Influence of Ysgarth (Was Re: Something Else)

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aho...@rocketmail.com

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Oct 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/13/97
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B. Baugh Wrote:

>>
Dave Nalle claims that Ysgarth is a huge tremendous influence. Dave
also claims that Ars Magica is, more or less, the anti-Ysgarth.

Okay. But by anybody's reckoning, ArM-derivatives are pretty much the
core of the non-TSR sector of the gaming market, if we count the World
of Darkness as an ArM derivation (as seems sensible to me). And much
of the rest is stuff that has its own intellectual lineages: the
Chaosium system, Jonathan Tweet's work, and so on.

So, um, which systems in particular is it that Ysgarth is supposed to
have influenced? Specifically?<<

I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to respond because I have
nothing better to do with my leg broken.

Having played Ysgarth some years ago and now playing a homebrew system
with elements from Ysgarth and other systems I've actually thought about
this topic some over the years.

First, there's one game which is clearly directly derived from Ysgarth.
Fifth Cycle is not a well known game, but there is no question that its
rules are one short generation removed from the old 6-book version of
Ysgarth. Some of the borrowings are very obvious and awfully direct.

I can't make as direct a connection, but the influence is also pretty
obious in Harnmaster. While the Harnmaster rules have developed more from
the root, if they aren't influenced by Ysgarth, then the same pixies were
whispering in the author's ears as whispered in David Nalle's ears.
Conceptually and mechanically there are too many similarities to ignore.

Other systems also show the Ysgarth influence, but it is confused for me
by the amazing similarities between early Ysgarth and DragonQuest, which
I think had greater exposure and influenced a lot of designers. I don't
have all the dates, but I think that although the two games came out at
around the same time Ysgarth was in circulation as fanzine articles a year
or two before DragonQuest came out, so there may be influence there as
well.

As I see it, there are basically three great traditions in Fantasy RPG
design, those games that are descended from AD&D, those which are
descended from Ysgarth (and/or DragonQuest) and those which are descended
from RuneQuest. More recently I'd also say there was an Ars Magica line
of descent, which I have to agree probably has its earliest roots in the
Ysgarth/DragonQuest tradition.

I find the history of RPGs sort of fascinating, and it's interesting to
trace where ideas originated and where they went in later game designs.
And from doing this, what I see an awful lot is that ideas which have
become standards of later RPGs I saw for the first time in Ysgarth.

Aser

-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====-----------------------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Post to Usenet

Ken McKinney

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Oct 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/13/97
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In article <344257DA...@full-moon.com>, Tim Byrd <tb...@full-moon.com> wrote:

>Third, the originating server of your message (shown by Deja News, which
>doesn't hide folks as well as they think it does) is a server in Texas, home
>of Dave Nalle, creator of Ysgarth.
>
>Hmm. I'm sure there's a possible deduction to be made from these
>clues...anyone want to help me?
>
>Best,
>
>Tim

You know, I think you're making a stretch, and this is why.

I played in Dave Nalle's Ysgarth game for many years, and so did dozens of
other students at the University of Texas. Any of them could have written
that note, and it makes sense, given that it came from Texas. Implying that
Dave made it up himself seems a stretch, given the evidence. I know Dave
Nalle personally, and I don't think that he would do such a thing.

Ken McKinney

NUELOW

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Oct 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/13/97
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Tim Byrd wrote:

<< Hmm. I'm sure there's a possible deduction to be made from these
clues...anyone want to help me? >>

Sure, but why would Dave Nalle want to hide behind a dummy account? Say what
you will about the guy, but he certainly is never shy about his opinions on
"Ysgarth" and related matters.

Steve Miller
(who, interestingly enough, has never been seen at the same time and place Dave
Nalle... just something for conspiracy theorists to chew on)


Tim Byrd

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Oct 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/13/97
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NUELOW wrote:

> Tim Byrd wrote:
>
> << Hmm. I'm sure there's a possible deduction to be made from these
> clues...anyone want to help me? >>
>
> Sure, but why would Dave Nalle want to hide behind a dummy account? Say what
> you will about the guy, but he certainly is never shy about his opinions on
> "Ysgarth" and related matters.

Sometimes it's nice to have back-up in a debate, and a pseudonymous poster singing
the praises is more likely to attract some folks' interest than the designer
singing the praises.

I, and many others, am still convinced that there were a few devout fans of Quest
for the Grail in the CCG newsgroups that were actually Dave, because they all
pretty much said the same things he did with little stylistic variation.

And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote our games, though
we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other companies do the same.

The big thing for me was the importance the poster gave to Ysgarth in the evolution
of RPGs. That doesn't strike you as a bit wonky and peculiar?

Best,

Tim
*********************************
"If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad...
If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?"
-- Sheryl Crow
Cheer up. Come back to the Cabin, http://www.netime.com/~tbyrd
Sit a spell. :)

Tim Byrd

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Oct 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/13/97
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aho...@rocketmail.com wrote:

> As I see it, there are basically three great traditions in Fantasy RPG
> design, those games that are descended from AD&D, those which are
> descended from Ysgarth (and/or DragonQuest) and those which are descended
> from RuneQuest. More recently I'd also say there was an Ars Magica line
> of descent, which I have to agree probably has its earliest roots in the
> Ysgarth/DragonQuest tradition.
>
> I find the history of RPGs sort of fascinating, and it's interesting to
> trace where ideas originated and where they went in later game designs.
> And from doing this, what I see an awful lot is that ideas which have
> become standards of later RPGs I saw for the first time in Ysgarth.

A thought-provoking post, Aser...but not necessarily in the way you intend.

First, a Deja News search indicates that you haven't existed, Usenet-wise,
until this very post.

Second, you're posting through Deja News, a tactic very often used by those
wanting to hide their actual identities. Further, the fact that the message is
posted outside of the original thread, with a change from "Something Else"
indicates that the poster read read the original messages in the thread
through one venue (say, a newsreader on their ISP), then went to Deja News to
compose this message without making a note of the name of the original thread,
and without simply replying within that thread on Deja News. Were you using
Deja News for newsgroups, odds are you'd have replied within the thread in
question.

Third, the originating server of your message (shown by Deja News, which
doesn't hide folks as well as they think it does) is a server in Texas, home
of Dave Nalle, creator of Ysgarth.

Hmm. I'm sure there's a possible deduction to be made from these


clues...anyone want to help me?

Best,

Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
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Ken McKinney <k...@adaptivemedia.com> spake:

>I played in Dave Nalle's Ysgarth game for many years, and so did dozens of
>other students at the University of Texas. Any of them could have written
>that note, and it makes sense, given that it came from Texas. Implying that
>Dave made it up himself seems a stretch, given the evidence. I know Dave
>Nalle personally, and I don't think that he would do such a thing.

I don't know Dave personally, but he's certainly never held back from
evangelizing his own game in person before, and I'd be VERY shocked if he
developed a shame gland at this late date.

(Note that I don't entirely disrespect that - huge flaming egos visible from
other galaxies are better than being meek - I just like bitching when he does
it more than a few times a week).

-- <a href="http://kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu/~kamikaze/"> Mark Hughes </a>

Iron Czar

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
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In rec.games.frp.misc, Tim Byrd <tb...@full-moon.com> spoke thusly:

>A thought-provoking post, Aser...but not necessarily in the way you intend.

>First, a Deja News search indicates that you haven't existed, Usenet-wise,
>until this very post.

Do you do this as a matter of course whenever you read a Usenet post?


Iron Czar
iron...@erienet.net
http://www.erienet.net/~ironczar


Terry Austin

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
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iron...@erienet.SUBTRACT-xx-TO-xx-REPLY.net (Iron Czar) wrote:

>In rec.games.frp.misc, Tim Byrd <tb...@full-moon.com> spoke thusly:
>
>>A thought-provoking post, Aser...but not necessarily in the way you intend.
>
>>First, a Deja News search indicates that you haven't existed, Usenet-wise,
>>until this very post.
>
>Do you do this as a matter of course whenever you read a Usenet post?
>

Only when he's out of his medication.

---------------------------------
-- Terry Austin, Grand Inquisitor, Loyal Order of Chivalry & Sorcery
Hyperbooks Online http://www.hyperbooks.com/ Order by toll free phone call!

Hanosz Prime Goes to Old Earth, by Robert Silverberg
- October Cosmic Visions
Memories are Like Clouds, by Diana Dell

NUELOW

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
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<< And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote our games,
though
we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other companies do the
same. >>

Hurm. For all the time I've spent kicking around the 'net, I've never felt
obligated to create a dummy account in order to promote something I've worked
on, nor to defend myself. If I wanted to know what the audiecne thought of
"Domains of Dread," "Heroes of Defiance," or "Anomolies," I'd just ask 'em
directly! I had no idea that we had to be sly about it....

<< The big thing for me was the importance the poster gave to Ysgarth in the
evolution
of RPGs. That doesn't strike you as a bit wonky and peculiar? >>

Yes, it does. I also think the poster in question (be he Mr. Nalle or someone
else) was totally out to lunch in regards to the importance of Ysgarth. I
guess I've just never realised that it's common practice to support one's
position with phoney people.

I feel much better about myself now. Only a quarter of the people online who
have flamed me over the years actually exist! :)

Steve Miller

Matthew R Blackwell

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

In <19971014032...@ladder01.news.aol.com> nue...@aol.com

(NUELOW) writes:
>
>
>
><< And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote
>our games, though
>we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other companies
>do the same. >>

> I guess I've just never realised that it's common practice to


>support one's position with phoney people.
>
>I feel much better about myself now. Only a quarter of the people
>online who have flamed me over the years actually exist! :)
>
>Steve Miller

Well Steve, remember that only a quarter of your supporters exist
too... <grin>

Matt- Who's never been seen with Dave or Tim. Hmmm....

