Tabletop RPGs/story-building games - beyond D&D

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I was sure there was a thread for stuff like this but search came up bare. There are a couple of board game threads I could have used but they seemed for slightly more traditional board-based games?

Anyway, me and a friend are trying to get a small group for gaming off the ground. As someone who has never actually participated in D&D but loves interactive fiction, I'm interested in getting some recommendations for new stuff that has strong story-building emphasis, less interested in magic mechanics and fighting (though not put off by it, in fact my friend loves magic mechanics, it's just me who doesn't care about it). A couple of games that we're both excited about:

Ten Candles - a game where you *will* die, you just have to map out the last hours of your band of survivors. Has the added cool factor of having to be played in a room with only ten candles lit, and you get to burn stuff.

Misspent Youth - dystopian teen drama with what looks to be very strong world-building elements.

Any other suggestions? Or just discussing/reminiscing about this sort of game is also cool by me, tbh.

emil.y, Saturday, 20 August 2016 23:22 (seven years ago) link

the only one of these ive ever managed to play a successful campaign with (as opposed to like one off things) was 'dogs in the vineyard' which id recommend whole-heartedly

( ^_^) (Lamp), Saturday, 20 August 2016 23:29 (seven years ago) link

Track down a used copy (or a pdf) of Castle Falkenstein from t. Setting is Victorian steampunk with faeries. Game system is card based not dice based and about storytelling not math.

EZ Snappin, Saturday, 20 August 2016 23:59 (seven years ago) link

Sorry, I was editing and fat finger posted on my phone. First sentence should end "from the early 90s"

EZ Snappin, Sunday, 21 August 2016 00:00 (seven years ago) link

I was also looking for threads like that and found several recommendations for "unknown armies" which sounds pretty good, haven't read or played it though

an expired coupon for 50¢ off a moon pie (los blue jeans), Sunday, 21 August 2016 00:04 (seven years ago) link

ten candles especially looks interesting & appealingly approachable. did quite a bit of this as a teenager, played a mix of games and especially enjoyed coming up with our own settings and games, often with no real rules just story telling, which I generally preferred, and which let us play in school, which we were v hungry to escape from at lunchtimes when we were 11/12

of the proper stuff we played a lot of my favourite was warhammer fantasy role-play, which I have recently revisited with far flung friends via webcam (on it's pretty straightforward rules-wise and you play normal, frail people with everyday jobs who are frequently nursing injuries in a sort of decaying version of 15th century germany (the two adjectives used to describe it so frequently that they're often run together being 'grim-dark') with constant whiffs of corruption and a looming sense of dread. the main thing it has to commend it is a v well written and enormous campaign ('the enemy within') which is often cited as the best. idk how long we will continue playing it but it's a good way of hanging out & crying with laughter with friends who are living round the world

ogmor, Sunday, 21 August 2016 00:26 (seven years ago) link

the quiet year is one of these, i would love to play it if i had any friends who were into tabletop games!

qualx, Sunday, 21 August 2016 01:02 (seven years ago) link

Thanks for all the recommendations. Dogs in the Vineyard seems like quite an unusual version of this sort of thing (based on Mormonism??) but that's in its favour, though maybe as a later endeavour. The Quiet Year also looks great to me, I think I like things like that and Ten Candles where you carve out a period of time as unique even though you're marching toward an inevitable end. Works with my fatalistic tendency, I suppose.

emil.y, Sunday, 21 August 2016 14:07 (seven years ago) link

WFRP looks pretty entertaining. Ogmor are you playing 3rd edition?

El Tomboto, Sunday, 21 August 2016 22:10 (seven years ago) link

playing the original version, which is the only version I've ever played, and given my general lack of interest in rules beyond introducing a random element and some limitations, seems the best-suited to me. have a look on scribd. the way it shamelessly rips off real history and places is part of its appeal, and the sourcebook on the equivalent of amsterdam ('marienburg') was great too

ogmor, Sunday, 21 August 2016 22:32 (seven years ago) link

my group is doing "dogs in the vineyard" right now, Vincent Baker is really reliably great. more to say on this thread when I get a minute

The bald Phil Collins impersonator cash grab (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Monday, 22 August 2016 00:11 (seven years ago) link

I was a beta-tester on this game and I recommend it highly

The bald Phil Collins impersonator cash grab (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Monday, 22 August 2016 00:12 (seven years ago) link

Fiasco could be a good bet.

