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Trask
2021-08-12, 02:55 PM
I think everyone has a different idea of an ideal adventure, and usually there's something missing. Not because we don't like our games, but because we all have different preferences.

So what do you feel is missing from the adventures you play, read, run, or just something that doesn't seem to be popular at large?

For me, I think an inseparable element of adventure is being a stranger in a strange land. Even in such diverse fantasy characters like Bilbo and Frodo, to Conan and Elric, they do this. For them, adventure involves traveling far and wide, to exotic places and seeing wondrous things far away from home is the one of the most important parts of their identity as adventurers.

And yet in D&D adventures I often stay in the same place until we get high enough level to teleport and plane shift and then we just whirl around the world, never truly capturing the spirit of faraway travel. This made more sense in the era when D&D was all about the dungeon; naturally adventures would take place in the dungeon and its immediate environs, not much room for travel. But nowadays many D&D adventures hardly involve dungeons, or if the do they're rather short, narrative driven affairs. And yet in much of the published and homebrew content I've played, a campaign involves some small region where everything in the campaign happens. There is something to be said for density of content, and I understand why its useful to keep everything in a local area, but the sense of scale is just too small for me, especially in a high power curve game like D&D. Its not that fun to be 10th level and still basically be ignorant of the world at large and basically a local folk hero for a few farming towns.

I think this could be practically done by leaving behind Wheaton and Bumpstead and trading up for more country sized scale. Instead of the baron asking you to clear out goblins from a local cave (boring anyways), the king of this far off land has sent out a call for adventurers to help him against the goblin menace threatening his lands. You dont have to functionally change too much of the adventure, but increasing the scale and raising the stakes in such a simple way helps them feel more epic, especially when you must travel far and wide to get there. To me, that little touch makes a world of difference.

Anonymouswizard
2021-08-12, 03:09 PM
For me, I think an inseparable element of adventure is being a stranger in a strange land. Even in such diverse fantasy characters like Bilbo and Frodo, to Conan and Elric, they do this. For them, adventure involves traveling far and wide, to exotic places and seeing wondrous things far away from home is the one of the most important parts of their identity as adventurers.

I primarily draw from different sources, so to me the thing often missing, particularly in D&D, is the sense of connection to the world. A lot ofvdiscussion and consideration of my character's iabilities and skills, but not who they know or who they'll turn to in a crisis. It's something I only realised when running Unknown Armies 3e, and at the end of session 0 ended up with ab more complicated relationship map than I'd see at the end of most campaigns.

I don't want to be a random nobody or a stranger in a strange land. I want to be a student of a prestigious martial arts school with a rival wandering the lands and a betrothed in the capital city.

Trask
2021-08-12, 03:16 PM
I primarily draw from different sources, so to me the thing often missing, particularly in D&D, is the sense of connection to the world. A lot ofvdiscussion and consideration of my character's iabilities and skills, but not who they know or who they'll turn to in a crisis. It's something I only realised when running Unknown Armies 3e, and at the end of session 0 ended up with ab more complicated relationship map than I'd see at the end of most campaigns.

I don't want to be a random nobody or a stranger in a strange land. I want to be a student of a prestigious martial arts school with a rival wandering the lands and a betrothed in the capital city.

That would also be on my list, if not as high as travel. A sense of connection to the setting is important, especially at higher levels. I'm playing in a campaign right now where my character is a monarch, and it feels very gratifying to have a tangible connection to the setting in that way, it helps frame my character as a part of this world they're in rather than just a visitor to it, which is what I feel most fantasy adventure characters end up as.

I would also comment that through travel, you can establish place in a setting more easily in the form of reputation. If you are an adventurer who has traveled far and wide and done great deeds, chances are that you will develop a legend that you leave behind. This can be a great hook into establishing tangible connections in the setting.

Kyovastra
2021-08-15, 07:34 PM
This is gonna sound vague and subjective, I know, but honestly, outside influences. I feel like RPGs have become a bit too derivative in a way that's hard to pinpoint on any one thing. It feels like it's tougher to find originality in RPGs, and most is drawing from the same old well, since there's so many people who have grown up with RPGs and gone on to play, design, write, or GM RPGs, and too many whose only main sources of inspiration are other RPGs. I think a lot of people feel similar these days, but a lot of us struggle to understand how to be original, since it isn't something you can just go and do - or it is, but there's also more to it than that, since learning to ask the right questions about your own assumptions and finding good answers is a skill, and being original is hard. Plus, it's not always good, and I think a lot of people get too focused on being original, and then will try to subvert things in a way that can feel contrived if it's done for its own sake.

