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Richard S.

RQ vs D&D

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Made this as there was some discussion about it in another thread that was kinda going off-topic. So here, now there's somewhere to discuss differences and advantages/disadvantages to each without derailing other threads.

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I'm an old schooler.  I remember when D&D was just hack and slash.  Runequest from day one was the superior game system.  Better mechanics.  Better adventures that accentuated incorporating the world the PCs lived in.  A classic example was the Dragon magazine, I forget which issue, that came out with reviews for both Chaosiums Borderlands and TSR's D3 Vault of the Drow. 

D3 got knocked as being nothing but a hack and slash adventure.  The reviewer remarked that there was plenty of information given about the different intrigues and factions of the drow in the undercity but that none of it mattered to the PCs who were just killing every drow they saw.  It was wasted if you weren't running a drow adventure instead.  In other words, Fluff.

Borderlands, by comparison, got mad raves as possibly the best rpg supplement to come to print at that time.  They went on about how the PCs had to deal with foreign cultures, get acclimated to a new world.  Nothing but glowing praise for what was definitely "the future of rpgs".

Well, we all know how that turned out unfortunately.  cough **Avalon Hill** cough.

But I played both systems and the biggest and best reasons to play Runequest was

A:  Skills.  D&D didn't have any.  By the time Wilderness Survival Guide and Dungeoneers Survival Guide came out, TSR was desperately playing catch up with Chaosium and introduce "non combat proficiencies".  Oh, you mean my character knows how to DO things besides hack and slash?  It was a limited list.

Runequest, of course, had a huge list of skills a character could implement.

B:  No character classes.  You weren't set in stone.  Game play could decide what skills you improved upon and what kind of character you had.  None of this D&D nonsense where my 5th level thief picked one lock the entire level and used not a single other thief skill then went up a level and got better at pick pockets, which he'd never once done his entire life.  No, I got better at what I DID.  And I wasn't locked into being a thief.  I could learn to become a warrior, a shaman, a sorcerer.  All I had to do was learn it through game play.

C : combat.  One day a few years ago, my son, who up until then had only played Runequest his entire rpg playing life, sat down with a friend of mine and I and played a game of D&D.  I'll never forget the look on his face when my friend rolled a d20 and declared he'd hit my sons character.  Several times, my son reached for his own d20 only to be told, no, you don't do anything, you just get hit.  "Where?"  He'd ask.  You just get hit for points.  "Everything is 'to the gorp' " he later said.  We quit rather quickly.  D&D is really boring, was his impression.  Why did it become the big hit, that game sucks.

I could go on, I should go on, about mythology, about culture, about depth, about roleplay, but I'll let others toss in their own two cents.  D&D excels in one area only:  volume of adventures.

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I’ve posted about this before, but I find it fascinating that the Moldvay edition of Basic D&D actually did have a universal task resolution system. The “you can try anything” rule where you roll D20 and try to get less than an appropriate stat. Moldvay Basic is a real eye opener, the generosity of spirit and have-a-go attitude is so refreshing. Unfortunately it was all bulldozed and paved over almost immediately by the next edition.

Funnily enough the most interesting new kid on the OSR block, The Black Hack, is based on the exact same game mechanic.

Edited by simonh
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2 hours ago, Richard S. said:

Made this as there was some discussion about it in another thread that was kinda going off-topic.

Pretty sure I had a hand in that. My bad, y'all. I'm super rambly and sometimes the jumps in thought are only coherent in my head.

I think the versions of D&D I've played (3.5, Pathfinder, and 5e) have generally been more accessible to new players than RQ & other d100 games I've played or read. In particular, the 5e Player's Book is a beauty of simplicity in game design, for what my opinion counts. Pathfinder's core book is the most comprehensive I've played; if I had to pick only one RPG rulebook to play from, I'd pick PFRPG. They both benefit from their generic setting when measuring accessibility.

Personally, I've always found RQ's "just roll under your skill on d100!" deceptive. Sure, that's the premise... and then adding in category mods, calculating specials, calculating crits, using the resistance table, etc.... None of it is complex, sure, but the game isn't "just roll d100!" in its more interesting variations.

