D&D General Why Editions Don't Matter

Status
Not open for further replies.
I agree, although I also quibble. The rules should support the themes, and the more strongly they do then the more system matters. (Cyberpunk, Horror, &c.)
I guess my response here is just... that's a good goal to have, but successful games (both in terms of business success and in terms of at-the-table success) have used generic tools often enough to really weaken that "should." You still should do it, if you can, but don't sweat it too much, if that makes sense.

Design philosophy - What do you mean by this? I see your example, but I don't have that book to reference. Is it something like "this is the kind of game we want, that's why these rules are here and these other ones from the other game aren't"? Having a collection of rules that point towards a certain theme can certainly reinforce a feel or playstyle. "This is your Quantum score, the more you have the more super you are but the more mutated you may become", from Aberrant could be an example of this. There isn't anything in D&D really that has a kind of "push your luck" attribute.
Push your luck is more a down-stream expression of this than what I was thinking, in much the same way that "XP=GP" is downstream from the actual design philosophy which leads to that particular design choice. I'll use both Dungeon World and 1e D&D for examples. (There's a complete DW SRD online if you wish to look it up. It's pretty comprehensive.)

In 1e D&D, the design philosophy was informed by wargames. "Hit points" arose not from their alleged naturalness (despite the claims that hit points are meat points), but because in a wargame, a squad can take so many "hits" before it loses its combat effectiveness. Thus, the explicit rules component is "hit points," but the design philosophy behind it is "wargames do this and we will adapt it to suit." The philosophy comes first, the expression second.

It's more interesting to look at things like XP=GP and item/inventory things, because those actually show the distinctly early-edition/not-strictly-wargame side of things. XP=GP arises from the design philosophy goal of "combat should be harrowing, but the rewards equally rich." That guiding design focus is key to understanding why much of 1e is what it is. XP=GP reflects this design philosophy by saying that combat teaches you very little, but heisting teaches you a great deal. Players are rewarded for avoiding direct conflict (whether by diplomacy or skullduggery) by their higher survival rate, faster advancement, and greater treasure acquired. This also leads to the (for me revelatory) idea that heavy armor is a survival booster in exchange for an XP penalty. It weighs more. The more weight you personally carry, the less weight of treasure you can haul out of the dungeon, and thus the less advancement you make.

1e includes plenty of things like this: part of the rules, but never explained. It actually has a lot of very clever design, especially for being the first of its kind (though the organization is abysmally bad.) It's just either written by someone who thought all of this was painfully obvious and thus didn't need to be specified, or someone who thought that it shouldn't be specified so only "good" players would figure it out and get an edge. I genuinely don't know which.

Point being, 1e has several strong design philosophy commitments which are what drive its RAW content. "Combat is harrowing, but the rewards are sweet" is a PbtA-style Principle for 1e D&D play. Others include, "Challenge the player, not the character," "reward skill, not acting," "prevent complacency by breaking patterns," and "fight dirty and don't hold punches." These all have to be teased out of the text, because none of them are really written down in clear form. I'm sure at least one person will disagree with how I've phrased each of these, and possibly all of them, but they work overall. Agendas for 1e would be something like, "Portray a world of high risk and high reward," "Challenge your players to succeed," and "Decide what is, play to find out how your players respond."

By contrast, I can just quote the DW Agendas and Principles. (For clarity: "Agendas" are high-level abstractions, the lofty goals of play, not nitty-gritty details. Principles are your guidelines on how to achieve those goals, and thus tend to be much more specific and actionable.) The game is clear that goals not on this list aren't things you should put much effort into, and you definitely shouldn't let other things get in the way of these three goals. The Agendas of Dungeon World are:
  • Portray a fantastic world
  • Fill the characters’ lives with adventure
  • Play to find out what happens
The Principles are:
  • Draw maps, leave blanks
  • Address the characters, not the players
  • Embrace the fantastic
  • Make a move that follows
  • Never speak the name of your move
  • Give every monster life
  • Name every person
  • Ask questions and use the answers
  • Be a fan of the characters
  • Think dangerous
  • Begin and end with the fiction
  • Think offscreen, too
There may be more Principles of 1e that I have left out (as you can see, there are several for DW.) But I hope this gives you some idea of what "design philosophy" means as a way to distinguish one system/edition from another.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Such a sad world in which "play to find out what happens" is a radical and innovative idea basically unheard of in the mainstream.

