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  • Showing only topics with the tag "rpgs". Back to normal view
    1. Combat-less TTRPGs with stat depletion?

      Combat appears to be an important facet of most RPG systems out there, including ones embedded into the games themselves. Seems fair to say that most RPGs have combat as a major, dedicated part of...

      Combat appears to be an important facet of most RPG systems out there, including ones embedded into the games themselves. Seems fair to say that most RPGs have combat as a major, dedicated part of their gameplay: stats like weapon damage and armor resistance are tracked and augmented by enhancements and skills; there are special game states and (for videogame RPGs) controls that separate combat from non-combat; combat serves as one of the major sources of XP for character growth.

      There's probably a good few examples out there of games that tried something different that I haven't even heard about. Disco Elysium does "combat" through skill checks in the few instances that it does tackle physical encounters. Griftlands uses card-based actions for both combat and social encounters, each having their own separate decks and "health" values.

      What I've been looking for was the kind of a system that doesn't take combat for a special game state. A system where the simulation extends to assimilate combat as just... a thing that happens because you're in danger – or looking to be the danger.

      To understand where I'm going with the next bit, you should know a couple of things about Frontiers.

      Frontiers is an episodic story about a group of friends playing a homebrew from-first-principles tabletop RPG system. The system, so far titled Frontiers RPG 'cause I'm very original, deals away with or reimagines much of the classic RPG trope library.

      One thing that differentiates Frontiers RPG is having 20-some traits for characters, where each trait is an abstracted statistic representative of a character's distinct natural-performance categories. For example:

      • Instrumentation determines how well the character naturally operates simple and complex technology
      • Visual Space determines one's eyesight and, consequently, the ability to model the geometry of an environment or an object in the head (because apparently these things are linked in the human brain)
      • Biomechanics determines how well does one's muscles perform under stress
      • Presence determines the strength of the vibe the character gives off naturally; the vibe itself could be intimidating, commanding, or inspiring, depending on said character

      Traits are tracked on a low scale:

      • −10 is the lowest possible for any living creature with any amount of agency.
      • −5 is the lowest any human could possibly get without outside intervention, and means the person is unable to perform in this area completely.
      • 0 is average human performance.
      • +5 is the best a human being could naturally achieve at their peak.
      • +10 is the epitome of human potential when amplified with hyperadvanced technology or supernatural effects.

      This means that when someone with Presence +1 enters the room, people can't but notice, even if they don't concern themselves too much with the person. When it's someone with Presence +3, however, most will stop what they're doing for a few seconds and pay attention to what the person is doing. Presence +5? The party stops when the person enters the room: they inspire this much awe and respect (or fear, depending on the person). Characters with high Presence naturally make for excellent leaders, teachers, negotiators, and point-makers.

      There are no dice rolls. Each challenge has a difficulty rating on the same scale as traits, which is how the outcomes get determined: either by checking the trait itself or the average of a set of traits (which are sometimes conceptualized into skills and sometimes only exist as checks). For example, if your character's Conditioning (representing physical endurance) is +1 and the challenge is a short jog (difficulty 1), they succeed without a problem.

      What makes this system not entirely deterministic is stat depletion. Each trait value above 0 grants the character 1 point of the trait. These points may be used to assist oneself or another character in a challenge if the challenge is of higher difficulty than their trait would normally allow to automatically succeed in. Points are regained at rest, up to the maximum of trait value points: e.g. Instrumentation 2 grants you maximum of 2 points you can have on your character at any given time.

      What I've been working with for a few months was HP-like stats derived from specific traits:

      • wounds for physical damage, derived from Conditioning
      • willpower for mental stress, derived from Volition
      • stamina for physical performance, derived from Stress Response

      (Having willpower as a stat works because for normal humans, D&D-like adventures would inevitably take their toll. Seeing people suffering may damage the will of a high-Empathy character, but then, everyone would suffer from seeing their loved ones in danger. Seeing a giant fucking monster would certainly make you consider your life choices. Persevering through emotional and mental challenges where your willpower is mechanically limited – a person can only take so much within a limit of time – is an underexplored, underdeveloped field of roleplay, and it fits into the story thematically.)

      This naturally geared itself to combat-as-special-state. Abstracting "health points" only makes sense when the only thing that matters is whether you're able to fight further. To this end, I figured that at a certain level of wounds, all traits would take penalty (to simulate being beaten up and stressed from combat) until such a time when the character receive proper care and rest.

