Restaurants and RPGs, or Menus and Mechanics

I went out last night with my friends to a restaurant. This particular place was an okay place to go. It was mostly chosen out of location. It's not a bad restaurant by any means. It's clean, well lit, and the service and food was good. However, I still didn't like it, and as I was thinking why I didn't like it, I made a connection to RPGs. 

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This restaurant, a franchise one with locations around the city, is a place where you go with your friends to have a good time. It has lots of space, and the decor is nice in a minimalist way. The menu has gluten-free options, as well as options for people with different dietary and religious restrictions of what they can eat. The experience is very accomodating for whatever kind of occasion you want to celebrate there, because it doesn't have an agenda of its own.

What I realized during the middle of the meal is that the restaurant itself wasn't going to make our evening entertaining. The entertainment was coming from my interactions with my friends, and the restaurant was standing back and letting it happen. If we had a bad experience, or a good one, it wasn't the fault of the restaurant.

The kind of restaurants I like to visit are ones where the meals and experiences are unique to their franchise/location. I can have chicken and a salad at home, for 1/3rd the price of restaurants. I want to go to a place I've never been before, and eat dishes I've never tasted before, or could never prepare on my own! I can have fun with my friends there as well, AND I can experience something novel in the progress. The reason I would choose that restaurant is because it has something I cannot experience anywhere else.

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The connection I made to RPGs is that DDNext is turning out to be that restaurant that is welcomingly inobtrusive. It's being designed to be perfect for people who just want to have a good time. The restuarant/RPG won't make a gaming session fun if the people you're with are miserable, but it won't ruin the experience if everything is going fine. It has enough options on its menu that everyone can find something they're comfortable with, and very little that would offend one member of the group so much that they wouldn't want to go there.  

The kind of RPGs I'm looking for would be a restaurant with a head chef that has a very specific vision. He's not looking to please everyone, but for those who like what he does, it's an unparalleled experience. He experiments with recipes no-one else in town tries. Some nights, you may choose a dish that is not your thing, but you come back again, because you're still want to try new things. 

DDNext doesn't want to be a system where new things are tested. New things have the chance to be unpopular, and DDNext is being designed to be a Popular System. It wants people to play it because lots of people play it. It wants to be the consensus choice for RPGers because no-one really hates it, and it looks nice enough that you don't have to feel bad for choosing it.

Of course, if something becomes Popular, then it gets added to the system, just like how Gluten-free options are being added to menus everywhere. The Module design means that, whenever WotC notices a niche to market to, they can add a module to DDNext to attract those people.

For example, my server recommended the Quinoa to our table, like a news anchor would talk about a new food fad, and not as someone who dealt with the food itself. Before Quinoa became popular, lots of chefs with vision were using Quinoa because they wanted to use it, not because it was popular. Once it became popular, the big restaurants started adding it to familiar dishes. People could try the exotic, but in non-exotic ways. After all, their customer based doesn't come to their restaurants to try new things. They come to try Popular things. 

Make the connection to Warlords: a DDNext Warlord is nothing like a 4ed Warlord or 3ed Marshall. It's attached to the hamburger of D&D (the fighter) so that no-one will turn up their nose at seeing something weird on the menu. The people who do like Warlord Hamburgers can still order it, but it won't be as exotic as what you'd find in the restaurants that pioneered the recipe.

TL;DR DDNext is like a franchise chain of restaurants that provide their customers with a limited range of familiar options. They want to provide a predictably pleasant experience, as opposed to presenting you with options you may dislike alongside options you'll love. DDNext is focused on being inobtrusive, in the hopes that the gaming group will generate their own pleasure by the system standing out of the way of their fun. Personally, I would like a restaurant/RPG that enhances my experience by giving my group something we couldn't give ourselves. I want to buy something made by some with vision and the ability to pull off something no-one else could!

Thoughts? Smile

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

There is a middle ground between picking up raw ingredients in a grocery store to cook yourself, and heading to Medieval Times for the one-menu-fits-all dinner show.
Just so, there is a middle ground between Gurps' "here are some mechanics, roll your own fun," and Paranoia's "here's the game, story, setting, tone, and suggested dialog. You get to choose the color of your tunic."

