Setting trumps rules?

Y Mab Darogan

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So I’ve agreed to run D&D again, despite oaths to the gods.

Admittedly I’m hoping a good solid campaign will have my players follow me into another system after but mostly it’s a setting thing.

Now I know the arguments that ‘my favourite system can do anything’ exists. But!

Have you ever come across a setting that for whatever reason blows you away and you don’t want to mess with it’s Feng Shui by porting it?

(D&D or otherwise)
 

BlackWolf

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Planescape and Dark Sun, I just use AD&D 2e in the simplest form I can (rules bloat is a real on 2e if you aren't careful). One could argue that Dark Sun would run well on RQ or Mythras, but I'm not giving myself the trouble. I avoid playing D&D, specially 5e. But BX, BECMI, Rules Cyclopedia and 2e (for the settings) are ok on my book.
I would never play Warhammer in anything else aside WFRP, not even Zweihander.
Glorantha for me goes with RuneQuest as Arthurian Knights goes with Pendragon. Both cases take a lot from mythologies and you could use the elements elsewhere for sure, but if want the specif experience of the mythological adventure or the Arthurian chivalry I don't think there is anything better.

But in the end, as a lot of things whithin this hobby, I would say It's about personal taste and how much time you are willing to dedicate the time to port stuff over, and how much do you really want to port it over.
 

Toadmaster

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I was a huge fan of the generic game concept, and I still count the major ones (GURPS, HERO, BRP) among my favorites. I have however come to the conclusion that rules made for a specific setting are often superior, assuming they are actually tied to the setting.

Lots of games seem to have rules that were created and then a setting bolted on D&D being a prime example. In fact I'd guess more games follow that pattern, than those where the setting and rules were developed together. Of course now that you ask, I'm coming up with a complete blank for examples. :clown:
 

Simlasa

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I'm usually a bit skeptical about the importance of the mechanics for a setting. I can think of a few where they're really conjoined, like Earthdawn... but even then I think it comes down to just a few elements. For Earthdawn it's the magic and the Disciplines (which are a bit magical themselves). So that's where a conversion to a different system would want to focus, keeping those bits as intact as possible.

Most of the time, though, I think people just associate the 'feel' of the system with the setting but they'd have done the same if it originated with something else. Like, I don't think there's any reason WFRP wouldn't work perfectly fine with Mythras or Magic World and keep a lot of the same feeling... as long as there is some lip service toward the random character generation and Careers... which could be subsumed into the 'cult' structure without too much trouble.
 

Baeraad

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Honestly, I feel like that with most games who have their own rules, unless it's blindingly obvious that no one put any thought at all into integrating the rules with the setting. And even then, porting a game is just so much work. It's not the broad strokes that's the problem - it doesn't matter that much if you roll a d100 or a d20. It's getting all the skills to work, it's translating all the spells, it's figuring out how antagonist stats translate... Most of the time, it's easier to just run things with their own system even when I don't like said system much.
 

Simlasa

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It's getting all the skills to work, it's translating all the spells, it's figuring out how antagonist stats translate.
Most of the time the skills have a direct corollary or easily fit in some category of skills. Swim is swim.
The particulars of some magic systems stand out, Earthdawn's or Jorune's for instance... but I would say that it's generally easy to find similar effects among the spells in my system of choice. For monsters I usually just pick something close and tweak it... like using a tyrannosaur for one of Jorune's dar corondons.
 

Mankcam

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Glorantha is a great fantasy setting, but probably not one I would throw a generic ruleset into.

I don't think it ports smoothly to other systems, as it's designed to fit RuneQuest like a glove ( or vice versa).

Yeah it could be stretched into other systems, but why go to the hassle?

I don't even feel that HeroQuest was a good fit. 13th Age D20 Glorantha was surprisingly well done, but it still doesn't feel as intuitive with Glorantha as RuneQuest is.

Mythras and OpenQuest are the exceptions here, as they are more contemporary versions of BRP, so they share their origin from RQ. I actually prefer their game mechanics slightly over RQ. It would not be much of a drama to port Mythras or OQ into Glorantha, but it's still easier to go RAW with the current RuneQuest.
 
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Brock Savage

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Have you ever come across a setting that for whatever reason blows you away and you don’t want to mess with it’s Feng Shui by porting it?
SLA Industries, WHFRP, and Vampire: the Masquerade immediately come to mind when I think of settings that are married to a system. Sure, any DM worthy of the title can shoehorn these settings into an unrelated system but it's a lot of work and something will be lost in translation. It's a lot easier to simply houserule anything I don't like.
 

