Tell me what's out there for fantasy sandbox play

edited August 2011 in Story Games
Folks, looking for recommendations as to what games are out there -- published, free, ashcans, out of print, whatever -- that might be appropriate for my group:

1. We're all experienced story-gamers and traditional rpgs tend to bore us.
2. We're looking for a fantasy game that allows for long term (10+ sessions) sandbox game-play.
3. If possible we want to indulge in some D&D tropes (character archetypes, adventuring party, some monster slaying, etc. )
4. We want this to be fun but not feel like a silly romp.
5. We want to do much more than simply dungeon crawl.
6. We want a GM in the mix but are looking for more of a facilitator as much as an author; we're each of us totally fine with generating story on our own and perpetuating character motivations and goals.
7. Setting creation will be a shared, ongoing exercise and we embrace the idea of situation or premise play to kick things off.

So, what's out there?
Looking for anything that might scratch that itch of fantasy world sandbox play/exploration but something suitable for story-gamers. An especially awesome hack for Red Box D&D? Dungeon World drift? Old school rpg goals but with New School rules? Pathfinder by way of In a Wicked Age? Also, yes I'm very aware of Burning Wheel (great game, love it).

Thanks, folks.
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Comments

  • edited August 2011
    Seriously Denys, you are describing Burning Wheel to a T, more specifically, the Burning THAC0 hack of it ("A compilation of rules, advice, monsters and magic that give your Burning Wheel game that old school D&D feel"). I don't think you'll find anything that does what you outline above better (except for maybe Dungeon World? But I'm not familiar with it).
  • What Hans c-o said. Burning Wheel does this well.

    Awen by Levi might be worth checking out here

    Dungeon World would also meet your criteria which you mentioned already ;)

    Tunnels and Trolls is good for this. You might want to hack it.

    There are various hacks of Traveller adapted to fantasy (or historic) sandbox hex crawling some of them get at 6 and 7

    Ryuu Tama accept you would have to hack it to better fit with 6 and 7
  • Old School Hack

    It's free, it's mint !
  • Can you be specific about what exactly you intend to do in the sandbox? Sandbox play seems to me to be more of a method than a goal in itself.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyCan you be specific about what exactly you intend to do in the sandbox? Sandbox play seems to me to be more of a method than a goal in itself.
    By that I mean explore around, story creation emerges from play, no set agenda. Whatever the PCs end up focusing on ends up getting created (given group veto power, consideration for tone and atmosphere).
  • Posted By: akooserWhat Hans c-o said. Burning Wheel does this well.

    BW might very well be the answer. I just wanted to see if I was missing something.

    Barbarians of Lemuria seems to get much love. Would that fit what I want?
  • Posted By: DenysBy that I mean explore around, story creation emerges from play, no set agenda. Whatever the PCs end up focusing on ends up getting created (given group veto power, consideration for tone and atmosphere).
    Okay, but what are the PCs going to focus on, that's what I'm asking.

    I mean, let's say they focus on exploring. Then the game system is not going to be as important as massive amounts of setting material and ways to create more.

    In that case I would recommend one thing.

    If they focus on social maneuvering, I would recommend a different game with support for that.

    And so on.
  • edited August 2011
    Posted By: DenysBarbarians of Lemuria seems to get much love. Would that fit what I want?
    BoL is a fairly traditional, rules-light game. Its nice points are careers as a replacement for skills, a mechanism that if you generate a plot hook when burning though your loot, you get an extra advancement point (and if you spend your loot in a useful fashion, you get one less advancement point), and its free-form magic system. The group I play with found combat a bit dull, it being pretty much straight task resolution with no tactical options.
  • Posted By: Peter AronsonPosted By: DenysBarbarians of Lemuria seems to get much love. Would that fit what I want?
    BoLis a fairly traditional, rules-light game. It's nice points are careers as a replacement for skills, a mechanism that if you generate a plot hook when burning though your loot, you get an extra advancement point (and if you spend your loot in a useful fashion, you get onelessadvancement point), and its free-form magic system. The group I play with found combat a bit dull, it being pretty much straight task resolution with no tactical options.

