New Blood

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

New Blood

Postby 77IM » Thu May 07, 2009 11:10 am

So, one of the stated goals for Dragon Age RPG (DARP?) is that it be a good intro game for new roleplayers, something to help people get into the hobby:

Pramas wrote:"Something old, something new, something needed, something overdue."
Here I was getting at the nature of the game and what I'm trying to do with it. The pen & paper game shares some structure with the computer game, but uses its own system. "Something old" refers to the class and level nature of the game, which go back to the dawn of RPGs. "Something new" is the system I buit using it and other structural elements of the computer game. As for "something needed," I was talking about a really good intro game for new roleplayers. I don't think D&D has had that since the early 80s (hence "something overdue") and the tabletop roleplaying hobby needs new blood. It is not a coincidence that the first release is a boxed set.


I'm curious: What do people think are the characteristics of a good introductory RPG?

Here is a blog post by Pramas that might shed some insight: http://www.chrispramas.com/2008/06/4e-a ... ayers.html

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Postby mhensley » Thu May 07, 2009 11:14 am

The Black Box Basic D&D set is probably the best example of how to do a beginner's rpg. Simple rules with a programmed format that teach you bit by bit with lots of examples. Plus there was a solo adventure to get you started.
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Postby 77IM » Thu May 07, 2009 11:43 am

Here are some random thoughts I have about what a noob-friendly RPG might look like.

- A really straightforward "action" system. In my experience, new players (or even experienced players trying a new system) don't usually think in terms of "here's how much stuff I can do in my turn," they think in terms of "here's what I want to do; hey Mr. GM, can I do that on my turn?"

- A character sheet organized by "when is this information relevant." New players tend to forget about their special powers and abilities, and that's lame. This is particularly true of "reaction" powers -- things that happen on other people's turns.

- Favor plain English over strange terminology and structured text, even if it bloats the rules a bit. You can assume new players can read, but don't assume that they will notice some special descriptor/keyword buried in a spell's header text, because they may not be accustomed to interpreting technical information.

- Lots of GM hand-holding. A really good bestiary is very helpful (4e's Monster Manual and encounter-building rules are a great example). Adventures are also great, especially if they are constructed to provide the GM with examples of how to structure adventures and build encounters (a series of short adventures may be better for this than one big mega adventure). An "intro" adventure that tells everyone what to do at every step might also work.

- Cheat Sheets. A GM's screen is good but it might benefit the players to also have a sheet of high-level "play sequence and common tasks" to refer to.

- Starts simple, grows complex with level. This gives everybody the chance to learn the basics at level 1, and as they gain levels, more options become available. I really liked how the old Basic D&D box sets (red box, blue box, blue-green box, etc.) withheld higher levels until a later box, and with them brought more complex powers and spells and items, and also rules subsystems (like planar travel and mass combat and becoming a paladin).

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Postby The-Broken-One » Thu May 07, 2009 3:46 pm

yeh i'd buy into that approach, it'd also work really well as a way to market it video game and ccg fans asince it'll keep em buying to find out more.

the only hard sell will be the pc crowd since they probably wont see the point in a pen and paper version of a perfectly good computer game.
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Postby 77IM » Mon May 11, 2009 4:37 pm

I wonder if they will sell the PnP game in video game stores? Like, often when you buy a video game they try to sell you a strategy guide at the same time. Wouldn't it be cool if there, on the shelf with all the Dragon Age video game boxes, were a few plump, juicy box sets? People who bought the game and liked it would recall the presence of those box sets and might return for more...

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Postby pathfinderap » Wed May 13, 2009 9:08 am

I doubt it 77IM, Did you ever see the World of Warcraft or the EverQuest PnP game on sale at the same place/time as the video games?

nope,

but if they released the PnP RPG with the Dragon Age video game as a limited edition box set that would rock, and just maybe bring some new players to the hobby
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Postby The-Broken-One » Wed May 13, 2009 10:05 am

I can see it being sold in some stores but more likely it'll be on the counter near the ccg's than taking up shelf space, i hope they do a limited edition of the game that comes with the boxset though(even if its just the pc version) coz that'd save alot of time if they dont stock it in gamestores.
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Postby Iltsuger » Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:39 am

I only recently learned about the black box basic while researching old DnD versions. I still sort of wonder what the rules were relative to all the DnD rules I've known before and since it was released...
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Postby mhensley » Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:07 am

Iltsuger wrote:I only recently learned about the black box basic while researching old DnD versions. I still sort of wonder what the rules were relative to all the DnD rules I've known before and since it was released...


IIRC, the rules were the same as the previous basic rules- they were just presented in a neat way via a set of cards that led you through them step by step.
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Postby Radioactive Ape Colin » Sat Nov 14, 2009 3:01 pm

Red Box Basic D&D did it perfectly for a LOT of young folks, myself included. Particularly the Mentzer set which started you on the path of learning the rules with a really simply, nicely illustrated and short "choose your path" solo adventure in the start, accompanied with plenty of clear explanations and a friendly tone. It also included a nice simple adventure that held the GM's hand through running a basic dungeon crawl adventure. By the time you'd done both you were already versed in the system basics and how a game runs even if you'd never encountered an rpg before.

So, most of the suggestions here have already been done, very successfully. Basic D&D was what a LOT of existing older gamers cut their gaming teeth on.

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Postby Iltsuger » Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:46 am

OK, so Mentzer = black box. I read about it, how it used cards and easy instructions. I guess I just passed over it completely because like you I was already familiar with it through the red box, through the loose books and through being taught the game by experienced players.

A lot of the upper-tier rules I never got to, because we tended to play low-level campaigns. That, and when you can't find players, you get to create a lot of first-level characters :)
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Postby Radioactive Ape Colin » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:01 am

No, Mentzer isn't Black Box: it used no cards, miniatures, or any such cruft; just nice and easy to use introductory pieces like I mentioned. This is the Mentzer boxed set (in all its red glory):

Image

It came out in 1983 and included a 64-page book for players and a 48-page book for Dungeon Masters, with 6 dice and a crayon (in those days we had to colour our dice in).

The black box you mention was released by WotC in 2004 and according to all accounts was merely a stepping stone to buying and playing full-on D&D3.5e, NOT truly its own self-contained rpg (which is what red box Basic D&D was). Just like Dragon Age, the '83 Basic set was expanded as *its own gameline* followed by Expert, Companion, Masters, and Immortals boxed sets.

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