Over-the-Top Games discussion.   Posted by greenvoid.Group: 0
GHornet
 member, 5 posts
Fri 21 Aug 2015
at 21:59
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Yeah, you can't have a simulationist unless your world makes some sort of sense and there are rules in place, rules that don't need to match the real world, but they must be consistent. So if you don't recognize the need for consistent, meaningful rules then you have given up the simulation aspect all together.

You need the narrative framework in order to make those rules and then you can play a simulation within it.

Gamist...twink/munchkin play... Yeah, I guess I like to get away from that. But before you can even get to that point, you are going to need to be able to bring people into your world and using a bunch of things they can't wrap their heads around isn't going to do that-- only the person with the vision building and designing the world in the first place will be able to maintain interest.

But even a twink is going to want to have some sort of meaning coming from the choice of race A rather than B, even if they are going to figure out which one is the statistically best and play that as they play every single character they play, just deciding in the moment which action has the best percentage chance for success.

And you have got to know how and why magic exist, what it can and cannot do by the rules of the world and who has access to it before you can mark it down so they can look for the loophole that would allow them to utterly break the system in a way that is technically within the words of the rules and get it to do something that it wasn't supposed to do.

Regardless of how you play in the sandbox after you have created it, when you create it the only thing that should concern you at first is getting the narrative right. Because things that clearly exist in games for the sake of the mechanics first with no thought put into fitting it into the world sensibly tend to stand out and get rejected.
chupabob
 member, 5 posts
Fri 28 Aug 2015
at 00:29
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Should I post campaign concepts for specific games?

For example, I have in mind an old concept for a Star Trek campaign. Would that be good for Over the Top or too specific?
GHornet
 member, 7 posts
Fri 28 Aug 2015
at 20:44
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
chupabob:
Regarding GHornet's fantasy setting:

Okay, I think I am getting the vibe. This is a post-apocalyptic fantasy setting where survival and lawlessness are the major themes.

You know, some historians consider the Arthurian Legends to be this type of story. After the Romans pulled out of Britain, society sort of crumbled for a few generations. The roads, ports, bath houses, and defensive walls all fell apart. Without ships coming into port from Rome, the plantations had nowhere to sell their cast crops, and they instead turned inwardly to become self-sufficient, thus the start of feudalism in Europe. Arthur was one of the kings trying to restore order to a realm which had become an anarchy.

Back to your setting specifically, would you describe this world as High Fantasy or Low Fantasy? What are the origins of monsters: did they mutate out of the meteor crater, enter from a different plane, or are they pushing into the the former-Empire from the wilderness?

To answer the question about races, they don't necessarily have to be different races in the traditional fantasy sense. These people might be all the same species and even same ethnicity but different social castes, like it was in ancient India or Feudal Japan. If you do want to plug in fantasy races after all, here are my picks. A Elves, B Tieflings, C Dragon-kin if high fantasy or Dragonborn if low fantasy, D Trolls, E Halflings (or even better Drowlings), F Dryads if high fantasy or Gnolls if low fantasy


The idea of the world is that there has been a great loss. There would be remnants of magic being common, but they are basically destroyed or in disrepair. The capital controlled the vast majority of power in order to ensure evil could not rise up or rebel against it. I don't think I would have evil dragons and an underdark and such cluttering things up unless I could conceive of a way they existed and yet the world was still considered a place of peace and order to the point where the gods felt nuking the thing was the only way to reset the world to a proper balance.

Monsters... well... loaded word.
The general "bad humanoids" would be the result of all these different castes going their own way during the fall out. Generally I'd like to move away from identifying which peoples are universally evil and thus okay to kill on sight by instead positing that some division of all the different peoples in the world went bad, they just did so in their own unique ways.

But the truly otherworldly stuff and weird critters would either be emerging from the ruins of the capital or mutated by the energies pouring out of it-- it would work a bit like a nuclear fall-out area in a sci-fi game in that way, only in this case actual demons, elementals and such would emerge from it and begin wreaking havoc on the survivors further breaking down the bonds of society that some portion of the peoples (presumably the ones adventurers would champion the goals of) keep trying to build up.

I love that only 2 of your answers were the races I had in mind when I was writing them. Kind of shows me theory that as long as your concept of the role each race fulfills and what sort of strengths and weaknesses they would have in relation to one another, there are actually quite a lot of options of what you could slide into those roles. Certainly they could all be the same race, but if that were the case then they could only be so different from one another-- you couldn't have a caste that was 8' tall behemoths and one that was 3' tall peasants, one whose lifespan reached into centuries while another would be lucky to see it through a couple decades, unless they were different enough to warrant being called different races.

Granted-- they could all be more closely related and all be very mammalian sorts with more in common than different in their general physiology.
greenvoid
 GM, 20 posts
 Jaded One
Sat 29 Aug 2015
at 11:24
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
In reply to chupabob (msg # 20):

Specific does not contrast with unusual in any way.
Is your idea unusual in terms of setting or party composition?

