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Conners
2011-08-18, 05:40 AM
This is for discussing systems within RPGs. For example, the topic could be combat one day, and the levelling up system the next. More to the point, we'll be talking about the best examples we have seen, and the worst examples--feel free to also talk about what you would like to see (perhaps a skill system like DnD with a different way to advance skills?).


For now, let's discuss...

CHARACTER CREATION


The Best and Worst of Character Creation that you have seen in RPGs. If done well, it makes you all the more excited to play as your character. If done badly, it is a terrible grind you'd much rather skip.


Personally, I'm rather fond of those systems where they ask you questions about your character's life-experiences/personality, where your answers effect your character... haven't seen it done much, though--only once, in Burning Wheel.
As for the worst I can think of... Well, anything where I have to repeatedly look up the rules. DnD is probably guilty of this, for me.


What are the Best and Worst examples you can think of, for Character Creation? Any idea for how CC in RPGs could be improved?

Spiryt
2011-08-18, 05:53 AM
FATAL has great one, all you need is one of these:

http://img.bazarek.pl/39572/6090/172849/1987504823479ee356aaeaa.jpg

And some kind of measuring tape if it's not integrated, and you can stat your character very accurately.

Conners
2011-08-18, 06:09 AM
What is that thing :smallbiggrin:?

Tebryn
2011-08-18, 06:12 AM
It's a tool used by gynecologists.

The Dark Fiddler
2011-08-18, 07:13 AM
It's also sarcasm that makes me cry :smallfrown:

Doesn't FATAL use like, d10000's anyway?

Morghen
2011-08-18, 07:28 AM
I may be in the minority, but I like character creation that takes forever and ever.

I play with a guy who prefers the "Lemme just throw some dice and start playing" method, but I'm crazy about games that can take an hour or more to make a character.

Why?

It guarantees that I'm interested in playing that character. If you give me a pregen, I didn't have any hand in making that character. I'm not invested in that character's well-being in any way.

If it's up to me to make tons and tons of decisions about what kind of character I'm playing (even if that includes bunches of rolls on a dozen different tables), you can be sure that I'll be much more involved in the game because I care so much more about my character's longevity.


I like a system that has tons of rolls on 15 different tables as long as I have a say in how those rolls come out.
I like a system that has no randomness and I have to manage my resources to buy the character I want.

Kobold-Bard
2011-08-18, 08:04 AM
I quite liked the FASA Star Trek Generation. A bit long-winded to be sure, but the way it determines how many tours you've been on, how successful they were, what courses you did at the academy is nice; gives you a nice framework to build a character's history around (since all characters are effectively the same by design).

Maybe that's just me though.

Kallisti
2011-08-18, 09:45 AM
Best

I rather like Don't Rest Your Head's chargen. It's really easy, it takes about ten minutes, it yields memorable characters, and you can use a notecard as your entire character sheet if you didn't give particularly specific answers to the big five. A single sheet of lined paper will pretty much always suffice even if you do need more than a notecard.

Also, Spirit of the Century et al. I really like Aspects, they're a ton of fun to create, and I like the concept of building the party's past together into the character generation.

Mutants and Masterminds, although that may be because I'm a compulsive optimizer and thoroughly enjoy tinkering with the options to see what I can come up with. M&M is like an optimizer's dream come true--the system is immensely complex and variable without getting bogged down. I haven't had that much fun getting a build just right since I got addicted to building decks for Magic.

Worst

FATAL, obviously, although the FATAL character generator program is hilarious. Terrifying and soul-crushing, but immoderately entertaining.

Burning Wheel. I know a lot of people have a lot of nice things to say about it, and admittedly I liked the questionnaire for Steel/emotional attributes, but I truly dislike the Lifepath system. It feels poorly balanced to me, and I strongly disagree with the underlying assumption--that it's all right, desirable even, to alter your character concept so that it can better fit with the lifepaths you want to take for mechanical reasons. I know that it's meant to help you improvise and brainstorm and whatnot, but to my mind the character generation process should be designed to let you model your character concept as closely as possible. Some degree of randomness I can accept, but the way the lifepaths make it difficult to achieve a certain mechanical result without certain fluff regardless of how well it fits the character just galls me. In the one Burning Wheel game I've played, most of us ended up homebrewing lifepaths.

Jude_H
2011-08-18, 10:33 AM
I've been a huge fan of Fate and other games where character creation is more a matter of describing a character with open-ended descriptions than quantifying a character from an explicit list of modifiers.

Outbreak: Undead is annoying in that it stats characters based on an obnoxious questionnaire that the players have to subject themselves to. It's been a bit polarizing in my group because some people apparently like categorical quizzes quite a bit.

Apocalypse World has given excellent results for my new players. The explicit lists and options have structured character building without being too rigid or dull for the more experienced players in my group. So even though it works in a way I'm normally not happy with, the result has been very good.

D&D 3e is by far the worst game I've played in terms of chargen; it combines an endless pile of books for players to dig through, nuanced loopholes and unintentional combinations that reward digging through the pile, a limiting "No, unless..." design philosophy that punishes players who don't dig through the pile and enough popularity that the pile will exist and for the player who spent 4 hours digging up the specific skill tricks/feats/prestige classes to be explicitly able to imitate Indiana Jones to feel justifiably slighted by a DM who allows a generic Thief to do the same things.

Sipex
2011-08-18, 10:48 AM
I've done char gen for D&D 3.5 and 4th edition, both of which I enjoyed. I'm the sort of guy who likes tromping through books for interesting stuff though.

Character generation just...I don't know, it feels great. It's one of my favourite aspects of play.

comicshorse
2011-08-18, 10:55 AM
I've always liked the LifePath in Cyberpunk. Gives lots of interesting stuff to draw on for the character (and lots of plots for the G.M. to inflict on the P.C.s)

Tyndmyr
2011-08-18, 12:16 PM
D&D 3e is by far the worst game I've played in terms of chargen; it combines an endless pile of books for players to dig through, nuanced loopholes and unintentional combinations that reward digging through the pile, a limiting "No, unless..." design philosophy that punishes players who don't dig through the pile and enough popularity that the pile will exist and for the player who spent 4 hours digging up the specific skill tricks/feats/prestige classes to be explicitly able to imitate Indiana Jones to feel justifiably slighted by a DM who allows a generic Thief to do the same things.

Is...is that bad? *looks at pile of every single official 3.x books printed*

Totally Guy
2011-08-18, 12:34 PM
Is...is that bad? *looks at pile of every single official 3.x books printed*

Yep. *looks at PHB, alone and lonely*

BadJuJu
2011-08-18, 12:47 PM
I love the Dresden Files char creation. It's a blast and a team concept. Don't like Deadlands. Too much luck involved

Tyndmyr
2011-08-18, 01:01 PM
Yep. *looks at PHB, alone and lonely*

I'm ok with vast levels of complexity and systemic knowledge.

Not a fan of random luck, though. The whole 3d6 stats, in order....that I want to light on fire.

Xefas
2011-08-18, 01:12 PM
D&D is bad, yeah. But everything that's wrong with D&D's character creation is also wrong with Exalted's character creation, but worse. Imagine that, to make your D&D character, not only would you have to dig through a dozen books, filled with false choices and system mastery crap, but that everything contained within those books also had separate errata in other books necessary to use them.

Like, imagine if when Magic of Incarnum had been released, it used 2nd edition mechanics, just...just randomly for no reason, they just used 2nd edition D&D stats and mechanics. And then they put out a pdf later that errated every single soulmeld into 3.5 mechanics.

That's the kind of stuff you face trying to make a character in Exalted.

I disregard FATAL, as I still cling to the idea that it was all an elaborate joke.

Best has a lot of contenders, to be sure. I think Burning Wheel takes it for me, though. But only by a small margin. Dresden Files, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Mouse Guard are all up there, though.

Fhaolan
2011-08-18, 01:32 PM
The worst chargen system I've ever dealt with was Superhero 2044. Mainly because I hadn't clue one what the hell was going on. It wasn't random... it wasn't *anything*. I'm not sure it had an actual chargen system. I couldn't find it.

Big Fau
2011-08-18, 02:34 PM
D&D 3e is by far the worst game I've played in terms of chargen; it combines an endless pile of books for players to dig through, nuanced loopholes and unintentional combinations that reward digging through the pile, a limiting "No, unless..." design philosophy that punishes players who don't dig through the pile and enough popularity that the pile will exist and for the player who spent 4 hours digging up the specific skill tricks/feats/prestige classes to be explicitly able to imitate Indiana Jones to feel justifiably slighted by a DM who allows a generic Thief to do the same things.

Try digging through nearly 900 pages of *incomplete* rules to build a character. FATAL is the worst, hands down.

Knaight
2011-08-18, 02:51 PM
Best: FATE, Fudge on the Fly, Burning Wheel, Synapse

FATE: Much of character creation is the creation of Aspects and Stunts from scratch. I'm rather fond of creation based over list based systems anyways, and Aspects are a fascinating mechanic anyways.

Fudge on the Fly: You get to mechanically create your character as you play, and it takes all of ten seconds to get to that point. It provides a nice counterpoint to pre-gens for situations where character creation isn't feasible, and one gets to create the skills in use.

Burning Wheel: The lifepath system supplemented by Beliefs and Instincts is unique, and a lot of fun.

Synapse: It has a brilliant system of specific mental attributes (Synapse, Spatial Awareness, so on and so forth), which lets one create basically any species, it works through cultural influence upon people, it has a pseudo-lifepath system, and it is absolutely brilliant when it comes to organic character creation with mechanics.

Worst: Exalted, D&D

Mike_G
2011-08-18, 03:14 PM
There's always the original Traveler system, where you can actually die during character creation.

Hiro Protagonest
2011-08-18, 04:43 PM
D&D 3e is by far the worst game I've played in terms of chargen; it combines an endless pile of books for players to dig through, nuanced loopholes and unintentional combinations that reward digging through the pile, a limiting "No, unless..." design philosophy that punishes players who don't dig through the pile and enough popularity that the pile will exist and for the player who spent 4 hours digging up the specific skill tricks/feats/prestige classes to be explicitly able to imitate Indiana Jones to feel justifiably slighted by a DM who allows a generic Thief to do the same things.

Uhh...

*looks at PHB*

Not for spellcasters. They've got tons of options in the PHB alone.

*looks at ToB*

There, now that fixes melee in one book.

Pun-Pun, D2 Crusader, Chuck E. Cheese, and the like aren't meant to ever be played in a game. They're meant to get the most power possible, and are created by people with lots of books and a high level of system mastery.

Shadow Lord
2011-08-18, 04:51 PM
Best;

Dresden Files RPG

Worst;

D&D 3E And Derivatives

And yet I love the character creation for both of them equally!

Ravens_cry
2011-08-18, 05:15 PM
M&M and other point buy for none-tinkerer players. It took me two days, but I made a character in 3.5 by myself, looking through the books. It probably wasn't a well optimized character by any stretch, but I made it.
I own DC adventures and M&M 2nd edition. I have yet to make a character for either, though I have plenty of character concepts.

Jude_H
2011-08-18, 05:51 PM
Uhh...
That's not my complaint.

I'm talking about the way the game rewards a player for digging through deep stacks of splatbooks for synergistic odds and ends. This is completely unrelated to optimization or power levels - the player of a Sorcerer built to abuse the action economy by digging through Heroes of Battle, Dragon Magic, the PHB2, Complete Arcane, Lords of Madness, various Monster Manuals and Complete Mage is rewarded in the same way as the player of a Soulknife/Monk who digs through Oriental Adventures, Races of Eberron, the WotC web page, Unearthed Arcana and Unapproachable East. The system's chargen mechanics reward players' increasing investments of time and money in a way that I find detrimental to enjoyment of the game.

This is not a specific complaint toward min-maxing. It is also a complaint toward concept-driven character design. A player who just spent a month playing Shadow of the Colossus might envision an acrobatic monster-climber for a future D&D character. To make that work, that player has to spend the better part of a weekend digging through a library of poor prose to cherry pick an obscure tactical feat from Dungeonscape, a skill trick from Complete Scoundrel, an odd setting-specific racial class from savage species, a monster from MM3 that qualifies from that racial class, a set of feats from a Races of __ book unrelated to his character's race, a handful of maneuvers from Tome of Battle and a specific set of items from MIC, just to allow a character to attempt the actions envisioned in the concept.

That sort of character-building shouldn't be necessary. A player should be able to say "I want to climb up the giant's back, keeping its bulk between my character and the goblin archers in the north," roll a couple dice and have a fair chance of success. But because a swath of skill tricks, feats, class features, etc. exist within the system to explicitly allow the various components of the maneuver, a DM is discouraged to allow a player to attempt that sort of action without having spent that weekend digging through books.

TheEmerged
2011-08-18, 05:59 PM
For character generation, HERO system (more commonly known as Champions). Fast? Easy? Oh heck no. There's a reason HERO was one of the first RPG's I know of to release chargen software -- back when it was on a 5.25 floppy disk. At least you genuinely had everything you needed from the one rulebook though (affectionately known as the BBB, "Big Blue Book").

Knaight
2011-08-18, 06:12 PM
For character generation, HERO system (more commonly known as Champions). Fast? Easy? Oh heck no. There's a reason HERO was one of the first RPG's I know of to release chargen software -- back when it was on a 5.25 floppy disk. At least you genuinely had everything you needed from the one rulebook though (affectionately known as the BBB, "Big Blue Book").

Urgh, freaking HERO. If you don't have software, good luck getting a character made in less than three hours.

Shade Kerrin
2011-08-18, 06:33 PM
Of the systems I've seen and tried for chargen:

Best:
Anima Beyond Fantasy. That I've been able to create just about anything and everything that I have attempted with it, while still remaining roughly with the expected balance, says a few good things for me.

Worst:
Anima Beyond Fantasy. The book is just so poorly organized...

navar100
2011-08-18, 06:48 PM
Character Creation

Best: Ars Magica

A little randomness to avoid monotony. Some point buy of decent worth to do what you want. Nice selection of arbitrary abilities to round out your character. Plus, the game allows your character to do something cool, nifty, and "powerful" from the start. You aren't shamed for having it.

Worst: Rolemaster

Charts for everything. There is some rolling, but there's no sweet spot. Rolling high doesn't necessarily mean you get something really good. It's not bad; it just means where you look on the chart.

Conners
2011-08-18, 08:56 PM
Lots of interesting opinions. But, let's have a subject change.

The new discussion will be about..


SKILLS


This can relate to Char-Gen, of course. Mainly though, the discussion is about how the Skill-system works, whether Skill Challenges are interesting or boring, how you Advance your Skills, and etc..

So, what is the Best and the Worst out of Skill systems? Some like DnD tickles your Fancy, where skills are capped by level? Or perhaps a system like GURPS, where it seems to be based entirely on Skills?


