Labyrinth RPG Announced

The Wyzard

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I read an interesting twitter thread the other day, arguing that there is almost no such thing as an entry-level RPG.

It's debatable as to whether that's accurate or not, but it's been stuck in my head, and I think they have a *point.* I may quote it later when I have a little time to track it down.

But this looks more like what I would call an entry-level RPG. You could sit someone down who had seen the movie (or who hadn't) and play it with them, without them first reading an actual RPG book, which is quite the barrier to entry.

I've been having a sort of continuing conversation lately with some of my friends who are published game writers that we should consider having RPGs that borrow more from board games, and I think they have a point. Mind you, that isn't "all RPGs should resemble board games more" or "your favorite game which is quite complicated is bad and should not exist," just that there should be at least some RPGs which take significant inspiration from board games.

And maybe one of those things is that they should be friendlier to people who want to just sit down and play.

[Yes, I know that is exactly how OD&D was often taught. I have done exactly that thing. I'm not saying it's impossible or that no game has ever done it, just that it is very rarely seen as a primary design goal.]
 

Rowenn552

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But I know nothing of Questing Beast. What else have they made that's good?
Ben Milton aka Questing Beast and u/ludifex (on reddit) is an educator and runs games for kids at his school (or did back when I became aware of the early development of Maze Rats).

He is big into the OSR scene and was the creator of Maze Rats and most recently Knave.
Both are rather rules light games that reinforce problem solving, clever play, and risk assessment/aversion rather than getting in there and slugfesting everything you come across. Those are elements that he was focusing on when teaching kids how to play rpgs, the more problem solving elements.

Maze Rats has a ton of random generation tables. A highlight is the magic system where magic is sort of ethereal and so every day those with casting ability roll their spells randomly for that day. The hard effects of the spell aren’t spelled out, you get a name of a spell and use that to determine what it does.

Knave, if I recall, references Maze Rats’ tables and another element (I forget the name at the moment) to add random events to scenes. It is a seven page rpg that has pretty clever mechanics based around encumbrance.

He also runs a YouTube channel (The Questing Beast) where he reviews lots of OSR material and has a blog here.
 
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DavetheLost

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I've been having a sort of continuing conversation lately with some of my friends who are published game writers that we should consider having RPGs that borrow more from board games, and I think they have a point. Mind you, that isn't "all RPGs should resemble board games more" or "your favorite game which is quite complicated is bad and should not exist," just that there should be at least some RPGs which take significant inspiration from board games.

And maybe one of those things is that they should be friendlier to people who want to just sit down and play.
]
I feel like a lot of board games are borrowing from RPGs these days. Characters, story lines, miniatures. Long, thick, detailed, complicated rulebooks, extended play times...

I do think there is vacancy for truly introductory RPGs. A game that does not assume any familiarity with the concepts of RPGs, if fast to play, and doesn't require learning a huge information dump of rules before playing.

I have seen several RPG starter boxes that do a good job of distilling down the rules to the basics, including a short adventure, dice, preteen characters, etc. But most of them work best if you have some experience with RPGs, either pencil & paper or computer.

A Labyrinth RPG that is a repayable one-shot might be a good intro game for people who have never RPGed before. Rules for doing a lot of things could be included in the scenes where those things might be needed, but not in the first section of rules. So if there is a combat scene put the combat rules there. Put social rules with a social scene, etc.
 

Knaight

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I didn't particularly like the Labyrinth movie, but I'll be keeping an eye on this - it sounds like there might be some interesting design, and we really do need an introductory RPG. Starting playing without getting inducted by a veteran player is pretty rough, and I'd have been very happy to have something like this concept around back when I did it.

Plus, the whole concept has some hints of Lady Blackbird about it.
 

