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

LordEntrails

Explorer
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.
So now you are talking "adventures" with pre-defined outcomes. So the story is already written, and you are just choosing at various times which path, and resulting outcome, you get to pick.

You still have lots of problems with your idea;
- First, as soon as you have 2 people involved, you will no longer be able to do ANY reasonable adventure in 7 minutes. Do you even understand why? One person could lecture to the other a plot in a few minutes, but no options or variations would take place. This is called "story time" and you often find it in Kindergarten.
- Second, you are talking about a choose your own railroad adventure. The adventure has already been prepared. You understand this right? You talk about having a DM to fill in holes with improvisation, but you can't do that in a few minutes. Do you understand that? Human interaction takes TIME. And the more independence the game allows, the more time it takes. Do you know why? Because the people are interactively creating the story, they are developing the story as they go, they are not choosing from a few pre-developed possibilities.

Look, I get your excitement with your idea. But do you even have much experience playing and running a variety of RPG games? Are you familiar with a dozen different systems? What about "solo adventures", have you gone through and read one or two of those books or grabbed a Solo adventure and worked through one?

I don't think anyone wants to kill your excitement, just temper it with experience and opinion because their are a lot of concepts that you seem to be missing that really makes it come across as if you don't really know what you are comparing your suggestion against.
 

Travis Henry

Villager
And why would we need to play it out if we've already determined how it goes?
Your question could be asked in regard to all the D&D modules which have ever been based on novels (DL series, Azure Bonds, etc) or vice versa (Keep on the Borderlands novel). Why buy the novel if we've already played it? Or why buy the adventure if we've already read the novel? The only difference with Customizable Novels is that the customer is personalizing the novel (whether they played the module beforehand or afterward, or whether they don't even intend to play the tie-in module).

Like I said, the ND&D game is not connected with the Customized Novel concept. At its simplest, the D&D Customized Novel would be more of a keepsake...a piece of D&D memorabilia: "Here's my customized version of Crystal Shard with my pet cat's name in place of Drizzt's!" haha) But as the Customized Novel platform became more advanced and customizable, it could be used to more exactly model how each customer's party played through the story.

ND&D (and 5E) modules which are based on those novels could serve as a product tie-in though. "Play the module, and then customize the novel and print off a copy for each of your players!"
 
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Travis Henry

Villager
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.
I'm a member of Gamblers Anonymous, so I refrain from betting nowadays. haha.

It would not be hard to win this bet. Though I don't have time at this moment to fully flesh out a ruleset, here's a first draft:

As for the ND&D Rulebook:

A research team reads through the hundreds of D&D novels, short stories, and comic books, and gleans sentence-by-sentence descriptions of all the Actions which have been depicted in the D&D Fiction Multiverse. If the Action was performed in various novels by different characters, all those cut-and-pasted example sentences are grouped under a single Move. And the Moves which are race-, class-, or level-specific (e.g. cast Fireball), are also grouped. I mean, there are certain "tropes" which are associated with all or most Halflings in the D&D novels.

These grouped lists of novellic Moves serve as character creation tables. Or advancement tables for character level-specific Moves.
(The book and page number are listed beside each sentence.)

To create a character, the player picks a certain number of these Moves. (Say, three or five or whatever number we decide best models a 1st-level character in a D&D novel.) Or the player rolls them randomly, based on race and class.

Within the various cut-and-pasted sentences which are listed under each Move, any proper names are enclosed in brackets ([Drizzt] [Raistlin] etc), reminding the player to substitute their own character's name instead. Also if the description could apply to other weapons within a particular damage type, the specific weapon is enclosed in brackets [mace (bludgeoning)], to remind the player to substitute their own weapon instead. These sentences serve merely as inspirations when the player narrates their Move. They can narrate it pretty freely, like in Feng Shui RPG.

So on their character sheet, there's a list of "Feng Shui / Dungeon World"-style Moves, which are taken right from D&D fiction. There might just be one sample sentence (a quote from a D&D novel) on the character sheet - the whole list of quotes would be found in the ND&D sourcebook.

To level up: after completing each ND&D adventure, your character just gets one more novellic Move.

