Tabletop RPG |OT| I cast a spell

dude

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,138
Tel Aviv
So, my group and I have switched all of our fantasy campaigns to Dungeon World a while ago and have been very happy, but I was missing some of the grittiness and general philosophy of old-school RPGs.
Recently, I started running a campaign using the Freebooters on the Frontier DW-hack, and my god this thing is good. I can't recommend this enough - it's the perfect blend of what makes OSRs good and what makes DW good. And the magic system is the best king of crazy (you roll the name of the spell, and then you have to describe what it does based on that name and GM's approval.)
It requires The Perilous Wilds, but honestly it's also great and anyone running DW should probably look into it regardless.
 

Pixel Grotto

Member
Oct 27, 2017
864
Paizo's crowdfunding campaign to re-release Kingmaker for Pathfinder Second Edition has begun! Really looks like a nice package and now that I think of it it's a pretty smart move for them to bring this adventure back, especially considering the revitalized attention it got due to the CRPG release last year. Also 5e support for converting the monsters and NPCs is much appreciated.



3) How hard will it be to run Curse of Strahd for someone who has never DM'd before? I've GM'd other games, but never DnD. I like horror stuff, and I want to try the Death House story as well. Maybe I'll start with the Starter Kit, then do the Adventure in the main book, then Death House?
Curse of Strahd is a great campaign but it can be a bit tricky for someone who has never DM'ed before. I do recommend the Starter Set adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver first, since it's basically set up to be the perfect intro to D&D for newbies. (Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is also a good introductory module IMO.) Curse of Strahd can be tough and unforgiving (if you run it as is and don't nerf certain parts - which I recommend if your players are especially tied to their characters, ESPECIALLY in the case of Death House) and there are a lot of important NPCs with interweaving connections in the second main village, Vallaki. However if you like horror, Eastern European creepiness and have a group who is down to engage with that sort of adventure, you should most definitely purchase it for future usage.
 

bear force one

Attempted to circumvent ban with alt account
Banned
Oct 26, 2017
4,305
Orlando
So, my group and I have switched all of our fantasy campaigns to Dungeon World a while ago and have been very happy, but I was missing some of the grittiness and general philosophy of old-school RPGs.
Recently, I started running a campaign using the Freebooters on the Frontier DW-hack, and my god this thing is good. I can't recommend this enough - it's the perfect blend of what makes OSRs good and what makes DW good. And the magic system is the best king of crazy (you roll the name of the spell, and then you have to describe what it does based on that name and GM's approval.)
It requires The Perilous Wilds, but honestly it's also great and anyone running DW should probably look into it regardless.
Definitely looking into those mods. Always been interested in Dungeon World and only got to play it once for a one shot.

Paizo's crowdfunding campaign to re-release Kingmaker for Pathfinder Second Edition has begun! Really looks like a nice package and now that I think of it it's a pretty smart move for them to bring this adventure back, especially considering the revitalized attention it got due to the CRPG release last year. Also 5e support for converting the monsters and NPCs is much appreciated.


.
Definitely an amazing way to begin snatching up the funds of 5E players including myself that wouldn't otherwise buy Paizo right now. I love their world stuff but not the 3.75 d20 system right now.



Also check out the newest DnD stream Monsters & Fables a nicely edited combo between actual play and fairy tale flavorings.
 

ShadowSwordmaster

Community Resettler
Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,143

MrLuchador

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,454
The Internet
So, my group and I have switched all of our fantasy campaigns to Dungeon World a while ago and have been very happy, but I was missing some of the grittiness and general philosophy of old-school RPGs.
Recently, I started running a campaign using the Freebooters on the Frontier DW-hack, and my god this thing is good. I can't recommend this enough - it's the perfect blend of what makes OSRs good and what makes DW good. And the magic system is the best king of crazy (you roll the name of the spell, and then you have to describe what it does based on that name and GM's approval.)
It requires The Perilous Wilds, but honestly it's also great and anyone running DW should probably look into it regardless.
I've only ever heard good things about Dungeon Worlds!
 

Nazo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,063
For those of you who play games in person, would a 6ft by 3ft folding table be big enough for a group of 5 to 6 people? I'm starting a campaign soon and am looking for something appropriate to play on. We'll be using minis and maps and stuff so space will be at a premium.

If anyone has any recommendations I would really appreciate it. If not I might just by two tables and throw a big thin piece of wood on top and a table cloth and call it a day.
 

Brashnir

Member
Oct 25, 2017
847
For those of you who play games in person, would a 6ft by 3ft folding table be big enough for a group of 5 to 6 people? I'm starting a campaign soon and am looking for something appropriate to play on. We'll be using minis and maps and stuff so space will be at a premium.

