Dungeons & Dragons

ourchair

Well-Known Member
Here's a secret: I've been playing for the past two years. I run a blog about it. It's at http://mygirlfriendisadm.wordpress.com

I also organize a semi-regular event called POLYHEDRAL where we stuff people into bars, give them alcohol and make them roll dice. Our collaborators live in the same apartment building in the floor beneath us. They order most of the products that are used at the events. It's like a Willy Wonka palace filled with dice, minis and books.

Our dream is to basically create our own version of the Penny Arcade office.

That is all.

So who else loves teh D&D?
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
I love roleplaying, but I cannot play or run D&D and many other RPGs because the rules are teh sux.

Really. I kinda ascribe an idea that in one evening of three hours, you should be able to generate characters, an adventure, and teach everyone the rules and play a complete story. I feel this way because the best games work like that: you start with almost nothing (maybe a deck of cards and that's it) and you can play multiple games in a single evening, but roleplaying is this arcane hobby in which people spend one evening just getting the basic essentials to play (character and adventure) and then the game takes weeks to actually play out and ugh... the amount of stuff you generate on your character sheets that you don't even use in most of these games is staggering.

So everytime I get together to roleplay (which is ****ing rare let me tell you) I have to kinda convince everyone to try out a version of roleplaying that is so much more effortless to run. And there's only be one or two times it hasn't gone brilliantly.
 

ourchair

Well-Known Member
I love roleplaying, but I cannot play or run D&D and many other RPGs because the rules are teh sux.

Really. I kinda ascribe an idea that in one evening of three hours, you should be able to generate characters, an adventure, and teach everyone the rules and play a complete story. I feel this way because the best games work like that: you start with almost nothing (maybe a deck of cards and that's it) and you can play multiple games in a single evening, but roleplaying is this arcane hobby in which people spend one evening just getting the basic essentials to play (character and adventure) and then the game takes weeks to actually play out and ugh... the amount of stuff you generate on your character sheets that you don't even use in most of these games is staggering.
This is not diametrically opposed to what 'mainstream' (for lack of a much better word) role-playing. The beauty of role-playing is that it is only as arcane and byzantine in execution as you really allow it to be.

Over the past decade, the role-playing enthusiast community has kind of seized upon this, which is what has made many systems that juggle some combination of being 'rules lite' and/or ‘pick up and play’ acquire some kind of popularity. Games like In A Wicked Age, which really just rely on improvisational storytelling and very abstract forms for character generation (in fact it sounds like exactly the game you ought to play) and even the more mechanically complex games Cortex (Serenity, Supernatural, Leverage, Smallville) are streamlined down to a ‘rule of thumb’ essence.

Of course, there’s a difference (and overlap too) between role-playing as an activity and role-playing as a product-oriented hobby. The role-playing you infrequently practice is ‘let’s tell a story, and I’m going to improvise with poker chips or cocktail napkins or whateva and we’re going to have fun’ but that doesn’t mean it invalidates things like ‘mechanically driven systems with a rules density for someone with high-function Asperger’s’ in the same way that the value I get from Superman: Secret Identity doesn’t necessarily invalidate the value others get from continuity-dense event driven DC stories.

There’s more to be said about what you’ve struck on here, but I’ll leave it at this for now.
 

Ultimate Houde

UC's Resident Genetic Recombinator
I have no idea what Bass is talking about. The only in depth RPG I've ever played was a White Wolf Game. All the other D&D adventures was pick up a character sheet, make a quick character, and start playing. Usually happens within an hour.

But I've played AD&D, Warhammer (the medieval one) and some White Wolf. I liked White Wolf the best, but it was annoying because the person running the game didn't like it if you went off of his script. So I stopped that one.
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
It's not so much that it's rules light but that it actually is well designed.

I'll give you a brief example of what I mean; most roleplaying games work like this: To hit someone you roll to hit, they roll to dodge, then if you hit, you roll damage which is a completely different set of dice and instead of trying to roll under/over, you're rolling to get as high a number as possible, then that subtracts from a total of hits. If you want to cast magic, it's a whole other system, and other powers like telepathic attacks ignore this entire ordeal. Then, if you want to do anything else, you just roll once and that's it. So you've got four or five different task resolution systems in one game. And that's without including all the fringe situational modifiers that kick in, the special rules associated with powers, stats, and skills, and on and on and on. As such, the game works like this: you roleplay, then you go to do something, everything and everyone stops, pick up the rule book, check the rules, roll and double check and so on.

