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Does the system affect the “feel” of a game?


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#1 Amketch

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 01:28 AM

Reading through the information on the new system for 3rd edition WFRP, I began to wonder if the system affects the “feel” of the game when you’re playing it.

 

For me the best systems are ones that are unobtrusive so you can get on with invoking whatever feel you want from a game without the mechanics getting in the way. I think the White Wolf games do this well, it is quite a simple system but you get a result and a idea of how successful you have been a move on without being bogged down with endless modifiers or referring to tables.

My kneejerk reaction to the 3rd edition was that the extra elements brought into the game, cards listing the actions, stance track, lots of different dice etc would intrude so far into the game that any feel of the setting would be lost. Having thought about and seen how the dice mechanic works I think the opposite may be true. You are going to know the dice you roll for most common actions, even more unusual ones you can quickly refer to yourself without having to look it up in the book or talk with another player out of character. You can change a couple of the dice out for your stance, the GM can throw you the difficulty dice and the misfortune dice for your action and you can get a result without checking out modifiers etc.

So basically I think that 3rd could well be less mechanically intrusive than 1st, (never played 2nd edition and the later supplements must have got a lot better from the following it has here, I gave up on it after the first two because they were so poor) what do others think?
 



#2 lordmalachdrim

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 01:42 AM

Many things affect the feel of a game but yes the system does affect the feel.

 

You change players and the feel changes a little, change gm's and it changes as well. Depending on the change in people though the change in feel can be very small or massive. I've run the old world using: Palladium, RoleMaster, AD&D, and WFRP 1st and 2nd Ed and with each system the feel is different.

AD&D beyond the first few levels quickly losses the grim feel (while D&D 3+ just don't have it at all).

Palladium Fantasy 1st ed (Doesn't have nearly the same loss of danger that AD&D does) never feels grim. Even when character can and do die often it doesn't feel grim.

RoleMaster: with this puppy you keep the danger from start to finish, and it's detailed enough to keep the power levels where they should be it just don't feel completely right for WRFP. That maybe because I'm so use to WFRP for my warhammer I'm not sure.

I forget who suggested RuneQuest and that looks like it may work for WFRP nicely. Better then RoleMaster only because RM is a level based system. I'm also looking at trying to adapt Alternity to WFRP as well.



#3 macd21

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 02:58 AM

Yes, system can influence the feel of the game.

Generally I think it comes down to 2 factors - immersiveness and genre emulation.

Immersiveness is pretty obvious - does the system allow you to forget the fact that you are playing a game at a table with your friends? Different players find certain systems more or less immersive. Some players will find the cards, tokens and custom dice less immersive that previous versions of WFRP, others will find them better because they remove the need to flip through books looking for tables or writing notes on their character sheets.

Genre emulation refers to the reality the system creates through the mechanics. As much as possible this reality should match the genre of the game. For example, the system may result in bullets bouncing off your characters bare skin. If the genre of the game is super heroes, that isn't a problem. If it is a grim-dark world of perrilous adventure, then it's a problem.



#4 Emirikol

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 04:24 AM

I used to argue that the game system rarely affected the feel of the game.  Afterall, you should be able to use GURPS, Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, D&D, BRP, or WoD to play in THE OLD WORLD.  All you would need was a couple house rules:  e.g.:  1) character creation, 2) Magic 'feelings'  etc.

I thought that until 4E D&D came out.  4E changed/wrecked everything (for me).  Prior to 4E, I had a couple simple house rules to play D&D in  The Old World, , hyboria, Lankhmar, Discworld, etc.   4E spends too much time amazed with its universal /rules exceptions system/ that the WORLD feeling is lost.  Simply, it's all about the rules, and not about the world.  It's like a VAIN person..like it took on a life of it's own and sits there, looking in the mirror, admiring it's massive girth of rules exceptions and misery to inflict on a DM.  I did, I tried it for a year in THE OLD WORLD.  It wasn't the world obviously, it was the system.  It just didn't cut it for me.  I didn't even mind CTHULHU for D&D (i.e. d20 Cthulhu), but 4e..yegk!

Sorry to those of you who like 4e if you've compared it to 5-6 other systems and simply consider it to be the best system for you.  I just happen to hate it.

