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

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Well, multiclassing galore was the intended use of D20 Modern. Whether the interactions were balanced can be questioned (knowing the 3e era, my instinct it "probably not") but the frequent multiclassing was the system working as intended.
I actually loved it first but the cracks started to show very quickly.
 

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Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Though one can note few of their non-D&D games seemed to last for an extended period (there's a couple you can argue did) so its not going to be clear to WOTC that going there is what they want to do.
True. Their support of products wasn't very good which didn't help. Switching Star Frontiers from d100 to the FASERIP colour coded table was weird. That didn't help either.

Judging from the past, if WoTC does a sci-fi game it will be Gamma World and it will an adapted version of 5e. Gamma World is the game that got the most editions, 7 so far. Probably work for them, but not for me.
 


Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
if you need mechanics to do social ROLE playing you need to think outside the box. D&D very much has the chops for social interaction etc. and we did it for years without a skill system even.
The fact that you can do social interactions without mechanics doesn't mean that's the optimal situation, and that there should never be rules for it. By that logic there shouldn't be rules for anything, since you could manage just about anything in an RPG without rules. It's just storytelling around the campfire, right?

Seriously though, do you really not see the value in having mechanics that support a PC who's supposed to be a charmer, or someone who excels at intrigue, without just seeing how witty and suave the player is (in the opinion of the GM, like some recurring audition)? Might as well just do that for everything that isn't swinging a sword.

Can my character pick this lock?
I don't know...can you?
Can my character intimidate this guy?
Well, go ahead, try to intimidate me! If you yell loud enough I guess it works or something. Anyway who cares, I statted out these hobgoblins so let's stop wasting time and get back to rolling initiative already, amirite fellas?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The fact that you can do social interactions without mechanics doesn't mean that's the optimal situation, and that there should never be rules for it. By that logic there shouldn't be rules for anything, since you could manage just about anything in an RPG without rules. It's just storytelling around the campfire, right?

Seriously though, do you really not see the value in having mechanics that support a PC who's supposed to be a charmer, or someone who excels at intrigue, without just seeing how witty and suave the player is (in the opinion of the GM, like some recurring audition)? Might as well just do that for everything that isn't swinging a sword.

Can my character pick this lock?
I don't know...can you?
Can my character intimidate this guy?
Well, go ahead, try to intimidate me! If you yell loud enough I guess it works or something. Anyway who cares, I statted out these hobgoblins so let's stop wasting time and get back to rolling initiative already, amirite fellas?
I think going all the way to no rules for social interaction is probably only going to work for a small number of people, but I do find that social interaction, for my group and a lot of others, benefits from few distinct rules elements, each of which is fairly broad, and mostly just tell you how good a character is at a general aspect of social interaction. Meanwhile, I find that combat is pretty unsatisfying in games that try to streamline it to the same kind of loose framework.

I also find D&D exploration could do with more mechanization, so I guess it kinda breaks down to physical vs non-physical challenges, for me.
 

Considering I stated earlier in the thread I don't want a D&D in space variant game I'm not attached to classes. I don't want everything about my sci-fi characters to be tied to a class concept just like in D&D.

For example, in The Expanse the main characters all know how to operate the ships auto-doctor features.

I would like Professions with levels of specializations you buy in, a list of general sci-fi talents and a modified list of skills to reflect a sci-fi game.
That game already exists, several times over. Classless systems are pretty much the standard for SF RPGs, and have been for around 40 years.

There wouldn't be much point in WotC making it if they weren't going to cash in on the popularity of the D&D 5e rules.
 

I think going all the way to no rules for social interaction is probably only going to work for a small number of people, but I do find that social interaction, for my group and a lot of others, benefits from few distinct rules elements, each of which is fairly broad, and mostly just tell you how good a character is at a general aspect of social interaction. Meanwhile, I find that combat is pretty unsatisfying in games that try to streamline it to the same kind of loose framework.

I also find D&D exploration could do with more mechanization, so I guess it kinda breaks down to physical vs non-physical challenges, for me.
Talking is something you can do at the table. Hitting each other with swords and exploring the desert are less practical.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
Talking is something you can do at the table. Hitting each other with swords and exploring the desert are less practical.
This is true, but I think it really penalizes players who want to make someone with a gift for gab without having it themselves, and also potentially creates some very odd dynamics where PCs are convincing the GM of something, rather than an NPC who's a dufus, a mastermind, or anything else other than the GM. After all, I'm guessing you don't make someone sing a ballad at the table when they play a bard. Why force your fixer/spy/etc. to do the same when negotiating?
 

