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EmperorNorton

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It isn't a board game. I know. And I have no negative opinions of board games. If it was a board game I'd be fine with that to, but it isn't. I own 300+ board games. I know what a board game is and I quite like them.

Blades in the Dark is not a board game any more than D&D is a board game because it has rules for playing on a grid.

Blades in the Dark is about ROLEPLAYING CHARACTERS IN AN IMAGINARY WORLD. The mechanics are all focused around creating interesting situations for them to roleplay in. The downtime mechanics are no different than downtime mechanics for a lot of games, it is just "how much can I accomplish between scores", and they explicitly discuss roleplaying during downtime. Heat and vices and troubles after scores are all designed to give you situations to roleplay off of. The mechanics for turf are designed to give you motive and reason to confront NPC power structures in order to... you got it, roleplay the situations. Every single mechanic in Blades in the Dark is designed to provide situations to roleplay in.

Yes, you can roleplay in Risk, but the games mechanics do not exist in order to provide situations to roleplay in.
 

EmperorNorton

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Also, the Downtime/Free Play/Score structure is probably more concrete than the assumed play structure of most RPGs, but I guarantee that a lot of RPGs have assumed play structures, they just aren't explicitly called out.

Also, I think the problem comes from the idea that a "Score" is always a heist. You can play almost any situation as a score as long as there is an interplay of power if you want to give it the full mechanical gravitas. Just like not every "Dungeon" in D&D is literally a dungeon.
 

silva

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I believe the only solution at this point in the evolution of RPG theory (or rather, lack thereof, not in small part due to these "semantic wars") is just to accept a field as large as possible for the "RPG" term (as regretful as this might be, since the larger the field, the less information it gives) and just start creating subcategories with the "RPG" word in it. E.g. traditional RPGs, storygame RPGs, OSR RPGs, etc.

No idea how you would call an hybrid like Blades though. "Hybrid board-RPG"?
Nice. The same way there are romantic movies, action movies, horror movies, thete may also be traditional RPGs, narrative RPGs, PvP RPGs, boardgamish RPGs, etc.

Are we settled? :grin:
 

Luca

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I still think a more precise language is needed. Not to mention, modern evolved dungeon crawler boardgames (Gloomhaven, Sword and Sorcery) are veering closer and closer to RPG territory. Seeing the two as categorically split is becoming more and more dubious, IMO.
 

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Why it important that Blades in the Dark and D&D be placed on the same shelf under the same category name?
Because it is far more similar to D&D (In many people's opinions) than it is to a board game. Why is it so important that Blades in the Dark and Shadowrun Crossfire be placed on the same shelf under the same category name?

You can avoid all the roleplaying and just stick to the mechanics, of course, but...
* Why would you do that, RPG mechanics tend to be really boring in and of themselves
* The same is true for pretty much any other RPG out there
* That was what people used to do in Ye Olde RPGe Dayes, and given people stopped doing it at some point, maybe they stopped for a reason

The core point of this argument, and a lot of other arguments, is that different people want different things from their RPG's, and that is why there are so many of them; the ice cream analogy fails because not only does everybody like different flavours, nobody can even agree on which flavour is which.
 

EmperorNorton

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I still think a more precise language is needed. Not to mention, modern evolved dungeon crawler boardgames (Gloomhaven, Sword and Sorcery) are veering closer and closer to RPG territory. Seeing the two as categorically split is becoming more and more dubious, IMO.
As a huge fan of Gloomhaven, what it is attempting to do isn't even close to what Blades in the Dark is attempting to do.

In Gloomhaven you can roleplay, but the mechanics aren't interested in that at all. The mechanics are designed around building a challenge.

In Blades in the Dark, the entire point of all the mechanics is to provide situations to roleplay in.
 

silva

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Amber, GM Never rolls
Lol you're writing this with a straight face? Because I don't believe it. Really. The "GM never rolls" in Amber has nothing to do with the "GM never rolls" in Apocalypse World for the simple fact the former is DICELESS while the second is not. So no, Amber didnt precede AW with this feature.

