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Why Do You Hate An RPG System?

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I probably wouldn't play an RPG where character death was frequent.
And I probably wouldn't play an RPG where character death wasn't possible, either.

Like others have posted, it is frustrating to have to continually roll up new characters, especially when I'm personally vested in the backstory and the current events within the game. But also like others have posted, no matter how vested I am in the character, I will get very bored very quickly if the risk of character death is absent (or worse, engineered and predetermined by the DM/player.)

The two have to be balanced around everyone's expectations (players and DM). And that balance is going to vary from table to table. For me? I like the probability of character death to be roughly equivalent to [0 + (character level x 0.05)]: very unlikely at 1st level, but very likely indeed around 15th level. Others will prefer a different formula.
 
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I don't want to gum up the Dishonored thread with this tangent, but the fact that so many people expressed a revulsion for the 2d20 system got me thinking how I don't hate any system I can think of off the top of my head. There are some i prefer not to play, but no game makes me feel like the developers shot my dog (or favorite sci-fi franchise, as the case may be).

So if you HATE a system, why? Explain it to me.
Hate is too strong a word, but there are systems I have a very low opinion of, like BRP. Badly organized, hard to use, doesn't accomplish its purpose very well.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Not at all. It's self-evident to anyone with any imagination.

Mod Note:
Assertions of the form, "You must be mentally deficient to not agree with me or understand my point," are pretty darned rude. Leave room for folks with well-functioning minds to not agree or see what you mean, or you will find the discussion goes poorly for you.
 


Don't worry, I don't try to force them out of their comfort zone, I mean a long time ago, yes.

I just tend to emphasize it because there are absolutely people (many of them wearing GM hats) who think repetitious character choices are such a great evil it needs to be addressed no matter what the players involved think.

Exactly, why roll? That's my philosophy now. It's kind of an odd one too, as I don't remember it in Classic either. I like rolls to actually have interesting consequences, now; where there was a time of count every bullet, role-play every distance traveled, which I don't do, not anymore, now it is cut to the action.

There are far-tail-end failure states I'm still okay being terminal, even potentially for a group, but there ought to be multiple opportunities to avoid that if its going to be a full group takeout.

I'm conflicted these days on one-shot individual takeouts; I think there should be a buffer there, but I think a lot of campaign types can benefit from at least some uncertainty. I kind of find Savage Worlds tends to be the sweet spot for me, with the open ended damage but the Bennies to buffer the hard hits.
 

I would say there are a lot of things that make RPGs come alive. One of which is indeed risk. But there are lots of different things to risk.

Sure.

Look at Call of Cthulhu and its risk of characters’ sanity and how that changes the feel if a game versus one where the only risk is PC death. The game feels different. Look at Delta Green, where you watch as an agent’s connections to their loved ones bear the brunt of their struggles against the mythos. Look at any number of other games where concepts of identity or belief are at risk during play. Where the PCs take actual consequences from their choices along the way and need to press on anyway.

Death is far from the only interesting consequence in an RPG. At times, I’d say it’s the end of consequence.

I'm not sure for most purpose, insanity of the scale CoC might as well be death.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I just tend to emphasize it because there are absolutely people (many of them wearing GM hats) who think repetitious character choices are such a great evil it needs to be addressed no matter what the players involved think.

There are far-tail-end failure states I'm still okay being terminal, even potentially for a group, but there ought to be multiple opportunities to avoid that if its going to be a full group takeout.

I'm conflicted these days on one-shot individual takeouts; I think there should be a buffer there, but I think a lot of campaign types can benefit from at least some uncertainty. I kind of find Savage Worlds tends to be the sweet spot for me, with the open ended damage but the Bennies to buffer the hard hits.
I agree at one point I was of the belief that "hey let's try this different character" was better, now, not so much. People should play with what they feel comfortable with.