    I have to say, that sounds dull. Trad rules light isn't my answer I don't think. And thanks for the info.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyPosted By: DenysBy that I mean explore around, story creation emerges from play, no set agenda. Whatever the PCs end up focusing on ends up getting created (given group veto power, consideration for tone and atmosphere).

    I mean, let's say they focus on exploring. Then the game system is not going to be as important as massive amounts of setting material and ways to create more.

    In that case I would recommend one thing.

    If they focus on social maneuvering, I would recommend a different game with support for that.

    And so on.

    Well, since those are not mutually exclusive, I would say they might focus on both. I'm not necessarily the GM and as a player I would say helping create setting material is something we're looking for (as I said in my original post). Social maneuvering will for sure happen...as will a desire for ass-kicking monsters.

    One thing I do know for sure is that no one wants to read a big book of setting fluff.
  • Denys,

    Along the lines of JD's questions. Are you envisioning starting with a blank piece of paper for the map? Is your group interested in hacking a system to fit your goals?
  • So, I'll also echo Burning Wheel, as long as you keep in mind its' monster often are more than just fighting, and you'll only need one at a time. This does not mean the monsters are not amazing, however.
  • Posted By: akooserDenys,

    Along the lines of JD's questions. Are you envisioning starting with a blank piece of paper for the map? Is your group interested in hacking a system to fit your goals?
    I think we might start out with a blank map because i find those vs. blank pieces of paper more conducive to creating setting on the fly, (e.g. "...and this big mountain range of course has the elemental dwarves residing in their grand cities, watchful of the sea to the east.")

    We're okay with some system hacking but not a lot; we'd rather find a pre-existing solution than to cut and paste a home-brew system.
  • It seems to me that you might do well with any of the relatively generic, drama-sensitive systems out there. Something without much in the way of overriding structural arcs, something that leaves the GM and the group room to do their own thing, only providing resolution rules, flags, character-structuring procedures and such. Also, definitely has to be easy to operate on the flight, being as how most content will be generated in play.

    So yeah, ignoring traditional designs that don't drive play procedurally, in this genre we have Burning Wheel, which was already mentioned, The Shadow of Yesterday, HeroQuest, Houses of the Blooded, Conspiracy of Shadows, In a Wicked Age and Trollbabe. All of these feature open-ended adventure play, a GM with specified procedural and creative responsibilities and a dramatically "sticky" rules-system that cares about who and what your player character heroes are. I would also mention Legends of Alyria and Mortal Coil here just to give a sense for the nimbus - one of those steps out of my purview here by virtue of its dramatic procedures being too specific for perfect sandboxing, while the other is dropped for being unnecessarily perverse (in the technical sense, you Forge fans) with its resolution system.

    Now, looking at my line-up here, Burning Wheel, TSoY and HQ stand up as the most generic and powerful of the lot - they're all grand fantasy adventure games perfectly capable of doing this thing, the oft compared "Big Three" of dramatic fantasy adventure. HQ is the fuzziest in procedure and creative agenda, so if you enjoy freedom to drift and a lightweight system in general, that's your ticket. BW is clearly the heaviest and most complex, while TSoY is middleweight and flexible, capable of scaling even in the midsts of a campaign from HQ-like simplicity to BW-like detail. Each of those systems have their own specific mechanical aesthetics and creative emphasis, too, so you'll probably do best by checking them out and deciding for yourself - TSoY is available for free in the Internet, BW you know and HQ... it's only for sale, I think? I'm probably remembering that they have an open license for creating spin-off products or something.

    The second-stringers on my list are good to check out as well - they're only second-stringers here because they're a bit more specific in what they are about, and thus less suitable for sandboxing. Fine games all, especially In a Wicked Age, which might be my favourite among Vincent Baker designs. And Trollbabe, oh yes, just fantastic if you don't mind your sandbox not featuring an adventurer party and every character being half-troll, all-babe.

