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We've got a lot of tabletop role players here, and there was a little bit of role playing discussion in the tabletop games thread, so I figure we can make this its own topic.

 

I ran a handful of Call of Cthulhu sessions a few years back with Zen, Bed, LBZ, futureguy, YumYum Ninja, Captain Quilt, and I think First Mate. (I think that covers everyone.) It was my first real exposure to role playing games, and I was coming into it pretty fresh so I struggled a bit as the GM. (When Zen asks if his missed bullet ricochets and hits LBZ, the correct answer is not "Umm... roll for it." That happened during my first session. I got better later, though.) I really like the Basic Role Playing (BRP) system. It's really accessible, and I always feel like I can bring anyone to the table if they have a willingness to role play but might be put off by tons of mechanics.

 

Rex and I were having a bit of a discussion about that the other day, actually. While I don't have any direct experience with Dungeons and Dragons, it's always seemed really inaccessible to the average newbie. Even with a DM that can streamline things, character sheets still take an hour plus to write up, I've heard? In Call of Cthulhu, I'm able to put one together for a new player in ten minutes if they really want. (That's excluding the time that goes into creating the character from a role playing standpoint... but I suppose if they just give me an occupation that's still enough to go off of.) I can get a group's worth of characters set up in an hour, provided they went in with the same amount of information and they were interested in taking their time thinking through skill distribution. And, again, this is still with a brand new group of players.

 

 

I'm particularly curious to hear about some of the less mainstream role playing games. Kit picked up the Doctor Who Role Playing Game yesterday, and at a glance it looks like it's aimed at a super casual audience. I've got a set of Star Wars RPG books my brother gave me, but I've never read them. I have a small bit of exposure to World of Darkness. But I know there's a lot more out there, and I'm particularly curious how it stacks up.

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I really like the Basic Role Playing (BRP) system. It's really accessible, and I always feel like I can bring anyone to the table if they have a willingness to role play but might be put off by tons of mechanics.

 

Rex and I were having a bit of a discussion about that the other day, actually. While I don't have any direct experience with Dungeons and Dragons, it's always seemed really inaccessible to the average newbie. Even with a DM that can streamline things, character sheets still take an hour plus to write up, I've heard? In Call of Cthulhu, I'm able to put one together for a new player in ten minutes if they really want. (That's excluding the time that goes into creating the character from a role playing standpoint... but I suppose if they just give me an occupation that's still enough to go off of.) I can get a group's worth of characters set up in an hour, provided they went in with the same amount of information and they were interested in taking their time thinking through skill distribution. And, again, this is still with a brand new group of players.

BRP is one of many perfectly good roleplaying systems. I'm totally fine with the d100 roll-under core mechanic, but I tend to (personally) dislike BRP for its lack of depth in character creation. (I would never make a character in BRP for fun. It would always be work, to me.) BRP could be content extended sufficiently for character creation to become interesting, perhaps, but I'm only familiar with its CoC implementation, so I can't say if any such version of BRP exists.

 

Well, let's set some ground rules and only talk about one system at a time. When you say Dungeons and Dragons, are you referring to OD&D, AD&D, AD&D2, D&D3E, D&D3.5e, D&D4e, or D&DNext? I mean, a few commonalities exist between the systems, but they're all pretty different (with perhaps the exception of 3.5e, which was more of a really big content patch with lots of minor rule tweaks). Now, I do have experience with D&D, but only 3.5e, 4e, and (minimally) Next. For now, I'll assume you're talking about 3.5e, as it's the most popular edition of D&D, as far as I'm aware.

 

First, let's discuss accessibility. I think you (and others) have a warped sense of the accessibility of D&D (specifically 3.5e) for two reasons: first, 3.5e is a system that highly rewards system mastery, and second, 3.5e is pretty old and a lot of players have been playing it for upwards of a decade. Together, this means that a new player might walk into the middle of a session and hear something like this:

 

Player: "...And for my standard action I'll start a grapple."

DM: "Okay, the monster gets an Attack of Opportunity."

Player: "Nope. I have the Improved Grapple feat."

DM: "Okay, roll your touch attack."

Player: "*rolls a d20* I rolled a 9, so my touch attack is 15. Does that hit?"

DM: "Yeah, that hits touch AC. Opposed grapple check now."

Player: "*rolls a d20* I rolled a 13, so my total is 23."

DM: "*rolls a d20* Did you include the size modifier on your check?"

Player: "No."

DM: "Okay. With size modifier, my opposed roll comes to 19. You are now grappling. Roll your unarmed damage."

Player: "*rolls a d3* Four damage. I'm making it lethal damage with Improved Unarmed Strike."

 

However, when a new player comes to play, this should not be their normal experience. 3.5e does have a lot of rules, but a new player doesn't need to know most of them. In fact, with a clearly marked character sheet, the only thing a new player really needs to know at the beginning of their first session is "When I ask you to roll a check, that means you need to roll a d20, and add a modifier from your sheet. If you don't know what modifier to add, just ask me. You add your die roll to your modifier, and that's your total result. I compare that to a number called a Difficulty Class/DC or a check that I roll myself. If you roll equal or higher, you succeed." Literally everything else can be learned through play organically. As long as your DM understands the system rules well, the players don't have to.

 

Now, what I will say, is that if a group of friends wants to get into a P&P RPG together, and none of them have any experience, then yeah, 3.5e can be pretty inaccessible (someone is going to have to read, or at least skim, through 100+ pages of material minimum, unless they want to stop play every five minutes to look up a rule). However, if you're playing under a DM who knows the rules well, it's not a problem.

 

How long a character sheet takes to prepare depends on how much a DM sweats the details, and how complex of a class the player is playing. I could probably prepare a Level 1 Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, Monk, Paladin, or Rogue in 10 to 15 minutes (if I took the time to re-familiarize myself with 3.5e feats... I haven't played 3.5e in some time), if I wasn't being anal about equipment lists. The only base classes I excluded were the classes with spellcasting ability at level 1 (which would add a bunch of time to the process unless the player let me pick their spells for them, and I only considered base spells... but considering how spell choice forms the identity of the spellcasting classes, that's generally not a great idea).

 

If I were to guide a new player through the whole process of making their own sheet, it would probably take considerably longer (an hour is probably a good guess), because I'd have to teach them a lot of system math as they go along. If I make the sheet based on a description of their character, the player won't have to know that their strength modifier is added to their damage for one-handed weapons, but 1.5 times their strength modifier rounded down is added to their damage for two-handed weapons. They'll just need to know that when their big-hulking Barbarian attacks with his Greatsword, it does 2d6+6 damage, but their Warhammer only does 1d8+4 damage. Even then, I wouldn't teach them everything... just what they need to know to complete the sheet for their character (I wouldn't bother telling someone trying to make a sneaky thief about the strength damage rules... I would be telling them about using Weapon Finesse to add your Dexterity to attack rolls instead).

 

Of course, if a player shows an interest in learning the more nitty-gritty inner workings of the system, I would direct them to the proper resources and let them go to town. But if that stuff isn't fun for them, or if they're not willing to spend hours just to try out a game, it's easy for me to help them bypass all that.

 

Now, this isn't true of all systems. For instance, Shadowrun is definitely not accessible to the new player who's not all that interested in the systems behind the game. To highlight this, if someone told me they were starting a Shadowrun game right now, and let me throw together a character and hop in as soon as I was done, and I built the most basic character I could as quickly as I could, I would probably be ready to play in 30 to 45 minutes.

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I feel like Rex would be a good one to talk about his first impressions of the Palladium games' system. That's the one we played a couple of months? ago at TABLE-con.

 

I personally really enjoy the system, though my experience remains solely within only a handful of GMs under whom I've played, one of which has been GMing for what, like, 20 some-odd years? Needless to say, my experience has always been in the end a positive one and fun to boot.

 

I've only ever created a character within Palladium on a couple of occasions as the majority of my experience has taken place in one-shot settings at conventions with pre-generated characters. It's not that difficult to do though, though I do find it rather time-consuming simply because there are SO many choices depending on what you're making, but as a general rule the books are pretty good about taking you step-by-step, especially if you've had other table-top experience.

