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


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

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.


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.


Small Ball Archmage
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.)

Thomas Shey

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.

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