What have been the big innovations in RPGs? - Page 2




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  1. #11
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    Innovation is so tricky, because it depends on the time. Back in the 70s almost anything that was an RPG that broke with D&D was an innovation.

    I do have some highlights below. I may list some innovations as coming from certain games. That is solely in my experience, as I do not have complete knowledge of all RPGs.

    1) Non-level based systems (my first was Runequest). A definite break with a key element of D&D.

    2) Character Building Systems (usually by point buy) - Allow you to decide what you want to play rather than putting your characters choice into the luck of the dice. My first was either Melanda, Land of Mystery, but Champions would be a close second.

    3) Systemic elements dealing "roleplaying" situations. Having "characteristics" that represented how your character reacted to certain roleplaying situations. Pendragon was the first place I saw it.

    4) Encouraging players to take over as GM for segments of the game. Prince Valiant had this. I believe Rocky & Bullwinkle did as well, later.

    5) Licensed universe RPGs. Who hasn't wanted to roleplay in their favorite fictional universe? Star Trek was the first I remember playing in.

    6) Diceless RPGs. Amber is the first I am aware of, although I never played it.

    7) Focusing on player conflict and making it fun - The only game I know that ever did this was Paranoia. The players all knew going in that the rest of the party was really their enemies (although the characters did not, necessarily), so could go loose and just have fun.

    8) Single base system used for many genres - Champions was the first I was aware of, but GURPs certainly ranks up there. Not sure which one really started to take off in that direction first (as GURP's history is rather winding in the early days).

    And that's just takes us through the mid-80s or so.

    From a business standpoint, RPG licensed from existing worlds (Star Trek, Star Wars, Tolkein, etc.) would be king, but the OGL would be second. Stretching into multimedia would be third (D&D is king for computer games, and probably takes the bill for movies/TV as well).
    Last edited by Glyfair; Monday, 11th January, 2010 at 08:15 AM.
    David A. Blizzard

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  • #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aus_Snow View Post
    edit2 --- ooh, I got one, I got one! which RPG had *templates* first, eh? GURPS, perhaps? well, whichever one it was, that's a huge, hobby-shakin' innovation.
    Hero System had kits, which were there pretty at the beginning of stretching into the non-superhero genre.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glyfair View Post
    Hero System had kits, which were there pretty at the beginning of stretching into the non-superhero genre.
    Ah, thank you, I wouldn't have got that one. HERO is a game I've yet to explore (now 6e is out, I might one day. . .)

    So, they were templates in the generally accepted modern sense (i.e., that found in everything from GURPS 4th edition to nWoD to 3e and 4e, etc.) ? A package of plusses, maybe minuses, and probably abilities or other non-numeric qualities, that can be applied instantly and fairly painlessly to a wide variety of base thingies?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aus_Snow View Post
    Ah, thank you, I wouldn't have got that one. HERO is a game I've yet to explore (now 6e is out, I might one day. . .)

    So, they were templates in the generally accepted modern sense (i.e., that found in everything from GURPS 4e to nWoD to 3e and 4e, etc.) ? A package of plusses, maybe minuses, and probably abilities or other non-numeric qualities, that can be applied instantly and fairly painlessly to a wide variety of base thingies?
    They were a set of abilities you purchased together (typically with a small discount) to represent certain bits. For example, in Fantasy Hero you would buy the "elf race" package which gave you the racial abilities (which included raised and lowered statistic "maximums") and you could also buy the "raised by elves" package which gave you the cultural abilities (skills, weapon proficiencies, perhaps even a few disadvantages).

    There were other variations in the pulp and spy genres, but they don't come to mind right now.
    David A. Blizzard

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    Hm. I wonder, actually, if that is quite the same thing as templates in non-point-buy systems. Because, well, you can do the same thing in M&M (for example) - have 'templates', which are just neat point totalled prepak options, but of course you could always make them yourself, using the base system, as is.

    So maybe it was 3e that did it - added templates to a less flexible system, wherein adding abilities wasn't usually quite so easy or casual.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott_Rouse View Post
    Forked from the "The Next Innovation in Gaming?" thread:

    So what would you consider to be the big innovations in the RPG category? This could be systems, rules, formats, accessories, IPs, technologies etc. I will get is started but mine is not meant to be an exhaustive list.

    • D&D 3e and the OGL
    • PDF format and distribution via RPGNow/Drivethru RPG
    • Print on Demand
    • Pre-painted plastic miniatures
    • e-Character Creators (e-tools, PC Gen, D&Di etc)
    • Internet game tables (Fantasy Grounds, Game Table Online)
    • Online rules databases (d20srd.org, D&Di Compendium)
    • RPG based web communities (ENWorld etc)
    • Web based RPG resource services (Obsidian Portal, D&D Insider)


    So what else would you say are the big innovations that change RPGs going forward.
    Let's see...D&D innovated the OGL (I won't count 3E as innovative by itself, although it had it's innovations, especially by virtue of being D&D).

