Your thoughts on Generic versus Bespoke systems.

overgeeked

B/X Known World
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.

As to Cypher -- I am not a huge fan of it and don't think it fits Numenera particularly well, and certainly doesn't fit other genres well. I played The Strange a bit, too, and just did not jive with Cypher.
I’m in the same boat. I keep bouncing off Cypher but I (mostly) love the Numenera setting. I bounce off for almost the same reason I‘ve bounced off Fate after a few years of loving the system. I want the system to get out of the way of the fiction as much as possible. Fate and Cypher take the opposite approach, forcing you to heavily engage the system with every task resolution.

With d20 games you can at least make a roll add some numbers and report the result in a few seconds. In Fate and Cypher you have a lengthy negotiation with every roll. Skills, Fate points, stunts, aspects, free invokes, roll…then spend more Fate points, tag aspects, on and on. Difficulty, target number, pool, edge, effort, roll, on and on.

No matter how bespoke, generic, or universal, I want the mechanics to not intrude on the game play. Minimal handling time.
 

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Reynard

Legend
Didn't Dark Sun have a modified different set of rules to support its setting?
It has new classes and varfiants of other rules, but Dark Sun was still whatever version of D&D it was published for at the time (2E or 4E; I don't think there was a 3.x version).
Would you consider B/X a bespoke game? One thing that fascinated both the Forge and OSR about B/X was how it had core play loops that reinforced its dungeon-delving themes.
Basic is a bespoke game, i think, but when you ad that X (or ECMI) you start to erode that focus. The very specific procedures of dungeon crawling in Basic don't translate perfectly to wilderness adventures,a nd the wilderness procedures are generally less focused and well designed IMO. That said, I love BECMI because it is open and makes the game suitable for broader applications of fantasy adventure.
"Very narrow play loops"? 🤨
Yes. The things you do in BitD, S&V and BoB are tightly defined by the game itself. Adventures have a form.
Also, isn't this kinda what TSR did with Dark Sun? They rebuilt and removed classes/races, changed the core rules, etc. to accomodate a different setting?
There is no Dark Sun: The RPG.
Please don't take this the wrong way, but I honestly don't care if you love it or hate it. I don't think that a bespoke system is defined by either "do I like the system?" or "do I think that the system fits the setting well?" The bottom line is that the Cypher System was originally created by Monte Cook and Shanna Germain for the Numenera setting.
Fair enough. Let me put it this way then: nothing in the Numenera core book makes it feel bespoke; you could trade out Cypher for some version of D&D or Savage Worlds and it would hardly matter to the type of game you played in that setting.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Yes. The things you do in BitD, S&V and BoB are tightly defined by the game itself. Adventures have a form.
Adventures in BitD seems like less of a form than running, for example, an official D&D adventure path. 🤷‍♂️

There is no Dark Sun: The RPG.
I dunno. This seems to be mostly a matter of branding or a distinction without much of a difference. If I buy 2e D&D, then it was not as if I could jump into a 2e game of Dark Sun with those options as written. I had to buy the Dark Sun Box Set so that I get the alternate rules and setting materials to make Dark Sun work.

Fair enough. Let me put it this way then: nothing in the Numenera core book makes it feel bespoke; you could trade out Cypher for some version of D&D or Savage Worlds and it would hardly matter to the type of game you played in that setting.
Sure, and there is nothing about Duskvol as a setting that requires the FitD engine. The setting could be run using the 5e engine, and you could still play a criminal gang doing criminal things in Duskvol.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
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?

White Wolf's Storyteller system is theoretically universal, since you can slap on bespoke elements for each of it's subgames, and change the Abilities to suit different time periods or even universes (see Street Fighter, Exalted, Aberrant, or Aeon/Trinity). Yet I wouldn't want to use it to emulate a heroic fantasy dungeon crawl, because combat is simultaneously brutal and tedious.
 

Reynard

Legend
Adventures in BitD seems like less of a form than running, for example, an official D&D adventure path. 🤷‍♂️


I dunno. This seems to be mostly a matter of branding or a distinction without much of a difference. If I buy 2e D&D, then it was not as if I could jump into a 2e game of Dark Sun with those options as written. I had to buy the Dark Sun Box Set so that I get the alternate rules and setting materials to make Dark Sun work.


