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D&D 5E Why not Alternity? (Or, will or how might WotC do SF?)

This really seems like the crux of it, to me--the sense that D&D is just essentially perfect as is, and any retrograde design elements or major gaps in its ruleset are actually very good, smart, and intentional, and also who needs power windows in your car when you have these awesome cranks for rolling down the window by hand?
What is the purpose of this? If you find the conversation tiresome then you are not compelled to contribute to it.

Good faith discussion requires the charitable reading. This emphatically is not.
 

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WoTC may have cornered the Fantasy RPG market but it appears for non-fantasy stuff most people go elsewhere. IMHO I think it's likely a long lasting reflex to the glut of D20 (3.x) IP conversions that flooded the market on the early 2000's . . . and didn't do very well - mainly (again IMHO) because the system that was a good fit for a certain type of genre fantasy didn't always translate well to other, IP specific, genres (I'm remembering the likes of Judge Dredd D20 and Call of Cthulhu D20 here).

In particular, except for Mutants and Masterminds (which progressively evolved away from traditional
D&D in most ways) the attempt to use it for superhero games were--underwhelming.
 

I'm not quite sure what you're saying here.

But in general people seem to argue that combat and social interaction should be viewed similarly. They are not similar however (Social interaction is also the medium through which the game is played, while combat is usually more self-containable). The best social mechanics I've seen (such as Exalted 3rd intimacies system) tend to begin with that recognition.

I'm saying that if "I just want to convince him and roll a D20" is not okay then neither should be "I just want to fight him and roll a D20" yet plenty of people not only want the latter, its often presented that being able to do it is a virtue. And no, I don't think I buy that in terms of game value being able to do one is better or worse than the other.
 

I'm saying that if "I just want to convince him and roll a D20" is not okay then neither should be "I just want to fight him and roll a D20"
Obviously it wouldn't be. I can't think of a single case where a player says "I fight him" and then a skill roll is made.

I'm not sure that's what you meant, but again your meaning was unclear.
 
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Obviously it wouldn't be. I can't think of a single case where a player says "I fight him" and then a skill roll is made.

People have been picking a target, rolling a hit and rolling damage ever since OD&D; they get downright resentful if they actually have to make decisions beyond that in some cases.

The issue is both situations can potentially require some thought as to basic tactics to used to engage, and in both cases some people don't feel up to doing that. But only one of them gets commonly defended as okay, and the asymmetry makes me roll my eyes pretty hard.
 

What is the purpose of this? If you find the conversation tiresome then you are not compelled to contribute to it.

Good faith discussion requires the charitable reading. This emphatically is not.

The original poster didn't say a thing about "Let's talk about using D&D as an SF game basis." He talked about WOTC reviving Alternity. So I'd say its entirely relevant to the thread when people suggest "They should just use the 5e engine" that the its not a particularly good choice, and that it may entirely be because they're used to it that they're suggesting so. That statement isn't a given, nor is its conclusion, but its hardly threadcrapping.
 

People have been picking a target, rolling a hit and rolling damage ever since OD&D; they get downright resentful if they actually have to make decisions beyond that in some cases.

The issue is both situations can potentially require some thought as to basic tactics to used to engage, and in both cases some people don't feel up to doing that. But only one of them gets commonly defended as okay, and the asymmetry makes me roll my eyes pretty hard.
No doubt that's because you assume they should be symmetrical.
 

The original poster didn't say a thing about "Let's talk about using D&D as an SF game basis." He talked about WOTC reviving Alternity. So I'd say its entirely relevant to the thread when people suggest "They should just use the 5e engine" that the its not a particularly good choice, and that it may entirely be because they're used to it that they're suggesting so. That statement isn't a given, nor is its conclusion, but its hardly threadcrapping.
Perhaps not 'threadcrapping'. One doesn't really need the whole portmanteau.
 



