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Narrative/Novel D&D...ND&D. Imagine if the game played just like the D&D novels?

Travis Henry

Villager
You have good suggestions about best practices. But with all best practices in play, it still won't run as quick as a novel is read.

If I remember right, a popular opinion on the forums here is that combats typically last 3-4 rounds. Since each round is ~6 seconds, that's 18-24 in-game seconds. Pretty quick to me.
I'm talking about Real Time not In-World time. ND&D would be a ruleset that:
1) Runs exactly as quickly as the D&D Fiction stories. So the entire Dragonlance Chronicles in 17 table hours!
2) More fully supports the colorful descriptions (for both DM and player) of D&D action which are seen in D&D Fiction.
 

Travis Henry

Villager
As a side note, most of the Drizzt books were written with the rules (at the time) in mind. This is why combats were quick in the early books, because in AD&D combat didn't take very long (about 2-3 rounds, same as in 5E). From my memories of the Dragonlance Chronicles, this was similarly true. The two books written by Gygax for Greyhawk were close to the rules... with some heavy houserules (included in the appendix).
Yeah but I still suspect that even the AD&D 1st Edition (or 2nd Edition) DL series of modules took a lot longer to play through, than the time it takes to read the Dragonlance Chronicles novels.

The problem is the difference between game time and real time. A 4 hour session can take anywhere from a few minutes of game time (6 second rounds with a crap-load of combat) to weeks, months, or even years of game time, depending on the needs of the story. The closest part of the game that matches game time to real time is social encounters fully roleplayed out, and even those are thrown off by the time required to roll dice.
Right, but imagine a ruleset that was crafted to support a Real Time game that progressed exactly as quickly as reading a D&D novel?

For example, assuming the novelization of the Lost Mine of Phandelver would be a single book (rather than a trilogy), then the ND&D version would play the entire story in 7 table hours! Having been DMing the Starter Set, it's taken us like 30+ hours. Which was great, but I'm also interested in conceiving a D&D ruleset that would play as quick as a novel. With cut-scenes, etc.
 

Travis Henry

Villager
Then it is NO different than how almost every game I've seen has done it since '78. Players say (narrate) what their character is doing and roll the dice. You don't NORMALLY play that way??? :erm:
Yeah of course there's narration. But I'm talking about a D&D ruleset that:

1) Runs exactly as fast as it takes to read the equivalent story in novel or comic book form.
2) Which is configured to more fully support colorful narration on the part of the player and DM, using a comprehensive and systematic array of action-specific quotes gathered from all of the existing D&D Fiction stories: the hundreds of D&D novels, short stories, and comic books.
 

Travis Henry

Villager
Customized Novels

Now to take it further: (I can dream can't I?)

In conjunction with the ND&D ruleset, I'd like WotC to be the world's first producer of Customizable Novels.

  • A customer can pay a fee to have their own characters' names inserted into the story (such as the Dragonlance Chronicles or Icewind Dale Trilogy), and issued as a customized print-on-demand hardcopy.
  • Each novel in the D&D fiction line would have an online form where you fill in certain customizable features: at the very least the names of the heroes.
  • But as the online interface became more sophisticated, it wouldn't be limited to just names; the customer could select from various alternate passages or endings...or perhaps even open it up to the point where the customer can type in their own modifications of the entire story!

This Customizable Novel idea is not necessarily tied to the ND&D ruleset I envisioned. But they're sorta related, in that they're both based on cultivating a "novellic" D&D experience.

It'd be a new medium. I should patent this! haha
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
If you want it to read the same way a novel reads, then you have to read a novel. As soon as you put to people into the mix, it will take longer, as soon as you have people who have to make decisions, it will take longer.

You do know, that 17 hour novel you read took the author 700, or 1700 hours to write. And that 17 hour novel when put into a movie takes ~3 hours.

The format makes a huge difference in how long it takes to present.

