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So, I figured we could maybe use this thread.
Anyway, Serpent's Tongue has upgraded its website. It's still taking preorders, and the game ships in June. Really excited about this.
Anyone use custom rules for Catan?
The friends I used to play Cities & Knights of Catan with had something like this for the bandits: when they arrived, the person with the most knights or cities (something like that) chooses how many knights to defend with, and so on, and you get a series of strategic decisions on the part of player by player over whether Catan will be adequately defended. And sometimes someone chooses to be a jackass and everyone loses a city while they maintain their ability to flip off robbers.
The one thing about Serpent's Tongue is that it might be too nerdy, even for me. That the game designers expect you to say things like "Alum" and "Katukh" in response to your opponent's performance is just a little too much for me. I love the idea of cards being organised within a facsimile of a physical spellbook, and being chosen at will as a result, and the way cards must be played (via effectiveness of pronunciation on part of the player) is both simple and innovative.
But the way the whole thing is written, I'm surprised they don't package wizard cloaks with the box set and include wearing them in the rules. So I'm really interested in the game mechanically, but when some of your stuff is too nerdy for a guy who goes out of his way to learn proper historical medieval swordsmanship, then perhaps some rough edges could be worked out.
I think I remember now; it was just in turn order starting with whoever rolled the bandits. I think.
Players would, in turn order, choose how many of their knights to flip. If the total number of flilpped knights was lower than the total number of cities, then all players would lose a city.
You would be in the catbird's seat if you controlled a significant number of knights but had no cities.
If you had to flip first and had both knights and cities, especially if you were ahead, you'd have to deal with people potentially screwing you over even if you contributed you "fair share" to the defense of Catan.
Really, that seems to me like it's just a way of getting you accustomed to saying stuff in the language with some words that everyone at the table is expected to know. If you watch the developer gameplay videos, even they don't always say them.
Has anyone else heard of 13th Age? It's sort of like a new version of D&D with, from the looks of things, an overall more relaxed and fun ruleset than other editions, plus certain mechanical ideas that are inspired by indie games that would otherwise never be fully appreciated. It uses Theater of the Mind's Eye, every character gets One Unique Thing, you can describe how you mow down mooks if you would do enough damage to take down more than one, etc. Just lots of stuff that seems like it'll be fun. It should be out soon (if it isn't already out and I haven't found out) apparently the layout artist's apartment burned down and he lost everything, so it's been delayed again. Dunno how to feel about D&D Next yet, though. Haven't kept up with it since a disastrous playtest I had.
what does this mean
Anyway, haven't heard of it before. Sounds interesting.
D&D Next...I might check out, but probably won't. WotC doesn't seem to have any competence left, at least not in the RPG department.
It means, rather than using a grid, you're either: adjacent, can reach [person/thing] on this turn, or need to keep moving, and relative placement is left up to the imagination. It also allows for things like: let's say your group is fighting a horde of mooks whose HPs are each 6, and there's a group of 5, Mook HP Total is 30, and if the fighter makes an attack roll and does, say, 21 damage, rather than overkilling one mook, your fighter would cut through a significant part of that group, and the player can describe this attack, rather than being stuck in fromt of the one or two mooks in the front and maybe getting a cleave. It allows for stuff like that, and it won't probably be like 4e, where tactical positioning is really important.
Problematic impressions people have had with Next is that it feels too much like a regression to 3.5 without solving its issues, and without acknowledging any fixes 4e made.
Oh, good, I like that. I really cannot stand grid-based movement systems in RPGs.
That's really unfortunate, given that people mostly like Pathfinder more than 3.5. I mean, I hate 4.0, but it can compete with Pathfinder just by virtue of being a completely different game. Sounds like Next really can't exist in the same market.
Out of curiosity, do you "hate" 4.0 because of the grid combat, or did anything else seem off to you?
It's a combination of that and the fact that they tried to appeal more to MMO players by among other things incorporating a more formalized role system, which I've never been fond of. Bear in mind that I haven't played it and don't own the rulebooks, but their design goals with the system are basically a list of things I don't like in RPGs.