As for rules - there's still a bit of quick dice rolling. Like maybe a d20. Maybe the six stats. That's about all. ("The Black Hack Lite")

That's a rough sketch of ND&D Rulebook.

***
As for an ND&D Adventure Module:

The key scenes and plot points of a particular D&D novel are gathered. For example, The Crystal Shard or Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

(An ND&D module wouldn't necessarily have to be based on a D&D novel; the same could be done for any existing D&D adventure - it's just that for ND&D, a module's playtime and presentation would be boiled down into a novel-length size and form.)

The DM describes the Challenge of each scene. The players declare what Moves they're doing. They roll a single opposed d20 versus the DM or something. And then the result is described based on on the margin of success or failure. Like Feng Shui or Dungeon World or FATE or something. And that's the end of the fight scene.

On to the next scene. Note that there are alternate scenes depending on how the battle went. But no one will fail any worse than Drizzt or Tanis would fail...because they're the heroes of the story.

Cut scene. DM exposition about what happened in the meantime (travel, exploration). There's suggested boxed text for this (more-or-less based on the actual text from the novel), which the DM of course can modify.

On to the next scene.

etc.

The End.

ND&D is just less "granular" than 5E (or any edition of D&D so far). That doesn't mean it's impossible or not fun. If we'd been raised in an alternate universe where D&D was even more "granular/crunchy" than it is today, then those people would think that 5E would be "impossible" and "not fun." If D&D required the characters to declare their Action every second, and to roll for every footstep, and to play even travel time and downtime in second-to-second "realistic" rounds, and even have to declare when they're taking bathroom breaks in the dungeon, and for how many seconds those breaks last, and to keep track of calorie intake when eating rations (sounds like Rolemaster - haha), then 5E would sound "impossibly vague" and "not fun." Posters would be saying the same thing about 5E that you're saying about ND&D.

Also, I have played a number of 5E Solo Adventures. I admit that I'd best also learn the best practices of various diceless and ultra-lite RPGs, and also "relationship-based" RPGs such as Smallville Cortex system...since (for example) in the novels, Regis has nearly as much "screen time" as Drizzt even though Drizzt is way more powerful from a mechanical/combat perspective. It's like having Lois Lane and Superman have similar screen time in the same story.

I'm not saying I personally have all the resources to make ND&D yet, but I'm sure it can be done.

At the very least, even if you just took the existing 5E rules, and boiled down all combats into a single die roll, that would be a step in the direction of novel-like quickness.
 
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Bobble

Villager
I'm a member of Gamblers Anonymous, so I refrain from betting nowadays. haha.

It would not be hard to win this bet. Though I don't have time at this moment to fully flesh out a ruleset, here's a first draft: HUGE SNIP
Since you left OUT a HUGE requirement I listed ("That is impossible IF you want to play a D&D type RPG.") I will wait until you are serious or, up your English language Comp. skill level.
 

ART!

Explorer
I'm a member of Gamblers Anonymous, so I refrain from betting nowadays. haha.

It would not be hard to win this bet. Though I don't have time at this moment to fully flesh out a ruleset, here's a first draft:

As for the ND&D Rulebook:

A research team reads through the hundreds of D&D novels, short stories, and comic books, and gleans sentence-by-sentence descriptions of all the Actions which have been depicted in the D&D Fiction Multiverse. If the Action was performed in various novels by different characters, all those cut-and-pasted example sentences are grouped under a single Move. And the Moves which are race-, class-, or level-specific (e.g. cast Fireball), are also grouped. I mean, there are certain "tropes" which are associated with all or most Halflings in the D&D novels.

These grouped lists of novellic Moves serve as character creation tables. Or advancement tables for character level-specific Moves.
(The book and page number are listed beside each sentence.)

To create a character, the player picks a certain number of these Moves. (Say, three or five or whatever number we decide best models a 1st-level character in a D&D novel.) Or the player rolls them randomly, based on race and class.

Within the various cut-and-pasted sentences which are listed under each Move, any proper names are enclosed in brackets ([Drizzt] [Raistlin] etc), reminding the player to substitute their own character's name instead. Also if the description could apply to other weapons within a particular damage type, the specific weapon is enclosed in brackets [mace (bludgeoning)], to remind the player to substitute their own weapon instead. These sentences serve merely as inspirations when the player narrates their Move. They can narrate it pretty freely, like in Feng Shui RPG.