If anyone has any recommendations I would really appreciate it. If not I might just by two tables and throw a big thin piece of wood on top and a table cloth and call it a day.
yes, totally.

I find that a wider table is ideal, but 6x3 will get the job done for up to 6.

My table is 54" x 54", which I think is ideal for 6, but yours will do the trick with no issues.
 

dragonchild

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,979
My recent experience doing this showed me why I stopped doing this. Hurts the back.
Ah. Well, I do have to remind myself I'm not 22 anymore. I probably can't game for 12 hours straight fueled with pizza and Mountain Dew anymore, either. Never mind.

But if you ARE sharing a bag of Doritos and have rulebooks laying around, I still recommend eating the chips with chopsticks.
 

Brashnir

Member
Oct 25, 2017
847
Between my group's last D&D session, and tonight's, we had decided to play a prank on 2 of our fellow players. At the last session, 2 players couldn't make it, and during the session, the remainder used Wind Walk to move a pretty large distance to our next objective. We had encountered a number of demons and some pretty rough encounters, and came out on top in all of them. But due to the physical distance between the two halves of the party, we decided at the end of the session to tell the two players who missed the session that we had TPKed, and that we would be playing the next session with new characters.

Well, the next session was tonight, and it was an absolute delight to see that none of the people in on the joke had spilled the beans. We played a full session with our new characters (who were all awesome) and got the rest of the party caught up with the original group. We dealt with some more demons, and at the very end of the session, revealed that our original characters were still alive, completely stunning the other players. It was one of the best nights of D&D I've had as a player.

It's even more awesome given that now the other players seem to be assuming that the original characters they are seeing alive are now demonic impostors.
 

Ultron

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
792
Yay got my Gen Con events sorted today and I'm getting to play three RPGs I've never played before: Thousand Arrows, which is a Warring States Samurai game, Legacy Life Among the Ruins which is a post apocalypse thing where you have both a group you control and an invidual character, and Monster Hearts which is teen supernatural stuff. Also playing a Masks session because I can’t get enough of that game. Wasn’t intentional that I’d only play Powered by Apocalypse stuff, but I’m okay with it!
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,890
I never even realized this OT existed until just now.

So how do you guys feel about Xanathar's guide to everything VS Unearthed Arcana for DnD 5e?
We kind of just use the UA rules whenever they conflict because we feel like they're more fun.
 

dude

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,138
Tel Aviv
Yay got my Gen Con events sorted today and I'm getting to play three RPGs I've never played before: Thousand Arrows, which is a Warring States Samurai game, Legacy Life Among the Ruins which is a post apocalypse thing where you have both a group you control and an invidual character, and Monster Hearts which is teen supernatural stuff. Also playing a Masks session because I can’t get enough of that game. Wasn’t intentional that I’d only play Powered by Apocalypse stuff, but I’m okay with it!
Man, I wanted to play Monster Hearts for forever. Please let us know how it goes!
Honestly, at this point I've been playing only Powered by Apocalypse games for like a year now. Don't even miss other systems so far. (Streak is about to be broken soon with VtM5 though.)
 

Pixel Grotto

Member
Oct 27, 2017
864
I never even realized this OT existed until just now.

So how do you guys feel about Xanathar's guide to everything VS Unearthed Arcana for DnD 5e?
We kind of just use the UA rules whenever they conflict because we feel like they're more fun.
Xanathar's was basically an official release featuring all of the approved Unearthed Arcana up to that point. I expect we will see another Xanathar type book in a year or two as more of that material starts to be finalized through playtesting. Hopefully they'll stick the revised ranger in there.

Personally I find Xanathar's Guide to be an essential book along with the Player's Handbook, Monster Manual and DM's Guide, simply for all the extra subclass information.

On another note, anyone here own Ghosts of Saltmarsh yet? I've got a copy and have been flipping through it - looks like great stuff though the book does have a bit of a "budget" feel to it since it's kind of sparse in artwork, especially when compared to Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and even when compared with Tales from the Yawning Portal, which was the last anthology book released.
 

Ultron

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
792
Man, I wanted to play Monster Hearts for forever. Please let us know how it goes!
Honestly, at this point I've been playing only Powered by Apocalypse games for like a year now. Don't even miss other systems so far. (Streak is about to be broken soon with VtM5 though.)
Yeah, any campaign or games I am going to start at this point would be in one of those systems. (Or Forged in the Dark which is a descendant of that.) It has so many things that appeal to me: easier character creation, narrative focused gameplay, simpler rules, easier encounter balancing, combat that usually doesn't take an hour, etc etc. All these things are plusses for me.