      Lately, however, I came upon a way to streamline the system and make it "wider" (i.e. not just combat/non-combat simulation): use the trait points directly. This approach enables the player by allowing them to use their whole potential in all manners of situations, and have said potential used against them if they're facing a challenge their ability does not allow them to surpass.

      • rather than exchange punches in a bar fight, you can use your Executive Function – your thinking-on-your-feet – to distract your opponent and sucker-punch them while they're looking away
      • in a fistfight, character may use their Coordination to deflect a blow – or two points to direct it in a specific way: for example, to harm their proximous ally
      • before approaching the bench in order to testify, characters may use their Empathy in order to read the room and understand what sort of an appeal would work best
      • seeing an atrocity committed would take a point away from the character's Volition; if they have none left, they may faint, become disstressed (receiving a malus to all checks of a particular nature), or even become catatonic (unable to act coherently until snapped out of it or well-rested)
      • being shot by a scared youth may take a point or two of the character's Conditioning, but because they're still standing, they could use Volition to "not fucking flinch", which gives them a temporary bonus to Presence that they can use to interrogate with greater success or otherwise use the youth's capacities

      This works, at least on the surface, because it reflects the potential traits grant almost exactly. Someone with Conditioning 0 may be able to take a punch, but it would leave them seriously disoriented or may even inflict lasting damage (broken rib, dislocated jaw etc.); meanwhile, another character with Conditioning 4 may be able to get shot with a pistol and still function to a degree. Someone with Inner World +3 should find it little trouble to jot down a short story to tell their children before bed, while someone with Inner World 0 would find it impossible to come up with a logo for their new product even with intense consideration.

      What I haven't yet figured out is:

      • how to handle such "shooting above one's head" attempts for trait values lower than 0 (which is encouraged for challenge and roleplay reasons)
      • how to handle situations where all points are depleted and the player still wants to try a difficult thing that's just above their character's level
      • whether players should receive more than one point per level of trait, or even see points granted scale with value (Engineering 3 → 1 + 2 + 3 = 6 points total)

      The system is not perfect, but it's hella interesting, and I'd like to pursue it. If it leads nowhere, at least I explored. What I'm looking for from this topic is review of the concept of stat depletion and its potential implications. Assume that the rest of the system is perfectly viable and feasible unless its parts directly contradict or hamper the system as a whole. What problems can you see with this section? What benefits can one derive from it?

      5 votes
    2. Please Recommend Me A Video Game

      I've never really been that into video games. When I was young, I played a lot of RPGs on the SNES and PS1. Within the last couple of years, I dipped my toes back in the water and tried a few out....

      I've never really been that into video games. When I was young, I played a lot of RPGs on the SNES and PS1. Within the last couple of years, I dipped my toes back in the water and tried a few out. I tried Skyrim on a friend's recommendation, but it was just a little too involved and open-world for me. I got Cities:Skylines, which I love because I love city builder sims, but that game just does not run well on any of my underpowered computers. And I loved Ori and the Blind Forest, a beautiful platformer, and I'd play it again right now if it wasn't Windows-only.

      Here are my requirements. First, it needs to run well on a low-powered machine without making the fan go insane. I've got a MacBook Air 2012 and a ThinkPad x250 (Linux). Neither of these are the ideal gaming experience, I know, but I'm not looking for amazing graphics or bleeding edge technology or something super immersive. Pixel graphics are fine with me. It reminds me of my youth, anyway. I played both Skylines and Ori on my Intel NUC 4th Gen and while it worked, they both really taxed that little machine. I was able to finish Ori, but once a city reaches a certain size in Skylines, it gets unplayable.

      I'm not looking for stress. I like RPGs and sims. But it doesn't have to be really hard or frustrating. I don't want to feel chased in a game. I prefer to feel that I'm driving the action and I can go at my pace. I want to feel like if I look away for a moment, I'm not going to lose everything. I'm a casual. I also don't mind if there's no defined ending of a game. For me, I'm more looking for a diversion and a slow build over some kind of constant progression/achievement type scenario.

      If it has full controller support, that would be ideal. I've got a Steam controller, and I prefer using a controller to play a game. I've never liked using the keyboard to play. I'm not totally against it, but I guess I just never got into computer gaming. I pretty much always played on consoles in the past.

      Linux or macOS only, please. I did have Windows installed once so that I could play games, but I'm not bothering with that anymore. I don't want to have to boot into another operating system just to play a game. I want to be able to hop in and out of a game while using my daily driver computer.

