The Sort of TTRPGs You Want More (and Less) Of

Aldarc

Legend
Oh I love the setting. Or, probably more accurately, I love the presentation of the setting and I love how the setting and the rules work together.

But to me, Blades works so well because the rules and setting bounce off each other in such interesting ways.
To each their own. But Duskvol and its surrounding world failed to impress me. I get its meta-contextual purpose, largely to prevent players from escaping the consequences of their actions in the city, but the city and the world feel flat and two-dimensional to me. So if the setting and rules work together, but the setting is flat, then that also leads to a problem with the everything else.

I do like the rules of the game, and what the game achieves, but the setting is my biggest hurdle for playing the game because it's not the sort of setting that I particularly like even if I like what the mechanics are doing and how they could be ported to other sorts of games.

So far, the Forged in the Dark system has been used for a couple of other genres, most notably sci-fi in Scum and Villainy and fantasy military in Band of Blades. Both are solid, and make some necessary tweaks to rig the system for the new setting. There are also plenty of other hacks, of varying degrees of quality. I think the system can be used for other games, if properly crafted.
I am aware of these settings. The science fantasy space opera setting of Scum and Villainy probably presents the most generic setting so far of the FitD games we have been discussing. Band of Blades is arguably far more setting specific in its scope than Blades in the Dark.

Generic systems are difficult for me. I think some systems can indeed serve as a chassis for multiple games, such as PbtA, but still need strong design choices that make them unique.
But this is also why I sometimes dislike setting-specific systems. If I dislike the connected setting, then I have no interest in playing the system or game. So I have to find something that enables me to create the sort of game that I am looking to run or play.

So for me one of the undeniable strengths of generic systems, is that I can use them as a toolkit for the sort of settings that I would like to run. With PbtA, I would need to find a setting that is appropriate. Failing that, I would have to devise entire setting-appropriate playbooks and/or moves. Going back to True20, however, it may be just readjusting the classes a bit and providing an acceptable list of setting-appropriate powers. The transparent math even showed how you can adjust the scaling of powers.

The flexibility of its toolkit is also what I enjoy about Fate. Many of the settings that Evil Hat has published as supplements are often meant to serve as examples for different ways you can utilize the Fate toolkit.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

pemerton

Legend
I'd be very interested in an adaptation of Prince Valiant to do Star Wars. (And maybe it's already been done - I haven't looked very hard.) I've thought a bit about this myself in an idle fashion, but haven't actually taken it beyond that.
 

atanakar

Hero
I want RPGs like Numenera, which originally came out as a single book, with a system created to support the amazing setting. They managed to come out with The Strange, which was also very unique. But their Cypher System generic-swiss-army-knife-rulebook, is really not something I am looking for anymore. I want to buy a complete experience. In the same vein Eclipse Phase was a great discovery.
 

practicalm

Explorer
Yes - just one more.

One game that steals-tweaks-combines the best features of lots of other games (and copyright be damned!) into one, modular enough and flexible enough to support pretty much any playstyle or setting or philosophy while still at its core being the same game. A game that doesn't tie itself to one mechanic for everything but is willing to use different mechanics to accomplish different tasks. A game that might be a bit complex to start with but that after learning it once you're set for life.

One game to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. :)

Some how I think this XKCD is appropriate
standards.png
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
@Aldarc I hear you. When the setting is such a strong part of the game, it had better appeal. I find Doskvol to be an interesting collection of elements, given just enough dimension so that I can take it and make it my own. But as you say, to each their own.

I’ve only recently picked up Fate, so I’m not familiar enough with it yet to give much of an opinion. I know it’s generally highly regarded, though, so I’m optimistic. I think Savage Worlds is the system I tend to think of when it comes to a game that claims to be able to “do it all”, and although I know many people like it, I just can’t seem to get into it.

I’ve seen you mention True20 here and in some other recent threads; I’m not sure I know it. What games was it used for? What publisher?
 


Whatever sort of games you want to see more of, whether that is defined by mechanics, setting, or both.

Ok, thanks! I'll try to sort it a bit, then.

Play Style / General:
My preferred play style is what I would call "campaign-based adventuring", i.e. a group of people that faces challenges in the world and resolve them through a combination of wits and conflict, where the challenges are framed by an over-arching narrative. D&D and friends are an obvious example for this, but for me Shadowrun (or generally mission-based Cyberpunk) or fantastic Sci-Fi games (Star Wars, Coriolis, etc.) would fall into this category.

To contrast it, examples for games that would not fit my preferred play style would be The Dark Eye (stronger focus on simulating a world and playing in it), Vampire (focus on personal and inter-personal conflict), Bluebeards Bride (exploring a specific topic through an RPG).

My impression is that this play style has solid coverage in long established brands, but could receive from attention in indie game design.

