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Next Gen Games?

Aldarc

Legend
Which non-D&D TTRPGs published within the past 5 or so years do you think represent the leaders of next generation games and publishers that will (or already are) influence future game design? I would like to leave out D&D of this discussion, because as the 800-pound gorilla industry leader, D&D will always exert an influence on future game design.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
I don’t know about predicting the future, but I like a lot of what Free League does.
Free League was one company that I had on my mind when I created this thread. However, I have not yet seen the echoes among designers that their system is producing. I'm not aware of any 3pp that use the engine, but the OGL for the Year Zero Engine only came available in 2019, so that may be why.

Even if we were to name Free League as a forerunner for future design, I'm curious what those design elements are that make people gravitate or take note of the Year Zero Engine. What does the YZE do well that make it unique or stand out from other systems?
 



Aldarc

Legend
I'd say the new toolkit systems like Cypher and Cortex Prime may be a large chunk of "next gen" gaming as well.
Nice choices. Cortex Prime is relatively new, though it (much like Fate) had a number of precursor systems. It does seem to be garnering a following among many of the people who also like Fate, so I will definitely be paying attention to the ripples that Cortex Prime makes.

I am also waiting for someone to take the Cypher System into a new bold direction that builds on the meat and bones of the system in ways that Monte Cook has not considered, but I'm not sure what that would look like.

One of the games I had in mind is Blades in the Dark. I have seen what feels like an explosion of indie game design using the Forged in the Dark engine. There is a Kickstarter now for Brinkwood, a vampire-hunting FitD game, as well as a Kickstarter for Sig, an off-brand Planescape FitD game.

I think the next gen stuff is more about platforms and tools rather than rules design per se.
Maybe, but then we see games like Apocalypse World that trigger a fairly significant wave of design in its wake. And Apocalypse World resulted in the spin-off games of both Blades in the Dark and Ironsworn, both of which have been making waves of their own.
 
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Scott Christian

Adventurer
The designation between rules and platforms versus unique worlds is an interesting one. I can see the argument both ways. Rules that stick seem to steer the aircraft carriers of design. But worlds, like The Witcher, leave an everlasting impression on audiences as a whole. Basically taking the ship to new and interesting ports of call.
 

Even if we were to name Free League as a forerunner for future design, I'm curious what those design elements are that make people gravitate or take note of the Year Zero Engine. What does the YZE do well that make it unique or stand out from other systems?

Free League has really impressed me. I’ve only actually played two of their games, but I’ve looked at a couple more, and they all seem solid. Their production value is certainly top notch.

Both games I’ve played use the Year Zero Engine, though I didn’t even realize that was the case until later on. Looking back at them now, it’s easy to see the similarities, and to see that the core mechanic is indeed intact. But each game had its own things going on, and they’re also so thematically different that it was kind of easy to not notice that the core was the same.

Tales From the Loop and Alien are both very solid games. Easy to grasp the essential rules and mechanics, but each one tailored to fit the genre and feel they’re going for. Any system that can so easily deliver an authentic 80s Spielberg kids in trouble vibe, or the ever-escalating paranoia of the Aliens films is doing something right.

One of the games I had in mind is Blades in the Dark. I have seen what feels like an explosion of indie game design using the Forged in the Dark engine. There is a Kickstarter now for Brinkwood, a vampire-hunting FitD game, as well as a Kickstarter for Sig, an off-brand Planescape FitD game.

I agree that Blades in the Dark has inspired a lot of variations and hacks. It’s interesting to see what people can do to tweak the core system and deliver a slightly different experience.

The Forged in the Dark system seems to have both strong appeal and hackability. There are different areas of the rules that you can revise to try and deliver a new experience or a different kind of fiction. In that way it’s very much like Apocalypse World, which is a clear inspiration for the game.

Sig sounds interesting. I may have to back that.

Beyond seconding Free League and Blades in the Dark, I’ll just say that the explosion of indie design on Itch.io is pretty amazing. Not that every game is great or to everyone’s taste, but the sheer scope of games and topics and the obvious energy that many of the designers have is just remarkable. Chances are if there’s an interesting topic, someone on Itch.io has made a game about it.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Tales From the Loop and Alien are both very solid games. Easy to grasp the essential rules and mechanics, but each one tailored to fit the genre and feel they’re going for. Any system that can so easily deliver an authentic 80s Spielberg kids in trouble vibe, or the ever-escalating paranoia of the Aliens films is doing something right.
So apart from its quality production value or its ability to emulate different genres of fiction, what would you say makes the system unique in terms of its novelty or appeal? Or is it that it provides a simple and elegant dice pool system with a pushing mechanic? Or to put it in another way: let's say that I was a designer shopping around for which system would work well for their next project. Why should this designer consider the Year Zero Engine over another system?