    But yeah, my pick would be either one of those top three or OSR D&D, depending on whether I actually wanted to do drama or challenge as the creative focus of play. OSR D&D does a challengeful sandbox so well that I wouldn't see any reason to switch, or at least any game that would do it better (potentially Tunnels & Trolls, but I'd argue that it's going to depend on play technique at that point). Between the drama games my own vote would obviously enough go to TSoY - I haven't been fiddling with it for years accidentally, it hits too many sweet spots for me in terms of mechanical aesthetics, balance of crunch vs. fluff and so on. In fact, I'm so biased on this matter that I won't try for a closer critique right now - Burning Wheel is absolutely a fantastic game, and HQ is simply formative for me as well as many others, so most of my reasons for going with TSoY over either of those would be just petty personal things like being annoyed by the huge choice matrix in the BW chargen or whatnot.
  • In the OSR D&D category, Adventurer Conqueror King is designed to allow sandbox play to fulfill your criteria "whatever the PCs end up focusing on ends up getting created" by providing an economic structure that makes player ambitions & the challenges of realizing them concrete: like if you want to focus on starting a thieves' guild, or building a stronghold, here's how many gold pieces you need to create that.

    If everyone in your group is used to creating story on an authorial level as well as through their character's actions, then campaign economics as player empowerment may be less important for you, but in my experience having some detailed, in-game mechanics for tracking what gold pieces get spent on & all the different they can buy is a nice complement and grounding for the Dungeon World-style mechanics for complications and partial success I use for carousing in the White Sandbox.

    In this essay Eppy talks about Adventurer Conqueror King being one (trad) way to answer the promise of D&D, with his Swords w/o Master being the other (story-game). I think it'd be pretty easy to roll them (or whatever other storygame you have in mind) into a single system on your own, though, and doing so would be be better than letting us do this imagining for you because you know best what your group's style is.
  • It's not exactly generic, but you might consider the new Middle-earth RPG, The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild.

    The game itself is an intriguing blend of traditional and new-school mechanics. What I think really recommends it to a more sandbox, exploration-type game are its Journey rules (the game devotes about the same amount of pages to rules for journeys as it does to rules for combat). I can't speak from experience yet, but based on my reading the rules should make for an intense and interesting experience of travel and the tribulations of the open road.

    The down side, of course, is that you'd have to hack it a bit to use it with your own communally developed setting as opposed to using the Middle-earth setting. On the other hand, most D&D-esque settings owe more than a passing debt to Middle-earth, so the need to hack may not be very extensive. Also, it doesn't look that difficult to tweak.
  • Folks, thanks so much for feedback.

    Eero, Tavis, Akooser, Thor -- you've been really helpful and led me to resources I may not have considered (among them Adventurer Conqueror King and The One Ring.
  • If you're interested in magic (or things that look like magic), then Mortal Coil is certainly worth consideration. It has a great way of generating shared worlds through the creation and maintenance of a theme document. It's far less crunchy than Burning Wheel.

    I think I'd go with a Mortal Coil style theme document (along with the power and magic tokens needed to run this system) bolted on to a simple Sword & Sorcery game like OD&D and other more recent clones. If you want something simpler to kickstart the game, it's amazing how powerful it can be just asking players during chargen the worst thing their character ever did. I did this at the start of our Owl Hoot Trail (OHT is a 3rd ed OGL clone) campaign and I think we've run about 8 sessions of the back of that (along with all the other Western tropes).

    Warhammer FRP (I haven't seen the latest edition) has occupations instead of character classes which makes the game more real and sandboxy. On the other hand, Barbarians of Lemuria does this in a much lighter way and is more classical fantasy than the almost Renaissance feel of WHFRP.
  • Just finished reading The One Ring and I'm very impressed. I agree it would suit a sandbox very well, bearing in mind there are a few setting specific elements like limited magic for characters and few monster options for broader fantasy.

    The latest version of Warhammer is very interesting and has some cool mechanics, like party sheets and interesting dice results. But it also has a lot of setting specific elements on it you'd need to file off and is more trad.

    What about Mouse Guard hack? Realm Guard is pretty cool. Like BW, but a bit simpler to run.

