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Pen & Paper Roleplaying Central => Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion => Topic started by: Dropbear on September 08, 2021, 07:41:33 AM

Title: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Dropbear on September 08, 2021, 07:41:33 AM
I have noticed a greater reticence lately in gamers as a group outside of the forums I read through to discuss or play anything else besides D&D 5E. Hell, one of my favorite games of all time, Talislanta, is soon to attempt to make a resurgence with a new Kickstarter… my questions in the Fb group about possible changes to the system were met with silence for quite a while until I straight up asked the company who will be Kickstarting to please tell me that they were not producing a D&D 5E version of the game. And, of course, that’s exactly what it is to be.

So what is it exactly about 5E that is creating this slavish devotion? I have had the books and even run it several times since the Starter Set came out, but it’s not been the best game Rules set that I have encountered then or since, and it’s not something I want to play or run all the time and it’s not even easier or simpler than some of the games I have had more fun with running and playing.

How do you draw people into games you’d like to run that are not 5E?

I’m about to start running games for a gaming store that has told me I can run anything I want to. But then they counter that with a monthly D&D 5E game that everyone on staff is supposed to be a part of and run. So I’m interested in your answers to the second question mainly to ensure that I can draw some folks to playing other games, and am not locked into running 5E for every game I’m going in there to run.

Thanks!
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Steven Mitchell on September 08, 2021, 08:17:32 AM
Go slow with a plan.  Make sure when you pick a different game to run, have that first session or two be something that will show off how the system works well and pick an adventure/setting/events with the same thing in mind. 

A great deal of good gaming is the GM having a clue.  You want to run any 5E games you do as well as you can, because then people want to play in your game, whatever it is. 

However, the style of the game is also where you make your distinctions.  If you are running 5E games as part of a larger campaign with multiple GMs, then you need to conform to that setup.  If they are independent games, run them according to your style.  For me, that means all my 5E games were far more old school than the default 5E rules.  When you can, take advantage of the 5E DMG options to make those games more old school or whatever your style is. This will do two things:

1. It will acclimate some of the players at the store to this style, which will make it even easier to get them to follow you to another game.
2. It will naturally, without rancor, filter out gradually players who do not enjoy that style at all.  They were never going to easily transition to another game with you.

If everyone is in category 2, then the game store is probably a waste of your time.  If the store 5E games are part of a set style that isn't yours, then you need to be a little more careful.  You build up credit as a GM in players minds, then you sell the new game/style in the same pitch, as something different.  Just remember in this case that there is a fairly large chance that some of the players are honestly going to find it outside their tastes.

If you do all this and end up with only 1 or 2 players that like what you want to do, use them as the nucleus of a new group, maybe outside the store, and then recruit new players from acquaintances.  You might be surprised how easy it is to do this when you've ironed out some of the start up difficulties.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi on September 08, 2021, 10:57:53 AM
So what is it exactly about 5E that is creating this slavish devotion?
I call it the World of Warcraft effect - though I'm sure others have a better, more business-like name for it, that's when I first noticed it.

Basically, MMOs before WoW were a bunch of small productions by small teams, and they all went in many different directions. Stuff like ShadowLands was different from Horizons was different from Meridian 59 was different than Ultima Online was different from Everquest was different from Star Wars Galaxies. Then WoW gets released - it has polished all the rough edges out (and all the individuality), creating a mass market leader with high production values that requires none of the genre knowledge needed to succeed. Your first days in WoW went really well and you felt powerful and capable. Your first days in Everquest or Star Wars Galaxies were terrifying.

Because WoW got mass market, other MMOs found that they couldn't appease the crowd of players that just wanted WoW, but different. The subscription service meant that players couldn't afford to try all of them and why would they pay $15 a month for some game that isn't WoW when they are already paying $15 a month for WoW? Some MMOs failed, others changed almost everything about themselves to be more WoW-like (EQ2 and SWG being the more extreme examples). Then, within a year, basically, the entire industry homogenized.

The same thing appears to have happened with D&D 5E. It is a slick, polished product that makes new players feel powerful and capable (except when they get wiped by the goblins in the first encounter of Mines of Phandelver, but then they quickly learn that the GM should fudge game results). All their friends are playing it. Critical Role is playing it. The bookstore carries it when it doesn't carry anything else. And it also has a semi-subscription model of new game releases every month or so. D&D is the first game these players encounter, and they expect everything else to be like D&D.

So, how do you fight the mass market normie appeal of something like D&D? Well, you can't. Even if you create a more polished product that is more mass market, you are still dealing with an entrenched audience who isn't exactly looking to try new RPGs. This is why I doubt there will be a D&D 6e any time soon - it runs the risk of alienating the group of new players who've never had to suffer an edition change before (I have to buy Ravenloft again!?). But something like Pathfinder 2e feels a lot like Everquest 2 to WoW.

You can do what some companies are doing, and making their games more like D&D. Symbaroum, for example, just had a kickstarter to make 5e rules for their game world. If you haven't committed to a system yet, starting with 5e with open up your potential market a bit more. In either case, you'll probably struggle to get the audience you want for the same reason that you can't make a better D&D. Symbaroum's attempt won't amount to much because now it has created confusion in the marketplace. You can't just buy something with "Symbaroum" written on it and expect it to be compatible with another.

The other approach is to do your own thing. You can develop a passionate core of niche fans. You'll never get mainstream success like D&D, but something like Blades in the Dark can support a company. Plus, with stuff like Kickstarter, you can build on niche fans to do your marketing for you, as people walk in and go "What does Powered by the Apocalypse mean?" Another advantage is that you don't have to support the entire ecosystem yourself. You don't need to have special dice, maps and miniatures, videos on how to play RPGs, GM screens - a bunch of generic ones already exist to support D&D (and D&D has its own ecosystem there which does benefit new players greatly, much like Games Workshop's paints/tools/tutorials/terrain support all miniature games ultimately).

Long story short, D&D is like World of Warcraft, or I guess something like Warhammer 40k. It is an industry unto itself, rather than part of the larger roleplaying games industry. Its existence both benefits other RPGs, while also limiting their success greatly. But regardless, it is impossible to compete directly with it, and I personally think making 5e rules for one's game systems is the height of folly. It can't be defeated except through its own sheer incompetence (which Wizards is trying their best at).

So what can you, yourself, do to get other people to play non-D&D RPGs? Basically, you extoll the virtues of other games every chance you get. Yeah, people will roll their eyes when you show up, but some of those details about the game will get through and eventually they be curious enough to either try it out, or familiar enough that it becomes something they recognize in other games. Basically, "Have you accepted Forbidden Lands to be your lord and savior? Here's a pamphlet."
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Ka'arl Sorcerer of Cha'alt on September 08, 2021, 11:12:52 AM
There was the same thing when 4E came out and 3.5 and 3.0 and 2E.

The Companies that have owned D&D often foster this both directly and indirectly and many of it's gamers also pick it up.

Every edition is SO MUCH BETTER than whatever came before it. I mean really they have no choice. The Edition Wheel Drives the Sales. This is somewhat mitigated by hardback adventure path type books that sell very well but even then most players of the game do not purchase the adventures so the company NEEDS to churn out new editions.

