If it's "crunch" that you want, where do you want it and why?

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
As a third party publisher for Starfinder who has released a good number of rules supplements - I create crunch for what's missing in the game and what fits my publication goals. I'm not trying to overly burden gamers with rules, but like I created rules to allow starships and planetary fortifications to fight each other, whereas in Starfinder ships are limited to attacking other ships only, and I needed a work-around. I published a crunch heavy guide for Starfinder called Starships, Stations and Salvage Guide, which came out 3 years before Paizo created the Starship Operations Manual, and includes a lot of the same stuff (similar rules and same in some cases), but I have 5 times the options that Paizo provided. For that I needed more things for starships to be able to do - cloaking shields, grappler arms, be able to become submersible or vehicle once a starship lands, ramming rules, boarding rules, salvage rules, etc. I create crunch to fill the holes in the game, is all. And I mentioned in a couple other threads, that my recent The Planet Builder - rules to create scientifically viable entire star systems, and their stat block for homebrew setting development. While those rules were designed for Starfinder, they're generic enough to be usable in Stars Without Numbers, Traveller RPG, any sci-fi game system - since many sci-fi games lack that facility.
 
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aramis erak

Legend
If you have players who can't be bothered to learn how their PCs work (after a couple sessions), the system isn't the problem. The players are.
Maybe. There are players who take longer times to learn than others. And some who simply cannot learn given games.

At least some of the time, the onus lies upon the GM to choose a ruleset within the players' competences.

EG: I would love to run some Rolemaster... but my players ability to do the math correctly is dubious on a good day. I'd need to hit the dollar store for calculators just to get them through Character Gen... except for MD... MD can do the math... but the pile of choices would leave MD in Analysis Paralysis.
 

Crunch is a crutch. People want crunch to over-complicate doing the same thing over again. Let’s add more rules about it so walking into a roomful of orcs gambling at a table is more interesting this time.

In the 80’s stereos started adding more and more equalizer bars so you could noodle up the sound of the Eagles the 100th time you played Hotel California on your crappy speakers. Stop listening to Eagles for ffs.
Why would you stop listening to the Eagles? One of the few bands with talent. But, your example is pretty spot on. Rolemaster had so many charts and tables for combat that it took a slide rule, ENIAC, and an entire accounting firm to properly run. (not really but still).
And the more books they added the worse it got.

Likewise Skills and Powers got to the point where their point equalization started to point out the flaws in the original class designs. Clerics for instance if stated according to S&P ran about 225 points if memory serves and all other classes ran about 170. No wonder a party of clerics was akin to a Sherman Armor Squad.
 


Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
Give me crunch that makes me feel like I have options and my choices matter more. Empower the DM and the players. Give me more races, classes, options when lvling, fun new alchemy and crafting tables, new kinds of lair options, heck give me whatever spicy meatballs look good for next week.

But never give me crunch for its own sake, crunch that is too difficult for the average player to grasp and remember, or heaven forbid crunch that limits player and DM choice.

So in summation if crunch isn't easy enough to use and it doesn't empower anyone at the table to make more varied and fun choices, then it's of no use.
 

aco175

Legend
I do not mind crunch if that is what I expect. If I buy a book of feats or wagon travel rules, I am buying it for the rules and options to add to the ones in the other books. There may be some fluff with examples of a wagon merchant that uses the rules, but most of the book needs to be what I expect.
 


Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
The devil is in how varies people's definition of the first part of this is.

Is it? Or is it pretty easy to communicate with your friends and ask what their playing experience is like?

It doesn't matter what we say or think here, what the PHB says, at the end of the day we're accountable to our players. Only we know our game and our players.
 

I don't know, I think people learn their attitude toward things like this when they enter the hobby and learn the rules various games, and its modified over time by other factors in their life or the culture of play they surround themselves with, like I don't think 'complexity essentialism' where players have a preset viewpoint on ease of use or sense of empowerment necessarily holds water. I think tolerance for complexity is largely taught, although its source can be outside the hobby itself (which is why some people bounced off DND editions before 5e and some people didn't.)
 