If yes, go ahead
GHornet
 member, 8 posts
Sat 29 Aug 2015
at 13:56
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
I concur. The main thing I think we wanted to do was to move away from the common expectations of RPGs.

I mean, granted, I have been pointing out where the pitfalls are when moving away from player expectation and familiarity because I feel it is necessary to recognize and try to avoid those pitfalls, but still challenging the standard formula is important.

There needn't be any reason you can't challenge the standard formula within a preexisting setting, even one defined by TV shows and movies.
Bod Man
 member, 1 post
Sun 30 Aug 2015
at 15:38
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
I'm new to the conversation. Lots written above and I only skimmed it so I just wanted to offer some elements for consideration.

First, for me the experience of an rpg is about storytelling and being immersed in a story. For me this is entertainment. Maybe that's abnormal but after doing this for almost 30 years that's the point I've gotten to. So I appreciate the narrative pov most of all. Problem I see is that many (most?) of the people that play fantasy (on rpol anyway) are more in the munchkin category. It's all about the rules and the races and how they can make the most badass character. This is evidenced in people making first and second level characters with a story that gives them a decade long experience set. Anyway, for me, the rules should be secondary. A means to adjudicating your story.

Races and even using d&d is nostalgic imo. When I come up with a cooky fantasy world, I try to fit in elves and dwarves and orcs because they are familiar and I enjoy finding a place for them. I usually look at them as an analogy for some element of society. You have barbarian hordes in the unexplored wilderness, they are orcs. You have a native species that has an inherent connection to nature and spiritualism beyond normal human comprehension. Maybe they are elves. That kind of thing.

The other way I have dealt with the rules is to try to turn them on their head a bit. For example, one way to embrace the rules is to create a campaign based on a single race or a single class. That forces the rules into the story, but it does so in a way that makes the munchkinism about creating s unique example of a class (or race). It forces a breaking of the molds.

That's what I have so far.
greenvoid
 GM, 21 posts
 Jaded One
Sun 30 Aug 2015
at 15:53
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
quote:
For example, one way to embrace the rules is to create a campaign based on a single race or a single class. That forces the rules into the story, but it does so in a way that makes the munchkinism about creating s unique example of a class (or race). It forces a breaking of the molds.

That's one of the points in the making of this 'game'.
GHornet
 member, 9 posts
Sun 30 Aug 2015
at 22:15
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Bod Man:
First, for me the experience of an rpg is about storytelling and being immersed in a story. For me this is entertainment. Maybe that's abnormal but after doing this for almost 30 years that's the point I've gotten to. So I appreciate the narrative pov most of all. Problem I see is that many (most?) of the people that play fantasy (on rpol anyway) are more in the munchkin category. It's all about the rules and the races and how they can make the most badass character. This is evidenced in people making first and second level characters with a story that gives them a decade long experience set. Anyway, for me, the rules should be secondary. A means to adjudicating your story.


I think it is worth consideration as to why people might munchkin. I am not talking about to the extent where you can hit everything within 100' and knock it down while doing damage, but rather why players would identify the skills that DMs are ACTUALLY going to use and maximize their bonus in those skills and using pretty much the most ideal stat array for their class.

The reason why-- no one likes playing the loser who can't do anything right. Not really, not when you really get right down to it and ask for months on end of commitment to this. By having a high bonus in the rolls you are actually going to make means less chance of falling flat on your face when attempting the usual fare. The difference between having a +0 in something and a +4 in something actually changes the amount of time of feeling like your character is just flat unable to contribute at all.

This is particularly important in two situations-- the dramatic heroic moment and the save or suck moments. In the dramatic moment, the DM naturally sets a high DC to accomplish an action-- well, if you have only a +0 or +1 bonus on that roll, then there is no point in even trying for that DC 22 roll that is going to save the entire party. You lost before you ever picked up the die because of what is on your sheet. If you have a +2 in that stat, great-- either roll a 20 or the entire party dies. 95% of the time you fail. If you have a +3 then you turn that from a 5% chance of success to a 10%-- you literally double your chances of not fucking up and having everyone hate you.

The save or suck situations?... Well, when you are told to roll 1 die to determine whether your character lives or dies, and if it dies than all the effort and work and preparation you did for this character was an absolute waste of time if you haven't had anywhere near enough time to explore what you wanted to with the character... then you are going to want as high of a bonus on that roll as you possible could get. Of course, boosting AC equates to the same thing.

So long as the fate of characters, the results of their efforts, their entire fate is based entirely on the random landing of a die roll rather than what works best from a narrative perspective, then you cannot claim to be story driven. You really aren't-- you are encouraging the players to munchkin, because that is the one way their characters are going to survive and be successful enough for any sort of story to be told. Now, you might be the rare DM who not only fudges the dice, but flat out ignores them when it is a situation where a player absolutely has to succeed or the story just flat out ends unsatisfactorily prematurely, but that's not how most DMs roll and so players feel forced to munchkin to get anywhere.

