D20 20 Years on

Séadna

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I assume this is the basic point from MtAs 1E. I've underlined what I think are the most relevant parts:
Each idea, substance, or other aspect of reality (dogs, the color red, the Social Contract, fear) can be thought of as an individual grain of sand; together, these various grains of sand compose a vast beach. By accepting a given world-view as absolute truth, people are scooping up a handful of sand and thereby ignoring the rest of the beach. Grains may occasionally slip through humanity's collective fingers, and over time people may scoop up additional quantities, but this give-and-take is gradual enough that humanity's overall picture of the universe is never questioned. Humanity's reality, its particular handful of sand, is the mystic and mundane Gothic-Punk world described in Chapter Two-a world created largely by the Technomancers (the harbingers of science who seek to regulate reality). The world has taken its present, twisted form because the Technomancers have hardened the world against change. The Technomancers are the truest embodiments of the stereotypical cold, calculating scientist. This is how they approach the world. Science is a valuable part of reality, but the Technomancers have perverted science into an all-consuming juggernaut.
 
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The Butcher

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the text of the books goes to great length to discuss about how science isn't the problem, merely the reductionist and materialistic worldview embedded in the concept of the Technocracy as a fictional group. It is an interesting and provocative idea for a game - that's all.
Let’s do this again:

First: Pirsig was credited and quoted but I (16 at the time) wouldn’t even know where to find one of his books back then, here in Brazil. Might as well credit and quote Abdul Alhazred.

Second: I am trying to convey a subjective impression — of a book that I have not read in 20 years — that I do not think it did a particularly good job of explaining how the “reductionist and materialistic world view” was worse than the madness and the horrors of the mythic past.

Maybe it really is not as bad as I remember it; memory is a funny thing. I’ll see if I can fish it out at my mom’s one of these days and give it another look. Because I sure as hell don’t remember the “great lengths” — though still (like I said above) my annoyance at what I perceive to be an anti-science bent was no dealbreaker then.
 

Séadna

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Maybe it really is not as bad as I remember it; memory is a funny thing.
It might be just how White Wolf books are written maybe. There's the proviso I mentioned above where it clarifies that it's materialist reductionism that's the problem, but later supplements and other parts of the core easily read as "science is bad" unless you remember those one or two lines. It's like how Wraith can use the Labyrinth as a dungeon crawl but that's literally mentioned in one or two short lines and not really brought out explicitly.
 

Torque2100

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I liked the d20 era. I wish some of the games were still around, like d20 Modern. Mutants & Masterminds was a revelation when it first came out in 2002. It showed how d20 could be stripped down to its core.
d20 Modern remains one of my favorite systems for running a Post Apocalypse campaign. Both Fallout Exodus d20 and Darwin's World make excellent use of the system. d20 works for Post Apocalypse for the same reason it works for Pulp Fantasy: there is a sense of character progression and growth. You really do feel more powerful as your character goes from a squishy peon to a near demigod.

The allegiances system also manages to make Alignment not pants-on-head dumb while maintaining compatiblity.
 

Faylar

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Politically correct was still considered progressive.
The Economy was working.
Governments functioned without The rife partisanship.
Conspiracy theories werent fact.
Everyone wanted to port to D20 instead of distance themselves from it.
Rpg.net was a decent place to visit.
Gamers didnt have as many camps.
Being a geek was NOT cool.
Grognards were wargamers
Gygax was heldvin high regard.

Pretty much none of that is true anymore.

I hear Pundit is the same though... so there is that.
 

ffilz

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I was just thinking about one of the other fails of D&D 3.x (via the actual implementation in Arcana Unearthed/Evolved) beyond the issues with character "design" and prestige classes... Another fail was that the 4 encounter pacing doesn't actually hold up well. Particularly, adventures weren't actually structured around it and didn't provide anything to enforce it. I was thinking of that in comparison to how I used to run Cold Iron and how I have always run RuneQuest. Both games have combat economies that favor only a single major encounter between major rest periods. I run both games with lots of wilderness encounters and dungeons when I use them are often small. The ideal dungeon would have some nuisance encounters and one big encounter, or it makes it easy and logical for the PCs to back out of the dungeon to rest. I think another fail was the experience pacing, which many people dropped in favor of scheduled level up which to me doesn't make sense unless there are just a few level ups and they are major and the scope of the game changes with each.
 

