RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

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Ares
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RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by Ares » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:24 am

Now, I generally like to focus on the positive here, but I also think the occasional venting is good now and then. And I suspect that most long-term gamers have a system or setting that they really don't like, and sometimes it just feels good to say why. Maybe the metaplot annoys you. Maybe you dislike this one mechanic. Maybe you actually enjoy a lot of the setting but this one thing ruins it for you. Here's the place to make your grievances known.

I do want to stress that I don't want this to lead to "bad things". Someone is invariably going to post up a setting or system they dislike that you like, maybe even love. If that happens, if you feel you must, try to make one post about why you might like the system, maybe try to explain its good points. What I don't want this to turn into is extended back and forth debates over the merits of a system or setting, or for it to ever devolve into name-calling or hostility. I also don't want this to get too hyperbolic with the rage at the setting and systems you don't like. Even when discussing stuff we don't like, lets keep it civil and keep it rational.

Now, obviously something sparked this idea to me, so I feel I should start. And source of said "spark" is Beast the Primordial.

And despite what I said about avoiding too much hyperbole . . . I think I might just hate everything about this game.

Beast is set in the New World of Darkness, which should tell you something already. While I really liked the NWoD takes on Changeling, Hunter and Promethian, Beast is pretty much EVERYTHING I dislike about White Wolf games dialed up to 11.

In Beast, you are literally playing a monster. And not even something that could potentially have some sympathy, like the Vampires who try NOT to be outright psychopaths. With Beast, the idea is that you're playing the reincarnated soul of a mythic monster. There's essentially the Primal Dream, this spirit realm that collects every fear that humanity has ever had, that is home to the Dark Mother. The Dark Mother is literally the mother of all monsters, to the point that Beast posits that all other monsters (vampires, mages, etc.) are diluted "cousins" of the true monsters, AKA the Beasts.

So sometimes when humans dream, their dreams carry them into the Primal Dream, where horrors abound. While there, some humans can get approached by the spirit of a Beast and be offered great power. If the person refuses, they go back to dreaming and forget about this. If they accept, their soul is basically shredded and replaced with spirit of a Beast. When they wake up, the newly awakened Beast has a hunger that it must satisfy that varies depending on the Beast's type. All of them involve inflicting some kind of pain on humanity. Because this is why Beasts exist, you see: to teach humanity lessons via suffering.

So Beasts get all kinds of powers, but they can't actually alter their form in the mortal world. Instead, they can create Lairs, little pocket dimensions away from normal reality where they can more fully embrace their Beast aspect, as well as fill it all kinds of minions.

But due to the Beast's nature as part of the Primal Dream, the presence of a Beast will often cause the creation of a Hero, a mortal empowered to fight Beasts. However, modern Heroes are not like the classic heroes of old, where they often taught lessons while defeating the Beasts. No, modern Heroes are focused on killing Beasts for the sake of killing Beasts, even if the Beast isn't killing anyone else. Heroes are all selfish gloryhounds and vicious murders.

What. THE. FUCK.

This sounds like something Bob Chipman would have written. It might actually have some potential if the Beasts were all deluded and the book itself makes it clear that, but no, the Beasts are portrayed as TOTALLY IN THE RIGHT for tormenting, sometimes even murdering, human beings, in order to "teach them a lesson", while the Heroes are all portrayed as "the REAL monsters" for not letting the Beasts do their job.

It's like someone combined everything I hate into one RPG. We've got the Mary Sue traits of Beasts being amazingly powerful and the source of all true monsters in WoD, with special rules for making OTHER WoD MONSTERS THEIR ALLIES. We've got the "the villain was the real hero and the heroes were the real bastards" trope that we've seen in Wicked, Maleficent, and even Paradise Lost. We've got this meta-fiction aspect where the Primal Dream is making people reenact classic story tropes of Hero vs Monster. We've got the Heroes being turned into one-dimensional bad guys. We've got a game that reads like the most juvenile revenge fantasy that encourages the players to indulge in their worst behaviors, and villify the people trying to stop them for doing so.

Now, the game did see a re-write that tried to make the Heroes more sympathetic and add some ambiguity to the situation, but it was way too little way too late and still didn't fix this game's problems. Go check out that link, it explains it all in much more detail than I ever could.

But yeah, this game infuriates me like nobody's business.

