There are of course D&D spin-offs and clones like Pathfinder and 13th Age, old school (OSR) "retro-clones" like Dungeon Crawl Classics, Lamentations of the Flame Princess and many, many others. Then there are the classic non-D&D games like Shadowrun (in its 5th edition now), Traveller, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (4th edition just released), and GURPS. There's Savage Worlds for fast-paced pulp-style adventures, FATE for absolutely anything you can possibly imagine (including publications for Dresden Files and others). There's FFG's excellent Star Wars games (Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion and Force and Destiny), and dozens if not hundreds of smaller indie games, many of which are completely free.
We are truly living in a golden age for roleplaying games. D&D is merely the most visible and best-known one.
If you want a game which is more realistic and almost entirely 'straight' historic medieval Europe, but where magic, as they believed in it at the time, is real, go check out Ars Magica. Ars Magica is especially recommended if you like playing mages and want a game with one of the most fleshed out and 'realistic' magic system ever seen in a role playing game.
If you want to stick close to D&D, Pathfinder and 13th Age are obvious choices. If you prefer something a bit more raw, less polished maybe, deadlier, where survival is a goal in itself and combat may be better avoided, try one of the OSR systems, like DCC, LotFP, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, etc. Lamentations of the Flame Princess is weird horror and explicitly 18+. If you want the feeling of D&D but with a system that focuses more on the story and the experience than on all the numbers in D&D, then try Dungeon World. A lot of people lauded Dungeon World for recreating the feeling they had when they first played D&D.
If you want to get further away from D&D, well, what direction do you want? Fantasy? SF? Cyberpunk? Historical? Martial arts? Horror? Steam punk? Espionage? Military? Old West? TV shows?
SF or Cyberpunk
But if I were to recommend a single (set of) games, it would be the classic World of Darkness games, like Mage: the Ascension 20th anniversary Ed:
For a game with some interesting mechanics, you might enjoy Underground:
And for something... Different, we've had a lot of fun with Microscope:
Starfinder is, I believe, Pathfinder in space.
GURPS is setting-agnostic.
Aside from the dated and weird essentialization of Native American cultures, Shadowrun's setting is really good and fun.
Unfortunately it's hard to run a game with a decent narrative flow just because the combat system is so complicated. My group decided to shame people out of playing mages or riggers just because we didn't want to have to deal with simultaneously doing combat in cyberspace and the astral plane at once. It really puts a damper on having a fun game that flows. I wouldn't recommend it for someone new to pen&paper RPGs.
On the other hand, the tedium of combat gave us a strong incentive to talk our way out of problems instead of going the murder-hobo route.
If you like fantasy mixed in with your cyberpunk, Shadowrun is the gold standard. A word of warning: Shadowrun has a rather heavy, complex system, because it does absolutely everything. But I like it a lot.
Generic systems like GURPS and Savage Worlds can do cyberpunk of course, although I don't think GURPS Cyberpunk has been updated to the 4th edition. No doubt something exists for Savage Worlds, but I have no idea what.
There are other cyberpunk systems that I know very little about, but others are enthusiastic about, including Eclipse Phase (seems to include space and transhumanism, so it's probably not pure cyberpunk, but it might suit your taste), or Ex Machina.
Sprawl seems to be the Apocalypse World/Dungeon World adaptation for cyberpunk.
SF is much broader. The original SF RPG is of course Traveller, which is somewhat retro; the game predates computers and doesn't have many (any?) robots either. But if you want to travel around in a space ship, this is great.
Stars Without Number is an SF game that translates ideas from the OSR movement to the SciFi setting.
There are of course several different Star Wars games, including the original d6-based game by West End Games (recently republished by Fantasy Flight Games), the d20 (D&D-like) Saga Edition, and the Edge of the Empire-style games by Fantasy Flight.
GURPS is great at SciFi, and I'm sure Savage Worlds does it too.
Diaspora is a small but really cool hard SF game based on the Fate system. I love how you first generate the worlds together and then generate the party together. In space combat, dumping heat is a major concern.
Paranoia is weird dystopian funny SF. The Computer is your friend.
Starfinder is the SF version of Pathfinder. I assume the system is therefore D&D-related, but I honestly don't know.
Dark Heresy takes place in the Warhammer 40K universe.
But there are dozens if not hundreds of others.
Oops, not in print since 2000... yep.
I've even heard things like contact-lenses-as-a-service advertised on general interest podcasts.
Indra Shah (booker prize shortlist author) wrote a book called Cyber Gypsies that covers this late 70's online community
Presumably, text based games are played with a screen reader. Would music and sound interfere with the persons ability to play? I was wondering if you could mix text and 3D audio to create a richer environment.
