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Author Topic: Is the d20 system essential for the Midnight experience ?  (Read 4912 times)
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Satyros
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« on: March 29, 2014, 01:53:49 PM »

Let's assume for a moment that the storytelling experience of any role playing game is ( to a degree ) tied to the RPG system itself , since the way all things are translated from story to rules and even the very nature of the task resolution mechanic influences ( again , to a degree ) the storytelling experience .

If this assumption is true , then how would you answer the question in the title of the thread ?

Is the d20 system essential is capturing the heroic role that the PC's have to play in the struggle against the Shadow ?

Or perhaps you feel that the d20 system is unsuitable and perhaps you think that a deadlier and "grimdark" system would tell a better story , from the player standpoint ?

Where would you place the storytelling emphasis ? On the heroic resistance , or the hopeless struggle ?

The kind of story we would like to narrate should dictate ( to a degree ) the general nature and feel of the system used .
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2014, 12:12:21 AM »

Judging by the amount of people playing Midnight with a different system (Savage Worlds, Burning Wheel, M&M, Unisystem, etc...), then i'd say no.

Where would you place the storytelling emphasis ? On the heroic resistance , or the hopeless struggle ?

This one i feel is not really related to the system you may decide to use, but rather the tone you want to set to the game. Heroic desperate resistance, fighting against all odds, the world is against you (even the people you help might not appreciate it), the light at the end of the tunnel signifying that maybe you can make the world a better place.... that's how i see it, at least.
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Satyros
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2014, 02:23:02 AM »

A system like d20 certainly sets the tone of the game in many aspects .

This is why I a talking about an "appropriate" system .

The things the heroes can/cannot do and the extend of their capabilities has a direct effect on the tone of the adventures in a setting like Midnight , which is expected ( another basic assumption ) to be highly dangerous for the heroes . These factors are regulated by the system and this is why I am posing the question .

Assuming that we'd play with a crunchy system , that is ...

( this is not a far fetched assumption since Midnight was introduced in a "crunchy" system )
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2014, 01:27:08 PM »

D20 offers a fine standpoint for any game to be run with. Is it essential to telling a good story of a heroic struggle against impossible odds? No.

Largely, telling a good story rests with the G.M. and the people playing with them. The system gives us a guideline of how to interact with the world. It gives various limits on much ability we have to influence the things around us. If you want a gritty, and darker system then sure there are lots of them to play with. In D20, there are many supplemental rules that allow for that kind of thing, such as Hit location, Armor as DR, Wounds/Vitality.

If you want to tell of a story with heroic resistance, give the party a series of potential tasks that are not necessarily deadly if they just "stick to the script" and do "what's good enough," but give them a chance to play heroes if they want. If they succeed a handful of times have someone recount to them what they did and praise them for it. If you want a story of overwhelming odds, make all the enemies have class levels, make them smart, have them use their overwhelming numbers to keep the party on the move. Add betrayals from those the party trusts, or make other "good" guys make a bad judgement call every now and again. If you don't like where things are going, let the story take over from time to time.
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2014, 08:45:28 AM »

Hi,
As many around here, I would answer "No" to the question.
It's rather easy to answer this question once you've created your own Rpg setting and start to thing about which ruleset to use for it. Then, you realize how much settings have different flavors, emphasize some aspects more than others.

IMO, the rules set must have its part in the atmosphere of the game. I believe FFG has chosen D20 because of its simplicity and being common. It did play its job regarding the "heroic paths" for instance. D20 is a nice frameset to manage when you want to adapt your game... but

It doesn't emphasize some aspects of the setting like: the tragedy, the despair, the fight against all odds and so on.
Focusing on the storytelling is indeed a good alternative but when it comes to resolving a task, a combat or a maneuver, the mechanics of the game should bring some flavor as well.
This is why I've chosen Rolemaster/ Harp for running my games. The Rules offer a variety of possibilities. Thus, one lucky arrow can be lethal, for killing your foe or yourself.
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2014, 04:44:28 AM »

I'd agree that system does indeed shape the 'feel' and the story of a game; part of the reason for Runequest's longevity alongside AD&D is that it provided the chance to do superficially similar things in a very different fashion.  Both were fantasy adventure games, with a presumed focus on combat and character development (and even similar stat-lines)... but the expression of those things in play tended to feel very different indeed; even where each was used to portray the same setting, they provided different gaming experiences.

Before I ever discovered Midnight, I'd already used RQ's combat and advancement system for more 'gritty', 'realistic' and 'dark' games, including historical ones.  I've considered using it for Midnight, since it does a very good job indeed of making combat feel risky - while allowing characters to still aspire to heroism (unlike some of the more recent consciously 'realistic' combat systems, that can have a tendency to just kill all PCs in short order).