    For mapping On Mighty Thews has cool ideas about linking areas to characters.
  • Depending on the type of sandbox play you want:
    Dictionary of Mu - You will probably want to pick up Sorcerer and Sword and Sorcerer to go with it
    There is another Sorcerer setting similar to Dictionary of Mu but I can't remember the title, it's available through Lulu. Help with title? Anyone?

    Also Charnel Gods - oop
  • Posted By: GB SteveIf you're interested in magic (or things that look like magic), then Mortal Coil is certainly worth consideration. It has a great way of generating shared worlds through the creation and maintenance of a theme document. It's far less crunchy than Burning Wheel.

    I think I'd go with a Mortal Coil style theme document (along with the power and magic tokens needed to run this system) bolted on to a simple Sword & Sorcery game like OD&D and other more recent clones. If you want something simpler to kickstart the game, it's amazing how powerful it can be just asking players during chargen the worst thing their character ever did. I did this at the start of our Owl Hoot Trail (OHT is a 3rd ed OGL clone) campaign and I think we've run about 8 sessions of the back of that (along with all the other Western tropes).

    Warhammer FRP (I haven't seen the latest edition) has occupations instead of character classes which makes the game more real and sandboxy. On the other hand, Barbarians of Lemuria does this in a much lighter way and is more classical fantasy than the almost Renaissance feel of WHFRP.
    Yea, combining Mortal Coil theme doc with something else is a fine idea to formalize the setting creation/theme process.

    As for your suggestion of Warhammer FRP, that violates tenets #1, #3 and #7 in my OP.

    For me, a D&D trope suggests a certain derring-do and adventure optimism; Warhammer suggests my PC will die in the gutter with a n infected bowel wound.
  • edited August 2011
    Posted By: akooserThere is another Sorcerer setting similar to Dictionary of Mu but I can't remember the title, it's available through Lulu. Help with title? Anyone?
    Could it be The Later Blue Tome of Amaxathroth the Cursed? It seems to have moved from Lulu to RPGNow, and it's free now.
  • Peter,

    Awesome! Thank you. I lost track of that and was trying to find it to purchase it!

    ara
  • Denys,

    I've been using a lightly hacked version of Savage Worlds for my home campaign. Basically, I replaced the stats/skills thing with a Stat+Job=Skill grid, partially inspired by Leverage.

    Yes, it's more of a "trad done light" approach, but I find that having interesting social skills (social skills work in combat, plus out) and a nice lightweight-but-just-crunchy-enough minis combat system scratches the tactical combat dungeon crawly itch without making me want to claw my eyes out from the D&D level-treadmill AC+HP+Levels thing that I just can't handle anymore. (Sorry OSR, Pathfinder, etc. folks. No flaming intended. It just doesn't work for me these days.)

    True, the characterization-on-the-sheet aspects aren't as strong as what you might find in other games (beliefs in BW, and things like that). But the framework is so lightweight that you can bolt on just about anything you like with almost no effort. I added a basic idea for relationships as Edges (though some of it is already present in SW anyway, like the Sidekick edge).

    So basically, if you want to have "some" tactical combat on a battlemat, I highly recommend that type of approach, and I'll gladly send you all the stuff I thought through and wrote up if you're interested.

    Also worth noting - SW is built on a tabletop minis game backbone. So it scales up to really big combats really well. Which I think is a great potential bonus for a game where the players are driving the scope. But, again, only if you want to play out tactical combats (in a relatively fast way).

    If you want all your monster ass-whupin to be done with words and dice and no minis, then go with the other fine recommendations in this thread.

    If you already know and like BW, it's probably perfect. I tried reading it and found it too daunting and heavy for me to pick up and run. But with an awesome GM to help get me started on it, I'd probably dig it.
  • Rob -- those are all good suggestions. I'm a fan of Savage Worlds though that's waning a bit as I get more interested in less-trad games but your suggestion re: Leverage is nifty (especially as the more I read of the various Cortex + systems, the more I like them). And honestly SW does kind of have a D&D vibe to me (having run Hellfrost and having a very fun time with it.)
  • edited August 2011
    @Denys

    I was looking for something that is exactly what you described. I am trying to hack In a Wicked Age for GM-less mode, but it is giving me all kind of problems in terms of finding a fair way of setting up conflicts. I was also thinking about using some token system to create a deck of facts and unresolved questions about them, to be used to drive the generative process.

