This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.

Author Topic: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend  (Read 1040 times)

KindaMeh

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • K
  • Posts: 171
TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« on: June 30, 2022, 05:31:22 PM »

So, a friend of mine previously new to TTRPGs had given D&D 5e a shot a little while back, and while my DMing was questionable and I essentially adapted a 5e Solo Adventure book from an independent publisher into a mini-campaign, complete with some awkwardly shoehorned themes I figured might appeal to some of our shared beliefs…

He actually said the imagination, theming, player freedom and narration parts (most of which I cannot take credit for) were pretty fun. And finished the mini-campaign. What made him decide D&D was not his cup of tea were…

1. We occasionally got confused on the rules or numbers, which he had trouble fully grasping beyond the more basic character sheet stuff. (Also, I was a weaker DM at the time, and didn’t have as much experience even as a player at the time.)
2. I got lost in my if-then adventure text logic to the point where I kinda lost track at parts of where he was located on a nonexistent map. (This was entirely fixable, and I think it wouldn’t have occurred had I not tried to make a text based adventure a DM’d adventure, or be a huge problem even if we tried something like it again now that I know how to better keep track of locations.)
3. The big one for him was randomness, though, which he felt was too baked into both skill check rules and combat more generally. He felt like tactics and builds ultimately mattered a lot less than luck.
4. Later hearing me complain animatedly about Tasha’s and Radiant Citadel, as well as some other Wizards stuff.

He said he might want to do a TTRPG again sometime, and occasionally when not doing other stuff we converse about such games to shoot the shit and see if anything might fit. Normally he references rules simplicity, not being a woke product or from a woke producer, and above all else a lack or mitigation of determining randomness in conjunction with solid tactical/strategic factors. He’ll look into or hear the basics/more complex mechanics of a game’s system, too, and occasionally asks me if I have any new games to try selling him on, so I feel like it’s not just laziness or lack of will.

Generally I bring up possibly relevant games, only to shoot them down as perfect exemplars myself later in the conversation when I really think about fit. Are there any games you can think of that might fit his qualifications? Or should we more or less give up and maybe just play some more standard board and video games rather than TTRPG games with the time we spend discussing? (Or, yanno, just try to settle for a system that doesn't meet all prereqs. Potentially one suggested by this board.)
« Last Edit: June 30, 2022, 05:44:10 PM by KindaMeh »

bromides

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 123
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2022, 05:46:18 PM »
Rules simplicity, avoiding luck-based games, and less wokeness.

Hmmm. Well, I like Free League's Year Zero engine for simplicity, but the dice can be a bit "swingy" in terms of successes. The ALIEN RPG is up there as a "good" product, but the swingy dice could be a problem. And it's not as "hard" when it comes to tactical maps, especially compared to map-based games like Twilight 2000. ALIEN's design is pretty tight, though, and there's enough to go even without full fledged adventures for everything. (Twilight 2000 4e is a good game, as are a number of Free League's titles.) ALIEN + Colonial Marines Ops = good, solid stuff to work from. Can't wait for their other setting books.

(I mean... part of ALIEN is NOT forcing your players to make endless skill checks. Otherwise, it drives them up the Stress chart too quickly, and then they melt down and do bad things. So, if things are swingy, it can also be that you're forcing too many dice rolls in ALIEN when they don't matter. What matters is dramatic tension, not pointless rolls to bang dice against a table.)

More basic forms of D&D (OSR stuff) may be more "fun", but there's not so much to "builds" in those types of games. Characters are more simple.

I'm just reading through Free League's The One Ring 2e now, but they've got another excellent game there. It's a lot more focused of an experience than 5e.

Tactical games, though. Hmmm. Battletech + Mechwarrior was a big gateway drug for me. Between Mechwarrior:Destiny and the new Battletech starter boxes, I think that's a winning combo... but it's squarely in a more wargaming sense than other RPG setups. (Having a feel for running Battletech as a RPG rather than a TT wargame can also be tricky, although playing the recent Battletech PC game can get you in that mindset.)

Shawn Driscoll

  • Role-Play Purist
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2918
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2022, 07:00:36 PM »
3. The big one for him was randomness, though, which he felt was too baked into both skill check rules and combat more generally. He felt like tactics and builds ultimately mattered a lot less than luck.
d20 rolls are too random. Stay away from games that use them.

bromides

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 123
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2022, 08:45:21 PM »
The other function of d20 systems is that it tends to be a binary outcome from a d20 roll. The rule system drives a binary response.