So on their character sheet, there's a list of "Feng Shui / Dungeon World"-style Moves, which are taken right from D&D fiction. There might just be one sample sentence (a quote from a D&D novel) on the character sheet - the whole list of quotes would be found in the ND&D sourcebook.

To level up: after completing each ND&D adventure, your character just gets one more novellic Move.

As for rules - there's still a bit of quick dice rolling. Like maybe a d20. Maybe the six stats. That's about all. ("The Black Hack Lite")

That's a rough sketch of ND&D Rulebook.

***
As for an ND&D Adventure Module:

The key scenes and plot points of a particular D&D novel are gathered. For example, The Crystal Shard or Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

(An ND&D module wouldn't necessarily have to be based on a D&D novel; the same could be done for any existing D&D adventure - it's just that for ND&D, a module's playtime and presentation would be boiled down into a novel-length size and form.)

The DM describes the Challenge of each scene. The players declare what Moves they're doing. They roll a single opposed d20 versus the DM or something. And then the result is described based on on the margin of success or failure. Like Feng Shui or Dungeon World or FATE or something. And that's the end of the fight scene.

On to the next scene. Note that there are alternate scenes depending on how the battle went. But no one will fail any worse than Drizzt or Tanis would fail...because they're the heroes of the story.

Cut scene. DM exposition about what happened in the meantime (travel, exploration). There's suggested boxed text for this (more-or-less based on the actual text from the novel), which the DM of course can modify.

On to the next scene.

etc.

The End.

ND&D is just less "granular" than 5E (or any edition of D&D so far). That doesn't mean it's impossible or not fun. If we'd been raised in an alternate universe where D&D was even more "granular/crunchy" than it is today, then those people would think that 5E would be "impossible" and "not fun." If D&D required the characters to declare their Action every second, and to roll for every footstep, and to play even travel time and downtime in second-to-second "realistic" rounds, and even have to declare when they're taking bathroom breaks in the dungeon, and for how many seconds those breaks last, and to keep track of calorie intake when eating rations (sounds like Rolemaster - haha), then 5E would sound "impossibly vague" and "not fun." Posters would be saying the same thing about 5E that you're saying about ND&D.

Also, I have played a number of 5E Solo Adventures. I admit that I'd best also learn the best practices of various diceless and ultra-lite RPGs, and also "relationship-based" RPGs such as Smallville Cortex system...since (for example) in the novels, Regis has nearly as much "screen time" as Drizzt even though Drizzt is way more powerful from a mechanical/combat perspective. It's like having Lois Lane and Superman have similar screen time in the same story.

I'm not saying I personally have all the resources to make ND&D yet, but I'm sure it can be done.

At the very least, even if you just took the existing 5E rules, and boiled down all combats into a single die roll, that would be a step in the direction of novel-like quickness.
This is roughly what I was going to propose, just much better thought-out and actually written down. ;)

Well done. This seems very do-able to me, even if requiring a lot of groundwork.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
It still sounds like basically just Dungeon World, to me.

"Moves" to describe your character's schtick? Check.

Roll against a target number? Check.

Margin of success or failure determining results? Check.

What's different, apart from the fact that you're rolling a D20 instead of 2d6?
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
Still sounds like every adventure will be a railroad to me. At that point I would rather read a real novel than pretend I have any player agency with a setup like this one.
 

Lanefan

Hero
I'm a member of Gamblers Anonymous, so I refrain from betting nowadays. haha.

It would not be hard to win this bet. Though I don't have time at this moment to fully flesh out a ruleset, here's a first draft:

As for the ND&D Rulebook:

A research team reads through the hundreds of D&D novels, short stories, and comic books, and gleans sentence-by-sentence descriptions of all the Actions which have been depicted in the D&D Fiction Multiverse. If the Action was performed in various novels by different characters, all those cut-and-pasted example sentences are grouped under a single Move. And the Moves which are race-, class-, or level-specific (e.g. cast Fireball), are also grouped. I mean, there are certain "tropes" which are associated with all or most Halflings in the D&D novels.

