badpenny
 member, 342 posts
 eats shoots and leaves
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 17:32
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Okay, that's rather click-baity, but specifically as to the superhero genre, I don't get it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but systems like Mutants & Masterminds don't get the genre that it purports to play in.  This isn't really a screed against the system--I've been at it for ten years now.  It's just that what's important to me--as someone who wants to emulate the superhero genre, and not wargaming--is better reflected by a Cortex+ or Fate system that wholly abstracted the powers/effects and puts the emphasis on the game mechanics for player agency.

Yet, some players will hand wave away a system because it doesn't have enough "crunch."  Let's get to the bottom of that.  What's it really mean?
pdboddy
 member, 500 posts
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 17:42
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Some people like being able to flex their imagination, and not be limited by a system so much.  While others want that system there, they're comfortable with the mechanics defining what their characters can do.

It's personal preference.
Sir Swindle
 member, 185 posts
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 17:47
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
The ability to make choices that feel practically meaningful.

FATE for example, boils down (when you set everything to equal with unlimited creativity) to a few simple things. Either I can accomplish my goal with my aspects and skills or I need to create some number of aspects with my existing resources. Since no one thing is really mechanically better than any other then any aspect works for this.

There is something to be said for invoke for effect but in the midst of a battle those don't really have a chance to shine.

Granted that is all weaknesses in Fudge not really the aspect system of FATE.

If I want to be able to do what ever I think I could do then I suppose one would just free form.

Apocalypse world ends up having a very similar problem, I roll until I get 10+ (or whatever the number is), if I fail another thing spawns that I have to roll 10+ against. All of those rolls and new spawns take the form of something interesting but my choices aren't really affecting what happens to me that much.

As I mentioned this is all in terms of an infinite creativity scenario. I can ALWAYS figure out a way to use my best skill or stat and apply a sufficient number of my abilities to it. In my groups we generally find that to be a fairly normal state.
swordchucks
 member, 1359 posts
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 18:03
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
Some of it's trust.  If you don't trust your GM and fellow players a great deal, then you're going to shy away from systems that leave a lot of things up to the GM.  If you can spell those things out in great detail using a crunchy system, you're reducing your need to trust that the GM will see things your way.

Some of it's historical.  The major of systems for superhero games for many years were super-crunchy.  Comic books used to be a lot more niche than they are now, and a system that lets you quantify and rank superheroes right beside each other had a lot of appeal at the time.  The crowd has changed a bit, but there are certainly still people around that go back to the "versus battles" of old.

Some of it's the way people engage with the rules.  There are at least eight types of fun (google "eight types of fun" for all sorts of information on it), and people enjoy different things.  If you don't enjoy crunchy rules systems, that's fine - but be aware that someone else probably does.  The fun of telling a story is a specific type of fun, and not everyone holds it up as their #1 goal.

And a bunch more factors... but the last one is probably a lot of it.
badpenny
 member, 343 posts
 eats shoots and leaves
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 18:52
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
How on earth--at all--can you play a game with a GM you don't trust?

I get wanting to quantify superheroes/powers--even to the point that the comic books don't1--but character agency should still be equal.  People make this mistake ALL the time: you have Hawkeye and Hulk on the same team, but if that means one player has 200 points to build with and another only 150, objectively one player has more agency than another.  While this isn't a "Fate is better than other RPGs" thread, all characters have equal agency--and are tested equally--in Fate2.

Superhero stories aren't D&D stories.  While D&D has been a thing longer than superhero RPGs, that doesn't mean they should keep following suit.  Character death is not a thing.  Sure, the title hero occasionally buys the farm to shake up the book, but it's a rare thing--certainly not on a campaign level in an RPG.  Hell, even skill failure isn't a thing.  I'd argue that heroes "fail" at the need of the plot.  A d20 objective failure doesn't have any place IMO in a superhero story, e.g. fail a Climbing check by 5 and you fall.  That is not a thing for Batman.  Ever.  At worst, it would be a Fate thing like "Succeed at a cost."  Else your "I'm the best at what I do" or "I'm a world class X" character looks like a chump at the roll of a die.



1 Supers powers/abilities/etc often change with the writer.

2 That's not true, say, for d20.  Say Superboy and Robin want to break out of Cadmus' lair and encounter a vault door.  A Fate GM could assign it as a +3 difficulty and Superboy could bring his +3 Forceful Approach to it while Robin could bring his +3 Clever.  Compare that to M&M: Superboy gets a +5 STR bonus to break the door down, while Robin doesn't get any skill bonus and has a different set of mechanics to use to bypass the door.
pdboddy
 member, 501 posts
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 18:57
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
In reply to badpenny (msg # 5):

quote:
How on earth--at all--can you play a game with a GM you don't trust?


Not all of us live within driving distance of 394567823456 DMs waiting to run games for us? :P
swordchucks
 member, 1360 posts
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 19:06
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
badpenny:
How on earth--at all--can you play a game with a GM you don't trust?

The adversarial GM vs. Player relationship was pretty much the norm for the first 20 years or so of RPGs.

In general, though, I'm not talking about distrust but rather "trust to interpret in the same way" or just "trust to let me use my version of this" in this case.  If you want a player that dose x and works in fashion y, you might find the GM has very different ideas about situation z.  Having a crunchy system removes some of that interpretation ambiguity.

