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IvanMike
08-30-2010, 09:33 PM
call this market research. Let's pretend I want to design a game that appeals to the broadest possible spectrum of D&D players, both old school (let's arbitrarily call this OD&D, B/X, BECMI, RC, 1e and 2e) and new school (2e, 3.5e and 4e) players. All of these games have great things to offer, and all have their own drawbacks. Unfortunately folk usually end up in various camps and mostly take pot shots at each other's favorite games, and end up limiting the number of creative and fun people to play with. So let's not do that. In a similar thread elsewhere it was revealed that the old school / new school divide is largely arbitrary and artificial. In that discussion it seemed evident that rather than editions creating the largest divide there were instead several axes that people find themselves at different point on based on playstyle preference. Some like random attributes, others prefer player driven creation. Some prefer a large set of rules, others like "rules lite" - some like universal mechanics, others don't. Etc.

If you don't know what a system everyone would like, feel free to post what you would like in a D&D type game. What would the rules and mechanics be like? How would unusual and unexpected actions be resolved? Etc.

tesral
08-30-2010, 11:22 PM
I think most edition wars come down to what are you familiar with? The reason most Windows users think Linux checks your nerd cred before it will run. Many gamers I fear to say don't want to play something "too different".

Second problem with amalgamating the editions is the 3/4 break line. As violent and Earth changing as the K/T boundary in the Earth's crust. The game is not the same game. It is not simply a matter of edition. With D&D AD&D and AD&D 2 I can easily move characters. I can take your favorite X edition character and make them work in another edition without too much of a rewrite as long as you move forward. After that the Gotachangeit asteroid destroys life on Earth and you can't move up.

Moving back editions is more difficult because of power creep. Each edition has characters more powerful than the last. Same class, same race. I cannot take a 5th level 3ed fighter and make an AD&D fighter out of him without losing something of the game mechanic edge.

I think ideally you are looking at 3ed mechanics, but less of them; rulings not rules. Through out 90% of the core classes that end up in the game, simplify and loosen the rules. Put the DM back in change of the game, not the rulebooks.

Ditch the mechanics that require miniatures to be effective. Minitures should be nice, not required. Get rid of that farding grid!!! If I want my PC to move 7 feet I want seven feet, not forced to choose 5 or 10. All the time I spent playing 3e the grid was my constant enemy, not becasue it enforced precision. I can live with percision, it forced an artifical placment. The grid is too board game. Good miniature rules do not have grids. Good players know how to use a measuring tape. Oh and D&D is not a miniatures game, remember?

Utgardloki
08-31-2010, 02:05 AM
With my it's not that I don't like new stuff. I love new stuff. But the problem with 4th Edition, and some of the rules lawyering that went on in 3rd Edition, is that it won't let me have some of the old stuff I liked.

For 3rd Edition, I could put a kibosh on rules lawyering by saying I was the GM and I determined whatever I wanted, even if you had a signed letter from Skip Williams.

4th Edition is harder because they've deliberately ripped a lot of concepts out of the game, and did so so thoroughly that they can't be put back in. To make things worse, when I create things for 1st or 3rd Edition, I like to throw in lots of little tricks like being able to talk to stones, etc. In 4th Edition, I was told that I couldn't do that, that I could only have certain kinds of abilities for a cat-person race I was stating out.

One trend I don't like is the idea that players have to get whatever they want. If they want a +3 axe, they should get a +3 axe. To my mind it's like, why even bother questing then? Why not just write down what you want on your character sheet, and we can go out for pizza?

But I don't know if this is old style vs new style, as much as just different styles. I played in one campaign where whatever you wanted just fell out of the sky onto the PCs. And I ran my games in a much different style.

IvanMike
08-31-2010, 10:32 AM
Thanks guys. @ Tes - I think you can figure out which era I'm from by looking at the text of my posts in my campaign invitation called "Ninglan" (the name of the world). I started playing in 1980 - ish, and have been known to wax philosophical about Moldvay modifiers mimicking standard deviations in populations & the importance of DM fiat. :cool:

Sascha
08-31-2010, 10:55 AM
<snip>
What he said, only the opposite. In fact, not what he said at all :P

I'd want a game with very solid "game" elements: well-designed mechanics that give predictable results once the dice hit the table. Something that doesn't require a lot of interpretation, or isn't vague for purposes of system mastery; actually, the less system mastery involved, the better. (Mechanically rewarding any player's skill at manipulating the rules is a bad idea.) The rules should do what they say on the tin.

