I wrote a program for my computer which generated dice rolls, monsters, treasures, and random names to assist me in my role as Dungeon Master but the critical element was my ability to ignore or re-roll any result which seemed too unfavorable. Good players really help the game but a good Dungeon Master is essential for an enjoyable game. Computers alone cannot exhibit the empathy necessary for a great game.
GM'ing (Game, rather than Dungeon Master) is nearly as hard because of the improv story authorship, but the lack of rules-lawyering judgement that is required of you in a D&D game (even in a good edition like 5th, sadly) is not missed.
We very much liked the vibe, though, so I want to get the group together again. Is Fate a good game for inexperienced players (especially with an inexperienced DM)? If not, what would be a simple system to start with and play, but still enjoyable?
Fate Accelerated seems to be what I want (I'm not even sure what the differences are with Core, even having read the comparison), but the site doesn't really do a good job selling you the system.
EDIT: Man, this site is terrible. It links you to a store where I can't figure out where to buy Fate Core stories, it doesn't tell you what equipment you need, where to get it, jeez.
A new DM should (IMHO) try playing in a game of the specific system run by someone else first, even in a minimalist system like Fate.
The thing about Fate is that the jargon is generic fiction terms, rather than medieval fantasy or whatever. So you have to read the rules cover to cover before DMing, and make sure to jump forward and back to remind yourself of definitions etc. Once you get going, and are familiar with the two or three mechanics you can use, it's very liberating though!
If it's what I think it is, you should be able to start with Accelerated and then convert to Core if some things aren't working (i.e. it's too simple).
> A new DM should (IMHO) try playing in a game of the specific system run by someone else first, even in a minimalist system like Fate.
That's going to be impossible, it's already hard to find D&D people in my city, something like Fate is just going to be nonexistent, unfortunately.
You need "fudge dice", but these are mappable from D6s. I recommend getting the dice though, as this is th table:
1 => -1
2 => -1
3 => 0
4 => 0
5 => 1
6 => 1
So it can get pretty confusing to do in your head.
By "cards" I mean the "Deck of Fate":
> The Deck of Fate is an alternative to Fate Dice. It’s a deck of cards that mimics the probability of Fate Dice, and it’s designed to be used in the same way Fate Dice are.
I'm watching a video of Wil Wheaton playing with friends, and it looks like Fate doesn't even use a board, and you make the story up as you go along. It looks pretty interesting, I think I'll give it a shot!
Note that the text of both editions (as well the Fate Toolkit and some other goodies) is dual-licensed under CC-BY or OGL: http://www.faterpg.com/licensing/licensing-fate-cc-by/
The Fate SRD site is a third-party creation that presents the texts in a more convenient/organized way: https://fate-srd.com/
There's really no need to buy any books, but they're very reasonably-priced; the Core and Toolkit books are also very well-constructed and can withstand a good deal of usage. Though you can technically play with standard d6's, I'd recommend picking up some Fate (or Fudge) dice; I got a couple sets on Amazon, each set having enough dice for 3 players.
For stories/settings, there are loads of freely-available "Worlds of Adventure" on DriveThruRPG: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/2152/Evil-Hat-Product...
You might also like to check out Dungeon World if you haven't already: http://www.dungeon-world.com/
It similarly is CC-BY and has an "SRD" site: http://book.dwgazetteer.com/
IMO it's considerably easier to grok than Fate, especially for people new to RPGs, but YMMV. It also has a pretty expansive section of "rules" for the GM, which leaves room for little doubt about what the GM should be doing (and is, in large part, applicable to other games as well). It also uses standard d6's, so there's no need to invest in special dice (though the Fate dice sets aren't terribly expensive anyway).
I'll also plug Open Legend (I'm unaffiliated other than being a KS backer): http://www.openlegendrpg.com/
No matter what you decide to play, I highly recommend spending some time watching some "actual play" videos beforehand. I've found the Rollplay R&D series enjoyable: https://youtu.be/ooa-apRt2wk
The fundamental structure of Fate is very simple and straightforward. I'm working on a space opera variant (in the 27th century genetically engineered cosplayers, makers, scientists and pop culture enthusiasts set out to reconnect the lost civilizations of humanity) and am finding in playtests with strangers who have never played Fate that I can explain the core rules in 10 minutes or less and people can have a good time playing for 3 hours without any additional explanation.
I love Fate Core, but it's very wordy because it functions as a toolkit to adapt the game to any sort of setting imaginable. (and because it recapitulates a ton of stuff, rather than cross referencing)
> I love Fate Core, but it's very wordy because it functions as a toolkit to adapt the game to any sort of setting imaginable.
