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Michael Barnes
August 18, 2022
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Godtear Beats the Odds - Review

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thegiantbrain
August 18, 2022
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August 11, 2022
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August 10, 2022
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August 09, 2022
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August 04, 2022
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August 01, 2022
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Scout Board Game Review

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July 29, 2022
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July 28, 2022
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July 27, 2022
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July 25, 2022
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The Split - Review

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July 21, 2022
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Call of the Netherdeep - D&D 5E At It’s Best- Review

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25 Mar 2022 13:37 #331855 by Michael Barnes
>>>Would you recommend this for someone that loathes 5e and Forgotten Realms?

It kind of depends on what you loath about it?

I’m finding this setting more interesting and dynamic and it also feels “next gen” for lack of a better term in how it by default presents a more diverse setting. It also feels modern in that it’s not drawing on decades of archaic D&D lore, it feels more in tune with modern fantasy references. For examples, JRPGs are a big influence rather than Conan.

But it also still has some core D&D elements- Vecna and Lloth are there for example- but it feels kind of remixed.

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25 Mar 2022 13:51 #331856 by barrowdown

Michael Barnes wrote: >>>Would you recommend this for someone that loathes 5e and Forgotten Realms?

It kind of depends on what you loath about it?

I’m finding this setting more interesting and dynamic and it also feels “next gen” for lack of a better term in how it by default presents a more diverse setting. It also feels modern in that it’s not drawing on decades of archaic D&D lore, it feels more in tune with modern fantasy references. For examples, JRPGs are a big influence rather than Conan.

But it also still has some core D&D elements- Vecna and Lloth are there for example- but it feels kind of remixed.


For 5e, I dislike the backloaded character creation and restrictive class structure. I prefer a very loose class structure (I usually run with no classes) that isn't baked into the setting.

For FR, it's too kitchen-sink with no coherence at the macro level and not weird/fantastical enough. I tend to bounce off of the generic European-centered that was popular in the 80s and 90s. The weird blending of a bunch of fantasy civilizations at wildly different development levels sitting side by side and huge amounts of magic with no impact on society just doesn't work for me. DCC, Mork Borg and my stripped down rules are the three variations I like for fantasy and they all can handle weird and unbalanced well. Forbidden Realms is basically fantasy Rifts but even less coherent.

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25 Mar 2022 14:38 #331857 by DarthJoJo

Michael Barnes wrote: Too much import is placed on the edition/rules as written.

Yes and no. Sure, a session of Dungeons and Dragons isn’t going to fall apart because you accidentally let a gagged sorcerer cast a spell with a verbal component, but if you don’t care about that, why are you playing a game with those rules?

Home brews and house rules made a lot more sense before the Internet, when you had three choices of systems, but now you can find the rules right for you. Want relationships and no combat? Monsterhearts. Like Star Wars? Here are rules by West End, Wizards, and Fantasy Flight. Horror? Dread. Metal Bands? Umlaut. Colonialism? Dog Eat Dog. Fantasy Mormons? Dogs in the Vineyard. Literally anything? Microscope.

You can calculate encumbrance, or you can tell a story with friends with the gauziest veneer of rules.The options are there. Probably on DriveThruRPG.
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25 Mar 2022 16:05 #331859 by barrowdown

Shellhead wrote: Oh wow: www.kickstarter.com/projects/midnight-to....projectdomino47.com


Why 5e? I know its because it's popular, but from a playability standpoint, why that system? I cannot imagine that there isn't a better system for what appears to be a social encounter-heavy mystery. Even dueling would be better handled by a system that allows for more structured rules around 1-on-1 combat (like BRP/Mythras or AGE).

Is there a rules expansion in one of the WotC books that makes cinematic back and forth duels viable? Having the DM just wing it doesn't count because I can do that with whatever system I want.
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25 Mar 2022 16:25 #331860 by charlest
I love the "system matters" discussions and totally agree.

I'm not up to date with all of the various current offerings, but there has to be something with descriptive stats a la In a Wicked Age that would work so much better.

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25 Mar 2022 16:50 #331861 by Shellhead

barrowdown wrote: Why 5e? I know its because it's popular, but from a playability standpoint, why that system?


How many backers would they lose if it was designed for a less popular rpg system? How many would they gain?

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25 Mar 2022 17:06 #331863 by Michael Barnes
With 5E it has a potential reach of an estimated 50 million players. With another system you are looking at a fraction of that. Like, 500 for an indie zine, maybe 5000 for a larger published system.
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25 Mar 2022 17:10 #331864 by barrowdown

Shellhead wrote:

barrowdown wrote: Why 5e? I know its because it's popular, but from a playability standpoint, why that system?


How many backers would they lose if it was designed for a less popular rpg system? How many would they gain?