These grouped lists of novellic Moves serve as character creation tables. Or advancement tables for character level-specific Moves.
(The book and page number are listed beside each sentence.)

To create a character, the player picks a certain number of these Moves. (Say, three or five or whatever number we decide best models a 1st-level character in a D&D novel.) Or the player rolls them randomly, based on race and class.

Within the various cut-and-pasted sentences which are listed under each Move, any proper names are enclosed in brackets ([Drizzt] [Raistlin] etc), reminding the player to substitute their own character's name instead. Also if the description could apply to other weapons within a particular damage type, the specific weapon is enclosed in brackets [mace (bludgeoning)], to remind the player to substitute their own weapon instead. These sentences serve merely as inspirations when the player narrates their Move. They can narrate it pretty freely, like in Feng Shui RPG.

So on their character sheet, there's a list of "Feng Shui / Dungeon World"-style Moves, which are taken right from D&D fiction. There might just be one sample sentence (a quote from a D&D novel) on the character sheet - the whole list of quotes would be found in the ND&D sourcebook.

To level up: after completing each ND&D adventure, your character just gets one more novellic Move.

As for rules - there's still a bit of quick dice rolling. Like maybe a d20. Maybe the six stats. That's about all. ("The Black Hack Lite")

That's a rough sketch of ND&D Rulebook.

***
As for an ND&D Adventure Module:

The key scenes and plot points of a particular D&D novel are gathered. For example, The Crystal Shard or Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

(An ND&D module wouldn't necessarily have to be based on a D&D novel; the same could be done for any existing D&D adventure - it's just that for ND&D, a module's playtime and presentation would be boiled down into a novel-length size and form.)

The DM describes the Challenge of each scene. The players declare what Moves they're doing. They roll a single opposed d20 versus the DM or something. And then the result is described based on on the margin of success or failure. Like Feng Shui or Dungeon World or FATE or something. And that's the end of the fight scene.

On to the next scene. Note that there are alternate scenes depending on how the battle went. But no one will fail any worse than Drizzt or Tanis would fail...because they're the heroes of the story.

Cut scene. DM exposition about what happened in the meantime (travel, exploration). There's suggested boxed text for this (more-or-less based on the actual text from the novel), which the DM of course can modify.

On to the next scene.

etc.

The End.

ND&D is just less "granular" than 5E (or any edition of D&D so far). That doesn't mean it's impossible or not fun. If we'd been raised in an alternate universe where D&D was even more "granular/crunchy" than it is today, then those people would think that 5E would be "impossible" and "not fun." If D&D required the characters to declare their Action every second, and to roll for every footstep, and to play even travel time and downtime in second-to-second "realistic" rounds, and even have to declare when they're taking bathroom breaks in the dungeon, and for how many seconds those breaks last, and to keep track of calorie intake when eating rations (sounds like Rolemaster - haha), then 5E would sound "impossibly vague" and "not fun." Posters would be saying the same thing about 5E that you're saying about ND&D.

Also, I have played a number of 5E Solo Adventures. I admit that I'd best also learn the best practices of various diceless and ultra-lite RPGs, and also "relationship-based" RPGs such as Smallville Cortex system...since (for example) in the novels, Regis has nearly as much "screen time" as Drizzt even though Drizzt is way more powerful from a mechanical/combat perspective. It's like having Lois Lane and Superman have similar screen time in the same story.

I'm not saying I personally have all the resources to make ND&D yet, but I'm sure it can be done.

At the very least, even if you just took the existing 5E rules, and boiled down all combats into a single die roll, that would be a step in the direction of novel-like quickness.
There's one thing rather notably missing from any of the above write-up, which would if included end up slowing play considerably: social interaction; either between PCs and-or between PCs and NPCs. This is where a huge majority of characterization and character development occurs, to the point where if you intentionally strip it out you haven't got much R left in the RPG.

Also, what happens if the PCs lose a battle they're supposed to win? Does the prepared narration have branches and tracks to account for this?
 

ccs

39th lv DM
On to the next scene. Note that there are alternate scenes depending on how the battle went. But no one will fail any worse than Drizzt or Tanis would fail...because they're the heroes of the story.
A game where your going to win regardless won't be very entertaining.
 

