log in or register to remove this ad

 

Next Gen Games?

Aldarc

Legend
A little bit off-topic but related: there are some games which seem like they should have had a big impact/influence but seem not to have.

One from the late 80s is Prince Valiant. One from the late 90s is Maelstrom Storytelling.

These make me think of two questions:

(1) Why does the impact not happen that seems like it should have done;

(2) What are the current games that aren't having the impact/influence that they should? (This one is a bit harder of course from our current vantage point!)
As a follow-up to this post, I recently heard @Cam Banks list Pendragon as his favorite RPG of all time, so it's definitely possible that Prince Valiant's influence can be felt in games you like, such as Marvel Heroic Roleplaying and the Cortex system.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I've only played one campaign of Apocalypse World and that was many years ago. Like those people who are fans of Flea, I'm not quiet sure if or how AW has influenced gaming in the last few years. I'm not sure what influence AW has had on games released since 2010. Like Burning Wheel, AW is one of those games that people talked a ton about when it was released but these days I don't see anyone talking about it.
Frankly, I think PbtA has been a huge influence on RPG design in the past 10 years. I also think that games like Dungeon World, in particular, have been quite popular. I know I can easily get a DW game going and it is quite well-received. This is partly because of its genre-overlap with D&D, perhaps (people think "Oh, its like D&D, I can play this"). Of course it is actually NOTHING like D&D at all, virtually the antithesis of D&D in fact. This is what makes it so significant, because it has brought a whole new awareness of this type of gaming to a lot of rather trad RPG players.

And I see that the influence of PbtA spread. Newer games like BitD are clearly influenced by it, and even based on it to a degree. These are relatively popular games. Heck, PbtA is one of the most adaptable frameworks out there too. You can quite easily construct a wide range of games around it because of the lightweight infrastructure (you really just need playbooks and a bit of structure to reflect the genre conventions and goals). It maybe hard to make a REALLY GOOD PbtA game, that takes a good eye, but no worse than any other, and the investment is low!

Of course, the most recent iterations of FATE could be said to be equally easy to adapt, but it has had a lot less impact in the gaming world IME. A lot of games do owe a debt to stuff that FATE codified back in the early 2000's, but things seem to have moved on, and I think a lot of people found it too 'technical' and dry in its approach. Today's games seem much more intensely thematic at their core. This is probably the most important trend, a very high degree of thematic focus.
 

@pemerton I think there is also just 'fate' involved in game's influence. Pendragon was published by Greg Stafford in 1985. It was the first game in this genre, and one of the first really highly thematic RPGs that had no aspirations to be 'generic'. Many people picked it up and, whatever its flaws, it became the defacto standard in this genre. 4 years later Stafford published Prince Valiant, which essentially covers the exact same genre! I think there were few customers of Chaosium who bothered to pick up this game, as they already had an offering, by the same company no less, which covered the subject adequately.

So the game kind of sunk without a trace. It certainly saw SOME play, but I never actually saw a copy in use, ever, myself. I tend to agree with you that it is a tighter and 'cleaner' game and is more effective than Pendragon at getting to the nuts and bolts of the genre and evoking the desired style of play. However, I think Pendragon, being more closely aligned with BRP, was easy to digest, and there was a LOT of 'background' detail built into the game. It also has a lot of support for a wide variety of different sorts of characters.

Prince Valiant is a decent system (I like PACE, which is basically a diceless simplification of PV). However it is SO simple and streamlined that it can be difficult to elaborate characters. Games are often more successful when they present concrete mechanical goals and mechanically generate 'story flow'. Pendragon really does that in spades with its "and in the spring (toss the dice)." PV certainly can flow well, but I think it is less adept at this than some later systems, like PbtA. Because it is so simple it can be difficult to really see "where am I going with my character?"

Interestingly, the complexity of a game's mechanics don't necessarily produce automatic velocity. I always found this problem to exist in Traveler as well! Its hard to see what the motivation for PCs IS. Either you have a ship, which you could just sell and live on the proceeds comfortably for life, or you are just a drifter. Nothing really PROPELS the game forward. The patron system (or alternatively the mortgage payment on your 200 ton free trader) may be enough, but it is a little inconsistent. The milieu is rich enough to kind of paper this over, but lack of real character advancement, even in social and economic terms, usually eventually spells the end to any Traveler campaign. I didn't play PV, but I have a suspicion something similar happens there eventually.