TristramEvans

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Have you ever come across a setting that for whatever reason blows you away and you don’t want to mess with it’s Feng Shui by porting it?

only in cases when the system is specifically built for the setting

so, like Ars Magica, Pendragon, Amber
 

Simlasa

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What's uniquely suited about that system to its setting? It's been a long time but the only thing I remember the game doing was lots of combat. Was it the magic system?
 

Stevethulhu

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I've come to the conclusion that porting a setting to a different system is all about makin the setting work with the new rules.

Take a perennial favourite of mine, L5R. Which has some rules quirks like Void and Honoir that do very specific things.

Only when imported the setting to GURPS as a kind of thought experiment, I decided to play it the strengths of GURPS. So out go Void Points and Tests of Honour. In comes the ability to make not-samurai characters, a wider array of spells and schools based on GURPS templates, rather than a weird skills and levels mixture.
 

CRKrueger

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I've come to the conclusion that porting a setting to a different system is all about makin the setting work with the new rules.

Take a perennial favourite of mine, L5R. Which has some rules quirks like Void and Honoir that do very specific things.

Only when imported the setting to GURPS as a kind of thought experiment, I decided to play it the strengths of GURPS. So out go Void Points and Tests of Honour. In comes the ability to make not-samurai characters, a wider array of spells and schools based on GURPS templates, rather than a weird skills and levels mixture.
The important question to ask yourself IMO is “Can I reproduce the setting in the new system without losing anything unique or distinctive about the setting?”. If you can’t, then don’t.
 

Stevethulhu

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The important question to ask yourself IMO is “Can I reproduce the setting in the new system without losing anything unique or distinctive about the setting?”. If you can’t, then don’t.
The trick is to separate setting from rules. Sometimes the fluff and crunch come together in neat ways. Like Void Points in L5R. A limited bonus that represents ts being able to dig deep and do better.

GURPS has that. They just call it Extra Effort. Ok, it is t quite as universal as Void Points, but what GURPS does is ground Rokugan in ways the AEG house system doesnt.
 

dbm

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As a fan of generic systems I would be up for porting almost any campaign world to another system. I think ‘magic’ is the deciding factor. Since all other aspects are probably based on some real world concept there should be an answer to the question of which skill ports to which other skill and so on.

Magic / psychics / supers / gadgets is the most tricky since they may be radically different and iconic to the system premise. Magic in Ars Magica is different to magic in Role Master, The One Ring and so on. Systems like GURPS and Hero are probably the best equipped for porting (and I am sure there are others however these are the ones I am familiar with) since they are quite granular. This gives you a lot of dials and levers to adjust to get magic how you want.

Whether this is worth the effort is probably down to how much you dislike the native system for a setting. If the rules rub you the wrong way it might be less onerous to port them than to simply play them.
 
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Trippy

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only in cases when the system is specifically built for the setting

so, like Ars Magica, Pendragon, Amber
Ars Magica 1st edition, in fact only had an implied setting. The Mythic Europe stuff only really started getting developed in the 2nd edition. As such, Ars Magica as a system could be thought of as a system - or at least some of the ideas - that could be ported into any fantasy setting.
 

Brock Savage

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What's uniquely suited about that system to its setting? It's been a long time but the only thing I remember the game doing was lots of combat. Was it the magic system?
I think CP2020 has a much better modern combat and skill system but converting the rules for Ebb, stress, fear, contract killers etc is just a big pain in the ass and hard to get right, especially the Ebb.

I think SLA is more suited for horror-investigation than "combat as sport".
 

robertsconley

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Have you ever come across a setting that for whatever reason blows you away and you don’t want to mess with it’s Feng Shui by porting it?
To a limited extent Harn. While I prefer to use Harn with Harnmaster I found that GURPS and Fantasy Hero works fine when you use the realism options they have to offer. But I haven't run Harn with any edition of D&D. Not because it can't be tweaked to feel more like Harn (see 5e and AiME) but rather it abstract things enough to feel out of step with the setting.

But then again in the past decade my view shifted on suitability of a given system for a given setting. Any RPG system is highly flexible due to it focus on individual characters and the referee-player interaction. However some system take more work to use with a given setting. Most often the issue it doesn't cover one ore more important setting element in enough detail or with any detail at all. For example for any RPG other than Harnmaster, you will have to come up with monster stats for the various varieties of Ivashu. A group of Harnic monsters related by the fact they created by a god named Ilvir and let loose to wander Harn's wilderness.

