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Author Topic: How would you explain our innate desire to modify RPG rules & mechanics?  (Read 1361 times)

Jam The MF

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It is a strong compulsion, indeed.

It seems we can't accept and run anything, straight up RAW.
I was Banned from RPG.net a long time ago, for Having Common Sense.

Eric Diaz

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I was just trying to write a post about this.

"Something strange about my head forces me to wonder how can people play B/X as written if plate armor costs 12 garlic.

(And I love B/X, but I loathe this adherence to RAW when they are obviously wrong).

Damn it, I'm Going To Build My Own B/X with Blackjack and Hookers, as the saying goes."

Anyway.

Must be because even our favorites are not perfect. Or some kind of OCD that prevents me form enjoying B/X's typos. This is from OSE:



My favorite version of D&D is B/X. I don't know why, really - probably the simplicity is a big part of it. But there are many things I dislike. It is a matter of taste - most of the time. But, sometimes, B/X feels like it could de fixed. For example:

- Saving throws are unnecessarily fiddly.
- Same for XP tables, a single one would suffice (with small adjustments).
- Race-as-class is unnecessary and limiting.
- Same for thief skills. 1d20+level (DC 15) simply works better.
- Fighters are too boring, relying too much on magic items.
- Weapons are terrible, like in 5e, some of them are useless or redundant.
- Encumbrance should be modified by Strength somehow.

Anyway... each of those is easy to fix. Fixing all of them at once would almost create a new game. And this game might be better than B/X - better than my favorite D&D.

But - not strictly compatible with my favorite game. Is this a problem? I'm not sure. I like using old school (and OSR) monster manuals, and adventures, etc. These minimal changes are not stopping me from doing that.

I think I pretty much found the perfect game for my group, but I'm not sure anyone else is interested. If I write something meant to be fully compatible with existing rules, it seems to be a lot more interest.

If I found my perfect D&D tomorrow I'd probably stop writing rules. And, TBH, sometimes I wish someone else would do it so I could stop thinking about it (although I still really like my own clone published in 2017). But I haven't found the perfect one. And even a game that "fixes" everything will "fix" some stuff that I didn't want fixed... Thus sending everyone into an unending quest for the perfect system...
« Last Edit: August 13, 2022, 06:58:52 PM by Eric Diaz »
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Wntrlnd

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Sometimes the rules for something is just really bad or complicated. And you just comes up with an idea that makes it smoother and smarter, so you use that instead.

Rob Necronomicon

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In order to have the perfect system once and for all... Not that it's really achievable. However, perhaps near perfect is more reasonable.  :)
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Jason Coplen

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Instead of cars we chose games to pull apart and recompile. Other than that I'm not thinking of any reason. Maybe we're never satisfied?
Running: RQ and Vampire.

Wisithir

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It is customizing a tool to better fill a need.

Eric Diaz

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To dive deeper, there are three things I can think of:

- Modifying a rule because I think I can do better.
- Adding a rule the system lacks (e.g., kite shields, feats, special rules for helmets, shields shall be splintered, shooting into melee, critical hits and critical failures).
- Removing a rule I dislike (I am having a hard time thinking of a good example, maybe the Replacing Equipment rule from SotDl or confirming crits in 3e, or maybe "elves are immune to ghoul paralysis" that is so fiddly and rare).
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Krugus

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I was just trying to write a post about this.

"Something strange about my head forces me to wonder how can people play B/X as written if plate armor costs 12 garlic.

(And I love B/X, but I loathe this adherence to RAW when they are obviously wrong).

Damn it, I'm Going To Build My Own B/X with Blackjack and Hookers, as the saying goes."

Anyway.

Must be because even our favorites are not perfect. Or some kind of OCD that prevents me form enjoying B/X's typos. This is from OSE:



My favorite version of D&D is B/X. I don't know why, really - probably the simplicity is a big part of it. But there are many things I dislike. It is a matter of taste - most of the time. But, sometimes, B/X feels like it could de fixed. For example:

- Saving throws are unnecessarily fiddly.
- Same for XP tables, a single one would suffice (with small adjustments).
- Race-as-class is unnecessary and limiting.
- Same for thief skills. 1d20+level (DC 15) simply works better.
- Fighters are too boring, relying too much on magic items.
- Weapons are terrible, like in 5e, some of them are useless or redundant.
- Encumbrance should be modified by Strength somehow.

Anyway... each of those is easy to fix. Fixing all of them at once would almost create a new game. And this game might be better than B/X - better than my favorite D&D.

But - not strictly compatible with my favorite game. Is this a problem? I'm not sure. I like using old school (and OSR) monster manuals, and adventures, etc. These minimal changes are not stopping me from doing that.

I think I pretty much found the perfect game for my group, but I'm not sure anyone else is interested. If I write something meant to be fully compatible with existing rules, it seems to be a lot more interest.

If I found my perfect D&D tomorrow I'd probably stop writing rules. And, TBH, sometimes I wish someone else would do it so I could stop thinking about it (although I still really like my own clone published in 2017). But I haven't found the perfect one. And even a game that "fixes" everything will "fix" some stuff that I didn't want fixed... Thus sending everyone into an unending quest for the perfect system...

