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Old 12-30-2023, 10:24 AM   #11
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Tone whip-lash

The tone of DFRPG may not be to everyone's taste, but it strikes me as a basically consistent tone—I would broadly describe it as "tongue-in-cheek", though when explaining the rules it does necessarily have to shift to something a bit straighter. But "the snide and cynical voice", "munchkin voice", and "heavy metal fantasy" all strike me as basically facets of the same thing. I guess I can see being caught off-guard by the mix of overall tongue-in-cheek tone with the relatively realistic GURPS ruleset.

I do think the tone is fairly accurate advertising for both the ruleset and the included dungeon. The rules handle everything in "town" abstractly, while the dungeon doesn't include maps of the above-ground part of the inn, nor stats for its proprietor (Kromm did write some, but they didn't make it into the finished product for space reasons). And while it's not what everyone does, I don't think this approach to TTRPGs is as dead as some people think—right now I'm running a D&D 5e megadungeon campaign where the players have barely bothered interacting with the trading post outside the dungeon (even though I do have stats for all the trading post's inhabitants, if it becomes relevant).
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Old 12-30-2023, 12:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: Tone whip-lash

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Originally Posted by pawsplay View Post
However, I find myself a little thrown off by the tone. There seems to be several distinct voices in DF, jumbled together.

Munchkin Voice: The text really drills down on the idea of optimization and rinse-repeat dungeoneering. The odd and meta-aware becomes wacky and off-beat, like a monk raised by kung fu orcs. The vocabulary devolves in places into goofy, simplistic phrases like "totally evil" and "The King." It's hard for me to imagine an ongoing campaign where the characters are, foremost, vehicles for oddness, weird puns, and illogical behavior. These sections hit me somewhere between the most regrettable sections of the old Mystara Gazetteers and the Munchkin board game (and its OGL ancestor). A little, you know, as a spice, and all that. I'm just not sure what to think about my monk wanting a dwarven-made nunchaku so he can emulate Bruce Lee.
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For what it's worth, Pawsplay, you're not completely alone. On first reading the early GURPS:Dungeon Fantasy books, I felt rather as if the authors were insulting my taste for choosing to use their products.
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Even when I was feeling most annoyed with them, I still found the books full of useful material. Still, in an ideal world, reading the rules should be pleasant, or at least non-unpleasant, and I sometimes found the tone grating enough that this wasn't the case. (I don't mind a joke, but some of the munchkiny jocularity gave the impression of contempt rather than mere amusement. This was a false impression, I'm sure, but it came across strongly enough as to negatively impact my interaction with some of the earlier books.)
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True, but it can make it more difficult to bring in new players who are used to a more serious tone. DF can be a bit of a challenge already, using GURPS.
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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
The tone of DFRPG may not be to everyone's taste, but it strikes me as a basically consistent tone—I would broadly describe it as "tongue-in-cheek", though when explaining the rules it does necessarily have to shift to something a bit straighter.
I just wanted to say I second these points, for whatever that's worth.
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Old 12-30-2023, 02:45 PM   #13
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Default Re: Tone whip-lash

Something I find odd is that the attitude of "everything outside the dungeon is elided over as briefly as possible", which the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy line seems to consider a central premise, is not an impression I have ever really gotten when I have read the early DnD books. The Temple of Elemental Evil begins with a tediously detailed depiction of the village the PCs will be operating from; the 1e rulebooks state outright that a high-level fighter will receive a castle and lands to rule over, and devote substantial page-space to the warfare and politics he will be engaging in between dungeon expeditions (his GURPS counterpart the knight, interestingly, invests a substantial portion of his points in skills related to this, even as the rules and gameplay advice conspire to keep him as far as possible from any chance of using those skills).

I am told that "dungeon-only games" were and are commonly played, and I am willing to believe it. Still, it is strange that the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy authors often seem to write as if this is the only way to play if dungeons are to be involved at all, and it is grating that, having made that assumption, they write as if they will only condescend to play such games if they can simultaneously mock them. (I am forcefully reminded of hipsters partaking of entertainment while making it clear they are only doing so ironically.)
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Old 12-30-2023, 08:22 PM   #14
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Default Re: Tone whip-lash

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Something I find odd is that the attitude of "everything outside the dungeon is elided over as briefly as possible", which the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy line seems to consider a central premise, is not an impression I have ever really gotten when I have read the early DnD books. The Temple of Elemental Evil begins with a tediously detailed depiction of the village the PCs will be operating from; the 1e rulebooks state outright that a high-level fighter will receive a castle and lands to rule over, and devote substantial page-space to the warfare and politics he will be engaging in between dungeon expeditions (his GURPS counterpart the knight, interestingly, invests a substantial portion of his points in skills related to this, even as the rules and gameplay advice conspire to keep him as far as possible from any chance of using those skills).

I am told that "dungeon-only games" were and are commonly played, and I am willing to believe it. Still, it is strange that the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy authors often seem to write as if this is the only way to play if dungeons are to be involved at all, and it is grating that, having made that assumption, they write as if they will only condescend to play such games if they can simultaneously mock them. (I am forcefully reminded of hipsters partaking of entertainment while making it clear they are only doing so ironically.)
But, first of all, DFRPG isn't based on D&D entirely, it's also influenced by dungeon-delving CRPG's. More importantly, GURPS is modular. If you want to bring in that old D&D fighter nonsense of having a stronghold, simply add GURPS Mass Combat. It's not hard.
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Old 01-02-2024, 09:56 AM   #15
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Default Re: Tone whip-lash

Back in 2007, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Adventurers spent it's first column of body text explaining why it would not be useful to me.
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Old 01-02-2024, 10:01 AM   #16
Kromm
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But, first of all, DFRPG isn't based on D&D entirely
Or even mostly!