      So in my research, I've looked into Terraria and Stardew Valley. These might be what I'm looking for. But I really don't know. Do either of these scratch my itch? Is there another game that I would enjoy based on what I've told you? Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

      EDIT: Thank you everybody for your awesome suggestions. I'm still happy to hear more, as I plan to add the ones that really interest me to my wishlist and revisit later. I ended up getting Hollow Knight yesterday and I spent the whole day playing it. It's very engrossing, and it's the perfect game for me. It's so much like Ori, and that game blew me away. Chilled out, go at your own pace, exploring dungeons, challenging but not impossible (though the first Hornet fight was pretty tough for me). The game runs fine on my ThinkPad x250 (i5-5300U) in Pop!_OS Linux, apart from the initial movie scene stuttering--I just had to skip past it, unfortunately. It's such an awesome game, and I'm glad to see they've already announced a sequel. If you know of any other games that are like Ori and Hollow Knight, let me know.

      23 votes
    3. Tabletop RPGs with kids

      Has anybody had much experience playing DnD or other tabletops with children? I've been toying with the idea of making a fairly straightforward and simplified RPG using Story Cubes and GURPS that...

      Has anybody had much experience playing DnD or other tabletops with children? I've been toying with the idea of making a fairly straightforward and simplified RPG using Story Cubes and GURPS that kids can get involved with easily and have fun playing. I'm specifically aiming to play with my daughter (8) and my niece (5) on a big family holiday in August, though I see no real reason that this couldn't work with adults as well.
      Essentially, the conceit would go along the lines of each player rolling a limited number of story dice to help with character creation and such. I'd ask the players a few simple questions about their powers (for example, are you more of a wizard or more of a warrior?) to get some basic stats stats together (STR, DEX, INT, CON), and then use story dice myself to quickly improvise a short one-shot session.

      Does anyone have experience playing with kids, and if so - any pointers? Am I being too ambitious about children's ability to imagine stuff in this way? If so, are there any good systems out there that are good for young people to pick up and get stuck into roleplaying with?

      9 votes
    4. Any tabletop RPG players?

      Any other tabletop RPG fans here? What system do you play and what kind of character are you currently running? I'm in two D&D 5e campaigns at the moment. In one I play a Gnome Mystic, and in the...

      Any other tabletop RPG fans here? What system do you play and what kind of character are you currently running?

      I'm in two D&D 5e campaigns at the moment. In one I play a Gnome Mystic, and in the other I play a Tabaxi Monk.

      D&D isn't my favorite system, but it's difficult finding groups for other systems. I'd prefer playing something where character ability progression is more freeform, like GURPS.

      23 votes
    5. What have yo been playing recently?

      Video games, board games, card games - whatever. I'm interested to know what you all have been playing recently. I've been playing a lot of D&D recently. My players have just delved deep under an...

      Video games, board games, card games - whatever. I'm interested to know what you all have been playing recently.

       

      I've been playing a lot of D&D recently. My players have just delved deep under an ancient keep to save an archaeologist from undead Tomb Spiders. I'm currently planning for this weeks game where they will hopefully encounter the giant spider brood mother.

      On the video game front, I've been playing through Duke Nukem 3D. That's a game that's certainly made the test of time.

      -LTADnD

      63 votes
    6. Let's talk *Player* classes.

      No, not the PC classes in your game - the classes that describe the people you play the game with. Mister Fantastic: Every single number on this player's character sheet has been optimized beyond...

      No, not the PC classes in your game - the classes that describe the people you play the game with.

      Mister Fantastic: Every single number on this player's character sheet has been optimized beyond comprehension to be at least 20% higher than you thought was possible, and it's all legal. Reading one of his sheets will teach you about traits, feats, and rules you never knew existed. Often mumbles cryptic, one-word answers while barely paying attention that end ongoing rules discussions leaving the other players with blank faces. His characters are nearly invincible except for one small key weakness (AC 26 at level 1, but with a CMD of 5). This player can typically one-shot the BBEG and reverse the party's fortunes in a single round. If he's charmed or dominated it will result in a TPK unless dealt with instantly.

      The Veteran: A quiet fellow wearing a T-Shirt that says, "Don't tell me about your character: just play." He's never flashy, and seems to do very little, content to let everyone else play and have fun. Always prepared for any situation when no one else is. More likely to aid other players than act directly. He'll only involve himself when everyone else is making a mess out of things, and when he does wake up, his ability to deal with any given situation leaves Mister Fantastic green with envy. Has been known to kill BBEGs via roleplaying. Has the ability to summon natural 20s on demand but rarely uses it. The GM often consults with him on rules issues.