Good question. I have no idea and no real idea on how to figure that out, but maybe not that much if they are good at what they do?

ENworld Top KS List

Looking at ENWorld's list of top TTRPG KS's, there are 15 (I'm counting Mothership because it did make $1M, but the list is older) that have made over $1M, with ten being 5e. The other five feature two popular licenses (The One Ring and Avatar), two more are reboots/reprints of systems (technically three, but I already counted TOR as a license) leaving only Coyote & Crow as a new non-5e property.

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25 Mar 2022 18:47 #331868 by Michael Barnes
I really want Coyote and Crow. It looks great.

Mothership blew up because it was the only SF horror game in town and it really filled a niche. It’s a good game, I’ve run some great sessions of it. But I gotta say, the Alien RPG kind of shunted it odd to the side.

And it is actually a great argument pro “system matters”. Even though it is Free League’s core system, it works really well with the psychological elements and it plays REALLY well as a one shot “cinematic” game because it handles PVP and has PCs with secret objectives/agendas.

I really don’t get with 5E how people can’t figure out how to make it more OSR…I mean, there are tons of great VERY OSR modules for it. Kobold Press’s Scarlet Citadel is practically an old school Gygaxian mega dungeon module. There are books like Glimmering Stones of The Ioun King and Colossus Wake that have some more indie and gonzo sorts of things going on. The excellent Dungeon Age series (PDF only on DTRPG) is all about the super minimal presentation and skill based play. There is even an OSR variant of 5E, Five Torches Deep, that specifically makes it play more like B/X.

I’ve not single time with 5E felt “this system can’t do this” or “this system doesn’t do this well” aside from the Vancian magic, which I’ve never liked. The reasons I haven’t is because I really took to heart that line that used to be in all RPG books “this is YOUR game”. 5E is -extraordinarily- flexible. With ther Jane Austen thing you could easily add some backgrounds or classes, “Debonair Suitor” for example, add abilities appropriate to the setting,, maybe even some new skills. All using the basic DC/D20 mechanism, which is practically universally applicable in The right rules context.

But on the flip side, it totally wouldn’t work in DCC because that system is designed for big, stupid heroic moments, unpredictable outcomes, and catastrophic failures

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25 Mar 2022 20:13 #331869 by DarthJoJo

Michael Barnes wrote: I’ve not single time with 5E felt “this system can’t do this” or “this system doesn’t do this well” aside from the Vancian magic, which I’ve never liked. The reasons I haven’t is because I really took to heart that line that used to be in all RPG books “this is YOUR game”. 5E is -extraordinarily- flexible. With ther Jane Austen thing you could easily add some backgrounds or classes, “Debonair Suitor” for example, add abilities appropriate to the setting,, maybe even some new skills. All using the basic DC/D20 mechanism, which is practically universally applicable in The right rules context.

Herein lies the rub. Yes, roll a d20, add modifiers, check against difficulty is very easy adapt to any setting. You could run it in a Jane Austen setting to check whether you’ve properly perceived a suitor’s intentions or to snipe a queen alien with your laser rifle.

I just find it a profoundly uninteresting mechanic after playing things like Fiasco, especially regarding social elements. Why do I need to role to lie? Why can’t I just tell a plausible story?

I think a d20 system does better fit combat, but it still grinds everything to a halt as you’re constantly calculating damage and health. The handful of of role play podcasts I’ve listened to have always been at their least interesting when fights drag. And they always drag.

The difference, to me, between the super rules lite and the comparatively gritty of 5e is the difference between storytelling and improvising. There are all sorts of stories online of a player rolling a crit to kill the villain in their first encounter. It can be memorable, but it isn’t as satisfying as collaboratively building to something in Microscope. The trade off is storytelling requires more maturity. The players have to give and take and have to let someone else be the lead sometimes. Heavier rules give a structure to keep people from doing whatever they want whenever.
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25 Mar 2022 21:35 #331870 by Gary Sax
People do not like to learn games and new systems. That is only something that board game and RPG perverts like us do. To me, that explains the 5ed attraction.
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25 Mar 2022 21:54 #331871 by DarthJoJo
I get that. It doesn’t matter how good a game is if there’s no one else who wants to learn the rules and play. My real biggest complaint with 5e is that it’s so massive that it sucks the oxygen out of the room for alternatives just like Magic does to other CCGs.
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25 Mar 2022 22:34 - 25 Mar 2022 22:36 #331872 by charlest

DarthJoJo wrote:

Michael Barnes wrote: I’ve not single time with 5E felt “this system can’t do this” or “this system doesn’t do this well” aside from the Vancian magic, which I’ve never liked. The reasons I haven’t is because I really took to heart that line that used to be in all RPG books “this is YOUR game”. 5E is -extraordinarily- flexible. With ther Jane Austen thing you could easily add some backgrounds or classes, “Debonair Suitor” for example, add abilities appropriate to the setting,, maybe even some new skills. All using the basic DC/D20 mechanism, which is practically universally applicable in The right rules context.

