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Subject: Is a boardgame RPG hybrid too complex? rss

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john m
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Not sure how to say it but take the mechanics of a boardgame/card game but give the characters complex stats like an RPG (they do still have that in RPGs don't they?)

Maybe hardcore gamers would like it? I'm sure there's one out there. Anyone have an example?

Is this what card games like Magic or Summoner Wars or Munchkin are trying to do?

edit: I thinking maybe Descent fills this?
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Ronald Pehr
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Talisman and Heroquest are examples of this.
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Not sure what you're really asking for, but:
* Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition
* Descent
* Mansions of Madness
* Arkham Horror with Personal Stories
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Aaron Morgan
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Descent with the Road to Legend rules is a good example, yes. Games like Advanced Heroquest, Magic Realm, and the new Mage Knight are proof that the concept is embraced around here.
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Dave Wilson
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Would Android qualify?
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RJD
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Sam and Max wrote:
Not sure what you're really asking for, but:
* Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition
* Descent
* Mansions of Madness
* Arkham Horror with Personal Stories


Is 4th edition D&D really that minis heavy? I know there have been a lot of arguments on the issue for the last couple of years, but does it really come across more as a boardgame hybrid these days than a true RPG or is that sort of an exaggeration?

Just asking because I haven't touched the new edition, but friends have been hinting that I should run it sometime.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Theres many of these out there of various types.

Warhammer Quest
HeroQuest
Advanced Heroquest
Talisman (third edition)
Dragon Storm
RuinsWorld
Arcadia: The Wyld Hunt
Magic Realm
Arkham Horror
Doctor Who: Solitaire Story Game
Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game

and many many others.

The better question is. What do you want to do with your combined RPG/Board game?
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RJD
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johnnyLikesGames wrote:
Not sure how to say it but take the mechanics of a boardgame/card game but give the characters complex stats like an RPG (they do still have that in RPGs don't they?)

Maybe hardcore gamers would like it? I'm sure there's one out there. Anyone have an example?

Is this what card games like Magic or Summoner Wars or Munchkin are trying to do?

edit: I thinking maybe Descent fills this?


I don't think it would be as complex as it sounds like you're wanting, but you should take a look at Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel.
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Damo
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World of Warcraft: The Boardgame
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One Armed Bandit
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UnluckyNumber wrote:
Is 4th edition D&D really that minis heavy?


It's no more minis-heavy than 3rd Edition, despite what anyone else tells you. 3rd Edition says "This game is designed for minis, and EVERYTHING is written as if you're using minis" on the FIRST PAGE.
People just like to pretend that part was never written.
Pathfinder says you can use minis or not, and then touts it's flip mats.

Having played and run D&D for 25 years, I say with certainty that it's no more minis heavy than any previous edition. If it seems that way, it's because of the much wider availability of minis these days.

It mostly gets put down because it finally took some of the sacred cows of D&D out back and shot them. Things like the law of "after level 5, fighters are useless" and "only wizards should be able to do interesting things"
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UnluckyNumber wrote:
Is 4th edition D&D really that minis heavy?


Yes. Sure, you can mod the game to play without mini's, but why do so when there are other roleplaying games that don't? That being said, a RPGGeeker pointed out that, since D&D is the only *gateway* roleplaying game out there, it has to make itself more marketable to today's potential roleplayer. Considering how mini's heavy most boardgames are compared to 20 years ago, and how important combat and aesthetics are in most MMORPGs, I don't see mini's in D&D to be a bad thing.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Since when?
From AD&D on a fighter could hold his own damn well, and that was before skills and all that! Paladins, Thieves, Rangers and Bards and Martial artists all had carious bits of flare to them. Specially the bard.
The fighter though appeals to anyone who doesnt want all that extra bookkeeping and just wants to wade in and start hacking.

palmerkun wrote:
It mostly gets put down because it finally took some of the sacred cows of D&D out back and shot them. Things like the law of "after level 5, fighters are useless" and "only wizards should be able to do interesting things"
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Aaron Morgan
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Omega2064 wrote:
Since when?


There is a reason that nearly every PC in the old Gygax / Arneson campaigns was a Magic-User. Caster superiority was alive and well from the origins of the game all the way through 3.5 / Pathfinder. Hit points and THAC0 are meaningless when put up against a character than can kill with a single spell that he doesn't even need to be within sight of the target to cast.
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James Hutchings
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3rd and 4th edition are possibly more balanced than previous editions.