 

One of my favorite things about Palladium is how simple it ends up being for someone sitting down who may have NEVER played a table-top before and how much everything made sense to me when I was told about it. Things like "SDC" (structural damage capacity), which is how much damage your skin itself can take before getting into your HP, where you're basically starting to bleed out, and things like having Skills where your character is trained in, say, Prowling, because they're a world-class thief. If you want to Prowl, you have to make a percent-die roll (a skill check) and if you roll under the number that you've been trained up to, you succeed and start prowling. If you fail, and fail with a high enough number, you may make a loud noise and alert who you were trying to prowl past.

 

Within the system there are several books I can name off the top of my head and I'll give the premise of each that I've actually played as briefly as possible.

 

Rifts - Giant...err...rifts in time and space opened up on Earth and let through giant (and some not-so-giant) interdimensional beings, making Earth a sort of highway between many different worlds. Most of the beings were hostile, of course, but there were a few good ones. It basically changed the entire planet into something that doesn't really resemble Earth as we know it today, but you can still see things like Dallas' giant highway crumbled and broken on the ground. One of the highlights of this particular genre is you can create pretty much anything you can imagine from an old west sharpshooter to a Jedi to a dog-humanoid to a flying mech or robot, ect. It sounds pretty lame when I put it so simply, but it really is a lot of fun. It's kind of a post-apocalyptic setting where the apocalypse was the opening of these rifts.

 

Beyond the Supernatural - This is the one I'm hooked on right now. It's like...Warehouse 13, honestly. You have psychics who take the form of healers or mediums or fire-wielders and end up facing anything from Lovecraftian horrors to ancient Aztec gods.

 

Superheroes Unlimited - I haven't played much of this one outside of a game-type that the GM I play with made up that he calls an "Origins" game where your character suddenly acquires superhuman abilities that they don't understand and you go through the (one-shot) game discovering your various abilities that he's pre-picked for you to end up having.

 

Splicers - Think Skynet. Humans created a computer to solve problems, computer in turns sees humans as the problem and splits into seven different personalities that each model their way of thinking after a "goddess" such as Kali or Gaia. Computer then releases nanobots into the air that causes 99% of humans to be unable to interact with metal without dying. So, humans retreat deeply into the earth and come across pools of what is basically primordial soup, end up stepping into said soup, and coming out with bio-armor that lets them fight back. You create characters based on the type of bio-armor your avatar received, unless you're a Techno-jacker, who is that 1% who can still interact with metal xD 

 

Dead Reign - Their version of the zombie apocalypse. Takes place like 6 months after the zombies came so everything's "settled-down." I really like how they handle the zombies, and it amuses me that the Dead Reign book is mostly written as if by someone from that society for someone who has no idea what's going on or who is who. After a couple of pages about speculation as to how the zombies came about: "In the end, though, it doesn't really matter. We don't know how or why the zombies are here. But they're here. And that's doesn't seem to be changing." 

 

 

There's a handful of their books that I won't get into because, frankly, I've never played them. There's one called Robotech that I'm assuming is all about giant mechs. And they even have their own "fantasy" book which I'm thinking is akin to DnD.

 

Something else that's pretty cool is that since they're in the same system, these books are really all part of the same "Megaverse" in that you could have a character from the Superheroes Unlimited book get hopped over into Rifts and they would make the transition pretty easily.

 

I'll put the website here if anyone wants to peruse the books for funsies:
https://palladium-store.com/1001/SFNT.html

 

 

I've done a little bit of DnD, both GMing and playing and honestly now that I've played with the Palladium system I'm going to feel like everything else is too...complicated. Like the example Rex gave of the noob hearing that kind of stuff at the table, some of which went over MY head because I haven't played in so long, I don't really remember happening much the first time I passed by a table with Palladium games going on. It's more like:

 

"Okay, you know there are bad-guys right around that corner."

"I want to prowl."

"Roll for it."

*rolls dice*

"I made it! I want to prowl up as close as I can get to them and try to listen in on what they're saying."

 

Granted, the GM I play with is pretty theatrical in how he does games. He'll set the scene for you and then you run about (or amok) and he'll tell you what happens as you do so.

 

~~

 

I know Traj has a WW RPG book that he used as the basis for one of the WW/Mafia games he hosted on old SB, but I don't know if he's actually played it yet? Don't know the system with that one either.

 

I've heard about the White Wolf system. Mostly about how broken it is. Haven't had any personal experience. I have some friends that have played Aberrant and said its one of those games you only play once because you can just break the game so hard. As in, having a superpower that is "speed" and running around the earth so fast that you tear it in half... Have another friend who played Vampire: The Masquerade (actually beta-tested it I think?) who didn't find it fun because of the politicking involved and the amount of possible screwing with the people you're playing with (he's big into a team-effort. This is the GM I mentioned above, btw).

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I really like the Basic Role Playing (BRP) system. It's really accessible, and I always feel like I can bring anyone to the table if they have a willingness to role play but might be put off by tons of mechanics.

 

Rex and I were having a bit of a discussion about that the other day, actually. While I don't have any direct experience with Dungeons and Dragons, it's always seemed really inaccessible to the average newbie. Even with a DM that can streamline things, character sheets still take an hour plus to write up, I've heard? In Call of Cthulhu, I'm able to put one together for a new player in ten minutes if they really want. (That's excluding the time that goes into creating the character from a role playing standpoint... but I suppose if they just give me an occupation that's still enough to go off of.) I can get a group's worth of characters set up in an hour, provided they went in with the same amount of information and they were interested in taking their time thinking through skill distribution. And, again, this is still with a brand new group of players.

BRP is one of many perfectly good roleplaying systems. I'm totally fine with the d100 roll-under core mechanic, but I tend to (personally) dislike BRP for its lack of depth in character creation. (I would never make a character in BRP for fun. It would always be work, to me.) BRP could be content extended sufficiently for character creation to become interesting, perhaps, but I'm only familiar with its CoC implementation, so I can't say if any such version of BRP exists.

 

I should have clarified: my experience with BRP is also limited to its CoC implementation (and a few things I've likely forgotten that were talked about at Yog-Sothoth.com).

 

I've never thought about the experience of creating a character being fun from the character sheet standpoint. Of course, I spent most of my time thinking about who the character is, and then the character sheet is a means to that end. What is it that you find fun about creating characters in D&D?

 

Well, let's set some ground rules and only talk about one system at a time. When you say Dungeons and Dragons, are you referring to OD&D, AD&D, AD&D2, D&D3E, D&D3.5e, D&D4e, or D&DNext? I mean, a few commonalities exist between the systems, but they're all pretty different (with perhaps the exception of 3.5e, which was more of a really big content patch with lots of minor rule tweaks). Now, I do have experience with D&D, but only 3.5e, 4e, and (minimally) Next. For now, I'll assume you're talking about 3.5e, as it's the most popular edition of D&D, as far as I'm aware.

I'm referring to 3.5e. I have no familiarity with anything prior to that, and all I know about 4e are a handful of things you and Zen have mentioned.

 

First, let's discuss accessibility. I think you (and others) have a warped sense of the accessibility of D&D (specifically 3.5e) for two reasons: first, 3.5e is a system that highly rewards system mastery, and second, 3.5e is pretty old and a lot of players have been playing it for upwards of a decade. Together, this means that a new player might walk into the middle of a session and hear something like this:

 

Player: "...And for my standard action I'll start a grapple."

DM: "Okay, the monster gets an Attack of Opportunity."

Player: "Nope. I have the Improved Grapple feat."

DM: "Okay, roll your touch attack."

Player: "*rolls a d20* I rolled a 9, so my touch attack is 15. Does that hit?"

DM: "Yeah, that hits touch AC. Opposed grapple check now."

Player: "*rolls a d20* I rolled a 13, so my total is 23."

DM: "*rolls a d20* Did you include the size modifier on your check?"

Player: "No."

DM: "Okay. With size modifier, my opposed roll comes to 19. You are now grappling. Roll your unarmed damage."