    If you are ok with having a GM, Donjon could be the answer. I also just looked at Awen, which looks very interesting.

    I recently played Becomig Heroes and it also looks very promising for a GM-less hack as almost all the conflicts and adversities are generated by the characters themselves, and there are many quasi-gm powers that the players can already use.

    Let me know if you find the right balance!

    --i.
  • Legends of Anglerre offers a Fate-based toolkit that can be used for a sandbox game.
  • Denys,
    Seems to me like if you take your #1-7 as a plan into play, there are a huge number of games wherein you could do it. Primetime Adventures certainly wouldn't stop you. What I'd ask is: what you are looking for the game to do for you? If you're looking for it to provide strategic options and engagement with mechanics, maybe Burning Wheel; if you're looking for it to put the focus on of mood-rich fictional detail, maybe Swords Without Master; etc.
  • edited August 2011
    While from what I here there will be a fantasy version for it in the future, the best example of a game built for "Sand Box" play is definitely Stars Without Number.

    Change some names, some concepts, and without a whole lot of work you could do it.
  • edited August 2011
    There have been a couple of mentions of Swords without Master but is that a game that's available or is one of those things I have to cobble together based on forum posts, actual plays, etc. Google shows me the game's page but the game isn't published according to it. The linked-to forum hasn't had posts on it in months and months.
  • The game is not available yet, alas.
  • SWM as it was the last time I played it is not really a 'sandbox' as I understand that word; it's heavily player-driven and relies on constant in-play setting creation as opposed to the broad-based setting preparation that sandboxing is based on.

  • My game Charge! works well for sandbox play. It's currently in playtest format though and not a final product.

    It's a rules light adventure game with some story-game elements.

    It features:

    -Completely open-ended class system where you play whatever concept you desire. Your class is a phrase or sentence that you or the group comes up with. It drives what your character is skilled at and what his competencies are.

    -Free-form magic system which allows you to cast whatever spells fit your concept. You want to play a Pyro-mancer throwing down huge swathes of fire across scores of foes? Awesome. You want to call down the stars and smash the demon prince's kingdom? Go ahead.

    -The miscast system is fun as hell. You have a small chance to miscast as a Mage/Priest/Magic User in which case you draw a piece of paper from the miscast bowl at the center of the table. The miscast bowl is filled with miscasts that are created by your group prior to play.

    In playtesting the miscast system my favorites so far have been "all the 1st born children dying in the nearest town" and "You summon a Hound of Xaxel from the Dark Plane". Xaxel did not yet exist and so we had to invent/world-build on the fly. "Who's Xaxel, what's the Dark Plane?"

    -Player authored priorities in the form of two traits which describe what you are running from/leaving behind and what/where you are headed.

    GM section is very light at the moment but the advice is for the GM to use these flags to prep the session. In a sandbox game (I've run one with this system), the GM would prep setting material and NPCs to challenge/address these flags.
  • Posted By: shreyasSWM as it was the last time I played it is not really a 'sandbox' as I understand that word; it's heavily player-driven and relies on constant in-play setting creation as opposed to the broad-based setting preparation that sandboxing is based on.
    That actually works fine then. We want to create the sandbox as we play. No one is interested in reading prepared fluff other than maybe a core theme doc a la Mortal Coil.
  • Two things that I know about:

    In a Wicked Age is probably my favorite RPG, but to play it GMless is insanity.

    Mouse Guard is one of my favorites as well, but it will easily frustrate players looking for sandbox play. The turn structure of the game, which I love, puts half the game on some hardcore rails. The player's turn on the other hand....
    I would go with Burning Wheel and simply not use all of the subsystems until you feel you need them.
  • edited August 2011
    Wow we are 36 pages in and not a single reference the Wilderlands?

    Jeff Rients (whose blog you should be following if you are interested in sandbox play) has a nice summary of the pros and cons of the Wilderlands.

