Tabletop RPG Catch All

onewild wrote:
Some advice needed if possible. After watching The World without End and then seeing the Black Death was on last night, I was suddenly hit with the desire to run a medieval game, with some magical elements but not fully blown fantasy, thinking along the lines of Merlin. So anybody know of any systems for this? I don't want to use Burning Wheel because I know my players won't dig it and since I know nothing about the Warhammer, that rules out their system, even though I do really like it.
Any ideas?

Maybe Chronica Feudalis? It's straight historical, with no magic, as I recall only rudimentary magic rules (edit after I checked the PDF). I have a copy but have only read through it, not played yet. Looks pretty good, though. It has a fairly light system.

tanstaafl wrote:
Cthulhu Dark Ages ;)

Considering that I have already started Classic Cthulhu, I don't think they will want more of it
Thanks for the suggestions guys, will look into them.

onewild wrote:
tanstaafl wrote:
Cthulhu Dark Ages ;)

Considering that I have already started Classic Cthulhu, I don't think they will want more of it
Thanks for the suggestions guys, will look into them.

Actually, this is the best suggestion. They know the system, and Cthulhu DA can be run without any/much supernatural stuff -- the core BRP system is very flexible, and very simple.

I finally got to start my Mouse Guard campaign! I think I may have gone a bit easy on the players, since they breezed through the big fight with the raven and delivered the all of the mail entirely intact.

Highlight was the multiple in-character arguments. I love it when they do that.

Gremlin wrote:
I finally got to start my Mouse Guard campaign! I think I may have gone a bit easy on the players, since they breezed through the big fight with the raven and delivered the all of the mail entirely intact.

Highlight was the multiple in-character arguments. I love it when they do that.

Cool!

I found that mouse guard effectiveness varies quite a lot on the circumstances: if they work at it, they can usually get a lot of dice to apply.

MikeSands wrote:
Gremlin wrote:
I finally got to start my Mouse Guard campaign! I think I may have gone a bit easy on the players, since they breezed through the big fight with the raven and delivered the all of the mail entirely intact.

Highlight was the multiple in-character arguments. I love it when they do that.

Cool!

I found that mouse guard effectiveness varies quite a lot on the circumstances: if they work at it, they can usually get a lot of dice to apply.

Part of the issue is that when I ran a practice session a while back, the players were less experienced and the characters were less skilled. Here, one of them was rolling eleven dice to set disposition in the fight conflict, which I hadn't anticipated.

Despite that, the fight felt pretty epic and the players felt awesome after they drove the raven off.

Man, listening to RPG podcasts makes me want to run so much stuff.
Like the excellent Hotline Miami/Call of Cthulhu mixture that RPPR put up on their actual play site: http://actualplay.roleplayingpublicr...

Thing is, I feel so intimidated in running those rather 'out there' ideas. The good old dungeon run feels easier from the get go ...

RPPR has some brilliant stuff. Their ongoing Eclipse Phase campaign is amazing.

Anyone here play Exalted? Our Fiend Caste Infernal just went on trial for his crimes. His lawyer was a Secrets Caste Sidereal.

He was not convicted.

Miashara wrote:
Anyone here play Exalted? Our Fiend Caste Infernal just went on trial for his crimes. His lawyer was a Secrets Caste Sidereal.

He was not convicted.

No big shocker there. Secrets Caste Sidereal should have been able to get him acquitted pretty much no matter what.

Best argument in the the trial? I'm genuinely curious

I want to like Exalted and was into it circa first edition, but the rules feel too clunky, in the end. D&D 4E feels like the game Exalted wanted to be, systems-wise. Love the setting and I do think I'm going back to it some day, but likely with FATE or something.

athros wrote:
Miashara wrote:
Anyone here play Exalted? Our Fiend Caste Infernal just went on trial for his crimes. His lawyer was a Secrets Caste Sidereal.

He was not convicted.

No big shocker there. Secrets Caste Sidereal should have been able to get him acquitted pretty much no matter what.