Sure, and there is nothing about Duskvol as a setting that requires the FitD engine. The setting could be run using the 5e engine, and you could still play a criminal gang doing criminal things in Duskvol.
I am apparently not explaining myself well, but it doesn't usually help to repeat oneself. All I can say is that we aren't using the same definitions for terms.
 


Faolyn

(she/her)
I'm going to disagree on two things. The first is that Forgotten Realms, Planescape, Spelljammer, Ravneloft, and Dark Sun were not played in such a manner as to be significantly different from one another. At the end of the day, they were all D&D with their classes, alignments, spell system, and how combat works. Nor do the rules support every style of play. Political intrigue? How do the rules support such a campaign and what will the poor Fighter do the whole time? Don't get me wrong, you can do it, but the rules are going to leave some classes lacking.
Fair enough, on the first part, although I will say there are at least some rules that can be used for political intrigue--just not very extensive rules, and they're not necessarily labeled as such. But there are social interaction rules--and the poor fighter can use their Charisma just as well as anyone else can; there's no reason to assume that a fighter can't have a high Charisma (and you can use Intimidation with other stats as well). There are the Stealth and Perception rules for sneaking around and listening into conversations.
 

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!
I'll grant that Fate could do more in this regard, which is why I was somewhat hesitant. But just breaking things into scenes and arcs helps give that orientation.

A game that really leans into the story-telling and story-making end of things is Prime Time Adventures. It's very different from usual RPGs, though, in that while you do have your own character, your play of them comes from a different angle, that of collaboratively making a TV show.

So, say your character makes a dramatic speech. It's quite on point in PTA for another player to say, "Wait, it would be even cooler if he phrased it like this!" and you could agree and redeliver the speech. Or not, if you chose. It's a weirdly fun game, different from anything else.
With d20 games you can at least make a roll add some numbers and report the result in a few seconds. In Fate and Cypher you have a lengthy negotiation with every roll. Skills, Fate points, stunts, aspects, free invokes, roll…then spend more Fate points, tag aspects, on and on. Difficulty, target number, pool, edge, effort, funroll, on and on.
Logically, then, Fate conflicts would take longer than D&D fights... Oh, wait! :) All I can say is that my group doesn't usually find it lengthy.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I think too much focus is being put on if a rule system is single setting or not. Yes, I had a conversation about S&V vs. BitD and settings, but that was not to imply S&V was or was not bespoke - it was a follow up on my negating someone saying BitD natively supports a wide range of settings, and then someone asking about S&V. It was a side conversation.

A bespoke game will provide a high level of mechanical and rules support for it's core concept. And will be a poor fit if you don't want to play those concepts and want something else. It

A big tent game (I don't want to keep using "generic" which implies without flavor, or "universal", which already has an established meaning within RPGs) supports a much wider range of play styles. It can often mimic the focus of a bespoke game, but more through GM fiat or house rules -- it would not have the same level of mechanical support natively for those focus.

There's some level of confusion that a big tent game can't have a specific flavor. Of course it can. It explicitly is not a universal game (or a game toolbox) -- it's not fit for everything natively, just has a much wider focus, like "high fantasy".
 

I'm not much of a fan of bespoke systems. They all ready get a bad feel from me as they, as intented, only do one thing. If a game is many for comedy or horror and you want nothing but that, it's great.

The other big problem with bespoke games, are the mechanics. Most are dull numbers or other boring things. Wow a character is scared, take a -2 on rolls...but then the player just acts however they want too.

I like games like D&D more: it can be anything. Even better, as D&D is generic it can be one thing to the DM and another thing to the group of players.

I JUST did this AGAIN Today, as it's the type of DM I am: So for the morning pick up game, I got a group of strangers typical young 5E gamers of the type I see too often: light hearted, casual, folks that goof off, though will also say they are the greatest D&D players off all time and how they once had a game where they killed a dragon of every color in a couple rounds.

So the players are playing the goofy waste of time game, I'm playing the deadly serious game.

They do have a ton of fun for the first half hour....they can't stop laughing that the town is being attacked by Crab People. By the end of the hour, all the characters are dead.

Fun times.
 

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