What I take from the formalized role system is that it's there to make sure that every type of combatant you want is there, and to make sure that everyone can contribute. The reasons I like 4 more than 3.X are that (last I checked) it's impossible for any one person (as in the caster) to do everything that the party needs to do -- the wizard can AoE and trick enemies, but they can't take hits or make it so that attacks can't ever get to them, no summoned creature will ever be on part with the demons or efreeti that 3.X wizards could conjure, they won't take awesome kills from the archer, or the rogue who got into a good position -- and every class, in spite of being a part of the same system of Powers, feels more like its own class than a lot of 3.X classes, and doing things like giving Fighters powers that can shift enemy position or draw attention, rather than "I attack this dude. [roll, damage. next player]" is a definite step forward in terms of validating players for their character choices. On the other hand, this means that combat got a lot of focus, and the skill system got dumbed down a bit. That's good in its own way, but this system doesn't do as much to encourage RPing. Which I don't have very much of a problem with since I'm uncomfortable RPing in real life and stuff, but it understandably bothers some. Another problem is that combat takes forever because they gave enemies too much health and, in some cases, too many ways to attack without ensuring that Solo/Elite monsters can't just be stunlocked all combat.
tl;dr: It's less broken than 3.X by a long shot, and the players/DM have to make fewer sacrifices in order to have a good time playing together provided the concept and system appeal to them, but it's very focused on grandiose tactical combat and that can get tiresome. I'm hoping (and expecting) that 13th Age will be better-balanced and make sure that every part of the game is fun.
Yeah, 3.X had balance issues between the classes, but MMO-style role systems don't seem like all that good a way to go about it, since to me, they're basically a way of saying "if you're playing this class, you will play this build, or you will be weaker than you're supposed to be."
Really, I don't like class systems at all, and 4E appears to be "strengthening" the class system while Pathfinder goes in the opposite direction, if that makes sense.
...come to think of it, I think this sentence highlights a symptom of my lack of satisfaction from P&P RPGs.
Because as I read it, it seemed to be something that I'm supposed to think is really cool, except, when I read it I was like..."why would I want to do that? It would just take longer". That was my first reaction.
Have I been too spoiled by videogame RPGs, or is there some sort of P&P RPG playstyle or game type that I ought to be looking for?
^^ I don't know that, in 4E, you have to play the One Best Build of any given class, and any given build ought to be viable (with my only caveat being that the ones that are in the Core books and then expanded will generally have more options), but you can't just go without a Leader (which is also a counterintuitive name for Healing/Buffing).
It's definitely a class system, yeah, but I don't know that Pathfinder is any less of a class system, and I don't think that Archetypes really move so far away from that. Even 13th Age, which seems to be a much more rules-relaxed system than other forms of D&D, is still going to use classes.
Which are the best TTRPG systems that don't have classes/races (World of Darkness games still kind of have classes in that each type of monster can only do certain things and some sort of balance between types of monster is still kind of important)? Where you just get points and apply them to specialties that you want in your character or something?
Again, remember that I haven't actually played 4E. So this is less "why the system is bad" and more "why the way they described the system ensured that I will never play it."
I'm quite fond of the Call of Cthulhu system, which is a "just build your guy" sort of deal. It's very bare-bones, though.
The Elder Scrolls isn't tabletop, and it kind of theoretically had classes for awhile, but each class was just sort of a starting build package and you could make your own. Too bad the actual in-game mechanics kind of suck for the most part.
And then there are the two games I'm working on :P
That said, class systems are kind of the "default" for RPGs just because D&D did it, and I'd really like to see more games move away from that.
What you're missing is that TRPGs and videogames have entirely different goals. A TRPG is basically a ruleset for improvised storytelling.
World of Darkness is highly popular and doesn't have classes. Riddle of Steel is reasonably obscure, but it's also got a free-build thing going on. There are selectable races, but they're used a bit differently; basically, being non-human brings advantages (primarily when it comes to using magic), but you have to give up an important portion of your character building resources to do that. Most players tend not to play them because magic is untrustworthy and you can put your character building resources to more reliable use elsewhere.
If we're including vidya, Mount & Blade is worth a try, and both Demon's Souls and Dark Souls lack conventional classes (you choose a starting class, which isn't a class but an initial spread of stats and equipment that you can work freely from once you begin play).
I'd argue that the various species act as a class system, to an extent.
Hmm. The more I've thought about it, the less CoC appeals to me. I don't particularly like how mundane the characters feel, or see what would be fun about pitting my character against things that hopelessly outmatch him in the end. It's interesting to read about people grappling with otherworldly entities, but I don't know that I want to make that experience into something that I see through with game mechanics.
I accidentally referred to WoD as "White Wolf" in my post, but I mentioned that I basically see the monsters, be they vamps or werewolves, or what, are still constrained based on what type they are, rather than just having free reign to learn vampiric/lycanthropic skills. I'm pretty sure Exalted's caste system ends up working out largely the same.