I prefer games where the system doesn't stop you but rather, generates the game itself, and one rule for all task resolution, one rule for this, and that and then specific mechanics that promote a specific type of roleplaying. So if it's a PVP game it has PVP rules, if it's a horror game it has rules to promote horror and so on.

I've tested this and the simple truth is, you need only really half a dozen rules, one for all dice-rolling, and then the rest generate the adventure and get players to act in character and in genre, and it creates a great experience. But most CCGs have interchangeable rules that don't create a flavourful setting, focus incessantly on combat, and have a vast amount of rules and character traits that have no relevance in 99% of games.

A game I enjoy running is a slightly modified version of HOUSES OF THE BLOODED which is enormous fun and has essentially 4 rules: One dice-rolling system for resolving any action, Aspects to represent skills and weapons and what-not, Style points to allow players to determine the story, and a Background system to represent the character's resources. The result is a game that is extremely easy to learn and promotes a specific type of play: that is politicking barons who are engaged in trying to defeat one another. I have roleplayed this so many times, and just on Monday with a doubter, and not only does it work, people are continually amazed at how different it is. Then I run my SAGA game and they go, "That was such a SUPERHERO" game, and so on.

This might not make sense, but it's really something I keep trying to explain to people, they don't get, I sit them down and play it, and 9 times out of 10, the game is better than entire campaigns.
 

Ultimate Houde

UC's Resident Genetic Recombinator
Now I understand, I do the same thing with certain board games. Either by simplifying the rules, or modifying them in such a way that it makes the games faster, easier and funner to play.

I have a Mad Scientist game, where the rules they give hinder the games playing, and I've retooled the rules to make the game more enjoyable for all.

With that said, honestly I haven't seen a need to do it in RPGs, maybe just cause I haven't seen it yet though. Next time we meet up, you'll have to show me what you mean.
 

ourchair

Well-Known Member
It's not so much that it's rules light but that it actually is well designed.
I'm obviously talking about 'rules light' in relation to the majority of the most popular systems that are mostly complex, not as a means of suggesting it is 'off the wall.' and diametrically opposed to so-called common sense rules of good design. For example, I think Master of Orion 2 and Master of Orion 1 are great and well-designed games, even if Master of Orion 2 was crazy and trying too hard t be Sid Meier's Civilization in SPAAAAAACEEEE while Master of Orion 1 is a simple and elegant thing of beauty.

Also, having played Houses of the Blooded I can say it is awesome and you should really try In A Wicked Age too.

Bass said:
I'll give you a brief example of what I mean; most roleplaying games work like this: To hit someone you roll to hit, they roll to dodge, then if you hit, you roll damage which is a completely different set of dice and instead of trying to roll under/over, you're rolling to get as high a number as possible, then that subtracts from a total of hits. If you want to cast magic, it's a whole other system, and other powers like telepathic attacks ignore this entire ordeal. Then, if you want to do anything else, you just roll once and that's it. So you've got four or five different task resolution systems in one game. And that's without including all the fringe situational modifiers that kick in, the special rules associated with powers, stats, and skills, and on and on and on. As such, the game works like this: you roleplay, then you go to do something, everything and everyone stops, pick up the rule book, check the rules, roll and double check and so on.
This is one thing Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition has tried to get rid of: the need for entire subsystems to process different kinds of actions, with completely different means of resolving tasks.

This isn't to suggest that D&D4E is remotely close to the role-playing system you've designed for you and your friends, but rather, I understand precisely what your beef is with 88% of most task resolution systems: the need for players and DMs to have to grok different ways of computing the success or ability to succeed in certain actions, and the 'laundry listing' of lots of rules that may or may not come into play, particularly situational modifiers (+2 to hit for combat advantage, -2 to hit for being prone, -5 to enemy's defense because he is blinded, etc.)

Of course, the thing of it is that people who stop, drop and rule book for every situation are the ones who are killing the flow of their game instead of using collaborative reasoning to make a judgment call and the people who feel the need to memorize every rule are the ones who are killing themselves for insisting on system mastery to play a game, when the ultimate goal is to have fun.

