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A Thread For Random RPG Musings


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This thread is for storing and sharing any ideas related to rpgs. The level of detail or completion doesn't matter. It's meant to be a place to put in ideas so you don't forget it, or want to revisit it in the future, or just because your players wouldn't be interested in the ideas.

 

I got this idea when rereading my Rolemaster books. There are so many different types of spellcasters, most of which specialize in one form of magic. So I thought about a possible campaign where all magic must focus on a single aspect. There won't be generic wizards casting fireballs. There will be healers, oracles, alchemists, and other specialists. Magic will be more utilitarian and less combat-oriented. HERO can do this quite easily, but it probably won't work very well for D&D. I probably won't develop this too much, since I'm pretty sure my players won't like this idea.

 

Another idea I got is something I had thought about a long time ago, but I had forgotten about it until recently. I recently received a lot of Highlander cards for my birthday. These cards are out of print, but they are still around. The game is about dueling Immortals, of course. There are other out-of-print card games like the Werewolf and Vampire cards from White Wolf. While they're not roleplaying games, what if you make a campaign by combining the game sessions into a single setting, perhaps within a story arc? You can always do a freeform roleplaying session and use the card games to play out the combat scenes. The same principle can work in wargames.

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Almost everything ever published for the Talislanta world setting and game system is available in PDF for free, legal download from the official Talislanta website: http://talislanta.com/  

I have years ago and we had a great time.  We had all read the books such as Howard Pyle's Men of Iron and Mary Stewart’s trilogy (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment) as well

You're kinda describing Runequest, though, with a more down low style. You might look at the metric f-ton of free stuff for more ideas. I tend to give big eye popping gobs of treasure, then have

Lately, I've been taking a minimalist approach to gaming. I have thought of using one rulebook and one setting book and run the entire campaign that way. I have decided to add a couple more resource books, but I was thinking how beginners could get into the hobby without spending too much money. My advice would be to start small and build on it gradually.

 

But let's say the people in question are willing to spend a little money, not a lot. What should they buy? And what can they get free?


System: Lots of free games are available online. If you want to spend a bit of money, several OSR (D&D retro-clones) books are available at a low cost.

 

Dice: I would recommend splurging a bit because you need a good set of dice, but a lot of stores sell inexpensive sets of dice. there are online dice rollers as well.

 

Setting: Make up your own game, or adapt your favorite novel or TV show. Nothing wrong with a bunch of unrelated dungeon crawls when you're just learning the game.

 

Miniatures: There's nothing wrong with theater of the mind, but if you really need miniatures, start with paper miniatures. Several sites have free paper miniatures you can download. YouTube also has videos on how to create your own miniatures.

 

Battle Maps: If you have wrapping paper in your house, the back may have a grid pattern. Glue it to a cereal box and laminate it with packing tape. Done!

 

This one is just a mental exercise for me. I'm not currently teaching anyone how to play rpgs.

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True, fantasy by far has the lion's share in rpgs. There are a couple of other options.

 

Star Frontiers was legally available for download until a couple of years ago, when WOTC asserted its rights to the material. However, the fan-made magazines Star Frontiersman and Frontier Explorer are still available; WOTC's cease and desist order didn't cover those.

 

Ground Zero Games still offers Full Thrust and Dirtside as free downloads. While these are miniature wargames, you can include roleplaying elements, as per my original post.

 

GURPS Lite is still free, and it can be used for different genres.

 

Going back to Basic Fantasy, I recently purchased it on Amazon, along with Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth and Robert Foster's Complete Guide to Middle-earth. The two resource books combined cost less than the Adventures in Middle-earth Player's Guide. Even when I add Basic Fantasy, the price is only a couple of dollars more than the Player's Guide. Having recently gone out of print, the AiMe books have gone up in price. The price of the Player's Guide has remained somewhat steady, but the Loremaster's Guide is really expensive right now. Also note that I paid full price for the Middle-earth reference books; I could have gotten them at discount prices, but I wanted my books in mint condition.

 

Basic Fantasy RPG and 5e Basic Rules are both available free, but I think BFRPG is a simpler system and thus easier for beginners to learn. Plus, the website has a lot of optional material which is also free.

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I'm currently "contemplating" a Sword and Sorcery game, and I'm stuck on how magic works. More specifically, how magic works at a PC level.