I can see why so many people love it! I like it, though I must admit it isn't my favorite (I don't play a lot of pulpy games, and I've found Fate works really well for pulp, as designed to do, but not particularly well for other tones (though not particularly poorly, either)). I just finished up another reply to GP, wherein I mention that toolkit-esque quality. I don't think I truly understood Fate as a system until I internalized that it's not a game so much as a foundation and scaffold for creating games. Fate's immediate ancestor, Fudge by Steffan O'Sullivan, is very much in the same vein, but, I think, more obviously so (the Fudge book itself reads more like a list of possibilities than a list of rules!).
> I'm working on a space opera variant (in the 27th century genetically engineered cosplayers, makers, scientists and pop culture enthusiasts set out to reconnect the lost civilizations of humanity) …
That sounds fun! Is it available on the web somewhere for perusal?
I myself am working on a game, as well, though I opted to try my hand at designing a system "from scratch" (more of an amalgam of lots of ideas and mechanics that I like and that seem to work well together; exceedingly few of them are my original creations, but I have a ludography documenting and acknowledging my inspirations). Unfortunately, it's been on the backburner for a little over a year now, and the partially-written playtest document is out of date wrt my notes.
Perhaps we could talk nerdy game-design sometime :)
Good luck with your game--when you get a draft in playable form I'd be happy to run a session and share feedback if that'd be helpful. Speaking of talking nerdy game-design, the RPG design reddit is surprisingly active, if you haven't had a chance visit yet.
I agree that default Fate is tonally suited best for pulpy games, or other genres where the characters default to remarkably competent.
Oh, really? That's too bad, accelerated seems to be a way to get up to speed with Fate in a very short time without knowing anything about the game, shame that that's not so much the case.
> The Fate SRD site is a third-party creation that presents the texts in a more convenient/organized way: https://fate-srd.com/
I browsed through that a bit and it seems to have the exact same text as the guide, so I'm a bit confused. Is it just the guide in HTML format?
> For stories/settings, there are loads of freely-available "Worlds of Adventure" on DriveThruRPG
That's a fantastic suggestion, thank you! I'll definitely check that out.
> IMO it's considerably easier to grok than Fate, especially for people new to RPGs
I've been playing D&D for a while, I just haven't DMed, so I'm not completely new to RPGs. I'll have a look at Dungeon World too, though, as it may fit our group better, thank you.
> I've found the Rollplay R&D series enjoyable
Good call, I'm going to watch a few to get a feel for how the game is played, thanks again.
You might be able to get by with just FAE and watching enough actual play to get a good grasp on how it works. For me, it felt like the FAE book sorta glossed over a lot of stuff that's more thoroughly explained in the Core book. That's just my experience, though; yours might well be different, of course!
> I browsed through that a bit and it seems to have the exact same text as the guide, so I'm a bit confused. Is it just the guide in HTML format?
Yup! It's exactly the same text, but some people prefer the organization and function to that of a book, so I figured I'd mention it :)
> That's a fantastic suggestion, thank you! I'll definitely check that out.
No problem! Fate—like its ancestor, Fudge—is so flexible and malleable that I've found it better to think of it as a framework/starting-point for creating a game rather than as a game in-and-of itself. Actually, it wasn't until I started thinking of it that way that I really felt like I understood the game. I think that if you take a look through some of those "Worlds of Adventure", you'll see it reflected therein: in tailoring the system to fit the setting, certain parts of the system are removed or restricted nearly as often as new parts are added.
> I've been playing D&D for a while, I just haven't DMed, so I'm not completely new to RPGs. I'll have a look at Dungeon World too, though, as it may fit our group better, thank you.
I wasn't sure how experienced your group is. Even if you decide not to play Dungeon World, I highly recommend reading over the GM chapters (The GM, First Session, Fronts, The World, Monsters, Equipment) and perhaps the appendices of the Dungeon World book (or "SRD" site as I linked before; it's the same text). The vast majority of the "rules", guidelines, and advice written there is generally applicable to GMing any sort of game. I've applied much of that stuff to D&D 5e and even GURPS games, and players have reacted positively. As an added bonus, I now spend far less time preparing for sessions (because I encourage and guide the players' own collaborative creativity so that we're largely creating the world and the plot on-the-fly, together as a group; they have more fun, sessions are railroad-free, and I have more freetime ;) ).
> Good call, I'm going to watch a few to get a feel for how the game is played, thanks again.
That group (modulo the guest player each season) has played a lot of different games, so if you're interested in checking out some new systems, I recommend looking through their videos :)
Also the Book of Hanz is a great free resource that highlights what makes Fate distinct, and offers good advice on running the game.
It's hard to schedule because of family and work obligations, but we are pretty close to monthly.
What if I told you that there might have been a different GURPS book that was the real cause?
Which isn't a problem, sometimes that's fun. But when there are so many amazing and sophisticated RPGs, with game mechanics that expand the form and support interesting play, it is a shame that DnD still gets all the focus.
