If there's one game where stat differences are justified, what game would that be?

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S'mon

Legend
I think a setting where sexual dimorphism in PC stats works is King Arthur Pendragon, since it is emulating Arthurian fantasy.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
As you say, "Our games say things about the players."

If players are not grown-ups and cannot make the difference between fantasy and reality
Humans help define and reinforce their moral and ethical positions via their stories. The idea that stories are not reality, and therefore should have no influence on the real world, ignores much of the purpose of human storytelling - and flies in the face of how good stories have significant emotional impact on people.


then yes, you should not explore any mentally challenging areas that might need some control of ones emotions and such. Then it's better to play teletubbies RPG or something other laalaa-land.
"Grown-ups," are the people on the planet who do the most senseless harm to other people. Grown-ups throw around accusations that others are emotionally immature, for example.

That aside, I think you need to better support the idea that perpetuating the same-old stereotypes laid out decades (even centuries) ago is somehow mentally challenging.

It would seem to me that the state of maturity is really defined by discernment - knowing the difference between "can" and "should", being able to see when an element could be done, but honestly, doesn't add anything of real value to the system.


Then again if your group is adults that can handle the difference between fantasy and reality, then yes, it's just a game that can provoke some thinking and sometimes even open up new perspectives.
Again - perpetuating the stereotypes of the past decades is going to generate *new* ideas? Use of stat limits to support gender stereotypes looks more like retreading of *old* ideas and perspectives, to the point of it really being use of cliches. Especially in something like Conan, with is 1) old, and 2) nearly a cliche in and of itself, and 3) isn't known for its intellectual and philosophical depth.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I guess I just don't see the point.

I question the value of D&D-style stats in general (especially randomly generated), but really, why bother with the racial/gender modifiers? You wanna play Brienne of Tarth or Red Sonja...or the one Dextrous and Charming Dwarf in Stone Keep...go nuts.

If the players at a given table want to emulate a particular set of prejudices, etc. then they can do that. No need to bake it into the rules.
 

pemerton

Legend
you've framed it in the context of wanting to make a game where "men are from mars" because you think that's how "things are IRL"
[MENTION=12731]CapnZapp[/MENTION] didn't say that's how things are iRL. To the contrary,

The point isn't to moralize or repress someone's real-life gender identity. The point is that in this world, and in particular my take on it, "men come from Mars, women come from Venus".
The phrase this world referst to the imagined world of the RPG, not real life.

I doubt I would play the game that CapnZapp posits. I do play RPGs which, as part of their presentation of mediaeval life, note the significance of certain gender distinctions (Burning Wheel has some lifepaths that are women only; Prince Valiant has a discussion of assumed gender roles, and how this might bear on the incorporation of women PCs into the game). I agree with the suggestion by you and [MENTION=23240]steenan[/MENTION] that what CapnZapp is looking for would probably be better achieved by having gendered lifepaths or gendered "playbooks" (to use the PbtA terminology). In a D&D-type game, this would be gendered classes.

Mazes and Minotaurs is a semi-spoofy OSR-ish RPG that does this, with its women-only amazons and men-only barbarians and spearman. I have no idead how many people actually play it.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
@CapnZapp didn't say that's how things are iRL. To the contrary,

The phrase this world referst to the imagined world of the RPG, not real life.
That's your take on it. Yes I could be wrong. You also could be wrong. Zapp didn't reply to my post (or actually anything since then) so I'll leave it to them at this point to clarify.

Frankly, I'm far more interested in the value he feels this adds to the game.

Not from an in-world setting perspective as Nagol posts, you can resolve that by limiting classes. If you want to be a Fighter, you're a man. If you want to be a Sorcerer you're a woman. The end result will be physically strong male characters and physically weak female characters, without having to add special sex-based modifiers. Maybe in this world a woman can still be a rogue, or a monk, but since those classes emphasize stats other than strength as primary (at least in D&D in general) you'll still end up with generally the same result.

So I'm mainly curious about what he thinks it adds to the actual mechanical capital-"G" Game.
 
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pemerton

Legend
I'm far more interested in the value he feels this adds to the game.
By this you're meaning not just gendered roles/classes/playbooks, but sex-based stat penalties?