Best argument in the the trial? I'm genuinely curious

It was never in question. Between all parties involved, things were predetermined. Fated, if you will.

Best bit: The Infernal went Miltony and pulled a Paradise Lost. Basically explained that no matter where he went, hell came with him.

I'd like to gut Exalted and run a pure homebrew of the rules. Some of the setting is fine, and you can see they've got some great ideas. But as noted the mechanics get in the way of the story, even given my love of mechanics heavy games. 2nd Ed is a bit better than first, but the problem now is, oddly enough, the Ink Monkeys. They just write things they think are cool. Superficially that sounds fine, but they're bolting rules and mechanics on without rhyme or reason, and it bogs the whole thing down. I don't think there was ever a full set of charm creation mechanics drawn up. No 'Essence 1 charms may/may not do x, y, or z. Essence 2...' Without that, you can't stop the power creep and steady broadening of all splats into generic superbeings.

Miashara wrote:

It was never in question. Between all parties involved, things were predetermined. Fated, if you will.

Best bit: The Infernal went Miltony and pulled a Paradise Lost. Basically explained that no matter where he went, hell came with him.

Nice! Great way to do it!

Miashara wrote:
I'd like to gut Exalted and run a pure homebrew of the rules. Some of the setting is fine, and you can see they've got some great ideas. But as noted the mechanics get in the way of the story, even given my love of mechanics heavy games. 2nd Ed is a bit better than first, but the problem now is, oddly enough, the Ink Monkeys. They just write things they think are cool. Superficially that sounds fine, but they're bolting rules and mechanics on without rhyme or reason, and it bogs the whole thing down. I don't think there was ever a full set of charm creation mechanics drawn up. No 'Essence 1 charms may/may not do x, y, or z. Essence 2...' Without that, you can't stop the power creep and steady broadening of all splats into generic superbeings.

Third Edition is in process now. It looks like a whole new Exalt type (Luminals) - they're discussing it over on rpg.net. The Ink Monkeys are being given full creative control. I can dig out the threads if you want. Thus far (at last peek) They're up to 4 main threads (the first 3 hit the 1000 post mark) and they've started breaking off into specific exalt type threads now. No mechanical details yet, other than flurries are completely out.

In my experience with both first and second edition Exalted, the Storyteller system has a problem at the upper power levels (basically: run out of Essence, and you become chunky salsa) and the mechanics don't really support what they were going for without a really good GM. I dig the Storyteller system for the WoD books, it does a good job there, but with Exalted it starts getting wobbly at Essence 3-4 (Essence 2 if you have a munchkin who optimizes). 15-20 dice

I'm doing a conversion to Dungeon World, if you want to see the basics (which is mostly todo list right now). I can flip it your way. Having run Dungeon World a couple of times, I think it will hit the right notes with Exalted, though I'm not done with the conversion yet.

Never played Exalted myself, but have heard people gush about it. Usually followed by complaining about the rules.

I'd imagine that FATE would run it rather well, and a quick Google search tells me that a number of people have already made the attempt, though I'm not sure any are comprehensive. Once they release the pay-what-you-want FATE Core pdf you might want to look that up.

I also ran across someone who used, of all things, Microscope. Said it let them explore the parts of the worldbuilding that they were interested in while not bogging down in rules details.

Gremlin wrote:
Never played Exalted myself, but have heard people gush about it. Usually followed by complaining about the rules.

I'd imagine that FATE would run it rather well, and a quick Google search tells me that a number of people have already made the attempt, though I'm not sure any are comprehensive. Once they release the pay-what-you-want FATE Core pdf you might want to look that up.

I also ran across someone who used, of all things, Microscope. Said it let them explore the parts of the worldbuilding that they were interested in while not bogging down in rules details.

Strands of FATE was probably the most comprehensive, almost completed conversion. Located here. If you take a mechanic out of Strange FATE (Specifically the power tiers and how they relate) the feel of the game gets a little better, since Exalts are much much more powerful.

