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Homebrew PnP Rpg system discussion

Discussion in 'The Gazebo' started by 1111111111, Sep 4, 2020.

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  1. Lukrame Savant

    Lukrame
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    Has anyone here tried to create their own home-brew system?

    How did the attempt at creating it go? What did you dislike about conventional systems (Dnd, Ars Magica, etc.) that made you go out to make one yourself? What sort of mechanics and features did you try to innovate? Do you like having classes in RPGs? Or rather go the classless system that's been showing up lately in video games? Did you try to make a deep world and lore or just go with the bare-bones approach?

    Most importantly, did your group enjoy testing your creations out. Was the campaign a success or faliure?

    Lately, I've been trying to formulate a homebrew system myself. However my attempt to be original actually turned into a mediocre modded DnD frankenstein. Needless to say, the lack of inherent reason to justify the Homebrew over the DnD ended the campaign fairely quickly.

    Would like to hear some stories of codexer attempts
     
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  2. Stormcrowfleet Arcane

    Stormcrowfleet
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    1) Has anyone here tried to create their own home-brew system?
    Yes. I did do many systems just for fun, but I'm using a homebrewed hack of OD&D for my main campaign. I'm a lover of homebrew rules for any system I play. I tried doing one from total scratch and tested it out in the past too.

    2) How did the attempt at creating it go?
    Creating is always easy. It's just important to have a structure to follow and stick to your main objectives (what is this game trying to accomplish).

    3) What did you dislike about conventional systems (Dnd, Ars Magica, etc.) that made you go out to make one yourself?
    I like conventional systems too. Generally it's just that each of them focus on some aspect (which is wise), but not on others. And I'd like to see other combination. Also, some of them do things rather poorly for many reason s(sometimes because it's not meant to tackle some specific type of gameplay which I find interesting myself, therefore being a "weakness" of the system for me).

    4) What sort of mechanics and features did you try to innovate?
    I'm not so much a big proponent of "innovation". What I generally see, is that some RPG system doesn't provide procedures to tackle certain aspect of the players interaction with the fiction. Sometimes it's not important, but sometimes it is. Those procedures are important because, to me, they influence the way the players will perceive and play the game. For example, playing OD&D with a focus on player agency and "thinking outside the box" with deep roots in wargaming is objectively different than playing D&D5th with a more heroic/individual approach. I'm not saying that one is strictly better, but it changes how the RPG is played at the table and what kind of engagement (or "fun" if you prefer) is met.

    5) Do you like having classes in RPGs? Or rather go the classless system that's been showing up lately in video games?
    Yes. I don't have a problem with either. When I was young and playing AD&D, doing LARPs (with classes) and RP MMO with classes (Ultima Online private shards), I developped a very fond memory of classes because it help differentiate how you interact with the world and makes it easier to create a more mythological/legendary feeling (i.e. structuring play as a "story" without having to invent all kinds of "storygame" mechanics). If you play a "Knight", you know what's up. That being said, I'm also a big fan of classless, even if I think it's for different purpose. I generally feel that CRPG do classless better, because you are alone and can define more thoroughly your character's action to interact with the world. Whereas in P&P, some strategy end up showing up more and things become more blurry. Also, classes have a nice link/touch with regards to wargaming (ship classes are easily definable, but also just "troop types" on the battlefield).

    6) Did you try to make a deep world and lore or just go with the bare-bones approach?
    One of my homebrew was Age of Decadence set in P&P with a homemade system. It lasted a couple of game and faded into oblivion afterwards. I liked having a deep lore within grasp. My own OD&D homebrew is tapping more into common tropes (fantasy world within an Arthurian setting). I'm of the opinion that you don't need a huge setting to play RPG*. To craft a system and share it might be different unless you want to sell a setting-less RPG, but I feel there was a lot of those recently.

    7) Most importantly, did your group enjoy testing your creations out. Was the campaign a success or faliure?
    My 100% homebrewed system was a failure for multiple reasons, including the system itself. That being said I learned from it. Right now my current OD&D homebrew is doing very well, we've been at it for 2 years (West Marches style campaign). I'm unforntunately moving out soon from my current area, so I'm crafting a new system (this time based on Chainmail) with a new setting for a new campaign if I find the people for it when I move.

