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07-02-2003, 03:13 PM #1
- Join Date
- Apr 2002
- BR mailing list
D&D is a great game. It really is. Objectively, it`s awesome. It`s not
perfect though, and in my opinion it`s already dated. D&D has
single-handedly revolutionized the roleplaying game market. It`s not just
another edition of Dungeons & Dragons we`ve always known, it`s an entirely
new game. And a damn good one. But let`s face it: it`s effectively the
first edition to an all-new game that uses some rather new ideas (or old
ideas given a refurbish and combined in new ways) for roleplaying games.
It`s not surprising that they wouldn`t get everything quite right.
The most extraordinary example of this is the CR system. It`s not really
based on anything, but its presence gives a certain control to the GM in
designing his games and giving the whole game some internal consistency to
hold it together. I personally think it`s broken, and the actual CR values
don`t seem to represent anything except some guys "eyeballing" to see what
difficulty the challenge is, whereas other games assume each GM`ll do this
himself. D&D seems to treat it more as a labor-saving device than anything
else, but I think it has the capacity to be a lot more. The whole system
would need to be scratched and worked anew with some of the design ideas of
current thought, mostly those inspired by working with the old CR system.
This is very typical of all current D&D and d20 products.
I`m a tinkerer. It`s my personal delight to analyze the virtues and sins of
roleplaying systems, tear them apart and rework them. Sometimes I try to
make them better, other times I just try to implement what someone has done
in one field and expand it. Other times I`m just trying stuff new just for
the hell of it to see how it would work. It`s my philosophy that such work
is never done, and my sessions are as much about testing rules as they are
playing the games. Usually I`m just trying to collect kernals of ideas and
share them with likeminded people who might do something incredibly
different or something similiar. I don`t believe in the popular philosophy
that you can`t please everyone, everyone`s going to do their own thing
anyway, and so one shouldn`t even try. It`s always worth trying. I don`t
know whether or not its possible to please everyone, but it is possible to
improve the roleplaying hobby as a whole for everyone by working to improve
it, keep it new, give it depth, and update it to popular philosophy or pave
the way for new design philosophies.
Usually, before I begin a comprehensive analysis, I just skim rules and seek
their merits. What`s this trying to accomplish and why would the designer
put this here? The first thing I find is that most rules have a certain
"coolness factor" which is just my personal reaction to their "flavor".
GURPS-esque point value systems, objectively, have extraordinary potential
to make very good, well-balanced games. But I don`t like them. Personal
taste; they lack flavor. They lack "coolness", whatever that is.
Armegeddon 2087 (I think that was the year...) has a d20 mechanic where
Ripple Fire Rockets use an attack roll of 1d20 + the number of rockets shot
at the enemy instead of 1d20 + base attack + dex. Artillery uses
Intelligence instead of Dexterity. Something about these rules massively
appeals to me, and therefore rates high on my "coolness" scale even though I
can`t particularly explain why.
There are those few times, however, when someone does make a cool rule,
either because it appeals to me on a flavor issue, it accurately represents
something I think should be represented, it provides potential options for
roleplaying games that otherwise wouldn`t be easy to implement, it`s new or
experimental, it provides a good internal consistency (or "Control") within
the game`s interaction with itself, or it streamlines an otherwise
cumbersome process. Such things are my "wow rules", `cause I`m usually
surprised to find them. Usually they are things that are so different or so
specialized that in the end I`ll scrap them before actually implementing
them, but I still take delight in collecting and analyzing them. Other
rules have "potential." That is the rule doesn`t have much merit unless its
in a system with other rules that compliment it, and usually the appropriate
complimenting effects aren`t all that apparant which makes working with
these rules particular challenging. Examples of this would include the CR
System and Presitge Classes from D&D.
Very, very rarely does someone make a "wow" SYSTEM of rules. The 3rd
edition Dungeons & Dragons Player`s Handbook was a "wow" system for me, and
a particular delight that`s given me much enjoyment. Almost all d20
products have given me something to work with because all try to add
something different, something new. For the most part these are just
marketing tools and cheap gimmicks; not something that truly adds to the
system. Spycraft has a Chase system that has "potential" and "coolness",
while the feat system seems to be made much more intelligently (but still
suffers from some severe flaws). The Mastermind system of Spycraft was a
good idea, but needs to be scrapped and redesigned. It`s agenda, that is,
the purpose it`s trying to accomplish, is good and worth trying again. A
lot of D&D is like that, which I guess is what gives birth to obsessive
hobbies like mine.
Classically Modern is a "wow" system for me. Based on d20 Modern, one of
the most intelligently designed d20 products from Wotc (not really a
compliment...), it expands on some of the design philosophies of d20Modern
and tries to portray D&D settings / characters / adventures with new rules
that provide more options and versatility. I`ll say it again: this was a
"wow" system for me. When I saw this, I scrapped my previous ideas for
Birthright conversions and I`m currently using some of the ideas inspired by
this product instead. (My `Better Birthright System` is not really d20,
just inspired by d20 and a lot of other stuff.) There are three things to
mention about the Classically Modern system: first, it`s not done. Second,
it`s only a draft, and the author has decided to re-work it, and produce it
commercially. But the first "edition" and some of the revisions can be
found for free at the link below. Third, it didn`t really hold up to my
test as a internally consistent system mostly because, like most d20
products, it tries too hard to be consistent with D&D.
