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I played a bit of Drakar & Demoner as a kid (from whence I learned the word "laminate") but I didn't really play anthing until 2nd. ed. AD&D. We also ran a 3rd. ed. campaign over the internet for a year or so. Currently I'm out of a gaming group though.

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eta: My Lil' Pony + D&D == Friendship is Dragons

Some info & interviews on the new system, 13th Age, made by designers from both 3E and 4E.

When you refer to a “free-wheeling style of old-school gaming”, are there any particular games which formed the majority of your inspiration? For example, would it be fair to say that the game is mainly inspired by earlier editions of D&D, or by other game systems?

13th Age is inspired by earlier editions of D&D, where everything wasn’t all spelled out, and you didn’t have to play on a grid. It tries to recapture some of the hobby’s early freshness, when RPGs were less professional but perhaps more genuine. That said, Rob and I draw on a large number of games that we have created, worked on, playtested, or played for fun. Indie games have taught us both a lot of creative approaches designing game rules creatively.

RuneQuest has always been a major influence on my RPG designs, and 13th Age’s icons are direct descendants of RQ’s Gloranthan cults. Like the pagan religions in RuneQuest, the icons ground player-characters in the game world. PCs have distant but useful relationships with the mighty icons, giving them allies, enemies, resources, and obligations.

Rob and I admire a lot of game designers. Personally, Robin Laws has taught me a lot about RPG design over the years. 13th Age, for example, has its own take on the mook rule that Robin introduced in Feng Shui.

Edited by sciborg2

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Head of Vecna

The funniest thing that ever happened in RPG history.

Sounds suspiciously like a KODT (Knights of the Dinner Table) story. KODT is the funniest thing that ever happened in RPG history.

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Sounds suspiciously like a KODT (Knights of the Dinner Table) story. KODT is the funniest thing that ever happened in RPG history.

Strangely enough I never got into KODT - were they published in either Dungeon or Dragon?

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Strangely enough I never got into KODT - were they published in either Dungeon or Dragon?

Not to my knowledge... They were pretty underground, and published by some people called Kenzer & Co (known to their mothers, close relatives and KODT readers). They're pretty hard to come by (even downloading them from the web is a challenge).

They have great stories, though. The bag of holding wars is a classic.

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Sounds suspiciously like a KODT (Knights of the Dinner Table) story. KODT is the funniest thing that ever happened in RPG history.

The head of Vecna story is old, like, really old. I've seen it in a dozen different versions, and it was even referenced in Planescape: Torment.

Morte: "Me? I'm the Head of Vecna!"

Fall-From-Grace: "That was YOU?"

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Not to my knowledge... They were pretty underground, and published by some people called Kenzer & Co (known to their mothers, close relatives and KODT readers). They're pretty hard to come by (even downloading them from the web is a challenge).

Actually, they were included in Dragon magazine for a few years at the end of the 1990s and the start of the 2000s.

The one I remember best was the party getting lost in a forest for three weeks due to some incredibly unlucky rolls. The DM snapped at their ineptitude and attacked the rogue with a rabid squirrel, who unwisely tried to stab it as it clung to his back. Since he fumbled, the DM ruled that the thief had backstabbed himself for x8 damage (another party member: "...is that actually possible?"), resulting in death. Later the DM tries to cover his arse at the gaming store by asking the owner to back up his story about squirrels being Level 5 monsters in the new edition of the rules.

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Not to my knowledge... They were pretty underground, and published by some people called Kenzer & Co (known to their mothers, close relatives and KODT readers). They're pretty hard to come by (even downloading them from the web is a challenge).

They have great stories, though. The bag of holding wars is a classic.

Loved the bag of holding wars. Some of the modern day stuff was pretty funny too. The company released the Hackmaster RPG a while back. It was seriously the thickest rulebook I'd ever come across.

