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The difference between gaming cultures

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The difference between gaming cultures

Postby Matt_E » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:02 pm

Hi, all. I just read something that struck me as positively bizarre, and had to share. I won't tell you where I found it, but, let's just say that it's in a place where a lot of people will end up reading it. This is the concluding paragraph of a two-page piece, which, to my eye, is written sincerely, without tongue in cheek.

As GMs and designers we spend—I think—an inordinate amount of time crafting (or possibly obsessing over) exciting encounters and unique, challenging NPCs. We seem to spend much less time thinking about treasure, and that’s not ideal. After all, any given NPC will likely feature in only one encounter before suffering a violent demise. Items of treasure—particularly magic items assuming they are not instantly sold—could be around for much longer. We should, therefore, spend more time thinking about the nature and value of the treasure we place in our dungeons.


...and that, my friends, in one paragraph, is the difference between D&D/PF and Mythras/RuneQuest.

Too snarky for a Friday night? I blame the OTC cold meds. :roll:
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Re: The difference between gaming cultures

Postby HorusArisen » Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:11 am

That paragraph is why I can't run that game anymore.
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Re: The difference between gaming cultures

Postby raleel » Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:12 am

I do still play that game, though I admit that for me I have to work a bit to find interesting things. I've been playing for almost 40 years at this point, I've kind of done a lot of that :)

It's designed to be more of an action movie. The most recent version is more towards the open world style play that Mythras fans are generally familiar with, but 4e and 3e and PF left huge marks upon the game (some good, some bad). IMO there is far too much yelling about balance and restriction and not enough about possibility. While these things are good for tactical war games, I tend to think they are less useful in roleplaying games.

To be fair, my last couple of years with RQ6 and then Mythras and spending a lot of time figuring out what I liked in roleplaying games has influenced things. I've read more RPGs in the last couple of years that I knew existed in the 30 before that. Mythras just happens to be a chassis that I really enjoy more than most.
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Re: The difference between gaming cultures

Postby Matt_E » Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:07 am

Use the right tool for the job. I don't blame people for liking D&D, but, it's clear to me that they may like RPGs for very different reasons than I do. I'm trying (without complete success...) not to be judgmental. ;-) That paragraph just really struck me as the crystallized essence of part of the big difference: NPCs are to be slain and looted, plot is incidental to inventory. [sigh]

threedeesix, what do you think? I pick on you because you sort of have a foot in each world, as creator of Classic Fantasy.
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Re: The difference between gaming cultures

Postby HorusArisen » Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:08 am

I still play, I just can't run it.
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Re: The difference between gaming cultures

Postby Matt_E » Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:17 am

raleel wrote: I've read more RPGs in the last couple of years that I knew existed in the 30 before that. Mythras just happens to be a chassis that I really enjoy more than most.


Well said, especially the first sentence. As I noted in a fairly recent thread, there are so many game out there today, and most with free or dirt cheap quickstart rules, that there is no real reason beyond ignorance or habit to use the wrong tool for the job. The Web has lowered the barrier to trying new things to the point where there is really no excuse. If you find a system to be less than great for running the game you have in mind, then you have only yourself to blame for not finding and using a better one.

The thing that has struck me about the numerous systems I have checked out in recent years is how much they have converged, compared to the OSR-versus-d100 dyad of ~30 years ago. It has become rather easy to pick up a set of rules and identify how the designers address this or that. The differences can still be compelling, but not as stark as they used to be. Again, this only makes matters easier for the curious GM.
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Re: The difference between gaming cultures

Postby soltakss » Sat Apr 08, 2017 2:00 pm

I can understand the sentiment of the quote.

If an NPC is clearly just cannon-fodder for the party, then why bother spending too much time on it. A major NPC might be worth spending time on spells and abilities, but if they are ultimately going to be killed in the encounter, then why spend too much time?

A good magic item, on the other hand, could be used by said NPcs to good effect and then could be picked up by the party and used over and over again. It is important to make sure the magic item is not overpowered and fits in to the campaign.
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Re: The difference between gaming cultures

Postby Pentallion » Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:56 pm

The thought that goes into treasure IS more important than the thought that goes into NPCs. Not to downgrade how important NPCs are, but it doesn't matter how rare treasure is in your campaign if the one time you give out a magic item it destabilizes the balance of the game. Also, do you want the PCs starving and desperate? Mildly poor? Do you want them to quickly gain enough cash to spend on early training to get beyond the early stages and up their abilities?

What do the PC's NEED to develop their characters?

If you throw out treasure just for the sake of treasure, that's just a Monty Haul campaign. But if your treasure is given the thought and consideration that your NPCs are, then you realize that this part, too, is a means of pushing along the narrative.
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Re: The difference between gaming cultures

Postby raleel » Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:22 pm

HorusArisen wrote:I still play, I just can't run it.


Currently playing, and honestly, I think I feel the opposite. None of the classes are complex enough for me to really get into, save maybe a bard or a wizard, and even those have some limits.

DMing, though, I can do. It weirdly eliminates some of the things I dislike, like classes :)
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Re: The difference between gaming cultures

Postby Matt_E » Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:48 pm

Pentallion wrote:The thought that goes into treasure IS more important than the thought that goes into NPCs. Not to downgrade how important NPCs are,


Um, I think you just did. :-) Yes, I admit that not all NPCs are keepers.

but it doesn't matter how rare treasure is in your campaign if the one time you give out a magic item it destabilizes the balance of the game.


Yes, that would be a problem for me, but, reading the rest of the article I excerpted, I do not believe that was on the writer's mind as a potential pitfall. ;-)

Also, do you want the PCs starving and desperate? Mildly poor?


Yeah, I have no problem with those states. :-D

What do the PC's NEED to develop their characters?


Well, if development is measured solely or chiefly in money or gear, then I would suggest that the characters are not very deep--and maybe the game's framework in which they exist is not, either. To me, a character is more than an equipment roster and a set of Feats. If money/gear is a means to an end, fine, but when it is the end, I lose interest.

I am personally much more interested in what a character can accomplish without much gear or money. That is a measure of grit and determination, to me. What is left when those things are stripped away, eh?

This may go back to that other discussion we had about whether you're a gamist, narrativist, or whatever.
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