Travis Henry

Villager
It still sounds like basically just Dungeon World, to me.

"Moves" to describe your character's schtick? Check.

Roll against a target number? Check.

Margin of success or failure determining results? Check.

What's different, apart from the fact that you're rolling a D20 instead of 2d6?
Okay thanks - I'm barely familiar with Dungeon World - so I'm just going off what you and others have said. Okay, maybe the proposed ND&D is similar is DW. Others have said Feng Shui.
I'd guess a couple significant differences:
1) The rules might be even quicker/lighter than DW. When I skim through the DW rulebook it still looks pretty complex.
2) The goal would be to explicitly tie ND&D into the vast body of existing D&D Fiction (novels, Dragon short stories, comic books), using sample quotes with chapter and verse. It's fully immersed in the D&D Multiverse.

Maybe if you took DW and reskinned it for the D&D Multiverse, that'd be a start. But then, need to streamline combats and social interactions so that it plays exactly fast as a novel.
 

Arilyn

Explorer
For a heavy narrative system, as others have pointed out, you should go with a different system. You could still use the D&D lore, but maybe use Fate, Genesys or Dungeon World, unless you want to design a whole new game, but it won't be D&D, anymore than Fate.

As for having adventures match the pace of a novel of movie, it's not going to work. Many years ago, I played in a Buffy game. The GM wrote awesome adventures for us, which really felt like Buffy episides. It usually took us about 3 hours to complete an "episode." Picturing one of these sessions done in 50 minutes or so, and it would not have worked at all. Way too rushed.

I believe rpgs are an awesome way to tell stories, but they are their own medium, just like there are differences between novels, comics, plays, tv and movies. Don't lose sight of the strengths of rpgs in your desire to tell stories that you love from novels.:)
 

Travis Henry

Villager
Still sounds like every adventure will be a railroad to me. At that point I would rather read a real novel than pretend I have any player agency with a setup like this one.
Imagine if the Lost Mine of Phandelver was converted into ND&D?
All of the key scenes would be there still: Cragmawk Hideout, Redbrand Hideout, Cragmaw Castle, the Lost Mine, and possibly all of the side-treks as well: Agatha the Banshee, Old Owl Well, Wyvern Tor, etc. And the key encounters of each scene. (But not every single little Goblin-in-a-Room.)

But each scene is resolved with only a few rolls. A single combat roll for each key fight. A single social roll for each key social encounter.

And compared to the 5E, there's a more extensive narrative boxed text for each scene - actually more than is in the Starter Set. For example, a bit of novellic "boxed text" for each and every hex on the map.

And there are narrated "cut scenes" which quickly bring the party to the next scene, with only a bit of "travel exposition", and even within a dungeon-site, there is minimal "dungeon exploration" (except for key puzzles and traps)...it's just skipped over. Straight to the main scenes.

And the whole story...from Goblin Ambush to the Forge of Spells...is completed in 7 hours of table time. (There could even be a "Cinematic (Short Game)" option where the entire story is compressed into a single 3 hour session...the length of a film.)

And...the party can choose the order which they take most of the scenes. And failure on the die roll results in "falling forward"...a setback only as severe as Drizzt or Tanis would experience in their novels. Dragonlance (the most "novellic" of the D&D settings) even had a "Dramatic/Mysterious Death" rule to help preserve important NPCs so that they could return again. ND&D has something like that, but for PCs.

Each scene has suggested "boxed text" for various degrees of success and failure. And the character's chosen Moves are creatively incorporated into the result.

And, you can play any ND&D race and class. And the character advances a level after each "novel." So it is still a RPG.

That's not necessarily railroady. It just touches on the essentials of the story.

A 5E module itself is also "railroady", in that there are only a certain number of prepared locations and repeated wandering monsters. ND&D is just a different granularity. I'd call it novellic or cinematic.
 