Many preffer to be able to set the reading speed though (2x and 3x not uncommon) and to be able to skip to the important part of the message. Especially important when you can't use visual pattern scanning on text that shows up often.
Mabe use the browser to create a textbased game? The tools exists there already and the users are used to use them.
I’m especially interested in creating a 3D soundscape, maybe something similar to what is described here: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131900/playing_by_ear... but not necessarily instead of text, but rather to augment it. Based on what you’re saying, it would probably work well enough: have separate volume controls for music, ambient sound and sound effects (as most games have already anyway — many games have a voice volume too, but I guess voice should be left wholly up to the screen reader and it should control the volume/speed).
Using a browser sounds like a good idea. Definitely wouldn’t want to implement screen reading capability yourself!
I just saw a pic-to-Braille conversion bot on Reddit, and your comment made me wonder if something similar could be built for blind Minecraft players. So far, I'm not aware of open source Minecraft-alikes that exposes the game purely through an API, though an open modding API like Minetest's  could probably be leveraged.
Googling around for this information leads to a lot of dead ends talking about the in-game Blindness effect, and I'm not a domain expert in what blind gamers would want to see, anyways. But it would be really cool to see the blind community add new dimensions to current game genres through game interaction APIs (though managing that and botting using the APIs would be an open problem).
1. We played Minecraft with the specific intent of making visually appealing buildings. So at some point, when you can't see, that's not going to be fun no matter what you do...
2. Minecraft really doesn't have any accessibility whatsoever. You can scale the UI, but... high contrast mode? If you could even get that working with the base game, it's definitely not going to work with the mods we were playing with. As my friend went blind, it got harder and harder for him to deal with any zombies or anything that was moving, since it took him so long to slowly scan the screen and understand where he was. We considered trying to make mods to make things a little bit easier, but struggled with coming up with any mod that would actually improve things. :)
3. My quick glance at the API suggests that we'd end up with a situation where we were playing the game and he was... programming. That may work for some people, but I think for this group that borders too close on after-hours work...
That fast skim reading can't be done with braille.
Plus, you don't even have to use dice—anything that gives a uniformly random outcome is alright. (E.g. local “Choose your adventure”-clone books had dice sides printed on each page.)
Now, tracking the character sheet and consulting the rules are probably more of a nuisance to the person.
For a while he was DMing and he would use a screenreader to access his notes plus the rolls. We don't typically use maps or boards, but instead try to do it all with descriptions of places. It does mean that the rooms we enter all tend to be fairly simply shaped, and it's possible that each of us has pictured a slightly different room, but it all works out in the end.
Are they using their disability during gameplay, and/or in-character?
All the RPG market needed was one publisher with good production values and broad distribution to discard a big chunk of its worst, thorniest rules. Wizards was happy to oblige...
Pathfinder saw it too with their precursor Beginner Box, which also threw out a big chunk of its worst, thorniest rules and sold like crazy off a Humble Bundle. They just didn't get the distribution (or the right YouTubers on board) until it was too late, and never plugged their Beginner Box into other content as elegantly as Wizards did.
I think you can make a very good case that D&D 4e in 2008 was where they decided to “discard a big chunk of its worst, thorniest rules”, and that the big innovation in 5e, released in 2014, was less about discarding thorny rules and more about reconnecting the streamlined rules with the fiction, in a way to preserve (mostly) the mechanical streamlining of 4e while reconnecting with the feel of earlier versions (not just one of those, but supporting the different appeal of multiple of them.) Changes like swapping encounter and daily powers for powers recharging with a short or long rest aren't a big deal mechanically, but they are a shift from pure metagame balance to something that is better tied to actions in the in-game milieu.
5e was the streamlining and modularization that was needed so you could play it like it was 2e, or 3e/3.5e, or even 4e if you wanted to. 5e was a return to D&Ds roots bringing along only the good stuff it had learned in 35 years.
The two are not mutually exclusive: the former is game design, the latter is business aim motivating game design, product strategy, and lots of other things. It was both.
> 5e was the streamlining and modularization that was needed so you could play it like it was 2e, or 3e/3.5e, or even 4e if you wanted to.
Some modularization, sure, but it many ways it took small steps back from 4e's mechanical streamlining. Which is a good thing, 4e's extreme mechanical streamlining without regard to the role of the mechanics at the table in service of RP is a big part of why 4e ended up flavorless and dull. 5e kept most of the mechanical substance of that streamlining, but refocussed on serving RP and, in so doing, made some compromises to the mechanical streamlining. This made it more accessible for the same reason a lot of programming languages that have less refined, pure, coherent, generalizable abstractions than Haskell are more accessible.