Granted-- the result of the players building their characters to survive and be successful in the worst of circumstances makes everything else a ridiculous cake-walk and they end up succeeding when it would really be best for the story if they did not.

You would really need to seriously overhaul the whole way mechanics are done within RPGs in order to get anything remotely approaching a sensible and good story out of it. In fact, you might want to do away with mechanics all together.

Bod Man:
Races and even using d&d is nostalgic imo. When I come up with a cooky fantasy world, I try to fit in elves and dwarves and orcs because they are familiar and I enjoy finding a place for them. I usually look at them as an analogy for some element of society. You have barbarian hordes in the unexplored wilderness, they are orcs. You have a native species that has an inherent connection to nature and spiritualism beyond normal human comprehension. Maybe they are elves. That kind of thing


I already covered this in depth. Using elves, dwarves and orcs is likely a sign of laziness when you don't need to aim for mass-market appeal. HOWEVER, it is also important that the concepts, tropes and roles of a race be readily apparent to everyone so that everyone will know how to play them without needing to read a 10-page document regarding the history and culture of the race.

Bod Man:
The other way I have dealt with the rules is to try to turn them on their head a bit. For example, one way to embrace the rules is to create a campaign based on a single race or a single class. That forces the rules into the story, but it does so in a way that makes the munchkinism about creating s unique example of a class (or race). It forces a breaking of the molds.

That's what I have so far.


While I am sure one would like to think that forcing everyone to be the same race and same class would mean that everyone would play a subpar version of it just to be different, that's not the actual result you will get. Because as I stated in this post already, players will want their characters to survive and to succeed and will generally not want to be the loser doomed to fail every single roll they make in the game. What this means is that everyone will naturally build extraordinarily similar characters who will stick pretty close to the ideal version of that race/class combo. Which means you'll have a group of near clones in which no one will stand out or be any different.
Bod Man
 member, 2 posts
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 01:24
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
GHornet:
I think it is worth consideration as to why people might munchkin. I am not talking about to the extent where you can hit everything within 100' and knock it down while doing damage, but rather why players would identify the skills that DMs are ACTUALLY going to use and maximize their bonus in those skills and using pretty much the most ideal stat array for their class.

The reason why-- no one likes playing the loser who can't do anything right. Not really, not when you really get right down to it and ask for months on end of commitment to this. By having a high bonus in the rolls you are actually going to make means less chance of falling flat on your face when attempting the usual fare. The difference between having a +0 in something and a +4 in something actually changes the amount of time of feeling like your character is just flat unable to contribute at all.

This is particularly important in two situations-- the dramatic heroic moment and the save or suck moments. In the dramatic moment, the DM naturally sets a high DC to accomplish an action-- well, if you have only a +0 or +1 bonus on that roll, then there is no point in even trying for that DC 22 roll that is going to save the entire party. You lost before you ever picked up the die because of what is on your sheet. If you have a +2 in that stat, great-- either roll a 20 or the entire party dies. 95% of the time you fail. If you have a +3 then you turn that from a 5% chance of success to a 10%-- you literally double your chances of not fucking up and having everyone hate you.

The save or suck situations?... Well, when you are told to roll 1 die to determine whether your character lives or dies, and if it dies than all the effort and work and preparation you did for this character was an absolute waste of time if you haven't had anywhere near enough time to explore what you wanted to with the character... then you are going to want as high of a bonus on that roll as you possible could get. Of course, boosting AC equates to the same thing.


You have a rather myopic view of this, IMO.

First, I think you are generally correct that people want to have a character that doesn't suck. But that's where your accuracy ends. Or at least where you get lost in generalities.

There are many reasons why someone would choose to munchkinize. Not wanting to suck, I think, is not one of them. Personally, I think it is a sign of immaturity. It is like people who like Deadpool. To me, a core aspect of an RPG is that it is a game. A fundamental element of a game is the chance of losing. Munchkins don't want to lose the game, and they try to manipulate the rules as far as possible to make it a challenge to get them to lose. The job of a GM is to create challenges for the players. So the more players munchkinize, the more the GM has to create challenging situations for the munchkin. It is a nuclear escalation game after that. Mature players recognize that they should create a character with some flaws. Munchkins love Deadpool because he can never lose. I find the prospect of not being able to lose, even if that is based on the randomness of a die roll, lame. And not fun.

GHornet:
You would really need to seriously overhaul the whole way mechanics are done within RPGs in order to get anything remotely approaching a sensible and good story out of it. In fact, you might want to do away with mechanics all together.


I disagree. I think rules have an important place in the game, especially in keeping comparisons between characters fair and consistent.

