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Subject: Converting a RPG into a board game? rss

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Glenn Laurent
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Growing up, I dabbled in RPGs, most notably the original D&D. I loved the dungeon-crawl aspect, increasing the power of my characters, learning new spells, fighting more difficult monsters, and solving quests/puzzles along the way. I also loved having dice introduce a random element into the game, with cetain probabilities of success for certain actions.

My problem is that I HATE the "making-things-up-as-you-go" aspect of the game. I need a game to be fully constrained in one's actions and the corresponding results. Having an infinite number of actions at you disposal, with the DM just deciding on his own what "reasonable" outcomes are associated with them just irritates me. Sure, a good DM will keep the game flowing fine, but something about him having control over the flow of the game just doesn't sit quite right with me.

I liked games such as Heroquest, which was a pseudo-RPG board game. It was better contrained, and while there was still a DM (which I like), he couldn't willy-nilly control the reactions of NPC and monsters. Neverthless I'd like a slightly more complex game, with more options available to the players, and more character skills/items development.

My question is, are there any resources for turning a game like D&D into a Pseudo-RPG board game? I love the heavy rule books associated with D&D, but have had a difficult time running them without "creativity".

Please don't suggest games like Heroscape, Dungeoneer, Descent, or Dungeons and Dragons Basic Game, as I don't think that they fit the bill.


 
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Swood
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I know exactly what you mean. Especially with the "making-things-up-as-you-go" comment. I have recently been feeling the exact same way. I like the idea of D&D, but a successful game requires the dedication of one person to do an immense amount of preparation and demonstrate on-the-fly creativity. I too, longed for a game that felt like D&D, but without all the mess.

I just bought RuneBound a few days ago in hopes to fulfilling this desire. I've only played one short half-game with my wife to test out the rules... but it seems to fit the bill. The game itself is your DM. While it's not as rich in depth as a good D&D game could be... it is still pretty good. And I'm sure it would be better with more players.

And there's a ton of expansions you can get to um... expand the game experience.

 
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Billy Compton
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I've got and played RUNEBOUND (2nd Ed.) too, but it just doesn't capture the feeling of a real DND game. The closest board game I think that does this is Warhammer Quest. Alas, I think even it fails once you start getting up in levels and having to deal with every monster having tons of magic items with 1-6 effects each and so on. Combat becomes cumbersome at that level.

However, the early level play of Warhammer Quest is just outrageous fun. Just be prepared to open your wallet wide to pick up a copy and the expansions though. There is tons of replayability with it.
 
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Chris B
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I've never played this, but it maybe what your looking for: Dungeon Bash
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/17720
 
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Glenn Laurent
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Steven & Billy --

I don't actually mind having a DM for a game, I actually quite enjoy it. I would just like to figure out a way to keep things controlled enough to avoid having to make stuff up. While I haven't actually played it, I feel that Runebound would lose something without the DM (lack of detailed puzzles/quests?). The AI DM of WarhammerQuest (through cards and dice rolls) is interesting, but I wonder if it loses something by not having a pre-defined dungeon that has items and monsters placed in specific locations (which adds to the "storyline" of the game).

I'm wondering if it would be possible to strip down D&D (basic or "AD&D") into its most basic rules and stick to them without having too much subjectivity.
 
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Glenn Laurent
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ced1106 wrote:
Hmm. I need a better idea of what you're looking for. IMO, Dungeon Crawling and levelling-up isn't RPG, but that sounds like what you're looking for. The games you mention that we shouldn't suggest *do* have "constraint", so clarify how they are not satisfactory games.


Yes -- dungeon crawling and leveling up is what I am looking for -- but on a more complex level. I like having the thief climbing walls, hundreds of spells, experience points, skills development, quests to complete, but even Heroquest (or Advanced Heroquest) is a bit limited in it's scope.

I guess I'm looking for the Heroquest equivalent to Advanced Squad Leader. Lots and lots of rules to immerse me into the game. I like the idea of DM-ing and spending several hours preparing for the game. I just don't like the lack of constraints in D&D. I simply don't want to make stuff up as I go along.

