Appification of RPGs?

KrakaJak

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I would argue that D&D is actually a niche product when it comes to RPGs. It's not the simplest or most accessible ruleset in RPGs. The IP is not the most popular IP in games. It does not have the broadest application to genres or story types. In these instances, I don't think it is any more "Appified" than it was before.

I think the reason D&D 5e is and remains so popular is it is NOT focused on a specific kind of player. The 5e DMG identifies 7 different player types to target (Which aren't too different from Quantic Foundry's Gamer Motivation Profiles). D&D is also the only game which offers a detailed manual with advice specific for how to run D&D. I think Fate and Blades in the Dark targets a more specific kind of player than D&D, they try to serve a more specific audience directly. Most RPGs outside of D&D target people who are already familiar with RPGs. I can't think of another RPG which identifies a more diverse group of playstyles to serve than D&D does.

D&D 4e targeted a smaller set of player types to the exclusion of others. This is one of the only times D&D was less popular than other RPGs on the market.

Where I really think the appification comes in with DTRPG and other digital platforms have allowed 1 to 2 man teams to create and release games. The more talented of these small teams can find a manageable audience and financial success delivering a high quality product with a much smaller scope than what Modiphius and WotC are offering. Because these smaller products fit a specific type of player needs more specifically, you get the FATE effect: Fate is highly recommended by the players who like it for everything. It is also counted as overhyped, incomprehensible or garbage by the player types it underserves.
 

dbm

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you get the FATE effect: Fate is highly recommended by the players who like it for everything. It is also counted as overhyped, incomprehensible or garbage by the player types it underserves.
That’s a good point. Some games are very ‘marmite’ in their appeal - people seem to love them or hate them.

To re-use the app analogy, if your app is a photo editor and you really need a calculator then your straight out of luck...
 

Voros

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Either way, are there any one-shots you are familiar with that would meet the criteria of being non-narrative?
Not really interested in parsing if its 'non-narrative' or not but a 'trad' game that works extremely well for one-shots is CoC. Ghostbusters is another.
 

dbm

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CoC would definitely be super easy to use to introduce people to RPGs. And who hasn’t watched a horror film and shouted “don’t do that, it’s stupid” at the screen?

My main pitch to people about what RPGs were in the 80s used to be: imagine watching a film or reading a book and responding to a character’s actions by saying: I wouldn’t do that, I would do this? In RPGs you make that choice for your character.
 

Edgewise

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Criteria for ideal one-shot rules IMO:
  1. Fast character generation
  2. Easy to understand stats on character sheet
  3. No OOC mechanics
  4. Simple and fast resolution
This way you can start with minimal downtime (1) and new players will easily understand the capabilities of their characters (2). The players don't have to learn the rules because the the GM can run everything by him or herself (3 and 4), but if players want to learn, it won't be hard to teach them (4).

Barbarians of Lemuria exemplifies all four of these criteria. So do the 1st and 2nd editions of Over The Edge. Another example would be that one I've already mentioned: Mothership. I think the first two both have a special booster pool that qualifies as OOC (hero points for BoL and the experience pool for OTE), but nobody is perfect.
 

robertsconley

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While there are limits I find it is mostly about the presentation not the system in getting people up to speed. It all about creating a concise easy to follow reference. Most RPG core books are not since they also have to coach and teach the reader about the game and perhaps a setting as well. With me being there I can handle that.

Majestic Wilderlands for Swords & Wizardry
Each of those are printed on cardstock and I have a stack of them ready. I honed this over the past ten years to allow players to not only play but to generate characters within a four time block. Take no more than a 1/2 hour to get a complete character with magic items and equipment. Often less depending on the number of players.

While not quite as developed I done the same for D&D 5th edition

I also have a version for classic Traveller and Fantasy AGE. And partial ones done for AiME and GURPS. Although the jury is out on how fast I can get GURPS going. It will be faster than what I done in the past but probably still taken an hour or so which is too long for a four hour one shot session.
 

silva

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This thread took a weird turn from Dbm's excellent analysis of current trends to Krueger butthurt agenda pushing.