I'd keep the DM-as-referee role in tact, but remove the DM-as-rules-gatekeeper role. Secret rolls and hidden difficulties, rules "only the DM needs to know" should be a thing of the past. Reliance on DM fiat to fill in the spaces between rules should also go by the wayside; the framework should have enough structure to suggest a consistent mechanical resolution for stuff not found in the rules as written. The ultimate authority on the game should be the table as a unit, not any specific member, anyway.

I'd prefer not needing to track precise movement and positioning, but I'd much rather have a grid than use a tape measure and counting out inches; with all the other abstractions in combat, the grid is fine as a vague indicator of spatial relations. Likewise weapons; if hit points don't represent actual wounds (and they really never have), having weapons do different damages seems off, to me. Original D&D, pre-Greyhawk, had this right.

Actually, abstract some resource management aspects and toss others. Get rid of encumbrance, ammunition and coin tracking. Turn money into a rolled statistic with interesting consequences for tests, and ignore the rest. A base assumption that the characters are veterans of their world (though definition of "world" can be fluid, in a city v. rural sense) should be enshrined in the tone; the player shouldn't be 'punished' for something the character would totally remember to do. Though, that's probably more an aspect of the player-character relationship than resource management.

tesral
08-31-2010, 11:46 AM
Then you need to play board games. Might I recommend Axis & Allies. It's got the neat collectable tank things.

The idea as I understood the topic was to get the Old School feel without the clunky Old School rules. Being an Old School DM I know how that works. I run entire sessions without anyone ever touching a rule book, and we have a blast. One: We know the rules. Two: We don't need 40 volumes of rules to play. And yes, we play a 3e variant exactly as I describe.

As to ditching the miniatures requirement, well sometimes, such as in my circumstance, you can't use miniatures. I have boxes full, but we play around the living room, not at a table. Ergo looking at a battle mat is not practical. Rules that require minis would get in the way of play. The game must be flexible in that respect as well. You need to be able to play a mental game. Don't get me wrong, I like miniatures. I mentioned have boxes of the things some dating back to 1976. But don't hobble the game with rules that require you to have miniatures.

I can run a satisfying RPG with no system at all. I have an E-mail game that has run for ten years and we have no system and no sheets. Just players and GM.

fmitchell
08-31-2010, 07:06 PM
I prefer abstract movement systems, but maps and miniatures (or at least pawns) can clarify who is where during an extended scene. Spirit of the Century divides the environment into "zones"; people in the same zone can attack with fists or weapons, people one zone away can only throw things at each other (depending on barriers), and people two or more zones away can only use guns. In the game I played, the GM marked rough positions on a map of a cargo ship, desert, whatever. By the end, the paper got extremely messy.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3e, despite its flaws, had a brilliant idea: cardboard stand-ups to clarify who was in melee with who, and distance tokens to indicate weapon/movement ranges between each battle. In FATE or something similar, tokens in zones (if there is a map) or separated by distance markers could clarify the battle when needed, without requiring a map to conduct a battle.

Sascha
08-31-2010, 08:01 PM
Then you need to play board games. Might I recommend Axis & Allies. It's got the neat collectable tank things.
This attitude - that people who want different things need to go to different hobbies - is alienating and elitist, and does nothing for the discourse; all it really says is that folks with different preferences (radically, in some cases - like mine :P) aren't welcome, especially if they want to associate with the hobby's biggest name.

There are lots of roleplaying games that aren't D&D. FATE, for instance, contains nearly all of what I described. (Minus the gridded conflicts; though the concept of zones is served by a relationship map.) Of the existing D&D games, 4E is almost the ideal D&D game for my preferences; it just needs a bit of a push to achieve maximum synergy with my style (largely, it still a sacred cow or two that need to be made into burgers).