I mean, some people would say it's a sad world where people keep inventing terms so that they can disparage the majority of their fellow gamers.

...and then wonder why their fellow gamers aren't all just like, "You're totally right! You called your games the cool games. I guess that means we play the uncool games. Thank you for edumacating me. I appreciate your insulting my games, and will look forward to stopping what I enjoy so that I may be further convinced by people that look down upon me and the things I do."
 

Oofta

Legend
I mean, some people would say it's a sad world where people keep inventing terms so that they can disparage the majority of their fellow gamers.

...and then wonder why their fellow gamers aren't all just like, "You're totally right! You called your games the cool games. I guess that means we play the uncool games. Thank you for edumacating me. I appreciate your insulting my games, and will look forward to stopping what I enjoy so that I may be further convinced by people that look down upon me and the things I do."
Yeah, when people use $5.00 words like Heteroglossia to discuss concepts it's annoying. ;)
 


Such a sad world in which "play to find out what happens" is a radical and innovative idea basically unheard of in the mainstream.
I mean, putting people on rails, whether visible or invisible, has been a norm in D&D for ages. To the point that there are people who straight up don't believe it is possible to run an enjoyable D&D game without illusionism.

I mean, some people would say it's a sad world where people keep inventing terms so that they can disparage the majority of their fellow gamers.

...and then wonder why their fellow gamers aren't all just like, "You're totally right! You called your games the cool games. I guess that means we play the uncool games. Thank you for edumacating me. I appreciate your insulting my games, and will look forward to stopping what I enjoy so that I may be further convinced by people that look down upon me and the things I do."
Is that actually occurring here?
 

Yora

Legend
I mean, putting people on rails, whether visible or invisible, has been a norm in D&D for ages. To the point that there are people who straight up don't believe it is possible to run an enjoyable D&D game without illusionism.


Is that actually occurring here?
Dragonlance was the worst thing that ever happened to the RPG medium.
Everyone agrees it was awful, but still the masses wanted to copy it and make it work for the next four decades.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Yeah, we won't see eye to eye on this with respect to Stonetop's "flaws," because I think that you're reading of Stonetop's themes guide what you believe to be its flaws, and I don't see that as one of its major themes*, though it may be what you hoped to get out of the game.

* If it is, the theme is with respect to the Steading's community rather than the character loadout.

Edit: Sorry, but after re-reading a lot of pertinent areas of the playtest materials, I think that you are eisegeting the theme you wanted out of Stonetop into the texts rather than exegeting one of the major themes out of the texts. And I think that this colors your analysis and views of the game's flaws pretty significantly here.

This is not to say that there are not significant system differences between the two games.

Disagreements on theme aside if equipment load out is not intended to be an actual point of pressure why have a dedicated subsystem attached to it? Plenty of Powered by the Apocalypse games do not treat load out and inventory management as an important element of play so they don't include systems that support inventory management.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Disagreements on theme aside if equipment load out is not intended to be an actual point of pressure why have a dedicated subsystem attached to it? Plenty of Powered by the Apocalypse games do not treat load out and inventory management as an important element of play so they don't include systems that support inventory management.
Does every dedicated subsystem need to exist in a game simply to be an actual point of pressure or can subsystems serve other purposes (e.g., ease of use, etc.)?
 

Imaro

Legend
Such a sad world in which "play to find out what happens" is a radical and innovative idea basically unheard of in the mainstream.

Even more sad when people are made to feel as if their preferences somehow make the world a worse place.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Dragonlance was the worst thing that ever happened to the RPG medium.
Everyone agrees it was awful, but still the masses wanted to copy it and make it work for the next four decades.

So here’s the thing - everyone does not agree it was awful. Now I might think it was a bad development, and be willing to enter into a thoughtful conversation about the history of illusionism (pace Simbalist) or how Dragonlance and the so-called Hickman revolution led to death of the first generation of D&D and the subsequent change to 2e.

