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Abd Al-Azrad

Dungeons and dragons / other roleplaying games.

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So recently we've been using savage worlds to roleplay some infinity characters. One of my friends mentioned they wanted to try something different though and suggested dungeons and dragons.

I was just wondering what experiences people had with dungeons and dragons here ? which edition is best to start with? or is there a better system?

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Do D&D 3.5, or just pick up Pathfinder.  Pathfinder was a competitor company's recreation of D&D 3.5, since Hasbro/Wizards abandoned their playerbase with the terrible D&D 4, and D&D 3.5 had the Open Gaming License and it's pretty much impossible to cite copyright infringement on rules anyway.

D&D 5th edition I think is actually quite good as a roleplaying game; it's much more about the roleplaying and less about the game, which I think is better for folks who want to play a story or who are newer to RPGs, as the charts and feats and endless little conditional +1s and +2s in Pathfinder/D&D3.5 can tend to attract munchkins and daunt newbies.

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I had been playing a lot before the 4th edition came out, which was too much "streamlined" and a major disappointed. Then we started playing Pathfinder, a very similar system which is what the 4th edition of DnD should have been. I recommend it. Now there is also a 5th edition of DnD but I haven't played it.

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I'm currently starting up a Mouse Guard group with some friends.  Haven't gotten the first session in yet, but it looks like it should be a lot of fun.

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DnD is fine if you want something simple to play with. But once you start going down the rabbit hole you find games with far better rules and settings.

Personally I would recommend either Numenera and Eclipse Phase, the former has a much simpler rules system but the setting allows for a lot of creativity. Same with Eclipse Phase though its rules bloat makes me hesitant to run it often.

 

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I love D&D 3.5, but my favorite system is the Old World of Darkness. 

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I've played DnD 3.5/4/5, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, Mutants and Masterminds, Fragged: Empires, Mekton Zeta, Shadowrun 4/5, Into the Breach, and probably some more I don't remember now. Each of them have things I think they do well and things they don't do well. Personally, my favorite is Pathfinder, with the E6 and Gestalt homebrews with an experience point purchase system I tacked on.  It all depends on your personal preferences. What advice I can give, is take everything with a grain of salt. It's pretty easy to wind up getting wrapped up in edition/system wars and arguments over dice pool vs d20 vs diceless or Narrativistic vs Simulationist. Ultimately, I recommend to grab a (totally legitimate and in no way torrented) pdf of a system that looks interesting and give it a once over. If you think you'll like it, give it a run. If you and your players do wind up liking the system, buy a rulebook and support the authors/publishers.

After all, the only thing that matters is if you and your players are having fun.

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I'll put in a plug for Apocalypse World (as well as many of the "Powered by the Apocalypse" hacks thereof). If you want to get straight to the story, it cannot be beaten. It's also great for introducing new people to the concept of role-playing. Just be aware that it'll be a paradigm shift for many "veteran" players and GMs. It's totally worth it, though.

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@Dasaan I think i'll go ahead and grab 3.5 , I've played it before and it was pretty fun. Not to mention  I like the artwork for 3.5 more than 5 and that is a little bonus.

@ToadChild I have a friend who used to play mouseguard. I might have to bug him into letting me use the books or playing with us.

 

 

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Played a LOT of different rules over the years.  3.5 has some serious balance issues that Pathfinder and 5 have fixed.  You see, Wizards and Sorcerers were fatally squishy (and damn near useless in combat) up until they hit about level 5 or 6,  then they caught up with the damage output of the melee types.  But once the spellcasters hit level 10, they were rapidly outstripping the capabilities of a beatstick.  Hell, a friend of mine had a 12th level wizard with a total of 14 hitpoints (CON8).  Ryl could solo most dungeons, the fighter was there to carry the loot and camping gear.  Properly stacked metamagic feats.  Well, feat-stacking in general is the issue with 3.5.

If you do decide to play 3.5, I strongly recommend staying away from the "Book of Vile Slashfic" and the "Book of Exalted Cheese."  Vile Darkness isn't all that bad, balance-wise, IIRC it just seems to have a lot of sexual content.  Exalted Deeds, on the other hand, is just flat broken:  Hi, I'm a Monk with the Vow of Poverty, my defenses are about 10 levels higher than I am.