    Rob Conley (who has tons to say about sandbox games) put out a new interpretation called The Majestic Wilderlands that is very well-regarded.
  • Posted By: walkerptons to say
    Conley's list in that blog-post is pretty cool. Basically, we want to do that as the game progresses. I don't anyone mentioned Wilderlands because my group not looking for big book of fluff and setting, we're looking to create that ourselves in-game.

    That may not be the definition of a sandbox game and, if that's the case, my apologies for miscommunication.
  • edited August 2011
    You can learn a ton about sandbox play by looking at the Wilderlands, or Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign. It's not a system in the sense that storygamers expect, where following these clearly-laid-out procedures from a single source will deliver a focused experience. Nor is it a big book of fluff and setting in the way that trad gamers expect, where the story is already plotted and made palatable in a wine cooler dilution. These old materials had no pagecount for anything but the bare bones, 200 proof ethanol necessary to fuel action at the table; the implications are as bracing, unadorned, and mind-expanding as a beaker of Everclear.

    One of the things you can learn is that having a big map with gameable implications (how many hexes do you move in a day, what's the chance of a random encounter on the way) allows sandbox play to proceed in an organic way that's neither player-created nor GM-created and feels like discovering an independent reality. And the Wilderlands maps & associated materials are a hella cool example of that kind of non-system support for sandboxing.
  • Yes, what Tavis said.
  • @Denys, Death of the Vele is a collaborative game that might fit what you're looking for. Here are the bullet points I have at the start of the rules:
    • Collaborative, but feels like a traditional RPG
    • Your characters are yours
    • Supports campaign-length stories
    • Game play stays at the table
    • Characters don’t always do their best -- sometimes they have an off-day, even if their stats say they’re fine, but this is your decision
    • The Right of Challenge -- if the other players don’t buy it, you can’t do it
    • Show, don’t tell -- a lot of communication happens through scenes and events
    • Answer questions with scenes -- if players want to know, scenes reveal the answer
    • Characters are naturally “woven together”
    • Your characters will get the spotlight
    • Supports visiting gamers
    I've been testing this weekly (or so) for over a year. I'd love to hear what you think of the game itself, how clear the rules are, the presentation, etc. I want to publish this before next Gencon and I'd trying to make the rules as easy to read as I can.


    Bill
  • edited August 2011
    Posted By: Denys
    1. We're all experienced story-gamers and traditional rpgs tend to bore us.
    3. If possible we want to indulge in some D&D tropes (character archetypes, adventuring party, some monster slaying, etc. )
    Sorry, I'm new to the story-gamer genre. How, if traditional RPGs bore you, can you have the D&D tropes in there? Aren't they at the core of most traditional RPGs? Please help me understand. :)
  • Sounds like Dungeon World to me, not even drifted much. Then again, I'm hopelessly biased. The Basic game (the book from GenCon and PAX) would get you started and I can send you the full PDF which covers the really sandboxy stuff like Fronts. It also has more moves that shine outside the dungeon.
  • @sage: is Dungeon World designed to be run GM-less/collaboratively?
  • Posted By: KaneBlaireauSorry, I'm new to the story-gamer genre. How, if traditional RPGs bore you, can you have the D&D tropes in there? Aren't they at the core of most traditional RPGs? Please help me understand. :)
    (sorry about the code up there...not sure what went wrong...)
    Well, for example, D&D says you have a class and level, which inherently decides 75% to 90% of your character stat-build choices, depending on what edition you're playing.

    However, if you like the idea of strongly archetype-driven characterization (fighter, mage, cleric, thief, etc) you could carry that trope over into a different style of system.

    In a skill-based system, the players could agree to focus their skill buys on an archetype.

    In a system with descriptive traits, you could, for example, have the thief take "No one sees me unless I want them to" for their sneaking and "I go where I want" for their lockpicking.

    So you would be indulging in the trope without playing in a class+level system.