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I recently restarted an interest in the Hobby. We meet about twice a month and I have a two year long campaign going on. Good times. Brudewalden (Long time poster here, and I butchered his name) introduced me to an idea of Destiney points. Basically a point could be award for accomplishing something grand. These points could then be spent by the player to alter the game in some way. My players liked them, until they found out that the powers for were being granted by a big bad evil thing that was using them to forward chaos and destruction.

We are using Pathfinder and I enjoy the system pretty well. Hero lab does make creating characters, especially NPCs, real easy.

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Valhalla Calling: An Adventure Design Competition for Pathfinder and AGE

Valhalla Calling: Adventure Designers Wanted

Sound the horns of Valhalla! Adventure awaits, and you might be the one who provides this adventure to a multitude of stalwart heroes!

Valhalla Calling is our newest and most awesome contest from Kobold Press. If you have an idea for a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or AGE System adventure that you’d love to design and see published by Kobold Press, write and submit a 400-word pitch for a 32-page adventure. If you have participated in Open Design projects before, you’ll be familiar with the demands of a pitch; if not, a summary of writing a successful pitch is available in the Kobold Guide to Game Design, Vol. 2

A panel of industry professionals will pick five finalists from these submissions, and the voting public will choose the winner from among those five. That person will hear the call to Valhalla, which will come in the form of a design contract to write a 32-page RPG adventure module. Learn more after the jump.

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I never even noticed this thread when it was posted I guess. Given the infrequency of posts it appears to have sunk like a stone, notwithstanding its occasional resurrection.

I played AD&D (2nd Edition) for several years between elementary and high school before realizing that I fucking hated it. I quit, and after college I allowed some friends to convince me that the reason I hated it was that 2nd Edition was bad and 3rd Edition would resolve my issues. It did not.

I played Deadlands briefly in grade school with the same DM who ran my 2E campaigns, and that was a bit better. Just recently a friend convinced me to try Trail of Cthulhu, and if anything it magnifies my complaints despite claiming to attempt to ameliorate them.

I have largely given up on pen and paper RPGs at this point, although I do now own a Paranoia sourcebook and am interested in trying it. My main complaints are threefold, and I would very much like to know how to solve them:

1. The overwhelmingly cumbersome rules. These systems usually attempt to codify reality into their rulesets; the more accurately they attempt to model reality, the more rules are required to capture those aspects, and the more noisily progress grinds to a halt. No, thank you, I don't want to calculate my encumbrance, and recalculate it each time I pick something up. Most groups I've played with have solved this problem by ignoring whatever rules they felt like. (Encumbrance was typically first against the wall.) This does not speak well for the system.

My most recent attempt at P&P, Trail of Cthulhu, claims to address this problem; it doesn't. It gives you a character sheet on which you've chosen a set number of points in a set number of skills, and you can spend those points as needed. This creates several problems:

  • Players must be informed when an opportunity to use points arises. This is tantamount to saying "HEY THIS IS IMPORTANT SHIT RIGHT HERE," because points are precious and a GM who causes players to waste points on trivialities will be fucking murdered by his players.

  • What if your players didn't take the skills you want? What if they fail the roll? (You still have to make a dice roll, points spent just increase your chances.) The GM would then have to scramble to find some other way to get players the information they need to advance.

  • Points, once spent, are regained very rarely, often only at the end of a campaign. That makes no sense at all. Okay, I have three points in shadowing. Now I've shadowed someone and I have one point left. Why? Did I get shittier at my job? Why would that "run out"?

  • Why do I have to make a roll at all? Why not just decide that, because a player has a perception score of 4, he noticed this trap, and tell him about it? Why this amateur hour resource management bullshit? It slows down the game incredibly.

It doesn't help that the book is horribly organized, requiring foreknowledge of later chapters to understand things in the earlier chapters. Nor does it help that their is no player's guide; you buy the expensive, complicated, long GM sourcebook or you fuck off.

I'm pretty bitter about Trail of Cthulhu, I guess.