I do admit that I miss the process of building a D&D/Pathfinder character. Picking from a huge list of options, and tweaking numbers to find the things that work together best is a very fun process for me. But the end result for those kind of games often don't look like what I'm looking for.
 

dragonchild

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,979
I do admit that I miss the process of building a D&D/Pathfinder character. Picking from a huge list of options, and tweaking numbers to find the things that work together best is a very fun process for me. But the end result for those kind of games often don't look like what I'm looking for.
Ooh, I grok. I may have spent more hours generating 3.0/3.5/PF characters than actually playing the game(s), but most of my experiments remained dead on the table. I couldn't get lightning to strike anything that wasn't an abuse of the rules themselves. Choices that prioritized character concept over leveraging rules got only worse at higher levels, resulting in absurdly divergent modifier progression. This made balancing encounters essentially impossible.

With the hindsight of extensive reverse-engineering, I've concluded the potential was there, but we've yet to see a truly well-balanced, narrative-based D&D system. The First Age of D&D (1st Edition, Advanced, 2nd Edition) mostly relied on explicit division of labor. Thieves sucked in combat but you NEEDED them for recon and traps. So no one really compared thieves to fighters. The Second Age (D&D3, 3.5, Pathfinder) lasted for 3441 years and ended with the downfall of Sauron, when he was defeated by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men following the downfall of Númenor sorry. This gen offered the illusion of choice but any build based on a character concept was doomed compared to day trader-style power-gaming. I've already analyzed D&D5 to death.

Yeah so like I've said ad nauseum, I finally went "eff it" and started working on my own system.
 

dude

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,138
Tel Aviv
I do admit that I miss the process of building a D&D/Pathfinder character. Picking from a huge list of options, and tweaking numbers to find the things that work together best is a very fun process for me. But the end result for those kind of games often don't look like what I'm looking for.
Oh god, I can't think of anything I miss less, haha. Maybe it's because I played so much Exalted, where "a huge list of options" is like... 300 pages of Charms. I'm not even exaggerating, it's insane. I just find that part of RPGs to best fit video games, rather than tabletop games.
I also think that too much crunchy abilities make everyone think more about which crunchy abilities to use, rather than what they can do in the narrative to deal with a situation.
 

dragonchild

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,979
Oh god, I can't think of anything I miss less, haha. Maybe it's because I played so much Exalted, where "a huge list of options" is like... 300 pages of Charms. I'm not even exaggerating, it's insane. I just find that part of RPGs to best fit video games, rather than tabletop games.
You're forgiven for having a particular take based on past experience but let's get something straight here. If you're squeamish about a tabletop game concept because of White Wolf, the word for what you have is "trauma".
I also think that too much crunchy abilities make everyone think more about which crunchy abilities to use, rather than what they can do in the narrative to deal with a situation.
Maybe I missed your point but I disagree. When it comes to looking toward abilities instead of narrative, D&D5 is the simplest incarnation in franchise history and it might be the worst at this since the First Age.

The problem with Pathfinder is that if you don't mix/max, your PC may be doomed from the start. But the gameplay depth is quite impressive thanks to the (albeit unbalanced) CMB mechanic. Odds of success aside, you can try to grapple, disarm, sunder, whatever, without making any changes to your character or reading 150 pages of optional rules. The out-of-combat mechanics are rich, as well. D&D5 was vastly easier to get up & running but in combat I invariably found myself staring at the same 2-3 options that were worth bothering to consider, and "advanced" gameplay for any brawler boiled down to getting your character absurdly good at One Thing.

/ dude.
 
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Jest

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,080
I absolutely disagree with the idea that 5e gives less narrative function. If there are vague or no rules or distinct abilities, that means it's up to player and DM creativity and discretion, respectively. You don't need to have a rule or ability written for every single possibility. That makes things overly complex, clunky, and absolutely destroys pacing.
 

Pixel Grotto

Member
Oct 27, 2017
864
When we say "narrative function" are we talking broadly about D&D's social, storytelling systems? Because if that's the case then 5e has the same issues that D&D's always had - that any non-combat stuff is secondary and underbaked compared to fighting on a tactical grid and dungeon delving, which is the true bread and butter of the game. Most things outside of combat in D&D come down to DM fiat, which is fine if you have a creative DM. But in comparison to other RPGs that excel at narrative stuff - ie, White Wolf's games, Call of Cthulhu, Legend of the Five Rings, perhaps 13th Age and 7th Sea (from what I've heard) - the deficiencies become obvious.
 

dragonchild

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,979
When we say "narrative function" are we talking broadly about D&D's social, storytelling systems?
Hmm, good point, I dunno. We were talking about character creation. I'm not familiar with Exalted and dude was comparing "what they can do in the narrative" to "crunchy abilities" so based on the latter (and prior mentions of Pathfinder) I assumed combat was part of the picture.
 