The idea as I understood the topic was to get the Old School feel without the clunky Old School rules. Being an Old School DM I know how that works. I run entire sessions without anyone ever touching a rule book, and we have a blast. One: We know the rules. Two: We don't need 40 volumes of rules to play. And yes, we play a 3e variant exactly as I describe.
Heh, I read it as creating a product that appeals to the broadest spectrum of players, however they choose to play, as long as everyone was using the same product. It's also the feel I got from the OP's thread on rpg.net, too. I'm of the opinion that it can't realistically be done, as we can see here that there are irreconcilable differences in our respective game styles, but that doesn't stop the thought experiment. Especially when the question in the original post was appended with:

If you don't know what a system everyone would like, feel free to post what you would like in a D&D type game. What would the rules and mechanics be like? How would unusual and unexpected actions be resolved? Etc.

Also, the last game session I ran, we didn't crack open books, either; the rules are internalized, just as your game's rules are to your group. And we only worked out of the core book (Spirit of the Century, which only has one add-on book, itself). Reams of rules is *not* equivalent to tightly-designed rules frameworks; with my style, it actually facilitates new content creation, rather than waiting for the next product from the developers.


As to ditching the miniatures requirement, well sometimes, such as in my circumstance, you can't use miniatures. I have boxes full, but we play around the living room, not at a table. Ergo looking at a battle mat is not practical. Rules that require minis would get in the way of play. The game must be flexible in that respect as well. You need to be able to play a mental game. Don't get me wrong, I like miniatures. I mentioned have boxes of the things some dating back to 1976. But don't hobble the game with rules that require you to have miniatures.
Our group switches between the table and the couches often, so a battle mat isn't ideal for us, either. But really, that has nothing to do with gridded combat and positioning, 'specially when you break out values statements like "Good miniature rules do not have grids." or "Good players know how to use a measuring tape." I don't care about the wargaming roots, nor its trappings, so a ready-made abstraction tool like a grid works for me, when it's needed; it doesn't work for you. And that's fine.


I can run a satisfying RPG with no system at all. I have an E-mail game that has run for ten years and we have no system and no sheets. Just players and GM.
Freeform roleplaying's been done since, well, humans recognized that it *could* be done. I tried it, myself, back in high school and found I didn't care for it. Even in games *with* rules, you can have satisfying roleplaying with no system interactions. We had an entire Shadowrun session where the dice weren't present - all character development and social interaction. It was quite the fun evening. But really, there's the rub: "satisfying" and "fun" aren't objectively defined, except in the most technical sense.

wizarddog
08-31-2010, 10:19 PM
The issue is that gammers and the game have evolved over the decades. It is not enough to go into a dungeon and slay monsters anymore. All of that can be done at the electronic game level. It's not enough to say Haflings can only be fighters and thieves.

All the great old gamers and DM's know how to "break" the system and make it there own. That is good talent and I appreciate what they do. I have fond memories of playing AD&D for hours straight through the night with friends and family.

However, for me, I am more inspired by mechanics when I play a character or DM a game. I enjoy building things and using ideas based on what is already there rather than just creating it out of thin air. I also appreciate mechanics that allow me to create whatever I want without arbitrary restrictions. Hence, I prefer 3rd edition over 2nd edition material (though to be fair, I never played 2nd edition extensively and gave up gaming for about 8 years). I like having mechanics for things that I can choose to adopt or to ignore. I'm not so good at bringing them into existence on the fly.

But 3rd has its own flaws, having too many rules for example and balance issues that require constant DM ruling. And like many 3x admirers, I was very critical of 4th edition. It took me a while to see its potential and I now exploit it as best I can. 4e is not 3e (nor is it 1e or 2e) , and that is something that just has to be accepted. But what I appreciate about 4e is that it gives just the right amount of mechanic to do what I would have needed to do in AD&D to make things work the way I want.

The expectation of gamers, who are more sophisticated, requires that the system be appealing to them; that is just evolution. There will always be market for nostalgia, but I think the cultures expectation in media has change quite a bit; as once an obscure hobby become mainstay in entertainment.