(Also, I think you are doing the people working on business strategy at WotC a disservice if you think 5e is any less well designed to sell splat books and accessories than 4e. In 5e, the choices matter more to players -- which makes having more choices more valuable. And returning to OGL and adding DMs Guild means that there is more opportunity for third parties to supply the relatively low-margin long-tail supplements that each have a small market but collectively provide a strong ecosystem that keeps people buying the higher margin core books and major supplements and accessories that Wizards dutifully churns out.)
That's just demonstrably false and sounds like gatekeeping. 4E had a lot of good ideas that didn't always have the best execution. And a lot of the grid-based stuff was pushed so that an online toolset could be released alongside it, but it never actually happened. I think it's telling that even in 2018/2019, D&D Beyond has only JUST started being good enough to be truly usable, and it still doesn't have an online grid/board system (ala Roll20). Imagine how much of a mess it was in 07? Even the character generator that you could get back then was insanely clunky.
D&D didn't need 4E to get people into buying minis, that's just ridiculous if you look at MinatureMarket or any other site that sells oldschool minis. You can disagree with design decisions or the marketing, but to say that it's not D&D is a bit much.
(I now play 5e whenever I run a game, because I can get people to actually play it with me.)
I've been suckered into running a weekly game for a gaggle of 10 year olds. They seem to love the game, but have absolutely zero interest in rules crunch. They're very happy having to be reminded about which die to roll and which bonus to apply (and which special abilities might be appropriate) every single round. Fourth edition has nothing to offer these kids beyond needless complexity and edge cases.
But my son will spend hours reading through the rulebooks and stat blocks. The game hooked him even if the rules haven't. And when I think back to my own experience learning the game at 9 at the dawn of AD&D... that's just about right.
Ask ten people and you'll get ten different explanations for what's wrong with 4E. For me, the problem was that combat is time-consuming. The time it takes to resolve a single combat encounter might be one or two hours! I really enjoy the combat in 4E, but I feel like this kind of crunch has narrow appeal.
For other editions, earlier and newer, it seems more natural to just ignore rules you don't want to play with and end up with a simplified game very naturally. With 4E, it felt like you couldn't do that with the combat system.
It was great and not heavily relying on maps and figurines makes it so smooth.
I ran a campaign for my brothers when they were more or less at the same age.
They picked up interest in bionichles and kid being kid their way to play them was screaming "I hit you" in a growing brawl at each other until mom intervened.
of course I did not use dnd or any other crunch system, just contested rolls on every action and some rules based on range, and I did it so it could be used both for storytelling and wargaming, and they had a blast.
it's a GREAT way to start channeling their ruffle play into something more structured, rules be damned. just pick whatever some group of kid likes, throw some game rules and they'll figure out a way to make it work. it took less than six month for my brother to start playing at school with the rule given and then grew up into dnd.
I think it made it more playable as as an abstract combat game, but the divorce in presentation between the rules and the in-game fiction (particularly acute in the—albeit streamlined, simple, and consistent—way powers were defined) made it less accessible as a RPG in the deeper RP sense usually associated with TTRPGS as opposed to CRPGs.
For that, rule simplicity helps, but equally important is keeping mechanical actions grounded in the fictional world rather than abstracted from it.
And I think that's the unique strength of TTRPGs in a world awash in digital entertainment.
5e wasn't, IMO, in net a mechanical streamlining compared to 4e. It may have even made things a little more complex as an abstract game. But the presentation and the tie between the rules and the fiction was improved (and, as you note, things like class choices were given enough more weight in how characters played as to be more mechanically interesting.)
Incidentally, I'm one of the players of most previous versions of D&D (starting with B/X, missed OD&D, but played everything else) that it brought back to being a fan.
One of 5e's greatest strengths was explicitly telling the DM how and when to wing it and improvise, rather than giving a rule for everything. The 5e DM's guide tells you that you can skip the encumbrance rules, that you can just give a level after every session or two rather than counting XP, that you don't need to do as many combat encounters if your players like story more, and spells out how to make new monsters.
I enjoy rules-light systems as well, for certain types of games that don't fit at all into a D&D-ish framework. But for anything that roughly fits the parameters of 5e, our group tends to gravitate towards 5e and enjoy the majority of its structure.