If your old edition if just fine to keep playing you are much less likely to spend your hard earned Money on the new.

Now with the huge influx of new players you are just seeing this more pronounced than in the past but it's the exact same issue just with...more people. Now however with the charged social issues of the day they can add negative labels to the older games as well! Even better to keep the players on the wheel!
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: therealjcm on September 08, 2021, 01:34:48 PM
Not everyone who plays rpgs is a rules wonk who masters 10 new systems before breakfast. To such players a different system won't be viewed as a positive and may even be viewed as a negative.

If you want to sell players on something new it has to be the setting that catches their eye and you are going to have to do at least some handholding in character creation. Use templates or pre-gens if you can and let the players modify them slightly.

I've always been the guy in my gaming group pushing to try new games and new systems, and sometimes I just have to bow to the group and accept that they want to play 3.5e or pathfinder for a while. It seems like 5e is what is currently in that default game spot for many players.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: King Tyranno on September 08, 2021, 01:53:29 PM

The same thing appears to have happened with D&D 5E. It is a slick, polished product that makes new players feel powerful and capable (except when they get wiped by the goblins in the first encounter of Mines of Phandelver, but then they quickly learn that the GM should fudge game results).




Nope. Sorry. But no. If you as a GM feel you "have" to fudge dice in order for your group to enjoy something then you are wrong. If playing the game as intended is more punishing than ignoring the rules. Then the game is badly designed. Something has gone drastically wrong in the design of the splatbook or mentality of the GM. I've played adventures that weren't well designed and full of OP enemies. The option as a GM is to redesign those encounters or just throw that adventure away. You should never EVER be in a position where you have to fudge dice.

Then again this is one of the expectations of 5e at this point. You HAVE to make the players feel like they're in a power fantasy.  Sure you COULD run a hardcore 5e game. But most players just expect Critical Role style story gaming where the GM just dispenses quotes for the players "heckin epic story time." And just like when WoW ruined MMOs. It meant that other options like SWG were sabotaged. Because according to some you must eternally chase trends to make a profit.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi on September 08, 2021, 02:50:35 PM
Nope. Sorry. But no. If you as a GM feel you "have" to fudge dice in order for your group to enjoy something then you are wrong.
Generally speaking, I'm against the idea of "the wrong way to play". It's your game, do what you want. I play with kids, and fudging the dice is an easy way to keep them involved and not get them too frustrated after making less optimal moves. Mind you, they ARE children.

I do agree that D&D 5e is atrociously designed, but I also think that this is a large part of its success.

I was listening to this thing about William Shakespeare and the theater. The theater was not a high class place generally, and the first few rows (sitting in the dirt) was reserved for the poor and generally uncouth - the groundlings, they were called. They would bring rotten vegetables to throw at the actors if they didn't like what was going on... and they weren't exactly known for their patience. So Shakespeare learned, very early on, to always start with a bang. A sword fight. Witches. A ghost. Something to calm to peanut gallery up front.

I see D&D as having learned the same lesson. A new player can basically play without reading a single manual, and the GM can just say "roll the big die and if it is above 12, you win". They get the feeling of "yay, I slayed the goblin" without having to understand the mechanics of it all. Boiling all of roleplaying games to a single D20 roll was genius, as was the advantage/disadvantage mechanic. Not because it was good game design, but because it engaged the groundlings.
 
Quote
And just like when WoW ruined MMOs. It meant that other options like SWG were sabotaged.
I was watching a documentary on Sergio Leone, and it was talking about how the Italian movie industry was all about chasing trends. They did Last Days of Pompeii and a bunch of other swords and sandals flicks (Leone himself was assistant director on Ben Hur's chariot race), and then the bottom dropped out and the entire industry was in dire trouble - until Leone did the spaghetti western... which they then all copied.

I guess my point is, this isn't a trend. It is just the way of things, going back over a century. It has a purpose. After all, RPGs wouldn't be a genre if a bunch of people didn't want to make their own version of D&D...
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Ghostmaker on September 08, 2021, 03:24:56 PM
It's worth contemplating that up until WotC bought TSR, most TTRPG designers weren't backed by a shitpot of money.

Seriously. Love it or hate it but Magic the Gathering was basically 'money machine go brrrr' for WotC. And that was BEFORE Hasbro. So suddenly one of the chimpanzees in the room is now ... well, I wouldn't say 800-lb gorilla. But he's quite a bit bigger than he used to be.

You have to wonder what the knock-on effects might be.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Jaeger on September 08, 2021, 05:21:36 PM
It's worth contemplating that up until WotC bought TSR, most TTRPG designers weren't backed by a shitpot of money.

Seriously. Love it or hate it but Magic the Gathering was basically 'money machine go brrrr' for WotC. And that was BEFORE Hasbro. So suddenly one of the chimpanzees in the room is now ... well, I wouldn't say 800-lb gorilla. But he's quite a bit bigger than he used to be.

You have to wonder what the knock-on effects might be.

TSR did BIG heap piles of cash back in the day.

Both Gary and Arneson (even after he was initially screwed over) made millions off of their royalties in the early eighties.

But both of them and TSR eventually mis-managed themselves into the poorhouse.

TSR was bought out by WOTC... Now all owned by Hasbro.

The Knock-on effects:

D&D is shielded more than ever from bad financial decisions by the magic and Hasbro bankroll.

4e is a great example of this. 5e was a blistering turn around when it became apparent 4e was being outsold by a clone.

And they were able to bankroll the design, promotion, and rollout of 5e as if no financial consequences were felt...

Naturally at the department level, heads rolled and restrictions were put in place. But from the outside you couldn't tell that WOTC had to recover from getting their asses kicked by a clone.

That's a big deal.

"Market leader" status in RPG's is HUGE.  They are much like MMO's in that respect.

Yes in a few countries D&D is not the #1 RPG. But those conditions are very hard to replicate in the US.

While there will be localized consequences for WOTC if D&D is mis-managed: ultimately Hasbro can bail D&D out each and every time with a quick turn around to new edition for the pack to run home to.

D&D has gone from the 800lb. Gorilla to the 80,000lb. Gorilla of the hobby.

WOTC would have to really alienate the fan base on a epic level to have a competitor take the #1 spot from them on a permanent basis.


EDIT:

A rather interesting "what if":
Baizuo admitted they did nothing to fix the underlying math issues of 3.5 when they released Pathfinder. (It was literally an employee's polished up house rules.)

But what if they did? What if they did that, got rid of the ivory tower design ethos, and went to a more streamlined 5e level of medium crunch (with a bit more charop choice).

If the first Pathfinder RPG occupied the same design space as the IRL 5e now does - where would WOTC have gone with an alternate 5e?

If I recall correctly from one of Pundits video's Mearls had to Fight within his own design team to reduce the complexity of 5e. What if he couldn't push that agenda because PF was already there? Would Fans have migrated to a more complex D&D they way they did IRL to actual 5e?