Yes, you hit the goblin. Or no, you didn't.
Yes, you detected the secret door. Or, no, you didn't.
Yes, you climbed that wall. Or, no, you didn't.

Yes or No. These results tend to drive me mad. I hate the clear Yes/No duality.

The more narrative and interpretive systems will throw in the "Yes, but" and "No, but" options into the dice results.

No, you didn't hit the goblin, but you manage to knock the hatchet from his hand.
Yes, you found the secret door, but it's sealed and you cannot find a way to open it.
Yes, you climbed the wall, but you see 3 guards in the courtyard below.

The random dice that get too binary tend to be systems that I don't like as a GM and as a player.

mudbanks

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 113
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2022, 10:29:26 PM »
Covert Ops if he doesn't mind the spy genre (don't recommend Barebones Fantasy as Spellcasters and Enchanters are problematic).

If fantasy, Savage Worlds is always fun.

Tubesock Army

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 521
  • HAIL DARK BRANDON
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2022, 11:14:30 PM »
The Fantasy Trip is definitely more tactical. It's not very numbers heavy, and the point-buy chargen gives you a fair amount of customization options, though not as detailed or codified as D&D. There are also plenty of random adventure generation tools, or solos you can run your friend through.

jhkim

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10123
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2022, 04:21:41 AM »
Generally I bring up possibly relevant games, only to shoot them down as perfect exemplars myself later in the conversation when I really think about fit. Are there any games you can think of that might fit his qualifications? Or should we more or less give up and maybe just play some more standard board and video games rather than TTRPG games with the time we spend discussing? (Or, yanno, just try to settle for a system that doesn't meet all prereqs. Potentially one suggested by this board.)

I find that most commercial systems have roughly as much randomness as D&D. GURPS has a bell curve, but it also has critical hits - so there's greater effect on the edges. Among mainstream systems, the Cinematic Unisystem (Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG et al) comes to mind. There's also BTRC's CORPS system and diceless games, but those aren't as mainstream.

There's also Powered-by-the-Apocalypse games, which tend to be less tactical, but they tend to have more moderate results from rolls - and they're typically heavy on narrative and role-play which he is into. My favorites are Monster of the Week and Masks: The New Generation.


rgalex

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 416
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2022, 10:16:13 AM »
I agree that most of the games Free League put out would be a good option.  The mechanics are pretty robust but simple in play.  There is a decent amount of GM freedom for granting bonuses or penalties for good/bad tactics.

I'll also second the Powered by the Apocalypse suggestion and add the Forged in the Dark line of games.  Both are much more narrative in focus and when dice are rolled it can seem to follow a more logical path then some other games.  I don't know if I'd call them less tactical.  Yeah, you won't be measuring squares or adding up tons of little micro-details for numerical benefits, but bad decisions will lead to bad chances with bad outcomes.

Mark Caliber

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • I am THAT Mark Caliber.
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2022, 11:57:46 AM »
I hesitate to recommend GURPS by SJGames.com

The math and crunch factor may be too 'heavy' for your current game wants, but GURPS Fourth Edition is a VERY well designed and a thoroughly tested system.  (GURPS IIIrd Edition was put through about a decade of playtesting with player feedback that went into the 4th Edition).

And GURPS has been around long before libtards were misspelling the word "awake."

And for those who want a system that's "still supported" and "on the market" GURPS has endured that test as well.  GURPS has been routinely been listed as one of the top 10 games of all time.

If you want to start lite, SJ Games has a GURPS lite version that they sell for free.


I can't find the quote, but someone else mentioned Savage Worlds.  While it's not my favorite system, it's pretty simple.  Do check that system out as well.  (I happen to hate Savage World because of its simplicity, but it may be in your Goldilocks zone).

I concur that anything with a D20 system is to be avoided.

So you can check out the mechanics with a 32 page document at the very very low cost of nothing.
No Signature as of yet.  Pending inspiration.

Battlemaster

  • BANNED
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 338
  • I am a Bill Maher Democrat.
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2022, 12:47:41 PM »
I agree gurps might scratch your sweet spot.