Pendragon,
Mechanics detailing a character's personality along with personal interconnections.
Again, the interconnections in Pendragon has nothing to do with Hx in AW, nor serve the same design goals. Paranoia would be a better precursor to the concept of frenemies that AW's relationships systematizing is supposed to promote. But the game that really created the concept was The Mountain Witch.

Traveller
, generating a characters back story, and supported self contained scenarios like Patron Encounters, that operate simiiarly to playbooks.
Here I can see similarities, but the way playbooks are used, again, are completely distinct from Travellers lifepath in application and goals.

Marvel Superheroes
i.e. FASERIP had many degrees of success.
Bro, degrees of success have nothing to do with success with complications, nor, again, they address the same design goals.

Really, give up. Apocalypse World is far from perfect and far from being some revolutionary shit, but denying it had it's share of novel ideas and influence over the hobby in the last years is nuts. Which, again, begs the question: Why this need to discredit non-traditional roleplaying games ?
 
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Black Leaf

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As a huge fan of Gloomhaven, what it is attempting to do isn't even close to what Blades in the Dark is attempting to do.

In Gloomhaven you can roleplay, but the mechanics aren't interested in that at all. The mechanics are designed around building a challenge.

In Blades in the Dark, the entire point of all the mechanics is to provide situations to roleplay in.
Negotiation games like Junta or Republic of Rome would be better examples of grey areas.

They're board games, but the mechanics there are designed around negotiating in a role.
 

Zak Smith

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My opinion is that Evil Hat gains nothing by advertising this as a tabletop RPG with all it concoctions for hobbyists. That Blades in the Dark lies within the family of games represented by Shadowrun Crossbow, Arkham Horror, etc.
Now that is an interesting contention.

1. Do you think so many people shared your reaction the game's sales were hurt?

2. Do you care? Like if Evil Hat is making terrible marketing mistakes why should anyone care?

3. Do you think if it was sold mainly to boardgame fans and only discussed by RPG fans to the degree we talk about, say, Munchkin or Small World, it would do better?

4. What do you gain by calling it "not an RPG" rather than "A boring RPG for boring people related to a large number other similarly boring RPGs for similarly boring people" ?
 
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EmperorNorton

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Negotiation games like Junta or Republic of Rome would be better examples of grey areas.

They're board games, but the mechanics there are designed around negotiating in a role.
They would be better arguments but even there, the goal of the negotiations in those games are not to play a role, but to accomplish the mechanical goals of the game.

There is a major difference between board games and RPGs in that board games have defined goals for winning, and all of the mechanics are built around making that competitive/a challenge, where as in RPGs the players generally set the goals of their characters themselves, and the mechanics are generally built to facilitate them striving for those goals, simulating the world/genre, or generating roleplaying situations/complications.

Also, if anyone tried to go on a board game forum and claim that Blades in the Dark was closer to a board game than an RPG, they would be laughed off the fucking board. It is a ludicrous statement.
 
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EmperorNorton

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4. What do we gain by calling it "not an RPG" rather than "A boring RPG for boring people related to a large number other similarly boring RPGs for similarly boring people" ?
I would propose you gain nothing from either.

I've never understood why people care to shit talk the games that others enjoy, to such a point as to insult the people playing them.

If people enjoy a game I don't, good for them. At least they are having fun.
 

Zak Smith

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I would propose you gain nothing from either.

I've never understood why people care to shit talk the games that others enjoy, to such a point as to insult the people playing them.
If the only people who ever claim to have enjoyed a given game are people with a track record of being people you don't like for other reasons then that's relevant to the analysis.

Like if someone has fun with (insert name of your idea of an offensive game here) but literally everyone who likes it belongs to (insert name of ideologically offensive group that WOULD like such a game) then you can go "Ok, they like it but that is also a bad game". I mean "torturing cats" can be a game. If "cat torture" is enjoyed by thousands of people who are all dickheads then that is relevant to assessing the quality of the game of torturing a cat.
 