Player: "*rolls a d3* Four damage. I'm making it lethal damage with Improved Unarmed Strike."

 

However, when a new player comes to play, this should not be their normal experience. 3.5e does have a lot of rules, but a new player doesn't need to know most of them. In fact, with a clearly marked character sheet, the only thing a new player really needs to know at the beginning of their first session is "When I ask you to roll a check, that means you need to roll a d20, and add a modifier from your sheet. If you don't know what modifier to add, just ask me. You add your die roll to your modifier, and that's your total result. I compare that to a number called a Difficulty Class/DC or a check that I roll myself. If you roll equal or higher, you succeed." Literally everything else can be learned through play organically. As long as your DM understands the system rules well, the players don't have to.

A player may only need to know how their character interacts with the game, and there's something to be said about having a system that takes time to master, but it can also be awkward when the majority of a session is combat (and the combat being had by your party members). Of course, I say this as someone who focuses on story and tries to avoid combat. (I still have terrible flashbacks of an hour and a half long battle in CoC where the players got themselves backed into a corner and failed to realize how incredibly ineffective their bullets were but insisted on shooting and shooting and shooting.)

 

Now, what I will say, is that if a group of friends wants to get into a P&P RPG together, and none of them have any experience, then yeah, 3.5e can be pretty inaccessible (someone is going to have to read, or at least skim, through 100+ pages of material minimum, unless they want to stop play every five minutes to look up a rule). However, if you're playing under a DM who knows the rules well, it's not a problem.

Only 100+? How are you defining "have to read/skim"? (Though I suppose I'm forgetting that CoC's quickstart guide has only 20 pages or so.)

 

How long a character sheet takes to prepare depends on how much a DM sweats the details, and how complex of a class the player is playing. I could probably prepare a Level 1 Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, Monk, Paladin, or Rogue in 10 to 15 minutes (if I took the time to re-familiarize myself with 3.5e feats... I haven't played 3.5e in some time), if I wasn't being anal about equipment lists. The only base classes I excluded were the classes with spellcasting ability at level 1 (which would add a bunch of time to the process unless the player let me pick their spells for them, and I only considered base spells... but considering how spell choice forms the identity of the spellcasting classes, that's generally not a great idea).

 

If I were to guide a new player through the whole process of making their own sheet, it would probably take considerably longer (an hour is probably a good guess), because I'd have to teach them a lot of system math as they go along. If I make the sheet based on a description of their character, the player won't have to know that their strength modifier is added to their damage for one-handed weapons, but 1.5 times their strength modifier rounded down is added to their damage for two-handed weapons. They'll just need to know that when their big-hulking Barbarian attacks with his Greatsword, it does 2d6+6 damage, but their Warhammer only does 1d8+4 damage. Even then, I wouldn't teach them everything... just what they need to know to complete the sheet for their character (I wouldn't bother telling someone trying to make a sneaky thief about the strength damage rules... I would be telling them about using Weapon Finesse to add your Dexterity to attack rolls instead).

 

Of course, if a player shows an interest in learning the more nitty-gritty inner workings of the system, I would direct them to the proper resources and let them go to town. But if that stuff isn't fun for them, or if they're not willing to spend hours just to try out a game, it's easy for me to help them bypass all that.

 

Now, this isn't true of all systems. For instance, Shadowrun is definitely not accessible to the new player who's not all that interested in the systems behind the game. To highlight this, if someone told me they were starting a Shadowrun game right now, and let me throw together a character and hop in as soon as I was done, and I built the most basic character I could as quickly as I could, I would probably be ready to play in 30 to 45 minutes.

 I appreciate hearing the times.

 

I feel like Rex would be a good one to talk about his first impressions of the Palladium games' system. That's the one we played a couple of months? ago at TABLE-con.

 

I personally really enjoy the system, though my experience remains solely within only a handful of GMs under whom I've played, one of which has been GMing for what, like, 20 some-odd years? Needless to say, my experience has always been in the end a positive one and fun to boot.

 

I've only ever created a character within Palladium on a couple of occasions as the majority of my experience has taken place in one-shot settings at conventions with pre-generated characters. It's not that difficult to do though, though I do find it rather time-consuming simply because there are SO many choices depending on what you're making, but as a general rule the books are pretty good about taking you step-by-step, especially if you've had other table-top experience.

 

One of my favorite things about Palladium is how simple it ends up being for someone sitting down who may have NEVER played a table-top before and how much everything made sense to me when I was told about it. Things like "SDC" (structural damage capacity), which is how much damage your skin itself can take before getting into your HP, where you're basically starting to bleed out, and things like having Skills where your character is trained in, say, Prowling, because they're a world-class thief. If you want to Prowl, you have to make a percent-die roll (a skill check) and if you roll under the number that you've been trained up to, you succeed and start prowling. If you fail, and fail with a high enough number, you may make a loud noise and alert who you were trying to prowl past.

The ease of play you're describing echoes my CoC experience.

That said, I've heard that the convention one-shot setting is very different from a dedicated play group. Everything I've heard about CoC in the convention setting, for example, is that difficulty is played pretty loosely with the expectation that several of the characters are going to be killed along the way. What was your experience, and do you have any idea how it varies from the dedicated group/campaign settings?

 

Within the system there are several books I can name off the top of my head and I'll give the premise of each that I've actually played as briefly as possible.

 

Rifts - Giant...err...rifts in time and space opened up on Earth and let through giant (and some not-so-giant) interdimensional beings, making Earth a sort of highway between many different worlds. Most of the beings were hostile, of course, but there were a few good ones. It basically changed the entire planet into something that doesn't really resemble Earth as we know it today, but you can still see things like Dallas' giant highway crumbled and broken on the ground. One of the highlights of this particular genre is you can create pretty much anything you can imagine from an old west sharpshooter to a Jedi to a dog-humanoid to a flying mech or robot, ect. It sounds pretty lame when I put it so simply, but it really is a lot of fun. It's kind of a post-apocalyptic setting where the apocalypse was the opening of these rifts.

 

Beyond the Supernatural - This is the one I'm hooked on right now. It's like...Warehouse 13, honestly. You have psychics who take the form of healers or mediums or fire-wielders and end up facing anything from Lovecraftian horrors to ancient Aztec gods.

 

Superheroes Unlimited - I haven't played much of this one outside of a game-type that the GM I play with made up that he calls an "Origins" game where your character suddenly acquires superhuman abilities that they don't understand and you go through the (one-shot) game discovering your various abilities that he's pre-picked for you to end up having.

 

Splicers - Think Skynet. Humans created a computer to solve problems, computer in turns sees humans as the problem and splits into seven different personalities that each model their way of thinking after a "goddess" such as Kali or Gaia. Computer then releases nanobots into the air that causes 99% of humans to be unable to interact with metal without dying. So, humans retreat deeply into the earth and come across pools of what is basically primordial soup, end up stepping into said soup, and coming out with bio-armor that lets them fight back. You create characters based on the type of bio-armor your avatar received, unless you're a Techno-jacker, who is that 1% who can still interact with metal xD 

 

Dead Reign - Their version of the zombie apocalypse. Takes place like 6 months after the zombies came so everything's "settled-down." I really like how they handle the zombies, and it amuses me that the Dead Reign book is mostly written as if by someone from that society for someone who has no idea what's going on or who is who. After a couple of pages about speculation as to how the zombies came about: "In the end, though, it doesn't really matter. We don't know how or why the zombies are here. But they're here. And that's doesn't seem to be changing."

There's a handful of their books that I won't get into because, frankly, I've never played them. There's one called Robotech that I'm assuming is all about giant mechs. And they even have their own "fantasy" book which I'm thinking is akin to DnD.

 

Something else that's pretty cool is that since they're in the same system, these books are really all part of the same "Megaverse" in that you could have a character from the Superheroes Unlimited book get hopped over into Rifts and they would make the transition pretty easily.

