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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    I have a friend that I've been running games for and playing alongside since about as long as I've been playing rpgs. As we went through high school, our tastes changed, as they are wont to do, and now it seems like we both want something completely different out of our games.

    I am very much on the storygaming side of things. I backed Fate Core, and it is now one of my favorite systems. I've recently become very engrossed in the world of indie gaming, with its player agency and whatnot. I've played D&D 3.5 for a long time, and have gotten very tired of it, so I began searching for other games and found all these new concepts. I play games to experience the story, and player's dropping dead every session doesn't contribute to a consistent story. I very much enjoy games featuring some kind of metagame currency, and have loved that feature ever since first reading Mutants and Masterminds, with its Hero Points.

    My friend, on the other hand, has been taken in by grim and gritty. He hasn't quite explained what he means by that, and has offered a lot of seemingly contradictory explanations. The best definition I can get from him is something with a lot of death, and a sort of grimdark tone. As much as I hate grimdark played straight, I want to find a way to give him what he wants, because I really do enjoy gaming with the guy.

    Are there any systems the playground can recommend that combine my tastes and his? Below is a short list that I've already considered, but am unsure about:

    • Fate Core: Here me out on this one. It is not what I'd consider a gritty system, but it certainly could model it. Death is rare, but on the table, and it's consequences lead to a sense of danger and injury that I feel meets the gritty concept.
    • Burning Wheel/Mouse Guard: For some reason, despite it not seeming very gritty to me, the friend really likes Mouse Guard. My understanding is that Burning Wheel is Mouse Guard but a bit more complex and difficult. Both of these systems are dense, and that scares me away because I'd like to avoid the complexity of 3.5 for at least a little while, but these games are definitely on my list of things to pitch to him.
    • Apocalypse World and its hacks: I've never actually read Apocalypse World, so I'm unsure of how well it would work. I don't know it's grittyness level, but I do know that the friend very much enjoys post-apocalyptic media, such as Fallout.


    So, any other suggestions?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Dark Heresy and its spin-off RPGs are, obviously, the literal grimdark RPGs.

    "Gritty" doesn't really mean anything for systems, and "grimdark" and "lots of death" are about setting and playstyle, not system. Athas/Dark Sun can be grim and gritty, or it can be gonzo or epic.

    Does your friend have preference for actual genre? Fantasy can be gritty, cyberpunk can be gritty, sci-fi can be gritty, etc.

    Generally, I think people mean systems with verisimilitude and dangerous combat. That'd be, say, Aces & Eights, GURPS, The Riddle of Steel, RuneQuest, HârnMaster, Twilight 2000/2013, Cyberpunk 2020...

    You can run old D&D and its retroclones grim and gritty, and they usually are comparatively rules-light (certainly compared to 3.X). Dungeon Crawl Classics takes the grim grittiness up to 11, but it's not free and is not very light (lighter than 3.X, IMO). My sig has links to a bunch of free retroclones you can check out.

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    I have always understood "gritty" to represent lower level, riskier, bloodier combat (E6 is pretty gritty IMO), but that's just my interpretation. Maybe if you are tired of the level-20 progressions in 3.5 try some E6 or E12?

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhynn View Post
    "Gritty" doesn't really mean anything for systems
    This pretty much sums it up. Gritty is a play-style, not a game-style. Certain games lend themselves to it better than others, but you can do Gritty in any game.

    Gritty is Film Noir, it's Sin City, Judge Dredd, Call of Cthulhu and Neuromancer.

    Death isn't a necessary factor in a gritty game, but the threat of it should be.

    Grimdark isn't necessary either. A gritty game can be quite light-hearted in setting, if the underlying plot is sufficiently tenebrous.

    For example: Terry Pratchetts "Men-at-Arms" is a gritty Discworld novel. The threat of death is ever present because the Gonne, uh, is. The plot is political and the investigation thorough and demanding, but the setting is comedic in nature.
    I apologise if I come across daft. I'm a bit like that. I also like a good argument, so please don't take offence if I'm somewhat...forthright.

    Please be aware; when it comes to 5ed D&D, I own Core (1st printing) and SCAG only. All my opinions and rulings are based solely on those, unless otherwise stated. I reserve the right of ignorance of errata or any other source.