 

My general thoughts are:

 

1. Everyone uses magic all the time. When you get up in the morning, you are likely to put on your amulets and/or say your prayers even before you put on pants (or whatever).

 

2. This magic has a real impact on life and society. It covers things like crop yields, maternal and infant mortality, whether or not a wound becomes infected, and a whole host of other things.

 

3. At the same time, its effects at the game system level are negligible, and can be ignored. Essentially they are either minimal, or cancel out. Example: in a fight, each side is likely to be blessed by a priest or similar, who will also lay curses on the other side. So each combatant will be at +1 to hit from the blessing, and -1 to hit from the other side's curses, giving a net effect of +0.

Rather than figure this out each time, it's easier simply to ignore the whole thing. Any slight advantage one side has can be treated as part of the luck of the dice.

 

4. Of course, there is magic that can't be treated this way, which brings us back to the original starting point.

 

5. On a strategic/diplomatic/political level, magic operates as something like an intelligence service. It gathers intelligence, influences minds and opinions, can carry out sabotage and assassinations, and mobilize proxy/ally forces. It can also be negated by the enemy's countermeasures.

The last reason is why conventional means to similar ends are typically used in parallel.

 

6. But how does the previous point scale down to the "tactical squad"/individual level? In part, I suppose, the roles listed above can be reflected in available spells...

 

7. Magic isn't artillery.

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I have reused/reimagined characters from old campaigns. Sometimes they are used as background; sometimes their backstories are rewritten to fit into a new campaign. Some of my characters from the FASA Star Trek rpg were reimagined so they could exist in my hard sci-fi campaign.

 

In the Traveller rpg, characters can die during the creation process, but they can still be useful. Just include them as part of an existing character's backstory, such as a relative or comrade who died in a past conflict.

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Almost everything ever published for the Talislanta world setting and game system is available in PDF for free, legal download from the official Talislanta website: http://talislanta.com/

 

Multiple editions of the rules, extensive world description, history, secret "lore", creatures, races (a vast selection of PC types), weapons, magic, maps, cultures, religions, currency... the works, really.

 

Every edition of Tal has been pretty rules-light. Its emphasis has always been on materials for role-playing.

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8 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Almost everything ever published for the Talislanta world setting and game system is available in PDF for free, legal download from the official Talislanta website: http://talislanta.com/

 

Multiple editions of the rules, extensive world description, history, secret "lore", creatures, races (a vast selection of PC types), weapons, magic, maps, cultures, religions, currency... the works, really.

 

Every edition of Tal has been pretty rules-light. Its emphasis has always been on materials for role-playing.

 

I have the Talislanta rulebook, but I've never actually used it. It has a lot of interesting ideas, though.

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If a group of people wanted to get into fantasy gaming and are willing to spend a little money, not a lot, what would be the maximum amount of cash should they invest? I'm assuming the people involved are able to spend some money, or their parents are willing to buy them some stuff. Also, I'm assuming the buyers would not too much money on a single purchase.

 

Aside from the free options I mentioned above, I have found some cheap rule systems and dice, as well as gaming paper, It's the miniatures that seem to bring the cost up. Perhaps Etsy and eBay will have affordable miniatures, but the ones available in bulk may cost more than the buyers are willing to spend.

 

Just a thought experiment. I'm trying to keep costs under $50 USD if possible.

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17 hours ago, tkdguy said:

If a group of people wanted to get into fantasy gaming and are willing to spend a little money, not a lot, what would be the maximum amount of cash should they invest? I'm assuming the people involved are able to spend some money, or their parents are willing to buy them some stuff. Also, I'm assuming the buyers would not too much money on a single purchase.

 

Aside from the free options I mentioned above, I have found some cheap rule systems and dice, as well as gaming paper, It's the miniatures that seem to bring the cost up. Perhaps Etsy and eBay will have affordable miniatures, but the ones available in bulk may cost more than the buyers are willing to spend.

 

Just a thought experiment. I'm trying to keep costs under $50 USD if possible.

 

If you want cheap, it's hard to beat FATE Accelerated. The rules are only $5, and you only need 4 dice and some tokens (like glass crafting beads) to play.

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I'm not familiar with the FATE system; I need to take a closer look at it. But thanks for the recommendation.

 

Here are my choices, including why I chose them.

