Suggestions for RPGs or Social/Exploration rules modules to add to our 5e games?

Quickleaf

Legend
I'm at a weird juncture with my gaming. I've invested in 5e and overall I like 5e. I'm also getting exposed to a diversity of other games ranging from OSR like Beyond the Wall & OSE, to narrative stuff like PbtA and Blades in the Dark, to more niche stuff like Mage Against the Machine, etc.

However, I don't like how combat-centric D&D's rules are, nor how anemic its rules/guidelines are for things like chases, social interaction, exploration, etc. I increasingly find that I'm doing heavy design lifting during my game prep to get the desired outcome, when I'd be happier if the system was doing more of that heavy design lifting for me.

I ran two chases using 5e DMG's rules before we decided they just aren't fun. So I borrowed from a blog & from the James Bond RPG and wrote my own chase rules.

The last negotiation I ran, I kit-bashed my own question & answer system with various potential ways for players to gain success, and what their degree of successes meant. It took me more time than it should have to prepare that.

Things like AiME's Journey rules just seem like adding lots of rolling and changing "the circumstances under which you arrive", rather than adding anything substantive or giving more grist for the creative mill. Last campaign I kit-bashed my own ruined city rapid crawl rules to balance that action vs. discovery feel from Indiana Jones.

I realize this is casting a really wide net, but I'd love to be able to use my 5e resources & my friends' familiarity with 5e, while making it easier for me as GM (and them as players) to design, engage, and feel supported in going deeper into non-combat stuff.

Do you have suggestions for any RPGs or Social/Exploration rules modules that you think would add to our 5e games?
 

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aramis erak

Legend
For 5E? I can't think of any already for 5E, but I can warn you off Adventures in Rokugan... It mostly adds combat options, and ignores the tropes which endeared Rokugan to L5R fans over the last 6 editions (counting the D&D 3.5E Oriental Adventures/Rokugan as an edition)...

Since you're looking around, the best chases I've seen are in Feng Shui 2, and thos aren't great.

Social, the mechanics in The One Ring 1E are pretty good, but aren't an easy crossover.

The trick with using skill challenges is to not allow a roll until the character's narration justifies said roll... that includes chases as skill challenges.
One thing I've done in chases is movement base + Athletics roll... dashing same... so that there's less determinism, and the option to throw things in the way matters...
 

Cubicle 7 is currently doing a Kickstarter for 5e journey rules (project page), however, since it's based on the things they did with AiME, it might not be what you are looking for. You might also be able to adapt stuff from other games like Forbidden Lands which do hex crawls, but that would require some more work on your side.

Regarding the social part: maybe you can just adapt skill challenges from 4e for this purpose?
 


dragoner

solisrpg.com
M-Space has conflict pools which I found sort of cool, and so it is like one takes some characteristics and uses that as a pool of hit points, where then it is subtracted from by one using opposed rolls against each other.
 

aco175

Legend
I find the non-combat pillars of the game the hardest to get all the players on board with. Some like a heavy roleplay and others just say they try to lie and want to roll some dice. There is all the rules for combat and none for the rest. Some would say that it is one of the strengths of the game, but I would like something as well, even a better skill challenge set of rules like 4e had. I do not get to play with other groups that much and would be interested in others ideas as well. Not sure if newer players get tied to the story and the combat part from playing video games or if I'm missing the mark.

The other part of this that is hard to separate is the PC sheet and the combat part is laid out and not something I as the play need to be able to do. The roleplay and thinking as a PC with 18 intelligence is not something people can 'just do'. It is easy to say I swing my sword and roll, so why not say I make Deception and roll? There is also the argument of my PC would know how to talk to someone and lie since he grew up doing it and I did not, or be able to seduce wenches, or pick pocket, etc.

Partially the same with exploration and game knowledge. We had some other threads on this and if the PC growing up on the border of Troll Forrest would know about trolls and fire or if he is just 1st level, he knows nothing about monsters in the world. When a player asks if his PC knows anything about the local Duke since he grew up there and the DM makes him roll or does he give him some information and makes the other PC roll since he grew up 1000 miles away and wanted to be a hermit.

I guess I do not have any grand answers.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
@aco175 I had an interesting conversation with a fellow 5e GM about knowledge/lore skills, and he distinguished "knowledge for the sake of knowing" vs "knowledge that is applied in the moment", and we came to the conclusion that the first type we generally don't call for a roll and prefer to just disseminate info according to the PC's background, whereas for the second type that's when we tend to call for a roll. I thought that was an interesting example of how the 5e game is actually played (at our tables), yet which deviates from how it is written.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Regarding the social part: maybe you can just adapt skill challenges from 4e for this purpose?
Yeah, I've actually borrowed more from Star Wars Saga's Galaxy of Intrigue book which has, AFAICT, a superior treatment of skill challenges than anything 4e produced. The trick with skill challenges is that it's a very very broad system, as opposed to a tailored well-fitted system, which means lots of work on the DM's part. I mean, imagine if I had to kitbash rules for combat from a more general action resolution system every time I ran a combat, right?
 


The trick with skill challenges is that it's a very very broad system, as opposed to a tailored well-fitted system, which means lots of work on the DM's part. I mean, imagine if I had to kitbash rules for combat from a more general action resolution system every time I ran a combat, right?
I agree that it seems like a rather unsatisfactory option. The trouble is that the more elaborate systems for social combat I have encountered in trad games like D&D felt rather disappointing. Anything that's more than a handful of skill roles complicates things too much for me (for exploration tasks, I'm willing to accept a bit more procedure).
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Do you have suggestions for any RPGs or Social/Exploration rules modules that you think would add to our 5e games?

A quick and easy mechanic that you can "drag and drop" into 5E are Clocks from Blades in the Dark. You can set up a lot of situations with Clocks, and it's easy to track... you just jot it down on scrap paper and mark things as you go. You can use competing clocks... one indicating success and one for failure. You can use them in short individual scenes, or to mark progress toward a goal over a longer period of time.

You may need to tweak things a bit to fit the 5E system... like establishing a tiered DC. Like DC 15 mark one tick on the clock, DC 20 mark two. That kind of thing.

I've used Clocks in D&D that way in the past, and it's pretty easily and quickly handled at the table, and it's easily understood by the players.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I'm unfamiliar with The One Ring. Could you share what stands out about the social rules from that game for you?
In 1st Ed...
you have a budget of failed social rolls, called "tolerance" before they stop listening. You have a number of required successes to accomplish various levels of beneficial outcomes; possibly on multiple different goal tracks. Tolerance is generated from the suitable score; it is modified for racial animosities and situation.

So, let's say you want Thranduil to let you travel the Elf-road, and to let you rent elf steeds. the first shouldn't be too hard... but the second? Insane. GM also adds "without sending guards..."
Party has a leader of Valor 3, but has a dwarf, So tolerance is reduced by 1, so only two failures...
GM creates two tracks:
SuccessesRoadHorses
0No - go aroundNo
1-2Yes, but with a delay and with a few Elf nannys, they keep any treasure.Normal horses, increased cost
3-4Sends a few warriors to report back; They take half of any treasures foundNormal horses, normal costs
5-7Sure, guide/spy sent with, treasure shareElf trained horses, normal costs for horses
8+Send without guideElf-steeds, 2 TP each for non-wood-elves, 1 TP for each wood elf
One could separate out the supervision, or make it a counterpoint track by an opposing NPC... but with such low tolerance, the narrations better be good so the TNs get set lower. And keep the dwarf quiet...
 

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