[4e] Sword & Sorcery

Discuss Mongoose RPGs here, such as the OGL rulebooks, Jeremiah, Armageddon 2089 and Macho Women with Guns
Voltumna
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Postby Voltumna » Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:12 pm

I have read that the 4E of D&D has a forerunner in Star Wars SAGA edition. For those of you who know both games, how do they compare?

Gneech.com hosts Sword & Sorcery Saga, a conversion of the SWSE rules to a S&S setting, also inspired in part by Mongoose's Conan and Bad Axe's Grim Tales. I haven't played either 4E or SWSE (and haven't even looked at 4E), but I read the S&SS rules, and they do a decent job at setting the basics for a S&S setting. It is not based on the Hyborian age world, so races are more generic like barbarian, high men, horse men, easterling, etc. While there is no no barbarian class, the barbarian race grants some prototypical abilities, and there is a Berserker feat that grants access to a Berserker talent tree. Sorcery is grim enough incorporating sacrifice requirements and taint and madness rules, and the spells is in tone with the setting, by this I mean there are no flashy spells. The rules also incorporate fate points, and finally there is a small bestiary at the end mostly with animals and human adversaries and a single supernatural creature. S&S Saga keeps referring to the SWSE book, so you will need that to try it.

Check it out here:
http://www.gneech.com/swordandsorcery/index.html

If there is any similitude between 4E and SWSE, this may provide some helpful ideas for those looking to convert Conan to 4E.
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Postby kintire » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:51 am

While it is possible, in retrospect, to see many of the ideas that eventually became 4e in Saga, Saga remains essentially a 3.5 variant. Foir example, it has the concept of Powers, but they are all encounter powers and are avaliable only to Jedi.

Still, its a pretty good variant of 3.5
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Postby Azgulor » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:57 am

So, to sum up...

High Fantasy makes for ham-fisted sword-n-sorcery. Yes, it can be done, but requires extensive modification.

Unless its 4e, 'cause everything's better with 4e. :roll:

D&D is its own genre of high fantasy - BY DEFAULT. (And 4e is essentially high fantasy turned up to 11, IMO.) Arguing the merits of ANY version of D&D using the default assumptions of high magic, overabundance of magic items, and magic as technology makes about as much sense as sticking a knife in an electrical outlet, but be my guest.

Hey, look at that! Yet another thread with posts from some of the usual suspects singing the praises of systems other than Conan while dissing Conan ON ITS OWN BOARDS. Sure, Conan is nothing more than a collection of house rules taken from Unearthed Arcana. Why, Mongoose had to put all of 30 seconds of thought into an entire RPG, tweaking mechanics to fit the genre and source material, develop a new magic system, develop new core classes, evaluate canon and non-canon sources, release sourcebooks & supplements. Yep, they should just issue binders of blank paper and cash the checks. :roll:

Conan is not D&D-lite or D&D with the serial numbers filed off. I've played a wide range of D&D, d20, and OGL games. There are similarities since the underlying d20 engine, 6 stats, etc. are the same. However, they do not all play the same. For a different analogy, if you're of the opinion that all First-Person-Shooters are the same game then I can see where you're going to lump all OGL games into the D&D camp. However, that is an incredibly superficial view. Run-and-gun FPS, tactical shooters, and first-person-stealth games like Thief: The Dark Project all share a First-Person gameplay perspective but play very differently. The same can be said of OGL variants like Conan. Some hew closer to D&D than others but spare me the broad-brush dismissals.

Seriously, while any system can be massaged to fit a genre, some will do so better than others. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, of course, but when I hear someone argue that High Fantasy 4e can emulate sword-n-sorcery more effectively than a OGL variant designed specifically to emulate that genre-- I'm sorry but you've traded your "Credible Opinion" hat for a shiny "I like to threadcrap on Conan" Asshat.
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Postby Hervé » Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:46 am

Azgulor, I'm not sure to get your meaning...

I mean, If you're not interested by this post, why don't you simply ignore it?

My feeling about your post is that you're falling again in "D20 fascism", trying to forbid people to talk of anything outside D20. I just hope I'm wrong...

You think D20 Conan is perfect for the setting. No problem about this. But I don't see why it should prevent other people to talk of other subjects.

Like it or not, DD4 is a major event in the RPG little universe, and I think it's quite normal to have people talking about it on this forum. You may have your opinion as anyone else and I respect it. I am myself unsure DD4 would work for Conan, but I don't insult people who think so.

The main goal of a discussion forum is-or so I think- to discuss (it's in the name), that is to exchange opinions and ideas. Using Conan with DD4 is not off topic to my eyes on a Conan RPG forum, even if the game currently uses a different system. Actually, there are moderators on this forum that are probably more able than you or I to judge what's "threadcrap on Conan"" or not.
I'm sorry but you've traded your "Credible Opinion" hat for a shiny "I like to threadcrap on Conan" Asshat.
Ain't that what you just did by writing this sentence?