Dytrrnikl
08-31-2010, 11:29 PM
I'd like to see a game that easily emulates character creation from the Cortex system used in Battlestar Galactica and Serenity, where characters can be created to be novices (2e and earlier editions) that need to survive and earn there kudos, 'seen some action, know a few things' types, to veteran - A-Team like characters that can kick-butt right out of the gate. Come to think of it, Mutants and Masterminds does this well with the Power Level format.

My fondest memories of 2E were games where it was story, not detail (mechanics), that was important...I think 3E got far too crunchy and concise, while 4E is almost too simple.

I am all for keeping class and level in a DnD, fantasy type game...iconic roles are one sacred cow that just works for me.

I admit alignment is antiquated...however, in some form or another, at least for me, fantasy is the eternal battle between good and evil, regardless if it's something localized, such as the characters working to end apathy and neglect in their own city or world changing like what has been presented in LotR, Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth series (novels not crappy cancelled TV show), and others too numerous too list. The characters fall somewhere on the axis between Good and Evil, so I would like to see some way to track moral conduct, maybe a chart that lists the Seven Heavenly virtues one one side and the Seven Deadly sins on the other with 5 to 7 boxes between them. Just something, anything that tracks good and evil in some fashion.

I do agree with Tesral to an extent, in that the system should allow the GM to be able to make calls on the fly, without having to worry about a given rule interpretation. I always run with the idea that the rules CANNOT, WILL NOT interfere with a good game session or the story that is evolving from session to session.

---------- Post added at 10:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:52 PM ----------

Oh, something Tesral hit on the head...NO RULES THAT REQUIRE YOU TO USE MINATURES. Combat can be tactical and fluid, without being so damn concise. It has been the single most infuriating evolution in DnD for me, begun in 3E and rammed down your throat in 4E.

Webhead
09-01-2010, 12:26 AM
I do agree with Tesral to an extent, in that the system should allow the GM to be able to make calls on the fly, without having to worry about a given rule interpretation.

Aye. Game design founded upon the idea of "rulings" not "rules". A solid, compact foundation of mechanics that provides precedent for circumstantial extrapolation. It's one of the reasons I continue to dote on the D6 game engine. Essentially, all rolls work exactly the same. It's only a matter of interpreting which skill applies to the situation and what the appropriate difficulty number of the action should be. Beautiful in its uniformity and straightforward-ness.

This was the biggest bugbear for me in 3.X and (from my limited experience) 4E. That the attitude of the game seems to emphasize the rules as "sacred formulae" rather than as a basis for applying sensible, creative and exciting judgement. The kind of judgement that makes players smile when they are allowed to pursue clever, unanticipated solutions and cheer when those solutions manage to change the course of the adventure. That's the part of me that sees the value of the "old school" playstyles.


Oh, something Tesral hit on the head...NO RULES THAT REQUIRE YOU TO USE MINATURES. Combat can be tactical and fluid, without being so damn concise. It has been the single most infuriating evolution in DnD for me, begun in 3E and rammed down your throat in 4E.

Aye. MSH, FATE, WFRP3E...all had (IMHO) the right idea when it came to "measuring" combat tactics. Give enough structure to facilitate clarity if the group needs it without shackling the game to a level of micromanagement that not only frustrates dramatic license but consumes play-time as well. Some people thrive on the "grid tactics" detail of those games, I know. For me, seeing the grid-map come out drains almost all of my enthusiasm in a matter of minutes. It's usually not far beyond the second round of combat that I become totally detatched from the imaginary space of the game. This may not be a result of the "grid" and miniatures as game aids themselves (I use visual aids often), but rather, because the rules for interacting with that "grid" become the primary focus of the game in those moments...a focus which I find incredibly distracting.

Utgardloki
09-02-2010, 02:03 AM
I consider myself an old style DM, having started running games in 1980. But I also enjoy adding new things when they, in my opinion, make the game better. What I do not like are rules that limit my flexibility as game master.

You do not need a cleric in your party. You do not need healing potions, or wands of healing, and you don't need to be decked like a christmas tree. If I say two characters can switch places in a 5 foot corridor, I don't need to be told that there is no rule permitting that.

I want players to appreciate their magic items. I don't want it to be like ordering something from the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Another thing, PCs these days are railroaded into linear plotlines, usual set into motion by some spoiled, incompetent noble who needs something done. In my day, you had a sword and your friend had a wand, and you went to *find* your adventure. "Heads, California; tails, Carolina" .