EmperorNorton

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If the only people who ever claim to have enjoyed a given game are people with a track record of being jerks then that's relevant to the analysis.

Like if someone has fun with (insert name of your idea of an offensive game here) but literally everyone who likes it belongs to (insert name of ideologically offensive group that WOULD like such a game) then you can go "Ok, they like it but that is also a bad game". I mean "torturing cats" can be a game.
My god, I can't eyeroll hard enough at this bullshit. Dude, torturing cats, in and of itself, makes you a shitty person.

Playing games I don't like doesn't make someone a worse person. Of course if the game itself is morally objectionable, if they are playing RaHoWa or FATAL or some shit like that, but within the normal spectrum of roleplaying games, no, sorry.

And the truth is, you will call people jerks for the slightest thing, so I wouldn't trust your ability to judge people anyway.

I mean, it is already clear that you think very little of anyone here, as you have stated repeatedly that you don't socialize here because you have much better people to socialize with. So who is the jerk here? The one who is suggesting to let people enjoy the things they enjoy, or the person who has explicitly stated they look down their nose at this entire forum.
 

Zak Smith

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Playing games I don't like doesn't make someone a worse person. Of course if the game itself is morally objectionable, if they are playing RaHoWa or FATAL or some shit like that, but within the normal spectrum of roleplaying games, no, sorry.
"game itself is morally objectionable" isn't a clearcut thing, as the millions of internet years debating every game under the sun's morality proves.

So even that comes down to a personal judgment on personal criteria--this can be articulated, but it won't be universally accepted. Just like who is or isn't a person you want to spend time with.
 

robertsconley

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1. Do you think so many people shared your reaction the game's sales were hurt?
I would say yes but not as much as its presentation.

What it is clear looking at the ToC and presentation that it has specific kind of campaign in mind (criminal operations) in a dark fantasy setting. So as much I am debating how it feel during play it not why it remains a niche of niche game.

2. Do you care? Like if Evil Hat is making terrible marketing mistakes why should anyone care?
I like talking about all things in the RPG hobby so I am interested. I know that the not the same as caring. But I also like to debate and explore points fully so I come off more passionate about the specifics than I am really am.

I do get annoyed over the heat that talking about categories of RPGs generates. So that is a form of caring. You and I have different styles when it comes to the OSR however I think it great that your stuff it out there and better yet doing well. The more people doing different things the better off we are in the long run.

3. Do you think if it was sold mainly to boardgame fans and only discussed by RPG fans to the degree we talk about, say, Munchkin or Small World, it would do better?
Yes in a way. I think a class of games that do what Shadowrun Crossfire and Gloomhaven does with less overhead (for example number of playing pieces) would be beneficial. That Dogs in the Vineyard and Blades in the Dark taken to the next step with their own path of development would do well going that route.

4. What do we gain by calling it "not an RPG" rather than "A boring RPG for boring people related to a large number other similarly boring RPGs for similarly boring people" ?
In recent years there been a class of games emerging that merges boardgame mechanics with roleplaying mechanics. They are not as flexible as a traditional roleplaying game, but they are evocative with well designed mechanics that support the setting they depict. It worked well enough that this class of games has become a thing. For example Elder Sign and Shadowrun Crossfire. One way this is achieve is through a narrow focus on a specific subgenre like Cthulu Horror for Elder Sign.

But the downside is they are rather high in price, come with a bunch of fiddly "bits". Like multiple decks of cards for Shadowrun Crossfire. But with games like Dogs in the Vineyard, Blades in the Dark the use of RPG mechanics coupled with other types of mechanics make for a tight package depicting a complex situation that can be straightforward to setup and run compared to the above boardgames or a traditional D&D style RPG.

But if you attempt to play these games like a traditional RPG, there are issues like the ones I ran into with Blades in the Dark. Not as bad if I tried to use Elder sign to run a Cthulu campaign but still there are problems.

The root of much of this is the success of Euro-games illustrating how you can deep play and strategy out of a set of simple mechanics.