Cheers :wink:
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Postby kintire » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:30 am

My feeling about your post is that you're falling again in "D20 fascism",
You mean "trying to claim d20 is not utterly evil"?
You think D20 Conan is perfect for the setting. No problem about this. But I don't see why it should prevent other people to talk of other subjects.
It doesn't. But there are those who are a little impatient with those who refuse to accept any merit in d20 Conan in favour of their favourite sysstems, calling d20 fans, for example "brain dead" or "terrorists". Mind you. I'm not sure that that is actually what is going on in this particular thread.
You may have your opinion as anyone else and I respect it.
riiiiight
Be careful; playing D20 too much can damage your brain...
with a little effort, you should be able to open your mind a bit and get rid of your formatting...
FAMOUS for your respect for other people's opinions is Herve: provided, of course, they agree with his own!
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Postby warzen » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:23 pm

:roll:

Seriously you have far to much free time kintire...


@Azgulor:
I don't see MGP Conan too far from the regular 3.5 rules (M&M, for example, is a more modified version - mecanics wise - than Conan OGL) and DD4E is also not that far (again, on pure rules, I'm not talking about the completly different magic system for example).

Of course, to emulate Conan using 4E you'll probably have to do the same amount of work that MGP did to adapt it from 3.5.
Still, you may see some nice additions like healing surge or the fact that all PCs get skills increase to reflect the heroic capabilities of the PCs (then again, it depends of you think that every PCs should be like Conan (the character) or if he should be an unreachable mythical figure).
In the end, Conan OGL is "just" a mod to suit the Hyborean Age: all classes are fighters or semi-fighters (except the magic user), limited healing (setting dependant), no magic item (setting dependant - give your barbarian a +5 two handed sword of human slaying and you'll see a great boost in his killing capacity), increased defense (so good that it made it into 4E), armor as DR and a magic system define to suit the setting; nothing that can be done from 4E as, on those item, it's really not that far from 3.5

W.
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Postby Azgulor » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:05 pm

Hervé wrote:Azgulor, I'm not sure to get your meaning...

I mean, If you're not interested by this post, why don't you simply ignore it?

My feeling about your post is that you're falling again in "D20 fascism", trying to forbid people to talk of anything outside D20. I just hope I'm wrong...

You think D20 Conan is perfect for the setting. No problem about this. But I don't see why it should prevent other people to talk of other subjects.

Like it or not, DD4 is a major event in the RPG little universe, and I think it's quite normal to have people talking about it on this forum. You may have your opinion as anyone else and I respect it. I am myself unsure DD4 would work for Conan, but I don't insult people who think so.

The main goal of a discussion forum is-or so I think- to discuss (it's in the name), that is to exchange opinions and ideas. Using Conan with DD4 is not off topic to my eyes on a Conan RPG forum, even if the game currently uses a different system. Actually, there are moderators on this forum that are probably more able than you or I to judge what's "threadcrap on Conan"" or not.
I'm sorry but you've traded your "Credible Opinion" hat for a shiny "I like to threadcrap on Conan" Asshat.
Ain't that what you just did by writing this sentence?

Cheers :wink:
Hervé
If you remove the asshat from over your ears perhaps you'll understand. I have ZERO issue with discussing 4e or how someone can use it to run a Conan game. I'm cool with the discussion aspect.

I am completely sick and tired of every thread that discusses system get the obligatory "Conan OGL sucks" threadcrap by you and rabindranath72. You guys don't care for Conan OGL. WE GET IT. How discussing 4e for swords-n-sorcery equates to taking the same shots at Conan you guys always do I'll never understand.

And quit hiding behind the "it's a discussion forum" line. Yes, it's a discussion forum. However, while I am not a fan of 4e, I don't head over to the WotC boards to troll in every thread about how 4e sucks. How about you guys try discussing without threadcrapping, insulting the talented folks at Mongoose, or taking shots at everyone who disagrees with you? Also, spare me the straw man "D20 fascism" crap. You're going to try and claim the moral high ground here? Please.

You want to talk system fascism? How about every thread where people try and discuss the Conan game, setting, or adventures, you and rabindranath72 show up and tell everyone how badly the Conan RPG sucks.

I'll give you a clue. Discussion implies discourse, a debate, an exchange of ideas. Unless the name has been changed to Obstinate Opinion Forums, or Tedious Forums, or Redundant Forums -- try something new.

And while I know this can't possibly be true in your worldview since I'm a D20 Fascist, I play the following RPGs: Conan OGL, WHFRP, GURPS, Rolemaster, True20, D20Modern, Blue Planet -- and the occasional PbP D&D game.

