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[Theory] Flavors of D&D II: Finding the Right Tools for the Jobs

Thanos6

Desperately Seeking Apotheosis
Validated User
Reminds me of how the Final Fantasy approach evolved. In the first two FF games (possibly the third, I don't know for sure), characters at 0 HP were definitely Dead, and had to be dragged to the nearest town with a Clinic to revive them, or you had to have your high-level healer to revive them. By Final Fantasy IV at the latest, it became 0 HP = Knocked Out.
 

Ratman_tf

W.A.R.P.
Validated User
Reminds me of how the Final Fantasy approach evolved. In the first two FF games (possibly the third, I don't know for sure), characters at 0 HP were definitely Dead, and had to be dragged to the nearest town with a Clinic to revive them, or you had to have your high-level healer to revive them. By Final Fantasy IV at the latest, it became 0 HP = Knocked Out.
Good analogy, and I think it grew out of the fact that dead characters who could be revived were functionally Knocked Out anyway. May as well get to the heart of the matter and call it what it was.

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Talking about death and 2nd, what about Save or Die mechanics? Disintegrate, death rays, etc. Does a disintegrate spell fit in a P&P campaign?
My first reaction is to go with the 4th edition solution and make Save or Die into hp damage, but then I think maybe death spells simply don't fit P&P, except maybe in very rare circumstances. Campaign bosses and/or powerful undead NPC types.
 

Thanos6

Desperately Seeking Apotheosis
Validated User
I think a P&P campaign is more story and character driven, so you'd want to hold off on the "one roll, save or die" types. I definitely agree that they should be saved for bosses.

I'm not saying P&P should be risk-free or have no character deaths, or that the DM should fudge rolls, but if the players have really gotten into the storyline and have become very attached to the characters (both their own and even favored NPCs), it would be a real shame to ruin their fun because of one unlucky die roll, so save those scenarios for the encounters that the players already know are going to be tough, where they've already mentally prepared themselves that "we might not come back from this one." Softens the blow some, and makes their deaths less random and more epic.
 

braro

Registered User
Validated User
I have been playing some sandbox games with my wife and a few other friends as pickups using the Monsters and Magic rules, and I really think that they do a good job for P&P and DC&D; because it is Stock Tolkien it is bad at M&M, but we have been making custom traits for monsterous races and things like that, that work to capture some grittier areas.
 

UnknownCorrespondent

Grumpy Old Man
Validated User
In 4e I tend to be a contrarian. In P&P games I want a Misfit (gnoll warlord of Erathis, goliath fluffed as a midget stone giant, shadar-kai feylock fluffed as humanoid hound of Tindalos), but in the game where all the other chracters were monstery or dark, I played an easygoing human paladin of Avandra.
 

Runeblade

Registered User
Validated User
I love these posts, Armchair Gamer. I think this is a fair and accurate representation of all the different play styles I have seen over the years. I also agree with your analysis on which editions work best with which play styles.

Next, I'd like to see a breakdown of all the various retro-clones, OSR games, OGL fantasy games, both new school and old school, and analyze and list out which styles they are best suited for, and which styles they could be used with after a few tweaks. No pressure. :D
 

Armchair Gamer

New member
Next, I'd like to see a breakdown of all the various retro-clones, OSR games, OGL fantasy games, both new school and old school, and analyze and list out which styles they are best suited for, and which styles they could be used with after a few tweaks. No pressure. :D
That's what this thread is for. I'm outsourcing. :D
 

Catharsis Cat

Live Action Anime Girl
Validated User
How to do 3.x to do these styles (all have some balance and heavy crunch issues):

Knaves and Kobolds:
Unearthed Arcana/SRD has some rules for making the game more lethal, I suggest using them. The game also has some okay rules for wilderness adventures, though they might not be detailed enough for everyone. 3.0 and it's supplements do have some mild support for strongholds, hireling and followers as well, though again not to the detail of earlier games. Because their is X expected treasure and Y expected experience per encounter, you probably have X treasure just = Y experience. (though it's a little messy) It's not the best fit by any means, but you could probably emulate the experience.

Gamma Rays and Godslayers:
The D20 SRD has epic level and deity rules. The is also a Modern SRD with your rules for SF elements. Other published D20 material can be introduced for anything else you may need. The flexibility of PC and opponent creation is really helpful. But the rules are really clunky at high level, so things aren't going to run as smoothly as some like.

Dungeon Crawling and Demons:
It pretty much does this right out of the book. Balance issues can be a problem however, more so than some other playstyles.