    8) Lately, I've been trying to formulate a homebrew system myself. However my attempt to be original actually turned into a mediocre modded DnD frankenstein. Needless to say, the lack of inherent reason to justify the Homebrew over the DnD ended the campaign fairely quickly.
    • You need a reason to have a system as you said. If you don't, then it's better to just modify an existing system. That being said, you need to understand well the "Chesterton's fence" principle, it's crucial.
    • You need to playtest it a lot. Playtest it alone, running through whatever adventure you think is suited for your system (dungeons? cities? wilderness? mystery? etc.), then try to find 1-2 friend to test out the core aspects afterwards. Then you can integrate it into a campaign.
    • It's important to understand that D&D didn't evolve out of thin air: war gaming, Braunstein, ship battle, etc. It all played out. When you create an RPG system, it's important to ask yourself: what kind of tabletop play am I trying to reach? What is missing elsewhere? What do I want to achieve? If the only thing that changes is using one type of dice over another, I believe it's worthless. It's about subsystems, procedures, resources, player agency (i.e. the kind of action the player can take), etc. For example, give me any setting and I can run you a OD&D game through it with minimal effort or game changes. That being said, it will always be the same kind of game (dungeoncrawling heroic adventuring), even if it's set in a spaceship as a Space Marine, in a modern building as a Street Samurai, in a cavern as a wolf, etc. And that's because OD&D is a game with a special focus and special influence that "direct" the players action toward a loose kind of objective that the Referee takes care of within his fiction.
    *Something I wrote about that: https://psionicblastfromthepast.blogspot.com/2020/05/how-to-create-campaign-in-few-hours.html
     
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  3. WetWorks Arcane Patron

    WetWorks
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    I've created quite a few homebrewed systems, during my decades as pnp gamer.
    First one was probably "star battle" - cold war russians and americans duke it out on a giant space station after murdering earth.
    It was probably bad - dont remember the system as such, though there was a random char generation system where you could end up as morbidly obese.
    Good times.

    Im currently making a warhammer fantasy roleplay dice pool version. Playtest is scheduled for december, where we will see if ive managed to keep alive that old world feel.
    My reasons for making my own wfrp, was that i discovered the percentile based expetience, felt wrong for the kind of game i wanted. I wanted granular with custmization.
    4rth ed wfrp is a complete waste of space. From a design stabdpoint, they have introduced loads of trackables: little mod8fiers you have to remember as a gm.

    After 30 years of pnp, i consider excessive tracking the biggest flaw in pnp design.
    No, its not compilcated math, customization or granularity that breaks games, its those niggling modifiers, talents and traits that pile on.
    Trackables must be minimal, simplified and intuitive - otherwise they break the gm, hence the game.

    Dicepool is my preferred system, rather single rolls. I dont mind classes - though it sometimes feels to "gamey".
     
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  4. Stormcrowfleet Arcane

    Stormcrowfleet
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    I'd be interested in looking at your wfrp game if you don't mind. It's actually something I think was missing from the genre. Early D&D was basically Chainmail-as-RPG. I feel Warhammer Fantasy-as-RPG is something that was never done (I say this because I feel whfrpg is actually a quite different beast with very different concerns and focus as the tabletop game, especially because of the deep customization and the d%).
     
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  5. Cool name Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Cool name
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    sort of. There's a certain grey area where it's difficult to say whether it's more appropriate to call what you've constructed "heavily modified [system]" or homebrew. On one hand I started with an existing system as a base so I'm not sure that really counts, but on the other hand enough was altered that it's more different from the original than several commercially released systems are from one another.

    the motive was wanting an RPG for a specific setting, without half assing it with a generic system which 'sort of' fits. also crushing early lockdown boredom.

    changes to the base system mechanics and balance revolved around making them more consistent with the setting and its themes. Very little was outright innovation; most new mechanics were heavily influenced by something similar in some other system, and balance+item design is less a matter of creativity than just drawing from setting source material and shifting numbers around until things perform as they should in testing. anydice was a nice tool for this, made it easy to quickly get bell curves for most gameplay scenarios.