4 isn't a bad system.  In fact, I think I had the most fun playing 4, but with a couple tweaks to the rules:  The biggest one was that you could spend more than one action point per turn, and because of that you earned (and could keep) more action points overall.  Makes things a lot more cinematic and really makes Warlords kick ass.  "Spend an action point and let someone ELSE take an action" is brutal when you have a rogue on either side of a large monster and a ranger on overwatch.  "Hit it again, boys!" (boys do massive damage for flanking).  The DM ended up tripling monster HP just to slow us down, we'd murder a dragon in about 3 rounds of combat otherwise.

Star Wars SAGA edition is a cousin to 4e, somewhat more optimized for ranged combat.  I'd recommend either a party full of force-users, or no force-users in the party at all.  Otherwise, the force-users will overshadow the "mere mortals".  Had a lot of fun in SAGA edition, too.

Stay clear of DSA (Der Schwarze Auge), it's probability system is utterly broken.  You should not have a sub-25% chance of succeeding at a typical task in something you are an expert in!  (Roll 1d20 for each of 3 attributes, you must succeed on all 3 dice to succeed in the action.  Use your skill points to modify die rolls.  Stats average 10, expert in a skill is 10 points which effectively cancels one entire die roll.  0.5*0.5=0.25 chance of success.)

I also have issues with the probability system of Inquisitor/Rogue Trader/Deathwatch.  Your chance of succeeding at an action you should be skilled in as part of your basic training is under 35%.  Failing all the time, even when you stack every single freaking modifier in your favor, sucks ass.

I've also played Shadowrun and Cyberpunk, but I'm going to skip talking about those because I'm under the impression your group wants to play a fantasy game.

=====

If you like an Asian theme to your roleplaying, I know two good RPGs for that:  One is called Qin:  The Warring States, the other is called Tenra Bansho Zero.

Qin is originally set in the time of the movie Hero, before Qin Shi Huangdi united all of China (roughly 220BC).  It uses an interesting dice mechanic, roll 2 d10 of different colors and SUBTRACT the result.  Roll of 9 and 1 is a total of 8, for example.  Doubles is a critical, double zeros is a crit fail.  White die high is good in combat, it adds to your damage.  Otherwise, it doesn't matter which die is higher.  Your attributes are built around the 5 Chinese elements (Fire, Metal, Wood, Water, Earth), and your hitpoints are based on the balance between your attributes as well as the total points in them.  I re-located the setting to Heian Japan (~800-1200AD), mostly by changing the names of the combat skills from their Chinese version to Japanese.

Tenra Bansho Zero is "the Hyper-Asian RPG", it's set in a feudal Japan as written/pictured by the Japanese.  There have been a few technology tweaks, there are modern repeating firearms, giant powered armors, mystically-enhanced warriors (both samurai and ninja), but it's basically culturally and politically the 1500s in Japan.  No cellphones, no electricity, no indoor plumbing even.  TBZ uses a pool of d6, you want to roll LOW.  It does require that you do math, though, as your ability to do cool stuff is limited by your karma total.  You get points to add to later die rolls by player award for cool acting/descriptions (one really cool thing I like about the game), but if you spend too many points to boost dice you will exceed 108 karma points (and then lose control of the character as it becomes a raging psycho).  The math comes from how you need to work your character and change fates to reduce your karma build-up between acts of the story.  The other unique thing about TBZ is that it's intended to play through a whole story in a single session, maybe 6 hours of total play.  Characters are built quickly through selecting a stack of archetypes, and you can make just about any character you've ever seen in any anime with the set of archetypes included in the book.

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@Section 9 Upon looking at the prices for 3.5 ed books I am already tempted to pick up 4th. I've been talking to some folks recently at the game store and they don't think 4th ed is actually that bad. I ran through a short adventure with a couple of them and the combat was certainly more fast paced than 3.5 was. I think I might just grab the 4th ed books because they are super cheap right now anyway. I also have my pathfinder core book on it's way.

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The biggest complaints I saw about 4e were that it was mostly designed/balanced as a tactical miniatures game.  It is hard to play without using miniatures on a grid, and it doesn't have a lot of mechanical depth outside of combat encounters.  In the name of balance, there is also an unfortunate tendency for most abilities for most classes to do roughly the same amount of damage with similar effects.  In some instances the main differences between classes are flavor text on your ability cards.