Horizontal Superman is invulnerable (aldo), Monday, 22 August 2016 08:32 (seven years ago) link

the interactive fiction element in Primetime Adventures is really high - really super fun game with this great feature where, at the end of a session, you preview what's going to happen in the next session. It's episodic by design, which I really liked - one thing that can frustrate in tabletop play is how a session can sort of peter out as the evening moves on instead of building to a climax

The bald Phil Collins impersonator cash grab (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Monday, 22 August 2016 12:44 (seven years ago) link

Vincent Baker is really reliably great. more to say on this thread when I get a minute

haha i was recently having an argument abt how awful a lot of pen&paper rpgs in the kickstater era are using baker's 'urban shadows' as an example. often these games are just much worse versions of more comprehensive/restrictive rule sets - id rather play world of darkness than urban shadows, for e.g. and i think a well-run d&d/pathfinder campaign is just better than any of these loose 'story-telling' systems

emily if you want something fatalistic and inevitable you cld try 'downfall' by carloine hobbs - i didnt love it but i really prefer more open-ended and rules-heavy systems

( ^_^) (Lamp), Monday, 22 August 2016 14:56 (seven years ago) link

Thanks JCLC! Those look brilliant. Most of my gamer friends are women/NB so female-heavy scenarios like Night Witches could appeal. Though as I say, the others are more into classic style stuff than I am (though I am going to insist on playing some traditional fantasy RPGs if we manage to make this regular).

Will look up Downfall in a bit.

emil.y, Monday, 22 August 2016 16:51 (seven years ago) link

Woah, Fiasco looks cool

an expired coupon for 50¢ off a moon pie (los blue jeans), Monday, 22 August 2016 23:50 (seven years ago) link

I wouldn't ordinarily self-promote anything on ILX (I don't do much) but this game I wrote about being a teenager is my favorite thing I've ever written. And is totally playable, people have even played it without me in the room.

Sean, let me be clear (silby), Monday, 22 August 2016 23:58 (seven years ago) link

Fiasco is a blast and kind of the go-to crowdpleaser of one-shot storytelling RPGs

Sean, let me be clear (silby), Tuesday, 23 August 2016 00:00 (seven years ago) link

The best thing about Fiasco is that the creators have totally stayed on top of it and have released new free modules (or story packs, if you didn't grow up on 1st Edn TSR products) every month since release. There's a huge variety of settings there to use with a wide variety of broad types - Kennedy talks at a trade show in Dallas in 1963; Queen Elizabeth believes there is a traitor in court; a band of adventurers have lied about killing a dragon because there is no such thing; Hong Kong gangsters work out how to split up HK after the British leave; two local news channels vie for popularity.

Dread is also a pretty fun horror rpg you can convert to any appropriate setting but the looseness makes it more of a storytelling game. Diceless, attempts to do something important (or more appropriately out of character, like when a schoolgirl is suddenly able to tie a tourniquet) are resolved by pulling from a Jenga tower. It stays up, you do the thing. This also builds suspense into the game because you WILL fail at some point. It comes with an 80s VHS horror plot which is pretty great, and has a really solid character generation system where you answer a dozen questions (some of which are totally innocuous) and what you've written down should describe your character.

There are more than a handful of Japanese games that are at least superficially interesting and could work with the right group: Clover, which is kind of an unstructured game about being a 5 year old; Tokyo Brain Pop!, features psychic schoolgirls and demons; Maid RPG takes the core setting of being a maid at a house to set up anime adventures in the house; Motobushido is samurai bikers, like the Flower Travellin' Band cover gone violent; Golden Sky Stories has you playing magical foxes and raccoons and is twee as fuck.

There's a game of Monkey: Journey To The West that I haven't tried but I could see being fun.

Grace looks really good silby.

