Wednesday, November 5, 2014

That's The Way To Do It!

Try this game:

Tell WOTC how to renew their settings for 5th Edition in two sentences or less. You have to do at least three settings. Extra points if it seems like something they might actually do.

Here are mine...

Dragonlance

Still a high-fantasy adventure path--but gamify the players' attempt to stay on the path and play their character: each player gets an objective slipped to them secretly ("Kill at least four draconians before reaching Mindenhork") and they level up when they achieve the objectives--at which point they get a new one. Also subsidiary objectives worth xp--but monsters alone are worth little or nothing.

Kara Tur/Oriental Adventures

All the Kara Tur classes are feat-heavy 4e-style variants on the core classes. Lots of shoving people around the scenery, tactical combat and crazy stunts and all the feats have names like "Thousand Golden Mantis Lock".

Dark Sun

There's no good reason not to just release Dark Sun as a complete Carcosa-style hexcrawl from the get-go, accompanied by random tables (like these) for generating weird locals and villages. Without these details, the setting can be summed up in like 4 pictures and there's no need for most of what's in the boxed set.

Ravenloft

…is redone as essentially Call of Cthulhu Medieval. Or the Dark Country. Ravenloft itself is just a big gothic country or alternate earth but the characters start out as Old School-style useless 0-level funnel-fodder in a place with terrible communication and supply lines and have to scrabble and scrimp for class features and spells.

Eberron

Start by releasing it not as a standard setting book but as an alternate monster manual--with each standard creature rewritten--with no stats (or collapsed stats) but with info on how they fit into the politics and ecology of Eberron.
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25 comments:

trollsmyth said...

Birthright: the yummy, yummy chocolate inside the crunchy candy shell of mass combat and stronghold-building, territory-ruling mechanics. Also, play up the game-of-thrones struggles for the Iron Throne because duh!

piles said...

Dragonlance (setting, not module cycle)
Put the dragons more prominent as power houses in the setting. Everything should revolve around which dragon can you persuade to join your cause and at what cost. Similarly, which opposing/unwilling dragon can be disposed of, and at what cost? As the dragons are the proponents of their alignment, the interaction with dragons should be heavily determined by alignment: for instance by imposing a negative modifier equal to the steps away from the dragons alignment, squared (thus LE vs. CG = 4 steps and thus -16 modifier); LN,TN,CN are frowned upon and suffer an additional -2 modifier. Furthermore, since the temper of the Gods did directly affect Krynn (Cataclysm, turning away), actions along/against worshipped gods should have direct consequences (curses, boons, prophetic dreams/halucinations).

Dark Sun
Intensify the different aspects of Athas. Make defiler magic dangerous to the wielder; think of corruption. Do the same with psionics. Also, change psionic combat and make it mechanically similar to physical combat, with the difference that the end result is the taking effect of the aimed power. Develop a new magic beside the defiler and preserver; the sanctifier. Its magic makes the world a better place and its wielders are antagonists of the Templars. Place mutants in the wastelands (as a consequence of the defiler magic of long ago).

Planescape/Spelljammer
Make the different worlds just that: different worlds in a universe. The universe is filled with air and one can travel around in zeppelins, ships with sails, and any other vehicle drifting on the currents. The elemental planes are just other worlds where the particular aspect is (far) more prominent (ice planet, dust planet, fire planet, water planet; you get the idea). Of course there are many strange objects floating around, including the homes of the various Gods. It is said that Sigil is built within one of these, but that it can only be accessed by portals.

Johann said...

Must. Have. Carcosa-style Dark Sun hexcrawl. Pure genius.

Lum said...

Spelljammer should be exploring psychedelic worlds with lazers words and ray guns. It should have an app or a PDF with fillable forms (like what Seclusium of O should have been) for making different worlds with bizarro geography, aliens, NPC factions and schemes and as you fill the forms a map is auto generated.

Hosanna said...

Forgotten Realms: A Days Of Future Past-style dark future in which Lolth has devoured all but a handful of her fellow deities, leaving only the most interesting. As a result of her near-total dominance, she has spun a sun-occluding cocoon around the entirety of Faerun, while the remaining deities’ followers strive desperately to fight or escape the spiderscape that their world has become.

Roger G-S said...

Al Qadim should play like a reskinned Dying Earth RPG, with plenty of banter, exaggerated dialogue, reversals of fortune, crafty swindles and casual cruelty.

Zak S said...

i like that idea but I wonder how you'd implement it

Dan said...

Dark Sun: Use one third of the book to describe the setting; one third to give rules modules for running sword-and-sorcery flavour campaigns and the final third as rules modules, tables etc for running desert, wasteland and other resource-scarce campaigns. Also lots of Brom.

Ravenloft: Divide into two parts, Hunters and Hunted - the first for those players who constantly cry out to play horror monsters and the second for better people who want to be horribly outmatched by horror monsters. Update the time period closer to that of Masque of the Red Death and include rules for early firearms and other victoriana and focus not just on gothic horror but also weirdness and forteana.

Spelljammer: Bring it back in a big Sword-and-Planet Flash Gordon kind of way all big and camp and 80's and dayglo colours and Glam Rock. Focus rules not just on the space sailing but also on generating crazy new planets and denizens and the weird tribal power structures where they all interact and fight with swords and rayguns at the same time.

