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BRP vs. D&D: An Observation


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Brethren, I began playing Dungeons&Dragons many, many decades ago--forty years! I have great affection for the game and its history. We played all throughout the 80s and early 90s, then again in the early 'oughts before life (wives, children, jobs) got in the way. Adulthood is not all that fun. Last year, my group of friends and I decided to carve out a weekend day per month to play. We all instantly gravitated to 5e which was new and flashy and (shockingly) popular. We played a campaign based loosely on Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and the PCs ended up at about level 9. 

I hated it.While the materials Wizards produces are well made, the actual gaming system is broken. By 4th level, the PCs were like superheroes. It is an incredibly unbalanced, overly-"playercentric" game. By "playercentric" I mean that the PCs are simply too powerful. The skills, and subskills, and class skills, and advantages make them into some kind of a cross between Captain America and Dr. Strange. It was very frustrating, not only for me as a DM, but for them. We abandoned the project.

Also--and I don't mean to offer offense to anyone here, but I'm still going to say it--the Wokeness of D&D is a freaking joke. Orcs are racist? Really? Not enough canonical rules for players with physical handicaps? Wizards in wheelchairs? What. The. Actual. Fuck. The online community on Twitter and Discord is like a pack of PC Jacobites wheeling around a guillotine looking for heads to lop off. It is pathetic, and for those who try and scratch out some kind of income from gaming, dangerous. One poor bastard--Sly Flourish, who wrote a great book called The Lazy DM--suggested that a recent published campaign had a few technical issues. This guy is a freaking game designer, and noted a few places in the actual game that were a bit goofy. BUT, because this supplement was created by "THE MOST DIVERSE AUTHORS EVER!" he just got freaking piled on. Threats of boycotts. Hashtags. Harassment Etc. The Awokening came for him, and he--quite understandably--walked it all back. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...

These people are a fucking mob. It's sickening. It's a perpetual social media Inquisition. I turned it all off. 

So we switched to BRP, and I have been utterly overjoyed to reconnect with Chaosium. I've played CoC for just as long as D&D, and I have been thrilled to play with this system and all of its parts again. Magic World, Runequest, Stormbringer, Blood Tide, and on and on and on. I find the actual system to be basically fungible: you can play iterations of the same characters in multiple worlds. And: it's challenging! No Tiny Hut to escape into. No freaking "shaped: fireballs. No uncanny dodges. No "but my AC is 28 and I have 200 HP at level 2" characters (that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my drift). Chaosium, and BPR, are pure imagination. I love it all. I am happy to be home.

In conclusion, I know I sound like a grouchy old man, and maybe I am, but RPGs are important to me. So much is shitty in this world. So much sucks. RPGs are my escape, my outlet, and the way my friends and I connect in creative acts of shared storytelling. I guess this is a long way way of saying thank you to Chaosium for keeping this part of my life going strong. I will always have a great affection for D&D, but I find this gaming system, and this company, far superior to...the other guy.

 

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Brethren, I began playing Dungeons&Dragons many, many decades ago--forty years! I have great affection for the game and its history. We played all throughout the 80s and early 90s, then again in t

I'm thinking that, for some people, the way orcs and other humanoids are sometimes depicted in games might be a reminder of how they feel the real world has treated and continues to treat their own et

It may just have been our awesome referee, but in 4 or 5 years of 5E our characters were always in fear of their lives. A lot came down to him putting in the effort to understand his "monsters" and th

20 minutes ago, GothmogIV said:

it's challenging!

This is one of the most important parts of the puzzle to me. Yeah you can be a big damn hero, but a punk with an AR can still take you out. Changes the way that the players interact with the world.

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3 hours ago, GothmogIV said:

I hated it.While the materials Wizards produces are well made, the actual gaming system is broken. By 4th level, the PCs were like superheroes.

 

I'm not sure it's 'broken' if that's what Players want and expect from it. It's not my taste, but from what I've seen all the powers and feats and widgets are a big part of the draw.
Our local group plays it weekly and meh... I don't play my PC like a superhero so he doesn't feel that way, but another guy at the table is a hardcore min-maxer and that's where it's fun for him.

As for it's 'wokeness'... I don't like the 'purity test' mobs either, but I understand the 'orcs are racist' argument. They've often been presented as a monolithic evil/subhuman 'other' that can be destroyed without moral qualms. Not that they represent any specific racial group, but it plays into similar patterns that real people have suffered through ("The only good Indian is a dead Indian!"). At best, it's lazy and unimaginative depiction to feed a power fantasy.
One of the many things that drew me to Runequest in the old days is how the monsters were presented as more than just sword fodder, having their own cultures and worldviews.
What's wrong with a wizard in a wheelchair? Ever read The X-Men?