Please don't construe this as skepticism or an interrogation, but I'm trying to suss out the strengths of the system.

I agree that Blades in the Dark has inspired a lot of variations and hacks. It’s interesting to see what people can do to tweak the core system and deliver a slightly different experience.

The Forged in the Dark system seems to have both strong appeal and hackability. There are different areas of the rules that you can revise to try and deliver a new experience or a different kind of fiction. In that way it’s very much like Apocalypse World, which is a clear inspiration for the game.
IMO, BitD is an impressively tight and ingenious game. It takes the 2d6 resolution system of PbtA and turns it into a dice pool system that further layers the failure/complication/success mechanic by introducing position and effect. The fact that the GM is tasked with providing position and effect means that the game forces the GM to think about what failure and success, respectively, look like in the fiction for a player action. And the occasionally convoluted list of moves of PbtA are replaced by a list of 12 actions that inform the player how they are expected to interact in the fiction. This effectively offloads responsibility of tracking the triggering of moves in the fiction to the player from the GM, whose responsibility in this regard pivots to position and effect.

I also like how BitD takes the idea of playbooks and gives one for the entire group, which gives them a clear rallying purpose.

I'm almost waiting to see when someone takes BitD and combines it with Fate, though Rob Donoghue appears to have been considering this mashup for some time.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
Swords of the Serpentine. I think it's the first game to really combine all the different ideas that have been coming out over the last decade or more (since the end of the D20 glut and the rise of various innovative new concepts). SotS has combined a number of ideas that have appeared elsewhere and made a quite excellent game out of them, and there's going to be a lot of people imitating the style of the game. There are one or two other games which have done some of that, but none seem to me to have done it quite so well.
 

Why should this designer consider the Year Zero Engine over another system?

Please don't construe this as skepticism or an interrogation, but I'm trying to suss out the strengths of the system.

No worries, I get what you meant.

I think it’s strength is in the simplicity of its core mechanic (roll a pool of d6s with success on a 6) and in how that core mechanic can be used in conjunction with other mechanics. So the presence of stress dice in the Alien RPG is evocative and exciting. As things get tense, players wind up rolling more dice, represented by different color d6s. But if you roll a 1 on those stress dice, then the PC goes into panic, which can be disastrous for the group.

But that element isn’t present at all in Tales From the Loop. You can push to reroll in both games, but the cost is different. They also have different stats, and different kinds of classes or playbooks that deliver a totally different feel of a game.

So I think the ease of understanding the essentials, and the ability to tack on a variety of different secondary mechanics that can deliver very different play experiences is probably what I would say is its main appeal.

I also like how BitD takes the idea of playbooks and gives one for the entire group, which gives them a clear rallying purpose.

I don’t think it’s the first game to have done this, but it certainly is the best example of it that I can think of. It serves to give each game a specific focus or feel and, what’s best in my opinion, makes the game about the crew. PCs can come and go, but the game is the story of the crew.

Then the whole crew and faction game and how it relates to the scores and downtime. Just really, really smart design.
 

Aldarc

Legend
No worries, I get what you meant.

I think it’s strength is in the simplicity of its core mechanic (roll a pool of d6s with success on a 6) and in how that core mechanic can be used in conjunction with other mechanics. So the presence of stress dice in the Alien RPG is evocative and exciting. As things get tense, players wind up rolling more dice, represented by different color d6s. But if you roll a 1 on those stress dice, then the PC goes into panic, which can be disastrous for the group.

But that element isn’t present at all in Tales From the Loop. You can push to reroll in both games, but the cost is different. They also have different stats, and different kinds of classes or playbooks that deliver a totally different feel of a game.

So I think the ease of understanding the essentials, and the ability to tack on a variety of different secondary mechanics that can deliver very different play experiences is probably what I would say is its main appeal.
The YZE looks like a fairly basic or traditional game at its heart. It's a simple "success on a 6" d6 dice pool system, but it does seem that a lot of the charm comes from various iterations of the push mechanics you describe.

I would definitely be curious to see if a version of the YZE could handle the stress of being expanded to include Cortex/Fate (e.g., traits/aspects) or BitD (e.g., flashbacks, devil's bargains, etc.) style mechanics.
 

The YZE looks like a fairly basic or traditional game at its heart. It's a simple "success on a 6" d6 dice pool system, but it does seem that a lot of the charm comes from various iterations of the push mechanics you describe.

I would definitely be curious to see if a version of the YZE could handle the stress of being expanded to include Cortex/Fate (e.g., traits/aspects) or BitD (e.g., flashbacks, devil's bargains, etc.) style mechanics.

It'd be interesting to see someone push the design in unexpected ways. I would think it would work....the core mechanic of Blades is almost identical, it just has the additional option of a partial success on a 4-5. So in that sense, Blades is similar that the core mechanic is pretty simple, and it's all the things added onto it that make it so robust....position/effect being the biggest factor, but also pushing and the other elements you mention.