So, what exactly is missing? I'm not entirely sure, and I think that's actually a clue into what is missing, and I think it probably ties into the lack of feeling of mystery and exploration described here. You need to have mysteries and unknowns to be able to explore, but you also need a sense of coherency and trust in the world, and you can't just turn something everyone has seen before into a mystery unless you can manage to make the familiar into the unfamiliar, or introduce something unknown to begin with, but you also want some sense of familiarity that's just enough for it to be contextualised into a variety of possibilities in order to create intrigue.

I think what's most often felt missing to me as a player is exactly that, and a feeling of something being new and unexplored, where I haven't seen anything like it before, but where it can challenge what I already think I know and the assumptions I make, and yet where it doesn't feel as if it's trying too hard to impress me or do that. if you try too hard to create a sense of mystery, I don't think it usually works, since the DM has all the answers, and I think mysteries have to be found through player inquiry and be discovered to truly feel mysterious.

Probably a tall sounding order, I know, but I think it's actually simpler than it sounds, since I think it ties more into thought process than anything, as well as how deep the well you're drawing from is. That's why I think the most important thing is actually outside influences, since I find what helps me most is drawing from other interests, reading, etc, to get fresh ideas. After all, that's what classic fantasy authors did too. If Frodo had already read Lord of the Rings, his adventure wouldn't have been as exciting!

Telok
2021-08-15, 08:12 PM
Missing... missing... missing...

Players who don't always do amoral murder-hobo "its not our fault we caused a ten thousand deaths" characters.

Yora
2021-08-16, 03:42 AM
The main thing I try to work into my adventures because I don't see it anywhere is consequences for violence. Most adventures are very linear things where everything that happened lies behind you and won't be relevant again. You go to a dungeon, kill everyone inside, and move on. And at the next dungeon, nobody knows who you are again.
Every time PCs kill someone, there are almost certainly some people somewhere who are really angry about it. They might not do anything about it, and the players might have left no traces that it was them. But the players should feel like someone might find out, and that someone might come after them because of it. Which could be a really bad thing and not just free XP that come to the PCs without having to hunt them down. Even if they travel around a lot, word of their actions can reach places before they do, and that should be reflected in how people react to them. Or they might not be recognized as the people they heard about, but people might still talk about what stories they heard and what they think about it. And when they kill some upstanding, law-abiding citizens, explaining that they were really bad dudes who totally did illegal stuff as rivers of blood come out of a burning building will not get the local authorities or population go "alright, go along then".
Violence in fantasy games is completely banal and is present in staggering amounts because lots of RPGs present themselves as combat games foremost.

Another thing that really requires a lot of archeology, and which I am only slowly starting to understand now, is how you actually do an exploration dungeon crawl. There's actually a pretty complex and well thought out exploration game in pre-Dragonlance D&D that is the central element of the game, and not a token gesture somewhere in the back pages that gets mentions because it's expected as tradition, but nobody knows why anymore.

Anonymouswizard
2021-08-16, 04:29 AM
The Violence in fantasy games is completely banal and is present in staggering amounts because lots of RPGs present themselves as combat games foremost.

I feel that you're being a bit unfair, games that actively discourage violent solutions have been around since the nineties. But admittedly it's generally through making the PCs squishy rather than encouraging actual consequences beyond 'you have a broken leg'.

More consequences for violence is something I can get behind. From making PCs worried that the victims' friends and family are hunting then to police/guards investigating an assault/murder, it sounds interesting.

Satinavian
2021-08-16, 05:00 AM
Can't say that i see excessive violence much in games. Most of the players i know tend to go for diplomacy whenever imaginable and it works often enough. Even though the game systems do not much to especially encourage it.


What i want to see more, is basebuilding and inner-faction politics. Those things do happen, but rarely. So many GMs find it easier to just throw the party at some unknown wilderness area or foreign country and hope that sightseeing will provide enough content.

kyoryu
2021-08-16, 08:35 AM
The main thing I try to work into my adventures because I don't see it anywhere is consequences for violence. Most adventures are very linear things where everything that happened lies behind you and won't be relevant again. You go to a dungeon, kill everyone inside, and move on. And at the next dungeon, nobody knows who you are again.
Every time PCs kill someone, there are almost certainly some people somewhere who are really angry about it. They might not do anything about it, and the players might have left no traces that it was them. But the players should feel like someone might find out, and that someone might come after them because of it. Which could be a really bad thing and not just free XP that come to the PCs without having to hunt them down. Even if they travel around a lot, word of their actions can reach places before they do, and that should be reflected in how people react to them. Or they might not be recognized as the people they heard about, but people might still talk about what stories they heard and what they think about it. And when they kill some upstanding, law-abiding citizens, explaining that they were really bad dudes who totally did illegal stuff as rivers of blood come out of a burning building will not get the local authorities or population go "alright, go along then".
Violence in fantasy games is completely banal and is present in staggering amounts because lots of RPGs present themselves as combat games foremost.

