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Author Topic: How to run a system game?  (Read 6502 times)

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Offline PtolemyTopic starter

How to run a system game?
« on: October 21, 2009, 06:36:07 AM »
I've been thinking of creating a 4E D&D game, but I've got a few questions how do you folks run a system game on this forum. A couple of questions.

1) Does the creator of the idea have to take DM spot? Do people normally have DM's when playing using a system?

2) Do you need multiple threads?

Tips and helpful hints would be muchos appreciated. :D

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Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2009, 07:33:01 AM »
1) Does the creator of the idea have to take DM spot?

Not necessarily

Do people normally have DM's when playing using a system?

For a one on one, its not so necessary. For a full group game, you'd likely need one.

2) Do you need multiple threads?

I don't know about need, but they're certainly handy.

I would recommend at least 2 - one for game play, one for OOC chat and stuff. Maybe a 3rd for character sheets if you want to keep it tidy.

Offline Primarch

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2009, 11:09:12 AM »
One of the best online system's I ever used was really just a guideline to a person's abilities, there was never a need for dice or the like. It was effectively

Character A
Strength: 10
Speed: 12
Stamina: 8
Fighting Skill: 25

Character B
Strength: 20
Speed: 8
Stamina: 18
Fighting Skill: 15

You'd look at the character sheets, then do your posts and use the info as a guideline, so Character A is clearly a faster, more talented fighter, and B is some sort of incredible Hulk. It worked out pretty well for quite sometime.

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Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2009, 12:38:07 PM »
If your players are mature enough to be able to work with that, then its fine, but having the ability to pull off that insane once in a lifetime stunt with the dice is also good :)

Offline Ebb

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2009, 06:08:50 AM »
4E D&D is all about the cool combat powers, most of which really require a combat grid to use effectively. Lots of things like "on a successful hit, slide your opponent one square in any direction". Much of the joy of playing 4E comes about by seeing the combination of the powers in your party, having interesting combos, interacting with the environment in cool fight scenes, etc. It's a great game for what it does, which is largely tactical-level combat.

But even around a table with everyone knowing the rules, a single combat can take an hour or more. It would seem to me that for forum-based play it would take much, much longer if you want to keep the same level of granularity. I'm not saying that it couldn't be done - it clearly has been in the past. But you probably have a choice between ditching much of the 4E system, just focusing on the classes/races/setting, or sticking with the nitty-gritty and being resigned to having really drawn out sessions.

I think it's worth asking why you want to do a 4E D&D game in particular? What does using that ruleset bring to the table, so to speak? Is it just because D&D is popular, and so it might be easier to get players? There are tons of roleplaying systems out there, ranging from the very simple to the very complex. It might be worth exploring other options. I'm pretty sure there are systems that are designed from the ground up to be used for things like forum-based play.

If you do decide to stick with 4E D&D, one off-the-wall suggestion might be to ditch most of the rules, including all of the combat rules, and just focus on skill challenges. The skill challenge system in the rules is fairly lightweight and elegant. It could be used even for combats. For example, in this fight with the goblins the party needs to make 6 successes before getting 3 failures, or else the goblins end up winning and taking the party captive, etc. Then players can roleplay using their skills - including their combat skills - to garner the successes they need. Just a suggestion, but I know of tabletop groups that have done this and have been happy at the speedier games that result.

Best of luck, no matter which way you go.


Offline PtolemyTopic starter

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2009, 11:09:26 AM »
I chose D&D because I wanted to make a Small Group game set in the Forgotten Realms, where they would travel Faerun, being all adventurish and such. :p

I just thought that people more interested in system games would be more knowledgble of the FR Campaign Setting as well.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2009, 12:20:54 PM »
There is no reason you can not use the Forgotten Realms with a different system or even systemless.  Good luck.

Offline Ebb

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2009, 01:49:37 PM »
I chose D&D because I wanted to make a Small Group game set in the Forgotten Realms, where they would travel Faerun, being all adventurish and such. :p

I just thought that people more interested in system games would be more knowledgble of the FR Campaign Setting as well.