A friend of mine used to say, "Sometimes you just have to get offline, get real, and face each other over a tabletop with some dice." Shortly after we met, we went to a haunted house together, and she won us the special T-Shirt prize by using her "spot the secret passage from the blank spot in the map" skills in real life.
Not trying to be a downer, just saying that this is kinda stretching the definition of "real life application of game skills" for me. More like "applying a board game skill to a different kind of game"
Also, those weren't "new skills." She was a veteran nerd's nerd.
Given a "Pathfinder" vs. "D&D" choice, and no overwhelming community consensus either way (the community rejection of the fourth edition is the reason Pathfinder exists as a commercial product at all), everyone's going to buy the game with the famous name.
And the history. '80s nostalgia is a big thing right now, and D&D can drink at that well. Quite a lot of people who made it in Hollywood and are powerful right now, were D&D players 30 years ago when they were kids; so they supplied the glam factor that helps keeping games out of the "nerd" niche.
5e was the second D&D edition released after Pathfinder, so I'm not really sure what “edition upgrade mill” you are talking about.
> (the community rejection of the fourth edition is the reason Pathfinder exists as a commercial product at all),
Pathfinder was released to wide acclaim before 4e; it's true that with sufficient acceptance 4e might still have displaced it, but the real reason for PF was the announced imminent replacement of the 3e Open Game License with a more restrictive Game System License for the upcoming 4e, and what that said for both Paizo (who made Pathfinder) and other third-party players in the 3e/3.5e ecosystem.
It's perhaps worth noting that 5e returned to an OGL core.
Pathfinder beat 4e to market in a technical sense, but it absolutely exists because WotC announced it was moving away from 3.5e and the OGL with a new edition. Paizo never intended to release it to compete directly with 3.5, and it would have been insane to do so.
Are we? The disagreements seem to be about details of why various editions succeeded or failed, not about their superiority.
But Cubicle7 Games has just published the 4th edition to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, so that aspect of Warhammer is back too.
Though I suppose if you count the time spent painting the minis as time spent playing, it's likely to end up fairly cheap per hour.
And I can get the feel of a CCG from any of the great LCGs if I want that (Netrunner, L5R etc.). I get that in a CCG you get more carddrops and boom the entire meta shifts etc. but it's the corner of board/card gaming that interests me least by a wide margin.
I also went out and finished my "first TCG appearence of the original 151" Pokémon collection with one of my first few paychecks after graduating (had to shell out the money for Charizard and a couple others that were never in my collection from childhood). I really wanted to retroactively declare myself the coolest kid on the playground at recess, otherwise what was all that work for? :)
Sadly, while card games were an important part of my life growing up, a lot of mental switches flipped over the last year or so and I honestly regret spending so much money and time in the card game world over the entire first part of my life. In 2012 Android: Netrunner introduced me to the LCG model and made me realize that the CCG model was exploitative and a terrible use of my money (obvious in retrospect, but when you're in the thick of it, you try and rationalize it, you know?). Then, working towards my degree for a few years after that kept me out of the tournament ecosystem for so long that I found myself not wanting to go back - there were simply more productive uses of my brain cycles than deck construction and playing games. I know they say "time enjoyed wasted is not wasted time" but if I would have programmed or learned a few languages or focused on competition math or read classical literature or learned to cook or any number of other things in that first 18 years, I'd be so much better off . It's possible many coders feel the same way, and that's why you're not seeing them.
 In fact, should parenting be in my future, I don't think I'd let my kids have nearly as much post-pubescent "non-skill-building" fun as I was allowed to have; competition for income is fierce and it's only going to get worse.
Better off in what sense? If we're talking about skills that apply to the rest of life, I honestly feel like deck optimisation was much better preparation for a real-world career (where the problem scope is never fully defined, the measure of success always involves an element of randomness, and hidden interactions abound) than competition maths was. And while it exercises a different kind of imagination and storytelling, I'd argue that games in a shared-world fiction can give a more intense practice of the things that classical literature give you.
That, essentially, is the issue. If you don't already know they play Magic, you won't know they play Magic.
Gambling, in most traditional forms, is seen as low-class and stupid, while in reality many, many people in this industry are compulsive gamblers.
Interestingly at the shop I go to play I'm the only one with an engineering background.
When my friends and I first started playing 3.5 in middle school, we pooled our money for a single player's handbook (they were pricey back then!) and would constantly be passing it around any time anyone needed to do anything, which really slowed down the pace of the game and made it hard to get intimately familiar with the rules.
Eventually someone found a PDF dump of some books, and suddenly not only did we have access to useful stuff like the monster manual and DM guide, but we could search the text super quickly and get familiar with the rules at home, on our own time.