Just saying.
 

dbm

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the jury is out on how fast I can get GURPS going
This may be confidential in which case tell me to mind my business... with the more recent willingness from SJG to work with proven-capable third parties might there be a chance of a GURPS version of Majestic Wilderlands?
 

robertsconley

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This may be confidential in which case tell me to mind my business... with the more recent willingness from SJG to work with proven-capable third parties might there be a chance of a GURPS version of Majestic Wilderlands?
I am interested however I write slow :sad: given that I am writing in the time I spend on my hobby. I used to be frustrated about this but accepted it is is what it is.

I just plod ahead getting the things done that I want or promised. Right now I am working on a paid map project. Along with the next Wilderlands Guidebook and get it and the last set of maps out. My immediate plan after that is get Wild North as a follow up to Blackmarsh in shape for publication.

The last Wilderlands guidebook and maps will be out this summer, the goal is to release Wild North in the fall. After that we will see where things are with GURPS. It definitely on my serious consideration list.

Having the seen the wreckage of numerous kickstarters and failed OSR project, I rather work slowly but steadily rather than over promise. If I do a kickstarter it will only be after the text is done and I need money for art and editing. I made two mistakes* in trying to push myself. While they were minor compared to the wreckage we have seen it was enough to make me very cautious.

So for now it is last Wilderlands book, then Wild North, see where we are at.

*I tried to create a English Civil War sandbox setting for James Raggi and found creatively it wasn't happening so I refunded the advance and turned over the material I wrote. James Raggi was great to work with throughout and he pays very well. Which made me procrastinate a tad too long before I gave myself a reality check and came clean with Jim.

*I had a license to remake Gamelords Thieves Guild supplements for Swords & Wizardry. I had to let it sunset because I didn't have the time to make the project happen. This occurred two years before the above.
 

AsenRG

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I call Mythras a generic system, because 1) it has the relevant material for multiple genres and eras, 2) I'm using it like a generic system and 3) well, if I'm using it as a generic system, what do you want me to call it:grin:?

Hope that clears up any misunderstandings.
 

dbm

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@AsenRG from my perspective it is interesting as many people think of Mythras as a generic system, but it doesn’t (to my understanding) bill itself that way. It could well be the BRP heritage.

As a genuine question: what qualities of Mythras cause you to pick it over other games?
 

AsenRG

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@AsenRG from my perspective it is interesting as many people think of Mythras as a generic system, but it doesn’t (to my understanding) bill itself that way. It could well be the BRP heritage.
Not for me. I basically bought MRQ2, which was Mythras back then, as my first BRP-style system:smile:.
Then I got The Big Gold Book, too...because why limit yourself:wink:? But until then, GURPS was filling my generic-systems itch!

As a genuine question: what qualities of Mythras cause you to pick it over other games?
Most of these are minor...

Always roll the same die for a task (that's where EABAv2, ORE and Savage Worlds fail me). That's actually the most minor, but well, it is an advantage with some players in my group.

D100 is intuitive to me.

Better streamlined than BRP: everything you need to roll is a skill.

Has all the info I might need to present games in various settings from antiquity to SF and from East to West.

Cheaper than GURPS (potentially much, much cheaper, if you buy the rules for Legend by Mongoose - which are $1 - or if you want more than a couple of GURPS supplements). Becomes a slightly more substantial problem if you have players from another city. You know, like running PbP?
Also might become a problem when you're passing from deadtree books to PDF-only, which I did after my copy of GURPS fell apart. Well, it was second-hand, so I guess I got from it as much as I paid:shade:?

Has some minor customization of styles. Which I appreciate, because no, "a punch is a punch" is a nice tidbit, but it's also not quite true...some styles are better suited for one task or another.

OK, all of the above are minor ones, admittedly.
Here's the major one(s):

Mythras has more fun* combat. I ran once a BRP game and a fight between two matched combatants (80+ skill) went on for something like 6 rounds. Nobody had enough skills in it to feint, nobody rolled a special or better success. Now, I liked that, because long exchanges were totally in-genre - I was running Ancient China Wu Xia, inspired by Water Margin...but given that it was a PbP, the players were less than thrilled:grin:!

