The Forge Archives

General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: Warrior Monk on January 18, 2010, 03:05:06 PM



Title: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Warrior Monk on January 18, 2010, 03:05:06 PM
I've got the challenge to introduce roleplaying to a big audience who doesn't know much about it except for videogames. At first I though that making a rules-lite system would be enough, but then I had to deal with people who doesn't like to read too much, so setting got ditched from the corebook too, replaced by a few questions and a copuble of tables for creating instant setting a la burning wheel, except it's shorter.

But now I realized the fatal flaw in my plans: Mainly I've got to deal with unexperienced GMs, a true danger since in my previous ideas the GM was the main entertainer for the group. With an unexperienced GM the game can become boring too quickly, so now I'm working on a gm-less approach. So I would love to hear any ideas you have on how to make a game with these characteristics:

-One session game or anything that doesn't involve character advance in levels.
-No character stats, not even hp if possible.
-Players will have absolutely no narrativist experience, perhaps not even had read significant books on fantasy or sci-fi. On best case, some Harry Potter or (yuck!) Twilight. So we are dealing with really limited creative input from players.
-d6 dice system, better kept maximum dice rolled under 5. Cards or other complex props can't be implemented, sorry.
-Rules-lite
-Simple setting, allowing for players to make it more complex as they play.
-Players shouldn't be cast aside if their character dies, setting must allow a quick re-inserting of new characters somehow.


So far my approach of the setting is a mage school where strange things happen and is up to the players to solve the mystery. Yeah, kinda Hogwarts meets Scooby-doo.

System is loosely based on Maid RPG: using a random scene generator, characters are placed on a mysterious series of events that look unrelated at first glance. I think 6 kinds of scene generators will do:
-introductory and rumors dropped around
-A visit to the place mentioned or an interviev with a person related to the event
-event happens again in front of the players
-chasing scene
-rest and preparation
-confrontation

And then the final scene, not much of a generator for this one but a mix of a battle scene and a reward, created from elements taken from previous scenes.

On every scene players state their reactions and roll dice to determine their success. They will roll against a number rolled previously on the generation of that scene. If they succeed they get clues/resources to the final scene.

The final scene doesn't trigger until one of the players uses the clues/resources he found to state an explanation of these events. Once he states the explanation, player gets to roll dice to see if he guessed correctly. If he succeeds, whatever he stated becomes a fact and triggers the final scene. If he fails, clues are discarded. Scenes keep going in random order until a player states a conclussion and succeeds on his roll.

In the meantime characters can, of course, get killed. Once this happens, again randomly, that player can become the entity responsible for the events or a ghost of his former character, or perhaps gets to play another npc or gets a fresh character of his own, etc.

Any suggestions?



Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Catelf on January 19, 2010, 01:36:50 AM
As far as i see it, .....
I, myself, would keep the GM, since this is still the usual way most published Rpg's are done ..... and i am a bit nostalgic as well.
But:
* Background. Why scrap it? It doesn't have to be like the Short stories in the beginning of the White Wolf Games.
* It is the RULES that needs to be simple enough, with lots of examples on situations and "How to Play" descriptions.
* Decreasing the amounts of Stats is probably a good idea.
* Decreasing the Values, Hit Points, et al, is possibly also a good idea.
* A few easy, Short, Premade, Scenarios, that can be seperate, but also put together to form a regular small Adventure, is also an idea
* You could take a look at my attempt at an Rpg: [Ferals]. I have been accused of BEING a noob by a few who've looked at it. It lacks examples, but it is quite simple. It is posted in (current) Full in the Playtesting Area here.
If you want to, i can post a link.

"Not-so-Noob" Cat


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Callan S. on January 19, 2010, 03:41:20 AM
Hi,

During the moment to moment of play, what is it about play that is fun, for this game? What are you aiming for? Your idea of fun (it doesn't have to fit anyone elses idea of fun). What are you shooting for?


From my knowledge of traditional RPG history, alot of games in terms of their own content just didn't produce any fun at all (often fun was had despite the game, rather than because of it) and yet this get idolised for the rare occasions when it's incredibly fun - which IMO is when the group fills in the blanks despite the game rather than because of it.

You seem to be setting up a whole bunch of stuff like dice to use, character reinsertion, decreasing stats...this is all outside stuff. It's like the stones around a firepit...when there is no fire/no fun! Your setting up lots and lots of work on the firepit, but as far as I can tell, no work on making any particular type of fire?

If that jobs being punted to the GM (or to the group in a GM'less game) well, the game, if it can be called that, is just pointless. You don't need a firepit to have fire, it just helps if you have fire.

I dunno, what some people might call a creative absense, I call a waste of time/stone soup.