    Also, if you're engaging in super-story-heavy play and you want to play a paladin or cleric, you're more likely to deeply engage with the religious aspect of the character, rather than treating it as a convenient power source for combat effects. Which isn't to say that you can't do that in D&D. But, to date, I've rarely seen it happen in D&D games, because they tend to focus on slaying your way through problems rather than engaging in religious debate or conversion or whatever. A story-focused system might help you do that. In which case, you'd be engaging with what is theoretically supposed to be a trope of D&D but typically isn't. (Note: I use the phrase "supposed to be" with a huge grain of salt. I'm not trying to tell anyone how they're supposed to play. I'm just using that phrase to mention content that is partially developed but, in my experience, rarely used effectively.)
  • Funny as it is, "traditional roleplaying" does not do a very good job of encompassing the entirety of D&D - there's at least one historical paradigm of play in D&D that's antithetical to what is understood as traditional roleplaying, so it's entirely possible to like D&D without liking traditional games - I'm like that myself.
  • Posted By: ivan@sage: is Dungeon World designed to be run GM-less/collaboratively?
    Definitely not GM-less, but it is designed with lots of collaboration. For example, the Cleric just flat out names their deity, describes there domains and petitions, and that's a Real Thing in the world. A lot of the classes have areas like that. The GM is also expressly told to ask the players questions (about their past, the world, how things work, etc.) and use the answers.

    I ran a short con game where, during setup, we found out that the cleric's god didn't actually exist (it was a con pulled off by the rest of the party on this poor woodsman). So where are his spells coming from? So many cool issues there, I want to play that game for way longer than two hours.
  • Yes, Rob has the right of it. Thanks for stating that out.
  • Posted By: wburdick@Denys,Death of the Veleis a collaborative game that might fit what you're looking for. Here are the bullet points I have at the start of the rules:


    Collaborative, but feels like a traditional RPG
    Your characters are yours
    Supports campaign-length stories
    Game play stays at the table
    Characters don’t always do their best -- sometimes they have an off-day, even if their stats say they’re fine, but this is your decision
    The Right of Challenge -- if the other players don’t buy it, you can’t do it
    Show, don’t tell -- a lot of communication happens through scenes and events
    Answer questions with scenes -- if players want to know, scenes reveal the answer
    Characters are naturally “woven together”
    Your characters will get the spotlight
    Supports visiting gamers


    I've been testing this weekly (or so) for over a year. I'd love to hear what you think of the game itself, how clear the rules are, the presentation, etc. I want to publish this before next Gencon and I'd trying to make the rules as easy to read as I can.


    Bill
    I will go through this during my downtime at the game con this weekend. Thanks!
  • edited August 2011
    Posted By: RobMcDiarmidWell, for example, D&D says you have a class and level, which inherently decides 75% to 90% of your character stat-build choices, depending on what edition you're playing.

    However, if you like the idea of strongly archetype-driven characterization (fighter, mage, cleric, thief, etc) you could carry that trope over into a different style of system.

    In a skill-based system, the players could agree to focus their skill buys on an archetype.

    In a system with descriptive traits, you could, for example, have the thief take "No one sees me unless I want them to" for their sneaking and "I go where I want" for their lockpicking.

    So you would be indulging in the trope without playing in a class+level system.

    Also, if you're engaging in super-story-heavy play and you want to play a paladin or cleric, you're more likely to deeply engage with the religious aspect of the character, rather than treating it as a convenient power source for combat effects. Which isn't to say that you can't do that in D&D. But, to date, I've rarely seen it happen in D&D games, because they tend to focus on slaying your way through problems rather than engaging in religious debate or conversion or whatever. A story-focused system might help you do that. In which case, you'd be engaging with what is theoretically supposed to be a trope of D&D but typically isn't. (Note: I use the phrase "supposed to be" with a huge grain of salt. I'm not trying to tell anyone how they're supposed to play. I'm just using that phrase to mention content that is partially developed but, in my experience, rarely used effectively.)
    OK then! Well, considering that is what I have been after in my own game (Crushed Earth) I'm all for it! Thanks for that. Makes TOTAL sense now.
  • @wburdick

    I am going through Death of the Vele. I like how it mixes narrative with crunchiness.
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