Adding some of my coppers to this:
- Same for XP tables, a single one would suffice (with small adjustments).

Unified XP tables is easy enough use the basic fighter xp table and call it a day.

- Race-as-class is unnecessary and limiting.
True.  Pick a Race then a Class works just as well. 
Using B/X rules our house rules are if you go single class you can go to max level.   If you dual class, 480,000 xp is the max you can go (F/MU 11/10) and if you triple class then 200,000 xp is the limit (so a F/MU/T would be able to reach 8/8/9)

- Same for thief skills. 1d20+level (DC 15) simply works better.
Nearly any system is better than what the default is for the thief.
I've been contemplating a 2d6 method I've read about but that d20+ level (DC15) sounds like it would work.  Do any of the ability score modifiers get added to the roll? 

- Fighters are too boring, relying too much on magic items.
We've added combat talents (fighters get one at 1st, 5th and 10th whereas the other full martials like Paladins & Rangers only get one at 5th) and at THACO 14 Semi-Martials and Martials get a second attack and Martials at THACO 10 get a third attack.   Not as boring but still meh.

- Weapons are terrible, like in 5e, some of them are useless or redundant.
There are ways to make each weapon have a different impact on game play without having to add too many needless fiddly bits.  I've played quite a few TTRPG's and some did it well while others didn't:  PF2e added fiddly bits to the weapon traits, they are mostly meh except for some that work quite well.

- Encumbrance should be modified by Strength somehow.
That's easy.  +200 CN per +1 per Strength Modifier.   
This allows someone with a natural 18 Strength to carry 600cn extra but if you wear Gauntlets of Ogre Power it allows 1000cn (400 more cn) so you're still getting a nice boost on how much you can carry without rendering that item useless.
Common sense isn't common; if it were, everyone would have it.

Krugus

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I modify the Game Rules to fit my game world, not the other way around so yes, I'm always fiddling with game mechanic's. 

I'm always tinkering with something.
Common sense isn't common; if it were, everyone would have it.

Steven Mitchell

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My favorite version of D&D is B/X. I don't know why, really - probably the simplicity is a big part of it. But there are many things I dislike. It is a matter of taste - most of the time. But, sometimes, B/X feels like it could de fixed. For example:

- Saving throws are unnecessarily fiddly.
- Same for XP tables, a single one would suffice (with small adjustments).
- Race-as-class is unnecessary and limiting.
- Same for thief skills. 1d20+level (DC 15) simply works better.
- Fighters are too boring, relying too much on magic items.
- Weapons are terrible, like in 5e, some of them are useless or redundant.
- Encumbrance should be modified by Strength somehow.

Anyway... each of those is easy to fix. Fixing all of them at once would almost create a new game. And this game might be better than B/X - better than my favorite D&D.


Dang!  I addressed everything on your list with my design, except starting from the Rules Cyclopedia.  Only problem, is that I changed many  other things as well, making compatibility with B/X only so/so.

As to why we change things--there are all kinds of specific reasons, but mainly we do it because we can and because it is fun to do so. :D 

Any RPG is at least half do-it-yourself anyway, what with making adventures, custom monsters, custom magic items, etc.  The pool of GMs is already somewhat self-selected for tinkering.  If you are paying attention, you can't run a system for years and not start to have some idea of how and why it is put together the way it is.  It's only a small step from there to popping open the hood.

In my case, if I adjudicate the same way over and over, I'll eventually want a house rule.  If the house rule gets tweaked to the point that it is working well, I consider making it my go to on that thing.  If it chafes against the rest of the system, I want to find out why, and sometimes that is because something else in the system isn't quite perfect for my purposes.  (Sometimes it's because my house rule sucked, after all, but no one bats 1000.)  When you tinker, you learn from the successes and the failures--assuming your players will put up with it.  Like any other skill, sooner or later you get better at it, which then creates a positive feedback loop with all the things that prompted the tinkering in the first place. 

Furthermore, I like the rules to embody my setting, so that the natural language of the rules already half puts a player into the world.

Some people aren't wired this way.  Their focus is on the adventure, the campaign, the setting, or all three.  They'll only grudgingly change a rule if it become undeniable that the rule is interfering with their real interests.  When they change it, they'll change the minimum necessary.  Others jump from setting to setting so fast that there's no point in system tinkering.  Adjudicate and move on.

ForgottenF

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Re: How would you explain our innate desire to modify RPG rules & mechanics?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2022, 10:22:42 PM »
I mean, the whole roleplaying hobby started from a couple of nerds DIY-ing an existing game into a different one that appealed to them more. I'd argue it's intrinsic to the appeal of the hobby. If you don't want to build things for yourself, why not just play video games? And even then, the video-gaming scene is full of modders and DIY projects. It seems like gamers just like to make their own games.

Cat the Bounty Smuggler

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Re: How would you explain our innate desire to modify RPG rules & mechanics?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2022, 12:11:30 AM »
Because we're gross nerds who will never experience the elite level play only AD&D 1e RAW with 1:1 time and patron play can offer. #BroSR

More seriously, the desire to tinker. To match the rules to your personal vision, and get it just right. You have new ideas and want to see how they work. To see how far you can push things. To see if doing it some other way would be fun.