And I do think those complex variations are more interesting, and those are the games I'd rather play. I love that RQG starts with Glorantha upfront and center, and really hammers home what's going on. But there's a sacrifice for doing something unique. Comparing the most recent "main" books from each, RGQ's core and 5e's PHB, I like RQG more as a ROLEPLAYING game, but I think that 5e's probably the better roleplaying GAME.

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One thing I would handle different from when I chose RQ3 over any other game system available at the time (1988 or so) is to have a lot less but broader skills, going in the direction OpenQuest has gone from the MRQs. I get it that the way RQG is presented as almost fully backward compatible with RQ2 does carry over that multitude of skills. However, I recently revisited the game system which I played before switching to RQ, which probably noone outside of Germany has ever heard about, and I found that what originally attracted me to the system - the detailed skill system - has become a bit of a burden now that I have collected experience with much leaner sets of abilities in other systems.

Approaching RQ the same way, leaving nostalgia aside, a RQG lite based on basically skill categories, possibly slightly subdivided, with the option to take specialisations that either opportunity or personal preference create as break-out skills (much like HQ handles it) might have been a better way to attract players new to RQ.

A leaner set of skills to track with slightly higher abstraction would still create enough gritty stuff to hang on to as you take weak (or buffered) hit after hit.

I am quite pleased with the magic systems, even with sorcery for specialists, as far as Dragon Pass and Prax are concerned. I have come to doubt whether RQ magic works as well to reflect the cult practices of the Lodrili (who don't usually initiate to a single deity the way the Orlanthi do) or the Westerners. It should work well enough for henotheist Malkioni, though (and given that that's one of my main points of wrestling RQ3 rules and the setting together, this is saying something).

 

The only D&D that I have played in earnest was AD&D 1st edition and a little bit of 2nd edition. The system sucked for me for a number of reasons. No unified skill system (only the Thief class had any in 1st ed), classes, XP for gold, XP at all, levels granting endless supplies of HP, and near limitless world-shattering magic overshadowing the non-magicians after a certain level, before which the MU was nearly useless unless he directed henchmen/followers (which few DMs allowed in the environment I played D&D in). And many of these points are what people who love the game consider its strengths.

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For me RQ is a lens I can’t shake when looking at Glorantha. Even though I read half a dozen H.P. Lovecraft stories before playing Call of Cthulhu, it’s also the lens I see those stories through nowadays. Having played characters in those worlds a certain way for so long, it’s hard for me to shake that. For all that, RQ is too heavyweight a game system for me these days, I’m super happy that it’s back and we’re going to get a ton of new Gloranthan material in that form, but I’ll be adapting it for my own gaming.

Having said that, I think the more game systems we have supporting Glorantha out there published or in the fan community the better. HeroQuest gave us a great new way to think about the setting. Pendragon Pass kept the RQ game form and structure but radically simplified. 13th Age is tons of fun and gave us yet another way to make all kinds of crazy Gloranthan weirdness playable.

I’m experimenting with adapting Apocalypse World to Glorantha. A Black Hack Glorantha mod would be cool.

Let a thousand flowers bloom!

Edited by simonh
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9 hours ago, Joerg said:

The only D&D that I have played in earnest was AD&D 1st edition and a little bit of 2nd edition. The system sucked for me for a number of reasons. No unified skill system (only the Thief class had any in 1st ed), classes, XP for gold, XP at all, levels granting endless supplies of HP, and near limitless world-shattering magic overshadowing the non-magicians after a certain level, before which the MU was nearly useless unless he directed henchmen/followers (which few DMs allowed in the environment I played D&D in). And many of these points are what people who love the game consider its strengths.

I never played actual AD&D (I started tabletop with 3.5 in the 00's), but from what I've read, and the stories I've heard, it definitely seems to me like RQ3 holds up better in the modern arena than AD&D. I started playing RQ with heavily homebrewed RQ3 around five years ago, and have been playing it on and off. Our game has been fairly lore-lite (very hack & slash/dungeoncrawl heavy), but after having played the numbers soup of Pathfinder for years, RQ3's grittiness was a breath of fresh air. The slow progression is satisfying, once you get there. But, I'm not sure I would have gotten there if RQ was my first RPG.