2. The human problem. These games take a long time. Partly that's because of the rules, as I mentioned above. And partly it's because getting even a few people to march in the same direction at the same time is nearly impossible. This last ToC game was conducted online over Mumble, which is in some ways better and in some ways worse. It's better in that you no longer have to get all those people in the same physical location on the same day, you just have to get them to log on to a voice server. It's worse in that people will sometimes just not show up sometimes. After three or four sessions -- scheduled for Sunday evenings -- people just failed to show. (A relief to me, actually, since I wasn't really enjoying it.) It's also worse in that people who are just online will feel much more free to get up and get a drink or whatever -- which is fine, but everyone will want to get a drink at different times, and you will spend a great deal of time waiting for people. Also, there are some obvious downsides if your game requires reference materials; Google Docs works, but it's cumbersome.

3. Sheer duration. The causes above aside, you're asking people to commit several hours at a time on a regular a basis. I started to resent pretty severely that my Sunday evenings were tied up. Plus there's a lot of prep time involved. The most fun I ever had playing anything that resembled an RPG was the noted stupidly simple HeroQuest, because I could be playing before the next ice age hit.

I'm not sure this one is surmountable.

That was a huge wall of text, and I'm not sure it said anything people likely to read this thread don't already know, but I'd like to know if people have found viable solutions to these problems. I'm also interested to know more about Paranoia if people have played it. It looks like a fucking blast. I'm interested in running a campaign, but I have no idea how to get started planning one. I've never GMed any RPG before.

Currently my plan is to assign the players to be the security detail for the award ceremony for the Computer's 139th consecutive annual Nobel Peace Prize. The prize will be awarded for its work on US-Russian relations. Also, knowing about Russia is treason.

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<snipped for length>

You should check out the indie game movement. Indie games tend to focus more on story and interaction, and less on system. There is a system called "The Pool" that is really fascinating. The "rulebook" is essentially 4 pages long.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/13967641/The-Pool-an-inde-RPG

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A friend of mine recently laid on me a box full of Gazeteers from the old Mystara line. The Grand Duchy of Karameikos, The Dwarves of Rockhome...a true blast from the past, and interesting reading in a nostaligic sort of way.

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KoDT is awesome. One of my favorite strips is where they discover the 'Hand of Vecna' and immediately start fighting over who gets it, resulting in lots of self-mutilation. :lol:

That was a huge wall of text, and I'm not sure it said anything people likely to read this thread don't already know, but I'd like to know if people have found viable solutions to these problems.

Problem 1 is the easiest to solve. Just find a system that you like. :)

Okay, maybe it's not that easy, but since you seem to like Paranoia in theory, you've already overcome this obstacle.

Problems 2 and 3 are a bit harder. They're a major part of why tabletop games are still played today, the human element, getting together with friends with beer, cheetoes, bad jokes and orc-killing and the ability to guide a character down potentially long and ever-developing storylines.

Finding reliable players can be a pain. Sometimes you just have to roll with a character or two less if a couple of players drop at the last minute or decide on something else to do. It sucks but it comes with the territory. It's no different than cancelling a Raid in WoW if a bunch of people don't show up.

As for making it much less of an investment, play once a month or twice a month. You still have to deal with organizing people, but it's not as bad as trying to do it every week.

As for playing online, I've never done it, but there are websites out there that you can use to help organize and facilitate online play. I'm really not familiar with any of them, but a bit of searching should easily turn some up.

I'm also interested to know more about Paranoia if people have played it. It looks like a fucking blast. I'm interested in running a campaign, but I have no idea how to get started planning one. I've never GMed any RPG before.

I've never played Paranoia. Heard about it though, it sounded pretty cool, but I have fairly intractable players. They don't like learning new systems. GMing can be great. When you run a great session, it's a helluva rush. However, when you run a bad session, you'll just want to up and quit. It sucks. If you find that GMing is not for you, hopefully you'll have unlocked the latent desire in one of your players and they can pick up the reins.