 

I'll put the website here if anyone wants to peruse the books for funsies:

https://palladium-store.com/1001/SFNT.html

I really need to look into Rifts for the simple fact that it plays off my username. I also might want to look into Superheroes Unlimited: if I could find a pretty low-key game with superpowers, I could probably get into it. The main issue I take, and it's a problem with several systems, is that the expectation is that characters are going to go to god-level status. I tend to have a lot more fun with weaker or more human characters. (Er, human in the sense of being pretty vulnerable.)

 

I realize that several systems also accommodate this by including more powerful enemies later on. But I don't want my character to go from, say, X-Men character status to Superman status. (Yes, I realize I just compared the wrong two universes. But I always forget who the Marvel heavies are besides Hulk, and Hulk's never a good comparison point.)

 

I've done a little bit of DnD, both GMing and playing and honestly now that I've played with the Palladium system I'm going to feel like everything else is too...complicated. Like the example Rex gave of the noob hearing that kind of stuff at the table, some of which went over MY head because I haven't played in so long, I don't really remember happening much the first time I passed by a table with Palladium games going on. It's more like:

 

"Okay, you know there are bad-guys right around that corner."

"I want to prowl."

"Roll for it."

*rolls dice*

"I made it! I want to prowl up as close as I can get to them and try to listen in on what they're saying."

 

Granted, the GM I play with is pretty theatrical in how he does games. He'll set the scene for you and then you run about (or amok) and he'll tell you what happens as you do so.

 

~~

 

I know Traj has a WW RPG book that he used as the basis for one of the WW/Mafia games he hosted on old SB, but I don't know if he's actually played it yet? Don't know the system with that one either.

 

I've heard about the White Wolf system. Mostly about how broken it is. Haven't had any personal experience. I have some friends that have played Aberrant and said its one of those games you only play once because you can just break the game so hard. As in, having a superpower that is "speed" and running around the earth so fast that you tear it in half... Have another friend who played Vampire: The Masquerade (actually beta-tested it I think?) who didn't find it fun because of the politicking involved and the amount of possible screwing with the people you're playing with (he's big into a team-effort. This is the GM I mentioned above, btw).

Does anyone have any good GM resources? I feel like I do an acceptable job of setting the scene, but I definitely have room for improvement.

 

Traj's book was either Werewolf: The Apocalypse or Werewolf: The Forsaken. I've read bits of the former (and tried playing their card game with Rex).

 

Oh, wait, that's White Wolf. x.x It's White Wolf I have some familiarity with, not World of Darkness... or... wait, is World of Darkness the setting? I can't remember.

 

 

Edit: Nearly forgot. Has anyone had any successful experiences with RPGs hosted in the forum setting? I've played two at GameFAQs (though the mechanics are very simple), and there have been a few attempts at D&D on Sparkbomb in the past. I had trouble getting my players to role play for the CoC scenario I tried hosting. Does anyone have any thoughts?

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I feel like Rex would be a good one to talk about his first impressions of the Palladium games' system. That's the one we played a couple of months? ago at TABLE-con.

 

...

 

I've done a little bit of DnD, both GMing and playing and honestly now that I've played with the Palladium system I'm going to feel like everything else is too...complicated. Like the example Rex gave of the noob hearing that kind of stuff at the table, some of which went over MY head because I haven't played in so long, I don't really remember happening much the first time I passed by a table with Palladium games going on. It's more like:

 

"Okay, you know there are bad-guys right around that corner."

"I want to prowl."

"Roll for it."

*rolls dice*

"I made it! I want to prowl up as close as I can get to them and try to listen in on what they're saying."

 

Granted, the GM I play with is pretty theatrical in how he does games. He'll set the scene for you and then you run about (or amok) and he'll tell you what happens as you do so.

Honestly, it's hard for me to evaluate the system as I don't know very much about it. Sure, I played a short session with it, but it was with a pre-gen character and there simply wasn't time to cover the mechanics in any meaningful way. The main impression I got was that there were multiple core mechanics for conflict resolution (not a big fan of that concept), and the system didn't appear to have any aspects that overly appeal to me. I had a lot of fun playing, but I think that was more because the DM did an excellent job keeping everyone engaged and the concept as far as the setting and pre-gen characters were concerned was very interesting.

 

As for complexity, it seems that, mechanically, the Palladium system isn't much less complex than D&D. Based solely on the session I played, I spotted 1) a complex initiative system (similar to Shadowrun's, actually), 2) multiple mechanics for attack resolution that must be performed together, 3) an in-depth called shot system, 4) multiple health systems (partially handwaved within the session), and 5) a complex combat movement system which was entirely handwaved. It may have less situational rules than D&D (here's two pages on grappling in combat; here's a page on mounted comabt; etc.), but the core complexity doesn't seem any less. Also, I don't think a basic skill check is a fair comparison to grapple mechanics. The situation in D&D3.5e would be identical, except you'd be rolling Move Silently opposed by the enemies' Listen checks, instead of a roll-under Prowl check.

 

I've never thought about the experience of creating a character being fun from the character sheet standpoint. Of course, I spent most of my time thinking about who the character is, and then the character sheet is a means to that end. What is it that you find fun about creating characters in D&D?

That's probably because CoC doesn't have any interesting options for characters. You asked about D&D specifically, but I'm going to use Shadowrun as an example instead because its character creation is more in-depth than any edition of D&D, and the game is more well-rounded in general. In Shadowrun, during character creation, you are given a finite number of Build Points (BP). Every advantage your character has, be it their skill at driving automobiles, their brute strength, the fancy gun they bought five weeks ago, their well-connected contacts, photographic memory, or their arcane abilities, is paid for with BP. There are even negative traits (from something as exotic as paraplegia to something mundane as an allergy) that reward you with extra BP. So your crew's talker could be a charismatic cleaned up BTL junkie that learned to swindle people when you had no other way to get the chips, an ex-corp trained negotiator fired because of office politics and nursing a grudge, or a rich kid who was socially awkward until she shelled out the nuyen for a suite of the latest emotive cyberware, and not only would these characters have vibrantly different backstories, but those differences would be reflected in the values on their character sheets and thus quantified for use within the game itself.

Not only is that insanely cool, but these mechanics can help grow your character concept into a more complete character. The flavor feeds into the mechanics, and the mechanics feed into the flavor.

 

A player may only need to know how their character interacts with the game, and there's something to be said about having a system that takes time to master, but it can also be awkward when the majority of a session is combat (and the combat being had by your party members). Of course, I say this as someone who focuses on story and tries to avoid combat. (I still have terrible flashbacks of an hour and a half long battle in CoC where the players got themselves backed into a corner and failed to realize how incredibly ineffective their bullets were but insisted on shooting and shooting and shooting.)

You are a product of your system. CoC is made to discourage combat and encourage other aspects (investigation, mainly, from my experience). D&D devotes most of its mechanics to combat, so it's very good at making combat interesting. While it's totally possible to run a D&D campaign with literally no combat whatsoever, you'd probably be better off using a different system focused more on doing whatever you want to be doing. Also, I disagree completely that combat and story are antithetical. Some stories may have lots of combat. Some stories may have little to none. It just depends on what type of story you're telling.

 

 

Now, what I will say, is that if a group of friends wants to get into a P&P RPG together, and none of them have any experience, then yeah, 3.5e can be pretty inaccessible (someone is going to have to read, or at least skim, through 100+ pages of material minimum, unless they want to stop play every five minutes to look up a rule). However, if you're playing under a DM who knows the rules well, it's not a problem.

Only 100+? How are you defining "have to read/skim"? (Though I suppose I'm forgetting that CoC's quickstart guide has only 20 pages or so.)

 

I mean 100+ pages of rules and mechanics, maybe with some "this is how to DM" meta-writing added in. No fluff or setting stuff included (that can really vary from game to game anyway). I'd estimate for CoC, it would boil down to 10~20 pages (keep in mind that it's been a while since I've looked at CoC, though).

 

Does anyone have any good GM resources? I feel like I do an acceptable job of setting the scene, but I definitely have room for improvement.

I've perused over many a GM blog, but the one that has helped me the most (and handily is also pretty system agnostic) is The Angry DM. (Warning: The guy can be pretty foul-mouthed [although self-censored too, ironically], but he's also hilarious.) Basically, the must read series is called "Getting the Most Out of Your Skill System", and my favorite article in it is "Adjudicate Actions...". I highly recommend the read.