 

9 hours ago, simonh said:

Let a thousand flowers bloom!

Amen!

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22 hours ago, Pentallion said:

Borderlands, by comparison, got mad raves as possibly the best rpg supplement to come to print at that time.  They went on about how the PCs had to deal with foreign cultures, get acclimated to a new world.  Nothing but glowing praise for what was definitely "the future of rpgs".

Well, we all know how that turned out unfortunately.  cough **Avalon Hill** cough..

Tangent to a tangent-thread:  I get tired of this simplistic binary meme.  "AH is teh DeV1l!!"  https://www.maranci.net/rqpast.htm gives it a fairly objective retelling.  AH were greedy as hell, and made lots of mistakes in their lack of understanding of RPGs generally and fans in particular, the "bad old days of AH" - while giving us plenty of rehashes of RQ2 products - also gave us some of the most fantastic supplements the game has ever seen, supplements that compare quite favorably with the best of Chaosium's days, products like Sun County, River of Cradles, and Dorastor.  Vikings was as culture rich and interesting a creative setting as anything from 1979.  Genertela was a bigger info-dump for Glorantha fans than anything Chaosium created, and GoG, while not being nearly as charmingly folksy as CoP or CoT was far more comprehensive and authoritative than both combined.

 

The fact is that as much as AH is *constantly* maligned for abandoning Glorantha as a setting, licensewise they had NO CHOICE.  Let's not forget either that Chaosium themselves were dabbling in non-Gloranthan settings with the uninspiringly-titled Questworld.  As much as AH richly deserves brickbats for its failures, it's Chaosium that made that choice in the first place.

 

As someone who continues to play both games, I don't know that comparing RQ(ancient) with AD&D(ancient) is even meaningful today?  There's no question that a) RQ was a better game mechanically at the time, and b) D&D *crushed* Chaosium in terms of the follow-on products.  Chaosium produced what, maybe 15? 18 products over the next 5 years, TSR had by the end of 1984 approximately 400 substantial products for sale (disregarding magazines, collections, boxed-sets, and non TSR products).  And as for the Hearts and Minds of gamers?  I think we know how that went.  RQ was a more quality game, and Glorantha a more quality setting...but I believe it was Stalin who opined that "Quantity has a quality all its own."  Guess which is better for making a sustainable business?  This is why it's so essential that Chaosium today has recognized this and (AFAIK) already has a number of supplements in the pipeline.  That's great.

 

D&D5e is a GOOD GAME.  The rules are tight, simple, and fast, and far more reminiscent of the good bits of AD&D than the accretions of 3.0, 3.5 or the benighted 4.0..  The mechanics are clear and predictable (if not very realistic).  The product suffers from excessive balance-itis (a need to make sure everything is equivalent) and simultaneously from power-creep as their business model seems to (very WotC-like) demand programmatic releases of things intended to overpower previous publications.  Obviously, this is a mountain you can only scale so long.   Also, much of the game is based on what are now self-inflicted cliches.  Their products that try to blaze new ground simply don't sell as well.

For me, RQG...well, the jury's still out.  I'm concerned about some things in there, I like some other things.  I'll be honest, I fear an opportunity to really crystallize some of the mechanics and take advantage of some modern ideas/approaches has been missed by an over-slavish nostalgia for RQ2.  For my part, I recognize that my stance would almost certainly have been an over-slavish nostalgia for RQ3.  Neither is appropriate in 2018.  5e is too good a competitive product   RQGs amazing attention to setting is a strong leg up, however.

Mainly, I want a book in my hands that I can actually sit and read at length.  I'm 50, doing it on a tablet or phone just doesn't float my boat.  I believe fundamentally the RQ mechanics are still light-years better than d20 but they are inherently more complicated and crunchy, and I don't see the general culture going that direction.