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Travis Henry

Villager
A game where your going to win regardless won't be very entertaining.
Well, there'd still be maybe two degrees of failure (FAIL, and CRITICAL FAIL) and two degrees of success (SUCCESS, and CRITICAL SUCCESS) for each scene, and also for the story as a whole. But even the biggest fail is a "failing forward"...as if the party were novellic heroes...which they are!
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
A game where your going to win regardless won't be very entertaining.
Hmm... that basically "nearly" describes 5E as it is... ;)

Well, there'd still be maybe two degrees of failure (FAIL, and CRITICAL FAIL) and two degrees of success (SUCCESS, and CRITICAL SUCCESS) for each scene, and also for the story as a whole. But even the biggest fail is a "failing forward"...as if the party were novellic heroes...which they are!
I guess this feels to me just like you want a group-version of the old Pick-A-Path to Adventure books. The only real difference is instead of reading it and deciding which path you'll try, a group is doing it with a bit of randomness thrown in.
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
Imagine if the Lost Mine of Phandelver was converted into ND&D?
All of the key scenes would be there still: Cragmawk Hideout, Redbrand Hideout, Cragmaw Castle, the Lost Mine, and possibly all of the side-treks as well: Agatha the Banshee, Old Owl Well, Wyvern Tor, etc. And the key encounters of each scene. (But not every single little Goblin-in-a-Room.)

But each scene is resolved with only a few rolls. A single combat roll for each key fight. A single social roll for each key social encounter.

And compared to the 5E, there's a more extensive narrative boxed text for each scene - actually more than is in the Starter Set. For example, a bit of novellic "boxed text" for each and every hex on the map.

And there are narrated "cut scenes" which quickly bring the party to the next scene, with only a bit of "travel exposition", and even within a dungeon-site, there is minimal "dungeon exploration" (except for key puzzles and traps)...it's just skipped over. Straight to the main scenes.

...

That's not necessarily railroady. It just touches on the essentials of the story.

A 5E module itself is also "railroady", in that there are only a certain number of prepared locations and repeated wandering monsters. ND&D is just a different granularity. I'd call it novellic or cinematic.
Oh, get what you are doing, I totally get it. What you don't get is you are removing player agency or the importance of such agency. You give 4 outcomes for the entire adventure (or even 40 is an incredibly small number compared to LMoP as is). That is not of interest to me.

You are increasing story telling where the DM narrates (or just reads) a bunch more than you see in your games. The lack of story/narration at your table is due to your table, not the system. You can easily player D&D as is where each player narrates everything they do.

Agency is important. It is so important as to be required for the "D&D Experience" imo. For example, one of my parties when they did LMoP and Cragmaw, they simple overran the dang castle, the didn't engage the guards, instead they flooded into and through like a tide. The dropped a darkness in the foyer and all the guards proceeded to wait and then progress into the darkness slowly. By the time all the guards figured out what was going on in the foyer, the party was already fighting the BBEG at the end. That is still a story and a tactic they discuss 2 years later when assaulting other strongholds.

And, if you tell me your ND&D could make that one of the options, then you just don't get it. Player agency is not about any one event, decision, or outcome. It is the players making decisions for their characters that are foolish, uninformed, and/or brilliant. These decisions, and the results as narrated by a good DM, are what makes memories. Go read online the stories that people tell of D&D from 30 years ago. They are not about what was scripted, but about what happened due to player agency.

As for published adventures being sort of railroady... sure, most of them are written that way because they need to be accessible to DMs that don't know better. A DM that chooses to can allow an adventure to go in any direction, and just because an encounter is not in the published adventure, is a poor excuse for a DM to not allow an encounter (or any other type of event) to occur.

Another thought, if you want an adventure to be over quicker, then you are probably missing out. Their is value in the journey. Just like life and relationships, the journey, what happens between where you start and the end, is often more important, and almost always more memorable, that getting to the end.
 

Travis Henry

Villager
I guess this feels to me just like you want a group-version of the old Pick-A-Path to Adventure books. The only real difference is instead of reading it and deciding which path you'll try, a group is doing it with a bit of randomness thrown in.
Yeah basically.
But more like the AD&D Gamebooks (which actually had character stats) or, better yet, Lone Wolf (which had character advancement which carried over from novel to novel). So, a group version of Lone Wolf, with some dice rolling.
And it would be part of the game for the characters' Moves to be narrated picturesquely (like Feng Shui), in accordance with how the die roll for each encounter/scene turned out. (The "picturesque-ness" would be supported by examples from D&D Fiction, compiled in the ND&D sourcebook.)
 