A conversion to Marvel Heroic Roleplaying was also done, and looks great, but for some reason my brain refuses to process MHR. Located here.

I'm doing a Dungeon World version, and I think there's another * World conversion out there though I haven't seen it, only heard about it.

Third Edition is in process now. It looks like a whole new Exalt type (Luminals) - they're discussing it over on rpg.net. The Ink Monkeys are being given full creative control. I can dig out the threads if you want. Thus far (at last peek) They're up to 4 main threads (the first 3 hit the 1000 post mark) and they've started breaking off into specific exalt type threads now. No mechanical details yet, other than flurries are completely out.

I've been following 3rd Ed pretty carefully, but one of the things I do which makes 2nd workable is explicitly disallowing everything the Ink Monkeys write. As such the argument they have complete creative control over it does little for me, and has planted deep seeds of distrust. What I will concede is that all of their rules, by definition, are bolted onto the Exalted main rules, and those are deeply flawed. They're hobbled out of the gate. Maybe that will be enough for them to change their opener enough to make it workable.

In my experience with both first and second edition Exalted, the Storyteller system has a problem at the upper power levels (basically: run out of Essence, and you become chunky salsa) and the mechanics don't really support what they were going for without a really good GM. I dig the Storyteller system for the WoD books, it does a good job there, but with Exalted it starts getting wobbly at Essence 3-4 (Essence 2 if you have a munchkin who optimizes). 15-20 dice

QFT


I'm doing a conversion to Dungeon World, if you want to see the basics (which is mostly todo list right now). I can flip it your way. Having run Dungeon World a couple of times, I think it will hit the right notes with Exalted, though I'm not done with the conversion yet.

Never played DW. I'll gladly look at anything you send me though.

My backer copy of Dungeon World just arrived. It is a very nice book, and the hardcover has a good heft to it.

I'm not sure how soon I'll actually get to play it, however - too many other things lined up for my regular group (we have an ongoing campaign of The One Ring and about half a dozen other games we want to try out for one-shots.

Miashara wrote:

athros wrote:

I'm doing a conversion to Dungeon World, if you want to see the basics (which is mostly todo list right now). I can flip it your way. Having run Dungeon World a couple of times, I think it will hit the right notes with Exalted, though I'm not done with the conversion yet.

Never played DW. I'll gladly look at anything you send me though.

I can have a look for the DW end, as well. But I never played Exalted

athros, the Dungeon World Tavern on G+ is quite active with hacks and setting discussions. It might be worth hitting that (if you're not already).

MikeSands wrote:
Miashara wrote:

athros wrote:

I'm doing a conversion to Dungeon World, if you want to see the basics (which is mostly todo list right now). I can flip it your way. Having run Dungeon World a couple of times, I think it will hit the right notes with Exalted, though I'm not done with the conversion yet.

Never played DW. I'll gladly look at anything you send me though.

I can have a look for the DW end, as well. But I never played Exalted

athros, the Dungeon World Tavern on G+ is quite active with hacks and setting discussions. It might be worth hitting that (if you're not already).

I...umm...no. I had no idea that was there. Thanks for the heads up!

I'll get some formatting on the version of the doc and send it to both of you in a PM, if you're still up for looking at it. The full rules for Dungeon World are here, Miashara.

athros wrote:
The full rules for Dungeon World are here, Miashara.

There were apparently a couple changes after the last commit in November, but that shouldn't stop you from using the Gazetteer.

Also, if it hasn't been mentioned here yet, the Beginner's Guide really helped me wrap my head around the system.

I'm really, really interested in Outbreak: Undead. I wish that it didn't cost $50 for the book, though.

PM's sent to MikeSands and Miashara Let me know what you guys think!

I think my plots are too complicated. Well, not so much that as there are too many negative consequences to making mistakes. The PCs rarely die, much as I claim to be avidly trying to kill them, but I give them hell when they mess up. Some mistakes were made today and everyone left frustrated and down. They mostly agreed with my logic and explanations, and when I said this happened because of that, they all seemed to buy it. But still, it's an escapist fantasy. It should be easier and better than reality.