Juergen Hubert

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

NUELOW wrote:
>
> << And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote our games,
> though
> we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other companies do the
> same. >>
>
> Hurm. For all the time I've spent kicking around the 'net, I've never felt
> obligated to create a dummy account in order to promote something I've worked
> on, nor to defend myself. If I wanted to know what the audiecne thought of
> "Domains of Dread," "Heroes of Defiance," or "Anomolies," I'd just ask 'em
> directly! I had no idea that we had to be sly about it....

Since you mentioned it...
"Domains of Dread": Excellent ideas and well done, exept for the maps. I
mean, all that gloom and doom is nice and well, but I like to be able to
distinguish a lake from a forest, or a river from a road (Minor nit:
Mordentshire is labelled "Port-a-Lucine" on the map of the Southern
Core)...

--
Juergen Hubert
HUB...@gawein.physik.uni-erlangen.de

"Sometimes I do stupid stuff, and I don't even know why...
...as if my body were controlled by some demented, sadistic
puppet-master..."
-- Bernard Bernoulli
"Well, we all feel that way sometimes."
-- Weird Ed Edison
in: "Day of the Tentacle"

Tim Byrd

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
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Brandon Blackmoor wrote:

> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
>
> On Mon, 13 Oct 1997 22:02:42 -0400, quoth Tim Byrd
> <tb...@full-moon.com>:


>
> >And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote
> >our games, though
> >we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other
> >companies do the same.
>

> That is just plain sad.

I'm not defending the practice.

Brandon Blackmoor

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

On Mon, 13 Oct 1997 22:02:42 -0400, quoth Tim Byrd
<tb...@full-moon.com>:

>And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote
>our games, though
>we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other
>companies do the same.

That is just plain sad.

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Dave Nalle

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
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In article <3442D2C1...@full-moon.com>, Tim Byrd
<tb...@full-moon.com> wrote:

> NUELOW wrote:
>
> > Tim Byrd wrote:
> >

> > << Hmm. I'm sure there's a possible deduction to be made from these
> > clues...anyone want to help me? >>
> >

> > Sure, but why would Dave Nalle want to hide behind a dummy account? Say what
> > you will about the guy, but he certainly is never shy about his opinions on
> > "Ysgarth" and related matters.
>
> Sometimes it's nice to have back-up in a debate, and a pseudonymous
poster singing
> the praises is more likely to attract some folks' interest than the designer
> singing the praises.

Except that there was no debate or position to back up.

> I, and many others, am still convinced that there were a few devout fans
of Quest
> for the Grail in the CCG newsgroups that were actually Dave, because they all
> pretty much said the same things he did with little stylistic variation.

If you like QftG you like it for the things about it which are likeable.

> And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote our
games, though
> we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other companies do
the same.
>

> The big thing for me was the importance the poster gave to Ysgarth in
the evolution
> of RPGs. That doesn't strike you as a bit wonky and peculiar?

Yes. But then what do I know.

I think that any player is likely to place undue significance on the first
game he encounters or the first game he tried after D&D, and for at least
a few thousand people that game is Ysgarth.

Dave

---------------------------------------------------------------------
I write both as an individual and as a company representative
Scriptorium Fonts & Graphic Arts:http://ragnarokpress.com/scriptorium
Ysgarth RPG Site: http://www.ragnarokpress.com/ragnarok/ysgarth

Dave Nalle

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
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> Having played Ysgarth some years ago and now playing a homebrew system
> with elements from Ysgarth and other systems I've actually thought about
> this topic some over the years.
>
> First, there's one game which is clearly directly derived from Ysgarth.
> Fifth Cycle is not a well known game, but there is no question that its
> rules are one short generation removed from the old 6-book version of
> Ysgarth. Some of the borrowings are very obvious and awfully direct.

From what I've seen of Fifth Cycle you're right on the money. It's the most
Ysgarth-like RPG I've seen, though - as I will point out below - that means
very little.

> I can't make as direct a connection, but the influence is also pretty
> obious in Harnmaster. While the Harnmaster rules have developed more from
> the root, if they aren't influenced by Ysgarth, then the same pixies were
> whispering in the author's ears as whispered in David Nalle's ears.
> Conceptually and mechanically there are too many similarities to ignore.

I wouldn't connect Harnmaster with Ysgarth at all. I feel pretty
confident that the rules in Harnmaster have their origins in a combination
of elements from RuneQuest and Chivalry and Sorcery with some original
ideas thrown in. While there may be superficial similarities to Ysgarth,
the character generation system and the overall emphasis of the rules is
very different.



> Other systems also show the Ysgarth influence, but it is confused for me
> by the amazing similarities between early Ysgarth and DragonQuest, which
> I think had greater exposure and influenced a lot of designers. I don't
> have all the dates, but I think that although the two games came out at
> around the same time Ysgarth was in circulation as fanzine articles a year
> or two before DragonQuest came out, so there may be influence there as
> well.

I'm not familiar enough with DragonQuest to comment, but I have been told
that there are a lot of similarities to Ysgarth by people who have played
both.

> As I see it, there are basically three great traditions in Fantasy RPG
> design, those games that are descended from AD&D, those which are
> descended from Ysgarth (and/or DragonQuest) and those which are descended
> from RuneQuest. More recently I'd also say there was an Ars Magica line
> of descent, which I have to agree probably has its earliest roots in the
> Ysgarth/DragonQuest tradition.

I'm inclined to think that Ysgarth comes more from the D&D tradition than
anything else, though it has moved pretty far away from it over the years.
It still has the emphasis on the character as an individual and on strong
issues of morality in play, which characterize D&D and few other major games
in the genre.

You're also missing Hero system and in particular Fantasy Hero, which I
think is one of the great forgotten FRP games of the 80s. If anything I
would suggest that FH is the ancestor of Ars Magica, though the apple fell
pretty far from the tree.

> I find the history of RPGs sort of fascinating, and it's interesting to
> trace where ideas originated and where they went in later game designs.
> And from doing this, what I see an awful lot is that ideas which have
> become standards of later RPGs I saw for the first time in Ysgarth.

I agree that Ysgarth originated a lot of novel mechanics over the years, but
most of the best of them were never picked up by any other game system, or
were implemented in very different ways.

It's terribly difficult to classify game systems just by looking at the
rules and say which camp they fall into, and even harder to try to say
where the ideas came from. In the period from 1976 to around 1980 there
was an amazing amount of fanzine activity in magazines like Alarums and
Excursions and Abyss. Ideas got thrown around very liberally and most of
the designers who originated new systems in that period read and wrote for
those fanzines.

The result is that I think the cross-pollination of ideas probably took
place before most of these systems were even in print. There were a lot
of ideas which had a great deal of currency at that time, like skill
systems and point allocation character creation which popped up in many,
many games and have since become old standards. Ysgarth saw print before
some of them, but that doesn't mean it was directly responsible for the
dissemination of those ideas.

I like to think that Ysgarth has had an influence -- I know there are some
designers who are very familiar with the game. But I prefer to look to
its future influence rather than what it may have done in the past,
because interesting and innovative though early editions were, what we're
doing with the rules now, is much more coherent and much more original
than what has gone before. This may be a result of passing time or the
better selection of games on the market today, but for a game to be new
and good today it has to meet a higher standard than it did in 1980 or so.

BTW...I have an article on the publishing history of Ysgarth which is
moderately interesting (to maybe 3 people). If anyonw wants a copy, drop
me a line.

Tim Byrd

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
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Dave Nalle wrote:

> > First, a Deja News search indicates that you haven't existed, Usenet-wise,
> > until this very post.
>

> Unless he posted previously under another account and just started using
> Deja News.

No previous messages existed for that account, posted through Deja or otherwise.
Whether that was because it was a new pseudonymous account or just a new account is
up for speculation.

> > Second, you're posting through Deja News, a tactic very often used by those
> > wanting to hide their actual identities.
>

> For any of a number of reasons. For example, I know several people who
> use Deja News because their offices have no newsgroups or they are
> prohibited from using the internet from work.

True. Not all Deja posts are to be suspected. But it certainly happens that people
use it to hide behind.

> > Further, the fact that the message is
> > posted outside of the original thread, with a change from "Something Else"
> > indicates that the poster read read the original messages in the thread
> > through one venue (say, a newsreader on their ISP), then went to Deja News to
> > compose this message without making a note of the name of the original thread,
> > and without simply replying within that thread on Deja News. Were you using
> > Deja News for newsgroups, odds are you'd have replied within the thread in
> > question.
>

> Except that Deja News doesn't allow replies to posts which are more than a
> month old. I would have thought you'd know that, being the expert on Deja
> News.

I thought the thread in question was the one on character generation, in which there
was some discussion of the evolution of these games, if I recall correctly. That was
very recent, not a month or more ago. Anyway, that was the assumption I was going
on.

> > Third, the originating server of your message (shown by Deja News, which
> > doesn't hide folks as well as they think it does) is a server in Texas, home
> > of Dave Nalle, creator of Ysgarth.
>

> And if you check my headers you'll find that my posts don't come from Texas at
> all, because I now use a news server that's located somewhere entirely
> different.

Actually, your posts originate from: 165.austin-01.tx.dial-access.att.net!user,
meaning you're a dial-up user using the AT&T Worldnet server out of Austin, Texas.