I'd love to see more love for 'Night Witches', 'Dogs in the Vineyard', 'My life with Master', 'The Beast', 'Hillfolk', 'The Clay that Woke' even 'Apocalypse World', or 'Fate'.
It's like programming languages, sure you can do anything in D&D (≈ Java, perhaps?),
but other games have different strengths. Sometimes, being into non D&D RPGs can feel like people saying "there's more than one programming language?"
That said, I think that most systems authors need to start with a paragraph or two about "why this RPG engine is necessary, instead of making it work as a plugin to GURPS / Fate / d20 / Apocalypse world." There's a lot of good reasons to do this, but there's also a lot of cruddy systems with half-baked rules that are ripe for rules-lawyering and just bad implementation details (looking at you, FFG Star Wars). Writing a well-crafted, minimal-bug RPG engine is similar to writing a front end framework or something along those lines.
I slightly disagree, only inasmuch as I like to see exploration and innovation. Sometimes you're right it really doesn't work, But setting specific mechanics are important, sometimes essential, if very difficult to get right. Call of Cthulhu never worked in it's d20 incarnation, imho. Sometimes, I think, it is better to try and fail, than to take the safer route.
Even then, though, I often back stuff on Kickstarter at the PDF level knowing full well what I'll really be doing is mining the product for ideas, setting, and story rather than mechanics.
Then again, I'm probably just like one of those people who says, "why would you write code in anything but LISP?"
The confusing symbol math needed to decode a roll (there are what, six major symbols, some of which count as other symbols, others which cancel in pairs) is annoying enough that I imagine every dev who has played this game has written their own die roller.
While the story and fluff behind character generation is pretty good, the three talent tree thing feels again like a cheap attempt to appeal to video game semantics, but ends up introducing balance issues (it is extremely worthwhile to dip a tree to gain cheap skill updates and the low tree upgrades, given cost scaling).
Character generation also makes it way too easy to make a really cruddy character by accident. In this case, "cruddy" is defined as someone who is significantly less likely to succeed at resolution rolls in a variety of situations. In particular, because attributes play such a huge role in skills and are hard to increase outside of chargen, it is waaay better to invest initial points directly in those.
This is exacerbated by the fact that while it feels nice to add specialization to a skill, it does not actually increase the odds of success by all that much. You are a better pilot with three green dice than with a green and a yellow. This problem combines the funky and hard to understand statistics of the resolution system with permanent mistakes that can be made during character generation, where a novice player can spend a lot of their resources making a character who is 15% better of a pilot than anyone else, but is terrible at everything else, which usually results in unsatisfying gameplay.
There are a lot of other bugs in the system - the weapon / armor add-on system is ripe for exploitation if the game is combat-heavy and the GM is foolish enough to allow people to easily purchase custom stuff. There are so many moving parts and ways to minmax, it is hard not to. I mean, an under-barrel flame thrower is a reasonable option here. FFS, FFG.
Ultimately, I enjoy star wars RPGs, but that is despite the mechanics, rather than because of them.
Ob- my roller.
I guess you'd call that RPG the equivalent of INTERCAL.
Oh and the author has incredible command of English so it read like poetry, and she has PhD in Computer Science and it shows - the games are modular, the algorithms are precise, etc.
James Wallace (of Hogshead as was, who published Nobilis, and other really groundbreaking games like De Profundis, and his own Adventures of Baron Munchausen) has been slow-motion (i.e. mostly failing at) releasing an interesting game "Alas Vegas" via kickstarter for a few years now. Given the esteem he was held in at one point, it's a shame to see so many folks who felt burned by the kickstarter. His publishing decisions definitely helped get the hobby where it is today. Nobilis being a particularly good example.
I see that The Dark Eye does use rolling for combat, but it calculates armour differently, in a more predictable manner (for example, in D&D armour makes you less likely to be hit, whereas in The Dark Eye it makes you take less damage) which I think demonstrates the different tendencies.
D&D especially since 4e, is very much by conscious design centered around structured resource management (that in 4e this was done in a very heavy-handed metagame way by way of, e.g., encounter/daily powers, I think, contributed to a lot of the complaints against; 5e’s short/long rest system is nearly equivalent in effect but ties the mechanic in a more organic way to the fiction.)
> I see that The Dark Eye does use rolling for combat, but it calculates armour differently, in a more predictable manner (for example, in D&D armour makes you less likely to be hit, whereas in The Dark Eye it makes you take less damage)
This is extremely common in American TTRPGs that aren't D&D or deliberate mechanical clones.
I'm not passing judgement or saying one style is categorically better than the other, but there's definitely a huge correlation between continent-of-origin and level-of-chance-involved.