My only complaint is really with 4th Edition, and its rigidity that if you don't make your idea fit into the boxes that they give you, you're not playing it right. And with 3rd Edition lawyers who try to tell me as GM what I can and can not do.

---------- Post added at 01:03 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:41 AM ----------

There's another trend I've noticed, and to tell the truth, I've been sort of caught up in it too. It's what I call The Quest For The Perfect RPG Experience.

In the old days, you were happy to get a game. Nothing was perfect, least of all whatever game you were playing. But you were playing a game, and if the GM was good, you had a good time.

Now, it's like everybody is obsessing over getting the perfect set of rules. And there is no set of rules that everybody will agree are perfect.

Richard Littles
09-02-2010, 02:31 AM
I would agree with that Loki. It wasn't so much the rules, but the people you were with. However, the older I get the more I find that my tastes for rules has been set in stone. The new fangled shiny rules that I keep seeing basically say that you can only do it if we, the designers, thought about it. Hence, my reasoning for sticking with Hero System because it allows players and GMs to do what they want with their game. There isn't one way to play the game dictated by the designers.

tesral
09-02-2010, 12:31 PM
Now, it's like everybody is obsessing over getting the perfect set of rules. And there is no set of rules that everybody will agree are perfect.

There are no perfect rules. I have one friend drive herself around the bend trying to rewrite D&D so it could not be munchkined. Pointless. All rules can be munchkined. Anything with numbers can be gamed. I have given up the search for the perfect game and settled for fun.

IvanMike
09-02-2010, 11:12 PM
I don't think you can get a perfect set either - at this point I am enjoying the experiment on a conceptual level. From feedback I've gotten from several sources there are several axes to contend with - this is a lot more productive than simply saying "old school or new school"

A unified resolution mechanic for all tasks vs different mechanics

The goal of making all PCs equally useful at every moment during their adventuring careers vs having different time levels of PC involvement when it comes to mechanics, but mostly at inverse proportion to power level.

Lots of mechanical character customizability vs differentiation based on role playing alone.

Saving throws based on arbitrary kinds of danger vs saves based on broad categories of danger

Strong differentiation between the classes vs differentiation based primarily upon feats, skills and character builds

mechanically simple, class-based characters vs complex character builds

Combat emphasis on timing rather than mobility vs - emphasis on tactical mobility rather than fine timing

static world vs level-scaled encounters

purchasing characteristics vs. rolling randomly for them

risk matching reward vs setbacks rather than risk

rules lite vs. rules heavy

DM fiat vs player entitlement AKA degree of cooperation vs DM control

Fast combat vs highly tactical and simulationist combat

All rolls out in the open (find traps stealth everything) vs Some rolls made in secret

Players having access to all information (hit points, AC, abilities) of opponents vs some information being hidden as they wouldn't know these things

being ok with "save or die" really nasty monsters, and lethal traps vs wanting to be rid of such things, (or at least having a better chance)

Wanting to be rid of "sacred cows" like STR INT WIS DEX CON CHA, classes, alignment, non-unified XP, non unified attack tables, etc vs seeing those (or some of those) as fundamental to D&D

not wanting mechanics for non-combat stuff for the most part vs wanting mechanics to handle almost every action.

this one is a toughie. D&D is chock full of little mechanics (and some not so little) for handling opening doors, listening, stealth, thievery, morale, (ok that's a combat one), reaction - (sometimes combat sometimes not), flying, etc. Two things come out of this. First, unless you're talking OD&D, you can't exactly call "older" versions of D&D "rules light" (rules moderate?). Second, the fact that the mechanics aren't unified makes it a bit "messy" (although one could point to some failures of unified mechanics).

Utgardloki
09-03-2010, 01:29 AM
I think the ideal game system would be one that supports either end of these axis.

I like alignments, and use them in my games. But if somebody does not like alignments, they should be able to get rid of them.

I like a static world, where monsters and magic exists "existentially" without reference to what is convenient for PCs. But if somebody prefers a more tailored system, that's fine, too.