Now that we're adults who can actually afford the books, we don't need the PDFs - but we still benefit from using phone apps for dice rolling and spellbooks, and roll20 for combat.
I mean, if I'm willing to do some prep work I can surely do even better than sticky notes (like, heh, "google for all the monsters ahead of time and line them all up in browser tabs").
How DMs prepare, if they do, is highly variable. But most DMs choose monsters ahead of time. This appears in survey data in The Lazy Dungeon Master. The questionnaires are interesting, when asked how they would prepare for a session if they only had 30 minutes, most DMs explicitly mentioned choosing monsters.
Over the years, my personal experience is that running things out of the browser or PDF is great if you need to search for random rules and other situations that come up during the game, but paper books and notes are overwhelmingly superior for expected conditions like encounters and monsters. I've used various laptop systems (wikis, docs, text files), apps, and paper systems (typed, handwritten, paper or notecard). On the balance of things I decided that running the game with a laptop was worse than running a game without one, at least the way I play the game.
That's just a personal choice, but it seems like most DMs do choose monsters ahead of time.
When I started playing DND in the early 90th you were considered a creep with too much fantasy. :D
weather generation was the impetus of my first programs on a Vic 20
This is really the killer feature for me. As much as I love the nostalgia and imagery of leafing through a hefty tome, the practicality of it wasn't so good for new players. Having to keep pausing the narrative to be like "Hold up. leafs to index, leafs to page, scans page to figure out which die to roll" really just bogs everything down. Especially if you're playing with indecisive munchkins.
We really like it because as a group of newbies - four of the five players had never played before - it gives us permission to do things that are really fun but we never really would have found time to do before. We've incorporated poetry reading, table-reading of scripts, songs, and silly tasks (I made my wife pick a real estate lockbox we didn't have the combination for, before her thief could advance to level 2).
So for us anyway, it wasn't anything about Wizards of the Coast or 5e... this is strictly Gygax-level stuff we're playing. But I think some of it is a blowback from many of us just feeling exhausted and discouraged about online life, there is greater appetite for making these sorts of memories and being creative together.
For example, we've got one player who decided to try and buy drugs in-game at one of the seedier cities we were stopping at. Fast-forward many sessions later, and she's now a kingpin of sorts with an owl-delivery service and contacts of varying trustworthiness all over the place. It does help to have a very creative DM who likes creating random effects (inhaling ground up flail snail shell turned out to be particularly silly) and teammates who don't get bent out of shape over "less than optimal" play or whatever.
Due to limited transportation, we spent most of one summer playing on a 3-way phone chain. Whenever someone's parents needed the phone their character would become an NPC until they could dial back in. No maps — just a lot of trust and imagination.
Which makes me wonder...what are other native language systems that are popular in the country but might not be known outside? My working hypothesis would be that those exist in many countries because P&P RPGs are language driven after all and so native language systems are the most natural tool for storytelling.
Please do share if you're from a non-US country and have an interesting system (and share if it is the go to system over DnD or comparable in popularity).
There was also Dzikie Pola (based on Polish 16-18th century - inspired by books of Henryk Sienkiewicz - Polish Dumas). If you've seen "Deluge" or "With Fire and Sword" movies you know the setting. Sabres, flintlocks, Polish nobility, Ottomans, Muscovites, Cossacs, and wide steppes of modern Ukraine :)
On sci-fi side there is Neuroshima - fallout-like setting with some quirks. It was popular a few years ago but I don't hear about it much anymore.
But the most popular was (and still is) fantasy Warhammer RPG. The first Polish edition was the first time an RPG system was marketed in Poland and it was a big deal, almost everybody to this day started playing RPG with first or second edition of that.
Apart from that the most popular is Call of Cthulhu I think? Or maybe Vampire:the Masquerade and related systems, but that's losing popularity recently I think.
D&D was never very popular, that slowly changes recently.
Poland is a great boardgame nation,
Ignacy Trzewiczek is one of my favorite developers :)
We never really got to the point where plot happens, because it took forever to fight stray dogs on the way with 12 players, but it was a lot of fun. The fighting mechanics was inspired by Cyberpunk 2020 - a lot of dice throwing for each attack :)
The Dutch version soon lagged behind the original, but fortunately we lived near the German border and bookstores in Germany were loaded with extension kits and prefabbed adventures. It was a great boost for my German reading skills! ;-)
Incidentally, there's been a Kickstarter for a new Dutch translation that's about to deliver soon. I'm curious how recognisable it still is.