But remember, an RPG session is not a story being presented, it is a story being developed. So instead of trying to compare the 17 hour novel, compare the 1700 hours it took to develop that story and then compare that to the time it takes to play (i.e. develop) a comparable story in an RPG format.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Thinking about it, I kind of think what you're looking for might be something like Dungeon World? You have archetypes with distinctive fighting styles and "moves" they can make to use them, which fits what you're saying about a baked array of narrative descriptions.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
You're right that any TRPG session could be novellized afterward. But here's what I'm getting at...

...Okay, let's set aside the Narrative aspect for a moment. And just speak about sheer numbers. As in exactly how long it takes to run a story using a TRPG interface (5E, or any previous edition) versus the time it takes to read that same story in novel (or short story or comic book) form.

The most basic aspect of my question is about making a version of D&D which somehow runs as quickly as D&D Fiction -- covering the the same amount of ground, in the same amount of Real Time. Now, if those were the design parameters, I'm sure that any D&D game designer worth his/her salt could do that. (Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, anybody)

And it would still look and feel like D&D. Because it (ND&D) would be fully based on D&D Fiction. But numbers-wise, it would have to play a lot quicker than any existing iteration of D&D!
No, it won't. It'll be something different. You might use the same words, & you might claim it's the same game, but when you drastically change the mechanics, you lose that D&D feeling. And when the feeling goes....
If you'd like a perfect example of that in action look no further than 4e. It's a game, but it ain't D&D to most people.

I suppose you could make a fantasy based version of Feng Shui. Just describe things in fantasy terms....
But you can't make D&D into Feng Shui.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
You have good suggestions about best practices. But with all best practices in play, it still won't run as quick as a novel is read.
And it's not supposed to. Just like if I weld wings on my car it still won't fly. D&D =/= novel.


I'm talking about Real Time not In-World time. ND&D would be a ruleset that:
1) Runs exactly as quickly as the D&D Fiction stories. So the entire Dragonlance Chronicles in 17 table hours!
The play experience would lose so much that those 17 hours would be completely wasted.
It be even worse if you could some how play as fast as you could read a comic book. The average comic only has about 20 pages (not counting adds), mostly pictures.
(Ex: Green Lanterns #51 from last year - 20 pages of story, again mostly pictures, with the highest word count (103) occurring on page 6 (of story). I did only count the words you actually need to read, so the title page where the creative team is credited might have =/more - but as those aren't "story".... Most pages had 40 or less. One page had zero. On a slow read it took me about 7 minutes cover to cover. That's a fairly typical issue whatever the title. And you want to play D&D that fast?)


2) More fully supports the colorful descriptions (for both DM and player) of D&D action which are seen in D&D Fiction.
Ah yes, things we've been able to do to whatever extent we prefer since 1974.... Each table varies.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
Now to take it further: (I can dream can't I?)

In conjunction with the ND&D ruleset, I'd like WotC to be the world's first producer of Customizable Novels.

  • A customer can pay a fee to have their own characters' names inserted into the story (such as the Dragonlance Chronicles or Icewind Dale Trilogy), and issued as a customized print-on-demand hardcopy.
  • Each novel in the D&D fiction line would have an online form where you fill in certain customizable features: at the very least the names of the heroes.
  • But as the online interface became more sophisticated, it wouldn't be limited to just names; the customer could select from various alternate passages or endings...or perhaps even open it up to the point where the customer can type in their own modifications of the entire story!

This Customizable Novel idea is not necessarily tied to the ND&D ruleset I envisioned. But they're sorta related, in that they're both based on cultivating a "novellic" D&D experience.

It'd be a new medium. I should patent this! haha
So what happens when we all show up with different versions of the story?
I think the ensuing arguments will take longer than reading the real novels....
And why would we need to play it out if we've already determined how it goes?
 