Just be aware that being a GM requires a much greater time investment than being a mere player. Be prepared, but don't over prepare. I've always found if I prepare too much, I'm much less willing to improvise and roll with the punches. Some of my better games were just me with a few statblocks, a loose outline and a 'go to town attitude,' though I wouldn't necessarily recommend that to someone new to GMing.

It can be a pain in the ass and a big time investment, but it's really worth it, IMO.

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@ Inigima:

try "the dark dungeon" if you hate having too many rules.

it's a simplified d10 system, with a rulebook consisting of 20-30 pages, no character levels (you progress through skills), no magic levels or strictly defined spells...

their slogan is "roleplaying, not ruleplaying" so it might be right up your alley.

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KotDT was mostly featured in SHADIS, published by Alterac Games, until Jolly (the creator) split from his partners.

On RPG rules, in general: The complexity exists because, at heart, gamers are all exploit masters. If you study the rules, you'll see that a huge part of the text is simply trying to prevent abuses. So, encumberance rules are there to prevent people carrying whole trading posts, combat systems have more rules stating what can't be done than can be, etc.

At the same time, many designers want to create a realistic and wide ranging rule set that covers everything a gamer could want in a game - and it can't be done, trust me.

I remember being in a meeting discussing a new rpg ruleset, and the main rule designer either stating "players will break the fuck out of that idea" or "players will bitch if you don't allow/include this", often for the same aspect of the game. He was totally right.

When you see a 5th level player character snuffing lvl 20mages, because he has psionics (tk), and is simply lifting the mages 150 feet up and dropping them....(still, Jay saved my characters ass with that move!), you get an inkling of the issue.

On the other hand - being dedicated to teh letter of teh rules misses the point of playing. The point is to have fun with your friends, not fight the rules.

Expect to never find a system and setting that are a perfect fit for your group, understand that, as players and gm, you are going to rip out chunks, add things, and basically pimp that framework into an epic ride. For example - our group played the same campaign for at least 12 years, and nobody got past lvl 10. For rules, we used the Villains and Vigilantes combat system, ADD magic, basic 3d6 character stats...and allowed a character from any game we could translate to those standards. We ended up with a party that included an ADD warrior with an AK-47 fetish, a wanna be super hero, battlesuits with nukes from SJG OGRE/GEV, magic users, demons, angels, Gamma World...

The point is, we, and particularly the gm, used rules as a start point, and over a period of time, came up with a system that worked, for us, and for a lot of people who joined after, or just heard about it.

BUT - trying to formalize it, and publish it? Couldn't be done.

At the end of the day - it all depends on the group, and gm. As players, our group fucked each other over and around constantly, but the gm, Tommy-Bob, incorporated that into the campaign, and simply (hah, simply) kept us all interested in the story we were in, to the point where we couldn't wait to see what fucked up shit we were going to land in next.

Which is how, at one point, we went from tooling around the Talisman board until he drew Mephistopholes, hiding in the warp, finding a bar with a back door to Ry'leh, tricking Egon Spenglor into calling Cthulhu, waking up in Arkham, encountering a pit-fiend, getting involved in a plan to rescue the little mermaid from sahaughin, and encountering the entire cast of Baywatch as time cops.

Then shit got funky.

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That's the beauty of Paranoia: huge chunks of it are about fucking over other players. Not so much because you want bad things to happen to them, although that's fine too, but because if those bad things don't happen to them, they might happen to you, and you wouldn't want that. The mission you're being assigned is probably impossible. The Computer has likely issued you equipment that is broken or outright dangerous, or possibly not outfitted you adequately at all. You may receive orders from a superior that conflict with your existing orders, and don't want to be terminated for insubordination. And all that is fine, and so is failing in your mission. But you'd better find some way to escape the blame, which probably means pinning it on some other poor bastard. You commie scum.

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Could people who have GMed original campaigns talk a little about their planning process? I've been discussing my idea for a Paranoia campaign with Schneeble and we've got a lot of it fleshed out in broad strokes, and I'm well pleased with its ridiculousness, but I've never written a campaign before and I've got no idea where to begin at a nuts and bolts level.

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