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Writers' Workshop General Chat Thread

A cat who writes stories
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So, yesterday I ran the first TTRPG session of the year, and it went well! Nothing crashed and burned, everyone had a good time, and we even finished with 20m to spare. Nice. I could hardly be more chuffed.
 
Fantastic Fairy Fox
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So, yesterday I ran the first TTRPG session of the year, and it went well! Nothing crashed and burned, everyone had a good time, and we even finished with 20m to spare. Nice. I could hardly be more chuffed.
Very nicely done, I still haven't managed to get my players organised again after everyone was busy in December. Excuse my curiousity, but what system do you run?
 
Small ripples lead to big waves.
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I've noticed that instead of back-and-forth dialogue like I usually write, Digital Access Network: Dimensions and Darkness' narration has been detached so far, and I think this might work better for me. I'm not limited to describing canon things from a character's perspective - especially considering this is a crossover - and I can avoid revealing plot twists too early by not getting too deep into a character's mind.
 
Fantastic Fairy Fox
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I'm running an odd, technically incomplete system that I've been making for nearly three years now. Only got two players at the moment, plus another friend who's waiting until the system's 'complete'. It works a little better than that might sound.

Essentially it started with me attempting a small D&D conversion to suit my own setting, before I realised that 1: My setting was so underdeveloped that the idea of building any sort of RPG around it was laughable, and 2: The more D&D rules I read, the more I decided I really didn't like it very much. So I decided to "quickly" make a prototype based on an established fantasy setting we all knew to some extent (which ended up being The Elder Scrolls, don't remember how much discussion there was of that). But yeah, it went along in a steady process of me throwing out more and more D&D elements I didn't like - classes, levels, rolling initiative, eventually the dear old D20 went as well - and restructured a bunch of stuff fairly inconsistently. Nearly three years since the start of all this, we get to the muddled, bizarre, and oh-so-precious abomination it is today.

I really need more source material. I'm trying to get further from the comic action style of D&D, and put more focus on travel and roleplaying, but I'm at an awkward point in development to start getting new inspirations and ideas. I did recently manage to get a copy of The One Ring RPG rulebook, which I've been reading a bit and already love dearly, but whether I can manage to adapt and repurpose any bits and pieces of that successfully is a difficult question. I do hope so; more source material doesn't come cheap in this hobby. I've been meaning to take a look at Call of Cthulhu for the longest time, as well, see how a more mystery-based system does things. That, and it seems a good step on from playing the Eldritch Horror board game enough to actually win on a couple of occasions. But again, there's the money.

Hm, I really shouldn't post messages on here after midnight, it seems it expontentially increases my capability for rambling. Well, I hope someone got something from reading this anyway.
 
Fantastic Fairy Fox
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Hadn't heard of Numenéra myself, but I've been reading bits and pieces about it since you two mentioned it. Looks quite interesting, I may have to take a closer look if possible.

In other news, I've been toying with the idea of conducting a 'study of dice maths', or something like that, talking about all sorts of different ways dice are used in different tabletop games. I've been kind of putting it off, because of the scope of the project and I didn't imagine it would be something that would garner much interest. But since there seem to be more RPG players around these parts than I realised, I thought I might as well mention it in case anyone's more interested than I would've thought.
 
Thesaurus rex
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Well, I tended to discourage that kind of discussion in my RPG group, because it doesn't take long for someone to start breaking down the game based on maths rather than roleplaying. I suppose it has an application in game design, though I remember from my attempts to balance up weapon charts that this is a deep rabbit hole indeed
 
Fantastic Fairy Fox
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I would agree with that from an RPG perspective, yes. My background has more roots in design than as a GM or player so that was the point of view I was approaching it from. The general gist of what I've done so far is more along the lines of 'How to identify what number and kinds of dice are best to use for a particular game, and how would they determine an outcome' than 'As a player of X game, is the 3D6 or 1D20 chance more likely to give the result I want'. Agree with your point, though, I should've better clarified the nature of the study to begin with.

Since you mention weapon charts specifically, I'll take the opportunity to go on an unwarranted tangent and rant about how they often inherently incentivise the exact kind of thinking you try to discourage. I mean, maybe it's just calling to mind the D&D way and there's a much better way I haven't seen before. But I think with that way of separating weapons by whether they do D8 or D12 or 2D6 or whatever is always going to encourage mathematical and metagame-y play whether you want it to or not. There's likely a lot of details to the exact workings I don't understand yet, but in The One Ring, when you take a hit in combat, you're considered Wounded - if you're Wounded again, you're unconscious. I understand that doesn't work in more action-centric games, but I still think there must be better ways to do it than the D&D 'assign a die to each weapon' method.