I hoped I answered the question fully. Some of it still stuff I am mulling over so it isn't a clear I would like it to be.
 

EmperorNorton

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I remember once that I jokingly called you an asshole in a thread (at the same time I was also referring to myself as an asshole), and you insisted vehemently that you weren't an asshole.

Yet you are going to call anyone who plays Blades in the Dark is a boring person.

I'm seriously failing to see the part where you aren't an asshole.
 

Zak Smith

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Yet you are going to call anyone who plays Blades in the Dark is a boring person.
No, I am asking what Rob gains by saying it's "not an rpg" rather than simply saying that.

We're talking about Rob's subjective opinion and how he expresses it, not mine. I don't know anyone well who likes PTA games so I couldn't render that judgment.
 

EmperorNorton

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@robertsconley I do not get where you are getting the idea that Elder Sign and Shadowrun: Crossfire are taking anything from RPGs. They are just games with theme. Thematic games have existed for years and years and years. Elder Sign is just a themed yahtzee mechanic style coop game, and Shadowrun: Crossfire is a coop deckbuilder with some progression mechanics (the only part that can be considered vaguely rpgish, but progression mechanics exist in a hell of a lot of things that aren't tabletop rpgs).

Both of them just take mechanics from other existing board games. Theme in board games isn't new at all.

You really sound like someone who doesn't know the board game design field.
 

EmperorNorton

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No, I am asking what Rob gains by saying it's "not an rpg" rather than simply saying that.

We're talking about Rob's subjective opinion and how he expresses it, not mine. I don't know anyone well who likes PTA games so I couldn't render that judgment.
Ah, I misunderstood you in this case. Though I would say you are mischaracterizing what he is saying. He doesn't seem to be calling people who play it boring.
 

robertsconley

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Addenum: My day job is head programmer for a company making metal cutting machines including some that function as complex assembly lines. One of the things I do is troubleshoot along with think of novel new features for us to implement in our software. To this well I become adept at spotting patterns in how people use our software and what they do with our machine. Then distilling that in specifics that we can implement in our software and machine. But in a way that consistent with how things currently work. It not always an easy thing to do.

In the past two decades, I notices several distinct new "patterns" emerging among the games being published for the tabletop RPG hobby. One of which are games that focus on creating collaborative storytelling to create a shared narrative. The other games that use RPG mechanics but which a much narrower focus and makes heavy use of metagame mechanics. Mechanics that you use as a player not a character.

That with boardgame a separate but similar thread is also occurring. Where boardgames borrow RPG elements, create a rich setting, and design the boardgame mechanics to evoke feelingsin a way consistent with the setting.
 

Ladybird

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@robertsconley I do not get where you are getting the idea that Elder Sign and Shadowrun: Crossfire are taking anything from RPGs. They are just games with theme. Thematic games have existed for years and years and years. Elder Sign is just a themed yahtzee mechanic style coop game, and Shadowrun: Crossfire is a coop deckbuilder with some progression mechanics (the only part that can be considered vaguely rpgish, but progression mechanics exist in a hell of a lot of things that aren't tabletop rpgs).
On a not unrelated note, I think there's the potential for an RPG system lurking somewhere in Elder Sign and it's mechanics; I know that FFG are going to use Genesys for next year's Arkham Files book, but I'd like to have seen it expanded and iterated on.
 

Zak Smith

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A stated goal of early pre-PTA design chat in John Harper and Vincent Baker's scene was to "reduce the social footprint" of RPGs. That is: something you could play out of the box like a boardgame with the same non-hobbyist people you might play Monopoly with.

This to some degree necessarily involves shoving the genie of oh wait, we can do......anything?....that characterized the shift from Chainmail to D&D back in the bottle. Focusing the game means you can create bespoke simplifying mechanics which assume that focus, as PTA games do.

However, lots of other designers do this in different ways, for example Jeff Rients' "Party Like It's 999" carousing table assumes you are eliding time between delves and the dungeon delve is the only thing in the adventure proper (and, yes, that is how it is used by Jeff in his online games) and he has a similar table for what you do if you end the session in the dungeon and haven't got back to camp.