Generally, I haven't found many skill systems I like, without homeruling the system. A system that requires input to succeed at Skill Challenges, but isn't just some elaborate mini-game, that'd be fascinating. Also enjoy Skill systems where performing Skills is the main way of increasing them.
Skill Challenges tend to be pretty bland, with roll X Skill against Y DC, see whether you succeed or fail... This tends to encourage having the one Diplomacy Character who maxes out their diplomacy skills. I also hate systems where skill is limited by level (so you can't be a good Mathematician without having hundreds of HP...?).


Remember that Character Creation is still up for discussion, if someone wants to continue beating that horse.

Aidan305
2011-08-18, 08:58 PM
I'll throw in my lot for FATE (Especially Dresden Files) and Burning Wheel (Mouseguard!)as being among what I consider the best, though I can see how some people might dislike the Burning Wheel's chargen.


FATAL is the obvious choice for worst so we can disregard it for now. I also agree with Shade Kerrin that the book for Anima: Beyond Fantasy is so horribly organised that it's incredibly difficulty to get anything done.

I feel that chargen, as the first element of the game any new player will be introduced to, should be as simple and streamlined as possible, without having to flip back and forth between a multitude of different things.

The Glyphstone
2011-08-18, 09:05 PM
There's always the original Traveler system, where you can actually die during character creation.

Yeah, but if you do, it's partially your own fault for risking it, going on that one more military tour of duty to potentially be even more awesome when you finally start play.

Knaight
2011-08-18, 09:17 PM
Skills
Best: Fudge, Chronica Feudalis, Trail of Cthulhu
Fudge is notable for its unified qualitative ladder which skills, as well as skill difficulties are ranked on, combined with the 0 centric additive roll system. Chronica Feudalis divides 20 skills evenly into 4 conflict resolution subsystems, giving it a coherent structure within the rest of the system, which leads it to work incredibly well. Trail of Cthulhu used depleting skills where every skill check is a bet, which works incredibly for the horror genre.

Worst: D&D, Savage Worlds, GURPS, Call of Cthulhu
D&D and GURPS are both overly complicated, without really being complex. That is a cardinal sin of game design in my book, inelegance is simply unacceptable. Savage Worlds has oddly specific skills, and though its connection to its attributes is sensible, the list is just stupid. Call of Cthulhu is just a mess, and moreover unnecessarily specific.

Lord Raziere
2011-08-18, 09:30 PM
Best:

Exalted

Love it, makes me feel like I'm making an actual character and what they can do y'know and actually makes me want to do stuff with it. Its awesome.

Worst:

DnD 3.5, Bleh.

complicated, shallow, requires dice-rolling, ugh no. its just soulless.

SurlySeraph
2011-08-18, 09:37 PM
Skills:
Best: New World of Darkness. All of the skills are fairly useful, a lot of them are useful similarly often, the way equipment bonuses and specialties work is good, and Attribute + Skill is intuitive and elegant.

Worst:
ADnD Non-Weapon Proficiencies. Gee, maybe I should have taken Survival instead of Fungi Recognition. (Granted, I haven't played with these myself, but I've heard a rant or two).

Arbane
2011-08-19, 01:03 AM
Best:
RISUS and Over The Edge. "Okay, you want to make a were-hamster surfer who works as an electrician?

Okay. Just decide what order those traits are important in."

Worst:
D&D: "You want to make someone who can cast spells AND fight barehanded?! *sigh* Okay, time to hit the sourcebooks.... wait, AND you want them to be competent at wilderness survival? [email protected]!"

Knaight
2011-08-19, 01:13 AM
Best:
RISUS and Over The Edge. "Okay, you want to make a were-hamster surfer who works as an electrician?

Those aren't really skill system per se. That said, they are pretty awesome.

flumphy
2011-08-19, 02:50 AM
I love the char-gen mini-game, and therefore I'm pretty ambivalent toward actual complexity. I'm more concerned with how smoothly things run in play.

Best: Fudge. Setting a target difficulty is perfectly intuitive, and as a bonus it's easy to implement in the exact skills you need for a specific setting/campaign.

Worst: Burning Wheel. Any system where you have to actually make skill checks (or have impractical amounts of downtime) to advance, or even stay where you're at, is a bit silly, especially when the designer himself repeatedly advises you to go light on the dice.

Knaight
2011-08-19, 02:52 AM
Best: Fudge. Setting a target difficulty is perfectly intuitive, and as a bonus it's easy to implement in the exact skills you need for a specific setting/campaign.

Worst: Burning Wheel. Any system where you have to actually make skill checks (or have impractical amounts of downtime) to advance, or even stay where you're at, is a bit silly, especially when the designer himself repeatedly advises you to go light on the dice.

So what are your feelings on the Fudge homebrew that requires skill checks to advance skills (albeit never in a way anywhere near as complex as in BW)?

flumphy
2011-08-19, 03:16 AM
So what are your feelings on the Fudge homebrew that requires skill checks to advance skills (albeit never in a way anywhere near as complex as in BW)?

I'm still not very fond of it due to my own preference for making skill checks only where it's dramatically appropriate, and therefore I don't use it. Specifically, I doubt the accuracy of how well the amount of checks correspond to the skills that would be actually be gained on any given adventure, since in reality you can learn a lot from routine things that would never be mechanically tested at most tables. But to each their own, of course. I can understand why some people enjoy it.

Knaight
2011-08-19, 03:18 AM
I'm still not very fond of it due to my own preference for making skill checks only where it's dramatically appropriate, and therefore I don't use it. Specifically, I doubt the accuracy of how well the amount of checks correspond to the skills that would be actually be gained on any given adventure, since in reality you can learn a lot from routine things that would never be mechanically tested at most tables. But to each their own, of course. I can understand why some people enjoy it.

Ah. I'm fond of this as well, but I'm also fond of fairly slow advancement in systems with as few skill levels as Fudge. There's a grand total of 7 likely to actually see use, including Legendary, and 2 of these are really, really big deals.

Eldan
2011-08-19, 03:19 AM
Best:
Worst:
D&D: "You want to make someone who can cast spells AND fight barehanded?! *sigh* Okay, time to hit the sourcebooks.... wait, AND you want them to be competent at wilderness survival? [email protected]!"

That... takes like five minutes.
"Okay, sure. Enlightened Fist. Take survival as a skill too, that's fine with me."

Done.

Honestly, I don't understand all the complaints about the D&D system. It has a relatively simple basic system that works for what it tries to do, and can be explained to a newcomer in less than fifteen minutes.

Totally Guy
2011-08-19, 03:45 AM
I really like the Burning Wheel skills. Mostly for the Intent/Task/Complication stuff. It gives everybody the same knowledge before the roll and makes it open handed and the system engages objectively.

There are a lot of skills. And yes, there is overlap. But that's a good thing as you can establish a lot of colour in your game by describing how someone does something.

A public speaker would talk in a certain way and in certain circumstances that a convincing evil vizier just wouldn't. By opting to use the skills on your sheet you reinforce who you are as you describe your actions.


I don't think I can legitimately complain about any skill systems in RPGs as I believe that all problems that I've ever had have been through GMs not playing the game as written.

Daedroth
2011-08-19, 05:32 AM
Worst:
D&D: "You want to make someone who can cast spells AND fight barehanded?! *sigh* Okay, time to hit the sourcebooks.... wait, AND you want them to be competent at wilderness survival? [email protected]!"

Umh...Are you saying that you want to play a druid? The normal one or the UA variant?XD


Best: I don't really know what to say

worst: AD&D weapon non-profecencies, D&D 4
...and oWod, not because the skills itself its because the dice sistem that its just silly

Conners
2011-08-19, 06:31 AM
Going back a page: "Traveller" had you go on military campaigns before your character was fully made, and you could get stuff by rolling to see how successful you were, and you could actually DIE before your character was even finished!?!?

This sounds amazing, in one direction or another. Did any other systems try doing that?

flumphy
2011-08-19, 06:51 AM
Going back a page: "Traveller" had you go on military campaigns before your character was fully made, and you could get stuff by rolling to see how successful you were, and you could actually DIE before your character was even finished!?!?

This sounds amazing, in one direction or another. Did any other systems try doing that?

The problem wasn't so much the risk of death so much as what I have heard termed, "Golden Girls in Space." It paid to be as old as you possibly could, since your power corresponded to the number of terms you took and it was difficult and expensive to improve your skills after chargen.

I think the 2nd. Ed. D&D had some obscure psionics rule that could do it as well. I can't think of other systems that can outright kill you before the game starts (even the latest version of Traveller doesn't), but orcs in Burning Wheel can end up horribly maimed.

Tyndmyr
2011-08-19, 07:21 AM
Worst:
D&D: "You want to make someone who can cast spells AND fight barehanded?! *sigh* Okay, time to hit the sourcebooks.... wait, AND you want them to be competent at wilderness survival? [email protected]!"

Meh, Enlightened Fist. Survival can be gotten as a class skill in any number of ways I can cite off my head.

I feel that, thanks to google, digging out options isn't as big of a hump as it used to be.

Jude_H
2011-08-19, 12:09 PM
Honestly, I don't understand all the complaints about the D&D system. It has a relatively simple basic system that works for what it tries to do, and can be explained to a newcomer in less than fifteen minutes.
It's easy to explain and to learn how the mechanics work. It's horrendous to learn how to build a character to use those mechanics. It's the latter that's been addressed in this thread.

Going off the Enlightened Fist example:
By the game rules, players have to dig through splatbooks to find the Enlightened Fist, then dig through splatbooks to find a source for a decent Survival skill, then plan every skill point/feat/level allocation in their character's progression to ensure PrC/feat access at the appropriate times. The system strongly encourages players to further dig through all other splatbooks available, in order to find a more rewarded combination (why play Eldritch Knight 10 when Eldritch Knight 5/Abjurant Champ 5 is an option? and why do that when JPM 5/AC 5 is on the table?). The result is a huge amount of homework - something which can be fun to certain people in certain circumstances, but which wastes huge amounts of time spent without even playing the game.

When a system chargen requires comprehensive knowledge of a library of books, a spreadsheet and , it's hard for me to understand how the system's character generation could be praised for its simplicity when alternative games allow a player to write "wrestles bears" and "spooky witch" on a piece of paper and be done.

SKILLS
I'm a huge fan of generalized skill systems, as opposed to specific systems - a mechanic for doing Strengthy stuff (opposed to maybe "Finessey stuff" or "Brainy stuff") it's easy to apply the rules to a variety of situations that come up and players are encouraged to attempt new uses of the skill umbrella.

When skills are divided into specifics, games become harder to adjudicate, players are encouraged to repeat the same handful of specialty actions through a game and numbers become more obnoxiously fiddly.

My favorite skill systems use skill mechanics as an opportunity to share narration between the players at the table, rather than to slow the game with a back-and-forth of adjudication with the GM. Games like InSpectres and Dust Devils provide rules to adjudicate degrees of success and failure, but also provide a backbone where players take over the storytelling - the part of the game I consider the most fun.

Tyndmyr
2011-08-19, 12:18 PM
It's easy to explain and to learn how the mechanics work. It's horrendous to learn how to build a character to use those mechanics. It's the latter that's been addressed in this thread.

Going off the Enlightened Fist example:
By the game rules, players have to dig through splatbooks to find the Enlightened Fist, then dig through splatbooks to find a source for a decent Survival skill, then plan every skill point/feat/level allocation in their character's progression to ensure PrC/feat access at the appropriate times. The system strongly encourages players to further dig through all other splatbooks available, in order to find a more rewarded combination (why play Eldritch Knight 10 when Eldritch Knight 5/Abjurant Champ 5 is an option? and why do that when JPM 5/AC 5 is on the table?). The result is a huge amount of homework - something which can be fun to certain people in certain circumstances, but which wastes huge amounts of time spent without even playing the game.

For some people, chargen IS playing the game.

Howler Dagger
2011-08-19, 12:26 PM
Best:D&D 4e. It is simple, you just choose what skills to train, and there arent tons of skills.
Worst:D&D 3.5 One of my least favorite things about 3.5 is the skill system, there are too may skills, and the skill point system is way too complicated. Though i guess since i started with 4e i might be a bit biased.

Tyndmyr
2011-08-19, 12:28 PM
Pet peeve...ambiguous skill systems.

For instance, 7th Sea, while normally epic, has some skills that are basically the same thing with a different name. Hiding and Ambush are different skills. Leap and Land on Target are different skills. And...they forgot to make any awareness skills.

Yay, now we get to argue over what skills are applicable.

Xefas
2011-08-19, 12:34 PM
For some people, chargen IS playing the game.

Then this is a semantic issue. The game you describe, "Making 3.5 D&D characters", is a different game than "3.5 D&D", sounds like, with different utility and strategies.

The former has the goal of something like "fit together numbers to make a character that can do something cool and then possibly show it off on the internet". For this, the 3.5 D&D character generation system does that...adequately, shall we say.

The latter has the goal of something like "tell a good story while attaining satisfaction from roleplaying a fantasy character and then kill some monsters". For this, the character generation part of the 3.5 D&D system isn't very good. And I think this is the game that we're talking about. Not the one you're talking about.

Tyndmyr
2011-08-19, 12:37 PM
Then this is a semantic issue. The game you describe, "Making 3.5 D&D characters", is a different game than "3.5 D&D", sounds like, with different utility and strategies.

It is part of the game, sir. How you make your character is a big part of that game...it's why the books are positively stuffed with character options.


The latter has the goal of something like "tell a good story while attaining satisfaction from roleplaying a fantasy character and then kill some monsters". For this, the character generation part of the 3.5 D&D system isn't very good. And I think this is the game that we're talking about. Not the one you're talking about.

System Mastery can sometimes help stories. Not always, certainly, but it's not rare that I'm pondering mechanics and come up with entirely new ideas and possibilities.

Xefas
2011-08-19, 12:40 PM
It is part of the game, sir. How you make your character is a big part of that game...it's why the books are positively stuffed with character options.

I mean "game" in the game theory sense. Making characters just to make characters is a different 'game' than making characters to use for something else.

Tyndmyr
2011-08-19, 12:42 PM
Even so, it's always related to the original game. The most TO of builds is still only of any importance because of what it would do in an actual game.

Xefas
2011-08-19, 01:02 PM
Even so, it's always related to the original game.

Even if they're "related", they're two different 'games', and something that is good for one might not be good for the other. But, anyway, I think I've said all I can, and I'm going to go eat lunch now.

Stegyre
2011-08-19, 01:02 PM
I may be in the minority, but I like character creation that takes forever and ever.

(and other stuff I agree with)
We probably are a minority, but it's a minority of at least two. :smallsmile:

Tyndmyr summed it up well:

For some people, chargen IS playing the game.

Hiro Protagonest
2011-08-19, 01:26 PM
Worst:
D&D: "You want to make someone who can cast spells AND fight barehanded?! *sigh* Okay, time to hit the sourcebooks.... wait, AND you want them to be competent at wilderness survival? [email protected]!"