But the reason for this history is not because everyone agrees it is bad. Quite the contrary - it’s because that style of game was wildly popular. People- a LOT of people, liked it, and a lot still do.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Disagreements on theme aside if equipment load out is not intended to be an actual point of pressure why have a dedicated subsystem attached to it? Plenty of Powered by the Apocalypse games do not treat load out and inventory management as an important element of play so they don't include systems that support inventory management.
The primary limitations in D&D 5e toward equipment are:
  • Availability - this is mostly decided at the campaign level
  • Cost - Do the players earn enough gold to afford these items
  • Encumbrance - Encumberance limit in 5e is high so players rarely have to make sacrifices around what to carry
  • Player Wit - remembering you have items and figuring out how to use them creatively
IMO. Equipment by default isn't intended to be a focal point of play - it's intended to be a supplemental one. It's intended to help aid you in combat and out of combat situations, not to bypass obstacles on it's own.
 

gorice

Adventurer
One question I've been meaning to post - do editions not matter because they have all been designed fairly similarly or do editions not matter because the game system is simply irrelevant.

I think the arguments in this thread support the first, but I think the thread is really asking about the 2nd.
I mean, the real 'system' is the one you use at the table. If your group always runs the game the same way, it doesn't matter that much which edition you're playing. D&D seems particularly prone to this, and I'm not sure how much of it has been by accident or design. I do think that 5e's deisgners were fairly clever (some might say cynical) in leaving plenty of space for people to insert their own system in play.
 

Yeah, we won't see eye to eye on this with respect to Stonetop's "flaws," because I think that you're reading of Stonetop's themes guide what you believe to be its flaws, and I don't see that as one of its major themes*, though it may be what you hoped to get out of the game.

* If it is, the theme is with respect to the Steading's community rather than the character loadout.

Edit: Sorry, but after re-reading a lot of pertinent areas of the playtest materials, I think that you are eisegeting the theme you wanted out of Stonetop into the texts rather than exegeting one of the major themes out of the texts. And I think that this colors your analysis and views of the game's flaws pretty significantly here.

This is not to say that there are not significant system differences between the two games.

We're definitely not going to agree on this subject (but we already knew that!). I'm at least glad that we agree on the bottom (there are a few differences between the two systems that bear out significant differences between the two systems, trivially illustrating that system matters...and it matters a lot...and whether you have a poorly-designed game or a well-designed games - of which both ST and DW are - a game engine is going to be very sensitive to changes; again "system matters").

Obviously, when it comes to scarcity vs abundance, I disagree that I've got a textual interpretation that isn't born out in the texts or in play. I'm quite confident that its not a situation where textual analysis is colored by my priors. One of my two Stonetop games is still early (6-7 sessions), but the other game is 5 months strong and a full season in (winter is gripping the land).

I hope this doesn't come off as aggressive. I'm not meaning it to be that. I'm going for comprehensive. Here is my network of evidence that makes up my case for scarcity vs abundance as an important theme in Stonetop. I'm going to sblock this because its basically just a "you and I conversation" and doesn't directly engage with this thread. I will say however, that the below is (IMO) ample evidence that subtly changing system has a large downstream effect on both theme/premise/content of play and on the process of play itself by way of interacting with the decision-points that the game engine + GMing puts before you.

1) After The Agricultural Revolution, whether you're a city-state or a small collective (such as Stonetop), climate change, pestilence/parasite, major weather events that affect animal husbandry/harvest yield/nutrition + sieges/raiding (leading to shortages and possibly famine) are major impactors to the success and wellness of a people. Even today in the developed world we're still dealing with our extreme sensitivity to these issues.

2) Expeditions, journeys, and trekking are all deeply sensitive to careful stewardship of your gear and supplies, an expected model of attrition vs a surprise event (such as forgetting to pack something out or losing provisions/gear to something unforeseen or someone consuming/using more than their share), and everyone being able carry their own weight. When any of these things go off (stewardship or attrition rate or everyone being able to carry their weight), things go wrong and tend toward a positive feedback loop which tends toward putting the endeavor in great peril. Simply put, expeditions are very sensitive to each of these things.