The Wyzard

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Here's the thread I was talking about earlier:



I usually complain a lot about the creative stagnation I perceive from the TTRPG industry. Granted, some of y'all probably sit down with different priorities in mind when you design a game, but hey... here's a theory. I call it "The Inverted Axis". (1/X)

In most creative fields, there's a sort of "pattern" when it comes to accessibility to the roles of "creator" and "audience". Think about music, dance, cinema, graphic arts, videogames. Generally, one has to prepare themselves for YEARS to become a creative in these fields. (2/X)

At the same time, one can sit down and experience this as part of the audience (or as a player, or whatever you wanna call it) instantly. You press play, you listen, you log in, etc. You can casually enjoy this and make it part of your life. That's your normal axis. (3/X)

Now, what about TTRPGs? The axis gets wack. If I wanna get into them, I need to buy these two books, some weird dice, read like 400 pages, gather four people somewhere and spend like four hours to do this. Seriously? Let me put it this way; there are no casual roleplayers. (4/X)

This is huge. It has lots of implications. Granted, only some of the people who manage to stay on board go into game design. Think about it in this way; RPGs were created BY people who were in a niche, FOR people within that niche. Now, how does that affect design? (5/X)

Well, basically, it engenders an industry that is mostly stuck in a feedback loop. This is helped by the fact that writing an RPGs is, practically speaking, quite easy. Granted, you won't set out to create something that's *good*, you are feeding the niche audience. (6/X)

I think one of the biggest lies we tell to ourselves is that "we want RPGs to be mainstream". If we truly did, we'd actually design accessible games, OSR wouldn't be a thing, and we'd ditch the 600 page tomes we keep gleefully churning out every year. (7/X)

We'd also pay our actual creatives a decent wage, it goes to say. (8/X)

tl;dr: RPGs are super inaccessible, have no casual audience, but once you are in you can EASILY create that "clone of X but with extra dmg for your javelins", so that all of us who liked X but thought javelins were underpowered can finally play what they wanted all along. (9/X)
 

g33k

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I could see a game with Labyrinth-sections that you lay down randomly as you enter them, with randomized inhabitants, of random loyalty to Jareth, random features, via card-draws and dice rolls; etc, etc... Pick up the features when you leave them, because the Labyrinth keeps changing; and thus, near-infinite repeat-play!
 

Octiron

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I can't even envision how this scene-dungeon thingy would work, so naturally I am pretty interested.
 

NathanS

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I read an interesting twitter thread the other day, arguing that there is almost no such thing as an entry-level RPG.

It's debatable as to whether that's accurate or not, but it's been stuck in my head, and I think they have a *point.* I may quote it later when I have a little time to track it down.

But this looks more like what I would call an entry-level RPG. You could sit someone down who had seen the movie (or who hadn't) and play it with them, without them first reading an actual RPG book, which is quite the barrier to entry.

I've been having a sort of continuing conversation lately with some of my friends who are published game writers that we should consider having RPGs that borrow more from board games, and I think they have a point. Mind you, that isn't "all RPGs should resemble board games more" or "your favorite game which is quite complicated is bad and should not exist," just that there should be at least some RPGs which take significant inspiration from board games.

And maybe one of those things is that they should be friendlier to people who want to just sit down and play.

[Yes, I know that is exactly how OD&D was often taught. I have done exactly that thing. I'm not saying it's impossible or that no game has ever done it, just that it is very rarely seen as a primary design goal.]
I'd say such RPGs do exist, they just get made by and classified as board games and rejected at not being "real" RPGs by the RPG community, if they are even aware they exist. Like by any responsible definition of the words "Role Playing Game" Fog of Love* is one. Good luck getting oh 90% of the RPG community to ever agree with that though.

Now if this does mange to be an entry-level RPG I would find it ironic that it comes from a dev big into the OSR, and looks like Federico Sohns would agree.

*Amusing overview/review here if you don't know anything about it.
 

Snow Goon

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Oh. My. God.

I love Labyrinth! The hour-per-scenario sounds interesting, too. I'm interested to see how that'll work.

If I can play Ludo then I'm in. If I can play a rogue goblin helping someone through the labyrinth, I'm in. If I can play a character's hat, I'm in. Oh, what am I saying. I'm in!
 
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