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Warrior Monk on January 19, 2010, 12:19:55 PM
Hi Catlef & Callan.

The idea of fun I had for this game came from something I've been playtesting a lot lately in a lot of varied forms. Basically it's as a player, you get to confront a situation you are certain nobody planned and nobody knows how you should or could get out. The situation in particular is intreresting, a good point of beginning for a story that invites player intervention. And when you react as a player, you find that your reaction triggers a response from the story and as more elements are introduced either by you or the game system, the situations you are confronted with get more intense.

It's true that anybody who wants to play a game can and will make this creative invest on his own; the only trouble I found that counters this is when that player has to convince a few friends that that particular game will be interesting.

How do you make any RPG seem interesting enough to get your friends interested in playing it? By relating it to interesting (even emotional) situations of your friend's life. Same about you, nobody buys a game about something they don't like. On best case, you can make people buy something out of pure curiosity. That's why making games about things everybody already finds exciting is a good way to get people interested in playing your game. Also, that's why having "how to play" descriptions and examples helps a lot to figure out why it's going to be fun. (taking note of that, many thanks)

Ok, I'm stating this just to help you see my current situation. In my country people has no reference for RPGs other than mmorpgs. Yeah, not even D&D is popular here, despìte most of my generation saw the D&D cartoon when they were kids. That's why traditional RPG perspective hasn't work here despite the efforts of a few small groups around here. I've got the chance to bring table rpgs to a broader audience here.
So, not that I'm against traditional rpgs, I just have to try with something simpler before bringing the big guns to this audience.

Back to Callan's questions:

-My idea of fun here is having a chance to confront a sucession of creative situations not railroaded into anything by anyone, with few rules limits, while having no direct responsability for anybody's fun (which I consider I'll have if I get to be the GM) As for a setting I'm going for modern era with magic as a secret power present on the world.

-So, to ignite the fire on the firepit I've got a series of random generators that create the situations I mentioned. Of course it's up to the players to keep the fire, I just will throw some more generators later here and there to help rise the flames.

Catelf, could you please post the link for your game? I believe it will be useful somehow. Thank you both for the comments!


-Pol


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Catelf on January 21, 2010, 02:22:52 PM
Ok, hopefully this will work as a link:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=28963.0

Remember a few things, though:
* It sadly almost totally lacks examples, and has no play examples at all, so i sadly may have to explain a few things ...... but just ask me, if that would be the case. Had i remade it today, i'd try to add far more examples, and at least one Play Example.
* These Rules has NO SKILL ROLLS DURING COMBAT.
In combat, you use Damage Rolls, which is clearly different to Skill Rolls.
* The world described focuses on Ferals, but if you cannot adapt them yourself, just ask me on how to add Magic and other things. (The idea is to use Exhaustion to get KI, and this fuels Magic.)
Hopefully, it'll at least give you an idea of how simple it can, and maybe Must be, despite also being complex.
And if you decide to use it entirely, or large portions of it, that is also ok for me.

Not-so-noob Cat


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Warrior Monk on January 22, 2010, 10:06:03 AM
Thanks Cat, I just readed Ferals and that help me realize that probably what I'm making probably doesn't exactly quailify as an rpg :P  Allow me to explain.

There are a few things you need to get used to, in order to play and enjoy most rpgs. Everybody can do these but of course, they aren't used to do it for fun like we do. Let me try to ennumerate a few. As a player you will need to:

-Picture yourself as a different person, in an enviroment and situation described by another person.
-state creative responses to the situations presented using the tools at hand given by the character or the enviroment.
-Develop at least a numeric intuition to interpretate correctly a character sheet or a dice roll.
-Allocate some memory to follow the story created by the GM-players interaction.
-Get to know the basic rules of the game you're currently playing, as well as some general information of the setting.

As a GM you will also need to:
-Create situations and explain them clearly to your players. Same for npcs.
-Determine a reasonable difficulty for the rolls based on abstract situations.
-Interpretate creatively the numbers rolled
-Take note of most details that help or hinder the flow of the game, in order to keep players interested.
-Get to know most of the rules of the game you're currently gming as well as the secrets behind the setting. Make up ones if you don't have enough (both rules and secrets)

Ok, probably I'm missing important stuff but my point is that I have to deal with people who hasn't developed these abilities... except for the last line in both cases, for people who played mmorpgs. So what I'm actually designing is a game that should help people develop these abilities.

