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Author Topic: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something  (Read 2659 times)

Premier

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2021, 09:21:26 PM »
5E is the pop music of roleplaying games.

Pop music is made by highly trained pop-music-making-professionals to appeal to the mathematically widest audience possible. Is it mediocre? Yes. Is it derivative? Yes. Is it unimaginative? Yes. Is it dime a dozen? You bet. But it appeals to the widest possible audience, and that's how the industry makes money.

Now, you like some other genre. Bluegrass, free jazz, power metal, industrial chiptune, whatever. You'd like to share your love of whatever with as many other people as possible. That's a perfectly fine desire. How do you go about it?

Going to a standard mainstream gaming store where most of the store games are 5E and putting up fliers for your game is like going to a pop festival and inviting random people to listen to this wicked music you've got. Keep doing it long enough and you'll convert some people. A few. More than zero, less than a lot. If you're serious about getting the word out and sharing the experience with others, you should certainly put some effort into it, but don't expect miracles.

Or you could go and share your demo discs with folks that haven't been brainwashed into liking pop yet. The guys who don't go to pop (or, quite possibly, any) music festivals. Friends. Neighbours. Co-workers. Kids. The guys at the gym. You'll get a lot more converts (to a certain value of "lot"), since you don't have to deprogram these people.
Obvious troll is obvious. RIP, Bill.

Shasarak

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #31 on: September 09, 2021, 09:35:37 PM »
I would seriously want to see the numbers between TSR's heyday and WotC, because from what I heard there was a difference of several magnitudes. I admit I could be wrong on this, but that's what I'd heard.

I would too. According to WOTC 5e is brining in the megabucks more than any other edition ever did.

But... I'd still like to see the actual differences between now and TSR's peak.

Not that I don't trust WOTC...

WotC 5e is so much more successful then any other edition but look at what we have to show for it.

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Squidi

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2021, 11:07:45 PM »
As in, "can they do it" or "will they do it"?  Two very different questions.  I'd say about half the players I know wouldn't play a new simple board game if they had to read the rules to do it.  If you sit down and explain it to them?  All over it.
I'm the designated rules guy in my circle. New game? They hand me the rulebook and wander off. "Let me know when you figure it out". It'd drive me nuts if I weren't going to do it anyway...

But the thing I rather like about RPGs (in general) is that the GM needs to know the rules, but by and large, the players don't. They can just ask, "I want to sneak around that guy and stab him in the butt. Can I do that?"

GM goes, "yeah, let's roll your sneak and compare it to their perception, carry the one, mercury is in retrograde, this is a year divisible by 4 but not 100, and... sure, you can do that. Roll that big die. Normally, you need a 12 to succeed but you have a broken foot, so you have a -2 to..."

"Nobody cares, I got a 17. Did I win?"

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The rules being written conversationally is an impediment for them.  How'd you like, say, a set of instructions on how to put together a large piece of furniture that were 4 or 5 times as long as necessary and had more artistic pictures than useful drawings?
I think there is an art to writing a good rulebook - an art that a lot of publishers haven't quite figured out. Like, the 5e D&D rules are pretty poor. There's relevant rules spread throughout multiple sections. Not to mention that the rules are split out over three core books, with the GM Guide being mostly optional, except for the ten pages or so that aren't. And I've always considered monster manuals a flawed concept that has rarely been done well. An alphabetical monster phonebook is an awful way to organize an adventure.

Rulebooks should tell a story of how to play. They should fill your imagination with use cases. When you read about downtime activities, you should have a picture in your head of a character coming back from adventuring, shopping at stores, crafting, watching puppet shows, or whatever. When you read through character creation, your brain should be exploding with character concepts you want to try. When you read "give your class stat a +4 modifier in box 12a", it doesn't really pop, you know?

I think the best RPG I've read was West End Games' Star Wars RPG. It's been years - decades - since I gave it a full read, but when I got rid of all my RPG stuff as a kid, that RPG (along with the Miniature Battles sourcebooks) is all I kept. I've dumped more recent Star Wars RPGs (Wizards' Saga edition sucked and FFG's has a fine system, but the books themselves suck), but I'll never get rid of my WEG one.

Mistwell

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2021, 01:10:47 AM »
Learning new rules is just not something we want to put time into. ... That's it - it's just adults not having sufficient time to be bothered with multiple rules sets...
Is it really that challenging to learn a new RPG's ruleset?

It's not challenge. It's TIME.

Learning new RPG rules takes time. Learning a rhythm for that game takes time. Learning to GM it takes time. Learning how to put together adventures for it takes time. Making your own accessories instead of just buying them takes time, Yes man, time is important to adults with busy lives.