3) Stonetop has a huge amount of both discrete and integrated system architecture and procedures that yield reinforces this:

PRINCIPLE - EMBRACE THE FANTASTIC AND MUNDANE
"But at the same time, ground the game in human concerns: the turn of seasons, the coming harvest, friends and neighbors. Threaten the PCs with real-world dangers: harsh weather, wild beasts, starvation, exposure."

DESCRIPTORS, DANGERS, THREATS, OPPORTUNITIES, GAINS, ASSETS, STEADING IMPROVEMENTS

* You'll find plenty of descriptors that depict things like "well-fed gentry", "desperate beggars", deprivation/hunger/thirst/exposure as both Dangers and a Threat.

* You'll find "mark a debility from hunger," ample conversations about harvest and planting and gardens and livestock.

* Important assets/places of interest (that you have to upkeep, care for, and can and should be the target of moves or Threats) on Stonetop's steading map are the granary and the cistern. Resources called out are farming, hunting/trapping, draft horses/cart/iron plow for this work, and rain collection.

* 1 of 6 "Content" items specifically calls out Starvation (or the threat thereof) as featured.

* 2 of the 5 Seasonal Gains are specifically about scarcity vs abundance (Unexpected Bounty and Trade Opportunity), another is about weather (which isn't just color...it infects play with opportunities and dangers related to deprivation or threat - water in the cistern or flooding/damage to assets - or exposure while on expeditions). The final 2 (interesting news and valuable insight) are open-ended and will be about a myriad of things (opportunities and dangers/threats).

* The Steading Improvements have many features that directly play into this: Auroch's Hunting, Diverting the Stream, Greater Harvest, Improved Rainwater Collection, Mill, Marketplace, Township. Then you have Herd of Horses which indirectly plays into this (decreasing the stress on Requisitioning Stonetop's horses for Expeditions).

* Particular Threat moves or dangers play into this specifically (even beyond the general threat moves for Homefront and Expedition that can, and should IMO, interact with this) with "trigger shortages, hoarding," "despoil, loot, pillage, burn," "justify selfishness, neglect," "consume something (or someone)," "present a want or need," "lack of shelter, water, or wood for a long-burning fire," "hunger, if you can't afford food," "exposure to harsh weather, if you can't afford shelter," "apathy from those who could/should help."

PERSONAGES, STATS, MOVES

* When you're making your Stonetop, you create a large suite of NPCs to manage the division of labor and expertise in Stonetop. These experts are essential in dealing with the maintenance of Stonetop's buildings and infrastructure and livestock and fields and water collection and laws and mediation and new construction projects and public works/wellfare. Everything from engineers to publicans to stonemasons to carpenters to farmers to midwifes etc etc etc. And their tools. These people are terribly important (because your GM should be putting pressure on them during Homefront) and ensuring they have tools or upgrading their tools is extremely important. You lose one of these people or you lose their tools and now you have a problem.

* Size, Prosperity, Population, Defense - These all come directly from Dungeon World's ample steading chapter and, while they're cribbed fairly directly, they integrate with the rest of the Homefront moves and Homefront phase and Homefront Threats/Opportunities/Dangers to a degree that Dungeon World doesn't possess. "The Steading Mini-game" is something that isn't central to DW while it is not just central, but fundamental to Stonetop. These are all what they sound like, they all have a value associated with them (eg +0) and you use them to make a move when that tag is the dominant attribute involved in the move. However, while Prosperity represents the kinds and quality of items/capability that the steading has on hand/can muster, its much more potent of an item in Stonetop as better or worse Prosperity adjusts key attributes when it comes to gear.

Fortunes - Reflects the general morale and disposition of the steading and therefore reflects their willingness to let PCs requisition their precious assets (plenty of those assets directly related to the subject at hand) of Stonetop and take them on Expeditions. This is a huge component of the scarcity vs abundance theme that I'm speaking to. This number is continuously changing in the course of play (up and down) and reflect flagging morale and abundant morale and that flagging or abundance has significant action resolution input into play.

Surplus - Directly relates to the steadings production and plays a key role in managing load in the field, bartering, etc. The worse your Surplus is, the scarcer supplies and provisions are and the inverse is true; the higher the modifier the more abundant.

