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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Jack Spencer Jr on December 02, 2002, 11:37:15 PM



Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on December 02, 2002, 11:37:15 PM
I don't know about you all, but I am sick of going to other RPG sites and seeing the tons of threads on d20 on the forums that are the same old discussion. Now that it's been a couple years since the initial release and the whole d20 thing hasn't popped like a dot com bubble. I would actually like to see a real, intelligent discussion on the subject, at least as it would relate to the Forge and our concerns here. Is there any ground to cover and is it worth covering?


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: contracycle on December 03, 2002, 01:23:43 AM
I doubt it myself.


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Valamir on December 03, 2002, 06:41:54 AM
Feeling curmugeony today Gareth?

What specifically did you want to talk about Jack?
Whether there is room in the industry for non-d20 products?
Whether d20 has benefited WotC to the extent they thought it would?
I think the Forge might be the ONLY place where this could be discussed that is neither a fan site nor would devolve in bashing...least that I know of.   So what was on your mind.


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 03, 2002, 08:22:43 AM
Jack,

I would love to. With all this talk about "gamers in the closet," I'll admit that I'm a d20 fan in the closet. I certainly don't tell many people how much I like it.

That said, we should probably figure out what exactly you want to talk about. How about starting a new thread using one of Ralph's questions or one of your own?


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: thoth on December 03, 2002, 08:25:24 AM
Would this be relevant to this thread:

What is the possibility that d20 actually creates a gateway to other systems?
The reason I ask is because there are a few companies that have their own system, but also put out a d20 version of their material. And they either have conversion rules or they double-stat their creations. Now, the reason I think that d20 will act as a gateway is because people will buy these dual-system books for d20, see the other (original) system, and at least be intrigued, and maybe even become a fan or switch. Basically, i'm thinking other systems will benefit from the size of the d20 market by piggy-backing.

But what are the chances this will not be true because most of the people or the only people who will buy d20-cross-system books from GOO or PEG are already fans or already know of their system?


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: b_bankhead on December 03, 2002, 08:47:49 AM
Quote from: thoth
Would this be relevant to this thread:

What is the possibility that d20 actually creates a gateway to other systems?
The reason I ask is because there are a few companies that have their own system, but also put out a d20 version of their material. And they either have conversion rules or they double-stat their creations. Now, the reason I think that d20 will act as a gateway is because people will buy these dual-system books for d20


  I think any strategy on that base is doomed to failure, on the basis that I think that non D&D d20 will always be a niche.  And that even D&D hasn't fared well in competition for space and dollars in my local shops with Warhammer and the cards.  People keep saying that game is the big gateway into rpgs and I constantly see that gateway is clogged.


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 03, 2002, 08:57:46 AM
I think that Thoth meant a gateway for players who are already RPG gamers, B. Sure, it might not get new players, but you might convert some d20 players. That said, I think that doing this wouldn't be hugely successful, but I also think that it probably wouldn't hurt much to try it.

Mike


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 03, 2002, 09:03:01 AM
Hello,

I agree with b_bankhead that the "piggybacking" idea is probably broken. It strikes me, and has always struck me, that the companies in question are being co-opted.

However, let's break things down a little. There are several variables at work when we talk about D20.

- The direct association with D&D and TSR. Note that the D20 rules are essentially available only by owning the D&D book, not a "generic D20" book.

- The indirect association with D&D and TSR, which is to say, compare that situation with "any ol' generic game system, plug in as you see fit," like Fudge.

- The Open Gaming License, which I understand has undergone a few twists and gyrations in its content. I'd be interested in a direct comparison with the Fudge OGL. (Clinton, you're up on both, right?)

- The actual design of the game I, which one person very close to the design process described as "the groundbreaking RPG design of 1987."

- The actual design of the game II, with special reference to just how generally applicable it is. The use of "levels," for instance, assumes many things about player-character effectiveness relative to play (and length of play).

- Any other aspect which I've missed.

So when people "talk about D20," as far as I can tell, some or all of these get scrambled together.

Best,
Ron


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Matt Wilson on December 03, 2002, 09:27:52 AM
Quote from: thoth
Would this be relevant to this thread:

What is the possibility that d20 actually creates a gateway to other systems?
The reason I ask is because there are a few companies that have their own system, but also put out a d20 version of their material. And they either have conversion rules or they double-stat their creations. Now, the reason I think that d20 will act as a gateway is because people will buy these dual-system books for d20, see the other (original) system, and at least be intrigued, and maybe even become a fan or switch. Basically, i'm thinking other systems will benefit from the size of the d20 market by piggy-backing.

But what are the chances this will not be true because most of the people or the only people who will buy d20-cross-system books from GOO or PEG are already fans or already know of their system?


Most of the dual-system books I've seen are of the splatbook type. The trouble I see with that as marketing for your own system is that it's only represented by numbers in the sidebar. All the reader gets to see is what kind of stats you use. If that's your big selling point, great. If not, well...

What might work - and maybe you meant this in the first place - would be an appendix that briefly explains what your system is like, and why the players might have more fun using it.


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: greyorm on December 03, 2002, 10:53:38 AM
Let's all give Jack a chance to respond to what he means by "intelligently discuss D20", what aspects of it he's looking to discuss, before we flood the discussion with variables.

Jack, yes, I am very willing to intelligently discuss it and quite a few items I find both attractive and repulsive about the system and play (one of the latter which I am considering posting in Actual Play).

Like Clinton, I'm a D20 fan, though obviously not in the closet about it (as I've posted the results of our weekly D20 game here before). So fire away, Jack!


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: xiombarg on December 03, 2002, 11:26:57 AM
Quote from: greyorm
Jack, yes, I am very willing to intelligently discuss it and quite a few items I find both attractive and repulsive about the system and play (one of the latter which I am considering posting in Actual Play).

Like Clinton, I'm a D20 fan, though obviously not in the closet about it (as I've posted the results of our weekly D20 game here before). So fire away, Jack!
I'm on board with this as well. I WANT to discuss D20 without some of the baggage most people bring to it, positive or negative.

I'll even state my position on D20: It's the best D&D ruleset ever. For D&D style fantasy, it's excellent. And I think it can and does support other forms of fantasy with ease -- just because D&D is "back to the dungeon" doesn't mean the system doesn't support more than that. (After all, Jonathon Tweet had a hand in designing it...) For other genres, like modern-day espionage, I don't think it does so well. (Mixed-genres, like Dragonstar-style "D&D in space" work pretty well, tho.)

(I mention this less for discussion and more to indicate my willingness to participate in a discussion, and as an admission as to bias.)


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Blake Hutchins on December 03, 2002, 03:32:10 PM
I'd like to discuss it too, mainly because I find myself wanting to like d20 for some ungodly reason, but continually running into concrete (for me) reasons to stay the hell away from it.  I think a discussion about the system itself, its results in actual play, and the OGL would be diverting.

Best,

Blake


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 03, 2002, 03:45:26 PM
Hi there,

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, let's discuss D20! (Were people waiting to hear me say that for some reason?)

Kick it off, Jack. We're interested. My only suggestion is to be really clear about which aspect of D20 (see my list above) is the topic.

Best,
Ron


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: xiombarg on December 03, 2002, 03:56:53 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, let's discuss D20! (Were people waiting to hear me say that for some reason?)
Damn, Ron, you beat me to it. I was about to post the same thing when I saw your post. ;-D

Any of the aspects of D20 mentioned so far interest me, and since I just came out of a D&D3E Planescape campaign where I tried my damnest to break the system, and I'm moving on to a more sophisticated, protaganist-driven (for D&D) Scarred Lands game, I think I have something to contribute...


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on December 03, 2002, 09:09:42 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Kick it off, Jack. We're interested. My only suggestion is to be really clear about which aspect of D20 (see my list above) is the topic.


I'd say it's already been kicked off, myself. Many have already suggested several decent topics. So grab one, start a thread in the appropriate forum and go, baby, go. I just wanted to see if it would get started and at least one thread got started. So don't be shy.


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Eric J. on December 04, 2002, 11:01:07 PM
What do I think? Well since I asked:

D20 is one of the most visible changes in the path that RPGaming has taken in the history of its existance.  I don't know if it can be handled in a single thread, but if Ron says that it's okay, it's fine with me.

D20 is simple.  It's really simple.  I mean, if you don't abuse the simplicity it is REALLLY simple.  This allows for quick play and contibutes to goal driven play.

D20 is not the ultimate RPG system.  It isn't, and if you say that it is, you haven't played it or are using a different definition.  It's simplicity and rules heavy style can be a curse for many settings, or premises.

Summary?:  Excellent for D&D, sucks for much they try to market it for?

Is that entirellley accurate?  No.  Is it a very brief summary of my opinion?  Yes.


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Jeremy Cole on December 05, 2002, 04:53:12 AM
Maybe the best way to discuss D20 is to detail all of its most noticeable elements, what makes it D20.

Hit points
Character classes
Levels
Xp mostly for killing things
Spell lists
Miniature based combat
Combat based on player skill, largely team oriented

Now I'll be the first to admit that I haven't played much D20, 1 campaign of classic D20 that bored me stupid, and I haven't read any of the D20 or D&D books.  As such, this list is probably missing something, or including something it shouldn't.


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Eric J. on December 05, 2002, 09:03:33 PM
Personally, I think that Spell List is a bit too D&D oriented, and not centeral to the concept, but overall that list is pretty accurate.


Title: Can we intelligently discuss d20?
Post by: Evan Waters on December 06, 2002, 11:06:09 AM
Huge D20 fan here. I think D&D3e's one of the best games on the market, and it's easily my system of choice for most fantasy campaigns. (I've generally held off on buying new fantasy games since getting it, unless they're as radically different as something like ARS MAGICA or EXALTED.)

The d20 system is one I like for a lot of reasons. It's simpler than the length of its rulebooks would make you think; so many of the rules are for reference if you want to know how something affects a situation, not so much how to do something. If you want to know how the fog on the Forbidden Swamp affects combat, you can look up cover and concealment effects; if you don't, it won't hurt the functioning of the game any.

The d20 system in general I think is best for high-adventure, action heavy settings- "cinematic" games, if you understand what I mean by that. I like how it's used in STAR WARS quite a bit, and material in that vein tends to work. That said I'm also interested in the somewhat more radical adaptations (d20 CALL OF CTHULHU, d20 THE END, etc.) simply because they make nice acid tests for the system.

Its effect on the industry- I'd say an overall good so far, primarily because 3rd Edition apparently got some new blood into the hobby (or at least lured back some who'd drifted away.) The whole OGL thing is currently useful for other companies as a revenue source; fortunately I think everyone is at least somewhat aware of it being a bubble, and of the fact that they shouldn't bet the farm on it. (I draw this conclusion because that possibility seems to come up in every single d20 discussion I've seen on any message boards- I haven't seen anyone saying "we could print a million d20 modules and they'd all sell out!") I don't see d20 ever really forcing other systems out of the market- not even Microsoft has managed that, and they've got much more leverage. Game systems are different from OSes and video formats, because there's more willingness to diversify on the part of the customer.

There are some potential drawbacks to d20's dominant position, but I don't see things getting too bad just yet.