Jest

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,080
When we say "narrative function" are we talking broadly about D&D's social, storytelling systems? Because if that's the case then 5e has the same issues that D&D's always had - that any non-combat stuff is secondary and underbaked compared to fighting on a tactical grid and dungeon delving, which is the true bread and butter of the game. Most things outside of combat in D&D come down to DM fiat, which is fine if you have a creative DM. But in comparison to other RPGs that excel at narrative stuff - ie, White Wolf's games, Call of Cthulhu, Legend of the Five Rings, perhaps 13th Age and 7th Sea (from what I've heard) - the deficiencies become obvious.
Not systems as much as having the mechanics to resolve social and narrative interactions. Some games use full fledged systems for that but DnD generally keeps the resolution in the hands of the DM and Players while still having mechanical functions to utilize. When games start to utilize complex systems to resolve as many choices as possible then TTRPG's begin to feel less like RPGs and more like Board Games. On the opposite side of the spectrum when a TTRPG has less or no mechanics in place it makes TTRPG's feel more like Collaborative Storytelling rather than a Game. Which is why I feel like 5e's approach is a pretty happy medium between extremes. AGE and a couple other systems are in this middle ground as well.
 

Pixel Grotto

Member
Oct 27, 2017
864
Not systems as much as having the mechanics to resolve social and narrative interactions. Some games use full fledged systems for that but DnD generally keeps the resolution in the hands of the DM and Players while still having mechanical functions to utilize. When games start to utilize complex systems to resolve as many choices as possible then TTRPG's begin to feel less like RPGs and more like Board Games. On the opposite side of the spectrum when a TTRPG has less or no mechanics in place it makes TTRPG's feel more like Collaborative Storytelling rather than a Game. Which is why I feel like 5e's approach is a pretty happy medium between extremes. AGE and a couple other systems are in this middle ground as well.
Understood and agreed, 5e is a solid happy medium though I do wish there were at least a few other cogs and wheels in play that allowed for a deeper experience outside of fighting, or at least a better way of mechanically implementing the "bonds," "flaws," and "ideals" that 5e makes such a huge deal of on the character sheets. Certain adventures have this and there are optional tidbits in the DM's Guide, but overwhelmingly everything outside of combat revolves around just succeeding on checks, which can get dull *if* your DM is not as skilled at storytelling as he thinks he is. (Which I have experienced.)
 

Jest

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,080
Understood and agreed, 5e is a solid happy medium though I do wish there were at least a few other cogs and wheels in play that allowed for a deeper experience outside of fighting, or at least a better way of mechanically implementing the "bonds," "flaws," and "ideals" that 5e makes such a huge deal of on the character sheets. Certain adventures have this and there are optional tidbits in the DM's Guide, but overwhelmingly everything outside of combat revolves around just succeeding on checks, which can get dull *if* your DM is not as skilled at storytelling as he thinks he is. (Which I have experienced.)
I definitely agree that the bonds, flaws, and ideals could use something to better incorporate them. I just don't know how it could really work without being inherently restrictive. Being that it's there to help add depth to RP, it might be best the way it is so that different tables can choose just how much they want to bring that into their game.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,890
Xanathar's was basically an official release featuring all of the approved Unearthed Arcana up to that point. I expect we will see another Xanathar type book in a year or two as more of that material starts to be finalized through playtesting. Hopefully they'll stick the revised ranger in there.
Yeah we pretty much use Xanathar's in every place it doesn't conflict with UA. like for example I think the UA samurai rule set is more fun than the Xanathar's one so our group uses that instead. We don't really care that Xanathar's is more official. We just prefer the fun rules :P

We've never used inspirations correctly either haha. We kind of use them as an "oh no I really shouldn't have screwed up that roll"
I think that's the fun of DnD to be honest. That point where you just take the rules and have your DM / party decide what is actually more fun for the kind of game you're trying to run.
 