Castles and Cronies:
Again 3.0 has some mild support for this style. Most of the castle/follower rules aren't as detailed as other verions of the game, but it does have the advantage of having better support for monster cronies. You can make the game fit, but it's not your best choice.

Paladins and Princesses:
Like Dungeoncrawling and Demons the game has pretty good support for this out of the book too, though balance issues are again a problem. The slightly higher survivability rate helps deal with lethality issues. UA/SRD has some variant rules for honor and reputation if you feel like those make a good fit for your game. The experience point and probably treasure system will probably need to be tweaked however.

Simulations and Spellcasters:
It should work pretty well since the rules are detailed enough to support it.

Misfits and Mayhem:
3.x lets you pretty much anything, especially if you bring out Savage Species. Don't expect any balance at all.

So the verdict is that the system is pretty flexible and can be hammered into technically do anything. Issues with balance and crunch can make it pretty off-putting to most people who care about those things.D&D, S&S and P&P can work okay with few changes.* The system is plenty flexible for G&G and M&M though those games can get a little wonkey. It can technically do K&K and C&C but it's not a great choice unless you are combining it with other game styles or want to make good use of the systems flexibility.

*I don't consider XP to be a major change, it's the first thing you should tweak to fit your game
 

ezekiel

Follower of the Way
Validated User
P&P is, was, and always will be the style I love. I'm a huge sap, I feel bad whenever I even think about being evil in a game, and long for tales of derring-do where the noble knight carries the day against the dastardly wizard (or whatever). By and large, any appreciation I have for any other style is a derivation of, or reaction to, this style having the foremost place in my heart. For example, M&M is in some senses the "darker and edgier" cousin of P&P--the heroes are rougher, some tricksy business is expected, and the good guys don't always get the final victory (and, even when they do, it's often bittersweet), and so I like it as a refreshing change of pace.

G&G, on the other hand, takes the dramatism of P&P and turns it into full-blown "rule of cool is paramount" territory, and I can definitely get behind some stuff that gets a little crazily out of hand. (For example, the Exalted campaign that my group wrapped up this past Friday--we'd gone from being nuisances to a single city, to altering the fundamental spirits of earth and sky and rewriting a demonic entity into a benevolent one so the world could finally live in peace.)

On the flipside, I have very little interest in K&K or DC&D. Too gritty, too easily leaning toward "Fantasy Frickin' Vietnam." S&S is...well I guess I find it just kind of lacking. Where's the spark, the interest in all those rules? I mean, I love worldbuilding as much as the next guy. Lord knows I've worldbuilt waaaaaay more worlds than I ever really needed...but they just sit there, glittering with their perfection (hah), unused because....I have no desire, no drive to use them. A well-built simulation feels like watching a computer crunch numbers, rather than watching an unfolding game of Civilization (or some other "how does reality, nature, and civilization adapt to these conditions?" game). C&C...I guess I have no comment? It sounds kind of dull, but I've never experienced a game quite of that kind before, so who knows?
 

Pedantic

Idealist
Validated User
S&S is...well I guess I find it just kind of lacking. Where's the spark, the interest in all those rules? I mean, I love worldbuilding as much as the next guy. Lord knows I've worldbuilt waaaaaay more worlds than I ever really needed...but they just sit there, glittering with their perfection (hah), unused because....I have no desire, no drive to use them. A well-built simulation feels like watching a computer crunch numbers, rather than watching an unfolding game of Civilization (or some other "how does reality, nature, and civilization adapt to these conditions?" game). C&C...I guess I have no comment? It sounds kind of dull, but I've never experienced a game quite of that kind before, so who knows?
These are pretty much the only styles I really feel qualified to talk about. The appeal of S&S is that you don't really know what will happen once you get past your initial inputs. Of all these styles, I'd claim it's the most system vs. playstyle driven. I, for example, really like heavy intrigue campaigns. Most of my worlds come down to deciding on two or three power groups who all want the same things, some other groups or individuals who want competing things, and a set of PCs thrown in the middle with a long-term goal. Having decided the capabilities of all these groups in advance, the interest is in watching it unfold as they react to what the PCs do. Everyone is leveraging whatever advantages they have, and if it ever gets dull, I move to another location, add another competing group, or give the PCs an additional short or long-term goal.

As these games progress, C&C elements generally start to creep in. Give the players one lyre of building one enslaved dragon turtle and an NPC fleshgrafter, and they'll happily start building a base.
 
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