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I've read a bunch of them in the past few months (multiple dozens of them), and outside of the paradigm split between PbtA and D&D style games (which I liken to iterative programming vs functional), there's really not that much of a difference between rulesets.

There is enough difference that it takes time to figure it out. Heck, if it didn't it wouldn't BE a different rules set!

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I know not everybody is a rulebook junkie like myself, and reading a rulebook might be considered work, but I think RPGs are so colloquially written and so light on actual rule interaction that I consider them light reading. Something like D&D is about 20 different really simple systems, almost none of them touching another and most them having an extremely similar analog in other RPGs. I'd much rather read an RPG rulebook than a CCG rulebook...

And I'd much rather spend time with my family, which is precious these days with a heavy work and commuting load, than read any rulebooks.

Mistwell

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #34 on: September 10, 2021, 01:15:20 AM »
I feel many people playing TTRPGS today are really just missing out on the boardgame they need. If you only have 2 hours to play and the rules are just an excuse to hang out, just get a light board game or play a drama game.

Im not saying TTRPGS need to be rules heavy, but if rules as a concept are a bother, no matter how well designed or light the rules are they will always be too much.

And 5e is in no fucking way rules lite.

Right, except all my game playing friends have already learned to play 5e but have not learned to play the new hotness of indie games. A new board game would take more time to learn than paying 5e which we've all already learned.

We don't need to spend any time anymore to learn any rules - we've already learned it, and we have digital tools with the rules snippet any time it comes up, and digital maps and encounters already pre-loaded in our digital table top tool to just immediately start playing. The DM has time to figure out HOW he wants to play the encounter and how it works with other encounters and whether he wants to add or subtract anything, and doesn't have to spend time on the rules for the encounter because it's already laid out with the rules stuff.

I mean this really is the honest answer for why indie games almost never become anything beyond niche interest for guys who like many different rules sets. Rules isn't the hobby for most players.

Squidi

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2021, 02:43:17 AM »
It's not challenge. It's TIME.

Learning new RPG rules takes time. Learning a rhythm for that game takes time. Learning to GM it takes time. Learning how to put together adventures for it takes time. Making your own accessories instead of just buying them takes time, Yes man, time is important to adults with busy lives.
But that TIME is part of the hobby. It part of why you here, doing this, instead of over there, doing that.

The argument actually reminds me of someone who was a miniature gamer - that hated miniatures. He hated assembling them, he hated painting them, he even hated buying them. He was perfectly happy to play a game of Warmachine with little cardboard circles that he cut out. And I asked him, "dude, why do you play miniature games? Wouldn't you prefer to play a video game or CCG or something?"

His response was just to shrug and say, "I dunno. I'm good at Warmachine, I guess."

I mean, I guess if he has fun playing the way he plays, that's his business. I was just reminded of that conversation for some reason.

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There is enough difference that it takes time to figure it out. Heck, if it didn't it wouldn't BE a different rules set!
I really don't think that it is as time consuming or challenging as you are making it out to be.

Reckall

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2021, 03:03:03 AM »
As in, "can they do it" or "will they do it"?  Two very different questions.  I'd say about half the players I know wouldn't play a new simple board game if they had to read the rules to do it.  If you sit down and explain it to them?  All over it.
I'm the designated rules guy in my circle. New game? They hand me the rulebook and wander off. "Let me know when you figure it out". It'd drive me nuts if I weren't going to do it anyway...

But the thing I rather like about RPGs (in general) is that the GM needs to know the rules, but by and large, the players don't. They can just ask, "I want to sneak around that guy and stab him in the butt. Can I do that?"

A player should at the very least know the rules needed to run his character. As Seth Skorkowsky said, "the minimum required is to be the DM of your character." As a long suffering GM myself, someone that asked "Do a Fortitude Check" only to see my players sink five years after we were playing D&D 3.5, I can only agree.

Then there is the "deer in the headlights" syndrome. I describe a situation, look up at my players, and they are all looking at me wide eyed, like if they are paralysed or something. No one, apparently, is able to say by themselves "I use 'History (local)' so see what I know of these events" or "This cop looks fishy (yes, they arrive at suspecting this), so I'll use 'Psychology..." (no, this doesn't happen). I had a Ranger who, literally, used tracking only when I asked her "Do you want to use tracking?"

Which is a pity, because knowing at least the basic rules makes you more engaged, the GM less stressed (and more able to focus on running the adventure) and, very often, capable of pulling out ideas and solutions that no one else, and the GM less that everyone else, would have imagined.