So far my educated guesses go like this:
-I'm educating both players and gm's so it's gotta be gmless. By this I mean narrative responsibilities will be shared by every players and by random situation tables.
-The main choices about stats are: is your character alive or dead? and for the rest, even skills, powers, all kind of abilities, equipment and contacts, the dice will determine both if they exist for the current scene and work or not. So this game won't have any stats or fluff, at least not a fixed fluff but one dependant on players imagination.
-The game design I have so far makes for something quite fast paced. Briefly it goes like: roll 3 dice to get an scene, state reaction or don't. Then roll 2 dice and and previous scene to get scene 2. State your reaction or die. Repeat a couple of times or until you solve the mistery. Add everything together and roll 3 dice to get final scene, state your reaction or die, everybody gets to narrate an epilogue for their character.

Any thoughts?



Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Callan S. on January 22, 2010, 10:26:00 PM
Hi Catlef & Callan.

The idea of fun I had for this game came from something I've been playtesting a lot lately in a lot of varied forms. Basically it's as a player, you get to confront a situation you are certain nobody planned and nobody knows how you should or could get out. The situation in particular is intreresting, a good point of beginning for a story that invites player intervention. And when you react as a player, you find that your reaction triggers a response from the story and as more elements are introduced either by you or the game system, the situations you are confronted with get more intense.

*snip*

-My idea of fun here is having a chance to confront a sucession of creative situations not railroaded into anything by anyone, with few rules limits, while having no direct responsability for anybody's fun (which I consider I'll have if I get to be the GM) As for a setting I'm going for modern era with magic as a secret power present on the world.
Hi again,

I'll try and write what I think your getting at - I may be entirely wrong, but I'm writing it to see if I'm getting you.

You have a player, playing a character he's sketched out to some degree, encounter situations. And not situations like a jammed photocopier - situations like burning ships or suchlike. Then the player decides/finds out how his character reacts. The fun, for the player of the character and for all the rest of the players as audience, is discovering just how that character rolls/what he does (or even what he doesn't do/what he doesn't care about) upon contact with that situation.

Outside of that, play isn't about railroading toward story conclusion X - basically play is about throwing situations at characters which expose those characters responces. Those responces ARE the story, the situations aren't there to try and railroad everything to something else which is supposedly the story. But as said, this is outside the core fun thing, so lets not get hung up on it - I'm just noting it.

Does that seem to match to some degree what your grasping at?


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Catelf on January 23, 2010, 12:02:42 AM
Thanks Cat, I just readed Ferals and that help me realize that probably what I'm making probably doesn't exactly quailify as an rpg :P 
No, well, i mean, it Does qualify as an Rpg, i think, but it is far from a "Traditional" one.
However, there are several alternative ways of roleplaying, and making games of it, especially here at the Forge.

I also feel i cannot help out any (more) for the time being, so i'm glad that Callan is around as welll.

I will continue to check in, to see if there is something i can suggest, though.


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Warrior Monk on January 25, 2010, 12:02:57 PM
Yes Callan, you got exactly my point. I just mentioned the railroading issue to clarify that I don't intend to teach that behavior to newcomer players, that's it. And many thanks Cat, I do appreciate every suggestion you and everybody may have. So, what I'm making is a non-traditional rpg to help newcomers adapt to play traditional rpgs later, though it kinda looks strange written like this, if not contradictory somehow. Anyway, I've been reading the posts on Ferals topic about how everybody gets into rpg in different ways. So far I have identified a few:

1-You find a group of experienced players and learn how to play from them, even if it's just by looking.
2-You get the core books, devour them and then you convince a few friends to start playing it.
3-You listen comments about how fun rpgs are and either do 1 or 2 above.

So on most cases, no matter how simple and clear are the rules, most people actually understands the game through examples of every major rule. On most core books I've readed examples actually teach not only how the rule works but the way it should be interpreted by the players. This idea I'm brewing here cames as an experiment to find if there are other ways to get people interested in rpgs, so if anybody here knows another way, please, I would like to read more about it. Many thanks for the comments so far.

-Pol


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Callan S. on January 25, 2010, 08:10:50 PM
Yes Callan, you got exactly my point.
Ah good!

Okay
Quote
On every scene players state their reactions and roll dice to determine their success. They will roll against a number rolled previously on the generation of that scene. If they succeed they get clues/resources to the final scene.

The final scene doesn't trigger until one of the players uses the clues/resources he found to state an explanation of these events.
My suggetion? Drop the 'succeed at the roll and you get the clue' crap. That stuffs for a whole other game type.

Taking your random scene generator from above, if you want to have something like you roll and you pass, you get one step closer to the end, and if you fail you have to go through 1+1d4 (or whatever number) random emotional scenes and then you get one step closer (no further roll), that works for what your aiming at, to my mind. Though for people who' are enjoying what this game is about, failing a roll is alot like throwing briar rabbit into a briar patch - they may even desire failure on a roll (which will be good for the game session).

To me, what your aiming at isn't about success on rolls - the rolls are instead a way of fluctuating the story and causing it to twist and turn in unexpected ways - it is not about success and passing rolls.