Herein lies the rub. Yes, roll a d20, add modifiers, check against difficulty is very easy adapt to any setting. You could run it in a Jane Austen setting to check whether you’ve properly perceived a suitor’s intentions or to snipe a queen alien with your laser rifle.

I just find it a profoundly uninteresting mechanic after playing things like Fiasco, especially regarding social elements. Why do I need to role to lie? Why can’t I just tell a plausible story?

I think a d20 system does better fit combat, but it still grinds everything to a halt as you’re constantly calculating damage and health. The handful of of role play podcasts I’ve listened to have always been at their least interesting when fights drag. And they always drag.

The difference, to me, between the super rules lite and the comparatively gritty of 5e is the difference between storytelling and improvising. There are all sorts of stories online of a player rolling a crit to kill the villain in their first encounter. It can be memorable, but it isn’t as satisfying as collaboratively building to something in Microscope. The trade off is storytelling requires more maturity. The players have to give and take and have to let someone else be the lead sometimes. Heavier rules give a structure to keep people from doing whatever they want whenever.


Not to get too nerdy, but there is also a fundamental difference in D&D's task based resolution system and a system that is based on conflict resolution.

It's not just about modifying material to include a new class or reward XP based on what you want players to do, the system is how players build and contribute to the narrative. It's how they interface with it. You can tack all kinds of bells and whistles onto that interface, but it won't change how it functions at the base level.

For instance, a game like Primetime Adventures uses conflict resolution to control who narrates the outcome of a scene, not to determine whether your character succeeds or is competent at a specific task.

As people have stated, D&D is obviously popular because it has market share (similar to Warhammer), and if you want to find a group it's much easier if you want to play D&D as opposed to My Life With Master.
Last edit: 25 Mar 2022 22:36 by charlest.
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25 Mar 2022 23:22 - 25 Mar 2022 23:28 #331873 by Sagrilarus

DarthJoJo wrote:

Michael Barnes wrote: I’ve not single time with 5E felt “this system can’t do this” or “this system doesn’t do this well” aside from the Vancian magic, which I’ve never liked. The reasons I haven’t is because I really took to heart that line that used to be in all RPG books “this is YOUR game”. 5E is -extraordinarily- flexible. With ther Jane Austen thing you could easily add some backgrounds or classes, “Debonair Suitor” for example, add abilities appropriate to the setting,, maybe even some new skills. All using the basic DC/D20 mechanism, which is practically universally applicable in The right rules context.

Herein lies the rub. Yes, roll a d20, add modifiers, check against difficulty is very easy adapt to any setting. You could run it in a Jane Austen setting to check whether you’ve properly perceived a suitor’s intentions or to snipe a queen alien with your laser rifle.

I just find it a profoundly uninteresting mechanic after playing things like Fiasco, especially regarding social elements. Why do I need to role to lie? Why can’t I just tell a plausible story?

I think a d20 system does better fit combat, but it still grinds everything to a halt as you’re constantly calculating damage and health. The handful of of role play podcasts I’ve listened to have always been at their least interesting when fights drag. And they always drag.

The difference, to me, between the super rules lite and the comparatively gritty of 5e is the difference between storytelling and improvising. There are all sorts of stories online of a player rolling a crit to kill the villain in their first encounter. It can be memorable, but it isn’t as satisfying as collaboratively building to something in Microscope. The trade off is storytelling requires more maturity. The players have to give and take and have to let someone else be the lead sometimes. Heavier rules give a structure to keep people from doing whatever they want whenever.


There’s a lot of quality in what you wrote, and a part of why I wasn’t eager to keep moving up through the versions of D&D, in spite of playing weekly well into 3rd edition’s reign. In short, die rolls for everything are not only tedious but really disempowering. A good DM will plow through that for things like feats of dexterity or strength, setting their own die-roll instead of looking to the rules. As for rolling to lie or to tell a good story . . . well, that shit is out the window unless you’re playing with people not intellectually capable of aiding in story development.

With each passing version of D&D there seemed to be more die rolls, more structure, in a genre that fundamentally favors a structureless environment. At the time I thought TSR was simply looking to sell everyone more rules, but when I got a chance to watch others play it became apparent that a lot of players needed the structure in order to not play flawless, stainless steel characters.

I think older, more experienced players (and this is not just RPGs) are more comfortable with house ruling to suit their group’s personality. D&D is rules-heavy, calls for more customization.
Last edit: 25 Mar 2022 23:28 by Sagrilarus.
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