And this, frankly, is why D&D is still utterly dominant. This is the strongest thing players WANT in an RPG is a strong sense of character growth and progression, IN A MECHANICAL AND MATERIAL SENSE. Most people will play a thematic RPG with limited goals, but it will be a sideline. A D&D campaign can go for 20 years!
 

zarionofarabel

Adventurer
Uh, 2d20, cause they have a ton of recognizable IPs under their belt. I also see PbtA games mentioned on almost every single "suggest a game" threads on every forum I read.
 

Looking at the 'Story Bones' rules, and notes on how they differ from the full Maelstrom RP, I can definitely see where it had a strong influence on FATE, and probably via that on a number of other games. Prince Valiant is pretty similar as well, and even a bit earlier. I think you could argue that most of these games are pretty closely related, and thus also closely related to SoC, and numerous other similar games.

The main advances I see beyond that have been in terms of the process of framing scenes and driving action. PbtA is mechanically its own thing, not really related to the 'FATE-like' designs, but also a bit different in terms of narrative structuring. It sort of seems like these two main lines have been exchanging more lately though.
 

pemerton

Legend
Prince Valiant is a decent system (I like PACE, which is basically a diceless simplification of PV). However it is SO simple and streamlined that it can be difficult to elaborate characters. Games are often more successful when they present concrete mechanical goals and mechanically generate 'story flow'.

<snip>

Interestingly, the complexity of a game's mechanics don't necessarily produce automatic velocity. I always found this problem to exist in Traveler as well! Its hard to see what the motivation for PCs IS. Either you have a ship, which you could just sell and live on the proceeds comfortably for life, or you are just a drifter. Nothing really PROPELS the game forward. The patron system (or alternatively the mortgage payment on your 200 ton free trader) may be enough, but it is a little inconsistent. The milieu is rich enough to kind of paper this over, but lack of real character advancement, even in social and economic terms, usually eventually spells the end to any Traveler campaign. I didn't play PV, but I have a suspicion something similar happens there eventually.
Prince Valiant has mechanical advancement - via Fame, with every 1,000 points allowing a new skill point - and so differs from Classic Traveller at least in that respect. Also in respect of mechanical complexity, as you note.

It's not clear how many Fame per session Greg Stafford envisaged, but I think less than what I've been awarding in our game (about 800 Fame per session, so that in 14 session Fame totals for the two PC knights have grown from the starting 800 to 12,000-ish).

And this, frankly, is why D&D is still utterly dominant. This is the strongest thing players WANT in an RPG is a strong sense of character growth and progression, IN A MECHANICAL AND MATERIAL SENSE. Most people will play a thematic RPG with limited goals, but it will be a sideline. A D&D campaign can go for 20 years!
I'm not sure how long our Prince Valiant game can last, but not 20 years! Likewise Classic Traveller.

The issue with progression in Traveller compared to D&D was noted back in the late 70s/early 80s - I'm thinking multiple observations to that effect in early White Dwarfs. D&D has dungeon-bashing and XP-earning as a default activity that Traveller lacks.

These days I actually see this more as a strength of Traveller! But the players have noted the lack of progression options. (Though also seem to have missed that they've picked p a NPC with Instruction-2 and Liaison-2).

Looking at the 'Story Bones' rules, and notes on how they differ from the full Maelstrom RP, I can definitely see where it had a strong influence on FATE, and probably via that on a number of other games. Prince Valiant is pretty similar as well, and even a bit earlier. I think you could argue that most of these games are pretty closely related, and thus also closely related to SoC, and numerous other similar games.
There is some resemblance between Maelstrom/Story Bones and Fate, though the former has tighter scene resolution. But is perhaps a bit stingy on Descriptors.

It's dice pool system makes it closer to Prince Valiant than Fate, but Prince Valiant doesn't have anything like Descriptors.