Special effects, a.k.a. Manoeuvres, a.k.a. Cherries from Unknown Armies 2e. Yes, they apply* to combat, but combat is a non-negligible part of many genres I run and play. And I love how they made our Vikings campaign feel like, well, a Vikings campaign should** be.


*And I'd argue that the "cherries approach" is more realistic as well...but that's based on my experience in HEMA and other martial arts. As we all know, YMMV. To me, such things happen and are hard to "force".

**Granted, the odds of this working were very low...but it worked. So I threw a spear at an approaching chieftain, he grabbed it from the air and returned it without breaking his stride, and I rolled an even better critical and did the same to him. He actually failed his next defence roll, and died surprised:devil:.
 
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dbm

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So what would you say Mythras gives you over GURPS in particular?
 

AsenRG

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Only in terms of price relative to Mythras?
Cheaper, yes.
Customisation of Styles (though that might be resolved in some supplement I've never seen:tongue:).
Cherries/Manoeuvres and the way they're generated. GURPS is basically the same BRP in its "scheme" of combat. Mythras, putting it simply, is closer to ORE.
I mean, I spent like half the post on this one point:grin:!
 

EmperorNorton

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The thing about most generic toolbox systems is I feel like I have to build the engine to the car each time I want to run a different game. Do I use this module or that module? How do I flavor X this time? Do i use the rules from this book? Do I use Cinematic damage or Gritty damage? etc etc etc.

It's what makes generic toolbox systems kind of the anathema to doing oneshots.

The point of a oneshot is that I can pick it up and run it quickly. Most generic systems, even ones like Savage Worlds which are honestly fairly straightforward, are not that. (Savage Worlds + a Setting book can be pretty quick though, but that isn't the same as running a generic system).

If you want to do oneshot rules for such a system, you need to have a version that is precustomized to the oneshot being run.
 

AsenRG

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The thing about most generic toolbox systems is I feel like I have to build the engine to the car each time I want to run a different game. Do I use this module or that module? How do I flavor X this time? Do i use the rules from this book? Do I use Cinematic damage or Gritty damage? etc etc etc.

It's what makes generic toolbox systems kind of the anathema to doing oneshots.

The point of a oneshot is that I can pick it up and run it quickly. Most generic systems, even ones like Savage Worlds which are honestly fairly straightforward, are not that.
Or, you know...you could maintain a list of clusters of options. "Cinematic", "Cinematic wth a gritty streak", "Gritty heroics", "Gritty grittiness of True Grit*", "Slasherflick except you don't play the killer".
"OK, for today we're playing with Gritty Grittiness of True Grit options. Stop groaning...do you want pre-gens or are you going to make PCs?"


*No, I don't mean the movie:grin:!
 

AsenRG

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And I'm pointing out that if you use this system on a protracted basis, that's not a problem.
 

dbm

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I'm saying why they don't tend to appeal to most people when doing oneshots.
That’s a fair point. Especially if it’s a short notice thing where maybe the regular GM can’t make it. In this kind of situation, from my perspective, it would actually be character creation that was the bear, rather than the rules mix. Even a simple GURPS character can take an hour or more to create. If you’re the GM helping everyone make characters you would really need to go with pre-gens.

If I was personally planning a one-shot (as opposed to an incidental game) it would probably be to try out new rules (did some Numenera one-shots to this end).
 

EmperorNorton

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@AsenRG Except the discussion is talking about the use of Oneshots to lead people INTO using the game system. Which is the exactly the opposite.
 

AsenRG

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That’s a fair point. Especially if it’s a short notice thing where maybe the regular GM can’t make it. In this kind of situation, from my perspective, it would actually be character creation that was the bear, rather than the rules mix. Even a simple GURPS character can take an hour or more to create. If you’re the GM helping everyone make characters you would really need to go with pre-gens.