You say that like it's hard.

Tyndmyr
2011-08-19, 01:44 PM
You say that like it's hard.

That was my reaction. I can do it from memory with a single prestige class. Meh. If you googled it, you'd get the same result.

If there wasn't a PrC index and google, I could see the justification for "now I have to look through 30+ books for the class"....but that's not what is actually necessary. It'll take all of about 30 seconds to find the class, and a few minutes to flip to it and write the relevant bits down.

TheGeckoKing
2011-08-19, 02:08 PM
D&D: "You want to make someone who can cast spells AND fight barehanded?! *sigh* Okay, time to hit the sourcebooks.... wait, AND you want them to be competent at wilderness survival? [email protected]!"

Core Class: Druid or Cleric (Both fit fine).
Core Feat: Improved Unarmed Strike.
Core Skill: Survival.

...and your point is...?

Hiro Protagonest
2011-08-19, 02:10 PM
Core Class: Druid or Cleric (Both fit fine).
Core Feat: Improved Unarmed Strike.
Core Skill: Survival.

...and your point is...?

If you want better unarmed strikes? Magic Fang/Greater Magic Fang, or buy a single book and take Superior Unarmed Strike.

erikun
2011-08-19, 02:14 PM
CHARACTER CREATION
I don't really have much opinion on character creation in general. Most games just amount to "you get so many points to spend on your character" and leave it at that, making the exercise far more relevant to the character mechanics than the creation mechanics. Burning Wheel's lifepath system is certainly interesting. D&D 4e has some rather good monster and trap generation. Pre-4e Shadowrun certainly had an unusual character generation method. IronClaw's race - career - skills division is certainly an interesting way of handling it, but that's getting into character mechanics more than creations.


SKILLS
I am a fan of the World of Darkness system, and I do like their skill system. I very much dislike a large difference in system design between, say, swinging a sword and swinging a hammer, and any system that makes them feel similar gets an approval from me. I do understand that combat (of any form) can't be modeled similar to non-combat all the time, but they shouldn't be completely different either.

On the other hand, while I haven't played it, Fudge/Fate do what looks to be an excellent job. Your "skill level" is a set rank, and rolling dice have a chance of modifying it upwards or downwards. An expert at computer programming will not "critical fumble" and end up accidentally deleting their harddrive while writing a program, just as someone who has never picked up a gun will not "critical success" and shoot down a satellite. They may rarely do exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly for their skill level, but never to the point of full success/full failure.

Probably my favorite skill resolution system, though, is Burning Wheel. The system is a lot less binary pass/fail and involves moving things forward, even on a failed roll, rather than stalling the game. If you climb a cliff and fail a roll, you might be attacked or spotted, or find guards at the top - you don't just fall down and take a handful of damage. If you are trying to sneak through a hallway, then failure could mean that a guard patrol is coming or that the hallway doesn't lead where you want to go - not that you've been discovered and thus the entire attempt at stealth is finished.

My least favorite skill system has to be D&D, all versions. Early additions were just d20 vs Ability score, which works on a fundamental level but ends up terribly generic and produces odd results (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaIdv79Xz4&t=32s). 3rd edition has numerous problems, being very "pass or fail" depending on build. 4th edition was better in that they don't get in the way, but this just has the same issues as early versions.

Necroticplague
2011-08-19, 02:59 PM
My personal two favorite systems for chargen are SPECIAL and GURPS. Some nice simplicity of "here are some points, go out and spend them." GURPS "suffers" from a bit of a "holy smokes, book diving" issue as dnd 3.5, but that's actually something that I find fun, plus you can mostly skip it if you don't care about the power of your characters. For skill system, I definately vote for FATAL (wow, a lot of these names are acronyms). I tried making a character in it before, but gave up trying to figure out how many skills I even had.

Knaight
2011-08-19, 03:03 PM
I feel that, thanks to google, digging out options isn't as big of a hump as it used to be.


If there wasn't a PrC index and google, I could see the justification for "now I have to look through 30+ books for the class"....but that's not what is actually necessary. It'll take all of about 30 seconds to find the class, and a few minutes to flip to it and write the relevant bits down.

I'd argue that one should be able to create a character from memory something from memory after reading the book once and creating a character or two with its aid. Even referencing the book is, in my opinion, a sign of over kill, if one has to break out Google, or a PrC index, or a spread sheet, something has gone horribly wrong.

Arbane
2011-08-19, 06:35 PM
Core Class: Druid or Cleric (Both fit fine).
Core Feat: Improved Unarmed Strike.
Core Skill: Survival.

...and your point is...?

Pretty much what this guy said:


It's easy to explain and to learn how the mechanics work. It's horrendous to learn how to build a character to use those mechanics. It's the latter that's been addressed in this thread.

Going off the Enlightened Fist example:
By the game rules, players have to dig through splatbooks to find the Enlightened Fist, then dig through splatbooks to find a source for a decent Survival skill, then plan every skill point/feat/level allocation in their character's progression to ensure PrC/feat access at the appropriate times. The system strongly encourages players to further dig through all other splatbooks available, in order to find a more rewarded combination (why play Eldritch Knight 10 when Eldritch Knight 5/Abjurant Champ 5 is an option? and why do that when JPM 5/AC 5 is on the table?). The result is a huge amount of homework - something which can be fun to certain people in certain circumstances, but which wastes huge amounts of time spent without even playing the game.

When a system chargen requires comprehensive knowledge of a library of books, a spreadsheet and , it's hard for me to understand how the system's character generation could be praised for its simplicity when alternative games allow a player to write "wrestles bears" and "spooky witch" on a piece of paper and be done.

Dang it, now I want to play a bear-wrestling witch, too. (How _would_ you do that in D&D...? :smallbiggrin:)

I'll freely cop to being a powergamer, but stuff like the above is why if I ever run a d20 fantasy game, I'd rather use Mutants and Masterminds and make all the characters' cool stuff from scratch than grovel through 20 D&D sourcebooks to find the right square hole I might be able to force my round peg of an idea into.



I'm a huge fan of generalized skill systems, as opposed to specific systems - a mechanic for doing Strengthy stuff (opposed to maybe "Finessey stuff" or "Brainy stuff") it's easy to apply the rules to a variety of situations that come up and players are encouraged to attempt new uses of the skill umbrella.

When skills are divided into specifics, games become harder to adjudicate, players are encouraged to repeat the same handful of specialty actions through a game and numbers become more obnoxiously fiddly.

My favorite skill systems use skill mechanics as an opportunity to share narration between the players at the table, rather than to slow the game with a back-and-forth of adjudication with the GM. Games like InSpectres and Dust Devils provide rules to adjudicate degrees of success and failure, but also provide a backbone where players take over the storytelling - the part of the game I consider the most fun.

I like games that either let you roll your own skills, or have a VERY short skill-list. Feng Shui has around 20 skills. Exalted has 25. As some smart game-designer said, "the longer the skill list, the more incompetent the characters." (Since the more skills there are, the more skills each PC _won't_ have.)

The Glyphstone
2011-08-19, 06:38 PM
A hundred years from now, D&D 99.5E will have pared the game down to four skills - Hurting, Breaking, Living, and Talking. Talking will be a dump stat for most classes.

Arbane
2011-08-19, 06:52 PM
A hundred years from now, D&D 99.5E will have pared the game down to four skills - Hurting, Breaking, Living, and Talking. Talking will be a dump stat for most classes.

Not likely - you can't sell enough splatbooks that way. :smallwink:

(And you forgot Magic.)

Ravens_cry
2011-08-19, 06:55 PM
I'd argue that one should be able to create a character from memory something from memory after reading the book once and creating a character or two with its aid. Even referencing the book is, in my opinion, a sign of over kill, if one has to break out Google, or a PrC index, or a spread sheet, something has gone horribly wrong.
Then any point buy system with any actual options is even worse. So it really can't be the worst system now, now can it?

Hiro Protagonest
2011-08-19, 06:57 PM
Dang it, now I want to play a bear-wrestling witch, too. (How _would_ you do that in D&D...? :smallbiggrin:)

Cleric, take Improved Grapple feat and use Divine Power (preferably Extended or DMM: Persisted) to get the bonus from +6 strength and full BAB. Druid, take Improved Grapple and wild shape into the biggest and strongest thing you can to get bonuses from strength and size. You can play a witch as a cleric or druid, just have to pick thematic spells.

The Glyphstone
2011-08-19, 07:02 PM
Not likely - you can't sell enough splatbooks that way. :smallwink:

(And you forgot Magic.)

No, that's intentional - using magic to accomplish Hurting someone, Breaking something, Living through an attack, or Talking to someone still rolls that skill. Who would design a game where Magic could be substituted for pretty much any other skill or specialty?

And of course you can sell splatbooks - the Complete Hurting Handbook with all new ways to roll your dice when attempting to Hurt, all new bonuses you can get with specific totals on your Hurt attempt, and special new combo attacks you can attempt by taking a penalty to Hurt.

navar100
2011-08-19, 07:14 PM
Skills

Best

GURPS

I'm not a fan of GURPS, but as the game revolves around skill use, it does it well. Because of the 3d6 bell curve, even having a "poor" value allows you a somewhat decent chance of success. You have lots of options within a given genre.

Worst

Pre-3E D&D

They didn't exist. 2E had proficiencies, but they were mediocre. Everything boiled down to winging it and arbitrary ability score checks. Back in the day my group's perception checks were house ruled as taking the average of your Intelligence and Wisdom and roll that score or lower. One player theorized thieves had it worst. They got percentages to dole out which they couldn't maximize. When a non-thief wanted to do something similar, them making an ability score check was better odds than the thief's whole point of percentages class ability.

erikun
2011-08-19, 07:21 PM
A hundred years from now, D&D 99.5E will have pared the game down to four skills - Hurting, Breaking, Living, and Talking. Talking will be a dump stat for most classes.
I am somewhat tempted to get a jump on this now and see what king of system is the end result.


(And you forgot Magic.)
Magic is Talking, and involves chatting at opponents until they are willing to admit that yes, you did actually cast a fireball and yes, the will subtract 35 HP from their character sheet as long as you shut up about it. Unfortunately, magic is terribly unoptimized, as its use is limited by your DM's sanity (both in game score and out of game limit).

Nobody said that the balance had improved any.

Knaight
2011-08-20, 01:39 AM
Then any point buy system with any actual options is even worse. So it really can't be the worst system now, now can it?

No. GURPS could be condensed to a single page cheat sheet that needs to be referenced, that won't happen for D&D.

Conners
2011-08-20, 03:42 AM
Let's add another topic in there along with the others:


PHYSICAL COMBAT


Whether shooting crossbows/guns, or killing people with your fists/swords, physical combat probably comes into every RPG out there. Notably, though, certain games don't offer much variety in tactics. Which are your favourites, and least favourites, when it comes to physical combat? Something simple, where it's more about building your character? Or perhaps a more tactical game where the weak can vanquish the strong?


TRoS is probably the best that comes to mind, for physical combat. A fair amount of tactical input was in there. Shadowrun might be second, for its mixture of simplicity.
Generally, I've grown to dislike DnD and other games, where how you build your character is the only input you really have, for combat (a bit different at major levels, where you can get feats that are more tactical... but still).

Knaight
2011-08-20, 03:47 AM
Best: Burning Wheel, Chronica Feudalis
BW is notable for its scripting system, in which everyone is gambling on their opponents unknown actions, trying to tactically out manuever at the player level. The character is major, bu the player still has a lot of input. Chronica Feudalis is good because it also has a system of gambling with the odds and making calculated risks involved, but is very simple and mostly out of the way despite how engaging it is.

Worst: Synapse, Savage Worlds
If there is one thing Synapse doesn't do well, its physical combat. The weapon stats are nonsensical, the combat takes forever to play out, and it is immensely boring. As for Savage Worlds, it has a tactical combat minigame grafted on to the site of a light weight minimalist system, and that works about as well as one would expect - not at all. That is really a large part of the reason Savage Worlds is a terrible game, particularly given that it is about as combat focused as D&D.

Totally Guy
2011-08-20, 07:58 AM
TRoS is probably the best that comes to mind, for physical combat. A fair amount of tactical input was in there.

Jake Norwood is on my list of people who I've not read, but I really need to...

Tengu_temp
2011-08-20, 08:03 AM
Worst: Cyberpunk 2020, core version. When you hear "cyberpunk", you think about guys in trench coats shooting at each other from SMGs, right? Well, not in this game! Because of the way this game handles damage it is encouraged to use the most powerful guns and body armor possible, which results in power armor-clad Spess Mahreens firing bazookas at each other. And it's literally impossible to die from a headshot from a light revolver. I heard Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads improved the combat system, but I have no experience with it.
Coincidentally, since I have no first-hand experience with FATAL, Cyberpunk would be my vote for worst character creation and skill system too. The setting is neat, but the mechanics are just so bad... Their only good side is that they're relatively fast.

druid91
2011-08-20, 08:37 AM
Chargen

Best: D&D 3.5, Starwars Saga Edition, Gone with the Blastwave RPG.

D&D: See, I like digging through a pile of books for a couple hours looking for something to make, sometimes my concept drastically changes simply because I saw something neat.

SWSE: It's like D&D light. similar experience but a little less complicated.

GWTB: Simple as heck, there is quite literally no more than three ability scores and a handful of skills associated with those scores. Add your drawbacks and specialties and wait for the GM to give you your quirk.

Worst: World of Darkness.

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I just can't handle it. Either I'm not reading it right or it's very confusing

Tyndmyr
2011-08-20, 09:19 AM
I am somewhat tempted to get a jump on this now and see what king of system is the end result.


I know, right? It seems...wildly appropriate for some reason.

flumphy
2011-08-20, 10:31 AM
Best: D&D 4e. I'm especially fond of D20 systems in general, since, despite the huge amount of options available to characters, each round is resolved quickly with minimal fuss. Static defenses; just roll to hit. 4e really streamlined a lot of little things, so while I prefer 3.X overall, 4e wins out for me when it comes to combat. The exception is, of course, over PbP (where depicting any sort of combat grid is a hassle.)

Worst: Exalted. Layers upon layers upon layers of complexity in a turn. Truth be told, if it takes longer than a couple seconds to figure the result of an action, I kind of stop caring what that result is.

Daedroth
2011-08-20, 10:35 AM
Best: D&D 3.5 (ToB). Simple and good.


Worst: OWoD, one word, ĄHorrible!

Emmerask
2011-08-20, 11:00 AM
chargen:

best: Dark Eye, D&D 3.5, Shadowrun (in d&d while the characters are all a bit shallow you can make pretty much any concept work which is the huge strong point)
worst: I honestly canīt remember a system where I really disliked generating a character^^

skills:

best: Dark Eye, Rolemaster
worst: d&d 3.5, 4.0 (to me 4.0 is even worse then 3.5)

Physical Combat:

best: Rolemaster, dark eye (4.0) both are dangerous, exciting and tactical and you have tons of options.
worst: 3.5 d&d you are pretty much limited to 1 to 4 options even at the highest levels, for a system thats main stick is combat that is really not great.