Horizontal Superman is invulnerable (aldo), Tuesday, 23 August 2016 08:12 (seven years ago) link

haha i was recently having an argument abt how awful a lot of pen&paper rpgs in the kickstater era are using baker's 'urban shadows' as an example. often these games are just much worse versions of more comprehensive/restrictive rule sets - id rather play world of darkness than urban shadows, for e.g. and i think a well-run d&d/pathfinder campaign is just better than any of these loose 'story-telling' systems

lol I mean this in a friendly way but this totally sounds like an argument you'd pick

The bald Phil Collins impersonator cash grab (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 23 August 2016 12:19 (seven years ago) link is good if you enjoy the novels/poking fun at the tropes of Jane Austen

I hear from this arsehole again, he's going in the river (James Morrison), Wednesday, 24 August 2016 03:55 (seven years ago) link

Hm, not for me. I wouldn't mind a satirical society backstabbing game (like Sting of the Wasp in tabletop form) but romance is not my bag.

emil.y, Wednesday, 24 August 2016 12:30 (seven years ago) link

Oh help. We've managed to organise a group to play Ten Candles but even though everyone else has more experience than me (because despite knowing a reasonable amount about this sort of game I've never actually played one) I have been nominated to GM. Any tips?

I've decided I'm going to concentrate prep on getting the room into a good horror atmosphere and do the introduction as a recorded message, but as the point of the game is to build the story together, do pretty much no preparation in terms of 'things I will make happen'. Is this a terrible idea?

emil.y, Monday, 29 August 2016 16:50 (seven years ago) link

Using sound and/or mixtapes is a great thing. I remember doing a Cthulhu game in Pastoral England where I played the Mark Hollis album and Cycle of Days and Seasons for the opening sections and The Place Where Black Stars Hang when it started going wrong.

Horizontal Superman is invulnerable (aldo), Monday, 29 August 2016 20:19 (seven years ago) link

You could listen to some actual play podcasts to check that your assumptions mesh with the reality of the thing. I don't know if starting with ~~collaborative storytelling~~ for your first game to DM is more or less in the deep end than starting with the-party-is-in-a-tavern, though, I'm also in the 'I know too much about this stuff for someone with no actual experience' camp.

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Tuesday, 30 August 2016 00:18 (seven years ago) link

I am thinking about looking for a group myself.

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Tuesday, 30 August 2016 00:20 (seven years ago) link

So this went pretty well, I think. I probably could have forced more decision rolls as people still had most of their cards left to play by the time the candles started going out on their own, but the players were all getting into their characters so it seemed better to not interrupt. The darkness and the pre-recordings worked great for mood-building. I was completely and utterly drunk off my face by the end of the game, but so was everyone else and I think I managed to keep it together and running smoothly.

emil.y, Tuesday, 6 September 2016 16:51 (seven years ago) link

Also for some reason I kind of figured people would just choose 'standard' characters, but loved that we ended up with a very strange group trying to fight the darkness together.

emil.y, Tuesday, 6 September 2016 16:54 (seven years ago) link

is Delta Green to trad for this thread? I've been reading up on it/listening to some live plays

los blue jeans, Saturday, 10 September 2016 02:37 (seven years ago) link

eight months pass...

This sounds amazing, I realize it's a bit of a puff piece in support of a kickstarter thing that isn't finished yet, but wow:

The lizard — confusingly, he went by the name Walrus — looked at the wares on offer in this shop and was not satisfied. He demanded that the shopkeeper procure his finest magic wand, something he kept hidden away from the regular rabble that come to the shop.

To determine how the shopkeeper would respond, Walrus had to complete a dice roll. With a click of a button, the game master created a pop-up on Walrus’ screen that had him roll a 20-sided die. The GM also noted that since that character had an intelligence higher than 12, he got a bonus of plus one to the roll. The roll was successful; the dwarven shopkeep begrudgingly trudged to the back of the store and returned with a powerful fire wand that was not originally part of his stock.
Larian Studios

It’s important to note that none of this was scripted. There was no dialogue option in the game to confront the shopkeep, and the wand that Walrus purchased was not actually hidden in back in the initial version of the map as it existed when we loaded in. Rather, as in classic pen-and-paper role-playing games, the GM went along with the flow of the storytelling as it happened, adapting the world of the game, taking control of NPCs and spawning in items to meet the needs of the party.

