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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




theironjef posted:

Heh, our copy is also signed by Hatch, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most of them are. There's also an RPGnet review of the book by Ashok Desai out there, which is sorta neat. Desai wrote one of our rare good books, Vanishing Point. As for Hatch's sexism shining through, the game has a bizarre misogynist streak running through it, yeah. The slang section is more than half terms for women, and there's a spell that can be cast that makes members of the opposite sex fall in love with you, with it noted that it's gross if men do it, but super sexy when women cast it.
I'm mildly surprised that Hatch apparently did any real writing on the book at all. From your descriptions, it has all the signs of an author handing off his setting for someone else to turn into a game, using the bloated blob of house rules they've been nurturing for years.

Fred Brooks coined the term "second-system effect" to describe how the second system a software engineer designs is likely to be their worst, because they'll want to include everything they couldn't fit into their first big project, and the product becomes a bloated mess. You see this in indie RPGs all the time. Someone finally publishes their game and they include every house rule they've cooked up for every game they've ever played. The ruleset ends up being a more-or-less universal system with things like a huge list of skills, precise measurements of how much PCs can lift and how fast they can jog, tables of modifiers for everything from sailing to farming, and complicated combat with lists of dozens of swords and guns…even if it’s expressly the kind of game where you shouldn’t be agonizing over any of that crap.

This is probably why Magellan includes pages of rules for farming and storygamish rules for "callings" and a bunch of other bloat. Magellan actually reminds me a lot of Wraeththu, a game based on a series of post-apoc fantasy books. The story is that someone who knew the author said "Hey, I have this universal system I've been working on since college. I could make a Wraeththu RPG!" Which is why a game about yaoi hermaphrodites with New Agey magic has detailed rules for martial arts and fencing.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 15:49 on Mar 16, 2016

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




That reminds me. You've gotta stop calling Ed Greenwood "Bruce." I don't know if you're confusing him with Bruce Cordell, Bruce Baugh, Bruce Nesmith, Bruce Heard, or the guy who played Admiral Pike.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Alien Rope Burn posted:

That die range system has to be the worst, though. Did Magellan list any playtesters? It feels like a game that never actually touched a tabletop.
I know I just said that Magellan looks like it was maybe handed off by the author to be turned into a game, but at the same time, Jon and Jeff sound really on-point about it including rules written by someone who wasn't thinking of what a player, as opposed to a writer, would do with them. They're good at spotting that kind of thing.

Sometimes I see rules or character abilities that seem to have been included because the writers envisioned one really cool scene that would involve it, without thinking about how it works when it comes into play repeatedly. I can't think of a lot of examples, but a good one is the rule in Heaven & Earth that lets you escape certain death by playing a game with the DM. The idea of something catastrophic happening, followed by somebody literally playing chess with Death to immediately retcon it, is appropriate to the game. It's exactly the kind of thing that could happen in Twin Peaks. But only as something invoked by the GM, once in a campaign. As something that could happen again and again...you probably don't want that. The powers from Vanishing Point sound like they fit the bill, too--they're neat but too situational, and sound like they exist to set up a particular gimmick in a scene.

Everlasting has a rule where literally every single opposed roll can lead to players betting luck points on the outcome and upping the ante. The only saving grace is that it's optional and sorta runs on group consensus, so everyone will get sick of it and stop doing it.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




theironjef posted:

The other thing that looks writerly about GWOM would be the special die. You can see why it exists, because having to roll inside a range precludes a fixed point for a critical or a fumble. The special die seems like a reasonable solution. Add a second D20, assign two faces to be crit and fumble, and you're all set. They even thought to use it for hit location charts as well, so it has a few effects.
Having to roll between X and Y sounds neat in theory. But then, history's full of novel resolution mechanics that were crap in practice. I'm not an expert on all the percentile systems out there, but it seems to me that d100 systems...or d20 systems, which just compress the percentiles into more manageable increments...tend to throw away a big advantage of using a percentile systems, that being knowing the % odds of results. Like how in Stormbringer, dedicated combatants need a weapon skill of over 100%. What does that mean?