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I hate the format of these things.... Sooo, I'm going to bold my replies inside the quote boxes because I'm lazy.

I should also mention, I write this as someone who is very proficient with D&D3/3.5e in that I've played for 10 years or so, and have DM'd for over half of that. I should also mention that I did play the one game of CoC with rift, and have played several games of RIFTS including MANY of the sourcebooks, having only ran two RIFTS campaigns though, I still haven't worked out my own kinks with the system. I'm not going to say I'm near as proficient with RIFTS as D&D3.5e but I usually know what I'm talking about with both.

 

 

I really like the Basic Role Playing (BRP) system. It's really accessible, and I always feel like I can bring anyone to the table if they have a willingness to role play but might be put off by tons of mechanics.
 
Rex and I were having a bit of a discussion about that the other day, actually. While I don't have any direct experience with Dungeons and Dragons, it's always seemed really inaccessible to the average newbie. Even with a DM that can streamline things, character sheets still take an hour plus to write up, I've heard? In Call of Cthulhu, I'm able to put one together for a new player in ten minutes if they really want. (That's excluding the time that goes into creating the character from a role playing standpoint... but I suppose if they just give me an occupation that's still enough to go off of.) I can get a group's worth of characters set up in an hour, provided they went in with the same amount of information and they were interested in taking their time thinking through skill distribution. And, again, this is still with a brand new group of players.

BRP is one of many perfectly good roleplaying systems. I'm totally fine with the d100 roll-under core mechanic, but I tend to (personally) dislike BRP for its lack of depth in character creation. (I would never make a character in BRP for fun. It would always be work, to me.) BRP could be content extended sufficiently for character creation to become interesting, perhaps, but I'm only familiar with its CoC implementation, so I can't say if any such version of BRP exists.

 

I should have clarified: my experience with BRP is also limited to its CoC implementation (and a few things I've likely forgotten that were talked about at Yog-Sothoth.com).
 
I've never thought about the experience of creating a character being fun from the character sheet standpoint. Of course, I spent most of my time thinking about who the character is, and then the character sheet is a means to that end. What is it that you find fun about creating characters in D&D?

I find that creating a character in D&D3.5e can be tons of fun, in that there are so many backstories, personality quirks, playstyles, and entire world systems to choose. This is to say creating a character, even relatively cookie cut in style, is vastly differant when you compare the 'standard' world with that of Eberron or even the oriental adventures. Creating a human can be as complex as you want, choosing a city living theif to a wild rogue to a tribal barbarian to a city brawler. From gladiators to soldiers. You can create Kobold, minotaurs (with a level adjustment), you can use monster race classes, custom classes, prestiege when your characters are ready, and you can start them off at level one (as feeble as a person gets, in that one good hit from a greatsword will drop you) to as high as you want (with level 10 being about the 'best of the best' for most people you meet). Gods are typically level 40, and any character at about level 20 starts to deal with the astral planes and different forms of reality.

There's just so much you CAN choose, so much story you can craft, and so many different playstyles that every character is it's own little novel in their own way. My current campaign's pantheon are essentially the characters me and my friends have hand crafted, played, and through story have CREATED themselves into gods.

 

Well, let's set some ground rules and only talk about one system at a time. When you say Dungeons and Dragons, are you referring to OD&D, AD&D, AD&D2, D&D3E, D&D3.5e, D&D4e, or D&DNext? I mean, a few commonalities exist between the systems, but they're all pretty different (with perhaps the exception of 3.5e, which was more of a really big content patch with lots of minor rule tweaks). Now, I do have experience with D&D, but only 3.5e, 4e, and (minimally) Next. For now, I'll assume you're talking about 3.5e, as it's the most popular edition of D&D, as far as I'm aware.

I'm referring to 3.5e. I have no familiarity with anything prior to that, and all I know about 4e are a handful of things you and Zen have mentioned.
 

First, let's discuss accessibility. I think you (and others) have a warped sense of the accessibility of D&D (specifically 3.5e) for two reasons: first, 3.5e is a system that highly rewards system mastery, and second, 3.5e is pretty old and a lot of players have been playing it for upwards of a decade. Together, this means that a new player might walk into the middle of a session and hear something like this:
 
Player: "...And for my standard action I'll start a grapple."
DM: "Okay, the monster gets an Attack of Opportunity."
Player: "Nope. I have the Improved Grapple feat."
DM: "Okay, roll your touch attack."
Player: "*rolls a d20* I rolled a 9, so my touch attack is 15. Does that hit?"
DM: "Yeah, that hits touch AC. Opposed grapple check now."
Player: "*rolls a d20* I rolled a 13, so my total is 23."
DM: "*rolls a d20* Did you include the size modifier on your check?"
Player: "No."
DM: "Okay. With size modifier, my opposed roll comes to 19. You are now grappling. Roll your unarmed damage."
Player: "*rolls a d3* Four damage. I'm making it lethal damage with Improved Unarmed Strike."
 
However, when a new player comes to play, this should not be their normal experience. 3.5e does have a lot of rules, but a new player doesn't need to know most of them. In fact, with a clearly marked character sheet, the only thing a new player really needs to know at the beginning of their first session is "When I ask you to roll a check, that means you need to roll a d20, and add a modifier from your sheet. If you don't know what modifier to add, just ask me. You add your die roll to your modifier, and that's your total result. I compare that to a number called a Difficulty Class/DC or a check that I roll myself. If you roll equal or higher, you succeed." Literally everything else can be learned through play organically. As long as your DM understands the system rules well, the players don't have to.

A player may only need to know how their character interacts with the game, and there's something to be said about having a system that takes time to master, but it can also be awkward when the majority of a session is combat (and the combat being had by your party members). Of course, I say this as someone who focuses on story and tries to avoid combat. (I still have terrible flashbacks of an hour and a half long battle in CoC where the players got themselves backed into a corner and failed to realize how incredibly ineffective their bullets were but insisted on shooting and shooting and shooting.)

as far as any particular player needed to know the system? I'd say no. I know enough of the rules that it's about every blue moon I look something up. And even then, D&D has a very explicit 'DM is god, and what he says goes' rule. If I say the dwarf is unable to grapple the Giant Bronze Dragon, The dwarf is unable to grapple the giant bronze dragon. I don't care WHAT your Grapple check is. Now, sometimes I'll let them roll it, cause if they get a 20 I might allow it for pure giggles factor, and if they get a 1 they can be broken into pieces (i have no qualms on murdering my PC's for stupid actions). And when a player KNOWS that the DM isn't afraid to kill them, you tend to get a lot more fun out of it, as both a player and a DM when your players start thinking about what they're doing, when they start playing better and better in character.
 

Now, what I will say, is that if a group of friends wants to get into a P&P RPG together, and none of them have any experience, then yeah, 3.5e can be pretty inaccessible (someone is going to have to read, or at least skim, through 100+ pages of material minimum, unless they want to stop play every five minutes to look up a rule). However, if you're playing under a DM who knows the rules well, it's not a problem.

Only 100+? How are you defining "have to read/skim"? (Though I suppose I'm forgetting that CoC's quickstart guide has only 20 pages or so.)

owch.... pages of rules huh? well. TL;DR on the rule book says 'what the DM says goes' so there's always that. However, I've found that you basically have to read the entire combat section and interaction section of D&D's DM handbook to have an idea of WHAT to look up. Personally, I've been doing it for long enough (at about my 3rd campaign I stopped having problems) that I can usually whip through combat ad interactions quickly. 
 

How long a character sheet takes to prepare depends on how much a DM sweats the details, and how complex of a class the player is playing. I could probably prepare a Level 1 Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, Monk, Paladin, or Rogue in 10 to 15 minutes (if I took the time to re-familiarize myself with 3.5e feats... I haven't played 3.5e in some time), if I wasn't being anal about equipment lists. The only base classes I excluded were the classes with spellcasting ability at level 1 (which would add a bunch of time to the process unless the player let me pick their spells for them, and I only considered base spells... but considering how spell choice forms the identity of the spellcasting classes, that's generally not a great idea).
 