But for something cheaper I suggest you try battlelords of the 23rd century. Honestly it checks all your boxes and in some ways better that gurps.

Foremost, you want a game where builds and tactics matter? In very few games do they matter like they do in battlelords. You can, and should, spend hours building a character in this game. It can take a while just to pick out the right suit of armor and helmet for a character. (Not being armored is not viable) Noobie hint:take a TDA helmet, it's reasonably priced and protective, and gives you a 15% targeter bonus to shooting. You can't beat the threshold 5 Bear armor.

Once you have armor, you get to look for options to install into it. One should be a gyro stabilizer in your dominant arm, it gives you a 10% bonus to shooting as it makes your weapon count as braced.

Then you pick weapons, and there are a good number in your basic set.

Then you pick gear. There's lots if this. Sensors, comms,  armor coatings, medical gear, weird stuff,  there's a huge list too.

Honestly the squishy bit inside the armor is the last thing you should build. Pick the gear and weapons you want to have, then build a character to use them. Hint. Pick a human, they seem kinda meh but they have by far the highest skill points in the game and skill points matter.

Tactics, you said?  Yeah, they matter. At least one player per team must have a weapon capable of threatening heavy (threshold 7+) armor, even if he has to spend most of his money buying it. A medic is good too, even tho everyone should have a healing injection called a BRI. A guy with good sensors and comms can be good too.

A grenade launcher loaded with smoke rounds is a good idea too.

The basic system uses d100 rolls based on half the base attribute, 5% per skill level, ranged combat uses the weapons accuracy at the target range, plus bonuses for equipment like targeters and stabilizers, aiming, fire mode, etc.

The basic rules ARE simple, honestly. You have your base chance, half your stat plus 5% per skill level. After that it's just simple math, addition and subtraction based on modifiers.  I will not deny there can be a fucking fuckton of mods, tho, but it's all just addition and subtraction.

No luck points, no 'woke' (honestly can't we have one fucking game thread without that shit?) I can honestly say gamer to gamer it checks all your boxes.

Review here with a subtle dig at woke. https://rpggeek.com/thread/2495585/weaponry-attitude-and-grit-angsty-effetes-need-not

The full mammoth pdf is 25, you can get an intro or a sample version for free. Have a look at it.

« Last Edit: July 01, 2022, 01:00:57 PM by Battlemaster »
Fuck the fascist right and the fascist left.

weirdguy564

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 166
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2022, 02:20:36 PM »
Well, do you want to stick to fantasy?  Swords vs orcs, with magic?  There are other genres out there. 

There are also a lot of free games to pick from. 

If he likes tactics, the solution may be to start using miniatures on a square grid map.  I bought a vinyl play map with a grid one one side, and hexes on the other, and dry erase markers.   My “terrain” is nothing more than Jenga blocks. 

One simple Fantasy RPG that really emphasized using a grid map is called Dungeons and Delvers Dice Pool Edition. 

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/m/product/224154

As for anti-wokeness the author has been talked down by that other RPG site in purple (the one that openly supports all left wing political movements, including BLM, best known for aiding themselves with houses and lavish paychecks).  David Guyll tweeted that WoTC stands for Wokists of the Coast or such.   Around here, that’s a good thing.  Needless to say, I’m also not a fan of the purple forum of RPGs, either, and anybody on their hit list is OK by me.
Saying D&D is the best RPG is like saying Bud Lite is the best beer.  Maybe we shouldn't equate "popular" with "good"?

KindaMeh

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • K
  • Posts: 171
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2022, 02:35:01 PM »
Well, do you want to stick to fantasy?  Swords vs orcs, with magic?  There are other genres out there. 

There are also a lot of free games to pick from. 

If he likes tactics, the solution may be to start using miniatures on a square grid map.  I bought a vinyl play map with a grid one one side, and hexes on the other, and dry erase markers.   My “terrain” is nothing more than Jenga blocks. 

One simple Fantasy RPG that really emphasized using a grid map is called Dungeons and Delvers Dice Pool Edition. 

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/m/product/224154

As for anti-wokeness the author has been talked down by that other RPG site in purple (the one that openly supports all left wing political movements, including BLM, best known for aiding themselves with houses and lavish paychecks).  David Guyll tweeted that WoTC stands for Wokists of the Coast or such.   Around here, that’s a good thing.  Needless to say, I’m also not a fan of the purple forum of RPGs, either, and anybody on their hit list is OK by me.