Not perhaps entirely, but if its okay someone can sidestep even the most basic tactics in combat because they don't want to or don't feel up to it, then yes, the same thing applies to social processes as far as I'm concerned. The fact other people don't like it when they do that is, bluntly, not their business.
I think your point is really well-made. Some degree of asymmetry is fine, but the idea that it's okay for combat (and often other areas) to be resolved with a roll and basically no description or the like is fine, where with social stuff, you have to RP and the skills shouldn't even be used in a lot of cases is pretty ridiculous.

I mean, I get where it comes from - a lot of people grew up playing D&D for decades without any social rules beyond Reaction rolls and the like, whereas the combat rules were always detailed. But like, from literally a year after I started playing D&D, I was also playing RPGs that had social rules, so I didn't grow up that way (I started in 1989 not 1979 or whenever). So people are used to this approach where social skills are basically "decorative".

And then D&D itself doesn't help because in 3/4/5E you have such poor/limited guidance on what they can/should do (whereas there's tons of guidance on many other tests in the game). I think if they do a revised PHB or a 6E they really need to learn from what other RPGs have been doing since the 1990s and especially since about 2010. Then have an optional rule which basically amounts to "treat them as decorative", so people who want to do that can keep on doing that and not feel bad.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
So far, I’ve contributed actual experiences. Your most recent contribution is to tell people they just don’t know enough to like the right things.

It’s not a legitimate “criticism” or argument. People aren’t broadly speaking from ignorance here.

I’ve played other games more than I’ve played D&D, especially before the 4e era, but even in the last ten years I’ve played other games nearly as much as I’ve played 5e.

I played 2e a couple times before I played GURPS and then VtM in the 90s. I disliked 3.5 so much I played a hacked WoD in fantasy worlds rather than mess with D&D. I’ve played Monsterhearts and Monster of The Week, Fate, Fantasy Age, The One Ring, Mouseguard, D6 Star Wars and Saga Edition and the FFG version (which right from character creation no one in my group liked at all, so I can’t say we gave it a fair shake), and others, in the last decade.

We semi-regularly play a game of mostly improv RP with a resolution system that is just a d6, rolled either flat, with advantage, or with disadvantage, depending on the narrative (I’m an expert swordsman, so I roll with advantage unless my opponent is also expert, sort of thing), and adjudication based on mixed results for anything in the middle of the die, and negotiated consequences.

Ive been building and iterating a modern fantasy game based on skill rank dice pools with no static numerical mods in the game at all and stats that are each a resource pool rather than adding directly to skills or secondary stats, and a process of play that mixes flashback-based “retroactive planning” with success ladder resolution and ability score point based resistance to consequences.

Whatever flaws may be in my arguments here, ignorance isn’t one of them.

Now this is all super interesting and enlightening! I was definitely pigeon-holing you, and I was wrong. But I'm confused now. Do you really think 5e's lack of guidance (and very skimpy rules) related to resolving social interactions is intentional on WotC's part, and a genuinely good design decision? Or are you against the idea of social-related mechanics in general?

But also, if this is just going to be more of you claiming I'm telling people they play things wrong, or that they should be playing differently, let's just part ways. I'm a relative newcomer to these forums--not to forums in general, just these--and I've never seen so many people spoiling for a fight. Just absolutely ready to go in for the kill, over anything. Can't tell if it's years of bad blood or too many rehashed arguments, but it feels like I've walked into a gladiator pit. It's pretty disturbing. I'm certainly no stranger to flying off the handle, but if you're going to assume everything I say is an attack, I'm fine with just getting right the hell out of here. Pretty sure I'm headed that way anyway. I'm interested in talking about game mechanics in general, and it seems like that's impossible here without the knives coming out.
 

Hatmatter

Laws of Mordenkainen, Elminster, & Fistandantilus
In the revised edition thread I brought up the idea of WotC expanding into science fiction after the 50th anniversary, so in 2025 and beyond, and mentioned Alternity which, for some reason, I always forget about. I think it is because the late 90s were one of the longer fallow periods in my gaming career, when I didn't play for several years (my interest was re-perked when I heard about 3E and discovered a little website called "Eric Noah's 3E News" way back in 1999).