GHornet:
I already covered this in depth. Using elves, dwarves and orcs is likely a sign of laziness when you don't need to aim for mass-market appeal. HOWEVER, it is also important that the concepts, tropes and roles of a race be readily apparent to everyone so that everyone will know how to play them without needing to read a 10-page document regarding the history and culture of the race.


Totally disagree.

GHornet:
While I am sure one would like to think that forcing everyone to be the same race and same class would mean that everyone would play a subpar version of it just to be different, that's not the actual result you will get. Because as I stated in this post already, players will want their characters to survive and to succeed and will generally not want to be the loser doomed to fail every single roll they make in the game.


I didn't say I thought everyone was going to make a substandard version of the class. I said that they have to create a unique version of the class. This is easier in, say, Pathfinder.

GHornet:
What this means is that everyone will naturally build extraordinarily similar characters who will stick pretty close to the ideal version of that race/class combo. Which means you'll have a group of near clones in which no one will stand out or be any different.


Wrong again. This is precisely what did NOT happen when I tried this. Everyone came at the challenge with a pretty unique approach and it forced them to come up with a story that drove the concept of their unique approach.
GHornet
 member, 10 posts
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 10:32
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Bod Man:
First, for me the experience of an rpg is about storytelling and being immersed in a story. For me this is entertainment. Maybe that's abnormal but after doing this for almost 30 years that's the point I've gotten to. So I appreciate the narrative pov most of all.


Bod Man:
To me, a core aspect of an RPG is that it is a game. A fundamental element of a game is the chance of losing.


Please see your psychologist about your split personality. Until you can manage to say something remotely coherent or manage to have the same perspective for two days in a row, there is no point in trying to have a discussion with you.

A story and a game of chance are on CLEAR separate ends of a very long spectrum. Stories and narratives have plot, structure, and direction. Things do not happen randomly, the protagonists never die against something below their level nor because they stepped on the wrong square. You present any story and I am sure an examination will give you the reason behind every character failure and every character death-- they all serve a narrative function.

Games of chance have no plot, they have no structure, there is no rhyme or reason behind the results simply because they are random chance. Random chance may be closer to real life results, although real life there are meanings behind everything that happens as inane as they mind be, but it fails to be any sort of story. This is why when people try to make stories based on real random events, it cannot be done with every story and some things need to be altered, ignored or just emphasized to a certain degree in hindsight to do so.

Now, I know your last empty-headed response, yours is going to just be two sentences going "You is wrong and bad and WAAAAAAAAAH!!" without even remotely trying to explain or support your concepts because from your last response it is very clear you are only arguing out of emotion and have never actually put any actual thought into anything, so you don't really have an argument.

So, seriously-- spend some time actually thinking instead of just rejecting everything in the world outright. Because your emotional responses don't even agree with one another day to day, of course you are going to disagree with everyone else.
Bod Man
 member, 3 posts
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 11:14
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
You should take your own advice. You set up a game for "discussion" and then spend time shutting down everyone else's ideas and telling them how it really is. You don't seem open to discussion at all.

If you want a narrative, play free form or, better yet, just write on your own. You don't need the structure of a role playing GAME.

Feel free to remove me from this "discussion" at your earliest convenience.
greenvoid
 GM, 22 posts
 Jaded One
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 11:28
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
GHornet:
Please see your psychologist about your split personality. Until you can manage to say something remotely coherent or manage to have the same perspective for two days in a row, there is no point in trying to have a discussion with you.

This is the first and last warning from THE moderator.

This discussion group is not and should not be about personal attacks and judgement. It is and should be about discussing the main idea of unusual games.
Please refrain from such personal remarks, GHornet, this was completely uncivilized.

This message was last edited by the GM at 11:42, Mon 31 Aug 2015.

greenvoid
 GM, 23 posts
 Jaded One
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 11:40
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Bod Man:
You should take your own advice. You set up a game for "discussion" and then spend time shutting down everyone else's ideas and telling them how it really is. You don't seem open to discussion at all.

If you want a narrative, play free form or, better yet, just write on your own. You don't need the structure of a role playing GAME.

Feel free to remove me from this "discussion" at your earliest convenience.

It is me who set up this discussion, not GHornet, and I have absolutely no problem with your posts or personality.
Bod Man
 member, 4 posts
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 11:50
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
My apologies, greenvoid.

In that case I'd love to continue the discussion.
Bod Man
 member, 5 posts
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 12:52
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Apologies to all about my interactions with GHornet.
Amyante
 member, 1 post
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 17:01
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Hey all, been lurking for a bit and watching you discuss various things, but i feel there is one thing that i feel most are overlooking.