My guess - from the discussion of Conan in the OP - is that [MENTION=12731]CapnZapp[/MENTION] wants the play experience that would result from gendered classes/playbooks, but (1) isn't too familar with a wide range of RPGs beyond a certain sort of D&D, and (2) has a certain sort of "simulationist" sensibility that leads to a preference for process-driven mechanics (men are stronger, so give them a stat mod) rather than just cutting to the chase and having gendered classes/playbooks.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
By this you're meaning not just gendered roles/classes/playbooks, but sex-based stat penalties?

My guess - from the discussion of Conan in the OP - is that [MENTION=12731]CapnZapp[/MENTION] wants the play experience that would result from gendered classes/playbooks, but (1) isn't too familar with a wide range of RPGs beyond a certain sort of D&D, and (2) has a certain sort of "simulationist" sensibility that leads to a preference for process-driven mechanics (men are stronger, so give them a stat mod) rather than just cutting to the chase and having gendered classes/playbooks.
I assume as much as well. So I understand what personal value this adds for him.

The larger question is what value this adds to the game, from the not-him gamer POV. Like, if some player who likes TTRPGs (and lets assume, has a similar mindset) saw "Zapp's RPG" on the shelf, and read about how this kind of material is included, how would value be added for that person over a system that says "Be whatever sex you want!" How does Potential Player here choose between these two games? The game that says "You can play a buff fighter!" or the game that says "Women suck at fighting!"
 

pemerton

Legend
The larger question is what value this adds to the game, from the not-him gamer POV. Like, if some player who likes TTRPGs (and lets assume, has a similar mindset) saw "Zapp's RPG" on the shelf, and read about how this kind of material is included, how would value be added for that person over a system that says "Be whatever sex you want!"
In principle, I think it offers the same as any genre/setting-focused RPG.

Burning Wheel makes it easier to play a pseudo-European game than a pseudo-Asian one. (And the designer even comments on this in the rulebook, noting that some lifepaths will probably have to be changed if the group wants an East Asian flavoured game.) That's a limitation of the game, but it also yields a sense of authenticity - because of the obsessive detail of the lifepaths - that one doesn't get from a more generic FRPG.

Or to take an obviously literary example, The One Ring promises (and by reputation seems to deliver) a JRRT-focused experience that isn't so reliably delivered by a game of (eg) generic D&DD-ish wizards, halflings who can be bards just as easily as "burglars", etc.

Whether there's as much market demand for an "authentic" buff barbarian and seductive sorcereress game as there is for mediaval fantasy or Middle Earth is another question. You'd obviously need to find the right pitch, and I think a degree of self-consciousness and deliberate pulp-y retro-ness would have to be part of that.

But in a thread not too long ago on these boards I had posters telling me that Gygax's random harlot table in his DMG is all in good fun and only a prude would think that it detracts from the game - so I think the potential market might be there!
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
When we create a game world (or a book, or movie, or whatever) we don't define everything. Some things we care about and some things we do not. So when I run a game of 3:16, I am being very explicit that I don't really care about having characters differentiated by how good they are at skills. I really only care about fighting, and not-fighting.

So when you elect to make a mechanical difference between men and women, you are stating that this is something that you are about, and you want players to care about. You are also forcing people who might want to play a non-binary character into a particular choice. So the big question you should ask is: Why do I want to highlight this?. Why do I want to enforce a stereotype? -- irrespective of the accuracy or not of that stereotype. Another way of thinking about it is to ask yourself "If I dropped this rule, would it make a big difference?"

For your example Conan game, do you really think it would make a difference if you dropped the rule? I'd guess most people who want to play a Conan game are going to naturally create characters that feel like they might be Howardian -- in other words the premise of the campaign pretty much covers the rule. The only people who are likely not to follow the rule would be players who are unhappy with the premise of the game (in which case, you have issues already) or people who are generally happy, but find something grating. You might have a person who doesn't want to overtly display gender and plays a robed, mysterious magician (Thoth-Amon of the Ring style). Does it harm the game to allow that? Is it better to say "You can't do that because rules" or to say "OK, give it a go, but remember that in Conan's world, gender is a big issue".

Summarizing, a rule is meant to make people pay attention, decide and to enforce a point of view. It's probably better simply to depend on the premise of the game.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
To me, this seems a bit of an issue thats a disconnect.

There is nothing in conflict with ssying as GM " in this world, ABC tend to be weaker than def" yet then letting PCs choose their ability scores without putting a penalty on one.