Jam The MF

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Re: How would you explain our innate desire to modify RPG rules & mechanics?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2022, 05:36:45 AM »
Instead of cars we chose games to pull apart and recompile. Other than that I'm not thinking of any reason. Maybe we're never satisfied?

Yes, we're never satisfied.  We look for things to not like.
I was Banned from RPG.net a long time ago, for Having Common Sense.

HappyDaze

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Re: How would you explain our innate desire to modify RPG rules & mechanics?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2022, 06:19:19 AM »
It is a strong compulsion, indeed.

It seems we can't accept and run anything, straight up RAW.
In my case, at least, it is learned behavior rather than anything innate. I always want to play a game RAW, and I only tolerate minimal changes (whether I'm thebGM or someone else is) before I drop something and move on to another game.

Eric Diaz

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Re: How would you explain our innate desire to modify RPG rules & mechanics?
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2022, 10:35:56 AM »
I was just trying to write a post about this.

"Something strange about my head forces me to wonder how can people play B/X as written if plate armor costs 12 garlic.

(And I love B/X, but I loathe this adherence to RAW when they are obviously wrong).

Damn it, I'm Going To Build My Own B/X with Blackjack and Hookers, as the saying goes."

Anyway.

Must be because even our favorites are not perfect. Or some kind of OCD that prevents me form enjoying B/X's typos. This is from OSE:



My favorite version of D&D is B/X. I don't know why, really - probably the simplicity is a big part of it. But there are many things I dislike. It is a matter of taste - most of the time. But, sometimes, B/X feels like it could de fixed. For example:

- Saving throws are unnecessarily fiddly.
- Same for XP tables, a single one would suffice (with small adjustments).
- Race-as-class is unnecessary and limiting.
- Same for thief skills. 1d20+level (DC 15) simply works better.
- Fighters are too boring, relying too much on magic items.
- Weapons are terrible, like in 5e, some of them are useless or redundant.
- Encumbrance should be modified by Strength somehow.

Anyway... each of those is easy to fix. Fixing all of them at once would almost create a new game. And this game might be better than B/X - better than my favorite D&D.

But - not strictly compatible with my favorite game. Is this a problem? I'm not sure. I like using old school (and OSR) monster manuals, and adventures, etc. These minimal changes are not stopping me from doing that.

I think I pretty much found the perfect game for my group, but I'm not sure anyone else is interested. If I write something meant to be fully compatible with existing rules, it seems to be a lot more interest.

If I found my perfect D&D tomorrow I'd probably stop writing rules. And, TBH, sometimes I wish someone else would do it so I could stop thinking about it (although I still really like my own clone published in 2017). But I haven't found the perfect one. And even a game that "fixes" everything will "fix" some stuff that I didn't want fixed... Thus sending everyone into an unending quest for the perfect system...

Adding some of my coppers to this:
- Same for XP tables, a single one would suffice (with small adjustments).

Unified XP tables is easy enough use the basic fighter xp table and call it a day.

- Race-as-class is unnecessary and limiting.
True.  Pick a Race then a Class works just as well. 
Using B/X rules our house rules are if you go single class you can go to max level.   If you dual class, 480,000 xp is the max you can go (F/MU 11/10) and if you triple class then 200,000 xp is the limit (so a F/MU/T would be able to reach 8/8/9)

- Same for thief skills. 1d20+level (DC 15) simply works better.
Nearly any system is better than what the default is for the thief.
I've been contemplating a 2d6 method I've read about but that d20+ level (DC15) sounds like it would work.  Do any of the ability score modifiers get added to the roll? 

- Fighters are too boring, relying too much on magic items.
We've added combat talents (fighters get one at 1st, 5th and 10th whereas the other full martials like Paladins & Rangers only get one at 5th) and at THACO 14 Semi-Martials and Martials get a second attack and Martials at THACO 10 get a third attack.   Not as boring but still meh.

- Weapons are terrible, like in 5e, some of them are useless or redundant.
There are ways to make each weapon have a different impact on game play without having to add too many needless fiddly bits.  I've played quite a few TTRPG's and some did it well while others didn't:  PF2e added fiddly bits to the weapon traits, they are mostly meh except for some that work quite well.

- Encumbrance should be modified by Strength somehow.
That's easy.  +200 CN per +1 per Strength Modifier.   
This allows someone with a natural 18 Strength to carry 600cn extra but if you wear Gauntlets of Ogre Power it allows 1000cn (400 more cn) so you're still getting a nice boost on how much you can carry without rendering that item useless.

Yup, all great ideas. I'm doing something similar, fixing the stuff I dislike in my own clone, Dark Fantasy Basic.

As for weapons, I published a system for 5e that I find better than 5e (yet 100% compatible) but less fiddly than PF2. Now I'm thinking of adapting it to B/X somehow. Although BFRPG has a free supplement that looks very well made (EE).

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/291160/5e-Manual-of-Arms-Weapons?src=hottest_filtered
https://www.basicfantasy.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=361


Chaos Factory Books  - Dark fantasy RPGs and more!

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