Narrative/Novel D&D...ND&D. Imagine if the game played just like the D&D novels?
Page 1 of 6 123456 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 58
  1. #1
    Member
    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)



    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    74

    Narrative/Novel D&D...ND&D. Imagine if the game played just like the D&D novels?

    I've been reading the Icewind Dale Trilogy. And one thing that struck me is how quick and picturesque the battles are compared to our slow 5E slugfests. Yeah, I know we could describe the blow-by-blow more imaginatively, but I'm speaking more of playing time.

    Imagine if WotC (or someone) gathered all of the D&D Fiction: the Dragonlance Chronicles, the Drizzt and Elminster novel series, Gygax's Greyhawk novels...all of the D&D novels (here's a big list). Plus all the DRAGON magazine short stories from over the years. And even the comic books and graphic novels...

    ...and read through them, with the intent of "reverse engineering" a new version of D&D which closely modeled the "novellic" experience.

    Research questions:

    • In the stories, exactly how long does each battle take, as far as page-length / reading time? How does this compare to playing the same encounter with the TRPG?
    • How long does it take to read an entire novel, compared to playing out those same events in TRPG form? There are existing examples for playtesting: the DL series of adventures, the Azure Bonds adventure, etc. For example, the Read Length website says it takes about 7 hours to read the Crystal Shard, and 17.5 hours to read the entire three-volume Dragonlance Chronicles.
    • Similarly, how long does it take to read a D&D short story or comic book?
    • A close reading reveals there are so many cool and colorful moves that seem to be specific to the races and classes as portrayed in a particular novel, which aren't quite modeled in the 5E ruleset. For example, Regis seems to have a knack for hitting adversaries in the groin. Yeah, I know from a TRPG standpoint, he just "hit for such-and-such hp of damage" and maybe knocked the opponent to 0hp (unconscious), or in 2E, he did a called shot. But ND&D would tease out these colorful moves and array them more explicitly as part of the game.
    • Can a PC do all the cool and quick stuff which the fiction characters can? (Strap a barrel of flaming oil on their back and jump on the shadow dragon's back?) What if they could? Or maybe they "can" do it in the existing ruleset, but it's not really baked into the game, but rather, relies on having an exceptionally talented DM who can translate yet another "grapple" or "12 points of damage" into a descriptive, imaginative scene. But what if these "novellic" moves were baked into the game itself, from the start?
    • Where known, would also need to take note of the official stats for the Fiction characters as they were during each story. Like, okay, at this character level (as a 1E Ranger 10), Drizzt slew three verbeegs in this amount of time, while in later adventures (as a 3E Ftr10/Rgr5/Bbn1, or as a 4E 21st-level Skirmisher NPC) he could defeat such-and-such monsters in so many rounds.
    • Cut every D&D novel into pieces (paragraphs and sentences) which are equated to specific D&D actions. And then compile those pieces into a Narrative D&D sourcebook. Like: these are all the ways which ND&D described lighting a torch, these are all the ways which ND&D described the blow which felled a giant (sorted by bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing weapon), etc.


    And then, craft a new version of D&D which closely models this experience. I call this ND&D...Novel D&D or Narrative D&D.

    Narrative D&D would be a different expression of the D&D brand, complementary (and convertible to) the 5E TRPG. (In a similar way that the various D&D-branded boardgames or parlour games are distinct from the TRPG, but are still "D&D experiences.")

    I'm only beginning to consider what such a game would look like.

    Some of the main features are:

    • Battles are resolved in a matter of a few minutes, in real time.
    • An entire novel (such as the Crystal Shard) can be played through in 7 hours. In contrast, at our 5E table, a single battle usually takes up a big chunk of our 2.5 hour session.
    • More extensive "boxed text." Yeah I know some people have been opposed to boxed text, but in ND&D, the goal is to basically to "play a novel." So we want to hear the masterful authorial verbiage. Cut-and-paste keyed scene descriptions from the novels themselves. For example, our group ventured into Neverwinter Wood in the Starter Set adventure - but we didn't know anything about it (not being FR experts), and so the DM described it as just another dense dark wood. In ND&D, there'd be a more extensive "boxed text" keyed to Neverwinter Wood (and various sites therein) which are taken from existing D&D Fiction.
    • Such a game would be sort of a cross between a "choose-your-own-adventure" novel and a TRPG, but it'd still be a TRPG. Your character could still do anything.
    • Relies on cut-scenes for most travel, also for much of the dungeon exploration. Like: okay, "You've been travelling on the road for a week." "Or, you travelled through the upper halls and here you are at the dragon's lair." Yeah I know it's sometimes done that way in the RPG as well, but in ND&D that would be standard. I mean, how long does would it take for a 5E party to explore Mithral Hall compared to how long it took for me to read of the Companions' exploration of Mithral Hall in Streams of Silver? Yeah, in standard TRPG, this could seem railroady, but in ND&D, we assume the players want to play the story which is offered.
    • Has flashback scenes.
    • "Statwise", a character sheet might be little more than a picturesque list of moves which are gleaned from the actual D&D Fiction itself (e.g. Halfling Groin Bash, followed by actual "boxed text" which the player reads off (or improvises), replacing "Regis" with your own character's name, and fill in your own weapon instead of Regis' "mace.").
    • For character creation, maybe there'd be a big list of all the moves ever displayed by heroes of D&D Fiction (broken down by race and class) and then you roll to see which moves you start with.
    • Spells would include actual verbal components (Light = "Shirak!") and somatic components (the player actually waves their hand or whatever) (along with descriptions of material components, if they actually come into D&D Fiction), taken from actual D&D Fiction. (The ND&D sourcebook would include every example of spells cast from every D&D novel.)
    • At the end of each "novel", the character gets one more move.
    • Perhaps, characters can't die??? Or if they do, then a new character takes on their legacy (e.g. there's some in-story connection between the old and new character; and starts with the same character level)?


    Well, it would be a big project. But I'd prefer that my D&D sessions covered ground as quickly and as picturesquely as a D&D novel, short story, or comic book.
    Last edited by Travis Henry; Monday, 17th June, 2019 at 03:55 AM.
    XP Prakriti gave XP for this post

  2. #2
    Member
    A "Drizzit" Type-Thing (Lvl 28)



    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    The Stately Pleasure Dome of Xanadu.
    Posts
    7,302
    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post

    And then, craft a new version of D&D which closely models this experience. I call this ND&D...Novel D&D or Narrative D&D.
    You can't. Narrative isn't core to RPGs. It's not like you can ever borrow narrative or literary techniques from books!

    The only way to engage for DMs and players to engage each other is with framing. Wordless, but meaningful, framing.


    /ducks

  3. #3
    Member
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)



    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    NE Ohio, USA
    Posts
    2,998
    To be honest that sounds like a perfectly awful game.

  4. #4
    Member
    Titan (Lvl 27)



    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    San Jose/Santa Clara, CA
    Posts
    15,241
    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Henry View Post
    I. And one thing that struck me is how quick and picturesque the battles are compared to our slow 5E slugfests.
    Believe it or not - and I'm gonna assume not - 5e actually jettisoned what narrative mechanisms D&D had accumulated in the hopes of achieving 'fast combat.' Yeah, and here you are complaining that it's not narrative enough /and/ too slow?

    ...and read through them, with the intent of "reverse engineering" a new version of D&D which closely modeled the "novellic" experience.
    Seriously,
    'reverse'-engineer novels based on a game inspired by novels?

    A close reading reveals there are so many cool and colorful moves that seem to be specific to the races and classes as portrayed in a particular novel, which aren't quite modeled in the 5E ruleset.
    Again, for the sake of that fast combat you find too slow...

    Can a PC do all the cool and quick stuff which the fiction characters can?
    As long as it's done with a spell or magic item that does exactly that cool thing, sure.
    But, no, probably not "quick."

    (Strap a barrel of flaming oil on their back and jump on the shadow dragon's back?) What if they could?
    If it worked, the concern seems to be, they'd do it every round. So you have to assume the character in the novel had a very generous hypothetical DM, and got lucky - in a novel, authors just make that happen at the dramatically appropriate time, in D&D, not s'much.

    Cut every D&D novel into pieces (paragraphs and sentences) which are equated to specific D&D actions. And then compile those pieces into a Narrative D&D sourcebook. Like: these are all the ways which ND&D described lighting a torch, these are all the ways which ND&D described the blow which felled a giant (sorted by bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing weapon), etc.
    Sure, WotC could print them on cards and sell them in blind/random foil narative-booster packs.
    I hear they've had success with that model before.

    Battles are resolved in a matter of a few minutes, in real time.
    Short of Foglio's "coin-toss dungeon" parody, IDK how you'd even begin to do that...

    An entire novel (such as the Crystal Shard) can be played through in 7 hours. In contrast, at our 5E table, a single battle usually takes up a big chunk of our 2.5 hour session.
    I guess it might be informative to see, quantitatively how much of a genre novel is devoted to each 'pillar.'
    XP LordEntrails gave XP for this post

  5. #5
    Member
    A "Drizzit" Type-Thing (Lvl 28)



    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    The Stately Pleasure Dome of Xanadu.
    Posts
    7,302
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post

    Seriously,
    'reverse'-engineer novels based on a game inspired by novels?
    The novelization of the movie that's based on the book!