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    Goblin

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Every mechanics can be used for gritty game with right mindset. Instead of thinking of a system I think you should look up some gritty works for inspiration. Do you have any idea what kind of game will it be? Fantasy? Science-fiction? Superhero? Mecha? Kung-Fu? Spy? Triller? Horror?

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Instead of thinking that gritty means hard to survive for the players, try thinking gritty as in the setting is crapsack, grey versus grey or grey versus black, the villains have a point and the good guys make you a little sick in your mouth, every victory is bittersweet. A world where your paladins consider Batman to be a good example. Your fights aren't slaughtering plot-critical characters, they're pretty survivable and cool like they would be in a brighter game. It's just that they're not fighting the evil hordes of evilness, they're fighting controlled and corrupted peasants that they'd rather save.
    "We were once so close to heaven, Peter came out and gave us medals declaring us 'The nicest of the damned'.."
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Lamentations of the Flame Princess has pretty gritty adventures. The game itself (old school clone) has a gritty presentation, but grittyness depends on the adventure and the ones running and playing it.
    Death Frost Doom is very lovely gritty adventure for LotFP (but it can be played with any system). I had lots of fun with and so did the ones playing it.

    For me, grittyness means it takes effort to survive. Death is ugly, but surviving might be uglier. You might have just saved the world, but the rest of the party is dead, you have lost your tongue, your sanity and morality have slipped down the drain and you will get no credit for saving the world.
    Or maybe you got a whole lot o' loot but your greed has doomed the world.

    Has your player ever played in any games which he considered gritty? Maybe he can describe them.
    Demiliches. Why'd it have to be demiliches?

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Here's my 2 coppers:

    When I think "gritty", I think 3d6 in order, all HD rolled and kept, start at level 1 as a nobody. You are not a superhero. Avoid combat to survive and have 2-3 backup characters for when the first one dies. If you go into negatives, you consult a table of grisly injuries/death results. You don't get a laundry list of cool abilities, healing isn't easy or convenient, enemies are deadly, smart, and well-played (they're fighting for their lives and will "fight dirty", using anything to gain an edge), and even a high-level character will surely die if they face enough peasant warriors. Morality isn't spelled out for you in neat categories. You survive to mid levels through chance and cunning, not brute force. True power comes from minions and wealth, not levels.

    If you want NPCs to follow you into the dungeon, they each want a share of the treasure, and may backstab you if you don't show respect for their lives, or if you seem incompetent or untrustworthy.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    Lamentations of the Flame Princess has pretty gritty adventures..
    I'd call them more grimdark than gritty. Some of them go completely overboard, IMO. I mean, I think unexpurgated Carcosa is fine (the rituals are supposed to be horrifying and repulsive!), but Death Love Doom is just an adolescent gorefest. (Also, I'd never consider running it for my group, because one of us is a dad with little children, and that just seems... in bad taste.)

    I did like Death Frost Doom, though.

    LotFP really might be a great fit for Loki 42!

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    Here's my 2 coppers:
    That sounds awesome. Not coincidentally, much of that is true for my AD&D games.
    Last edited by Rhynn; 2013-05-18 at 02:33 PM.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loki_42 View Post
    So, any other suggestions?
    The person running the world should be the one who knows how it should run. This is his world; he needs to be the DM.

    Maybe after experiencing what he means you might be able to run this, but somebody with no interest in fantasy can't run a fantasy game; somebody with no knowledge of steampunk can't run a steampunk world; and for the same good reasons, you can't be the one to run this game.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loki_42
    My friend, on the other hand, has been taken in by grim and gritty. He hasn't quite explained what he means by that, and has offered a lot of seemingly contradictory explanations.
    If I were you, I would flat out refuse to run a game, or even start working on one, until he explicitly tells you what he is looking for in terms of 'grim and gritty' and genre.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhynn
    cyberpunk can be gritty
    If your cyberpunk isn't gritty, you're doing it wrong.