It's also got some resemblance to HeroWars/Quest - free Descriptors, and scene resolution - though HW/Q doesn't have an analogue to burning a Descriptor, which is more like a Burning Wheel call-on trait or a 4e encounter power.

The main advances I see beyond that have been in terms of the process of framing scenes and driving action. PbtA is mechanically its own thing, not really related to the 'FATE-like' designs, but also a bit different in terms of narrative structuring. It sort of seems like these two main lines have been exchanging more lately though.
PbtA is not scene-based. Of the classic games I think it's more like Traveller in its resolution, but with a theme/story orientation that Traveller is lacking.
 

Prince Valiant has mechanical advancement - via Fame, with every 1,000 points allowing a new skill point - and so differs from Classic Traveller at least in that respect. Also in respect of mechanical complexity, as you note.

It's not clear how many Fame per session Greg Stafford envisaged, but I think less than what I've been awarding in our game (about 800 Fame per session, so that in 14 session Fame totals for the two PC knights have grown from the starting 800 to 12,000-ish).


I'm not sure how long our Prince Valiant game can last, but not 20 years! Likewise Classic Traveller.

The issue with progression in Traveller compared to D&D was noted back in the late 70s/early 80s - I'm thinking multiple observations to that effect in early White Dwarfs. D&D has dungeon-bashing and XP-earning as a default activity that Traveller lacks.

These days I actually see this more as a strength of Traveller! But the players have noted the lack of progression options. (Though also seem to have missed that they've picked p a NPC with Instruction-2 and Liaison-2).


There is some resemblance between Maelstrom/Story Bones and Fate, though the former has tighter scene resolution. But is perhaps a bit stingy on Descriptors.

It's dice pool system makes it closer to Prince Valiant than Fate, but Prince Valiant doesn't have anything like Descriptors.

It's also got some resemblance to HeroWars/Quest - free Descriptors, and scene resolution - though HW/Q doesn't have an analogue to burning a Descriptor, which is more like a Burning Wheel call-on trait or a 4e encounter power.


PbtA is not scene-based. Of the classic games I think it's more like Traveller in its resolution, but with a theme/story orientation that Traveller is lacking.
Yeah, I think Traveler's milieu really gives it a pretty strong theme. It just isn't connected in a very direct way to the action. You have to take a detour through patrons, trade rules, and such to get there. I mean, the Traveler standard 'Imperium' universe, or anything similar built on the random sector/planet/etc generator, will certainly throw up a lot of situations where action is ripe. The game just doesn't guide the referee in framing scenes and doesn't have a mechanism to bring in player 'meta-game' influence on that, nor to regulate where and how things go, or pacing, outside of just checks, and a few subsystems.

So, I found that Traveler will bog. I can get past that, particularly nowadays it isn't THAT hard to come up with ideas of ways to 'snowball' the action, but I can remember quite a few points in early campaigns where "what next?" sort of just sunk that game. This really is, IMHO, the principle strength of D&D. Its driving factors may be quite simple, protean even, but that is exactly their strength. You're shown a milieu where the mechanical expression of the rules is "get really powerful, amass treasure and magic and then rule the world!" Isn't that basically everyone's most primal fantasy?
 

pemerton

Legend
I found that Traveler will bog. I can get past that, particularly nowadays
Agreed on both counts. I've tried to work fairly hard in my current Traveller play to avoid bogging down. I'm doing that using techniques that don't really require anything beyond what the original books present, but that aren't themselves explained in those books. This is everything from overlaying story onto patron encounters, to random encounters (especially with starships), to making sense of randomly generated planets, etc.