DDN is still in the chef-working-out-the-menu-options stage. You're effectively asking for the shape of the restaurant's final decor. Give it time.
quiona is an ancient grain and was used in cooking 3 to 4 thousand years ago. its a new fad for food, as a chef his job is to please everyone that eats there. a chef who just has his vision and never bends to the customer wishes will be quickly out of business. as you may know, i am a chef. the problem with a game using a food analogy is quality over quantity.
     if i want a burger i have hundreds of options, what makes your burgers better than others is respect for ingredients and technique. also you are wrong about customers not going out to eat things they dont know about. what is the point of eating something you have at home? foodies, and even families with children are eating a wider selection of foods than in the past.
     one thing i wish would happen, is that people would realize that unless they have culinary training and work experience they know nothing of the business, they always seem to like to comment on. they see celebrities that cant cook like rachel ray and say i can do that. my college degree and experience say yes you could cook like rachel ray, if you had the army of prep cooks making the food at every step so she can smile and say look at me im pretty here some chicken in a pan.she has no degree and no restraunt experience.in this light everyone cant design an rpg, if they could they would be working in the industry and not on these forums complaining.
     inorder for this edition to have a chance it needs to not go down the road of totaly new and diffrent. if people want that there are thousands of other rpgs for that. they want dnd that looks like dnd, it can have new mechanics, like a dish can look familiar but have a new sauce. there are a minority of players that want a totaly new game with all new mechanics, classless, with no xp and many other things that are not dnd. we went thru that a few years ago how did it go.
     so in closing dont talk about the food business without some knowledge of what you are talking about, as i will call you on it. its a personal crusade to educate people which i do when i train new chefs. If you believe putting older edition mechanics into the game is just history repeating past failures, then the same logic goes for 3rd and 4th mechanics too. i say there is room for everything to some degree.
IMO...

The core mechanics are just cups, plates, and silverwhere. It's how you eat, not what you eat. There will be a mod for chopsticks.

The classes are basic ingrediants. You have the rice fighter, chicken wizard, pork rogue, beef barbarian, and vegetable cleric.

Sub-classes are how you cook them up. Do you want your beef ground, grilled, breaded and fried, or combined with something else.

And settings are the sauce. It's where most of the flavor comes from. It makes your rice, jasmin rice. It makes your chicken salad into a tai chicken salad.


At least, that's how i would do it.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

DDNext doesn't want to be a system where new things are tested. New things have the chance to be unpopular, and DDNext is being designed to be a Popular System. It wants people to play it because lots of people play it. It wants to be the consensus choice for RPGers because no-one really hates it, and it looks nice enough that you don't have to feel bad for choosing it.

I don't agree with this.
For example, Next has introduced a new mechanic for spellcasting, and applied this new mechanic to all spellcasting classes (another new thing).
In addition, Next has introduced several new mechanics for Fighters and other martial classes.
New ways of handling skills.
Very new take on the sorcerer (which was VERY unpopular).

To take your restaurant analogy: yes, you can cook your own food for a fraction of the cost of going to a restaurant.  Similarly, you can make your own RPG and not have to buy the books.  But not all of us are good game designers.  Not all of us have that kind of time.

I would argue that ANY RPG is only as good as the people you play it with.  Like a restaurant, a bad system can certainly ruin things, even if you are playing with your friends.  But it takes more than a good system to make the game fun.  You need to be playing with fun people.
The new sorcerer WAS popular.

It just wasn't a "sorcerer".

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.



For the original idea of Next of being modular I'd say it'd be best if it tried to be the Food Distributor instead of the Restaurant.
At least the core rules.

Make it simple but maleable.

For example: this class gets 1 combat ability every X level.
What combat abilities?
Depends.
If you want the simplest mode maybe a +1 on ability checks as they've suggested.
If you feats, you can buy combat feats with these combat ability "slots".
If you like 4e style powers you can buy powers with these slots.


So basically, the core rules become broad and simplified. They provide the raw ingredients for cooking.

Each module applied on top of that is the restaurant, and offers its own menu for people who like it.

Maybe you can even draw stuff from older editions (feats, proficiencies, powers) if the basic core is broad, simple and comprehensive enough. Although of course that's would be something improvised or house rules, not planned for since not everything from the past would fit, but possible nonetheless.

That's one way DDN could try to be really modular and encompass all styles of gameplay from past editions without becoming just some middle-ground who doesn't really please anyone better than the edition that they already play and like.


For the original idea of Next of being modular I'd say it'd be best if it tried to be the Food Distributor instead of the Restaurant.
At least the core rules.

Make it simple but maleable.

