play style and also produced flat characters. Gurps on the other hand provided the player with a gigantic amount of choice regarding character creation.
You want to put emphasis on role-play? Choose Gurps. You want to kick in doors and kill monsters? Choose D&D.
   
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What do people think of meta currencies? Especially meta currencies that can pit dm against the players?

Examples include lightside/darkside points in the fantasy flight starwars games, doom/momentum in Conan, and Dark Points in corialis?

I can elaborate on all of those if anyone is unfamiliar with the mechanic/s.


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
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 Lance845 wrote:
What do people think of meta currencies? Especially meta currencies that can pit dm against the players?

Examples include lightside/darkside points in the fantasy flight starwars games, doom/momentum in Conan, and Dark Points in corialis?

I can elaborate on all of those if anyone is unfamiliar with the mechanic/s.


I like the idea, but I find a casual player/group just isn't well equipped to make the most of it. When you start having players override the GM, you're in territory where everyone is basically sharing GM responsibilities at different points. To make that fun and avoid going off the rails everyone needs to be in sync a bit I think. A PUG doesn't seem like the kind of group you want to play that with but I'm not sure.

   
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Well they don't tend to allow players to override the GM. They tend to give the player small (or large) bonuses to actions. Lightside points are spent to add a larger better dice to your dice pool in Starwars and are represented by double sided tokens. When you spend the lightside point you flip it to the darkside side. Which the GM now has to spend back at you.


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
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 Lance845 wrote:
Well they don't tend to allow players to override the GM. They tend to give the player small (or large) bonuses to actions. Lightside points are spent to add a larger better dice to your dice pool in Starwars and are represented by double sided tokens. When you spend the lightside point you flip it to the darkside side. Which the GM now has to spend back at you.


Oh. I was thinking more along the lines of plot points.

No that sounds kind of neat. I know lots of people say they like choices in their games and that choices are what make things fun, but what I think they really mean is consequences. Things players choose to do (i.e. things the characters do) are kind of empty if they don't come back. I like the idea of giving a concrete mechanic for that, one that puts the back of forth between player and setting (in the form of the GM) up front. Might be something worth playing whenever my time freesup/my DnD campaigns finish.

   
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 LordofHats wrote:
 Lance845 wrote:
Well they don't tend to allow players to override the GM. They tend to give the player small (or large) bonuses to actions. Lightside points are spent to add a larger better dice to your dice pool in Starwars and are represented by double sided tokens. When you spend the lightside point you flip it to the darkside side. Which the GM now has to spend back at you.


Oh. I was thinking more along the lines of plot points.

No that sounds kind of neat. I know lots of people say they like choices in their games and that choices are what make things fun, but what I think they really mean is consequences. Things players choose to do (i.e. things the characters do) are kind of empty if they don't come back. I like the idea of giving a concrete mechanic for that, one that puts the back of forth between player and setting (in the form of the GM) up front. Might be something worth playing whenever my time freesup/my DnD campaigns finish.


So for fair critique I will spell these out a little more with the general perception of good and bad about them.

-The lightside/darkside points have the general issue of hoarding. The GM being the GM SHOULD be spending his darkside points so that the players get their lightside points and vice versa. But a Bad GM or a group of players thinking tactically will wait till they have all the points flipped to their side and then they won't spend them because why would you give the "enemy" a resource to use against you? It's just a thing that can happen when the pressure is on. The GM kind of wants to save the Darkside points for something big. The players don't want to give the DM darkside points to make something big worse.


-The Dark Points of Coriolis are purely a meta currency for the DM.

The DM acquires them when the players do certain things. Using ancient tech, being tainted by a force called "The Dark Between the Stars (here after tdbts) and "pushing" their rolls (the game runs off a dice pool of d6s. 6s are successes. If you want you can push the roll and reroll all not 6s. But if you do every 1 you roll generates a DP for the DM).

Dark points can be spent to fuel monster abilities (which almost exclusively cost DP to be used), increase their initiative etc... cause weapon jams, cause environmental hazards, have quirks kick in on your space ship to add complications to a scene, etc etc... They are meant to represent a kind of karmic backlash and to add tension to scenes that would otherwise start to drag, but do so not simply at the DMs whim but through a currency the players are generating for the DM.

Some people complain that the DM is out to get them. Others argue that if you are playing with a DM that you think is out to get you then why are you playing with a bad DM?