Also, please forgive the partial quoting:

Bod Man:
Races and even using d&d is nostalgic imo. When I come up with a cooky fantasy world, I try to fit in elves and dwarves and orcs because they are familiar and I enjoy finding a place for them. I usually look at them as an analogy for some element of society. You have barbarian hordes in the unexplored wilderness, they are orcs. You have a native species that has an inherent connection to nature and spiritualism beyond normal human comprehension. Maybe they are elves. That kind of thing.

The other way I have dealt with the rules is to try to turn them on their head a bit. For example, one way to embrace the rules is to create a campaign based on a single race or a single class. That forces the rules into the story, but it does so in a way that makes the munchkinism about creating s unique example of a class (or race). It forces a breaking of the molds.


See, this is... actually part of the problem. I'm going to take D&D 3.5 as an example so i can use the SRD, but it can pretty much be applied to the vast majority of systems out there.

Orcs get +4 Strength, -2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma. Okay, so they're basically big, dumb and ugly. So if you need barbarians rampaging around the countryside, you use orcs.

The problem is that in essence, this is racial profiling. Why are they nomadic raiders? They're Orcs. Why are they orcs? Because they're nomadic raiders. See, very strictly speaking i see the stat modifications and such as not something they are born with (no way infants get +4 Strength), but rather what the culture they grew up into imposed on them. Orcs have Gruumsh as a Greater Deity that is CE and has the domains of War and Strength for example, so Orcs following him try to emulate that in the same way a follower of Tyr would try to be LG. So, Orcs put a far stronger emphasis on physical strength and advanced learning tends to suffer.

However, my point is, if one were to have an Orc born in (say) an Elven (+2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution) village, and grow up surrounded by Elves and Elven culture and all the fun of focusing on bows (Dex) rather than a sword (Str), then i believe said Orc would be CG (seriously, half the Elven FR pantheon is CG) and have the Elven stat modifiers by the time he or she reaches adulthood. Likewise, if one were to place an Elf baby in an Orc tribe (disregarding the possibilities of baby eating or whatever other negative aspects get dumped on them) then that Elf would grow up CE with Orcish stat modifiers.

See, stat modifiers are fun and all, and if people are playing a warrior they'll consider going for a race that has a more martial mindset to give them a couple more points in physical statistics to gain more of an edge. I know they are, i do it too. I don't always listen to that voice mind you, but it's there. They could also flip that voice the bird and play a Sorcerer, or pick whatever race they want to play and class they want to play. I've played high Charisma half-orcs myself, Dhampir Clerics and Pixie Barbarians (LA 4, bonuses to everything except Str (-4) and Con) and i've enjoyed them all. But when trying to learn a new system, i too tend to go for those extra +1s and +2s simply because i don't have the hang of the system yet, and i don't yet know the 'must haves' and such by heart to compensate for a slightly weaker combination.

But i digress.

I feel that stat bonuses are, in and of themselves, regional rather than racial in nature. Your Elf has been raised by an Orcish tribe? Half-Orc stat modifiers. Kobolds raised by humans? Well, can't get around the darkvision, size (Small) and natural armor since that's genetic, but they'd lose racial skills and their parents' stat modifiers and their player would be forced to pick up Daylight Adaptation as a 1st level (bonus Human) feat. After that, go to town, join the church, become a Paladin or something, go nuts.

Calling it racial is like saying "Well, your kind is dumb and you'll always be dumb regardless of how hard you're trying not to be". Orcs are used as mooks for so long that, when spotting a group of Orcs in hide armor talking in a forest clearing up ahead, half the players are unsheathing weapons before they'd even consider walking up to them to see what they want. Now replace the Orcs with a group of Elves and you get an entirely different reaction regardless of how much the setting info flat out states that the Empire is in no way xenophobic. Nope, Orcs = CE = Evil = Bandits. Elves = CG = Good = Druids or something, let's go and ask what they want. Hey, what's that arrow doing in my chest?

Basically:



I read this thread and i see posts like this:

Cubist:
The answer to "why have different races?" is, Why not have different races? Multiple sophont species go a long way towards making it very clear, right off the bat, that the campaign setting is Far From The Fields We Know. A GM with a human-only campaign won't have that benefit, and will have to expend effort in other areas to make up for it.

Hmmm… if your campaign is going to have one single sentient species, why does it have to be the human species? You could go for elf-only campaign, or a halfing-only campaign, or whatever.

Anyway: Asking "why have different races?" is, to my way of thinking, much like asking "why have magic?". If we're talking about a mundane contemporary campaign (say, a realistic Gulf War scenario), then yeah, it makes sense for the campaign to not have the weird shit. But if it's a fantasy campaign, the campaign's creator is not constrained by the brute facts of the RealWorld, so it strikes me as odd to think that any fantasy campaign should be required to agree with any of the RealWorld's brute facts, whether "humans only", or "no working magic", or "deities are evidently nonexistent".

Now, if a fantasy campaign's creator chooses to incorporate some particular brute fact into their campaign, that's fine. I just don't think it makes sense to decree that all fantasy campaigns must follow that example.