* Steading moves and Season moves all rely upon these statistics/tags being well-managed in the course of play. We're in the throes of Winter so we just made the Winter move. Population suddenly increased due to a large Threat from Gordon's Delve resolving so now there is a refugee crisis that Stonetop had to deal with. Suddenly Population swelled without a simultaneous Surplus gain.

When winter grips the land, whoever is most weary rolls 1d4+Population, and the steading consumes that much Surplus (minimum
0). If there isn’t enough, reduce Surplus to 0 and Fortunes by 1, then choose 1 from the list below:

  • A handful of the weaker or less fortunate starve or freeze to death; more children and elderly die than ought
  • An important NPC dies, their role unfilled
  • An important resource (one of the horses, the cistern, etc.) is lost or not maintained.


Well, we had a Population swell and not enough Surplus to handle it. So our game got hit with one of the above.

At the end of Winter we roll Fortunes and on a 7-9 we complete the same process above again. On a 6- same thing but multiple new Threats enter play.

All the rest of the Season moves (Spring, Summer, Fall) and Steading moves (Deploy, Muster, Meet With Disaster, Pull Together) interact with these statistics (which intersect with play to balance them, improve them, maintain them, stop them from freefalling) and when you don't get a 10+, you're dealing with important personnel loss, stat changes, asset loss. When you get a 6- you're not even getting what you wanted...something bad just happens and this feeds back onto play. You lose something important to you and now you have to figure out life without it for the time being and Make a Plan (a move) to replace that loss.

Requisition on a 6- means you get the asset/personnel you were wanting from the steading, but you reduce Fortunes by 1.

Forage is a huge move that is regularly used to replenish Provisions, Stock, or get a useful item when you're in the wild on an Expedition. When its winter and/or if you're in certain lands? You're dealing with a barren environment and now you're rolling Disadvantage on your move. Same goes for Trade and Barter if you're in a steading in Winter. Yeah, you can try to find what you're looking for but it will be scarce; take Disadvantage.

There is a very large host of PC build gear/tags/moves that intersect with the steading minigame (Homefront phase) and Expeditions in an effort to thwart the effects of scarcity, exposure, starvation/thirst, barren environs. All of the tools for your particular job in the steading are a tag that net you a +1 to a move related to your job. I won't go over all of the playbook moves because there are just too many to point out. But they engage with all of the mentioned above.




So that is my network of evidence that converges to make my case. Whether or not you agree with that, I hope you'll consider that network of evidence and reconsider your position that I'm just confirming my priors.

With that said, I will say that for the overwhelming bulk of our Stonetop games we've been playing is "as is." Only 2 sessions ago I made a singular change to to the system/play; a change to Struggle As One (Group Defy Danger for those unacquainted) or SAO for short. Everything else is "as is" (though when I GM it in the future, I will change Inventory to classic DW inventory with Surplus value likely being your default Adventuring Gear or Rations, player choice, when you Outfit for an Expedition + change Advantage to the typical AW take +1/-1 because Advantage/Disadvantage on moves, not damage, impacts the distribution far more than I feel is healthy for play + I would change the Relationship xp trigger to Bonds). But just this singular change of Struggle as One has netted significant results...yet another example of "system matters." Up until 2 sessions ago (approximately 26 total sessions of Stonetop GMed), I had yet to have a single Struggle As One more NOT achieve a 7-9. A 7-9 for Struggle As One effectively = a 10+ for a normal move (you get what you want with no complications - "you pull your weight"). This dramatically affected the distribution of results during play due to the reality that the mathematical model of the SAO by itself bulwarked by the varying ways to get Advantage and/or get a resource that you can spend to turn a 6- into a 7-9 or a 7-9 into a 10+. A singular 7-9 significantly snowballs play and perturbs the trajectory of a situation from this to that or this other trajectory. So when we changed it to "a Struggle As One 7-9 is a 7-9 just like any other move (success with complication/cost)", it has significantly impacted play just in this short interval.

One minor change to Group Defy Danger (Struggle As One) has impacted play significantly. It would be the same if I changed Advantage/Disadvantage on moves to take +1/-1. Or the aforementioned Blades Loadout procedure to a more DW-centric Inventory system. Or changed an xp trigger from broad to specific (eg Relationships to Bonds). Or changed any other number of things about the game.