It still makes sense if you have clear standard guidelines for what a -20% penalty or +15% bonus, but most games gently caress that up, too. I hate incoherent difficult scales almost as much as I hate...

quote:

Then they gently caress it up, writer-style. Every skill has it's own special die result table. With firefighting, a 7 is a crit and a 14 is a fumble. With seduction, it's a 2 and a 13. They also each have their own specific description of what a fumble entails (instead of just saying "Hey DM, figure it out but it's bad"). So again with firefighting, a fumble indicates that the fire doubles in size, and a crit destroys 9 square meters of fire. And with seduction, a crit is just an auto-success (which brings up a whole question of "what's a non-crit success do?) and a fumble is a failure that increases the chance of future failures.

So you can start to see the problem here. This book has no index. Every time you roll a skill, you have to go find that skill (out of 113 skills and another 60 or so skill-like powers) to not only see what the results could be but also whether or not you hit one of the special results. Every time. If they had just set the crit and fumble to 1 and 20 you could ignore them 90% of the time, but this is the Shield Mind skill, and you don't know if a 15 is something special or not, and if it is you don't what what special thing it is, so you have to go check. True, you could just write down in full all your skills, but then combat's special die brings up a new problem.
...gigantic skill lists.

Skill-like powers aren't bad in theory. Like, the only thing, and I mean the only thing that Legacy: City of Violence got right was that it handled its psychic powers as just skills, instead of having a clunky subsystem. But Legacy: Book of the Unliving also only has maybe 6 superfluous dumb skills that no one will ever put points in, as opposed to 60.

quote:

See, the special die hit location chart for combat changes based on the creature you're fighting. A dru-ack has a special result on it's vitals D20 for wings. So does a Seibling but on a different number. A cree has a result for torso just like other races but on a different number and the result is something different and complicated (it shuts down their spellcasting for a random time period). You could conceivably write down your own vitals chart for ease of use, but the result is rolled by the attacker. So if you punch a dog, the DM has to go find the dog vitals chart when you roll to punch that dog. And again, every time. Not just like "Oh you rolled a 20, let's check for vital areas." This doesn't sound like the worst thing until you realize that they charts are next to the player race descriptions in about half of these, and then also in the back of the book for several more.
Combat rules with hit location silhouettes for every different creature type are an example of peak poo poo I Don't Want To Deal With. I remember there was some post-apoc game--Aftermath, maybe? That got lambasted in InQuest years ago for having a hit location chart for dogs that included 2 dozen discrete hit locations, including 2 for the tail.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Lynx Winters posted:

It's funny how all of this pearl-clutching about a buff person doing something cool sometimes comes from the guy who made Iron Heroes, a version of d&d3 where there's a bunch of new martial classes about doing Cool But Different Martial Things while the casters are fiddly and GMs are warned against allowing them.
I skimmed over Iron Heroes a while back, and it actually didn't make me go "How is the guy who wrote this running the Official No Warlords Allowed Club?"

Iron Heroes does feature fighting classes of different kinds with a variety of abilities, but most of them are just plusses to things, or tokens you spend to get plusses to things. There are very few creative tactical abilities like some of the powers that fighters and warlords get in D&D 4. (There is one for the archer class that's pretty great: it lets you pull the Legolas trick where you shoot a huge monster with several arrows to make a ladder you can use to climb it. Sadly, such things are few and far between.)

It also balances spellcasters in the easiest way possible: it doesn't have them, except for one optional, skill-based class.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Night10194 posted:

Iron Heroes is about as good as you're going to get under the 3e framework, which is a very low bar.
No, Tome of Battle was definitely better for the kind of game we're talking about.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




PurpleXVI posted:

I actually don't think Chris was the one that made people the angriest.

Bliss Stage got people pretty angry due to how loving creepy it was(and because someone disagreed with me about whether it was creepy or whether I was just not getting it ), Wraeththu and the original HSD review made some people froth because of how ignorant they were about biology, causing some migraines. Chris Field mostly just made people despair and go "whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy."
Well gosh, I hope Carcosa turned a few stomachs besides mine...