It's like... People are prepared to question the existence of magic and the amount it influences them, then ask 'why have different races?' as if those other races aren't capable of being the same as their human counterparts. And it's showing in the Ideas thread too. GHornet describes a world where this LG Empire ruled everything for 500 years. Wouldn't it make more sense for all the races to be treated equally? Because racial stereotyping does not strike me as being Lawful Good, personally, and 500 years of peace and prosperity tells me no one would even remember what things used to be like. Humans used to live in caves, but should society collapse entirely, i wouldn't be overcome by the need to go and find a cave and club someone over the head.

tl;dr: My question is not "Why have different races?", it's "Why should people of different races be any different?"

This message was last edited by the player at 17:07, Mon 31 Aug 2015.

Bod Man
 member, 6 posts
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 19:22
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Interesting points. I agree that what I'm talking about is akin to racial profiling but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. I think there is a place for custom races and modifications as you are suggesting. I was offering on possible way to deal with races, one that taps into the nostalgia that older gamers like me feel for the old d&d.

You bring up an interesting nature versus nurture argument for making racial modifiers based on upbringing rather than racial stock. I could see that as a viable way to go. Personally, I think the stat modifiers they set up are intended to be based on the physical stock (nature) of the race in question rather than the environment in which they were brought up (nurture). In core d&d the consideration of environment is not made. Pathfinder does address this a bit with racial archetypes. But I think an Orc having a +4 strength is suggesting that orcs are built differently than humans. They are a different race and have denser, stronger muscles. You can still have a weak Orc. They are just rarer. Same with intelligence. They are more primitive, in general, and have less developed brains. Less brain capacity when compared to humans. The charisma modifier is trickier. First, this is representative of the general sense towards the race. If most people think orcs are primitive brutes, they are going to lose charisma. If they are also generally less civilized, they might also lose charisma. Doesn't work as well as strength or intelligence because it is a more subjective measurement. But I think the concept still holds. I don't think messing around with racial modifiers adds anything, personally, but I get your point.

So your core question: why should people of different races be different is a difficult one to answer. If they are not different, what's the point of having them? If everyone are people, humans, I could see setting up regional racial modifiers (based on nurture) but if there are truly different races (and I'm not talking about African American, Hispanic, Asian but different species) then I think they should have differences to represent the different species.
Amyante
 member, 2 posts
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 23:03
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Yes, i agree that Pathfinder is less rigid than 3.5 when it comes to races given that it allows humans, half-elves and half-orcs to choose which stat gets a +2 at character creation, and there are other things such as the Drow vs. the Elves (Drow having had the habit of removing the weak from the gene pool for centuries) which arguably caused comparative genetic superiority, but in most cases i just see some arbitrary modifiers to not make them too much like humans.

Keep in mind, when D&D first hit the shelves playing non-humans hadn't been done much, practically everything was human only up to that point. So, when it first came out, Gary Gygax wrote something in the DMG:

quote:
THE MONSTER AS A PLAYER CHARACTER
On occasion one player or another will evidence a strong desire to operate
as a monster, conceiving a playable character as a strong demon, a devil,
a dragon, or one of the most powerful sort of undead creatures. This is
done principally because the player sees the desired monster character as
superior to his or her peers and likely to provide a dominant role for him or
her in the campaign. A moment of reflection will bring them to the unalterable
conclusion that the game is heavily weighted towards mankind.
ADVANCED D&D is unquestionably "humanocentric", with demi-humans,
semi-humans, and humanoids in various orbits around the sun of
humanity. Men are the worst monsters, particularly high level characters
such as clerics, fighters, and magic-users - whether singly, in small
groups, or in large companies. The ultra-powerful beings of other planes
are more fearsome - the 3 D s of demi-gods, demons, and devils are
enough to strike fear into most characters, let alone when the very gods
themselves are brought into consideration. Yet, there is a point where the
well-equipped, high-level party of adventurers can challenge a demon
prince, an arch-devil, or a demi-god. While there might well be some near
or part humans with the group so doing, it is certain that the leaders will be
human. In co-operation men bring ruin upon monsterdom, for they have
no upper limits as to level or acquired power from spells or items.
The game features humankind for a reason. It is the most logical basis in
an illogical game. From a design aspect it provides the sound groundwork.
From a standpoint of creating the campaign milieu it provides the most
readily usable assumptions. From a participation approach it is the only
method, for a11 players are, after all is said and done, human, and it allows
them the role with which most are most desirous and capable of identifying
with. From all views then it is enough fantasy to assume a swords &
sorcery cosmos, with impossible professions and make-believe magic. To
adventure amongst the weird is fantasy enough without becoming that
too! Consider also that each and every Dungeon Master worthy of that title
is continually at work expanding his or her campaign milieu. The game is
not merely a meaningless dungeon and an urban base around which is
plopped the dreaded wilderness. Each of you must design a world, piece
by piece, as if a jigsaw puzzle were being hand crafted, and each new
section must fit perfectly the pattern of the other pieces. Faced with such a
task all of us need all of the aid and assistance we can get. Without such
help the sheer magnitude of the task would force most of us to throw up
our hands in despair.