System Matters....a lot. It matters a lot both in table-facing games with significant "system say", encoded GM constraint, transparent/codified action resolution (intricate or broad) and if the game is overwhelmingly GM-facing without much encoded GM constraint and with action resolution that is overwhelmingly "GM says/decides" (because "the GM's operating system is the system" in these scenarios and that system has significant impacts on the process of play, the feel of that process of play (for both the players and GM), and the trajectory of play (how it unfolds...who controls the gamestate when and how and how often).
 

Aldarc

Legend
We're definitely not going to agree on this subject (but we already knew that!). I'm at least glad that we agree on the bottom (there are a few differences between the two systems that bear out significant differences between the two systems, trivially illustrating that system matters...and it matters a lot...and whether you have a poorly-designed game or a well-designed games - of which both ST and DW are - a game engine is going to be very sensitive to changes; again "system matters").

Obviously, when it comes to scarcity vs abundance, I disagree that I've got a textual interpretation that isn't born out in the texts or in play. I'm quite confident that its not a situation where textual analysis is colored by my priors. One of my two Stonetop games is still early (6-7 sessions), but the other game is 5 months strong and a full season in (winter is gripping the land).

I hope this doesn't come off as aggressive. I'm not meaning it to be that. I'm going for comprehensive. Here is my network of evidence that makes up my case for scarcity vs abundance as an important theme in Stonetop. I'm going to sblock this because its basically just a "you and I conversation" and doesn't directly engage with this thread. I will say however, that the below is (IMO) ample evidence that subtly changing system has a large downstream effect on both theme/premise/content of play and on the process of play itself by way of interacting with the decision-points that the game engine + GMing puts before you.

1) After The Agricultural Revolution, whether you're a city-state or a small collective (such as Stonetop), climate change, pestilence/parasite, major weather events that affect animal husbandry/harvest yield/nutrition + sieges/raiding (leading to shortages and possibly famine) are major impactors to the success and wellness of a people. Even today in the developed world we're still dealing with our extreme sensitivity to these issues.

2) Expeditions, journeys, and trekking are all deeply sensitive to careful stewardship of your gear and supplies, an expected model of attrition vs a surprise event (such as forgetting to pack something out or losing provisions/gear to something unforeseen or someone consuming/using more than their share), and everyone being able carry their own weight. When any of these things go off (stewardship or attrition rate or everyone being able to carry their weight), things go wrong and tend toward a positive feedback loop which tends toward putting the endeavor in great peril. Simply put, expeditions are very sensitive to each of these things.

3) Stonetop has a huge amount of both discrete and integrated system architecture and procedures that yield reinforces this:

PRINCIPLE - EMBRACE THE FANTASTIC AND MUNDANE
"But at the same time, ground the game in human concerns: the turn of seasons, the coming harvest, friends and neighbors. Threaten the PCs with real-world dangers: harsh weather, wild beasts, starvation, exposure."

DESCRIPTORS, DANGERS, THREATS, OPPORTUNITIES, GAINS, ASSETS, STEADING IMPROVEMENTS

* You'll find plenty of descriptors that depict things like "well-fed gentry", "desperate beggars", deprivation/hunger/thirst/exposure as both Dangers and a Threat.

* You'll find "mark a debility from hunger," ample conversations about harvest and planting and gardens and livestock.

* Important assets/places of interest (that you have to upkeep, care for, and can and should be the target of moves or Threats) on Stonetop's steading map are the granary and the cistern. Resources called out are farming, hunting/trapping, draft horses/cart/iron plow for this work, and rain collection.

* 1 of 6 "Content" items specifically calls out Starvation (or the threat thereof) as featured.

* 2 of the 5 Seasonal Gains are specifically about scarcity vs abundance (Unexpected Bounty and Trade Opportunity), another is about weather (which isn't just color...it infects play with opportunities and dangers related to deprivation or threat - water in the cistern or flooding/damage to assets - or exposure while on expeditions). The final 2 (interesting news and valuable insight) are open-ended and will be about a myriad of things (opportunities and dangers/threats).

* The Steading Improvements have many features that directly play into this: Auroch's Hunting, Diverting the Stream, Greater Harvest, Improved Rainwater Collection, Mill, Marketplace, Township. Then you have Herd of Horses which indirectly plays into this (decreasing the stress on Requisitioning Stonetop's horses for Expeditions).