For a somewhat different focus (but still with a rather gritty and dangerous feel to combat), I've considered using WFRP (either 1st or 2nd edition): a system in which civilian careers consist of sets of abilities and options, rather than simply being crippled versions of 'adventuring' classes.  A character who starts out as a common farmer isn't "wasting" a level or "losing" XP to useless things - he's got a batch of positive abilities which can then be built on as he finds opportunities to study other things.

"Two labourers, a farmer's son, and a herbalist try to hold back the dark" is the sort of model that fits Midnight rather well.  The characters might wind up as heroes barely recognisable to their former selves, but systems that put their original selves at the core and foundation of their progress would seem appropriate.  And in RQ or WFRP, the skills learned as a teenage country girl can still be of direct use to a great hero - unlike D20, in which the handful of points acquired as a level 1 Commoner will swiftly become meaningless.
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2014, 10:56:19 AM »

How would the concept of heroic paths fit in RQ or WFRP (if at all)? I have never read/played either, but I am always intrigued by how other systems might mesh with Midnight.
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2014, 05:41:38 AM »

WFRP uses pretty standard concepts of XP... so you could easily enough provide a tier of Heroic Path at certain increments of XP.  XP's based on the challenges overcome as they relate to the PCs' competence, rather than fixed-rate measures - so the rate of XP acquisition tends to remain pretty steady.  A challenging session is a challenging session, whether the characters were clueless civilians using shovels to put down a single zombie or veteran adventurers using arcane powers while politicking with demigods, so there probably wouldn't need to be any scaling (as with the increased difficuilty of levelling in AD&D) - a level of path every few hundred XP would probably work.


Runequest employed the then-radical idea of characters improving through direct experience and training - so the skills you use stand a chance of improving, and you can consciously seek out training in particular areas.  Thus, there are no XP, no equivalents to levels, nor any other obvious mechanical triggers for heroic path development....

But since a lot of GMs abandon XP-tracking under D20 variants and have people level-up when it seems narratively appropriate, the same could easily be done for heroic paths.  Especially so if there's a campaign storyline mapped out in advance.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2014, 05:46:05 AM by Exile » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2016, 10:15:43 AM »

Hello AtS, it's been a LONG time.  Wow, what a long time.

After reading through some of the recent posts here, I feel I need to talk a little to this one after looking at different RPGs and what is happening with them.

One that stood out to me, is Rifts (Palladium Books) is coming to Savage Worlds.  I mention this, because of this topic and around the fact "Can you capture the essence?".  Even if you feel a system is broken, sometimes, that system, is really what makes a world concept build around the system, work in the first place.

I've also been involved in conversions of Midnight, and always found they fell a little short.

In the end, Midnight, was designed to work with d20, and was modified to fit (being a part of the play test group for 2E of Midnight, I can attest greatly to that).  We did try to change the feel, and a lot of the change came with the Spells.  I think where some of the "super hero" aspects are maybe too much for Midnight at times, does come from the d20 system itself.  It's simply inherent.  In say AD&D 2nd Edition, you would slowly over time, gain "power" slower and slower, and with dramatic slower experience and level gain.  Unless you were a Wizard and maybe a Priest (which is crippled in the right ways I think for Midnight) you needed Magic Items to really escalate in power.  I think an older system, like 1E, 2E AD&D almost suite Midnight better, and we did look at doing a C&C conversion (I still have this in mind as the best system for Midnight, the SIEGE system, which keeps the D&D feel for Midnight but tones it back to a 1E/2E feel and removes the "super hero-ness" that is inherent to the Feat and Progression system of d20).

Honestly, from a pure re-write perspective, there is a lot of systems that could work.  But, if you want it to be "D&D" then you need a system that feels like D&D.  The only other system that I find could be interesting, would be the Lord of the Rings system - which would turn Midnight into a different parallel like dimension of Middle Earth (but, would be very not D&D - but would work well for people familiar with that style of setting/tone).


Happy to see, this place is still alive (well, it's a little dusty...).

Happy Hunting!

-PhadeOut
« Last Edit: January 07, 2016, 10:18:15 AM by PhadeOut » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2016, 06:25:32 AM »

I've ran Midnight with D20, a White Wolf D10 dice pool hack, H.A.R.P., and Novus.  Smiley  Sure, different systems give a slightly different feel but it is more like looking at the setting through a different set of lenses.   
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2016, 01:56:56 AM »

I've never run Midnight, but I plan to soon. I'm doing The Midnight hack, to bring The Black hat OSR game over to the Midnight Setting. Easy to do, as long as you're not trying to replicate 3.5ed. It'll feel a bit D&D like without any weight to the rules.