If Baizuo had gambled bigger design wise, they might have shaken up the RPG landscape more...
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on September 08, 2021, 05:28:52 PM
Its babies first roleplaying game. Its close enough to what feels like D&D to appease the Grognard and draw the people interested in D&D, while not being actually dangerous, nor having meaningful character making decisions, but giving it more then OD&D so it FEELS like your making unique characters.

When its this inbetween of marketting and accessibility, it being shallow matters the least. And shallow, accessible, and markettable warps the market massively.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Trond on September 08, 2021, 05:48:38 PM
I think it's just the name D&D. I never quite understood it beyond the groundbreaking first edition.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Marcelus14 on September 08, 2021, 06:12:05 PM
Well. D&D has a huge following with disposable income. I would imagine part of the reason so many are switching to 5e versions isn’t about loving 5e but more about “buying in” so they can make the money they need to continue to develop games. The marketing work was done years ago by Gygax and now with the open game license we can all have a built in audience.

How to get others to play something else? I think adventure zone season 1 has a good example of this: put in another game as part of the 5e story. So here is everyone getting hooked on your 5e game and then you say “hey it’s a flash back sequence that will drive the story, but we are gonna use this fun and easy to learn system to do that portion”. Your players are already hooked so they stick around and get exposed to a new system for a bit. Go back to 5e afterwards and finish up your game and I bet people go from “d&d 5e is the greatest system known to man” to “you know, it was awesome that the other game let my horse actually kick something when I was mounted”.

Or whatever. Main point I’m trying to make is give them a taste of something new, go back to the familiar, and watch the illusion start to fall apart.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi on September 08, 2021, 07:04:33 PM
Or whatever. Main point I’m trying to make is give them a taste of something new, go back to the familiar, and watch the illusion start to fall apart.
Well, there's a lot of little ways to make people aware of non-D&D stuff. For instance, I bought Symbaroum entirely because the art is fantastic. I've bought other stuff in the past because it was based on specific properties (like Star Wars Saga Edition or going even further back, TMNT). OSR is kind of its own marketing for players who desire something like that.

But the problem is, siphoning off players three or four at a time won't do much. As long as D&D doesn't completely poop the bed or there isn't a major disruptive product (like CCGs), you aren't going to get a mass migration to a variety of systems.

I've argued that the best time to be a miniature gamer was when Games Workshop was pooping the bed. A large part of the audience went to Warmachine, which thrived, but a bunch of smaller games like Infinity, Malifaux, Frostgrave, and X-Wing really got a chance to grow and find an audience. Once GW got their act together, Warmachine was all but abandoned and the other small games stopped growing. But now GW is being jerks again, so maybe we'll see a resurgence again.

I'm not as in tune with RPG history, but I seem to remember the 80s and 90s being dominated by non-D&D (like Palladium Books or West End Games), or something like Magic the Gathering or Mage Knights being far more popular. Someone who is more familiar with RPG history will have to tell me if the times with the most variety coincided with the times when D&D was most troubled...
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: jhkim on September 08, 2021, 07:22:00 PM
I'm not as in tune with RPG history, but I seem to remember the 80s and 90s being dominated by non-D&D (like Palladium Books or West End Games), or something like Magic the Gathering or Mage Knights being far more popular. Someone who is more familiar with RPG history will have to tell me if the times with the most variety coincided with the times when D&D was most troubled...

I've followed RPG history pretty well. (I have an old website at https://darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/encyclopedia/ ).

D&D has always been the market leader. However, relatively speaking, it's true that there is more variety when D&D is troubled. The times when D&D is doing well, you get a lot of D&D imitator systems -- like during the D20 boom of the early 2000s or in the late 1970s. The times when D&D is doing poorly, there is a greater variety of other systems. The 1980s saw D&D shrink and a wide variety of other games came out - like GURPS, Call of Cthulhu, etc. The 1990s saw a lot of systems that imitated Vampire: The Masquerade and less variety. There are tons of exceptions, of course, but that seems like the broad trend to me.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Jaeger on September 08, 2021, 07:28:25 PM
Well. D&D has a huge following with disposable income. I would imagine part of the reason so many are switching to 5e versions isn’t about loving 5e but more about “buying in” so they can make the money they need to continue to develop games. The marketing work was done years ago by Gygax and now with the open game license we can all have a built in audience....

In addition to the other stuff I wrote - The network effect of the market leader forms a very strong feedback loop.

5e's massive popularity is actually quite crushing to the point that moving your game system to "5e compatible" is really the only way to get some people to so much as take a look at it.

Unless you own the RPG IP rights for: Lord of the Rings, Conan, or Star Wars; Nobody cares about your house game system.


...
I'm not as in tune with RPG history, but I seem to remember the 80s and 90s being dominated by non-D&D (like Palladium Books or West End Games), or something like Magic the Gathering or Mage Knights being far more popular. Someone who is more familiar with RPG history will have to tell me if the times with the most variety coincided with the times when D&D was most troubled...

D&D has Always been #1 a strong in the US.

The two sole exceptions had mitigating circumstances:

In the 90's vampire was briefly number on at AD&D2e's lowest point when it literally went out of print. The only time "official D&D" was beaten on merit, was with Pathfinder... A D&D clone! And the second WOTC gave people an excuse to come back to "official D&D" with 5e, Pathfinder got dropped like a hot potato...

If there had been no Pathfinder, 4e D&D would have stayed a solid #1.

But your impressions of the late 80's through the 90's until 3e in 2000 are not entirely off base.

There was much more system diversity, and willingness to try new games in the hobby as a whole. The space between D&D and everyone else was not quite so vast, and you could walk into a game shop and alongside D&D see tons of other games, with different systems!

But the post 2000 d20 OGL was a huge game changer for a lot of reasons, which has ultimately led to 5e's utter smashing of anything not D&D in the US.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Aglondir on September 08, 2021, 08:42:32 PM
I've followed RPG history pretty well. (I have an old website at https://darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/encyclopedia/ ).
Thanks for that, btw. It's an excellent resource. I've been using it for years.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Ghostmaker on September 08, 2021, 10:27:55 PM
It's worth contemplating that up until WotC bought TSR, most TTRPG designers weren't backed by a shitpot of money.

Seriously. Love it or hate it but Magic the Gathering was basically 'money machine go brrrr' for WotC. And that was BEFORE Hasbro. So suddenly one of the chimpanzees in the room is now ... well, I wouldn't say 800-lb gorilla. But he's quite a bit bigger than he used to be.

You have to wonder what the knock-on effects might be.

TSR did BIG heap piles of cash back in the day.

Both Gary and Arneson (even after he was initially screwed over) made millions off of their royalties in the early eighties.

But both of them and TSR eventually mis-managed themselves into the poorhouse.

TSR was bought out by WOTC... Now all owned by Hasbro.

The Knock-on effects:

D&D is shielded more than ever from bad financial decisions by the magic and Hasbro bankroll.

4e is a great example of this. 5e was a blistering turn around when it became apparent 4e was being outsold by a clone.

And they were able to bankroll the design, promotion, and rollout of 5e as if no financial consequences were felt...