Side note: I am quite open for other play styles in one shots - but I see those as an exception.

Play Style / Power Curve:

Over the years, I have grown a bit weary of D&D's steep power curve. I prefer a somewhat slower advancement these days. That's something that many games offer already - unfortunately not recent editions of D&D, though.

Mechanics / Complexity:

Through my forays into systems other then D&D, I have found that I prefer rules-light over complex settings. However, I tend to stop a bit short of completely minimal systems like Cthulhu Dark or complete free-form, and prefer to have either a set of attributes or skills or both.
I think my sweet spot is a bit north of PbtA games like Dungeon World or The Sprawl - the main thing I am missing there is a better way to deal with different levels of difficulty. Blades in the Dark/Forged in the Dark would be a candidate here, but unfortunately, I found it too feel a bit too mechanical to me.
Most OSR games also are close to the sweet spot, even though I prefer to have a bit more elaborate skill systems.
Savage Worlds and FATE would also be good candidates, but there I have other issues (see Task Resolution Systems and Meta Currency).

Mechanics / Focus & Player Empowerment:

The tricky part with narrative or semi-narrative games is that they tend to have a particular narrative in mind that they try to produce through the rules. While I appreciate that to a certain extent, I found it to be a problem when I try to stray from that (that's admittedly somewhat expected). Also, these games tend to have the expectation that the overall story is a collaborative creation of player's and game master/referee and that doesn't really fit the expectations in our group (neither for the GM nor for the players).

What I would hope to see more is light-weight games that, while thematically tied to a certain style of fiction, allow more flexibility for the narrative - basically in the same way that classical RPGs like D&D do.

Mechanics / Meta Currencies:

I dislike it when system rely heavily on a meta currency (like Savage Worls or FATE, but also 2d20 to a certain extent). This causes a very "mechanical feel" for me and has detrimental effects on my immersion into the game world. I am ok, though, with a mechanic that grants the protagonists some sort of luck or fate points to avoid otherwise fatal blows.

Mechanics / Special Dice:

On a related note: I also dislike it, when games require special dice that are more than just embellishment (thinking FFG Star Wars/Genesys). I have no objective reason here. I just don't like it.

Mechanics / Task/Scene Resolution Systems:

I have found that I like unified task (or scene) resolution systems better than non-unified ones. Actually, the non-unified nature of their task resolution systems is my main gripe with older editions of D&D and OSR games.

Also, I tend to like systems that are not too "swingy". The d20 enjoys some leniency here out of nostalgia, but my love for it has still decreased quite a bit over the years. The worst offenders, though, are exploding dice in systems where the higher rolls means a higher degree of success (looking at you, Savage Worlds).

Also, I like some sort of ludo-narrative consistency, i.e. when I create an expert on archeology, I should have a high chance of success when I have to roll (d100 systems like Call of Cthulhu don't live up to that expectation for me, here).

There's a lot more to say here, but I have already written a lot, so I will shorten it to my current preferences, which would be:
  • 2d6 + X > TN (where X can be a combination of attribute, background, skill or situational circumstances, and TN can be flexible depending on difficulty, or fixed if X includes difficulty)
  • d100 + X < TN (where X is a situational modified and TN is either skill or attribute value)
  • d6 dice pool, count roll > TN (preferably <10 dice, TN fixed)

Setting/Theme:

I tend to like fantasy or fantastic sci-fi games. However, I would also be quite interested in seeing more games with a historical touch, that are just enriched with elements from folklore. In theory, there is something like this with the Mythic X series for Mythras, but I found the presentation quite dry and haven't really been able to dive deeper into this.

In terms of fantasy, I generally would like to see more settings that are a bit more down-to-earth, where magic is less prevalent than in D&D.

Also, I would like to see a good amount of both internal consistency in the setting (e.g. if mages are super powerful, they potentially should rule most areas; if they don't, what's the reason for that, ...) and ludo-narrative consistency, i.e. rules matching the narrative of the game world (e.g. how does the way magic works tie into the explanation of magic in the game world).

Illustrations:

The types of illustration I found myself drawn to are:
  • Concept art-like stuff that conveys a sense of the setting, but still leaves room for imagination (one example would be the Symbaroum illustrations)
  • Modern imaginations of old-school black&white illustrations (like the ones in Forbidden Lands)
  • Artistic weird stuff (like Silent Titans, Mörk Börg, etc.)
  • Somewhat abstract drawings with a fairy tale vibe (e.g. the ones being created for the new Dolmenwood book)
There's a fair amount of those out there, so I can't really complain. Still I'll always take more.