I like random characteristics. But both random and purchasing should be options.

I think a game system that supports more options will also gain more sales, as more people will purchase said game system.

IvanMike
09-03-2010, 11:28 AM
I think the ideal game system would be one that supports either end of these axis.

I like alignments, and use them in my games. But if somebody does not like alignments, they should be able to get rid of them.

I like a static world, where monsters and magic exists "existentially" without reference to what is convenient for PCs. But if somebody prefers a more tailored system, that's fine, too.

I like random characteristics. But both random and purchasing should be options.

I think a game system that supports more options will also gain more sales, as more people will purchase said game system.
The idea of a modular approach was suggested in a similar thread I started on another forum. One poster in particular had the idea of a slim rule book (50 pages or something) along with a 250 page supplemental of modular "stuff" you could add as you liked. the idea has merit - the only downside I see is part of the goal would be to get players from both "schools of thought" playing together. I feel like all of us miss out on playing with some fantastic gamers due to splitting into factions.

Lord.Sorasen
09-03-2010, 12:17 PM
I feel like, no matter how nice it would be to make such a game, it might just not be possible. Old school and New School are simply looking for different things, so that even though the systems are similar, the game itself turns out very different. You could, like a lot of people are saying, make a set of simple rules, and then give updates for New School gamers, yes.. But it doesn't really solve the problem. You still have two groups of gamers playing different campaigns: There's no unity added, they might as well play systems better suited for them.

When I first started playing DnD (either 3.0 or 3.5, I didn't realize there were different editions), I asked my friend why we had skill points if it was all roleplaying, and he answered pretty basically: All of your stats serve to keep your feet on the ground. We role-play almost everything without using the dice - but with some things, you can't really do that. Combat, for instance, is hard to play without dice because people want their characters to be strong, and it's never fun arguing about who would be better.. So we have these statistics to help us out.

I feel like that's a pretty unifying concept.. Start by designing a game with no structure. Add rules and regulations only when not having them causes problems. You can have, for instance, very precise, fluid, and fun combat, miniatures and all... But enjoy incredible freedom as soon as the battle ends. Hell, maybe you'll find you don't need miniatures at all. But working from scratch seems to be the only way to make a game to satisfy everyone a possibility.

Sascha
09-03-2010, 12:34 PM
Trying to reconcile playstyle differences using the rules might not be the best approach, due to the relationships individual styles have with the rules. The compromise really has to come from the players involved, not the game itself.

IvanMike
09-03-2010, 01:54 PM
Trying to reconcile playstyle differences using the rules might not be the best approach, due to the relationships individual styles have with the rules. The compromise really has to come from the players involved, not the game itself.
agreed - hence the axes i listed. They're far more playstyle based than rules based once you start examining them. I'd like to take credit for them, but they were all brought up (mostly by players who prefer newer games) in other forums and discussions.

Guardian
09-03-2010, 06:34 PM
It's a wonderful idea in theory to try to bring both groups to a new version of D&D. Unfortunately, I do pop in over on the D&D forums from time to time and all the announcement of the new "Red Box" has divided lines in the sand. Players that were drawn in to 4th Ed because of how, and I quote here, "It's just like playing WoW!" are upset that WotC/Hasbro is going "backwards" to draw back in older players.

Is it working? From what I've read, yes. But it's alienating players of 4th Ed currently.

Sorry...just a little off-topic ramble. What I would like to see is a return to a mixture of 2nd Ed and 3rd Ed D&D. 1st was way too confusing and chaotic. I felt that the power curve in 3rd was too much. After level 12, I felt a party in 3rd was done. 4th....let's not get started there. All I say is that they gave too much power to the PC's and took just about all of it away from the GM.

2nd was just the right amount of balance and rules for me. Instead of having all these skill checks, if you weren't using the non-weapon proficiency rules, just roll an ability check; that's it. I don't really think all the skills were necessary. Do I understand why they were added? Yes, because non-weapon proficiencies were difficult to understand (if you started in 3rd Edition).