Edited by Simlasa
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I hear you 100%. I think what bugs me is bringing real world social pathologies into an escapist fantasy game. To me, complaining that fantasy monsters in a fantasy game played with fantasy characters are racist--in the same way that real world racism is a horrid, cancerous evil-- is a waste of time and energy. 

With regard to the wheelchair: Professor X is great! Do you think there needs to be specific rules in D&D 5e dealing with characters who are disabled? Like, 'turn to appendix 8 in the DMs Guide to see how to run a handicapped character?" I don't. If that's a part of someone's game, go for it! But to imply, or state, that leaving out that rule set is somehow exclusive of real-world people who struggle with disabilities is moral masturbation, in my mind. 

Like I said, there are real world horrors enough to go around. Let's not drag it into our games, too. One man's opinion, respectfully offered. 

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5E needs a referee who plays the "opposition" and the environment to the hilt, it's not as forgiving of seat-of-the-pants refereeing as older editions. If you run an adventure without prep, PCs will usually walk all over the monsters. But once the referee knows their tools, it can be hell for the players.

I prefer D100 skill-based systems usually, though not in all things. Variety is the spice of life.

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2 hours ago, GothmogIV said:

I hear you 100%. I think what bugs me is bringing real world social pathologies into an escapist fantasy game. To me, complaining that fantasy monsters in a fantasy game played with fantasy characters are racist--in the same way that real world racism is a horrid, cancerous evil-- is a waste of time and energy.

I'm thinking that, for some people, the way orcs and other humanoids are sometimes depicted in games might be a reminder of how they feel the real world has treated and continues to treat their own ethnic group. So making an effort to not endorse the notion that 'all X are evil' or 'all Y are thieves' is worth a paragraph or two.
Same with including rules for wheelchairs or whatever. It's doesn't take up a huge amount of space to mention how certain disabilities would effect a PC. I've played disabled characters in games before and appreciated having some mechanical framework to reinforce that aspect of the PC.
People can be overzealous in their demands, sure, but outside of that... why does it bother you so much? Since you have the option of just ignoring those rules if you don't want to use them.

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I've had a positive experience with D&D5e this year.

A friend from overseas has got into RPGs (namely D&D) through his work. He's been refereeing a D&D game for us over Roll20. It's my first experience with D&D5e and these online platforms. I'm probably of a similar vintage to @GothmogIV and not played D&D for a couple of decades. It was fun for me because my regular gaming was disrupted by the pandemic, so it was my only RPG fix. It was also great to re-connect with my friends, overseas and local.

As far as actual play goes, I can see there is a sort of superhero vibe about even 1st level characters. Cantrips for example are moderate spells that can be cast without limit. They make low level spellcasters a lot more powerful. However I never minded D&D at the low levels -- it was after about 5th level that things began to get ridiculous. Low level D&D5e characters are more like BRP characters. They are moderately competent and they can still be killed if they are unlucky*.

Also, knowing that I was going to play D&D I pulled out my tattered old copy of Central Casting, a gonzo fantasy background generator from the 80s by Paul (at the time, now Jenell) Jaquays and made a completely random character -- and then tried my best to fit that character into the D&D class stereotypes. The fun thing about that approach is that you can avoid making a comfortable 'same' character over and over. I rolled a somewhat dreamy and god-touched barbarian hunter whose family had been made into outcasts. That translated to..a D&D Barbarian complete with rage attacks and whatnot. But I picked proficiencies which sort of worked, like stealth, survival and religion.

I just played with my friends, so I didn't bother with forums or worrying about racist orcs or wheelchair-bound wizards. Maybe that's also why I had a better time.

 

* in fact my character did die later and got raised from the dead in true D&D style. But he did change his life and become a priest after that.

Edited by Questbird
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3 hours ago, Simlasa said:


People can be overzealous in their demands, sure, but outside of that... why does it bother you so much? Since you have the option of just ignoring those rules if you don't want to use them.