I love it. But I would choose different languages:
D&D 3.5: C++
D&D 4: Java/C#
D&D 5: C++11
Fate Core: Python
But to extend on your point - maybe Original D&D is like Forth in this analogy?
If you've never seen how a particular game works and want to get a feel, search around and watch an episode or two of the game online. Rollplay on Youtube has a good channel that covers a lot of different types of games. You can also find games on Roll20's channel as well, and many more on Twitch and other channels.
As for game types, many of the ones listed here are very tailored games meant to play a very specific kind of game. I'll try to give you a summary of some of the popular ones.
Apocalypse World (AW) is a game, as you'd expect, about playing as a group of survivors in a post apocalyptic setting.
Night Witches is a varient of AW about a female bomber squadron in WWII.
Dogs in the Vineyard is a game about faithful 'God's Watchdogs' that go around Mormon-esque towns helping the community and enforcing the judgments of their religion.
Fate Accelerated or Fate Core is a mostly generic system meant to tell a lot of different kinds of stories. Fate Accelerated specifically is a very short and very flexible rulebook for whatever you could imagine.
D&D or Pathfinder are games about playing a group of adventurers in a tolkien-esque fantasy world, generally combat focused but you can play a lot of kinds of campaigns in D&D.
Dungeon World is a 'rules-lite' version of D&D based on the AW ruleset, which basically means it has a lot less rules and is more focused on the collective narrative.
Shadowrun is a game about telling cyberpunk heist stories in a fantasy/cyberpunk futuristic city run by megacorporations.
Blades in the Dark is a game about a scoundrel crew building their gang up from scratch in a city roughly based on the Thief or Dishonored games.
There's many more out there, it just depends on the kind of experience your group wants to have. Many of these rulesets are wildly different and the rules are tailored to create a specific kind of experience. Some of these rulesets are more generic and meant to be used to play a wide variety of games. Some are 'rules heavy/crunchy' which involve a lot more mechanics while some are 'rules light' and deliberately involve much less. D&D, Fate, Pathfinder are examples of more generic rulesets, whereas Blades in the Dark, Apocalypse World, Night Witches, or Dogs in the Vineyard are much more specific.
In "My life with Master" the party play the henchmen of an evil master. It explores ideas of culpability, fear, self-loathing, humanity and, possibly, redemption. It is the only role-playing game to give me heart ache. Literally, pathos I felt as a physical reaction.
"The Clay that Woke", another by Paul Czege, concerns a race of Minotaurs, more physically powerful but utterly subjugated by humans. It explores themes of racism, power, imperialism, and ethics. Not quite as good MLWM, but very much worth playing.
I added "The Beast" to go all in on a game totally unlike D&D. It is a single player game, using cards and a diary, with an erotic theme, and dark overtones. I haven't finished my play through, and I'm not sure I recommend it, quite, but it has got under my skin.
"Hillfolk" is Robin D Law's 'Drama system', essentially game mechanics built around generating interesting interpersonal conflict. The setting is Iron Age subsistence, but it includes several other settings, from horror to modern life.
If you want a game with lot of encounters with monsters to defeat, getting more and more powerful to defeat even harder enemies, with combat system that is not overly complex but still tactical, you definitely could (and maybe even should) base your game on D&D
Heroic fantasy works. I could imagine Witcher, or Monster Hunter, even aliens style sci-fi reskin, fighting monsters in derelict space-ships should work... but i.e. Shadow of the Colossus would be harder, and Game of Thrones style political intrigue might turn into really simplistic dice-rolls.
But this is probably true of many games, i.e. I heard that Fate is really good if you want to do something with a structure of action-adventure tv-show, but probably not a psychological horror :P But doing i.e. politics in that system might be more fun than in i.e. base 5e D&D.
Probably the most succesful engine I have seen is in the powered-by-the-apocalypse games. Apocalypse World invented a really simple base machanic, where if your character wants to accomplish something, you roll two 6-sided die, sum the numbers, and if it is 10/11/12, you just do the thing, if it is 7/8/9, you do the thing, but something bad happens, and if it is 1 to 6, you don't do the thing and something bad happens.
Probably my favourite system I have played so far :-)
Seems too similar to my real life experience. That's uncanny.
The thing about it I think is so strong is its 'move' mechanic: the way it neatly and obviously separates role playing from game action, and helps players immediately feel like they're playing in the setting. It onboards newbies really well, and sets the scene without relying on the need to read a short story.
I'm not trying to say I'm-right-you're-wrong, it's just fascinating how things resonate with different players. I guess Vincent Baker's genius runs deeper than I thought!
But I have seen hacks/systems with critical success on 12, (or more than 12, if you have i.e. modifiers for your character stats).
