My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

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Sir_Elderberry
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My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:02 am UTC

So, I play D&D, and have for roughly 3.5 years, first in 3.5 and now in 4e. Right now, there are two different venues in which I play 4e. First, I play at a local gaming store, where they play two modules per Saturday, and I go when I can. That's fun enough, and it keeps me gaming. However, I prefer to roleplay as a social activity, with friends, in private, so my graduated friends (who attend a nearby university) and I try to play roughly biweekly games of 4e. We've been doing this for two months or so now, importing a few other newbies who we taught the system to and then moved on.

However, we do have a problem. One of my best friends is my main other gaming buddy, and has been playing D&D for eight years. (We swap off DMing duties in the college group.) Today we were at Local Gaming Store discussing how neither of us had really tried other systems besides D&D, and about the different ones we've heard about. Somehow this branched out into us discussing some of the issues with our college gaming group.

The main difference is an imbalance in expertise and a subsequent developed dependency. We gave these people too much advice, and they don't like straying from it, especially in cases where things appear critical. "What should I do?" they say, and, with the best interest of the party at heart, we say something like "Why don't you shoot at the trap, and then move to this square so you'll have cover?" Now, that's fine on a case-by-case basis, but I'm worried that this isn't going to change. Another difference is roleplaying. I'm fairly comfortable assuming a character personality, another guy in our group doesn't seem to really like slipping into the medieval mindset--he's a former WoW player, and so am I, but I think he's carrying over some of that experience a bit too much--and the others are varying levels. After we talked about this, we decided to look at a few other systems.

After looking around, we gravitated to Mutants and Masterminds. The basic d20 system is easy enough for us to pick up as 3.5 players, and would ease the transition for the others. The superhero setting is common enough that everyone can associate with it and should ease roleplaying. Our group is fairly lighthearted and it would seem to fit. The flexibility of the powers would allow everyone to explore options. And, as an additional bonus, there is no tactical combat grid, which should free us up as well. Perhaps most importantly, because everyone has to sort of figure out the system together, we'll be on a more level playing field. (Realistically, the long-time gamers will probably pick it up faster. The others don't need to know this, though.)

Other gaming systems we looked at included Call of Cthulu (eh, if we're having problem with even D&D roleplaying, going more serious doesn't seem helpful), a large shelf of nWoD (similar but lesser problem of CoC, from what I understand), Paranoia (no copies in our Local Gaming Store, but could be ordered online), GURPS (large change and would involve both sheer volume of books and probably not solve the tactical issues), Traveller (I know nothing about this), and Exalted (heard of it, know nothing about the system itself).

Given our situation, what do you guys think? Am I right in my appraisal of M&M? I'm reading the core book right now and I like what I see, but that doesn't mean I know how it plays in the real world.
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Lamhslea
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby Lamhslea » Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:24 am UTC

I would recommend Shadowrun; I find it easier to role play in a futuristic society as it's a lot easier to relate to. And with the sprinkling of magic that the system has, you could have an eco-shaman from a Native American tribe or a member of a Medieval Secret Society be a plot hook. The system itself is also fairly intuitive after a brief going-over. It will require lots of six-sided dice, however.

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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby Ralith The Third » Sun Oct 04, 2009 5:11 am UTC

Munchkin.
All the fun of DnD, but easy to learn and much more humorous, just no arcing from game to game.
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EmptySet
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby EmptySet » Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:25 am UTC

Exalted might be worth trying. I understand that it has similar mechanics to other White Wolf games, but instead of being all dark and gritty it's heroic fantasy with everything turned up to eleven, which might go over better than the WoD games if your group struggles with more serious roleplay. I've never played it myself, though, so I can't really vouch for how well it works. There's also a free introductory module available if you're interested.

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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby Maseiken » Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:41 pm UTC

Exalted is good fun, but one thing you should know about White Wolf, they really like cramming their worlds full of Lore. The GM of an Exalted group, if they are new to Exalted, even if they don't actually want to have the group interact with the setting to a great degree, they'll still have to spend a ridiculous amount of time just reading pages and pages and pages of material, just to have the party function in the world as standard.

In terms of White Wolf, I advocate Scion as a great starting point, it's got far less material to go through than the other systems, plenty of ways to push your party's exploits to the "Oh my god, what the shit?!" stage typical of Exalted games, it's set on a relatively normal earth, so there's no great leap in roleplaying, and it's just generally a pretty good concept.

Basically the old Pantheons of deities across the world raise half-human children that progress and gain power, eventually taking aplace in their pantheon (Or finding their own way), these "Scions" are intended as sort of foot-soldiers in the never-ending war against the children of the Titans, who have their own designs on the world.

I think it'd be a great game to try out, just to get a feel for the way White Wolf does things before going into the high, high, incredibly high Fantasy or soul-crushingly and atmospheric horror (Not that that's how Exalted and WoD have to be played, it's just the lines on which they're drawn.
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby The Utilitarian » Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:25 pm UTC

Ralith The Third wrote:Munchkin.
All the fun of DnD, but easy to learn and much more humorous, just no arcing from game to game.