I said in the other thread that PC death should have logic behind it, not just be random, and last time a PC was killed, the player thanked me for it too. We worked it out that was what was going to happen. Other tables will play it differently I know, and I have no real judgement against them, they are cool too.
 

mserabian

Explorer
I would say that a GM who changes the traditional venue of TTRPGs is simply forcing his players to listen to a dull story of his own devising. Another example of the failed story-teller seeking affirmation through other venues.

Because, you see, GMs don't set the stakes of an RPG: they create and operate the world. It is the players who set the stakes and write the tale. They decide what is worth risking their PCs for, and what is not. Their actions promote consequences, which they must live and operate with (provide they survive them).

A campaign where the GM sets the stakes is simply a railroad: go hence, solve thus, proceed on to the preordained conclusion.
Well in my case. My players do not like or want their characters to die. So guess what as the DM I make sure they dont. I guess we've been having BAD WRONG FUN for 40 years.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I know what is unbeatable, and if a DM throws an adult Red Dragon at my 1st level character, that's on them, not me, and is exactly why I wouldn't try again. There's no challenge there, nothing.
If the DM throws an adult red dragon without foreshadowing you don't want to go that way, forces it to be a combat encounter, and provides no course to retreat, then it's on them.

You ignore the information that there's a red dragon up in the mountain, enter it's lair, attack it, and expect that it will be combat balanced so that you have a reasonable chance to defeat it - nothing wrong with what the DM is doing there. And even then the DM could still save you from yourself by providing escape - perhaps passages too small for it to follow, or a goal that it would want you to do for it in exchange for not dying.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I came to hate AD&D because I found the classes to be too restrictive; I couldn't see a logic in the fact that knowing how to pick locks meant to you weren't really good at fighting, or knowing how to use magic meant you couldn't grasp swordsmanship or lock-picking.

GURPs should have been right up my alley, but every time I've examined their rules it has turned me away. I can't say exactly what I don't like about it, but I won't touch the game.
Literally the last two characters I created were a shadow sorcerer who knew how to pick locks, and a conquest paladin who knew how to pick locks. I could use magic and pick locks. I could be a swordsman (well, glaive-woman) and pick locks. Neither was created to show you up, just how I naturally created them. One was a fairy criminal shadow sorcerer who used to be part of the unseelie court but broke off, and the other was an urban bounty hunter who would bring in those who did wrong before taking her vow.

Now, if you want to say "I don't understand how I can be a caster as powerful as just-casters and a swordsman as powerful as just-swordsmen" I'd agree that fits D&D. But less absolute than that and we find a lot of ground can be covered, even with something as restrictive as a class/level setup.
 


pemerton

Legend
You ignore the information that there's a red dragon up in the mountain, enter it's lair, attack it, and expect that it will be combat balanced so that you have a reasonable chance to defeat it - nothing wrong with what the DM is doing there.
I think the number of cases in the history of RPGing where the players understood themselves to be playing a B/X or AD&D-type hexcrawl, and were playing low-level PCs, and had any familiarity with the game system, and deliberately decided that they would climb the mountain to try and defeat the red dragon, is so close to zero that for practical purposes we can treat it as zero.

So if I hear reports of a game that resembles what you've described, I would be curious: Where did that information about the dragon in the mountains come from - at the table, I mean, not in the fiction - and how was it made salient? Why did the players act on it in the way you describe? I would be pretty confident that at least one of the four variables I mentioned didn't obtain in that game - most likely the first.
 

pemerton

Legend
The players decide what their characters do. So the player decides what their characters care about. Even if the player writes a War and Peace length backstory about their deep connection to their family, the player is rightfully free to decide at any moment they don’t want to be inconvenienced by that strong family connection. So despite making a character for whom “family is everything” if that family ever becomes an inconvenience, the player can (and almost certainly will) decide the character simply doesn’t care enough to bother.
Whose RPGing are you setting out to describe in this post? Yours? Mine? @Campbell's? Everyone's?
 

