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Why System Matters for Roleplaying

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
I am of the option it comes down to how the player relates to their character. System helps but it is how the player plays within the system.
 

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Mallus

Legend
System Matters, but…

… it doesn’t matter as much to some people, ie they tend to play similarly regardless of system.

… it doesn’t matter in the same way. That is, how well a set of mechanics works for players is, to some extent, a matter of individual taste.

The same mechanics produce different effects on different players. People require different kinds of rules support for the same kind of campaigns. Some systems just feel off, even if on an intellectual level they seem well-designed (this is Fate for me).

I guess I’m trying to say ’system‘ is as much art as engineering…
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I am of the option it comes down to how the player relates to their character. System helps but it is how the player plays within the system.
I don't actually think that matters all that much. How the PC interacts woth the diegetic frame is really what's at hand. Well, to be fair, it does matter, just maybe not as much as knowing the rules of the game you're playing, at least in terms of the OP.
 

Note that I am not talking about meta tools that directly reward in-genre play. I am talking about general rules that create a set of "physics" that reflect the genre.

Thoughts?
The meta mechanics can overcome some inconsistent physics mechanics, but, yeah, generally, I see rules expectations have profound effects once the system is learned.

Certain players, however, are too inflexible to alter their playstyles to fit the "physics" and/or the meta. Most often, these are people who have played only one game for many years, but have been forced into new groups due to outside circumstances. In such cases, the reaction is often to claim the new system/group/GM is the problem, rather than the player simply being a mismatch to the available group.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
In such cases, the reaction is often to claim the new system/group/GM is the problem, rather than the player simply being a mismatch to the available group.
We were siting in a beer garden and one GM was talking about hacking Pathfinder to do an anime-supers sort of game, which I wasn't going to play in, except I mentioned that they could probably get a set of rules to better emulate that setting. He relied that it was easy enough to do what he wanted, and they were all on board with it. So I was like Koo Koo, gives me time to work on my CoC Mad Baron game, and it did, worked out great. That GM is also our perpetual 5e DM.

I think his answer is going to be a lot of people's answers, it is easy enough to do what they want to do. Expectations and play-styles will align, probably that is even what they are looking for, a different setting where they don't have to learn new rules.
 

I think his answer is going to be a lot of people's answers, it is easy enough to do what they want to do. Expectations and play-styles will align, probably that is even what they are looking for, a different setting where they don't have to learn new rules.
The converse problem is that many won't try again with more changes if the GM didn't make enough to get it to feel right.

My own experiences in the 80's and 90s were that many who tried a setting which had been ported completely missed the point of the setting, and often disliked the setting based upon playing a poorly ported version.

In the 00's, the OGL brought this widespread... and meant a lot of great settings got crappy d20 versions which alienated potential fans by being "neither fish nor fowl."

Even the best of the conversions (Traveller T20, for example) had the NFNF issue - it had a couple big changes from d20, and a bunch of compromises on the Traveller tropes to accommodate the d20 engine (eg: extra atts, using the 1-20+ of d20, instead of traveller's 1-15 for atts, using feats for WP instead of skills.)
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
The converse problem is that many won't try again with more changes if the GM didn't make enough to get it to feel right.
Yes, though with these guys, they were an older group that had been playing a while, and I was the newcomer. That game was probably them yucking it up over beers, which isn't too far off how we play. The other GM likes Paranoia, which goes over well. More cohesive long term groups are better at hacking and playing hacked games, for newer groups, playing close to the RAW is probably better.

Conversions need finesse I think, something like Traveller 20, I remember finding the leveling weird in a way that I didn't with Stars Without Number. Some people really liked the d20 games, where they didn't really appeal to me, I don't know why, maybe it was coming from Palladium and Rifts.

In my mind, I seem to have the feeling that some conversions worked fairly well, outside of the d20 arena, they escape me now. I saw the Traveller to BRP conversions, looked pretty good, esp the 2300 one.
 

Conversions need finesse I think, something like Traveller 20, I remember finding the leveling weird in a way that I didn't with Stars Without Number. Some people really liked the d20 games, where they didn't really appeal to me, I don't know why, maybe it was coming from Palladium and Rifts.
Part of the problem is that level-up was the holdback from the d20 STL - so examples were intentionally absent.
 

Yora

Legend
Call of Cthulhu doesn't, 2d20 doesn't, GURPS doesn't, Traveller doesn't. I'm not doubting that some systems (other than D&D and OSR stuff) do, but what you're talking about doesn't seem like the default.
Do characters advance in those games? Is there something that impacts how fast they advance based on what happened in the game?
 

Call of Cthulhu doesn't, 2d20 doesn't, GURPS doesn't, Traveller doesn't. I'm not doubting that some systems (other than D&D and OSR stuff) do, but what you're talking about doesn't seem like the default.
.Yes, they do.
Do characters advance in those games? Is there something that impacts how fast they advance based on what happened in the game?
CoC (and other BRP, including Pendragon) - what you use in a significant task is elligible for a check-roll at end of session and/or character month. If that roll is over the current score, raise the score by an amount (which varies by which edition/flavor of BRP game).

GURPS is point build; XP are simply more character points, except that spending them on attributes is doubled cost.

Traveller varies widely by edition. In CT, you can engage in training, but few campaigns last long enough to make ability adancement (atts, skills) actually happen. In MT, one tally per skill per 180 days, each character month, roll 2d6+tallies for 15+ to raise it.. TTNE: Skills and Initiative are raised with experience points, but Initiative XP is its own pool separate from skills. T4: skills used in significant ways get marked. End of session, the GM awards XP, which must be spent to make checks to increase the skill at the end of session. I don't recall if XP can be saved or not, but skill uses cannot. T20: Standard D&D except for the rates. T5: I don't know. MGT 1: weeks of training based upon total levels of skills held. MGT2: don't know.

All of these reward specific behaviors in play.
CoC/BRP: rewards use of a broad range of skills with increased chance of raising at least one. If you don't use a skill in play in (what the GM determines is appropriate) significant use, you don't advance. There is no GM awarded bonus for good RP in most flavors, but Pendragon's Glory system does do that. (It's a fairly edge case, being the only officially BRP game to not use d100 for skill tests, but instead d20.)

GURPS gives specific guidelines, I recall that it's 1 XP for play, 1 for good roleplay, and 1 for accomplishing goals/missions. My books aren't to hand to get the rest.

TNE and T4 Traveller explicitly do allow GMs to give XP for roleplay and/or mission completion.
T20 has a very different schedule of XP from D&D, but does include mission completion and roleplay.
MT and CT don't explicitly allow GM awarded general experience; MT only allows used skills, and CT only allows improvement programs taking years, or training regimens by qualified instructors taking weeks.
MGT1 - I don't recall if it explicitly allows giving an extra week of training per session, but it is a not uncommon housenrule.

Almost all games have some behavioral reward, at least in the version of behavioral reward used in my undergrad psych courses. Very few games do not.
 

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