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D&D Travel Edition (?)

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sedjtroll
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I've always been a big fan of the IDEA of Dungeons and Dragons (and by extension, Role Playing in general). But every time I've tried to play it I've been disappointed.

I just had an idea which is likely a summary of many past ideas I've had about D&D- basically something that could be played on a long car ride or something. I'll call it D&D Travel Edition for now ;)

Basically an RPG where the DM does normal DM stuff. However, instead of rolling dice to determine stuff, the DM simply decides if an action succeeds and to what extent.

The game would be story based, so if the action messes up the story then the DM would have to figure out a way to work around it, or the action may not be possible or fail or something. For example, say a character is suspicious of the King's Visir and does some kind of detect magic and notices that he's got the king under a charm spell... maybe it turns out that this is the main plot and the characters weren't supposed to figure it out until later... but now they know so the DM has to deal with that. Furthermore, say that character gets mad about it and attacks the Visir where he stands (behind the throne, in public, etc)... the DM might have to stop him so as not to kill the rest of the game- maybe the King's guards jump in the way and grab the guy. Either he slips away or they drag him to prison, either way the party is now on the outs with the court.

This is the kind of D&D I always wanted to play. I find the normal dicefest gets bogged down in rules and combats.

Nazhuret
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D&D Travel Edition (?)

it sounds like you just weren't able to find the proper frisson with the people you were playing with.

rpgs are what you make of them. straight "out of the box" any rpg could be a dice fest with multiple chart references and keeping track of the very last ounce of incumberence etc....
or it could be very laid back (rules-wise) and concentrating on story telling perhaps even to the point of no rules at all.

none of this has anything to do with the rules of the game as such since one of the cardinal rules is that if you don't like the rules either don't use them or change them to whatever works for your group.

d&d travel edition? i might call that storytelling 'round the campfire.

with elves...

FastLearner
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D&D Travel Edition (?)

I agree that it sounds like you haven't had a good group or a good DM. Good DMs do that kind of thing all the time, while still leaving as much of destiny as possible in the hands of the players.

-- Mathew

FastLearner
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D&D Travel Edition (?)

I agree that it sounds like you haven't had a good group or a good DM. Good DMs do that kind of thing all the time, while still leaving as much of destiny as possible in the hands of the players.

-- Mathew

Anonymous
Free Form RPG

There are many diceless roleplaying games (free form rpgs), however if you want to have a random dice-like element to the game one could use numberplates of cars as the source of randomness (a bit like spot-o actually).

JPOG
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D&D Travel Edition (?)

I would direct you, naturally, to RPG.NET and the Forge, which I'm sure you've been to.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewforum.php?f=4&sid=187890a78b88dba5800881e4...

http://forum.rpg.net/forumdisplay.php?forumid=11

You're definitely leaning toward narrative-storytelling rather than gamist or simulationist style in your RPGs and both those sites have just about 100x all you could want in discussion about various techniques, game creation, playing and gamemastering styles, recommended RPGs, etc.

The problem with the kind of thing you're talking about is that the GM is shouldered with the lion's share of the responsibility; HE has to make the game world run smooth, work out its basic reasoning, personalities, attitudes, events, ethics AND how it interacts with the player(s) - THEN, he has to be able to think on his feet and improvise due to player actions and ramifications.

So the problem with your idea is that you're saying basically "get rid of the dice, add more intrigue and storytelling and novel-like adventure" - this really would make the game LESS suited to travel since it really requires much more preperation and access to notes and other vital material and statistics which isn't convenient to port around - to have a good level of the kind of detail and character-centric involvement you're indicating would really call for a lot more thinking and planning and creative writing and strategy on the GMs part, which would require a LOT more of the GM sitting in a chair somewhere, quietly going "hmm" to himself while he thinks up new plots and twists and scenarios - to me, this definitely disqualifies it from "travel", since there is no way you and another person can just "jump in" the ol jalopy and right into a full-scale fantasy world of political backbiting and cosmic importance if neither of you has spent hours preparing the background info.

Here I'm not specifying your diceless game, but more your 'the DM should...' complaint. To an extent, you're right, in a 'standard' game like D&D, yes, the DM IS supposed to provide most of the background and environment for the players to wander around in - there ARE however, other games, including some free PDF downloads, which are even run AS storytelling ... activities, rather than games per se, as the players and GM (and sometimes there isn't one) tell a story by committee, creating the adventure with ALL the characters - all the players have a hand at shaping the world, etc.