Miashara wrote:
I think my plots are too complicated. Well, not so much that as there are too many negative consequences to making mistakes. The PCs rarely die, much as I claim to be avidly trying to kill them, but I give them hell when they mess up. Some mistakes were made today and everyone left frustrated and down. They mostly agreed with my logic and explanations, and when I said this happened because of that, they all seemed to buy it. But still, it's an escapist fantasy. It should be easier and better than reality.

A lot of this depends on what kind of DM you are trying to be. There are many different styles to DMing, each of which has different upsides and downsides. This is complicated by the expectations of the players, which can be very different from player to player and group to group.

For example, my group has a very free-form streak, partially because we started with Burning Wheel with me running a sandbox based on their character goals. Burning Wheel has two rules that facilitated this: First, you only roll the dice when something is at stake. If there's no consequence for failure, don't bother rolling, just say yes and it happens. Second, before you roll, the DM sets both the difficulty and what happens if the player fails. This means that picking a lock in Burning Wheel is not "You fail to pick it, roll again", it's "You didn't do it fast enough or quietly enough and the guards are coming" or some other consequence that keeps play moving. As you can imagine, this resulted in a lot of things happening that neither I nor the players anticipated before we sat down to play. Every game I've DM'd since then has been informed by this style.

Given that's where I'm coming from, I'd guess that your main problem is that you're having trouble being simultaneously the adversary and the referee. That is, when you have to make a ruling on the fly because the players are trying something you didn't expect, or they miss something you thought was obvious, you have a hard time giving a fair ruling because you're trying to balance the challenge against the story and the player's agency. Is that close to what you're seeing?

Gremlin wrote:
Given that's where I'm coming from, I'd guess that your main problem is that you're having trouble being simultaneously the adversary and the referee. That is, when you have to make a ruling on the fly because the players are trying something you didn't expect, or they miss something you thought was obvious, you have a hard time giving a fair ruling because you're trying to balance the challenge against the story and the player's agency. Is that close to what you're seeing?

I don't think so. I spoke with the group extensively and individually. Some of the PCs just want generic dungeon crawling. That's just what they want. But I'm not going to run it. It's what video rpgs are for, and I'm not going to put the work into a pen-and-paper game for it.

Miashara wrote:
I don't think so. I spoke with the group extensively and individually. Some of the PCs just want generic dungeon crawling. That's just what they want. But I'm not going to run it. It's what video rpgs are for, and I'm not going to put the work into a pen-and-paper game for it.

Is it a case of them wanting you to present them with a quest to go on? Because that would be easy to manage!

Another technique that I've found pretty useful is asking the players to add details to the world, e.g.:
Me: "Okay, so you are entering the Tomb of the Living God. Who led you here?"
P1: "I guess I could have? I mean, we're close to the village I grew up."
Me: "Cool! So, there's a legendary magic item said to be lost somewhere in here. Hugo, what is it?"
P2: "Um... maybe the Living God's sword?"
Me: "Sounds good. It can presumably cut right through her enemies and lead her armies to victory."
...etc...

If you do this well, it can leave you almost no decisions to make on your own, plus it gets everyone involved in making the world. You can't really do this if you want to plot out everything in advance, of course.

Miashara wrote:
Gremlin wrote:
Given that's where I'm coming from, I'd guess that your main problem is that you're having trouble being simultaneously the adversary and the referee. That is, when you have to make a ruling on the fly because the players are trying something you didn't expect, or they miss something you thought was obvious, you have a hard time giving a fair ruling because you're trying to balance the challenge against the story and the player's agency. Is that close to what you're seeing?

I don't think so. I spoke with the group extensively and individually. Some of the PCs just want generic dungeon crawling. That's just what they want. But I'm not going to run it. It's what video rpgs are for, and I'm not going to put the work into a pen-and-paper game for it.