But having critical failures sounds like fun, go for it :D
You could easily add it to i.e. World Of Dungeons  probably the shortest rule-set for RPG I have ever run :)
I've reached the conclusion it's a bad idea though. The more generic a system it is, the less appropriate to the specific game it can be, and vice versa. So I much prefer systems that are very dedicated to their particular game experience. E.g. I absolutely love The Mountain Witch, which is a game that feels like a samurai movie, and everything in the system supports that: there's a special mechanic for duels, another for betrayals, all conflicts interact with your personal history/issues...
Then 5th edition came out and it was immediately obvious that it had that 1st edition feel but with all the bugs worked out. I play it with my kids and it's awesome.
Before feats, the raven can fly 40' a round. Between that and items to allow for empowered and maximized fireball and scorching ray (I think?), our wizard regularly drops between 60 and 120 damage per round.
We basically have an Apache attack helicopter.
As late as 3.5e and Pathfinder, you could easily spend 5 minutes figuring out how to resolve a single 6-second action according to the rules. Say I'm grappling someone (complex rules) and move them across rough terrain (5-foot step or not?) while threatened by an enemy combatant (attacks of opportunity) with while under a Bard buff (pluses to defense)… figuring out who attacks whom when and how can easily involve flipping to many different sections of the rule book. Whereas in 5e half those rules don't exist and the remainder are simplified.
My understanding (not from experience) is that previous editions had even more complex rules than 3.5e, and 4e simplified the rules in the "wrong direction" (away from role-playing).
In first edition the Armor Class went from 10 downwards eg AC -2 was awesome. And you had to look up tables (before 2nd edition added the slightly simpler THAC0). That was changed such that numbers always go up and similarly, higher dice rolls are always better (in some circumstances in 1e you wanted lower numbers).
The concept of advantage or disadvantage. Sometimes you'd have to do a bunch of calculations eg -4 for being invisible, +2 for this, -1 for that, etc. Now, you just figure out whether someone has an advantage or disadvantage. If neither, it's a normal dice roll. If advantage, roll 2 dice and take the highest number. If disadvantage, roll 2 dice and take the lower.
Is it generalised/generalisable enough for use with other source material and RPGs? In other words, is it D&D specific?
One tip that I use in every game that is incredibly useful and isn't in this book (or Sly Flourish's other great book, "Dungeon Master Tips") is to have three NPCs who represent "Money, Power, and Fame" and are always on the move. Their storylines develop even if the players are not interacting with them. Remember "Fame, Money, Power" and create a single NPC to represent each of these three things. For example, you could have a local baron who is hungry for power, an evil guildmaster who is trying to expand his influence over local trade routes for money, and a retired, good-hearted adventurer who helps out new adventurers at the local adventurer's guildhall because he enjoys the fame and recognition.
Each of these three NPCs will have some immediately obvious conflicts which will generate storylines you can very easily improvise. I don't even need to give you an example since you can probably think of some conflict in those three examples just off the top of your head. These three NPCs also have easy access to each of those three things (money, power and fame respectively) and typically, at least some of your players will be motivated by this to some degree. That makes for an easy carrot-and-stick for players. Do your players need money for an expensive spell component to save the mayor's daughter? You might find the guildmaster willing to pay a handsome reward for completing a small side quest, for example having the players bluff or sneak their way into the baron's palace during a party and steal some important documents. The local baron of the land can probably give you the power to raise a small militia to stop a rampaging band of orcs in the area. Does the king's court have no idea who you are? It turns out the retired adventurer might be willing to write a note on your behalf, if only you could do him a small favor...
And the important thing is that you should always be moving these three NPCs along their life paths even if the players aren't around to see it. This is very easy to track with your index cards. And if one of these NPCs is killed or retires or somehow drops out of the game, you should come up with another to replace them. Perhaps the evil guildmaster has the baron assassinated, and now that he's had a taste of power after his guild is given control of the barony, he becomes your "Power" NPC, and a rival guildmaster becomes the new "Money" NPC. See how easy that was? And you can do this in your sleep really, so it works out great for the method described in The Lazy DM.
The best bit of advice I can give is to let the kids be creative and don't be too fussed about the rules. It's like improv - any idea is a gift - even if it's an outlandish idea, let them do it, make up some difficulty score and when the dice come up with a failure, try to be as creative and funny as possible in describing the outcome.
but then again I am so used t dnd having started in the 3 brown books days
I cannot say to which degree the game systems actually helped in practice; I switched groups between editions, and my 4th edition group was 90% improv theatre people. That there would be more roleplaying was pretty inevitable.
I also haven't played 5th edition so I don't know the changes there.
It was a terminal text based D&D where you could connect to a server and create a character and play with other people. Every mud service was a completely different world you could explore and had different characters.
You would team up with people and go slay monsters to gain experience and level up or just hang out and do stupid stuff.