I was there for your attempt to start a Riddle of Steel game. It seems like it would be a fun system, but something about it felt incomplete. Couldn't tell you what. But I think that in TTRPG, that's the closest I've seen so far.
I kinda want to try out Traveller, though.
I'm kinda moving away from vidya as of recently, but I admit that Dark Souls was fun for a while. But I'm more of a fighting gamer, and even then I haven't been interested in that recently.
I don't know about that, while the core remains the same, it seems it has applied some much needed changes: significantly weaker DCs, toned down spell scaling, no stat induced bonus spells... I would have to actually play to see how effective these changes are, but it's hardly the "win everything from lvl 1 with color spray and a dagger" that 3.5 was.
That's good to hear, at least. Ideally, both Next and 13th Age will be better than 3.X and 4e were, and I'll have incentive to pick and choose.
That's not exactly how it works. Usually, you don't have a scenario like "Okay, so, John, you're a werewolf? And Jesse, you're a vampire?". In most cases, all players are playing the same expansion of WoD, so they'll all be the same species or variation of humanity or whatever. The core game is just regular human beings against the dark things that rise in the shadowy corners of the world. So it's not so much having different classes as it is having different, concurrent editions of the game to choose from.
Thing is, nWoD is explicitly built to enable crossovers between lines.
Because you usually don't mix vamps and werewolves, or at least, not in oWoD, where werewolves are much stronger. I've gotten the impression, however, that you will absolutely get, "Okay, so, John, you're a gangrel? And Jesse, you're a toreador," assuming you're not playing as normals or maybe Hunters (I dunno)? The different clans have their different functions, and while this is more interesting than rote classes in that there's some consistent flavorful basis for it, there's still that sense that you should have the bruiser, the smart, sleuthy guy, etc.
The trick is to not make "kill a really powerful monster" the goal. The really powerful monster is just something the investigators have to learn to avoid on the way to the goal. There are a few published D&D horror adventures I'm fond of which feature an enclosed area with a wandering monster that either outlevels the PCs vastly or can self-resurrect, and the players have to avoid it long enough to deal with it through other means. Very interesting spin on the game.
But each species has a set of classes with different capabilities.
That, though, probably is a good example of a classless system.
It'd actually be interesting to see how a Human game of WoD would go. It's not something I've ever seen done before. The closest is Hunter and maybe Geist.
I didn't say "kill." I just meant that what I've heard about the game is that it's very deadly for PCs, which implies some sense of inevitability, even if the PCs aren't trying to get rid of the monster(s) so much as survive. I know that this doesn't have to be the case, but it does seem like one of those one-wrong-move types of games, and I don't know if that would provide more than one game's worth of fun.
Indeed. It has the same sort of setup as Call of Cthulhu in terms of premise, but is very different in terms of design goals. You're still massively outgunned, but not in as impassable a way.
It really depends on how the players proceed and what sort of adventures the GM runs them through.
^ Yeah. I feel like Human WoD would be less "you confront the thing, you die," and more, "you confront the thing. Talk to it (if it's still of sound mind), see what it wants, and seek out the optimal course of action."
But I like telling the GM that as I walk through the town I keep my eyes peeled for loose change, as well as all those crazy possible combinations of things that can happen, such as my wanting to study the trap that my character just disabled and took apart, and play around with it and arm it with different projectiles, and stuff like that.
I played a game of Arkham Horror the other day, which is kind of the answer to Call of Cthulhu in board game format rather than TTRPG format. It was a pretty interesting and tense game, although it requires a fair amount of setup and there's lots of counters and cards and whatnot.
The way it handled combat was interesting. Defeating the monsters isn't too difficult -- in fact, sometimes it's downright easy. But fighting them almost invariably takes a toll on you, and using (and sometimes even just gaining) knowledge from the beyond taxes your sanity. So while you may be able to defeat most monsters with relative ease, or at least have a good fighting chance, you only have a limited amount of resources to do that with. The mechanically superior option is usually sneaking past a monster.
I feel this is mostly the case because of how limited computer technology is when compared to the human brain. Some video games thrive on "improvised storytelling", but they can't do it with the sophistication that a GM can. For instance, Minecraft. It never really tells much of a story, but its randomly generated content is certainly improvisational in itself and forces improvisation in its players.
The matter is kind of confused by how we think of video games as linear by default, rather than linear because linearity is a predominantly preferred design choice. Games like Minecraft, Mount & Blade, Dwarf Fortress and so on use a design sensibility much closer to that of a TTRPG and are better for it.