This really is, IMHO, the principle strength of D&D. Its driving factors may be quite simple, protean even, but that is exactly their strength. You're shown a milieu where the mechanical expression of the rules is "get really powerful, amass treasure and magic and then rule the world!" Isn't that basically everyone's most primal fantasy?
As so often happens, I'm reminded of this remark from Ron Edwards in his second "fantasy heartbreakers" review:

The key assumption throughout all these games is that if a gaming experience is to be intelligent (and all Fantasy Heartbreakers make this claim), then the most players can be relied upon to provide is kind of the "Id" of play - strategizing, killing, and conniving throughout the session. They are the raw energy, the driving "go," and the GM's role is to say, "You just scrap, strive, and kill, and I'll show ya, with this book, how it's all a brilliant evocative fantasy."​

He goes on:

It's not Illusionism - there's no illusion at all, just movement across the landscape and the willingness to fight as the baseline player things to do. At worst, the players are apparently slathering kill-counters using simple alignment systems to set the bar for a given group (e.g. Deathstalkers); sometimes, they are encouraged to give characters "personality" like "hates fish" or "likes fancy clothes"; and most of the time, they're just absent from the text, "Player who? Character who?" (e.g. Undiscovered). The Explorative, imaginative pleasure experienced by a player - and most importantly, communicated among players - simply doesn't factor into play at all, even in the more Simulationist Fantasy Heartbreakers, which are universally centered on Setting.

I think this is a serious problem for fantasy role-playing design. It's very, very hard to break out of D&D Fantasy assumptions for many people, and the first step, I think, is to generate the idea that protagonism (for any GNS mode) can mean more than energy and ego. These are fine things, of course, but it strikes me that playing with them as the sole elements provided by the players is a recipe for Social Contract breakdown.​

Which is, of course, the flipside of the default D&D playstyle, and - in my experience, at least - one major reason why many D&D campaigns don't last 20 years!

One way to try and make sense of APs, in my view, is as a device for creating a broadly D&D experience but - by substituting "finishing the AP" for "going out, exploring, killing and looting" - trying to avoid that social contract breakdown (whether in the form of Monty Haul, killer DM, or some other variation).
 

Agreed on both counts. I've tried to work fairly hard in my current Traveller play to avoid bogging down. I'm doing that using techniques that don't really require anything beyond what the original books present, but that aren't themselves explained in those books. This is everything from overlaying story onto patron encounters, to random encounters (especially with starships), to making sense of randomly generated planets, etc.


As so often happens, I'm reminded of this remark from Ron Edwards in his second "fantasy heartbreakers" review:

The key assumption throughout all these games is that if a gaming experience is to be intelligent (and all Fantasy Heartbreakers make this claim), then the most players can be relied upon to provide is kind of the "Id" of play - strategizing, killing, and conniving throughout the session. They are the raw energy, the driving "go," and the GM's role is to say, "You just scrap, strive, and kill, and I'll show ya, with this book, how it's all a brilliant evocative fantasy."​

He goes on:

It's not Illusionism - there's no illusion at all, just movement across the landscape and the willingness to fight as the baseline player things to do. At worst, the players are apparently slathering kill-counters using simple alignment systems to set the bar for a given group (e.g. Deathstalkers); sometimes, they are encouraged to give characters "personality" like "hates fish" or "likes fancy clothes"; and most of the time, they're just absent from the text, "Player who? Character who?" (e.g. Undiscovered). The Explorative, imaginative pleasure experienced by a player - and most importantly, communicated among players - simply doesn't factor into play at all, even in the more Simulationist Fantasy Heartbreakers, which are universally centered on Setting.​
I think this is a serious problem for fantasy role-playing design. It's very, very hard to break out of D&D Fantasy assumptions for many people, and the first step, I think, is to generate the idea that protagonism (for any GNS mode) can mean more than energy and ego. These are fine things, of course, but it strikes me that playing with them as the sole elements provided by the players is a recipe for Social Contract breakdown.​

Which is, of course, the flipside of the default D&D playstyle, and - in my experience, at least - one major reason why many D&D campaigns don't last 20 years!

One way to try and make sense of APs, in my view, is as a device for creating a broadly D&D experience but - by substituting "finishing the AP" for "going out, exploring, killing and looting" - trying to avoid that social contract breakdown (whether in the form of Monty Haul, killer DM, or some other variation).
Well, I would say there are many people who are going to play for whom the sort of basic straightforward formula at the core of D&D seems perfect to them. They're not all that caught up in motives or sophisticated story ideas. They may be willing to entertain some 'plot hooks' and carry forward on the basis of them, but their focus is on the basic raw 'id' level experience of facing danger and achieving power and wealth, of 'leveling up' and achieving the competitive goals of the game (of which D&D has by far the most developed sense AFAIK).