> The corollary to which is that ALL posts from Deja News have Texas
> headers, because Deja News IS located in Texas.

That's not what I was refering to. Deja News headers include a header telling where
the poster posted from. If I post from here, that header will show me as a dial-up
account in Atlanta. It won't identify my actual user name, but it will identify the
server I'm on.

> And you know, something like 20 million people live in Texas. Are they all me?

From my observations, yes. :)

> As you may recall I used Deja News for a while when I was on my old host
> (which I still use for email, but which has terrible newsgroup support),
> but some months ago I switched to doing all my dial-up access through AT&T
> because it is more reliable. I also switched to AT&T for newsgroups
> because it keeps posts around a bit longer and I was tired of missing
> things.


>
> > Hmm. I'm sure there's a possible deduction to be made from these
> > clues...anyone want to help me?
>

> Yep, that you're a paranoiac who'd rather attack a new user to this group
> than actually respond to his post.

Maybe. I didn't really think it was that big a deal, even if it was you. You'll see
me apologize for it in another message; I extend the apology to the original poster,
if he's really not you.

> Final point. Why would I make this post? There's nothing in it that I
> couldn't have posted myself. In fact, I think I may have posted something
> in response to the thread he's probably responding to from a couple of
> months ago. For me to have made this post anonymously it would make a lot
> more sense if there were something in it to be anonymous about.

I don't know. I see you post things all the time I couldn't say why you posted.
Maybe just to aggrandize your game and your contribution to the industry without
getting flamed to hell (as you know, Dave, it doesn't take much out of your mouth to
get a lot of people to hurl their brickbats). Maybe to attract possible interest
from folks who might want to seek out this trend-establishing game. I don't know.
People do things all the time I can't explain.

Anyway, I apologize for the accusation, and, as I've indicated, I really don't care
if it was you or not.

Tim Byrd

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

APVarney wrote:

> <<<> And you know, something like 20 million people live in Texas. Are they
> all me?
> From my observations, yes. :) >>>
>

> I'm not!

Except you.

John Tynes

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

In article <3442D2C1...@full-moon.com>, Tim Byrd
<tb...@full-moon.com> wrote:

>And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote our games,
>though we covered our tracks better, I think.

Jesus christ! I'd almost rather not have learned this. Is crack included
with the employee handbook?

--
John Tynes r...@tccorp.com [] "If he died in Memphis,
http://www.tccorp.com/rev/ [] wouldn't that be cool?"
Pagan Publishing [] -The Replacements,
& Commando Creative Services [] "Alex Chilton"
< \ - + freelance writing, editing, graphic design & HTML + - / >

David L. Pulver

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

On 14 Oct 1997, Dave Nalle wrote:

> > First, there's one game which is clearly directly derived from Ysgarth.
> > Fifth Cycle is not a well known game, but there is no question that its
> > rules are one short generation removed from the old 6-book version of
> > Ysgarth. Some of the borrowings are very obvious and awfully direct.
>
> From what I've seen of Fifth Cycle you're right on the money. It's the most
> Ysgarth-like RPG I've seen, though - as I will point out below - that means
> very little.

Really? To me, Fifth Cycle seemed like it was derived from Dragonquest 2nd
Edition.

> > Other systems also show the Ysgarth influence, but it is confused for me
> > by the amazing similarities between early Ysgarth and DragonQuest, which
> > I think had greater exposure and influenced a lot of designers. I don't

Ah, that makes sense.

> > around the same time Ysgarth was in circulation as fanzine articles a year
> > or two before DragonQuest came out, so there may be influence there as
> > well.

> I'm not familiar enough with DragonQuest to comment, but I have been told
> that there are a lot of similarities to Ysgarth by people who have played
> both.

I haven't played Ysgarth, but Fifth Cycle had me saying: "this is
Dragonquest, with a new background tacked on."


> > As I see it, there are basically three great traditions in Fantasy RPG
> > design, those games that are descended from AD&D, those which are
> > descended from Ysgarth (and/or DragonQuest) and those which are descended
> > from RuneQuest.

> You're also missing Hero system and in particular Fantasy Hero, which I


> think is one of the great forgotten FRP games of the 80s. If anything I
> would suggest that FH is the ancestor of Ars Magica, though the apple fell
> pretty far from the tree.

The descent line goes TFT (sensible point generation and hex-grid based
combat) -> Champions/Fantasy Hero (adds disadvantages, spell/power design)
-> GURPS (adds concept of one world book for each genre without need for
seperate rules) ->Fuzion (simplified hero).

There's also En Garde -> Traveller (career based character generation)
- > Space Opera/Universe/Future World etc. etc.

-David


Dave Nalle

unread,
Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

In article <61tm78$lmo$3...@nntp2.ba.best.com>, k...@adaptivemedia.com (Ken
McKinney) wrote:

> I played in Dave Nalle's Ysgarth game for many years, and so did dozens of
> other students at the University of Texas. Any of them could have written
> that note, and it makes sense, given that it came from Texas. Implying that
> Dave made it up himself seems a stretch, given the evidence. I know Dave
> Nalle personally, and I don't think that he would do such a thing.

I might make a post under a pseudonym, but it wouldn't be this post. If I
were to do so it would be a controversial post which I wanted to not be
associated with me or with Ragnarok or whatever. I've gotten in trouble
in the past for criticizing other games or companies, so I could see a
reason to do that anonymously.

There are just a few cranks on some of these groups who are automatically
ready to assume that I'm always up to no good. Apparently company reps
are supposed to just read posts and never make them.

Dave Nalle

unread,
Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

In article <344257DA...@full-moon.com>, Tim Byrd
<tb...@full-moon.com> wrote:

> aho...@rocketmail.com wrote:
>
> > As I see it, there are basically three great traditions in Fantasy RPG
> > design, those games that are descended from AD&D, those which are
> > descended from Ysgarth (and/or DragonQuest) and those which are descended

> > from RuneQuest. More recently I'd also say there was an Ars Magica line
> > of descent, which I have to agree probably has its earliest roots in the
> > Ysgarth/DragonQuest tradition.
> >

> > I find the history of RPGs sort of fascinating, and it's interesting to
> > trace where ideas originated and where they went in later game designs.
> > And from doing this, what I see an awful lot is that ideas which have
> > become standards of later RPGs I saw for the first time in Ysgarth.
>

> A thought-provoking post, Aser...but not necessarily in the way you intend.

Sorry I didn't get to this sooner, but I've been too busy to be active on the
newsgroups since last week.

> First, a Deja News search indicates that you haven't existed, Usenet-wise,
> until this very post.

Unless he posted previously under another account and just started using
Deja News.

> Second, you're posting through Deja News, a tactic very often used by those


> wanting to hide their actual identities.

For any of a number of reasons. For example, I know several people who
use Deja News because their offices have no newsgroups or they are
prohibited from using the internet from work.

> Further, the fact that the message is


> posted outside of the original thread, with a change from "Something Else"
> indicates that the poster read read the original messages in the thread
> through one venue (say, a newsreader on their ISP), then went to Deja News to
> compose this message without making a note of the name of the original thread,
> and without simply replying within that thread on Deja News. Were you using
> Deja News for newsgroups, odds are you'd have replied within the thread in
> question.

Except that Deja News doesn't allow replies to posts which are more than a
month old. I would have thought you'd know that, being the expert on Deja
News.

> Third, the originating server of your message (shown by Deja News, which


> doesn't hide folks as well as they think it does) is a server in Texas, home
> of Dave Nalle, creator of Ysgarth.

And if you check my headers you'll find that my posts don't come from Texas at
all, because I now use a news server that's located somewhere entirely
different.

The corollary to which is that ALL posts from Deja News have Texas


headers, because Deja News IS located in Texas.

And you know, something like 20 million people live in Texas. Are they all me?

As you may recall I used Deja News for a while when I was on my old host


(which I still use for email, but which has terrible newsgroup support),
but some months ago I switched to doing all my dial-up access through AT&T
because it is more reliable. I also switched to AT&T for newsgroups
because it keeps posts around a bit longer and I was tired of missing
things.

> Hmm. I'm sure there's a possible deduction to be made from these
> clues...anyone want to help me?

Yep, that you're a paranoiac who'd rather attack a new user to this group
than actually respond to his post.

Final point. Why would I make this post? There's nothing in it that I


couldn't have posted myself. In fact, I think I may have posted something
in response to the thread he's probably responding to from a couple of
months ago. For me to have made this post anonymously it would make a lot
more sense if there were something in it to be anonymous about.

Dave

Tim Byrd

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

Dave (and everyone else),

Sorry if I got a bit ahead of myself in this thread. I shouldn't have
posted my suspicions without more definite knowledge.

Generally, I do try to be more fair, as Dave should know, as I've stood
up for him a couple times recently in another venue where folks who
should know better fly even more off the handle at anything related to
him, often without merit. Most of what I know about Dave I know from
on-line observation, and while it doesn't necessarily make me like him,
I don't bear him any malice either.

I don't know if Dave had anything to do with the post. I shouldn't have
implied such a thing without knowing.

Dennis F. Hefferman

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Oct 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/14/97
to

|I feel much better about myself now. Only a quarter of the people online who
| have flamed me over the years actually exist! :)

New .sig quote! ;-)

--
Dennis Francis Heffernan IRC: FuzyLogic heff...@pegasus.montclair.edu
Montclair State University #include <disclaim.h> Computer Science/Philosophy


"I feel much better about myself now. Only a quarter of the people online who

have flamed me over the years actually exist! :)" -- Steve Miller on r.g.f.m

APVarney

unread,
Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

<<<> And you know, something like 20 million people live in Texas. Are they
all me?
From my observations, yes. :) >>>

I'm not!
-- Allen Varney
Austin, Texas


Dave Nalle

unread,
Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

To take all of this in a more useful direction, it would be interesting to
classify RPGs as to how they handle certain key mechanics, and perhaps
what tradition that puts them in.