While tob makes that better by a mile I wonīt count it to the core physical combat, because it has more the feeling of an alternative superpower or magic System (it even says blade magic quite often) especially since the core physical combat classes did not get an upgrade to have these maneuvers too...
As a fighter, the pinnacle of physical combat abilities (at least it should be) you are still limited to hit, hit more, charge and trip.

Jude_H
2011-08-20, 12:00 PM
I am somewhat tempted to get a jump on this now and see what king of system is the end result.
I like to think it's already here. (http://www.lumpley.com/puppies.html) :smalltongue:


PHYSICAL COMBAT
I've grown tired of older models of physical combat like AD&D where players run though listed abilities to add numbers up until they reach a certain threshold. That's by far the most common.

My favorite paradigm for combat design is Fate's, where the system bribes players to describe and deepen the scenes as they go. There are often some hiccups that drag the system down for me (action resolution is often slightly more complex than I'd like; some of the games prolong combat far too long), but the principles behind the design are very appealing, IMO.

Of the more rigid combat systems, D&D 4e is probably my favorite. Rules are relatively straightforward, effects are flashy, character abilities vary, tactics change from fight to fight. Later (CM+ToB) D&D 3e is similar, but retains enough relics of AD&D ("I attack again" Fighters/Paladins/Rangers/etc) for me to hesitate to use it as a positive example.

One increasingly common model that I haven't ever really gotten into is the Agon/3:16 cutaway sort of combat, where fights are juggled in a apologetically separate system than the rest of the game. Both are fairly tactically interesting and are fast/easy to run, but the cutaways make the games feel arrhythmic and in-immersive. I'm not sure how I'd codify them on a best-to-worst scale in terms of gameplay fun, but I don't really like them in terms of design.

I'm going to call Cortex out as an example of terrible combat system. It's like Savage Worlds, except many of its rules are unclear and those that aren't are often terrible. Savage Worlds functions quickly and smoothly, despite its incongruent design and generally jury-rigged feel; Cortex very blatantly doesn't - and it involves more unnecessary dice rolls and rules ambiguities along the way.

Ravens_cry
2011-08-20, 12:24 PM
No. GURPS could be condensed to a single page cheat sheet that needs to be referenced, that won't happen for D&D.
I have not played GURPS, what kind of custamization does such a character have, based sole on the options presented in the cheat sheet?

Terraoblivion
2011-08-20, 01:02 PM
Chargen
Honestly, I don't really see chargen as a separate process to judge and the mechanic side of it is generally just an annoying chore to get done with. I think I'll put D&D 3.5 as the worst thanks to being both a lot of work and bloody impossible to get to do what you want on top of that. It's a lot of work for not much payoff and next to no inspiration for a character. Mutants and Masterminds and Exalted are both more work, but also much easier to create a decent appromixation of what you want. They're still hardly good.

Skills
Worst: D&D 3.5. It's arbitrary, clunky and obviously grafted on the side of a system it barely has any real relevance to. 4e is a bit better since it's simpler and less of a bother.
Best: Not really sure. NWoD and even Exalted, for all its mechanic flaws, have decent but not spectacular skill systems. Really, though, separating skills from the rest of the system seems like an odd and rather artificial distinction so I find it hard to find a skill system that is good on its own.

Physical combat
Worst: D&D 3.5 and Exalted. They are slow, clunky, full of bean counting and involves extreme amounts of system mastery to wrestly into what you want and they still frequently just fall over and die from internal balance problems. Exalted is a bit better than 3.5 thanks to at least encouraging vivid descriptions and looking cool.
Best: Weapons of the Gods. It's not perfect, there are substantial balance problems between different kung-fu styles, but despite this it is the best system for physical combat I have seen. It emulates the conventions of the genre excellently and makes for fast, exciting battles that are decently tactical as well. Also, a lot of the kung-fu styles invite really cool and evocative descriptions.

Xefas
2011-08-20, 01:04 PM
Burning Wheel is good at physical combat. But, god, I just don't think I can pass up the way Dogs in the Vineyard does it. Can't be described any other way than "visceral". I've put more than one sad, sad heretic to rest, wherein I could feel the heft of the gun for that single shot.

edit:


Physical combat
Worst: D&D 3.5 and Exalted. They are slow, clunky, full of bean counting and involves extreme amounts of system mastery to wrestly into what you want and they still frequently just fall over and die from internal balance problems. Exalted is a bit better than 3.5 thanks to at least encouraging vivid descriptions and looking cool.

The Dark Fiddler
2011-08-20, 02:35 PM
The best physical combat, and conflict resolution in general, for that matter, belongs to Dread, if you ask me. It's really simple: every time you want to do something, you pull a block from a Jenga tower. If it stays up, you succeed, but if it falls, you die!*

*The above may be meant as a joke, but I do want to mention how unique I find Dread's conflict resolution, and fully intend to play a game of it at some point.

Knaight
2011-08-20, 02:51 PM
I have not played GURPS, what kind of custamization does such a character have, based sole on the options presented in the cheat sheet?

You pick from skills, you pick from advantages and disadvantages, in some campaigns you pick from what are basically powers as well. As long as you have a list of skills, advantages, and disadvantages in front of you, which is really easy once you've pared them down for a genre (1 page is reasonable), you can consider yourself done. You just need to memorize the point system, which is simple anyways. D&D though? Good luck fully memorizing a bunch of classes.

Ravens_cry
2011-08-20, 03:17 PM
You pick from skills, you pick from advantages and disadvantages, in some campaigns you pick from what are basically powers as well. As long as you have a list of skills, advantages, and disadvantages in front of you, which is really easy once you've pared them down for a genre (1 page is reasonable), you can consider yourself done. You just need to memorize the point system, which is simple anyways. D&D though? Good luck fully memorizing a bunch of classes.
You can do that in D&D if you are willing to stick to Core, which is pretty much what you are doing there.

Knaight
2011-08-20, 03:20 PM
You can do that in D&D if you are willing to stick to Core, which is pretty much what you are doing there.

A) The 2 "Core" GURPS books are far, far more verstile than the 3 "Core" D&D books.

B) There is no way one can fit all the PHB classes on a single sheet. Add in the DMG prestige classes, the list of spells and the list of feats, and it isn't happening in less than 10. Then there is the shape change ability, and the list of monsters, which alone adds several pages.

McStabbington
2011-08-20, 03:24 PM
Best: M&M. The flexibility inherent in the point-buy system makes it possible to quite literally create any character you want given enough time and patience. In addition, the gameplay is streamlined and, with a heavy emphasis on Rule 0, fair and reasonable.

Worst:

Chargen: Mechwarrior 3.0. The lifepath system, combined with the staggering levels of power creep, power seep that spilled into the rulebooks as time went by, made it at once almost impossible to play balance all the characters and almost impossible to stick with a character concept once the rolls started accumulating. Further, the game designers went out of their way to prevent a character from munchkinizing, but in the process made it damned near impossible for any rounded character to ever become an elite mechwarrior. I've played multiple campaigns for years, and have yet to ever get a character above veteran quality.

Gameplay: Star Wars RPG. Whoever came up with the bright idea to a) make force powers sap your vitality points, and b) make the class that specializes in learning force techniques (Jedi consulars) get less vitality really had no clue how to play balance a game.

Drachasor
2011-08-20, 03:45 PM
Hmm, I liked the process of the Dresden Files RPG, but the game is pretty imbalanced, imho. I'd think other FATE games are similar. Though, honestly the best part of Character Creation in FATE are Aspects, which could actually be ported over to pretty much any game (along with Fate Points). The rest? Eh, there's nothing special about it.

Worst? I'd probably say the HERO system...you don't have to know calculus for it, but it helps.

D&D and D20 are fairly middling. 4th Edition is stifling.

navar100
2011-08-20, 05:40 PM
Physical Combat

Best

3E D&D

Easiest to do. Roll 1d20 add modifiers. You can use tactics. Magic provides buffs, control, or just attack itself. However, it all comes down to roll a d20 and add modifiers.

Worst

Ars Magica

Rolemaster is close with all its charts you need to constantly look up, but Ars Magica tops it because you can die too easily in physical combat. I appreciate armor soaking up damage, but generally one or two hits you're near death already. Realistic, maybe, but not quite fun. It's mostly for the grunts anyway. It could be fun for lots of people, but the lethality is a bit too much for my taste. I still very much like the game despite it, though.

erikun
2011-08-20, 06:11 PM
PHYSICAL COMBAT
Why must we limit ourselves to physical combat? Social, political, tactical, mental, cybernetic, and economic combats all have their various rules, and it's not as if we can't look at them for possibilities either. The fact that we aren't breaking out the combat miniatures on a dry-erase grid does not make it any less of a combat situation.

I've had thoughts on how to do combat well. They've only been thoughts, though, and nothing I've put into practice or even mentioned to anyone in some cases. Combat in the systems I've seen so far has been rather lacking; I haven't found one that made me interested or actually desire to use the system because of it. It's about the point where I'd rather play AD&D (where basically anything you try to do is determined by one variable, THAC0) or Shadowrun (where any meaningful hit is virtually a kill and thus combat is short and infrequent).

Knaight
2011-08-20, 06:24 PM
Why must we limit ourselves to physical combat? Social, political, tactical, mental, cybernetic, and economic combats all have their various rules, and it's not as if we can't look at them for possibilities either. The fact that we aren't breaking out the combat miniatures on a dry-erase grid does not make it any less of a combat situation.
Odds are good that the specificity of "Physical" combat is to allow later interactions their own section. Which is a good thing, as there are a lot of games that do one much better than the other. For instance, in Synapse Physical combat is a joke, where in D&D it is the main focus. In social conflict, Synapse is brilliant, and D&D a joke. On a side note, miniatures are far from universal anyways.

Zale
2011-08-20, 11:25 PM
A) The 2 "Core" GURPS books are far, far more verstile than the 3 "Core" D&D books.


I would have to say this is true.

I've only just seen the "Core" GURPs books today, but still..

I showed a friend and got this reaction: "Oh! :belkar: I can make a psionic soul sucking half human reaper!"

GURPS does looks rather flexible. :smallconfused:

Emmerask
2011-08-20, 11:59 PM
Rolemaster is close with all its charts you need to constantly look up, but Ars Magica tops it because you can die too easily in physical combat. I appreciate armor soaking up damage, but generally one or two hits you're near death already. Realistic, maybe, but not quite fun. It's mostly for the grunts anyway. It could be fun for lots of people, but the lethality is a bit too much for my taste. I still very much like the game despite it, though.

Actually you need exactly one chart to look up in rolemaster, and that is your weapon crit chart, if you print out the relevant one for each player it becomes quite a lot faster :smallwink:

What I especially like in rolemaster (and other games who use it) is the way they handle initiative, ie lowest ini first says what he will do but acts last which adds a lot of tactical thinking into the combat.

Conners
2011-08-21, 08:56 AM
Let's add another topic to the fray:


MAGIC

Oh yes.... This one has a habit of dominating everything else, if utilized by a clever player, and if the GM doesn't put a lid on it... Of course, that might be what you love about it. What is your favourite, Best magic system? And what is your most hated, Worst magic system?


I quite liked the sound of The Riddle of Steel, mostly because of its flexibility (can do just about anything, so I hear), and the repercussions Magic could have (can age you). Also liked the fact that all attributes helped you with your magic use, not just CHR or INT. However, I have also heard it had its own problems, like magic-users being too powerful or too weak, what with the ability to point at someone and make their heart stop.
--
For least favourite, I don't know of a lot of magic systems. Of those I do know, DnD annoys me, simply because of the fact warriors are left out and wizards can do anything. At the same time, I had LOADS of fun if Baldur's Gate 2, with the large array of powerful spells....

Emmerask
2011-08-21, 09:41 AM
Dark eye

Magic is very strong at later levels but you regain spells only very very slowly which means you could go nova for one fight but afterwards you would have to go nearly without spells for weeks.

Combat spells take 1-7 rounds to cast and are checked against three attributes (3d20) which must be rolled lower then your attributes.
You can modify your spells range, persons effected, size etc but it makes the roll more difficult and of course there is the most fun modification which completely reverses the effect (ie a strength spell would become a weaken spell)

For me dark eye has the versatility of the d&d spells but without it being gamebreaking like it is in d&d.

Howler Dagger
2011-08-21, 09:43 AM
WorstD&D 3.5. Its magic is insanely more powerful than everything else.

Captain Six
2011-08-21, 09:56 AM
I love character generation in 3.x D&D. More than any other system it feels a lot like playing with legos. Sure it's blocky, the colors are gaudy apart from a few niche pieces and you spend half the time looking for that one ****ing piece you saw fifty thousand times when you weren't looking for it, but there's just something magical and awesome about it all. It's a thrill to see it all come together in the end. If you're willing to substitute pieces, maybe even break out a paint-brush, shaver or third party blocks, you really can do anything.

Every other system I've seen has either been to malleable, to simple or to constrained to merit that analogy. If you're new to the system you can take a class from level 1 to 20, easy as that. If you're a master you can practically treat it like a point buy. Some compromises are made for both sides of the system mastery spectrum but it's an impressive scope of players it appeals to.

Tengu_temp
2011-08-21, 10:15 AM
Best magic: Weapons of the Gods. It's the only system I can think of where spells feel similar to how they do in legends and non-DND-inspired fiction. Taoist magic is subtle and not immediately obvious, but at the same time it can be very powerful without being game-breaking and it fits the setting's atmosphere very well.

flumphy
2011-08-21, 10:16 AM
I honestly have yet to see a system that provided a magic system I liked out of the box.

My ideal is probably a system where all casters work like 3.5 warlocks (i.e., a small, relatively low-power spell list spammable in its entirety all day long with no penalty.) If anyone knows of something like that, even if it's out of print, please tell me.

Tengu_temp
2011-08-21, 10:21 AM
Earthdawn is pretty much like that. Mutants and Masterminds is exactly like that if you decide that your powers are arcane by nature.

The Dark Fiddler
2011-08-21, 10:37 AM
To be honest, I find it difficult to mess up magic. Unless it literally does not function properly, I can probably roll with it. And at the same time, no system's handling of it really stands out to me. Magic is such a varied concept that there's plenty of ways to use it. 3.x's "magic is so superior to mundane stuff it isn't even funny" doesn't bug me, because breaking the laws of physics SHOULD be that powerful (that doesn't mean I wouldn't like things to be more balanced at times, though). Mutant and Mastermind's using magic as just another power source, meaning anything you can do with magic can be done without magic, is a pretty good one too. Any system that has magic be completely inconsequential and weak, or dangerous to use, would be completely fine with me as well.