I'm sadly still pretty ignorant of how Fate works and plays. I have the core book, but have not had time to really dig into it at all.
 

Free League was one company that I had on my mind when I created this thread. However, I have not yet seen the echoes among designers that their system is producing. I'm not aware of any 3pp that use the engine, but the OGL for the Year Zero Engine only came available in 2019, so that may be why.

Even if we were to name Free League as a forerunner for future design, I'm curious what those design elements are that make people gravitate or take note of the Year Zero Engine. What does the YZE do well that make it unique or stand out from other systems?
Year Zero Engine has hit the right mix of probability and difficulty for many... as well as a number of nice features
  • D6 dice pool, 6=success, difficulties either adjust pool size or successes needed. Accept a consequence (or risk of consequence) to reroll non-6's one time, twice with the right talents.
    • Pushing also has the effect of magnifying the dice pool without rolling even more dice.
  • The short list of skills (12-16
  • the broad selection of talents
  • the relatively rapid advancement (increase something every 1-2 sessions)
  • Use of archetypes to give setting information in character generation
    • Archetypes are not exclusionary after character gen - learn what you can find to learn.
  • Genre specific elements
    • Setting appropriate hexcrawls (MYZ, Forbidden Lands)
    • some allow for mission based - Alien, Coriolis, Vaesen
    • two can be played easily as merchant focused games. (Alien and Coriolis)
    • Archetype selections
  • Excellent art to match the games.

The system can also put a character into play in 10 minutes if the player knows the mechanics. 20 if the GM has to guide them.

But more importantly - YZE is used for some very heavy-on-theme settings, and the mechanics tweaked for the setting.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Since you have experience with both games, do you think that the YZE would be a good fit for a Paleomythic "Stone & Sorcery" style game?
 

Since you have experience with both games, do you think that the YZE would be a good fit for a Paleomythic "Stone & Sorcery" style game?
With the right selections from the SRD? Sure. And yes, there IS an SRD. Note, I've only read Paleomythic; I've run 2 (Alien, Vaesen) and read 4 more YZE games (+MYZ, TftL, Coriolis, Forbidden Lands) and the SRD.

The SRD has a bunch of options...
I'd say that attribute damage as opposed to fixed damage steps or separate hit points is thematically suitable
I'd use pushing uses 1's=att damage.
the hex-crawl mode of Forbidden Lands looks right.
I'd use character levels closer to that in Vaesen than those in FL.
Vaesen has decent magic mechanics, but they're not in the SRD.

Link to SRD: Year Zero Engine OGL

I've also considered adapting FFG's End of the World engine for the paleo-setting.
 


Aldarc

Legend
With the right selections from the SRD? Sure. And yes, there IS an SRD. Note, I've only read Paleomythic; I've run 2 (Alien, Vaesen) and read 4 more YZE games (+MYZ, TftL, Coriolis, Forbidden Lands) and the SRD.

The SRD has a bunch of options...
I'd say that attribute damage as opposed to fixed damage steps or separate hit points is thematically suitable
I'd use pushing uses 1's=att damage.
the hex-crawl mode of Forbidden Lands looks right.
I'd use character levels closer to that in Vaesen than those in FL.
Vaesen has decent magic mechanics, but they're not in the SRD.

Link to SRD: Year Zero Engine OGL

I've also considered adapting FFG's End of the World engine for the paleo-setting.
Good to hear, though I am not necessarily thinking of publishing a game here, so adhering strictly to the SRD is of less concern for me than a basic rundown of "would it work well?" Paleomythic has degrading stone age gear, so that could also potentially work in the YZE as well.

I want to check Vaesen out anyway. I'm not interested in the Nordic part of the setting, but I am curious how well it would work for a setting I occasionally have run in Fate using Dresden Files Accelerated: a paranormal investigative club set in 1840s Vienna.
 

Good to hear, though I am not necessarily thinking of publishing a game here, so adhering strictly to the SRD is of less concern for me than a basic rundown of "would it work well?" Paleomythic has degrading stone age gear, so that could also potentially work in the YZE as well.

I want to check Vaesen out anyway. I'm not interested in the Nordic part of the setting, but I am curious how well it would work for a setting I occasionally have run in Fate using Dresden Files Accelerated: a paranormal investigative club set in 1840s Vienna.
Depends on how mind-bending you want the game. Vaesen puts mental damage just as PC-ending as physical...
and pushing is the #1 source of damage so far in my campaign.
If you don't want your PC's potentially going permanently insane, you'll want to adapt it somewhat.
The equipment list is largely mid 1800's, so that's a good fit; the SRD gives you other options to customize with. (The SRD includes a large number of the options from various games in the line.)
 

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