I dunno Munchkin to me is the game to play while you're waiting for the pizza or your DM doesn't show up. It's loads of fun but I really look at it in the way I'd look at a board game, rather than something for a gaming group to play on a regular basis.
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby pseudoidiot » Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:22 pm UTC

Before trying out something different if I were you I'd focus more on that dependency problem you're seeing. If someone's not comfortable offering up actions and what not, trying out something new probably isn't going to help that. I'd say you need to find a way to draw them out first. I remember some of the best gaming advice I ever got was to simply ask yourself "what's the coolest thing I can do right now?" Simple, yet incredibly effective. Granted, that's not going to do as much with tactical or strategic parts of games, but for awesome moments that push the story? It's great. Then again, that's probably a huge jump for someone that's already not very comfortable with deciding on actions.

Also, instead of just throwing out a bunch of suggestions (not all games work for all groups), I'd first ask what kind of game your group is looking for? It's much harder to fit your group's playstyle into a game than it is to find a game that will hopefully fit your playstyle. Are you interested in sci-fi? Fantasy (low/high)? Modern? Gritty? Pulpy? Realistic? Dramatic? There's a lot of variables to consider and different systems promote different things.

My one suggestion here might be to find a game where the mechanics actually interact with the role-playing, which would hopefully draw people out. Most mainstream games don't do this very effectively aside from vague allowances for granting xp (or karma or willpower or whatever) for role-playing. So you could always look into some indie games, especially because they tend to be cheap and extremely easy to learn.
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:34 pm UTC

Granted, that's not going to do as much with tactical or strategic parts of games, but for awesome moments that push the story? It's great. Then again, that's probably a huge jump for someone that's already not very comfortable with deciding on actions.

Which is why we're going to prefer games that don't have tactical combat grids. (Like M&M, as noted above.)

I'd first ask what kind of game your group is looking for? It's much harder to fit your group's playstyle into a game than it is to find a game that will hopefully fit your playstyle. Are you interested in sci-fi? Fantasy (low/high)? Modern? Gritty? Pulpy? Realistic? Dramatic? There's a lot of variables to consider and different systems promote different things.

Well, the setting is hard to say. All their roleplaying has been D&D, in Forgotten Realms. (The two of us have some Greyhawk under our belts, for what it's worth.) So we've been fairly high-fantasy. I was thinking a more modern-ish setting would help them immerse themselves a little, because they'll feel less like they're being thrown somewhere completely different. Actually, if we play in a system compatible with the real world, we may be the University of Tulsa gaming group in a fantastic version of Tulsa. I also a think a more light-hearted system, or at least one where the stories do not tend to be too serious, would benefit us. That's why Dark Heresy and Call of Cthulu were ruled out, for example.
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby Cynical Idealist » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:24 pm UTC

EmptySet wrote:Exalted might be worth trying. I understand that it has similar mechanics to other White Wolf games, but instead of being all dark and gritty it's heroic fantasy with everything turned up to eleven, which might go over better than the WoD games if your group struggles with more serious roleplay. I've never played it myself, though, so I can't really vouch for how well it works. There's also a free introductory module available if you're interested.

Its great fun, as long as you aren't looking for realistic or gritty. You can really make the tone of your series as lighthearted or as serious as you want, as long as you make it epic enough.

If you want a comparison with D&D...its kind of like D&D, set in a world inspired by over the top kung-fu movies and heroic fantasy, and with the power level of characters turned up way past 11. Also, it runs entirely on the Rule of Cool - there are dice bonuses for describing things in a sufficiently cool way.

Assuming you know what Order of the Stick is, Keychain of Creation is essentially the same thing, but done with Exalted.
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby SecondTalon » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:36 pm UTC

Shadowrun or Feng Shui which is basically "You're in an Eastern Martial Arts movie. You're the Hero of the Movie. Describe what you do."
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby pseudoidiot » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:45 pm UTC

How comfortable do you think your group would be with coming up with their own setting? There's quite a few games with no defined setting and it's expected that the group collaborate and come up with something together (my group is currently playing this game). It really helps buy-in and you don't have to worry about the possible problem of what the GM comes with being uninteresting (or at least some people being uninterested in it).

I wonder if having a hand in crafting the world might help draw them in so that they have a lot more investment in what's going on.
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby The Utilitarian » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:50 pm UTC

lamhslea wrote:I would recommend Shadowrun; I find it easier to role play in a futuristic society as it's a lot easier to relate to. And with the sprinkling of magic that the system has, you could have an eco-shaman from a Native American tribe or a member of a Medieval Secret Society be a plot hook. The system itself is also fairly intuitive after a brief going-over. It will require lots of six-sided dice, however.

SecondTalon wrote:Shadowrun or Feng Shui which is basically "You're in an Eastern Martial Arts movie. You're the Hero of the Movie. Describe what you do."

Good call on the Shadowrun. SR is fantastic for more episodic gaming. You put together your group, your contact calls you for a Run. You do your Run. You get some money. game over. Between games you buy new shit and then next week it's a whole new run!

Just make sure that if anyone is using explosives that they're not of the "fireball into melee combat" variety. Respect the C5.

*edit* for accuracy.
Last edited by The Utilitarian on Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:02 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby SecondTalon » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:50 pm UTC

Just seconding Lamhslea.
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Re: My Gaming Group Is Branching Out

Postby Ralith The Third » Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:41 pm UTC

The Utilitarian wrote:
Ralith The Third wrote:Munchkin.
All the fun of DnD, but easy to learn and much more humorous, just no arcing from game to game.

I dunno Munchkin to me is the game to play while you're waiting for the pizza or your DM doesn't show up. It's loads of fun but I really look at it in the way I'd look at a board game, rather than something for a gaming group to play on a regular basis.

Point.
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