Captain Six
2011-08-21, 10:43 AM
D&D magic isn't bad as long as you use it to represent a world that is run by magicians and learning magic is as fundamental to their society as learning to drive. It actually runs settings like Touhou pretty dang well, where the average commoner is a level 5 wizard and a Gish is as close as you can get to badass normal.

flumphy
2011-08-21, 10:49 AM
Earthdawn is pretty much like that. Mutants and Masterminds is exactly like that if you decide that your powers are arcane by nature.

I already own M&M. I like the system, but magic's just not the same in a world populated by scientists and superheroes and a ton of popular characters that are both. Yeah, you could do a straight fantasy game with it, but then you're back to heavy refluffing.

I'll have to look at Earthdawn, though. The rest of the system might be too Shadowrun-ny for my tastes, but I guess it can't hurt to check it out.

The Dark Fiddler
2011-08-21, 11:19 AM
Yeah, you could do a straight fantasy game with it, but then you're back to heavy refluffing.

Mutants and Masterminds is already almost entirely refluffing normally, though, because there's not really any default fluff.

Terraoblivion
2011-08-21, 11:31 AM
Yeah, M&M doesn't really do much to make you stick to the superhero fluff. I've played a game based on magitek in it as well as one where the only thing remotely magical are very subtle, low-powered psychic powers. Really, you can use M&M for just about everything you want.

Anyway for magic, it's easy.

Worst: Pre-4e D&D. Not only does magic take balance and spit on it, while pretending that it is balanced with whacking people with a piece of metal, it's just plain boring. It's generic, it's based on bean counting and so simple, reliable and immediately effective that it's some kind of drama black hole that sucks drama out of the story. Also, it relies so much on memorizing large chunks of information. Really, I can think of absolutely nothing positive about it.

Best: Weapons of the Gods. Magic is extremely versatile, very subtle and powerful without ever breaking the system. It relies on nudging and strongly worded suggestions to reality rather than absolute effects, yet you can create everything from King Oedipus' curse to someone walking around with a tiny storm cloud over their head with it. Really, as much as I love the physical combat and the loresheets that the system has, the magic is the single best part of it.

flumphy
2011-08-21, 11:46 AM
Mutants and Masterminds is already almost entirely refluffing normally, though, because there's not really any default fluff.

I have both 2e and 3e, and they both seem extremely comic book-centric to me, not really giving any options to run a non-superhero game (outside from maybe some 2e splats.) Sure, there's nothing preventing you from doing so. It's just hard for me to get into it when the power descriptions are full of comic book tropes and placed amid illustrations of Superman and the Flash.

For me, it'd be like trying to run a Rainbow Brite game using nWoD mechanics. It might work fine mechanically (no, seriously, it might), but opening up the sourcebook would completely kill the mood. I respect and envy people who can completely separate the fluff, but I just can't.

Drascin
2011-08-21, 11:59 AM
Worst magic implementation... well, I'd say Exalted's Sorcery is easily the worst implementation of the idea of spells I have ever played with, with a fair distance advantage on second-worst.

Tengu_temp
2011-08-21, 12:02 PM
What fluff? The core M&M book is 99% rules with pretty much no fluff beyond some ideas for games and characters. As long as you want to run a game where the characters have extraordinary abilities (they don't even need to have superpowers), M&M fits it well. I played many games in it and not a single one was a standard superhero setting.

Also, there is a book for running fantasy in M&M. It pretty much changes nothing, only gives new feats and powers - which just shows that M&M is good for running fantasy by default.

Arbane
2011-08-21, 01:11 PM
Worst magic implementation... well, I'd say Exalted's Sorcery is easily the worst implementation of the idea of spells I have ever played with, with a fair distance advantage on second-worst.

Really? Exalted sorcery is overpowered and hard to use in combat, and that's _deliberate_. If you want to kill someone in the face, that's what Charms are for.

And I'll suggest Exalted's Solar Charms for "Best Magic". They take something a character's mundanely good at and crank it up to LEGENDARY ABILITY!!!

Lord Raziere
2011-08-21, 01:18 PM
Best Magic:

All Exalted Charms. Except Lunars and Solars. Lunars cause they need serious fixing, Solars cause they are too heroic and powerful. They make things too easy. I prefer a little more of a challenge.

Worst Magic:

3.5 vancian.
Again, makes things WAY too easy.

Eldan
2011-08-21, 01:26 PM
Worst: Pre-4e D&D. Not only does magic take balance and spit on it, while pretending that it is balanced with whacking people with a piece of metal, it's just plain boring. It's generic, it's based on bean counting and so simple, reliable and immediately effective that it's some kind of drama black hole that sucks drama out of the story. Also, it relies so much on memorizing large chunks of information. Really, I can think of absolutely nothing positive about it.

Interesting. I'd call the Vancian System one of the most flavourful I know. It's weird, it's counter-intuitive at first, and it provides tons and tons of hooks to write fluff around.

Worst magic system? Anything with Magic Points of some kind or another. Including 3.5s Psionics. That's just bland and uninspiring and, by itself, basically fluffless.

Xefas
2011-08-21, 01:41 PM
Worst: Pre-4e D&D. Not only does magic take balance and spit on it, while pretending that it is balanced with whacking people with a piece of metal, it's just plain boring. It's generic, it's based on bean counting and so simple, reliable and immediately effective that it's some kind of drama black hole that sucks drama out of the story. Also, it relies so much on memorizing large chunks of information. Really, I can think of absolutely nothing positive about it.

This, and with that, I may have to vote for the classic (the one, the only, etc, etc) Sorcerer as the best magic system, just because it's the exact opposite.

Arbane
2011-08-21, 01:46 PM
This, and with that, I may have to vote for the classic (the one, the only, etc, etc) Sorcerer as the best magic system, just because it's the exact opposite.

Ron Edwards' game? That's a good one.

(For those who've never heard of it: It's a nifty little indie RPG. All the main characters are Sorcerers. Their only power is to summon demons, which have actual powers you can get to use for you, IF you can bind them and put up with their (often eccentric, if not malicious) demands. Refluffing is actively encouraged - I've heard of people using it for everything from sword-and-sorcery to Pokemon to a drama about crooked cops.)

On a similar theme of "What Will you Do For Power?" I'll nominate Unknown Armies' magic. The way 'mancers have to warp their lives to gain Ultimate Cosmic Power means that a mundane person gets the significant advantage of not being insane.

Gavinfoxx
2011-08-21, 01:48 PM
I personally HATED Traveler. Rediculously random, and it didn't help you build and play the character you wanted to, and it makes you go through tons of die rolling, and your character could die... UGH. God, I hate that one. Character generation should HELP you make a character that you care about and are emotionally invested in!

Tengu_temp
2011-08-21, 03:00 PM
Interesting. I'd call the Vancian System one of the most flavourful I know. It's weird, it's counter-intuitive at first, and it provides tons and tons of hooks to write fluff around.

Worst magic system? Anything with Magic Points of some kind or another. Including 3.5s Psionics. That's just bland and uninspiring and, by itself, basically fluffless.

I don't like any system where you have arbitrary daily uses of magic, since it forces the DM to throw a certain amount of encounters at you - too many and the casters run out of juice, too few and they can curb-stomp the bad guy. I really don't like Vancian magic on top of that, because it's a huge pain to keep track of.

Daedroth
2011-08-21, 03:08 PM
Best: D&D pre-4, simple,esay customizable and....hell! You can do a lot of cool things with magic!



Worst: I don't know. I don't pay attention to a game that not have a good magic system. (Ot you have a good one or any at all)

Eldan
2011-08-21, 03:20 PM
I don't like any system where you have arbitrary daily uses of magic, since it forces the DM to throw a certain amount of encounters at you - too many and the casters run out of juice, too few and they can curb-stomp the bad guy. I really don't like Vancian magic on top of that, because it's a huge pain to keep track of.

Pain to keep track off? It's a few crosses on a character sheet. And as I said, I don't really care about the player resource management part in encounter management. I throw encounters at them if they are necessary. Not if they have too many resources left.

Furthermore, it is, of all the systems I've ever seen, one of the few that makes even an attempt to portray wizards as learned men with high intelligence. Books are necessary tools, as is preparation. In other systems, you either have your handful of powers that are always the same, or your incredibly versatile ones so you can do whatever you want in very wide boundaries. Often you can do it as often as you like. In Vancian, you have to think ahead about what you will need. The wizard thinks, he plans. The warlock? He has what he has and casts as he wants. As does the sorcerer. The wizard has so much more than then, and yet he has to limit himself. He has to plan it.

It's a wonderful system.

Axolotl
2011-08-21, 04:16 PM
For Magic systems:

Worst - Call of Cthulhu, it's just designed to screw the players over, the drawbacks make in near useless to the players while not hindering opposing NPCs in any real way. This might be forgivable if it wasn't generally so flavourless and unrelated to the way magic in Lovecradft's stories actually worked.

Best- DnD 3.5, sure it's unbalanced but I'd say the fault there lies in the design of the non-casters. However mage duels, especially at high levels, feel likr their supposed to, in my mind anyway. Personally I feel magic should be about characters with a huge toolbox of options throwing complexd "I win" effects and counters at one-another, maybe it's just because I used to play Magic the Gathering but this always felt the right way for magic to work for me.

Tengu_temp
2011-08-21, 05:36 PM
Pain to keep track off? It's a few crosses on a character sheet. And as I said, I don't really care about the player resource management part in encounter management. I throw encounters at them if they are necessary. Not if they have too many resources left.

As opposed to other games, where you simply need to remember how much mana/essence/whatever you have left, or which spells have you put in your matrixes (hello, Earthdawn!), or sometimes not even that much? Yeah, that's much more hassle. Even more hassle comes in when the wizard decides which spells to memorize, or should he use that one spell in this current situation or not yet. This all takes too much time.

Another element I hate about Vancian magic and mana points is the five-minute adventuring day. Characters should rest when they get tired, not when they need to restore their daily resources! Not all players do that, but it annoys me when they do, and it annoys me even more when the game forces you to do that.

It's true that you can simply make the encounters harder or easier if you want to have less or more of them in a day than the norm, but that's an extra layer of balance to keep track of. It's much more convenient when the game assumes the players start most fights in the same default state, unless it's an unusual situation where they have an extra advantage or penalty. Makes planning encounters to be as tough as you want them to much easier.

Emmerask
2011-08-21, 06:04 PM
My main problem with d&d magic is that it makes the majority of fun plots, scenes etc completely useless,
traveling through a desert after your caravan was destroyed? It should be a perilous adventure and a desperate search for water in d&d they either port out, have a decanter of endless water or simply use create water/food to make this scenery entirely pointless.
Doing a murder plot? forget it the party will just resurrect the killed, speak with a deity or the corpse and screen every single suspect with detect evil, detect magic etc.

D&D magic to me is just too easy, too spamable and can take care of too many situations (ie every single situation one can think of).

Especially as a dm I came to really HATE d&ds magic system.
Sure one can come up with plans that thwart all these magic attempts to solve the plot or situation too easily (yeah its a giant antimagic desert, yeah they all have rings/ abilities to hide their alignment, yeah he killed him in an unresurrectable way etc etc)
but then every single villain (who the players take seriously)
a) becomes more or less a supervillain who thinks about 100000 things when he plans his stuff
b) has to be a caster or has major caster support

so in essence d&d magic system really forces everything to be over the top to be atleast a tiny bit challenging for the players,
me who likes more "realistic" plots/systems etc doesnīt get quite along with that idea^^

Eldan
2011-08-21, 06:11 PM
Well, if you want to do murder plots or dangerous travel in D&D, you have to do them at low levels. Before decanters and food creation are available.

As for this:

Even more hassle comes in when the wizard decides which spells to memorize, or should he use that one spell in this current situation or not yet. This all takes too much time.

THis is why I like it. Playing a wizard in D&D requires some thought and preparation. It should be like that.

Axolotl
2011-08-21, 06:20 PM
Well, if you want to do murder plots or dangerous travel in D&D, you have to do them at low levels. Before decanters and food creation are available. Also when at higher levels I don't think it's a bad thing that players canuse magic to circumvent mundane problems. That's what magic should be able to do. Sure it stops alot of plots working but it opens the door for much more interesting/unusual challenges you can throw at the players.

erikun
2011-08-21, 06:27 PM
To be honest, I find it difficult to mess up magic. Unless it literally does not function properly, I can probably roll with it. And at the same time, no system's handling of it really stands out to me. Magic is such a varied concept that there's plenty of ways to use it. 3.x's "magic is so superior to mundane stuff it isn't even funny" doesn't bug me, because breaking the laws of physics SHOULD be that powerful (that doesn't mean I wouldn't like things to be more balanced at times, though). Mutant and Mastermind's using magic as just another power source, meaning anything you can do with magic can be done without magic, is a pretty good one too. Any system that has magic be completely inconsequential and weak, or dangerous to use, would be completely fine with me as well.
I agree with this. Even the much-complained D&D 3rd edition magic is really more of a conflict with other parts of the system (primarily the CR-balance point) than the magic system itself not working properly.

Knaight
2011-08-21, 07:11 PM
Best: Barbarians of Lemuria, Ars Magica, Sorcerer
Worst: Rifts, D&D 4e, Dresden Files, Savage Worlds

Tengu_temp
2011-08-21, 07:15 PM
THis is why I like it. Playing a wizard in D&D requires some thought and preparation. It should be like that.

But if you're not fast enough with it, and most people aren't, then I'm sitting there twiddling my thumbs and getting annoyed while you're slowly getting done.
Also, I'm not sure if I agree. It's like saying that playing a fighter should require you to swing a foam sword at the DM.

Conners
2011-08-21, 10:20 PM
Foam sword? Why not make them buy a replica of a 17th century blade online and swing that at the GM? Highly dangerous, yes, but that way it wouldn't be foam :smalltongue:.

A question of how much flavour you want in the gameplay, versus making it not too awkward... Generally, if I play as a pilot, I don't want to learn how to actually fly the air-plane (flight simulators that do teach you how to fly air-planes are pretty popular, though)--at the same time though, I like it if it feels like flying an air-plane (same physics and problems, less complicated controls).

navar100
2011-08-21, 10:30 PM
Magic

Best

Ars Magica

Beautifully constructed with its Forms and Techniques. Creo Ignam create fire, Perdo Vis destroy magic, Muto Mentem change mind, etc. You have flexibility in character creation of how powerful or not you want to be in particular magics. You can cast powerful spells from game session 1, sometimes not even be fatigued because of it. It allows for spontaneous magic too, when you need a little something Right Now. You can't do uberstuff spontaneously but useful enough. It's a lot of fun to use.