In general, most published or pre-written adventures have to go light on consequences of any sort, as those can quickly push the game away from the intended script.

Also, yes, most RPGs do present themselves primarily as combat engines. D&D, especially does, especially since 3rd ed. (and really starting in 2nd), and it has a huge normalizing effect on everything, so that even less combat-focused games tend to be viewed as combat games by virtue of expectations.

Disclaimers:
Yes, there are games that aren't combat focused. This doesn't mean that they're not the minority.
Yes, D&D has rules for other things besides combat.
Yes, you can run a low-combat D&D game.

Yora
2021-08-16, 10:26 AM
In general, most published or pre-written adventures have to go light on consequences of any sort, as those can quickly push the game away from the intended script.
And that's why almost all published adventures are bad. Not because they can't be good, but because they chose to use a bad format.

PhoenixPhyre
2021-08-16, 11:00 AM
I'm very thankful that I've not really had any murder-hobos. Sure, they've been violent. But never with people who either
1) weren't visibly and openly BAD GUYS[1]
2) or weren't actively hostile[2].

So the consequences for violence have generally not had to be super bad. Or even bad at all. And when violence is needed, they tend to subscribe to "no kill like overkill".

[1] the latest case were a bunch of people who invited them for dinner. Where "dinner" was the flesh of humanoid sophonts kept as slaves/cattle that were being slaughtered in front of them.
[2] and even then they generally try to talk first, shoot later.

Xervous
2021-08-16, 11:23 AM
The one thing missing from my recent adventures is that one player who decides to shower for 30min right before the foundry session is supposed to start.

Murderous? Elven Agent, all too curious Naga seer, rockstar bard, and delusional squirrel prophet usually find some way to disregard the lives of sentient beings, but the noble muscle wizard keeps them mostly in line.

Hobos? They’ve got a flying boat at this point and a base of operations they return to frequently.

If anything I probably should penalize them more for how much crew they’ve lost... but the expedition premise they offered was commonly known to have 95%+ mortality rate so they are beating the setting odds still :biggrin:

Overall no glaring complaints and I consider myself very lucky in this regard.

KorvinStarmast
2021-08-16, 11:24 AM
[1] the latest case were a bunch of people who invited them for dinner. Where "dinner" was the flesh of humanoid sophonts kept as slaves/cattle that were being slaughtered in front of them.
[2] and even then they generally try to talk first, shoot later.
Puts a whole new meaning into "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" :smalleek:

Easy e
2021-08-16, 01:55 PM
I feel that you're being a bit unfair, games that actively discourage violent solutions have been around since the nineties. But admittedly it's generally through making the PCs squishy rather than encouraging actual consequences beyond 'you have a broken leg'.

More consequences for violence is something I can get behind. From making PCs worried that the victims' friends and family are hunting then to police/guards investigating an assault/murder, it sounds interesting.

A quote from one of my players, "When the police get involved, I get really, really nervous."

However, many of the games this quote revolves around are from "Modern" games, so the Police are always a factor. You would think in a Fantasy world where there are lots of types of Forensic magic, the "police" could be even WORSE to deal with!

Chronic
2021-08-16, 09:05 PM
This is something I make very clear. Actions have consequences. They can make any moral choice they like, this is entirely up to them, but people around them will react in a logical fashion according to their system of belief and their social structure.
As for my games I don't miss much and I'm grateful I do not. Exploration might be a bit lacking I think our group kinda suck at it, might be something worth working on.

Tvtyrant
2021-08-18, 04:36 PM
A quote from one of my players, "When the police get involved, I get really, really nervous."

However, many of the games this quote revolves around are from "Modern" games, so the Police are always a factor. You would think in a Fantasy world where there are lots of types of Forensic magic, the "police" could be even WORSE to deal with!

Largely in those types of fantasy worlds you are playing their version of the police. You are the Deadwood Sheriff riding in to clear up the town/settle the problems, with all of the problems a total lack of oversight brings with it.

Quertus
2021-08-20, 06:44 AM
For me, I think an inseparable element of adventure is being a stranger in a strange land.


Unknown Armies 3e, and at the end of session 0 ended up with ab more complicated relationship map than I'd see at the end of most campaigns.

I don't want to be a random nobody or a stranger in a strange land. I want to be a student of a prestigious martial arts school with a rival wandering the lands and a betrothed in the capital city.