I mean, you could then explore WotC's flavor of 'player motivations', and see how they are basically variations on this theme, or overlay it a bit with some slightly more sophisticated ancillaries (IE you want to explore the fantasy world, but doing so is basically still a process of getting stronger so you can go 'deeper into the dungeon').

And yes, players do evince more sophisticated desires, or conflicting aims, at times. These can lead to some sort of breakdown in the social contract of a game. Say where a given player is more interested in character development (a 'roleplaying agenda') and is thwarted by her fellows desire to just loot the dungeon and be damned with any justifications or doubts about slaughtering orc families (simplistic one, but it comes up often).

Traveler definitely envisages use of things like patrons and random encounters, the Psionics Institute, the TAS, etc. as elements to introduce driving 'plot hooks', but it really does lack the 'id' part, to an extent. The problem this game has is really that it is trapped in its fairly hard 'gritty' sci-fi milieu. If you pick up a copy of d6 Space, the 'serial numbers filed off' version of d6 Star Wars, you can see the difference. In that game the dice pool mechanics and the way combat works, plus the mechanics of 'super powers' and how they progress and snowball in effectiveness, makes it a totally different game. In that milieu mythic characters arise to grapple with the fate of worlds, and the rules pretty much support that. It is still, very loosely, a type of sci-fi or sci-fantasy, but it doesn't run into the genre limits that Traveler does.

Of course, the d6 system (either version) never really eclipsed Traveler as a sci-fi RPG. I think that may be more because outright fantasy, like D&D, is largely already ensconced in that niche. It has been a pretty popular game, but I did find that it had its own pitfalls. Traveler games can break down from insufficient 'velocity' and sense of 'progression', but d6 games tended to just become gonzo and melt! I guess if you fully go with it and just amp up the gonzo to max, that's fine, but it does put a limit on any given game. Eventually the PCs will just fly off the top of the chart and start flying around killing starships in their underwear.

Anyway, d6 isn't any better at explicit narrative than Traveler or D&D, and they all three represent pretty much 'trad' games, albeit you can see glimmers in all of them of what Vince is talking about. I just think that Vince always missed the point that, for 75% or even 90% of gamers, id is enough most of the time.
 

pemerton

Legend
I would say there are many people who are going to play for whom the sort of basic straightforward formula at the core of D&D seems perfect to them. They're not all that caught up in motives or sophisticated story ideas. They may be willing to entertain some 'plot hooks' and carry forward on the basis of them, but their focus is on the basic raw 'id' level experience of facing danger and achieving power and wealth, of 'leveling up' and achieving the competitive goals of the game (of which D&D has by far the most developed sense AFAIK).

<snip>

players do evince more sophisticated desires, or conflicting aims, at times. These can lead to some sort of breakdown in the social contract of a game. Say where a given player is more interested in character development (a 'roleplaying agenda') and is thwarted by her fellows desire to just loot the dungeon and be damned with any justifications or doubts about slaughtering orc families (simplistic one, but it comes up often).

<snip>

I just think that Vince always missed the point that, for 75% or even 90% of gamers, id is enough most of the time.
In this case it's Ron rather than Vince.

Part of what I took his point to be - and it's one I've seen play out - is that even at the id level there can be social contract breakdown - ranging from arguments about how many orcs were caught in the fireball, to whether or not the amount of treasure in the dungeon is fair, to whether or not the GM is using powerful NPCs to boss the PCs (and thus the players) around.

I think the AP is actually a fairly clever solution to this particular problem.
 

In this case it's Ron rather than Vince.
Doh!
Part of what I took his point to be - and it's one I've seen play out - is that even at the id level there can be social contract breakdown - ranging from arguments about how many orcs were caught in the fireball, to whether or not the amount of treasure in the dungeon is fair, to whether or not the GM is using powerful NPCs to boss the PCs (and thus the players) around.