I guess, then, what is it that you want to give them? You've clearly got a style that works for you, albeit one that failed to connect this time. What is it that you look for in a session or a campaign?

Alternately, what didn't work this time? You said too many negative consequences?

I don't really have any answers, but I'm certainly willing to throw lots of ideas in your direction.

Players generally dislike it when they feel like NPCs do things for them. Try to make sure the PCs are front and center of all plots and action. The world should be reacting to their actions, not vice versa.

Try to make sure the motivations and playing pieces are clearly visible to players to make sure they understand what's going on. The limited amount of information from the players' point of view can be disengaging, if you're not careful. I've had very good success with using establishing scenes and "meanwhile" shots - stuff you would see in a movie to make sure the audience is on top of things. Sometimes you do want to separate players as audience and players as actors of PCs.

I avoid "after the fact" explanations like the plague, because to me it seems like it means that things have gone wrong... players can have "the good kind of" questions after a game, like you might after a good mystery movie, but not the bad kind of "WTH is going on, I'm not connecting with this".

Consequences is good, but it should always be a case of players conciously choosing between options, preferably with enough information on what might happen. If you're struggling with making it in-character, I've opted to make it blatant to the players, saying "look - one of these options is going to be very bad for you. If you can't figure it out, maybe you want to take some more time". It's often better than having them operate blindly.

In general I've found my games to be much more enjoyable when I decided to remove the arbitrary "always 100% in-character" ideal and just be frank about any issues I'm having as a GM, even mid-game.

Miashara wrote:
I think my plots are too complicated. Well, not so much that as there are too many negative consequences to making mistakes. The PCs rarely die, much as I claim to be avidly trying to kill them, but I give them hell when they mess up. Some mistakes were made today and everyone left frustrated and down. They mostly agreed with my logic and explanations, and when I said this happened because of that, they all seemed to buy it. But still, it's an escapist fantasy. It should be easier and better than reality.

Miashara wrote:
I don't think so. I spoke with the group extensively and individually. Some of the PCs just want generic dungeon crawling. That's just what they want. But I'm not going to run it. It's what video rpgs are for, and I'm not going to put the work into a pen-and-paper game for it.

I see a couple of things. I'm going to preface this with: I don't know anymore than what you posted, so I don't know your group or it's dynamics, or really anything specific, so take everything with a grain of salt.

1.) Player expectations. It reads like they want something other than what you want. That's going to cause friction no matter what. If you want complex plots, deep NPC's, and less combat, but your players want to roll through the dungeon, hack and slash everything, and roll out with teh phat ubah leet lootz, something's going to give, and it's likely going to be your NPC's when the players end up killing them and rifling through their pockets. Solutions: Find another group, or let someone else GM. Or, you can break out the Worlds Largest Dungeon. I recommend one of the first 2. Seriously. Stay the hell away from the Worlds Largest Dungeon *shudder*

2.) Remember, the players only know what you tell them. It's bitten me in the ass more than once. I don't really do super complex plots anymore because of it. When the complex plots worked, they were awesome. When they didn't, the game bombed, and it turned it into a 2-3 session "It was something we did for filler". That always brought me down. Solutions: I got nothing other than be very aware of what your players know, and be prepared to fill in the gaps. Have after session talks, start a wiki and let them edit it then read what they're writing up...basically, be very clear what they're picking up vs what you're putting down and be prepared to fill the holes so they know what's going on.

3.) Don't ever tell them what the plot was. I never once told the players what was going on, I always asked them "Ok. So, what do you think happened, and why?" Most of the time, I was shocked at what they came up with. About half the time, I'd say "Hell yes, that's what happened" and continued on that line, since it was way cooler than what I was going for. Solutions: Nothing. There is no solution for telling them the plot other than don't

jlaakso wrote:
SNIP

All good pieces of advice as well!