Over the past decade, this subcultural quirk has been recognized by game designers and the importance of 'eyeballing difficulties' or 'off the cuff ruling' is explicitly mentioned in the books, but gamers themselves are butt hats who don't pay attention to it because they've fossilized their habits of needing to rely on RAW (rules as written) for everything, even to the point of assuming that if something is in dispute that the rules don't explicitly resolve, then it is assumed that it does not exist. (For example, there are no rules for draining the poison out of a snake bite in D&D4E, so you can't do it supposedly. Or there are no rules for computing the an NPC's friendliness or hostility, therefore there is no real social mechanic.)

While role-playing games can be needlessly complex, they can be controlled simply because they are only as needlessly complex as you allow them to be. Now the sensible solution is to go play a system with a simpler design that suits the kind of game you want to play, but sometimes the group needs to not let the rules go out of control, similar to how 'rules light' systems have, in the past, gone out of control because of abusive players and hostile GMs or even just a 'friendly competition' between both sides of the screen. Heck, those situations are what make the funniest 'What Happened At My Table' stories of 1st and 2nd edition D&D.
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
Well, Houdey, I will be at HeroesCon...

But yeah, I'm with both of you. But I think that whole "eyeball" the rules as you put it, and I've seen it even in HOUSES OF THE BLOODED (which by the way, has a number of flaws built into it - things like the duel system is incomprehensible, the mass murder rule is anti-climactic, and the book itself is rather poorly assembled; for example, in the season chapter the example talks about building a library - rules for a library aren't in the book) and I feel that players shouldn't 'fix' the rules of the game on the fly. The game should be balanced and intuitive. If you say "eyeball" or ignore a certain rule, then it should be cut.

This is especially true with NPCs who really should be only two or three stats and a tenth of what a PC is because the GM has to keep dozens of them in his head. NPCs and PCs should be able to 'talk' to each other in terms of the system; they should be able to interact mechanically, but they should be entirely different in every way, and NPC should be a tenth of the complexity.
 
Last edited:

Ultimate Houde

UC's Resident Genetic Recombinator
I know Bass, but I have a mortgage payment and an unemployed girlfriend, so no go for me, though I want too.

As for an example of ignoring the rules was when we played Warhammer, they actually have stats and rules for social engagements. We roleplayed them out instead, rules for social engagements are stupid.
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
I know Bass, but I have a mortgage payment and an unemployed girlfriend, so no go for me, though I want too.

Hah! I have none of that stuff!

...

I'm so lonely. :cry:

As for an example of ignoring the rules was when we played Warhammer, they actually have stats and rules for social engagements. We roleplayed them out instead, rules for social engagements are stupid.

I disagree. I think there should be rules. Just as you personally aren't as strong as your character, so too can you character be smarter or more charismatic. It doesn't make sense that if you are personally charismatic your character is too, but if you're a total badass in real life you still have to roll to do stuff you can actually do in reality. I just can't stand that they all have different rules systems. I like one system for task resolution, no matter what that task is, be it running, jumping, fighting, observing, charming, manipulating, lying, or inventing. The system should be the same and malleable enough that people can excel and falter in certain areas.
 

Friday

Well-Known Member
I disagree. I think there should be rules. Just as you personally aren't as strong as your character, so too can you character be smarter or more charismatic. It doesn't make sense that if you are personally charismatic your character is too, but if you're a total badass in real life you still have to roll to do stuff you can actually do in reality. I just can't stand that they all have different rules systems. I like one system for task resolution, no matter what that task is, be it running, jumping, fighting, observing, charming, manipulating, lying, or inventing. The system should be the same and malleable enough that people can excel and falter in certain areas.

I think that was one of the successes of the World of Darkness, and by extension the DX Systems of the 90s. Everything boiling down to similar actions. Instead of the math heavy and unintuitive AD&D system you had one die you used and everything worked in roughly the same manner regardless of what you were doing, allowing the game to be picked up and played much quicker. As for systems for personal interaction, I completely agree with Bass on that. You're not your character (Except the one game where I was. You'd be supprised how less suicidal your guys turns) and shouldn't be expected to know everything they do. Thats where a good GM comes in, feeding the right player the right information so that they can best play their character instead of everyone stumbling around in the dark in the name of roleplaying.

The more D&D and its cousin Pathfinder come out the more alienated I feel with the systems. With pathfinder the complexity rises, they release Errata which reduces it, then I start yelling because a god damned save or die gaze attack kills me when I'm standing behind the monster. Everyone can see 360 degrees my ass. And we repeat something like that for a year and a half until I got away from that group.