    Pre-painted plastic miniatures started with Mage Knight, as I recall. There may have been some before that, but it was certainly the first popular example.

    e-Character Generators have been around a long-time. The ability just increased. I wrote and used a Top Secret character generator back around '79 or '80. Champions had one of the first as I recall in at least the mid-90s.
    David A. Blizzard

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    Non-linear but mathematical progressions, as pioneered in DC Heroes (which was also an early example of a VERY unified system) and further tinkered with in Torg (logarithmic progressions).

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    Quote Originally Posted by pawsplay View Post
    Non-linear but mathematical progressions, as pioneered in DC Heroes (which was also an early example of a VERY unified system) and further tinkered with in Torg (logarithmic progressions).
    I have played my first (very short) test session of Warhammer 3E, and I made some observations of what I consider innovation.


    "Two Dimensional Resolution" resolution systems as I decide to call them for now. E.g. the method of resolution (die roll typically) gives you multiple information instead of success/failure.
    Warhammer 2E and I think Space Gothic have a very simple example of that. In Warhammer 2E, your to-hit roll was a percentile roll. If you reversed the order of the roll, you could determine hit location. Space Gothic also used a percentile system - if both dice indicated the same number, you had a critical (either critical success or critical failure). In a way, even the "natural 20 equals critical" is an example of that.

    But I think the system that really uses this notably and dominantly would be Warhammer 3E. The dice in your pool can indicate successes and failures, but also "boons" and "banes". Success or Failure indicates whether you succeeded at a task, while boon and banes can indicate circumstancial aspects of your success/failure. I find this very interesting and I wonder if we'll see more like this in the future from other games, or if it will stay confined to Warhammer 3E.

    Without using any rulebooks, here's something I came up with:
    You try to get some information and pay someone. Successes indicates whether you get the information at all (and how much he gives you), while boons or banes could be used to determine the price. (And on a failure it indicates whether he is betraying you or not)
    Of course, one might ask why one wouldn't just use the number of successes. one could do that, but - this would mean a different probability distribution. Basically, succeeding at all must be very easy to even have a chance of getting the information for cheap. But that leaves less room for the betrayal stuff in case of a failure. This way, you can still have an "exciting" chance of success/failure and can still get diverse results on your second dimension.


    I am not quite sure how I would call another Warhammer 3E innovation. Maybe a Story-Telling Resolution System. In most games, you stack bonuses and penalties and make a roll to see if you succeed. Warhammer 3E is the only game I am aware of that tells you which of the modifiers and penalties actually contributed to your success or failure.

    From a information/physical science perspective, usually the act of skill resolution loses information - you get one new - success or failure (and maybe degree of success or failure), but you don't know how. But the Warhammer 3E system actually retains this information. It can tell you whether it was your expertise, raw talent or luck was that made you win the day. If you blocked the goblin's attack with your shield or if it was just not able to make a meaningful threat to you at all.

    Sometimes we improvised this in D&D, too - if the enemy failed to beat your touch AC with his regular attack, he didn't even managed to hit. If he failed only by 2 points, we might narrate that his attack was blocked by your shield. But that was an inferred, something that made sense at the moment. This system actually _tells_ you what happened. (But why couldn't it be your armor that deflected the blow? Or your deflection bonus to AC?)

    You of course don't need this all the time, but I think it is an interesting and powerful tool.
    Last edited by Mustrum_Ridcully; Monday, 11th January, 2010 at 09:50 AM.
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  • #19
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    - Dungeons & Dragons

    Yeah, it has to be listed. THE big innovation in RPG history is the invention of RPG itself, of course. And D&D certainly was the groundbreaking one here.

    - Classless systems (no classes and levels)

    That's the single biggest one (not new, but at the time it was clearly the biggest innovation to me) I can think of.

    - Toolbox systems (point buy and so on)

    HERO, GURPS, and all the others.

    - Shadowrun (background, especially the big genre mix; though RIFTS was groundbreaking here as well)

    Often copied, never reached!

    - Earthdawn (items)

    Every magic item has a story, and progresses with the character. Legendary!

    - The OGL

    What a bold move, that really brought the market forward! Too bad, that WotC has turned its back on it now.


    ...but mine is not meant to be an exhaustive list...
    Looks more like a very D&D focused list. Many of those items aren't innovations at all, IMHO, especially all that DDI stuff. What's innovative about that? Maybe it's innovative to charge money for it... most of those resources traditionally have been free.

    The internet, of course, is one of the biggest innovations in human history, but that is hardly an RPG-related innovation. RPGs simply benefit from it, like anything else does.

    Bye
    Thanee
    Last edited by Thanee; Monday, 11th January, 2010 at 10:20 AM.

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  • #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by pawsplay View Post
    Non-linear but mathematical progressions, as pioneered in DC Heroes (which was also an early example of a VERY unified system) and further tinkered with in Torg (logarithmic progressions).
    Much of GURPS is non-linear, too, I think.

    Bye
    Thanee

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