dude

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,138
Tel Aviv
Hmm, good point, I dunno. We were talking about character creation. I'm not familiar with Exalted and dude was comparing "what they can do in the narrative" to "crunchy abilities" so based on the latter (and prior mentions of Pathfinder) I assumed combat was part of the picture.
I wanted to clarify what I said, but I feel like the conversation has moved on from there :P
I'll just say that it wasn't meant to be taken against Pathfinder, D&D or even Exalted. I just wanted to point out something nice that happen in Dungeon World and Apocalypse games in general because of the "fiction first" approach. Basically, in Dungeon World, the game is about fiction first, and then you figure out which move to use when the need arise. So if I'm in combat - my move of trying to club an enemy with a branch could be either Defy Danger or Hack and Slash, depending on the fiction (Maybe I'm just trying to club at the enemy to give the party enough time to run?)
Because the system is structured as "first tell me what you want to do in the fiction of the game", I feel like players are encouraged to use a wider array of actions. in systems where the combat is happening in the crunchy game-side first and then translated into fiction, I feel like players consider the clear options first rather than places where the system is a bit blurrier, like the example above of whacking at an enemy for a distraction.
Again, this is just my personal experience, and has I said I might be suffering some trauma from Exalted 3e - Which is a very interesting system, but combat can feel like a tedious affair as everyone is looking through a huge list of Charms (special abilities and attacks) for the most effective combo.
 

MrLuchador

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,454
The Internet
I'm a sucker for licensed ttrpgs of things I like.


Uses same system as Tales from the Loop, so it'll be fast and free. Just need a good storyteller and group to make the 'atmosphere' work, I guess.
 

EdibleKnife

Member
Oct 29, 2017
4,204
I'm a sucker for licensed ttrpgs of things I like.


Uses same system as Tales from the Loop, so it'll be fast and free. Just need a good storyteller and group to make the 'atmosphere' work, I guess.
Pre-Ordered this actually when I just learned about it this weekend. Coriolis and TFTL are the two Free League games I’m really into both mechanically and aesthetically so I’m happy to see them get the Alien franchise in their roster. Haven’t really sat down with the pre-release stuff but I’m intrigued by the Cinematic-mode stuff they’re playing up.

——
On sort of a similar note, anyone here have an interest in or actually have participated in real tabletop development?

I’ve actually had a bug in me to make a game about disaster/epidemic response thanks to media like Outbreak, Day After Tomorrow, Plague Inc., Contagion, Andromeda Strain & most recently HBO’s Chernobyl. Games like Pandemic Legacy show that the subject matter does have legs as a ground for good group gameplay.

Genesys, DramaSystem, Fate, Gumshoe and Apocalypse Engine have been systems I’ve been attracted to for how versatile some of them are but I really need to do some real comparing and contrasting to see which would be the best for the groundwork for such a game.

I wanted to ask anyone at least a bit more experienced what they might suggest for the foundation of such a game? Not only that but if anyone has any just general tips for game creation either as players or developers in terms of things you wish you or other creators knew or would do/consider before getting too far in development?
 
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Syril

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,160
On sort of a similar note, anyone here have an interest in or actually have participated in real tabletop development? I’ve actually had a bug in me to make a game about disaster/epidemic response thanks to media like Outbreak, Day After Tomorrow, & most recently HBO’s Chernobyl. Games like Pandemic Legacy show that the subject matter does have legs as a ground for good group gameplay. Genesis, DramaSystem, Fate, Gumshoe and Apocalypse Engine have been systems I’ve been attracted to for how versatile some of them are but I really need to do some real comparing and contrasting to see which would be the best for the groundwork for such a game. I wanted to ask anyone at least a bit more experienced what they might suggest for the foundation of such a game? Not only that but if anyone has any just general tips for game creation either as players or developers in terms of things you wish you or other creators knew or would do or consider before getting too far in development?
I made a Pacific Rim-esque game. I can't really give advice on using existing systems because I made up my own for it. But when I was designing the mechanics I had the general idea of how it should play pretty early, and a lot of it ended up being problem-solving of sorts with figuring out how to implement it in a way that was easy to keep track of. A lot of the time I would end up getting rid of our simplifying an idea I had for a weapon or something in the interest of making it easy to keep track of during a game. I only got to run it a couple of times with my friends but we all really enjoyed it.
 

MrLuchador

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,454
The Internet
On sort of a similar note, anyone here have an interest in or actually have participated in real tabletop development?
dragonchild Has been developing a game for a while now!

Pre-Ordered this actually when I just learned about it this weekend. Coriolis and TFTL are the two Free League games I’m really into both mechanically and aesthetically so I’m happy to see them get the Alien franchise in their roster
Yeah, I really like the system. It doesn't get bogged down in numbers, which makes it a nice introduction to TTRPGs for people who haven't played before.
 

EdibleKnife

Member
Oct 29, 2017
4,204
I made a Pacific Rim-esque game. I can't really give advice on using existing systems because I made up my own for it. But when I was designing the mechanics I had the general idea of how it should play pretty early, and a lot of it ended up being problem-solving of sorts with figuring out how to implement it in a way that was easy to keep track of. A lot of the time I would end up getting rid of our simplifying an idea I had for a weapon or something in the interest of making it easy to keep track of during a game. I only got to run it a couple of times with my friends but we all really enjoyed it.
That’s awesome! The world needs as many giant robot/kaiju games as it can get because there aren’t enough.