Worst

GURPS

Oy vey is it horrible. Many spells are useless that you must have before you can learn the better ones. For other spells you need to spend a few rounds doing nothing but casting to get anywhere. For example, if you want to cast a Fireball to deal 3d6 damage (decent damage for a GURPS Fantasy game) you need to spend 3 rounds casting it, 1d6 per round. If you release the spell the same round you cast, it's only 1d6 damage. The combat can be over before you cast it or at least the target you wanted is dead or not there. In addition, spells can fail to be cast, hurting you in the process. Worse, though rare, you can summon a Demon to attack you because of it, just what you need in the middle of combat against the BBEG. They admit magic is fickle, punishing you for the audacity of using it.

Totally Guy
2011-08-22, 01:43 AM
The thing that annoys m about D&D magic is that once you're in a position where casting a spell will solve the problem it is usually an optimal choice.

Optimal choices aren't really choices at all. You do them because it's the best thing to do.

I prefer magic systems that do not offer an optimal choice through the cost of magic. That way the spell caster is making choices during the game part rather than before it.

Eric Tolle
2011-08-22, 01:50 AM
Character Creation:

Best:

FATE 3: I love the flexibility and descriptive element of Aspects, and the group creation aspect of character creation.

Mutants and Masterminds: I love the flexibility and ease of character creation, like Champions without the involved math. It really is the best result of the OGL.

Worst:

Superhero 2044: if only because it doesn't really have a complete character creation system. I found it really frustrating at the time.

Villains and Vigilantes: aside from the random power generation system, you basically play yourself. This lead to more fights based on people arguing over stats....


Magic:

Best:

Mage the Ascension: well really, a combination of the best elements of 1st. Edition Mage the Ascension, and Mage the Awakening. The idea of magic as fundamentally starting past the illusion that is reality gives much more of a philosophical grounding to magic than other systems. Besides that, it's flexible enough to encompass everything from John Dee to John Constantine, with side trips to include Dr. Gonzo.

Jaws of the Seven Serpents: brilliantly conveys the sorcery part of "Sword and Sorcery". Flexible and very powerful if you can take the time, but very risky to use. Perfect.

REAL Vancian magic, of the sort that The Dying Sun has.

Worst:

Savage Worlds: you call THAT magic? Choose three generic powers that you can't alter, and you don't get more until you get another feat. Bah.

Eldan
2011-08-22, 02:45 AM
But if you're not fast enough with it, and most people aren't, then I'm sitting there twiddling my thumbs and getting annoyed while you're slowly getting done.
Also, I'm not sure if I agree. It's like saying that playing a fighter should require you to swing a foam sword at the DM.

Playing a fighter should require thought about tactical positioning. Strategy. Protecting your team-mates. Target selection.

Playing a wizard requires thinking about spell selections. Possible encounters, and how to counter them. How to work around obstacles.

It's not the wizard's fault that the fighter doesn't work.

Conners
2011-08-22, 04:04 AM
Not a matter of whether its the wizard's fault that he is a overpowered. It's a matter that the wizard IS overpowered. As someone just pointed out, Wizards are the most optimal choice (next to sorcerers, I'd guess), which makes it the only choice.


OK, I guess I'll add something else to the table:


SOCIAL


You've slain the dragon and rescued the princess--now you have to deal with talking to her, her royal parents, and many others as you spend time in the grateful(?) city.... Depending on how the system is made, this could be fun and exciting, or a terrible bore. True that it needs an interesting political intrigue set-up from the GM--but even a good set-up might seem boring if the mechanics get in the way.

Thus, what is your most loved, and most hated Social system? A system for bartering with merchants, convincing guards of your innocence, gaining help from powerful men, wooing damsels, finding valuable information, and other such things.


Personally, just about all of them are to my disliking. Work out target number, roll Diplomacy. Roll over Target Number? They agree. Roll under Target Number? They disagree. Social matters generally receives so little attention from the rules.
As for systems I like. Burning Wheel's Duelling of Wits was pretty cool looking--but it seems rather complicated to me. So, I'd say the only one I really like is the Giant's Homebrew of Diplomacy--even then, I feel it might be a bit lacking.

Emmerask
2011-08-22, 08:15 AM
It's not the wizard's fault that the fighter doesn't work.

The wizard that lives at the coast is to blame!

SOCIAL

I donīt really hate any of them but then my group always played with some heavy modifications when it comes to social interaction (roleplay instead of rollplay).

Totally Guy
2011-08-22, 08:50 AM
My love for the Burning Wheel's Duel of Wits subsystem is no secret. I rate it as the king of social mechanics. It's never failed to be a blast in play and it frequently produced results that we would not have otherwise considered.

Other good social mechanics I've seen are in Apocalypse World. When someone persuades you you can either not do it but it count's as acting under fire or you can do it and mark experience.

I'm perhaps more jaded now but I see lack of concrete social mechanics as an invitation to arbitrary success and failure at social junctures. This is an obstacle to me caring about that part of the game.

There are some games where I'd say that social mechanics aren't neccessary. I've not played In a Wicked Age yet but it looks like it doesn't need then as the premise of the game is to resolve a conflict internal to that week's cast through the use of violence, love, directness etc.

Eldan
2011-08-22, 09:23 AM
Not a matter of whether its the wizard's fault that he is a overpowered. It's a matter that the wizard IS overpowered. As someone just pointed out, Wizards are the most optimal choice (next to sorcerers, I'd guess), which makes it the only choice.


Wow, you're right. I've never noticed so far, but I've never seen a non-wizard character...

Social:

I prefer my systems minimalistic here. I've seen some systems others find good, where you roll one or several dice for every argument you make. This always seemed to me like it would massively interrupt the flow of the actual conversation.
What I usually do is talk the actual thing through, then, before a decision is made, let the player roll once, with appropriate modifiers. Similar to the giant's system, really.

Conners
2011-08-22, 09:29 AM
Wow, you're right. I've never noticed so far, but I've never seen a non-wizard character... Really :smalleek:? That seems odd :smallconfused:...

Totally Guy
2011-08-22, 10:00 AM
Really :smalleek:? That seems odd :smallconfused:...

Looks like sarcasm I'm afraid.

I didn't say that choosing to play a wizard is an optimal choice. Different classes do different things that synergise differently with different parties. People have different priorities.

But a wizard that comes up against a challenge that his spells could solve is looking at an optimal choice (hence not really a choice).

There is the issue of what spells to prepare for the day. That's a game in itself and not one with a simple answer. It's very dependent on expected situation.

My problem is that it's a game that happens before play starts for the other characters and after that point you are encountering optimal behaviour non-choices for the rest of the game. It just doesn't interest me. I'd rather see difficult choices being made by characters during the fiction along with the other characters. In order to build these situations you need to use more contrived circumstances to remove the optimal property of spells (Aha! He secretly had a ring of anti-fire!).

Emmerask
2011-08-22, 10:01 AM
Social:

I prefer my systems minimalistic here. I've seen some systems others find good, where you roll one or several dice for every argument you make. This always seemed to me like it would massively interrupt the flow of the actual conversation.
What I usually do is talk the actual thing through, then, before a decision is made, let the player roll once, with appropriate modifiers. Similar to the giant's system, really.

yep, pretty much how my group handles it too, the only times I would interrupt the flow would be if the player says something really unbelievable that would have implications on how the conversation is carried on or stopped afterwards.

"Did you know that the king is my brother, so it would really be in your best interest <more talky stuff>" for example would require a roll mid conversation ^^

Totally Guy
2011-08-22, 10:12 AM
the only times I would interrupt the flow would be if the player says something really unbelievable that would have implications on how the conversation is carried on or stopped afterwards.

I've played this way before. Unfortunately I know that the more times you roll for something the higher the odds are of failure.

Therefore it'd be in my best interest to roll the fewest number of dice possible.

From this fact my behaviour has been modified so that I'll say fewer things that'll make everyone at the table shout out "Holy Moley! I can't believe he said that!"

It's weird. It's like mind control! I swear the game's play me more than I get to play them!

Conners
2011-08-22, 10:23 AM
Actually read an example of that in Burning Wheel recently. They said you should only roll stealth checks once, instead of, "Outside the bandit camp? Roll Stealth. All successes? Nice. You come to a river... roll Stealth. A hill, roll Stealth. Valley, roll stealth. Bandits asleep, roll stealth. Want to take their stuff?.... Roll stealth." It was something akin to that number of times.... failure seems certain to happen, at that rate (the player in that scenario shoved their dice down the GM's throat).

Personally, I'd have them roll stealth a second time, for trying to pick-pocket sleeping bandits.

Totally Guy
2011-08-22, 11:01 AM
Personally, I'd have them roll stealth a second time, for trying to pick-pocket sleeping bandits.

You can totally ask for another test for that if you wish. It's all about Task and Intent.

I'll do a little run through of an example of play.

Player defines task and intent.
Intent: I get into the castle unnoticed.
Task: I keep to the shadows and move with nary a noise.

GM approves that task and intent are appropriate and sets the skill, obstacle and consequence:
Obstacle: The guards have the Observation skill B4. We'll call it B4 + 2D help + 1D for more than one team of 3. B7 overall versus your Stealthy skill.
Consequence: By the time you are in the castle the alarms are ringing and everyone is awake!

One successful roll later the player can get into the castle move freely out again until there is a change in situation.

Once inside he needs a key to the tower on the sleeping guard's belt. Note that this is no longer to do with the original intent of getting in the castle.

Player defines task and intent.
Intent: I get the key to the tower from the guard's belt.
Task: I keep to the shadows and move with nary a noise.

As a GM I'd be inclined to say "That task does not match that intent. The task should be about lifting the key. Alter the task (or the intent) a little." or we could approve it...

Obstacle: The guard is asleep, the obstacle is 2. Test your Sleight of Hand skill. You could FoRK in Stealthy if you wish. (Or if I was happy with a creative "Stealthy description" task I would perhaps say Stealthy for the main test again. It depends on how the task is described.)
Consequence: The guard will wake up! I wonder how you'd deal with that?

Conners
2011-08-22, 11:44 AM
Yeah, that seems like the best way of handling it.

Xefas
2011-08-22, 12:15 PM
Best Social mechanics? Well, let me put it this way. You can tell who hasn't played Burning Wheel before if they tell you they don't like social mechanics in their RPGs. :smalltongue:

Eldan
2011-08-22, 12:37 PM
I have played Burning Wheel. Didn't like the social mechanics. The idea is nice, didn't work too well.

navar100
2011-08-22, 07:14 PM
Social

Not easy to choose, for me. This is more general roleplay that is irrelevant to game system. If you need game mechanics for Social, that's a subset for Skills.

Best

Pathfinder

Consolidates 3E D&D skills. It reinforces Diplomacy is not Charm Person or Suggestion. Anyone can increase their social skills if they so choose, to be the face of the party. Those who have social skills as class skills get a +3 bonus. That is nice to have but not absolutely necessary. A 5th level Fighter with 10 Charisma can have +5 Diplomacy. He may not persuade the hobgoblin chief to parlee in the middle of combat that started just because the party and the hobgoblins happened to bump into each other and the hobgoblins are wearing the Team Evil jersey, unless he rolls a 20, but it's a decent enough chance to gather information from the populace, haggle a bargain with the merchant, bribe the bartender, or get help from the local temple.

Pre-3E D&D

Skills didn't exist, so it was all roleplay. If the DM did not like what the player said, tough noogies.

Jude_H
2011-08-22, 09:00 PM
I haven't met a social framework that both interested me and withstood typical gameplay abuse.

Social mechanics that involve a randomized binary success-failure effect aren't terrible for games that aren't about social interactions: they push the game along toward whatever the system's focus is - killing goblins, hiding from zombies, whatever - without getting drudged down in talky details. I can't stand socially-focused games in those systems, though; players have to fight the system to avoid having their influence nullified by a wayward d20.

I generally prefer systems that allow players to add open-ended inputs to effect mechanical rulings that bribe other players in decisions of the outcome, rather than dictating the outcome. This could be with fate points, experience, anything. I wouldn't say that the model makes a system fun, but I do think it makes heavily socially-reliant games less unfun.

The system I've enjoyed most (though it has its own set of deep flaws) is Dogs in the Vineyard. The mechanics push players to constantly amplify conflicts and to try to tie every value their characters have into each scuffle. Basically, I've found it prompts players to act like huge hams - a result that's probably not in line with the intended mood, but which is a hoot on its own.

Jay R
2011-08-22, 11:17 PM
{Scrubbed}

Knaight
2011-08-22, 11:23 PM
{Scrub the post, scrub the quote}

Really? This is the argument you are going to take, despite how insulting it is. Really?

There are perfectly valid reasons for its weakness to affect people, other than "not yet mastered 6th grade arithmetic". Lets start with the fact that it is simply labor intensive. Its not particularly difficult, but I view a system that requires hours of basic number crunching the same way I would view a system that required hours of basic ditch digging. Sure, moving a shovel into the dirt then up and over isn't difficult, but that doesn't make doing it for hours particularly welcome.

Drachasor
2011-08-22, 11:33 PM
{Scrub the post, scrub the quote}

Let's be clear, fully utilizing it requires Calculus. Or I guess you could go crazy with spreadsheets, but Calculus is faster.

Knaight
2011-08-22, 11:35 PM
Let's be clear, fully utilizing it requires Calculus. Or I guess you could go crazy with spreadsheets, but Calculus is faster.

The question is, what Calculus? There is a world of difference between, say, differentiation of polynomials and differential equations involving large matrices.

Drachasor
2011-08-22, 11:40 PM
The question is, what Calculus? There is a world of difference between, say, differentiation of polynomials and differential equations involving large matrices.

Differentiation of multiple variables is sufficient for locating the local maxima and minima.

Knaight
2011-08-22, 11:44 PM
Differentiation of multiple variables is sufficient for locating the local maxima and minima.

That sounds quite likely to be annoying, but is still probably pretty basic.

Drachasor
2011-08-22, 11:52 PM
That sounds quite likely to be annoying, but is still probably pretty basic.

It is pretty annoying, and only basic for some people.

It would be one thing if all that complexity gave you a balanced system, but it doesn't. The game isn't remotely balanced at all. I'm honestly at a loss as to why they made it so complicated when there's literally nothing gained for it.


In other news, I enjoyed the magic system of Mage: The Awakening the most (or one of the mage games, it's hard to keep all the names straight). Lots of flexibility and lots of fun. In a high-powered game I rolled really, really well and stopped an entire demonic army in time...for 6 months. That was pretty cool, but the flexibility of the system just has lots of uses at high or low power levels.

Conners
2011-08-23, 03:47 AM
Spending an HOUR doing math....? One of my own HOURS? I only have a limited number of those per day, you know. Now, if I were spending an hour working out an interesting character, with interesting personality and background, that'd be different--but spend and hour of schooling, except you aren't LEARNING anything from the schooling, so as to get to the fun part of a game.... (well, to be fair, someone out there might think it's fun doing the calculus for one hour)? Stupid, stupid, stupid idea.