The Butcher

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It might be just how White Wolf books are written maybe. There's the proviso I mentioned above where it clarifies that it's materialist reductionism that's the problem, but later supplements and other parts of the core easily read as "science is bad" unless you remember those one or two lines. It's like how Wraith can use the Labyrinth as a dungeon crawl but that's literally mentioned in one or two short lines and not really brought out explicitly.
I’ve really got to look into it again. But if it’s “one or two lines” it’s hardly “going at great length” as @Trippy suggested.
 

robertsconley

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In regards to World of Darkness, all I know it made for one of the better monster manuals I owned. Especially since I owned the GURPS versions as well. As for Mage the Awakening, I used the GURPS version as a higher form of magic in my campaign. It represent raw manipulation of creation itself and it is the same power that the gods have. Just not quite as dramatic in people.

GURPS Magic in contrast is the manipulation of the ambient flow of mana, a type of energy represented in on respect by the character's fatigue score.

Clerics were granted insight to how to manipulate mana without drawing on their own fatigue. Mechanically I used S John Ross' Unlimited Mana mechanics to handle clerics. Use too much mana and you may go poof as creation swallows you up.

So GURPS MtA played a major part in one campaign where all the players played mages (using GURPS Magic at first). Towards the end they learned of the existence of God magic. While it was far more powerful you have to be imaginative in using it because whatever you did had to be consistent with reality or you gain paradox. Like the aforementioned Unlimited Mana this can be make the wielder of God Magic go poof as creation corrects itself.
 

The Butcher

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In regards to World of Darkness, all I know it made for one of the better monster manuals I owned. Especially since I owned the GURPS versions as well. As for Mage the Awakening, I used the GURPS version as a higher form of magic in my campaign. It represent raw manipulation of creation itself and it is the same power that the gods have. Just not quite as dramatic in people.

GURPS Magic in contrast is the manipulation of the ambient flow of mana, a type of energy represented in on respect by the character's fatigue score.

Clerics were granted insight to how to manipulate mana without drawing on their own fatigue. Mechanically I used S John Ross' Unlimited Mana mechanics to handle clerics. Use too much mana and you may go poof as creation swallows you up.

So GURPS MtA played a major part in one campaign where all the players played mages (using GURPS Magic at first). Towards the end they learned of the existence of God magic. While it was far more powerful you have to be imaginative in using it because whatever you did had to be consistent with reality or you gain paradox. Like the aforementioned Unlimited Mana this can be make the wielder of God Magic go poof as creation corrects itself.
I would love to see Paradox and/or Onyx Path come to an agreement with SJG and release the GURPS WoD books in PDF and/or PoD.
 

Séadna

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I’ve really got to look into it again. But if it’s “one or two lines” it’s hardly “going at great length” as @Trippy suggested.
The following is my impression of reading the 1E, 2E and Revised cores. I never played Mage the Ascension as I've only played Wraith, Vampire the Masquerade and the CoD games. So this is a first time read for me.

I would say that in 1E it doesn't really go on at length about how science is fine, but I also wouldn't say I saw much denigration of science either. Reading it over the last day the impression I came away with is that in the 1E setting Science is one aspect of reality, a subset of the concepts that refer to inert matter and that the Technocracy started off as an attempt to protect humanity and help them grow and Ascend by utilising those concepts since they were "far" from the native concepts of some of the universe's Lovecraftian predators and thus provided a safe house for humanity from these beasts and nature itself.

However over time their strengthening and utilising of this safe house "went too far" when they eventually sought to drive out other conceptions of the world as a threat to humanity, not realising how they were impoverishing the human spirit. So it doesn't repeatedly emphasise that science is fine, but I suppose I felt it didn't need to as it was fairly clear that scientific concepts are a natural part of the world and that it didn't suggest any negativity to science outside the Technocracy's use of it. It also mentions sciences that break with the Technocracy's paradigm (quantum physics), so it seems to be really the monolithic materialist reductionism that is the problem.

2E has more elements that are closer to anti-science like this quote:
Science is a cemetery of dead ideas, Even though life may issue from them
however then there are things like:
The great sin of the Technocracy is not science, or even murder-it is oppression under one vision.
and it also discusses how the opposite of the Technocracies attempts are not good either.