 

System: Basic Fantasy

Why: It's simpler (IMO) than 5e. It's also a free download, like the 5e core rules, but the website also offers a lot of free extras. The printed version is only $5 and is the only book you need.

 

Dice: The best deal I found  was a set of besglo dice through AliExpress

Why: The company offers 6 dice sets with dice bags on sale for $9.15; the regular price is $15.

 

Game mats: Gaming Paper

Why: The roll measures 2.5 feet by 12 feet, for a total surface area of 30 square feet, all for $5. You can choose grids, hexes, or isometric, all 1 inch.

 

Miniatures (optional): Papercraft Dungeon or Cardboard Heroes by Steve Jackson Games

Why: Many of the Papercraft downloads are free, and some are cheap. They also come with removable bases. However, putting the miniature with the base may require more work than the players want to put in. Carboard Heroes is a bit more expensive (although still cheap at $5 each), but it gives you more options, and it's less work to do.

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On 9/29/2020 at 4:28 AM, tkdguy said:

In the Traveller rpg, characters can die during the creation process, but they can still be useful. Just include them as part of an existing character's backstory, such as a relative or comrade who died in a past conflict.

 

Actually, in Mongoose's Traveller 2nd ed. they did away with the whole "death during character creation" bit. They have it as an option in their Companion, however.

 

On 10/5/2020 at 2:49 PM, tkdguy said:

If a group of people wanted to get into fantasy gaming and are willing to spend a little money, not a lot, what would be the maximum amount of cash should they invest? I'm assuming the people involved are able to spend some money, or their parents are willing to buy them some stuff. Also, I'm assuming the buyers would not too much money on a single purchase.

 

Aside from the free options I mentioned above, I have found some cheap rule systems and dice, as well as gaming paper, It's the miniatures that seem to bring the cost up. Perhaps Etsy and eBay will have affordable miniatures, but the ones available in bulk may cost more than the buyers are willing to spend.

 

Just a thought experiment. I'm trying to keep costs under $50 USD if possible.

 

Beyond going with the free systems, it would depend on what style of game you'd want to run/play. There are a bunch of games on DriveThruRPG that are pretty affordable that go beyond any kind of D&D. Much of it depends on the play style that you choose. 

 

12 hours ago, IndianaJoe3 said:

 

If you want cheap, it's hard to beat FATE Accelerated. The rules are only $5, and you only need 4 dice and some tokens (like glass crafting beads) to play.

 

Have to agree with Joe here. FATE and FATE Accelerated are both easy to access and play relatively easy. And while I dig FATE, my group had some issues with it. In all of its simplicity, they had problems adapting to it. Unfortunate, as the game is highly adaptable to a variety of concepts. If you were looking at this option, you'd have the following:

System: FATE/FATE Accelerated \\ Pay What You Want (PDF)

Dice: FATE/Fudge Dice \\ $6+

Map: Ream of Paper/Index Cards \\ $5+

Minis: Not Really Needed. 

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I've made a bit of progress on the issues I raised in my post upthread, but I've caused myself another problem.

 

In a fantasy game, why wouldn't you play a wizard?

In the thing I'm thinking about, there are no character classes or point totals. Magic is generally a minor thing that everyone practices, which cancels out. The wizards I am talking about are those that don't fit into the last sentence. Their magic matters in terms of the game system.

 

But what should be their limiting factor? It's entirely possible to limit them socially, because the thing I am designing isn't restricted to the tactical game, but that implies there is only one society.

 

To use Conan as an example: why would you play a Cimmerian barbarian rather than a Stygian wizard?

I'm posting it here rather than in the Fantasy Hero forum because I don't want to hear anything about Limitations or any other boring Hero System stuff. I want natural language - text.

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Invoking magic "borrows" things from elsewhen in the timestream?  So that whatever a wizard does magically to others, it is guaranteed to happen to him, at some other point in time.

 

This could cut both ways.  If the wizard suffers a significant attack that isn't something he'd visited on someone else in the past, then be can borrow it from his own past and visit it on a new enemy without incurring future cost.  Makes memory tests important.

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I guess it depends on the type of fantasy you play. Fantasy Hero 4th Edition makes note of the differences in genre. In a high fantasy campaign, a wizard can successfully take on armies. In a sword & sorcery campaign, a swordsman can usually cut down a wizard before the latter can unleash his spell.

