It's Not D&D - My Experiences

Jahydin

Hero
@Jacob Lewis
Your Star Wars experience was pretty similar to my own.

I was trying to get a particular group of friends into D&D and they just weren't feeling it. I though it was odd since they loved RPG video games and reading fantasy books, so I kept on trying.

One day they saw my Edge of the Empire RPG and wanted to try that. I ran a five hour session that I was SURE was the worst game I ever ran (much of the same reasons you pointed out). I'll never forget how ecstatic they were and how much they gushed over the fun they just had. I just shut the door and stared at my wall trying to work out the disconnect. :ROFLMAO:
 

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aco175

Legend
I was a bit lost with the OP. Were we comparing all the other games we played that were not D&D to the game MCDM is making in order to show something? Seems like we are showing that it will likely be bad and not playable, playable but sucks, or not worth buying, since it will not be actual D&D. I must admit, I like D&D as the primary game I play and also compare other games I tried to the many years and editions of D&D as a standard.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
One day they saw my Edge of the Empire RPG and wanted to try that. I ran a five hour session that I was SURE was the worst game I ever ran (much of the same reasons you pointed out). I'll never forget how ecstatic they were and how much they gushed over the fun they just had. I just shut the door and stared at my wall trying to work out the disconnect. :ROFLMAO:

Its not like games that are fun to run but less to play and (even more) vice versa is a new thing.
 

Retreater

Legend
I was a bit lost with the OP. Were we comparing all the other games we played that were not D&D to the game MCDM is making in order to show something? Seems like we are showing that it will likely be bad and not playable, playable but sucks, or not worth buying, since it will not be actual D&D. I must admit, I like D&D as the primary game I play and also compare other games I tried to the many years and editions of D&D as a standard.
Matt Colville's video discussed how he wanted to break away from the tropes of D&D with MCDM's new system. Piggybacking off that video, I wanted to share systems I've played that have broken away from some of the feel of D&D. This shows he's not alone as a GM, producer, or hobby enthusiast. It also allows me to have a retrospective of a pretty long history of gaming with many systems that aren't D&D. And it gives all of us here the opportunity to share our experiences to discuss these other games, which don't get the breadth of conversations we have about D&D on these boards. Maybe you'll find something to try until MCDM's system starts playtesting.
My intent of posting my history was not to dump on every system. You'll find that many of them I enjoyed, and the majority have at least some value to me. However, none of them have stuck with me the way D&D has, so many of them will have a "but..." to explain why I'm not currently playing it - and why I'm still looking for my next system.
Part of the enjoyment of gaming for me is trying new systems and dissecting how they work. (Others enjoy delving deep into lore - I'm a system nerd - that's my designer brain at work.) I have my preferences (balance, robust but medium crunch rules, lots of GM support, etc.) When I don't enjoy a game, it's likely because it fails to meet one or more of my preferences. For example, Numenera didn't stick with me because it seemed neither balanced or robust enough for me as a player (I've never GMed it so I can't judge on the amount of support it gives).
Because the purpose of the thread is to look at non-D&D games, I didn't judge other systems I've tried that are essentially updates of other editions of D&D (no OAD&D, BECMI, AD&D 1 or 2, 3.x/PF1, PF2, 5e, Castles & Crusades, Labyrinth Lord, Old School Essentials, Swords & Wizardry, Basic Fantasy, Hyperborea) - even though I've played and DMed many of these extensively. 4E I did rate because it departs enough from the traditional D&D in terms of balance, rules, and GM support.
All of the games I shared are at least playable - and could actually be very enjoyable (heck, GURPS has been on its current edition for nearly 20 years - it's working for somebody.)
 