This pits the clockwork machinery of Parliament's New Model Army against the magick of the Cavalier-Alchemists commanded by Prince Rupert (of the Rhine) fighting for Royal Absolutism.
Clockpunk Fantasy in a world of gunpowder, political machinations and fanatical righteousness.
As an aside: I also really like the old PC games "Das Schwarze Auge: Die Nordland-Trilogie" (Realms of Arkania in English iirc) but it's a very unique/strange adaptation. It's very close to the game system but has been criticized quite a bit for the gameplay content (I actually liked the storylines). When you selected the complex rule system it was very fun to just level the characters and try all the spells etc.
The round based combat was also very unique/interesting (imo)
The Open Gaming License of 3rd edition D&D was definitely open source inspired (despite my personal beefs with it) and kicked of a huge burst of new game developers, and that bubble collapsed right on the tails of the CCG collapse, which caused a big churn in the industry.
This led to a spike of online offerings, and the crowdsourcing era has meant that while the last 10 years is anything but safe for authors, for players it us as golden age.
Well beyond d&d (though there too) there is a wealth of options and better support and community than ever, between publishers and players, and amongst players. Tabletop games continue, as do video chat based games and play by post forums. All while the old school games, MOOs and MUSHes thrive. Different playstyles are supported, the communities are getting better about tolerance, and the Satanic Panic is not part of mainstream culture anymore.
Holy hell is that more convenient for tracking spells and subtle rule interactions than what I used to have to do as a kid.
In my eyes, it's letting technology do what it does best -- get details right -- and frees up slightly more casual players to do the fun roleplaying part without being so bogged down.
Critical Role is the perfect storm of
* great friends just playing a home game on stream
* who are excellent voice actors (they have Overwatch, Last of Us, Spider-Man, Horizon ++++ credits)
* who aren't afraid of improv
and who GET D&D
The Savage Worlds conversion is pretty cool, though.
Palladium crashed catastrophically, sadly. There was some kind of theft problem, and then they had a disastrous Kickstarter.... Such a shame they couldn't find a way to modernize.
Fighting was mostly attack/parry/dodge. Not much variety in combat actions, particularly with massive health values on everything.
Your stats hardly mattered unless they were above like 16 and got the skill or combat bonus.
Most of the rules for non-combat actions were just simple skill-tests.
Don't think I've seen/heard anything about a Savage Worlds conversion. Do you have any details on that?
And it's a shame how Palladium died, small company got fucked over by their accountant
Siembieda has a habit of going all-in on bad ideas and then blaming everyone but himself afterwards. E.G., there was interest in a Rifts video game, so he licensed a studio to make one...for the Nokia N-Gage, despite all his fans urgently telling him that it was a dumpster fire. Then when the game flopped like everything associated with the N-Gage, he announced that no one could have seen this coming and clearly video games weren't a good avenue for Palladium. More than once he's commissioned a book, talked up the author in a big way, then by the time the manuscript is half-completed he's decided to cancel the book and tell everyone that it's because the author just didn't get it.
And apparently a lot of the losses to the crooked accountant happened because Palladium had no inventory control system, so no one realized stuff was vanishing.
All of which is to say, I suspect that anyone but Siembieda wouldn't have fallen victim to that guy in the first place.
(Oh, and there was a $1.5 million Kickstarter that somehow crashed and burned with 90% of the promised materials undelivered, even though all the tooling was ready and they were actually printing books.)
In particular for me at the moment, I have Battles of Westeros
that many feel is one of the best tactical board games out there: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/979785/battles-westeros-imm...
and yet I've played it twice in five years. ;(
If you wanted more chances for people to come over and play games few things could be worse. Maybe 18xx (very crunchy simulationist games about early railways) or full blown scale wargaming (e.g. Napoleonic). But even lighter variants of those let people ease into it (e.g. skirmish wargaming, you can buy a couple of boxes of miniatures and play skirmish variants of 40K or various WW2 settings, and there are train sim games where you just run trains and don't have a stock market, a territorial map and so on)
I know I won't have people over often enough to justify big set piece games, so I carry things like "Love Letter" which you can play in a pub in 10 minutes.
For the most part, I get my gaming in by playing with people using play-by-post in a Pathfinder roleplaying forum, which I like alot for the creative writing and rp.
It takes a bit of time and investment, but there is a way out.
In a way it does a good job of showing both the current strengths and weaknesses of computers. Managing the rules and stats by hand can be fun, but I have seen many recorded sessions where it is obviously a burden that a computer would be perfectly suited for.