Conclusion / TL;DR Version:


So to wrap up or as a quick summary:
I would like to see more rules-light games with a classical GM-player separation, preferably in low-magic or pseudo-historical settings. The preferred mechanic would be a 2d6, d100 or d6 dice pool system, and the authors would strife for well-designed character sheets and a high degree of both internal consistency in the setting and consistency between rules and setting elements.
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
I would like to see rules light hard (ish) SF, where the three pillars didn't include combat, esp adventures for a system like that, which I could adapt to my own game.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I think Savage Worlds is the system I tend to think of when it comes to a game that claims to be able to “do it all”, and although I know many people like it, I just can’t seem to get into it.
Although there is a lot of potential value in using Savage Worlds as a generic rule system, SW feels too heavily like a product of early '00s and 3Era gaming, including an obsession with "gear porn," which I'm not a big fan of.

I’ve seen you mention True20 here and in some other recent threads; I’m not sure I know it. What games was it used for? What publisher?
True20 is a generic system that came out of the 3Era d20 OGL rule set that Green Ronin Publishing developed for its 2005-released romantic fantasy setting Blue Rose (Steve Kenson, Jeremy Crawford). It streamlined a lot of the 3e D&D game. It removed hit points, used only the attribute bonuses instead of the 0-18 stats, and turned all rolls into a d20. Spells were turned into skill-based powers. It stripped the game down to three classes: the adept, expert, and warrior (i.e., the 3e NPC classes), whose various abilities became a grab-bag of feats and talents that the player could choose as they leveled. It was far from perfect, but back in the day, it was my go-to system of choice because of how many settings of various genres I could create with it for play.

My biggest problem nowadays with True20, much like Savage Worlds, is that it's a relic of its "3Era," with some of the most annoying parts of 3e D&D. Green Ronin's AGE System is probably its closest spiritual kin, but the AGE system has its own idiosycratic set of problems associated with it.

@schneeland, have you looked at FUDGE, which is the toolkit that Fate is based on?
 

JeffB

Legend
More: 13th Ages & Dungeon Worlds: Systems that build upon the foundations of the pioneers with new mechanics and fresh looks at /spins on the past. More FFG Star Wars' -Systems that take unique and new approaches to system/dice mechanics that encourage story and improv in the moment

Less: Systems that are generic-shoehorned into genres they don't work that well for. Games where builds and system knowledge/mastery are a significant portion of the design intent/criteria. Systems that utilize obscure/minor IP properties from TV shows, comics, novels, etc. Systems that keep trying to reinvent their past and not moving forward (D&D 5E, RQ:AIG, ). OSR/5E retro inspireds and OD&D retroclones/polish-ups.
 


More: 13th Ages & Dungeon Worlds: Systems that build upon the foundations of the pioneers with new mechanics and fresh looks at /spins on the past. More FFG Star Wars' -Systems that take unique and new approaches to system/dice mechanics that encourage story and improv in the moment

Less: Systems that are generic-shoehorned into genres they don't work that well for.

While it's easy to say "I'd like a generic systems that does everything well" it's also pretty clear that such thing cannot exist. Your choice is either a generic system that works well for some genres, pretty well for most and badly for some, or several individual systems.

I'm definitely in the latter camp. Fate is my go-to generic system, and I'm strongly appreciating the tweaks and improvements we're seeing from Evil Hat. It's of course possible that a new generic system will come out that I prefer to Fate, but it's unlikely, so my desire for generic systems is simply: keep improving and refining.

But for the genres where your favorite generic system works poorly, I want a game that is designed specifically for that niche. With a focused game, it needs to be minimal, easy to learn and tie the mechanics strongly to the fiction. For swords and sorcery fantasy, although I have enjoyed much smaller games, I have found the time investment in 13th Age well worth it -- it's a one book system that delivers a constantly high quality game. DramaSystem is what I use for pure dramatic games; short, clear and effective rules. For horror I haven't really settled. Call of Cthulhu is my go-to, but you could hardly call it focused. I've tried Trail of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Hack, Fate, Chill, and maybe a couple of other systems, but none really do it for me.

So maybe that would be the focused system I'd most like to see: A version of CoC that does for that game what 13th Age did for D&D -- cut the word count by a factor of four, keeping all the good stuff and adding a set of more narrative elements to help focus on making a really cool game. Cthulhu Hack gets the nod for the best attempt at that so far, but it doesn't quite hit it for me. YMMV, so if this is you also, go check it out!
 


atanakar

Hero
I would like to see rules light hard (ish) SF, where the three pillars didn't include combat, esp adventures for a system like that, which I could adapt to my own game.

You could look at Coriolis the Third Horizon by Free League. The system on the lighter side. It's an exploration game were characters own their ship from the start. They have to find jobs to pay their debt. Its comes with a complete and very original setting and space combat rules that gives a role to each character. Combat is very deadly so characters are always trying to avoid it or make sure they have the advantage. I did a mini-campaign of 7 games with it and it is easy to run.
 