And because they feared that having demihuman races that had benefits over humans might lead to barely anyone playing humans anymore, what followed was a system of class restrictions on both race and level (which was subsequently houseruled out by any sane DM).

http://adventuresinnerdliness....nd/adnd/classes.html

2nd Edition dropped the level restrictions, 3rd Ed the class restrictions, but in the end, each was based off of its predecessor so Orcs naturally became the antagonist race. Not just because Gygax and a number of his team were Tolkien fans ( http://archives.theonering.net...iews/gary_gygax.html ) but because out of all the non-humans Half-Orcs could reach the highest levels in Fighter (10) without eating a Strength hardcap like Dwarfs (18/99 and level capped at 9), and were the only ones capable of hitting level 15 (hardcap) in the evil-only class of Assassin. And so, to balance it out their Cleric level cap was a measly 4 and that was about it for Half-orcs and caster classes. With Orcs being LE (1st and 2nd Ed.) they were simply commonly used as the faceless minions of evil. And this was reinforced by every Half-Orc player tending towards Assassin because they could go max level as one and it restricted their alignment to Evil only. They could take their -2 Charisma and go Cleric, but they'd get capped at 4 and literally be unable to advance, so to assure their contribution to the party they'd either be forced to roll a human or go Assassin (15/15 cap) or Fighter (10/11 cap).

Chargen lists "At level 9, the fighter lord may establish a freehold by building some type of castle and clearing the land in an area of a radius of twenty to fifty miles.  The fighter will then attract a body of men-at-arms led by an above average fighter which will serve him as long as he pays reasonably and maintains his freehold, and will collect seven silver coins for every sentient inhabitant of the area through trade, tariffs, and taxes.", and only Humans, Orcs and 18 Strength Dwarves could ever hope to get to level 9. For Dwarves it was the level cap.

Still, to get back to your answer about what use different races would have when they wouldn't be inherently different. You could still have plenty of differences, cultural and social ones for example, but if you remove stat modifiers from the equation then, honestly... from a sheer munchkinistic point of view, there would be no benefit to being, say, an Orcish Dex-based bow fighter as opposed to an Elven one.

And sure, the inhabitants of region x could have -2 Charisma to the inhabitants of region y because the people of y believe x are a bunch of evil tossers, but along those same lines the people of y would have a -2 Charisma dealing with people from region x as well. Charisma is in most cases little more than a bunch of reaction modifiers. As humans, we believe ourselves to be the standard for civilized life (opinions may differ) so if someone with one eye (cyclops style) would come and announce we get -2 Charisma as a race because we have too many eyes we'd think he was crazy. In D&D, Charisma also governs spellcasting for Sorcerers, i can't see anything about Sorcerers that would make Orcs worse at it. It's spontaneous, instinctive. If anything, they should be better at it, Wizards are the bookey types and they cast with Intelligence.

Just saying, you can have plenty of differences without it equating to stats. People from a certain region might be more skilled archers, another region might have better heavy infantry, a third holds chivalry in high esteem so they have a large amount of mounted knights. It's basically what Traits are for in Pathfinder. Just translate racial stat bonuses to skill bonuses and you'd get a whole other ballgame.

This message was last edited by the player at 23:11, Mon 31 Aug 2015.

Bod Man
 member, 8 posts
Mon 31 Aug 2015
at 23:48
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
In reply to Amyante (msg # 36):

Really interesting stuff on gygax and humanocenttic system! I think your analysis makes a lot of sense.

In the grand scheme of things, I see your points. I think your creation of cultural and social differences makes a lot of sense. I don't think it is necessary, if those are the only differences you're going to build in there, to have a bunch of different distinct species. I think that distinct species make sense to have statistic differences and I think that, while they are artificial, they make some sense based on the general setup of the races. I think there are lots of different ways to do racial differences but I'm generally of the school of making as few modifications as possible to the core functioning of the rules. Having crafted several games myself, I know the amount of balance that goes into setting rules. Sometimes changing things for flavor or feel or because you genuinely think it is broken is ok in my book but should not be done arbitrarily. Just my thoughts.
Amyante
 member, 3 posts
Tue 1 Sep 2015
at 09:36
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Thanks :)

Keep in mind however that i am speaking from the point of view of GHornet's setting where an LG (presumably Human) Empire ruled everything with the concepts of good and order in mind, meaning they'd speak out against injustice, to which racial segregation would make little sense.

Still, the name of the game is fantasy, so you could make up whatever you want. Let's see...