I don't run anything rules heavy anymore, and I've bounced out of groups when nothing meshed, or they went one way with games/genres, or personalities didn't click. For me, no gaming is better than bad gaming. I have little enough free time, and (as selfish as it sounds), if I'm not enjoying myself, I'm wasting my time and that group's time. I went through quite a few groups to get to where I'm at (solid group, similar interests, somewhat aligned in system and genre choices), so in the end it was worth it for me.

Really, the best advice I can give is: Talk to the players and ask what they want out of a game. Not "Crawl through the dungeon", more, "What do you enjoy the most about RPG's? What's your favorite genre?" General questions, nothing system specific, and see what shakes out.

Is this the Exalted game you were talking about before? Can you divulge any details of the plot?

athros wrote:
I see a couple of things. I'm going to preface this with: I don't know anymore than what you posted, so I don't know your group or it's dynamics, or really anything specific, so take everything with a grain of salt.

Echoing this. I can tell you what worked for me and my group, and I can give you space to vent, but I can't tell you what works for you. So take the following with that in mind.

1.) Player expectations.

I have a caveat. Despite the fact that I have a very story-focused free-form group, but some of my players have been very much "run in and smash things" players. It still works, partially because the free-form plots give them the breathing space to do that, and partially because the particular one I'm thinking of was newer at roleplaying and willing to go along with the group as a whole. The campaign didn't have much in the way of dungeon crawling, but he found stuff to do.

Now, if your players are set on doing Diablo-eqsue dungeon raids, I can see that being harder to plot for. Though I suppose it depends on what kind of stories you are trying to tell; Skyrim manages do do story-stuff with what are essentially dungeon crawls.

2.) Remember, the players only know what you tell them.

I view it as a shared world created by our words. If it was never spoken, it didn't exist. If it was spoken, I remember it and try to think of ways to incorporate it into the ongoing story.

It's one of the reasons I go to the extreme of discouraging player secrets. It's fine for the characters to have secrets from each other. We had a space campaign where one character only signed on because he was sent to assassinate the captain. But the players all knew what was going on. If the players are hiding too much from each other, they start to be playing in parallel universes that are only partially connected, and things break when those universes contradict each other.

There are downsides to this approach, but I'm fortunate to have players who are good at managing the divide between player/character information.

One thing I do use is that I have one of the players recap the previous session at the start of the new session. This gets everyone on the same page and tells me what details they thought were important. Sometimes their interpretation surprises me, but I run with that.

3.) Don't ever tell them what the plot was.

Same as above. If I haven't said it yet, it may not have happened and I feel free to adjust it on the fly. Now, this makes it harder to referee fairly when they do something off the wall, but from what you said that doesn't seem to be your current problem.

athros wrote:

jlaakso wrote:
SNIP

All good pieces of advice as well!

I don't run anything rules heavy anymore, and I've bounced out of groups when nothing meshed, or they went one way with games/genres, or personalities didn't click. For me, no gaming is better than bad gaming. I have little enough free time, and (as selfish as it sounds), if I'm not enjoying myself, I'm wasting my time and that group's time. I went through quite a few groups to get to where I'm at (solid group, similar interests, somewhat aligned in system and genre choices), so in the end it was worth it for me.


Sounds familiar. It's one reason I'm excited about Dungeon World, because it seems like the rules-light system that will be there when I need it but get out of the way when I don't. Anything that lets me be awesome on the fly while still having a rules safety-net to fall back on is great.

I got lucky in that I already have a group of friends with an interest in particular kinds of interactive stories, and this group was the first roleplaying experience for several of them, so they fit the group and the group fits them.

Really, the best advice I can give is: Talk to the players and ask what they want out of a game. Not "Crawl through the dungeon", more, "What do you enjoy the most about RPG's? What's your favorite genre?" General questions, nothing system specific, and see what shakes out.

Is this the Exalted game you were talking about before? Can you divulge any details of the plot?


I'll just ditto this, 'cause it's good stuff. For questions, how about "What was your favorite roleplaying moment and why?"