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What's your favorite "DnD / fantasy RPG for dummies" article or rulebook intro

Discussion in 'The Gazebo' started by Curratum, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    Looking to put together a RPG for my son and I don't want to come up with another "how to play tabletop RPGs" on my own because I'm sure many great ones exist out there.

    Got any recommendations, the sort of stuff you'd give to an absolute beginner who never played before and can't just be fed class tables and rules from the very first pages.
     
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  2. Lagi Savant

    Lagi
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    Microlite20 purest essence.
     
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  3. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    I already have all the rules, enemies and spells I need, I just need a very basic "what's an rpg and how to play it".
     
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  4. udm Arcane Patron

    udm
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    How old is your kid?
     
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  5. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    Will probably be 7 by the time I format everything and put together the artwork and text.
     
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  6. Jacob All Men Are King Kong Patron

    Jacob
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy
    I wouldn't want to teach my children lame soy shit like D&D, tbh.
     
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  7. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    I'm glad you came to this enlightened decision. The game I have is a system that uses a D20 and that's about the last thing it has in common with D&D apart from the monster names.
     
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  8. Zed Duke of Banville Zo Kath Ra Patron

    Zed Duke of Banville
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    [​IMG]

    The Dungeons & Dragons 1983 Frank Mentzer "Red Box" Basic Rules starts with a narrative presentation of the basic RPG concepts (attributes, hit points, rolling to hit, saving throws) followed by a somewhat less simple CYOA-format small dungeon before presenting class tables and so forth. The best introduction to RPGs ever created, and with stellar B&W interior art by Larry Elmore and Jeff Easley.
     
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  9. udm Arcane Patron

    udm
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    Three options I can think of:
    1. Use a Choose Your Own Adventure book as a starter. There is a Dragonlark sub-series which is very good for kids as it has friendly and vibrant background images.
    2. Consider showing your boy some scenes from The Gamers. I would show the tavern scene where they steal the guy's pants and the part with the Bandit King. There are some parts with expletives, so you'll want to skip those.
    3. Assuming you want to show what fantasy is all about, I recently started watching The Dragon Prince and it's got all the trappings of a D&D setting. It even includes meta elements like one episode where Callum tells the group how to do "combat" optimally based on their roles. It has some wokeness in there due to being a Netflix production but I found it to be tolerable. Otherwise, you can always fall back on Avatar: The Last Airbender.
     
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  10. Gregz Arcane

    Gregz
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    AdvancedHero keeps praising Dungeons & Dragons B/X for its simplicity, maybe he can explain.
     
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  11. AdvancedHero Arbiter

    AdvancedHero
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    I do think B/X is the best tabletop game, and it has been recently organized into a compilation called "Old-School Essentials", which formats everything so that all relevant rules to a specific subject fit on 2 pages. This way there is no flipping back and forth trying to reference hidden rules.

    But it looks like OP has already decided against using D&D.

    I would have to second Zed though; Mentzer's Basic D&D book has a great section that explains the concept of role-playing that assumes you are not familiar with it at all.
     
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  12. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    I snagged Mentzer's red book last night, thanks, guys!

    I haven't decided against using D&D, I just bastardized and simplified it to kingdom come.

    My system is more or less D&D but without any of the hassle. Just humans, dwarves and elves. Single D20 roll for all tasks, roll under your attribute to succeed. Just 3 classes (Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) and 4 attribs, one attrib for each class and CON for all resist and endurance checks, poison, hunger, swimming, etc. One universal "magic" class so no need for WIS. CHA was always pointless in early DnD anyway. No clerics because religion in RPGs is not a great idea with children, I feel.

