Origins of Specific Innovations

Reynard

Legend
Let's talk about specific innovations in TTRPG design and where they came from. This isn't eman to be an argument, just a friendly discussion about design and how the RPG industry has changed over time. I fully expect to be surprised at when certain innovations came into being, however obscure, probably well before I ever encountered them.

For example, what was the first game to introduce some sort of meta-currency such as drama points, that could be used to alter the outcome of die rolls? I don't think any of the early D&D editions had such mechanics, but I am not familiar enough with Traveller, Runequest or T&T to know if the concept came up very early in TTRPG design or happened later i the 80s proliferation.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
For example, what was the first game to introduce some sort of meta-currency such as drama points, that could be used to alter the outcome of die rolls?

The first one I encountered was TSR's Marvel Super Heroes (the FASERIP game, in 1984). I don't know if that's the first one ever made, though.
 


grankless

Explorer
A lot of modern (as in, 2000-onward) RPG design framework have their origins in the old forum The Forge - this is where a lot of the design ideas like gamist-narrative-simulation (the "Big Model") and fail-forward and the common idea of games trying to tell a specific story comes from. I desperately need to read "Tabletop RPG Design in Theory and Practice at the Forge, 2001–2012: Designs and Discussions (Palgrave Games in Context)" by William White, but it's mondo expensive. But designers like John Harper (Blades in the Dark), D. Vincent Baker (Apocalypse World, Dogs in the Vineyard), and Matt Wilson (Primetime Adventures) were involved in that, and ended up making some pretty major games with unique frameworks. Primetime Adventures is interesting because there were a lot of games in that era trying to research how to use playing cards in games.
 

Reynard

Legend
A lot of modern (as in, 2000-onward) RPG design framework have their origins in the old forum The Forge - this is where a lot of the design ideas like gamist-narrative-simulation (the "Big Model") and fail-forward and the common idea of games trying to tell a specific story comes from. I desperately need to read "Tabletop RPG Design in Theory and Practice at the Forge, 2001–2012: Designs and Discussions (Palgrave Games in Context)" by William White, but it's mondo expensive. But designers like John Harper (Blades in the Dark), D. Vincent Baker (Apocalypse World, Dogs in the Vineyard), and Matt Wilson (Primetime Adventures) were involved in that, and ended up making some pretty major games with unique frameworks. Primetime Adventures is interesting because there were a lot of games in that era trying to research how to use playing cards in games.
I'm more interested in the very origins of specific mechanics. For example, Deadlands incorporated playing cards and Everly incorporated tarot-like cards well in advance of The Forge. I'm not saying The Forge didn't produce specific innovations, just that I'd rather talk about those specifics than The Forge broadly.
 

DrunkonDuty

he/him
There were a couple of AD&D modules, Conan Unchained and Conan Against Darkness (1984) that used hero points. That was the first time I came across the concept. I didn't play FASERIP until a year or two after that.
 

niklinna

Abstraction is a tool that streamlines gameplay.
A lot of modern (as in, 2000-onward) RPG design framework have their origins in the old forum The Forge - this is where a lot of the design ideas like gamist-narrative-simulation (the "Big Model") and fail-forward and the common idea of games trying to tell a specific story comes from. I desperately need to read "Tabletop RPG Design in Theory and Practice at the Forge, 2001–2012: Designs and Discussions (Palgrave Games in Context)" by William White, but it's mondo expensive. But designers like John Harper (Blades in the Dark), D. Vincent Baker (Apocalypse World, Dogs in the Vineyard), and Matt Wilson (Primetime Adventures) were involved in that, and ended up making some pretty major games with unique frameworks. Primetime Adventures is interesting because there were a lot of games in that era trying to research how to use playing cards in games.
Castle Falkenstein (1994) used playing cards, both for basic resolution and for a form of spellcasting that involved building power up over time, rather than the instant-fire stuff typical of many RPGs. I don't know how popular Castle Falkenstein was.
 

niklinna

Abstraction is a tool that streamlines gameplay.
In Tunnels & Trolls I recall the main resolution mechanic involved each side building a single pool of dice for all their attacks, spells, and such, and rolling the giant piles. Whoever got the highest sum total won either the round or the fight (I forget which).
 
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pemerton

Legend
Classic Traveller Streetwise, in 1977, is the first instance I know of that uses a skill check to establish the setting elements that underpin success (in this particular case, the existence of crooks to provide you with illicit goodies).
 

aramis erak

Legend
Castle Falkenstein (1994) used playing cards, both for basic resolution and for a form of spellcasting that involved building power up over time, rather than the instant-fire stuff typical of many RPGs. I don't know how popular Castle Falkenstein was.
Not very, but it has its fans. (Me included.)
Many used the Interlock conversion in Comme Il Fault. There is a GURPS port.
 


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