I'm dissappointed that HeroQuest isn't made anymore. While I could pick it up on the used market, I sure would like to move forward with a game that is in print (like somehow converting D&D/"AD&D" into more of a board game).
 
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Glenn Laurent
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Another comment--

I like that the newest release of D&D3.5 has stressed the miniatures aspect of the game. The movement between characters seems to have more of a board game / wargame feel to it, as melee now requires precise movements of the characters/monsters. I don't remember the original D&D or AD&D having this manuvering aspect of the game.

 
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James
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Glenn, how does Descent or Dungeons and Dragons Basic Game (I've played neither) not fit the bill for you? Isn't Dungeons and Dragons Basic Game (I think Wizards has a more updated version now that comes with the Player's Handbook) just a stripped down version of D&D?
 
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Bob Wilson
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This title is a little obscure, but it gives a lot of the feel you're looking for, without any of the "acting" or "make it up fast" of true RPG's....

Hack N' Slash Hack N' Slash

Only four people on the Geek have it listed in their collections, and the publisher appears to be out of business, so I think I'm lucky to own it...

Played it two player only so far. It's got a mix of component quality, and the box looks just like a Cheapass Game box... but it has 10-times the fun I experienced playing Descent: Journeys in the Dark, which is an $80 game.

 
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Glenn Laurent
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watcher_b wrote:
Glenn, how does Descent or Dungeons and Dragons Basic Game (I've played neither) not fit the bill for you? Isn't Dungeons and Dragons Basic Game (I think Wizards has a more updated version now that comes with the Player's Handbook) just a stripped down version of D&D?


James,

Yes, the D&D basic game is a stripped down version of "AD&D" (although I haven't played the most recent release). But while it's stripped down in complexity, it still encourages making stuff up on-the-fly. In the version that I have, they have an example: One character convinces the orc to give him an item. The DM simply looks at the intelligence and charisma values of the character and orc and makes a judgement call that this is both allowed and will succeed. No tables, no concrete objective rule, just a personal judgement call. With no disrespet to RPG-ers, I just find this disturbing.
 
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Glenn Laurent
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LordBobbio wrote:
This title is a little obscure, but it gives a lot of the feel you're looking for, without any of the "acting" or "make it up fast" of true RPG's....

Hack N' Slash Hack N' Slash



Bob,

Hack N' Slash certainly looks funny for what it is (like Munchkin), but it's a parody of what I'm actually looking for -- A "serious", fairly complex dungeon crawl with character development, quests, and a mildly developing scenerio/plot.
 
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Bob Wilson
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glaurent wrote:
LordBobbio wrote:
This title is a little obscure, but it gives a lot of the feel you're looking for, without any of the "acting" or "make it up fast" of true RPG's....

Hack N' Slash Hack N' Slash



Bob,

Hack N' Slash certainly looks funny for what it is (like Munchkin), but it's a parody of what I'm actually looking for -- A "serious", fairly complex dungeon crawl with character development, quests, and a mildly developing scenerio/plot.


There are some humorous aspects to it, for sure, but I think most of it is confined to flavor text, as I think the game play is closer to the real dungeon romp than is Munchkin. I'm not intereted in trying Munchkin, from what I've read about it, it seems downright silly as a thing to play.

Unfortunately, "serious" can often mean un-necessary complexity and lack of game "flow", as happened with Descent. You're probably searching for something in the middle...

Maybe this Geeklist will help...
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/923
The Definitive DungeonCrawl GeekList

It lists 125 games and/or expansions.
 
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Steffan DelPiano
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Magic Realm, anyone?
The rule book is a sparse 130 or so pages.
12+ characters.
You can play co-op or not if you'd like.
And the action (since it's so detailed) never seems likes it just happens on a dice's or DM's whim.
 
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Seth Iniguez
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I think what you need is a GM who wants to run the type of game that you want to play. Something like Gurps has pretty extensive reaction tables, and results for lots of different interactions. However, you will still run in to times where the GM has to make a decision, such as, just what is the difficulty penalty for some particular action.