    Yeah, I saw that too.
    @Travis Henry

    Your desire is great. HOWEVER, the above quote encapsulates the problem.

    D&D is an RPG. As such, to make it a good reading experience, liberties have to be taken- with the rules, for example. No one wants to read a typical D&D combat ... to use one example.

    If you want, you can look at all sorts of other source material that started as books or film properties and see how they were translated into RPGs, as that has been a common occurrence throughout time.

    You'll keep noticing that, for the most part, these various systems will borrow heavily from the setting so that you can approximate playing Gandalf, or playing the Hulk, or Starbuck, but ... it's just an approximation, you'll never quite the exact feel of the book/movie, because there is a difference.

    On the other hand, some RPGs are set up with a decidedly more narrative feel to them- think of Amber (to use one that adapted from a book).


    I guess what I'm getting at is that you're probably better off just designing a good diceless game or adapting a low-rules, high narrative fantasy game for your needs, than you are reverse-engineering.
    Laugh Travis Henry laughed with this post

  6. #6
    Member
    Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)

    Blue's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Cedar Grove, NJ 07009
    Posts
    4,990
    Hey, you know those books that are perfectly adapted into movies. nothing changed, everything included, even the most exacting of fans satisfied.

    Neither do I. And both of them are a narrative experience, just with different media.

    Trying to fit an edited book to a gaming group improv-ing their characters where everyone wants to have their mark - it's not the same experience and attempts to force it into the same mold will de-prioritize (or worse, discard) what makes a TTRPG special.

    So no, I would not want this. I do not want to give up the chaotic, messy, uncertain, tension-filled, clever, group experience. And trying to pretend that writing those novels, with drafts, revisions, multiple types of editors improving it is the same as the smooth finished product - and then using that as a target for a completely different type of experience is a shoehorning I would not like

    Learn what you can from fiction. Robin D. Laws has already given use multiple books about it. But don't assume the format of a finished book and a free-form multiplayer game are interchangable.

  7. #7
    Member
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)



    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Posts
    44
    You could not. A D&D type RPG is the antithesis of a narrated style . The game and its action isn't told to the players. THEY create it moment by moment. AFTER it happens THEN one could describe it in prose or whatever.
    XP oknazevad gave XP for this post

  8. #8
    Member
    Time Agent (Lvl 24)



    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    10,432
    I have to add my voice to the growing chorus here: how would (or could) this work with any kind of open-ended or sandbox-style game where the DM didn't have a pre-planned story in mind?

    I ask because if your idea is that ND&D only cater to the pre-planned story type of DM then it'll lose a very big - as in, enormous - core element that makes D&D as successful as it is: flexibility. As it is D&D can more or less handle both open-ended or sandbox play and pre-planned story play, and a bunch of stuff in between and to either side; in a huge variety of settings and-or eras.

    This is one reason many "niche" game systems tend to stay that way: in order to achieve the specific design goals their creators have in mind they sacrifice these sorts of flexibility in one way or another, thus reducing their overall mass appeal.

  9. #9
    Member
    Superhero (Lvl 15)

    aco175's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    1,819
    I'm curious how combat would work. I cannot see me or my players liking a diceless game, but something with maneuvers based off things in books may need some variables to see how well you pull off the maneuver. Maybe you can pick combat action stunts you know as you gain levels and could even lower the DC of success of these stunts.

    Typically I rule things like strapping a flaming oil cask to your back and jumping onto a dragon with some skill checks and making it use your actions to do it. Not very thematic, but tends to fit in the regular rules. With these proposed rules, maybe that is a level 10 power that I chose and I get a roll to see how well I pull it off. It is easy to narrate success when you role a 19 or a 3, but when you role a 11, what happens.
    XP Bobble gave XP for this post

  10. #10
    Member
    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)



    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    74
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Short of Foglio's "coin-toss dungeon" parody, IDK how you'd even begin to do that...
    IIRC, awhile back Mike Mearls himself posted a method he's working on for resolving an entire combat with one roll.
    Laugh Tony Vargas laughed with this post

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 22
    Last Post: Wednesday, 22nd April, 2009, 04:33 AM
  2. Has anyone played Imagine?
    By shadow in forum *General Roleplaying Games Discussion
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Thursday, 24th October, 2002, 12:50 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •