It's Not D&D - My Experiences

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Numenera
Extent of Experience: Played in a home game, several convention games run by Monte Cook Games
Status: Didn’t like it. No matter the game, my character had one or two abilities that had to be spammed. The enemy DR was frequently too high to surmount. I’ve rarely felt as utterly powerless in a game - not like in Cthulhu - but in a game where the intent is to feel epic and awesome but the mechanics don’t support it.
Verdict: Won’t play again.
My take is that the game's intent is to instill awe through exploration and discovery, not to make the player feel epic and awesome. Maybe that's why it missed your mark?

Vaesen/Coriolis/Twilight 2000
Extent of Experience: (Lumping these together because they’re all basically the same experience.) Bought based on the design.Have never really played them (except for one Con game of Vaesen)
Status: Don’t know if I’ll ever play these.
Verdict: The most niche games I own. Can’t imagine playing more than a one-off of any of these.
Play them! Play them! Play them! (I admit bias for love of the Vaesen art.)
 

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Greg K

Legend
Although long campaigns are quite possible (I've ran several myself), I think you nailed what sets this game apart from the stories games like D&D want to tell.

Death should always be a few dice rolls away. Just using Netflix, imagine how well that works for porting over shows like Cyberpunk: Edge runners, Squid Game, and Arcane.
Death needn't always be on the line. The current edition has setting rules to tailor the lethality and flavor of combat from Saturday Morning Cartoon to Gritty.
The prior Explorer/Deluxe edition had a one sheet with setting rules for Gritty combat and, iirc, there was encouragment to tailor lethalness, but the Setting Rules for tailoring combat lethalness was found only in the official PEG forums on their site and never, officially, published until the current edition. However, some third parties did have less lethal setting rules.
 

TheSword

Legend
WFRP 4e (Cubicle 7)
Extent of Experience: Bought the core books, complete Enemy Within set and expanded books, a few other supplements. Played an enjoyable Con game. Ran a few sessions of Enemy Within in person before the group fell apart. Ran on Foundry later and got through the first book of Enemy Within.
Status: Rules are needlessly complex. Gritty power level is a hard sell. Would love to adapt the campaign to another system.
Verdict: It would take the right group to try this system again.
I agree with you, I think you need the right group for WFRP. They have to be willing to either invest the time to learn the rules properly. Or to be relaxed enough and positive enough to roll with the punches and see the RNG driven craziness of WFRP as something to drive storytelling. I don’t think it is anywhere near as deadly was people make it out to be.

I also think it’s better online. The more I play (I’m near the end of Death on the Reik) the more I’m convinced of this. I wonder weather it’s worth dropping your current adult group and consider joining an online game as a player first while you familiarize yourself with the rules.
 


MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Like this thread! I played a lot of games in the 80s (Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Boot Hill, Warhammer Fantasy, Paranoia, etc.) but it was so long ago, that I could only comment on nolstalgic feelings I have for them. So, I'll stick to the non-D&D games I've experience since getting back into the hobby a 9 or so years ago.

Dungeon/Mutant Craw Classics (DCC / MCC)
Extent of Experience
Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC)

An old friend and very experience GM ran a DCC funnel when he was in town. One of the best experiences I've had as a player. But never played a leveled class in bog-standard DCC. Looked at the books and loved the old-school feeling and Otis artwork, but it seemed complicated and I was already invested in 5e. So didn't buy any of the books.

DCC Lankhmar
Played in a session at a convention while it was still being play tested. Really enjoyed it and felt it captured the feeling of the Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser books. Got to experience playing a pre-gen, low-level magic caster. I liked the weird/dangerous feel of magic, the luck mechanics, etc.

Mutant Crawl Classics
Same friend who ran my the DCC game ran a holiday themed MCC game when visiting during the holiday season. Great fun. Still never bought the books to try to run it.

DCC Dying Earth
Okay, you got me Goodman Games! I baked the Kickstarter. Really like how they flavor magic, but have to wait for the boxed sets and adventures to be delivered. I am thinking of running my next campaign as DCC Dying Earth campaign.

Verdict
I don't know how much of my enjoyment of the Goodman Games DCC/MCC games is because of great GMs and how much is because of the system, but I have a lot of goodwill with the games and will happily play in a DCC/MCC game. As for running the game, I'm a bit concerned about DCC's love for tables and having to constantly look things up. But I'm at least prepared to give it a shot for a few sessions for an adventure if not an entire campaign. I really, really like the funnel system and have adapted it and used it for the session zero of my current 5e campaign.

The Expanse
Extent of Experience

Enjoy the TV series. Never read the novels. I really like the book. It is a fun read for fans of the series. I also like the mechanics. They are easy to pick-up and do a good job supporting a cinematic style of play. But I only ran one game. The weight of the lore was too much for me. I didn't feel confident enough to deliver a game that felt like the show or novels and the system doesn't really lend itself to generic sci fi. The space travel rules get needlessly complicated. Also, they spend a lot of text on fluff which makes some mechanics seem more complicated than they are. Space combat is not too hard to run but I don't find it much fun.
Verdict
Nice book to have on the shelf. I enjoy reading it and paging through it. Other than space combat, I like the mechanics and would consider using the mechanics to run a generic sci fi campaign, but the work to decouple the setting-specific stuff from the mechanics, makes me more likely to just find another system for sci fi. I plan to look at what other games use the AGE system.

Paranoia
Extent of Experience

The Mongoose Games Ultraviolet edition that was published a few years ago, not the new edition. I really enjoy the game, including the use of cards, which they unfortunately removed in the newest edition. They are a bit vague and lazy in how they run some of the rules and I found it more difficult to really grok how to run parts of the game. But in actual play it ran well.
Verdict
I plan to run additional scenarios now and then as one shots or a mini-campaign. I don't think it lends itself to long-term campaigns. Would happily run or play in a one-shot any time and always sign up for at least one Paranoia game at my local convention.

iSPECTREs
Extent of Experience

Heard about it from a recorded GenCon panel discussion on experimental/indie games and checked it out. The players play members of a paranormal investigation team. I've generally seen it played more as a slapstick game than serious. More Ghost Busters than Call of Cthulhu. Ran it with some friends and we all had a lot of fun with it. Played it a number of times at my local game convention and will try to sign up for at least a couple of slots when I see it being run. It uses simple six-sided dice pool mechanics but what makes it fun are how high successes allow players to change the stories. There is a also a mechanic where a player can go into a "confession booth" (just a share you set up on the side) and player talks to the camera where they can spill the dirt on another player. The player who is a target of the rumor can decide whether the rumor is true and run with it or they can decide it is a false rumor. There are simple campaign mechanics where the PCs can increase their skills and where the company can increase its resources.
Verdict
Great game for a one shot with the right group. Works best with more extroverted players who enjoy a bit of improve and like the "role" in roll play with the dice mainly being a story device. Not a tactical game. Still, I've found that it plays well with diverse groups of players. Players who really hate being on the spot or who like their games more serious or tactical would likely not enjoy it.

Dialect
Extent of Experience

I've played it a couple times at conventions and bought the game, but have not run it yet. One session at a convention game was the most moving experience I've ever had with a TTRPG. The game bills itself as being about the creation and death of language. The PCs are all part of an isolated community. Some of the set scenarios (called "backdrops" in the book include an isolated tribe and a stranded mars mission. The mechanics involve players inventing words, telling a story on how the word came to be used, and other players adding to that. The language evolves over hours of game play, with several ages of play.

Verdict
I love this game but works best with the right group of players who are invested in the concept. I suppose it could be played in a slapstick manner, but in my opinion it works best--and can be very impactful--when played seriously with players who are invested in the concept, the story, and their characters.

Alice is Missing
Extent of Experience

I've played one session online as a player. I bought the Roll20 version and PDF and plan to run it in person at some point when I can bring together the right group. Would like to play it in person. This is a game played entirely by text messages. Each player takes on a pre-created character. All player character's are friends of Alice, who has gone missing. The players change their phone setting so that they can text as their character and share their numbers with the other players. When played online, instead of phones, you can use a chat platform. When I played we used discord. The GM goes over the rules and background of the story. Every player gets a number of cards that are activated based on a timer. The GM starts playing an audio that plays a video that has music and will display numbers as different times. So, say, at the five minute mark a card is activated and the player with that card will communicate based on the information on that card. Some cards require drawing additional cards to resolve certain plot points.

This is an entirely story-driven game. The cards just give information or resolve certain situations. The players simply react, communicating by text. Basically all the players are assumed to be separated, communicating by text, trying to find out what happened to, and perhaps rescuing, their friend Alice. There is not speaking after the game starts.

Verdict
Plan on running it. But it needs the right group of players. For some people it would be terribly boring. With the right group who are invested in the story and text-based, live storytelling and improv aspects of it, it can be rather moving. I don't think that there is a great deal of replayability. I would not play it twice with exactly the same group of people. But if you have some people who have played it before and some who have not, it would be fun to go through the experience again. The story will be different each time you play, but the general theme is always the same.

Mage: The Ascension
Extent of Experience

Some of my players are fans and convinced me to try running it. I like the concept and how it approached magic. I ran several sessions but found the rules to be overly complex and poorly organized. I also found that the lack of adventures and supporting materials made it require a lot of prep time. I ended up killing the campaign due to lack of time and interest in running that system.

Verdict
I would be happy to play in a campaign run by a GM who has mastered the rules and is enthusiastic about the game, but I have no interest in ever running the game.

Ghost Hunters (World of Darkness)
Extent of Experience

I backed the kickstarter for this when I was trying to learn and run Mage. Was not impressed by the PDFs. Saved them on Google Drive and never looked at them again.

Verdict
While I have never played or read Vampire or Werewolf, I've come to the conclusion that World of Darkness games are just not for me as a GM. I get tired of the pages and pages of story vignettes. Some of the lore is interesting but I'm not that impressed with the writing would rather they separated all the stories into a separate book. The rules need to be better organized and explained. I think I would enjoy being a player in any WoD game run by the GM who loves the system, but I just can't stand trying to learn and run it. Ghosthunters in particular just felt like a messy collection of mediocre lore and stories. I can't even speak about the rules because after my experience with Mage, after paging through the PDF for Ghosthunters and I didn't even bother to try to learn the system. It just turns me off as a GM.
 

Retreater

Legend
Although long campaigns are quite possible (I've ran several myself), I think you nailed what sets this game apart from the stories games like D&D want to tell.

SW combats should always be highly swingy and exciting. Death should always be a few dice rolls away. Just using Netflix, imagine how well that works for porting over shows like Cyberpunk: Edge runners, Squid Game, and Arcane.

That does mean you do have to rethink the way you prep for a session though.
Part of it comes down to my preferences, and how my experiences with Savage Worlds clashes with that.
Here are a few examples.
Was running a Dark Sun-inspired 4E game a few years ago, when the number of players who continued to join slowed the game down significantly. We wanted to port the game to a new system to speed up the fights. About half the group were tired of 5E even at that point, so we converted to SWADE.
For a few sessions, it went okay. It was fun, dynamic, epic. I remember them fighting a big ol' demon and his underlings while trying to push him through a portal and close it. Then the next session, there was a TPK against some lackluster human guards and a few of their minions.
Then on Christmas 2022, I played some Savage Pathfinder with my family. In the short adventure, they handled plenty of fights - and most of them were over so quickly we didn't get around the entire table in the Initiative order. Then there was a fight with some wolves that would've TPKed had I not Deus ex Machina'd the whole combat (hey, it was Christmas).
Survival in Savage seems as unpredictable as a coin flip. I average a TPK every other session. That is a rate that is unmaintainable for holding player interest.
 

Michael Linke

Adventurer
When a beginning slayer character could solo defeat a dragon, I boxed it up and returned it to the store.
Warhammer dragons are not as powerful as what you'd expect of a D&D dragon. They typically serve as mounts for their more powerful riders, so a Slayer, whose job in life is to kill big nasty creatures, soloing one is perfectly in line with Warhammer lore.
 

Retreater

Legend
My take is that the game's intent is to instill awe through exploration and discovery, not to make the player feel epic and awesome. Maybe that's why it missed your mark?
The adventures I played - designed and hosted by the Monte Cook Games team - were no different than standard D&D adventures.
Example Plot: "You're kidnapped and trying to break out of a gladiatorial arena. Oh no! There are 'rats' in the sewers where you're trying to escape. TPK."
In our home game (and please pardon me that I don't remember the exact names for everything), I was a wizard who had two spells. I had something like a fire ray and another that was that I could identify any of the Numenera artifacts or creatures we saw. Do you want to guess which of those spells I didn't get to use once over the 3-4 sessions we played? Now guess which one I spammed literally every action in every encounter.
And keep in mind that I've played multiple sessions, with multiple GMs, over several years, some that were fans and some that were staff from Monte Cook Games.
I just don't think the system works for what they want it to do.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I just don't think the system works for what they want it to do.
Sounds like maybe the system doesn't work for what you want it to do because there have been a number of Cypher System fans on this forum who I recall telling you that your experiences don't really match up with theirs. That's fine: mismatched expectations are a thing. 🤷‍♂️
 

Retreater

Legend
Warhammer dragons are not as powerful as what you'd expect of a D&D dragon. They typically serve as mounts for their more powerful riders, so a Slayer, whose job in life is to kill big nasty creatures, soloing one is perfectly in line with Warhammer lore.
Oh yes, I didn't put the other part of it that bothered me.
So everything about the slayer's character creation was random. It came down to a die roll that I was a bad ass warrior.
The next character (random die roll) was a rat catcher, who couldn't defeat a goblin. And it seemed he didn't excel at anything, actually.
Then I imagined the players at my table, if I brought it to them. Lisa could be a slayer. Jimmy could be rat catcher.
How would that work? Would that be fair? How would I balance fights? How would I challenge both players? Is there any guidance at all to me as the GM?
 

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