If we have the D&D dice-fest over here with "oops, sorry you failed - you die" (though good GMs will NOT let the dice dominate if the result is bad for the story), and over here we have "we're not even playing a game - its storytelling by committee and no dice", then I am CERTAIN there is, or can be found or modified, *something* in between for you, which would qualify as your "Travel Edition".

sedjtroll
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D&D Travel Edition (?)

JPOG wrote:

The problem with the kind of thing you're talking about is that the GM is shouldered with the lion's share of the responsibility; HE has to make the game world run smooth, work out its basic reasoning, personalities, attitudes, events, ethics AND how it interacts with the player(s) - THEN, he has to be able to think on his feet and improvise due to player actions and ramifications.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Anyway, I'm not saying you couldn't set the campaign in Greyhawk- or more likely 'a Greyhawk type world'. If it were me I'd basically go with a generic world where things aren't necessarily set until they happen or are needed. Some things would be set- the DM would have some idea of the storyline and things to do with it- from the outset, but I don't think you'd need to have a hundred hours of preparation to fully flesh out the campaign world ahead of time. I guess that's my point.

And yes, this might be more like storytelling than playing a game, but the story would be being told by the players as well as the DM (In as much of a sense as it is in a run-of-the-mill D&D game). Really I see it being a lot like D&D (or any other 'normal' rpg) just without the dice. Wheather that means player actions succeed more or less often than in a game governed by dice I don't know. In theory the die rolls in an rpg don't matter that much anyway, right?

Quote:
So the problem with your idea is that you're saying basically "get rid of the dice, add more intrigue and storytelling and novel-like adventure" - this really would make the game LESS suited to travel since it really requires much more preperation

First off I don't know if that's a "problem." Second, as I mentioned, I see no need for all the details to be formed ahead of time. There would be important details, pertinant to the story, that would need to be known ahead of time, and I'm not saying the GM wouldn't have done some preparation (read: thinking) ahead of time.

I'll admit this type of thing might require a bit of memory, at least for the GM if not for the players, as once things happen (if they're important and have an effect on the world) they'll need to be noted for later.

Quote:
there ARE however, other games, including some free PDF downloads, which are even run AS storytelling ... activities, rather than games per se, as the players and GM (and sometimes there isn't one) tell a story by committee, creating the adventure with ALL the characters - all the players have a hand at shaping the world, etc.

I don't see how that's different from any 'normal' D&D experience. In theory an RPG is open ended, but in practice I've never heard of one that didn't really just follow a story, with the characters doing X, Y, and Z (not necessarily in that order)... fighting a little or a lot, gaining levels, but mostly just doing what the story says anyway.

I'm suprised at the response I've gotten to this. I'll admit I don't have a LOT of experience with role playing, and what experience I DO have has been more or less limited to AD&D and D&D 3E. Just the fact that they sell 'modules,' and that rpgs seem to tend toward the videogame rpgs (nowadays anyway) leads me to believe that I'm not off my rocker in my view of how RPGs usually go. Maybe I've just played with the 'wrong' people, but if that's the case then I have no idea who the 'right' people would be or where to find them.

Any way you slice the monkey, if the 'game' has a goal, then it's going to be a case of the players following the storyline. And if it doesn't, then it sorta ceases to be a game anyway- or else it's The Sims (which I don't understand the attraction to by the way).

Just some thoughts on the subject...

- Seth

doho123
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There was a pretty neat RPG that WotC published many years ago, called Everway. It was billed as a story-telling based system. No dice, however, 'dice-type' decisions were resolved by the DM interpreting a flip of, essentially, a tarot card (fate cards I think they called them. The game came with it's own deck). So, this accomplished a fairly neat system of brainstorming results for the card for a creative DM, while still keeping a fairly random dice-roll result.

It seems that one could create a fairly simple and effective RPG by just using a standard Tarot deck as the main mechanism for resolving events, especially for a somewhat creative DM.

Nazhuret
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D&D Travel Edition (?)

i'd have to say that the "problem" (such as it is) is NOT that the dm would have to make up a bunch of stuff BEFORE playing as he could just do it on the fly pretty well ... actually most of the stuff dms come up with need heavy modifying on the fly anyway thanks to those meddling kids...

anyway, the main thing would be keeping a record of all the stuff that happened.. where the players went, who they talked to, what everyone's names were, what they thought of the pcs, whether there was or was not a ready supply of draconian ale in this particular province or whether the gnomes two valleys over worshipped to a cow idol or a goat idol....

the list of things that should be recorded in your average rpg is MASSIVE and would quickly go away from being an easily traveled with version...

i personally would want to have the sense of world depth without all the notebooks and file cabinets (or disks whatever way you play...)

how to get aroung this i don't know... the card game sounds ok... i always meant to pick that one up but never did...