So I missed Alternity, at least when it came out. I did discover it a few years later but while I never played it, I was impressed with how it handled SF with a proto-3E rules set and liked the way it offered different science fiction settings (Star Drive = space opera, Gamma World = post-apocalyptic, Dark Matter = paranormal modern).

Alternity formed the basis for the later d20 Modern and Future games, although I also can't really comment on those, as I didn't play them. But I mention Alternity because I prefer the aesthetic of it; "Alternity" is catchier and more evocative than "d20 Modern" and "d20 Future."

Anyhow, I suggested that after the anniversary in 2024, presumably with revised core rulebooks, that WotC should start the second decade of 5E ("Phase Two") with a broader, more diverse approach to D&D. I'm guessing that over the next few years (2021-23) they will complete "Phase One" by fleshing out the classic D&D game in the form of 5E books, including coverage of the planes and the last of the modern classics, Dark Sun (and possibly Dragonlance, but I think it less likely than the other two). Meaning, "Phase One" is about fleshing out the possibilities of D&D proper, while "Phase Two" would continue that stream, but broaden it, offering a wider range of gaming possibilities, both within fantasy D&D, but also (potentially) non-fantasy gaming. Or that's what I'd like to see, at least!

So what do you think about reviving Alternity, at least as the basic template of a SF game by WotC? Could it be popular? It seems that translating the popularity of D&D to science fiction is a never-fully-realized holy grail of RPGs. Starfinder seems popular enough to keep publishing, but I'm guessing it isn't nearly as popular as Pathfinder. But just because it has never been done, doesn't mean it isn't possible, and of course a SF game doesn't have to be as popular as D&D (it likely never will be) for it to be a success. By "success" I mean ongoing publication, at least beyond a few years - which is what seems to always happen.

On the other hand, WotC might think that the market is already covered, with Fria Ligan's various SF games (Tales from the Loop, Coriolis, Mutant, Alien, etc), Starfinder, Numenera, etc. On the other hand, WotC has something that none of those companies have: a 50 million strong audience who would be more prone to try "D&D in space" or "D&D in a post-apocalyptic America" than something they've never even heard of.

What say you? Do you see WotC expanding beyond fantasy D&D? If so, when and how?
I cannot speak to Alternity, but I would really love to see Wizard's publish new and different games and it would be great to see them put their talent behind a robust science fiction game. That would be wonderful.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
What is the purpose of this? If you find the conversation tiresome then you are not compelled to contribute to it.

Good faith discussion requires the charitable reading. This emphatically is not.

Not sure what you're talking about--am I acting in bad faith toward the OP, toward someone else? Who knows?--but very cool to just wade into an in-progress exchange not to offer anything, just to vaguely stir the pot.

For real, this forum is kind of a nightmare.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Now this is all super interesting and enlightening! I was definitely pigeon-holing you, and I was wrong. But I'm confused now. Do you really think 5e's lack of guidance (and very skimpy rules) related to resolving social interactions is intentional on WotC's part, and a genuinely good design decision? Or are you against the idea of social-related mechanics in general?
I think wotc built 5e according to player feedback and decades of experience, and they did it mostly right. (there are glaring weaknesses, like the advice in the DMG being largely useless) The lack of guidance is, i think, a result of running out of time to complete the core books. The "skimpy"* rules for social interaction is intentional, however, and an extremely good design decision.

The reason for this is that social interaction directly and actively benefits from being able to just set the rules aside, and only use them to determine how good a character is at a type of action, and resolve interactions the result of which are in doubt. IMO, combat does not benefit from that, and even "exploration" ie overcoming non-combat physical challenges should be less free-form than social interaction. I do think 5e crapped the bed a bit on exploration, simply in that it at least needs something like the structure of some downtime activities (which are run like very simple skill challenges with a clear and easily adjudicated ladder of success from total failure, through levels of mixed results, to complete success.)

I wouldn't want social interaction to have that, though, outside of very optional rules for groups that feel they need it, because social interaction can just be done at the table. Knowing that I need to make an Athletics check, a Perception Check, and an Acrobatics check, to parkour through and over the obstacles of a rooftop without falling or getting caught by someone pursuing me or giving them any clues as to my identity, gives me a rough model of what my character knows about the situation in front of them, just like the combat mechanics let me know what my warrior character knows about the battle she is facing.

