D&D General What is Good for D&D ... is Good for the RPG Hobby- Thoughts?


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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Most of my TTRPG time is spend running 5e. But when I want to try a different system, I like to try something VERY different than D&D. As someone else mentioned above, even different core mechanics don't appreciably change the general experience for me with most systems. For example of one recent game, The Expanse uses very different rules to give a more theatrical, episodic style of play (I believe it is based off the FATE system). And, of course, the theme and setting is very different than typical D&D games. But, really, it still feels very D&D like to me. I feel that I could get a similar experience playing Starfinder. Others will argue with me strongly on this point, but in so many of the TTRPGs I play, I could just swap the mechanics. I don't feel that they create a very different play experience.

Which is why games like Dialect, Where Is Alice, or InSPECTREs really grab me as the play experience is so different.

And I've recently come to another realization, these "way-out-there", highly niche (from the typical TTRPG fan perspective) are MUCH better systems to bring brand new people into the hobby. I have to live with colleagues at work for weeks at a time overseas. There is a group of us that play a lot of board games. But they are not interested in D&D. But we have a pretty sizable and regular group that plays Werewolf (the party game, not the WoD TTRPG). That's a big step closer. From there, I'm sure I could get them to play InSPECTREs for a session. Dialect would interest a good number, especially given that it is is a very multilingual group with a lot of language geeks. Then ease them into Dread, which would be another easy sell, I think.

From there, it is a small jump to a more traditional but rules light TTRPG system (still thinking what that should be, maybe Awfully Cheerful Engine or Gumshoe?). THEN I might be able to have enough folks conditioned to play a more crunchy, long-form, TTRPG like D&D, FATE, Cortex, etc. Anyway, this is my diabolical plan to convert my colleagues into TTRPG fans and save myself from another night of Settlers of Catan.

My point is, I feel that D&D is this very large bubble, but it is still a bubble. There is still a barrier to entry that keeps a larger majority from even dipping their toes into the hobby. The best argument I have for people to expand their experience with other systems, especially those that are radically different from D&D is that you have more tools to bring in a wider group of people into the hobby. Take a break from the polyhedral dice and hundreds of pages of core rules now and then. If you can learn to enjoy games with fun mechanics, whose rules take up less space than many board games (or even fit on a single page in some cases), you'll be able to find many players to play with--outside of the D&D bubble.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Most of my TTRPG time is spend running 5e. But when I want to try a different system, I like to try something VERY different than D&D. As someone else mentioned above, even different core mechanics don't appreciably change the general experience for me with most systems. For example of one recent game, The Expanse uses very different rules to give a more theatrical, episodic style of play (I believe it is based off the FATE system). And, of course, the theme and setting is very different than typical D&D games. But, really, it still feels very D&D like to me. I feel that I could get a similar experience playing Starfinder. Others will argue with me strongly on this point, but in so many of the TTRPGs I play, I could just swap the mechanics. I don't feel that they create a very different play experience.
The Expanse RPG is based on Modern AGE, which uses Green Ronin's AGE System, first developed for the Dragon Age RPG (2010). It's not exactly a coincidence that "it still feels very D&D like." History lesson time.

Chris Pramas began work on the Dragon Age RPG in 2007 when BioWare approached Green Ronin about making a tabletop RPG for their unreleased and still in-development Dragon Age: Origins game. The date is important because one of Green Ronin's major product lines at the time was True 20 (2005), which was a generic toolkit d20 system that spun-off from Blue Rose RPG (2005) by Jeremy Crawford, Steve Kenson, John Snead, and Dawn Elliot. I say this because you can see a lot of the design DNA from True 20 in the AGE system, though modified for (a) a 3d6 dice resolution system, and (b) a Dragon Age TTRPG adaptation. (There are some Warhammer Fantasy RP influences too, but that's indebted to Chris Pramas, who was also the designer of WHFP 2e.) Support for the True 20 system stopped and AGE became the new flagship lines alongside Mutants & Masterminds.

But Chris Pramas's goals was to make a RPG that was easy to learn and get started in, which is one reason why it uses 3d6 and feels simplified when compared to 3e D&D (or even 5e D&D). The GM's authority and responsibilities is much the same as in D&D or other trad games, so that is a big step in making the game feel familiar to people who are used to D&D.

Since Dragon Age RPG, Green Ronin used the system for a more generic fantasy game system: Fantasy AGE (2017). This then spawned the classless Modern AGE game, which was the basis for the Expanse RPG. From what I recall, the Expanse novels actually started as co-author Ty Franck's d20 Modern (d20 Future) homebrew and hacked game. So the move from d20 Modern to Modern AGE is hardly a big step considering their shared roots in the d20 system.