I`ve previously mentioned some of the virtues of using d20Modern for
Birthright instead of D&D: basic open-ended classes that provide
versatility before the advanced classes provide career specialization, a
system of Talents that allow you to customize your class abilities,
occupations that allow you to pick your class skills and starting feats
independant of your class, a more intelligently written skill section
(though 3.5 will be implementing these changes already), defense and
reputation and wealth scores that are well-suited to Birthright, magic is
treated as optional and is largely (not completely) independant of the rest
of the rules.
Classically Modern takes the ideas of Talents, that is customizable class
abilities, and extends this to an insane level that would make an obsessed
game-tinkerer say "wow". The designer took all the advanced classes
(similiar to standard D&D classes) and broke up their class abilities into
customizable Talent trees (kind of similiar to feats, but class-exclusive).
He then wroteup a bunch of D&D classes as Advanced and Prestige classes and
gave them talent trees. Many classes ended up sharing talent trees, and so
all the Talents are compiled in their own chapter like feats. So now each
class provides bonus feats that could be selected off a list and exclusive
Talents that only similiar classes could get access to. Hence, the Soldier
class gets the Tactical Awareness talent tree (a collection of Talents that
help others in combat) and the Weapon Master talent tree, with a few bonus
combat feats thrown in for good measure. The fighter has the same talent
trees, but gets far fewer talents and more bonus combat feats. The ranger
gets Damage Reduction, Favoured Enemy, Nature`s Friend, and Unbreakable
talent trees in addition to a few spellcasting talents which involve
choosing between better spellcasting power or better "Turn Natural Creature"
options (allowing you to choose to turn a different type of creature, such
as animals, vermin, magical beasts, fey, elementals, etc.)
Tinkers rejoice! There`s a lot in this product that has great potential,
though as a complete system unto itself it still needs quite a bit of work.
It`s incompatible with my concept of a level-based system wherein each level
should be treated as a linear power level with no level cap. But it claims
to be balanced with d20/D&D. (It is compatable, just not completely
compatable and may require some cumbersome tweaks to completely implement in
a standard D&D game.). It`s magic system is really flawed as far as game
balance and convinience both go, but really, really "cool". I`ve already
posted some of that on this list, a while back. It provides more
customizable options and more versatility than D&D could ever provide, but
it tries to combine two games of somewhat different scales. You`ll see what
I mean. Take a look. Try it out. Lot of potential. Too much, actually.
I think it would benefit a campaign greatly if a dungeon master just picked
a handful of classes and talent trees that would be most appropriate for his
game, but hell, options is what this product is all about.
It was created by Merlin`s Workshop and can be found at their website.
Here`s the link: http://members.lycos.co.uk/merlinsworkshop/
The Birthright Homepage: http://www.birthright.net
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07-15-2003, 02:19 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jul 2003
Hello, I just happened to stumble across this after an internet search.
Allow me to introduce myself (in true Role-player’s Anonymous fashion). My name is Antony and I am the author of Classically Modern.
I enjoyed reading Lord Rahvin's review of Classically Modern, and in many ways agree with his conclusions - not all of them mind you, but then again diversity prospers.
There are a few points that I would like to clarify, not on Classically Modern itself but on Lord Rahvin's perception of my aims with it.
No, I have never stated, and never intended, for Classically Modern or its companion documents to be commercial entities - there is WAY too much duplication of the SRD and MSRD for me to consider charging for it with a clear conscience. Think of it as my trial initiation into D20 publishing.
Yes, Classically Modern is nearing the end of an extensive review and revamp. It now (as of 15 July) has 128 pages. There is also a better page layout and page furniture, a comprehensive index, and summary appendices for skills, feats, talent trees and talents.
I agree that, if power played, that magic could be gained more easily than in the straight D&D rules, and is a considerable departure from the route WOTC have taken with Urban Arcana.
Classically Modern is a living document, and has evolved in the past based upon feedback from readers. If there is something not satisfactory or ideal, I am actively happy to try and incorporate (and credit) your ideas. A good example of this evolution in progress is the section on Archaic Occupations.
At present Classically Modern is receiving some 3.5 tweaks, and is just waiting for the SRD 3.5 updates before the release version is posted on the Merlin's Workshop website.
07-15-2003, 07:21 PM #3
- Join Date
- May 2002
- Glasgow, Scotland
That is the single ugliest website I have ever seen.
(Actually I'm lying, but it is close.)
07-15-2003, 09:18 PM #4
- Join Date
- Oct 2001
- Woerden, Netherlands
Maybe another job for me :)
Met vriendelijke groet
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birthright Roleplaying Game Discussion [mailto:BIRTHRIGHT-
> L@ORACLE.WIZARDS.COM] On Behalf Of CMonkey
> Sent: dinsdag 15 juli 2003 21:21
> To: BIRTHRIGHT-L@ORACLE.WIZARDS.COM
> Subject: Re: [BIRTHRIGHT] Classically Modern and the tinkerer`s
> This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
> You can view the entire thread at:
> CMonkey wrote:
> That is the single ugliest website I have ever seen.
> (Actually I`m lying, but it is close.)
> Birthright-l Archives: http://oracle.wizards.com/archives/birthright-
>Te audire non possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.
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