    And I see Justice Zero is displaying his usual "too reasonable to be on the internet" posting style. Seriously, read what he says and do it.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Instead of thinking that gritty means hard to survive for the players, try thinking gritty as in the setting is crapsack, grey versus grey or grey versus black, the villains have a point and the good guys make you a little sick in your mouth, every victory is bittersweet. A world where your paladins consider Batman to be a good example. Your fights aren't slaughtering plot-critical characters, they're pretty survivable and cool like they would be in a brighter game. It's just that they're not fighting the evil hordes of evilness, they're fighting controlled and corrupted peasants that they'd rather save.
    And therein lies the problems. Not every single one of my games is like that, but this is generally the kind of plotline I go for. My storytelling can run very dark, and generally involve the "heroes" having to decide to do pretty terrible things. I don't always like doing that, but I run dark, grey versus grey worlds often enough to where I can't understand what he's looking for when he's looking for something more gritty. I've tried to get him to explain, and he offers nothing that it doesn't seem like I'm already doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    The person running the world should be the one who knows how it should run. This is his world; he needs to be the DM.

    Maybe after experiencing what he means you might be able to run this, but somebody with no interest in fantasy can't run a fantasy game; somebody with no knowledge of steampunk can't run a steampunk world; and for the same good reasons, you can't be the one to run this game.
    Unfortunately, the more and more I look at it, the more I consider this to be the only answer. I'm taking a break from GMing, and the new GM is running E6, so maybe that will be more to his liking. Me and him have also gotten involved with an Only War game on the side. The only thing I can really hope for is that these games will satisfy whatever he's looking for and he can calm down some for whatever game I run next. I'm really good friends with the guy, and I don't even want to consider knocking him out of my group. Hopefully it won't come to that.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loki_42 View Post
    Unfortunately, the more and more I look at it, the more I consider this to be the only answer. I'm taking a break from GMing, and the new GM is running E6, so maybe that will be more to his liking. Me and him have also gotten involved with an Only War game on the side. The only thing I can really hope for is that these games will satisfy whatever he's looking for and he can calm down some for whatever game I run next. I'm really good friends with the guy, and I don't even want to consider knocking him out of my group. Hopefully it won't come to that.
    Maybe I missed something, but why would you kick him out of the group? If he's disrupting games that is the problem, not that your game isn't "gritty" enough to keep him from disrupting it. If not, wanting a grittier game is hardly worth kicking someone out over.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Bear View Post
    Maybe I missed something, but why would you kick him out of the group? If he's disrupting games that is the problem, not that your game isn't "gritty" enough to keep him from disrupting it. If not, wanting a grittier game is hardly worth kicking someone out over.
    I'm worried that he isn't being interested in the games I'm running. There have been times when he's just kind of there, and doesn't pay attention. Occasionally during these times he becomes distracting, but that is not the main problem. Maybe drop him from the group was the wrong language; I don't want him leaving the group for any reason, and I worry that if I don't attempt to cater more to his wants, he'll leave the group for greener pastures.

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    Goblin

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    Here's my 2 coppers:

    When I think "gritty", I think 3d6 in order, all HD rolled and kept, start at level 1 as a nobody. You are not a superhero. Avoid combat to survive and have 2-3 backup characters for when the first one dies. If you go into negatives, you consult a table of grisly injuries/death results. You don't get a laundry list of cool abilities, healing isn't easy or convenient, enemies are deadly, smart, and well-played (they're fighting for their lives and will "fight dirty", using anything to gain an edge), and even a high-level character will surely die if they face enough peasant warriors. Morality isn't spelled out for you in neat categories. You survive to mid levels through chance and cunning, not brute force. True power comes from minions and wealth, not levels.

    If you want NPCs to follow you into the dungeon, they each want a share of the treasure, and may backstab you if you don't show respect for their lives, or if you seem incompetent or untrustworthy.
    Sounds like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    It's actually pretty easy to add a layer of "grit" to any game by making it harder for the characters to bounce back from encounters. As far as I understand it, a "gritty" game is closer to real-world fatality than most fantasy games tend to be.
    Let me try to give an example:
    You've said you played 3.5 before, right? Inherently, the game is not very "gritty" because most parties tend to have a cleric on hand (or some cure potions) that can zap a dying character back to full health in a few seconds, thus mitigating the risk of death.
    Unearthed Arcana presented a variant where cure spells worked slightly differently: 1) they did not heal non-lethal damage; and 2) they did not "cure" lethal damage, instead converting it into an equal amount of non-lethal damage that had to heal over time. This would increase the danger during combat (because the character was still at risk of being killed), and increase the importance of rests between battles as wounds would still take time to heal.
    Though this little change, the game becomes slightly more "gritty" because encounters become much more deadly when your tank goes down, which is even more likely.
    Does this help?
    If there is anything I learned from D&D, it is to never bull rush a Gelatenous Cube.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroGear View Post
    It's actually pretty easy to add a layer of "grit" to any game by making it harder for the characters to bounce back from encounters. As far as I understand it, a "gritty" game is closer to real-world fatality than most fantasy games tend to be.
    Let me try to give an example:
    You've said you played 3.5 before, right? Inherently, the game is not very "gritty" because most parties tend to have a cleric on hand (or some cure potions) that can zap a dying character back to full health in a few seconds, thus mitigating the risk of death.
    You assume the only lasting consequence of injury is death, but there are many more, some perhaps worse than death. A truly gritty game acknowledges and uses the other grievous injuries which deadly combat brings.