I'd be fine with that level of mechanization at the very most for social interaction.
But also, if this is just going to be more of you claiming I'm telling people they play things wrong, or that they should be playing differently, let's just part ways. I'm a relative newcomer to these forums--not to forums in general, just these--and I've never seen so many people spoiling for a fight. Just absolutely ready to go in for the kill, over anything. Can't tell if it's years of bad blood or too many rehashed arguments, but it feels like I've walked into a gladiator pit. It's pretty disturbing. I'm certainly no stranger to flying off the handle, but if you're going to assume everything I say is an attack, I'm fine with just getting right the hell out of here. Pretty sure I'm headed that way anyway. I'm interested in talking about game mechanics in general, and it seems like that's impossible here without the knives coming out.
This is a contentious thread, but most threads on this forum are just people sharing experiences. Well, to be fair, I have a bout a dozen people ignored, so it's possible that even my own recent threads about treasure and magic items, and custom enemies, respectively, feature the same sort of comments and I'm just not seeing them.

I generally see less "knives out" action here than i do on reddit or twitter, but maybe rpg.net might have less argument and more discussion? I honestly don't know I stopped going there when an advice thread I started got hijacked and overrun by a couple of jerks insisting that my design goals were bad and I was an idiot for not renaming Umbramancy or Sombramancy (ie shadow magic) to "Umbrancy" or "Sombrancy" lol. Apperently gamers don't know what -mancy means?

Anyway, yeah, if your intent wasn't to suggest that other people just aren't familiar with other games and that's why they like dnd 5e, fair enough. It's possible that your comment was just very similar to comments made constantly by a handful of posters here, and I read it that way because of the similarity. If so, my apologies.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
There are also biases regarding how we all run dnd and other games.

In my group, the players can suggest alternate proficiencies to use to do a thing pretty freely, and as long as there is no glaring "that is nonsense" element, we just let it ride. What this helps allow is for a check with persuasion to mean something different than a check with insight, even though both are a roll to "influence someone". We let proficiency with Dragonchess stand in for a Tactics skill, alongside History, and Insight. That means you can use any of those three to add proficiency to a roll to analyse a situation tactically.

So, when I ask a player what they do, and they decide to do what some games might call "read a bad situation", the results lean in different ways depending on what skill gets used. So, I will ask for a moderate (ie dc 15) Insight check, but the group knows I mean "a check to understand motives and predict behaviors", and that many proficiencies could apply. So, one character might roll an insight check, while another might roll "tactics" using history or dragonchess proficiency. In all cases it's just a wisdom or intelligence check with proficiency, using a standardized ladder of DCs.

The difference comes in narrating results. Success on an Insight check tells you more about the people and their mental and emotional states, where a tactical analysis roll means you are studying positioning, apparent hierarchies, and comparing them to your knowledge of conflicts at the relevant scale.

The reason I see this as promoting improvisation, and even see that being the case in a game where the DM isn't using the optional rules for using different proficiencies with a given ability check, is that the call and response is part of the system, but is looser than it is in any pbta game I've played, and isn't complicated with any other mechanics. It's just person to person interaction managed by very simple resolution mechanics that are open to interpretation. For me and nearly every gamer I know or have observed, interpretation on both sides of an interaction benefits improv, while highly mechanised and prescribed process diminishes it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
WoTC basically gave up the rights to 'Star Frontiers' ages ago: there's a website that's been running for 20 years now with all the original Star Frontiers stuff free to download with the permission of WoTC (the owner of the site specifically sought out WoTC's permission and it was granted provided the IP wasn't being distributed for profit - ie it has to remain free).
Wow, this information is way out of date: WotC pulled those permissions in 2018 and had the materials taken down, as they sell the Star Frontiers material on DMsGuils now.

As to the main topic, I could see a Stsr Frontiers Setting for 5E. Not much else.
 

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