This is true, but I think it really penalizes players who want to make someone with a gift for gab without having it themselves, and also potentially creates some very odd dynamics where PCs are convincing the GM of something, rather than an NPC who's a dufus, a mastermind, or anything else other than the GM. After all, I'm guessing you don't make someone sing a ballad at the tabwhen they play a bard. Why force your fixer/spy/etc. to do the same when negotiating?
I always feel like this is a red herring. When I run social interaction scenes without dice I always adjudicate based on what the players say, not how they say it. They can even just describe the generel approach if they like.

The key is that you don't persuade the NPCs by making a dice roll, you do it by hitting the points you need to hit to persuade them.
 


True. Their support of products wasn't very good which didn't help. Switching Star Frontiers from d100 to the FASERIP colour coded table was weird. That didn't help either.

Judging from the past, if WoTC does a sci-fi game it will be Gamma World and it will an adapted version of 5e. Gamma World is the game that got the most editions, 7 so far. Probably work for them, but not for me.

Same here. Gamma World 4e (the most D&D-like of the editions depending on how you class the odd 7th edition) was my least favorite of the lot.
 

The fact that you can do social interactions without mechanics doesn't mean that's the optimal situation, and that there should never be rules for it. By that logic there shouldn't be rules for anything, since you could manage just about anything in an RPG without rules. It's just storytelling around the campfire, right?

Seriously though, do you really not see the value in having mechanics that support a PC who's supposed to be a charmer, or someone who excels at intrigue, without just seeing how witty and suave the player is (in the opinion of the GM, like some recurring audition)? Might as well just do that for everything that isn't swinging a sword.

From past experience with this kind of discussion, this is probably not going to get you anywhere. People who dislike social (and to a lesser degree, intellectual) mechanics are unlikely to move on it notably. Its a little too First Principal with them.
 

I always feel like this is a red herring. When I run social interaction scenes without dice I always adjudicate based on what the players say, not how they say it. They can even just describe the generel approach if they like.

The key is that you don't persuade the NPCs by making a dice roll, you do it by hitting the points you need to hit to persuade them.

If you don't think the latter is part of social skill application--and one not all players are good at--I have to disabuse you of that.
 

If you don't think the latter is part of social skill application--and one not all players are good at--I have to disabuse you of that.
It most definitely is. But then I never said you can do without all player social skills, just the aspect of social skills described in the post I was responding to i.e the idea that in a system without social skills it is the charisma of the player that matters.

Unlike turning on the charm, being able to articulate a basic approach to argument and conversation is not something that you can play a social character without. Not if it matters at all what gets said. (And it's also a far lower barrier to entry)

Having expertise in Persuasion but being really clueless as a player doesn't really get you very far.
"Can I roll to persuade the lord?"
"Of course you can. How are you trying to persuade him?"
"?"

This may be ok I guess if all the social scenes are pit stops between combat (but it kind of gives the lie to the idea that you can play a highly capable social character without some kind of player skill in the area, as you're not really getting that fantasy), but in any kind of game with lots of social intrigue the precise things that get said are going to matter. They have consequences and they are part of the fiction. You can't do without it.

I've played in games with really socially awkward characters who play characters with high social skills. It usually doesn't go very welll. If they don't know what approach to take, then others will just basically do all the talking through them.

Really, if making social play easier for the player who doesn't have great social capabilities of their own, the key skill is not Persuasion or Deception, it's Insight. This is because Insight or skills of a similar nature are scaffolding skills, they can give you hints. eg "He looks like he's tempted to do what you want but he seems afraid", is a hint that you might want to say something to try and bolster his courage or reassure him.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It most definitely is. But then I never said you can do without all player social skills, just the aspect of social skills describe in the post I was respoding to i.e the idea that in a system without social skills it is the charisma of the player that matters.

Unlike turning on the charm, being able to articulate a basic approach to argument and conversation is not something that you can play a social character without. Not if it matters at all what gets said. (And it's also a far lower barrier to entry)

Having expertise in Persuasion but being really clueless as a player doesn't really get you very far.
"Can I roll to persuade the lord?"
"Of course you can. How are you trying to persuade him?"
"?"

This may be ok I guess if all the social scenes are pit stops between combat (but it kind of gives the lie to the idea that you can play a highly capable social character without some kind of player skill in the area, as you're not really getting that fantasy), but in any kind of game with lots of social intrigue the precise things that get said are going to matter. They have consequences and they are part of the fiction. You can't do without it.

I've played in games with really socially awkward characters who play characters with high social skills. It usually doesn't go very welll. If they don't know what approach to take, then others will just basically do all the talking through them.

Really, if making social play easier for the player who doesn't have great social capabilities of their own the key skill is not Persuasion or Deception, it's Insight. This is because Insight, or skills of a similar nature are scaffolding skills, they can give you hints. eg "He looks like he's tempted to do what you want but he seems afraid", is a hint that you might want to say something to try and bolster his courage or reassure him.
As well, Insight can be used to use “being an effective listener” to get people on your side, and similar uses.
 