I would take 2nd Edition, all it's rules, classes, races and add the following things: higher AC=Good, Base Attack Bonus (I found that many players that started with 3.5 had such a hard time with THAC0) and Initiative checks. I'd make a few tweaks, as to allow races to be other things, giving all races the four base classes: Fighters, Clerics, Wizards, Rogues (which I did for 2nd Ed). After that, it's basically going down the line and seeing what should be allowed (Elves not allowed to go unlimited in Ranger? Nonsense).

I've played all the editions, and to me, 2nd is the best for how I run games. Focus more on story, not mechanics, rules or XP/Treasure.

Utgardloki
09-04-2010, 03:07 AM
I think the real conflict is among the three approaches to running/playing in a role playing game: the Gamist, the Simulationist, and the Storytelling.

The Gamists want a game with solid rules that allows their characters to have the excitement they crave, which usually involves going up levels fast and unlocking new powers and abilities.

The Simulationists want something that feels like it is describing a world that follows a plausible, if counterfactual, metaphysics. What if there really were wizards and orcs and dragons, what would happen?

The Storytellers want a story, and if that means bending the rules or tailoring encounters or fudging die rolls, do it.

A good game would be able to support all three approaches. Games work best when there are solid rules so that you know if you do X, the odds of Y happening are good. A good, "realistic" simulation will have such a rule set, and perhaps some of the storytelling techniques like handling an uneventful trip through the woods in just a few sentences can help both the Gamist and Simulationist approaches work better. And good storytelling works better in a plausible setting where things happen for a reason, and cause follows effect according to their own natures, rather than by storytelling fiat.

A corrolary of the previous paragraph is that it is probably a mistake for a game system to blatantly require the GM to go in one direction or the other, when they conflict. The rules should support a plausible world. If there is a case where they don't, the rules should allow the GM whether to follow the letter of the rules, or bend them a little to make effects more plausible, or to make a better story. If a GM wants to make sure characters survive an encounter, it should be his choice, but if he wants to play with the "lethal option" on and let the dice fall where they may, that should be supported too.

Granted, a given campaign might not appeal to one type or another. I've had players drop my games because they were "too political", while others complained that they were too "combat oriented". (I aim for an even mix.) You just can't please everybody.

tesral
09-04-2010, 11:56 AM
I'm not real fond of that particular model, but if used deftly it has uses.

D&D is almost anti stimulation. There are frankly parts of the rules that if run to the letter break the laws of physics in the extreme. I have been taken out of the game more than a few times by 3ed rule mechanics that are simply bizarre; D&D gravity for example. Or when the rules dictate how you should hold a weapon to get the best damage (I'm looking at you Harnmaster).

Most of all the rules should not get in the way of what you are trying to accomplish. A flexible system lets you add crunch, but doesn't require it; decently simulate events without making a fetish of it; not get in the way of the storytelling at worst, and add to it at the best.

There is no such system. This is why the role of the GM is so important. It is up to them to juggle the elements to make an enjoyable game. Some times you need to push back the crunch to let the story work free form. Sometime you need crunch on the fly, sometimes you need the rules to simulate something, and some times you just don't care.

First Do No Harm: My approach to rules. The fun comes first and if I have to rule a rule out, I do so. Game flow and fun. You do not want to jar people out of the game flipping through rules books. I would frankly rather make a quick and situationally appropriate ruling that later proves to be wrong by the rules, that go tearing through rulebooks in the middle of combat and break the tension.

The first way to avoid that is not have so farking many rules you cannot remember them.

DM_Running_Farland_3.5
09-04-2010, 12:45 PM
I prefer games that are stories. The DM should be a storyteller. If the mechanics don' support what he is trying to tell, create a game mechanism. Or ignore the rules that are in the way.

The core books (DMG, PHB and MM in AD&D2e) did not really support ghosts as I saw them and I realized it halfway through the game I was running (all from an idea in my head). So I winged it. If I had players that were rules nazis, the game would have failed. They would have taken out their copies of the MM and said "No, a ghost does not act like this" and they wouldn't play the story. Instead, they said "Wow. My character is responding this way. Did it work?"

Secret rolls are good rolls. When I was scanning the villages I was rolling through in Afghanistan, I didn't know for sure how well I was "spotting". If I knew that I failed the "roll", I would have turned the truck around and looked again.