key quote of course

“The game master mode was a Kickstarter stretch goal,” Wincke explained. “It’s grown a little bit out of hand. It’s become its own thing. But we’re really happy with it.”

your cognitive privilege (El Tomboto), Wednesday, 10 May 2017 19:11 (six years ago) link

five months pass...

anyone play starfinder yet? gearing up to gm a campaign and it's a lot to get my head around having only played 5e but i'm pretty excited about parts of it, the ship combat rules in particular have me itching to build some cool encounters. not sure about the heavy magic presence and why it couldn't be handwaved away as telepathy/alien powers instead of explicitly integrating the fantasy and sci-fi settings but that's quite a minor nitpick.

oiocha, Thursday, 12 October 2017 03:50 (five years ago) link

welp, to each their own

when was the last rpg to successfully inhabit the space opera, uh, space

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Thursday, 12 October 2017 10:21 (five years ago) link

Has there been one that isn't Traveller?

Thomas Gabriel Fischer does not endorse (aldo), Thursday, 12 October 2017 13:56 (five years ago) link

Star Frontiers was the bomb.

EZ Snappin, Thursday, 12 October 2017 14:18 (five years ago) link

Big co-sign on WFRP and The Enemy Within. Sadly we never got to finish the campaign.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Saturday, 14 October 2017 09:47 (five years ago) link

Star Frontiers was the bomb.


El Tomboto, Saturday, 14 October 2017 13:14 (five years ago) link

four weeks pass...

i played my first game of Burning Wheel on saturday & have signed up for a campaign with the same DM, so we'll see how that goes

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Monday, 13 November 2017 13:10 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

i'm looking to run a RP intensive game (or games) around themes of counterinsurgency, civilian urban survival during war, occupation, and small unit combat and i'm looking for a fairly light system that would be easy to run such a thing in -- any suggestions please? (it actually turns out there was a This War of Mine style RPG made but it seems basically impossible to find.)

Mordy, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 17:31 (four years ago) link

Haven't played it but: would you dig Night Witches?

I have measured out my life in coffee shop loyalty cards (silby), Tuesday, 22 January 2019 17:33 (four years ago) link

And from the same designer, Grey Ranks

I have measured out my life in coffee shop loyalty cards (silby), Tuesday, 22 January 2019 17:34 (four years ago) link

it looks extremely interesting and i'd love to play it but i don't think it'll let me simulate what i have in mind from the description... altho maybe. i do like the idea of having separate cycles for interpersonal drama and then mission/conflict.

Mordy, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 17:35 (four years ago) link

oh that looks good too. i'll have to watch the gameplay vids after work to see if there's enough of a framework there that i can alter it to take place today.

Mordy, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 17:36 (four years ago) link

any ilxors interested in maybe trying a rotating RPG club online through maybe roll20 or fb chat or something? there are a bunch of systems and settings i'm interested in trying and my weekly group is pretty much committed to the current dnd campaign.

Mordy, Tuesday, 29 January 2019 16:34 (four years ago) link

already doing one. we use roll20 for the map and character sheets and dice and we use google chat for talking to each other, works pretty good.

the late great, Tuesday, 29 January 2019 18:46 (four years ago) link

plz can i get in?

Mordy, Tuesday, 29 January 2019 18:47 (four years ago) link

sure. i'm the GM, we're playing the 1982 edition of TSR's star frontiers, about halfway through the volturnus campaign.

the late great, Tuesday, 29 January 2019 18:50 (four years ago) link

how do u want to connect? i'm on facebook at if u want to talk through there or you can just email me @ mms531 *A*T* nyu *D*O*T* e;d;u;

Mordy, Tuesday, 29 January 2019 18:59 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

i&I wanna be playing some call of cthulhu tbh

ian, Sunday, 19 April 2020 19:06 (three years ago) link

started a delta green campaign with four friends yesterday. it went pretty well.

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Monday, 20 April 2020 04:29 (three years ago) link

Ah, great stuff - thanks Tracer x

Ray Cooney as "Crotch" (stevie), Thursday, 18 February 2021 13:47 (two years ago) link

can i suggest choose your own adventure books or any of their gazillion variants? i bet you could find whole collections on ebay.