That's a great reason to want to use the setting. It's a rich world, and makes your job as GM a lot easier having all of that detail to pull from. There's also a lot of benefit in using something like D&D where many people already have the rulebooks, and the process of character creation itself can be a fun solo game. The problems come about when you put the system into action in a standard combat or other rules-heavy situation. If you can keep the good parts and jettison the parts that don't work so well over a forum, then you're gold. And I think people would still buy that they're 'playing D&D'.




Offline Cythieus

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2009, 12:01:38 AM »
4E requires more grid work than 3.5 it seems but some of the classes in 3.5 did it too. In maptools it might be fine where you can make a grid, but here it would present a larger issue. I don't know much about FR, but there's a lot of stuff on it for 3.5.

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Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2009, 02:58:25 AM »
FR is a good setting. I spent most of 2nd edition wandering around in it.

I understand the changes on 4th have bumped the timeline about a century past what I knew, and the accounts I've heard of that haven't been the best.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2009, 08:27:43 AM »
...and the accounts I've heard of that haven't been the best.

That is being kind.

Offline Cythieus

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2009, 08:40:18 AM »
FR is a good setting. I spent most of 2nd edition wandering around in it.

I understand the changes on 4th have bumped the timeline about a century past what I knew, and the accounts I've heard of that haven't been the best.

From what I know about the setting, its not something that particularly interests me (Forgotten Realms in general)for one the whole thing having a timeline bothers me, I'd rather my setting not try and tell me so much its timeline as give me a loose one and let me place myself in it. Are they still trying to keep the setting in line with what's going on in the books or something?

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Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2009, 11:11:32 AM »
That is being kind.

I was going on second hand info, not having read any of it myself.

I had a lot of fun back around the Time of Troubles though.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2009, 11:23:23 AM »
Oh, I did not mean that I have read the new campaign setting.  The vitriol thrown at WotC over the new campaign setting speaks for itself.  ZOMG you changed stuff!!!  Waaaaaaaah!!!

It seemed silly to me.  Do you really want them to just reprint what is already out there?

Anyway.  Sorry for the threadjack.

Offline Krysia

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2009, 01:51:16 PM »
I know for my 3.5 game I have 2 groups going and a ton of threads. I feel bad every time I have to make a new one. >.>

3 for each group and then a common ooc thread for the whole group. I feel that the multiple threads help me stay organized. I have to manage 16 people in these games. It's rather hectic yet fun at the same time. I always have something to do whether it be my own personal games or doing something for the D&D game. ADD for the win!

Though I'm using the old Greyhawk setting from the Living Greyhawk game WotC put out years ago so everything is Module based for my game. So far the first group was kicked on on Wednesday and the second group will be kicked off this coming Sunday. :3

Offline Cythieus

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2009, 01:57:22 PM »
One thing that is important to remember about forum games is that they differ from games in person because your average D&D group doesn't meet every day and play every day so it can be a little wearing on the party in some ways but in others it can be good for you. For instance you don't have to think on your toes so much because you're not running a 1 or 2 or 3 hour session. Just a simple post by post encounter.

Offline Katina Tarask

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2009, 04:44:40 PM »
But even around a table with everyone knowing the rules, a single combat can take an hour or more. It would seem to me that for forum-based play it would take much, much longer if you want to keep the same level of granularity. I'm not saying that it couldn't be done - it clearly has been in the past. But you probably have a choice between ditching much of the 4E system, just focusing on the classes/races/setting, or sticking with the nitty-gritty and being resigned to having really drawn out sessions.
The thing is, you can have a much lower level of granularity while still holding to all the rules; the way it pretty much has to work is that the DM presents the situation and the map thoroughly, and then folks go through and post the entirety of their actions, as well as any instantaneous actions they intend to make in a nested if-then fashion.  Very few rules need to be altered in a meaningful way, though initiative ought be simplified, as strict initiative often multiplies the time combat takes four-fold.
I chose D&D because I wanted to make a Small Group game set in the Forgotten Realms, where they would travel Faerun, being all adventurish and such. :p
Well, if you want to run a system game on E, you'd probably be better off with 3.5 or a completely different system entirely; E doesn't really have the resources to accommodate a lot of the tactical combat like more system-focused forums.  3.5 is still not easy to run here, but 4e is extremely tabletop-centric.