Personally, I don't really care for base FATE or FAE much, especially with regards to superheroes.  Systems like Dresden or Base Raiders that bolt a powers framework on top of the base system are fine, but I just find the base system alone to be too freeform.  I prefer a little more mechanical guidance than it offers.
badpenny
 member, 344 posts
 eats shoots and leaves
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 19:16
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
swordchucks:
Personally, I don't really care for base FATE or FAE much, especially with regards to superheroes.  Systems like Dresden or Base Raiders that bolt a powers framework on top of the base system are fine, but I just find the base system alone to be too freeform.  I prefer a little more mechanical guidance than it offers.


The mechanics are there.  The focus isn't on the power but on agency.  Which, I'd argue is what the source material focuses on, too.

I actually don't think powers, per se, is even relevant beyond flavor text.  This is true for Cortex+ (MHR).  You can call it Plasma Blast or Super Strength, but you're still comparing dice pool to dice pool.

I've found that the more crunchy you get, the more meta-gamey you get.  And that, to me, is about winning, and not telling stories.

(I know, I know: everyone has there own way of having fun.  The problem for me is that those people who want to "win" don't self-identify and they still join my games.)
pdboddy
 member, 502 posts
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 19:18
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
In reply to badpenny (msg # 8):

quote:
I've found that the more crunchy you get, the more meta-gamey you get.  And that, to me, is about winning, and not telling stories.


But there is always some winning in roleplaying.  People like to win, whether it's the heart of the maiden/knight in shining armor, or besting the local bad boy at the tavern.  If there's combat, or conflict, people like to win usually.  Some RPGs offer more rigid structure than others when that is concerned.

This message was last edited by the user at 19:20, Wed 29 Mar.

Togashi Kenshin
 member, 7 posts
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 19:22
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
In reply to badpenny (msg # 5):

Actually if you play tabletop that can happen all the time. A game group coalesces out of friends, friends of friends and loose acquaintance at a game store or college dorm. Its the only game in town or your friends invite you along. You do not know everyone at the table well if at all so yes, you might wind up gaming with people you do not necessarily trust.

For me the idea that with sufficient creativity, persuasiveness or bribery, any character can pretty much apply their best numbers to every situation can make FATE boil down to the luck of the dice. If in your example, Robin and Superboy can both use the same modifier to open a door then what, mechanically, is the difference between them? Superhero games with plenty of crunch tend to error on the side of mechanical complexity insanity with the intent to quantify exactly that.

I do agree that having characters fail at things they shouldn't might not serve verisimilitude assuming that in a crunchy system you actually invested the points in it rather than a character declaring that they are the best at something. However it does serve dramatic tension, a long facet of RPGs. There is always a chance of failure, always that odd roll that screws your day and there are players who enjoy the tension and those who do not. However RPG GMs might not always have the luxury of the kind of contrivances that a comic book writer has. Mainly because they do not necessarily actually know what happens next to the plot.

If a writer knows that Batman will get locked in a room with an insane clone of Superman, he might show that Batman is carrying a chunk of Kryptonite on him. It could be for any reason, he might even have confiscated it from Metallo and had to respond to an emergency call before he had a chance to keep it securely in the Batcave. Why does he have a lead-lined pouch to carry radioactive materials in? Because he's Batman. He easily defeats the clone, escapes and warns the League. A GM might station the clones in different rooms and Batman happens to walk into the one with the Superman clone. In a crunchy system, Batman will have a really bad day because neither the player nor the GM are precognitives. In a "soft" system, Batman will somehow evade the alien demigod that can burn him to death by looking at him funny, escape from someone who can fly at sub or superluminal speeds and warn the League somehow before Supes breaks out and tries to murder him. Contrivance is pretty much the only thing saving the player character in this instance and not all gamers will be happy with it.

I do agree though that there is a certain degree of "D&D mindset" within tabletop players even when they play games as superheroes. They tend to specialize in a niche meaning to work as a party rather than the presumption of most superhero books that a hero would usually work alone and join forces when necessary. Even those who belong in teams are understood to have solo adventures every now and then. Crunchy systems are there to figure out if Superman can consistently punch out the Hulk or vice versa, to allow for quantified effects that the player does not have to constantly invent, the mechanics can provide some degree of veracity to encounters and appeals to players who are interested in game mechanics. Crunchy systems come from the same roots as D&D, miniature wargames, with often complex rules to simulate various results. "Soft" systems tend to be like LARP rules, meant mainly for storytelling. They are different tools for different needs.
pdboddy
 member, 503 posts
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 19:28
Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
In reply to Togashi Kenshin (msg # 10):

I think your last paragraph sums it up eloquently.

Your point about party vs solo hero is something I think people tend to miss.
bigbadron
 moderator, 15313 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Wed 29 Mar 2017
at 19:34
Re: Why is granularity/crunch a thing?
badpenny:
How on earth--at all--can you play a game with a GM you don't trust?

A lot of people do it, just as a lot of GMs will take on players that they don't trust.  It's why we had to make an announcement to the effect that if you game with a GM/player that you don't trust, then the Mods will not sort out the in-game fallout.