Is it? Or is it pretty easy to communicate with your friends and ask what their playing experience is like?

My point was one group has no trouble engaging with crunch that other groups will have serious trouble with, and it isn't even just a question of degree.

Ask people which is more complex, the Hero System or modern incarnations of D&D sometime. You can get some radically different answers.

It doesn't matter what we say or think here, what the PHB says, at the end of the day we're accountable to our players. Only we know our game and our players.

Sure, but when trying to design a game, there's no easy metric to what is "good" crunch and "bad" crunch. The best you can do is try to make an educated guess what will fly better with your intended audience.
 

I don't know, I think people learn their attitude toward things like this when they enter the hobby and learn the rules various games, and its modified over time by other factors in their life or the culture of play they surround themselves with, like I don't think 'complexity essentialism' where players have a preset viewpoint on ease of use or sense of empowerment necessarily holds water. I think tolerance for complexity is largely taught, although its source can be outside the hobby itself (which is why some people bounced off DND editions before 5e and some people didn't.)

It also turns on kinds of complexity. As I've noted before, your tolerance for exceptions versus overall complexity can really color your views here.
 

It also turns on kinds of complexity. As I've noted before, your tolerance for exceptions versus overall complexity can really color your views here.
True, and a lot of that, from an instructional design perspective, is actually affective in nature. In other words it has to do with how the learner feels about the material, whether they find it intimidating, how they think about their time or the task of learning it, and how they compare themselves to individuals who already posess the knowledge.

For some people, it can be a matter of identity where they want it to be dense and challenging so they feel special for mastering it, but for others they need to feel like its lite because they don't see themselves as being capable of something complicated, or not having "the time."

So one element is actually building confidence. Exceptions based systems can be pretty good at that, since you can remind people they dont need most of the rules for their character, just a slice of them-- it helps them realize they can take it a step at a time.
 

So one element is actually building confidence. Exceptions based systems can be pretty good at that, since you can remind people they dont need most of the rules for their character, just a slice of them-- it helps them realize they can take it a step at a time.

Though I'm not sold on that being true for anyone playing a spellcaster (the place where the exception based design has pretty much always been thick on the ground). And its not like effect based systems can't have templates and the like to make it easy for a new player to slot in.

The question, in part, is how much a problem someone has with that complexity even existing in the rules set. As you say, either form of it can perform a solid perception hit depending on the person.
 

Though I'm not sold on that being true for anyone playing a spellcaster (the place where the exception based design has pretty much always been thick on the ground). And its not like effect based systems can't have templates and the like to make it easy for a new player to slot in.

The question, in part, is how much a problem someone has with that complexity even existing in the rules set. As you say, either form of it can perform a solid perception hit depending on the person.
Yeah, it varies within the game, its why when we bring someone into Pathfinder 2e there's classes I would and wouldn't suggest for a first timer-- the wall isn't insurmountable at all if the person wants, but by default I make sure they know the degree of internal complexity between say, a Rogue and a Swashbuckler. Similarly casting is always an 'extra' subsystem.

But then again, you can make casters work easily enough by offering them a training-wheels approach to spell prep, I have a buddy whose somewhat rules-phobic (but is a digital project manager at a major defense contractor, and enjoys a suite of complex board games, and is perpetually bored to emphasize how little this has to do with ability or even time) but wanted a sorcerer, so when we made their character, I basically created a 'canned' spell selection where I chose some spells based off what they wanted to do (damage.)

Further, its very easy to get by on one or two go-to spells if you want, its not optimal, but you'll pull your weight with something like Magic Missile spam. So even casters aren't that bad.
 


Yeah, it varies within the game, its why when we bring someone into Pathfinder 2e there's classes I would and wouldn't suggest for a first timer-- the wall isn't insurmountable at all if the person wants, but by default I make sure they know the degree of internal complexity between say, a Rogue and a Swashbuckler. Similarly casting is always an 'extra' subsystem.