If your GM establishes everything in advance, and doesn't allow you to do anything that isn't on his "list", you may be at where you want to be - a RPG type game without arbitrary decisions made in the game.

I don't think any existing board game will capture the constraints and depth that you are after, I think only a human who is willing to run the RPG that you want to play will help you.
 
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Matthew Kloth
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All you have to do is limit the DMs power. Keep using D&D, and change a few things.

First, the Players (this is all the guys at the table including the DM) have a say in how non-combat things work. There are no social rolls. You don't roleplay buying stuff from a store. Stuff in the book has a price list and that's what's used. The DMG has an availability system if you want to use that. If a PC wants to buy a castle he automatically gets it since it doesn't add to combat effectiveness. Does he want to marry the princess, he automatically gets to. Anything that doesn't add to combat effectiveness is just theme/background/fluff. If one player wants to be the half-son of a dead god let him. He doesn't get any stat bonuses or anything, it's just flavortext.

Second, the "Adventures" the party goes on should be discussed ahead of time. It depends on how much you want the DM to have control. You can let him make it up all by himself, or at the end of every game session you can talk about what you want to do next time. DMs like suggestions anyway since it makes their job easier (or at least I do). You can tie it into the flavortext of your characters if you want to. Suggest that your princess wife gets kidnap or some evil cult wants to trick your character into a trap so they can get some of his half-god blood. Suggest an adventure in a jungle with lizardmen, or a sailing adventure with pirates.

Third, the DM has limited amount of resources. He only gets X amount of CR to put in the Adventure. Make it 1 levels worth of XP. He designs the challenges and you send your PCs into it. For easy bookkeeping don't keep track of experience points, just add a level if you defeat the adventure. This helps so the DM doesn't haggle with if you defeated something by sneaking past it, or how much something should be worth. Play everything by the book.

Fourth, everything by the book. The DM doesn't just get to make anything he wants up. Jumping across a chasm has a specific target number based on the formula in the book. Stick to the book. If the DM is going to put things like boulders blocking doorways then he needs to set the weight before the game starts. Then you can determine the difficulty of lifting it based on the book and not DM fiat.

Fifth, by the book treasure/wealth. It depends on the group, but you can abstract wealth by just getting however much you're supposed to have at that level (say the king gives you rewards for your adventures), or you can go with putting the treasure in the adventure for you to find (but this will under power you since you most likely won't find 100% of it).

The game will basically be the PCs making whatever character they want at the appropriate level with the appropriate amount of wealth. The DM makes an adventure for the appropriate level. You send the PCs through it and surviving/succeeding rewards you with another level added to your characters. You can keep using the same PCs from 1st level to 20th for an epic campaign, or you can change it up every week with new characters at a chosen level.
There's an RPG called Rune that has a structure kinda like this.
 
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Bob Wilson
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MusedFable wrote:
All you have to do is limit the DMs power. Keep using D&D, and change a few things.

First, the Players (this is all the guys at the table including the DM) have a say in how non-combat things work. There are no social rolls. You don't roleplay buying stuff from a store. Stuff in the book has a price list and that's what's used. The DMG has an availability system if you want to use that. If a PC wants to buy a castle he automatically gets it since it doesn't add to combat effectiveness. Does he want to marry the princess, he automatically gets to. Anything that doesn't add to combat effectiveness is just theme/background/fluff. If one player wants to be the half-son of a dead god let him. He doesn't get any stat bonuses or anything, it's just flavortext.

Second, the "Adventures" the party goes on should be discussed ahead of time. It depends on how much you want the DM to have control. You can let him make it up all by himself, or at the end of every game session you can talk about what you want to do next time. DMs like suggestions anyway since it makes their job easier (or at least I do). You can tie it into the flavortext of your characters if you want to. Suggest that your princess wife gets kidnap or some evil cult wants to trick your character into a trap so they can get some of his half-god blood. Suggest an adventure in a jungle with lizardmen, or a sailing adventure with pirates.

