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Redesigning the Game


Is d20 D&D too specific enough to cover the medieval fantasy genre?

I thought I would start this thread to see what people wanted in an FRPG. Now, assuming that everyone wants to play a medieval fantasy game, and D&D isn’t general enough for some people, so there are some questions to be asked.

  • Generic Engine – Should the mechanics of a system be general enough to cover every genre? So you can switch from medieval fantasy setting, to a modern setting, to a sci-fi setting. Or do you want something that has a base mechanic, and then everything else, taking it to genre to genre is different every time, like d20 D&D/Fantasy & d20 Modern? Should the mechanics be specific so that it gives a stronger sense of the setting/game, or should it be completely open to the GM so they can take the same rules, same mechanics, same skill system, same combat and magick systems and plug them into whatever genre you want?

  • Mechanics -- What kind of mechanics would you like to see? Is the linear additive-d20 system good enough for you, or would you like to see something more like a statistical bell-curve that 2dX like 2d6 or 2d20 would bring.

  • Sacred Cows -- What should remain as part of D&D? What makes D&D … well… D&D? What should be there? What needs to go?

  • Lethality/Power Escalation -- How lethal should the game be? Do you want characters starting off with low ‘health’ so that they can be killed with one shot? Do you want high level/experienced characters to be able to take the punishment that would kill 20, 50, 100 starting characters/commoners?

  • Standard Classes -- Should the game be flexible enough so that you can design your own character classless. Or should it be all about the classes? Or should it be something in between where you can design your own class, but they also give examples of the standard classes?

  • Scalability -- Do you want a game that can be played low-magick, no-magick, high-magick, with or without psionics, and whatever else your devious little minds can devise. Or do you want a game that is specific to the setting?

    Do you want a game where the mechanics can be scaled to be more/less lethal? So that you can switch between having ‘scenes’ of gritty realism and horror/suspense to swashbuckling superhuman heroics?

    Do you want a game that lends itself to high-level campaigns as easily as low-level?

  • Starting Characters -- Do you want a game where the starting characters are rubes and bumpkins? Or do you want something that starts you out as heroes right off the bat?

  • Feats and Abilities – Do you want a game where you have a number of feats and abilities which allow a character to do things. Effectively being one-shot skills/abilities that generally don’t scale with experience

  • Skills – Do you want a game where you just have a handful of skills, and your character concentrates on just them, thus becoming the sole character in a party to have a particular skill. Or do you want a game where your character can have a wide-range of skills (at the cost of not being able to specialize in a fewer number of skills). Thus the party may have more than one person who possesses one particular skill?

    Should the game that encourages you to have a handful of ‘secondary/cross-class’ skills. Or do you want it to be like D&D where you have a few number of points to spend on a few skills, and if you choose to pick non-contusive skills, it is at great determent to the usual skills than are more contusive to your character-concept/class.

  • Hit Points -- Do you want a game that has hit points which is a shoehorned combination of life/stamina/experience, or do you want a mechanic that deals adjusted damage to remove/incapacitate fixed health levels. In other words, your hit points stay fixed throughout the game, regardless of level, but your ability to handle damage gets better.

  • Preparation -- So, what can be done to make the game easier in regards to prep-time? Especially at higher levels?

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Imagicka said:
Is d20 D&D too specific enough to cover the medieval fantasy genre?

No. No one game can adequately cover the whole of that genre*. Nor, indeed, should a single game try to be all things to all people; better to do one thing well.

As for re-designing D&D, I've posted a partial list of changes I would make previously on other threads (notably this one).

* I should put a caveat on that, I guess. A single game, such as GURPS, could cover it... but only through the use of several different, and probably mutually-exclusive supplements. At some point, Game + Supplement 1 + Supplement 2 is a different beast from Game + Supplement X + Supplement Y.

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