I think the AP is actually a fairly clever solution to this particular problem.
Well, yes, there can be disputes in ANY game. I'm not sure what APs do to solve some of those basic "what happened when I tried to do X?" disputes. They generally arise due to unclear understanding (lack of consensus on) what the fictional positioning (or in the orc case LITERAL positioning) is...
The other examples, yes, an AP/Module will at least absolve the local DM of responsibility, he can always say that "this is how much treasure is in the module" or "the module says this boss does X, I didn't write it." Of course the table may or may not buy that!

I think a more narrative approach is likely to avoid some of the basic confusion problems, or at least often resolve them more like "Oh, I guess we can go with that interpretation, whatever..." since everyone is likely to have some further input down the line that can get them what they wanted anyway. And yes, ideally you would never have an NPC 'bossing the party around' except as part of some framing they invited to start with. However, there is no specific guarantee that the players will LIKE the framing they get. I mean, GMs can misjudge or just be bad at that part of their job...

I think there's elements of play that go smoother with a more narrative kind of game that is thus less 'id', but I suspect there's sort of a 'law of preservation of conflict' that operates. If the people at the table don't mesh, no set of rules is going to fix that, they're just going to argue over different things...
 

pemerton

Legend
Well, yes, there can be disputes in ANY game. I'm not sure what APs do to solve some of those basic "what happened when I tried to do X?" disputes. They generally arise due to unclear understanding (lack of consensus on) what the fictional positioning (or in the orc case LITERAL positioning) is...
The other examples, yes, an AP/Module will at least absolve the local DM of responsibility, he can always say that "this is how much treasure is in the module" or "the module says this boss does X, I didn't write it." Of course the table may or may not buy that!
Your second paragraph was what I had in mind, yes.

With the first: there can still be disputes about fictional positioning etc, but the AP framework creates an overarching context for the GM to make decisions about what is "fair" opposition, etc. And it creates a framework for the use of fairly high degrees of GM force at key moments.

As you know I'm not personally the biggest fan of GM force as a resolution method, but it seems fairly common and the AP creates a framework which makes it appear less arbitrary (this is where the point in the second para feeds back into the first).
 

Aldarc

Legend
A @pemerton-inspired necro.

Uh, 2d20, cause they have a ton of recognizable IPs under their belt. I also see PbtA games mentioned on almost every single "suggest a game" threads on every forum I read.
After seeing the Dune character sheet and having heard @aramis erak allude a bit to how various iterations of 2d20 games have shifted the system, though he is welcome to correct me, I'm curious about the future of this system as well.
 


Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
(joining this necro due to x-post from another thread)
You know, the thing about PbtA is that it feels "easy" to create a PbtA game (hint: it's not) because the structure feels really apparent: Playbooks, Moves that include 6-, 7-9, 10+ results, Agendas, Principles and boom - you've got yourself a PbtA game. And at the same time creating all that stuff REQUIRES you to integrate setting into the rules. If you take a look at the playbook names between Dungeon World, Apocalypse World, The Veil, Urban Shadows, Monsterhearts ad infinitum you immediately can tell what the game is based on just the names of the playbooks. Because that was required, it also required the creator to have a strong vision of their setting that they could communicate via the rules. This in turn gave readers (GMs and Players both) a strong sense of the vision - and therefore made play more easily replicate the cultural touchstones that gave birth to the setting in the first place.


I think that's why PbtA took off so strong in the first 3/4s of the 10's. That said, just about every possible cultural touchstone that resonates with the RPG nerdiverse has been mined - so the game is played out.

I feel like whatever comes next is going to also very strongly encourage setting melded with rules as well as provide a sense of simplicity (whether illusionary as in PbtA or real as in Descended from the Queen). Honestly, my expectation is that the next wave of games are going to be more along the lines of For the Queen rather than more traditional games like Y0E or BRP/Pendragon or Gumshoe.

I also curious to see what 2020's forcing function for 99% of us to move to online gaming how that will impact game design going forward. Based on what I've seen said on this forum and others is that a good proportion of folks won't be going back to f2f games, or those will be a rarity.
 