...Orcs were once simple creatures, content to simply exist, not knowing or caring about technological advancement. When the Humans first arrived in the world, the Orcs were surprised, but accepted it as they would the discovery of a new plant. When the first of the cities began to emerge, the Orcs started paying more attention and tried to copy their more advanced neighbors, but the technological gap meant it would take them a long while to catch up.

Which plays them as being less advanced technologically, and in its absence they had to rely more on physical strength, resulting in the 'racial' stat modifiers. Orcs visiting a Human city would still have those modifiers, Orcs raised in a Human city (with all the benefits of schooling and usage of magic in everyday life) would not since they wouldn't have a reason to develop their muscular strength.

Another example.

...Orcs are not born like any other race would have been. When the Humans began their technological advancement, their residues of alchemical waste and trash polluted surrounding areas, making plants sick. These plants were forced to either strengthen themselves to adapt, or to die. One such plant mutated, becoming able to move, and continued exposure to polluted drinking water eventually turned it into the first of the goblinoid races, though their origin as plants still shows in them being born from spores as opposed to mammalian birth. This is also why they seem to replenish their numbers in relatively short amounts of time and are hard to displace, as well as the regenerative abilities of what would ultimately become Trolls. The creation of a Half-Orc is not one of natural coupling, but that of a woman with child eating or drinking something that carries some of these spores. In most cases the spores were neutralized by stomach acid, but in others it infected the bloodstream and mutated the fetus. A few Elves were infected also, but their acceptance of nature simply caused them to take the easiest solution and live high in the trees themselves where the spores could not reach. After an increasing amount of these mutations reached the ears of their leaders, Humanity decided the Orcs were deliberately mutating their kin, and set out to destroy them, the Elves being reluctantly dragged in through their treaties with the still young Human empire. Centuries later, the two races are still antagonistic towards one another simply because that was the way it had always been. Only the Gods still remember, and the Gods carry long grudges.

There are a million reasons you could think of to explain the existence of a number of races even without having them around just because your setting happens to have a roll to fill that fits their stereotype. Most Sci-fi series have a number of aliens walking around for no other reason than diversity and aside from a few differences in natural abilities (which hardly ever come up) they're easily interchangeable with one another and it wouldn't change a thing. Klingons are recurring enemies of Mankind and have a tendency towards violence (making them the Orcs of Star Trek) but not all of them are, it's all cultural since they believe they can only get to paradise if they fall in battle. Something one could easily reflect on D&D Orcs without making them axe-wielding simpletons.

Most of the negative mental stat modifiers can be explained away as cultural gap between them (making it harder for Humans to understand their ways of thinking) and, as mentioned earlier, the -2 Charisma is in and of itself little more than a reaction modifier. Remember, stat modifiers are nothing more than something to show how they compare to Humans, among Orcs the -2 simply would not apply (because mechanically both get the -2 so the proportional difference remains the same).

It's fantasy. You're completely free to make stuff up as you go along, and it only adds to the depth of a setting if you write up some headlore to go along with it. No one is forcing you to play Orcs as having an IQ of under 60, no one is telling you Elves shouldn't be Barbarians that are fed up with Humanity encroaching upon their forests and cutting down their trees. Hell, maybe the trees that are being cut down have leaves that they smoke as a kind of pot, if there's a bunch of races running around that don't exist in RealWorld why wouldn't the same apply to the plant life? That's what the genre's all about, isn't it?
chupabob
 member, 7 posts
Thu 10 Sep 2015
at 20:10
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion

This message was deleted by the player at 20:10, Thu 10 Sept 2015.

Amyante
 member, 4 posts
Sat 12 Dec 2015
at 15:42
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
Oh, by the way, just ran into a little something while browsing that might interest you.

http://troika.wikia.com/wiki/A-2:_Races._62

It's from the Arcanum RP (which i admittedly never played). A documentation of the origin of races from a scientific point of view, written from the perspective of a human researcher. It's actually pretty good, and given that people were aiming for a more realistic feel i figured it would fit right in :)
chupabob
 member, 12 posts
Tue 23 Aug 2016
at 04:58
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
I am finally making plans to design my own RPG. It's been a long, long time coming. This particular project will be a tiny little game designed to accompany my 2016 NaNoWriMo project. For National Novel Writing Month, I intend to write a sci-fi novella alongside a RPG in the same setting.

Would anyone here be interested in taking a lot at what I'm creating when November rolls around?
Amyante
 member, 5 posts
Tue 23 Aug 2016
at 09:29
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
If you mean playtesting, I'd be up for it :)
chupabob
 member, 13 posts
Fri 26 Aug 2016
at 23:50
Re: Over-the-Top Games discussion
In reply to Amyante (msg # 42):

I was thinking more like discussing the game design. Some playtesting would be very helpful when it gets that far.

Going over the top is a design goal for me.

This message was last edited by the player at 23:51, Fri 26 Aug 2016.