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Author Topic: System Games  (Read 5353 times)

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Offline Healergirl

Re: System Games
« Reply #50 on: August 27, 2012, 08:55:44 AM »
Thufir Hawat,

Oh, I get the idea.  And I like it.  Now I just have to read up a game thread/join a game of yours.

Talislanta,

Never looked at that one.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: System Games
« Reply #51 on: August 27, 2012, 09:58:41 AM »
Thufir Hawat,

Oh, I get the idea.  And I like it.  Now I just have to read up a game thread/join a game of yours.
Well, the recruitment in my Miami game is still open :P. Or you could read my Talislanta game, although it wasn't my best shot.

Quote
Talislanta,

Never looked at that one.

All the books are currently free at Talislanta.com, I'd recommend 4th ot 5th edition 8-).

Offline Healergirl

Re: System Games
« Reply #52 on: August 27, 2012, 01:34:37 PM »
Ttaking a look at your Miami game now, and thanks for the talislanta tip!

Offline AndyZ

Re: System Games
« Reply #53 on: August 29, 2012, 02:52:38 PM »
One thing that struck me about Exalted:  Any attack that would scratch a warrior tended to one-shot into blood vapor any non-warrior.  But that may have just been the way the group I observed played the game.

White Wolf always has power inequality in their games, even among PC options.  If you remember my Hunter game, that was based on a White Wolf system, although my setting was nothing like the conventional, canon rules.  (Canon Hunters aren't able to withstand more damage than normal people either.)  Of course, good STs can make sure that the weaker players have fun doing things that the rest of the group isn't dealing with, but I wouldn't usually let someone play a Bystander unless it was for a reason like allowing someone to play who didn't know the rules.

Level-based games like Pathfinder handle this aspect of combat a lot better.  The game is designed so that some people are better at combat than others, but you're then forced into a rank.  Skill-based games like White Wolf systems allow people to catch up or lag behind, but also create a set limit to the amount that you can spend in something.  You can start out with a 5 in something and it's impossible to ever get any better over the course of your entire life.

Later editions of White Wolf games offer some alleviation on the hard 5 cap.  Once you become godlike, your stats can start exceeding 5, but it doesn't allow for a steady increase across the board the way level-based games do.

But, I'm rambling.

Offline Healergirl

Re: System Games
« Reply #54 on: August 29, 2012, 03:54:42 PM »
Rambling?  Not at all.  You are very much on topic.


Offline AndyZ

Re: System Games
« Reply #55 on: August 29, 2012, 04:17:57 PM »
Fair enough.

But yeah, pretty much every White Wolf game is designed to have the main characters, and then has secondary characters.  These might be called ghouls, Bystanders, or just heroic mortals, but they never measure up to the original group.

There's also often people who want to play the secondary characters, but those characters aren't really balanced in order to be able to handle the stuff that primary characters deal with, on top of getting XP penalties to things and the like.

If I'm running a system game and someone doesn't know the system, I might let someone play a secondary character in order to let them play without knowing the rules.  In Pathfinder, this would be like letting someone play the torchbearer.  If they stand in the back, hold the torch steady and don't attack, they don't need stats.  Monsters usually have more pressing issues than attacking the torchbearer, but any attacks on such can be handled through conventional freeform methods.

If you do this, then you want to make sure that you have some way for the torchbearer to get involved.  Everyone playing wants to be the star to at least some degree, so if you never do anything of actual importance, the game can get boring pretty quickly.  I like to handle this by letting the torchbearer have some talent that the others don't have but that I think would be useful.  If nobody knows how to read Ancient Enochian, maybe the torchbearer just happens to have a scribe for a parent and can handle it for the group.  It doesn't have to be much, but it gives some feeling that the torchbearer isn't completely useless.

I once moderated a chat game for a crossover White Wolf system, and threw together something for a pure human who was a university professor.  The guy was pretty overjoyed because he'd been playing the character for years and nobody had ever tried to do anything for him.  It's very easy to overlook the secondary characters, especially if their way of dealing with the situation is just to tell their powerful friends, but you want to remember to give them the option.

Of course, that leads to another of my tricks: I give everyone some piece of the puzzle and they have to put it all together IC.  This gives RP time where they're talking to each other and figuring out what to do, and attempting to understand just what they're dealing with.  However, that heavily depends on your players: I've seen quite a few who get simply bored with such an approach and would rather react to the situation than try to actively decide what to do.

I call that Active vs. Passive characters.  Active would rather take charge and want a sandbox where they can set everything up.  Passive want a story that they can follow or a dungeon where they don't need to come up with their own plans.  I say character instead of player because I've been both plenty of times.  In a good group, there will be a few Active characters who will bring the Passives along on their journeys, but too many Actives and the game will go everywhere all at once, and too many Passives and the GM will have to start designing things for the characters to do.