FYI, if any of you would like to take a look at my House Rulebook for 4E D&D in THE OLD WORLD or 3E D&D for CONAN/Hyboria, it's here: 

gallery.rptools.net/v/contrib/emirikol7/

 

 

jh



#5 donbaloo

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 04:32 AM

 Yeah, system influences the feel of the game.  Actually, as far as I'm concerned, system is the feel of the game.  As mac pointed out, system helps definethe expectations of the story and setting.  Regardless of what the setting material describes as the mood and feel of the setting, your system will serve to reinforce that or work against it.  You could have a system that is so minimalist and open to interpretation that the feel is pretty much left to the GM and players, a coin flip resolution system for example.  But even that system is saying something about the setting.

I can't speak towards how much more or less intrusive v3 may be than previous editions.  I read v2 pretty thoroughly, that's about it.  I've yet to see anything about v3 that makes me think its going to be problematic.  I do like the "feel" I'm getting from what we've seen so far though and look forward to seeing it in action.



#6 Cynical Cat

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 05:55 AM

Yes, the system does affect the game.  D20, for example, sucks for playing anything except high fantasy and far out space opera.  The game mechanics present a world that scales up, where the higher level characters are almost untouchable when it comes to attacks from lower level foes.  Game mechanics are the way the imaginary in world in question is simulated and if the results it produces are that a naked dwarf can take multiple hits from a heavy crossbow  and suffer only minor wounds, that a small number of goblins can easily overcome a mounted knight on open ground, and that a volley of fireballs from a Bright Wizard is nothing to worry about then it fails.  If the mechanics are so complex that they slow down play or are not easy to use, then they fail. 



#7 Captin'

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 07:40 AM

Where are my classes? Where is my rat-catcher? My beloved peasent? This is now a combat focused RPG!



#8 lordsneek

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 07:47 AM

Captin' said:

Where are my classes? Where is my rat-catcher? My beloved peasent? This is now a combat focused RPG!

Well, according to the Gen Con video rat catcher will be in the adventurer's toolkit. If you want a non-combat career that will be in the core set then there is barber surgeon and probably a lot of other stuff. So I don't think this will be a combat only RPG and probably never will be.



#9 Cynical Cat

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 07:51 AM

Non combat mechanics matter as well, of course.  Combat mechanics just make more vivid examples.  Healing, for example, is important.  D&D glosses it over and just hands you back hit points.  Warhammer medical treatment should be superior to equivalent medieval (for a number of reasons, a lot of them to due with religious baggage that Warhammer doesn't have) but still comparatively crude and potentially very nasty.



#10 Mikael Hasselstein

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 03:43 AM

Cynical Cat said:

Yes, the system does affect the game.  D20, for example, sucks for playing anything except high fantasy and far out space opera.  The game mechanics present a world that scales up, where the higher level characters are almost untouchable when it comes to attacks from lower level foes.  Game mechanics are the way the imaginary in world in question is simulated and if the results it produces are that a naked dwarf can take multiple hits from a heavy crossbow  and suffer only minor wounds, that a small number of goblins can easily overcome a mounted knight on open ground, and that a volley of fireballs from a Bright Wizard is nothing to worry about then it fails.  If the mechanics are so complex that they slow down play or are not easy to use, then they fail. 

 

It seems there are two issues here, the speed with which weapons cause death and the difference between the abilities of high-level characters compared to low-level characters.

 

The first, I think, is a definite issue. I have problems with a game in which it is impossible to kill a character, any character with one perfect blow from a mediocre weapon. Sure, players should feel a little security so that they are willing to be daring, but at the same time, I want them to respect a weapon held at their throat by the guards who are intent on capturing them.

 

The second matter, however, strikes me more as an issue of XP-inflation, which can be solved by seriously restricting the amount of XP available.



#11 Emirikol

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 06:02 AM

On a related note:  I just spent a few hours learning the mechanics for the old LEADING EDGE GAMES game ALIENS RPG.  It was based on their Phoenix Command system.  It's been called, "a house-system so Byzantine as to be mind-shattering.  The sheer number of charts to be referenced with modifiers is awful."  This isn't to be confused with the ALIENS BOARDGAME, which is really fun and quick to play.  The RPG on the other hand..yea, I'll stick with Dark Heresy rules instead.

Here's a typical SINGLE SHOT from a pulse rifle:
1) DECIDE HOW MANY ACTIONS YOU WILL TAKE TO AIM FOR EACH SHOT. Weapons have an Accuracy Number calculated in parentheses. This number improves the longer you take to aim before firing per shot. E.g. If you have 6 Combat Actions, you can shoot 6 times at the worst number once at the best number, etc.