And I never understood the reasons of this mental block, as, with the same players, we play board games like Arkham Horror or Mage Knight that are much, much more complex, and we all learned the rules just fine.
For every idiot who denounces Ayn Rand as "intellectualism" there is an excellent DM who creates a "Bioshock" adventure.

palaeomerus

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2021, 05:06:23 AM »
I've never seen the RPG section at the FLGS (two of them which I frequented that remain) smaller than it is now. Same with the Half price Books. Either people bought everything up or stores are just ordering what the distributor recommends. I don't see anyone playing anything in the stores anymore but MtG, Warhammer/40K, and a few board games. I did see two guys with some X-Wing stuff but I'm not sure if they actually played a game or just squatted the table chatting.

I hear most of it went online but I wonder if it's not more that people watch shows about D&D on youtube and buy a few books and try to find a group and that's about it. Maybe a lot of people are ordering their stuff from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I don't know but this looks almost like where D&D was back in...82 when comic shops were uncommon and you had to go to the back of a Hobby Store behind the weird scale train stuff no one looked at and the pine box derby kits.

It's eerie to me seeing all the rpg's on two bookshelves and most of that being four or five games including Pathfinder, Starfinder and the FFG StarWars game, mainly the core books at that, and then a tiny spot with FATE and Call of Cthulhu stuffed in it.

Back in the D20 explosion they had 8 book cases of stuff. Yeah some of it was turned forward to show the cover but it covered a lot more footprint in a store than two book cases with four shelves each, bottom shelf.

I do think people like something with a lot of support and a lot of "help" that other people are talking about but it is hard to believe people pick up 5th faster than a B + X derivative. The good news is that for all the Osmond Family and Captain & Tennille fan clubs, some people shuffle off looking for something like the Tubes or the Cramps or Yes or Clannad or even Berlin. And you also get something more like KISS that is in the middle and seems nuts but it's kind of dumbed down or goofy wonders like Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. Now I'll grant you that role playing table top isn't analogous to music in its big heydey but maybe something will rub off from one thing to the other. Or not.
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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2021, 08:20:07 AM »
On learning games I will note this:  I think it is important to separate the reference part of game rules from the inspirational content and from the lists (e.g. big spell sections).  Different people interact with the games in different ways.

For my system play tests, I've paid a lot of attention to it, and even tried to design the game and game materials with an eye towards what I've seen work in the past with other games.  One thing I'm doing that seems to pay off a lot is I've broken the game down into small "booklets" that I'm currently printing as 2 page per standard sheet side, in those double-sided, fold it, booklet format.  More important, nearly every relevant, distinct thing you need to know is on no more than 2 of those "pages".  If it is 2 pages, they are facing pages, so that the booklet is open to that spot.  The only exceptions are a few lists broken down into categories, where at least the category fits that criteria. 

When we are playing and I'm asked a question, I give a booklet and page number.  Then the player looks that up.  If multiple players are interested, we may stop the game a couple of minutes for them to discuss. 

There were many cases in my first couple of drafts where this wasn't so.  In some cases, I simplified or even completely rewrote that part to fit within the 2 facing pages limit.  Invariably, it made the rules more clear to the point where even the players that hate all changes on principle (yet again something to learn/relearn) grudgingly admitted it was for the better.

Granted, I'm only now hitting the point where the incomplete rules go out to players to make characters unsupervised by me.  So we are in the early stages of testing.  Likewise, explaining your own game that you organized is far easier than explaining a game to a stranger only through the text.  So not sure how much this technique would help the GM or advanced players.  However, for casual players, I'm definitely seeing a faster climb up the learning curve than when I taught other systems in play--even with cheat sheets written up for those systems to do some of the same things.  Yes, this ties into the psychological bit about keeping about 7 things in your head, because keeping to those page limits encourages that or less.  However, I think it is more than that.  I think there is something to clean reference text where the things the players keep asking has an answer of a book and page number, which they then discover some very brief reading will answer. 

On the flip side, the things that are the most confusing and aren't working in this setup are cases where there is too much page flipping.  I've got a 1-page cheat sheet on the steps of character creation for that reason, but still not working as well as the other parts.  I didn't start out to do this as a permanent thing.  It was mainly to make it easier to push out updates without reprinting everything.  Plus, it's not the most efficient way to layout if you want a PDF read on screen.  Now, I'm thinking that the game goes into a more traditional format with the booklets as a more involved version of a game intro/cheat sheet.  You can play the whole basic game with the booklets.  Advanced stuff goes into a format easier to manage.  Or maybe not.  It is awfully handy at a crowded table that those booklets are small and light. 

Yes, the fact that I learned D&D from a boxed set with those booklets did influence this. :D

jeff37923

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2021, 08:22:39 AM »
It's not challenge. It's TIME.