If I were to guide a new player through the whole process of making their own sheet, it would probably take considerably longer (an hour is probably a good guess), because I'd have to teach them a lot of system math as they go along. If I make the sheet based on a description of their character, the player won't have to know that their strength modifier is added to their damage for one-handed weapons, but 1.5 times their strength modifier rounded down is added to their damage for two-handed weapons. They'll just need to know that when their big-hulking Barbarian attacks with his Greatsword, it does 2d6+6 damage, but their Warhammer only does 1d8+4 damage. Even then, I wouldn't teach them everything... just what they need to know to complete the sheet for their character (I wouldn't bother telling someone trying to make a sneaky thief about the strength damage rules... I would be telling them about using Weapon Finesse to add your Dexterity to attack rolls instead).
 
Of course, if a player shows an interest in learning the more nitty-gritty inner workings of the system, I would direct them to the proper resources and let them go to town. But if that stuff isn't fun for them, or if they're not willing to spend hours just to try out a game, it's easy for me to help them bypass all that.
 
Now, this isn't true of all systems. For instance, Shadowrun is definitely not accessible to the new player who's not all that interested in the systems behind the game. To highlight this, if someone told me they were starting a Shadowrun game right now, and let me throw together a character and hop in as soon as I was done, and I built the most basic character I could as quickly as I could, I would probably be ready to play in 30 to 45 minutes.

 I appreciate hearing the times.
 

as far as character creation goes: I can make just about any class, race, setting combination to around a 4 or 5 CR (challenge rating sometimes reffered to as ECL meaning an EFFECTIVE CLASS LEVEL OF) in less than 10 minutes. I could probably make a level one of anything standard in 5 if I don't care about a backstory. I usually hand craft my NPC's and my monster encounters and that doesn't usually take me more than 15 minutes for an entire level of a dungeon, but I also know what combinations of what monsters/classes/levels make whatever CR i'm looking for.

 

I feel like Rex would be a good one to talk about his first impressions of the Palladium games' system. That's the one we played a couple of months? ago at TABLE-con.
 
I personally really enjoy the system, though my experience remains solely within only a handful of GMs under whom I've played, one of which has been GMing for what, like, 20 some-odd years? Needless to say, my experience has always been in the end a positive one and fun to boot.
 
I've only ever created a character within Palladium on a couple of occasions as the majority of my experience has taken place in one-shot settings at conventions with pre-generated characters. It's not that difficult to do though, though I do find it rather time-consuming simply because there are SO many choices depending on what you're making, but as a general rule the books are pretty good about taking you step-by-step, especially if you've had other table-top experience.
 
One of my favorite things about Palladium is how simple it ends up being for someone sitting down who may have NEVER played a table-top before and how much everything made sense to me when I was told about it. Things like "SDC" (structural damage capacity), which is how much damage your skin itself can take before getting into your HP, where you're basically starting to bleed out, and things like having Skills where your character is trained in, say, Prowling, because they're a world-class thief. If you want to Prowl, you have to make a percent-die roll (a skill check) and if you roll under the number that you've been trained up to, you succeed and start prowling. If you fail, and fail with a high enough number, you may make a loud noise and alert who you were trying to prowl past.

The ease of play you're describing echoes my CoC experience.

That said, I've heard that the convention one-shot setting is very different from a dedicated play group. Everything I've heard about CoC in the convention setting, for example, is that difficulty is played pretty loosely with the expectation that several of the characters are going to be killed along the way. What was your experience, and do you have any idea how it varies from the dedicated group/campaign settings?

 

My personal experience with Palladium's system is that even long term, expect to lose your character. That might have just been my GM's (and my own personal) philosophy coming out, but I've ALWAYS thought that D&D and RIFTS was more fun if you didn't think you were invincible. 
 

Within the system there are several books I can name off the top of my head and I'll give the premise of each that I've actually played as briefly as possible.
 
Rifts - Giant...err...rifts in time and space opened up on Earth and let through giant (and some not-so-giant) interdimensional beings, making Earth a sort of highway between many different worlds. Most of the beings were hostile, of course, but there were a few good ones. It basically changed the entire planet into something that doesn't really resemble Earth as we know it today, but you can still see things like Dallas' giant highway crumbled and broken on the ground. One of the highlights of this particular genre is you can create pretty much anything you can imagine from an old west sharpshooter to a Jedi to a dog-humanoid to a flying mech or robot, ect. It sounds pretty lame when I put it so simply, but it really is a lot of fun. It's kind of a post-apocalyptic setting where the apocalypse was the opening of these rifts.
 
Beyond the Supernatural - This is the one I'm hooked on right now. It's like...Warehouse 13, honestly. You have psychics who take the form of healers or mediums or fire-wielders and end up facing anything from Lovecraftian horrors to ancient Aztec gods.
 
Superheroes Unlimited - I haven't played much of this one outside of a game-type that the GM I play with made up that he calls an "Origins" game where your character suddenly acquires superhuman abilities that they don't understand and you go through the (one-shot) game discovering your various abilities that he's pre-picked for you to end up having.
 
Splicers - Think Skynet. Humans created a computer to solve problems, computer in turns sees humans as the problem and splits into seven different personalities that each model their way of thinking after a "goddess" such as Kali or Gaia. Computer then releases nanobots into the air that causes 99% of humans to be unable to interact with metal without dying. So, humans retreat deeply into the earth and come across pools of what is basically primordial soup, end up stepping into said soup, and coming out with bio-armor that lets them fight back. You create characters based on the type of bio-armor your avatar received, unless you're a Techno-jacker, who is that 1% who can still interact with metal xD 
 
Dead Reign - Their version of the zombie apocalypse. Takes place like 6 months after the zombies came so everything's "settled-down." I really like how they handle the zombies, and it amuses me that the Dead Reign book is mostly written as if by someone from that society for someone who has no idea what's going on or who is who. After a couple of pages about speculation as to how the zombies came about: "In the end, though, it doesn't really matter. We don't know how or why the zombies are here. But they're here. And that's doesn't seem to be changing."

There's a handful of their books that I won't get into because, frankly, I've never played them. There's one called Robotech that I'm assuming is all about giant mechs. And they even have their own "fantasy" book which I'm thinking is akin to DnD.
 
Something else that's pretty cool is that since they're in the same system, these books are really all part of the same "Megaverse" in that you could have a character from the Superheroes Unlimited book get hopped over into Rifts and they would make the transition pretty easily.
 
I'll put the website here if anyone wants to peruse the books for funsies:
https://palladium-store.com/1001/SFNT.html

I really need to look into Rifts for the simple fact that it plays off my username. I also might want to look into Superheroes Unlimited: if I could find a pretty low-key game with superpowers, I could probably get into it. The main issue I take, and it's a problem with several systems, is that the expectation is that characters are going to go to god-level status. I tend to have a lot more fun with weaker or more human characters. (Er, human in the sense of being pretty vulnerable.)
 
I realize that several systems also accommodate this by including more powerful enemies later on. But I don't want my character to go from, say, X-Men character status to Superman status. (Yes, I realize I just compared the wrong two universes. But I always forget who the Marvel heavies are besides Hulk, and Hulk's never a good comparison point.)

 

RIFTS and Palladium in general from my experiences tend to be very good at difficulty scaling, much like I find D&D3.5e to be. I played one campaign based solely on the SHU settings and I don't think I ever felt it was broken. HOWEVER. That's the ONE SETTING. Palladium tends to be criticized for some of it's sourcebooks being WAY more OP than others. Certain RCC's (Racial character classes, i.e. being a dragon.) and certain OCC's (Occupational character classes's, i.e. the cyber knight) can be either underpowered, or over powered. Some class set ups are for SDC campaigns (meaning an average humans toughness, or normal steel armor and things like that) and others are for MDC campaigns (Mega-damage capacity, meaning supernatural creatures, giant mechs, and superheroes). Generally speaking any ONE setting is well balanced to itself, but mixing and matching can be really tough if you don't have a GM that knows each sourcebooks munchkin-type classes, and each books feeble-classes.