All that said, I can personally vouch for the success of Chris Pramas's design goals with the AGE System. My non-TTRPG gaming partner and some of my neophyte gamer friends absolutely bounced hard off 5e D&D, but they found Fantasy AGE so much easier to learn and fun to play. My partner has even asked if we could play it again once we try a few other games that have been on our list (e.g., Numenera, Fate, The One Ring, Avatar Legends, etc.). This is all, of course, anecdotal, but from what I have seen through running a number of other groups, the AGE System succeeds at Chris Pramas's design goals. It's not perfect. No game is. But if I can play something that "still feels very D&D like" while also playing something that my partner and table finds more enoyable and easier to learn than D&D 5e, then MAZEL TOV! to everyone.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
All that said, I can personally vouch for the success of Chris Pramas's design goals with the AGE System. My non-TTRPG gaming partner and some of my neophyte gamer friends absolutely bounced hard off 5e D&D, but they found Fantasy AGE so much easier to learn and fun to play. My partner has even asked if we could play it again once we try a few other games that have been on our list (e.g., Numenera, Fate, The One Ring, Avatar Legends, etc.). This is all, of course, anecdotal, but from what I have seen through running a number of other groups, the AGE System succeeds at Chris Pramas's design goals. It's not perfect. No game is. But if I can play something that "still feels very D&D like" while also playing something that my partner and table finds more enoyable and easier to learn than D&D 5e, then MAZEL TOV! to everyone.

If you don't mind a question, what level did you folks play up to? While the group I ran Dragon Age for quite liked some elements, we found it started to break horribly about level 8, and my reading of FAGE didn't suggest it was going to avoid the same problems.
 


MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
The Expanse RPG is based on Modern AGE, which uses Green Ronin's AGE System, first developed for the Dragon Age RPG (2010). It's not exactly a coincidence that "it still feels very D&D like." History lesson time.
Thanks for the history lesson! I love this stuff. I agree that the AGE system, or at least as it was adapted for The Expanse is easy to pickup and runs smoothly. I definitely want to try some other systems that use the AGE engine. While I like the mechanics of The Expanse and really enjoy reading through the book (big fan of the TV show, never read the books), the setting itself doesn't do much for me. I wouldn't enjoy trying to run a campaign for it. I also don't like running games in well known IPs with heavy amounts of canon, especially if the players are big fans of the setting. I'd rather take a more generic setting and make it my own. But I do like the rules.
 

Aldarc

Legend
If you don't mind a question, what level did you folks play up to? While the group I ran Dragon Age for quite liked some elements, we found it started to break horribly about level 8, and my reading of FAGE didn't suggest it was going to avoid the same problems.
I have played Fantasy AGE to about 16th level across various groups. I also ran the playtest at various levels to try things out. I don't find that the game "[breaks] horribly," though this is not to say that the game is without problems, though opinions about the problems and solutions will naturally vary with gaming preferences. I have heard that Fantasy AGE dialed down some of the problems from Dragon Age. Likewise, I do think that overall Modern AGE is a more polished product than Fantasy AGE.

I also have no idea, however, what Fantasy AGE 2e will look like, since they apparently decided to flat out call it a 2nd Edition, which they resisted doing during the initial playtest in 2020. They may make more changes than we saw then. I personally wish that Green Ronin would move towards making a more generic system, much like they did with True 20 rather than separate Fantasy Age and Modern Age lines.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I have played Fantasy AGE to about 16th level across various groups. I also ran the playtest at various levels to try things out. I don't find that the game "[breaks] horribly," though this is not to say that the game is without problems, though opinions about the problems and solutions will naturally vary with gaming preferences. I have heard that Fantasy AGE dialed down some of the problems from Dragon Age. Likewise, I do think that overall Modern AGE is a more polished product than Fantasy AGE.

My read of Modern AGE was at least the problems would be far less severe. I was interested in your experience with Fantasy AGE because a similar read did not suggest the problems would be reduced much. Thanks for the response.

I also have no idea, however, what Fantasy AGE 2e will look like, since they apparently decided to flat out call it a 2nd Edition, which they resisted doing during the initial playtest in 2020. They may make more changes than we saw then. I personally wish that Green Ronin would move towards making a more generic system, much like they did with True 20 rather than separate Fantasy Age and Modern Age lines.

Yeah, I'm not clear what purpose the separate games are doing, per se.
 

Aldarc

Legend
My read of Modern AGE was at least the problems would be far less severe. I was interested in your experience with Fantasy AGE because a similar read did not suggest the problems would be reduced much. Thanks for the response.

Yeah, I'm not clear what purpose the separate games are doing, per se.
You may find this Fantasy AGE 2E preview article interesting in light of your earlier question: "Fantasy Age 2nd Edition Preview: Advancement and Damage!"
 

D&D is the big fish/shark in the ocean. Pathfinder and some others are not as big and could survive without the shark but are never going to be dominate
The rest are the examples of mutualism. The small ones produce a product that can be used with d&d and d&d benefits from more exposure
 

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