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




ProfessorProf posted:

2. Final Fantasy gameplay is only engaging because you're controlling 3-5 people at once - the things each one of them is doing are pretty boring.

gradenko_2000 posted:

This seems to happen to other TRPGs quite a bit as well!
I noticed this when I played Pool of Radiance as a kid. A fighter in your party is vital, but you wouldn't want to be controlling just that guy.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Clearly you need a collection of DM Masks for the High Lord of whatever cosm the PCs are currently in.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Doresh posted:

You can always have the mask fall off your face to reveal another mask.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Angrymog posted:

Just started reading this thread, and I'm really sad about how much of s poo poo-show it seems that Mage 20 is. Mage was my game back when I was in my teens/early twenties.
Same here. I wish I'd been following the thread at the time so I could comment on it. Mage wasn't "my" game--another guy in our high school circle of friends was the Mage guy while I was the Vampire guy--but I certainly spent some time with it, including the only time I've ever seen someone GM while sleepwalking. Mage could be trippy like that.

We were no longer playing it with any regularity by the time the 2nd edition Revised corebook came out, so I wasn't party to any of those epic flamewars I heard about. But I'm fascinated with the way most of the memes of online mage discussion found their way into our discussions in a different form--I didn't learn what the "whiskey flask trick" was until last year, but we had very similar discussions about what was and wasn't coincidental magick, why the portrayal of the Technocracy was all over the place, and pretty much everything besides the Avatar Storm.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Kavak posted:

Kind of like how Hunter the Reckoning's art says Buffy and its writing says Frailty.

I get the Scorpions "Playing by the rules is STUPID you do what you need to WIN even if the game's mechanics are written to give huge bonuses to high honor" but was there a reason besides Wick being Wick for his hatred of Ronin?
Much of Wick's RPG career can be summed up as "Show me on the doll where D&D touched you."

Wick despises the D&D convention of the murderhobo PC with no family, no friends, no holdings, no social position, and no purpose but killing and looting. So he deliberately writes games where that's prohibitive or impossible. Supposedly, he got the idea for Houses of the Blooded from going to conventions and playing a D&D Fighter named "Fighter." Supposedly he did this many times without his character's name, much less his background, ever mattering a drat. So he wrote a game where your character's name and family determine your stats.

A game about samurai is right up Wick's alley for obvious reasons. But a ronin in fantasy Japan is too much like a D&D PC...no holdings, no family, no master, probably reduced to being a footloose mercenary.

(The flip side of all this is that Wick is a terrible smuglord, which is why he has to make anyone who actually follows Bushido a moron to be exploited by his pet Scorpions, but that's a separate issue.)

Kavak posted:

Was 7th Sea's lack of seas because it was "Three Musketeers but we picked the wrong title, art, etc." or was it more John Wick "Everything this game I wrote is based on is stupid and dumb and WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD JACKASS x1000"?
Pretty much everything Wick writes makes me imagine someone with trendy facial hair screaming "I'm an aduuult!" at the top of his lungs, so thank you for this.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 19:37 on Apr 12, 2016

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Terrible Opinions posted:

I thought John Wick claimed to have never played D&D, or was it just 3rd edition he never played?
He said he played a series of games at an RPGA weekend event. That could theoretically have been AD&D years ago, but more likely 3rd.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




LatwPIAT posted:

Many RPGs labour under the dilemma that they want to let the players play anything, but not everything plays well together. I think the best solution is to simply have a narrower focus and not let players play everything, or build the entire setting around the existence of groups of disparate player characters. The always excellent Delta Green did both, because it tried to solve the problem of why the bellhop, a university professor, and a private eye always end up working together: first, you really should be playing US FedGov employees, and second, you're all part of the same inter-agency group of FedGov agents organized into inter-agency task forces by the FBI Director.
I think it's just that in the 90s, there was a big push for PC types to have more background and flavour. So there was this explosion of creativity and world-building that went too far and ignored playability. (The problem is exacerbated when a lot of these games were urban fantasy or otherwise "dark" games where the PCs belong to factions that have reason to be secretive and suspicious of one another.)