Naturally at the department level, heads rolled and restrictions were put in place. But from the outside you couldn't tell that WOTC had to recover from getting their asses kicked by a clone.

That's a big deal.

"Market leader" status in RPG's is HUGE.  They are much like MMO's in that respect.

Yes in a few countries D&D is not the #1 RPG. But those conditions are very hard to replicate in the US.

While there will be localized consequences for WOTC if D&D is mis-managed: ultimately Hasbro can bail D&D out each and every time with a quick turn around to new edition for the pack to run home to.

D&D has gone from the 800lb. Gorilla to the 80,000lb. Gorilla of the hobby.

WOTC would have to really alienate the fan base on a epic level to have a competitor take the #1 spot from them on a permanent basis.


EDIT:

A rather interesting "what if":
Baizuo admitted they did nothing to fix the underlying math issues of 3.5 when they released Pathfinder. (It was literally an employee's polished up house rules.)

But what if they did? What if they did that, got rid of the ivory tower design ethos, and went to a more streamlined 5e level of medium crunch (with a bit more charop choice).

If the first Pathfinder RPG occupied the same design space as the IRL 5e now does - where would WOTC have gone with an alternate 5e?

If I recall correctly from one of Pundits video's Mearls had to Fight within his own design team to reduce the complexity of 5e. What if he couldn't push that agenda because PF was already there? Would Fans have migrated to a more complex D&D they way they did IRL to actual 5e?

If Baizuo had gambled bigger design wise, they might have shaken up the RPG landscape more...
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.

But you're NOT wrong about money being an insulator. This is similar to what has been happening in the film industry; shitty leftard crap gets released, but it's propped up by blockbusters.

I am unsurprised that PF was someone's house rules. To this day, though, I am still astonished they didn't go out of their way to try and fix the gaping divide that existed between martials and casters (especially the problems with fighters and monks). Because holy fucking shit Paizo, you had to get all the way to Unchained just to get a decent monk build!

Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Eric Diaz on September 09, 2021, 10:55:50 AM
It's the Matthew effect in action. Not Matt Mercer, I mean Matthew the apostle.

D&D is popular because its popular. It is what everyone is talking about. Coca-Cola might be shit but you'll find it in any restaurant.

There are better games out there, but 5e is a decent enough game (one of the best versions of D&D IMO) to keep the brand's popularity. 4e managed to alienate enough D&D fans that some jumped ship to Pathfinder - which was really a version of D&D 3e. But other than that, D&D is the biggest game in town and that's it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_effect

Selling people on other games? It is not difficult, even if they only know D&D. "So, we are playing shadow of the Demon Lord, which is a darker version of D&D with simpler rules", etc.

EDIT: BTW, 5e looks GREAT most of the time, and you can sell 5e-comaptible products, and they'll me more popular than the 13th Age version, etc. The Matthew effect again.

EDIT: well, come to think of it, Matt Mercer might ALSO have something to do with 5e's popularity...
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Jaeger on September 09, 2021, 05:58:12 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...


But you're NOT wrong about money being an insulator. This is similar to what has been happening in the film industry; shitty leftard crap gets released, but it's propped up by blockbusters.

Yup, big insulator. Gives them a huge advantage for maintaining their market leader status.

Magic money alone would give WOTC this advantage even if they were no longer part of Hasbro. But being part of Hasbro makes it worse - as now WOTC could even screw up Magic and still get a bail out for D&D.


I am unsurprised that PF was someone's house rules. To this day, though, I am still astonished they didn't go out of their way to try and fix the gaping divide that existed between martials and casters (especially the problems with fighters and monks). Because holy fucking shit Paizo, you had to get all the way to Unchained just to get a decent monk build!

I think that they took the path of least resistance. It was something that they could just layer on top of the OGL...

They essentially doubled down on what the 3.x diehards liked about the system, and it was good enough to beat on the red headed stepchild that was 4e.

A true 3.x fix would have required them to re-write the feats, magic, creatures, and re-imagine the core assumptions of the game from the ground up. OGL as a chassis - but essentially an entirely re-written game. - A much bigger risk for Baizuo...

It's not like people didn't know the fail points of 3.x back then or how they could be fixed. But WOTC certainly wasn't going to do it. And I honestly think Baizuo just didn't have the skills.


...
There are better games out there, but 5e is a decent enough game (one of the best versions of D&D IMO) to keep the brand's popularity. 4e managed to alienate enough D&D fans that some jumped ship to Pathfinder - which was really a version of D&D 3e. But other than that, D&D is the biggest game in town and that's it.
...

And for the market leader that is really all that is needed.

Honestly D&D has never been the "best designed game". But it did get certain things right straight out of the gate. And only really screwed the pooch on those with 4e.

Otherwise D&D's entire legacy has been built on the following equation:

Good Enough + Market Leader = No can Defend.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Mistwell on September 09, 2021, 06:14:37 PM
I have noticed a greater reticence lately in gamers as a group outside of the forums I read through to discuss or play anything else besides D&D 5E. Hell, one of my favorite games of all time, Talislanta, is soon to attempt to make a resurgence with a new Kickstarter… my questions in the Fb group about possible changes to the system were met with silence for quite a while until I straight up asked the company who will be Kickstarting to please tell me that they were not producing a D&D 5E version of the game. And, of course, that’s exactly what it is to be.

So what is it exactly about 5E that is creating this slavish devotion? I have had the books and even run it several times since the Starter Set came out, but it’s not been the best game Rules set that I have encountered then or since, and it’s not something I want to play or run all the time and it’s not even easier or simpler than some of the games I have had more fun with running and playing.

How do you draw people into games you’d like to run that are not 5E?

I’m about to start running games for a gaming store that has told me I can run anything I want to. But then they counter that with a monthly D&D 5E game that everyone on staff is supposed to be a part of and run. So I’m interested in your answers to the second question mainly to ensure that I can draw some folks to playing other games, and am not locked into running 5E for every game I’m going in there to run.

Thanks!

It's not slavish devotion. It's just time and convenience. We all know how to play 5e. We only have about 2.5 hours a week to play right now. Learning new rules is just not something we want to put time into. Our DM is also DMing 3 games each week right now, so he prefers to use pre-published adventures which have complete data sets for Roll20 pre-programmed for him so he needs to spend less time on that part of prep as well. That's it - it's just adults not having sufficient time to be bothered with multiple rules sets and DMs not having time to dicker with adventures which don't have existing accessories out there in a decent format for them to use.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi on September 09, 2021, 06:46:50 PM
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? 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.

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...
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Trond on September 09, 2021, 06:56:40 PM
PbtA?
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi on September 09, 2021, 07:02:28 PM
PbtA?
Powered by the Apocalypse. Rather than modeling a simulation (my character is this strong, he swings this hard), it has rules which model a narrative (characters should face a crisis of conscience, throw an obstacle in their way).
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on September 09, 2021, 07:03:27 PM
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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi on September 09, 2021, 07:20:24 PM
And 5e is in no fucking way rules lite.
Not rules lite, light reading. Reading an RPG is often like reading a novel mixed with a strategy guide. It's a rather pleasant experience compared to, like, a CCG rulebook from the 90s or a board game with a dozen sets of cards and 400 different tokens, none of which are ever mentioned in the rulebook.