It's that mechanical fluctuation of story I think you should aim at (in terms of meeting your goals as I understand them) when designing, rather than hitpoints or stats or skills.


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Warrior Monk on January 26, 2010, 01:24:46 PM
My suggetion? Drop the 'succeed at the roll and you get the clue' crap. That stuffs for a whole other game type.

Taking your random scene generator from above, if you want to have something like you roll and you pass, you get one step closer to the end, and if you fail you have to go through 1+1d4 (or whatever number) random emotional scenes and then you get one step closer (no further roll), that works for what your aiming at, to my mind. Though for people who' are enjoying what this game is about, failing a roll is alot like throwing briar rabbit into a briar patch - they may even desire failure on a roll (which will be good for the game session).

To me, what your aiming at isn't about success on rolls - the rolls are instead a way of fluctuating the story and causing it to twist and turn in unexpected ways - it is not about success and passing rolls.

It's that mechanical fluctuation of story I think you should aim at (in terms of meeting your goals as I understand them) when designing, rather than hitpoints or stats or skills.

Yeah, sounds better. I'd say 1 random emotional scene if they fail is enough. About getting closer to the end, maybe that should happen both if they fail or if they succeed, perhaps if they fail enough times they get the bad random ending. Now I'll have to find a way to make random generators and instructions help people make a more or less rational interesting story. Yeah, it's actually up to the polayers to come up with as much rationality they want, I just want the system to make that easy instead of making it harder to the players. Many thanks! I'll try to post something of the generators next time. Many thanks!

-Pol


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Callan S. on January 26, 2010, 04:09:52 PM
Good luck for your venture! :)


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Warrior Monk on January 28, 2010, 02:49:01 PM
Ok, this is what I have so far, along with some ideas for the next couple of scenes, let me know what you think is going totally wrong. Game goes like this:

1.- Either choose one player or roll the dice. Player with the highest roll starts rolling dice to make the first scene. The player to his right will make the next and so on.

FIRST SCENE roll 3d6:

Rumour around says somebody you don’t know…
1- comitted a theft
2- had a terrible accident
3- went suddenly insane
4- killed somebody
5- Became a millionaire overnight
6- got robbed

And then…
1- disappeared.
2- commited suicide.
3- died attacked by something strange.
4- happened / did it again and again.
5- happened to / did it again somebody else unrelated.
6- was found dead with strange markings around.

There seems to be…
1- A particular object involved
2- A particular place where the event repeats every once in a while
3- A particular person present at the event
4- Somebody who claims to had predicted this event
5- An urban legend about such kind of events
6- A warning or some strange sign written on the place of the event.

The player who rolled the dice can make up names or add color to the event ad libitum. Then the rest of players decide if they want to investigate or not. If they do (here will come another table about obstacles I'll post later) if they don't (here will come another scene table) In both of this last cases players state their reactions and roll to see if they have both the luck and resources available to solve the scene. If more than half of the players succeed, they get one step closer to the end, if they don't they get to play an emotional scene (Callan, I still don't know how to make that one but it sounds interesting) and then they get to the next one.

Let me know what you think- many thanks for your help so far.


Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: davidwhitton on January 28, 2010, 03:21:44 PM
DICE
If you're going for a mass appeal rpg that engages non-rpg fans (people that won't read much, etc) then the "roll the dice" approach may not work (and may eve be considered as geeky by your target audience). (Disclaimer: I don't think dice are geeky so lets not let this go off topic with flames, thanks). The fact is there haven't been man very succesful dice adventure games on the popular platforms that your target audience enjoy at friends houses, etc(wii, dsi, playstation, etc) so my suggestion would be a more engaging control control system (the pokemon RPG's (stolen from a game called "Mother") did good with their turn-based combat. Also agree with the random scene gen.

TEXT/STORYLINE
Some of the biggest movies in history have a text intro (think star wars!) so people will read some..

just a few ideas...good luck with your project! :D



Title: Re: RPG for Noobs??
Post by: Catelf on January 30, 2010, 12:49:10 PM
It seems i have to add a few things yet:
1: Don't Unerestimate any possible Players, they may understand more than you think.
2: Don't Overestimate them either .......
3: If you make the Game too much "not regular nor traditional", they will not understand the traditional games after your Game anyway.
4: They might prefer your game before the others that you might want to play with them.
This is not neccesarily anything bad, it may be a really good thing ...... but is it what you want?
5: Rolling Dice aren't Geeky, since many "Socializing" Boardgames uses it, like Ludo, Snakes'n'ladders(i think), Monopoly, .......... Even Trivial Pursuit uses die rolls!
.....Have you considered a kind of boardgame-approach, like twisting the rules for "Clue", for instance?