If I was personally planning a one-shot (as opposed to an incidental game) it would probably be to try out new rules (did some Numenera one-shots to this end).
I'd explained on my blog how to create a GURPS character in 15 minutes or less:smile:.
 

robertsconley

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It not the opposite , the only thing seen is the finished result. You are not running a seminar in how to create a campaign out of BRP, or GURPS. You running a session of the system in a specific genre in a specific setting (even if loosely defined). GURPS, Savage Worlds, Hero System, and Fate have core rule books, but supplemental products do the heavy lifting in regards in translating into a specific type of campaign.

The generic system that are the most popular are the ones that do this concisely in a straight forward manner. Ideally all you need is Core + Sourcebook and maybe one other supplement like a monsters manual or book of foes.

The advantage of generic is that once you are comfortable you can go back to the core books and design exactly what you want without having to make a RPG from scratch.

However where this doesn't work is for people who flit from setting to setting, from genre to genre. For that situation generics don't have any advantage over an RPG with a more narrow focus. The contrast is my case where I ran the same setting for decades so have a binder of notes for GURPS. I don't need to dive into the numerous lists to run a campaign because I am reusing what I made in the early 2000s.

The same technique I can be applied to genre. Maybe a referee never uses the same science fiction setting but has worked with Hero System so much that he has a binder that function as personalized genrebook for how he approaches that type of campaign.

As for novices to the game, what they need is material to show them how to use generic system to do thing they like with other RPGs usually D&D. Which is why GURPS and to some extent Hero System suffered. The lists of stuff like spells, monsters and treasure were lacking compared to their D&D equivalents. Lacking compared to what Traveller did.

Novice are unlikely to be motivated to create their own list of stuff just to try a system. Which is why support for the popular genres of the hobby is important for a generic system gain traction. It doesn't have to function like D&D, Traveller, or Call of Cthulu, but it does need to show clearly how you do the same thing and give you the same range of ready to run material with the generic system as you have with the three RPGs.
 

AsenRG

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Here's my blogpost. Keep in mind, I've tested it on 12-15 newbies...in fact the system was created for use by or with newbies.
Why did I pick GURPS? I didn't. My wife wanted to run a game for her friends who had never tried* RPGs, and the last game we'd played and she had liked was GURPS...so she declared she's going to use GURPS, and I'm going to help everyone. Well, the Referee picks the system...and I'm always up for helping newbies:smile:!
Consequently, I was tasked with creating a way to simplify the chargen for her Ancient Greece game. No, she didn't want to create templates, judging it too slow and restrictive:wink:.
Some conceptual work was needed!
Me? Backing down from a challenge:devil:?
Using the following system, made characters** for all 12-15 players in less than an hour and half.


*Her reply to RPG.net threads "why women aren't playing RPGs" is "women love roleplaying and do it naturally, if they don't want to play in your group, odds are the reason is YOU". So she gathered a group from a Harry Potter forum, with only 3 people who had used dice for roleplaying before:tongue:!
**The campaign was going well for a couple of session until a Griefer player joined a Naturally Chaotic Neutral one and pretty much screwed everybody else by saddling us with huge financial debts...which they found very funny, right until my intervention gave rise to my story of "how I sold another PC in slavery for unpaid debts":shade:!
Still, they did manage to wreck the campaign for everyone else. Yes, I'd warned the wife to make the Griefer skip the sessions...but he knew a few of the other players, and Geek Young People Social Fallacies were at work.
After another couple of experiences like this in more or less "open" venues, the wife refuses to run games for anyone whom she hasn't known for years...Which is a waste, because she could get non-gamers to try RPGs just by talking with someone she'd met half an hour ago. Yes, I've seen it:grin:!
 
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EmperorNorton

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*Her reply to RPG.net threads "why women aren't playing RPGs" is "women love roleplaying and do it naturally, if they don't want to play in your group, odds are the reason is YOU". So she gathered a group from a Harry Potter forum, with only 3 people who had used dice for roleplaying before:tongue:!
Found this is pretty accurate. I mean, women are all over online roleplaying, especially freeform roleplaying. In the Strahd group that my wife runs, I'm the only man out of all the players. And she plays with another group that is entirely women as well.
 
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