Michael Linke

Adventurer
The experience I had with the slayer vs dragon was in Fantasy Flight's 3rd edition - and I never looked at the adventures for that edition.
The published adventures for 2E and 4E WFRP, I have looked at, and I know that neither version is combat-focused.
However, in my groups it's hard to sell players on systems with such wide gulfs in abilities.
"Ok. In this system you can be a holy knight, a skilled elven ranger, a wizard, or a mud farmer who launches turnips from a sling. Odds are, you get a mud farmer."
Even if combat isn't the central focus, why play the mud farmer? Even when you may have only one fight every couple of sessions, wouldn't you want a fighting chance of survival?
The current edition even presents the choice as a beginner's trap. If you roll your character randomly (which they suggest) you get to start with a few bonus XP. Which is significantly less than the amount of XP you'd have to spend to level up the skills and abilities if you just picked what you wanted.
If you took random race and profession, you started with 70 XP. You can buy a lot of advances with that. 2 characteristics and 2 skills, or 7 skills, or 1 characteristic and 4 skills and some change left over.
 

Retreater

Legend
If you took random race and profession, you started with 70 XP. You can buy a lot of advances with that. 2 characteristics and 2 skills, or 7 skills, or 1 characteristic and 4 skills and some change left over.
When I mathed it out, it still wasn't nearly as good as the Characteristic bonuses, starting equipment, etc., that you'd get for picking and choosing what you wanted to play. And plus you'd get to tailor your character for your preferences and the party's needs.
Seriously, the characters made at random seemed like the equivalent of 0-level D&D characters, while ones made on purpose were like 9th level characters, comparatively speaking. Not even close.
 

innerdude

Legend
Savage Worlds

Extent of Experience: GM or player in multiple campaigns of at least 25+ sessions, over 150+ sessions of play from 2012-2020.

Status: Was my overall "system of choice" for a full eight years, still love the system, will always hang on to my core rules and setting material. The ultimate undoing of Savage Worlds for our group was attempting to move online (there's something lost in the tactile/tangible elements of the game---no more physically dealing cards, the physical weight of re-rolling dice on an explosion, etc.). Plus the nagging sensation that the players had "maxed out" their system expertise to the point that it was becoming increasingly difficult to balance as a GM.

Verdict: Would run again, but probably won't for a period of time. Would play any time it was offered.


GURPS 3e

Extent of Experience: Player in 3 different campaigns (2 fantasy, 1 super heroes), total of ~30 sessions.

Status: One of my least liked RPGs I've ever tried. GURPS is a lovely system as long as you never have to invoke the combat engine. I'll never forget the one combat where we literally sat for 25 minutes while one player and the GM argued over how to resolve a two-handed attack. Plus, the supers campaign was being run by a very inexperienced GM, holding on to every possible bad habit endemic to "trad" play. Gave away what very little material I had purchased (3e core Exp/Revised, Compendium I, Compendium II, Magic).

Verdict: Will never GM the system. Would have to be persuaded to play, but only if it was an experienced GM under the right parameters, and even then I'd seriously consider not playing at all.


Dungeon World

Extent of Experience: GM for ~6 sessions, 2017

Status: I enjoyed my initial attempt at a PbtA, but I was clearly "doing it wrong." Didn't quite know how implement the GM advice. Didn't quite know how to get out of my old "trad" approaches yet. Mostly ended when a player complained that "there weren't rules on how to do what I want", and attempts to switch to a fiction-first perspective were met with puzzled stare.

Verdict: Probably won't run again, but not out of spite. Mostly just I think there's better "tech" in the PbtA sphere. I'd rather play Ironsworn 10 out 10 times over Dungeon World. I'd happily play in someone else's game, though.



Tiny D6 / Tiny Dungeons / Tiny Frontiers

Extent of Experience: Player for ~10 sessions of Tiny Frontiers in 2021. Player for a 1-shot of Tiny Dungeons with group in 2019.

Status: Surprisingly fun for a minimalist system. Totally embraces the "trad" ethos of "rulings, not rules," and fully expects players to give in to the GM-as-authority over the game world and what is a "possible" player action declaration. For a certain type of campaign, of an understood, short duration, it's a great little system.

Verdict: Would play again. Would GM for a small one shot.



Ironsworn

Extent of Experience: Solo'd for 3 sessions. GM'd a 4-player group for ~12 sessions in 2021.