    classes were a 'sort of'. I went the route of a 'class' allowing a player to get certain character traits/skills more affordably, but still able to get those of a different class at higher cost should they be the correct level and wish to. This would be at GM discretion, given that some skills and traits would make less sense than others to find outside certain sorts of person, and would require justification on the player's part.

    have not playtested with human beings yet, would want to get it tidier and better presented before doing so. I think I have a decent idea what the strengths and weaknesses will be though, thanks to knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the base system, autistic number-crunching for all basic balancing shifts, and careful consideration of the various knock-on effects of the mechanics I have added or removed. Other things have come up in life that are taking priority, but once I get back to it I could probably have it ready for playtesting in a weekend of effort.
     
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  6. WetWorks Arcane Patron

    WetWorks
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    When i get around to collecting the system in a ledgible and single file, i'd be happy to hear your input and thoughts on the mechanics.

    Probably have something ready this weekend.
     
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  7. ArisatoSeldom Novice

    ArisatoSeldom
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    Don't know if you looked it up, but there is 3.5 supplement which is using dicepool for combat called Codex Martialis. It could give you some additional ideas.

    Codex Martialis makes melee combat so fun and diverse (once you learn it) and also keeps it highly tactical, even allowing quite engaging PVP. I have adapted it to use with Pathfinder UAE, which allow me to keep things simple enough for new players and myself, but, sadly, it caused the loss of original idea of the supplement.
     
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  8. Stormcrowfleet Arcane

    Stormcrowfleet
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    Didn't know about that one. I'm really intrigued. I'll look it up. It's one of the reasons why for OD&D I use Chainmail combat: very engaging dice pool system that's easy to learn and goes very fast (gotta go fast).
     
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  9. Lagi Savant

    Lagi
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    with Mr. Magniloquent we have a private discussion about making rpg rules that would be suitable for pnp game. Ofc in our opinion :)

    Problem:

    rpg systems are overloaded with rules to track, exceptions to this rules and procedures to follow to determine everything, plus there is multiple unnecessary rules. Commercial and most homebrew rules look like bloated math/physics books.

    f.ex. grappling rules, stunning rules, horse combat rules, underwater combat rules, encumbrance rules, traveling speeds.

    while during the game majority of players* want just to use single, basic and fast procedure to determine the outcome of action. And would be nice if this check give back believable result so GM doesnt have to correct the outcome.

    *there is always some autistic guys who enjoy this tax codex hell and lots of smart-ass on web forums that comment about advantage of their system. From my observations: Most people want to roll dice, and tell what happened after 4 sec, and they would be very glad if nerd-player dont spend half hour making his own rolls, calculating tons of factors.

    f.ex.
    use table to compare your strength to get % of opening door.
    Wanna capture troll into thrown net? Make agility test, I test troll dodge, then test net toughness, I make troll strength test ...
    Clumsy Barbarian [-3 even handicapped] and Agile Rouge with Fine Tools and Lockpick Skills [+7] trying to open chest [15]. Barbarian roll 18 , Rouge roll 6. GM: "Rouge reroll, you have advantage because ...eee... you feel lucky today"

    -----------------------------
    here is my attempt so far

    after tests
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    - narrative rules (make dice pool, pick up one dice, check if this dice roll less than attribute) are quite ok.
    - combat rules need massive amount of rolls all the time (initiative, hit, damage, save rolls, for each combatant, every time), that's why the narrative test cannot apply to tactical combat.
    - making dice pool for each combat check (hit, damage, save) for each participant is instantly wearing.
    - tactical combat should be streamlined. To even 1 roll per combatant. Sacrificing the depth of weapon and armor types, or maneuvers subtleties - [yeah i know, what a heresy :cry:].
    - canceling dices are probably better than removing extreme dice results -> 2 penalties , 1 advantage = roll 2 dice, take worse. Instead roll 4 dice, remove 2 best and 1 worst result, keep remaining result (2,5,11,19 = 11).

    - damage rules are wrong, comparing each time attacker and defender items, rolling for victim attribute and making dice pool. take too long. I would like to merge damage with hit roll somehow.
    So it look like this:
    1. goblin attack Cleric.
    2. 1 roll (not sure with how many dice), compare result with some stats
    3. Cleric is lightly wounded, take 1 fatigue. Goblin trip at fall to the ground.
     
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  10. Semper Arbiter

    Semper
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    you just need to adapt the narration to the given situation the dice create. perhaps the rogue is somewhere else with his mind, or still injured and not concentrated while trying to fiddle with the complex lock. the barbarian is annoyed waiting, grabs the chest and smashes it right into the next wall. or play with failing forward - the rogue fails his roll? he get's the chest open but it will cost him something. this can be time (roll for wandering monsters), health (he did not notice the trap), an item (his tools crack), temporary abillity damage (angry because of this damn lock... -1 wis), chest contains less loot, etc.

    i don't believe this. everything can be condensed into a single roll. the narration sets the given probability and then it's just rolling and interpreting the new situation in a logical way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
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  11. Lagi Savant

    Lagi
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    Fair enough.

    what i was trying to say: in rpg when you creating a specialized type of hero, that is just best of the best (and using best items, have other advantage) in his field. He still somehow has a significant chance of failure. Moreover according to dice he has to compete with some cripples, who can do the task he is not able to do.

    Extreme example:
    Troll, a massive 1,5 tone, 4.5 m high, bulky cast of muscles and bones.
    according to DnD monster manual has 18 str = +4. But let say our troll, hit gym twice a weak and he has 20 str = +5

    our troll would be lifting boulder with some common human peasant. Screw it, let it be malnourished, female human. 6 str = -2.

    ...everybody know where is this going, so lets go to rhetorical questions

    "but you can explain this by narration..."
    no. Thats not the point. Im speaking about result from mechanic only. and this is the issue also, GM need to save the reality of his game by adding narrative factors to explain the rolls

    "why do you even allow such rolls? are you stupid, it need common sense. those stats are for combat"
    Sure, you need to treat stats as the average for this creature. Same if f.ex Agility determine speed, then dog less agile than human, would still be faster.
    Also thats why i said pnp RPG have 2x layers, that need 2x different rules. Tactical combat, and narrative.

    "maybe because we dont know the exact weight and grip possibilities of this stone?"
    I guess it would be sensible to roll a dice once (let say D20=13, DT is 17), and then compare this result with stats of everyone who wish to try to lift it (Instead rolling again for every contestant). This way our woman will never be able to lift a rock, that is not-liftable by troll.


    I agree with you. If you discard tactical combat. But i would said majority of players, want to place the miniatures on some map, count the distances, admire the environment, and use every +1 bonus from their equipment, skill or feats.

    or you keep even the tactical combat, but you remove all the nuances between axe dealing more damage, but being slower, than sword. Extra reach of spear or streamline the armor - and squeeze all the attack procedure into single roll that return the result: "did you hurt the target or not?". Again I think most of players would feel disappointed ("it doesn't matter what hand weapon I'm using?!"), but on the other hand in practice it doesn't matter if player wear Chainmail or Scalemail. This just slow the game.
     
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  12. Semper Arbiter

    Semper
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    one needs context to give a good example - but if players ignore facts of the world they're playing in, like having a low str and trying to lift a boulder, then the dm has to get creative. let them roll, but let them know beforehand that the best their char is able to do in that situation is lifting one edge of the boulder one inch above ground. when they fail their roll, they will mostly suffer a serious injury, like smashing their foot. the troll does not need to roll. be consistant here: if the troll doesn't need to test his strength, neither should a char with a strength of 20 in a similar situation.

    the better the player describes his action, including all tactics, the better the chances are to succeed. and yes, it matters what your character is wearing, because that establishes the narration and what your character is able to do in the fiction. i agree that rules heavy systems are not the best to introduce narration heavy ruling systems.
     
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  13. Bohrain Savant Patron

    Bohrain
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    The group I played with only did homebrews. Classless systems with D&D 3.5ed on it's base and later on simplified d6 based system. Main stats were rolled like in D&D, but instead of classes you customized your characters with perks to work towards the archetype you wanted.
    I think the main appeal was that you could do your own setting without any regards to any established lore or canon of a commercial setting, as well as some particular thing in the rules like dead ranges in primary stats in D&D.
     
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