Offline Cythieus

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2009, 05:00:20 PM »
You don't really need a map even, I usually only post a map when there is a lot going on in combat that begs the question. One important thing of note is that you can adjust the game rules, ask people to post distances and the like.

When my main group does combat, we roll initiative and they post 5 rounds of combat and I come back and interlace the monsters with what they post. If something requires action or something goes badly, I ask them if they want to change actions after it happens. Much of the time, if they are descriptive it doesn't even happen I have to ever ask them anything.

Offline Xanatos

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2009, 02:39:01 AM »
I would recommend getting to know 4.0 much more before you decide to go through with using it. Why? Because the system is so combat heavy it will weigh any novice GM down. Basically 4.0 is what the whiners cried for and got. Its a dumbed down, original D&D beaten down so thoroughly you can't even recognize it anymore; it cried for mercy for so long it became nothing more than a hallow shell of its former self and now thinks its still D&D when really all it is anymore is a sad excuse for an RPG that just devolves into pointless combat...

Okay... after that rant -laughs-. Seriously though it is a very combat heavy system, it was intentionally dumbed down and simplified to make combat easier to achieve, and I feel all they did was complicated things and only made people want to min/max no less than they did in 3.5. Only now, Magic has been brought down to the level of melee (D&D is officially dead now with that sad, sad turn of events.).

Anyways, unless you are a very good GM who can bring some serious RP to the table, the game will likely just become combat oriented or if it does not, then its seriously not the system to be using in the first place. If you want to romp around Forgotten Realms, then Free Form is your friend. If you want combat then 4.0 will be your friend, and yeah maps will aid you tremendously in the combat aspect.

Back to my original point though, get to know the system a little better. Just do some reading before you attempt a game. Despite my saying its been dumbed down, its still rather complicated and all the extra books being put out is not helping the situation either.

Sorry for the rant, hope you get something outa it. -laughs-

Offline Cythieus

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2009, 02:46:06 AM »
I would recommend getting to know 4.0 much more before you decide to go through with using it. Why? Because the system is so combat heavy it will weigh any novice GM down. Basically 4.0 is what the whiners cried for and got. Its a dumbed down, original D&D beaten down so thoroughly you can't even recognize it anymore; it cried for mercy for so long it became nothing more than a hallow shell of its former self and now thinks its still D&D when really all it is anymore is a sad excuse for an RPG that just devolves into pointless combat...

Okay... after that rant -laughs-. Seriously though it is a very combat heavy system, it was intentionally dumbed down and simplified to make combat easier to achieve, and I feel all they did was complicated things and only made people want to min/max no less than they did in 3.5. Only now, Magic has been brought down to the level of melee (D&D is officially dead now with that sad, sad turn of events.).

Anyways, unless you are a very good GM who can bring some serious RP to the table, the game will likely just become combat oriented or if it does not, then its seriously not the system to be using in the first place. If you want to romp around Forgotten Realms, then Free Form is your friend. If you want combat then 4.0 will be your friend, and yeah maps will aid you tremendously in the combat aspect.

Back to my original point though, get to know the system a little better. Just do some reading before you attempt a game. Despite my saying its been dumbed down, its still rather complicated and all the extra books being put out is not helping the situation either.

Sorry for the rant, hope you get something outa it. -laughs-

It's dumbed down and complicated...well that seems a little contradictory.

Offline Krysia

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2009, 03:21:43 AM »
It's dumbed down and complicated...well that seems a little contradictory.