Scurra
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D&D Travel Edition (?)

sedjtroll wrote:

I'm suprised at the response I've gotten to this.

I wasn't. I commented on this in the "male vs female gamers" thread too. Fantasy role-playing evolved from wargames (I think everyone will admit that) and the tables came from there - Dungeons and Dragons was trying to be a decent "simulation".

Since that point the genre has clearly split into the two distinct branches: the "hack'n'slay" approach (which is so perfectly parodied in a playable form by "Hackmaster") and the "storytelling" approach (probably best exemplified by the White Wolf games, but there have been even more freeform games than that.)

sedjtroll wrote:

Any way you slice the monkey, if the 'game' has a goal, then it's going to be a case of the players following the storyline. And if it doesn't, then it sorta ceases to be a game anyway- or else it's The Sims (which I don't understand the attraction to by the way).

But your example (the Detect Magic one) is exactly why role-players are role-playing rather than, say, reading a book! And it's the sort of scenario that I (as a GM) write all the time. Indeed, the paradox of GM'ing is wanting the players to uncover your plot, whilst doing everything you can to make sure they don't... And you also have the wonderful power to change your mind unexpectedly too, when you realise that the plot will go much better if you throw the party into jail and get to have a trial in which everything they have done can be revisited and painted in the most suspicious light possible :) Or that a jail-break allows you to introduce an NPC earlier than before. Or that one of the characters will have to reveal a secret to the rest of the party so that they can get out which may mean the party looking at that character in a different way for the rest of the game. That's why it's fun. Not rolling a d20 and adding various modifiers. I can do that in Neverwinter Nights...

sedjtroll
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Scurra wrote:
the paradox of GM'ing is wanting the players to uncover your plot, whilst doing everything you can to make sure they don't...

I don't know if I buy that... what do you mean 'make sure they don't'?

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And you also have the wonderful power to change your mind unexpectedly too, when you realise that the plot will go much better if...

That's why it's fun. Not rolling a d20 and adding various modifiers.
I agree comletely, however (a) That's only fun for the GM, the players are still mostly rolling d20s and adding modifiers, and (b) perhaps players SHOULDN'T just be rolling d20s and adding modifiers, but it seems like a lot of the time that's just what happens. Well, that and some people telling other people that what they're doing is dumb (and in some cases why), while some people tell other people their motives behind every action.

On a similar but quite different note, I was playing Puerto Rico this morning and on my last turn I was deciding weather to Produce goods or not (so the guy after me could ship if he wanted). I was trying to count up his points when he said "You have no way of knowing how many VPs I have face down, so it's stupid to do what you're doing!" (by the way, this is the type of guy that tries to play everyone's character in an RPG, and explains why his idea is obviously the best). I didn't know what to say to that, so I said "don't be dumb" and finished my turn. Later I said "You don't know what I know so you can't say I shouldn't count your points." As it turned out, I knew well enough how many points he had - I beat him by about 6 :)

Scurra
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sedjtroll wrote:
Scurra wrote:
the paradox of GM'ing is wanting the players to uncover your plot, whilst doing everything you can to make sure they don't...

I don't know if I buy that... what do you mean 'make sure they don't'?

It's the same principle as reading a book or watching a movie. If the author tells you everything that is going to happen, it somewhat undermines the enjoyment factor of the experience. But likewise if they suddenly produce some new evidence at the last minute that is totally inconsistent with what went before, then you feel cheated. What you as a GM have to do is to reward the players for picking up your carefully crafted clues (or even for short-circuiting the plot, as in your Detect Magic example) whilst keeping them on their toes as regards the outcomes - and making very sure that they don't feel cheated when your steel-trap snaps shut :) And this is a very difficult juggling act. After all, the players only have to react to the situation...

sedjtroll wrote:
I agree comletely, however (a) That's only fun for the GM, the players are still mostly rolling d20s and adding modifiers, and (b) perhaps players SHOULDN'T just be rolling d20s and adding modifiers, but it seems like a lot of the time that's just what happens.