However 3rd and 4th edition players complain much more bitterly and much more often about their favourite editions' lack of balance.
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James Hutchings
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johnnyLikesGames wrote:
Not sure how to say it but take the mechanics of a boardgame/card game but give the characters complex stats like an RPG (they do still have that in RPGs don't they?)


Whether the characters' stats are complex or simple, it would probably make for a better game if all those stats had a significant impact on the game (either they're used often, or they're used rarely but have a big effect).

As a counter-example, in Talisman each character has an alignment of Good, Neutral or Evil. However there are only a few cases where alignment comes into play. It doesn't 'feel' (to me) like an evil character is much different to a good one. It seems like it's there because D&D has alignment and so they wanted to as well.

Of course you could argue that alignment also doesn't make much difference in D&D as played, but the assumption in the rules is that characters of different alignments will behave differently. So Talisman could, in my opinion, be improved by rules which rewarded alignment-appropriate behaviour and penalised the opposite.
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Nate K
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Omega2064 wrote:
The better question is. What do you want to do with your combined RPG/Board game?


That's a pertinent question! I'd like to hear the OP's answer.
 
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Paul Blake
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Okay, this question is vastly more complex than its phrasing implies.

It seems like the big question you're asking is "How complex is too complex?" Every variable a player has to track and consider increases the game's length. Even if the player doesn't have to think about a given variable at all times, they still have to mechanically track that variable in some way, whether it's moving a pawn along a track, drawing a card, or just having a pile of cubes.

But when you say:

Quote:
...give the characters complex stats like an RPG...


Well, what do you mean by "complex" stats? Are they complex in that there are dozens of different variables (Say, one for Climbing, one for Small Weapons Skill, one for Heavy Weapons Skill, one for Alchemy, one for Destructive Spells, one for Restorative Spells, etc), or are they complex in that they are interconnected in difficult to remember ways ("Your Longsword skill is modified by your Endurance, your Athletics skill, and your Fatigue, then added to your general Combat skill when making an attack [check for any reflex penalties]...")

Typically, boardgame players are looking for an immersive experience which is intuitive without being obvious, challenging without being overwhelming, sophisticated without being convoluted, and streamlined without being simplistic. In short, we are a schizophrenic lot.

More to the point, however, when a player says something along the lines of "I stab him with my sword," they're going to be a little disappointed if they then have to spend ten minutes figuring out whether the sword even made contact with the enemy, plus another ten determining just what happened as a result. The disparity between in-game time and real-world time should not (generally) be so great as to stretch a half-second action like a single swing of a hand-to-hand weapon into a half-hour exercise in actuarial tables.

Mechanically, you can address some of these issues such that the players themselves don't have to do all the work: Custom dice can be used to provide alternate probabilities. Multi-use cards can be used to provide lots of outcomes without taking the players' attention away from the game and its components. Customized components can even do more specialized variable manipulation with quick, easy-to-read outcomes.

To answer the original question as it was phrased: No, I don't think that a boardgame/RPG hybrid is too complex. It has been done successfully many times and at several different levels of complexity (Arguably, Lego's Heroica might be seen as roughly the simplest level. Something like Dungeoneer is somewhere closer to the middle, and Battlestations would be closer to the high end without crossing over into a pure RPG).

Basically, it all boils down to who your target audience is, how complex of a game they're used to, and how complex your game is.
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john m
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kurthl33t wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
The better question is. What do you want to do with your combined RPG/Board game?


That's a pertinent question! I'd like to hear the OP's answer.


I wanted to combine a "world" with a goal, but have the complexity of characters as are in an RPG. My thought is the characters could be "plugged in" much like software plugins. You can take any system and put it in the game. Don't ask me how all this works.

Or maybe I have my own characters. Whatever the answer is they "live" via the game mechanics. It's the mechanics that give the characters life, much like plot and structure drive a novel. Of course, though, you must have good characters.
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johnnyLikesGames wrote:
I wanted to combine a "world" with a goal, but have the complexity of characters as are in an RPG.


I'd start by asking yourself which RPG you're thinking of.

For example Basic D&D has far less complex characters than 3rd or 4th edition (in both of Paul's senses: Basic has less stats, and less interactions between its stats).

And there are RPGs that are simpler than Basic D&D (eg microlite20), and more complicated than 3rd or 4th edition (eg Hero System).

In Star Explorer your 'character' seems to be about as complicated as a simple RPG - although your 'character' is mostly your ship and what sorts of crew members you have rather than the individual captain.
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Cracky McCracken
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daw65 wrote:
Would Android qualify?