The setting would work just as well with an endless number of systems. I'd consider Dungwon World with the Grim World add on, 13th Age with some new Icons driving the narrative, Mythras/RQ6 for some battering heroics, Savage (well cos you can pulp up and Savage anything), Fate Core, Fantasy Age (working on the magic) etc.

And that's just a few toolkits on my shelves.
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« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2016, 08:01:04 PM »

There are a lot of systems out there that could handle it.  I wonder what a Warhammer hack of it would look like?  I've yet to play or run a game of Warhammer, but it is on my bucket list (everyone says I will love it).
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2016, 06:21:08 PM »

I agree with most others in that I believe you can run Midnight in most systems. Not every system is set up to perfectly mirror all the particular abilities that a character would get in 'standard' Midnight, but that's okay! You don't have to have everything matched point for point, as long as everything still fits the intent and flavor.

For instance, I was in a game that used Mutants and Masterminds as its base. My Channeler didn't have anywhere near the complement of spells he would have in D&D, and I got hung up for a while on trying to replicate what he "should" have had - but of course,  it didn't really matter. The point of a Channeler is that they have magic, that magic is powerful, hated and feared by the Shadow, and using that magic drains them.

So, I feel as long as you can make things feel right in whatever system you're in, you're probably good to go. There are often some things you need to twist or remove in order to get things properly grim, but the standard campaign setting does that to base 3.5 D&D, too, so that just makes sense! A couple of the main points I think are important to hold to:

  • Magic needs to be kept to a low ebb. Make it very clear that spellcasters are almost as dangerous to the Resistance as to the Shadow, because they are hunted above all others (and worse still, more easily tracked and detected as well!). This is particularly important in terms of magical healing - it's rare, valuable, and very often not worth it - what's the point in healing up if it just brings an astirax down on you?
  • Magic items as well need to be very rare. This is related to the above, but still important in its own right.
  • VP, not GP. Aryth works on the barter system. It's very different to how most campaigns run, and GMs need to keep the scarcity of...well, everything, in mind.

There are other points that need to be held to in order to maintain the feel of it all, but I'm in a hurry and can't spare the time to think of them just now. If I come up with any later on, I'll add to this. Everyone else? What's essential to the feel of Midnight that system-porters need to keep in mind?
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« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2017, 02:03:38 AM »

Interesting topic, and I really like Phadeout's thoughts on the system-setting interaction. I can give you some insight into how the development process went, which might be interesting to some of you (and may provide fuel for both sides of the argument Wink ).

Jeff and Greg developed the setting and brought it to FFG during my time there, although I was laser focused on Legends & Lairs so I was only vaguely aware of what was happening with it until Greg produced the teaser booklet (for Gen Con 2002?). I was totally committed to innovating within the d20 System at that time, and that was my primary role on the core book, lead rules designer. As such, I had to think about which elements of the D20/D&D experience needed to be perverted in order to achieve the right feel and encourage a different mindset for both players and GMs. Some of that work naturally turned into setting material, such as the astirax, while the setting suggested certain rules adjustments or additions, such as the slightly more powerful races and classes.

Midnight, to me, is all about TONE. Midnight is like a tone glaze on your donut of choice. If you've got your setting donut, but don't know what rules glaze to add, you could use the rules of Midnight and they will set the tone for your game. On the other hand, you could really be down for a particular kind of rules donut, but not be sure what kind of setting glaze to dip it in. The descriptive and narrative elements of Midnight will ooze over your rules like Spider-Man's symbiote suit. Midnight is found in both sides of the coin, so the real question is "how much Midnight do you want?" Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2017, 06:00:28 PM »

Wil!  Good to see you around still!

What are you working on these days?

Glad for the comments about Tone and how it effects the setting so dramatically as we worked on the same thing.  I would love to see Midnight brought back to the fold, but like my older posts goes to show (and Rifts being a good example) sometimes it's better left alone or you lose the original feel forever.  I can even say this is very true for say 5E D&D vs old school versions... The rules (and their caveats) really can set the tone for what people have as the "feel" for the game or setting.

Cheers!

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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2017, 10:14:35 PM »

Wil!  Good to see you around still!

What are you working on these days?

Glad for the comments about Tone and how it effects the setting so dramatically as we worked on the same thing.  I would love to see Midnight brought back to the fold, but like my older posts goes to show (and Rifts being a good example) sometimes it's better left alone or you lose the original feel forever.  I can even say this is very true for say 5E D&D vs old school versions... The rules (and their caveats) really can set the tone for what people have as the "feel" for the game or setting.

Cheers!



I'm glad to see people still around! Midnight's pretty rad.

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