It's been simplified to draw in a wider audience, but yet still tries to retain a comprehensive set of rules that can be complicated. So his statement about it being dumbed down for the masses yet complicated is a correct assessment of 4.0. Unfortunately I don't have much experience with 4.0 at all. Only the little bit I've read or heard from my husband.

"Imagine a World of bold warriors, mighty wizards, and terrible monsters. Warcraft." *runs!*

Offline Cythieus

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2009, 04:06:32 AM »
It's been simplified to draw in a wider audience, but yet still tries to retain a comprehensive set of rules that can be complicated. So his statement about it being dumbed down for the masses yet complicated is a correct assessment of 4.0. Unfortunately I don't have much experience with 4.0 at all. Only the little bit I've read or heard from my husband.

"Imagine a World of bold warriors, mighty wizards, and terrible monsters. Warcraft." *runs!*


The thing is that while 4E might not be exactly like 3.5 they streamlined a lot of stuff for Combat and evened up the Magic with the Melee. And as I said before, its more for grid based combat than anything else.

Offline Chloe Milev

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2009, 09:53:25 AM »
Well, Gary Gygax pretty much created a game where you pick a race and class, fight monsters with your friends (on the same team, no less), and take their stuff.  Then the next time you play, you're still that character, and the game world changes to acknowledge what you've done.  Video games, and most games since, take something from that, with classes and leveling.  So it makes some sense for there to be some cross-over back.  It's co-evolution to me.

I've listened to the D&D podcasts about the creation process of 4e, and I like their process and actually getting concepts down before just implementing stuff willy-nilly.

Of course, I'm still playing 3.5 right now.  There's just so much customization I can play with forever.  I'll get in a 4e game eventually...

Offline Levicus

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2009, 02:12:27 PM »
This may fall into "that's not what I was asking for" territory, and I apologize if so, but if you aren't married to running it on a forum, probably the best tool for D&D 4E online (in my fairly extensive but totally subjective experience) is Maptool (available at rptools.net), using Deviantnull's 4E framework (available in the frameworks subsection of the user creations section of the forums). If you decide to go with that at some point and would like a little help, feel free to PM me with questions. You might be able to use it in tandem with forum RP if you simply use the program to handle the maps and number-crunching and do your posting on the forum.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2009, 02:16:40 PM by Levicus »

Offline Cythieus

Re: How to run a system game?
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2009, 02:21:51 PM »
Well, Gary Gygax pretty much created a game where you pick a race and class, fight monsters with your friends (on the same team, no less), and take their stuff.  Then the next time you play, you're still that character, and the game world changes to acknowledge what you've done.  Video games, and most games since, take something from that, with classes and leveling.  So it makes some sense for there to be some cross-over back.  It's co-evolution to me.

I've listened to the D&D podcasts about the creation process of 4e, and I like their process and actually getting concepts down before just implementing stuff willy-nilly.

Of course, I'm still playing 3.5 right now.  There's just so much customization I can play with forever.  I'll get in a 4e game eventually...

I listen to the D&D Penny Arcade Podcasts and I have learned to love some of what 4E has to offer. What's sad is that its really more like 3.5 than people act like it is. There's a lot of similarities. I've used some 4E stuff in my 3.5 games.

One thing to say is that D&D, RPGs for consoles and computers, and Real Time Strategy all grew up together. After all D&D was a mod of a Real Time Strategy Board game.

This may fall into "that's not what I was asking for" territory, and I apologize if so, but if you aren't married to running it on a forum, probably the best tool for D&D 4E online (in my fairly extensive but totally subjective experience) is Maptool (available at rptools.net), using Deviantnull's 4E framework (available in the frameworks subsection of the user creations section of the forums). If you decide to go with that at some point and would like a little help, feel free to PM me with questions. You might be able to use it in tandem with forum RP if you simply use the program to handle the maps and number-crunching and do your posting on the forum.

The most unappealing thing about using Map tool is everyone has to be online at the same time. That shoots most games right in the foot.