    I stole all monster skills and flavor from 5E but an ochre jelly looks like this:

    Skill: 12 (roll under that to hit players or roll under when monster is making a saving throw)
    Armor: 1 (when rolling under your STR for melee hit, rolls up to enemy armor value are misses, so enemy armor is baked into the player's attack roll, while the player is still rolling against their own attrib)
    Health: 7 - 11 (at DM's discretion)
    Damage: 1d6

    Immunity: Immune to lightning and bladed weapons.
    Amorphous: Cannot be critted or backstabbed.
    Splitting: Lightning or blade damage causes it to split in two, each at half of its original HP.
     
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  13. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    I think I covered more or less all the good stuff that makes DnD fun with those rules. You crit when you roll EXACTLY your attribute, because 20 is a fumble (roll under) and 1 is usually inside the enemy's armor range.

    Max player level is 10, you get perks / new abilities on each level or each two levels for casters. E.g. fighter gets immunity to all mind control and fear effects on level 5. No modifiers, no math, everything is just adv/disadv. A bit swingy, perhaps, but I like swingy and I hate modifiers.

    No spell slots but magic points, at 3 + caster lvl. 5 spell levels / circles. Spell cost equals spell level, but the caster tries to roll under INT when casting to reduce cost. Lvl 1 spells can't become free, but 2nd and 3rd level spells cost just 1 on a successful roll, 4th and 5th cost just 2 on success. If you're pushing yourself, casting a 4th level with just 2 points, hoping to make it and fail, the spell does come out but you exert yourself and do self damage equal to spell level.

    And now the ultimate heresy - damage is class based, with d8, d6 and d4 for each class. But let's not mince words, using the weapons you're proficient with in early DnD, you always have more or less the same damage dice anyway! :D

    Long story short, I spend 10 years reading every retroclone in the world, and then mashed together all the stuff that seemed compatible that I liked and was as simple as possible, then made some tweaks on top and that's the end result.
     
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  14. AdvancedHero Arbiter

    AdvancedHero
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    Class based damage was actually a common houserule in early D&D; many OSR players still use it.

    A lot of your rules actually parallel the rules of B/X; I highly recommend looking into it if your son wants to get a little deeper into it.
     
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  15. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    I had considered that, even downloaded and skimmed through Old School Essentials. There are a few too many tables for my liking in that. I understand it can be pared down but still...
     
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  16. Lagi Savant

    Lagi
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    Your rules are good one. For sure much better than any D&D. Mr. Magniloquent recently reveal some of his rules - that was great imo. it seems that people that wasted years on pnp rpg, are coming to similar conclusions "What make a good rpg".
    • you have only clearly define attributes (merge of int,wis,char)
    • your test is super simple and fast to execute. Still has crits and fumble that nicely spice up results. Your armor and Critcial values are terrific!! simple brilliant.
    • little stats, but each of them are crispy and define character
    • you come to conclusion that it doesnt matter if one weapon deal k6+1 and other k8. Only book "students" care.
    You find a good spot between [autistic, code of laws merged with high maths formals (still loads of tables for each occasion) ] & [do-whatever-you-want-no-rules-are-needed-only-story-matter-you-dont-need-dice].

    • classes are good. You can have classless system, but its impossible to simulate "archetypical" warrior, knight, cleric, wizard. And even if you find a way to mechanically prevent wizards from wearing heavy armors, and warriors from casting fireballs, players dont want to bother with applying your complicate but balanced rules.

    • i always "feel" that magic should be connected to a person. "I cannot hold this spell any more" kind of thing, Do as long as you want, till you get exhausted. Instead this vancian : "you can load any type of bullets into your "launcher"; but you need reload after". Plus magic arouses fear, it feels natural, that fumbled spell should bring terrible consequences.

    • loads of skills, perks - that also describes a character.

    post link to your pdf, pls.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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  17. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    Thanks for the kind words. However, the text is not fully done yet and it's not in English, sadly. :(
     
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  18. Vapid Educated

    Vapid
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    The biggest problem with D&D is its popularity: your kid, if he develops interest in RPGs, will come across D&D sooner or later. Most games available on the market are better than D&D in every conceivable aspect, so why taint your kid's gaming taste with nostalgia for shit (lots of people insist on playing D&D because it was their first RPG and refuse to look any further for something else). So if you show him some other games, by the time he encounters D&D he'll know it's subpar.