Android may actually be more complex than most RPGs

I think Runebound (Second Edition) does a good job of keeping RPG stuff and boardgame stuff in balance. I really like the "Mind, Body & Spirit" trinity of abilities. When combined with the general skills list and unique skills for each character, it's pretty good. The leveling up system is decent too and allows you to customise your char to meet the challenges at hand.

Combine this with a shit-ton of weapons, artifacts, allies and lord knows what else... and it's not bad. I wish the D&D boardgames did dungeoncrawls as well as Runebound does overland hexcrawls.

The base game chars are embarassingly cheesy and bad tho. They would have done better to keep Runebound's chars limited to basic classes like Knight, Wizard, Thief etc (like Magic Realm). A big part of RPGs is making up your character, pre-gens are only good if they're good.
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One Armed Bandit
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Omega2064 wrote:
Since when?
From AD&D on a fighter could hold his own damn well, and that was before skills and all that! Paladins, Thieves, Rangers and Bards and Martial artists all had carious bits of flare to them. Specially the bard.
The fighter though appeals to anyone who doesnt want all that extra bookkeeping and just wants to wade in and start hacking.

palmerkun wrote:
It mostly gets put down because it finally took some of the sacred cows of D&D out back and shot them. Things like the law of "after level 5, fighters are useless" and "only wizards should be able to do interesting things"


AD&D, huh?

Level 10 fighter: 1d8+6 damage per hit (+3 sword, 18 str). One target. Chance of hitting was usually in the 40% range.
Level 10 wizard: 10d6 fireball. Lots of targets. Always hits. Saves for half damage (on average, 40%). Assume half of them save and there's 6 targets. That's still 45d6 total damage dished out, about 160 on average, with each target taking 18 or 35 damage (based on save).
Versus... 1d8+6... 10 on average.

Bump up a few levels and you now have Power Word Kill versus... 1d8+8 damage.

Thieves? How can they compete with wizardly skills in lockpicking (Knock), wall climbing (spider climb, levitate or flight), trapfinding (detect traps), pickpocketing (telekinesis), stealth (invisibility), breaking into fortresses (stone to mud, passwall) and backstabbing (finger of death, disintegrate, PW Kill)

This isn't new. 4th edition is the first and only edition of D&D where casters do not completely dominate the game past early-mid levels.
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johnnyLikesGames wrote:
I wanted to combine a "world" with a goal, but have the complexity of characters as are in an RPG.

RPG characters are not inherently complex.
Risus, for instance, is an excellent RPG, allowing for vast and deeply complex games.
A character consists of, quite literally, a name, 4 traits and a rating for each. "Bob, Warrior 4, Drunkard 3, Bandit 2, Boy Scout 1"
That's an entire Risus character. Not particularly complex, is it?
Neither is the game. All the rules, including character creation, take up 6 pages... with illustrations.

The complexity in RPGs is in the open nature of "imagination". A board game needs to have hard and fast rules to handle things. An RPG does not, because the GM can make shit up, and it's allowed.


Quote:
It's the mechanics that give the characters life

A good character is a good character. Rules and mechanics to not make the character. Quite the opposite. One of the most common complaints about rule-heavy RPGs (like D&D) is that they're all numbers and no actual roleplaying.

Trust me, you find a character that "lives" due to game mechanics, and I can find you a player who will take that character and set of mechanics, and make your character profoundly dull and lifeless... while not actually doing anything "wrong".

You seem to have some profoundly incorrect concepts about RPGs, and that is seriously hampering your design process
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Battlestations, Blood Bowl, Necromunda are examples of board game/rpg hybrids.

Battlestations had the on going debate of whether it was an RPG game with board game elements or a Board Game with RPG elements.

Both Necromunda and Blood Bowl have RPG elements, surprised how many over look both of these (I can see in Blood Bowl's case, but Necromunda surprises me more.)
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palmerkun wrote:
This isn't new. 4th edition is the first and only edition of D&D where casters do not completely dominate the game past early-mid levels.


Now that 5th edition has been announced, you can look forward to Wizards of the Coast telling you how stupid and wrong your favourite edition is, just like the rest of us
 
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Cracky McCracken
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I've been playin D&D since '79 and i don't think 4e is stupid at all. I don't want to keep going backwards into the same old shit we've been doing for years. I want RPGs to keep moving forward and testing new grounds. Not every new idea works as well as you hope, doesn't make it stupid.
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