2) ROLL PERCENTILE TO HIT VS RANGE, CONSULT CHART 5A. Modify your Accuracy number by chart 5C.

3) CHECK FOR ARMOR GLANCING/ARMOR STOPPING POWER.  CONSULT CHART 6A part A. Roll d10, add opponent's armor modifier (6B). You hit if the amount is more than number on 6A. Higher is more severe damage.

4) ROLL BODY HIT LOCATION EITHER WITH OR WITHOUT COVER. Chart 6A part B.

5) RESOLVE DAMAGE CHECK FOR INCAPACITATION. Compare Physical Damage (PD) to Knockout Value (KV). Compare to Knockout table for incapacitation. Effect is cumulative. Duration is table 8B. Recovery survival roll is made at the appropriate time on table 8A. 

If you ever get the chance to buy ALIENS RPG, don't.  Just don't.

 

How does this relate to modern/evolved systems?  In modern/evolved systems:

*  table look-up is minimalized or eliminated (e.g. for WFRP has THREE sets of table look-ups for combat:  hit location, critical-cross-reference (p133), and criticals)

*  Dice accomplish more with less.  How complicated is a percentile to hit plus damage d10?  Some systems have dice pools..as long as addition with a calculator isn't needed, we're good.

*  Cover, movement, etc. is simplified. 

*  Reality of complex modifiers is eschewed in favor of rapidity of reality.  I.e. Combats are fast.

 

I'm hoping that 3E wfrp is considered "evolved" when it comes out.

 

jh

 



#12 cogollo

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 10:37 AM

Mikael Hasselstein said:

It seems there are two issues here, the speed with which weapons cause death and the difference between the abilities of high-level characters compared to low-level characters.

 

I agree with your comment and would like to add also a third issue: money and treasure.

A world of grim adventure requires a system where:

1. Your character has no "stoneskin" against the weapons of poor commoners. Even a well placed pitchfork could kill you. I must say that 2nd edition lacked here a bit, as combat was not so dangerous as I expected. I hope they improve this a bit in 3rd edition and get something more in Rolemaster style (I mean in deathliness, not in number of tables to look). This has also a direct relation to the difference in abilities between high and low-level characters.

2. There are horrors that even the most advanced heroes fear. Here 2nd edition did an amazing job, thanks to the incredible "Tome of Corruption" which is one of my favourite RPG books to date.

3. Magic is dangerous and very risky. Here, again, 2nd edition did very well, as every spell you cast could bring Insanity, Corruption and/or a Witchhunter Interrogator calling in the middle of the night.

4. Every penny counts. Here I must say that 2nd edition was, in my opinion, very weak. The "Old World Armoury" had inconsistent prices for items and presented costs of items the D&D style.

After some research in the old BI forums, I created my own list of prices and my campaigns always had the characters fighting against poverty and destitution... the pains they took to avoid paying taxes when entering cities such as Nuln or Altdorf offered hilarious moments, and I still remember the joy in my player's faces when they made their first Gold Crowns smuggling some bits of wyrdstone into Delberz... they also were treated as Beggars and Vagrants when appearing with Average or Poor quality clothing and buying a nice set of clothes was very expensive and a real sacrifice...

these are the kind of experiences you could never have with the treasure system of games such as D&D (which, btw, I also like for a relaxed Munchkin-style evening). Again I hope 3rd edition will improve this. Although I already have my list of prices and I don't need much in this respect, I would like newcomers to WFRP to experience a different sort of "adventure" than the usual high fantasy game.


Hur-Nir ran to the aid of the beaten man, recovering in the process a handful of pennies the thugs had let fall in the man's boots during their hasty retreat. - from Nulner Blues campaign

 


#13 Cynical Cat

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 12:10 PM

Second Edition WFRP was quite deadly.  Beastmen with hand weapons caused plenty of near death incidents, including one death and several burnt Fate Points, and two PCs learned that plate armour didn't make them immune to thugs with knives at the cost of a Fate Point each.  As far as deadliness goes, the game managed to do a fairly good job.



#14 McClaud

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 04:49 PM

cogollo said:

Mikael Hasselstein said:

 

4. Every penny counts. Here I must say that 2nd edition was, in my opinion, very weak. The "Old World Armoury" had inconsistent prices for items and presented costs of items the D&D style.