    Unless you insist on using "funny dice", I recommend Heroes & Other Worlds. It's a retroclone of The Fantasy Trip (Melee / Wizard). Very easy to run, uses only d6s. Both pdf and a hardback are available via lulu.com. A bit pricey in my opionion, but still worth it.

    Alternatively, you might have a look at Legends of the Ancient World (pdf is free: http://www.darkcitygames.com/docs/Legends.pdf ), it is a retroclone of TFT as well, the rules are condensed to 7 pages so it lacks the "meat" but it's very much playable.

    Other than that, if your kid were a bit older I would HIGHLY recommend "Age of Shadow RPG" ( https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/93513/The-Age-of-Shadow-Roleplaying-Game ). The game is a descendant of BRP / Runequest system so it's percentile-based, but very streamlined and elegantly lite. The pdf is free.
     
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  19. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    I'm afraid I don't share your view on D&D. To me D&D is still THE roleplaying game. I don't mean WotC's D&D or 3.5 or even any particular version of the old rules, but the spirit and flavor of the game.

    D&D is a d20 and an owlbear and CON rolls for poison and kobold hordes and nasty, trap-ridden tunnels.

    I have no love for anything Steve Jackson has ever produced so anything based even loosely on his work is a hard pass for me. Just glancing over the Legends of the Ancient World PDF made my stomach turn, to be honest. :(

    I've pretty much gone through every rules-light system on DTRpg and mentioned on blogs and I've just decided to cobble together my own, while making it resemble D&D in flavor as much as I can, because to me tabletop RPG is D&D. Maybe I'm nostalgic and old fashioned, but that's that. I have read dozens and dozens of other rule systems over the past 10 or so years, so I wouldn't say I stick to D&D for lack of familiarity with other rules.
     
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  20. Vapid Educated

    Vapid
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    It's not like I *hate* D&D or something. It's just every time I really want to get into the game I get pissed off by some nonsensical bullshit. I like class-based games, I like the concept of XPs, I like levelling up, etc., but all the small mechanical quirks in D&D just bring my piss to a boil. AC - complete nonsense (try to create an efficient Conan-like bare chested warrior in older editions; you can't because AC is directly related to the armor your PC is wearing); HP - nonsense: even after almost 50 years D&D players can't decide what it *really* represents (how come a character, upon advacement to second level, can suddenly take twice the physical abuse?). And so on, and so on... I could go on for hours, but what's the point? Anyone familliar with D&D knows this.

    One more try, maybe: Dragon Warriors RPG. An old-school British RPG (first published in mid-80s). It is class-based, it has levels, XP and so on. Very well written, very flavorful. The game mechanics are comparable to B/X in terms of complexity. The current edition is basically a reformatted text of the original books, so it's true to the source material. You can get it at Drivethrurpg (I think the core rulebook is PWYW).
     
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  21. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    Read DW as well. A bit too low-magic and too peasants vs the world for me. Love the Bloodsword gamebooks that used a simplified version of it though.

    I also have Advanced Fighting Fantasy, the full-fledged system used in the Jackson and Livingstone FF gamebooks and it's great but it has too much fiddly magic and skills. Why have skills for climbing and athletics when you can just make a DEX roll?
     
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  22. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    What if I um... Run the ruleset I have through google translate and post it here? :D
     
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  23. Vapid Educated

    Vapid
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    Shit, son... do it. :)
     
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  24. Curratum Cipher

    Curratum
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    I tried it. It's too terrible a sight for human eyes to behold! :D

    The four attributes are translated differently on different pages, makes it a bitch to read. Advantage and disadvantage are positive and negative dice, but I guess that's intuitive enough...

    Whole thing is a mess...
     
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