On the other hand, aspects of D&D like face-to-face interaction and language-based free creativity are things the computer can't handle well. Although video chat is a thing. Computers can't understand language at this point so they can't manage everything for you. Of course DMing is the most fun for many people so they wouldn't want a computer to DM.
I wonder if there would be a way to translate the freedom that you get as a DM or player in terms of world creation, scenario management, and freedom of action, to an interactive video-game type experience. Maybe in VR?
I don't think DM'ing is necessarily fun though. Most everyone I know who DMs sometimes, including me, finds it to be pretty stressful and a lot of work. The real value to me, is that a really good DM knows when to break the rules to enhance the game experience, and how to do it without making people angry. They create scenarios that specifically challenge the characters that are playing, not just for combat, but for role-playing purposes. Ie, a Lawful wizard is tempted to steal a scroll that would contain the knowledge he seeks the most, or a cleric who must decide whether to uphold her team's plan to ally with an unscrupulous NPC, or to go rogue in the name of their ethical code and deliver justice to said NPC. Good storytelling and cooperative play is just something that comes very naturally to some people, and having a human in the loop to respond to events in the context of an overarching narrative and party experience is really hard ot beat.
I agree about having a human in the loop. My idea though was that maybe you could have the best of both worlds with a computer to help the DM. The trick would be making the sandbox rich and responsive enough that the DM and characters would really have freedom in the moment. Maybe the DM could have tools that easily allow him to rez and customize appropriate objects and NPCs in the visualization.
The primary tool used for the show is tabletop simulator, which is a game designed for any tabletop games: cards, dices, chess etc. and can be customized quite a bit. It's mostly a low-tech solution, replicating physical acts of throwing dices, moving pieces and shuffling cards on a virtual table. In addition, the creators of URealm also invested in other custom softwares and artwork. However, the show is a for-profit project seeks to provide entertainment value for an audience rather than purely for the enjoyment of participants.
I use Index cards and have all my spells, special abilities and my various attack sequences (for combat classes) written out long hand.
I also use an A6 notebook per campaign to keep a record of each session.
Edit/Update: My mistake. I've seen a few photographs of people playing D&D (even the ones in the article), and it seemed like there was more of a board and initial conditions represented by many pieces like board games. I've played board games like Settlers and Monopoly where set up requires more time and effort. Sorry again.
Mostly it's just about making up a story with the other players, with a handful of rules and dice to put some randomness into the outcomes.
For more casual games, I prefer to play in person with a beer in hand.
(PS My day job is running a game store. If anyone needs a recommendation on a board game, let me know.)
Here are some games I would suggest for a group that likes Puerto Rico:
-Lords of Waterdeep
-Castles of Burgundy
-7 Wonders (scales well to 6 players)
-Pandemic Legacy (co-op)
Ticket to Ride is one of the simplest to learn fun "fancy" board games I know.
My current favorite is Power Grid, which I don't think is much more complicated than Puerto Rico, if any. If you can do Puerto Rico, you can do a game that isn't the _simplest_ out there.
The more of em you play, the easier other ones are to learn.
- Concordia, 5 players. 6 with Venus expansion.
- Lords of Waterdeep. 5 players. 6 with expansion iirc
- Istanbul. 5
- Power Grid. 6.
- Dominant Species. 6.
- Eclipse. 6.
- Dead of Winter. 5.
- Tiny Epic Galaxies. 5. Filler game.
- Agricola. Current edition is 4. 6 with expansion.
- 7 wonders. Up to 8 iirc.
- Scythe. 5. 6 with expansion.
- Viticulture. 5.
- Pandemic. 5.
But once you have a good idea, you’ll find games you enjoy in the top 1000 or so.
Edit for formatting.
I also disagree that the analog version is terrible in high complexity games compared with the digital version, because for the groups I play in the overhead of the complexity causes analysis paralysis... the automation of a digital version doesn't really help that much in my experience
There are some excellent 2 player games as well. I would start with Patchwork. If you like something more heavy, 7 Wonders duel is an excellent game.
Thanks for the suggestions! :)
D&D is not a board game, though a grid and figures of some kind are a useful play aid for combat; and for that part, there are virtual tabletop (VTT) systems (and digital character sheets, both integrated with VTTs and independent of them.)
Back in the 80's, a group of friends and I played Car Wars post apocalyptic vehicular combat game. (Think Mad Max from the 1st movie. We had the "Sunday Drivers" unmounted add-on.) We spent most of the weekend setting up, and got through 2 minutes of game time.
The worst part is finding a time slot with 3 - 5 people.
That thread is a good source of some alternatives.
I haven't heard of this, do you have any links for me?
The opening to ET was my first exposure.