Aldarc

Legend
I disagree: the players set the stakes. Otherwise, its a railroad at best.

The core of a TTRPG is the survival of the PC. Sure, there are secondary goals (clouds of them in most of my campaigns), but all are contingent upon the PC remaining alive, physically viable and sane. Remove the core, and we're back to imaginary friends.
Well you see, if PCs set the stakes, then there should be more stakes than simply life or death, as they can determine their own stakes, including those beyond such boring stakes. Otherwise all situations in a TTRPG will only amount to risking death. Therefore everything becomes window-dressing to a railroad that tries to make everything in a TTRPG about life or death.
 

Than more than one way?

Yes. With more than character death as the consequence. You said those who don’t agree with you lack an imagination. Yet, you can’t seem to imagine a game without threat of PC death having a point or amounting to more than people impressing each other with their imaginary friends.

It's 'you're', too.

The fact that you’re an internet grammar guy tracks so well with everything else you’ve posted.

So that makes my point.

Of course!
 

Sure.



I'm not sure for most purpose, insanity of the scale CoC might as well be death.

Ultimately, yeah it absolutely is. But it tends to happen incrementally. And there are consequences for it. Many games, with D&D being a big example, tend to not have mechanical consequences other than loss of HP, which can lead to PC death. There are some minor exceptions to this across editions that allow for some kind of consequence that lingers, but they’re pretty few and far between. I think this is a big part of why many GMs lean so heavily on PC death.

Of course there can always be narrative consequences…failing to clear the Caves of Chaos or failing to learn what happened to the Carlyle Expedition or what have you. But every game can have those.

So with PC death, what’s the consequence for the player? They lose that PC, yes….but they just replace it with another. Perhaps the lost PC was particularly enjoyable to them or what have you, but the game goes on, and the player continues to play.

This is why I said that death isn’t always the most meaningful consequence. There could be (and in many games are) ways forward from that point that allow the player to continue with that PC but which result in a more meaningful change in the game than simply swapping out a PC.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Yeah, character death is often the least interesting result for many games.
But the threat of character death can be a very interesting, recurring point in games like D&D that feature lethal combat as a common challenge resolution.

Both in and of itself, in the tension that risk creates is a spice for combat - which is a length mechanical aspect of the game when it occurs. Add in the simple fact that many/most combats, especially in the published modules, aren't about anything except overcoming in order to move forward in the plot. Leaving either it's foreordained you'll win, or having a DM willing and experienced enough to think of suitable alternatives every time.

Plus in D&D death isn't particularly non-interesting because it's so easy to undo. It's not like we're talking perma-death in most cases once you are beyond early levels. Heck, if there's a character who can cast revivify it's about the same amount of non-interesting as being knocked out for the length of the combat, which can happen even if death is not on the table.

Again, this is in the context of a game where lethal combat is an expected and common challenge resolution.

It's why games like CoC or BitD have alternate mechanisms such as sanity or trauma - in order to be able to provide that risk and the tension in a meaningful non-fleeting way without having it be the boolean alive/dead of D&D. That's a great place to be from a system.

But even there - I know players who'd rather kill a character and get an unwounded new one than have a permanent disadvantage. That's not me at all, but I'm not going to say their fun is wrong.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
If the DM throws an adult red dragon without foreshadowing you don't want to go that way, forces it to be a combat encounter, and provides no course to retreat, then it's on them.

You ignore the information that there's a red dragon up in the mountain, enter it's lair, attack it, and expect that it will be combat balanced so that you have a reasonable chance to defeat it - nothing wrong with what the DM is doing there. And even then the DM could still save you from yourself by providing escape - perhaps passages too small for it to follow, or a goal that it would want you to do for it in exchange for not dying.
That is curating the encounter, though from the player side as well, I know my 1st level character can't beat a dragon, and forced into a fight, to "learn me a lesson about GM power" or something. That's it, I die, game over.
 

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