Well. Much like "zero to hero", I want to start as a stranger in a strange land, and build connections. I want to have relationship maps at least as dense as "student of a prestigious martial arts school with a rival wandering the lands and a betrothed in the capital city", that form organically in play. I want a setting worth interacting with and forming connections to. Gaining a school, a rival, a betrothed? That's the kind of "consequences" I want my character's actions to have, not the PTSD-inducing "you killed the bandits, now the citizens spit on you" that would make Viet Nam vets cringe.

From my own games? I'm usually shy on names, and difficult terrain.

SimonMoon6
2021-08-22, 08:15 AM
What's missing in a lot of published adventures is the "get out of the dungeon" mindset that I've worked so hard to achieve in adventures I create, only for 3rd edition to come along and say "Back to the dungeon!". Noooooo! That's moving in the wrong direction.

So many adventures could take place in a city. There are so many people and interesting things to interact with in a city. You could try to deal with gangs of rogues or try to steal from a wizard's library, etc, etc.

But the reason I think this sort of adventure doesn't happen often is because it then requires more examination of how a D&D city actually works. What are the city guard like? Are they calibrated to handle 1st level characters or 12th level characters? What sort of magical defenses would a wizard's tower have? Is it illegal to cast spells in the city? If the PCs try to steal from a magic item shop, is the shopkeep a 1st level commoner or a 20th level wizard? When the PCs run up against the city's legal system, is the judge a mighty cleric with divination spells or is he just a 1st level commoner? Does the city have a Thieves Guild or Assassin's Guild? If so, how do they work?

There are so many details that need to be known in advance (many of which might not come up in a particular adventure), that a generic run of the mill adventure isn't going to have space to describe all of this in advance (especially since it should already be described in the setting itself... but books describing settings tend to not give useful information like this). And it tends to make the story "specific" enough that it might be harder to fit into a particular DM's world. ("I don't cotton to the idea of judges casting no divination spells," some DM might say.) And the real secret of a 3.x D&D game is that the economy can't possibly work based on how skills are presented in the game and therefore it's best not to try to explain how a city works because it can't work. And that's kind of a big issue.

Dungeons are so much more generic and irrelevant to the world that people create adventures solely in dungeons. They exist because the writer of the adventure has far less work to do to create the adventure, but the adventure also therefore sucks.

DigoDragon
2021-08-22, 10:44 AM
With my current Saturday group, I'd say what's missing is exp rewards for completing quests. We're getting exp for the battles fought. However, we aren't getting rewards for non-combat challenges we overcome.

An example-- exposing the pirate base to the local constable who wanted to know who was raiding the shipping lanes should yield some points because it was a challenge (find out who is raiding the shipping lanes) and we overcame the challenge (found the location of the pirate base and brought evidence). We didn't swing swords to overcome this challenge, but we used deduction, we traveled around making many different rolls to find traveled paths and locate clues, we talked to many NPCs who each had pieces of the puzzle we put together.

Our reward for all this was a pat on the head and a letter to deliver to the local lord of the land. That's a bit of a trip that'll take a couple sessions to complete. Our work was rewarded with more work. Yay?

Anonymouswizard
2021-08-22, 12:50 PM
I've honestly switched away from XP as Reward, if you kill a monster or complete a job your reward is shinies (carefully calibrated to keep the party under a few hundred gp) or magic items you can't feasibly sell. XP just comes in a steady stream at the end of a session, maybe modified by play or campaign time if I'm feeling funky, but I'll likely just be giving you your 5XP and letting you spend it as you wish.

You might say 'well surely the correct thing to do is to sit around doing nothing until you have all the powers'. But doing so is boring. Actually doing stuff, whether that's presented quests or working towards player-stated goals, is hopefully rewarded with Not Boring. I shouldn't have to bribe you with character power to play the game you apparently want to play.

DigoDragon
2021-08-24, 12:00 PM
I've honestly switched away from XP as Reward, if you kill a monster or complete a job your reward is shinies (carefully calibrated to keep the party under a few hundred gp) or magic items you can't feasibly sell. XP just comes in a steady stream at the end of a session, maybe modified by play or campaign time if I'm feeling funky, but I'll likely just be giving you your 5XP and letting you spend it as you wish.


Aye. I've switched to a milestone format myself. I think it is easier on the bookkeeping too ; no need to calculate anything per encounter.


Hmm, what else is missing...? Well, specific to my cyberpunk games I run, I do feel that I'm not investing enough energy into the "atmosphere" of the genre lately. I need to work harder on describing the gritty neighborhood, the neon, the AR, etc. I love the setting aesthetics, so I should push myself to work more on this.