That's not really my scene (I'm 41) (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 18 February 2021 15:50 (two years ago) link

Fighting Fantasy books! They're kind of a halfway house between Choose Your Own Adventure and D&D (you roll two normal dice to see which page you should turn to, there are hit points, damage, etc)

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 18 February 2021 16:01 (two years ago) link

speaking of:

That's not really my scene (I'm 41) (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 18 February 2021 16:04 (two years ago) link

also - offered unexplored and without a sense of quality -

And a site that lets you craft your own:

That's not really my scene (I'm 41) (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 18 February 2021 16:07 (two years ago) link

Thanks Forks! She loved a kids CYA-style book when she was 3, been waiting till she was ready to try some more - and there are a few Star Wars ones out there too (she saw a New Hope for the first time a fortnight ago and is now OBSESSED)

Ray Cooney as "Crotch" (stevie), Thursday, 18 February 2021 16:48 (two years ago) link

I would recommend Basic Fantasy RPG if you want something light and D&D-derived. It's a re-organization/slight modification of the 1980s Basic Set rules, but modified to include ascending armor class and a few other minor things. Best of all, the pdf is free, there are a lot of free adventures, and you can get everything at cost if you want print copies -- the rulebook is abut $5 through Lulu or Amazon.

ian, Friday, 19 February 2021 01:21 (two years ago) link

The author suggests it's appropriate for kids 6+.

ian, Friday, 19 February 2021 01:22 (two years ago) link

Another very stripped back D&D-clone is White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game -- another free .pdf

ian, Friday, 19 February 2021 01:24 (two years ago) link

i've heard people swear by Root as a fun tabletop for kids/adults

That's not really my scene (I'm 41) (forksclovetofu), Friday, 19 February 2021 01:31 (two years ago) link

I've played Root and enjoyed it but I thought it was pretty complicated for adults!

Piven After Midnight (The Yellow Kid), Friday, 19 February 2021 01:55 (two years ago) link

Yeah about sixteen minutes into that video he says "that's where the real game begins!", lol.

lukas, Friday, 19 February 2021 02:02 (two years ago) link

Thanks again, guys - definitely going to get one of these started up for when she rises around dawn on Sunday!

Ray Cooney as "Crotch" (stevie), Friday, 19 February 2021 08:42 (two years ago) link

I was going to recommend what this other ilxor was doing with their daughter, but in the end it's probably a little redundant.

RZA Minnelli (Leee), Friday, 19 February 2021 21:23 (two years ago) link

Ha yes - i'm just running dry of ideas of my own at the moment, and could do with a system that might offer challenges/puzzles/stories beyond the ones I've stolen from half-remembered movies and The Adventure Game from the 70s

Ray Cooney as "Crotch" (stevie), Saturday, 20 February 2021 11:46 (two years ago) link

three weeks pass...

In other news our WFRP campaign has now reached session 24 (next Wednesday) and we’re into The Enemy Within. Aside from simply ignoring RAW quite often and just using whatever dramatic test we think is appropriate, it’s going pretty damn well. We’ve not even had any scheduling problems in six months, which is remarkable. Being fully remote now probably helps.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Saturday, 13 March 2021 06:50 (two years ago) link

Stevie I’m interested to know how it’s going. N is starting to show interest in these things. We have some story dice which she was v interested in for a bit, but she prefers to use them with friends and obviously that’s not quite happening right now.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Saturday, 13 March 2021 06:52 (two years ago) link

I've not tried any of the stuff suggested above yet - am meaning to when I get enough time to get my head around it - but I did a "scenario" the other weekend that went down very well. In it, she's a "Worst Witch" type kid at a witch school, and I had her "friend" cast a spell wrong that shrank them both, and had her friend get carried away by a rat, and then let her figure out how she would rescue her friend. I made a map of the witch school building, came up with some traps/adversaries, and had a very simple system for conflicts/challenges, where she had scores for magic, charisma and strength, and if she needed to do anything she had to roll under that number with two dice. And I let her invent her own spells to achieve any magic stuff, but on the proviso that she had to roll under her magic score to make the spell work, and she had to compose the spell and make it a rhyming couplet. It was lots of fun!

