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Old 03-17-2018, 02:11 AM   #721
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

Have money will travel, start issuing those Micros Mr. Jackson!
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Old 03-19-2018, 01:08 PM   #722
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

Today's Daily Illuminator had a note about Dungeon Fantasy. (One of the things they noted is that it's not up reprint, so if you can find one in your FLGS, you should consider picking it up now...) And, as part of that note, they listed some reviews for people to read.

I have been reading the reviews (all quite good, barring some mild ranting by a guy who apparently just doesn't like the 4th edition GURPS rules -- he preferred 3rd edition), and the comments. A couple of thoughts follow:

CONCEPT

One theme that clearly seems to stand out is that people are skipping over GURPS, even Dungeon Fantasy, because it's too "complex," especially for newer/younger players. I have my doubts about the ACTUAL truth of that statement, but it seems to be a common theme in the comments, and isn't helped by the fact that many reviewers mention that you have to do a lot of "math" to play GURPS (without ever explaining just what they mean by that -- one commenter calls out a review author specifically on this point).

It occurs to me that this might possibly be an opportunity to better advertise TFT. SJG could emphasize the simplicity and ease of the rules, and use that to encourage them to be used as an "access point" to the hobby of RPGing. Noting that the combat is simple, fast, fun, and surprisingly realistic given the lack of detailed combat rules a la 4th edition GURPS or 4th and 5th Edition D&D, along with lots of visuals in the ads would do a LOT to carve a separate niche for TFT from GURPS without impinging on GURPS' niche. Even the adds for GURPS (that I presume will appear in TFT games as they come out) could emphasize this by saying something along the lines of "Ready for more detailed and intensive combat? More detailed and unique characters? Adventures in worlds beyond Cidri? Try GURPS!" Then people can dip their toes in GURPS, and if they love it move on to GURPS, and if they hate it, stick with TFT. All of which means both games will continue to sell.

After all, that's one of the big reasons that many of us are still playing TFT -- the system is simple, fast, fun, and delivers a very satisfying experience without having to memorize a 500 page rule book plus multiple supplements to do so. (That isn't directed at GURPS, by the way, I was thinking about every other RPG hitting the market these days -- even if they're re-writes of previous RPGs -- like Call of Cthulhu, for example -- that is now up well over 500 pages just for the basic rules, as opposed to the roughly 200, including timelines and famous people that were used to write the original game in 1982 or so.) If SJGs does the same thing they did with the DF books (including helpful tables and charts on the back covers as well as within the text) and provides a FM screen as part of the package (a good one, this time, unlike the one provided by Metagaming that had contradictions with the rules in it), it will be an outstanding experience for starting players and GMs.

ART

One other theme that stood out in the reviews and comments (and which actually surprised me a bit initially) is that a lot of people felt that more art would have been a GREAT addition to the DF books -- and could get people into the "world" of DF much easier. Upon further thought, I want to second that opinion. One of the things that made TFT so evocative for me is the fantastic internal art work done by Robert Phillips in the AM, AW and TFT books. Frequently his art had little or nothing to do with the text it was located with, but it created vistas, scenes, vignettes, whatever you want to call them that allowed me to visualize Cidri in all its beauty and danger and helped inform the way I ran my campaigns. It still does today. I sincerely hope that there will be a great effort to do the same kind of thing in the "new" TFT. Indeed, I hope there will be even more! (Including some that DO refer to the text that they appear by!)

Anyway, I wanted to point out some of the implications of the DF reviews. It's also worth noting that I LOVE my copy of DF; but once TFT comes out, I suspect it will only appear on the table when a new group of players has reached a certain level of..."sophistication," for lack of a better world. But even if that's the case, it simply goes to prove that TFT will make a wonderful introduction to Fantasy RPGs, and GURPS will be the next logical step beyond into a much greater world of RPGs, including everything beyond just "Fantasy." And if that new group of players tries GURPS and then decides they prefer to keep it simple with TFT, why, that's fine too. Either one is a "win" for Steve Jackson Games!

Last edited by JLV; 03-19-2018 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 03-19-2018, 01:59 PM   #723
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

In the various threads where we have discussed what would differentiate TFT and GURPS has come down to this very thing. GURPS is not the game you start playing RPG's with, it is a game you grow into. TFT on the other hand is a simple game focused on a single genre and has a low cost to entry.
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Old 03-19-2018, 02:22 PM   #724
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I want to add another point about the art:

Fully illustrated bestiary!!!! An absolute MUST.

Even if it's not "fully" illustrated, I for one would really like the oddball monsters to be illustrated. Most of us have a clue what a giant spider looks like, and there are plenty of zombie tropes out there for things like that; but some nice evocative pictures of the strange "named" monsters would be extremely helpful, as well as pictures of the less well-known standard monsters. The Dungeon Fantasy bestiary was extremely weak in illustrations, and it made it far less useful to me as a DM (or even as a player) than it could have been. I want to be able to describe what the characters are seeing, as opposed to merely "naming" it; "You see shambling, corpse-like creature, dripping gobs of rotting flesh and other nameless bits of putrefaction lurching towards you;" not, "it's a Zombie." Without artwork for the things I have no familiarity with, that's very difficult to do well.
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Old 03-19-2018, 06:30 PM   #725
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Default GURPS Dungeon Fantasy - Lessons for TFT

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLV View Post
...
CONCEPT

One theme that clearly seems to stand out is that people are skipping over GURPS, even Dungeon Fantasy, because it's too "complex," especially for newer/younger players. ...