I've been watching the Expanse lately, and I've been thinking about knocking up a Sci Fi game of my own.

Lore/ feel wise, based off Spacemaster 1E, but using a hybrid SWSE and 5E ruleset (talent trees instead of archetypes, use of abilities similar to SWSE Force powers, but for everyone, middle ground scaling between the two systems).

Rather than getting stuck in one archetype, you can pick and choose your talents from different talent trees as you advance, but many have pre-requisites meaning sticking to one is better).

Classes (and talent trees) are (tenatively):

Armsman (Soldier, Brute, Tactician)
Astronaut (Explorer, Pilot, Systems Tech)
Technician (Med tech, Engineer, Researcher)
Noble (Leader, High born, Influencer)
Criminologist (Investigator, Scoundrel, Assassin)
Telepath (Visions, Control, Alteration, Self Mastery)
 

teitan

Legend
The fact that you can do social interactions without mechanics doesn't mean that's the optimal situation, and that there should never be rules for it. By that logic there shouldn't be rules for anything, since you could manage just about anything in an RPG without rules. It's just storytelling around the campfire, right?

Seriously though, do you really not see the value in having mechanics that support a PC who's supposed to be a charmer, or someone who excels at intrigue, without just seeing how witty and suave the player is (in the opinion of the GM, like some recurring audition)? Might as well just do that for everything that isn't swinging a sword.

Can my character pick this lock?
I don't know...can you?
Can my character intimidate this guy?
Well, go ahead, try to intimidate me! If you yell loud enough I guess it works or something. Anyway who cares, I statted out these hobgoblins so let's stop wasting time and get back to rolling initiative already, amirite fellas?
I see no value in it replacing player skill with a die roll no. I see value in it as a guideline but as a rule it hinders roleplaying that everything can be reduced to a die roll.
 


I see no value in it replacing player skill with a die roll no. I see value in it as a guideline but as a rule it hinders roleplaying that everything can be reduced to a die roll.
This is very inside the box thinking and a weird double standard which is highly restrictive to what people can play. Players constantly play characters who can do things that they themselves cannot, and that's not typically treated as replacing "player skill" or roleplaying with a die role. I mean, I can describe how to quite a few things my characters shouldn't be able to, does that mean my characters should be able to do them, simply by me carefully describing th to the DM? And of course the inverse. I have little expertise in picking locks, but have played PCs who were experts - should. I have to be able to describe lockpicking expertly?

Social skills are no different. Some people are simply good and experienced talkers and convincing. I play with lawyers, a senior psychiatrist, a journalist and others who talk for a living. Should they be able to consistently ignore the fact that they picked CHA 8 and skipped Persuasion and just "roleplay" their attempts? Equally one of my players for a long time was socially somewhat inept and whilst he could come with good reasoning and explain what his character would do was bad at RPing it, should he never have been allowed to succeed or forced to roll when others were not?

I don't think so. That'd be quite a double standard.

Equally the claim that using social skills eliminates or replaces RP is a nonsense. It's not even arguable. It's trivially untrue. The only reason we're really discussing this is that D&D, specifically, has had utterly naive and largely unscoped social rules for three editions now.

If D&D had well-written guidance on how to adjudicate social skills and their limitations and so on, like say, Dungeon World, and when to roll and when to just RP, this would be a non-conversation.

So that's where the real flaw lies here. Not in having or not having social skills, but the naive way D&D implements them, which simultaneously flexible and near useless. This is very clear when you have different DMs adjudicating similar situations. One DM may call for a Persuade roll practically every sentence, but not require much of an argument or RP. Another might basically ignore social skills and simply let the 8 CHA Barbo eloquently talk to the genteel lord, because the Barbo's player is good at that. Another still might require extremely good RP to even permit a roll. I've seen all these in action and more in-between. And that's on D&D. Many other systems have well-defined social skill rules that neither eliminate RP nor allow you to potentially ignore investment in certain stats and abilities. In fact it's commonplace in RPGs with systems designed in the last 5-10 years. That's without bogging down into any "social combat" nonsense note (that's soooooo '00s dahling!!!).

D&D just needs to stop treating social skills as identical in value and functionality as say, lockpicking or stealth, and give them more defined rules. What they can and cannot do, what conditions should be true for a roll and so on. It can be done. If necessary you could remove conventional rolling of them entirely and simply make having the skill a certain bonus allow you to assert X fiction but that feels more like a class based ability.

Anyway, there's no earthly reason an SF RPG should suffer the same issues as 5E, even if much of the same system were used.
 

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