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A question suggested by

Felix Lastname
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If you could wish for any one RPG to have been invented instead of D&D back in the year dot and to have had the same kind of influence in shaping the hobby over the decades, which would you choose, and why?


Do you have a question you want asked as QOTD? Post here!

And if you want to find an old QOTD: The big QOTD Summary and Subscription Thread Volume 3
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Pathfinder.
I jest, of course. I'm glad D&D came first. Great game to build upon - or deviate from.
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Alain Curato
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Runequest.
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Karkared wrote:
Runequest.


Why, please?




Yeah, maybe to clarify, this question was not intended to disrespect D&D, but rather as an exercise in alternative history.

At one point, I probably would have said "Warhammer FRP", because I was so into grimdark etc. that I wished everybody was as well (while retaining the comfortable and well-worn fantasy tropes more or less)(#murderhobo).

I also at some point (way back in the past) would have answered with "CoC", because of my fascination with investigation and squamous quandaries; but looking at the games market today, sometimes it already feels as if Cthulhu actually had been first. whistle
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What if Everway had been the first? We would have gotten a diverse setting that does not emphasise murder-hobo'ing, with a more 'associative' approach to character creation.
It's interesting to contemplate how that would have played out in those 40 years.
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I feel like 'popularized' is a better term than invented, but oh well.

D&D has impacted the hobby so much that its really hard to say, and I think much of that impact has been overwhelmingly negative in many ways. A focus on over-complicated rules, massive misogyny, the strong wargaming background smashed haphazardly into situations that don't fit it. How much better would RPGs be if we hadn't had to start with all that garbage?

I suppose the ideal would have been for a few different RPGs with very differing starting ideals to become popular around the same time, so that there are more ideas circulating and people getting exposed to broader possibilities.

Or maybe I'd pick for RPGs to have grown out of modern euro-board games rather than wargames, with a focus on simple, exciting and highly workable mechanics rather than complex "simulations". That might be the best bet.

It is hard to pick an RPG, since I don't know of any that are any good.
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4th Edition Dungeon & Dragons. I feel okay suggesting that, since there seems to be wide agreement that it's not D&D. For me, though, it did many of the things that I always wanted D&D to have done from the beginning, so I wish its design had been first,

Other than that, I guess I'd say Fate Core, because I think player collaboration and contribution outside of character creation is the most important aspect of modern gaming and I wish it had been present (or more officially present) since the beginning.
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"Medieval-style" fantasy games aren't necessarily my jam. That being said, most of my collection is made up of that kind of game. Let's just construct a narrative that things are as they are because the popularizing game was a medieval-style fantasy. I'd like to see how the scene would have changed had the popularizing game been generic or sci-fi.

I mean, just imagine the possibilities. Where would we be right now if Legacy had come out nine years earlier?

Quote:

3.41.1 THE INTENTIONALITY VALUEINTENTIONALITY is measured and discussed in discrete factors which indicate a degree or amount of INTENTIONALITY present in an object or individual. The table below indicates the relative significance of varying levels of INTENTIONALITY

INTENTIONALITY DESCRIPTION DIE ROLL EFFECTS

0 An individual that possess a basic 1 in 1000 chance of initiating an action significant to the course of play. An object which is not a nexus at all. None

1 An individual that possess a basic 1 in 100 chance of initiating an action significant to the course of play. An object which is a potential nexus. +2

<snip five more basically-identical results>

10+ An individual or an object which is a primary nexus +100


Actually, how about we not imagine that. Maybe GURPS instead.
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Torg

Pete (thinks that if Torg set the standard, most RPGs today would be stressing roleplaying and not tactical combat)
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Hm. It'd be interesting to see what the hobby would look like if it were founded on a GMless game like Polaris or Montsegur 1244 - the break from the "GM + players with character monogamy" convention felt like a pretty innovation at the time.
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Over the Edge (1st & 2nd Editions) - because I love the surrealism of the setting, feel the mechanics match well, and can't stop reading Burroughs.

However, had it been the first, probably it would've been the last. Because nobody else much agrees with me.
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ctimmins wrote:
Over the Edge (1st & 2nd Editions) - because I love the surrealism of the setting, feel the mechanics match well, and can't stop reading Burroughs.

However, had it been the first, probably it would've been the last. Because nobody else much agrees with me.


It might have been followed up by Unknown Armies... and maybe Itras By or something. whistle Over the Edge is a good call.
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Hmmmm... this is an interesting question, and so hard to answer because it is impossible to say that any other system would have spawned an industry the D&D ended up doing.

Maybe Apocalypse World and other Apocalypse Engine games?

Or maybe the Mouse Guard version of Burning Wheel?


I think either of those would have emphasized something other than, but parallel to, the more war-gamey roots of D&D.