Maybe watch some shorts on YouTube that take place in cyberpunk settings to recharge my brain.

SimonMoon6
2021-08-24, 12:09 PM
Maybe watch some shorts on YouTube that take place in cyberpunk settings to recharge my brain.

Just so long as you're not watching those Cyberpunk 2077 glitch videos. :)

Xervous
2021-08-24, 01:36 PM
Just so long as you're not watching those Cyberpunk 2077 glitch videos. :)

Or the blatant Verizon parody ad.

Mark Hall
2021-08-24, 01:52 PM
For me, it tends to be "modern RPG weirdness". Most of my NPCs are human or one of the more common non-human races. Orcs, goblins, and "humanoids" tend to be antagonists, though aren't irrevocably evil, and are seldom in towns and the like.

A tumblr friend recently described a sky pirate captain who was a drider, and that would simply not occur to me to set in the game.

Anonymouswizard
2021-08-24, 06:01 PM
Aye. I've switched to a milestone format myself. I think it is easier on the bookkeeping too ; no need to calculate anything per encounter.

I'm half tempted to use a levelled system at some point because I can just hand one out every few sessions. But yes, dropping the bookkeeping and treatiung progression as an arbitrary thing that just happens to either session-end or world-progression milestones.


Hmm, what else is missing...? Well, specific to my cyberpunk games I run, I do feel that I'm not investing enough energy into the "atmosphere" of the genre lately. I need to work harder on describing the gritty neighborhood, the neon, the AR, etc. I love the setting aesthetics, so I should push myself to work more on this.

Maybe watch some shorts on YouTube that take place in cyberpunk settings to recharge my brain.

Heh, honestly it's hard to remember to bring such stuff up all the time. Yes watch more cyberpunk stuff, although maybe wait until that game is a little less prominent.


For me, it tends to be "modern RPG weirdness". Most of my NPCs are human or one of the more common non-human races. Orcs, goblins, and "humanoids" tend to be antagonists, though aren't irrevocably evil, and are seldom in towns and the like.

A tumblr friend recently described a sky pirate captain who was a drider, and that would simply not occur to me to set in the game.

Eh, honestly I see nothing wrong with it, I'll happily run human-only settings myself.

Although I do tend towards pulp anyway, so I should add some more unusual things in there at some point. But if something I'm playing or running is just going to be a human in a silly hat I'll just make them a human and then plonk a ridiculous hat on.

Hats are very important in my settings you see. No self respecting lady, gent, or person of non-binary gender identity would be caught walking about without head clothing.

DigoDragon
2021-08-25, 11:45 AM
Or the blatant Verizon parody ad.

The... WHAT.



Heh, honestly it's hard to remember to bring such stuff up all the time. Yes watch more cyberpunk stuff, although maybe wait until that game is a little less prominent.

I found a playthrough for Shadowrun Returns' two expansions. It's certainly better than 'that game'. XD

Xervous
2021-08-25, 11:49 AM
The... WHAT.



https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mCvSnX2Qt24 If I grabbed the correct one.

Fortunately my campaigns have enough comedy so this inspiration wasn’t necessary. But man is that a savage ad.

Anonymouswizard
2021-08-25, 01:49 PM
I found a playthrough for Shadowrun Returns' two expansions. It's certainly better than 'that game'. XD

Oh yeah, those are great for atmosphere, and I'm always happy to play an isometric RPG. I feel like they just nail the cyberpunk look and tone (and one of course includes an ex-punk singer among the main cast).

KorvinStarmast
2021-08-26, 09:22 AM
Players speaking in first person; too many are still referring to the PC in the third person. Not sure if that has to do with how often I play on line versus in person, but I far prefer for the player to speak in the first person as their character.

"Flubbito casts fire bolt" doesn't do it for me as well as Flubbito's player saying "OK, I'll firebolt that gnoll!"

Easy e
2021-08-26, 09:51 AM
Our reward for all this was a pat on the head and a letter to deliver to the local lord of the land. That's a bit of a trip that'll take a couple sessions to complete. Our work was rewarded with more work. Yay?


That sounds like real life! Who is getting my actual life mixed up in my RPG life!

Quertus
2021-08-26, 11:22 AM
I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more role-playing in my RPGs.

I don't mean things like acting or silly voices, But the creation of distinct personalities to roleplay.

Like, I've lost count of the number of GMs who boggled when I ran a second character under them.

GM: "… when I presented scenario X, I expected you to do Y."

Me: "well, that's probably what character A would have done, but I'm not playing them anymore - I'm playing character B now."

It would be nice to play in a group where, if each player played 5 different characters, each of those characters would have a different personality, and GMs weren't conditioned to assume player = character.