Monday, January 16, 2012

Type V sounds Great!

Now I'm not one for the edition warring. Never really saw the point of it. I understand some people hold very strong convictions, but honestly I am just happy to see people playing pen and paper rpgs at all. I like the good old purple box best truth be told, it is the version I started with and it is where my heart still rests. Over the years I've dabbled with AD&D, 2Ed, and  3.5, - currently I run Pathfinder for my group. Although I never really got taken in by 4th, there are many things to be admired from that system- heck, I really like the 4th edition alignment rules (of all things).

I wasn't planning on talking about TypeV at all, or at least until there really was something concrete to talk about. I've been really struck by all the negativity and nay-saying which has been resounding around the community. This genuinely bothers me. Although I may be naive the Cook column really resonated with me, particularly this paragraph:
   "Second—and this sounds so crazy that you probably won't believe it right now—we're designing the game so that not every player has to choose from the same set of options. Again, imagine a game where one player has a simple character sheet that has just a few things noted on it, and the player next to him has all sorts of skills, feats, and special abilities. And yet they can still play the game together and everything remains relatively balanced. Your 1E-loving friend can play in your 3E-style game and not have to deal with all the options he or she doesn't want or need. Or vice versa. It's all up to you to decide."
That actually sounds great.

A couple of things-
Cook is NOT saying that they are going to try to smash 1E and 4E together for simultaneous play (as I have heard many people loudly bemoaning). They are very obviously creating a new edition and a new ruleset. To me it appears they are trying to support many different playstyles which in fact Transcend the Very Editions Themselves.

This is really cool when you really look at the rules for what they are- constructs and guidelines- they are there to help you have fun and play an awesome game. Look at the excellent A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming by Matthew J. Finch - it does an excellent job of explaining why oldschool style gaming is cool and fun but also makes a good case of explaining the virtues of newschool style gaming. Take this example of the contrasts from the Primer:

The Pit Trap (Modern Style)

GM: A ten-foot wide corridor leads north into the darkness. John the Rogue: I check for traps.
GM: What's your target number for checking?
John the Rogue:  15.
GM: Decides that the pit trap in front of the party is standard, so all John has to do is roll a 15 or better. Roll a d20.
John the Rogue: 16.
GM: Probing ahead of you, you find a thin crack in the floor  it looks like there's a pit trap.
John the Rogue: Can I disarm it?
GM: What's your target number for that?
John the Rogue: 12. I rolled a 14.
GM: Okay, moving carefully, you're able to jam the mechanism so the trap won't open.
John the Rogue: We walk across. I go first.

The Pit Trap (Old Style)

GM: A ten-foot wide corridor leads north into the darkness.
John the Rogue: We move forward, poking the floor ahead with our ten foot pole.
GM: Is about to say that the pole pushes open a pit trap, when he remembers something. Wait, you don't have the ten foot pole any more. You fed it to the stone idol. [if the party still had the pole, John would have detected the trap automatically]
John the Rogue: I didn't feed it to the idol, the idol ate it when I poked its head.
GM: That doesn't mean you have the pole back. Do you go into the corridor?
John the Rogue: No. I'm suspicious. Can I see any cracks in the floor, maybe shaped in a square?
GM: Mulls this over, because there's a pit trap right where John is looking. But it's dark, so -No, there are about a million cracks in the floor. You wouldn't see a pit trap that easily, anyway. [A different referee might absolutely decide that John sees the trap, since he's looking in the right place for the right thing].
John the Rogue: Okay. I take out my waterskin from my backpack. And I'm going to pour some water onto the floor. Does it trickle through the floor anywhere, or reveal some kind of pattern?
GM: Yeah, the water seems to be puddling a little bit around a square shape in the floor where the square is a little higher than the rest of the floor.
John the Rogue: Like there's a covered pit trap?
GM: Could be.
John the Rogue: Can I disarm it?
GM: How?
John the Rogue: I don't know, maybe make a die roll to jam the mechanism?
GM: You can't see a mechanism. You step on it, there's a hinge, you fall. What are you going to jam?
John the Rogue: I don't know. Okay, let's just walk around it.
GM: You walk around it, then. There's about a two-foot clearance on each side.

So we can see that old style is creative, imaginative, and spontaneous.

New style is more reliable and gives the player a solid guideline (plus in this case played out alot faster, which could be a boon to some).

Despite the obvious differences in style I don't see any reason both of these styles couldn't be compatible, with each player working in his or her preferred style.

Lets talk about characters creation. I imagine the at its most basic a character made only using the "core system" Cook writes about will have alot in common with B/X or AD&D made characters.
  • Class name
  • Simple restrictions
  • Hp and starting stuff/ gold 
  • A rule or exception that makes that class distinct (the basic class feature)
  • Simple saving throw rules
And the beauty of TypeV is it is perfectly viable to just leave your character like that and start playing.

Or you could Choose to get more specific and add in a few more rules, to further define your character. Such as:
  • Simple "Feats"
  • Simple Skill system
And if you really want to get really in-depth you can add in such stuff as:
  • More guidelines in general
  • Class Powers 
  • More class options
They key to all this, as I see it, is that  A player using the Oldstyle is not any more or less powerful than a character using the Newstyle. Newschool fighter Tim chooses "cleave" as a character power and so often chooses to use that move. He likes the structure of having very well defined powers. Oldschool barbarian Eric doesn't have any powers noted on his sheet but will often describe effects similar to the "cleave" power when he attacks, and his DM gives him that license. He likes the imaginative and creative power this gives him. Fair treatment regardless of the method you choose is the key. Tim shouldn't be penalized for using narrow rules just as Eric shouldn't be penalized for using very broad rules.  

One way I just thought of incorporating both styles in the same combat is to make a common way for something special to happen- like rolling a natural 20. Ethier player could choose to just roll the regular x2 damage for a crit.

Newschool Tim could activate one of his allotted character powers / Oldschool Eric could describe an cool effect which he makes up on the spot.

I guess the real difference is how strict are the guidelines you want to impose on yourself via the playstyle you choose?

Anyway, I hope some of this makes sense. I will probably talk more about this in the future. Comments and questions are welcome.

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