You could use a dedicated mud clients like zMud  that added some nice key mapping for going north/south/up/down etc. All interaction was text based in CLI.
I was a teenager at that time, late nineties. I spent so many hours playing on a mud called "Merging of Fates"   meeting great people day after day. They had occasional meetups in real life, but I didn't grow up in the US so I didn't attend. I think mud was the major factor for improving my English vocabulary as a kid.
I miss those times.
I also have a 17yo who's into writing, and I plan on working with her to put together some interactive fiction that resembles MUDs.
Coincidentally I just started a sideproject making a browser based rogue-like game... with online multiplayer! Don't know if it's been done before but it's a fun little project...
Mume's still around. I've been indulging in a little memory lane playing lately.
I've really enjoyed myself! After a while I joined two more campaigns. A post or three a day is easy to fit in my schedule. It really gives me something to look forward to each morning as I sit down with some coffee.
I suggest you give it a try
I mean, product endorsements don't get any stronger than that!
Shameless plug: If any of you have ever wanted to try DnD but didn't know how to get started, or if you've played before and want to start again, try playing my fun-optimized rule set, _DnD: TL;DR_ - https://github.com/Miserlou/dnd-tldr
There was also a strong movement away from heavy mechanics to narrative heavy games with lighter mechanics over the past decade which offered a lot more ways to introduce people to tabletop RPGs. Video games also helped. A ton of jocks and frat guys, folks who never would've played a tabletop RPG in the 80s or 90s (or not in large numbers) were won over with 4th edition last decade because it was like the video games they were playing (for better or worse, I never really took to the system).
Kickstarter catching the public's attention has also helped, with lots of indie or otherwise smaller presses being able to publish their systems.
Lots of factors involved. Stranger Things may be helping this year, but the trend in increasing popularity has been happening for several years.
Source- The lions share of my earnings come from running a company that sells accessories for D&D.
Nerd culture has spread and with it all things nerdy.
Look at the growth of GenCon for one example of how explosive this has been. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gen_Con#Timeline
Board games sales are up 28% in the US http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/from-monopoly-to-explo...
If anything, I'd say that Stranger things is a symptom of nerd culture. I mean, look at things like Big Bang Theory. There is no way that show would have hit mainstream without nerd culture being even remotely popular.
Here's an example of a post that explores that topic: http://butmyopinionisright.tumblr.com/post/31079561065/the-p...
Something more niche but still network TV (Community) did one a few years before that, even. That's around the same time I started noticing it popping up in more stores in suburban TX.
And its just the best known path in. Someone mentioned Java, but maybe PHP is a better example, something everyone has heard of with pop culture paths in and you can spend all your time there or dig deeper into esoteric paths.
Still trying to process that. Do I need to polish my resume? What type of experience is required? How many applications did he get? How old were the applicants?
You would need to have a really high hourly rate to make this a primary source of income, and I'm not sure you can ask players to pay more than 20-30 bucks each per session. You could use this to supplement income from writing or whatever, but I just doubt the market would support an hourly rate that actually paid a GM a wage they could live on.
In some real way, this is just like hand-knit socks. If you knit socks, you know how much time and effort goes into them, but you still give them as gifts. But if someone wanted to buy a pair, would they be willing to pay $150 for them? Probably not, despite the socks often taking five or six hours to make (if they're intricate or interesting).
Similarly, I game master because I enjoy it. I get to play my favorite part of the game (storytelling). I will say: I'd pay to have someone else deal with the (rare, but still nonzero frequency) drama that happens when you bring six people together on the regular. As GM, it somehow ends up being me who has to referee.
But there are board games like Mansions of Madness that use an iPad as DM. You can play as many or as little of the scenarios you want. Then DM later if you get into it.
There are also sandbox type board games. There is no DM but you get to decide what you want to do.
Any resurgence is probably rooted in a number of factors, like the good design of 5e, but I wonder how much of it stems from the same cohort who played it in the 90's simply reaching some point in their life (spending less time at bars, looking for more of a break from work, wanting to spend time with friends "IRL", etc etc) that they fall back into it.
Seriously, I could have 3+ groups of 6 players, playing weekly, without a problem. I know at least a dozen people at my work that play, and that are people I'd like to play with.
A decade ago, when developers attempted to bring Dungeons & Dragons into the twenty-first century by stuffing it with rules so that it might better resemble a video game, the glue of the game, the narrative aspect that drew so many in, melted away. Players hacked monsters to death, picked up treasure, collected experience points, and coolly moved through preset challenges
Baldur's gate is almost 2 decades old, and I disagree that it did not have the narrative impact that a good DnD game could have (or maybe I'm misunderstanding the authors words). I'm not sure you can even compare what "need" Baldurs Gate satisfies for a gamer compared to DnD. I know gamers who enjoy both. I for one, am glad that computer games like BG exist.