It is also Organized Play.

An Organized Play group for a particular game played in FLGS locations can suck all of the available and potential Players out of the room. Particularly in the cases of DnD 5E's Adventurer's League and Paizo's Pathfinder Society, you have a group of people who are the Game Publisher's unpaid advertising arm that will passive-aggressively act to discourage the playing of anything except their Organized Play group's flagship game. The tactics used are very SJW - I've been labeled a homophobe, a racist, and a misogynist by leading members of Organized Play groups because I wanted to run either d6 Star Wars or Traveller in my home town at FLGS's and NOT either DnD 5E or Pathfinder 1E. That is some pretty high barriers to climb over just to engage in some public gaming.

Organized Play iis good for particular corporations in the industry, but is killing participation in the wider hobby.

Ghostmaker

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2021, 08:32:51 AM »
Back in the D20 explosion they had 8 book cases of stuff. Yeah some of it was turned forward to show the cover but it covered a lot more footprint in a store than two book cases with four shelves each, bottom shelf.
That might've been part of the problem. There was a HUGE glut of stuff for d20/3E, not all of it of good quality.

I am reminded of the crash of the video gaming industry in the 80's. The market was absolutely choked with 2600 cartridges, some of VERY dubious quality. And this was before the Internet, or even gaming magazines that could review material.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2021, 12:27:03 PM »
It's not challenge. It's TIME.
Then tabletop RPGS are one of the worst hobbies to play really if your in a ultra time crunch with no aptitude for any sort of rules or longterm management.
5e in play is pretty rules heavy (Time consuming) unless you just skim and ignore most of it. Which I assume most people do.

I mean good on you for prioritizing fmaily over a hobby, but it feels like you resent the hobby.

Greentongue

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #42 on: September 10, 2021, 01:26:51 PM »
"resent the hobby" may be a little harsh.
Resent that so many rules are required to work together with other players doing something that all of you like, sounds closer?

Trusting that players and GM are all trying to have shared fun without grabbing it all for themselves. 

Squidi

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #43 on: September 10, 2021, 01:48:48 PM »
I am reminded of the crash of the video gaming industry in the 80's. The market was absolutely choked with 2600 cartridges, some of VERY dubious quality. And this was before the Internet, or even gaming magazines that could review material.
I don't think this was the case for RPGs because a large, well stocked selection of stuff is usually representative of a healthy market. In the 2600's case, it was one publisher (Atari) supplying some of the worst games in existence at premium prices to an audience that got $2 a week allowance - but they were also competing against arcades and increasing home computer ownership. And I don't think RPGs really had a collector's market, like what crashed comic books and CCGs.

Most likely, RPGs went through a period of consolidation, where a few big publishers ultimately bought out smaller ones, only to ignore those properties in favor of their primary cash cows. I think the 90s were full of these kinds of acquisitions. Like, after getting TSR, how much of their non-D&D back catalog keep getting produced? Plus, Hasbro getting into it moved people from specialty shops to large chain bookstores, where only Wizards RPGs were primarily found.

Ghostmaker

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Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
« Reply #44 on: September 10, 2021, 02:13:07 PM »
I am reminded of the crash of the video gaming industry in the 80's. The market was absolutely choked with 2600 cartridges, some of VERY dubious quality. And this was before the Internet, or even gaming magazines that could review material.
I don't think this was the case for RPGs because a large, well stocked selection of stuff is usually representative of a healthy market. In the 2600's case, it was one publisher (Atari) supplying some of the worst games in existence at premium prices to an audience that got $2 a week allowance - but they were also competing against arcades and increasing home computer ownership. And I don't think RPGs really had a collector's market, like what crashed comic books and CCGs.

Most likely, RPGs went through a period of consolidation, where a few big publishers ultimately bought out smaller ones, only to ignore those properties in favor of their primary cash cows. I think the 90s were full of these kinds of acquisitions. Like, after getting TSR, how much of their non-D&D back catalog keep getting produced? Plus, Hasbro getting into it moved people from specialty shops to large chain bookstores, where only Wizards RPGs were primarily found.
Atari wasn't the only one supplying carts. Hell, Quaker Oats had a video game division at one point. I'm sure it wasn't very large, but still.

A lot of it had to do with Atari's declining quality (due to management arrogance and loss of talent because programmers wanted credit, and even royalties), but there were other players trying to take the field... a field that Atari then flooded with carts because they expected to grab 100% of the market.

That being said, yeah, the comparison isn't precisely accurate. RPG books can still be used even after a company goes toes up and buys the farm. But flooding the market does NOT do the suppliers any favors.