incredible pant century (stevie), Saturday, 13 March 2021 09:23 (two years ago) link

Now just looking for stories/campaigns I can loot for idea and keep this very simple system going. The focus was communal storytelling and problem-solving, which I think she really enjoyed. Also she loves making up her character sheets.

incredible pant century (stevie), Saturday, 13 March 2021 09:24 (two years ago) link

Fighting Fantasy books! They're kind of a halfway house between Choose Your Own Adventure and D&D (you roll two normal dice to see which page you should turn to, there are hit points, damage, etc)

OMG, Proustian rush, I spent basically the whole summer after 5th grade playing these and had totally forgotten they existed. I think I played through the Lone Wolf books, though? IIRC there were a bunch of these series floating around in the mid-'80s.

Stefan Twerkelle (Old Lunch), Saturday, 13 March 2021 15:01 (two years ago) link

I've been running Troika (an rpg based on Fighting Fantasy system) for a bit and now. Love the setting and feel, but the 2d6 system is punishing as each 1 pt difference in skill has a dramatically different chance of success.

I am probably going to switch to a Star Wars RPG because a couple of my players are super SW stans. I haven't seen a SW movie since Revenge of the Sith, lol. Gotta make your players happy.

is that a haruomi hosono sword? (PBKR), Saturday, 13 March 2021 15:35 (two years ago) link

I only ran Troika once, when a couple of our D&D group were missing. It was fun. I'd like to run it more. The skill system can be tough - I haven't looked into it, but I bet the fan-community has come up with some house-rules, and the combat & armor systems takes a minute to get used to imo. But I just love the vibe tbh. For skills I think the answer is maybe calling for fewer rolls if possible - if they've got the base skill in something and it's not a difficult task, I'd say let 'em do it w/o a roll and only roll for things that need to be dramatic.

I used to have (but never played) the Star Wars 2nd Edition RPG when I was young--it's also a D6 system but iirc more like a dice pool system?

I loved the Lone Wolf books; they were not super popular here in the US but I read and played a ton of them. I think they are all gone now, lost in a mother's cellar flood. I've managed to replace a couple over the years but they've gotten expensive for nice copies! But, and this could be a few years old, there's a website that has HTML versions of all the books with automatic combat rolling & such - played through a half-dozen or so. I fucking LOVED those books.

ian, Tuesday, 23 March 2021 14:37 (two years ago) link

Lone Wolf books for your extreme nostalgia -

ian, Tuesday, 23 March 2021 14:40 (two years ago) link

I just remembered that in 90s internet time, I was on a Lone Wolf listerv and that was the first time I ever met another I@n J0hn50n!! He was Irish IIRC.

ian, Tuesday, 23 March 2021 14:41 (two years ago) link

But I just love the vibe tbh.

Yeah, I have a lot of different vibes I can get into if I want and Troika can hit a bunch of them: science fantasy/psychedelia/eldritch horror, etc, etc. I think my players weren't as into the whimsical British psychedelia elements as I was. Also, most of them hadn't played an rpg in 30 years, so they needed more prompting on the character sheet than Troika's system gives.

I don't know if you like the Powered by the Apocalypse games, but there is a 3-page hack of Troika using some of those concepts.

The SW RPG I am running (session 1 will be next week) is the newest one from Fantasy Flight Games that game out over the last 7 years or so. It's about the polar opposite of Troika rules-wise. It uses the narrative dice system, which I haven't used but I am very keen to try. Basically, you roll non-numerical dice - positive dice based on your stats and skills and negative dice based on difficulty, environmental factors, and opponents skills. Opposing symbols cancel and if you are left with positive dice after cancellation you were successful, but there is a wide spectrum of success and failure - successes with drawbacks, failures that give you advantages to your next roll, etc, etc.

righteous oxide (PBKR), Tuesday, 23 March 2021 20:53 (two years ago) link

So I ran the first session of the Star Wars RPG and it went incredibly well. My players generally haven't played rpgs since the late 80s and seemed to have some issues grasping the Troika system, which is very simplistic, so I had concerns whether the SWRPG system was going to be too much for them. Ironically, at least so far, the narrative dice system is very engaging for players and GM; there is a lot of back and forth discussion of how to interpret dice rolls which acts as prompts to further the narrative. In essence, it prompts the players to take more authority over the narrative so the GM doesn't have to do all the work. I like it.