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Fourth edition is a skirmish game masquerading as a RPG.  From what I've seen of it, it's a fine skirmish game.  The QSR and intro module are still available free from DrivethruRPG, ah, here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/110212/H1-Keep-on-the-Shadowfell--QuickStart-Rules-4e

Just get the 3 little brown books. <joke alert> Everything after those is garbage.  The Greyhawk supplement ruined everything. I did skip the 2e, 3e, 3.5e and 4e fiascos.  Fifth edition seems a reasonable evolution from the orginal game.  I've been playing it for the past ~2 years and enjoying it.  The basic rules for 5th are free, but the books are worth getting-- even though the Monster Manual is a bit sparse.  And there is a SRD now., and plenty of 3rd party support.   The 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder series is too much about PC optimization etc rather than the role-playing.  It's tedious.  It's bloated.  Then again, I started with the venerable Holme's Basic and then the 3 LBBs, so I have a definite Old School bias.

You may want to explore some of the free RPGs that are available too. A random list of names: Swords and Wizardry, Stars without Number, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, Hulks and Horrors, Dark Dungeons.  If nothing else, mine them for ideas.  There are more out there too, of varying quality.

 

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Yeah, 4th is a combat system that needs some roleplaying bolted on.  Still a lot of fun, though.

If your players are game for a majorly high-powered game, check out White Wolf's Exalted.  You're basically playing demigods, and dealing with threats that require a demigod to beat.  Very cool setting, and crazy-cool magitech toys to play with.  Combat takes some getting used to, as it uses "ticks" instead of rounds.  Your weapon basically determines how often you can act, use graph paper to keep track of what tick you're on.  If your character has speed 2, you will act every other tick, and will act twice before someone with a speed 5 weapon swings again!

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Haven't played an rpg for a few years now.
Last one was Eclipse phase.  Prior to that it was cyberpunk2020. Shadowrun (1-4), Cthulhu tomorrow (modified Cthulhu now. updated to
"20 minutes into the future".  Cellphones and wifi and ebooks.  ).

Couldn't pay me to play pathfinder or any other derivative of D&D.

If it's got tech, spaceships and teh frikkin' lazors, however, you might be onto something - but I don't have the time for it.

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20 hours ago, Section 9 said:

I also have issues with the probability system of Inquisitor/Rogue Trader/Deathwatch.  Your chance of succeeding at an action you should be skilled in as part of your basic training is under 35%.  Failing all the time, even when you stack every single freaking modifier in your favor, sucks ass.

If your GM in the 40k RPGs was giving you Challenging checks, or worse, most of the time then you just had a bad GM.

That system was also very clear that modifiers, negative and positive, should be applied liberally.

"Ok, so you're trying to shoot the chaos cultist hiding behind that crate 10 meters away with your Lasgun. Well, its pretty short range, so its an easy check(+30). You're also aiming(+10). He however is hiding behind a crate, so that will be a -10 modifier. Oh, you're gonna go full Auto? Ok, thats another +20. So net, you have a +50 to the check."

a BS25 PC(very very bad BS) would be hitting 75% of the time.

My guess is you just weren't actually stacking mods properly or just had a GM who wasn't very keen on handing out modifiers.

And hey, if you were playing Deathwatch you'd have base stats in the 60-80s right out of the gate.

 

 

I will say, I think the best system I've encountered is the FFG Star Wars system(which was derived from their Warhammer Fantasy system).

Instead of being numbers based, its a more abstract system that heavily favors roleplaying out combat.

You have Stats, and Skills. Each Skill is attached to a particular stat. When rolling a skill check, you look at the skill or the stat, whichever is higher, and roll that many Green dice. Whichever is lower, you change that many green dice into Yellow dice. Thats the dice you roll for the check, opposed by a number of Purple dice equal to the difficulty of the check(with maybe some number of Purples upgraded to Red dice). Then there are white and black dice which can represent minor advantage or disadvantage.

Then you roll all these dice together. Good dice can roll up a number of Successes and Advantages. Bad dice roll up Failure and Disadvantages. Failure and Success cancel each other, Advantage and Disadvantage cancel each other. Then you look at your net. if you get at least 1 net success, you succeed. Extra Success, as well as Advantage or Disadvantage, can be spent to activate extra abilities, cause more damage, etc...

There is also Triumph and Despair. Triumphs are a result on Yellow dice, Dispairs are a result on Reds. These are basically something extra awesome which happens as a tertiary effect. Players can choose how to spend their triumphs, the GM chooses how to spend Despair. This is all independent of the check passing or failing.