      Negative Diplomacy: No matter the class or the character's abilities, whenever this player opens their mouth to talk to someone who isn't in the party, you know the group is going to be in combat to the death in less than three rounds. The GM is uniquely powerless to prevent this from happening. His superpower is always knowing the worst possible in-character thing to say.

      Milla Vanilla: Every character this person plays is the exact same thing - even when playing different classes. For whatever reason, this player cannot mentally step into the shoes of their character, and ends up on endless repeat. Often not noticeable until one has played multiple games with this person and notices that their ninja assassin is remarkably similar in temperament to their paladin.

      The Conspiracy Theorist: This player is convinced that every single thing that happens is part of some grand tapestry and he is on a mission to figure it out. Often obsesses over small details, makes bizarre (sometimes nonsensical) connections between events, places, and facts. Your worst fear is that he's giving the GM ideas. It's confirmed when some of his wilder predictions come to pass later in the game.

      Aaron Justicebringer: The kind of perma-lawful good holy crusader who walks into a tavern and announces, "Greetings! I am Aaron Justicebringer. You may flee if you wish." He's on a mission to smite evil. Since he's always got detect evil running, he finds quite a lot of it and smites often, without concern for trivialities like local customs, ettiquette, roleplaying, and plot. This player always plays crusader types.

      Kaboom: Kaboom likes loves lives to set things on fire. Often a wizard or sorcerer, and the kind of fellow who can reduce six enemies to ash in a single round (even if those were six fire elementals). Flaming spells, flaming daggers, flaming hair, and one can track him across Golarion just by following the smoke. Unfortunately, that's all he's good for. Kaboom is a blunt instrument, best kept wrapped in asbestos until the party finds a target he can be aimed at in a location that hasn't got too much potential for collateral damage. This player comes in non-fire flavors too.

      Sleepy Pete: Sleepy Pete has a wife, six kids, and a stressful day job. By the time he makes it to the session, he's been clinically dead for two hours already. He'll be asleep within an hour of starting, even faster if food or alcohol is involved. Sleepy Pete is also prone to missing sessions with little forewarning. You're not even sure what his character or personality is because you've been given almost no opportunity to observe him in a conscious state.

      Brandon The Builder: A player who in all other ways is relatively normal, Brandon must never be given downtime in any way, shape, or form. With a full set of item crafting feats and flawless mastery of the downtime rules, Brandon will not only rule the entire kingdom in less than six months, he'll find a way to provide every single party member with a Headband of Mental Superiority, Belt of Physical Perfection, two +5 Tomes or Manuals of their choice, and a well staffed keep while doing it.

      Broken Billy: This player has no comprehension of the mathematical progression of the games he plays. Instead, he jumps at the first thing he finds that sounds cool. This leaves him with a hodgepodge of abilities that quickly become useless as the game progresses, leaving poor Billy more and more frustrated as the game goes on. Broken Billy steadfastly ignores all advice and all warnings given to him by the GM and more experienced players. Prone to having five first level classes on his fifth level character.

      The Novice Namer: Never good at coming up with names, this player has given birth to many legendary heroes: Bob the Barbarian, Robert the Ranger, and who could forget Sheldon the Sorcerer.

      The Knife Hoarder: For whatever reason, this player insists on having at least 2 knives on his belt and 4 hidden on his person. He'll never actually use these knives, but as they'd say "just in case."

      The 1-Leaf-Clover: This person's dice are trying to kill him. Oh he might roll a natural 20 to get a cheap room at the inn or tell if an item is masterwork (its not), but the second he's in combat, the most you can expect is a 12 or 13.

      The iGenie: Only looks away from his laptop when his name is said three times.

      The Bookworm: If not taking an action, is found face first in a book looking for a rare never before seen rule that will get him out of the in-game situation. There has got to be rule specifically for negotiating with a different race to reduce the price of a toll. There just has to be!

      Secretly Evil: This player almost always plays a Wizard/Sorcerer and takes a Necromantic path. They'll write a sizable and traumatic back-story. Then in game they'll never do or say anything evil in front of the group(in or out of character). In fact, they'll do very little in general. Instead they wait until everyone is gone and tell the DM what evil things they actually did while "no one was looking".

      You should try FATAL: Makes all their characters and every encounter somehow revolve around sex.

      Spellsaver: Spellcaster that never casts their spells because they think the next fight is going to be harder.

      The Lore Keeper: This player may not be the most talkative person at the table, but that's possibly because they're too busy writing down every even happening in the game. Conversations, shared loot, timelines, and character sketches -- this player is devoted to the story, and keeps track of all of it.

      What are we missing?

      (Some inspiration from this old reddit thread.)

      17 votes