The other thing is I've usually run games where I know the setting in more detail than my players, so I would do a lot of work feeling like I needed to convey setting. Running the Star Wars setting with players highly conversant in the setting (more than me even) again takes work from the GM. It's like a shared pool of knowledge you don't have to spend time spoon feeding to the players. I can focus on story.

One of the PCs returned to their home planet for the first time in five years to discover their mother and father had died and her younger brother had left the planet to go look for the PC. Now she has to leave the planet to find her brother. This is good, dramatic stuff.

the last unvaccinated motherfucker on earth (PBKR), Sunday, 4 April 2021 00:34 (two years ago) link

three weeks pass...

A friend hipped me to Symbaroum ( a Scandinavian dark fantasy setting with some overt colonialism overtones. Human civilization surrounds a vast, lightless forest which takes up most of the world - the home of an ancient fallen empire and a prime destination for adventurers. Anyone have any experience with this?

keto keto bonito v industry plant-based diet (PBKR), Sunday, 25 April 2021 16:47 (two years ago) link

two months pass...

Had a few gaps in recent months - 12 sessions out of a possible 16 - but we’re now 36 sessions deep in our WFRP campaign and have finished Shadows Over Bogenhafen! Very exciting. The party saved the town but at some cost. Death On The Reik starts on Wednesday. It’s about a year since I bought the new rule book, and though it’s cost me hundreds of pounds on sourcebooks and dice, I’m very glad I did it.

Only problem is I’d love to play it one day as a PC, but fear I’m stuck as GM forever now...

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 9 July 2021 05:22 (two years ago) link

Didn't realise how mentally exhausting being a GM was until I tried it

Maybe I shouldn't have been nervously slamming cans of shipyard while running the games idk

hiroyoshi tins in (Sgt. Biscuits), Friday, 9 July 2021 08:57 (two years ago) link

Scik Mouthy, which edition of WFRP are you using?

Carlos Santana & Mahavishnu Rob Thomas (PBKR), Friday, 9 July 2021 11:57 (two years ago) link

We’re playing 4e.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Saturday, 10 July 2021 20:59 (two years ago) link

Always was a Tzeentch man, myself.

Carlos Santana & Mahavishnu Rob Thomas (PBKR), Saturday, 10 July 2021 21:19 (two years ago) link

4e's combat is such a weird mess, one of my group was so determined to aggressively optimise their build I kind of gave up on ever trying to balance the fights and just make it more that they had social consequences if you did it in public

The worst injury anyone got in our playthrough of Enemy Within was actually the halfling losing an ear to a cloud of explosive methane in the sewers

hiroyoshi tins in (Sgt. Biscuits), Sunday, 11 July 2021 15:01 (two years ago) link

I'm playing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay too! But just as a player - I read a lot of Games Workshop guff as a kid and now it's really difficult to remember what still applies and also what my character would be aware of.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 12 July 2021 09:59 (two years ago) link

three months pass...

13 months and 45 sessions in. Our group has one more child now than when we started, which feels epic.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Tuesday, 19 October 2021 21:53 (one year ago) link


Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 19 October 2021 22:00 (one year ago) link

irl child = +1 bonus to everyone's key stat imo

John Stockton buying a used car from (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 19 October 2021 22:50 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

I've started playing a ttrpg that is more of a "new school" storytelling rpg. There is still a GM (me), but players have way more agency than in "old school" rpgs. Action resolution (rolls) does not determine player success or failure but who narrates the outcome. If the player makes a certain roll, the player narrates the outcome including adding facts that are true and which the GM cannot contradict. The better the roll, the more facts a player can add. If the player does not make their roll, the GM narrates the outcome.

The game is highly collaborative - the GM can't really determine a plot (meaning a beginning, middle, and end) because the players will likely just go in a different direction at any time. Instead, I just introduce a starting problem/hook, then keep in mind a few potential complications and NPCs that I might introduce. The rest is improvised at the table.