21 hours ago, Crel said:

Pretty sure I had a hand in that. My bad, y'all. I'm super rambly and sometimes the jumps in thought are only coherent in my head.

Meh, no big deal.  FWIW rambly threads are to me the most interesting because that's how conversation HAPPENS.

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5 minutes ago, styopa said:

Tangent to a tangent-thread:  I get tired of this simplistic binary meme.  "AH is teh DeV1l!!"  https://www.maranci.net/rqpast.htm gives it a fairly objective retelling.  AH were greedy as hell, and made lots of mistakes in their lack of understanding of RPGs generally and fans in particular, the "bad old days of AH" - while giving us plenty of rehashes of RQ2 products - also gave us some of the most fantastic supplements the game has ever seen, supplements that compare quite favorably with the best of Chaosium's days, products like Sun County, River of Cradles, and Dorastor.  Vikings was as culture rich and interesting a creative setting as anything from 1979.  Genertela was a bigger info-dump for Glorantha fans than anything Chaosium created, and GoG, while not being nearly as charmingly folksy as CoP or CoT was far more comprehensive and authoritative than both combined.

 

The fact is that as much as AH is *constantly* maligned for abandoning Glorantha as a setting, licensewise they had NO CHOICE.  Let's not forget either that Chaosium themselves were dabbling in non-Gloranthan settings with the uninspiringly-titled Questworld.  As much as AH richly deserves brickbats for its failures, it's Chaosium that made that choice in the first place.

 

As someone who continues to play both games, I don't know that comparing RQ(ancient) with AD&D(ancient) is even meaningful today?  There's no question that a) RQ was a better game mechanically at the time, and b) D&D *crushed* Chaosium in terms of the follow-on products.  Chaosium produced what, maybe 15? 18 products over the next 5 years, TSR had by the end of 1984 approximately 400 substantial products for sale (disregarding magazines, collections, boxed-sets, and non TSR products).  And as for the Hearts and Minds of gamers?  I think we know how that went.  RQ was a more quality game, and Glorantha a more quality setting...but I believe it was Stalin who opined that "Quantity has a quality all its own."  Guess which is better for making a sustainable business?  This is why it's so essential that Chaosium today has recognized this and (AFAIK) already has a number of supplements in the pipeline.  That's great.

 

D&D5e is a GOOD GAME.  The rules are tight, simple, and fast, and far more reminiscent of the good bits of AD&D than the accretions of 3.0, 3.5 or the benighted 4.0..  The mechanics are clear and predictable (if not very realistic).  The product suffers from excessive balance-itis (a need to make sure everything is equivalent) and simultaneously from power-creep as their business model seems to (very WotC-like) demand programmatic releases of things intended to overpower previous publications.  Obviously, this is a mountain you can only scale so long.   Also, much of the game is based on what are now self-inflicted cliches.  Their products that try to blaze new ground simply don't sell as well.

For me, RQG...well, the jury's still out.  I'm concerned about some things in there, I like some other things.  I'll be honest, I fear an opportunity to really crystallize some of the mechanics and take advantage of some modern ideas/approaches has been missed by an over-slavish nostalgia for RQ2.  For my part, I recognize that my stance would almost certainly have been an over-slavish nostalgia for RQ3.  Neither is appropriate in 2018.  5e is too good a competitive product   RQGs amazing attention to setting is a strong leg up, however.

Mainly, I want a book in my hands that I can actually sit and read at length.  I'm 50, doing it on a tablet or phone just doesn't float my boat.  I believe fundamentally the RQ mechanics are still light-years better than d20 but they are inherently more complicated and crunchy, and I don't see the general culture going that direction.

Meh, no big deal.  FWIW rambly threads are to me the most interesting because that's how conversation HAPPENS.

For what it is worth, for me the jury is still out on whether D&D5e is a good or even particularly interesting role-playing game. My experiences with it so far have not particularly impressed me. But I also am unimpressed by a lot of so-called "modern ideas/approaches" (mostly because I think the basic parameters of game mechanics have not developed nearly as much since the mid-80s as people think, although what is currently popular changes like a kaleidoscope).