Campbell

Legend
Right now I'm really interested in games like The Nightmares Underneath and Necrolautinus that utilize indie and OSR techniques in interesting fusions. I'll have more when I'm actually able to wrap my head around Necrolautinus. Just came in the mail.

 

(joining this necro due to x-post from another thread)
You know, the thing about PbtA is that it feels "easy" to create a PbtA game (hint: it's not) because the structure feels really apparent: Playbooks, Moves that include 6-, 7-9, 10+ results, Agendas, Principles and boom - you've got yourself a PbtA game. And at the same time creating all that stuff REQUIRES you to integrate setting into the rules. If you take a look at the playbook names between Dungeon World, Apocalypse World, The Veil, Urban Shadows, Monsterhearts ad infinitum you immediately can tell what the game is based on just the names of the playbooks. Because that was required, it also required the creator to have a strong vision of their setting that they could communicate via the rules. This in turn gave readers (GMs and Players both) a strong sense of the vision - and therefore made play more easily replicate the cultural touchstones that gave birth to the setting in the first place.


I think that's why PbtA took off so strong in the first 3/4s of the 10's. That said, just about every possible cultural touchstone that resonates with the RPG nerdiverse has been mined - so the game is played out.

I feel like whatever comes next is going to also very strongly encourage setting melded with rules as well as provide a sense of simplicity (whether illusionary as in PbtA or real as in Descended from the Queen). Honestly, my expectation is that the next wave of games are going to be more along the lines of For the Queen rather than more traditional games like Y0E or BRP/Pendragon or Gumshoe.

I also curious to see what 2020's forcing function for 99% of us to move to online gaming how that will impact game design going forward. Based on what I've seen said on this forum and others is that a good proportion of folks won't be going back to f2f games, or those will be a rarity.
Well.... I think it is fair to say that PbtA games are very tightly defined in terms of the genre, tone, and general milieu, but they need not be literally SETTING specific. That is, Dungeon World for example really is not more setting specific than D&D. Each one has a pretty tightly defined genre, but you can set DW games in a wide variety of worlds, probably anything that would work for D&D. So, I don't see that the design is less flexible than that of earlier RPGs.

Nor were most earlier RPGs mostly exceptionally broad in their genre/tone. If you think of just TSR games, you had Boot Hill (very very niche game), MA/GW is also quite niche, 007, Indiana Jones, MSH, and even Star Frontiers. This is typical of games originating in the late 70's and early 80's. Certain companies tried to build "general systems", but I question how successful that was. GURPS enjoyed some success, for a while, but it was always kind of a second choice in any given genre to some more niche game. BRP-derived games have been a bit more successful, but nowadays seem fairly dated, though a couple of them are still reasonably popular. In any case, no specific game in either line does more than one specific thing well.

So, yes, PbtA games CAN be pretty narrow, like AW itself, or really niche games like Monster Hearts, but they can also be as general as pretty much any other RPG, such as D&D is.

Also, while I think making any really good RPG is a pretty significant piece of work that requires a lot of expertise these days, I'm not sure the PbtA 'road map' is any harder to implement than any other. I mean, if you look at games like BitD, Ironsworn, Strike!, more recent vintages of FATE and Burning Wheel, I don't think they were easier to design, and all probably have equally heavily crafted and finally tuned core structure. There is nothing simple about designing a good RPG. This is probably why, these days, people generally choose to start with an existing game, abstract away just the essence of it, and reapply it again and again to new niches. In this sense PbtA seems really successful and would seem to represent the easiest path...
 

Aldarc

Legend
Right now I'm really interested in games like The Nightmares Underneath and Necrolautinus that utilize indie and OSR techniques in interesting fusions. I'll have more when I'm actually able to wrap my head around Necrolautinus. Just came in the mail.
Necrolautinus sounds interesting. It reminds me quite heavily of my Underworld campaign project where the characters find themselves dead in a realm of the Underworld designated for the broken or lost souls. The characters quest through the Underworld searching for their memories while also using bits and pieces of memories from others they find elsewhere in the hopes of attaining a better fate. There were modified versions that would use either the Cypher System, Black Hack, or ICRPG depending on which system the players felt in the mood to use.
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top