* Particular Threat moves or dangers play into this specifically (even beyond the general threat moves for Homefront and Expedition that can, and should IMO, interact with this) with "trigger shortages, hoarding," "despoil, loot, pillage, burn," "justify selfishness, neglect," "consume something (or someone)," "present a want or need," "lack of shelter, water, or wood for a long-burning fire," "hunger, if you can't afford food," "exposure to harsh weather, if you can't afford shelter," "apathy from those who could/should help."

PERSONAGES, STATS, MOVES

* When you're making your Stonetop, you create a large suite of NPCs to manage the division of labor and expertise in Stonetop. These experts are essential in dealing with the maintenance of Stonetop's buildings and infrastructure and livestock and fields and water collection and laws and mediation and new construction projects and public works/wellfare. Everything from engineers to publicans to stonemasons to carpenters to farmers to midwifes etc etc etc. And their tools. These people are terribly important (because your GM should be putting pressure on them during Homefront) and ensuring they have tools or upgrading their tools is extremely important. You lose one of these people or you lose their tools and now you have a problem.

* Size, Prosperity, Population, Defense - These all come directly from Dungeon World's ample steading chapter and, while they're cribbed fairly directly, they integrate with the rest of the Homefront moves and Homefront phase and Homefront Threats/Opportunities/Dangers to a degree that Dungeon World doesn't possess. "The Steading Mini-game" is something that isn't central to DW while it is not just central, but fundamental to Stonetop. These are all what they sound like, they all have a value associated with them (eg +0) and you use them to make a move when that tag is the dominant attribute involved in the move. However, while Prosperity represents the kinds and quality of items/capability that the steading has on hand/can muster, its much more potent of an item in Stonetop as better or worse Prosperity adjusts key attributes when it comes to gear.

Fortunes - Reflects the general morale and disposition of the steading and therefore reflects their willingness to let PCs requisition their precious assets (plenty of those assets directly related to the subject at hand) of Stonetop and take them on Expeditions. This is a huge component of the scarcity vs abundance theme that I'm speaking to. This number is continuously changing in the course of play (up and down) and reflect flagging morale and abundant morale and that flagging or abundance has significant action resolution input into play.

Surplus - Directly relates to the steadings production and plays a key role in managing load in the field, bartering, etc. The worse your Surplus is, the scarcer supplies and provisions are and the inverse is true; the higher the modifier the more abundant.

* Steading moves and Season moves all rely upon these statistics/tags being well-managed in the course of play. We're in the throes of Winter so we just made the Winter move. Population suddenly increased due to a large Threat from Gordon's Delve resolving so now there is a refugee crisis that Stonetop had to deal with. Suddenly Population swelled without a simultaneous Surplus gain.

When winter grips the land, whoever is most weary rolls 1d4+Population, and the steading consumes that much Surplus (minimum
0). If there isn’t enough, reduce Surplus to 0 and Fortunes by 1, then choose 1 from the list below:


  • A handful of the weaker or less fortunate starve or freeze to death; more children and elderly die than ought
  • An important NPC dies, their role unfilled
  • An important resource (one of the horses, the cistern, etc.) is lost or not maintained.


Well, we had a Population swell and not enough Surplus to handle it. So our game got hit with one of the above.

At the end of Winter we roll Fortunes and on a 7-9 we complete the same process above again. On a 6- same thing but multiple new Threats enter play.

All the rest of the Season moves (Spring, Summer, Fall) and Steading moves (Deploy, Muster, Meet With Disaster, Pull Together) interact with these statistics (which intersect with play to balance them, improve them, maintain them, stop them from freefalling) and when you don't get a 10+, you're dealing with important personnel loss, stat changes, asset loss. When you get a 6- you're not even getting what you wanted...something bad just happens and this feeds back onto play. You lose something important to you and now you have to figure out life without it for the time being and Make a Plan (a move) to replace that loss.

Requisition on a 6- means you get the asset/personnel you were wanting from the steading, but you reduce Fortunes by 1.