Revised however contains a lot of anti-scientific rhetoric in my opinion. There's a lot of "the freer better world before the coming of science" without reference to the Technocracy's use of it.

Now that said there is a big difference between me reading the Cores "cold" decades later and the general "scene" surrounding the game at the time and I don't know what kind of picture the supplements paint when taken in total.
 
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Trippy

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I’ve really got to look into it again. But if it’s “one or two lines” it’s hardly “going at great length” as @Trippy suggested.
It is fundamental to the game and it is explained at great length at various parts of the book. You have had one clear citation above. By contrast, where do you cite an explicit statement anywhere in the game that "Science is Bad"? It doesn't say this anywhere. It is not the point the game is seeking to make.

However, what it does do is poorly explain basic science ideas in its text and assumptions. This is where the problem of interpretation comes from.

I probably ought to back that with clear examples of what I mean - I always cite how it describes the Forces sphere. Now, bear in mind I am a qualified Physics teacher, and then read this description:

"Forces:The Principles of Elemental Might
Earth. Air. Fire. Water. Long before the Periodic Table of elements existed, mages realized that the natural elements held power of their own. How could they not? Even now, when we live in houses more stable and climate-controlled than anything else in history (and for that, incidentally, you can thank the Technocracy), the power of a hurricane or firestorm can turn security to ruins. And so, of course, when our forebears turned their minds and powers toward control, the first place they looked for inspiration was probably the elements."
.....and.....

"Although modern physics disputes the old lines between matter and energy, the venerable study of Forces transcends human politics."
So, what we have is a basic miscomprehension of what a “Force” is. A Force is not an element. It is not listed on the Periodic Table of Elements. It is the interactions between materials - the pushes and pulls. That Modern Physics understands the notion that matter and energy being linked through the Theory of Relativity is not a matter of human politics, but objective, measurable fact.

The irony here is that the concepts of Forces, as taken from Newton, are actually mystical in origin anyway. His full account of forces in the context of Principia Mathematica is that they are very much controlled by God’s Laws of Motion, and that they explain both the motions of heavenly bodies (the Planets of the Solar System) as well as everything here down on Earth. "As Above, So Below” is a maxim of Hermetic belief - and this is what the Laws of Motion are expressing.

A couple of points. Firstly, this isn’t isolated but in fact the whole game is made up of misappropriated words from science and philosophy that screws up the meanings. Secondly, these quotes actually come from the 20th Anniversary book. The point being that later supplements (there are way over 50+) and editions actually screwed up more than the original edition did.

Of all the Mage editions, the one that uses the most measured language in my view is the LARP books - MET: Laws of Ascension and the Companion book.
 
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KrakaJak

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I would love to see Paradox and/or Onyx Path come to an agreement with SJG and release the GURPS WoD books in PDF and/or PoD.

I wonder if SJG has tried since Paradox acquired the property?

Paradox seem to be on a licensing spree with V:tM. There's like 5 board games in development, a 4-5 video games coming out, Modiphius is publishing the new RPG edition now (with Onyx Path doing most of the development/writing on new books). Onyx Path is still developing and publishing the x20 line, and I believe they still manage most of the legacy content.

I'll bet there's a way SJG could strike a deal as a legacy product.
 

TristramEvans

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Quite often it is--I try and skip the fiction most of the time (Shadowrun 20A, was actually decent enough to make me want to read it. Not great but not UUUGH.)

I remember gamefic being bad in the 90s, but not quite that bad
 

Baulderstone

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Rpg.net was a decent place to visit.
Gamers didnt have as many camps.
Being a geek was NOT cool.
Grognards were wargamers
Gygax was heldvin high regard.
I'd say some of these might be regional. I generally agree with you on rpg.net. The only thing that really aggravated me was the way people threw around the term "rpg.net darling" there for any game you liked that they didn't. The term just popped up in the moderation criticism thread, and it brought on a flashback. I was both playing in and running Unknown Armies games in 2000, and you couldn't have a thread about the game without some asshole wandering in to talk about how it was just an rpg.net darling that nobody really played.