After some research in the old BI forums, I created my own list of prices and my campaigns always had the characters fighting against poverty and destitution... the pains they took to avoid paying taxes when entering cities such as Nuln or Altdorf offered hilarious moments, and I still remember the joy in my player's faces when they made their first Gold Crowns smuggling some bits of wyrdstone into Delberz... they also were treated as Beggars and Vagrants when appearing with Average or Poor quality clothing and buying a nice set of clothes was very expensive and a real sacrifice...

these are the kind of experiences you could never have with the treasure system of games such as D&D (which, btw, I also like for a relaxed Munchkin-style evening). Again I hope 3rd edition will improve this. Although I already have my list of prices and I don't need much in this respect, I would like newcomers to WFRP to experience a different sort of "adventure" than the usual high fantasy game.

 

That is where 1st edition really shined, IMO.

For example, most starter level characters were only equipped with what their Career provided, and a paultry amount of money to buy the rest. And the way the system worked, you definitely needed the "rest" or you had to make due (which usually meant all sorts of scrounging and hoarding just to get a decent weapon and/or armor). Given, some Careers were better off out of the gate in terms of stuff and money, but whether you could use this equipment meant advancing your character to a point where you could pick the skill/talent for it. It was a real struggle.

It appears that there's the option for players to chose to be more destitute than normal in exchange for an extra bump elsewhere. I admire your dedication to making WH Fantasy retain its flavour - that wealth only seems to be present in a few instances (especially in nobility), but basically everyone else is barely wealthier than a beggar.

Both editions of WH Fantasy I think are incredibly deadly to the players. Critical hits were usually character-killers, and Insanity/Corruption was fairly easy to achieve. This is a game where magic has a very bad downside, especially those that dabble in deamonic or necromantic arts (Nurgle's Rot is a GM's best friend).

 

 



#15 marklawford

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 08:11 PM

Captin' said:

Where are my classes? Where is my rat-catcher? My beloved peasent? This is now a combat focused RPG!

It doesn't follow that because your favoured careers aren't there from the start that the new edition is a combat-focused game. Well, any more than it has been in either of the previous editions.

Sure, the new mechanics and all the props will change the feel of how the game is played, but I can't see it changing the stories we tell within the Warhammer universe. It may present new ideas for events or scenarios, and depending on how the combat systems goes we may want to explore that a little more, but I think we love the setting enough that we're going to keep telling stories there. We're just going to have some shiny new toys to help us explore.

 



#16 TylerT

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 08:53 PM

system most certinly efects the feel, despite the marketing there is no system that is generic



#17 cogollo

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 09:38 PM

I should also add that spells like "Detect Magic", "Detect Evil", "Detect Lies", "Resurrection", "Remove Disease", "Remove Poison" and similar make a very big difference in the style of campaign and adventures you can play.

I am not 100% against the above spells, but just want to say that if you have them without a clear in-game sacrifice for the characters (i.e., high chances of getting crazy, corrupted or devoured by a Daemon) then there are some kinds of adventure you will never be able to play correctly. That's the reason why D&D is interesting for high fantasy adventures but usually sucks for mistery or horror adventures.

I hope 3rd edition will maintain this sort of spells out of the player's hands...


Hur-Nir ran to the aid of the beaten man, recovering in the process a handful of pennies the thugs had let fall in the man's boots during their hasty retreat. - from Nulner Blues campaign

 


#18 Cynical Cat

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 10:36 PM

cogollo said:

I should also add that spells like "Detect Magic", "Detect Evil", "Detect Lies", "Resurrection", "Remove Disease", "Remove Poison" and similar make a very big difference in the style of campaign and adventures you can play.

I am not 100% against the above spells, but just want to say that if you have them without a clear in-game sacrifice for the characters (i.e., high chances of getting crazy, corrupted or devoured by a Daemon) then there are some kinds of adventure you will never be able to play correctly. That's the reason why D&D is interesting for high fantasy adventures but usually sucks for mistery or horror adventures.

I hope 3rd edition will maintain this sort of spells out of the player's hands...

 

I mostly agree.  Of course detecting magic is fairly easy in Warhammer if a character is magically gifted(determining what kind of magic it is and what it does is a different matter) and the priests of Verena have some power to detect lies  (but they're rare and not infallible).



#19 GreyLord

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 05:39 PM

System absolutely affects the game and it's feel.  I would say it's even vital to how the game feels itself, on whether the game atmosphere is backed by the system and vice versa.  It's hard to play a dark, grim, deadly game if the rules have invincible adventurers who never have any chances for mental breakdowns and emotional trauma...and vice versa.






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