But hey, to each their own.

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> For what it is worth, for me the jury is still out on whether D&D5e is a good or even particularly interesting role-playing game.

[I messed up the editing somehow. I’ll address Jeff’s post in two comments]

I recently visited my old games club here in London and also popped into a new one in the same area. Both are mad for D&D 5e. From what I can tell it’s hugely popular and the only D20 fantasy game I saw being played, which is a big change from 5 years ago.

I completely agree it’s uninteresting as a game. It’s a fairly simplistic, back to basics edition similar in many ways to the best of the OSR clones like Castles & Crusades, but I think that’s why it’s so popular. The vast majority of D&D players want something straightforward that lets them dungeon bash with a minimum of fuss and bother. The vast majority of newcomers to the hobby want to play “Dungeons and Dragons”, because that’s what they think rolleplaying is, and with 5e they get it in a more accessible and functional form than ever before.

In terms of innovation and interest value 13th Age beats 5e hands down, but that’s not what everyone is after.

Edited by simonh
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52 minutes ago, Jeff said:

But I also am unimpressed by a lot of so-called "modern ideas/approaches" (mostly because I think the basic parameters of game mechanics have not developed nearly as much since the mid-80s as people think, although what is currently popular changes like a kaleidoscope).

I think there have been four really fundamentally different approaches to RPG design and mechanics over the years. The class based approach from D&D where each class has basically its own game subsystem. The skills based approach from RQ, Traveller and others, most games are a variant of this sometimes combined with classes. The diceless approach from Amber, which has never really cought on. Then there’s the move based approach from Apocalypse World.

Move based games are busily replicating and assimilating various segments of the hobby. Playbooks are a bit like classes, but that aspect of the approach isn’t a fundamental characteristic. It’s the move mechanics that really matter. It’s a hugely flexible approach that can do in a few paragraphs what other approaches to game design struggle to achieve in whole chapters. Move based games are here to stay.

Its possible I’m seeing this through a very personal and arbitrary lens. I’ve certainly not read every RPG ever published so maybe I missed or forgot something, but each of these approaches changed the way I think about roleplaying games.

Edited by simonh

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Regardless of personal opinions about D&D 5E, every RPG gamer and publisher should be thrilled with its success. It has brought lots of folks into, and back into, the hobby, which means growth for the player base and for the industry overall. Eventually many of those gamers will want to try something different.

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3 hours ago, Jeff said:

for me the jury is still out on whether D&D5e is a good or even particularly interesting role-playing game.

I wonder if it's possible to say that a game system is good, but not interesting. my gut reaction is "No, that's crazy-talk," but I have to wonder. I certainly believe that 5e is good, but when I read that beautiful PHB, it didn't get me excited and fascinated in the same sort of way that reading RQG did. But, as a reader, writer, and gamer I'm someone who gets really curious and excited about odd and deep settings--so Glorantha's a good match for me. The only substantial complaint I've ever had about it is its linguistics, and to complain about that is really, really unfair.

I do think there's an aspect of 5e's simplicity (as I see it, anyway) which has been missed in this discussion. From what I've seen, the game is extremely flexible depending on the taste of the playgroup. Mechanically, it does hack & slash well, but it's a bare-bones enough system that it leaves a lot of open space for groups that enjoy engaging in a lot of RP. And I think there's a growing chunk of people who see D&D more and more in its "improv acting" sense courtesy of groups like Critical Role and Encounter Roleplay. (My personal favorite is TFS at the Table.) A system like RQG with a big, largely unknown world involved adds a sense that "Oh, I have to fit into this." (Yes, I know YGMV, but any time there's a published setting my experience internally and socially has been that there is a push to find and go with the "canon" version.) RQG is really good at playing in Glorantha, and that's something I love about the system in comparison to the RQ3 I'm used to, the Pathfinder I'm used to, but 5e is good at playing in many worlds, time and energy permitting.

If I wanted to brew up something quickly, on the fly for my friends, I'd probably use 5e. If I was to build my own system slowly from scratch, I'd use d100.