It's true that people often describe it that way. However, those are not my words as the developer and lead writer. My top influences were probably Tunnels & Trolls First Edition (1975), the venerable Rogue (1980) and NetHack (1987) computer games, and the more recent Diablo series of computer games (1997-2023), any one of which got more hours of my time than all editions of D&D put together.

Up until 1979, T&T had no explicit setting, and most development in that direction came decades after my time playing it. Rogue and NetHack were essentially procedurally generated, and while they had lore, they didn't have any world outside the dungeon. The Diablo games had even more lore, and some towns where you could shop, but were still procedurally generated dungeon crawls.

The closest D&D-related influences would be the rules for rolling up random dungeons in Appendix A of the Dungeon Master's Guide, First Edition (1979) and the Neverwinter Nights: Infinite Dungeons video game (2006).

Those examples illustrate the feel I was aiming for.
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Old 01-02-2024, 10:13 AM   #17
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Default Re: Tone whip-lash

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post

The tone of DFRPG may not be to everyone's taste, but it strikes me as a basically consistent tone
Thanks for that!

Saying that the tone is inconsistent is essentially saying that I'm a bad writer who cannot carry a tone. While an individual reader certainly has the right to believe that, I know that I made a conscious effort to deliver a specific tone. The fact that my tone has several shadings was intended as a feature, not a bug – much as a good singer has a broad vocal range or a good actor doesn't always play to a single type.

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And while it's not what everyone does, I don't think this approach to TTRPGs is as dead as some people think
Also, if you read my previous post you'll see that most of my influences – Rogue, NetHack, Diablo, Infinite Dungeons – were not TTPRGs. The entire mission was to bring procedurally generated digital dungeon crawls to the tabletop. There are endless hints in the text, for those who know where to look; the most on-the-nose hint might be, "Gamers familiar with the computerized adventures of @ will find this comforting." The exercise was never about mocking fans of TTRPGs, and I have no idea where people get that impression.
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Old 01-02-2024, 11:51 AM   #18
Michael Thayne
 
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Also, if you read my previous post you'll see that most of my influences – Rogue, NetHack, Diablo, Infinite Dungeons – were not TTPRGs. The entire mission was to bring procedurally generated digital dungeon crawls to the tabletop. There are endless hints in the text, for those who know where to look; the most on-the-nose hint might be, "Gamers familiar with the computerized adventures of @ will find this comforting." The exercise was never about mocking fans of TTRPGs, and I have no idea where people get that impression.
Oh huh, I caught that "@" was a reference to old ASCII roguelikes, but it has not remotely occurred to me in years of being a DF fan that it was meant to "bring procedurally generated digital dungeon crawls to the tabletop". IMHO the only really clear thing that points in that direction is Dungeon Fantasy Encounters 2: The Room—and it's a relatively recent addition to the line, a pandemic-era one in fact (I checked, and kind of can't believe it—it feels older). If capturing procedurally generated dungeons was the point, it feels like The Room should've been a core offering, one that would be expanded on in later supplements. (The lack of random encounter tables is also odd, though I understand wanting to keep the PDF short.)

FWIW, I never read the jokes in the Dungeon Fantasy line as making fun of players, so much as making fun of genre conventions, not in "jock mocking the nerds" way but in a "haha we've all played in campaigns with flimsy world-building haven't we?" way. Though maybe it's not even doing that and the use of words like "munchkin" are intended in a non-pejorative sense.
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Old 01-02-2024, 12:23 PM   #19
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Default Re: Tone whip-lash

All I can say is that as someone who has played countless hours of hack 'n' slash games – both digital and tabletop – and who very definitely builds his PCs toward specific power-gaming goals when playing said games, I was smirking as and not at that style of gamer. I don't consider gaming that way a thing to be ashamed of. If people feel that I was mocking them or that style of game, that's their own insecurity showing.

Then again, I'm also someone who describes himself as a "shameless cocktail freak" and "Argentine tango addict," and laugh at the size and expense of my home bar, and the fact that there are weeks where I spend more hours on the dancefloor than at work. I prefer to own my predilections. When I wink at them, it's a wink that says, "If this is you, too, then I needn't say more. If this isn't you, please humor me." It's inclusive, not exclusive, and directed inward, not outward.
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Old 01-02-2024, 02:36 PM   #20
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Default Re: Tone whip-lash

Wait, is there a Dungeon Fantasy procedurally generated dungeon product I'm missing? And if not why not? And what would it look like? How would it work?

Colour me intrigued.

I think a deck of cards would probably be a little too limited. The capacity to generate some internal plot loops would be interesting. A series of tables that reference to other tables would probably work and fill out a book well. A set of map tiles with a key booklet with monster stats might also work. My Warhammer Quest experience says fixed size squares work better because you never get weird overlaps. I think custom dice are probably too costly and limited in information density. A set of d20's with monster type, room shape, treasure, and trap icons might have value outside the Dungeon Fantasy market.
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