As I see it, all RPGs break down into the following basic mechanics:

1 Characteristics
Selection (what stats the characters have)
Generation (how those stats are determined)
2 Skills/Abilities
Generation (how skills are acquired)
Resolution (how you determine the outcome of skill use)
3 Combat
Attack/Defense (how you figure out who hits and how often)
Damage/Damage Resistence (what happens when someone takes damage)
4 Magic/Powers
Generation (how you get powers)
Use (how you use powers you have)
5 Roleplaying Mechanics

I realize that 5 may be controversial, but I think that whether or not a
system has mechanics for determining how a character thinks or acts is
very, very important.

If anything needs to be added to this list, suggest it. The next step
would be to describe various games according to these categories and then
figure out what the tertiary categories overall would be.

Here's Ysgarth:

Characteristics
Selection - 12 Characteristics, 3 physical, 3 mental, 3 social
Generation - Balanced Point Allocation
Skills/Abilities
Generation - Picked with incentives based on character background
Resolution - Roll within Rating for Skill based on characteristic and levels
Advancement - Purchase additional levels with experience
Combat
Attack/Defense - Handled as skill rolls for specific combat skills
Damage - Area based hit point system
Magic/Powers
Acquisition - Spells learnt as skills
Use - Spells cast as skills, paid for with Mana points based on Talent Stat
Roleplaying Mechanics - Acquisition of points to represent fame and influence

Here's Original D&D

Characteristics
Selection - 6 Characteristics
Generation - Random die roll
Skills/Abilities
Generation - Automatically assigned based on character class picked
Resolution - Percentile roll
Combat
Attack/Defense - Pre-determined based on character class and stats
Damage - Overall hit point system
Magic/Powers
Acquisition - Spells picked from character class based list
Use - At will, number of uses limited by character class.
Roleplaying Mechanics - Racial ability restrictions & Rigid Moral Alignments

Anyone want to add to the list? I think we might be able to see how
systems relate more clearly from this start.

Dave Nalle

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Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

In article <19971015002...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
apva...@aol.com (APVarney) wrote:

> <<<> And you know, something like 20 million people live in Texas. Are they
> all me?
> From my observations, yes. :) >>>
>
> I'm not!

Well, if there's anyone who's NOT Dave Nalle, it's certainly ME.

Ken McKinney

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Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

In article <620r9g$q...@bgtnsc02.worldnet.att.net>, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave Nalle) wrote:

>I might make a post under a pseudonym, but it wouldn't be this post. If I
>were to do so it would be a controversial post which I wanted to not be
>associated with me or with Ragnarok or whatever. I've gotten in trouble
>in the past for criticizing other games or companies, so I could see a
>reason to do that anonymously.
>

Right, what I meant was that you wouldn't plug your own game with a pseudonym.
Clearly there's a difference between doing this (hi white wolf!) and talking
about an unrelated issue.

Ken

Richard Dansky

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Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

> >And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote
> >our games, though
> >we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other
> >companies do the same.
>
> That is just plain sad.
>
And, to my knowledge, utterly untrue - with one exception, who no
longer works for White Wolf, but who posts an awful lot.

[Note: Anyone who claims that Phil Brucato and his fiancee are
identical or have the same agendas doesn't know them at all. Wendy's
posts are hers and hers alone.]

deadguy

--
00=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=00-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-00
Richard E. Dansky, aka The Deadguy: Developer, Wraith: The Oblivion &
Mind's Eye Theatre, White Wolf Gaming Studios
00=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-00=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-00
"I hate the living." - Dr. Laurel Wagner, Men In Black

Tim Byrd

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Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

Richard Dansky wrote:

> > >And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote
> > >our games, though
> > >we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other
> > >companies do the same.
> >
> > That is just plain sad.
> >
> And, to my knowledge, utterly untrue - with one exception, who no
> longer works for White Wolf, but who posts an awful lot.

There you have it folks: the Official White Wolf Denial (tm). Rich still
speaks for WW, I do not. Therefore I must be mistaken. Sorry about that.
Best,

Tim
*********************************
"Dissent is seen as a form of betrayal. Free speech is seen as being most
appropriately exercised when it is not exercised at all."
--E.L. Doctorow


Bruce Baugh

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Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

In article <34452B63...@full-moon.com>, Tim Byrd wrote:

> There you have it folks: the Official White Wolf Denial (tm). Rich still
> speaks for WW, I do not. Therefore I must be mistaken. Sorry about that.

While the game of ad hominem is fun to play, it is tricky. Yes, as an
employee of White Wolf, Rich has a vested interest in his company
being thought well of. (And, to avoid charges of duplicity, so do I as
a freelancer scheduled to write several hundred thousand words for
them next year.) However...

1. You are, presumably deliberately for rhetorical effect, distorting
his words. Rich is not speaking on behalf of White Wolf, but from his
own knowledge. If people who actually can speak for the company want
to do so, they're welcome to, but their posts would have nothingto do
with Rich's. He has no corporate authority to wield, only the benefit
of having been at the company for a while and therefore knowing many
things done behind the scenes.

2. If he is suspect and not to be trusted because he is an employee,
then by the exact same measure you are suspect and not to be trusted
because you are an ex-employee. Insofar as any other game company
hires you, you can be assumed to have an economic stake in Whie Wolf
losing sales to precisely the degree that Rich can be assumed to
benefit from its success. You may also be assumed to benefit in the
eyes of people outside the game business from being perceived as the
pure one outside the cesspool of evil and vileness.

It is because ad hominem becomes instantly useless in this regard that
I refrain from using it as a rhetorical tool, and advise others to do
the same. It would be simpler to accuse Rich of lying than to bring in
tactics that destroy the basis of your own argument.

--
Bruce Baugh |
ari...@eyrie.org |
"I am what I know, a glacier made from layers of history's snow"

Tim Toner

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Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

Richard Dansky wrote in message <344533...@white-wolf.com>...

>And, to my knowledge, utterly untrue - with one exception, who no
>longer works for White Wolf, but who posts an awful lot.

I think, then, that the key words here are "to my knowledge," because there
was indeed more than one "spoofers." While they did not HYPE a product,
they would very often start a discussion by playing the lone newbie who
wanted to know what Splatbook: Funions was all about.


Tim Byrd

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Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

Bruce Baugh wrote:

> In article <34452B63...@full-moon.com>, Tim Byrd wrote:
>
> > There you have it folks: the Official White Wolf Denial (tm). Rich still
> > speaks for WW, I do not. Therefore I must be mistaken. Sorry about that.
>
> While the game of ad hominem is fun to play, it is tricky. Yes, as an
> employee of White Wolf, Rich has a vested interest in his company
> being thought well of. (And, to avoid charges of duplicity, so do I as
> a freelancer scheduled to write several hundred thousand words for
> them next year.) However...
>
> 1. You are, presumably deliberately for rhetorical effect, distorting
> his words. Rich is not speaking on behalf of White Wolf, but from his
> own knowledge. If people who actually can speak for the company want
> to do so, they're welcome to, but their posts would have nothingto do
> with Rich's. He has no corporate authority to wield, only the benefit
> of having been at the company for a while and therefore knowing many
> things done behind the scenes.

Literally true, to the degree that if Rich ever says something that
after-the-fact the company wants to disassociate itself from, they have
deniability. Untrue to the effect that most of the official responses on-line
come from Rich and the other developers, so they're seen as the official
sources.

> 2. If he is suspect and not to be trusted because he is an employee,
> then by the exact same measure you are suspect and not to be trusted
> because you are an ex-employee. Insofar as any other game company
> hires you, you can be assumed to have an economic stake in Whie Wolf
> losing sales to precisely the degree that Rich can be assumed to
> benefit from its success.

So, if I'm doing some writing for, say, Pinnacle, I have an economic stake in
White Wolf losing sales? God, this industry's more cut-throat than I realized.

> You may also be assumed to benefit in the
> eyes of people outside the game business from being perceived as the
> pure one outside the cesspool of evil and vileness.

Huh? I owned up to my own part in the psedonymous posts, which certainly
doesn't cast me as the pure one in all this. But I did what I did because I
was asked to by my superiors, and really didn't (and don't) think it was any
big deal.

> It is because ad hominem becomes instantly useless in this regard that
> I refrain from using it as a rhetorical tool, and advise others to do
> the same. It would be simpler to accuse Rich of lying than to bring in
> tactics that destroy the basis of your own argument.

That's why I came back and explained the circumstances behind what I'd posted,
and most pointedly did not call Rich a liar in the process. Whereas, if I'd
not responded to his post, the argument essentially was "We did this,"
followed by "No we didn't," which leaves the clear implication that I was
lying. Especially when followed by the coy bit about the one person, no longer
at White Wolf, who posts a lot. I wasn't lying, and don't like being called a
liar, even through inference.

Anyway, my follow-up post should satisfy your need for justice, Bruce.

Tim Byrd

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Oct 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/15/97
to

I wrote:

> Richard Dansky wrote:
>
> > > >And, to be honest, we did the same thing at White Wolf to promote
> > > >our games, though
> > > >we covered our tracks better, I think. And I've seen other
> > > >companies do the same.
> > >
> > > That is just plain sad.
> > >

> > And, to my knowledge, utterly untrue - with one exception, who no
> > longer works for White Wolf, but who posts an awful lot.
>

> There you have it folks: the Official White Wolf Denial (tm). Rich still
> speaks for WW, I do not. Therefore I must be mistaken. Sorry about that.