-Conan I have the least experience understanding of. In Conan you generate Momentum as you do things in a scene. It builds and gets spent to add bonuses and activate abilities which in turn generates doom for the DM. The Doom is then spent to fuel Monsters or create circumstances and complications. In a interview I listened to one of the creators described it like the scene in the original Conan movie. Conan and Co sneak into Thulsa Doom s temple and they are all being bad asses. They acumulate all this momentum going to room to room and then Conan sees Thulsa and gets high on his momentum. He stands up and yells calling him out. The NPCs come pouring in and the players spend it lavishly and with the Doom thus generated the fight begins to turn. They have to flee, and the final bit of Doom manifests as the snake arrow that Thulsa shoots killing Conans lady.

By default the players always go first in Conan. Doom allows the DM to knock NPCs up in initiative, give them momentum like powers and abilities, and otherwise turn what would be mundane nothing encounters into life and death situations.

Some feel that the system encourages a player VS DM mindset where they are enemies across the table from each other instead of playing a game together for alls enjoyment. I have also seen many with experience with the system say it doesn't work like that because doom and momentum come so fast and get spent so furiously.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2019/07/06 15:42:47



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 JohnHwangDD wrote:

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Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
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I think that's really something that depends on the setting and tone of the game.

For Star Wars, I can certainly see it working neatly as part of the narrative; in the words of Supreme Leader Snoke, 'Darkness rises, and Light to meet it'. So simply by the natural laws of The Force, if a particularly powerful user of the Light Side does something significant, that Dark Side point doesn't necessarily represent the player conceding something to the GM for the sake of a momentary advantage, but a reflection on the way (at least to some readings) that setting functions. It's not the GM having something in their back pocket to spring later... well, it is mechanically, but in-universe, it is a reflection of the way that setting functions on both a 'real' level and in terms of the meta-narrative of Star Wars.

Likewise, if you have a setting that's heavily inspired or based on systems of Karma or Fate beyond the agency of the individual actors in that setting, I can see something working there. Maybe even something like Middle Earth, where powers of Good and Evil have significant and direct influence on the course of events above and beyond the free will of the characters in play.

But I do think it needs a reason to exist, rather than something that is purely a game mechanic to pit GM against players as I really do think that dynamic should be cooperative rather than confrontational (though that's probably a whole other conversation). I think the closest to it in D&D that I'm a genuine fan of is the Lucky Feat. On the surface, I should hate this, it's just 3 free re-rolls a day that don't represent you being better at anything in particular, and just give you on-demand Advantage (or Disadvantage on something against you). However, I like this because it aligns neatly with the kind of stories I like to tell in these games, which are very much tales of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. And in that regard, I like Lucky for certain characters as it can really give them a sense of existing just beyond the fate that binds the regular mortals of the world.

I don't allow it for every character, but if someone can give me a good reason why they should have it then I'm very much open to it being used. Whether it's representing the sheer audacity of a Han Solo type, a Jack Sparrow-esque accidental competence or even a Pratchett/Douglas Adams-esque hand of fate guiding the character's hand through coincidence and chance, there's a lot it can do for a character with a little creativity, even if as just a rule it appears to just be a powerful freebie benefit.

   
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In another game I played there were "qualities" and "drawbacks" in character creation. Qualities were positive and cost points drawbacks were negative and gave you points. Lucky let you get bonuses to dice rolls during a session. Unlucky let the dm hand you penalties during a session. It was one of the only Quality/Drawback opposites where you could have both.


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in gb
Fixture of Dakka






The mechanics of character generation are what makes or breaks a game for me. I've had some experience with FFG's Star Wars, WFRP 1st and 2nd edition, D&D 3, MERP (crossed with Rolemaster to expand the skills list), Dark Heresy 2 and Shadowrun 5.

Of those, I preferred WFRP and Dark Heresy, followed by D&D. Why? because they're the most forgiving to players who know nothing or little about the game. In WFRP 2 I rolled up a character right up to his name (which is usually where I get stuck - my MERP character went from level 5 to 7 without a name - a year or more of real time), and then I could get on with exploring that character. The random generation gave me hooks for a background that I otherwise can't invent ex nihilo myself.