ART

One other theme that stood out in the reviews and comments (and which actually surprised me a bit initially) is that a lot of people felt that more art would have been a GREAT addition to the DF books ...
Hi JLV, everyone.
I got a copy of Dungeon Fantasy (DF) a little while ago and I agree. I think that DF was weak in two ways.

1) Assuming that DF was intended to be a simple introduction to GURPS, it was too complex. Yes, it was GURPS stripped of spaceships, automatic pistols and Psionics, but it is still a very heavy product. If the rules were cut down to half the length, and there were 3 starting adventures rather than one, it would have been a lot more friendly to a new GM.

And more art would definitely help.

2) The product lacked things to fire up a beginning GM, and it lacked things to make a new GM's life easy.

The counter sheets had space for another 8 or so small squares. (Or more if they were closer together.) Rather than wasting the space, these potential squares could have a chest (open on back?), a potion, a book, a few more monsters. Why not put them in? Is the cost of art that expensive? Perhaps the die cutting would be a fraction of a cent more with the extra cuts?

I remember the 'Blue Book' of the original D&D. It was impossible to read that book and not have ideas on how to GM your own adventure. They had a sideways view of a dungeon map, showing how the levels fit together. A secret passage could let you skip level 4. A natural shaft suggested you could climb down skipping other levels. A natural cavern at the bottom had a lake. When I saw that, I knew I could draw my own cross section map of the dungeon. I was ready to do so right then!

The maps in DF were nice. But a blank map would have helped for when I want to run my own adventure! Also preprinted maps showing where the secret doors are are less useful to the GM than you might think. I did without these nice maps, until the players had discovered the secret passages.

TFT:
If TFT is going to be aimed at the beginning rpg groups, a key idea is to make it seem easy and appealing to be a GM. Take a couple lines with most monsters to suggest a clever way to use it against the players. Add a good sized section on how to GM with enough ideas to keep a new GM going for 3 to 4 months. Provide LOTS of counters so the GM has terrain, monsters, dungeon dressing to make early GM'ing easy.

If you publish the microquests like Death Test 1 and 2, think about how these products expand the new GM's bag of tricks. Both Melee and Wizard had giant counters. Does DT need to give us another giant for the final room? How about a 3 hex griffon? Rather than a room with 3 gargoyles, why not have 3 ogres? Now our new GM has stats for ogres and some counters!

Lots of people have said that 'content is king'. For new TFT, I think that every new product, should have the people at SJG looking over it and asking, 'how much does this help a new GM?' If a lot of the product is using critters and tricks that the GM already has, then maybe it should be revised a bit to add more.

Warm regards, Rick.
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Old 03-20-2018, 05:28 PM   #726
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLV View Post
I want to add another point about the art:

Fully illustrated bestiary!!!! An absolute MUST.

Even if it's not "fully" illustrated, I for one would really like the oddball monsters to be illustrated. Most of us have a clue what a giant spider looks like, and there are plenty of zombie tropes out there for things like that; but some nice evocative pictures of the strange "named" monsters would be extremely helpful, as well as pictures of the less well-known standard monsters. The Dungeon Fantasy bestiary was extremely weak in illustrations, and it made it far less useful to me as a DM (or even as a player) than it could have been. I want to be able to describe what the characters are seeing, as opposed to merely "naming" it; "You see shambling, corpse-like creature, dripping gobs of rotting flesh and other nameless bits of putrefaction lurching towards you;" not, "it's a Zombie." Without artwork for the things I have no familiarity with, that's very difficult to do well.
I will take this a step further. I would like to see counters (or Cardboard Heroes, or whatever the final game ends up using) for all the various creatures in the bestiary. Especially the ones that are unique to Cidri/TFT. Even more than illustrations in the rulebook I think these would be invaluable in actual tabletop play.
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Old 03-20-2018, 07:07 PM   #727
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy - Lessons for TFT

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
Hi JLV, everyone.
I got a copy of Dungeon Fantasy (DF) a little while ago and I agree. I think that DF was weak in two ways.

1) Assuming that DF was intended to be a simple introduction to GURPS, it was too complex. Yes, it was GURPS stripped of spaceships, automatic pistols and Psionics, but it is still a very heavy product. If the rules were cut down to half the length, and there were 3 starting adventures rather than one, it would have been a lot more friendly to a new GM.

And more art would definitely help.

2) The product lacked things to fire up a beginning GM, and it lacked things to make a new GM's life easy.

The counter sheets had space for another 8 or so small squares. (Or more if they were closer together.) Rather than wasting the space, these potential squares could have a chest (open on back?), a potion, a book, a few more monsters. Why not put them in? Is the cost of art that expensive? Perhaps the die cutting would be a fraction of a cent more with the extra cuts?