Then I went off and read for a while, but the matter was baking in my mind,
and I decided that all this coyness didn't say what I wanted to say about the
matter.

I hadn't wanted to say much about this at all, really, but I slipped up and
mentioned the fake posting, and now I find myself in a slight pushing contest
with Rich, who is actually, probably, as literally true in what he said as I
was in what I said.

What I said was "WE did the same thing at White Wolf to promote our games."
The main "we" of this statement encompasses myself and a couple of others who
used various pseudonymous accounts to promote Rage. I did most of the
posting, as net-related matters were mostly my job at that point, but I
wasn't the only one to use these accounts, and I wasn't the one who came up
with the idea. These accounts were established by people of higher position
in the company, and paid for by the company, for the purpose I'm describing.

Rich says: "with one exception, who no longer works for White Wolf, but who
posts an awful lot." That would be me, and I am, indeed, the one exception,
officially, in that I'm probably the only employee who ever posted these fake
posts as part of my job (discounting the occasional posts through the
accounts by my co-workers).

There were others who used their personal accounts, or who posted from work,
with fake names/addresses, to do this kind of thing, though they weren't
doing it as part of any official plan, as far as I know. I could name three
people I know of, two of whom are still working at WW, but I won't. This sort
of thing doesn't really reflect on White Wolf's policy, as it's done by
individuals acting on their own. Whether anyone is still doing it I don't
know.

Rich also says: "And, to my knowledge, utterly untrue--" except, of course,
for me. And I'm inclined to believe him. He very easily could have no
knowledge of what the other people I'm talking about were doing on their own,
though what I was involved with was very easy to know about because we were
pretty open about it in our department, and Rich's office was just yards
away. And what White Wolf employees do on their own is not necessarily White
Wolf policy.

Just because it's not generally official policy doesn't mean it hasn't
happened, though.

This is all I'm going to say on the matter.
--

Matthew R Blackwell

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Oct 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/16/97
to

In <19971015002...@ladder02.news.aol.com> apva...@aol.com

(APVarney) writes:
>
><<<> And you know, something like 20 million people live in Texas.
>Are they all me?
> From my observations, yes. :) >>>
>
> I'm not!
> -- Allen Varney
> Austin, Texas

Hmm. Allen's denying being Dave Nalle, but he wouldn't deny it unless
he was Dave Nalle, so Dave Nalle is really Allen Varney!

So, are you going to change the name of the company to "Allen Varney
Games?"


Message has been deleted

Sea Wasp

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Oct 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/16/97
to

I doubt there was much at all. To be influential I'd think you have to
be KNOWN, and outside of people here on r.g.f who spend most of their
time heckling DN, I don't think I've *EVER* met anyone who'd even HEARD
of Ysgarth, let alone PLAYED it. I've certainly never seen a copy of the
thing.

--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;

Brett Evill

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Oct 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/16/97
to

In article <620qg6$m...@bgtnsc02.worldnet.att.net>, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave
Nalle) wrote:

>It still has the emphasis on the character as an individual and on strong
>issues of morality in play, which characterize D&D and few other major games
>in the genre.

Interesting comment, since my view is that D&D promotes the character as a
faceless clone, and is designed to make all PCs robbers, murderers,
genocidal racists and foaming religious fanatics. A very different thing
from emphasising the character as an individual, and the opposite of
emphasising issues of morality in play.

--
Brett Evill

To reply, remove 'spamblocker.' from <b.e...@spamblocker.tyndale.apana.org.au>

Bruce Sheffer

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Oct 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/16/97
to
Too bad for you. I was a subscriber to Abyss Magazine from near its
inception. 10 years before I even knew there were such things as
newsgroups.

As far as Ysgarth Rules is concerned, I bought the 5 booklet version and
used the modifications to weapon damage based on size of creature in my
AD&D campaign which really ticked the elves off, but the Ogres smiled.

I've used the insert modules in my home campaign to good effect.

I consider Ysgarth part of my education as to what a good RPG should
be. Now its been many of year since I've looked at those booklets so I
don't know how the current incarnation compares modern offerings but at
the time it was obviously superior to many of the major players on the
market.

Bruce Sheffer

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Oct 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/16/97
to

> In article <621eik$2...@bgtnsc01.worldnet.att.net>, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave

> Nalle) wrote:
>
> >To take all of this in a more useful direction, it would be interesting to
> >classify RPGs as to how they handle certain key mechanics, and perhaps
> >what tradition that puts them in.
> >
> >As I see it, all RPGs break down into the following basic mechanics:
> >
> >1 Characteristics
> > Selection (what stats the characters have)
> > Generation (how those stats are determined)
> >2 Skills/Abilities
> > Generation (how skills are acquired)
> > Resolution (how you determine the outcome of skill use)
> >3 Combat
> > Attack/Defense (how you figure out who hits and how often)
> > Damage/Damage Resistence (what happens when someone takes damage)
> >4 Magic/Powers
> > Generation (how you get powers)
> > Use (how you use powers you have)
> >5 Roleplaying Mechanics
> >
> >If anything needs to be added to this list, suggest it. The next step
> >would be to describe various games according to these categories and then
> >figure out what the tertiary categories overall would be.

Combat can be subsumed into the skills/ability generation/resolution
category as can be magic/powers

Roleplaying mechanics is far too vague (the previous categories aren't
roleplaying mechanics?). Perhaps you meant Time and Resource management
which would handle what you can do in a particular time period, in what
order, and what else is necessary for success (resource). It also would
cover how the availability of resources affect outcome (you act
differently when you have only 1 hpt or 1 gallon on gas in your vehicle
unless there is no chance it affecting the outcome of future tasks -
"I'm about to go to sleep so I'll use my last magic points to ...")

So it seems to me that an RPG can be broken down into:

Resources
Attributes/Abilities
Generation
Use
Improvement
Skills/Abilities
Generation
Use
Improvement
External
Objects/Energy
People
Information

Time and Resource Management
Passage of Time
Order of Actions
Modifications of Resources as a result

Brett Evill

unread,
Oct 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/17/97
to

In article <621eik$2...@bgtnsc01.worldnet.att.net>, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave
Nalle) wrote:

>To take all of this in a more useful direction, it would be interesting to
>classify RPGs as to how they handle certain key mechanics, and perhaps
>what tradition that puts them in.
>
>As I see it, all RPGs break down into the following basic mechanics:
>
>1 Characteristics
> Selection (what stats the characters have)
> Generation (how those stats are determined)
>2 Skills/Abilities
> Generation (how skills are acquired)
> Resolution (how you determine the outcome of skill use)
>3 Combat
> Attack/Defense (how you figure out who hits and how often)
> Damage/Damage Resistence (what happens when someone takes damage)
>4 Magic/Powers
> Generation (how you get powers)
> Use (how you use powers you have)
>5 Roleplaying Mechanics
>
>If anything needs to be added to this list, suggest it. The next step
>would be to describe various games according to these categories and then
>figure out what the tertiary categories overall would be.

Something to cover combat tactics is probably needed: assumed hexgrid,
assumed tabletop movement, action points, speed, number and sequence of
attacks, initiative, ZOCs, &c.

Dave Nalle

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Oct 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/17/97
to

In article <slrn64bal...@kow.nothing.org>, da...@w-link.net wrote:

> In article <6242vt$1...@dfw-ixnews8.ix.netcom.com>, Matthew R Blackwell wrote:
> >In <19971015002...@ladder02.news.aol.com> apva...@aol.com
> >(APVarney) writes:
> >>
> >><<<> And you know, something like 20 million people live in Texas.
> >>Are they all me?
> >> From my observations, yes. :) >>>
> >>
> >> I'm not!
> >> -- Allen Varney
> >> Austin, Texas
> >
> >Hmm. Allen's denying being Dave Nalle, but he wouldn't deny it unless
> >he was Dave Nalle, so Dave Nalle is really Allen Varney!
>

> I mean look at it, they even have a lot of the same letters in their
> names. You'd think Dave wiould be a bit more creative. :)

Actually, Allen Varney is my partial twin who grows out a cavity in my
chest and has one eye and one arm. A lot of people in Texas have these,
btw.

Dave Nalle

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Oct 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/17/97
to

> I doubt there was much at all. To be influential I'd think you have to
> be KNOWN, and outside of people here on r.g.f who spend most of their
> time heckling DN, I don't think I've *EVER* met anyone who'd even HEARD
> of Ysgarth, let alone PLAYED it. I've certainly never seen a copy of the
> thing.

I'm sure there are people who could say the same thing about many different
games.

There are hundreds of thousands of AD&D players who have never heard of 90%
of the other games on the market. That doesn't make those games less
interesting or make them worse than AD&D.

Sea Wasp

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Oct 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/17/97
to

Dave Nalle wrote:
>
> In article <34461A...@wizvax.net>, sea...@wizvax.net wrote:
>
> > I doubt there was much at all. To be influential I'd think you have to
> > be KNOWN, and outside of people here on r.g.f who spend most of their
> > time heckling DN, I don't think I've *EVER* met anyone who'd even HEARD
> > of Ysgarth, let alone PLAYED it. I've certainly never seen a copy of the
> > thing.
>
> I'm sure there are people who could say the same thing about many different
> games.