    You forget fractured and shattered bones, severed/crushed/mangled/lamed limbs (all body parts should be on the table. Toes, hands, teeth, noses, ears, genitals... nothing is sacred), scarring (and accompanying modifiers to social skills), partial/total blindness, deafness, paralysis (i.e. spinal cord severed at neck), severed muscles and tendons, spilled guts, and so on.

    Each one of these should apply penalties or deny actions as appropriate (a character lacking hands is unlikely to cast spells or wield a weapon. One lacking legs surely cannot walk unaided. Mangled hands are unsuitable for holding weapons). Although a character's hit points may be restored quickly through magic, these "special" injuries should only be treatable with long-term healing (weeks or months of skilled medical attention and bed rest), powerful magic, or inhuman replacement limbs. Since you still want the game to have a sense of fairness, perhaps they should only have a chance to be applied when the target is already on death's door, or if an attacker rolls an especially lucky critical (succeed two critical confirmations on same attack roll, deal more than 1/2 max hp?).
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2013-05-19 at 03:13 AM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    You assume the only lasting consequence of injury is death, but there are many more, some perhaps worse than death. A truly gritty game acknowledges and uses the other grievous injuries which deadly combat brings.

    You forget fractured and shattered bones, severed/crushed/mangled/lamed limbs (all body parts should be on the table. Toes, hands, teeth, noses, ears, genitals... nothing is sacred), scarring (and accompanying modifiers to social skills), partial/total blindness, deafness, paralysis (i.e. spinal cord severed at neck), severed muscles and tendons, spilled guts, and so on.

    Each one of these should apply penalties or deny actions as appropriate (a character lacking hands is unlikely to cast spells or wield a weapon. One lacking legs surely cannot walk unaided. Mangled hands are unsuitable for holding weapons). Although a character's hit points may be restored quickly through magic, these "special" injuries should only be treatable with long-term healing (weeks or months of skilled medical attention and bed rest), powerful magic, or inhuman replacement limbs. Since you still want the game to have a sense of fairness, perhaps they should only have a chance to be applied when the target is already on death's door, or if an attacker rolls an especially lucky critical (succeed two critical confirmations on same attack roll, deal more than 1/2 max hp?).
    Isn't that what they invented the "Critical Hit Table" for?
    If there is anything I learned from D&D, it is to never bull rush a Gelatenous Cube.

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  19. - Top - End - #19
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zahhak View Post
    If your cyberpunk isn't gritty, you're doing it wrong.
    I agree, but judging from the way people play Shadowrun, a lot of people don't. I wouldn't say they're "doing it wrong" (if they're having fun), but it's definitely, absolutely, not in a million years my type of cyberpunk. I also think 4th edition lost some of the grit of the older editions - I can't put my finger on it, but it's just not there. Of course, my game of choice was always Cyberpunk 2020 anyway...

    Quote Originally Posted by Man on Fire View Post
    Sounds like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.
    1st and 2nd edition are just wonderful for gritty (horror) fantasy RP. The word is such a horrible place (but with black humor) it's hard to get grittier.

    Also, pointy-ear-tax for elves. Pay it or lose it, buddy!