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ART!

Explorer
There's one thing rather notably missing from any of the above write-up, which would if included end up slowing play considerably: social interaction; either between PCs and-or between PCs and NPCs. This is where a huge majority of characterization and character development occurs, to the point where if you intentionally strip it out you haven't got much R left in the RPG.

Also, what happens if the PCs lose a battle they're supposed to win? Does the prepared narration have branches and tracks to account for this?
Yeah, there would have to be some sort of "decision tree" guide for the GM. The option could be like GM Moves or Condition Moves in PbtA games (like the much-mentioned Dungeon World), where the option is described somewhat vaguely as a general direction, maybe with some automatic things that happen and the rest open to interpretation.

DW and other PbtA games do some or a lot of what's TH is after here, but not everything.


Okay thanks - I'm barely familiar with Dungeon World - so I'm just going off what you and others have said. Okay, maybe the proposed ND&D is similar is DW. Others have said Feng Shui.
I'd guess a couple significant differences:
1) The rules might be even quicker/lighter than DW. When I skim through the DW rulebook it still looks pretty complex.
2) The goal would be to explicitly tie ND&D into the vast body of existing D&D Fiction (novels, Dragon short stories, comic books), using sample quotes with chapter and verse. It's fully immersed in the D&D Multiverse.

Maybe if you took DW and reskinned it for the D&D Multiverse, that'd be a start. But then, need to streamline combats and social interactions so that it plays exactly fast as a novel.
DW and the like are deceptively complex - or maybe I mean deceptively simple: conceptually, they seem simple, but I've found running them to be much more complicated than I expected. For players, though, it's pretty simple.


Imagine if the Lost Mine of Phandelver was converted into ND&D?
[good examples and ideas excised]

That's not necessarily railroady. It just touches on the essentials of the story.

A 5E module itself is also "railroady", in that there are only a certain number of prepared locations and repeated wandering monsters. ND&D is just a different granularity. I'd call it novellic or cinematic.
Having run and played in Tyranny of Dragons, I concur that 5E adventures can definitely be railroady! :(
 

Travis Henry

Villager
For a heavy narrative system, as others have pointed out, you should go with a different system. You could still use the D&D lore, but maybe use Fate, Genesys or Dungeon World, unless you want to design a whole new game, but it won't be D&D, anymore than Fate.

As for having adventures match the pace of a novel of movie, it's not going to work. Many years ago, I played in a Buffy game. The GM wrote awesome adventures for us, which really felt like Buffy episides. It usually took us about 3 hours to complete an "episode." Picturing one of these sessions done in 50 minutes or so, and it would not have worked at all. Way too rushed.

I believe rpgs are an awesome way to tell stories, but they are their own medium, just like there are differences between novels, comics, plays, tv and movies. Don't lose sight of the strengths of rpgs in your desire to tell stories that you love from novels.:)
Oh, get what you are doing, I totally get it. What you don't get is you are removing player agency or the importance of such agency. You give 4 outcomes for the entire adventure (or even 40 is an incredibly small number compared to LMoP as is). That is not of interest to me.

You are increasing story telling where the DM narrates (or just reads) a bunch more than you see in your games. The lack of story/narration at your table is due to your table, not the system. You can easily player D&D as is where each player narrates everything they do.

Agency is important. It is so important as to be required for the "D&D Experience" imo. For example, one of my parties when they did LMoP and Cragmaw, they simple overran the dang castle, the didn't engage the guards, instead they flooded into and through like a tide. The dropped a darkness in the foyer and all the guards proceeded to wait and then progress into the darkness slowly. By the time all the guards figured out what was going on in the foyer, the party was already fighting the BBEG at the end. That is still a story and a tactic they discuss 2 years later when assaulting other strongholds.