As for 4th edition, it felt too much like Wow light for me.

What I'd really like to do is get some local players for some of the odder games. I've got The Call of Cthulhu core book and I've only gotten to run about 4 games in the last 8 years with it. I'd love to play Gamma World too. Something really crazy instead of I have a sword, you cast spells, lets kill a dragon. Its the gaming equivalent of a police procedural. Yeah, you'll watch another episode of NCIS but you'd change it in a second if something else was on.

So on a related note I'm doing Gencon this year. Anyone looking to be there? I'll most likely be doing Magic events for a lot of the days but I'd love to get a crazy RP game going with anyone who'd be there.

Did this post even make sense. It feels rambly to me...
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
I'd like to go to Gencon one day and do some gaming as I get to do so little here.

For me, what broke my back in terms of RPG was this: I sued to run, for a year, a Marvel Superheroes game in the SAGA system and my group and I kept tweaking the rules but loved how it FELT like a superhero game. When the group imploded and we joined up with another group, all they played was GURPS or D20. For everything. Cthulhu? GURPS. Film noir? GURPS. Supers? GURPS. Stargate? D20. Same systems and it drove me mad because I'd make the point that the systems are really important and after a couple of years of nonstop GURPS I just declared myself out (my other friends from my SAGA days lasted only months) because the system sucks. Inertia is such a big factor in life.
 

ourchair

Well-Known Member
I disagree. I think there should be rules. Just as you personally aren't as strong as your character, so too can you character be smarter or more charismatic. It doesn't make sense that if you are personally charismatic your character is too, but if you're a total badass in real life you still have to roll to do stuff you can actually do in reality.
I agree with this entirely.

I don't like the idea that a player has to act out mental or social attributes he doesn't possess in real life. Now I'm not saying no to the ROLE PLAY in role-playing, but rather, it is completely effed up to penalize a character for deficits the player possesses, in the same way you probably wouldn't give a free pass to the highly athletic and muscular dude playing the goliath warden next to you when making Acrobatics or Climb checks.
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
I remember how I got to that opinion: I was playing a GURPS game and my character had "Rapier Wit" which was a special ability that meant I could disarm enemies with pithy put-downs. Whenever I used it, I was told I had to come up with a super-cool insult. If I didn't, it didn't work. And that pissed me off because the guy with martial arts didn't have to perform roundhouse kicks and kickflips when he attacked people, he just rolled dice.

I also have a theory that power gamers are simply people who actually play the roleplaying game they're playing and that the 'good' roleplayers are people who actively make bad gaming choices in order to keep the game going. This to me is a failure of the game since the mechanics should encourage people to play the smartest, best mechanical play and that play should have a perfectly seemless interaction with the story.

For example, in D&D, I played a guy who had a mace, a crossbow, and some other cool stuff. My best stat was with the mace. So when I was fighting the big bad, I couldn't hit her because her AC was so high. And I thought about using other stuff and realised that nothing on my character sheet was better than the mace. Sure, it would be cool to do an awesome stunt with my crossbow, but if I hit her with that, then I would've hit her with the mace too, and the mace does more damage. Ergo, I 'power gamed' by putting everything I had into my "hit her with my mace" roll and all I did, turn after turn, was "hit her with my mace", or, if she was out of range, "move closer to her" and then "hit her with my mace". Everyone was as bored as I. And nothing in the mechanics rewarded me for doing anything other than hit her with my mace.

By the same token, in WORLD OF DARKNESS games, I always take Dexterity because any points spent in Strength and Stamina are wasted as Dex is used so much more. Now, some would say, "Well, you're not getting into the spirit of the game" but I don't think the game should penalise you for making interesting choices. If the game wants people to have an actual choice over which stat to specialise in, then they should all be equally useful. Whenever I see this (and I see this all the time) I get frustrated because it means that the designers didn't properly playtest their game. But then there's the other extreme of GURPS in which everything is costed in total balance - and then breaks in half because things combo together and disadvantages are only relevant in certain situations resulting in the GM creating a game in which, if you have the drawback "Doesn't work at night" on your super strength you can bet your arse the game takes place on Twilightia, the planet of eternal darkness and it all devolves into a bizarre arms race between players and the GM.

I think roleplaying games have to stop working on the original idea that D&D was built on which was that it was a tabletop miniatures game without miniatures and should instead focus on them being storytelling games where everyone works together to tell a cool story. HOUSES OF THE BLOODED, for example, is what I would call a storytelling game (and ironically enough, I wouldn't say that's true of White Wolf's "storyteller" system).
 