And yeah, 5e has tons of rules - almost all of them poorly designed and incompetent. You'll get stuff that is oddly specific, like how much head room you need for making a particular jump, or how difficult it is to row a boat upstream, and then you'll get rules that are so vague and useless that you can hear the writers going, "I don't know, I'm not a wizard, you figure it out."
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on September 09, 2021, 07:28:24 PM
Not rules lite, light reading.

I meant that people talk about 5e being rules lighter as a reason as to why they go to it. While I may HATE it, if your looking for borderline excuse rules get FATE.
And yes I agree with you on all points about 5e. It is by far my least favorite edition of all of D&D. I call it the least ambitious edition of D&D.
If it wasn't for its quadruple tap rule, newbies would hate it.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: S'mon on September 09, 2021, 07:46:13 PM
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.

But then how would we immerse ourselves in the experience of inhabiting a fantasy world?!  :o
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Theory of Games on September 09, 2021, 07:53:10 PM
5E is popular. It's drawing new gamers into D&D. Get over it.

Is it real D&D? No. Gygax said it isn't. But is it what people believe what D&D is?

Yes.

Let them believe that. It just draws players to your game, which might not be WoTC D&D.

Make your D&D game what you want it to be. I use the D&D Rules Cyclopedia and my new players

who want to play 5E end up playing OSR and enjoy it.

Set-Up is everything.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Steven Mitchell on September 09, 2021, 07:53:45 PM
Is it really that challenging to learn a new RPG's ruleset? 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.

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...

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. 

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?  That's the way they feel about RPG rules--it's a chore to get through as quickly as possible in order to get to playing. 

This is yet another way in which Toon is a great game.  It's a light system, true, but it also doesn't monkey around in telling you how to play.  Well, being Toon is does sort of animated monkey around, but that's because of the subject matter.  It's very direct.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on September 09, 2021, 08:07:41 PM
5E is popular. It's drawing new gamers into D&D. Get over it.

Getting new people by being worse means getting more people into a worse thing. Im over it, still makes it true.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Premier 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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shasarak 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.

Hasbro execs get their second gold bath tub and DnD gets to go to the Prom.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi 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?"

Quote
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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Mistwell 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.

Quote
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!

Quote
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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Mistwell 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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi 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.

Quote
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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Reckall 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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: palaeomerus 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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Steven Mitchell 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
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: jeff37923 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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Ghostmaker 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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shrieking Banshee 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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Greentongue 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. 
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi 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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Ghostmaker 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.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: jeff37923 on September 10, 2021, 03:30:43 PM
Something to consider is the current secondary market.

Classic Traveller had its last associated game module published in 1986, then went fallow for decades. Starting in 2000 and going to 2003, the Classic Traveller reprints were sold. Then starting in 2006, the entire Classic Traveller back catalog started coming out on CD-ROM. The PDF of The Traveller Book came out on DriveThru RPG in 2014 with an option for Print On Demand.


Yes, anyone can produce an RPG and make some quick cash. NOT everyone can create a RPG that has lasted and is still profitable for the IP holder after 44 years (since Classic Traveller first appeared in 1977).

Part of the ongoing monetary influx from older games is that we have the technology and communications infrastructure now to keep selling those games to people who enjoy them.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi on September 10, 2021, 03:56:48 PM
But flooding the market does NOT do the suppliers any favors.
I used to work at Activision as a programmer on a Tony Hawk clone. I know all about flooding the market with low quality product. I still flog myself daily in repentance of my crimes against humanity.

However, going into a store an getting to choose from D&D, Star Wars, Marvel, Champions, 7th Sea, Traveller, Torg, Deadlands, TMNT, Rifts, Vampire the Masquerade, GURPS, Legend of the Five Rings, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, Toon, Paranoia, Call of Cthulhu, and so on is not the same thing as flooding the market with too many Guitar Hero releases. Especially when you consider that almost every one that I listed is still in existence today, actively being published (often at a lower standard). How can the heyday of these memorable properties be "flooding the market"?

I think if you look at a list of RPG releases over the years, you'll probably notice the memorable ones starting to go from gushing to trickle in the late 90s, with probably the mid 2010s being when you can start counting them on one hand. Since I think 2013 is roughly when the world culture collapse started, I'd probably look at that year (plus or minus one) for some particular catalyst harming the market variety... hey, what year was D&D 5e released?
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Trond on September 10, 2021, 04:51:19 PM
I'm not as in tune with RPG history, but I seem to remember the 80s and 90s being dominated by non-D&D (like Palladium Books or West End Games), or something like Magic the Gathering or Mage Knights being far more popular. Someone who is more familiar with RPG history will have to tell me if the times with the most variety coincided with the times when D&D was most troubled...

I've followed RPG history pretty well. (I have an old website at https://darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/encyclopedia/ ).

D&D has always been the market leader. However, relatively speaking, it's true that there is more variety when D&D is troubled. The times when D&D is doing well, you get a lot of D&D imitator systems -- like during the D20 boom of the early 2000s or in the late 1970s. The times when D&D is doing poorly, there is a greater variety of other systems. The 1980s saw D&D shrink and a wide variety of other games came out - like GURPS, Call of Cthulhu, etc. The 1990s saw a lot of systems that imitated Vampire: The Masquerade and less variety. There are tons of exceptions, of course, but that seems like the broad trend to me.

I think your right here, but I just want to add an interesting observation:

I have played in various groups in three countries; Norway, Canada, and USA. D&D was shunned by a few of them. The only game that was played in every single group I was in was Call of Cthulhu. There is something to that game that a lot of people like, either as an occasional alternative to D&D or as their favorite game. Not sure how representative my observations are though.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Gamecock City Gamer on September 10, 2021, 05:37:29 PM
I am lucky enough to have a FLGS that encourages other RPGs. I am currently running Dungeon Crawl Classics, and we have a GM running Degenesis: Rebirth, and another running Numenera. Prior to COVID we had a pretty active D&D group going (running games every night of the week, and multiple games on Saturdays and Sundays). I was one that was desperately wanting to get a group into tabletop RPG games. I started a FB group and had some business cards made advertising "Play D&D". We grew from 3 members to 130 in four years, and most only want to play D&D. Even the store says they have people asking to learn D&D. The pop-culture today has made "D&D" the term for roleplaying games, much like "Xerox" was standard for copy machines, or "Hoover" was synonymous with vacuum cleaners. Some people asking stores if they have any D&D going on, may not even really know what D&D is.

It's kind of deceptive, but sometimes, instead of advertising DCC, Deadlands, etc. I just tell people I'm running a "Western-themed D&D" or a "Space-themed D&D" (for the Firefly RPG). I find that people may be drawn by a theme/setting rather than the actual game itself.

I am planning on running Bedlam Hall (PbtA), One Ring 2e, and Alien RPG in the near future as well. So far, I have at least some interest in all of them!  People in our group are starting to branch out, but it is a long-drawn-out process, but there is now a growing interest in systems other than D&D.