Third, the DM has limited amount of resources. He only gets X amount of CR to put in the Adventure. Make it 1 levels worth of XP. He designs the challenges and you send your PCs into it. For easy bookkeeping don't keep track of experience points, just add a level if you defeat the adventure. This helps so the DM doesn't haggle with if you defeated something by sneaking past it, or how much something should be worth. Play everything by the book.

Fourth, everything by the book. The DM doesn't just get to make anything he wants up. Jumping across a chasm has a specific target number based on the formula in the book. Stick to the book. If the DM is going to put things like boulders blocking doorways then he needs to set the weight before the game starts. Then you can determine the difficulty of lifting it based on the book and not DM fiat.

Fifth, by the book treasure/wealth. It depends on the group, but you can abstract wealth by just getting however much you're supposed to have at that level (say the king gives you rewards for your adventures), or you can go with putting the treasure in the adventure for you to find (but this will under power you since you most likely won't find 100% of it).

The game will basically be the PCs making whatever character they want at the appropriate level with the appropriate amount of wealth. The DM makes an adventure for the appropriate level. You send the PCs through it and surviving/succeeding rewards you with another level added to your characters. You can keep using the same PCs from 1st level to 20th for an epic campaign, or you can change it up every week with new characters at a chosen level.
There's an RPG called Rune that has a structure kinda like this.


nice suggestions.
 
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Joe Cappello
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Weird.

I've been role-playing for thirty years and have concluded that the most cravenly crappy games I've ever played had to do with a moderator who didn't take the time to come up with an anecdotal basic story line. However, I've also concluded that some of the best games I've played were intimately connected to the moderator's ability to scale the game to the players and their characters.

This being said, I don't think there is any chance of an enjoyable correlation between roleplaying and boardgames. Never the twain shall meet. It isn't possible based on the inherent natures of each genre of game.

What does, however, come to mind, is the tight construction of several PC RPGs such as the Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Neverwinter Nights games which have very tight scripts for players which are easily played online or via a LAN.

The basic issue is that roleplaying relies heavily on player-player, player-moderator, and player-npc-foe interactions which, generally, create infinite calls and responses. A poor moderator will fuck up the balance and make all involved have a bad day. Boardgames will likely never approximate the level of interaction and possibililty as that of an RPG.

I think you should rethink the question.
 
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kennylibido wrote:

The basic issue is that roleplaying relies heavily on player-player, player-moderator, and player-npc-foe interactions which, generally, create infinite calls and responses. A poor moderator will fuck up the balance and make all involved have a bad day. Boardgames will likely never approximate the level of interaction and possibililty as that of an RPG.


I'd have to agree with this. It sounds like the bits you want to avoid or restrict from the RPG are some of what many people consider its strengths over straigh boardgames, the open flow (subject to the GM or scenario of course) or the 'making stuff up'.

In terms of older games it sounds like HeroQuest or Talisman would be right up your alley, not terribly available these days though. I am not qualified to comment on the more modern variations of those games, so will leave that up to someone who has played them (MrSkeletor springs to mind).
 
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Not sure if you're looking for something with a Dungeoncrawl aspect specifically, or just a Role-playing board game in general. If it's the latter, then you should check out Battlestations. It has many RPG-like rules, but is played by moving characters on a board. There are alot of skill checks, player stats, item stats, a DM, and even player sheets where players track all their info on. I think it's great game, and a good place to start if you want to see how to turn an RPG into a workable boardgame.
 
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J. Green
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Quote:
I guess I'm looking for the Heroquest equivalent to Advanced Squad Leader.


There is only one game that fits this description.

Magic Realm.

It's still available on eBay, and you need to get a complete copy to have all the thousands of bits. The depth, interest, immersion and variety you're looking for is here, but be warned: learning the game is a gradual process. The third edition rules available on BGG are the best, and they're long. Lots of choices and options within constraints. It's cool.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/22

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/68574
 
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You might try a dungeon generator. One is at http://www.rpghost.com/dungeon_gen.shtml though I'm not sure its monsters are 3.5. If the DM uses dice to set initial room positions and who of the available PCs get attacked, the DM has almost no discretion. It's also quite fast-running.
 