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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by MacynSnow » Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:26 am

I can trully understand your hate for that.....calling the book&writer wastes of space would be doing them a service they don't deserve......i have one that may be a shock to some people:
with all my heart&soul i personally detest the Valiant Universe RPG for 3 simple reasons,which i will endeavor to explain......
System:Now,let it not be said that i don't try to branch out of my D20 roots now&then and try something "different".But if you game system uses more math than a cosmonaut should know and takes the idea of a game of "pass the story" to a ridiculous level,then something's wrong here....

Setting:Now don't mis-interpret this as a dig against the Valiant comics of old (i actually liked some of those),my issue with this area of it is that there's only really 2 characters that we'd know right off from the original stuff,The Eternal Warrior and X-O ManoWar,with the others being changed and "moderned up" so much they might as well be new heroes.......

Storylines:Have you ever tried to make a cake with the instruction's cut down the middle and your given the half w/out the measurements?That's what it's like trying to run one of the "adventures"(and believe me that being generous with the term) that's in the back of the core rulebook.I have ran a game of D&D4th edition on 30 minutes of sleep with no game-prep time whatsoever and that would be considered easy compared to trying to run just 1 game of this monstrosity.........

In closing,i will applaud them for trying to be innovative and do something different,but they should've spent more time checking their system than playing with their money.....

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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by Ares » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:11 pm

Another setting I couldn't really stand was DragonLance.

I mean, as a generic fantasy setting it was mostly okay, but there was one thing about said setting that really annoyed me: the gods.

See, the gods of DragonLance have this very weird idea about balance. They believe in maintaining the balance between good and evil, not that good CAN'T triumph over evil, but that good SHOULDN'T triumph over evil. Basically, according to the gods of DragonLance, if good wins, good will become oppressive, whereas if evil wins, evil will destroy everything. One of the gods literally talks about how when this one god emperor tried to eradicate all evil by destroying people he didn't like, he was still "good".

It only took me to the end of the first trilogy to realize what the problem was: the gods and the writers have confused "Good vs Evil" with "Law vs Chaos". You need Order and Chaos to be balanced, because too much of one is bad. You need enough order/law to create a stable system, while you need enough chaos to randomize things, promote change / growth, and give people the freedom of choice. Order without Chaos can become tyranny and stasis, while Chaos without Order becomes anarchy and destruction.

If Good triumps over Evil, then BY ITS VERY NATURE, Good is GOOD. Good is compromise, compassion, empathy, charity, self motivation, kindness, moderation, etc. Good, in and of itself, IS BALANCE. Evil, by its very nature, is what throws the balance out of whack.

That simple misconception makes the entire setting virtually unplayable to me, unless the purpose was to show the gods how stupid they were.

Beyond that, it just annoyed me how Fizban is literally a god going around getting the adventurers out of trouble. To me, it actually takes away a lot of the hero's agency by having a god do much of the work for them. In Lord of the Rings, I never had that problem with Gandalf because the guy was essentially an angel with restrictions on what he could and couldn't do. Fizban was literally a walking plot device to get the heroes out of trouble or make things happen.

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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by MacynSnow » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:31 pm

I always thought of Dragonlance as the Diet soda of setting:it's an....aquired taste(in Weis and Hickmans defense,the books were a pretty good read)

Unfortunately,Wies' rep went downhill to me when she put out that absolutely abismale Cortex system junk awhile back.I felt like i needed a Degree in Mathmatics to figure that junk out.....

As for Settings,the less said about Dr.Who the better (that and i actually don't want some whovians(yes,that's what they call themselves)dressed in wierd cloths and with bad British accents to beat me in some alley somewhere)

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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by Chris Brady » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:50 am

I tend to create my own settings for the most part, so I tend not to really care about them. But systems? Hoo boy, do I have systems I absolutely hate.

Top of the list: FATE. Bloated, antagonistic and overly complex for what it tries to do. One of the defining 'quotes' for it I've heard oft repeated is how it let's you punch Superman in the girlfriend or some such twaddle. Twaddle that's better left to the tumblrina's with the dyed mental illness hair cuts. I have a special place in my fire pit for any system that tries to be artsy fartsy.

Like the World Of Darkness set of not-rules. Or the aforementioned Cortex.