 

Then there's low fantasy, where only NPCs may be spellcasters. Or magic rituals take hours or even days to complete, thus limiting their use in combat.  In one of my campaigns, a mix of swashbuckling fantasy and semi-realistic martial arts, magic didn't exist at all.

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On 10/8/2020 at 5:37 AM, assault said:

In a fantasy game, why wouldn't you play a wizard?

 

There are many possible answers to that question. Maybe the character I want to play just hits things with a stick. Maybe mages have too much book-keeping involved. Maybe the system nerfs wizards in some fashion, and they aren't viable PCs.

 

The question, "Why don't more people in this setting become wizards?" has a seperate set of answers, but that's not what you asked. :)

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5 hours ago, IndianaJoe3 said:

The question, "Why don't more people in this setting become wizards?" has a seperate set of answers, but that's not what you asked. :)

For the record, everyone in this setting uses magic, but it cancels out.

 

It's a bit like teenage girls casting love spells, or a priest blessing you and cursing your enemies before you go to war. In the latter case, the enemy's priests are doing exactly the same thing.

 

Logically, you should treat it as a special effect and ignore it mechanically. But unfortunately there are these cases where you can't ignore it. That's the problem I am trying to deal with.

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4 hours ago, assault said:

For the record, everyone in this setting uses magic, but it cancels out.

 

It's a bit like teenage girls casting love spells, or a priest blessing you and cursing your enemies before you go to war. In the latter case, the enemy's priests are doing exactly the same thing.

 

Logically, you should treat it as a special effect and ignore it mechanically. But unfortunately there are these cases where you can't ignore it. That's the problem I am trying to deal with.

 

Things will balance out until one side does something unexpected. Figure out what than unexpected thing was and work from there.

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On 10/8/2020 at 4:37 AM, assault said:

I've made a bit of progress on the issues I raised in my post upthread, but I've caused myself another problem.

 

In a fantasy game, why wouldn't you play a wizard?

In the thing I'm thinking about, there are no character classes or point totals. Magic is generally a minor thing that everyone practices, which cancels out. The wizards I am talking about are those that don't fit into the last sentence. Their magic matters in terms of the game system.

 

But what should be their limiting factor? It's entirely possible to limit them socially, because the thing I am designing isn't restricted to the tactical game, but that implies there is only one society.

 

To use Conan as an example: why would you play a Cimmerian barbarian rather than a Stygian wizard?

I'm posting it here rather than in the Fantasy Hero forum because I don't want to hear anything about Limitations or any other boring Hero System stuff. I want natural language - text.

 

There are trade-offs to everything since there are only so many hours in a day.

 

If you're a highly-skilled magician, you need to know ancient languages and have a ton of knowledge skills. If you want to be the guy who actually makes magic items, you're going to need crafting skills and maybe metallurgy skills. And that's in addition to years spent in magical apprenticeship and actually practicing your magic.

 

You aren't going to be practicing your Running. Or building up your Endurance. Or even learning how to properly defend yourself on a physical level. If you ever go adventuring, half of the magical goodies you find aren't going to do you much good because you can't wield a magic sword or shuffle around in magic armor.

 

It's entirely possible that by the time a person learns enough magic to be any good at it that he isn't a young man anymore.

 

And that he's had to pour every cent he's ever made into buying materials, spellbooks, and tomes and for all purposes is practically penniless. The reason all those wizards hang out in abandoned towers and forgotten dungeons is that they can't afford to pay rent anywhere. Magic is a money pit. And no one would be willing to rent to him even if by some miracle he could afford it. 

 

And once a wizard finds a place to live, how is he supposed to leave it? His tomes are old and brittle. His spellbooks are fragile. His materials are bulky. Even if he pares down everything to an absolute minimum for travel, someone is going to come along and steal everything he leaves behind...there's always some other wizard who is willing to pay for old tomes, spellbooks, and spell-casting materials.

 

Barbarians aren't flashy but what they have is simple, effective, and versatile. Barbarians have their enemies to be sure. But if you rent a room to one, you aren't going to have to worry about burglars at all hours of the night trying to steal his valuables. And he isn't going to accidentally blow it up or let loose the demons of Hell. Try saying the same thing about a wizard!

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