Your thoughts on Generic versus Bespoke systems.

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Whether a game is bespoke or universal really is a matter of preference. If the game has bespoke elements, how easily are those dispensed with or adapted? If the game has universal elements, how easily do they map to a specific setting?
I have to disagree here. Taking the approach "we can modify and houserule games so therefore nothing has a set category" isn't useful. (And if it's removable without changing the rules and mechanics, then it's not really part of what makes a game bespoke.) We need to examine the games natively. For example, you can't just pull out the playbooks and heavily structure play loop from Blades in the Dark, nor the crew sheet, etc.
 

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GURPS is generic, D&D/Traveller is Bespoke...

OD&D is Sword & Sorcery altogether, Traveller is like "Hard" Sci-Fi.
Core GURPS meanwhile always has litanies of features that are applicable across multiple genres, sorted by categories of effect and not setting.
 

Yes, but most of the PbtA and FitD games rebuild their core systems, play books, etc to fit very narrow play loops. That is what those core systems are good at.
The loops for BitD aren't ultimately significantly narrower than those of D&D using "gritty rest" rules and Apocalypse World isn't a bespoke game; it's a generic game with bespoke playbooks. And because the bespeaking is in the playbooks not the core game mechanics it allows the entire game to be broader while at the same time each actual campaign to be pretty bespoke to the needs of the players. In many ways Apocalypse World is the best of both worlds - at the cost of not fitting predrawn settings so well.

Starting with Apocalypse World because it's easier there is nothing at all preventing an Apocalypse Word party of a Gunlugger (combat monster), Brainer (creepy psychic), Angel (medic), and Driver (with a signature vehicle) travelling from town to town beating up nests of raiders and monsters known as dungeons and taking their loot in the way of a classic D&D adventuring party. The damage will be different and the tactics different but the strategic gameplay loop of a group of wandering adventurers wronging rights and depressing the oppressed (or whatever) will be pretty much the same with the main difference being choice of weapons and that combat is far more consequential and deadly. By contrast a party consisting of the Hardholder (town boss), Maestro d' (leader of the local scene), Hocus (cult leader), and Chopper (gang leader) is going to be almost entirely different because a lot of the troubles are going to centre around the organisations the PCs are in charge of and how the PCs can deal with their needs (which is a roll at the start of session thing). By your own definition Apocalypse World is a far more flexible system than the more bespoke D&D. The core difference is, of course, that in D&D it's the GM who chooses what the game is about (within a bespoke range) while in Apocalypse World it's the players and you build the setting round the PCs.

Meanwhile the BitD central loop basically is the D&D gritty rest core loop with one core (unremovable) difference and one subsystem that is removed by a whole lot of the hacks. The core difference is that D&D's "long rest" even in gritty games is basically "time passes" while BitD gives you rules to actually do stuff in down time such as research, training, and acquiring assets as well as recover stress and damage (and you don't recover) and a consequence for whatever you did. And yes BitD is designed primarily for heists - but in the fictional sense (ignoring the law) what even is a heist? It's a small group of like minded individuals banding together to obtain something of value against something that should outmatch them. A dungeoncrawl is a type of heist. And the only reasons you can normally do dungeon crawls in D&D and rarely do them in BitD is that both games have genre protection rules. In D&D combat is basically consequence-free for the winners as hit points have no negative effect and recover freely while in Duskvol (the default Blades setting) a bell rings every time someone dies by violence. But you don't have to heist in Blades any more than you have to dungeon crawl or fight in D&D (and indeed one of the Blades settings is called "War" even if that's gang warfare and you're not meant to have mass street battles). Other than the stylised and tightly focused D&D Weird Wizard Show, and stylised and tightly focused consequence-free D&D combat and speeding past down time I'm trying to think what D&D does that Blades can't do as well (flashbacks are a heist staple but not heist-exclusive).

It's worth noting at this point that neither Apocalypse World nor Blades in the Dark are e.g. Masks or Monsterhearts which actually are tightly focused bespoke games.
But that's not really why I consider BitD and S&V to be "bespoke." Those games are bespoke because their play loops are defined and focused and the system exists only to support that play loop. The play loop of D&D is not only less well defined, the system doesn't really do anything to support the play loop. Note: there is certainly an argument to be made that OD&D was a bespoke system (such that it was) but every successive generation of D&D has eroded its focus.
Indeed. Long rests are absolutely not a thing in D&D these days. The core loop is there. As is the wizards being based round always-reliable-fire-and-forget-spells. The logisitical element of logistical dungeon crawling might be vestigial in modern D&D but does similar things to the control exerted by Blades. Being good at something doesn't necessarily mean locking everything else out of the game.
I don't think that's true. Fate puts a lot of design space toward genre emulation through narrative tools,but not really structural story tools. And the core system is pretty standard,mechanically speaking. Of course, there are lots of variations and in general it seems like there are crunchy Fate games and light Fate games. And Dresden has an example of both!
Fate when being pushed absolutely has a structural story tool in the Fate point economy (and stripping that back is a big reason why Fate gained rather than lost when it simplified in 2012 to Fate Core/Accelarated even past the speed and clarity gained by halving the number of aspects). You're overmatched by the big bad, and you spend the entire story getting into trouble until by then end you all get to drop a stack of fate points on them. And the core system rests on the "create an advantage" action that's really a whole lot less generic than it should be.
 

