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What Can We Learn from CRPGS?

MGibster

Legend
Table top role playing games have influenced computer games since the 1970s. University students created games on mainframes similar to D&D and by the 1980s computer users at home enjoyed Wasteland, BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception, Ultima, and of course the Gold Box series of D&D games including Pool of Radiance. And just a few days back, Cyberpunk 2077 was released based on R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk from 1988. It's obvious that CRPG creators have taken quite a few lesson from table top game creators.

But what can the TTRPG crowd learn from CRPGs? For this thread, I'd like you to give us an example of what a computer game did right and how you can apply it to traditional table top RPG. For the purpose of this thread, let's not quibble too much on what constitutes a CRPG and instead focus on how the game inspired someone to improve their own tabletop experience. I'll go first.

Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011): In ToR, if you're on the Republic side, once you complete your character's starting area you head to Coruscant and the adventures begin. Even though you're a relatively low level character, your adventure doesn't feel like low level nothing quests. Your character is rubbing shoulders with senators, Jedi masters, etc., etc. and the adventures you go on have galactic implications.

There's no reason you can't bring that to table top games even in something like D&D with 1st level characters. Maybe one or more of the PCs has a connection to the king, a noble, or a ranking member of a church? There's no reason to send PCs out to clear a pack of goblins, giant rats, or spiders, tie in the bad guys to the big plot. Make whatever the players are doing seem as though it has consequence.
 

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zarionofarabel

Adventurer
In my opinion after 30+ years with various campaigns and systems and mechanics and player personalities...absolutely nothing, except how to run a fantastically restricted railroad where the only thing you get after a lengthy campaign is changing the color of the explosion at the end of the game. 🤔🙄😝
 

Zsong

Explorer
All campaign should begin with adventurers killing rats in a basement.
I think this is in jest 🤪
But those are the adventure starters I swore to never do again as a DM starting in the early 90s

although i eventually reintroduced giant rats. But they were more like grizzly bears in city sewers.
 



MGibster

Legend
In my opinion after 30+ years with various campaigns and systems and mechanics and player personalities...absolutely nothing, except how to run a fantastically restricted railroad where the only thing you get after a lengthy campaign is changing the color of the explosion at the end of the game. 🤔🙄😝
Boo! Too soon. I still have bad dreams.
 

Retreater

Legend
Pick up and play. Quest logs. Accessibility. Sandbox freedom. Regular, small progression. Fast loading (compared to unprepared GMs).
Honestly, several times other players and I had the debate "why are we here playing lame D&D when we could be playing Skyrim?"
 

I think different modular elements can be ported over.

The idea of Heat in Blades in the Dark, for instance, is a measure of how much unwanted attention your crew is getting. Each job you complete winds up giving you some Heat. The more Heat you have, the harsher any Entanglements you deal with are likely to be, and if you incur enough Heat, your crew gains a Wanted Level. That means the Law is actively looking for you. The more Wanted levels you get, the more actively and aggressively the Law will come after you.

It’s a great mechanic and seems lifted from Grand Theft Auto.

Currently, I’m running a sandbox game where different areas within the sandbox serve as territories, with different factions present and one that’s currently in charge of the area. The idea of the game is that the PCs may liberate the area by completing certain missions. I’m largely looking to Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, GTA, and similar games for inspiration.

I mean....it’s still game design. You should be able to pull inspiration from other tabletop games, video games, boardgames....and probably many other kinds of media, too, honestly.
 




General answers:

- Gamism. Old school TTRPGs often erred on the side of simulationism. In the modern era, narritavism seems to be taking over. Sometimes it's important to remember gamist principles. CRPGs are rife with gamism that can be extremely rewarding. Of course, I say this as someone who prefers 3.Xe, so take this with a grain of salt.

- Teaching the rules as you go. This is a modern game convention in the form of "tutorial levels", but one that can be very useful to bring players into the game.

- Don't be afraid of new technology. CRPGs cater to the latest tech. With Roll20, Zoom, etc, TTRPGs can, too.

- Railroading isn't always bad. This is obviously a much bigger hole to go down, but the existence of the CRPG market is basically proof that sometimes it's okay to railroad.

- Blowing on the game doesn't actually help.
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
Pick up and play. Quest logs. Accessibility. Sandbox freedom. Regular, small progression. Fast loading (compared to unprepared GMs).
Honestly, several times other players and I had the debate "why are we here playing lame D&D when we could be playing Skyrim?"

Behold, If thou findest thyself asking this question.

Verily, someone is doing it wrong...

Now a number of factors could contribute to this - the unprepared GM issue you cite is probably a big reason. Sometimes it could just be group dynamics though. Not every group you play with will "sync". Sometimes one has to shop around...

My current group is great - we played a short 5e campaign, and it was fun. I hate the d20 system, and 5e's implementation of it. But because of the group dynamic I still enjoyed the game in spite of the system.

I would have enjoyed it more with a better system. But group dynamics can make up for a lot.
 

In my opinion after 30+ years with various campaigns and systems and mechanics and player personalities...absolutely nothing, except how to run a fantastically restricted railroad where the only thing you get after a lengthy campaign is changing the color of the explosion at the end of the game. 🤔🙄😝

Man, you have been playing the wrong games.
 

Ironically, I just finished modifying the Wastelands 3 rules system to use in my next F2F campaign, because it's more innovative than anything I've seen lately in RPGs.
 

Pick up and play. Quest logs. Accessibility. Sandbox freedom. Regular, small progression. Fast loading (compared to unprepared GMs).
Honestly, several times other players and I had the debate "why are we here playing lame D&D when we could be playing Skyrim?"

A very good question. And as VR develops, that question will become more and more valid.
 


What games do you recommend I play? Seriously! I just started Mass Effect Andromeda. So recommends of better CRPGs is more than welcome. Seriously! Help!
Mass Effect? You may well be beyond help. ;)

7 days to die, Fallout Series, Elder Scrolls, Rimworld, Wasteland 2, Wasteland 3 just for starters. There's a couple years worth of gaming assuming you play 40 hours a week.

And that's just off the top of my head. The Pillars of Eternity are good if you like Pathfinder. I haven't played Balor's Gate 3 or Phoenix point yet, but I will.
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
- Railroading isn't always bad. This is obviously a much bigger hole to go down, but the existence of the CRPG market is basically proof that sometimes it's okay to railroad.

Railroading is some cases is a necessity or convenience. One-shots, con games, etc.. The CRPG market is a railroad because time and money dictate a limited play experience.

In exchange for railroading you the CRPG offers instant accessibility, challenging yet not annoying gameplay, and tries to offer a compelling "storyline" that all combine to offset the fact that you are on rails.

While in RPG's railroading can be a a necessity or convenience in certain situations (and nothing wrong with that in their context.) IMHO you are robbing yourself of a play experience that CRPG's can't ever hope to match if you engage in them as a matter of routine.


Ironically, I just finished modifying the Wastelands 3 rules system to use in my next F2F campaign, because it's more innovative than anything I've seen lately in RPGs.

If I may inquire - adapting for a table top game?

If so what do you think it dies differently?

And how do you make it work with dice...?
 

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