It’s also cool that you decided to go for doing the mechanics from scratch. It’s something I would love to go for but as a guy who’s been at the hobby in earnest for only half a decade I’m not confident enough in my experience in the medium. It feels like I wouldn’t understand all that goes into the balance of a game, turning the dials so that nothing feels broken or boring for the players. I’m always impressed by the people like you who get that micro level and can make it connect to the bigger picture. I think I need a lot more play & GMing before I’d be ready to develop mechanics from the ground up.

Yeah, I really like the system. It doesn't get bogged down in numbers, which makes it a nice introduction to TTRPGs for people who haven't played before.
Speaking of, unless I’m mistaken I think Free League actually put out a Year Zero Engine reference document for open development so I may need to check that out.

Thanks for linking to dragonchild too!
 

dragonchild

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,979
I’ve actually had a bug in me to make a game about disaster/epidemic response thanks to media like Outbreak, Day After Tomorrow, Plague Inc., Contagion, Andromeda Strain & most recently HBO’s Chernobyl. Games like Pandemic Legacy show that the subject matter does have legs as a ground for good group gameplay.

Genesys, DramaSystem, Fate, Gumshoe and Apocalypse Engine have been systems I’ve been attracted to for how versatile some of them are but I really need to do some real comparing and contrasting to see which would be the best for the groundwork for such a game.

I wanted to ask anyone at least a bit more experienced what they might suggest for the foundation of such a game? Not only that but if anyone has any just general tips for game creation either as players or developers in terms of things you wish you or other creators knew or would do/consider before getting too far in development?
Guuhhhhhhh don't get me started. In terms of mechanics you probably want to dismiss me as a rambling old man and move on, 'cuz I'll probably start delving into inconsequential minutae. But I think I can be a little bit useful here. Like Syril I'm working on my own system but I discussed post-apocalyptic with a friend at some length, largely on the world-building side. A lot of it comes down to what supplies are available. Verdict is, you're going to have to decide the trajectory of humanity after the disaster, because while you can widely allow for regional variations, as premises these settings are mutually incompatible:
  • Temporary Crisis (28 Days Later, The War of the Worlds): A wide-scale temporary (?) crisis. Survival is the first priority, followed by either escape or resolution, because there is no long-term industrial impact. Anything available today IRL is available to the characters, if they get to it first. Running out of food presents an immediate problem in terms of endurance or sustaining the weak (children, sick, elderly), but whether or not starvation's a concern depends on if the characters know how long the crisis is going to last -- usually they don't. This campaign will be largely driven by fear, hysteria, and pandemonium.
  • Recent Collapse (Living Dead series, Interstellar): Humanity is screwed, but this is basically in progress. Industry is disrupted and probably will never recover. Humanity is doomed to decline to either subsistence or extinction, so there's little hope (although communities will try). Again, whatever's available IRL exists in the game, BUT the transience of material goods will soon be intensely felt. Fools will follow an ever-belated progression from fresh food & bottled water to canned food and water purification to survival gear and copies of Foraging for Dummies. Modern technology will function for some time, but as fuel runs out, parts wear out, and supply chains disintegrate, supply & demand will be highly unstable. Take, for instance, an assault rifle. In the first few days of Armageddon they will be in screamingly high demand for their ability to fire common ammunition so you can take others' stuff. But as consumed ammunition isn't replaced and parts wear out, they will eventually become worthless. This won't be even, so one town's junk is another's treasure and such.
  • Permanent Collapse (12 Monkeys, Canticle for Leibowitz): Humanity's been screwed for a long time. 12 Monkeys is a typically Gilliam-esque absurdist take but the main idea is that the disaster happened so far in the past that the state of humanity has re-stabilized into a dystopian hell, with any hope of recovery well beyond the characters' lifetimes. Functioning modern tech is either worthless (cell phones), literally buried treasure (people "mine" concrete for steel in Canticle), or essentially Clarke's Third Law (consider the implications of a discovered nuke, for example). As in "Fiat Homo" (Canticle), modern tech may be treated as mythological, even feared. Campaign plots would be either intensely local feuds as rival factions war over what's left, radically ambitious plans to restore humanity (12 Monkeys), or a timely discovery shaking up the status quo.
  • Ambiguous Collapse (The Last Man on Earth, Waterworld): Similar to Permanent Collapse but based on either extreme denial or tangible evidence, it's not completely accepted that humanity is wiped out and/or the entire planet is FUBAR. The answer to that question is a campaign-ender and so has little consequence to the journey. The practical difference is that while the above collapses have some semblance of society (even if in chaos), Ambiguous Collapse is about extreme isolation and holding out hope that there are others to find. In that sense it's actually more similar to Temporary Crisis, except whatever event fragmented humanity happened generations ago. As such, the party is sustained entirely by foraging whatever remains after repeated lootings and the passage of time. Things can get quite gritty; the back-up weapon to a bolt-action rifle might well be a handmade spear or shiv.
  • Partial Recovery (Mad Max: Fury Road, Nausicaa of the Wind Valley): Same basic premise as Permanent Collapse but instead of a humanity-has-no-future take, people have partially re-industrialized so some forms of modern technology remain available (namely cars & guns in the case of Mad Max). However, the unevenness in which communities recovered has resulted in mass migrations, famine, war, endemic inequality, and brutal fiefdoms. Despite actually having a future (in theory), the Partial Recovery scenario is more tangibly ugly than Permanent Collapse because the availability of industry feeds political instability & petty ambition. Warlords will scorch precious resources out of pure greed ("mine") or malice ("not yours").
I bring this up because I sense you'll need to reconcile whatever system you're considering with the campaign tech level. These days the trend is to just make everything a pie-in-the-sky abstraction so I anticipate little mechanical impact; the question is whether folks are killing each other with assault rifles over canned food or with handmade spears over a handful of seeds.
 
