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Atomic Glowing Over-Complexity

The Radioactivist

Registered User
Validated User
Holy Nanite Swarm, Man-Bat, but is 3rd Edition Gamma World complex.

And the kicker is I finally got a box set at a reasonable price ($45) and now I'm wondering if I made a mistake. This thing rivals GURPS in some ways for complexity. And here I was a happy Savage Worlds fan, and content to run 2nd Edition Gamma World or Rad-Hack or Mutant Future or MCC. But no, that damn wonderful ACT color chart seduced me with all those cool weapon Special Effects and Special Damages.

But then I got into making a PC. Damn. An hour. Then I tried carefully writing a cheat sheet for me as GM and the players. You know, a "here's how you building a campsite" and "here's how you do first aid." Jumping electrokinetic frogoids! Look man, I'm older, I have very, very, very little time to get my convention game @!#$! together, and I've now spent 3 hours on all this. :mad:

Why did I spend the $! Why?!? I could have used Savage Worlds or gone OSR. Either way, wam, bam, simple. On with the play.

I'm not going to screw the seller for a return, considering I bid twice on this. (Although the jerk issued a non-payment warning when I didn't pay on the first day. FFS man, calm down. If you are making your living on Ebay, get a real soul-sucking corporate job like mine - seriously. Poor fellow must have been screwed over once too many).

Anyhoo, KISS. Avoid the siren lure of cool complex rules (except as fun to read and keep in your head) and play the damn game. Gah!

Well, at least I'll own the sucker. Back to a simpler version, maybe Gamma World 4e or 2E.

Come join us if you can at UCon in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in November. It's a great con.
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
Validated User
I have a complexity allergy.

Especially in char-gen. If I can't do the mechanical stuff to make a character in like ten minutes, tops, I'm out. I mean, sure, maybe I'll spend some time coming up with an outfit or a mode of speech or random quirks or something. But the mechanical stuff. Man, I just need that done with quickly.

I have even less patience for char-gen and character complexit as a GM. I actively dislike any game system more complex than Risus that gives NPCs the same level of mechanical detail as the PCs. If the rest of the game is awesome but still does that, I just edit all of that shit out and reduce it to a list of 3 or 4 free form traits plus whatever the game uses to track statuses. Because it's not weird to need to run like 5 or 6 NPCs in a scene, and I want to be able to make those characters very quickly and then run them all at the same time with less effort than it takes one player to run one PC.
 

Reverend Uncle Bastard

Loud Mouth Carny
Validated User
I have a complexity allergy.
I am in your corner with this! I am not seeking system mastery, that's why I play boardgames and wargames. I want exciting stories where I play a fun character I threw together in no time, and have tense moments that are resolved with dice rolls and creative narrative play. Or I want to run a game where the players can get their team together in 30 minutes and we can run straight into a story without me needing weeks of prep. I don't have time anymore to create entire dungeons or planets and massive stat blocks for NPCs and creatures. Give me PbtA games or Tales from the Loop or Mutant Year Zero and I am like a kid in a candy store. Every time someone's enthusiasm leads me to reread my GURPS books my eyes start glazing over before I can reach the end of the chargen section. I guess it's good to know what makes me happy.
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
Validated User
I am in your corner with this! I am not seeking system mastery, that's why I play boardgames and wargames. I want exciting stories where I play a fun character I threw together in no time, and have tense moments that are resolved with dice rolls and creative narrative play. Or I want to run a game where the players can get their team together in 30 minutes and we can run straight into a story without me needing weeks of prep. I don't have time anymore to create entire dungeons or planets and massive stat blocks for NPCs and creatures. Give me PbtA games or Tales from the Loop or Mutant Year Zero and I am like a kid in a candy store. Every time someone's enthusiasm leads me to reread my GURPS books my eyes start glazing over before I can reach the end of the chargen section. I guess it's good to know what makes me happy.
It's funny, but I can still remember liking complexity. And not just when I switched from boxed set D&D to AD&D because it was "advanced" and that made it better. I used to like having all those knobs and buttons within the rules to play with.

Then I didn't anymore. I started seeing the game system as a thing that's there to broadly define things, help communicate how people want things to work, and to quickly resolve unsure situations.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
Did you get the errata booklet along with the box? I remember reading that they go it out so fast that several pages of errata were needed and TSR provided them free.