Heck, I had a full table for the Wendy's RPG! Yeah, I ran it, and I'm not ashamed! lol!
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Omega on September 11, 2021, 08:24:55 AM
The Knock-on effects:

D&D is shielded more than ever from bad financial decisions by the magic and Hasbro bankroll.

4e is a great example of this. 5e was a blistering turn around when it became apparent 4e was being outsold by a clone.

And they were able to bankroll the design, promotion, and rollout of 5e as if no financial consequences were felt...


Actually 5e was the last gasp of WOTCs D&D branch and had it failed then Hasbro would have likely closed it down. From talking with some 4e staff Hasbro increasingly tightened WOTCs budget leash to the point they couldnt afford different art for certain product. WOTC has a standing track record up till 5e of near consistenrly fucking up its non-MTG products and trying to fuck that up too.

Remember. With WOTC failure is the only option. And if it isnt broke, break it.

Right now 5e is still puttering along. But WOTC is champing at the bit to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

One of the ongoing problems for WOTC is they are, even now, deadlocked with Solomon on being able to do any sort of animated or movie D&D material without him somehow connected.

As for why companies are using 5e as a basis. That is fairly simple as others have noted.
A: Its an existing system that is absurdly easy to tweak and adapt. That and its an edition that has more of a 2e D&D feel than 3 or 4e.
B: Its popular. And companies have a high tendency to mimic whatever is in the lead currently.
C: which oft connects to A, is that using an existing system can save alot of legwork depending on the project.

Theres still alot of other systems out there. Theres always someone who has their own ideas on how to go about an RPG game.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shawn Driscoll on September 11, 2021, 05:00:19 PM
How do you draw people into games you’d like to run that are not 5E?
Show them a franchise RPG hard-bound as a very art-filled book for the coffee table.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Chris24601 on September 11, 2021, 06:19:37 PM
How do you draw people into games you’d like to run that are not 5E?
Start with a system mechanically adjacent, but with a few differences. Palladium Fantasy 1e is a solid choice as combat and saves are still d20+mods, AR is like ascending AC and the skill list is small and percentiles easy to grok, but it introduces a few new mechanics like active defenses and armor SDC.

Star Wars SAGA edition is also a solid choice if you can find it as it’s very close to 5e mechanically, but has significant differences and changes up the genre a bit.

From there you can start to expand out. Something like Mekton where it’s d10’s instead of d20’s and crits/fumbles are handled by exploding dice and ablative armor works, particularly to expand out of the fantasy genre (if you started with Palladium Fantasy; just prebuild the mecha for it initially.

From there a dice add system like d6 Star Wars and then a success counting system would be a way to spiral out from 5e mechanics into a broader spectrum.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Krugus on September 11, 2021, 09:50:14 PM
Oh that's easy.   If your the ForeverGM of the group, just tell them THIS is what we are playing next and they will just fall in line.

No?

Well its works with my Friends & Family group  ;D

Currently playing (the much hated around here) Pathfinder2e system as the OS for my Homebrew world due to not finding anything better that could replace it with ATM.  At least the PF2e high level game is solid unlike 5e's  ::)

I have thought about using Savage Worlds for the next OS for my Homebrew world but have yet to invest any $$ in those books yet.   I hear that it could be the system I'm looking for?
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: BoxCrayonTales on September 11, 2021, 10:38:25 PM
It’s just an unfortunate fact of life that D&D dominates 99% of the tabletop gaming scene and everything else is drops in the bucket. However, the recent success of D&D is probably due entirely to free advertising from Netflix Stranger Things rather than any strength of the rules. Had 4e still been around when that happened, then it probably would not have died.

Another part of it is probably due to dungeon crawling and the like just being easier to understand due to reinforcement by numerous fantasy films, books, and games, most of which are based on D&D anyway. Getting new people into scifi, horror, or urban fantasy is more difficult. I speak from experience: I used a quickstart with pre-made characters and I still couldn’t get my then friend group into it. I even tried playing RISUS and still couldn’t get a session going. It’s way easier and more convenient to play co-op video games.

Aside from D&D getting new blood all the time thru Netflix ads, the overwhelming majority of players for everything else seems to be the aging demographic who got into the hobby prior to the 2000s when the worldwide RPG market suffered an economic collapse that killed a lot of companies and left others shadows of themselves.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Mistwell on September 12, 2021, 12:57:00 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.

Quote
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.

The time to learn rules is not the hobby to me, or most players. It's PLAYING THE GAME which is the hobby and the fun for most people. Which, again, is why there is basically one RPG and a thousand rounding error indie games out there. The hobby isn't reading and learning new rules. That's a small sub-hobby for some people. Actually playing RPGs is the primary hobby.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Mistwell on September 12, 2021, 01:05:45 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.

That is preposterous Jeff.

You're not a homophobe, racist, or misogynist because you wanted to run either d6 Star Wars or Traveller.

You're a homophobe, racist, and misogynist because of your views concerning queer people, minorities and women. It's totally unrelated to your views about RPGs.  Star Wars and Traveller are great games and anyone who treats you poorly because you want to play those games are douchebags.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: jeff37923 on September 12, 2021, 04:28:01 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.

That is preposterous Jeff.

You're not a homophobe, racist, or misogynist because you wanted to run either d6 Star Wars or Traveller.

You're a homophobe, racist, and misogynist because of your views concerning queer people, minorities and women. It's totally unrelated to your views about RPGs.  Star Wars and Traveller are great games and anyone who treats you poorly because you want to play those games are douchebags.

Thank you for illustrating my point.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: dkabq on September 12, 2021, 12:22:41 PM
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.

I agree with Mistwell, to an extent. Unlike when I was in middle/high school and my gaming group played just about everything (just off the top of my head: AD&D, Traveler, Space Opera, Bushido, V&V, Top Secret), adults with adult obligations (job, family, home maintenance, etc.) are going to be time-limited. So it is understandable that people that are time-limited are going to gravitate to the game everyone knows how to play and for which there are "ready-to-eat" adventures you can drop into your VTT of choice. Of course, the downside to this is that you are limited to the available products and the game style they support. You won't be sandbox gaming. And the players' input into how the game develops is going to be limited by the scope of the "ready-to-eat" adventures.

That said, I believe that if the GM has the time, you can greatly expand the scope of your game and even play with something other than 5E. In regards to using rules other than 5E, the more what you want to play is conceptually similar to 5E the easier. The players in my DCC campaign were 5E-only players. There was a learning curve (both for them and me), but it wasn't intractable nor did it suck any fun out of the game. I made the effort to make player aids and to keep the initial adventures simple. And it helps that my players are all engineers and/or software guys, so they are used to figuring things out.

In terms of game style, I like a sandbox game. Yes, it does take extra time. Fortunately for me, I happen to have some (but much more limited than back in high school) "extra time". The payoff is that my game or what the players can do are not limited by available adventures. That does put the onus of creating adventures on me. In many instances I will grab a "ready-to-eat" adventure and convert it to meet my needs rather than creating one from the whole cloth. I leverage the large variety of VTT maps that are available. I also pre-create random encounters, which allows me to give the PCs leeway in their actions. And sometimes I just pull down my pants and slide on the ice (i.e., make shit up on the fly). Again, yes it takes extra time, but over the 3+ years I have been running my game, it is gone in directions that I never would have imagined due to the freedom of the PCs to make choices.