In a rpg, it's like "you're in the forest, what you do?", "well I walk east". "ok you found a tower". Whatever you do, you'd find that tower haha. It's like whatever you say have fun consequences but with thousands more options than my uncle's trick.
It gets a bad rep (somewhat deservedly so) because of its overwhelming depth and detail/learning curve, and the pretty horribly written core handbook. But once you get past the pointy bits and really learn the utility of the system, it's a pretty fantastic game that really scratches that itch for cyberpunk fantasy.
It isn't just DnD plopped into fake leather trenchcoats and hacky-hacky terminals (it has those things, of course). The gameplay is set up differently, and has a heist-movie like flow, consisting of "shadowruns" which are follow a meet client->make plan->prepare->execute flow, and lends itself well to one-off sessions.
Give it a shot if someone around is interested and has played it before. You might like it.
Try my guide! https://github.com/Miserlou/dnd-tldr
It solves the latter problem, at least. :)
We did it this way cause some very experienced older DM's introduced it. It does depend on the DM being good at telling an interactive story to be fun. but i suspect it does anyway?
Speaking of kickstarter, I believe some of its most funded ideas were board games.
There's scope for some really wonderful collaborative storytelling in these systems, and the TAZ group are a few brothers and their dad and they gel together perfectly. Helps that they have lots of podcasting experience too, very high quality production.
1. You don't want the medieval + magic world and want to explore other timelines. Maybe futuristic, Star Wars etc.
2. You don't like the mechanics. Maybe the game system complexity slows you down or else there is some weird arbitrage opportunity that messes up the incentives. (Let's spend the whole game killing orc babies to build up XP instead of solving the clues and then just beat up the bad guy at the end).
Do people have good recommendations for substitutes that solves #2?
The system is designed so that the players can influence the events of the game at the cost of increasing difficultly. For instance, every character has a High Concept, such as "Best swordsman in the kingdom". This can be used by the player in many ways, such as celebrity notice, justifying related skills, background, etc. but the game master can also invoke it for things like bitter rivalry, getting conscripted or not being able to go incognito.
As such, the system can work at many different levels. One popular setting has characters as magical cats, another as post-human cyborgs. And it all works.
For a list of various settings:
Part of it has to feel like the player to feel like there are fair predictable rules that the game adheres to. Yes, the DM has to step in to make sure the game feels good, but the extra work to combat game mechanics doesn't feel like a good use of the DM's time.
Your solution is a good, creative one but I don't like that poor mechanics got us here.
But like with any other rules I've seen - it requires some discipline and agreement to not stray too far into the rules part. Rules are just guidelines that help avoid the worst of: "Bang! Bang! You're dead!" ; "No, I'm not! You missed!"...
No rpg rules are complete enough to form a full simulation - any attempt to do so will likely sap fun out of the game. They're just a helpful frame of reference.
The core game is fun, but combat is quite slow, tedious, and, in my opinion, not much of a good role play experience. Nix weapon stats, health, spell slots, etc. Differentiate more heavily on specialties. Ward off fear of death with a system of injuries and what not. Fighting can still be a huge part of the game, but it shouldn’t be the underlying goal of most mechanics.
My only exposure to D&D was the episode of the "Community", and it looked pretty fun. I wonder if the demographics of that group is normal.
I only ask because most of my friends have this perception that D&D personalities are a little "awkward" and would not give it a chance, but have no issues going to board-game nights.
The most surprising thing to me, though, is that eventually they approached me about trying out D&D. It was something I'd wanted to do for a while but had never communicated it to them because I just assumed they wouldn't be interested.
Point being: You may be surprised. You have nothing to lose by suggesting it to them other than them saying "no". The 5th edition starter set even has the option of using pregenerated characters to reduce the friction. Maybe even start by showing them one of the CelibriDnD videos on YouTube; there's one with Vin Diesel and one with Terry Crews, not people who the general public usually think of as geeky.
The game only has as much awkwardness as you bring with you. If they like each others' company playing Settlers of Catan or whatever, there's no reason that will change playing D&D.
That said, it does take a little commitment and pushing out of your comfort zone to really get into role-playing. But in that sense, your D&D group shouldn't be any more awkward than an Improv troupe, music jam session, or Toastmasters meeting. Any time you're asking people to "perform" in some way it can be uncomfortable, but it's the good kind of discomfort that helps you grow as a person.
TL;DR - Playing D&D as an adult, with adults, is vastly different than playing as a teen.
If you're interested, Meetup has a lot of local games groups listed you can try out to see if you can connect with a like-minded bunch of people.