True, Dave, and perhaps it's just a matter of geographic location or
something. However, I'm not one of the gamers who's stuck to one game.
I've at least SEEN, or thought I had, 90%+ of the RPGs ever marketed;
even those I hadn't seen I've usually heard someone talk about in RL.
Ysgarth is one game I have never seen, nor heard mentioned outside of
the newsgroups. This makes it seem, from my own experience, somewhat
unlikely that it's widespread enough to have had much influence. Few
modern players have seen the Arduin Grimoires, but they get MENTIONED in
a lot of places, whether disparagingly or admiringly. The same goes for
a lot of other games and supplements. Then again, maybe it's just the
East Coast that doesn't have much Ysgarth.

--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;

Dave Nalle

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Oct 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/17/97
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In article <625jhv$2pr$1...@client2.news.psi.net>, Bruce Sheffer <"Bsheffer
"@ aol.com> wrote:

> > In article <621eik$2...@bgtnsc01.worldnet.att.net>, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave
> > Nalle) wrote:
> >
> > >To take all of this in a more useful direction, it would be interesting to
> > >classify RPGs as to how they handle certain key mechanics, and perhaps
> > >what tradition that puts them in.
> > >
> > >As I see it, all RPGs break down into the following basic mechanics:
> > >
> > >1 Characteristics
> > > Selection (what stats the characters have)
> > > Generation (how those stats are determined)
> > >2 Skills/Abilities
> > > Generation (how skills are acquired)
> > > Resolution (how you determine the outcome of skill use)
> > >3 Combat
> > > Attack/Defense (how you figure out who hits and how often)
> > > Damage/Damage Resistence (what happens when someone takes damage)
> > >4 Magic/Powers
> > > Generation (how you get powers)
> > > Use (how you use powers you have)
> > >5 Roleplaying Mechanics
> > >
> > >If anything needs to be added to this list, suggest it. The next step
> > >would be to describe various games according to these categories and then
> > >figure out what the tertiary categories overall would be.
>

> Combat can be subsumed into the skills/ability generation/resolution
> category as can be magic/powers

I agree that in a good design this should be the case, but in the majority
of the games on the market this is not the case, and combat and magic are
often handled with completely separate mechanics or mechanics which are
modified by skills, but don't function in the same way as the general skill
system. I think this is a defining characteristic of a RPG (as you probably
do too), so it ought to be identified separately.

> Roleplaying mechanics is far too vague (the previous categories aren't
> roleplaying mechanics?). Perhaps you meant Time and Resource management
> which would handle what you can do in a particular time period, in what
> order, and what else is necessary for success (resource). It also would
> cover how the availability of resources affect outcome (you act
> differently when you have only 1 hpt or 1 gallon on gas in your vehicle
> unless there is no chance it affecting the outcome of future tasks -
> "I'm about to go to sleep so I'll use my last magic points to ...")

By Roleplaying mechanics I meant mechancis which solely have to do with the
way the character thinks and acts and have nothing to do with what he knows
and what he can do. Perhaps Personality Mechanics would be a better term.

> So it seems to me that an RPG can be broken down into:
>
> Resources
> Attributes/Abilities
> Generation
> Use
> Improvement
> Skills/Abilities
> Generation
> Use
> Improvement
> External
> Objects/Energy
> People
> Information
>
> Time and Resource Management
> Passage of Time
> Order of Actions
> Modifications of Resources as a result

I understand the desire to simplify the list, but I think that the more
you simplify it the harder it is to differentiate systems clearly.

I do agree with both Bruce and Brett that Time and Resource Management
ought to be added, though. I overlooked it initially because our group
generally deemphasizes that aspect of play.

Here's my revised list, taking various suggestions into consideration:

1 Characteristics
Selection (what stats the characters have)
Generation (how those stats are determined)

Use (how characteristics are used in play)
Improvlement (how characteristics can be changed in play)


2 Skills/Abilities
Generation (how skills are acquired)
Resolution (how you determine the outcome of skill use)

Use (how skills or abilities are used in play)
Improvlement (how skills or abilities can be changed in play)


3 Combat
Attack/Defense (how you figure out who hits and how often)
Damage/Damage Resistence (what happens when someone takes damage)
4 Magic/Powers
Generation (how you get powers)
Use (how you use powers you have)

5 Time and Resource Management
Scale (rate at which time passes)
Sequence of Actions (How initiative and multiple actions are handled)


Modifications of Resources as a result

6 Personality Mechanics
Morality Definition (Objective measures or definition of morality)
Psychological Definition (Mechanics which quantify mental state)

I'd very much like to see a few analysis of other systems using these
categories.

Dave Nalle

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Oct 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/17/97
to

In article <625jus$2pr$2...@client2.news.psi.net>, Bruce Sheffer <"Bsheffer
"@ aol.com> wrote:

> Sea Wasp wrote:
> >
> > I doubt there was much at all. To be influential I'd think you have to
> > be KNOWN, and outside of people here on r.g.f who spend most of their
> > time heckling DN, I don't think I've *EVER* met anyone who'd even HEARD
> > of Ysgarth, let alone PLAYED it. I've certainly never seen a copy of the
> > thing.
> >

> Too bad for you. I was a subscriber to Abyss Magazine from near its
> inception. 10 years before I even knew there were such things as
> newsgroups.
>
> As far as Ysgarth Rules is concerned, I bought the 5 booklet version and
> used the modifications to weapon damage based on size of creature in my
> AD&D campaign which really ticked the elves off, but the Ogres smiled.
>
> I've used the insert modules in my home campaign to good effect.
>
> I consider Ysgarth part of my education as to what a good RPG should
> be. Now its been many of year since I've looked at those booklets so I
> don't know how the current incarnation compares modern offerings but at
> the time it was obviously superior to many of the major players on the
> market.

Which, even I have to admit, didn't take too much in those days. Today
the standard is higher, but Ysgarth has changed a lot over the years as
well.

Dave Nalle

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Oct 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/17/97
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In article <b.evill-1610...@tynslip2.apana.org.au>,
b.e...@spamblocker.tyndale.apana.org.au (Brett Evill) wrote:

> In article <620qg6$m...@bgtnsc02.worldnet.att.net>, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave


> Nalle) wrote:
>
> >It still has the emphasis on the character as an individual and on strong
> >issues of morality in play, which characterize D&D and few other major games
> >in the genre.
>
> Interesting comment, since my view is that D&D promotes the character as a
> faceless clone, and is designed to make all PCs robbers, murderers,
> genocidal racists and foaming religious fanatics. A very different thing
> from emphasising the character as an individual, and the opposite of
> emphasising issues of morality in play.

I think it's a difference in our personal interpretation of D&D's mechanics.
to me the genocidal racists and foaming religious fanatics are a good moral
contrast to the robbers and murderers. Even your own description of these
groups defines them by terms of clear morality or immorality.

And remember that I'm talking about D&D the original game, not the
increasingly muddied version that's around today.

Doug Thomson

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Oct 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/17/97
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Mmm - quite possibly it is localised, as I played Ysgarth (1st edition) for many
years,
as did at least half the gaming folks at my school.

I believe that a large part of that was simply my proximity to a shop called
Esdevium Games which is, as far as I'm aware, the only distributor of the
system in England.

It's been a long while, but I did find it a very good system indeed!