Last edited:


Aldarc

Legend
I've played several sessions of Modern AGE. I'm curious about what you call problems of that system?
I have no experience with Modern AGE yet, so I'll speak to my experiences with the AGE games that I do.

The AGE system was designed piecemeal as part of Green Ronin's Dragon Age TTRPG. The first release was just levels 1-5; then the second release was 6-10; and then the final release was 11-20. As such the game, overall, feels more balanced and oriented around levels 1-6. After this point, the game balance seemingly deteriorates because the damage does not scale as rapidly as the HP. This is even worse of a problem when this is compounded with Armor damage reduction. Furthermore, because of the 3d6 die resolution and bell curve probability, tiny bonuses become pretty substantial, particularly as ability scores increase, skill access/bonuses increase, and so on. Blue Rose AGE does feel a bit more like a mild balance patch. Maybe Modern Age addresses this further. And Green Ronin announced a new edition of Fantasy AGE, but so far they have only revealed that it will include Freeport as its baked-in setting.
 

atanakar

Hero
I have no experience with Modern AGE yet, so I'll speak to my experiences with the AGE games that I do.

The AGE system was designed piecemeal as part of Green Ronin's Dragon Age TTRPG. The first release was just levels 1-5; then the second release was 6-10; and then the final release was 11-20. As such the game, overall, feels more balanced and oriented around levels 1-6. After this point, the game balance seemingly deteriorates because the damage does not scale as rapidly as the HP. This is even worse of a problem when this is compounded with Armor damage reduction. Furthermore, because of the 3d6 die resolution and bell curve probability, tiny bonuses become pretty substantial, particularly as ability scores increase, skill access/bonuses increase, and so on. Blue Rose AGE does feel a bit more like a mild balance patch. Maybe Modern Age addresses this further. And Green Ronin announced a new edition of Fantasy AGE, but so far they have only revealed that it will include Freeport as its baked-in setting.

With Modern AGE you can select the level of lethality at the beginning of the game. Either Gritty (CoC), Pulp (Action Hero) or Heroic (D&D). Hit points and Healing are less generous at the two lower levels. Protection is Toughness. Armour is very rare - which makes sense in a Modern environment. The Companion book offers several alternate ideas to modulate damage vs protection. The simplest suggests adding +1d6 to every damage roll.
 

JeffB

Legend
After this point, the game balance seemingly deteriorates because the damage does not scale as rapidly as the HP. This is even worse of a problem when this is compounded with Armor damage reduction. Furthermore, because of the 3d6 die resolution and bell curve probability, tiny bonuses become pretty substantial, particularly as ability scores increase, skill access/bonuses increase, and so on. Blue Rose AGE does feel a bit more like a mild balance patch. Maybe Modern Age addresses this further. And Green Ronin announced a new edition of Fantasy AGE, but so far they have only revealed that it will include Freeport as its baked-in setting.


The Fantasy Age Companion throws out several ideas to combat the issues you mention. Most of them were pretty simple fixes as I recall (capping HP at a certain character level for example). I think it would address most of your issues (and I suspect the Companion material- or some of it anyway- will get rolled into the new book.
 

BryonD

Hero
I want a game that isn't afraid to make demands on the players and assumes that people who want to play it are both smart and dedicated to making the experience fun rather than looking to exploit every imperfection.

The game doesn't need to worry about being easy to run, because it is perfectly fine to make mistakes and get better with experience. And there are plenty of other games out there if you want to ease into it.

The game doesn't need to worry about not being overly complex. If you can achieve the same thing, then being simple is better. But if a little complexity adds to the richness, then this should not be shunned.

I want a game that goes in with eyes wide open that players who seek to destroy the experience may very well do exactly that, but the game isn't going to reign in the options of players who won't do that by adding rules simply designed to foolproof the balance.

I want a game that recognizes it can't cover every situation, so it creates a clear framework and then puts the burden on the players to work with that guidance to color outside the lines when needed.
 

Things I'd love to see:

* A fantastically done Forged in the Dark hack for Sengoku Era Warring States Japan for a mixed group of Ronin/Sohei/Kensei/Ninja/Samurai who are backing a Daiymio for supremacy.

* A fantastically done PBtA hack for France/Germany/Poland WW2 for a Spec Ops Group.

* Vincent Baker making a Dogs in the Vineyard 2nd ed w/ the design knowledge he's accrued in the last 15 years.

* A 4th Edition D&D revised and integrated to the PBtA engine (math, power curve, core resolution, reward cycles/advancement). Strike(!) did a lot of this and its fantastic...but its not quite there and that game is better for Star Wars than it is for 4e D&D imo.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top