Status: There's no other way I can put it --- Ironsworn is a brilliant system, one of the best expressions of fiction-first gaming I've found. It combines pieces of Powered by the Apocalypse and Forged in the Dark, while adding its own unique elements on top of them (the die mechanic, momentum, and assets). Not sure the precise reason Ironsworn clicked with me while Dungeon World didn't, but it was truly revelatory to finally understand the overall process, mindset, play loop, and realization of what PbtA promises.

Verdict: Absolutely will be playing / GM-ing this in the future, will evangelize this system to anyone who will listen. If you haven't tried it yet, I genuinely feel bad for you, because you are missing out on an amazing RPG experience.



Ironsworn: Starforged

Extent of Experience: Co-player (no GM, 2 players + Oracles acting in tandem) for ~10 sessions in 2022.

Status: See Ironsworn above, only with a few improvements to basic moves, better progression tracking, and it's in spaaaaaaace.

Verdict: See Ironsworn above.



Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

Extent of Experience: GM for ~12 sessions, separated by 2 years due to pandemic, 2020-2022.

Status: Our group was excited and energized by our overall play experience. I loved moving off of Savage Worlds as my primary "trad"-ish system, and appreciated having some rules-medium structure, but it has the narrative dice which lets me interject some of my narrative "chops" gained through playing Ironsworn. It really does capture a "Star Wars" feel --- the challenges and combats emulate the push-and-pull I see in all of the Star Wars media series. It's a bit gear-heavy, so if you're not into optimizing for gear + gadgets, it may not suit. You also have to know the right approach for the narrative dice. Serious simulationists will find it grating; those who can adapt to the right mindset will find it a great way to tell Star Wars stories.

Verdict: Will run in the future, will play in the future, have invested several hundreds of dollars into the Star Wars + Genesys product lines. Am excited to continue with it.
 

I guess I'll talk about ones I've tried out:

Ryuutama
Extent of Experience: Ran a campaign for a while. Probably the first time I felt like I was finally getting the hang of GMing.
Status: Had a great time. The idea behind this is that the players are a bunch of regular people going on a journey, and while there is a combat system, it's a pretty simple one, and travelling in harsh terrain without the right equipment can be deadlier than the monsters. It's more of a game where you all talk about your journey through the mountains at the small, cozy tavern you found on the other side, maybe dealing with a nearby monster that's attacking the sheep than it is a heroic quest or dungeon crawl. Also, the way the players decide details about the next destination helped me out a lot as a GM that often gets writers block.
Verdict: Would absolutely play or run again.

Golden Sky Stories
Extent of Experience: Ran a few one shots.
Status: I rather enjoy this diceless, combat free game where your magic is literally powered by friendship. You play as magical animal children doing low stakes, slice of life things in an idealized Japanese town. It's the closest RPG equivalent to something like My Neighbor Totoro. Probably the least D&D like RPG I've ever played.
Verdict: I wouldn't run a campaign in this, but I don't feel like it's a game designed to do that. I'll almost certainly run more one shots or a few connected episodes, and I'd like to be a player at some point.

Retail Magic
Extent of Experience: I've run this multiple times
Status: A comedy game that takes the Maid engine and reskins it so that the players are working retail at a shop in a D&D style fantasy setting.
Verdict: This is another that really isn't a campaign game, but it's fantastic for one shots. It's the kind of game for a party or if you want a one night wacky break from your regular game. I'm absolutely doing this again.

Bubblegum Crisis
Extent of Experience: Ran a one shot for a streaming group that showcases janky video games.
Status: It's a functional game based on the Fuzion engine, though oddly really doesn't seem to want to let you play as the super hero style characters the franchise is about. Like the only instructions for building a hardsuit are one small box on the last page, and the included adventure assumes the players are just playing as some guys with guns. It kind of feels like they designed the engine for a more standard, grounded game, then shoved BGC stuff into it.
Verdict: I ended up letting the players make Knight Sabers level characters with hardsuits, and the result was rocket tag where anyone who got hit got launched across the room from knockback. I had fun, but I feel like it was largely despite the system. If someone else I knew wanted to run this, I'd give it a shot as a player, but I have no intention of running it again or actively seeking out a game.