I think it is, literally, that. By expressing an opinion--orcs are, in fact, not some racist trope--you are suddenly the enemy. Anyhow, I appreciate your comments. Like I said, I turned it all off. It was just too irritating. I am not a people person. :)

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My major problem with 5e has always been how small the difference between a 1st level mundane character with ability 10 and no skill and a 20th level character with maximum ability and skill is : +0 versus +11, on a d20. In a fantasy world where magic is real and a man can litterally reshape the world with a spell, it's not possible for a world-class expert to have 100% chance to beat a no-one. Rafael Nadal, Zidane, Kasparov would seem like fantasy stuff to D&D5 characters. 

Unless he's a rogue. Because, you know, wizards need rogues to answer questions relative to magic theory, and clerics about religion.

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I quite like how they squished many thing in 5e!
Except the HP... it's even bigger than 3.5! :o  So yuk! 🤢

But yeah, I also like a level 7+ party is unbeatable unless you use lots of big monster of other unlikely high level party... or multiple large wave of monsters.. 😕 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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3 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

I quite like how they squished many thing in 5e!
Except the HP... it's even bigger than 3.5! :o  So yuk! 🤢

It should be similar, given the formula is the same.

Or do you also count self-healing ?

3 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

But yeah, I also like a level 7+ party is unbeatable unless you use lots of big monster of other unlikely high level party... or multiple large wave of monsters.. 😕 

You can also put monsters with abilities that can disable party members on a failed saving throw.

Given each character will only have two good saves out of the six possible ones, it's very likely the fight will not go well.

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9 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

in AD&D3.5- at level 10 and above, you only gain +1~3 HP per level (fixed value), but for D&D5e you gain you hit dice every level, even after 9.

That was in AD&D 1 and 2.

3.X uses exactly the same formula as 5e. But I can't point it out, as it is one of the rules that were specifically left out of the SRD. :D

However, if you loo,k at classes in the SRD, you will only find a hit die, and no mention of how many hit points one can get after level 10.

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I just finished a 5ed year campaign. It was uninspiring save for the GM and player effort in bringing some roleplaying moments. I started with a Tabaxi Rogue but ended multiclassing with Bard because at 7th level there were no interesting options for the Rogue, while everybody else was getting new spells and effects. It's a fine game but drifted too much away from AD&D 1st which was IMO the best D&D paradigm iteration.

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17 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

🤢

But yeah, I also like a level 7+ party is unbeatable unless you use lots of big monster of other unlikely high level party... or multiple large wave of monsters.. 😕 

The last straw for GMing D&D for me was many years ago when a party of 5th-6th level adventurers wiped out an entire tribe of orcs in a pitched battle. No tactics, just hack 'em up. It was like tanks vs. infantry in the 20th century.

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It may just have been our awesome referee, but in 4 or 5 years of 5E our characters were always in fear of their lives. A lot came down to him putting in the effort to understand his "monsters" and their strengths and weaknesses, but I think overwhelmingly it was the environmental rules and "conditions" (e.g. exhaustion) that kept us challenged even at high levels.

5E is a very carefully designed game, and there is nothing out of whack about any of it. Los of D&D (especially AD&D) players ripped it apart based on reading only, and simple comparison of numbers. Hence the shock at high hit point values, or cantrips that cause 1d10 damage. But you have to play the RAW for a while to understand how it all works together. The options in the DMG show you what can be done in terms of modifications, so it's not like you'll break the system by houseruling, either.

It's not my favourite game by a long shot, nor even my favourite iteration of D&D (that's Holmes!), but it is unarguably a very well-put together RPG system.

Lloyd Dupont, you may have been playing AD&D 2E in 1995.

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2 hours ago, Vile Traveller said:

It may just have been our awesome referee, but in 4 or 5 years of 5E our characters were always in fear of their lives. A lot came down to him putting in the effort to understand his "monsters" and their strengths and weaknesses, but I think overwhelmingly it was the environmental rules and "conditions" (e.g. exhaustion) that kept us challenged even at high levels.

5E is a very carefully designed game, and there is nothing out of whack about any of it. Los of D&D (especially AD&D) players ripped it apart based on reading only, and simple comparison of numbers. Hence the shock at high hit point values, or cantrips that cause 1d10 damage. But you have to play the RAW for a while to understand how it all works together. The options in the DMG show you what can be done in terms of modifications, so it's not like you'll break the system by houseruling, either.

It's not my favourite game by a long shot, nor even my favourite iteration of D&D (that's Holmes!), but it is unarguably a very well-put together RPG system.

Lloyd Dupont, you may have been playing AD&D 2E in 1995.

That's a totally fair point. I definitely didn't do my monster HW as a DM, and probably underutilized them. 

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