I haven't explored tons of 5e's content apart from its PHB, but I did check out the Adventures in Middle-Earth 5e, and it seems to do a lovely job melding setting and mechanics. I haven't gotten the chance to run it (and to be honest I probably never will; too many game systems, too little time). In particular, I love how it does overland travel and how it handles alignment through a "shadow points" system. But, everything spins around the simple 5e core; that elegant set of gears is what makes the rest of the system tick. Of course, everything's made much simpler since M-E is broadly known, and Glorantha (nor most fantasy settings) is not.

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You guys may want to get all this petty hate speech out of the way now before the new RQ and even 13G drop in wide release...

Nothing at all wrong with having preferences, stating them, sticking to them fanatically and so on, but it's a real turnoff when you keep coming back to that well. I've been a fan of both Runequest and D&D since I was in middle school. Now I'm firmly in middle age. I have always been a "RQ guy," but will play anything. 

The biggest turnoff for me, in any endeavor/group/hobby/occupation/whatever, is the elitist, smarmy jerk who knows better than everyone else. The two gaming communities who are the worst about this, IMO, (ironically) are Glorantha/Runequest fans and pre 3rd edition D&D fans. Both communities are full of pompous, self righteous pseudoscholars who take their interests far too seriously. 

We are on the precipice of what is likely Runequest/Glorantha's last chance at bringing in a large chunk of "new blood" into our favorite stomping ground to share ideas and good times with. I ask all here that we maybe tone down the elitism a few decibels and keep the shoegaze conversations civil when/if outsiders start poking their heads in. We want them all to become insiders. They won't want anything to do with this community if we're all a bunch of BADWRONGFUN jerks.

This post wasn't aimed at anyone in particular. I have gotten a bad attitude here and elsewhere more than a few times both on the internet and in real life related to gaming topics, so I share the burden of trying to put my best self forward when my knee jerk usually isn't.

 

 

TLDR version:

You may see a bunch of people in the near future here who are fans of things the typical current user isn't. Try not to crap in their yard so they want to come visit yours.

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3 hours ago, Jeff said:

For what it is worth, for me the jury is still out on whether D&D5e is a good or even particularly interesting role-playing game. My experiences with it so far have not particularly impressed me. But I also am unimpressed by a lot of so-called "modern ideas/approaches" (mostly because I think the basic parameters of game mechanics have not developed nearly as much since the mid-80s as people think, although what is currently popular changes like a kaleidoscope).

But hey, to each their own.

I'd 1000% agree with you at least insofar as it really ISN'T particularly interesting - that's a wise distinction I failed to call out.   As should surprise nobody here, I appreciate tight mechanics and their approach to conditions, surprise, etc are very methodical and rigorous.  It's only taken them 5 editions to get there...

But as a game setting to actually care about the character, and the world they exist in?  You're absolutely right, it's banal.  Well commented.

2 hours ago, simonh said:

 Then there’s the move based approach from Apocalypse World.

Move based games are busily replicating and assimilating various segments of the hobby. Playbooks are a bit like classes, but that aspect of the approach isn’t a fundamental characteristic. It’s the move mechanics that really matter. It’s a hugely flexible approach that can do in a few paragraphs what other approaches to game design struggle to achieve in whole chapters. Move based games are here to stay.

Hm, never saw that before.  Skimming it, it seems a little bit FATEy (a positive, but I've never actually RUN it) but intersecting with a class-like mechanic that immediately is a negative for me.  While I see it's interesting, I'm not entirely sure it's the tidal wave you imply.  I'd love to actually see the rules, minus the colossal waves of pretentiousness. Eek.

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20 minutes ago, tedopon said:

You guys may want to get all this petty hate speech out of the way now before the new RQ and even 13G drop in wide release...

...maybe tone down the elitism a few decibels and keep the shoegaze conversations civil when/if outsiders start poking their heads in. We want them all to become insiders. They won't want anything to do with this community if we're all a bunch of BADWRONGFUN jerks.

