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Gloomhaven as a ttrpg?

capnzapp

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If you have Gloomhaven experience, what would be needed to turn it - or rther its mechanisms - into a full-fledged rpg?

I'm mostly thinking it could be a refreshing experience to select to play a Brute or Tinkerer instead of Fighter or Wizard.

While it would be great to see a full Gloomhaven the RPG rulebook, I'd imagine world-building is simple to port over.

One main draw would be to ditch your dice for once, instead resolving combat using cards. Would anything need to be changed to work in a rpg context? The biggest draw, of course, would be to have an actual human being as the arbitrator (a Games Master). How about a potential for skills or some non-combat task resolution?
 

macd21

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If you have Gloomhaven experience, what would be needed to turn it - or rther its mechanisms - into a full-fledged rpg?

I'm mostly thinking it could be a refreshing experience to select to play a Brute or Tinkerer instead of Fighter or Wizard.

While it would be great to see a full Gloomhaven the RPG rulebook, I'd imagine world-building is simple to port over.

One main draw would be to ditch your dice for once, instead resolving combat using cards. Would anything need to be changed to work in a rpg context? The biggest draw, of course, would be to have an actual human being as the arbitrator (a Games Master). How about a potential for skills or some non-combat task resolution?
First thing it would require is a resolution mechanic for things not covered by the cards. You need to be able to do things beyond the limited selection available in your hand.

To be honest, I think that by the time you finish tweaking the stat to make it into an RPG, you’d have something very close to 4ed DnD. Which I’d pay money for.
 

Victim

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There are some pretty big problems.

Gloomhaven has a good hand management tactical combat system. How do you allow people to do extra stuff outside those specific actions in a way that doesn't sidestep all the hand management stuff (and also isn't so terrible people are steered away from doing anything outside of their cards). Also, GH is like 2ish hours for its combat game. That is like a full mini-dungeon, but it's still a lot of time commitment in an RPG session. Planning a turn around both likely monster actions and what they actually draw is also an important part of the strategy in the game so having that be replaced by a GM making moves isn't necessarily an improvement. And at the same time monsters doing dumb random shit isn't necessarily great in the more narrative context of an rpg either.

You basically need an entire out of combat system - which pretty much includes making up what the out of combat capabilities of some classes are. These breakdowns are often not the way a normal rpg splits capability, since often being of the right group is more important than just having good social skills. Sometimes magic lets you easily solve big problems, sometimes those classes aren't on the favored card outcomes despite the problem not seeming so different... This stuff also needs to plug into the combat, the way event cards can do. Similarly, you probably need to do something to kind of define the actual power of characters in a fight too, since GH is a game where you can both lose to crappy bandits or kill demon lords in their home after deciding to hop into a strange portal.

Also, you'd probably want to be good at building fun missions in GH.
 

vitus979

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If you're going to use Gloomhaven's hand management system, you're going to also have to build scenarios that can be timed with those cards in mind. To me, the game is very much about finishing a mission with the most XP and the least number of cards still playable. I'm not sure how you translate that to an RPG.
 

capnzapp

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I've finally getten my hands on a copy, and played my first few (failed) missions :)

I do not feel it is useful to make a straight port into D&D. That is, trying to map the Gloomhaven experience onto the specific abilities of D&D4 or the spells of D&D5 (or Pathfinder etc).

If you're going to use Gloomhaven's hand management system, you're going to also have to build scenarios that can be timed with those cards in mind. To me, the game is very much about finishing a mission with the most XP and the least number of cards still playable. I'm not sure how you translate that to an RPG.
That is a good question, and possibly the first one that needs answering.

While I'm sure you could create a rpg experience around the existing combat rules of Gloomhaven, the real question would be: does the built-in timer inherent to GHs hand size and rest rules add value to a rpg? Compared to, say, D&D, having a game where you simply cannot go on fighting for more than (what?) fifteen combat rounds before you fall into an exhausted heap might be refreshing.

My spontaneous thought would be to encode the rests differently. After all, if one GH combat round is 10 second its "short rest" is maybe 2 seconds and its "long rests" 10 seconds :p Even I would feel that's a wee bit too frantic in a ttrpg! ;) It works fine in GH because the game doesn't even attempt to model the world outside of each scenario.