But then again, you can make casters work easily enough by offering them a training-wheels approach to spell prep, I have a buddy whose somewhat rules-phobic (but is a digital project manager at a major defense contractor, and enjoys a suite of complex board games, and is perpetually bored to emphasize how little this has to do with ability or even time) but wanted a sorcerer, so when we made their character, I basically created a 'canned' spell selection where I chose some spells based off what they wanted to do (damage.)

Further, its very easy to get by on one or two go-to spells if you want, its not optimal, but you'll pull your weight with something like Magic Missile spam. So even casters aren't that bad.

Any kind of prepared caster is going to start looking pretty sad if the player isn't willing to engage with the spell list at least somewhat. They might be able to get by at the bottom with minimal attention, but that's going to become less and less true over time. Even MM stops being a particularly useful choice at some point (though PF2e's upgrade path helps for a while).
 


Any kind of prepared caster is going to start looking pretty sad if the player isn't willing to engage with the spell list at least somewhat. They might be able to get by at the bottom with minimal attention, but that's going to become less and less true over time. Even MM stops being a particularly useful choice at some point (though PF2e's upgrade path helps for a while).
Well specifically I played a Spellblending Wizard to high level, I mostly relied on a relatively constrained spell list-- Magic Missile kept up for quite a while, and I mixed it in with fireball for the levels it didn't heighten. It works fine provided you replace which spells you're using as the low level ones fall off, but the couple of spells you do use can be prepared almost uniformly and you'll probably keep up alright, maybe throw in low level true strike so you can spam disintegrate when it comes online.

I eventually replaced Fireball with Horrid Wilting and worked in Chain Lightning, and then of course Meteor Swarm.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Yes, but a crutch implies a lack of ability to operate without it, while a tool implies ability to get more use out of what you already have. The semantic loading is non-trivial.
Perhaps in ways other than you realize; my first thought with Crutch is "social weapon" more than "needed tool due to disability."

Perhaps I've known a few too many malingerers... also note: I've spent more than two years of my life on crutches due to need. And as soon as possible, I've gotten off of them. Except once...

In order, my thoughts on crutch are:
Social Weapon
Enabling tool
Indicator of disability.

ANd I don't think of the disability - in fact, during the summer of my foot surgery, I stayed on crutches not because I needed them to get to class, but because they meant I could cut my time to class in half over normal walking, let alone the longer walk without. (I was supposed to be in a wheelchair, but crutches did me just fine.)
Also, being on crutches got a lot of unasked for assistance... especially at the smoking area between classes.
The semantic loading isn't going to be the same for others; reliance upon shared semantic loading is a crutch of its own which, if you lean upon it too often, will cause your fall...
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
Perhaps in ways other than you realize; my first thought with Crutch is "social weapon" more than "needed tool due to disability."

Perhaps I've known a few too many malingerers... also note: I've spent more than two years of my life on crutches due to need. And as soon as possible, I've gotten off of them. Except once...

In order, my thoughts on crutch are:
Social Weapon
Enabling tool
Indicator of disability.

ANd I don't think of the disability - in fact, during the summer of my foot surgery, I stayed on crutches not because I needed them to get to class, but because they meant I could cut my time to class in half over normal walking, let alone the longer walk without. (I was supposed to be in a wheelchair, but crutches did me just fine.)
Also, being on crutches got a lot of unasked for assistance... especially at the smoking area between classes.
The semantic loading isn't going to be the same for others; reliance upon shared semantic loading is a crutch of its own which, if you lean upon it too often, will cause your fall...

Now that you're talking about literal crutches, it reminds me how characters with physical disabilities can be fun and interesting. I've always been fond of sometimes adding more severe kinds of flaws to my own PCs in order to explore how that "flaw" can be a positive story telling element.
 

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