That is the main reason I never seriously thought about getting 3rd edition- I didn't want to buy a box and find that it didn't have the errata.
 

Reverend Uncle Bastard

Loud Mouth Carny
Validated User
It's funny, but I can still remember liking complexity. And not just when I switched from boxed set D&D to AD&D because it was "advanced" and that made it better. I used to like having all those knobs and buttons within the rules to play with.

Then I didn't anymore. I started seeing the game system as a thing that's there to broadly define things, help communicate how people want things to work, and to quickly resolve unsure situations.
Sounds like we have had a similar journey. I started with Basic D&D too and was excited to play with all the extra stuff in AD&D when it came out. Now I am having a blast playing Rules Cyclopedia D&D (with weapons mastery but without skills) because the simplicity is just delightful.

When it comes to "knobs and buttons", if I'm in that mood I turn to Fate because you can tweak it a ton, but all the tweaks are based in the same 3 or 4 basic principles so there is no need to spend time with my nose buried in the rules, and I can explain it to the players in simple terms.
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
Validated User
When it comes to "knobs and buttons", if I'm in that mood I turn to Fate because you can tweak it a ton, but all the tweaks are based in the same 3 or 4 basic principles so there is no need to spend time with my nose buried in the rules, and I can explain it to the players in simple terms.
I tend toward Fate as well. There are lots of options, but the thing is, I tend to only want to use like one or two at any given moment. My default is a really short skill list, simple stunts that are either numerical or simple prose ("I can fly!"), and 3-5 aspects. Then I mostly stick an interesting harm tracking system on and go. If there's some cool widget for magic or something, I'll use that as well.
 

The Radioactivist

Registered User
Validated User
Well, what drew me in is what are called "Types of Damage" and "Special Effects."

So, type of damage is fairly mundane - we've all seen it. But it adds in interesting layer. For example, Burns could (if you suffer 25% hit points in damage and fail a Con save) have one of 6 secondary effects including Halves Damage (if you luck out on your Save), Infection, Scarring, System Shock, Disintegration (perm HP loss), Critical (a further sub-table roll), and Fatal. Burns heal at half rate, and it takes 2 points of healing to heal 1 hit point. Cold, Steam, and Corrosives emulate it.

You've also got such goodies as Rotting (really nasty effect of some plant mutations), Subsonics, Sunburn, and for the machines Electrical, Endurance Damage (robots use an Endurance state to represent their stored power), and Power Drain.

Special Effects include Alcohol, Coma, Complications (two further sub-charts), Crippling, Delirium, Delusions, Mental Revulsion, Internal Injury (really bad news), Mental Shocks, Mutate, Trauma, Tremors and more (I didn't list em all).

I like the details. Really makes a game that has a LOT of hit points for characters decidedly more dangerous.

Terrain the other joy is a Terrain system that reminds me a bit of old Classic Traveller. You combine two terrain features (Terrain and Ground Cover), say Ruins/Flooded and it gives you how much damage heroes suffer on a terrain mishap and/or weather, and what special effect (see above) could happen.

Where it fell apart was the Skills & Talents section, which was needlessly complex. For example, why have a Firestarting talent when you have a Survival Talent (which itself requires Animal ID and another Talent?) And Cooking is also a talent (or the party could get sick).

BUT ... my issue is I already submitted my events on the OSR track, so I need to run OSR. I guess my solution is simple:

Easy (but narratively fun) character generation such as found in 7th Edition Gamma World (Pyrokinetic Plant and Feline Swarm I'm looking at you), and make use of 3rd Editions complex sub-systems when i choose to. Hell, maybe have Gamma World 4th Edition as my base rules (it was the precursor to D&D 3.0), layer in some in-game complexity with 3E rules, keep the chargen simple with 4E and a dose of 7E (converted backwards), throw in some 6th Edition for nanotechnology (sorry, I really like it), layer in d20 Apocalypse and other post-apoc stuff such as Rad-Hack and Gene-Hack, Mutant Crawl Classics, and call it a day. A big, sloppy, glowing radioactive mess. Sounds about right.

At least until Mike Mearls gets off his ass and makes a D&D 5E version. Hell, I'd be a contributing author for gratis.
 
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