An example might be as follows,

Gek the Rodian is attempting to pick a locked security door. He rolls a total of 2 yellow and 3 green dice due to his Slicing skill of 2 and his Intelligence of 5. The check is a hard one, so he rolls 3 purple. Due to the extra security in this Imperial Facility, he has to upgrade one of the Purples to a Red.

Gek succeeds his check, rolling a net of 1 Success. He also rolls a Triumph and a Despair. For his Triumph, he says that his character was able to deduce the master passcode for all of the doors on this level while slicing this lock.. The GM agrees, Gek can no open all of the doors on this level without rolling.

However, for his Despair, the GM says that the elevator at the end of this hallway suddenly opens and a patrol of Stormtroopers catch sight of Gek and his nefarious tampering of Imperial property!

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Yeah, I think the GM missed the whole Section on modifiers.  And since he owned the books...

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I'm currently running two groups of the Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying game, but due to RL we barely manage a session every two months. I mainly chose it because I know the universe well and the mechanics are quite simple. And it helps that each group has players that are massive steampunk fans.

I'm also reading through the Shadowrun 5 rulebook in the hope of finding a group. Seems okay and understandable for beginners.

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Shadowrun 2nd edition was their golden age. I'd like to check out 5th but have no time-or friends interested  anymore. No love for Gurps or Champions? Gurps was fun but became too bloated, Champions is the most open ended and adaptable out there. too much so for many I guess.

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started roleplaying with D&D 3.5 but what I played most over the years is various stuff in the Classic World Of Darkness (Vampire (Dark Ages and Masquerade), Werewolf, Hengeyokai, maybe Demon soon).

It definitally has more of a focus on roleplaying and storytelling than D&D for example.

 

EDIT: also the new Infinity RPG of course! :)

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Oh, I was starting with Wahammer FRP. The first complete RPG that was issued here.

Wasn't half bad.

Then came my favourite, Cyberpunk 2020. And several others. I've tried D&D a few times, including a short campaign in 3.5, and a try with a d20 Star wars. I can't stand the system, really...

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I'm surprised DnD 5th ed isn't getting more love.  It's fantastically streamlined and balanced.  It's almost impossible to build a character that is useless and no one is going to be ridiculously powerful compared to everyone else.

Can not suggest 5th edition more highly.  Great system for new players as well, got the girlfriend to try her first game ever and she loved it.  

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Personally, I can't stand level-based character improvement, and dislike the idea of "character classes" (IMO that works fine only if the society depicted within the game world is one of a rigid structure. For example the Legend of 5 Rings: if you were born a samurai, you will - barring very specific cases - die a samurai. If you were attending a warrior school, you will be a warrior all your life, unless something really unexpected happens) - but in a general Western-style fantasy / SF? 

For example, I have that Star Wars character I've been playing, on and off, under various gamemasters, since my late teens. In his history, pre-game and in-game, he was:

  • (Imperial) military (shuttle) pilot,
  • fugitive
  • smuggler,
  • Special Operations (Rebel) operative
  • xenoarcheologist (recovering alien artifacts Indiana Jones-style)
  • tramp freighter captain
  • Mandalorian bounty hunter
  • diplomat (as odd as it sounds, a Mandalorian diplomatic envoy...)
  • military commander
  • and assuming he survives the current attempt to rescue the Galaxy, he has pretty good prospects of becoming a statesman (unless it turns out it is better to get back to hunting folks for money).

I guess I've omitted a few side jobs that weren't important or long-lasting - listed only those that I feel were major elements of building the man's history.

Now, with a class + level based character development, it would make a mess of odd levels in different classes (pardon me if I don't refer to 5ed D&D - the only, and limited, experience I had with D&D was 3.0/3.5ed. I assume 5ed keeps such central concepts of D&D as classes and levels).

With a free-form (or at least, free from levels and classes) system (we're using a house-modified WEG d6), I don't have to concern myself with that. Just spend my XP on abilities I find appropriate for the situation / character's current role in the game world.

One of the reasons I've purged the "Roles" (equivalent to character classes, more or less) from my favourite CP2020 eventually. They didn't really bring anything good into the game - and without them, it gained in flexibility.

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I also like it better when roleplaying games don't give you a pre-set progression by means of a character class or whatever a specific system may call it. An open system leaves much more possibilities for character development depending on the story and things the characters live through.

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