I'd put Amber Diceless here too, but it's not a system, it's a game of 'mother may I' with numbers clumsily attached to it. Worse, the writer of the game has no concept that the entire series uses the unreliable narrator as it's conceit. But then, it's also why I HATE stories (as in books) that use 1st person method. So block of salt and all that.

I have other systems I can dump here, like the current Palladium system...

However, now that I've read your post, Ares, I have to agree with your issue with Dragonlance. Weis and Hickman used Alignment as team jerseys as opposed to self-guiding morality systems. The one thing that drove me nuts was the Wizard's Council thing, where all nine alignments were represented and some how played nice together. Uh, no. The CE and NE guys along would not play ball. Period. And the LE people would play so long as it benefits them.

And you know what? If you'll let me dive into D&D here, and a lot of supposition with 0 evidence: I think that sort of mentality (as I know a lot of people read those books that are my age) sort of bled into the idea that Alignment is 'Bad'! Where you see things like Lawful Stupid Paladins, overly rigid and unbending. But as you say, Good is about caring and compromise.

It was one of the big things that, during the D&D 3e era I hammered home for my players. A Good God is a GOOD 'Person'. They WILL understand that you may have to compromise to get the best result that helps as many people. And you will fail, you cannot save everyone, but your patron WILL understand that, why? Because they are GOOD.

If nothing else, that I got 5 players into playing Paladins without them complaining about how rigid the class is, or simply that they LIKED being a Paladin is one of the defining moments of my gaming life.

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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by Ares » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:07 pm

Yeah, I was always of the mind that alignments were meant to be general guidelines for how your character normally acts, and that they only become an issue when your DM starts saying "No, your alignment is ________, your character wouldn't act that way". Players hate being told how their characters should act, and all it takes is wording the issue a little better to avoid issues. "That act seems a little more (Alignment X) than your own. What's your characters reason for behaving that way?" Because sometimes, given the circumstance, a character will behave contrary to their normal behavior. A good person might act cruelly to someone who murdered their children, or an evil person might behave kindly towards someone who reminds them of their only good experience in their life. People are complex.

I also hated "Lawful Stupid" Paladins in general, especially since the Dresden Files now has a perfect example of how to play a Paladin correctly. Michael Carpenter is literally the best Paladin ever.

And yeah, the idea of every alignment being present on some council and all of them getting along is just crazy to me. At the very least, the Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Evil types are just going to be too anarchic to really be part of a group, and Neutral Evil will basically only be with the group so long as it serves their ends. As Spoony pointed out, Chaotic Neutral is basically the "whatever" Alignment. It's basically "I'm concerned mostly about myself and I don't care about rules", so anything they do can be justified with "I felt like it". Lawful Evil at least can be counted on to be part of a group if it is well organized.

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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by MacynSnow » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:25 am

Now,i've read (and even ran a campaign in) Dragonlance for a while,and even i couldn't figure out how that Council even functioned as a governing body.Let's look at this from just the Alignments angle(never mind the Schools of Magic rivalry that'd be there.I also won't go over all the alignments,just the ones that would have the biggest impacts on the group dynamics):

Lawful Good:Would mostly try to get said group to "come out of the shadows"(as-it-were) so that they could aid others in need more....
Lawful Evil:Would,for the most part,agree with the lawful good's idea but would want it a step farther and subjegate the non-magically gifted "for their own protection".....
Chaotic Evil:this one would be the "Wild Card" of the three,supporting neither one publically but quietly gathering their allies and waiting to pounce on the other two ounce they get weak from fighting each other.....

Given what i just outlined above(and let's not forget that the above was done with the Basic alignment descriptions from ever D&D book ever made,so it's not taking into account stuff like useful skills,better than average stats,their base personalities,relative power levels among the above,etc.....),how long do we all think a group like this would last,hellfire & brimstone even function,before going up in flames faster the Hindenberge did?....

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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by danelsan » Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:43 pm

Chris Brady wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:50 am
the tumblrina's with the dyed mental illness hair cuts.
Could you please not do this again?