In a forum, a quick GM has an easier time with Active characters because s/he can see many many different posts going on all at once.  That's significantly harder in tabletop, where speed is as fast as speech and you have to break everyone up into groups.

Of course, when I handle weekly tabletop style games, I deal with stuff over the course of the week through messengers and such in order to make sure that the weekly game is all stuff the whole group wants to deal with.  If you only have a few hours a week to get the whole group together for a tabletop game, that's something I strongly recommend, in order to maximize your game time.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: System Games
« Reply #56 on: August 29, 2012, 04:40:12 PM »
White Wolf always has power inequality in their games, even among PC options.  If you remember my Hunter game, that was based on a White Wolf system, although my setting was nothing like the conventional, canon rules.  (Canon Hunters aren't able to withstand more damage than normal people either.)  Of course, good STs can make sure that the weaker players have fun doing things that the rest of the group isn't dealing with, but I wouldn't usually let someone play a Bystander unless it was for a reason like allowing someone to play who didn't know the rules.

Level-based games like Pathfinder handle this aspect of combat a lot better.  The game is designed so that some people are better at combat than others, but you're then forced into a rank.  Skill-based games like White Wolf systems allow people to catch up or lag behind, but also create a set limit to the amount that you can spend in something.  You can start out with a 5 in something and it's impossible to ever get any better over the course of your entire life.

Later editions of White Wolf games offer some alleviation on the hard 5 cap.  Once you become godlike, your stats can start exceeding 5, but it doesn't allow for a steady increase across the board the way level-based games do.

But, I'm rambling.
Don't know about rambling, but what you said is strictly untrue. Well, except for the part that White Wolf's games are constructed in a way that makes character creation a winnable mini-game.

Outside of White Wolf, some level-based systems are constructed like that. Some skill-based systems are constructed like what you describe as well, mostly White Wolf's ones.
And then you get the level-based ones where everybody is supposed to be contributing equally both in combat and out of combat. And you get the skill-based games like GURPS where everybody can increase their skills as much as they like, because there's no limit for the skills.

Offline SatanKlaus

Re: System Games
« Reply #57 on: August 29, 2012, 05:11:11 PM »
My original criticism was not that there are vampires and then there are mortals. Or that there are mages and mortals. I think its perfectly fine that the supernaturals are simply better. And its also fine that you can make a warrior character that beats all the non-warriors to pulp because, usually, there are different ways to tackle problems.

Rather, what I was getting at was that some powers are very poorly balanced and, probably, not properly playtested. For example, one of my earliest Vampire characters was a Tremere. I thought that being able to suck blood from my enemies with my magicks would be really nifty so I spent freebies to get 4 levels in thaumaturgy. Level 4, the theft of vitae is a nice power. It weakens vampires and it wounds mortals. About as good as shooting someone with a gun, but I also get the blood. Cool. Much later, I tried using the level 2 power, blood of potency. I make a good roll and I find out that I now have the power of a methusaleh for the next hour. I need to kill a few mortals to fill up my bloodpool but, basically, I'm like a freaking god (And 2 more successes would have quite literally made me one). And this from a level 2 power? WTF? Talk about a serious lack of playtesting.

SatanKlaus

Offline gospodin

Re: Dogs in the Vineyard
« Reply #58 on: March 13, 2013, 10:42:40 AM »
I was recently introduced to a game called 'Dogs in the Vineyard'. It's set in Mormon Utah but that is not important to what I want to say:

Indeed, I think I got him interested in this system with my plans to make a version suited more for my BDSM planet of Torei (it's not so strange: Vince Baker himself adapted the game to make a Horror version called Afraid!).

The system they use is really nice. It focuses on 'Conflicts' instead of single actions. For example, there could be a conflict where you tried to stop a fight between two drunkards. You roll dice, of course, but depending on whether they come up good or bad for you, you narrate the action, reaction and the surroundings.  There are many ways to stop such a thing of course and the system leaves the player about as much freedom of choice as the GM, which makes it very attractive for a forum game.

More than this, one thing that the rest of this thread reminded me is the advantage of what the indie RPG boffins used to call "fortune up front".  That is, you roll nearly all your dice at the beginning of the conflict scene, and unless someone "escalates" (terrible term: technically running away from a firefight is "escalation" in this system) you spend the rest of the struggle just trading the dice you already rolled back and forth.  Almost all of the randomness in the game comes in a big burst, and then the rest of it is public and verifiable resource management choices.

I notice a lot of fans of resource management systems on this forum, and for a forum game they really make a lot of sense.  What I like about the Dogs/Afraid system is that it gives you that thrill of a die roll every so often, but the real strategy is in your own narrative choices about which rolls to use for what.