I remember the 'Blue Book' of the original D&D. It was impossible to read that book and not have ideas on how to GM your own adventure. They had a sideways view of a dungeon map, showing how the levels fit together. A secret passage could let you skip level 4. A natural shaft suggested you could climb down skipping other levels. A natural cavern at the bottom had a lake. When I saw that, I knew I could draw my own cross section map of the dungeon. I was ready to do so right then!

The maps in DF were nice. But a blank map would have helped for when I want to run my own adventure! Also preprinted maps showing where the secret doors are are less useful to the GM than you might think. I did without these nice maps, until the players had discovered the secret passages.

TFT:
If TFT is going to be aimed at the beginning rpg groups, a key idea is to make it seem easy and appealing to be a GM. Take a couple lines with most monsters to suggest a clever way to use it against the players. Add a good sized section on how to GM with enough ideas to keep a new GM going for 3 to 4 months. Provide LOTS of counters so the GM has terrain, monsters, dungeon dressing to make early GM'ing easy.

If you publish the microquests like Death Test 1 and 2, think about how these products expand the new GM's bag of tricks. Both Melee and Wizard had giant counters. Does DT need to give us another giant for the final room? How about a 3 hex griffon? Rather than a room with 3 gargoyles, why not have 3 ogres? Now our new GM has stats for ogres and some counters!

Lots of people have said that 'content is king'. For new TFT, I think that every new product, should have the people at SJG looking over it and asking, 'how much does this help a new GM?' If a lot of the product is using critters and tricks that the GM already has, then maybe it should be revised a bit to add more.

Warm regards, Rick.
I fully concur with almost all of this. And I like the idea of working on the programmed adventures to make sure they add a few new creatures/species to the player/GM collection.

The one thing I'd change in the above is to not solely concern yourselves with the beginning GM -- maybe ask; "In general, does this product make the GM's life easier? AND does it also help a beginning GM run these creatures/this adventure well?"
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Old 03-20-2018, 07:09 PM   #728
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Crowell View Post
I will take this a step further. I would like to see counters (or Cardboard Heroes, or whatever the final game ends up using) for all the various creatures in the bestiary. Especially the ones that are unique to Cidri/TFT. Even more than illustrations in the rulebook I think these would be invaluable in actual tabletop play.
Brilliant! That, plus action-oriented pictures of the beasts next to their write-up, would be the absolutely perfect outcome!
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Old 03-20-2018, 09:53 PM   #729
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy - Lessons for TFT

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLV View Post
I fully concur with almost all of this. And I like the idea of working on the programmed adventures to make sure they add a few new creatures/species to the player/GM collection.

The one thing I'd change in the above is to not solely concern yourselves with the beginning GM -- maybe ask; "In general, does this product make the GM's life easier? AND does it also help a beginning GM run these creatures/this adventure well?"
Hi JVL, everyone.
The reason why I emphasize new GM's is the way I see the new TFT fitting into to the SJG 'eco system'. TFT had a lot of fans, and they went over en mass to GURPS. That is what got GURPS going. GURPS started off pretty simple, but it has grown more and more complex. I used to see GURPS all the time in game stores, now almost never. It has complexified itself out of the market. (I'm sure that people can tell me about this or that game store that still carry it, but it is gone from all the game stores around here.)

I think that if TFT is handled with grace and energy, and if it is aimed at starting GM's, it could breed up a new generation of TFT players. As they get expert enough, they may grow into GURPS.

I thought that was the purpose of Dungeon Fantasy. An easy, fun introduction to GURPS. But if that was its intention, I think it failed.

Warm regards, Rick.

post script: Getting back to one of your points, good game art should inspire and excite the GM. It should get his or her mind ticking. Look at the art on page 23 of the original AD&D player's handbook (A paladin battling in hell). Or the small art on page 68 of the AD&D's DM's Guide (A guy trapped in a room that is flooding while a skeleton rises out of the water behind him). Compare those two black and white drawings to the full colored picture of that 6 armed naga on page 11 of the "I smell a rat" book in Dungeon Fantasy. The dungeon fantasy art (excluding the covers) is dull.

The coolest picture in Dungeon Fantasy was a party fighting magic manacles which were trying to chain them up. So Cool! I was immediately thinking about adding a spell, or maybe a trap that did that!

Art does not have to be computer art or full color. But you want to inspire the GM!

rws.
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Old 03-21-2018, 01:30 PM   #730
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

Oh definitely, for both your points.

One of the pictures that really got my imagination in the original AD&D Players Handbook (p. 108, 1st Ed.) was that picture of the party of Dwarves, working their way down a stair case with lit torches, being distracted by a "magic mouth" while all unnoticed below them, a pair of eyes examined them. But then, MOST of the art in the Player's Guide was very evocative.

But I also really liked the way the art in ITL (and, to a lesser extent, AM, and AW) provided not only a look at specific incidents (like the guy crouched in the crevice while a giant or Ogre or something tried to get at him), but also just generic scenes showing glimpses of the bigger world (p. 17 of ITL, for example).

Art is a tool, and if used properly, can do so much to get the players excited about the game!

Last edited by JLV; 03-23-2018 at 01:45 PM.
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