However, I found the second edition a bit too complex (yup, even more
than Chivalry and Sorcery - and that's saying something!)

~~~Doug~~~


Sea Wasp wrote:

> Dave Nalle wrote:


> >
> > In article <34461A...@wizvax.net>, sea...@wizvax.net wrote:
> >
> > > I doubt there was much at all. To be influential I'd think you have to
> > > be KNOWN, and outside of people here on r.g.f who spend most of their
> > > time heckling DN, I don't think I've *EVER* met anyone who'd even HEARD
> > > of Ysgarth, let alone PLAYED it. I've certainly never seen a copy of the
> > > thing.
> >

Dave Nalle

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Oct 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/18/97
to

In article <3447A51C...@eclipse.co.uk>, Doug Thomson
<dtho...@eclipse.co.uk> wrote:

> Mmm - quite possibly it is localised, as I played Ysgarth (1st edition)
for many
> years,
> as did at least half the gaming folks at my school.
>
> I believe that a large part of that was simply my proximity to a shop called
> Esdevium Games which is, as far as I'm aware, the only distributor of the
> system in England.
>
> It's been a long while, but I did find it a very good system indeed!
>
> However, I found the second edition a bit too complex (yup, even more
> than Chivalry and Sorcery - and that's saying something!)

The complaint we've heard from too many, and exactly why we're keeping the
good stuff and bringing back some of what was lost in the area of
simplicity.

What you're calling the 2nd edition is probably actually the 5th or 6th
edition, but we didn't start officially numbering the editions until the
5th edition, and most players think of the 3rd/4th edition as the 1st
edition.

Dave Nalle

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Oct 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/18/97
to

> Dave Nalle wrote:
> >
> > In article <34461A...@wizvax.net>, sea...@wizvax.net wrote:
> >
> > > I doubt there was much at all. To be influential I'd think you have to
> > > be KNOWN, and outside of people here on r.g.f who spend most of their
> > > time heckling DN, I don't think I've *EVER* met anyone who'd even HEARD
> > > of Ysgarth, let alone PLAYED it. I've certainly never seen a copy of the
> > > thing.
> >
> > I'm sure there are people who could say the same thing about many different
> > games.
>
> True, Dave, and perhaps it's just a matter of geographic location or
> something. However, I'm not one of the gamers who's stuck to one game.
> I've at least SEEN, or thought I had, 90%+ of the RPGs ever marketed;
> even those I hadn't seen I've usually heard someone talk about in RL.

What is RL?

> Ysgarth is one game I have never seen, nor heard mentioned outside of
> the newsgroups. This makes it seem, from my own experience, somewhat
> unlikely that it's widespread enough to have had much influence. Few
> modern players have seen the Arduin Grimoires, but they get MENTIONED in
> a lot of places, whether disparagingly or admiringly. The same goes for
> a lot of other games and supplements. Then again, maybe it's just the
> East Coast that doesn't have much Ysgarth.

Actually, Ysgarth was very strong on the east coast, particularly in the
mid-atlantic states at one time. Because of all the promotion we did of
the game at conventions like Origins and Atlanticon and Gencon East there
were numerous campaigns in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
in particular.

But here's the key question. When did you start playing RPGs actively?
When did you first start branching out into 90% of the RPGs ever marketed?

Ysgart hit its peak of sales in 1982-1984. If you got seriously into
gaming after that your chances of exposure to the game would have been
much less.

The 5th edition, published in 1985 was a bomb (relatively). It didn't
attract new players, alienated a lot of old players and sold only about
1500 copies. The 6th edition was basically published just to satisfy the
core group of fans who needed a new book.

We hope to do better with the 7th edition. We've gone back to a lot of
the simplicity and brought back some of the fundamental concepts of the
3rd edition, and hope that will satisfy our core fans, the players who are
still playing with 3rd edition after 15 years, and also attract new
players.

Sea Wasp

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Oct 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/18/97
to

Dave Nalle wrote:
>
> In article <344772...@wizvax.net>, sea...@wizvax.net wrote:
>
> > Dave Nalle wrote:
>
> > > I'm sure there are people who could say the same thing about many different
> > > games.
> >
> > True, Dave, and perhaps it's just a matter of geographic location or
> > something. However, I'm not one of the gamers who's stuck to one game.
> > I've at least SEEN, or thought I had, 90%+ of the RPGs ever marketed;
> > even those I hadn't seen I've usually heard someone talk about in RL.
>
> What is RL?

Real Life. Non-electronic conversation.


> But here's the key question. When did you start playing RPGs actively?
> When did you first start branching out into 90% of the RPGs ever marketed?

1977, Dave. Counting months, it's more than 20 years ago.


--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;

Iron Czar

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Oct 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/19/97
to

In rec.games.frp.misc, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave Nalle) spoke thusly:

>Actually, Allen Varney is my partial twin who grows out a cavity in my
>chest and has one eye and one arm. A lot of people in Texas have these,
>btw.

I figured that was West Virginia. Don't tell me they practice
inbreeding in Texas, too!

Iron Czar
iron...@erienet.net
http://www.erienet.net/~ironczar


woodelf

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Oct 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/19/97
to

In article <621eik$2...@bgtnsc01.worldnet.att.net>, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave
Nalle) wrote:

> To take all of this in a more useful direction, it would be interesting to
> classify RPGs as to how they handle certain key mechanics, and perhaps
> what tradition that puts them in.
>
> As I see it, all RPGs break down into the following basic mechanics:
>
> 1 Characteristics
> Selection (what stats the characters have)
> Generation (how those stats are determined)
> 2 Skills/Abilities
> Generation (how skills are acquired)
> Resolution (how you determine the outcome of skill use)

how do you handle games, like Castle Falkenstein and Amber, that make no
distinction between attributes and skills (or background elements, for
that matter)?

> 3 Combat
> Attack/Defense (how you figure out who hits and how often)
> Damage/Damage Resistence (what happens when someone takes damage)
> 4 Magic/Powers
> Generation (how you get powers)
> Use (how you use powers you have)
> 5 Roleplaying Mechanics
>

> I realize that 5 may be controversial, but I think that whether or not a
> system has mechanics for determining how a character thinks or acts is
> very, very important.


>
> If anything needs to be added to this list, suggest it. The next step
> would be to describe various games according to these categories and then
> figure out what the tertiary categories overall would be.

it seems to be already tailored to a certain subset of RPGs. frex,
separating 3,4,&5 into 3 categories. for that matter, in a huge number of
games today, 3a, and possibly 3b, would just say "See 2b." separating
attack from damage, too; some games subsume those into one thing.

if you actually want this to be useful, and not just flamebait, perhaps
"Resolution" is a category, and social, physical, mental, and "special"
are subcategories. in fact, i'd hazard that you could use 3 main
categories for categorization: chargen, action resolution, and metaphor.
the first covers bits of your 1 & 2, and some things you don't have
there. the second covers the rest of 2, and 3-5. and metaphor covers
such things as whether the game is class/level-based, or skill-based;
whether attributes and skills are distinct; if the characters are special
or average; is combat tactical or abstracted; "hit points" (where you are
unaffected until you run out) vs. realistic wounding; and so on.

woodelf <*>
nbar...@students.wisc.edu
woo...@cs.wisc.edu
http://www.upl.cs.wisc.edu/~woodelf

Ivanova is always right. I will listen to Ivanova. I will not ignore
Ivanova's recommendations. Ivanova is God. And if this ever happens
again, Ivanova will personally rip your lungs out. - Ivanova

woodelf

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Oct 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/19/97
to

In article <627qi5$5...@bgtnsc01.worldnet.att.net>, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave
Nalle) wrote:

> > Combat can be subsumed into the skills/ability generation/resolution
> > category as can be magic/powers
>
> I agree that in a good design this should be the case, but in the majority
> of the games on the market this is not the case, and combat and magic are
> often handled with completely separate mechanics or mechanics which are
> modified by skills, but don't function in the same way as the general skill
> system. I think this is a defining characteristic of a RPG (as you probably
> do too), so it ought to be identified separately.

nonetheless, i'd say that magic and combat, are subsections of action
resolution. perhaps the personality traits part, too. they are not
universal-enough to be a useful categorizing element. however, noting as
a part of action resolution that, frex, AD&D uses "level-based rolls for
combat and resistance, attribute-based rolls for skills and psionics, and
no resolution required for use of magic" is extremely useful, and quite
easily compared to "attribute+skill based roll for all activities, except
optional rolls for personality considerations, which use only the
personality stat" (Ars Magica). with your classification, you've tailored
the classification scheme to AD&D, and make it a bit strange to classify
Ars Magica with it. [2b: attribute+skill roll. 3a: see 2b. 4a: see 2b.
why make the distinction?]

it seems to me that you want categories for classification to apply to all
games, in order to best facilitate comparisons. only in the subcategories
and/or attendent answers should the differences come out.

That's one cabinet that will never threaten us again. --Talia Winters

Dave Nalle

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Oct 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/20/97
to

In article <nbarmore-191...@purple.cs.wisc.edu>,
nbar...@students.wisc.edu (woodelf) wrote:

> yeah. he refers to all of them as immoral. i agree that showing what is
> immoral can also teach morality. but i think that D&D (at first and for
> quite some time) was demonstrating immorality whilst cloaking it in the
> language of morality.


>
> > And remember that I'm talking about D&D the original game, not the
> > increasingly muddied version that's around today.
>

> i don't see how a game that revolves around digging around in old tombs
> and killing and looting deals with morality in any positive way. if
> anything, the obvious contradictions between the names of the alignments
> and what is actually acceptable, even encouraged, by the game weakens any
> moral message it may contain.

I think we're talking at cross-purposes. I didn't mean to say that the
game was morally positive in any way, merely that it does have some
concern with the morality of the characters, as represented by the
alignment mechanic.

Dave Nalle

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Oct 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/20/97
to

> In article <627qi5$5...@bgtnsc01.worldnet.att.net>, gra...@ccsi.com (Dave


> Nalle) wrote:
>
> > > Combat can be subsumed into the skills/ability generation/resolution
> > > category as can be magic/powers
> >
> > I agree that in a good design this should be the case, but in the majority
> > of the games on the market this is not the case, and combat and magic are
> > often handled with completely separate mechanics or mechanics which are
> > modified by skills, but don't function in the same way as the general skill
> > system. I think this is a defining characteristic of a RPG (as you probably
> > do too), so it ought to be identified separately.
>

> nonetheless, i'd say that magic and combat, are subsections of action
> resolution. perhaps the personality traits part, too. they are not
> universal-enough to be a useful categorizing element. however, noting as
> a part of action resolution that, frex, AD&D uses "level-based rolls for
> combat and resistance, attribute-based rolls for skills and psionics, and
> no resolution required for use of magic" is extremely useful, and quite
> easily compared to "attribute+skill based roll for all activities, except