What you probably would want to change is so that "one scenario" isn't three dungeon rooms, but one string of action sequences. What could be worthwhile is to keep some sort of check on how long you can go on fighting without taking a break.

Zapp

PS. As for specific implementation ideas, I guess we need a new thread if we're basing it on D&D: https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?830384-5e-Gloomhaven-as-a-ttrpg
 
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capnzapp

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Maybe one idea is to base it on Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play. I'm getting "low fantasy" vibes such as Fafhrd and the Mouser from what've seen from Gloomhaven so far, and if so, WFRP might be a better fit than, say, Pathfinder or AD&D. Maybe it might be worthwhile to wait another week to see if magic has been changed around in the upcoming v4...

Without massive spoilers for later scenarios, would you say Gloomhaven is high fantasy or low fantasy or what? (I am aware Mr Childres was inspired by Skyrim, which I guess is relatively low fantasy when push comes to shove)

Maybe the six elements of Gloomhaven could replace the eight winds of magic in Warhammer...?
 

vitus979

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Without massive spoilers for later scenarios, would you say Gloomhaven is high fantasy or low fantasy or what? (I am aware Mr Childres was inspired by Skyrim, which I guess is relatively low fantasy when push comes to shove)
It's hard to do a mapping of "high vs low" fantasy based just on the actions available on the cards, but based on what I've played so far I would say Gloomhaven lands pretty much in "classic D&D" level of magic...aka pretty high.
 

Victim

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It's hard to do a mapping of "high vs low" fantasy based just on the actions available on the cards, but based on what I've played so far I would say Gloomhaven lands pretty much in "classic D&D" level of magic...aka pretty high.
I would generally agree. Spellweaver is a starting class, so looking at its stuff should not be super spoilery. There's a level 9 card called:

Spoiler: Show
Black Hole


That does not seem like low magic stuff.

But don't Farhrd and Grey Mouser fight Death and win?
 

capnzapp

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I'm not worried about what the cards say, but what they actually do.

Even an ability that says "every enemy is insta-vaporized" is restricted to the board, and so hardly very high fantasy. That is, all it does is kill people. You can kill people in low fantasy too, using a rusty dagger. So it doesn't let the heroes do anything they couldn't have managed without the magic.

So while "black hole" sounds like high fantasy, if all it does is mess up some figure on the board, it's hardly high fantasy.

And NPCs don't count - D&D deserves the label "high fantasy" because you can become that NPC Archmage.

Maybe I expressed myself badly. I'm going into this with the assumption that as a board-game, heroes are restricted to changing the board. Which is not very high fantasy.

The reason I asked was to learn if there are anything that challenges this assumption.

Unless characters can themselves do stuff like plane hopping, teleportation, bringing back the dead, wrecking castles and annihilating whole armies, it stands to reason that Gloomhaven depicts low fantasy, and thus follows that D&D with its level 9 spells might not be a good fit for an rpg adaptation.

Furthermore, again with the disclaimer I haven't seen the GH end-game, it appears heroes barely gain three times as much HP as they start out with.

This also suggests a low fantasy rpg engine is better than a game such as D&D, which is notorious for its "level up" experience where a high level fighter has twenty times the hp of a newcomer, and except for the latest edition, is all but invincible to lowly regular guards and such.

Gloomhaven does have nine levels, so I fully expect a level 9 hero to find a dozen bandit archers a trifling encounter, but still. That hero will still become exhausted not much later than the first level hero, even if the opposition is made up of 30 hp demons and not 5 hp skeletons. In any event, that seems to match the "level progression" of a low fantasy game like WFRP better than a high fantasy game like D&D.

Am I wrong?
 

Kath

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Unless characters can themselves do stuff like plane hopping, teleportation, bringing back the dead, wrecking castles and annihilating whole armies, it stands to reason that Gloomhaven depicts low fantasy, and thus follows that D&D with its level 9 spells might not be a good fit for an rpg adaptation.
Without giving details, some of the items you list happen in Gloomhaven. They tend to be NPCs doing that on behalf of the PCs, but that's mostly an artifact of the way the game is written.

My group have been playing Gloomhaven for about 18 months now, and I'd peg it as typical D&D fantasy level.
 
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