In MERP I actually came up with a half-decent character concept, which was then hampered by being too focussed on skill sets and weapons that turned out to be useless in the campaign (expert rider and a high skill using a lance aren't much use when the first adventure was in a dungeon - I only survived that by GM fiat after failing to jump over a bottomless chasm in the second session). Eventually it got better, but by that point my character was so far behind in XP that everyone else was better at just about anything - and it only got worse because MERP awards XP for succeeding at skill tests, and there was never any reason for me to attempt anything because someone else was already better at it.

Shadowrun 5's chargen was so complicated that I gave up, picked the sample Rigger character and changed its name and gender.

D&D was pretty simple because at 1st level, all you really need to choose is a name, species and class, and you've got time to see how the game works before committing to any particular direction. The campaign I played in used the fixed stats block (the one for high-powered NPCs except dropping the lowest number for a straight 2D6 roll, then we allocated the numbers as we wanted. Which is how we ended up with a half-orc that was better in social situations than the elf, and a wizard with no common sense whatsoever (WIS 3!). We played them appropriately; we soon learned to stand back when the wizard started muttering, because he was likely to cast a fireball down a 5'-wide corridor while standing behind the rest of the party.
   
Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser




MN

Great discussion. Mechanics definitely shape player behavior as the rewards of the mechanics are the feedback mechanisms about if you are playing a game "correctly".

I actually find the fewer mechanics a game has, the better the game is. Stat Blocks, Mechanical rewards designed around behavior, etc. are all just constructs that are put in place to regulate game play, but also leads players to play the game instead of experience the game. They use the mechanics to channel their decision making.

There should be character hooks and such for character creation, and some very basic rules for combat so you can make it as cinematic (and easy) as you want. All the rest of the mechanics you find in most RPGs are just there to provide goals for players to increase their abilities instead of role-play or achieve character beats, to create a sense of progress and improvement instead of playing their characters.

When I was young, I needed the heavy crunch and structure of DnD and Shadowrun because I didn't know better. As I got older, I wanted something with a lighter touch and more story telling with less mechanical rewards and more on telling a character's story.

Alternate mechanics I have seen used:

- Jenga Towers
- Clock filling
- Passing tokens
- Card plays
- Word vs word
- Dice rolling

Also, rewards should be based on RP and solving plot points. Any other reward systems skew the players perceptions and they will try to "win" the game by attaining those "objectives" so they must align around what the game behaviors you are trying to reward. That should be attendance, RP, and solving problems.

Just some thoughts.

Do you like Free Wargames?
http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/ 
   
Made in us
Sneaky Sniper Drone




United States

I personally am a big fan of using mechanics to encourage player behavior. Even if it isn't necessary or fails to work as intended (usually in the players just still ignoring it.

However, I want to jump in on the meta-currency discussion.

I love the use of meta-currency.

I've DM'd the FFG Star Wars RPG before. It turned out not to be for us, because interpreting the dice results was very difficult for me, and I didn't have a solid story. However, in the games we did play, I was always very sure to encourage the force points being spent. I would try to always spend them when I had a majority, and whenever I had players looking at their skills worried about failure I would just say "You have X force points, would like to spend one?" They almost always said yes.

Have not gotten to play with these ones but they sound interesting,
In Numenera they have the GM Intrusion, where the GM can say "Would you accept this gift 2XP in return for me doing X" to any player. That player then gains 1 XP and gives the second XP to another player of their choosing. Usually, the effect is something like accidentally alerting the guards, dropping the priceless artifact, and so on. They are meant to allow the GM ways to nudge the story or player behavior in a certain direction while letting players have some control in the ability to "refuse" the intrusion. However, they have to pay the GM 1 XP if they refuse.

Plot Points in the Cortex Prime system. These seem interesting because the players earn them for roleplaying mechanically. or as a reward from the GM or as a result of rolling 1's and taking a "consequence". Roleplaying mechanically essentially means the player can choose to replace the normal die roll with a d4 (stats are represented as a die rather than a number. So the strongest swordsman would have a D12 strength stat) if that would be "in character" (A drunk guy making a charisma check or something), and they receive a plot point. If the players roll a 1, the DM can choose to exploit that 1 by assigning a consequence, maybe the character tripped and broke the table, now everyone knows he is drunk and gets to roll 1 die rating higher than normal when they try to persuade him of something. Plot Points can be spent to upgrade dice, activate special powers, and "create assets" basically "OH yeah when I was at the store earlier I totally bought that length of rope."

I like the idea of the cortex plot points, and the numenera intrusions, because they have relatively well-established rules for the players receiving them besides 'the DM, wanted to".
   
Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser




MN

I honestly feel mechanics beyond.... Because the GM wanted to.... are over thinking things. Ideally, the GM and Players are collaborative in building the adventure. Therefore, mechanics that make things harder than.... because the GM wanted to.... are more restrictive than beneficial.

Players may complain about this, by why are they playing a collaborative game with a GM who is not being collaborative? The point is for everyone to have fun and tell a story together.... even if the players fail and some of them die.

Do you like Free Wargames?
http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/ 
   
Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant






 Easy E wrote:
I honestly feel mechanics beyond.... Because the GM wanted to.... are over thinking things. Ideally, the GM and Players are collaborative in building the adventure. Therefore, mechanics that make things harder than.... because the GM wanted to.... are more restrictive than beneficial.

Players may complain about this, by why are they playing a collaborative game with a GM who is not being collaborative? The point is for everyone to have fun and tell a story together.... even if the players fail and some of them die.


The thing I notice in most games systems is the players have tools and mechanics and are playing a game. The GM however is not actually playing anything. They are a referee who makes call and sets the field for the players to play in. When meta currencies enter the picture to provide structure and mechanics for when and how the GM can do certain things and push certain things it helps the GM become a player as well and can enhance the enjoyment of the GM (a consideration not often thought about).

The GM by all reasoning should ALSO be a player, though a asymmetrical one and playing as the GM should be enjoyable in the act of doing it instead of simply gaining joy because others had fun with your work.


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

I totally agree that the GM should be able to have fun to the same extent as the players, but I don't necessarily see that that requires them to have a mechanical force to push back against the players or anything that makes the game more adversarial or combative. The GM should never be trying to beat the players, even though characters they play obviously are, and I think a GM that derives fun from an attempt to engage in a game against them is missing the point.

The fun of GMing comes from the ability to play a multitude of characters, to shape the story and the world and, yes, from seeing other people enjoy what you create. I can see how some sort of mechanical back and forth might be more appealing to those who take the view that the GM shouldn't have a story to tell, or create a narrative, and should only ever react to what the players are doing, but I really think that approach is deeply flawed one for a multitude of reasons (though obviously, if you're having fun then it's all good).

I think of the mechanics mentioned so far, the GM Intervention one is the one that I find most unnecessary and strange. Not only does it further the acquisition of XP even more from the in-universe reason people get better at things, which is by doing them and learning about them, but it's just not needed. To take the example given, to say 'you get a bonus XP if the at guards are alerted', why does that need to be there? Presumably, the game has some kind of contest between perception and stealth that covers situations like this, so if the guards do well trying to find the PCs or the PCs make a mess of their stealth, then it's only natural that the guards are alerted. By the sound of it, this is saying to the players 'sure, you did really well with your stealth, but it'd be really handy if the guards knew you were here, so have this XP bribe and pretend you totally failed that roll'. Just seems very strange to me to play a game in which the dice arbitrate things, and then have a mechanic to overrule them.

   
Made in gb
Savage Khorne Berserker Biker




Southampton, UK

I've not played any really modern RPGs, but I have a fair bit of experience with older D&D, Shadowrun (2nd Ed), World Of Darkness and Call Of Cthulhu.

One of the most interesting mechanics I've seen in terms of forcing players to think about their characters, and encouraging roleplaying instead of playing a list of abilities, is that of Wraith: The Oblivion.

For those not familiar, Wraith is one of the White Wolf World Of Darkness games, in the same game world as Vampire: The Masquerade and so on. Characters play the recently deceased, who are still bound to the world of the living and are unable to transcend to the next plane of existence.

During character creation, you have to detail:
Who were you while you were alive
How did you die
Personality archetype(s)
Your Regret - summary of why are you still interested in the mortal world
A list of Fetters - these are physical items that still bind you to the mortal world. You have to explain what they are, how important they are and why.
Passions - these are the emotional motivations binding you to the mortal world, things like 'avenge my death' or 'publish my unfinished novel'

It's all built around providing motivations for how the characters behave, and hooks for the GM for the story.

Where it gets really interesting is that each Wraith also has a Shadow - this is the dark, nihilistic aspect of its personality, which craves failure and self destruction. The Shadow has its own character sheet, its own goals, abilities, Fetters, Passions and so on. In moments of high stress, failure, insurmountable odds etc the Shadow can take over. And the idea is that the Shadow is played by another player in the group...
   
 
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