 

I've done a little bit of DnD, both GMing and playing and honestly now that I've played with the Palladium system I'm going to feel like everything else is too...complicated. Like the example Rex gave of the noob hearing that kind of stuff at the table, some of which went over MY head because I haven't played in so long, I don't really remember happening much the first time I passed by a table with Palladium games going on. It's more like:
 
"Okay, you know there are bad-guys right around that corner."
"I want to prowl."
"Roll for it."
*rolls dice*
"I made it! I want to prowl up as close as I can get to them and try to listen in on what they're saying."
 
Granted, the GM I play with is pretty theatrical in how he does games. He'll set the scene for you and then you run about (or amok) and he'll tell you what happens as you do so.
 
~~
 
I know Traj has a WW RPG book that he used as the basis for one of the WW/Mafia games he hosted on old SB, but I don't know if he's actually played it yet? Don't know the system with that one either.
 
I've heard about the White Wolf system. Mostly about how broken it is. Haven't had any personal experience. I have some friends that have played Aberrant and said its one of those games you only play once because you can just break the game so hard. As in, having a superpower that is "speed" and running around the earth so fast that you tear it in half... Have another friend who played Vampire: The Masquerade (actually beta-tested it I think?) who didn't find it fun because of the politicking involved and the amount of possible screwing with the people you're playing with (he's big into a team-effort. This is the GM I mentioned above, btw).

Does anyone have any good GM resources? I feel like I do an acceptable job of setting the scene, but I definitely have room for improvement.

 

Traj's book was either Werewolf: The Apocalypse or Werewolf: The Forsaken. I've read bits of the former (and tried playing their card game with Rex).

 

Oh, wait, that's White Wolf. x.x It's White Wolf I have some familiarity with, not World of Darkness... or... wait, is World of Darkness the setting? I can't remember.

 

 

Edit: Nearly forgot. Has anyone had any successful experiences with RPGs hosted in the forum setting? I've played two at GameFAQs (though the mechanics are very simple), and there have been a few attempts at D&D on Sparkbomb in the past. I had trouble getting my players to role play for the CoC scenario I tried hosting. Does anyone have any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

I feel like Rex would be a good one to talk about his first impressions of the Palladium games' system. That's the one we played a couple of months? ago at TABLE-con.
 
...
 
I've done a little bit of DnD, both GMing and playing and honestly now that I've played with the Palladium system I'm going to feel like everything else is too...complicated. Like the example Rex gave of the noob hearing that kind of stuff at the table, some of which went over MY head because I haven't played in so long, I don't really remember happening much the first time I passed by a table with Palladium games going on. It's more like:
 
"Okay, you know there are bad-guys right around that corner."
"I want to prowl."
"Roll for it."
*rolls dice*
"I made it! I want to prowl up as close as I can get to them and try to listen in on what they're saying."
 
Granted, the GM I play with is pretty theatrical in how he does games. He'll set the scene for you and then you run about (or amok) and he'll tell you what happens as you do so.

Honestly, it's hard for me to evaluate the system as I don't know very much about it. Sure, I played a short session with it, but it was with a pre-gen character and there simply wasn't time to cover the mechanics in any meaningful way. The main impression I got was that there were multiple core mechanics for conflict resolution (not a big fan of that concept), and the system didn't appear to have any aspects that overly appeal to me. I had a lot of fun playing, but I think that was more because the DM did an excellent job keeping everyone engaged and the concept as far as the setting and pre-gen characters were concerned was very interesting.
 
As for complexity, it seems that, mechanically, the Palladium system isn't much less complex than D&D. Based solely on the session I played, I spotted 1) a complex initiative system (similar to Shadowrun's, actually), 2) multiple mechanics for attack resolution that must be performed together, 3) an in-depth called shot system, 4) multiple health systems (partially handwaved within the session), and 5) a complex combat movement system which was entirely handwaved. It may have less situational rules than D&D (here's two pages on grappling in combat; here's a page on mounted comabt; etc.), but the core complexity doesn't seem any less. Also, I don't think a basic skill check is a fair comparison to grapple mechanics. The situation in D&D3.5e would be identical, except you'd be rolling Move Silently opposed by the enemies' Listen checks, instead of a roll-under Prowl check.

My biggest problem with Palladium is the rules. It's not that the system is any more complicated than D&D3.5, or that any of it's rules are more arbitrary, it's that it's nearly impossible to FIND all of the rules you need without reading A LOT A LOT A LOT of material. Their GM's book does a very POOR job explaining the vast majority of the system. And between the RIFTS and GM's book you still only have a semi basic grasp of it's combat systems and social interactions, which is something I feel is a lot easier with D&D3.5e.

 

 

 

 

Now, I will go on to mention, I have little interaction with D&D next, limited interaction with 4e (because I tried a few games and didn't like the more linear type character styles it attempted to force you into).

 

ALSO, I will mention the Mutants and Masterminds tends to have some fairly awesome character creation, game play, and non-super powered super heroes, being able to create anything from a bat-man-esque device using badass to a purely uncontrollable master of the arcane, to aliens, to x-men style characters, to super-man. The options there are probably the most open ended of anything I've had personal experience with.

As for shadowrun, I've only played it once, for a one sitting game, and as much as I liked it, have never pursued anything further, probably because of the sheer time I've spent with D&D3.5e and my eternal love for it's system.

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Does anyone have any good GM resources? I feel like I do an acceptable job of setting the scene, but I definitely have room for improvement.

I've perused over many a GM blog, but the one that has helped me the most (and handily is also pretty system agnostic) is The Angry DM. (Warning: The guy can be pretty foul-mouthed [although self-censored too, ironically], but he's also hilarious.) Basically, the must read series is called "Getting the Most Out of Your Skill System", and my favorite article in it is "Adjudicate Actions...". I highly recommend the read.

 

I swear you had me read through the "Adjudicate Actions" article at some point. But I still can't place when it would have been.

 

I hate the format of these things.... Sooo, I'm going to bold my replies inside the quote boxes because I'm lazy.

You have to hit the lightswitch button in the upper-left and mess with them manually. I'm hoping they give quotes an overhaul in IP.Board v4. That or we all need to get used to creating fresh quote boxes and just copy/pasting the text.

 

I find that creating a character in D&D3.5e can be tons of fun, in that there are so many backstories, personality quirks, playstyles, and entire world systems to choose. This is to say creating a character, even relatively cookie cut in style, is vastly differant when you compare the 'standard' world with that of Eberron or even the oriental adventures. Creating a human can be as complex as you want, choosing a city living theif to a wild rogue to a tribal barbarian to a city brawler. From gladiators to soldiers. You can create Kobold, minotaurs (with a level adjustment), you can use monster race classes, custom classes, prestiege when your characters are ready, and you can start them off at level one (as feeble as a person gets, in that one good hit from a greatsword will drop you) to as high as you want (with level 10 being about the 'best of the best' for most people you meet). Gods are typically level 40, and any character at about level 20 starts to deal with the astral planes and different forms of reality.

I'm starting to understand it now. Either the system can be inherently interesting or the world can be interesting and lend to it in that way. CoC is fairly linear in the sense that I've always approached it from the "create someone who fits into the 20s and is otherwise a mundane individual."

 

as far as any particular player needed to know the system? I'd say no. I know enough of the rules that it's about every blue moon I look something up. And even then, D&D has a very explicit 'DM is god, and what he says goes' rule. If I say the dwarf is unable to grapple the Giant Bronze Dragon, The dwarf is unable to grapple the giant bronze dragon. I don't care WHAT your Grapple check is. Now, sometimes I'll let them roll it, cause if they get a 20 I might allow it for pure giggles factor, and if they get a 1 they can be broken into pieces (i have no qualms on murdering my PC's for stupid actions). And when a player KNOWS that the DM isn't afraid to kill them, you tend to get a lot more fun out of it, as both a player and a DM when your players start thinking about what they're doing, when they start playing better and better in character.

I thought most games had that rule?