Regards.


Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Eirikrautha on September 12, 2021, 08:07:32 PM
No one who is posting to this thread has any complaint about "not enough time" when it comes to reading RPG rules.  Everyone here spends enough time posting on this board to read every rulebook ever written.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on September 12, 2021, 08:35:14 PM
I have thought about using Savage Worlds for the next OS for my Homebrew world but have yet to invest any $$ in those books yet.   I hear that it could be the system I'm looking for?
It was for me. Im working on a elaborate Savage Pathfinder houserules affair (as in not just a list of extra houserules but an entire 200+ page document) for fine tuning.
I find Savage Worlds is a mixture of all the flavors I generally like. If your looking for something more 'numbers mashy' I will say its not great at that (maxing out on those +1s and hit points into the hundreds is not what it does best).
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: SHARK on September 12, 2021, 08:52:39 PM
No one who is posting to this thread has any complaint about "not enough time" when it comes to reading RPG rules.  Everyone here spends enough time posting on this board to read every rulebook ever written.

Greetings!

Yeah, I'm not buying any whining about "Reading rules to new games takes too much time!" Pour a good drink, put some headphones on with pleasant listening music on, open the book, and read it. People would be surprised how much reading they can get done in four hours--let alone six or eight hours. If necessary, devote the best part of Thursday through Sunday, and see how much gets done.

Having said that, reading, reading speed, comprehension, and proficiency, is a skill that improves with both time invested, practice, and effort. Once you get up to speed, it isn't too hard too master a 300-page rule book in a night or two.

And another thing, yes, while there are certainly some technical terms and jargon to learn when reading a rule book, the reading overall is fucking cheesecake. WOTC's rulebooks are written so easy that a 12-year old can easily comprehend them--no dictionary required. ;D

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on September 12, 2021, 09:08:51 PM
I think this is more a human psychological problem of sinking more effort into something familiar but bad, then search for new possibilities rather than a time limit thing.

We are all guilty of this at one time or another.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shasarak on September 12, 2021, 10:03:16 PM
No one who is posting to this thread has any complaint about "not enough time" when it comes to reading RPG rules.  Everyone here spends enough time posting on this board to read every rulebook ever written.

How do I fit all that rulebook reading in while still being able to post on this board?
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Steven Mitchell on September 12, 2021, 11:20:39 PM
No one who is posting to this thread has any complaint about "not enough time" when it comes to reading RPG rules.  Everyone here spends enough time posting on this board to read every rulebook ever written.

I read so many rules, I've lost count.  There's a difference, however, in people who post here and players in their games.  None of the other people in my groups even lurk on forums occasionally, let alone post in them.  Getting them to read anything game-related is time related.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: DM_Curt on September 12, 2021, 11:30:02 PM
No one who is posting to this thread has any complaint about "not enough time" when it comes to reading RPG rules.  Everyone here spends enough time posting on this board to read every rulebook ever written.

I read so many rules, I've lost count.  There's a difference, however, in people who post here and players in their games.  None of the other people in my groups even lurk on forums occasionally, let alone post in them.  Getting them to read anything game-related is time related.
I've had a lot of those players:
Kids, spouses/SOs who are there with their gamer SO and the ever-present "beer-and-pretzel league".
Sometimes you just gotta tell them what die to roll, do the math in your head and tell them what happened.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: therealjcm on September 13, 2021, 01:15:19 PM
No one who is posting to this thread has any complaint about "not enough time" when it comes to reading RPG rules.  Everyone here spends enough time posting on this board to read every rulebook ever written.

I start with the assumption that anyone interested enough in ttrpgs to post to an rpg forum is very likely a system wonk. Either interested in mechanics in their own sake, or at least not averse to learning a new system.

The difficult part is overcoming the fear of players who don't want to lose their existing system mastery. Every time you switch rules on such players the game becomes less fun because they have less control over their character.

You can try to lean into the problem of players not knowing the mechanics. I ran a superhero game for a couple years where the players built their characters by telling me what they wanted and never even saw their character sheets. It requires a lot of work to run such a game, but it worked really well for superhero genre emulation that players were never sure exactly what they were capable of. An easier option is to run a one shot with pre-gens. A fun one off with no stakes can overcome that fear of learning new mechanics too.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Greentongue on September 13, 2021, 01:51:02 PM
Is there something I missed where knowing more rules == having more fun?

From my experience, people that like rules mostly seem to like exploiting them more than just having a framework that emulates a genre.

Really, what purpose do rules serve? Besides how "the Imaginary world" is different from "the Real world".
Do you need a book to tell you that if you get hit by a sword, you will be hurt?
Yes, you need something to determine how many of those hits you can take but how complicated do you require?
Can't you trust the GM to let you know without referencing chapter and paragraph?
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on September 13, 2021, 02:58:52 PM
Is there something I missed where knowing more rules == having more fun?
Depends on the kind of fun. Being drunk and making dice towers could be way more fun then reading or following any rules or guidelines.

In my experience the case is if players have no idea what they can do (or reasonably expect they can do) they just stick around fidgeting awkwardly. And the GM experience effectively becomes playing with yourself:
'Err, what can I do to the dragon?'
'Cast a spell?'
'Can I do those?'
'Steven can'
'OK steve cast a spell then'
'OK....Uh...What spells do I have again?'
'Different kinds'
'.....Uh.....'
'.....Fireball?'
'OK I do fireball then'


I may as well play a videogame if I need to control everything my players do.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Squidi on September 13, 2021, 04:43:09 PM
I think this is more a human psychological problem of sinking more effort into something familiar but bad, then search for new possibilities rather than a time limit thing.
Dungeons and Dragons has been monetizing the Sunk Cost Fallacy for decades.

From my experience, people that like rules mostly seem to like exploiting them more than just having a framework that emulates a genre.
RPGs especially susceptible to minmaxing, but don't confuse that with "exploiting" the rules. In many ways, it is an exercise in mastering the rules and systems for efficiency and success. Simply being successful at the rules, as written, is not an exploit. It's when you take advantage of gaps in the rules, or use the rules in ways they were obviously not intended, that it becomes an exploit.

I'm pretty much the opposite of a minmaxxer (I'm more of a curious gamer rather than an efficient one), and I admit that in some realms (like miniature games), I consider minmaxxers to be the bane and downfall of great games. But my wife literally owns a t-shirt (of her own creation) that says "happiness is the optimization of systems", so I just have to assume that some people feel very fulfilled by spreadsheet gaming.

Quote
Really, what purpose do rules serve?
Part of it is to give a system to optimize and excel at. Part of it is to provide limitations to the player to force roleplaying outside their comfort zone. Part of it is to provide a generator for dramatic situations that culminate in a sufficiently satisfying encounter. Part of it is to create a simulation of a world, so that your actions have reactions. Part of it is simply that RPGs were created by nerds for nerds and boy do nerds love rules. It's a lot of things to a lot of people.