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    You forget fractured and shattered bones, severed/crushed/mangled/lamed limbs (all body parts should be on the table. Toes, hands, teeth, noses, ears, genitals... nothing is sacred), scarring (and accompanying modifiers to social skills), partial/total blindness, deafness, paralysis (i.e. spinal cord severed at neck), severed muscles and tendons, spilled guts, and so on.
    Has someone been playing Aces & Eights? I love the wound tables in that game. One bullet to the ankle and you might get "broken bone, severe bleeding, may never Sprint, Run, or Jog again"... or a gunshot to the abdomen and you've got "internal hemorrhaging or bleeding, bullet lodged, CON permanently -2"... Also, of course, "character neutered" for groin injuries.
    Last edited by Rhynn; 2013-05-19 at 03:24 AM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Instead of thinking that gritty means hard to survive for the players, try thinking gritty as in the setting is crapsack, grey versus grey or grey versus black, the villains have a point and the good guys make you a little sick in your mouth, every victory is bittersweet. A world where your paladins consider Batman to be a good example. Your fights aren't slaughtering plot-critical characters, they're pretty survivable and cool like they would be in a brighter game. It's just that they're not fighting the evil hordes of evilness, they're fighting controlled and corrupted peasants that they'd rather save.
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki_42
    And therein lies the problems. Not every single one of my games is like that, but this is generally the kind of plotline I go for.
    What JusticeZero describes here is not necessarily gritty. I'd describe that as a dark (some might call it grimdark) setting. You could quite easily play a game in the kind of setting he describes, without it being a gritty game. Sure dark settings lend themselves well to a gritty play-style, but don't have to be.

    I said it before; gritty is a play-style, not a game-style. Setting comes into the game-style side of things.

    Gritty can mean lethal, but doesn't have to (though it usually means a high level of threat, when it comes to combat). It can also just mean realistic. Take out some of those RPG-assumptions and hang-ups that a lot of roleplayers have; free and easy healing, as others pointed out, is one of these. Dungeon crawls, killing the so-called "bad-guys" being morally and socially groovy, looting the bodies, the PCs being the centre of attention/importance, expecting the plot to hit you in the face and the plot-givers to be grateful afterwards are all conventions many roleplayers expect, but that don't really fit into a gritty style of play.
    I apologise if I come across daft. I'm a bit like that. I also like a good argument, so please don't take offence if I'm somewhat...forthright.

    Please be aware; when it comes to 5ed D&D, I own Core (1st printing) and SCAG only. All my opinions and rulings are based solely on those, unless otherwise stated. I reserve the right of ignorance of errata or any other source.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    I actually think dungeon crawls can be really gritty, but it's a specific, sort of old-school-with-a-twist dungeon crawl.

    It's actually one of my favorite ideas for Warhammery FRP: horror dungeon crawls.

    Basically, it's all about how long your torches last, whether they get wet when you fall into water because of slippery and crumbling footing, how well you manage to map and avoid getting lost in the maze-like corridors and tunnels... and when the darkness inevitably begins to close in around you, the night goblins/skaven/ghouls/mutants start to sneak in and pick you off one by one, and you're fighting desperate skirmishes to fend them off while struggling towards what you hope is safety.

    Magic should be at a minimum, and (low-"level") WFRP 1e/2e works for that. It's about trying to realistically use your wits and the gear you thought to bring (and could carry) to survive the grueling, realistic challenges of crawling around in ancient, crumbled dungeons in oppressive darkness.
    Last edited by Rhynn; 2013-05-19 at 04:27 AM.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhynn View Post
    I actually think dungeon crawls can be really gritty, but it's a specific, sort of old-school-with-a-twist dungeon crawl.

    It's actually one of my favorite ideas for Warhammery FRP: horror dungeon crawls.

    Basically, it's all about how long your torches last, whether they get wet when you fall into water because of slippery and crumbling footing, how well you manage to map and avoid getting lost in the maze-like corridors and tunnels... and when the darkness inevitably begins to close in around you, the night goblins/skaven/ghouls/mutants start to sneak in and pick you off one by one, and you're fighting desperate skirmishes to fend them off while struggling towards what you hope is safety.

    Magic should be at a minimum, and (low-"level") WFRP 1e/2e works for that. It's about trying to realistically use your wits and the gear you thought to bring (and could carry) to survive the grueling, realistic challenges of crawling around in ancient, crumbled dungeons in oppressive darkness.
    I want to play your dungeon crawl!