Travis Henry

Villager
It be even worse if you could some how play as fast as you could read a comic book. The average comic only has about 20 pages (not counting adds), mostly pictures.
(Ex: Green Lanterns #51 from last year - 20 pages of story, again mostly pictures, with the highest word count (103) occurring on page 6 (of story). I did only count the words you actually need to read, so the title page where the creative team is credited might have =/more - but as those aren't "story".... Most pages had 40 or less. One page had zero. On a slow read it took me about 7 minutes cover to cover. That's a fairly typical issue whatever the title. And you want to play D&D that fast?)
Well, yes! I would love to play a 7-minute long D&D story which covered the same amount of plot as a D&D comic issue. Yes! Just the thing for a quick game. A complete adventure in 7 minutes! Yes!
As it stands, 7 minutes of 5E play covers like one round.
The comic book-sized plot would be resolved through various quickly-decided "moves" that the character(s) make. And the story unfolds in 7 minutes. Great!
It's still a TRPG (and not just a comic-book-sized Lone Wolf-style choose-your-own-adventure) because there'd be a number of different story/plot options supported, and there'd still be a DM (to fill in the holes with improvisation), and because any character could be brought into the story (not just a pre-gen), and because the character advances in level. So the book would be somewhat bigger than a comic-book (due to having to support a number of different possible plot twists, depending on the actions of the PC(s)), but it'd play out in 7 minutes. Done.

That would be the quickest ND&D format, alongside short-story-sized ND&D modules, novella-sized ND&D modules, novel-sized ND&D modules, and trilogy-sized ND&D modules.

Ah yes, things we've been able to do to whatever extent we prefer since 1974.... Each table varies.
Woah woah there, let's not get snarky - haha. It applies to 1970s D&D too. I just read the Maze of Peril novel by John E. Holmes, and the characters there do a bunch of stuff which was not fully supported by the BD&D Holmes rules. For example, the dwarf is described as actually detecting the number and direction of side passages in each direction just from pausing and sensing for a moment. This is a heightened, more colorful description of the Dwarven trait than what is found in the Holmesian Rules As Written.

 
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Travis Henry

Villager
So what happens when we all show up with different versions of the story?
Well, each Customized Novel would have special logo and customized "co-author" (the customer's name) printed on the cover alongside the original author (Salvatore, Weiss & Hickman, etc).

That's the probably the same thing Boardgamers said when Roleplaying Games were invented. "What do you mean the game story is customizable and kit-bashable by each consumer? Where's my Monopoly car?" ;-) Or what TSR grognards said when the OGL came out.
 
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Travis Henry

Villager
Thinking about it, I kind of think what you're looking for might be something like Dungeon World? You have archetypes with distinctive fighting styles and "moves" they can make to use them, which fits what you're saying about a baked array of narrative descriptions.
Yes, Feng Shui + Dungeon World, set firmly in the D&D Fiction Multiverse.
 
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Lanefan

Hero
- Don't look up rules at the table, if the DM or another player isn't sure, the DM says, "Not sure, let's make a strength attack with proficiency for grappling, on the orc's turn he can try to break it with an opposed check." (Sure, they got the rule wrong, but who cares? Fun continues!)
Who cares? Internal consistency very much cares, in that it somewhat demands that the rule that was got wrong must then stay that way for the rest of the campaign such that the campaign/setting can be and remain consistent with itself.

Which means, take the time to either a) get it right or b) think long and hard on the downstream ramifications of whatever wrong ruling you have in mind before going with it.
 

Lanefan

Hero
The most basic aspect of my question is about making a version of D&D which somehow runs as quickly as D&D Fiction -- covering the the same amount of ground, in the same amount of Real Time.
I'm not the world's fastest reader but I can get through a typical FR fiction book in one evening*.

To have the game-at-table progress at that speed would be ludicrous. Hell, the players wouldn't even be able to get through a quarter of the spoken dialogue in that time, never mind the travel, exploration, information gathering, combats, and all the rest of what goes into the amount of campaigning depicted in the average D&D novel.

* - though afterwards I'll wonder why I bothered.

And it would still look and feel like D&D.
I'm not at all sure it would.

Because it (ND&D) would be fully based on D&D Fiction. But numbers-wise, it would have to play a lot quicker than any existing iteration of D&D!
You could take out all the numbers and it still wouldn't play at the speed of reading a novel.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Now to take it further: (I can dream can't I?)