However again, this isn't a published game, just how Jeff uses it, so this focus is arguably of a different character than the focus in a PTA game.

It is worth noting that the efforts to expand PTA into non-hobbyist circles have not been earth-rendingly more successful than any other game, though perhaps Rob and they could agree that they're just advertising to the wrong crowd.
 

Baulderstone

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Have a look at the Lexicon thread. Pages and pages of people not agreeing to any terms used in RPGs. They can't even agree on what a RPG is.
Exactly. Until the RPG community accepts the rule and judgment of a governing body that makes ultimate, enforceable decisions that we all need to abide by, we are not getting any universal agreement on RPG terminology or what is or isn't an RPG.
 

RandallS

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Well it's here since 2010 and already influenced the hobby in some ways (Star Wars' success with complications, Cypher's GM don't rolls dice, Mutant Year Zero and Beyond the Wall playbooks and loaded relationships, the new Kult, etc) so there's that.
The first two of these are hardly new. I was using success with complications in a homebrew game in 1983. It had failure, partial success/success at a cost, success, special success, and critical success. I don't remember where I got the idea for partial success/success at cost, but I doubt it was my creation. The first I saw "GM does roll dice" was in an article in Dragon magazine during the TSR era (I tried it and hated it then, still hate it now). I am not sure about the others, but I would not be surprised if they were done before AW as well.

Truly new ideas are really rare in RPGs, in my experience. I remember people raving about the wonderful new idea of ascending armor class with the D20 system in D&D 3.0, when the practically the same system was suggested in detail in an article in Different Worlds magazine in 1980 or 1981. Note that none of this takes anything away from PBTA games others that the claims of some of their fans that these ideas are new to RPGs with AW.
 

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Sorry, I don't agree. A lexicon has been established in every field of human academia and it never required universal agreement.

Just wait for the first serious studies to appear then you'll see. At that point all this handwrangling about who has the right to call which what will go the way of the dodo. Unless you want to seriously dispute the fact that language is a convention and that it evolves irrespective of the wishes of any single individual?

I'm also annoyed at how this excuse is used to instantly shutdown anyone who tries to engage in a rational taxonomic discussion. As soon as a single game darling gets excluded from a category liked by any of the game's fans, there's a brigade coming in accusing people of being exclusionary. But if I'm trying to establish categories and subcategories I need to distinguish and thus to exclude based on some criteria, otherwise there's no point. And it's quite obvious distinctions exist and need to be formalized.

Ultimately, it's irrelevant to me how everyone wants to call the subdivisions, but claiming they don't exist, or they do but it's impossible to formalize them is ridiculous because it flies in the face of reality.
Hell, scientists can't even agree on what exactly a fucking planet is, that hasn't stopped cosmology to come up with a terminology. Imagine trying to study the universe without being able to call anything by proper names and being forced to call everything "stuff" because otherwise someone somewhere is going to get angry.
 

EmperorNorton

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The thing is, taxonomy inside a hobby where things are usually blended up and mixed gets kind of navel gazey at times and doesn't serve a lot of real purpose. Like with board games, what is a light euro vs a german family game? A worker placement vs a worker movement game? Hell, what is a board game? Is crokinole a board game? Is darts? (both of these last two have been argued a LOT on BGG). Are dexterity games in general actually board games?

Then you get stuff like Blood Rage. Is Blood Rage a Euro? Ameritrash? Is it a drafting game? Area Control? Or is it just a game that has bits and pieces of all those things? When most things in the field are hybrids of one sort or another, the idea of hard lines become a bit silly.

(Even D&D itself, with its birth from wargames is in and of itself, a bit of a hybrid rather than a pure roleplaying game (whatever that would mean), but because old schoolers are USED to the fact that D&D has wargame trappings they tend to excuse those borrowed mechanics).
 

Baulderstone

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Sorry, I don't agree. A lexicon has been established in every field of human academia and it never required universal agreement.