Or I'll go the other way and say, maybe if Call of Cthulhu (6th Edition) had been the first and most popular we would have a big focus on investigation and mystery versus murder hobo-ing with kobolds and goblins.
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plezercruz wrote:
Pete (thinks that if Torg set the standard, most RPGs today would be stressing roleplaying and not tactical combat)

All the ones I'm aware of do.
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I would choose Call of Cthulhu also.

RPGs based on mystery investigation in an otherwise normal world would possibly be the norm and not the exception.
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The Fantasy Trip (Melee/Wizard): The characters and combat system is quite a bit less complicated, likewise it only uses standard dice (d6).
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Shadowrun (5th Edition) because I love all of the written material. It has lots of great fluff back stories.
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What if Ryuutama had been invented first? A cooperative friendly journey across a world seeped in magic, yet still familiar to those who read fantasy tropes. A game not about fighting, but about preparing for the journey which is to come? I think that would have set things off in a very different direction.

I'd also be interested in wondering if Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures had come out first. You still have low fantasy worlds and epic quests, but they are more about personal growth. And the while the books that inspired the game do overlap with the books that inspired D&D, there is less of a "do whatever it takes to succeed" murderhobo edge and more of a growing into your power wisely feel.
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In part, this question is about asking how would we have liked the hobby to have evolved so that the players we don't like would not have arisen.
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Againsto wrote:
Karkared wrote:
Runequest.


Why, please?


To make it short, early DnD was about "winning", gaining power as fast as possible, and it had no setting to really speak of. That gave way to many clumsy attempts at stillborn settings, munchkin adventures and characters, at least during the first decade and half.

Runequest had a setting from the start (created years before the rpg) and, though it had holes, it was a sound frame. You still wanted to gain power, but you knew why, where, for whom, with whom, etc.

With RQ first, I suspect that the roleplaying community, as a whole, would have taken the path of character building several years earlier.

Not to speak of all the lengthy rules discussions I started reading as soon as I entered roleplaying forums: most of them were about "is class X balanced vs class Y at lvl Z? How exactly do I gain HP with a Monk-Paladin? I want to play a ranger but not allowed, what weird build can I do instead?"

Now, this is not to say DnD has only flaws, nor that nobody played DnD a better way, or that RQ had nothing but qualities. But I think RQ would have saved time on some matters.
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Mazes & Minotaurs (Anniversary Edition)?

Gamma World - for the selfish reason that more people would run it and I might actually get to be a player.



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This is a fascinating question, because I am having a hard time even conceiving of a different historical path for RPGs. People acting out stories has been done since we first has stories to tell, same with people playing games. But people acting out stories BY playing a game, I believe that is truly a uniquely new human interaction that came about in the 1970's and was only possible because prior to it people had been seriously thinking about making games that simulated war. The state transition was something like...

Miniature War Games >> Miniature Fantasy War Games >> Miniature Fantasy War Games where each player has only one combatant >> Miniature Fantasy Games where each player has one miniature and the focus is on things other than war (Chainmail and it's "fantasy supplement") >> Fantasy games where you are "playing" a character in a fictional world (D&D) >> every other RPG ever

I think it is possible that the genre of the transition could have been different, for example, science-fiction/space opera or westerns as the first transition versus fantasy. Its just possible something like Traveler or Boot Hill could have appeared even if D&D hadn't. And I think Caroline raises an interesting point about the original source material through mentioning Ryuutama.

But I think modern RPGs only make sense as products of that set of game hobbyists that were making games where they were trying to simulate reality, and the reality they were mostly trying to simulate was war. What other streams of game design prior to 1980 could have led to such a development? I'm drawing a blank.

EDIT: to clarify, I think the point I am making is no amount of communal story telling, acting exercises, etc. would have ever led to what we do. That would never had made the transition to role-playing games. The transition had to come from the GAME side of role-playing games, not the ROLE-PLAYING side.
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Seems like an impossible counterfactual. Plus, I don't have much of a problem with the way the hobby developed or how it is today.

Some of the examples given seem interesting, e.g. Ryuutama.

I think it would've been nice if some of the more narrative-style mechanics would've become popular earlier. So I guess I will say Pendragon. (But that's still pretty old!)
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As an addendum to my previous post, I think a LOT of modern games have benefited tremendously from efforts in the 2000's to think through exactly what we do when we play RPGs, how the rules interact with what we do, etc. A lot of this conversation started on Usenet, and migrated to other places like the Forge, and then spawned a kind of counter-reformation in other places.

But I don't think that conversation was possible until there was a critical mass, in some sense, of actual games that had been written and played. Games like Fiasco and Dungeon Crawl Classics (to take two extremes) only exist because enough other games had been played and written that people could take a step back and say "hmmm, what bits of this fun experience are the most fun? what bits are the least? How do the rules support the fun bits? How do they get in the way?" I don't honestly think that conversation was really possible until a) the advent of the internet discussion group, and b) enough games to talk about.
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I would hazard that even the funny dice are integral to the success of RPGs. I do not think a card based randomizer would have captured the imagination the same way, nor would six sided dice.
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