    Yes, that kind of dungeon crawl is definitely "gritty". That I won't deny! When most people (if you'll forgive the assumption when I say "most") think "dungeon crawl", they're thinking of a series of rooms linked by trapped corridors, populated with random monsters that have no business being there, loot under every other flagstone, secret doors you find by "searching for secret doors" (you know, instead of actually looking) and a dude at the end/lowest level, usually a wizard, that you have to kill to either save the [person], find the [macguffin] or otherwise complete the "quest". This is all usually accompanied by gratuitous and free-flowing magic, in-jokes and pop-culture references throughout and no concerns about the minutae of what it would be like to actually go on such a trip (torches, food, etc.). This kind of dungeon crawl is definitely not "gritty".

    P.S. WHFRP 1ed. is a truly awesome game! Just love the combination of fantasy, horror, darkness and humour. It's like someone took H.P.Lovecraft, J.R.R.Tolkein and Rowan Atkinson and mashed them together and told the resultant hybrid to write a roleplaying game!
    I apologise if I come across daft. I'm a bit like that. I also like a good argument, so please don't take offence if I'm somewhat...forthright.

    Please be aware; when it comes to 5ed D&D, I own Core (1st printing) and SCAG only. All my opinions and rulings are based solely on those, unless otherwise stated. I reserve the right of ignorance of errata or any other source.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    In my opinion and experience, gritty and storytelling go hand in hand, they add to each other.

    Call of Cthulhu is very story-telly and very gritty.

    I once played a game were the group was trapped in an enchanted/cursed forest, it was all about surviving and trying to get out, the DM made sure survival was tough, we were constantly worried about starving to death, being attacked by forest trolls, the undead, a huge hydra serpent and the ghost of the forest dragon. Navigation was near impossible.
    It was an amazing story and very gritty.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

  24. - Top - End - #24
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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    I'd say check Warhammer Fantasy or Warhammer 40k for inspiration. There's alot of novels you can read from either setting.

    If you look for a good system, 40k Only War has lots of death. Dark Heresy is great for atmosphere. Only War is the latest in the series and is an improvement compared to Dark Heresy, and I think it's easier to jump into as the rules are more streamlined. You can easily apply it to the Dark Heresy setting too, if you prefer so.

    The charm of the WH 40k setting is that there's a huge empire with many different worlds: some highly advanced, others stuck in feudalism and primitive weapons. The setting provides rules for both primitive and advanced technology. In that sense the WH Fantasy setting is not even required for medieval grittiness. On these "forgotten" worlds the people see nothing of the great empire with it's huge starships and advanced weaponry, although they may still worship the Emperor, who is somewhere in the sky above.

  25. - Top - End - #25
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    Goblin

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    If you want to go very gritty then you alo have Delta Green - professional SWAT commandoes vs Lovecraftian monstrorities - and Cthulhupunk - gritty hardcore cyberpunks against cosmic horror beyond human imagination.

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    It sounds like the two of you could come together over Shadowrun. It can have tons of plot and storyline, and grim-grittiness at the same time.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Apr 2013

    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    This thread is full of excellent suggestions for grittiness - I'll give a shout of for WHFRP as well - but realistically you need to extract some more info from the guy about what he wants. It sounds like you already run a somewhat gritty game anyway, so what is he after? Does he want you to give him a love interest and have her die in a painful and pointless way in his arms? Does he want to mow down a million fanged horrors under a blood red sky?
    Re: 100 Things to Beware of that Every DM Should Know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Goblin

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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Beer View Post
    This thread is full of excellent suggestions for grittiness - I'll give a shout of for WHFRP as well - but realistically you need to extract some more info from the guy about what he wants. It sounds like you already run a somewhat gritty game anyway, so what is he after? Does he want you to give him a love interest and have her die in a painful and pointless way in his arms? Does he want to mow down a million fanged horrors under a blood red sky?
    Does he want to serve his father's murderer for a chance to duel him to death and get his horse punched by terrifingl huge guy?

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loki_42 View Post
    I backed Fate Core, and it is now one of my favorite systems. I've recently become very engrossed in the world of indie gaming, with its player agency and whatnot. ... I very much enjoy games featuring some kind of metagame currency, and have loved that feature ever since first reading Mutants and Masterminds, with its Hero Points.
    Serious game recommendations for you - Marvel Heroic Roleplaying and Leverage. Leverage is a heist themed game with metagame currency, distinctions that work even better than aspects, and most of the designers were borrowed by MWP from Evil Hat (the makers of Fate Core). Marvel Heroic is a similar ethos applied to superhero systems.