Drachasor
2011-08-23, 04:41 AM
Spending an HOUR doing math....? One of my own HOURS? I only have a limited number of those per day, you know. Now, if I were spending an hour working out an interesting character, with interesting personality and background, that'd be different--but spend and hour of schooling, except you aren't LEARNING anything from the schooling, so as to get to the fun part of a game.... (well, to be fair, someone out there might think it's fun doing the calculus for one hour)? Stupid, stupid, stupid idea.

An hour? Try hours. There are a lot of possible powers and a lot of scalable modifiers to each one. Got a concept? There are dozens of ways to build it and no clear way to tell which is good and which is crap off-hand for a lot of them.

Conners
2011-08-23, 04:47 AM
:smalleek:.... I wonder if there are any detailed, but simple character creation systems, where you can use a computer program.


ADVANCEMENT


As far as I know, all RPGs are designed for you to gain power as your adventures continue. Now, most games you accumulate experience, then get boosts to stats and so forth upon Levelling Up. Others, you get points from doing certain things, to spend on your characters' stats. There are probably more unique systems out there, too.
....Question is, which is the best, and which is the worst, in your eyes?


I have an idea of what I might like. While its fun to get EXP, I'm more interested in the Elder Scrolls style of doing things. You improve your sword skills by using your sword, you improve your strength by doing strength-based activities, like using your sword. However, I think they made it way too slow a gain, in the Elder Scrolls games... and they STILL had levelling up. Last but not least, there's the problem that you can't train your skills--you can only pick locks or fight goblins out in the field, you can't practice anything at home. -- A couple of Pen and Paper RPGs have tried this, I think--but not many. When they do try it, I don't think it usually extends to combat, either.
As for my least favourite... Hard to say. DnD particularly annoys me, since a lot of what you gain is just HP. Feats, Stat points, those are at SPECIFIC levels, which requires looking it up on a chart... Also, it can take a heck of a lot of experience points before you get any improvement, particularly at higher levels--making me wonder why it is that killing that level 2 goblin for 40 EXP gave me all these boosts, when slaying four dragons for 14,960 EXP did nothing for me.


So, what is the best Advancement/Levelling-Up system? And what is the worst?

Eldan
2011-08-23, 05:03 AM
I second Elder Scrolls for leveling up. It's a nice idea, badly executed in some of the games.

I'd also nominate FATE and it's various derivatives. You complete an adventure and level up. You put a few points in skills, but, and that's the interesting thing, you gain a new aspect representing what you think your character learned or gained in that adventure. As with all aspects, it can be pretty much anything, good or bad. Maybe your barbarian learned that "The Pen is mightier than the Sword", in a political campaign. Perhaps you went to the lower planes and learned that "It can always get worse". Perhaps you just learned that your character "Likes stabbing people in the back".
It gives a nice sense of history to a character.

Totally Guy
2011-08-23, 05:45 AM
I like Mouse Guard's Advancement system.

You've got to successfully use your abilities a number of times and fail at it a couple of times.

The number of times you can test your abilities is finite and a limited resource. You can gain more opportunities to test your abilities but using your own character traits against yourself during a mission.

It's a beautiful cycle.

flumphy
2011-08-23, 06:21 AM
Best: I'm pretty ambivalent to whether advancement is level-based or a smorgasbord where you can buy whatever you like. Arguably something like Mutants and Masterminds is the best of both worlds, setting a hard cap on a lot of things but giving you plenty of avenues to diversify. Unfortunately, calculating whether you've met those caps can be annoying if you're not plugging things into a spreadsheet.

In the end, everything has its flaws, and nothing really jumps out at me as being the ideal way to handle the issue.

Worst: As I said earlier, anything that requires you to roll for specific abilities in order to advance them.

lesser_minion
2011-08-23, 06:50 AM
Best Advancement:

Ars Magica still has one of my favourite advancement systems. The only resource you use to advance your character is time.

You can choose from different ways to advance your character in a particular time segment, and while going on an adventure can be helpful, you actually learn more from having someone teach you things.

It gets a lot of points for providing more than one way to advance a character, and especially for not subscribing to the 4th edition idiocy where it's assumed that giving players anything to do besides going on adventures will result in them not going on adventures.

Worst Advancement:

Dungeons & Dragons (4th edition and Pathfinder). Levels are fine, with some caveats. Meaningless, arbitrary, and totally superfluous experience points are not.

3rd edition gets an honourable mention in this award, because the way it makes its experience points less superfluous is itself problematic and silly.

Totally Guy
2011-08-23, 06:51 AM
The worst game I've seen for advancement is Basic Role Playing.

To make a skill eligible for advancement you've got to successfully use a skill in a roll that matters.

*Smash!* I can't buy into that. If I'm rolling dice and it doesn't matter, why am I doing it? It's an constant reminder that I, as a player, don't matter.

At the end of the session you then have to roll that skill again (without doing anything in the fiction) and this time you need to fail.

lesser_minion
2011-08-23, 06:57 AM
*Smash!* I can't buy into that. If I'm rolling dice and it doesn't matter, why am I doing it? It's an constant reminder that I, as a player, don't matter.

Without that caveat, you could initiate a roll that doesn't matter in order to train a skill. You don't want to encourage players to try to train their Spot Hidden by looking for dropped coins on the pavement (none of which are clues), so you give the Keeper an out by allowing her to declare that such things don't matter.

hewhosaysfish
2011-08-23, 07:03 AM
The worst game I've seen for advancement is Basic Role Playing.

To make a skill eligible for advancement you've got to successfully use a skill in a roll that matters.

*Smash!* I can't buy into that. If I'm rolling dice and it doesn't matter, why am I doing it? It's an constant reminder that I, as a player, don't matter.
I don't think you're supposed to roll when it doesn't matter; I think that stipulation is meant to prevent players from trying to game the system for faster advancement by rolling the dice for every trivial action (Climb checks to get out of bed, unarmed attacks to hit a doorbell, Spot Hidden checks to find their backside with both hands, etc).


At the end of the session you then have to roll that skill again (without doing anything in the fiction) and this time you need to fail.
That's so that the better you are at a skill the harder it is to improve it...

Totally Guy
2011-08-23, 07:11 AM
Without that caveat, you could initiate a roll that doesn't matter in order to train a skill.

I guess you could do that otherwise. Because that rule is in place we havent.

But in play it's highlighted to me that we have maybe 2 rolls that actually influence play in some way per session.

Emmerask
2011-08-23, 09:45 AM
I much more like advancement systems without levels then those with,
for one you can do something even with little xp amounts and of course you have a more gradual advancement and not these sudden increases in power level systems have.

And again I have to mention dark eye (4.0) which currently is my favorite system as a prime example on how to do it right, you advance a skill based on difficulty with xp but if you have used this skill a lot this adventure the difficulty level is adjusted ie you spend a lot less points progressing that skill/ability etc

d&d while you are looking forward to the next level (if it is not a dead level) the progression is just a bit to steep for the games I want to run;
From level 1, a house cat can kill you to level 20 a god slaying killing machine that not even a 10.000 man army can stop is just too much ^^

Big Fau
2011-08-23, 10:00 AM
Best Advancement: Warhammer Quest. Random chances may be bad, but this system was one of the easiest to use and made leveling up fun.


Worst Advancement: If you guessed I would say FATAL, you were right. A 1st level Store Clerk takes 83 in-game years to hit 2nd level, in a system where you are unable to live past 50 if you aren't an Elf or Dwarf. But a 1st level Mercenary gains XP by making attack rolls (not that there are rules for this in FATAL, seeing as the entire book is horribly edited).

Even worse, that 1st level Mercenary could multiclass into Knight (or any other combat-oriented class) and not only still gain XP as a 1st level character, but gain XP twice as fast.


Honorable Mention: WFRP 2E. I loved paying it, but good god I hated the XP system and the Class Exits. Those are the only things stopping me from running a WFRP game on PBP.

Tyndmyr
2011-08-23, 10:07 AM
Agreed. It can be as detailed and specific as you like, or as generic as you like.

Its only weakness doesn't affect me. People who have not yet mastered 6th grade arithmetic, or who are not comfortable using those skills, aren't able to handle it. But for me, it has no significant flaw.

Yeah, no...if you want to get into optimization at all, it requires some non-trivial math.

I would describe the system as "annoying" at best.

Knaight
2011-08-23, 12:02 PM
On advancement:
Best: Fudge on the Fly.
Fudge on the Fly has highly limited advancement, per se. Rather, some skills develop, as other skills get rusty and fall out of use, and skills basically trade places between adjacent adverbs on the trait ladder. There can be true advancement in skills, but it is optional, and I love it that way.

Worst: Burning Wheel
In theory, Burning Wheel has a good system. In practice, you are tracking several different types of checks per skill, with different types of difficulty, which requires no less than two tables. Screw. That.

Arbane
2011-08-23, 12:05 PM
As far as I know, all RPGs are designed for you to gain power as your adventures continue.

I"ve actually seen one or two where this isn't the case. In Sorcerer, you get to re-arrange your character's abilities a bit between adventures, but they don't _increase_.




I have an idea of what I might like. While its fun to get EXP, I'm more interested in the Elder Scrolls style of doing things. You improve your sword skills by using your sword, you improve your strength by doing strength-based activities, like using your sword. However, I think they made it way too slow a gain, in the Elder Scrolls games... and they STILL had levelling up. Last but not least, there's the problem that you can't train your skills--you can only pick locks or fight goblins out in the field, you can't practice anything at home. -- A couple of Pen and Paper RPGs have tried this, I think--but not many. When they do try it, I don't think it usually extends to combat, either.


RuneQuest's had this system since.. what, 1970-something? And the system's also used in Call of C'thulhu and the other Basic Role-Playing game systems.


The worst game I've seen for advancement is Basic Role Playing.

...Yeah, that one. Well, _I_ like it. You don't go adventuring to gain skills, that's what training is for. You train to _survive_ the adventuring, which is arguably "more realistic". It's surely not without its flaws, but I like it.

(And I find it amusing that there doesn't seem to be a huge difference between BRP's system and Mouse Guard's.)

navar100
2011-08-23, 01:03 PM
Advancement

Best

D&D

Probably the standard bearer, it is obvious and forthright your character improves in its abilities over time. You get to do more cool nifty things. Your character changes over time in significant ways.

Worst

GURPS

Your character never changes. Few skills get you better odds, over a long time, but you never significantly improve. You do the exact same thing in game session 50 as you did in game session 1. You don't really advance at all.

Hel65
2011-08-23, 01:16 PM
Best:

any one in which you buy things (skills, stats, talents, feats, powers) for xp is quite good in my book, even though prone to minmaxing. There's one I know which gets rid of this problem quite well, enforcing breadth of characters: WFRP 2E. Now, if only career entries and exits were changed into prerequisites, it would be perfect.

Worst:
D&D 3.5. The amount of accounting that goes into levelling up makes me want to never level up again.

TheEmerged
2011-08-23, 01:20 PM
Urgh, freaking HERO. If you don't have software, good luck getting a character made in less than three hours.

To each their own. This is one of those cases where one person's flaw is another person's feature. I could protest that I've often done it in less than 45 minutes even without the software, but I doubt that would prove anything :smallwink:

Magic

Ars Magicka. This system deserves credit for being one of the few I know that admitted at the get-go that wizards were imbalanced and just ran with it. So everyone rolls up a wizard, but also a host of other characters.

Skills

This is one of the few areas I have to give GURPS the edge on HERO. It can get a little too spread for my tastes -- that is, you have to have too many skills to do one single task sometimes. Still, if I'm going to run a 'mundane' campaign where people don't really have powers and most of the game will be skill rolls & role-play, GURPS is my system of choice.


Physical Combat

Y'all will call me biased but... HERO. I've run almost as many Ninja HERO campaigns as I have Champions (superheroic) campaigns. The fact that you can build powers to reflect crazier actions lends itself to the type of physical combat I want.

A close second however will be Alternity (a science fiction system from TSR that came out between 2nd & 3rd Edition D&D), as long as physical combat includes ranged weapons. Probably the second or third longest running campaign we ran, and we still get tempted to start the system back up again.

Advancement

I tend to prefer the systems where a character starts out pretty powerful and then increase gradually -- like GURPS & HERO. So my choice here probably won't surprise you :P

Alternity deserves a mention here too, though. I like the notion that everyone has access to all the skills, they're just slightly cheaper for some class roles than other. Operative term SLIGHTLY, the gap between class skill costs/caps and cross-class was one of the problems I had with 3.x D&D.

erikun
2011-08-23, 01:31 PM
ADVANCEMENT


I have an idea of what I might like. While its fun to get EXP, I'm more interested in the Elder Scrolls style of doing things. You improve your sword skills by using your sword, you improve your strength by doing strength-based activities, like using your sword. However, I think they made it way too slow a gain, in the Elder Scrolls games... and they STILL had levelling up. Last but not least, there's the problem that you can't train your skills--you can only pick locks or fight goblins out in the field, you can't practice anything at home. -- A couple of Pen and Paper RPGs have tried this, I think--but not many. When they do try it, I don't think it usually extends to combat, either.
You might want to try the Burning Wheel system. It works much like this; you keep track of the times you use a skill, and increase the rank after so many times.

Probably my favorite advancement system would be Faery's Tale. It's not because the system is particularly unique - it is fundamentally an XP for skill advancement system - but because it is themed so well for the game. Your character gets Boons for helping people, and the Boons are just that: a boon, or a promised favor. As a game about fae, Boons actually have a magical quality and are not something that can be refused, and are treated much like currency. They can be exchanged for a favor (since that's what they are), and can also be traded for magical equipment, for being taught new skills, or for increasing the character's abilities.

My most disliked advancement is most video games. They either involve leveling, which frequently involves nothing more than killing dozens of enemies when walking from place to place, or involves doing the same task over and over repeatedly to increase your stats in a particular category. Oh sure, increasing my baking skill in Rune Factory might be fun when I have some free time to kill, but I wouldn't schedule several hours a week to get together with friends to do so.

[EDIT] The fact that some RPGs take cues from video games - namely the "you must kill X monsters to level up" - is bothersome and tiring. I don't roleplay to slaughter orcs with a weedwhacker.

Knaight
2011-08-23, 01:44 PM
To each their own. This is one of those cases where one person's flaw is another person's feature. I could protest that I've often done it in less than 45 minutes even without the software, but I doubt that would prove anything :smallwink:

That is still 42.5 minutes too much to spend on mechanics.

Conners
2011-08-24, 06:16 AM
I"ve actually seen one or two where this isn't the case. In Sorcerer, you get to re-arrange your character's abilities a bit between adventures, but they don't _increase_.

RuneQuest's had this system since.. what, 1970-something? And the system's also used in Call of C'thulhu and the other Basic Role-Playing game systems.

...Yeah, that one. Well, _I_ like it. You don't go adventuring to gain skills, that's what training is for. You train to _survive_ the adventuring, which is arguably "more realistic". It's surely not without its flaws, but I like it.