This is a big change for me coming from a long history of traditional rpgs and requires me to unlearn some habits. It also goes against my personal bias toward over-planning. But the nice thing is I don't feel the same responsibility for everyone's enjoyment. There is more of an equal share of the storytelling responsibility. It's early, but I like it.

removing bookmarks never felt so good (PBKR), Monday, 14 February 2022 14:20 (one year ago) link

What’s it called?

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Thursday, 17 February 2022 06:35 (one year ago) link

Bl00d & Hon0r - A Game of Samurai Tragedy. A name with terrible other uses. The .pdf is on drivethrurpg:

The players make up a samurai clan then their characters who are members of the clan.

There is also a related game called World of Dew which expands beyond samurai and their clans to a later period, such as the Meije Restoration, with noir investigators, merchants, westerners, etc.

removing bookmarks never felt so good (PBKR), Thursday, 17 February 2022 12:14 (one year ago) link

It uses particular elements of the FATE game though it is a bit different.

removing bookmarks never felt so good (PBKR), Thursday, 17 February 2022 12:15 (one year ago) link

Also, would really love to give Mörk Börg a spin - it's a rules-light death metal fantasy rpg about the end of the world. Imagine an art-punk WFRP with the alienation, darkness, and gore cranked so far up you have to laugh. The doom of Call of Cthulhu with the character survival rate of Paranoia (albeit without clones). Geared for one-shots I would think.

removing bookmarks never felt so good (PBKR), Monday, 21 February 2022 15:29 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

I'm imagining a Tinder for rpgs. It's hard.

move over GAPDY, now there's BIG THIEF! (PBKR), Tuesday, 22 March 2022 22:45 (one year ago) link

what do you mean?

Kompakt Total Landscaping (Will M.), Wednesday, 23 March 2022 20:28 (one year ago) link

When you’re not in junior high, life makes it hard to find and maintain an rpg group for an extended period. I was just fantasizing (and joking) about an app that would make it easier to find a game.

move over GAPDY, now there's BIG THIEF! (PBKR), Wednesday, 23 March 2022 20:54 (one year ago) link

that makes so much more sense than what i was imagining, which was swiping left and right on rulesets

Kompakt Total Landscaping (Will M.), Wednesday, 23 March 2022 21:49 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

For a couple of months, I've been playing a GM-less version of The Pool, an early story game. It's been fun and a really interesting demolition of some of my conceptions about rpgs. It's one of the oldest new school games - your character is just a 50 word short story from which you assign dice from your pool as traits (i.e "lost his family +1"). Every few sessions you add 15-30 words to your story and can introduce new traits or change existing ones. If one of your traits applies to an action, you get extra dice in the roll. If you make your roll, you get to narrate the results - if not, the other players narrate the result. Everyone can introduce NPCs and play them at various times.

The biggest change is trying to play this game GM-less, which has really pulled back the curtain and exposed what it is a GM actually needs to do or not do. The game is so rules-lite that the only structure, the only game part that isn't pure imagination, is when you roll dice. The hardest part is trying to introduce new plot points without a GM - once things get going the improvisation takes over and things flow pretty well, but it can be difficult to get the ball rolling when there is no leader (GM) to tell you when to roll. Still, it's been great.

Still want to give Mörk Börg a try sometime.

i need to put some clouds behind the reaper (PBKR), Wednesday, 21 September 2022 11:53 (one year ago) link

Still going with our WFRP campaign. About to hit our two year anniversary and session 65.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Tuesday, 27 September 2022 05:23 (one year ago) link

eleven months pass...

I've never been interested in PBP rpgs, but I've been playing in one (actually we finished one and are on the second) on Discord for the more than three months. It's maybe the most fun I've had playing an rpg in a long while.

Right now it feels like we have a long way to go in this one and it's going to be a perfect winter activity as it's set in a sort of 1930's alpine setting with some Balkan flourishes, fantasy elements (spells), and pseudo-dungeons with ancient technology. The vibe is alternating between cozy and brutal.

il lavoro mi rovina la giornata (PBKR), Friday, 22 September 2023 22:26 (six days ago) link

that should say, "fantasy elements (spells and undead)"

il lavoro mi rovina la giornata (PBKR), Friday, 22 September 2023 22:27 (six days ago) link

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