Dan said...

Just realized that I had pretty much the same idea (below). It must be a sign!

Zak S said...

"and the second for better people"

I don't wanna play a vampire either but nobody's allowed to be a dick about taste on my blog.

Please do not do it again.

Dan said...

Sorry, it was very tongue-in-cheek. If I disagreed with the idea totally I wouldn't have included it in the suggestion. I actually think it would be a mistake not to include those kinds of rules in a Ravenloft book.

Jonas said...

Red Steel
Exploration based hexcrawl campaign where players what's over that hill yonder, ruins of the ancients, wit mystitech wonders like the fabled firelances of the Hyperzephyrians or random generated horrors. Contamination from Red Curse does not give you super powers and it's something you want to purge out of your adventurer with costly treatments.

Jason Ermer said...

Dark Sun remixed into Carcossa hexcrawl will happen at my house someday. brilliant.

Lum said...

The Inspiration mechanic could help. Re-tooling XP and allowing/encouraging pvp would also help.

Lum said...

How about Gamma World with vehicle rules = wacky races style game with customizable minis?

Zak S said...

sounds good to me

Kevin Jesse said...

Eberron
Rewind the clock 40,000 years to the really interesting stuff in Xen'drik, the war between the giants, quori, and dragons. Players are elves dealing with a war on a scale they have no way of contending with, between beings beyond their ken.

Konsumterra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Konsumterra said...

I like empty quiet worlds i can do what i like with - more set in stone less i care. Players knowing more than me about setting and reading everything is a big turn off.

Mystara - dont call it mystara, dreadful. Detail some hot spots and leave huge blank areas for DMs to have fun with - without tsr early 90s urge to do alt history. Id scrap flying boats too (sorry guys).

Oriental adventures/Kara Tur - no more racist and mish mash than psuedo european settings. Should of added India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines into the mix. Have some epic campaign to travel world like last airbender/avatar.

Forgettable Realms - Elric comes and kills all the gods. So Cthulhu mythos, demons, devils and elementals and beast lords step in to take charge. Half all humans turn into orcs in cataclysm to survive harsh new order. Tatoos and piercings replace books. Eleminster and Drizzt develop deep love for each other and become a lich couple who terrorize the world.

Charith said...

A slight mod on Zak's Eberron here.

Eberron - a compilation of artworks, categorised into draconic, Dhakaani, sovereign, daelkyr and warforged perspectives. Each artwork has a short accompanying paragraph (history, etc) written from the respective view.

1d30 said...

You could give people more points to spend in a combat if they have more exchanges of dialogue first. This would encourage diplomacy before even inevitable combat. Talking to animals wouldn't give you anything of course, and anybody could just shortcut to combat if they realized the conversation was going against them. One aspect of a character's conversational ability could be his ability to understand whether he was winning or losing before it's too late. All you need is some way to identify "winning" vs. "losing" conversational exchanges. Sounds very difficult.

As for the setting tone, you can teach each other what sorts of things people do and say and circumstances that occur, by using an encounter book like in the board game Tales of the Arabian Nights.

Zak S said...

i;m not real into extradiegetic mechanics like that, with my group it leads to people feeling like they have to satisfy the rule before doing what makes sense in the situation

tveir said...

Planescape
Emphasise the weird multi-ethnic being-pregnant-in-baator-can-result-in-a-sentient-puddle nature of the planes through planescape tiefling style random tables for all planar characters (planar elves get elfy weirdness tables, and so on) - this goes double for the already weird and planetouched types like tieflings, aasimar, and genasi - and elaborate on the outer planar effects on inhabitants during long term exposure (like how the beastlands makes you more animal-like over time).
Rewrite factions with more stress on having different priorities and being influential in different regions than on performing particular functions in Sigil, and change the Anarchist faction so that it believes in some degree of cooperation and forms small, tight-knit cells which, while probably vary of outsiders, do not constantly stab themselves in the back.

Ravenloft
Tone down the railroady planar-portal-esque aspects of the mist and remove the domain border closing shite in favour of extreme terrain (making travel complicated and dangerous), language barriers, and culture shocks. Make war (and its aftermath) a big part of the setting and spend more time tying local monsters to folklore (both real and in-game) than on developing Dark Lord backstories.

Dark Sun
Replace Preservers with hidden, largely delusional Defilers, replace all the magic paths in non-magic classes with psionic ones, remove the elemental clerics in favour of psionic temples but keep the cleric class as prophets and shamans.
Elaborate on some of the less visible racial additions of the setting (like the Nikaal) and generally emphasise the role of people with reptilian features (which all seem pretty marginalised in the material at the moment) over the likes of half-giants.

Unknown said...

dear wotc, I do not require your glossy permission. best wishes.

gil hayes said...

World of Greyhawk mixed with Gamma World gear. Going for a Wizards like setting rather than Thundarr. Blackwolf rules the Horned Society, Orcs with SMG's. Robots and lasers are artifacts. The Apparatus of Kwalish is Powered Armor, that kind of stuff.
Ravenloft is a human centric, monotheistic setting with the Wild Fey plus Demons & Devils. Add a corruption mechanic that is similar to CoC's Sanity mechanic. Change the magic system to something like Carcosa's. Either thru Death or Corruption the players are doomed.
I'd like to see one of the Spelljammer variations alredy mentioned.