Apocalypse World isn't a bespoke game; it's a generic game with bespoke playbooks.
Isn't this a bit of a retcon? Or am I a bit confused re: history? My understanding - possibly incorrect - is that Apocalypse World was developed essentially as a bespoke game for playing a specific kind of dramatic post-apocalyptic world, with particular characteristics. A slightly lurid one, to be honest, that fit more with Mad Max than say, 28 Days Later.

But that people then rapidly realized the approach AW had taken was tremendous portable, because you could change the playbooks, or change both them and some of the rules (like what actions exist and so on), and really easily create a game of another genre which worked well as that genre.

My impression was that similar occurred with BitD to FitD. Again, possibly incorrect.

Similarly too Spire to Resistance, though I have feeling Grant Howitt was already messing around with that system conceptually and maybe it was used in some of his one-pagers? We certainly played a one-pager which used it, but that was after Spire was developed (but before I played Spire).
 

Reynard

Legend
GURPS is generic, D&D/Traveller is Bespoke...

OD&D is Sword & Sorcery altogether, Traveller is like "Hard" Sci-Fi.
Core GURPS meanwhile always has litanies of features that are applicable across multiple genres, sorted by categories of effect and not setting.
It doesn't just ask whether a game is in a particular genre or not. A bespoke game needs strong mechanics pointing toward its specific play loop. As I stated above, OD&D probably qualifies. 5E probably does not.

Generic in the context of this conversation is not a synonym for "universal."
 

Reynard

Legend
Meanwhile the BitD central loop basically is the D&D gritty rest core loop with one core (unremovable) difference and one subsystem that is removed by a whole lot of the hacks.
The difference that makes BitD bespoke and D&D not is that BitD ONLY does what you are talking about. That you CAN play D&D like BitD or not is evidence that it isn't bespoke.
 

Isn't this a bit of a retcon? Or am I a bit confused re: history? My understanding - possibly incorrect - is that Apocalypse World was developed essentially as a bespoke game for playing a specific kind of dramatic post-apocalyptic world, with particular characteristics. A slightly lurid one, to be honest, that fit more with Mad Max than say, 28 Days Later.
No. It's coming in from another direction entirely. Apocalypse World is as tied to a specific kind of post-apocalyptic world as D&D is to a certain kind of violent high fantasy. The fundamental difference is who you can play within that world. D&D characters, mechanically, are all basically rootless adventurers (like Max after the first one). The big difference with Apocalypse World isn't the setting variety, it's who you can be within that setting. Aunty Entity (Tina Turner's character who rules Bartertown in Thunderdome) would absolutely not be an acceptable starting D&D character in a post-apocalyptic by the book D&D-equivalent game unless she lost control of Bartertown for eight levels or so any more than a town baron is, but she's a textbook Hardholder in Apocalypse World.

And of the playbooks I've mentioned all except the Maestro d' were in the first edition core; the Maestro d' was the first one outside the core published by Vincent Baker and is in the second edition core.
 

No. It's coming in from another direction entirely. Apocalypse World is as tied to a specific kind of post-apocalyptic world as D&D is to a certain kind of violent high fantasy.
Interesting re: character types, I wasn't thinking of it that way.

Personally I'd say both AW and D&D were bespoke, but my perspective is that very few RPGs are genuinely generic in design, and those that are, are usually still pushing hard towards a specific mode of play, whether consciously or otherwise.
I'm trying to think what D&D does that Blades can't do as well (flashbacks are a heist staple but not heist-exclusive).
I will say flashbacks work bizarrely well for D&D too.

As for "can't do", the only thing that comes to mind immediately is the tactical combat of 4E, which very few games can do anything like (and most of those that can are both post-4E and inspired by 4E - Lancer, ICON (get a real name!!!), Gubat Banwa, etc.), and I think a lot wouldn't want to.
 

The difference that makes BitD bespoke and D&D not is that BitD ONLY does what you are talking about. That you CAN play D&D like BitD or not is evidence that it isn't bespoke.
I am curious where you got the idea that you can ONLY carry out heists in BitD. I have literally run a dungeon crawl in Blades. So because I have done that it is clear 100% proof that I can run a dungeon crawl in Blades. And the idea that you can't is something that is entirely due to your preconceptions.

Now, given that you can do other things in BitD this is clear 100% proof that by your definition BitD is not bespoke. (It's ultimately a generic success-with-consequences skill system with a couple of heist systems and great downtime and XP attached).

And having played and run both BitD is less bespoke and easier to drift than D&D.

There are systems that are bespoke by your definition. I would not, for example, drift Monsterhearts, Masks, or My Life With Master.

Tell me, do you have any experience either running or even playing Blades? Let alone trying to drift it for a change of pace during a campaign? Or are you simply sharing an opinion you have picked up by osmosis? Because, given that BitD uses a dot-based skill system for characters with twelve different skills in three groupings (reminiscent of a lighter version of a game about Katanas and Fangs cough I mean a storytelling game of personal horror) it should be obvious just from looking the character sheet that it is easily driftable and therefore not by your definition bespoke.
 

It doesn't just ask whether a game is in a particular genre or not. A bespoke game needs strong mechanics pointing toward its specific play loop. As I stated above, OD&D probably qualifies. 5E probably does not.

Generic in the context of this conversation is not a synonym for "universal."
So Class vs Career vs Point-Buy, et al

My mistake
 

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