There are RPGs out there with very few rules and ones with a plethora of rules. Groups will generally gravitate towards the game system that most fits their style. D&D seems particularly successful precisely because it gives the nerd-lite version of a roleplaying experience.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Mishihari on September 14, 2021, 10:37:18 PM
Is there something I missed where knowing more rules == having more fun?

From my experience, people that like rules mostly seem to like exploiting them more than just having a framework that emulates a genre.

Really, what purpose do rules serve? Besides how "the Imaginary world" is different from "the Real world".
Do you need a book to tell you that if you get hit by a sword, you will be hurt?
Yes, you need something to determine how many of those hits you can take but how complicated do you require?
Can't you trust the GM to let you know without referencing chapter and paragraph?

My favorite type of game is actually the one where the GM knows the rules and the players don't, but it can be very difficult to pull off well.  First, it puts all of the work on the GM.  The second point derives from the first, the game goes slower because the GM is doing all of the work.  Finally, the GM and players need a common referent for what happens as a result of an action.  Rules do a great job of providing this.  There are two other ways to do this but both have attached difficulties.  One can base task resolution on real life, but everyone has their own perception of how real life works, so this does not entirely provide a common referent, and many of the games we play have no basis in real life.  Once can also base the game upon a work of fiction.  This is my favored approach.  It's nor perfect though:  everyone needs to have read/watched the basis work of fiction and have a similar understanding of it, which takes at least as much time as learning some rules.  It's not a big deal if the fiction in question is Star Wars; everyone has seen that.  But if you want a game based on Zelazny's "They Call Me Sam" or the GM's own creation, it takes a lot of work on the part of the players to do it well.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Slipshot762 on September 15, 2021, 03:40:43 AM
I know at least two people, a 1e guy and a 3e guy, who both tried 5e and report back they dislike it. They say it just feels different in action, like it's a charade of playing D&D, all the talismans and trappings are present but the magic is not. Whatever that means.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Mishihari on September 15, 2021, 04:00:40 AM
I know at least two people, a 1e guy and a 3e guy, who both tried 5e and report back they dislike it. They say it just feels different in action, like it's a charade of playing D&D, all the talismans and trappings are present but the magic is not. Whatever that means.

That's the feeling I got from just reading it, though I can't figure out why.  Maybe if I actually played it I'd have a better impression.  I dunno.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Greentongue on September 15, 2021, 07:07:29 AM
RPGs especially susceptible to minmaxing, but don't confuse that with "exploiting" the rules. In many ways, it is an exercise in mastering the rules and systems for efficiency and success. Simply being successful at the rules, as written, is not an exploit. It's when you take advantage of gaps in the rules, or use the rules in ways they were obviously not intended, that it becomes an exploit.

I'm pretty much the opposite of a minmaxxer (I'm more of a curious gamer rather than an efficient one), and I admit that in some realms (like miniature games), I consider minmaxxers to be the bane and downfall of great games. But my wife literally owns a t-shirt (of her own creation) that says "happiness is the optimization of systems", so I just have to assume that some people feel very fulfilled by spreadsheet gaming.
I feel that if the focus is on rules, isn't more of a "board game" than a RPG?
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Ghostmaker on September 15, 2021, 08:38:57 AM
I don't mind 5E. It's closer to D&D than 4E was, at any rate.
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Chris24601 on September 15, 2021, 08:39:16 AM
RPGs especially susceptible to minmaxing, but don't confuse that with "exploiting" the rules. In many ways, it is an exercise in mastering the rules and systems for efficiency and success. Simply being successful at the rules, as written, is not an exploit. It's when you take advantage of gaps in the rules, or use the rules in ways they were obviously not intended, that it becomes an exploit.

I'm pretty much the opposite of a minmaxxer (I'm more of a curious gamer rather than an efficient one), and I admit that in some realms (like miniature games), I consider minmaxxers to be the bane and downfall of great games. But my wife literally owns a t-shirt (of her own creation) that says "happiness is the optimization of systems", so I just have to assume that some people feel very fulfilled by spreadsheet gaming.
I feel that if the focus is on rules, isn't more of a "board game" than a RPG?
By contrast, I’d say an RPG’s rules focus are what keep it from being a round of improv theatre locked in a single scenario. The rules are what give you something to push off of in the endless soup of “let’s pretend.” They give a framework for what the PCs and NPCs (allied and opponents) can expect to be able to pull off without a continual need for action confirmation from the Referee.

And here’s the other thing; you don’t have an RPG with the word “game.” The game aspect is a not insignificant part of the activity and there’s a world of difference between Calvinball (the rules made up as you go) and Chess (very established rules) and also a vast middle ground between those extremes where RPGs can fall.

ETA: for it to be a board game you’d need a board and the vast majority of my 3e, 4E and 5e experiences have been entirely theatre of the mind (I’d say maybe 10% of the 4E sessions I ever played used a map and minis).
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Steven Mitchell on September 15, 2021, 08:42:15 AM

That's the feeling I got from just reading it, though I can't figure out why.  Maybe if I actually played it I'd have a better impression.  I dunno.

Ever had a class where the teacher really pushed everyone, and everyone learned something whether they wanted to or not?  How about the opposite, where the class was a complete waste of time no matter how dedicated you were to the subject?  Most classes are in the middle, right?  You more or less get out what you put into it, and the quality of the teacher goes a long way towards saying whether it leans to "more" or "less". 

5E is in that last category, and it is dead center in it.  It has a lot of options, some good some not so hot.  The combination of options and how you pick them and how the GM runs it is going to wildly swing the experience.  The defaults lean heavily towards "less" when it comes to a good experience, which is neither a help reading the thing nor for that matter teaching new GMs. 

I'm not going to run it anymore, because WotC has turned into assholes, but the game, at least as originally launched, has a lot of good aspects to it. 
Title: Re: If It’s Fear, I Think People Need Therapy or Something
Post by: Ghostmaker on September 15, 2021, 09:31:44 AM

That's the feeling I got from just reading it, though I can't figure out why.  Maybe if I actually played it I'd have a better impression.  I dunno.

Ever had a class where the teacher really pushed everyone, and everyone learned something whether they wanted to or not?  How about the opposite, where the class was a complete waste of time no matter how dedicated you were to the subject?  Most classes are in the middle, right?  You more or less get out what you put into it, and the quality of the teacher goes a long way towards saying whether it leans to "more" or "less". 

5E is in that last category, and it is dead center in it.  It has a lot of options, some good some not so hot.  The combination of options and how you pick them and how the GM runs it is going to wildly swing the experience.  The defaults lean heavily towards "less" when it comes to a good experience, which is neither a help reading the thing nor for that matter teaching new GMs. 

I'm not going to run it anymore, because WotC has turned into assholes, but the game, at least as originally launched, has a lot of good aspects to it.
I'll run it, because from a mechanics perspective it's actually not hard to kitbash as needed on the fly. Plus I'm a pretty easygoing GM and I don't mind letting players respec if they find themselves with a sub-optimal character option.

But I will be damned to hell before I spend another dime that goes to WotC.