In conjunction with the ND&D ruleset, I'd like WotC to be the world's first producer of Customizable Novels.

  • A customer can pay a fee to have their own characters' names inserted into the story (such as the Dragonlance Chronicles or Icewind Dale Trilogy), and issued as a customized print-on-demand hardcopy.
  • Each novel in the D&D fiction line would have an online form where you fill in certain customizable features: at the very least the names of the heroes.
  • But as the online interface became more sophisticated, it wouldn't be limited to just names; the customer could select from various alternate passages or endings...or perhaps even open it up to the point where the customer can type in their own modifications of the entire story!

This Customizable Novel idea is not necessarily tied to the ND&D ruleset I envisioned. But they're sorta related, in that they're both based on cultivating a "novellic" D&D experience.

It'd be a new medium. I should patent this! haha
Not a new medium. Grandpa Jasper and Grandmama Jasper been ordering kids books like this from TBS (the station) when to cable in 1980. Just Call 1-800-Grandma using your Visa or MasterCard, your gift will be shipped to you in six to eight weeks. If your order two there will be a separate shipping and handling fee.
 
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jasper

Rotten DM
Shades of Bryan and Knights of the Dinner Table discussing Hackmaster tie in Novels.
Just pass out the following signs to players.
DM’s Pet My PC survives with minor…..
DM’s Pet My PC does cool move….
My PC does max damage and a crit…..
Pass out the following dice.
My d20 has all 20s.
My d6 has all 50s
My d2 has all 100s.
Please note all your players must be wanna be writers or actors and can do scenes at the drop of die.
 

Bobble

Villager
The most basic aspect of my question is about making a version of D&D which somehow runs as quickly as D&D Fiction -- covering the the same amount of ground, in the same amount of Real Time.
That is impossible IF you want to play a D&D type RPG. That would be like asking a builder to build a large structure as fast as it would take to do a walk though of the completed structure.

As I am retiree I'm always looking to increase my treasure horde so I will bet you YOUR life savings that you cannot make such a game. After playing and running RPGs for 40 years I know I stand a 0% chance of losing this bet.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
I understand your point.

In our game, combat on a significant scale would take a couple hours and it seemed like forever. We've done some things that have streamlined our process and works well for us. Combat flows much faster and our DM is a lot more narrative as a side-effect.

1. If you are rolling initiative each round, stop it. Roll once, and keep the same order every round. We were worried about how it would affect the game, making it predictable, etc. and that hasn't happened at all. It speeds things up when our DM doesn't have to re-order initiative each round.

2. Use average damage for weapons and spells. Sure, rolling dice is fun, and sometimes players still roll. But for a Fireball, but when I cast it I do 28 (average) damage each time. I don't spend time counting out the dice and adding up the result. The same goes for Sneak Attack damage, I do 10 (from 3d6) each time. My d6 shortsword does 3 each time, plus my bonuses of course.

Our DM uses average for the monsters and NPCs always, for spells and everything. The ONLY exception is if the spell or attack could result in a character death using average damage. In such cases, he rolls because it will give the character a chance to live instead of automatically killing him with average damage.

If you decide to use the averages for damage, make notes of the amount on your characters and include bonuses. That way it saves you time making the calculations on the fly.

3. Have options for prepared spell lists. We just started doing this for spellcasters so we aren't wasting time with players selecting spells for different situations.

Anyway, while a novel D&D ins't bad for people who want it, too much narrative isn't the taste many tables want. But if your goal is also to speed up combat, the above options and they might help. I know they have helped us A LOT! :)
 

dave2008

Adventurer
It's not only about becoming a master DM (or master player) who's good at describing things - I'm conceiving a ruleset that "bakes" a picturesque array of narrative descriptions into the game itself.
Personally, that is my issue with what you are trying to do. The fiction created by my imagination is usually, if not always, more vibrant, exciting, and engaging than a novel or movie. It may take longer for us to play, but our imagines are, I believe, more picturesque than any baked-in narrative would likely be.
 

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