I'm sorry, I rather launched into that without even asking which system you were playing, or referring to. But yes, I have opinions on D&D, although it's best I don't get into all of them now.
 
Thesaurus rex
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I can say that D&D combat bored me rigid. Combining the whole dynamic encounter into repeatedly rolling D20s and hoping for high numbers until the monster keels over is no way to tell a story
 
"Class is in Session!"
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While I don't play D&D myself (yet) I always have a interest in it. I've been watching a lot of Critical Role recently, now on Episode 53 of their second Campaign (which I've skipped the first campaign).

For those unaware of what Critical Role is; it is a live broadcast of a homebrew D&D campaign done by a group of nerdy-ass voice actors every Thursday. Composed by the DM Matthew Mercer, probably the most famous DM in D&D history and the players Marisha Ray, Liam O'Brien, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Sam Riegel, Taliesin Jaffe, and occasionally Ashley Johnson.
I actually recommend watching it if you're interested in getting into D&D and you'll have a very good laugh while doing so, since the cast is hilarious in and out of character. A recent episode I watched had them be focus on a chair in the center of the room, which the only thing Matt Mercer let on it was placed after the room was already ransacked and they can't roll high enough to figure out why it's there and or Mercer won't let them know why it's there; it then proceeded to become a running gag throughout the Critical Role cast and community.

I can say that D&D combat bored me rigid. Combining the whole dynamic encounter into repeatedly rolling D20s and hoping for high numbers until the monster keels over is no way to tell a story
While dice is the major factor in D&D, it's not the only factor in making a good D&D story. The story making abilities of the DM and how they bounce off their players are a big factor of the game, how the players design and act as their characters also play a major part of it. The dice depending on how well the players roll also can affect the story in certain ways, which would say give them the information they need.

While I can probably never give a good answer for getting into D&D, I could probably say the best equivalent for writers is free writing, but instead on paper; it's in person to a group of people and more or less on the fly.
 
A cat who writes stories
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I'm running an odd, technically incomplete system that I've been making for nearly three years now.
Neat! What's the core mechanic, since you binned d20s? Always interested in hearing about this stuff, although frankly I don't recommend hacking homebrew systems together until you've given several published systems a try.

ayyy I love Numenéra! I mostly play DnD 5e right now, but I played a Numenéra campaign a while back and loved it. Really cool setting and a fun system. Been toying with a campaign for it myself.
Nice! Numenéra is the game the only competent longrunning GM I've had ran, and I took over the campaign from him eventually and have tried to keep up playing it with different people in different ways. I love it dearly, despite my difficulty in actually getting steady campaigns going. I play a little D&D 5e from time to time, too. Used to play other stuff in uni, don't have the community for it now.

Well, I tended to discourage that kind of discussion in my RPG group, because it doesn't take long for someone to start breaking down the game based on maths rather than roleplaying. I suppose it has an application in game design, though I remember from my attempts to balance up weapon charts that this is a deep rabbit hole indeed
I feel like the time and place for numbers discussion is not inside a campaign, where vested interest is in play, and it's merely distracting and experimental.

Also, I absolutely agree that uninspired D&D RAW is dull as sin, and you really need a bit of GM spice to have a good time. You absolutely can, of course, but there's a reason I picked Numenéra as my mainstay system/setting.

@Ryoma Maser
Beth knows more about RPGs than you do, mate.
 
Fantastic Fairy Fox
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Neat! What's the core mechanic, since you binned d20s? Always interested in hearing about this stuff, although frankly I don't recommend hacking homebrew systems together until you've given several published systems a try.
Well, I use a similar calculation system, but with different dice. For a while I was tempted to go 3D6, since that gives a nice 'bell curve' to its results, rather than extreme results being equally likely as moderate ones, and therefore puts more stress on what bonuses and modifiers a character has. But in the end I've gone with D100, with 0-9 and 00-90 dice. The conventional way to use them is to set a probability based on various factors, and a success is a roll that's lower than the probability number, but that felt awkward to me for several reasons so I use them similarly to how one might use a D20 in many games, with high results being good, and players adding their modifiers to the roll. I have a few issues with the method but it's working well enough for now.