For example: this class gets 1 combat ability every X level.
What combat abilities?
Depends.
If you want the simplest mode maybe a +1 on ability checks as they've suggested.
If you feats, you can buy combat feats with these combat ability "slots".
If you like 4e style powers you can buy powers with these slots.


So basically, the core rules become broad and simplified. They provide the raw ingredients for cooking.

Each module applied on top of that is the restaurant, and offers its own menu for people who like it.

Maybe you can even draw stuff from older editions (feats, proficiencies, powers) if the basic core is broad, simple and comprehensive enough. Although of course that's would be something improvised or house rules, not planned for since not everything from the past would fit, but possible nonetheless.

That's one way DDN could try to be really modular and encompass all styles of gameplay from past editions without becoming just some middle-ground who doesn't really please anyone better than the edition that they already play and like.




it is like a food distributor, if something is out of stock they sub something similar. you may not like it as much but thats life in the food business.
Rachel Ray is pretty hot though. That's gotta count for something.
Were you at a Bonefish Grill?
quiona is an ancient grain and was used in cooking 3 to 4 thousand years ago. its a new fad for food, as a chef his job is to please everyone that eats there. a chef who just has his vision and never bends to the customer wishes will be quickly out of business.



 inorder for this edition to have a chance it needs to not go down the road of totaly new and diffrent. if people want that there are thousands of other rpgs for that. they want dnd that looks like dnd, it can have new mechanics, like a dish can look familiar but have a new sauce. there are a minority of players that want a totaly new game with all new mechanics, classless, with no xp and many other things that are not dnd. we went thru that a few years ago how did it go.



Here's a fun game: explain how the first quote is compatible with the second quote. 

Quinoa, for mass-market american restaurants, IS a wholely new ingredient that is finding its way onto dishes at mainstream American restaurants. Storygame mechanics, which have existed in many other non-D&D games for decades, were introduced into 4ed for a much larger audience. In my view, neither Quinoa nor storygaming mechanics overstated their presence, and made a worthwhile contribution to a larger pallette. 

You, however, feel that they are wildly different. Care to explain?  


    
as you may know, i am a chef. the problem with a game using a food analogy is quality over quantity. if i want a burger i have hundreds of options, what makes your burgers better than others is respect for ingredients and technique.



Actually, I said that there are some restaurants that focus on quality food, and some on quality experience. That's not to say that quality experience means horrible food, or quality food means horrible experience. However, in our era of market research and focus groups, it is rare that restaurant owners get loans based on being everything to everyone. They have to sell something, and sell that thing well.

Neither approach is wrong, but if you go to McDonalds, you're never going to find lamb shish-ka-bobs on the menu. Those kinds of restaurants have a limited menu that doesn't take risks. that's how they're successful, because they aren't designed to be as adventurous with their menus. 

     It  also you are wrong about customers not going out to eat things they dont know about. what is the point of eating something you have at home? foodies, and even families with children are eating a wider selection of foods than in the past.



In this comparison, I'd view Foodies as people who play a lot of different RPGs, and understand that there is no one right way in RPGs, only right ways for each RPG/dish. WotC seems to be catering to D&D fans who were raised on D&D and never left, and those people seem very happy with their burgers and fries.
  
    
one thing i wish would happen, is that people would realize that unless they have culinary training and work experience they know nothing of the business, they always seem to like to comment on. they see celebrities that cant cook like rachel ray and say i can do that. my college degree and experience say yes you could cook like rachel ray, if you had the army of prep cooks making the food at every step so she can smile and say look at me im pretty here some chicken in a pan.she has no degree and no restraunt experience.in this light everyone cant design an rpg, if they could they would be working in the industry and not on these forums complaining. 
    
     so in closing dont talk about the food business without some knowledge of what you are talking about, as i will call you on it.

 

As long as you don't talk about the RPG business without some experience. 

If you believe putting older edition mechanics into the game is just history repeating past failures, then the same logic goes for 3rd and 4th mechanics too. i say there is room for everything to some degree.



This has nothing to do with my post. I stated that WotC's approach is aiming towards Style over Substance. Address that. 

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

As far as restaurant-to-restaurant comparisons, if you think the options are between an elevated, refined, gourmet experience which appeals primarily to an exclusive audience of food critics, vs McDonalds...

...well I hope to all the gods that DDN tries to emulate McDonalds. The most successful gourmet chef has three or five restaurants, maybe a line of expensive spices. There's a Mcdonalds on every street corner. People actually eat there. Millions and millions of them.