d20 story games?

edited August 2007 in Story Games
From another thread...
Posted By: renatoramIf you streamline d20, and add some story meta mechanics to it (say, Fate Aspects or TSOY Keys, or BW Beliefs)... is it still a d20 game? Is it a story game?(*)

d20 gamers will probably cringe at the meta mechanics, and story gamers will be turned off by the d20 weight (and "cultural baggage")

(*) My reply to those: Yes, it is still a d20 game if it retains the d20 tropes (classes, levels, hps, feats), and yes, it is a story game. And if you pimp enough the story games elements in it, people on this board will probably check it out. OTOH, you might lose the d20 market altogether... so why bother making it a d20 derived game in the first place?
I, for one, would be all over a game like that. It wouldn't necessarily have to be d20, but something with a hefty set of "roll dice and kill stuff" rules combined with systems that try to ensure that all that rolling and killing happens in meaningful conflicts that drive a story.

That's exactly what I'm looking for in a game (with the additional caveat that it also needs to be playable by just two people); thus far I haven't found it. Is there one out there that I'm missing?

Comments

  • Isn't D&D already a "story game?"

    I thought the term "story games" was supposed to contain all RPGs as a subset...

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • My company producted Narrative Combat: Story-driven Action for d20, which is a completely seperate combat system for d20 fantasy games, where the conflict is story-driven. We did it in PDF (available at RPGNow and DriveThru) and in Print (available from Lulu).
  • Outside of the realm of shilling existing products -- I'm currently working on a project called KINGDOM, which is a mashup of d20 and FATE, producing rules which allow for the portrayal of entire governments -- either to use as supplemental to a d20 fantasy campaign, or playable on its own in a political/military/social "game of thrones", like a fantasy version of DIPLOMACY.
  • edited August 2007
    There was a thread on tweaking D&D with things like keys not too long ago.
  • Here is a reward system I came up with to make D&D/D20 a bit more story oriented. It's out there. In fact, it's Wyrd.
  • There's also the Sweet20 system, of course.


    Actually, I don't think D&D is that separate from the story games discussed here, anyway. It has a laser clear, relatively narrow focus (kill things and take their stuff) and is entirely focused on using the rules to achieve that goal. The setting is entirely secondary to that goal. This is in contrast to, say World of Darkness games or a lot of more mainstream games that have a muddier focus and sell primarily based on settings, not on rules.
  • edited August 2007
    In the same vein as Wyrd and Sweet20, I have been successfully (meaning: we're all having fun, nobody wants to go back) running a D&D 3.5 game with Keys instead of the usual XP system for about the last year. We've retained skills, feats, levels, BAB, AoO, etc, but now you get better based on hitting your TSoY keys, which has given us several excellent adventures where players and characters were rewarded and happy with nothing killed to have its stuff taken. So, yes, intersection is possible, and, at least for some of us, very fun.
  • I thought the term "story games" was supposed to contain all RPGs as a subset...

    I thought it was specifically the name of this site and not assigned any other meaning, but clearly common use disagrees with us both.


  • That's exactly what I'm looking for in a game (with the additional caveat that it also needs to be playable by just two people); thus far I haven't found it. Is there one out there that I'm missing?
    Forgive me if this is a stupid question (I'm fairly new to all things role-playing) but do 2 player rpgs (of any flavor) exist? I'm interested in expanding my role-playing experience but have yet to find enough of "the right people in the right area with enough time" to make that happen. If there were good 2 person games, my partner and I might be able to play by ourselves........
  • edited August 2007
    Sure: Beast Hunters is designed with one player and one GM
    The object of the game is the Hunt: a tribal warrior hunts down dangerous beasts, kills them, makes tattoos with their blood and acquire some of their powers.

    Also, Don't Rest Your Head can work easily one-on-one: the group teamplay is secondary to the game mechanics.
    This is a horror/bizarre game about insomniacs that develop powers, and access a weird and dangerous parallel "dimension" called The Mad City

    (edit: more details)


    To Ben, Shreyas: take a look at the first 3 pages of threads. Note the games names. I see a trend.
    (edit: less inflamatory)
  • Posted By: lizthefairdo 2 player rpgs (of any flavor) exist?
    My favorite two-player RPGs
  • A quick non-playtest (i.e. worthless) review of Gareth's product: I didn't think, at least from my reading, that the replacement of the d20 combat system with the goal-oriented narrative combat system would be quite worth the effort. It seemed to me to need to be either streamlined down to be even more freeform or expanded out to be more detailed on how goals interact.