Are you reading the same thread that I am reading?

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6 hours ago, styopa said:

The fact is that as much as AH is *constantly* maligned for abandoning Glorantha as a setting, licensewise they had NO CHOICE.  Let's not forget either that Chaosium themselves were dabbling in non-Gloranthan settings with the uninspiringly-titled Questworld.  As much as AH richly deserves brickbats for its failures, it's Chaosium that made that choice in the first place.

I wasn't blaming anyone.  I was simply pointing out the truth.  Then came Avalon Hill.  Both sides made mistakes, that's not the point.  D&D back then was crap.  D&D today has improved.  And the way it improved itself was by stealing from RQ.  If Chaosium had focused on coming out with more content the way TSR did, then we wouldn't be having this conversation today, RQG would have come out 30 years ago and we'd be discussing modern changes to the rules.  5th E would have been decades too late to matter.

In the end, it's boring compared to RQ any edition.  There's a reason why most TSR products can be had on Ebay for $1 and most RQ products go rapidly up in price.  Even the GtG is almost double what it came out for a few years ago.  People don't sell copies of RQ products because they treasure the stuff.  TSR stuff is mostly hack and slash.

Hell, 4.0 was a boardgame, not an rpg.

Edited by Pentallion

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3 hours ago, styopa said:

Hm, never saw that before.  Skimming it, it seems a little bit FATEy (a positive, but I've never actually RUN it) but intersecting with a class-like mechanic that immediately is a negative for me.  While I see it's interesting, I'm not entirely sure it's the tidal wave you imply.  I'd love to actually see the rules, minus the colossal waves of pretentiousness. Eek.

FATE is great, but it’s ‘just’ a (sophisticated, well executed, innovative) skills based system.

To see how different the Apocalypse World system is, take a look at some of the more unusual playbooks. The hardholder has all the custom, specialised rules you need to create and be the ruler of an entire community along with all your trials and tribulations right there on the character sheet. The rules for gangs are a complete mass tactical combat system in a few paragraphs. The Hocus is the leader of a cult, so there must be a chapter on cults and how to lead them and how that works and your obligations and benefits in the rule book right? Nope, all you need is on the character sheet. The Skinner is a seductive social manipulator that’s actually highly effective and playable, something many games have tried to do and few have succeeded, and how many did so in as little space as a few paragraphs on the character sheet?

Most games have combat systems that are are highly gamey. By that I mean the system provides a complete framework for all aspects of combat and provides the players with a lot of determinism. They know that if they create a character with X, do Y in combat and roll Z they will get exactly this or that benefit. They will do this amount of damage, for Magic their spell will have specified effects so the player can actually tell the GM what happens because the game system guarantees those outcomes.

Apocalypse World does that for anything a character might ever be good at. As such it’s a very gamey system. If you’re a social manipulator and you get a strong hit on your social manipulation move, you get to tell the GM exactly what benefit you get, as mediated by the rules. Compare that to a Fast Talk roll in a BRP game, or an equivalent ability in FATE. No matter how well you roll, what benefit you get if any at all is entirely at the GMs discretion. They even get to decide if you can roll or not. The game system provides half of a game mechanic for the vast majority of activities and the actual outcome is left to the GM. Some systems had elements of the move concept before. Some of the class abilities in Castles & Crusades or D20 Modern worked a bit like this for example, but were still much more subject to GM interpretation and mediation’s and had very limited scope.

i know I’m rambling on, but there’s one other thing about AW that I’d never seen in an RPG before. It tells you exactly how to prepare, run, play and wind down the game every step of the way. It tells you how to play the game the way Panzer Leader or Monopoly tells you how to play. It covers the whole experience start to finish.

Every othe RPG I’ve ever read tells you how to do certain things during a game. If the characters get in a fight, use this game mechanic. If one of them casts a spell use that game mechanic. How you get from one situation to the next is vaguely hand waved at best. But AW leaves no gaps hanging uselessly open between these island rules. Every step of the experience, every interaction between the players and GM (actuall the MC or Master of Ceremonies) takes place within a well defined framework of player and GM moves. This is possible because the move cycle of hits and misses constantly generates new activity.