Recently there has been a change in the core DnD rules away from heavy beardy / min-maxing play back to a DM running a narrative campaign.
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Tabletop Simulator is kind of like VASSAL , people do all kinds of things in it, even playing regular card games like poker with it (so that you can flip your cards dramatically onto the table).
I tried to turn him onto some modern development practices since he was looking to try to become a professional developer.
My gaming group has used TTS + Skype to regularly bring in a player who moved intercontinental and keep the campaign going.
Other related articles: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/dungeons-drag...
It's a fun toy that you can buy together as a group of players. It usually take a few hours to print a model, so you can start a print while you play a game and have a nice surprise when you are done playing.
Printing the exact model of the boss your players are going to fight is priceless.
(I'm talking about a $200-$400 price range printer and not a $2000+ one mind you.)
Man, I have seen that movie. Having spent a good part of my youth playing AD&D, I did not know whether to laugh at it or yell at it angrily. Either way, it sucked really, really hard.
However, once I started teaching this game to other people, even with the "fixed 3.5" Pathfinder, I realized it was super complicated. It requires such a big time investment from the players to figure out what they're doing, especially if they come from a video game background where they want to have "the best".
Now, I use Savage Worlds since it's much quicker, less complicated and you can pick your theme. Only problem is that it requires a more invested GM if you want the same texture as in DnD.
Considering I have never played D&D, I could very well be completely off the mark, however there is nothing that was said in the article that changed my mind, but (and this is important) this is a purely personal view of what I like to play.
I can see the appeal to other people and salute a game (and genre) that brings people together and away from being glued to a screen or computer.
Turns out, it's really fun.
You're not making a story alone. You're in a group with 2-5 other 'heroes' and a DM. You're all making the story together and it's easy to go along with the flow until you think of something that pops into your head and you can then do whatever it is you want to.
In my experience, good DMs aren't going to judge you for what you do or don't do.
For me, D&D is way more lighthearted than I thought it would be. I guess this depends on the group, but, I've now bounced around a few and it seems to be a common thread. It sounds ridiculous, but, last night the group I DM'd 'invented' brunch before taking on a quest to save a girl that had been abducted by goblins (but, not before finishing their brunch and making a little picnic for themselves).
It's surprisingly easy to try D&D - there are often people running 'one shots'. These are small stories designed to start and end in a few hours so that you get a feel for it without needing to invest a huge amount of time.
If RPGs turn out to not be your cup of tea, search for Wil Wheaton Tabletop on YouTube, where he plays various tabletop games with guests. There are a lot of pick-up tabletop games at comic book stores and the like if you find a game or games to your fancy.
Of course a huge amount also depends on who you play with and whether their style of play works with your personality.
So they start to play and have good fun, convert their friends by telling them how fun it is, but is there any reason to stop.playing and explore other often more complex rulesets?
The more accurate answer is, IMO, two fold:
(1) kids who grew up on RPGs are now old enough to want to want to play with their own kids, and funnel disposable cash into it
(2) kids who are interested have less stigma to approaching it, so conversion rates from interest to player should be higher
(3) a lot of technical advancements from the US indie scene and the Western European LARP scene have slowly diffused out into the more mainstream RPG community, resulting in play that’s a lot more fulfilling to various types of players
An example they brought up is the alignment system: it's one of the most criticized aspects of the game, especially with regards to mechanics. Nevertheless, it's baked into the culture of D&D by now ("What would Batman's alignment be?") and while getting rid of it might improve the gameplay, it would be removing something core to the game experience.
(not sure why it's showing results for pathfinder before 2008)
Then there is Traveller, Runequest, Tunnels and Trolls, Car Wars (with Truck Stop etc) and rather a lot more.
3e (more specifically 3.5e) was extremely popular. There's now a ruleset called Pathfinder made by another company, Paizo, that continues the style of 3.5e and is mostly compatible with it (though it has its own core rulebooks and most people I know don't mix 3e and PF).
4e wasn't as well liked but it still had mostly good reception. It was very polarizing to many players. This obviously isn't the space for a debate about it but I think the biggest cause of complaints are the way the combat system was overhauled. Many people compare it more to a modern RPG video game rather than a pen and paper one.
5e has had a great reception from old and new players. It's rules are definitely closer to 3rd edition than it is to 4th. Though it brought in a lot of quality of life improvements from 4. For example while it makes sense that 'Hide' and 'Move Silently' are two separate skills, it just means a rogue has to split their skill points between two things. There's not many scenarios outside of comedy where you give a character 'Hide' but not 'Move Silently' or vice versa. 5e has merged both of these into a single Stealth skill.
All the editions are still considered Dungeons and Dragons though, and not separate games (of which there are many wonderful ones, some of which have their own 1e, 2e, 3e, an so on...)