    Still, a decent first edition.

    On to the topic. Let me tell you the main advantage d20 has as a story game:

    It has a GM, namely, one narrative voice in which the story is told.

    That is how we were told stories when We Were Very Young, that is how we are told stories through much of the history of literature and mythology and religion, the single-voiced authoritative, accurate storyteller is how most of us learn stories first. Later we become wiseacres and cynics and we learn about inaccurate storytellers and multiple points of view, but what d20 has that, say, PTA doesn't, story-wise, is a clear, strong narrative picture that can be both detailed and internally consistent.
  • Oh, the other thing Gareth's product could have had is well-formatted PC and GM cheat sheets, in other words, something the player can print out and have in front of them to summarize their options and the consequences for each when they're thinking about what to do. (Sorry, didn't mean to dogpile on this...you can tell I thought enough of it to put some thinking in on it!)
  • Posted By: JDCorleyOn to the topic. Let me tell you the main advantage d20 has as a story game:

    It has a GM, namely, one narrative voice in which the story is told.
    I think you are projecting a characteristic of a few games (gmlessness, or strong authorial power to the players) on the whole "sub genre". Lots of the games mentioned on this forum have a GM, and not all of them hand over control over Content and/or Plot.
  • edited August 2007
    Posted By: Ron Hammack
    I, for one, would beall overa game like that. It wouldn't necessarilyhaveto be d20, but something with a hefty set of "roll dice and kill stuff" rules combined with systems that try to ensure that all that rolling and killing happens in meaningful conflicts that drive a story.

    That's exactly what I'm looking for in a game (with the additional caveat that it also needs to be playable by just two people); thus far I haven't found it. Is there one out there that I'm missing?
    It seems like you've just described The Burning Wheel--lots of nifty crunch and detail, and characters have very significant beliefs, etc., that are intended to drive the conflicts, and have significant mechanical impacts. I don't see any reason that having only 2 people would be an obstacle to playing Burning Wheel.
  • Posted By: renatoramI think you are projecting a characteristic of a few games (gmlessness, or strong authorial power to the players) on the whole "sub genre". Lots of the games mentioned on this forum have a GM, and not all of them hand over control over Content and/or Plot.
    Noooo....I'm not. I'm talking about d20 and an advantage it has, not about some other game and an advantage that it does not have.
  • edited August 2007
    What he's saying, JD, is that most other games have this "advantage." It's like saying "The Ford Taurus has the advantage of cup-holders." Well, yeah, so do most (though not all) cars. So having a GM hardly makes D20 uniquely qualified in this manner.


    I think I'm going to have to purchase a few of these. I didn't realize that the state of the art in such D20 games included so many titles. Anybody have enough of them to do a comparative analysis? Does Sweet20 have better features than Gareth's offering, or vice versa?

    Mike
  • Yup (thanks Mike): if the advantage you are citing for d20 is having a GM with authorial control over the content/plot (*), then d20 does not really have an advantage. Lots of games have the same characteristic.

    (*) if OTOH I am misunderstanding please clarify what constitutes that advantage, please.
  • Posted By: woodelfI don't see any reason that having only 2 people would be an obstacle to playing Burning Wheel.
    Luke Crane documented some two-player sessions over on the BW forums, in fact.
  • edited August 2007
    I didn't say it wasn't a widespread advantage, sheesh....touchy!

    How about we just replace "advantage" with "helpful attribute"?
  • Hmmm... I wouldn't say D&D / d20 is necessarily not suitable for 2-player (or 1-player, 1-GM) play. It's certainly not any less suitable than most other 'traditional' RPGs. It's a lot more suitable, in my book, than, say, Shock:, WGP:, InSpectres, or many of the more narrative (ie, thought of as applicable to this forum) games. And in my experience, it's more suitable than Primetime adventures.

    All you need, without quoting the Forge too much, is to have a consistent creative agenda. And with one player and one GM that's pretty straightforward to acquire. If you're GMing, just ask the player what story he wants to tell over the next few sessions. Then tell him that's exactly what he's going to do. If he worries about how many XP he's going to get, or what magic items he gets at the end, you might need to explore whether you really both want a narrative game or not. But in my (limited) experience, one-on-one games naturally flow towards a narrative focus anyway. After all., what are you doing if you're not telling a story to each other that you couldn't do with a games console?

    BTW, there's a post here from Ron Edwards about running (approx) 3rd ed D&D with a narrativist twist, without changing any rules:

    http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=20257.0
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