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EdibleKnife

Member
Oct 29, 2017
4,204
Guuhhhhhhh don't get me started. In terms of mechanics you probably want to dismiss me as a rambling old man and move on, 'cuz I'll probably start delving into inconsequential minutae. But I think I can be a little bit useful here. Like Syril I'm working on my own system but I discussed post-apocalyptic with a friend at some length, largely on the world-building side. A lot of it comes down to what supplies are available. Verdict is, you're going to have to decide the trajectory of humanity after the disaster, because while you can widely allow for regional variations, as premises these settings are mutually incompatible:
  • Temporary Crisis (28 Days Later, The War of the Worlds): A wide-scale temporary (?) crisis. Survival is the first priority, followed by either escape or resolution, because there is no long-term industrial impact. Anything available today IRL is available to the characters, if they get to it first. Running out of food presents an immediate problem in terms of endurance or sustaining the weak (children, sick, elderly), but whether or not starvation's a concern depends on if the characters know how long the crisis is going to last -- usually they don't. This campaign will be largely driven by fear, hysteria, and pandemonium.
  • Recent Collapse (Living Dead series, Interstellar): Humanity is screwed, but this is basically in progress. Industry is disrupted and probably will never recover. Humanity is doomed to decline to either subsistence or extinction, so there's little hope (although communities will try). Again, whatever's available IRL exists in the game, BUT the transience of material goods will soon be intensely felt. Fools will follow an ever-belated progression from fresh food & bottled water to canned food and water purification to survival gear and copies of Foraging for Dummies. Modern technology will function for some time, but as fuel runs out, parts wear out, and supply chains disintegrate, supply & demand will be highly unstable. Take, for instance, an assault rifle. In the first few days of Armageddon they will be in screamingly high demand for their ability to fire common ammunition so you can take others' stuff. But as consumed ammunition isn't replaced and parts wear out, they will eventually become worthless. This won't be even, so one town's junk is another's treasure and such.
  • Permanent Collapse (12 Monkeys, Canticle for Leibowitz): Humanity's been screwed for a long time. 12 Monkeys is a typically Gilliam-esque absurdist take but the main idea is that the disaster happened so far in the past that the state of humanity has re-stabilized into a dystopian hell, with any hope of recovery well beyond the characters' lifetimes. Functioning modern tech is either worthless (cell phones), literally buried treasure (people "mine" concrete for steel in Canticle), or essentially Clarke's Third Law (consider the implications of a discovered nuke, for example). As in "Fiat Homo" (Canticle), modern tech may be treated as mythological, even feared. Campaign plots would be either intensely local feuds as rival factions war over what's left, radically ambitious plans to restore humanity (12 Monkeys), or a timely discovery shaking up the status quo.
  • Ambiguous Collapse (The Last Man on Earth, Waterworld): Similar to Permanent Collapse but based on either extreme denial or tangible evidence, it's not completely accepted that humanity is wiped out and/or the entire planet is FUBAR. The answer to that question is a campaign-ender and so has little consequence to the journey. The practical difference is that while the above collapses have some semblance of society (even if in chaos), Ambiguous Collapse is about extreme isolation and holding out hope that there are others to find. In that sense it's actually more similar to Temporary Crisis, except whatever event fragmented humanity happened generations ago. As such, the party is sustained entirely by foraging whatever remains after repeated lootings and the passage of time. Things can get quite gritty; the back-up weapon to a bolt-action rifle might well be a handmade spear or shiv.
  • Partial Recovery (Mad Max: Fury Road, Nausicaa of the Wind Valley): Same basic premise as Permanent Collapse but instead of a humanity-has-no-future take, people have partially re-industrialized so some forms of modern technology remain available (namely cars & guns in the case of Mad Max). However, the unevenness in which communities recovered has resulted in mass migrations, famine, war, endemic inequality, and brutal fiefdoms. Despite actually having a future (in theory), the Partial Recovery scenario is more tangibly ugly than Permanent Collapse because the availability of industry feeds political instability & petty ambition. Warlords will scorch precious resources out of pure greed ("mine") or malice ("not yours").
I bring this up because I sense you'll need to reconcile whatever system you're considering with the campaign tech level. These days the trend is to just make everything a pie-in-the-sky abstraction so I anticipate little mechanical impact; the question is whether folks are killing each other with assault rifles over canned food or with handmade spears over a handful of seeds.
Thanks so much for this insight! Currently I was definitely in the mindset of what you outlined for Temporary Collapse (brushing up against and mixing with Recent Collapse somewhat): the idea that things will or are in the process of going severely wrong but not absolutely FUBAR/totally beyond recovery. The idea that things are serious for the players and their loved ones but the complete obliteration of the human race isn’t really in the cards. Modern equipment and modern concerns.
The ideas mulling about in my head were things like charisma checks revolving around being able to convince a township of people to evacuate before a hurricane reduces their community to a junk yard. Making science checks on being able to find a way to isolate a cure for a ruthless virus spreading across the northwest. Antagonist(s) like the bureaucrats in Chernobyl or Jude Law in Contagion being as much of a pain for the party as the epidemic and working to counter their misinformation/fear & panic campaign. The idea that a party member would be dead or dying because they decided to confront a gun-wielding English teacher desperate for a food ration for his family or sacrificing themselves to get a child out of a flooded building rather than, like you alluded too, a wild struggle with crude spears in the post apocalyptic wasteland or being overrun by a roving gang of cannibals. In my eyes, the big consequences of extreme failure from the player group would result in a bubonic plague like culling of millions but not sincerely the end of humanity. Speaking of, Infinity War and Endgame come to mind in terms of the atmosphere and civilization level. Lights are still on and famine isn’t really a daily fear and in ten, twenty or thirty plus years maybe things will start feeling truly “normal” again but the scar will still remain.
 