No restrictions on genre. Even the ones I’ve considered before with limited rpg knowledge weren’t entirely fantasy, and he didn’t seem opposed on that basis. Probably gonna recommend he look through this thread after it’s been up about a week and/or at least try on my part to summarize fairly most of what was said in some sort of roughly organized word doc or diagram.

Also, thanks to everyone who has thus far responded. I’m learning more about the broader rpg field and systems from your comments as we speak as I try to look up some of what was posted and recommended.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2022, 02:38:44 PM by KindaMeh »

weirdguy564

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 166
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2022, 02:00:24 AM »
OK, my first thing I'll say is that D&D style rules are not the end all to be all rules.  My own signature line says what I think more comically about that, and beer related too.

If you want an easy game to play, but covers a lot of genres, the Tiny-D6 series of games does a lot.  There is a super hero game, a traditional fantasy game, a mecha vs monsterous kaiju game (you can play both, or just mech vs mech, or kaiju vs kaiju), an old west game, a pirate game, a kiddie game of household animals vs bad dreams.  Hell, there is a Baywatch lifeguard game.  It has a problem of maybe not being complex enough, but I like the system enough to want to play some of it.

Basic Fantasy is probably the cheapest game in existance.  It is old school D&D, before they were bought by WotC, but with some of the jankiness of old D&D removed and written to be comprehended by people, something that old D&D games were often really bad at.  You also can't get over the price of Basic Fantasy.  Its free.  And so is all of its sourcebooks.  ALL OF IT IS FREE.   At least in PDF format.  If you want a paper book, they're not free, but really close.  The main rulebook is only $5, and you don't technically need anything else to play.

If you want Star Wars, then maybe look at RPG Pundit's own Star Adventurer.  A PDF of that is only $4, and a paper book is just $9.

I really enjoy using old school Star Wars from West End Games, the first edition for Star Wars.  If you want to know what that rulebook is like, you can get many D6 games for free, as they tried to be general RPG's before going out of business.  D6 Space, D6 Fantasy, D6 Adventure are all free to download. 

I actually like a simpler, and also still free version (the PDF is free, the hard copy book is not) of D6 rules called Mini-6, Bare Bones Edition.  I also like to use a sword dueling set of rules called Dueling Blades from Griffonpub Studio.  It makes sword fighting more cinematic by simply making one of the results to force your enemy to move instead of damaging them.  That gets tactical, as you can use the terrain to your advantage.  I.E.  A lightsaber duel in a Gozanti freighter that ended with my enemy in an air lock, unhurt as of yet, and then blown out into space when she wouldn't surrender.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/144558/Mini-Six-Bare-Bones-Edition
http://griffonpubstudio.blogspot.com/p/schweigs-d6-resources.html

I also love another old school RPG.  Palladium Books Fantasy game.  In particular I like their 1st edition to get used to their rules.  It doesn't use D&D style rules.  In this case the main way it works is that characters attack with a D20, and you defend yourself by either dodging or parrying, also rolled as your own D20.  The highest roll wins.  Armor is just more hit points, though a high roll can bypass it.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/60661/The-Palladium-FantasyR-RolePlaying-Game-Revised-Edition--1st-Edition-Rules

I can list off more, but its late and I need sleep.
Saying D&D is the best RPG is like saying Bud Lite is the best beer.  Maybe we shouldn't equate "popular" with "good"?

Philotomy Jurament

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1915
  • Prisoner 24601
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2022, 02:50:30 AM »
The big one for him was randomness

You could always look at Amber, or Lords of Olympus. No dice at all.
That rug really tied the room together, man.

DocJones

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 850
Re: TTRPG Recommendation for a Friend
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2022, 08:01:39 AM »
The Fantasy Trip is definitely more tactical. It's not very numbers heavy, and the point-buy chargen gives you a fair amount of customization options, though not as detailed or codified as D&D. There are also plenty of random adventure generation tools, or solos you can run your friend through.
Good choice.   3d6 systems are not "swingy", and there are good tactical options in TFT.
I kind of prefer the points based magic system rather than the slot based of D&D.


« Last Edit: July 02, 2022, 08:03:15 AM by DocJones »