    My friend, on the other hand, has been taken in by grim and gritty. He hasn't quite explained what he means by that, and has offered a lot of seemingly contradictory explanations. The best definition I can get from him is something with a lot of death, and a sort of grimdark tone. As much as I hate grimdark played straight, I want to find a way to give him what he wants, because I really do enjoy gaming with the guy.
    A lot of death and a grimdark tone both go well together - it all depends why he wants grit. If it's the sense of humour and things actually mattering that's one. If it's the slow descent into destruction that's something else entirely.

    Are there any systems the playground can recommend that combine my tastes and his? Below is a short list that I've already considered, but am unsure about:

    Apocalypse World and its hacks: I've never actually read Apocalypse World, so I'm unsure of how well it would work. I don't know it's grittyness level, but I do know that the friend very much enjoys post-apocalyptic media, such as Fallout.
    Get Apocalypse World and try it. The setting is partly made by the players (with metagame abilities) but the skins are pretty bleakly funny, and you get genuine lasting consequences up to and including character death and disfigurement.

    Other recommendations (and the first two should be on your bookshelf whether they work with your friend or not IMO - as should Apocalypse World):

    Dread: It's a game for a series of one shots with a DM running the plot. Narrative and grittiness stakes: High. The resolution mechanic is a jenga tower and when it falls there will be death. Tension through the roof.

    Fiasco: If it's gritty and futile themes your player wants, here's another awesome one-shot full of black humour and possibly the best narrative game I've ever played. And almost zero prep.

    Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3e: (Warning: Expensive). I'm calling out WFRP 3e over 2e because with its incredibly rich dice, party focus, fortune points, and other narrative tricks WRFP 3e might well be right up your street (a little on the heavy side - but it's lighter than M&M). A darkly comic setting in which you start as e.g. a ratcatcher, a beggar, or a highwayman and are facing sanity destroying evil. Spells that routinely backfire and spellcasting is very much a "Is this situation bad enough that spellcasting won't make it worse" choice. And a spectacularly evocative resolution mechanic for you. (Each of the add-ons makes the game grittier, from permanent critical wounds to madness, mutation, and plague).

    (WHFRP 2e has slightly better mechanics and a much better magic system than the 1e spell point system, but 1e has much better fluff. And The Enemy Within is one of the best adventure paths ever published (at least the first four modules) - the WFRP 3e Enemy Within actually manages to be a worthy successor.)

    And in the "It's not out yet - but probably worth looking into" category, Torchbearer. From the same guy who wrote Mouse Guard and Burning Wheel, low level dungeon crawlers who don't even call themselves adventurers. (@Rhynn, this is a serious recommendation for you to look into as well as it's designed for exactly this form of dungeon crawling).

    Games I'm not recommending to you in specific: WFRP 1e/2e, Call of Cthulu, the various 40k RPGs, GURPS, Cyberpunk 2020. All of these are fine games and would probably be right up your friend's street. But they aren't that big on player agency, metagame currency, and the range of things you indicated as important. And Paranoia can be very grimdark and gritty and the newer versions have metagame mechanics called Perversity Points - but Paranoia is very much a table's taste thing.

    Games suggested I'm recommending to avoid: Legend of the Flame Princess: Search for "Something Awful Legend of the Flame Princess Grindhouse Edition Artwork" and then ask if that's the game you want to play. (The Grindhouse Edition is the current one). Shadowrun: Too heavy and fiddly.

    I'd also recommend searching or asking over on RPG.net about Eclipse Phase. I had a quick look and decided it wasn't what I wanted so am unable to actually give a recommendation, but it might well be what you're looking for.
    Last edited by neonchameleon; 2013-05-20 at 02:55 PM. Reason: Confusing Cthulupunk with Cthulutech. Mea culpa.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Banned
     
    Goblin

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    Mar 2012

    Default Re: My player is looking for gritty. I don't know how to provide.

    Cthulupunk: This game is known for being the game with a rape fetish for a good reason.
    Are you sure you aren't confusing it with Cthulhutech? That game had infamous module introducing rape machine and pheromone furries, I didn't heard about Cthulhupunk being in any way as nasty.

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