Im not saying it’s the best game ever, it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Apocalypse World itself is likely to provoke strong reactions for or against just due to the subject matter, but I’d urge anyone looking at it to look beyond that. It’s just one expression of this approach to design. The game design and structure is like nothing else I’d ever seen before.

Actualy there’s another truly original RPG ‘type’ of system out there these days. Hill Folk. Although I could argue that Fiasco beat it to it in some ways.

EDITED - partially rewritten for clarity.

Edited by simonh
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1 hour ago, simonh said:

FATE is great, but it’s ‘just’ a (sophisticated, well executed, innovative) skills based system.

Actually, no.

The "just a skills system" is Fudge, which Fate uses as a base but builds on top of.  Fudge is indeed more or less a traditional "crunchy, simulationist" skills-system RPG, albeit one that takes a radical approach to generic-ness in having NO predefined stats/skills -- you define them for a given campaign (so you might have no physical STR/DEX/CON/etc scores if your game is about PCs who are ghosts, FrEx; while you might have "Flirt, Gossip, Bon Mot," and more in a social-centric English Regency game.).

Fate adds a slew of narrative-centric stuff (Aspects, Conditions, Declarations, &c...) on top of the Fudge chassis; and in fact, you can run those "Fate bits" on top of ANY traditional RPG (you would need to re-calibrate the mechanical merger... e.g. +1/+2/+3 in Fudge-based Fate might be +5% / +15% / +30% in BRP-based Fate (off the top of my head), etc; or you could put it onto D&D, or any other "trad"-style RPG . )

Going a step further, you could run with ONLY the narrative bits, and NO crunchy simulator underpinnings.  "Aspect Only Fate" is a Google'able thing.

(n.b. I get to claim I'm not dragging the thread off-topic, because I tied it back into BRP (and D&D) there...  🙂  )

 

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5 hours ago, Crel said:

 

If I wanted to brew up something quickly, on the fly for my friends, I'd probably use 5e. If I was to build my own system slowly from scratch, I'd use d100.

I would freely use BRP over 5e ... unless I wanted D&Disms.  Typically, I only want them if I'm engaging newbies, so I can rely upon their insta-grasp of the D&D/Tolkien concepts... which can be invaluable for that purpose!  Or, of course, if the players will "only play" D&D.  (meh; I play for such groups only with the intention of corruptingconverting them.  🙂  My current group "began" as a D&D group, but mostly plays other games.

But if the players aren't relying upon D&Disms, I much prefer the BRP/RQ chassis (even if I'm playing Victoriana Steampunk or Pirates of the Caribbean (or many other genres).

I find the basic notion of "the skills define what you can do" rather than "the class defines what you can do" is easily grasped, and skills as D100 scores is also easily grasped.

Edited by g33k
typo

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24 minutes ago, g33k said:

Actually, no.

The "just a skills system" is Fudge, which Fate uses as a base but builds on top of.  ...

I’m aware of the history and the relationship to Fudge, I was talking about it on its own terms as a complete game. Aspects and stunts and such are really just modifiers on the skills system. Without a skills system underneath, they have no reason for being. When I say skills, I mean in the broad sense including GUMSHOE general abilities and such.

FATE is great, I’m a fan, it’s innovative and flexible but it’s not a fundamentally new way to play RPGs. It is a new way to play with skills systems.

FATE Glorantha anyone? I’d play that.

 

Edited by simonh
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1 hour ago, simonh said:

I’m aware ... 

Well, I think the topic merits further debate... but not here.  🙂

 

1 hour ago, simonh said:

FATE Glorantha anyone? I’d play that. 

<heh>   How 'bout BRP DresdenFIles or BRP SotC?   😈

 

But I'm curious -- how would you see Fate of Glorantha differing from HQ:G ?   I usually consider Fate & HQ pretty peer-ish games...  But maybe that should be a spin-off thread... (possibly to the EH board... or to an EH/Chaosium negotiation?)

 

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