And, if you tell me your ND&D could make that one of the options, then you just don't get it. Player agency is not about any one event, decision, or outcome. It is the players making decisions for their characters that are foolish, uninformed, and/or brilliant. These decisions, and the results as narrated by a good DM, are what makes memories. Go read online the stories that people tell of D&D from 30 years ago. They are not about what was scripted, but about what happened due to player agency.

As for published adventures being sort of railroady... sure, most of them are written that way because they need to be accessible to DMs that don't know better. A DM that chooses to can allow an adventure to go in any direction, and just because an encounter is not in the published adventure, is a poor excuse for a DM to not allow an encounter (or any other type of event) to occur.

Another thought, if you want an adventure to be over quicker, then you are probably missing out. Their is value in the journey. Just like life and relationships, the journey, what happens between where you start and the end, is often more important, and almost always more memorable, that getting to the end.
Okay. Now I feel heard. Thank you Arilyn, LordE, and to the others who responded. And to Bobble and LordE for the laughs. (What's wrong with Kindergarten Storytime: The RPG? haha)

I admit I hadn't thought it all through from start. And even my own parameters have continued to shift. I do believe a very fun game could be made along the lines I'm envisioning. And that even with a "novellic" or "cinematic" system, a sweet spot could be reached which made space for a resourceful DM to improvise in response to player agency.

My initial post was fueled by four legitimate desires:

1) For the battles to be a lot quicker, yet still satisfying. And for stories/adventures to be completed in one or two sessions...including "bigger" novellic stories (not just a small dungeon crawl). I was struck by how long it takes (in Real Time) for us to run a battle in 5E versus how quick (and satisfying) the battle scenes pass in the Icewind Dale novels. AFAIR, back when I DMed BECMI, the fights and adventures were significantly quicker too.

(Along these lines, posters offered good suggestions: best practices for quickening 5E fights, and also enjoying the journey. I still hold that a much quicker system could still be satisfying, which retained full player agency. Even if it be The Black Hack. Or Mike Mearl's alleged "one-roll-per-encounter system.")

2) For all the "picturesque" moves which characters do in the novels to be fully supported by the game-system itself. Given the honed storytelling work when went into writing the novels, a lot of this stuff is an iconic expression of "D&D-ness", even though its not really supported by the rules.For example, the scene where the Companions of the Hall battle a horde of trolls, and the fire spreads from troll to troll. That was great. Yet not really supported by the Rule-As-Written (in any edition). To be specific: the D&D troll stats ought to have Fire Vulnerability, and once lit also take persistent fire damage, and also have some sort of "Troll Pack Conflagration" weakness: like, if a flaming Troll is adjacent to another Troll, the other Troll has to make a DC20 Dexterity save or be ignited, and so on. I could probably give dozens of examples from every D&D novel where the characters do awesome, picturesque things which aren't really supported by the game. It's not just a matter of having a better DM who's adept at imaginative descriptions of damage dealt. And it's also not just a matter of novel authors being too "loose" with the rules; but rather, the novels have "bested" the game on which it they were based, and raised it to a higher degree of storytelling fun...this "leading edge" ought to work back on the game itself.

(Along these lines, people suggested more "narrative", "degrees of failure/success" or "descriptive move" based systems: Feng Shui, Dungeon World, FATE, or Genysys system. I'd also add Cortex/Smallville "relationship RPG". But in any case, I'd want it to be fully immersed in the D&D Multiverse.)

3) For the picturesque descriptions of places and landscapes from the D&D novels to be included in the TRPG modules. For example, just last night, I read in the Halfling's Gem novel that Drizzt and Wulfgar visited Coneyberry and Agatha the Banshee. Which my players have recently visited in the Starter Set. Not being a FR expert, it would've been great for the Starter Set to include, say, a DC10 History check for the Coneyberry hex, which revealed a summary of that story (I guess it was over a hundred years ago), and which even pointed the DM to the novel for a more fuller description, as a flashback.

4) For someone to do groundwork research in breaking-down exactly what "Actions" are happening in the hundreds of D&D novels. And then to reverse engineer all that cool stuff back into the game...whether that be via new options in 5E, or via a new "novellic" system. Yeah, I know WotC team doesn't have the manpower to do such a project nowadays.

Well, I said my piece. Thanks again for the good ideas and laughs!
 

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