As for camps, I worked in game stores through the end of the '90s, and there were definitely camps by then. You already had the basic divide between trad gamers, playing stuff like D&D and GURPS, and people playing WoD, as well as smaller games like Over the Edge or Unknown Armies. And then you had the breakdown within those camps. GURPS players that thought D&D was dumb and unrealistic. D&D players waving around copies of GURPS vehicles as proof it was unplayable. I just think there were fewer places for the camps to butt heads. As someone standing behind a counter, I'd hear them all gripe about each other, but as people mostly talked face-to-face in those days, they tended to be a little more polite when actually talking to each other.

You'd generally only have the catpiss men actually calling out other people in a store for daring to pick something like The Whispering Vault up off the shelf. For that reason, I tend to assume that people that mock others for their taste in games online today are also catpiss men. You just can't smell them online.

I'd say geek coolness was already a thing by 2000 in the places I lived. You had "hip" gaming and comic book stores by then, and I rarely saw much real stigma against gaming, aside from good-natured ribbing. I'd say we were at a sweet spot around that time. Geekiness was cool, but the mega-corps hadn't arrived to colonize yet.

I'd say the issue of coolness and the number of camps are easily regional. I lived in areas with large gaming communities in that era, so it was easy for people to factionalize.

Yeah, grognards were still wargamers. I've always been kind of annoyed by people who misuse grognard to apply to old D&D players.

I'd say 2000 was the year people remembered that Gygax existed, as WotC made peace with him and rolled him out as a prop to promote the new edition he had nothing to do with.
 

Faylar

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All fair. Regional and perspective, I suppose.
I do recal some of that now that you mention it. Saw a bit among the RPGA elitist crowd in Victoria BC.
 

Nobby-W

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[ . . . ]
I'd say geek coolness was already a thing by 2000 in the places I lived. You had "hip" gaming and comic book stores by then, and I rarely saw much real stigma against gaming, aside from good-natured ribbing. I'd say we were at a sweet spot around that time. Geekiness was cool, but the mega-corps hadn't arrived to colonize yet.
I remember the meme was starting to make its appearance when I was doing my bachelor's degree (pre-dotcom boom Computer Science, so largely populated by geeks) in the latter part of the 1990s.
 

Faylar

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I mean, revenge of the Nerds was a thing, but it was still Zack Morris and the preppy or Jock types that got all the media love.
 

Nobby-W

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I mean, revenge of the Nerds was a thing, but it was still Zack Morris and the preppy or Jock types that got all the media love.
I think the cool geek meme substantially post-dates Revenge Of the Nerds; I first saw it in the latter part of the 1990s. I don't think it made it onto mainstream TV until substantially after that.
 

Faylar

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I think the cool geek meme substantially post-dates Revenge Of the Nerds; I first saw it in the latter part of the 1990s. I don't think it made it onto mainstream TV until substantially after that.
I recall watching Revenge of the Nerds, Porkys revenge and Police Academy on TV as a kid. I know that RoTN wasn't that endearing though.
It was around 2000 that I started to see nerds get their due more and stop being rubes, Crime Dramas and other shows started to show the nerdy types with geeky inclinations, and then... of course... Big Bang Theory started (I know, I know, some here don't like it) and it did help make geeks more mainstream.
 

Torque2100

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@Torque2100 Did you ever check out the sourcebook d20 Apocalyse?
I DID. I still love that sourcebook. It had some fun ideas in it, in particular the Trade Value barter system that I ended up porting over to Darwin's World. Trading with isolated settlements that were unlikely to accept Caps/Corium pieces was much less fiddly with a solid system in place.

Unfortunately, d20 Apocalypse kinda suffered from spreading itself way too thin. d20 Modern had this real problem with its d20 Future, d20 Past and d20 Apocalypse in that they were trying to do too much in the confines of sourcebooks with increasingly lower page counts. Still it had some good ideas that I was able to make use of.
 

Endless Flight

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I DID. I still love that sourcebook. It had some fun ideas in it, in particular the Trade Value barter system that I ended up porting over to Darwin's World. Trading with isolated settlements that were unlikely to accept Caps/Corium pieces was much less fiddly with a solid system in place.

Unfortunately, d20 Apocalypse kinda suffered from spreading itself way too thin. d20 Modern had this real problem with its d20 Future, d20 Past and d20 Apocalypse in that they were trying to do too much in the confines of sourcebooks with increasingly lower page counts. Still it had some good ideas that I was able to make use of.
Yes, I enjoyed the salvage and bartering systems with “units”.
 
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