Role-playing is a collaborative story-telling exercise in which everyone participates; the GM by defining the situation and the players by reacting to that situation. A good GM then spins off from the players' actions by developing the story in different directions (and the really good ones make it difficult to tell if they had planned for those actions or not!) And good players play their characters by reacting in appropriate ways for those scenarios. This manifests itself both in combat situations (since the mage won't run into the middle of the fight swinging a sword) and in non-combat ones (the thief who stutters won't be haggling for goods, but may be round the back nicking it all while the loquacious one is diverting the merchant...)

Now this latter situation has probably been engineered entirely by the players, who may have realised that they need supplies but haven't got any money. So the GM often won't have a handy piece of paper telling them what the outcome of this scenario is (which is why, in general, playing a prewritten adventure for which the GM has not prepared properly will fall flat.)

The heart of the dilemma is how far the resolution is determined by a die roll (or several) or, rather, how far the roll is modified by circumstance. In some situations this is easy to define (which is why combat is frequently a dice-fest) and in others much less so. The problem is often that it is far easier as a GM and as a player to operate with nicely defined tables than it is to make reasonable assumptions (something that requires experience.) So you tend to find combat being a common solution but diplomacy being far less frequent.

sedjtroll wrote:
(by the way, this is the type of guy that tries to play everyone's character in an RPG, and explains why his idea is obviously the best).

Yes, sadly there is often one of those in every group. The question is whether it's worth the effort to try and teach them what they are doing wrong (without creating an unpleasant atmosphere in the process!), or whether to put up with it. If it distorts the game, then you've got problems. I have found that sometimes it is necessary to enforce some pretty draconian "in-character" and "out-of-characters" rules to minimise this sort of thing. Part of the GM's role, after all, is to ensure that people like that don't adversely affect the flow of the game (and, similarly, to ensure that the less "extrovert" players get fair time too.)

jwarrend
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D&D Travel Edition (?)

Scurra wrote:
Part of the GM's role, after all, is to ensure that people like that don't adversely affect the flow of the game (and, similarly, to ensure that the less "extrovert" players get fair time too.)

Yeah, couldn't you have a "democratic dragon" show up who announces that he's going to eat the character nominated by a majority of the other players?

Anonymous
D&D Travel Edition (?)

I don't know if I can add anything new to this discussion, but as a dedicated RPG gamer I feel compelled (wait - Will save here...yep, failed that one big time!) to post a comment.

I think sedjtroll has an interesting idea with the "Travel Edition" of D&D. I've done similar things with Magic the Gathering - playing in the car without a deck. It works out mostly as a memory exercise, but can be quite entertaining. But back to D&D.

I think sedjtroll has played with some pretty lackluster GMs, based on his take on the game, and that's too bad. Scurra is correct, the game is a fine balance of storytelling between the DM and the players. If the GM is all about hack-n-slash, and the players are all about story (or vice versa) then nobody will have fun. Just like in designing a good board game, the right balance has to be found between the DM and the players as to the style of the game. I lean toward the storytelling side, but I have a couple of players in my group that are more comfortable with just straight hack-n-slash. Finding the balance is critical to everybody having fun.

Can the game be played without rolling dice. Sure! I've read that the writer George RR Martin (Clash of Kings, Wild Cards, etc) plays GURPs with a group of writers. He describes games where hardly a die is picked up. (Granted, this is a group of people who are storytellers by profession, so I think they're a bit biased toward that side already. :D ) How well such a game is played depends on the players and the GM. Is it important for the GM to remember 'everything' exactly right. No, though some memory is needed, I don't think it's imporant to write it all down. In such a 'diceless' game the important thing is moving the story along. Can fights, combat, action, be taken care of in a diceless game. Again, sure. The GM already has an idea if the challenge will/should be overcome by the players. Knowing this, the GM can 'tailor' the reaction of the adversaries and the actions of the players to create a dynamic and exciting comabt without the roll of a die. Again, for it to work all the players have to be good storytellers.

I think it's an idea with potential among the right group of players and GM. And just because the game is story based, doesn't mean the players have to stick to the story. Having players go off on tangents is what makes the game fun and one reason why I don't play with pre-built modules. Being ready for these tangents is the hard part for the GM and one reason we came up with Tangent Games. It is also probably why a lot of people get discouraged with RPGs. The GM may be inexperienced or just not a good storyteller and as soon as the players deviate from the storyline then the GM is at a loss as to how to continue. Playing on the fly is fun, but not everyone can pull it off. Why do you think most modules start with all the players sitting in a bar.

Just my two pence.
- Geoff

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