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Jay Richardson
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Glenn Laurent wrote:
Yes -- dungeon crawling and leveling up is what I am looking for -- but on a more complex level. I like having the thief climbing walls, hundreds of spells, experience points, skills development, quests to complete, but even Heroquest (or Advanced Heroquest) is a bit limited in it's scope.

I guess I'm looking for the Heroquest equivalent to Advanced Squad Leader. Lots and lots of rules to immerse me into the game. I like the idea of DM-ing and spending several hours preparing for the game. I just don't like the lack of constraints in D&D. I simply don't want to make stuff up as I go along.

I will also recommend that you look at Magic Realm, with the following notes:

* Magic Realm is not a true dungeon crawler, as the maps include valleys, forests, mountains, and caves... but the labyrinthine maps the game generates can stand comparison with any dungeon crawler.

* Leveling up is present only as an optional rule, and requires playing the same character in several consecutive games to complete the sequence.

* Quests are not really present in the published game, but a popular variant introduces an entire Quest system that can be used as is, or it can serve as the basis of your own system.

* A DM is not needed to play, but you could easily introduce a DM role to give the players something more interesting to do (the simplistic victory conditions are the weakest part of the game).

Magic Realm is a fully realized, self-contained world... a RPG boardgame developed to compete head-to-head with the original D&D pencil & paper game. The 16 characters are completely unique from one another with strengths and weaknesses that are inherent in their design, the magic system is one of the best ever devised, there are two combat systems to choose from (one nearly luckless), and the game has near infinite replayability.

It is extremely complex, difficult to learn, a real challenge to play well, and not at all suited to the casual gamer... but many of the people who do play it feel it is the best fantasy boardgame ever designed.
 
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Matthew Kloth
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kennylibido wrote:
Weird.

I've been role-playing for thirty years and have concluded that the most cravenly crappy games I've ever played had to do with a moderator who didn't take the time to come up with an anecdotal basic story line. However, I've also concluded that some of the best games I've played were intimately connected to the moderator's ability to scale the game to the players and their characters.

This being said, I don't think there is any chance of an enjoyable correlation between roleplaying and boardgames. Never the twain shall meet. It isn't possible based on the inherent natures of each genre of game.

What does, however, come to mind, is the tight construction of several PC RPGs such as the Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Neverwinter Nights games which have very tight scripts for players which are easily played online or via a LAN.

The basic issue is that roleplaying relies heavily on player-player, player-moderator, and player-npc-foe interactions which, generally, create infinite calls and responses. A poor moderator will fuck up the balance and make all involved have a bad day. Boardgames will likely never approximate the level of interaction and possibililty as that of an RPG.

I think you should rethink the question.

Yes, in games where one guy gets all the power (the moderator) that guy is capable of making crummy and extremely fun games. You just need to find a moderator you like (kinda like finding a writer, or movie director).

I don't view rpgs and boardgames as different (well not as two separate things). If you have a moderator (rpgs don't need one) you need to figure out what power he should have. There is nothing oppositional about structured play (boardgame) and story making (rpg). There just aren't any good examples out there (yet?).

Computer games might be okay, but if he's like me he wants the freedom of making up whatever he wants for imagery, story, and locations. Computer games are very limited on what you can do. You only need limits on moderator power, not limits on where characters can move and what they interact with.

Player-Player interaction (cus moderators are players, and npcs are played by a player) is prevalent in boardgames also (unless you're playing "multiplayer solitaire"). You just need guidelines and rules for the player-player interaction. Since most RPGs don't have rules for the moderator it falls apart if the moderator isn't playing how the other players want him to. It would be like playing a boardgame where one player can do whatever he wants. As long as he's reasonable he won't make the game un-fun (but it's hard not to abuse power).

My solution is to remove the one guy with infinite power (the moderator/DM/GM/Storyteller). Unfortunately there isn't anything in between "indie" rpgs like Primetime Adventure or Capes, and Miniature games like SuperSystem (at least none that are published).
 
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