Secret roles are good roles, too. I was also a "soldier". Everyone who met me knew that. According to my uniform and job discription, I was an anti-aircraft soldier meant to be attached to light infantry and get to the battle by parachute. One of my best friends was more the "ranger" type (he could hunt, track and shoot REALLY well). Another would be more of the "buffer" (he was a mechanic. he could shoot wellish, drive wellish, guard wellish. But he excelled at fixing the truck in the middle of the desert with zipties, 50/50 cord and 100mph tape). I was more of the "paladin". Very much the lawful good kind of guy. Hand-to-hand would be great, but I guess I can shoot you.
Point being. All anyone knew me as was "soldier" or "paratrooper" or "air defender". My "class" was not so well known.

I think RPGs that have secret roles are good.

Rmorrow
09-28-2010, 10:45 AM
Reading this; I have some thoughts. While may not be on the original question it has to do with some of the posts.

Firstly my gaming experience does not extend to 1980 (bout ten years off there) but I have played most of the D&D editions as well as DM'ed every thing since 2ed. I was a bit skeptical about 4ed when it first came out. I have ran several campaigns since and have now come to appreciate the freedom it gives me as a DM. Thats right I said freedom.

Note about rules: the rules of 4ed are geared toward combat primarily. this does not force you to only play combat however. If you want to play a more social interaction type game you can with this system. The rules allow the greatest freedom in this area as it touches only so lightly on it. As far as combat goes, the rules presented for combat give you a frame work of how every thing works and sets specific mechanics involved that allow you to track time and manage actions. if a player wants to do something that is not of the normal move and attack the system gives a window on how to handle this. Say a thief wants to grab the rope the skull skull rock is tied to swing up to the platform and kick the kobold down:

Ok so as a minor action give me a dex vrs ac (say 12 ish for the small rope)

as a move action make one of the following players choice str; athletics; or other skill ability that fits ( Failed roll indicates the character moves his full normal move straight to said kobold and then falls prone)

finally give me an attack vrs the kobold to see if you can kick him off (at this time I generate to ac first is the standard of the target the next is about 5 points higher simulating the difficulty of getting a target to go in the specific direction you want; one roll compared to both defenses is enough)

That example actually took less time to resolve than the wizard of the party took to figure out the best spell(power) to use.

As far as the rules not allowing you to change places within a 5' corridor thats non-since since the game started to think intrinsically about the grid system it has allways allowed allies to move through other allies. In a non combat scinerio this would be a non-issue as a pearson realy does not occupy 5' (rough approximation of the FIGHTING area of a person). In combat as long as they did not end their turns in the same space then it would be cool course had to watch where the opponents where too.

THE GRID SYSTEM: You can remove this from your game board very simply, 1 inch = 5 feet of space. grant you a bit of preperation might be in order to speed up mesures such as 7' move (1 2/5 inch of movement) but it will still negate the grid and allow a bit more freadom of movement with out breaking the rules. (Flanking and all other stuff can be veid by the reach of the attacker generaly 5' or 1").

As far as the characters wanting a +3 axe so you give it to them. This is true but only to a point; my games feature area specific armament. THe players are informed of this and designe concepts around it. those that do design a character that uses an uncommon weapon for the area is like wised warned that the chances of them finding a magical item that is specificaly that weapon are slim to none. However I do make sure that magic items are available that they can use. It just might be a long sword instead of that katana they wanted. Basicaly I distill there specific requests into general ones as much as I can this gives me 2 benefits. 1 I am aware of where they want the game to go and what they are looking for in the order of enjoyment. 2 it allows me to maintain story and simulation of "real" geographical differences with out breaking the rules. I am quite sure that the axe is not the only weapon that can be used by the character and if so there are plenty of axe weapons to choose from.

All in all my view points

2nd edition = lots of counter-diction and constant need to supervise rules
3rd edition = Great start in simplifying; however fell short as they added tombs and tombs of rules alot of work to balance game concepts
4th edition = Excellent frame work on combat and the way actions work; very simple; A bit of work to get use to (coming from previous editions), a bit more work getting certain home-brew abilities and classes to fit properly.

Put the DM back in charge? I never felt that I wasn't in charge of my world in any edition.