I think the definitive answer of can you use X rules with Y setting has been amply answered by Adventures in Middle Earth versus D&D 5th edition. If you are willing to put in the work then the answer it doesn't matter what system you use in a objective sense. However my experience is that some systems work better with how one think versus other. So even if a system could be used to run a setting, it may not be the right system for you to use to run the setting. If that makes sense.
 

ReluctantGM

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I have always had a really hard time emulating other settings with D&D (whatever version). There is so many basic assumptions baked into D&D that in order to make it fit any of the settings I like in fiction I'd have to break D&D into fragments and start over.

Stormbringer did better Moorcock that D&D ever could.
I can't do Glorantha in anything other than Runequest.
Chaosium nailed Lovecraft right the beginning. Even using D&D-statted Lovecraftion monsters always felt weird.
And so on ....

When I want to create a new setting for myself I generally start by eliminating half of the available PC races and 3/4 of the monsters in the MM. That narrows things down to a level where we can start adding new bits without making it too crowded.
 

ffilz

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To a limited extent Harn. While I prefer to use Harn with Harnmaster I found that GURPS and Fantasy Hero works fine when you use the realism options they have to offer. But I haven't run Harn with any edition of D&D. Not because it can't be tweaked to feel more like Harn (see 5e and AiME) but rather it abstract things enough to feel out of step with the setting.

But then again in the past decade my view shifted on suitability of a given system for a given setting. Any RPG system is highly flexible due to it focus on individual characters and the referee-player interaction. However some system take more work to use with a given setting. Most often the issue it doesn't cover one ore more important setting element in enough detail or with any detail at all. For example for any RPG other than Harnmaster, you will have to come up with monster stats for the various varieties of Ivashu. A group of Harnic monsters related by the fact they created by a god named Ilvir and let loose to wander Harn's wilderness.

I think the definitive answer of can you use X rules with Y setting has been amply answered by Adventures in Middle Earth versus D&D 5th edition. If you are willing to put in the work then the answer it doesn't matter what system you use in a objective sense. However my experience is that some systems work better with how one think versus other. So even if a system could be used to run a setting, it may not be the right system for you to use to run the setting. If that makes sense.
When I ran campaigns in Harn, Harnmaster wasn't yet available... So I used Harn as the setting for a Cold Iron campaign, and I wrote up all the Harn creatures in Cold Iron terms. That said, Cold Iron was NOT a good fit for Harn with magic being too common and perhaps too high powered.
 

robertsconley

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When I ran campaigns in Harn, Harnmaster wasn't yet available... So I used Harn as the setting for a Cold Iron campaign, and I wrote up all the Harn creatures in Cold Iron terms. That said, Cold Iron was NOT a good fit for Harn with magic being too common and perhaps too high powered.
Cold Iron, I haven't heard of the system. Any info on it?
 

ReluctantGM

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Hence why I used OD&D in the form of Swords & Wizardry Core Rules as the foundation for my Majestic Wilderlands supplement. It had all the classic D&D elements but distilled into their most basic form.
I've spent the past few weeks really digging into the Sine Nomine stuff. His draft of Worlds Without Number is pinging all the right bells for me. That it's compatible with most of the OSR is just icing on the cake. I feel like I can customize the hell out of it when I start running something.
 

ffilz

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Cold Iron, I haven't heard of the system. Any info on it?
It's my college friend's homebrew system I've talked a lot about before on various sites. A bit of an intro with links to much more is here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nyOzdxP8VZV2oSyKnxnS160WBRpC1Cd9fNfn2Va9VAI/edit?usp=sharing

What was really happening at that time is that I wanted to run Cold Iron, and I had this cool new setting and I didn't have a setting for Cold Iron, so...

Ah, found some of my Harn Cold Iron stuff, if you dig into the clerical associations, here's a few samples of the Harnic gods:

Agrik: Strong Death, Fire - Normal Power, Pure, Movement
Morgoth: Strong Black, Power - Normal Spirit - Weak Pure, Disorder, Stasis
Peoni: Strong White, Fertility - Normal Harmony - Weak Truth, Earth, Man, Plant

I can't locate my creature write ups though...
 
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Brock Savage

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When I want to create a new setting for myself I generally start by eliminating half of the available PC races and 3/4 of the monsters in the MM. That narrows things down to a level where we can start adding new bits without making it too crowded.
Agreed. Humans with maybe another couple options is the way to go. Using every racial option in the book can make a setting feel crowded and silly.
 
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