The PCs are a blip, anomalies by definition and are exceptions to the rules. So pushing them to follow the norms... well...ok so maybe one PC in a hundred is a hero then and the rest are peasants?

I mean really, of your four heroes one is an wicked prince, another a master spy, a third an enraged fiend of vengeance and the last is a former priest now trying to hunt down a demon they accidentally loosed.. but you as gm are gonna get ticked if the women PCs hafe too much muscle to be considered "within the norm"?

Ok then...
 

Nagol

Unimportant
To me, this seems a bit of an issue thats a disconnect.

There is nothing in conflict with ssying as GM " in this world, ABC tend to be weaker than def" yet then letting PCs choose their ability scores without putting a penalty on one.

The PCs are a blip, anomalies by definition and are exceptions to the rules. So pushing them to follow the norms... well...ok so maybe one PC in a hundred is a hero then and the rest are peasants?

I mean really, of your four heroes one is an wicked prince, another a master spy, a third an enraged fiend of vengeance and the last is a former priest now trying to hunt down a demon they accidentally loosed.. but you as gm are gonna get ticked if the women PCs hafe too much muscle to be considered "within the norm"?

Ok then...
Your premise depends strongly on how special the PCs are. Most campaigns of D&D I run, the PCs start off just like their neighbours. Heroism comes from choosing to act not nature and all that rot.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Your premise depends strongly on how special the PCs are. Most campaigns of D&D I run, the PCs start off just like their neighbours. Heroism comes from choosing to act not nature and all that rot.
Yes, you are correct. In the games j run, the average run of the mill is more "commoner" than "1st level PC".

So I was basing it on that plus the typical fictions. If the guy next door is as good as your pc, that's a definite different animal of a campaign.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Your premise depends strongly on how special the PCs are. Most campaigns of D&D I run, the PCs start off just like their neighbours. Heroism comes from choosing to act not nature and all that rot.
The PCs aren't special. Okay, fine. Having an 18 strength, even for a man, seems pretty special...

If heroism comes from *actions*, that doesn't really inform what stats should be allowed in game. Maybe there's loads of people out there with good stats, but they don't take action that uses them in heroic manners...
 

Nagol

Unimportant
The PCs aren't special. Okay, fine. Having an 18 strength, even for a man, seems pretty special...

If heroism comes from *actions*, that doesn't really inform what stats should be allowed in game. Maybe there's loads of people out there with good stats, but they don't take action that uses them in heroic manners...
Well, yeah there's loads of people with good stats. About 1 person in 40 has an 18 in a stat. Most don't use them in heroic manner. That's why they're not protagonists.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Well, yeah there's loads of people with good stats. About 1 person in 40 has an 18 in a stat. Most don't use them in heroic manner. That's why they're not protagonists.
The reason they're the protagonists is because they're run by the players.

It's not like, until today nobody has ever decided to do anything heroic or adventurous in the world. The characters are only exceptional because they're being puppeteered by these extra-dimensional creatures known as Players.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
The reason they're the protagonists is because they're run by the players.

It's not like, until today nobody has ever decided to do anything heroic or adventurous in the world. The characters are only exceptional because they're being puppeteered by these extra-dimensional creatures known as Players.
I've had players who ended up not being protagonists because they refused to do anything adventurous or tried and were wiped out before accomplishing anything. Neither leads to a strong campaign.

There are other adventurers, but generally not very many who are able/willing to respond where the PCs start. Most people have better things to do with their time. Adventuring (especially early adventuring) tends to be desperate work done by desperate people when envisioned in that sort of world.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
Or male fans who want to play a dark seducer!



Hey. How YOU doin'?

.... that's how it works, right? ;)
They said "dark seducer" not "dork seducer." ;)

I suppose this whole topic begs the question, "if you're going give stat limits based on sex, does that mean halflings max out at 5 strength (since they are the size of a toddler human).

Way back in the mid 80s, Kim Mohan was using realism to defend the strength limit for women, and got lambasted for it. 35 years ago. I would like to think we've progressed since the 80s to where this wouldn't even be a discussion topic, but some times I look around in the country and it seems like a lot of people want to go back to the 50s.
 

acpitz 1

Villager
I suppose this whole topic begs the question, "if you're going give stat limits based on sex, does that mean halflings max out at 5 strength (since they are the size of a toddler human).
Different beings can have completely different physique. Take a look at chimps for example. They are way more powerful compared to their size than humans are.

You cannot compare like that.
 
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