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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by Woodclaw » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:21 pm

On the whole "Bashing on Dragonlance", I'd like to point out a few details that might explain the problems within the setting.
Many concept for Dragonlance where developed in D&D 1st edition and back then there were only three alignments: Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic, with the last one being regarded as the "wrong" or "evil" alignment. When these were translated to AD&D there was a bit of a issue and they ended up being roughly equivalent to the Good-Evil axis.
As a result the "gods of order" become the "gods of good" and chaos became evil. This tossed the idea of a "three-way equilibrium" that the authors were trying to create out of the window. The theory that there was three possible resolutions for every plot point and that the right one was usually the middle road didn't work all that well, especially because some of those choices were not choices at all.
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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by Chris Brady » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:00 pm

The issue is that they don't use them as Law and Chaos. Here's the thing though, I liked most of the characters in the novels, Time of The Twins remains my favourite of them all, but they do have some cosmological holes that you can throw Takhisis through.

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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by L-Space » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:20 pm

The main systems I don't like are the Cortex System and systems that use HUGE dice pools. Whenever I try and play a game with dice pools it just seems to slow everything down. I find this particularly sucky because I really like the Shadowrun setting and would love to play/run something in that universe, but the combat seems to take forever. Roll 15+ dice to attack, target rolls 15+ to defend, add extra hits to damage dice which means another handful of dice for damage, etc. AAARGH! Cyberpunk shoot outs should be fast and brutal, not slow and plodding!

And to not be completely negative one of the systems I really liked was Warhammer Fantasy 2e. I liked the starting from nothing approach, the level progression was nice than just "dinging", and the ability to switch between different careers was really nice.
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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by Bladewind » Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:03 pm

Ares wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:07 pm
And yeah, the idea of every alignment being present on some council and all of them getting along is just crazy to me.
Where`s the DM telling them how to behave ? ;)
MacynSnow wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:31 pm
I always thought of Dragonlance as the Diet soda of setting
That was hilarious.

I find myself in agreement too. Dragonlance always drove me nuts - too many heroes in the forefront. And Gully Dwarves. And Kender. Did I mention I despise Kender? Not for the ones that were written about, but for everyone playing a Kender PC that wanted to be just like the one in the book and that translated into "I'm going to steal the show, and I can do it because, Kender."

I'll also add another of mine - concept and setting were and still are really good in my mind. Execution was overly complicated - Torg.I still consult the settings for inspiration, but the system I could never wrap my head around at the time, and for lack of an interested party never got it going again.

Also, it`s a love/ hate for me as I thought it was conceptually amazing, but lacked in execution to some extent - Dark Sun. Especially with the novelization of the world being saved. Specifically Preservers and Defilers. The lack of a game mechanic to differentiate them stank. It got better in the 3rd Ed adaptations that actually tried to address that lapse.
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Re: RPG Settings and Systems you just can't stand.

Post by MacynSnow » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:37 pm

Bladewind wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:03 pm
Ares wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:07 pm
And yeah, the idea of every alignment being present on some council and all of them getting along is just crazy to me.
Where`s the DM telling them how to behave ? ;)
MacynSnow wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:31 pm
I always thought of Dragonlance as the Diet soda of setting
That was hilarious.

I find myself in agreement too. Dragonlance always drove me nuts - too many heroes in the forefront. And Gully Dwarves. And Kender. Did I mention I despise Kender? Not for the ones that were written about, but for everyone playing a Kender PC that wanted to be just like the one in the book and that translated into "I'm going to steal the show, and I can do it because, Kender."

I'll also add another of mine - concept and setting were and still are really good in my mind. Execution was overly complicated - Torg.I still consult the settings for inspiration, but the system I could never wrap my head around at the time, and for lack of an interested party never got it going again.

Also, it`s a love/ hate for me as I thought it was conceptually amazing, but lacked in execution to some extent - Dark Sun. Especially with the novelization of the world being saved. Specifically Preservers and Defilers. The lack of a game mechanic to differentiate them stank. It got better in the 3rd Ed adaptations that actually tried to address that lapse.
I only had 1 problem with Dark Sun,mostly a setting issue:there was no way that ENTIRE planet was turned into Dune's little sister.
Now,it might work if it was a section of the world(if you want to make Mad Max-without-tech,you could make it half),but not the whole thing.

As for Defilers and Perservers(or,as i like to call them,Not-Wizard Wizrds :D),i think they differentiated them in the(supposedly Blasphemous) 4th Ed rather well(ok,they made you buy the Dark Sun campaign setting book to get it,but still.....).

And thank you,i'll be here all week! be sure to tip your local goblin server with actual money..... :D

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