Forage is a huge move that is regularly used to replenish Provisions, Stock, or get a useful item when you're in the wild on an Expedition. When its winter and/or if you're in certain lands? You're dealing with a barren environment and now you're rolling Disadvantage on your move. Same goes for Trade and Barter if you're in a steading in Winter. Yeah, you can try to find what you're looking for but it will be scarce; take Disadvantage.

There is a very large host of PC build gear/tags/moves that intersect with the steading minigame (Homefront phase) and Expeditions in an effort to thwart the effects of scarcity, exposure, starvation/thirst, barren environs. All of the tools for your particular job in the steading are a tag that net you a +1 to a move related to your job. I won't go over all of the playbook moves because there are just too many to point out. But they engage with all of the mentioned above.




So that is my network of evidence that converges to make my case. Whether or not you agree with that, I hope you'll consider that network of evidence and reconsider your position that I'm just confirming my priors.

With that said, I will say that for the overwhelming bulk of our Stonetop games we've been playing is "as is." Only 2 sessions ago I made a singular change to to the system/play; a change to Struggle As One (Group Defy Danger for those unacquainted) or SAO for short. Everything else is "as is" (though when I GM it in the future, I will change Inventory to classic DW inventory with Surplus value likely being your default Adventuring Gear or Rations, player choice, when you Outfit for an Expedition + change Advantage to the typical AW take +1/-1 because Advantage/Disadvantage on moves, not damage, impacts the distribution far more than I feel is healthy for play + I would change the Relationship xp trigger to Bonds). But just this singular change of Struggle as One has netted significant results...yet another example of "system matters." Up until 2 sessions ago (approximately 26 total sessions of Stonetop GMed), I had yet to have a single Struggle As One more NOT achieve a 7-9. A 7-9 for Struggle As One effectively = a 10+ for a normal move (you get what you want with no complications - "you pull your weight"). This dramatically affected the distribution of results during play due to the reality that the mathematical model of the SAO by itself bulwarked by the varying ways to get Advantage and/or get a resource that you can spend to turn a 6- into a 7-9 or a 7-9 into a 10+. A singular 7-9 significantly snowballs play and perturbs the trajectory of a situation from this to that or this other trajectory. So when we changed it to "a Struggle As One 7-9 is a 7-9 just like any other move (success with complication/cost)", it has significantly impacted play just in this short interval.

One minor change to Group Defy Danger (Struggle As One) has impacted play significantly. It would be the same if I changed Advantage/Disadvantage on moves to take +1/-1. Or the aforementioned Blades Loadout procedure to a more DW-centric Inventory system. Or changed an xp trigger from broad to specific (eg Relationships to Bonds). Or changed any other number of things about the game.

System Matters....a lot. It matters a lot both in table-facing games with significant "system say", encoded GM constraint, transparent/codified action resolution (intricate or broad) and if the game is overwhelmingly GM-facing without much encoded GM constraint and with action resolution that is overwhelmingly "GM says/decides" (because "the GM's operating system is the system" in these scenarios and that system has significant impacts on the process of play, the feel of that process of play (for both the players and GM), and the trajectory of play (how it unfolds...who controls the gamestate when and how and how often).
You win 1 Internet point. I'm not going to argue against your wall of text.
 
Last edited:

pemerton

Legend
after re-reading a lot of pertinent areas of the playtest materials, I think that you are eisegeting the theme you wanted out of Stonetop into the texts rather than exegeting one of the major themes out of the texts. And I think that this colors your analysis and views of the game's flaws pretty significantly here.
You win 1 Internet point. I'm not going to argue against your gish galloping wall of text.
You criticised someone's exegesis of the text, and then when they set out their textual evidence you ridicule them for it. That seems a bit unnecessary!
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You win 1 Internet point. I'm not going to argue against your gish galloping wall of text.

Mod Note:
During a traditional gish gallop, the person presents a long series of specious, poorly founded arguments and occasional false statements.

If you are going to disengage, maybe don't do it with accusations that you then aren't going to back up. Poor form, that.

Folks need to learn to walk away without the nasty parting shots.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Yeah you might be right... but at least in this thread it wasn't the pro D&D side that made that statement...
Sure. But IMO, it doesn’t really matter who did it last or first when we all just want it to end.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top