Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I've lured Pat out into the open.

Pat responded to me calling him out in an earlier blog entry. You can read his entire comments a little further down. I'm going to quote a couple of passages.

Basically, a D20 Modern (yes, I still sing it's praises) game, taking chunks of OGL steampunk, BESM, CoC D20 and ADVENTURE! Adressing my Winter Steele theorum, probably there would be suitable mods for ramping up players, maybe Action Points for benny action, nine lives or dramatic healing from Skull&Bones, even giving all PCs the Daring Template. I'd have to account for money/wealth, magic item availability, power level, cost, function, spells and other dissonant elements. Greyhawk is tenuously high magic in concept, but I'd prefer, as a lazy GM, to leave the 5th level spell limit of D20MOD, and make odd effects by GM fiat and greenronin's Modern Magic ritual system.

See, this is the reason why I think Pat is the kinda guy who should be running d20. He can take disparate items from various publishers and combine elements from them to actualize a clear vision. Pat has the potential to be the Doctor Zharkov of d20.
Here's the part where it gets tricky:I do think of this stuff, but have similar questions to you, ie: who'll play this? couldn't I just use Savage Worlds? Am I, Gamist, comfortable with storytelling? I've run dungeons before, but a campaign? mini campaign? how far from source am i going? spiralling house rules ending in fantasy heartbreaker wannabe? Will the kids dig Shadowrun minus the net?
All of those seem like good questions to address prior to undertaking this sort of Frankensteinian system mayhem. "Couldn't I just use Savage Worlds?" is a question I've asked myself more than once regarding the Six Islands. I have yet to find a good answer, but I'm always reminded of a thread on from about a year ago. Some 3E dude was wanting to initiate some non-gamers and rules-light types. He was fishing around for a watered down version of D&D with easier char gen and less maddening combat. Guess what got suggested? (Of course, part of me is still holding out for Castles & Crusades. I'm hearing a lot of chatter about how the new book allows for a lot of d20 stuff to be bolted onto it with little fuss.) It was then that I started to realize exactly how closely the systems were aligned. Compared to, say, Storyteller or the majority of indie stuff coming out of the Forge, SW looks a hell of a lot like 3E's ornery little brother. The teachers at D&D's old school probably think they know exactly how SW is going to act in their class. I guess I'm now in do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do territory as I type this, but I kinda think that if it takes Savage Worlds to get your game into actual play, then go ahead an use Savage Worlds. I don't take my own advice for several reasons:
  • I'm a D&D man. To run a fantasy campaign without using D&D just plain rubs me the wrong way. Especially considering how much money I've invested in umpteen editions of the rules.
  • Part of the initial concept of the 6 Islands Campaign was to do D&D with a more freak-intensive setting. To switch to a non-D&D system would be like painting an oil painting with watercolors. You still have a picture when you're done, but it ain't an oil painting.
  • I'm a hugeass hypocrite.
Let's move on, shall we? I don't like dwelling on that last point too much. As far as the relationship between gamism and campaigning, I really don't think one has to wander far from a gamist agenda, nor do you have to drop the dungeon as your paradigm. Many mission-based campaigns I have seen are nothing more than dungeon-of-the-week play with implicit victory conditions. That's why I explicitly structured my last AD&D campaign in that manner. All you need is a meaty hook that easily sets up missions. Maybe the PCs are a squad of Lara Croftian artifact hunters, seeking out relics for the forces of the Hierophants. Maybe they are the Queen of Celene's League of Extraodinary Half-Elves, and engage in weird espionage type assigments. Or maybe you ought to just stock a huge outdoor map so we can play explorers into Darkest Hepmonoland. Or swipe my idea of renaming the Horned Society as the Thule Society and make the campaign all about breaking Nazis. I hate those guys. With just a little bit of this sort of structure, scenario writing becomes much easier. Hell, you could rip off the plot of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo and make each ghost the boss monster of a different mini-dungeon. There's a 13 session mini-campaign right there. [beavis voice]Thank you, drive through.[/beavis voice]

Frankly, I see no reason why you should give a crap about creating a "fantasy heartbreaker wannabe". You're not looking to publish this idea, are you? You can be as kinky with d20 as you want in the privacy of your own home. Scaring off players is a legit concern, but at least we have a player pool to draw on. I think "guns in dungeons" ought to draw in a goodly portion of the D&D set, especially when we're talking about a d20 operation. If you put together a good players guide with full character creation rules, a useful combat summary, and a minimal campaign overview, I bet you could get the two or three extra people needed to get this puppy rolling.

"Will the kids dig Shadowrun minus the net?" God I hope so. The future is here and teh intarweb suxxors. These days I wouldn't be able to run a hacking sequence with a straight face if my life depended on it. "Okay, you spend d8 days sifting through pornsites and Nigerian scams only to find that your target is running a Windows box. No need to roll to infiltrate."

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