Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is other RPGs, which we discussed in our exclusive Patreon live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST with Patreon supporters and talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Our new cover relaunch in Nerdarchy the Store continues with gorgeous new art by Adrian Prado, along with a couple of promo codes for miniatures, game products and RPG accessories. And yes, the Out of the Box Pledge Manager remains open for late pledges. You can get your hands on the book and all the add-ons including presale badges for Nerdarchy the Convention, or upgrade your badge to Legendary or Artifact level. There’s also a FREE encounter Seizing the Means you can download for a sneak peek at the sort of content you’ll find in the book. Check it out here.
Secrets of the Vault: Lost Lore Vol. 1 explores the mysteries of the Crawl Wood and contains new options for Game Masters of the 5th Edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game. Players don’t worry — we’ve got new options for you too. In celebration of our new cover relaunch project that began with Chimes of Discordia: Fantastical Mounts we’ve got the MOUNTUP promo code for a one-time 10% discount on your entire cart until February 2. Check it out here. If miniatures are more your thing you can use the promo code MINIMOBS for 20% off any and all bugbears and lizardfolk 3D printed miniatures. Check the all the bugbears, lizardfolk and other 3D minis and terrain here.
Delving Dave’s Dungeon
In our video intros we mention talking about other roleplaying games yet it’s been awhile since we have.
If you dig around the website and our earlier videos you can find some of that content. As a matter of fact I just responded recently to one of those comments on a video about No Thank You Evil from Monte Cook Games. We’ve turned a lot of our videos to private status that lack the current level of production. Unfortunately many of our talks about other RPGs were during the early years.
In the near future we are going to begin experimenting with some of the content. First up will be dissecting mechanics from other roleplaying games and introducing them into your D&D games to make them better.
First up we are looking at the Star Wars roleplaying game from Fantasy Flight Games. We are excited to see how fellow nerds respond to this new series. So many great roleplaying games have come out over the years, many of which owe their existence to D&D. But things have come full circle and now D&D can learn a thing or two from its predecessors.
What RPGs would you like to see us explore in future videos?
From Ted’s Head
We say in our videos that we talk about Dungeons & Dragons and sometimes we talk about other roleplaying games. It is rare but other RPGs are necessary for the industry. Let’s face it, if we only ever play D&D, we only play D&D. We never get to explore other rule sets that approach the game from a different angle or a different goal. I think this would be a crime. We need new rules and new viewpoints to expand this amazing hobby.
Dungeons & Dragons is a fantastic game, but it is not perfect. Many Dungeon Masters make house rules so they get to play the way they want to. Nerdarchy is no exception to this. So before I get into some of the other game stuff, let me give you a quick list of games I have done. I know this is nowhere close to the amount of games Dave played. His list is huge.
I started off with second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and the gaming groups I was in mostly stuck to just D&D. One group was willing to look at other rule sets and I tried Shadowrun and Star Wars both for a handful of sessions. My elven street samurai was an abomination constantly looking for surgical upgrades and implants. He got so many that he only had a fraction of a percent that was still biological. It was bad, but I was young and did not know any better. If you played the game and want to understand his essence score was 0.6.
For many years we played D&D. I grumbled over the conversion of from 2E AD&D to third edition D&D. Basically I threw a hissy fit when fourth edition D&D came out. I was broke and had dozens of 3E books so I was adamant about not buying new books for this 4E. We did play it for a while, but I never ran 4E as a DM. Dave once again took up the permanent DM mantle to keep the games going. We had a lot of fun and I had some very cool characters. But it never really felt like D&D. The mechanics just felt off.
So we did something this group previously was unwilling to do. The idea came up that we would try a different game. In college I did briefly explore the Palladium ruleset by trying out some of the games in that system, most notably Super Heroes. I loved some of the build options but I did see it is possible to build characters vastly different in power and scope and as long as I was on the more powerful end it did not matter to me all that much.
So the group was suggested to try out some Palladium games. We played some fantasy and we played some super heroes. Dave wound up making a character that while fun, seemed to be on the lower end of the power scale. Not that it should really matter but the group was certainly split down the middle with half of us being major superheroes. The ones capable of sitting in the big chairs at the Hall of Justice while the others seemed relegated to support. Dave again having a richer history decided to begin a search trying to find a more balanced ruleset. He found a couple but the one we settled on was Mutants & Masterminds, at the time second edition.
He brought it to the group and explained the simplicity and we all moved forward with it.The system has its flaws like any other but much fun was had with this game for a while seeing multiple games and themes. We played a bit of modern and supers for a while.
About this time we began Nerdarchy and the amount of games we have been exposed to since has been a lot of fun. I played Fate and Fate Core, but just a little. I played the new Star Wars system for multiple games, and once you get the hang of the dice mechanic it can be a real blast. (Pun intended.) I played in several games in Monte Cook’s Cypher System (Cypher, Numenera, No Thank You Evil) and I ran a game of No Thank You Evil for my family, and ran a session at PAX Unplugged 2018. And somewhere in all the craziness of Nerdarchy I got to play some Dungeon World, Open Legend and Pathfinder.
There are a handful of games I want to explore and play but have not poured over the rules and/or not found a Game Master to run them for me. As like I would guess many of you loved the hell out of Firefly the TV show so would love to play the Serenity RPG. And from Fate I want to play Dresden Files RPG. I am willing to explore others to see what else is out there but I am easy to please.
So what is my take away all of these rulesets? The approach matters. There are loads of rules and suggestions in Dungeon World that, in my opinion, are worth getting the book and giving it a read through. It will help any D&D group tie their characters together. I cannot recommend this more.
Mutants & Masterminds is a game that is way front heavy on several factors. Making a character can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. It is very easy to make a characters who is strong and just wants to punch. But the game is built on a balance scale. It is a fact you cannot make a character like Hulk who can dish out loads of damage and hit all the time. You also can be really hard to hit or really hard to be damaged, but not both. This sliding scale keeps the game balanced but makes replicating certain notable heroes hard or impossible. But the classless customization is off the charts.
Having done a classless LARP for years I loved the M&M system. The game is also a sliding power scale as well, which can mechanically lock your players into an area of power and not be able to go higher until you as the GM declare the group has moved up or it never changes. This means for most games your power level is locked in, never changing and you have a complete character. If you tell most D&D players we are going to play a D&D game with 10th level characters, but you are never going to gain a level, the looks you get will be ridiculous. That is because D&D players are trained to expect leveling up. M&M is not that way. There is something to learn from that.
Cypher System in all its iterations has an interesting mechanic — you actually spend your experience points to achieve success at times. So you have to make the choice to either hold onto your XP so you can level up your abilities or to succeed in tasks, potentially preventing damage, to complete your mission. It is complex and genius. The two GMs I played these games with were on opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to giving out XP. One allowed the XP to flow like the running rapids, while the other gave it out as infrequently as possible. At times I recall not getting any from a session at all. This makes spending XP so much harder when it is that infrequent.
So when I want to run a game, I look at all the options and see what is out there. I am not limited to D&D though it is and probably always will be my favorite. The FFG Star Wars system has a great mechanic I would like to use instead of Inspiration that would be cool for villain battles. I’m still trying to play around with it. I already mentioned how Dungeon World’s character creation rules ties characters in the party better than any other game rules set I have seen.
So read those other rules, play those other games and see how it can make your gaming experience better. It might be what you feel the game is lacking or what you desperately want to avoid at your table. Me, I am going to keep trying new games whenever I get the chance. Thanks for reading all the way through my rambling.