The main thing I like is being able to give relatively frequent incremental bonuses to players whenever they might do something that reasonably leads to self-improvement. Spend a couple of hours reading that book while your teammate's fixing the wagon wheel that just broke? You might get +1 to a relevant knowledge skill, while they might get +1 to Woodworking, or something like that (yeah, the skills are a mess at present, I need to streamline those a bit). Because the number scale is on such a big range already, it's relatively safe to give out +1s like that, since they won't add up to much on their own. The issue is the same as what I didn't like about D20s, that extreme and middling results are equally likely, which makes them quite 'swingy' and sometimes frustrating, but it'd take a lot more work to try to fix it, and would likely lead on to other problems besides. So I'll likely stick with this for now.

And yes, absolutely, I can confirm making one's own system from not much groundwork is a bit of a nightmare. I'm not exactly sure what convinced me this was a better idea than just continuing to research more systems until I found something more satisfactory, but ah well, draft one is borderline playable now.

Speaking of, I managed to get my first session of the year set for just over a week from now. I've got to ask, is it wrong for me to plan out little psychological tests into how my players act in-game? So they're travelling through a mountain pass and they promised a shopkeeper, in exchange for free provisions, that they'd get rid of a pack of wolves that have been attacking any supplies sent through the pass. So I decided to set up a situation where they'll pass by the cave the wolves are living in, and have to decide whether to go inside or not. The only reason they would go in, so far as I can think, would just be to keep their word, but that'll mean unnecessary danger and inconvenience. I'm curious to see if they do so when it's far safer and really costs them nothing to break their word and just continue on their way. On one hand, it seems like just a small story beat with a rather simple moral question attached, on the other I kind of feel like I'm just poking them to see how they respond. Is that a bad thing?
 
Thesaurus rex
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Well, it's not really a test of the players, is it? If they're properly roleplaying it's a test of their characters ... and if not, then D&D has a way of bringing out the psychopath in people. Either way it's not a bad thing, per se, but it doesn't say anything about your player's moral compass
 
Thesaurus rex
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This is one of the reasons I liked playing, and GMing Dark Heresy - the premise of the game insists that the characters can't just be out to accumulate treasure. It's harder to be the kind of player who obsesses over the idea of "kill this random NPC and take their stuff because my Fight stat says the watchmen can't do anything about it" in that setting.
 
Fantastic Fairy Fox
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Well, it's not really a test of the players, is it? If they're properly roleplaying it's a test of their characters ... and if not, then D&D has a way of bringing out the psychopath in people. Either way it's not a bad thing, per se, but it doesn't say anything about your player's moral compass
I may have worded that poorly, I'd thought it would be clear I was referring to them as their characters, but perhaps not. Either way, the test hopefully should serve its purpose and still feel right when the situation comes up. Guess I'll find out in a couple of days.

On an unrelated note, I recently had a conversation about new year's resolutions that's been bothering me more than it ought to. A friend was trying to convince me, since I mentioned I don't make resolutions for the new year anymore, that I should've made a resolution to publish a book or least write one that would be saleable. Got me into a very lengthy and not very well structured explanation (read: rant) of why just because I write stuff and design games from time to time doesn't mean I have any interest in doing so commercially. I think it just seemed natural to him that if someone was going to put extensive work into basically any creative projects, whether writing, board games, RPGs, whatever, they surely must be planning to profit from it at some point, and I don't think I really adequately explained why that doesn't appeal to me at all. I don't know, I probably didn't respond all that well at the time, should I be worrying about saleability and trying to turn a hobby into a career? Still seems more trouble to me than just going back to the job listings, but am I wrong here?
 
Thesaurus rex
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The blunt fact is, that even in today's market with self-publishing and Amazon taking a punt on authors, commercial writing is hard. Very few people make it work. If it's a choice between spending your time plugging away at a stale job market or trying to write something to sell, you'll always be better off sending off CVs.

Now I know how hard it can be to stay persistent when you're getting nowhere with job applications. I did it all the way through the last recession. If I've learned anything it's that persistence is both your best friend and the hardest trait to maintain. The flip side of the coin is that you simply can't spend all day on job applications, so there's no reason you can't spend the time left over to do something writing related
 
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