Unfortunately, as Paizo seeks to grow its business and publish more content, they tend to keep adding special rules and things that kinda distort that original accomplishment.
As an example, Pathfinder simplified lots of different combat rules under the Combat Maneuver system (CMB/CMD). 5e simplified them even more, simply as contested skill checks selected by GM fiat.
To be honest as a DM/GM I generally threw out the rules as soon as they got in the way of a good narrative.
I'm quite tempted to give it a dabble again ...
5e seems to be designed with that in mind. Bonuses are largely replaced with the "advantage/disadvantage" system which gives the DM much more leeway in determining bonuses (beside simplifying the mechanism overall). Skills are greatly simplified and reduced in number, and partially replaced with "Backgrounds" which are 100% DM fiat.
Example from my first 5e session. "Use Rope" is gone, but my character has the "Sailor" background. So by DM fiat I was able to identify the condition of a rope. No dice involved.
The tighter your grip on the threat of D&D, the more mid-40s nerds slip through your fingers!
Imagine this hypothetical person wants to spend as little time as possible learning and on details, and as much as possible on creative experiences.
Aside from network effects, the rules are much easier to use in play without referencing fairly arbitrary tables; there's a lot of streamlining and consistency that lets them handle more situations with less lookups, different mechanical subsystems, and fiddly bits.
Notably, a unified success mechanic that covers skill use (including what were “thief skills” in core 1e, as well as “nonweapon proficiencies” from some of the 1e supplements), attacks, ability checks, and saving throws is a big improvement from 1e (D&D has had that in some form since 3e, though.)
Each system provides both power to tell stories and restrictions on what stories make sense within the framework. 3.5e, for example, was a high-powered but extremely clunky framework -- it let you build epic creative experiences, but often got in its own way. 4e was a lower-powered storytelling experience because it was so focused on "balance". (My experience doesn't go all the way back to 1e so I can't comment on its specific strengths and weaknesses.)
One thing I really like about 5e is that it's quite streamlined, but has a variety of options integrated into the core game. Things that were clunky in prior editions (like prestige classes in 3.5, or ritual-casting in 4e) are now supported smoothly. So it's high-powered but also kind of gets out of the way.
EDIT: I think the fear of learning new rulesets is itself a reaction to the overly complex early-edition D&D rules. You have to learn so many different types of mechanics and try to keep them all straight. You have a bunch of different bonus types and have to learn which ones stack, and then try to maximize the overall stack. 5e is actually really quick to learn, and as such, it gets out of the way of the creative storytelling experience a lot more than earlier editions.
To add to this, one minor thing I like about 5e is how much freedom the game explicitly gives the Dungeon Master. Obviously nothing is truly different, the DM is god in every edition. But I've played with many, many DMs (usually new DMs) who will refuse to do something fun because it goes against some way a rule is written in the book. Even if they and the whole party wants it to happen, it would be breaking "the rules".
The first DM I ever played with actually would never let us call anything a rulebook. It was a Player's Handbook or guidebook, or what have you. Because as she said, she was the rules, not the book.
I think that really helped form a mentality of "Fun First" when I run a game. The 5e books felt a little heavy-handed at first, every third spell says something along the lines of "If the DM chooses". But it's already helped me in some real games as a player, where the DM can do what they want and not what the book says, because by doing what they want they're still doing what the book says.
Also 5e is AMAZING for giving out a TON of story hooks as part of the character creation process. Sure, you and your GM may be old pros who know how to make a story, and that’s great. But if you’re having an off day, or bringing in some new players who don’t know how to prepare the seeds of a story, it’s pretty damn useful to have all these hooks lying around.
Everything is generally streamlined, you will mostly be rolling a d20. Other dice show up for your HP and damage, because it’s just not D&D without that handful of weird-shaped dice.
AD&D/1e (and other pre-5e versions) books are available in hardcopy and PDF, new, today. There's certainly a network effect benefit to 5e today, but 1e isn't limited to people with battered copies from the 1980s.
I'd make a silly wager that the net time saved by using 5e rules would outweigh the cost of learning them.
Though that kind of reinforces the point.
Course some of us will sit there and say y'all should just be playing 3d6 instead, but I digress...
It's similar to programming languages - there's an ineffable quality to a language that makes you just want to use it (or not). I knew someone who picked up DarkBASIC several years ago; I could have suggested he get into Python or something more "mainstream", but I think the right choice is the one that makes you want to sit down and work on your project.
I still use my old 2nd Edition manuals for the rare social games I play these days.
These are actually all the rules needed to play, minus special classes, character options and spells found in the players guide. Best place for new players is probably the starter set, because it includes a rather good adventure in addition to premade characters and a rulebook. It is also available at a low price, but you can't beat free of course.