Dungeon World
Extent of Experience: Played a few session and ran a few sessions
Status: This was my first experience with a PbtA game, and it's possible that I and those who I played it with didn't really get the underlying system well enough, but I don't feel like a traditional D&D dungeon crawl lends itself to PbtA mechanics. Functional, but that's it.
Verdict: Wouldn't play again.

Fellowship
Extent of Experience: Played a couple games from an early test packet.
Status: This more narrative and world building focused game actually seemed to fit the PbtA system a lot better than something like Dungeon World.
Verdict: Really want to play this again.

City of Mist
Extent of Experience: Played through two adventures.
Status: A loosely PbtA game about magical people in modern fantasy noir mysteries. There's a lot more to character building than a standard PbtA game, and I feel like in general, this fixes most of my issues with PbtA stuff.
Verdict: I really like this game, and while I'm not sure I'm the right person to run it, I hope I get to play more.

Legend of the Five Rings (not sure which edition)
Extent of Experience: Played a short campaign.
Status: On one hand, I like the risk/reward mechanics, and the deadliness of sword fights felt right. On the other, this feels like a Japan written by some white guys who watched some samurai movies and knew about some stereotypes, not something that's actually researched. And while I've heard that those behind it state that it's not intended to be Japan and that this fictional culture is an amalgamation of several from east Asia, but I don't see that in the text, to the point where I'm suspicious that that's a post hoc defense against criticism rather than something they tried to do.
Verdict: Wouldn't play again.

Gamma World 7th Edition
Extent of Experience: Played in a one shot.
Status: It was a wacky good time, and as a fan of D&D 4e, the mechanics worked for me just fine.
Verdict: Would love to play again.

Lasers and Feelings and SPEEDING BULLETS!
Extent of Experience: Played a one shot of the former and a two parter of the latter
Status: These worked well enough for something quick and fun. For those who don't know, the former is a one page sci-fi RPG where your only stats are Lasers and Feelings, while the latter is a hack of that to turn it into a Shadow the Hedgehog RPG where your only stats are FAST! and GUN!. Both work well enough for a quick prep, super easy to get into game.
Verdict: Sure.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
Dungeon World
Extent of Experience: Played a few session and ran a few sessions
Status: This was my first experience with a PbtA game, and it's possible that I and those who I played it with didn't really get the underlying system well enough, but I don't feel like a traditional D&D dungeon crawl lends itself to PbtA mechanics. Functional, but that's it.
Verdict: Wouldn't play again.
Freebooters on the Frontier plus The Perlious Wilds 2e, both by Jason Lutes Check it out.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I guess I'll talk about ones I've tried out:

Ryuutama
Extent of Experience: Ran a campaign for a while. Probably the first time I felt like I was finally getting the hang of GMing.
Status: Had a great time. The idea behind this is that the players are a bunch of regular people going on a journey, and while there is a combat system, it's a pretty simple one, and travelling in harsh terrain without the right equipment can be deadlier than the monsters. It's more of a game where you all talk about your journey through the mountains at the small, cozy tavern you found on the other side, maybe dealing with a nearby monster that's attacking the sheep than it is a heroic quest or dungeon crawl. Also, the way the players decide details about the next destination helped me out a lot as a GM that often gets writers block.
Verdict: Would absolutely play or run again.

Golden Sky Stories
Extent of Experience: Ran a few one shots.
Status: I rather enjoy this diceless, combat free game where your magic is literally powered by friendship. You play as magical animal children doing low stakes, slice of life things in an idealized Japanese town. It's the closest RPG equivalent to something like My Neighbor Totoro. Probably the least D&D like RPG I've ever played.
Verdict: I wouldn't run a campaign in this, but I don't feel like it's a game designed to do that. I'll almost certainly run more one shots or a few connected episodes, and I'd like to be a player at some point.
I wonder if you have tried Wanderhome, the third in my "golden trio of cozy" RPGs? It's not Japanese themed like Ryuutama or Golden Sky Stories; but strives for a similar feel
 

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