> optional rolls for personality considerations, which use only the
> personality stat" (Ars Magica). with your classification, you've tailored
> the classification scheme to AD&D, and make it a bit strange to classify
> Ars Magica with it. [2b: attribute+skill roll. 3a: see 2b. 4a: see 2b.
> why make the distinction?]
>
> it seems to me that you want categories for classification to apply to all
> games, in order to best facilitate comparisons. only in the subcategories
> and/or attendent answers should the differences come out.

It seems to me that it's much easier to put 'see 2b' in an unnecessary
field than it is to try to explain in great detail how what a field
applies to differs from system to system.

Many, many games put emphasis on things like combat and magic as entirely
separate systems. It's easier to accomodate their emphasis than it is to
try to explain it in a definition system tailored to more coherent
systems.

What you're suggesting is tailoring it just as much to the more integrated
systems as what I'm proposing tailors things to the more modular systems.

woodelf

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Oct 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/20/97
to

In article <62eqlm$2...@bgtnsc01.worldnet.att.net>,
gra...@infinity.ccsi.com (Dave Nalle) wrote:

> What you're suggesting is tailoring it just as much to the more integrated
> systems as what I'm proposing tailors things to the more modular systems.

no, i'm suggesting tailoring it to how i believe a system *ought* to be.
you yourself agreed (a few posts ago) taht one resolution system was
better, though rather uncommon. in any case, why not set up the
categories in such a way that they deal with those things that are
inherent to RPGs. i've yet to see an RPG that didn't have at least one
system for resolving actions (and i'd put forth that without some sort of
resolution system, there is no need for mechanics at all). thus,
"Resolution" is a category in my proposition. i've seen many games where
combat and/or magic are mechanically identical (or nearly so) to skill
resolution as a whole, so neither is a full categor in its own right in my
proposition, but they are rather subcategories, invoked as needed, of the
general Resolution category. maybe i'm just too holistic in my thought
processes, but it seems to me to be much more useful to use the common
ground of similarities ("these two games both have a means for resolving
actions") in order to better understand the differences ("game A considers
combat a distinct set of mechanics, while game B uses the same skill rules
for all actions"). also, it makes more sense to me to have to add details
for some games than to have to ignore details in the core categories for
some games. to me, it's like including handedness in a set of standard
stats for aliens: as a detail for those with more than one hand, it's
useful; for limbless beings it's kinda silly. a limbs entry makes more
sense, where you note for humans: "two motive, two manipulative,
bilaterally symetrical; most of them are right-handed, and very few are
ambidextrous."

now, i grant that my categories may (read: probably) need refinement, or
even wholesale overhaul. but it seems that using a categorization system
that breaks things down for the major areas only so far as as applicable
to all RPGs makes the most sense.

So I cannot forgive. Which makes the notion of writing a character who
CAN forgive momentarily attractive...because it allows me to explore in
great detail something of which I am utterly incapable. I cannot fly, so
I would write of birds and starships and kites; I cannot play an
instrument, so I would write of composers and dancers; and I cannot
forgive, so I would write of priests and monks and minbari.... - JMS

aho...@rocketmail.com

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Oct 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/22/97
to

In article <620rdo$q...@bgtnsc02.worldnet.att.net>,
gra...@ccsi.com (Dave Nalle) wrote:

> > The big thing for me was the importance the poster gave to Ysgarth in
> the evolution
> > of RPGs. That doesn't strike you as a bit wonky and peculiar?
>
> Yes. But then what do I know.
>
> I think that any player is likely to place undue significance on the first
> game he encounters or the first game he tried after D&D, and for at least
> a few thousand people that game is Ysgarth.

I think this is an excellent point. When our group branched out from D&D
in 1982 or so, there weren't a lot of alternatives available, and one we
tried and liked was Ysgarth. We played it for several years, so from
that point forward my view of RPGs was colored by having gone
D&D-Ysgarth-Variety, and in general later games I tried were assessed by
how close they came to what we liked most about Ysgarth. Since Ysgarth
influenced me a lot, I just sort of assumed I wasn't alone.

Aser

-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====-----------------------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Post to Usenet

aho...@rocketmail.com

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Oct 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/22/97
to

In article <344257DA...@full-moon.com>,
Tim Byrd <tb...@full-moon.com> wrote:
> First, a Deja News search indicates that you haven't existed, Usenet-wise,
> until this very post.

Sort of like the tree falling in the forest.

> Second, you're posting through Deja News, a tactic very often used by those
> wanting to hide their actual identities.

My employer does not carry newsgroups and prohibits use of email
accounts for personal email. This is *very* common. The policy applies
to 20,000 people here just to start with.

>Further, the fact that the message is
> posted outside of the original thread, with a change from "Something Else"
> indicates that the poster read read the original messages in the thread
> through one venue (say, a newsreader on their ISP), then went to Deja News to
> compose this message without making a note of the name of the original thread,
> and without simply replying within that thread on Deja News. Were you using
> Deja News for newsgroups, odds are you'd have replied within the thread in
> question.

Deja News said the thread was too old, even though I think it was less
than 60 days old.

> Third, the originating server of your message (shown by Deja News, which
> doesn't hide folks as well as they think it does) is a server in Texas, home
> of Dave Nalle, creator of Ysgarth.

My, you are silly. Last time I checked there were at least 16,000,000 of
us here in Texas, about 4,000,000 of whom have access to the net.

I thought to start out on this group with a thought-provoking post.
Clearly no one was interested, so I guess my efforts were wasted.

Brett Evill

unread,
Oct 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/23/97
to

In article <62eqci$2...@bgtnsc01.worldnet.att.net>,
gra...@infinity.ccsi.com (Dave Nalle) wrote:

>> i don't see how a game that revolves around digging around in old tombs
>> and killing and looting deals with morality in any positive way. if
>> anything, the obvious contradictions between the names of the alignments
>> and what is actually acceptable, even encouraged, by the game weakens any
>> moral message it may contain.
>
>I think we're talking at cross-purposes. I didn't mean to say that the
>game was morally positive in any way, merely that it does have some
>concern with the morality of the characters, as represented by the
>alignment mechanic.

Any moral effect the 'alignment' mechanic might have had would have been
completely swamped by the effect of the experience system. In old AD&D
(back when I used to play it in 1980), your character could *only* learn
by killing 'monsters' and siezing treasure that was neither earned nor
given.

In other words, AD&D, except perhaps in the 'increasingly muddied'
versions appearing now, lauds murder, robbery, and rapine.

As for alignments, they were sides in a war, not moral codes. Not one of
them was compatible with the moral teachings of the Christ or the Buddha,
since none was tolerant and all advocated killing their enemies.

Dave Nalle

unread,
Oct 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/27/97
to

In article <b.evill-2310...@tynslip1.apana.org.au>,
b.e...@spamblocker.tyndale.apana.org.au (Brett Evill) wrote:

> Any moral effect the 'alignment' mechanic might have had would have been
> completely swamped by the effect of the experience system. In old AD&D
> (back when I used to play it in 1980), your character could *only* learn
> by killing 'monsters' and siezing treasure that was neither earned nor
> given.
>
> In other words, AD&D, except perhaps in the 'increasingly muddied'
> versions appearing now, lauds murder, robbery, and rapine.

But those ARE values. It teaches moral lessons. They may be negative ones,
but that's far more than most of the more modern, morally ambiguous games
do.

> As for alignments, they were sides in a war, not moral codes. Not one of
> them was compatible with the moral teachings of the Christ or the Buddha,
> since none was tolerant and all advocated killing their enemies.

That may be the way that you chose to play them, but I know that even in our
earliest D&D campaigns the alignments were taken very, very seriously as
a way of identifying and defining real moral codes. As we played it, none of
the Good alignments advocated killing anyone.

Dr. Rich Staats

unread,
Oct 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/27/97
to

Dave Nalle brought up an interesting point.

Dave Nalle wrote:

[quote]

> But those ARE values. It teaches moral lessons. They may be negative ones,
> but that's far more than most of the more modern, morally ambiguous games
> do.

[end quote]

We gamers have spent a lot of time in the past defending the hobby against the
rabid and often uniformed views of anti-gaming groups (e.g. MADD). One of
our defenses has been "hey, but it's just a *game*, you can't take it too
seriously."

I'm inclined to rally to Dave's position (even though he still owes me _the GM's
guidebook_
from five years ago!). ;-) RPGs really *do* teach the gamers morals,
especially the younger
crowd. On many occasions after a session, I've had players ask me "do you think
that
was an OK thing to do?" I've heard hours long debates on "what would you have
done in
that situation?"

A good friend of mine, Eric Zylstra, has a great quote "you can learn a lot about
a person
from those little RPGs." There is a great story behind it, but I'll save that
for personal e-mail.

In service,

Rich Staats

Dr. Rich Staats

unread,
Oct 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM10/27/97
to

Hi Roger!

Good points! (Just a couple of quick notes during lunch hour.)

Roger Burton West wrote:

> In traditional *D&D, the characters succeed by doing things that most of
> us regard as "bad". No argument there, I think.
>

Hmmmm... I'm not sure I get your point 100%. Most of our cultural roots haveheroes
and heroines who go out and kill evil things. Agreed that we would not
want a bunch of vigilantes running around "righting wrongs" without the benefit
of the law.

> But IMHO it is this very difference in moral approach that gives rise to
> interesting questions. Even the youngest players, by the time they meet
> the game, are quite well aware of what is "acceptable" behaviour. If
> they query the characters' actions, that shows that they have _already_
> learned such things, and are reinforcing the lesson.
>

Excellent point. Role-playing tends to put folks in situations that theynormally do
not encounter. So, sometimes the moral questions are more
difficult. FREX, typically we don't have to decide whether or not a group of
individuals should be killed to save a larger population (e.g. a plague scenario),
but this is not inconceivable in role-playing environment. Also, it's a darn
tough question when you are 11 years old. So, some moral learning is taking
place. About two months ago a young lady asked me if I thought it
was OK that her character killed the evil summoner from behind while he was
occupied.
We chatted about it. What was interesting was not that she was wondering
if it was OK to take the life of another; her concern was the manner in which
the life was taken. Very insightful!

> Would anyone claim that a child, seeing a game-hero killing orcs, will
> think as a result it is "OK" to go out and kill lowlife? Or will he say
> "fair enough, that's a different world with its own rules"?
>

In the vast majority of cases I agree, still there are notable exceptions.Who would
think that someone would go set their sister on fire
after watching it on TV?

> Are anodyne cartoons and books in which the "good guys" always win
> without having to make hard decisions good preparation for life?
>

I'm with you. So, how does "dark" role-playing fit into this?

> You know, we just might have a really useful tool here...
>

Definitely.

In service,

Rich Staats