(And I find it amusing that there doesn't seem to be a huge difference between BRP's system and Mouse Guard's.) Surprising to hear.

I'm tempted to try such systems... but at the same time, I figure the combat and other features would disappoint me.

To be fair, you can't get real experience from just training at home. Training is important, in that it makes the movements and actions you need to perform more quick, strong and natural, as well as helping you learn things ("Oh, so if I put my weight into my step like THIS, my swing is a lot stronger!"). However, people who train at home for ages won't be as good as a veteran who has fought in many battles.
Partially, this is a matter of gaining bravery, the ability to act unhindered while faced with death. It also, however, is a matter that combat dummies can only teach you so much, whereas experienced men you are fighting can teach you a lot with no words. Notably, experience in the field is less important with lock-picking, baking, and etc..



Let's move onto:


ENEMIES


Some games won't have pre-set enemies (or "monsters"), so it might be hard for them to apply, since it'd become highly dependant on what your GM can think up. In their case, you could still go with how the system works for making interesting enemies. If there's a game without any enemies which you prefer, you can use that one instead.
Note that Enemies in this case refers to things you fight. A game all about debating could use debating opponents--it's just a matter that the enemy has stats and you are trying to defeat it.


I don't know many games' enemy lists particularly well, so there's not much I can say here.


Which game has the best enemies, with abilities and diversity which you found enjoyable? And which game has the worst enemies, which were cardboard cut-outs of each other and no interesting flavour for them?

Daedroth
2011-08-24, 07:17 AM
Best: D&D

Dungeons have a lot of them, manuals and manuals full of creatures,templates...



Worst:
Games that have not pre-set enemies, a lot of work for the DM even in railroad, in sandbox mode is...HELL!!

Totally Guy
2011-08-24, 07:39 AM
There's a game called In a Wicked Age in which the players choose their dude from a cast of characters. The players generate stats for their guys and the GM generates stats for those that are left.

The players and the GM then define the best interests for the characters whether PC or NPC. These usually threaten the best interests of another.

The game is about resolving the problems that this cast of characters have with each other.

I like how the enemies are generated at the same time as the player's characters and how the system is open handed about what it's all about.

I also like Dungeons and Dragons for it's array of baddies. It's like a big catalogue. I would like to make something similar for other games that I play.

Eldan
2011-08-24, 07:42 AM
Hmm. I'll discard games with no actual monster lists for now. By that I mean things with no predetermined setting, mostly, or only very short rules.

Of games with actual lists:

Best:
AD&D. Caveat: I've only seen a handful of AD&D books, mostly Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Planescape and other specialized settings. But those were wonderful. Monsters with two or more pages of fluff and fantastic, evocative art. (And rules too, I guess, though I can't really evaluate those, not knowing AD&D's system).

Worst:
4E. Again, I have only read the core rules. But most monsters I've seen have barely a handful of fluff. The art is, how do I say this. Well-made from a technical standpoint? Shiny? All that, but there are still very few pieces of art in there that made me go "Boaah, that's so fascinating/creepy/terrifying/awe-inspiring/cool".

erikun
2011-08-24, 07:44 AM
ENEMIES
I have to say that this is one point where D&D shines. It has lots of interesting enemies pre-statted and ready to use, and lots of options to modify them. 4e has a very good way of creating opponents appropriate for a given level, complete with approximate damage ranges you should expect at that level. Some people have complained that this makes the encounter too unrealistic, but I've found that the estimate is far more useful than just throwing together a random number and hoping that it isn't too little or too much.

flumphy
2011-08-24, 08:35 AM
Best: You can't really beat D&D here as far as quantity or ease of use. No, the given CRs aren't always perfect, but it's a better estimate than you'll get from a lot of other systems.

Worst: This is so dependent on the DM and the game's combat system in general that I'm not sure that naming any single game would be fair. I will say that the most annoying to me are systems that actually bother to stat out a bunch of enemies but give no metric to quickly gauge the power level of those enemies. At least if you make it yourself, you have some idea.

Totally Guy
2011-08-24, 09:26 AM
I see a lot of thought on these boards about the notion of coming up with encounters that are challenging but not deadly. It kind of baffles me.

What I do is stat out villains and factions as appropriate to the setting. How the players then interact with them is up to them. If the players want to know more about their opponents I usually tell them or tell them how to find out.

If they go into a fight and the monster kills them all, that's because the players were so compelled by the situation and the game that they were willing to gamble their very characters. It'd be beautiful thing and I hope to do it some day.

Usually that's not at stake though. When it is it's because they deemed it compelling enough. That's the point where a character tells you who they are through their actions.

Big Fau
2011-08-24, 10:05 AM
Worst:
4E. Again, I have only read the core rules. But most monsters I've seen have barely a handful of fluff. The art is, how do I say this. Well-made from a technical standpoint? Shiny? All that, but there are still very few pieces of art in there that made me go "Boaah, that's so fascinating/creepy/terrifying/awe-inspiring/cool".

Addendum: Bear Lore. :smallyuk:

Best: Warhammer in general. Every enemy is compatible with the RPGs with only minor modifications (as in actually changing just the numbers, that's it).

Worst: 4E. Combat takes far too long, even for an encounter two levels below your ECL, and the actual combat system gets stagnant very quickly by comparison to a 3E Martial Adept or Spellcaster.

Knaight
2011-08-24, 12:36 PM
Best: Burning Wheel, Fudge, Warrior Rogue and Mage
Burning Wheel: Admittedly, much of this has to do with how one interacts with the enemies, in both social and combat situations. Still, wolf and spider life paths are pretty impressive, orcs are hugely developed, and most enemies are humans anyways, and stuff like variation in armor creates potentially unique feels. Besides, its why you fight, not how or what your fight that really matters.

Fudge: Fudge is notable because it has a quantified size system, by the name of Scale. Its a logarithmic (Log 1.5) system, which cancels itself out with two things of the same size, and can handle any scale. Are your characters a bunch of Watership Down style rabbits? Take the human enemies, bump scale up by 7, and call it a day. Its a brilliant mechanic, it handles size disparity much better than HP and damage inflation does, and once that is handled the word scale can basically handle everything. Moreover, the word scale is easy to interface with. Oh, and the system is light enough that one can come up with an entire stat block on the fly. There's that.

WR&M: WR&M perfectly captures the feel of D&D, in a much lighter, much more balanced, non D20 frame. I'd go so far as to say that it does D&D better than D&D does, and given how well D&D did monsters, that is pretty impressive.

Worst: Savage Worlds
Savage Worlds basically can't handle anything magical well. The magic system is terrible, and that trickles down to the monsters. The combat system was also clearly written by someone with no understanding of historical combat, so that trickles down to human enemies. Also, it basically sucks.

Zeta Kai
2011-08-24, 01:03 PM
Enemies

Best: D&D, specifically 3rd Edition & its children. There are thousands of monsters, many of them are interesting in either fluff, crunch, or some combination of the two, the art for them is top-notch (most of the time), & they are usable in almost any/every conceivable situation. The CR "system" is flawed in some respects, but at least it tries to quantify a balanced encounter, which is more than I can say for many other RPG rule-sets. Homebrewing monsters is a bit difficult (trust me, I've made hundreds of them), but the system tries to help, it doesn't get in the way, & with practice it can be a rewarding art.

Worst: Call of Cthulhu. I love the setting, & the stories are mind-breakingly fun, but the monsters are just horrible. Perhaps this is intentional, as you are not supposed to fight them & live a sane life afterward. But dammit, they have stats, my character has stats, someone put a gun in my hand, & I expect to be able to fight something at some point in time. Otherwise, let's just do this free form, without paper & dice. You can fight, if you really want to, but good luck getting through a single battle with your mind & body intact. You're expected to run from everything, which is about as exciting as it sounds. Running from something awesomely powerful is cool in small doses, but running from every opponent gets old faster than my sprint speed.

Dishonorable Mention: Mutants & Masterminds. The game is obviously geared towards the heroes, encouraging the players to make characters that are geared towards their tastes. But the villains get the shaft in two distinct ways. One, making characters in long & involved, so the GM often cuts corners, & since the GM isn't (usually) emotionally invested in the bad guys, they don't get to be nearly as cool as the good guys. In this system, it shows. Also, mooks & monsters are often taken from the presets in the back of the book, which tend to be very boring, both flavor-wise & mechanically. The system is so interconnected that balanced homebrew is even more labor-intensive than D&D, so most enemies are refluffed palette swaps of previous enemies. I've played this game & GMed it, & the problem doesn't go away, no matter who is running it.

Reverent-One
2011-08-24, 03:00 PM
Addendum: Bear Lore. :smallyuk:

Eh, what would you rather they say about such a basic creature? It's a bear, be careful, it may it eat you.


Worst: 4E. Combat takes far too long, even for an encounter two levels below your ECL, and the actual combat system gets stagnant very quickly by comparison to a 3E Martial Adept or Spellcaster.

How does a general comment on the combat system apply to a discussion of the enemies? An excellent combat system can have very boring, pointless enemies.


Worst: Savage Worlds
Savage Worlds basically can't handle anything magical well. The magic system is terrible, and that trickles down to the monsters. The combat system was also clearly written by someone with no understanding of historical combat, so that trickles down to human enemies. Also, it basically sucks.

Dang, you don't like Savage Worlds at all, do you? While I agree some of the magic systems like Faith or Arcane or whatever from the basic book are limiting, the Superpowers system from Super Powers Companion is really nice for making enemies, there's a huge amount of variety and different types of powers available for GMs to use for the enemies.

Knaight
2011-08-24, 03:53 PM
Dang, you don't like Savage Worlds at all, do you?
Pretty much.

Emmerask
2011-08-24, 05:36 PM
Well I think d&d 3.5 has the best variety I have yet seen in the enemies department. Sadly a lot of them are rather similar mechanic wise but that can be easily homebrewed.
The art of course is very well done in 90% of the cases

so yeah overall best enemies: d&d 3.5

Big Fau
2011-08-24, 06:23 PM
Eh, what would you rather they say about such a basic creature? It's a bear, be careful, it may it eat you.

Something along the lines of "It's a freaking bear, you don't need to roll to know it has claws and teeth and can tear you in half".


How does a general comment on the combat system apply to a discussion of the enemies? An excellent combat system can have very boring, pointless enemies.

I left out the part about non-mook enemies having obscenely high numbers by comparison to the party, didn't I?

Also: Needlefang Swarm. Because **** that.

navar100
2011-08-24, 06:42 PM
Enemies

Best

D&D

They have lots. They're already published, just look in the Monster Manual and DMG NPC table. Change a few things here and there to avoid monotony and players who memorize. Only need to take the time to build BBEGs and their Lieutenants.

Worst

GURPS

You need to create each one. If they're just mooks for combat you could just crib it with the needed statistics, but to have any bad guys who are interesting, even if not the Lieutenant, you need to delve into character points to stat out what they can do. Genre type is a factor. Fantasy might not be a big deal. Even for spellcasting just pick the spells intended to be used for combat. However, for Supers, detail of abilities is important. You need to know what they can do, how can the can do it, how powerful the effect is, the range of the ability, etc. Many effects aren't even for combat.

Knaight
2011-08-24, 06:47 PM
You need to create each one. If they're just mooks for combat you could just crib it with the needed statistics, but to have any bad guys who are interesting, even if not the Lieutenant, you need to delve into character points to stat out what they can do. Genre type is a factor. Fantasy might not be a big deal. Even for spellcasting just pick the spells intended to be used for combat. However, for Supers, detail of abilities is important. You need to know what they can do, how can the can do it, how powerful the effect is, the range of the ability, etc. Many effects aren't even for combat.

You don't need to delve into character points, you can just assign skills and such and eyeball it. GURPS even suggests this at every turn. I'd argue that it still takes rather unnecessarily long if you are going to be at all thorough, but messing around with character points is, well, pointless.

Reverent-One
2011-08-25, 10:18 AM
Something along the lines of "It's a freaking bear, you don't need to roll to know it has claws and teeth and can tear you in half".

It's a side effect of having knowledge rolls to identify monsters, at least it's better than 3.5, where you needed to get an 16/18 on knowledge(Nature) to know the same stuff about a Brown/Black bear.


I left out the part about non-mook enemies having obscenely high numbers by comparison to the party, didn't I?

Oh? They do?


Also: Needlefang Swarm. Because **** that.

*shrugs*

Is there any RPG with a large number of printed enemies that don't have any unbalanced ones? At least things like Needlefang swarms get errata'd.

Drachasor
2011-08-25, 05:48 PM
I feel like Eldritch Ass Kicking deserves a mention here...hmm, best absurdly fun RPG?

Hmm, not sure what I'd label as the worst from among the games I've personally played. Perhaps D&D.

holywhippet
2011-08-26, 12:32 AM
I kind of like and dislike Dark Heresy for a number of reasons - some might be more of a result of how my DM made us play though.

Building a character is pretty quick and easy - you roll dice to determine just about everything. You have to pick some starting skills and equipment but that shouldn't take long. However, my DM wanted backstories and motivations for our characters which was good from a roleplaying perspective, but given the system is designed to be pretty lethal when it comes to combat it's a pain to give your redshirt to be a back story. Skill checks in that game can be really wierd also - you could make a skill check on something that you should be able to do only to roll badly and inexplicably fail. Also, say you decide to try moving quietly - so you make a roll for stealth. But if you fail, the system kind of requires your DM to assume you made a loud noise which means you've attracted attention that you wouldn't have if you didn't try being stealthy.

I've also started up Shadowrun recently and have mixed feelings. The main problem I have is the sheer number of options - augments, equipment, vehicles, weapons, software, skills etc. There are so many options it's easy to get overwhelmed when trying to build a character. Of course, it means you can do a lot of stuff when the game starts, provided you can keep track of everything.

Conners
2011-08-27, 03:07 AM
Here's another one:


Wounding and Death


There is fighting, then there is dying... or sometimes, suffering from your wounds (if it isn't a system where you're OK as long as you have 1 HP). Whether it's deadly realistic encounters, where one stab can kill, or more standardized foreseeable combat systems like DnD, where the higher level characters are given to winning. Might also want to consider ways of coming back to life or healing grevious, crippling injuries, when considering death and wounding.
Which is the Best, and which is the Worst?


I love detailed wounding and death systems. TRoS is the best I know of for that, but even it seems lack-luster to me. At the same time, sadly, having detailed wounding in an Table Top game tends to make it drawn out and complicated... Best I can think of, for this reason, will probably be Dwarf Fortress--which is STILL highly complicated to play.
Worst? HP. It's annoying in ANY game, to me, when I use my huge attack on the enemy, only to have it deal me full damage.... despite the fact I took out 99.9% of its HP in that ONE ATTACK!! Then you have to waste a lot of attack power, just to take out that 0.1% HP remaining, while in the meantime the enemy is as healthy as ever for hurting you...


What are your thoughts?