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I don't think reading through Play Dirty gives an accurate picture of John Wick as a GM, either. Point is: don't trust John Wick writing about John Wick, folks.
But so what if it isn't? He says he's an rear end in a top hat GM, we take him at his word...that's not a brilliant troll.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Hey if this is a contest to see who's the most insane, I put myself on the hook to write about not one, but two editions of Immortal.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




oriongates posted:

For those who don't know, back in 2e there was a product called the Book of Artifacts, basically a big collection of the most high-powered magic items around, the kind you build campaigns around. The Book of Artifacts was, from what I recall, not too bad other than a tendency to copy-paste artifacts directly from existing campaign settings with absolutely no explanation or preparation, such as a cutlass from Spelljammer or the psychometrion, an item from Dark Sun, and an odd decision that pretty much every Artifact should have some powers that are rolled randomly. Because what's a TSR era book without some random tables?

It also had a cover featuring an excellent example of the very fine line between "awe" and "duuuurr"


Quite foolishly, 10-year-old me bought the Book of Artifacts off the Waldenbooks shelf thinking it would be useful in puzzling out the SSI AD&D games I was playing at the time. As I recall, the book devotes an impressive amount of time detailing how artifacts are not simply powerful magic items, and responds to common complaints about how artifacts wreck a campaign with advice on how to use them well. It did contain artifacts from all the campaign settings ranging from Al-Qadim to Dark Sun to Ravenloft to Spelljammer and back again, but each artifact gets a neat background story.

At the time, it was a complete waste of a 10-year-old's limited funds, but in hindsight, it was a vitally important purchase. All of the charts, references to other charts, and references to stats like Bend Bars/Lift Gates warned me away from playing a game as awful as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

All 4 of those artifacts made it in exactly as you've posted them, IIRC. I seem to recall InQuest magazine in the 90s consistently criticizing TSR for consistently publishing sourcebooks that were collections of material copypasted from earlier books.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




I hear that Palladium is good at selling their back catalogue, but I don't know how. I figure every Palladium fan has already bought every old Palladium book they want. I doubt a lot of people are "discovering" Palladium, getting super into it, and buying lots of old books. And if they did, there are tons of cheap used Palladium books floating around.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

[*]West Virginia: Largely still collapsed. Drivers are warned to stay on major roads, as otherwise the "population is reputed to be inbred and vicious". Ooookay. "White Sulphur mineral spas must be avoided at all costs." Wait, what?
I have family in White Sulfur Springs, and I assure you they're not inbred and that the springs aren't radioactive or anything.

Young Freud posted:

Harlan Ellison's "Along The Scenic Route" is very much the epitome of autodueling as it's presented in Car Wars/Autoduel. It probably had a bigger impact on the game than Mad Max did.
When I first heard about Car Wars I thought "they spun a whole game off that one Ellison story?"

Kavak posted:

Nothing But Flowers? I wish I had a lawnmower...

But seriously, I hope future Fallout games have more environments like Mt. Charleston, recovering or even thriving landscapes instead of the boring desolation of 3 and 4.
It seems like they have to do that to convey that an area is a wasteland. Most people don't get than an area can be green and thriving but still be desolate by human standards. Trying to survive in pine barrens is surely better than the desert, but no picnic.

Evil Mastermind posted:

So every monster has this Fear value. It's (technically) a drawback because it robs the PCs of two of the tools in their arsenal. That said, I'm sure you're wondering what the meaning of the value actually is.

In order to overcome the Power of Fear, Storm Knights have to be dedicated to taking down the horror itself. This is done by generating Perseverance. Perseverance is sort of "party stat" that represents how much work the PCs have done to take the horror down.
IMO, Torg's Fear and Perseverance mechanics stack up poorly compared to Chill's Evil Way mechanics. In Chill, monsters have a pool of Evil Way points that they spend to fuel their powers, and a lot of their powers aren't used in direct combat but are used to stalk, intimidate, deceive, escape, and otherwise play a cat-and-mouse game with the PCs. So you're not caught between negating the PCs' actions or negating the monster's ability to actually be scary--they have to persevere against the monster's tricks until they can pin it down and kill it, and it's dangerous the whole way through.