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Syril

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,160
That’s awesome! The world needs as many giant robot/kaiju games as it can get because there aren’t enough.

It’s also cool that you decided to go for doing the mechanics from scratch. It’s something I would love to go for but as a guy who’s been at the hobby in earnest for only half a decade I’m not confident enough in my experience in the medium. It feels like I wouldn’t understand all that goes into the balance of a game, turning the dials so that nothing feels broken or boring for the players. I’m always impressed by the people like you who get that micro level and can make it connect to the bigger picture. I think I need a lot more play & GMing before I’d be ready to develop mechanics from the ground up.
I actually don't have much background with tabletop games. The games of it I ran with my friends was my first time GMing anything. We were switching off running different games and I had decided that I would have an easier time running a game of my own creation than learning an entire system will enough to run it smoothly (yes, really). I hate being confused over rules wording and such and that can't happen when I made the rules myself.

My regular gaming background is in videogames, and I'm always looking at mechanics critically to figure out exactly anything does or doesn't work for me. For example, I had no idea how to approach numbers, so I drew from Paper Mario as an example of a game where "numbers going up" isn't really a thing and the difference between 2 damage and 3 damage is always significant. For balance, it's pretty impossible to know whether something is broken or not when you're designing it on paper, so I was focusing more on making sure that none of the options were redundant with each other and that everything was presumably fun to use while sticking to my main goal of "you can't trade blows with a monster and win" (which I drew from Monster Hunter). Also this isn't a competitive game, so it's okay for everything not to be perfectly balanced as long as everything is viable and interesting to use so that everyone is having fun.
 

StaffyManasse

Member
Oct 28, 2017
746
So. Looks like I'm getting back into tabletop RPGs.

Used to play a lot in my teens in the nineties. Mostly Runequest and Middle Earth RPG.

We're now setting up a group with friends and we're going to start with 5. ed. DnD. I ended up being the GM. We live far away from each other so we are going to be using Hangouts and Roll20.

There sure is a lot I have to teach myself, but I'm sure it's going to be great fun.