 

My personal experience with Palladium's system is that even long term, expect to lose your character. That might have just been my GM's (and my own personal) philosophy coming out, but I've ALWAYS thought that D&D and RIFTS was more fun if you didn't think you were invincible.

This is also true in CoC. I've never hit that point, as I've tended to be forgiving if my players aren't stupid, and I prefer a character to live out a fair amount of life before dying (to increase the emotional impact). Not to mention that insanity in CoC is as much a threat as death, so I want both to be an even possibility.

 

ALSO, I will mention the Mutants and Masterminds tends to have some fairly awesome character creation, game play, and non-super powered super heroes, being able to create anything from a bat-man-esque device using badass to a purely uncontrollable master of the arcane, to aliens, to x-men style characters, to super-man. The options there are probably the most open ended of anything I've had personal experience with.

I should look into MaM at some point.

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You have to hit the lightswitch button in the upper-left and mess with them manually. I'm hoping they give quotes an overhaul in IP.Board v4. That or we all need to get used to creating fresh quote boxes and just copy/pasting the text.

Oh. Well. This makes things so much easier.

 

I find that creating a character in D&D3.5e can be tons of fun, in that there are so many backstories, personality quirks, playstyles, and entire world systems to choose. This is to say creating a character, even relatively cookie cut in style, is vastly differant when you compare the 'standard' world with that of Eberron or even the oriental adventures. Creating a human can be as complex as you want, choosing a city living theif to a wild rogue to a tribal barbarian to a city brawler. From gladiators to soldiers. You can create Kobold, minotaurs (with a level adjustment), you can use monster race classes, custom classes, prestiege when your characters are ready, and you can start them off at level one (as feeble as a person gets, in that one good hit from a greatsword will drop you) to as high as you want (with level 10 being about the 'best of the best' for most people you meet). Gods are typically level 40, and any character at about level 20 starts to deal with the astral planes and different forms of reality.

I'm starting to understand it now. Either the system can be inherently interesting or the world can be interesting and lend to it in that way. CoC is fairly linear in the sense that I've always approached it from the "create someone who fits into the 20s and is otherwise a mundane individual."

 

Yeah, I guess that's it. I guess to me I feel that D&D3.5, RIFTS, and M&M all tend to lean towards a 'system of inherently interesting possibilities.' This is to say the sheer amount of customization lends itself toward creating a backstory that is in itself epic, and the sheer amount of backstory options is strengthened by having that amount of customization to do almost anything.

An example from my own personal repertoire: I set out to make a Bard. Why? Because as almost any D&D player knows: Bards are generally useless and boring to play. So why did I make a useless and boring character? Because I wanted to make one that defied that. And I did. Or at least I felt I did. So began the life of Krul. A very stereotypical name for a half-orc raised in the tribe-lands. But Krul was not a stereotypical Half-Orc. While he did indeed find battles to be thrilling, full of excitement, and were definitely his calling in life, he did not participate in the usual sense. Rather than mercilessly slaughter his foes, he took upon himself, from an early age mind you (since the age of maturity for Half-Orcs is quite startlingly only 14) to collect the bones of the fallen, and would use them to create war drums.

So, to keep this short, I made a half-orc Bard, that specialized in percussion instruments, fought using improvised weapons, and would eventually become a drunken master/bard multi-class. And he was not only a great deal of fun to play, he was a load of fun creating as I started to plan out what he was now, what I wanted him to become, what made him the way he is, fleshing out an entire personality, etc.

 

as far as any particular player needed to know the system? I'd say no. I know enough of the rules that it's about every blue moon I look something up. And even then, D&D has a very explicit 'DM is god, and what he says goes' rule. If I say the dwarf is unable to grapple the Giant Bronze Dragon, The dwarf is unable to grapple the giant bronze dragon. I don't care WHAT your Grapple check is. Now, sometimes I'll let them roll it, cause if they get a 20 I might allow it for pure giggles factor, and if they get a 1 they can be broken into pieces (i have no qualms on murdering my PC's for stupid actions). And when a player KNOWS that the DM isn't afraid to kill them, you tend to get a lot more fun out of it, as both a player and a DM when your players start thinking about what they're doing, when they start playing better and better in character.

I thought most games had that rule?

 

I'm fairly certain most mention it to some degree. But to quote my handy-dandy DM's guide: "When everyone gathers around the table to play the game, you're in charge... but it does mean you're the final arbiter of the rules within the game." Now this little paragraph says that you should, more often than not, have good reason to change it, and that consistent rulings are best but it also says that ANYTHING is changeable.

 

 

ALSO, I will mention the Mutants and Masterminds tends to have some fairly awesome character creation, game play, and non-super powered super heroes, being able to create anything from a bat-man-esque device using badass to a purely uncontrollable master of the arcane, to aliens, to x-men style characters, to super-man. The options there are probably the most open ended of anything I've had personal experience with.

I should look into MaM at some point.

 

I think it's a great game, lots of interesting campaign options and character builds. M&M is probably the one single game I have the most fun creating characters with. My last 'fun to build' character that I made for no reason other than to make him was a Guy who I don't even have a name for.

He's a stock broker, and a darn good one. He's a gambler, with an incredible win percentage. And he has superpowers, but he doesn't know it.

This is because he has Precognition, the ability to see the future, and the ability to inspire his allies, but he doesn't know that's what he's actually doing. All he knows is that if he has a 'good feeling about this' then 99.9% of the time, he's right. Similarly, bad feelings have a 99.9% chance of not going well. His inspire ability works when he has a 'good feeling' (as deemed by the GM) by giving the rest of his party bonuses to all rolls that they make, with a once per day reroll of any critical failures, and all enemies he faces a negative to rolls with a once/day reroll of any critical sucesses.

He's basically a walking luck machine. He just doesn't know that's what he's doing. Oh, and he's filthy rich so he's got all kinds of cool toys to fight crime with.

And honestly, that entire character concept was inspired by 'I've got a bad feeling about this..' said during a session one day.

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So, I just hosted the first Call of Cthulhu session I've ran in the past few years (since the one I tried hosting on Sparkbomb, actually). Oddly, despite the request to run it, the players seemed to have... mixed reactions. Kit, who had been asking for it for quite a while, was the least engaged. It may have been because he was tired the day of: I'm not sure. But despite spending a lot of time prepping his character, he kind of just defaulted to "Can I shoot it/him/applicable noun?" as his approach to... everything. Ward got into it pretty solid. Ward's roommate was playing a dilettante and seemed... largely disengaged except to make generic rich person jokes.

 

For someone who's main appeal to this is the role playing aspect, this was a bit disconcerting. How have some of you dealt with this issue? Is there a good way to encourage inexperienced role players to do more role playing?

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If you are unfamiliar with it, I recommend Fate Core.  Especially for inexperienced players.  Much of the character creation comes down to 5 phrases that describe the character--and most of the game mechanics are based around "I am this, so I'd like to do this."

 

In my experience, my D&D heavy group didn't quite take to it.  There was a tendency to expect automatic bonuses and such from things, and to ignore the ability to improve future situations in current situations.  And remarkably poor dice luck (all around the table) didn't help.  But I think for a relatively inexperienced group, it would be excellent.

 

That said, I've also heard (but not experienced) that horror settings are not very suitable for the system.  

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For those interested, Vampire: The Masquerade has several of their books available on Humble Bundle (at $1,$8, and $15 price points). Given my recent playthrough of Bloodlines, I was quite eager to jump on this (and am extremely happy about how much is included in this bundle).

I'm most of the way through the source book. It... drags a bit in places, and several of the chapters would do better in a different order. Most of all, a fair chunk of things just feels... wordy. On the other hand, the world of The Masquerade is downright fascinating to me, and it's one I'm hoping to find some friends and the time to jump into. I really like how story-driven it is, and the primary effort seems very much to be creating a setting rather than dictating a setting or gameplay.

Edited by Shattered Rift

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It's a mix, so we're using the new Chronicle of Darkness rules and splashing the other books. Everyone started out human, but everyone just got their supernatural template last session (for the most part). We're going to have a psychic human, two Mages, a Vampire, and me - I'm a Changeling. :D

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