Hostile V posted:

Major Reginald Stratford-Collingham fought in India, France and Palestine. He's 63 year years old and still sees himself as a dashing young man. Before Venus, he turned what little money he had left from war/inheritance into big game hunting expeditions in Africa where he turned it into a business for himself. However, the Major was bad with money and leading expeditions grew boring until he was approached by the businessmen who built the Lodge to live there as a guide and fixture. Venus...is not good for him. In the year and a half since, he has rarely been sober, using quinine gin and tonic to control his malaria. The food and drinking has made him heavy, bloated, gouty and jaundiced. But hey, he's the real deal and that's still impressive to visitors.
Oh, that's no excuse. You can just drink tonic water, dontchaknow.

occamsnailfile posted:

There's also inspiration from, in the west at least, stuff like the Andy Griffith show oddly enough--people in a small town who are not genuinely malicious end up with problems like cheating in a pickle-making contest that requires two characters to eat like, fifteen jars of pickles. A lonely older person manipulating the legal system to conceal their loneliness. Home maintenance issues gone awry. Pets that go missing for non-nefarious reasons. That kind of thing.
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis could have used a magical talking raccoon.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Robindaybird posted:

The problem with stuff with an element of Revenge Fantasy (Bellum Maga is especially bad for it) is the punishment has to fit the crime, making the characters you're suppose to root for all powerful and able to wipe out the "Bad guys" with a snap of a finger ends up paradoxically make you feel sorry for the "Bad guys" and disgusted at the "heroes" for punching down instead of up.
The revenge fantasies in BM have quite the Fletcher Hanks vibe, plus the sexually sadistic element. Hanks' superheroes were almighty vengeful gods who could sense faraway events and warp reality any way they chose to inflict gruesome punishment on the villains. But they didn't do this until after the villains had already committed atrocities.

Tasoth posted:

The whole concept of the beasts being teachers is neat, but from what's being posted in this thread, how they do it is hosed. Just devising ways that you could use that concept and produce conflict for the beast without making them abusive is a fun thought exercise, but probably one that's going to leave me dissatisfied how it was actually implemented.
Beast strikes me as another sad example of a writer pushing something that has internal consistency on a purely thematic level, but utterly collapses in practice and may actually become appalling.

Humankind has spent millennia telling stories about the monsters that will get you if you go out after dark, to warn children against going out after dark. So monsters serve a purpose! But when Beast says these monsters are real and applies that logic at the individual level, they end up saying that disobedient children deserve to die and killing them is morally acceptable.

Then the analogies to the Other, the Queer, the immigrant, the bullied, etc get dragged into it, and you accidentally back into justifying the logic of a spree shooter. Oh, and Little Red Riding Hood was asking for it.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Nessus posted:

I should either finish Nightbane or abandon it and start in with System Shock one of these days.

Nightbane! I want to love it, but it's the only game where I couldn't even make myself slog through the process of making a character.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




You're getting confused. Spellbound Kingdoms wasn't written by John Wick.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




We haven't seen the default setting for Spellbound Kingdoms yet, but the conventions presented through the rules don't seem like Glorantha levels of fantastical meta weirdness to me. There are narrative rules that measure the importance of drive and willpower, and important characters have plot armour, but it looks like nothing that would be out of place for playing Lord of the Rings.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Regarding Wicked Ways, this is reaching back a few updates but...am I the only one who noticed that the Japanese witch is a ninja, the Indian one is a snake charmer, and the African teacher is based on the only African myth every white kids learns about in elementary school? If a witch isn't white she's probably barefoot in a stereotypical ethnic costume.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Right, but you don't want to know where they're getting them.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Between this and the Kickstarter thread I am in love with so much new stuff. I may do Fragged Empire at some point if no one takes up that banner.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Alien Rope Burn posted:

I hate for my first comment on this to be superficial, but wow, that piece of art
Vince Russo?!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




One of the things I like best about ORE is that in Wild Talents, particularly, it's very easy to oppose a power with a power. If Grodd throws a pile of bricks at a crowd, he rolls that as an attack, and Flash rolls his Speed power as a defensive pool to create Gobble Dice to stop it, trying to catch all the bricks. Plenty of games let you oppose a roll with a roll in a fairly freeform way, but ORE does it in such a way that you have clear guidelines for measuring the results either way.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




If you're writing a lame heartbreaker, you have to include all the boring standard fantasy races, plus a couple furry races and maybe people with wings. This game omits the boring standards and gives us elementals and Slenderfolk.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Whoops! He switched places with a double. Where does he keep finding them!

The thing is, a lot of mechanics, narrative or otherwise, will strain plausibility in these kinds of edge-case scenarios.

A comparison that immediately comes to mind is the Ghoul power in Monsterhearts that says you straight up can't die. So what if you dissolve the Ghoul in acid? Well, I don't know, what then? It's up to you to rationalize it somehow.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:04 on Apr 21, 2016

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




I really like Reign's character creation. My only beef with it is that played straight, one-roll generation is likely to give you a lot of pools at that 4-5 die threshold.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




World of Darkness homebrew is principally an opportunity to examine cases of cargo-cult game design outside the D&D mold.

"Wouldn't it be cool to put Scanners in the WoD? Step one: make a bunch of splats that didn't exist in the movie..."

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Nessus posted:

Actually, I remember the Scanners one, and I don't think it had "splats" at all. You could pick a favored psi power and I think there was noted to be tension between indie scanners vs. ones who work for the company in exchange for ephemerol.
I think I remember that one too, but really, I just picked an example at random. I wanted an example of "WoDable media that has no trace of splats" besides Highlander. There were definitely Highlander homebrews with splats.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




A 1-6 system for measuring character statistics. This may seem like a petty observation, but a remarkable number of games from the 90s-00s period we're talking about built their system on measuring character stats with a 1-5 or 1-6 rating system. The core die mechanic almost seemed like an afterthought, and you could practically slot characters and such from one of these games to another without much thought--it's not like they were well-balanced anyway. Storyteller, Unisystem, D6, Silhouette, Last Unicorn Games' house system, and Alderac's Roll-and-Keep System all fit the bill.

Moving toward narrative mechanics... Like Ron Edwards infamously pointed out, all of these games were firmly rooted in systems that measured your character in terms of how big their muscles are and how powerful the caliber of their firearm, etc. is, while having some rules that tried to simulate things like willpower, conviction, and of course morality.

...coupled with a weird fascination with "realism." Stereotypical 90s games are infamous for going on and on about "story," and then giving you an entire page of stats for different types of submachinegun. My take on this is that new games in the late 80s all the way through the end of the 90s were still preoccupied with getting away from AD&D, which meant both trying to emphasize roleplaying and story, and also trying to be more realistic and commonsense instead of imitating D&D's weird, wonky abstractions like AC, HP, and saving throws that were legacies of building a new medium on top of minis wargaming.

Grandiosity. Some of these designers were really keen on the idea that their games transcended the current state of the medium due to their emphasis on roleplaying and story. (With varying levels of arrogance, and wildly varying levels of actual insight and innovation to back it up.)

The Auteur GM. The 90s wave of somewhat-narrative games replaced the stereotypical "GM as Old Testament God" with "GM as Auteur Director." It was not as much of an improvement as it was supposed to be. What's the difference between Jehovah and Lars von Trier? One is a narcissistic, misogynistic douchebag preoccupied with sin and punishment, and the other one doesn't loving exist. When people complain about the phenomenon of godlike NPCs in published settings, they're often complaining about the published adventures where you're on rails and mostly watch said NPCs do stuff.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 01:09 on May 12, 2016

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




And White Wolf had already made a Street Fighter game that was better designed than Exalted. And most of their other games.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




One of the things I like a lot about The Whispering Vault is that while it plays up the bizarre horror angle a lot, the GMing advice is convivial and encourages a permissive attitude. Because the PCs can't be cosmic horror demigods if you're constantly nitpicking them.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




oriongates posted:

As a result, many Enlightened also refer to the Realm of Flesh as the Dream (oh my god! why do you have so many names for the same thing?! So far the human world has been called the Realm of Flesh, the Mundane and the Dream and I bet there's more to come)
This is all Vampire's fault.