Ultimate Houde

UC's Resident Genetic Recombinator
I disagree. I think there should be rules. Just as you personally aren't as strong as your character, so too can you character be smarter or more charismatic. It doesn't make sense that if you are personally charismatic your character is too, but if you're a total badass in real life you still have to roll to do stuff you can actually do in reality. I just can't stand that they all have different rules systems. I like one system for task resolution, no matter what that task is, be it running, jumping, fighting, observing, charming, manipulating, lying, or inventing. The system should be the same and malleable enough that people can excel and falter in certain areas.

Well, we did roll if it made sense, but taking turns in a social encounter to me sounds pretty piss poor. Oh wait, I can't say anything cause someone else rolled a higher initiative to talk.

Boo.

And we roleplayed our characters how we should. I was a zealot, a crazy ass nobleman who was in training to be a witchfinder. I said whatever first came to my mind, whether or not it was detrimental to my character and party or not. Granted I realize not everyone would act it out this way, but I had fun with it.

I can't be forced to roleplay out a character I wouldn't have fun with. And several things you stated in the previous post about only be able to hit the character with my mace pissed me off too. To a point where I would always be sarcastic about it. If I'm not having fun I'd rather go in the living room and play videogames.

Your analysis about White wolf is too true. I hated how everyone always choose the same stats for their characters.

Never played GURPS, never had a desire too.
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
Well, we did roll if it made sense, but taking turns in a social encounter to me sounds pretty piss poor. Oh wait, I can't say anything cause someone else rolled a higher initiative to talk.

I don't like initiative either. I think it's a stupid mechanic that inherently causes boredom by removing the spontaneity of turn actions, and I particularly hate that initiative only applies to combat. All it means is that people do as much as they want in any order they want... unless it's combat, which instead of being super-exciting, becomes a treacle-lagging mathematical random number generating exercise.

I can't be forced to roleplay out a character I wouldn't have fun with. And several things you stated in the previous post about only be able to hit the character with my mace pissed me off too. To a point where I would always be sarcastic about it. If I'm not having fun I'd rather go in the living room and play videogames.

Exactly!
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
I ran a one-off game tonight in HOUSES OF THE BLOODED. I tried out a new mechanic for quickly and easily generating a history for the player characters and while it worked I made a mistake and with five players created 'three' camps which meant one player, unfortunately, was stuck out of the loop. We also finished at 11.30pm which I thought meant we went too long but we started about 8.45pm, so actually we played the entire game in under 3 hours which isn't bad (but it took so long due to people not getting used to having to improvise so quickly).

But, the next time I run a pvp rpg I will remember to stress this: NOT EVERYONE CAN WIN. People got the idea that they had to be open and honest with their machinations so players could interact with their plots and plans, but no one understood that not everyone will get what they want; someone has to lose.
 

Jaggyd

The member formerly known as skotti-chan
How the hell did I miss this thread?

My old DM used to prescribe to Bass' 3 hour rule, it was fun for a while, but when he discovered he could blend these 3 hour sessions into an over-arching story, that's when it became awesome.

I kinda miss the "Golden Age of Role-Playing" back in the early to mid 90's, back when there were shops everywhere, and everyone and their mom made an RPG. There were some that were great (Shadowrun, D&D, Earthdawn, World of Darkness, DC Heroes) some were outrageously bad (Marvel RPG, Synnibarr, Indiana Jones Adventures), but at the end of the day, geeks ruled.
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
I'd love to do a 3-hour thingy that played into an overarching story, but everyone I know is crap and unreliable and the chances of me getting the same group of people to meet up week in week out for a month or two is less likely than me realising my boyhood dream of being Michael Knight.
 

Jaggyd

The member formerly known as skotti-chan
I'd love to do a 3-hour thingy that played into an overarching story, but everyone I know is crap and unreliable and the chances of me getting the same group of people to meet up week in week out for a month or two is less likely than me realising my boyhood dream of being Michael Knight.

I think that's why I miss my old group so much. We played all the time, different games, almost every day. Then, well, we lost one of us to leukemia, and we just kinda broke apart. Tho, we've recently started reconnecting on Facebook and Twitter, we're hoping to start hanging out regularly again.
 

Latest posts

Top