Just wait for the first serious studies to appear then you'll see. At that point all this handwrangling about who has the right to call which what will go the way of the dodo. Unless you want to seriously dispute the fact that language is a convention and that it evolves irrespective of the wishes of any single individual?

I'm also annoyed at how this excuse is used to instantly shutdown anyone who tries to engage in a rational taxonomic discussion. As soon as a single game darling gets excluded from a category liked by any of the game's fans, there's a brigade coming in accusing people of being exclusionary. But if I'm trying to establish categories and subcategories I need to distinguish and thus to exclude based on some criteria, otherwise there's no point. And it's quite obvious distinctions exist and need to be formalized.

Ultimately, it's irrelevant to me how everyone wants to call the subdivisions, but claiming they don't exist, or they do but it's impossible to formalize them is ridiculous because it flies in the face of reality.
Hell, scientists can't even agree on what exactly a fucking planet is, that hasn't stopped cosmology to come up with a terminology. Imagine trying to study the universe without being able to call anything by proper names and being forced to call everything "stuff" because otherwise someone somewhere is going to get angry.
Nobody is saying you can't argue about jargon all day if you like. I just said to take it to the lexicon thread. I'll leave this here, but from now on, I am just deleting posts on the topic in this thread.
 

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Being part of a community that runs and attends regional SFF fan conventions, I can say with confidence that when that happens, we all lose.
Can I like this two, three, or twenty times. As has been said before, "I wear the viking hat, I run the game, it doesn't run me.". I'll be damned if some is gonna tell me how I'm running my "Elf" game wrong.
 
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Black Leaf

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If the only people who ever claim to have enjoyed a given game are people with a track record of being people you don't like for other reasons then that's relevant to the analysis.

Like if someone has fun with (insert name of your idea of an offensive game here) but literally everyone who likes it belongs to (insert name of ideologically offensive group that WOULD like such a game) then you can go "Ok, they like it but that is also a bad game". I mean "torturing cats" can be a game. If "cat torture" is enjoyed by thousands of people who are all dickheads then that is relevant to assessing the quality of the game of torturing a cat.
I enjoyed Blades the year I played it. And while you can correct me if I'm wrong I doubt you have any strong feelings about me either way based on our interactions on here. So at the very least I don't think you have enough datapoints.
 

silva

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The first two of these are hardly new. I was using success with complications in a homebrew game in 1983. It had failure, partial success/success at a cost, success, special success, and critical success. I don't remember where I got the idea for partial success/success at cost, but I doubt it was my creation. The first I saw "GM does roll dice" was in an article in Dragon magazine during the TSR era (I tried it and hated it then, still hate it now). I am not sure about the others, but I would not be surprised if they were done before AW as well.

Truly new ideas are really rare in RPGs, in my experience. I remember people raving about the wonderful new idea of ascending armor class with the D20 system in D&D 3.0, when the practically the same system was suggested in detail in an article in Different Worlds magazine in 1980 or 1981. Note that none of this takes anything away from PBTA games others that the claims of some of their fans that these ideas are new to RPGs with AW.
AW text mentions Talislanta as the inspiration for success at a cost. Traveller as inspiration for playbooks, Mountain Witch for Hx. Don't know what inspired Moves (the nearest thing that comes to mind is some boardgame rules leaflet).

Anyway, I believe what you're saying is perfectly reasonable. With the bazillion tables and magazines and stuff around somebody must have had similar thoughts at some point. My point is that no game have used those features in a cohesive package before, got popular and influenced the hobby back. It wasn't that 80s magazine who influenced Mutant Year Zero into having loaded relationships and success with complications, it was AW (for eg). But revolutionary? No one is saying that. :wink:
 
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Endless Flight

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I think Blades in the Dark is a fine addition to the RPG world, whatever the hell you want to categorize it. I'd rather have more new games like it than new clones of D&D. I wanna see where it can get pushed. I've already seen where the clones have gone.
 

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I'd rather see a lot more variety than that.

It's not like the only options are "PTA games" and "Retroclones".
 
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