This isn't common to all 90s games, but it is for those that fit into the "dark modern fantasy" mold. Vampire had three different glossaries of vampire slang--one that most Kindred use, one for archaic terms mostly used by stuffy old Grandpa Munsters and their hangers-on, and one used by the punk anarchist vampires who want to tear the system down.

White Wolf's followers apparently took this as a sign that you could make your setting more real-seeming by having three jargon words to describe the same concept. Immortal is lousy with jargon words, but that's mostly due to trying to stuff far too much mythological detail into a corebook. I think the phenomenon reached its peak with Everlasting, wherein each type of monster gets their own glossary of as many as 60-odd jargon terms, with a lot of overlap in meaning.

FMguru posted:

Eh, bloated elfgame self-importance goes way back.
True, but as far as I know, it was this era of design when we started regularly seeing games proclaim that their game was equivalent to theatre, or a vehicle for self-improvement on par with the Mahayana. Another thing that probably reached its absolute peak in Everlasting.

Evil Mastermind posted:

As I've said many times before, Torg really is the pinnacle of 90's RPG design. Yeah, Rifts is up there, but the crazy is more in the mechanical bloat and kitchen-sink setting approach.
I don't see Rifts as being "90s design" at all, at least not in terms of the rules. The rules are pure "some guy's AD&D houserules with a bunch of junk bolted on." Based on its rules and its release date, I'm inclined to say it could have been the first heartbreaker, but it was successful by offering more, more, more than all those generic fantasy games.

wdarkk posted:

Dexterity as a god-stat?
I want to point this out because it annoys me so, so much. There's no reason this should be so persistent in RPG design when it's just a remnant of D&D's six ability scores.

The problem isn't just "Dex is god" but also "Strength is useless." There are tons and tons and tons and tons of games where Strength only factors into how much you can lift and a bonus to hand-to-hand damage, in settings where those things hardly matter. Separating Strength from Constitution is a bit of outmoded "common sense," nevermind that it doesn't make sense to combine all kinds of physical coordination or mental acuity into one ability.

Bieeardo posted:

Early editions of Shadowrun didn't even have that. They just strongly suggested wasting precious skill dice on stuff like trivia.

Night10194 posted:

Don't forget most of those skills being useless, but players being told they ought to have points in 'em for 'realism'.
I think this is a significantly underrated aspect of the social contract that comes bundled with a lot of RPGs, especially from that era. At least, I rarely see it discussed.

The designers make a game. It's not very well-balanced. They make a bunch of character options and some are clearly better than others. The players are directed to spend a limited number of points to buy these options, which they will use to try to succeed at the game. Then the designers' GMing advice says "If your players spend their points only on things they think will be useful, shame and punish them!" They're setting players up for bickering and hostility to shunt blame away from their lovely design.

So the social contract for the game now includes the expectation that you have to sacrifice some of your character resources on the altar of Roleplaying, lest thou be declared a munchkin and a heretic. In my view, this is essentially superstition. It's no different from proclaiming that you aren't really roleplaying if you don't hang garlic on the door while you do it.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Kai Tave posted:

Later editions of Shadowrun do actually give you a separate pool of skill points that's entirely for knowledge and trivia skills.
The funny thing is, while this is partly to encourage you to give your PC skills that ground them in the setting, like Elven Wines, Bushido Philosophy, and Combat Biking Fandom, you have every incentive to put the points in skills like Corporate Security Procedures and Smuggler Havens instead.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Another relic of the nineties was the sample character / character template bit, in which it was assumed that the conventional means of making characters what were warding people away from RPGs, and so things would be either boiled down to making a few choices or no choices at all. Between White Wolf, Pinnacle, and AEG, we were buried in sample characters in their supplements, which I'm not sure I ever saw anybody use. Maybe as inspiration, but I never heard of somebody actually just photocopying the sheet of the Invisigoth or Kakita Artisan to actually use as intended.The fact they were often in secondary books means by definition that if you were picking up Clanbook: Fuckovs, you had probably mastered the character creation system for any of the games in question (which were rarely strenuous affairs anyway) so they were just an amazingly vestigial way to fill page count. About the best you could say about them as that those sections often had nice art...
For one, It's easy, and lets the writers insert in-jokes and/or recreate a TV show character as a vampire (or whatever). A Gangrel clanbook has a character that is obviously a female Indiana Jones, and a Toreador one has Rob Liefeld. Over time this went from in-jokey and mildly clever to unbelievably lazy. It reached its terminal point in the Hollow Ones book, where all the characters are blatant ripoffs and just say "You want to be like [movie character], he is your idol."

Second, in White Wolf's case in particular, the fandom's concept of the various splats ossified over time. I believe the sample characters were meant to shake up your idea of what kind of Brujah, Black Fury, Euthanatos, etc. you could play.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I ran into this attitude in regards to Exalted 3e lately; it hasn't actually gone away. It's bizarre when you're looking at systems that are trivial to fix, but people bow down at the designer altar rather than fix what have been known issues for decades now, and then slap people for gaming a painfully gameable system.
White Wolf established a venerable tradition of being downright spiteful toward the idea that you should even understand how your rules work. (As expressed on message boards.)

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:19 on May 12, 2016

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Bear in mind "better" did not mean "good", though. It's surprisingly okay as long as you ignore the supplements, but still suffers from a lot of issues typical of White Wolf games of that era without even getting into stuff like grapple loops.
Grapplespam has a readymade counter in "Mister Jab."* You can't move, attack, then move again, but you can interrupt another character's move. So if someone is grapplespamming you then you just wait for them to move into your hex, interrupt with a fast Maneuver, step back one hex and hit them. It's why grapplers can't just grapple.

Street Fighter would need some work to make it a balanced game, but the foundation is surprisingly strong, enough that I think I could do it myself if I really wanted to play a campaign today.


*Term coined by "Musashi," creator of the best SF fanpage I know of.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




MonsieurChoc posted:

As for Street Fighter, having actually played in a pretty fun game for a few months, I'd never call it's mechanics particularly good. But we had fun.
Off the top of my head, if I was retooling SF for a campaign, the main problems to attack would be:

1. It's easy to just ignore entire Techniques. You don't need Focus; you don't really need both Punch and Kick. I'd consolidate Punch and Kick, or find a way to make Punch and Kick fundamentally unique (as Grabs are).

2. Focus users really suffer. They're based on an entirely different set of Attributes, and you simply can't make a Focus-based starting character unless you direct all your points into having Fireball or Yoga Flame and spamming it. More low-level offensive Focus maneuvers are needed.

3. Obviously the Styles (and some maneuvers) are badly balanced. The weaker Styles just need more good maneuvers and for some key maneuvers to be changed (Hundred Hand Slap is exactly like Hyper Fist but crappy, and I daresay Honda is more of an icon in the SF universe than Dee Jay).

4. The Player's Guide is such a loving mess that pretty much everything it introduces should be thrown out.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




I believe Baker summed up the game as "Young people armed with guns and religion, sent out to solve problems that can't be fixed with either."

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Cythereal posted:

Which to me suggests that the logical answer is to abandon not-Mormonism and bring the not-USA's influence out West.

I like the idea of the game, but all this not-Mormon hyper-conservative stuff rubs me the wrong way.
Right, but this is a tightly focused game that presents you with a volatile moral environment and challenges you to work within it. "You're a Mormon marshal planning to overthrow their society in favour of assimilation by the federal government" requires a completely different game with that premise built into it.

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