I'll try to branch out so I can be as enlightened as you. :roll:
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Postby Demetrio » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:07 pm

Herve simply has not done that in this thread (and hasn't in any thread for quite a while). You've jumped to conclusions.
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Postby kintire » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:19 pm

Seriously you have far to much free time kintire...
Your driveby contentless oneliner is noted.
I don't see MGP Conan too far from the regular 3.5 rules (M&M, for example, is a more modified version - mecanics wise - than Conan OGL)
But the differences are quite profound: it plays very differently. Mostly, its all about the character and not about the gear. And you say "different magic system" as if that's a small thing. Given the dominance the magic systems has in 3rd edition, changing it is big news.
and DD4E is also not that far (again, on pure rules, I'm not talking about the completly different magic system for example).
DnD 4e is almost completely different. Its all about the management of powers now. Feats are minor bonuses, and the magic system is utterly different; and now, effectively, the magic system IS the system. Every round is about which spell you use (yes I know they aren't all called spells, but they all work the same way). Its a different game, with a few lingering similarities.

I quite like it, actually. But it is just not designed with Hyboria in mind!
Herve simply has not done that in this thread (and hasn't in any thread for quite a while). You've jumped to conclusions.
Hmmm. It is certainly true he didn't start that way, but it came out quickly enough under pressure.
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Postby Demetrio » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:27 pm

Am I reading a different thread? I don't see Herve d20 bashing or claiming the system is inferior to RQ (or anything else) in this thread.
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Postby rabindranath72 » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:45 pm

It would be interesting to see WHERE I said that d20 Conan is "crap". It's quite a strong word. Just FYI I have been a playtester for 1st edition books, and many rules which are in the core book have been devised by me and adopted by Ian for inclusion in the game. Go figure.
When I say that 90% of d20 Conan MECHANICS can be found in similar implementations in D&D+UA, I mean it since I have been playtesting them.

The fact may offend your sensibilities of d20 Conan fanboy, but it's simply and just a fact (go count them).
It's quite funny that many of the people that say that d20 Conan is a superb game, also say that D&D 3.x is crap. Speak of AssHats. :roll: :lol:
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Postby Azgulor » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:48 pm

No, rabindadrath72 was the one bashing Conan. Herve just responded to my post with his omnipresent "I'm the voice of reason" stance and then started throwing labels like D20 fascism around.

Perhaps I should have been clearer, if so, I apologize. However, I stand by the sentiments I expressed: I'm tired of of the "Conan RPG does <everything> poorly" and anyone who disagrees with Herve is closeminded, a fascist, eats babies, etc.

And perhaps I'm in the minority, but broad brush assertions that Conan is nothing more than a house-ruled game of D&D are a gross misrepresntation of the Conan game, its creators, and the labor of love that went into it. If I'm the only one who feels that way, I'm cool with being the lone voice in the wilderness on that one.
Last edited by Azgulor on Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Azgulor » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:57 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:It would be interesting to see WHERE I said that d20 Conan is "crap". It's quite a strong word. Just FYI I have been a playtester for 1st edition books, and many rules which are in the core book have been devised by me and adopted by Ian for inclusion in the game. Go figure.
When I say that 90% of d20 Conan MECHANICS can be found in similar implementations in D&D+UA, I mean it since I have been playtesting them.

The fact may offend your sensibilities of d20 Conan fanboy, but it's simply and just a fact (go count them).
It's quite funny that many of the people that say that d20 Conan is a superb game, also say that D&D 3.x is crap. Speak of AssHats. :roll: :lol:
Ah, the confusion of quoting, paraphrasing, and discerning. Ok, you didn't actually use the word crap. Here's your cookie.

Since you're all about the actual quote - I never said D&D was crap. Yeah, you've got the lock on reading comprehension.

And while I can find similar mechanics in UA and other D20 games, I didn't find the Conan game mechanics reproduced there. Nor did I see UA sections reproduced in the Conan RPG.

Perhaps I've gone about this wrong. While a Conan fan (fanboy to you), I don't think the system is perfect. I would be happy to discuss its merits and flaws along with those of 4e or any other game.

I am able to recognize, however, that my opinions are just that - opinions. I'm sure if I get my official RPG playtester pin I'll become like you where opinion equals objective fact (as long as it's your opinion). I'll still take my level of reading comprehension and objective analysis over yours though, TYVM.

To the others - I apologize for taking the thread further off-topic. Peace out.
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Postby rabindranath72 » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:27 pm

OK guys, I apologise if I have offended anyone. And I would not like for Herve to take shots which perhaps should be directed at me.
But, I wonder why people is so offended when d20 Conan is compared to d20 D&D? Is it so terrible? I suppose this is the same people than thinks that D&D 3.x is crap?
When I make this comparison, it's not to say that d20 Conan or D&D are crap; far from it (actually I like D&D 3.0, a bit less D&D 3.5). It's just to state an idea which has been at the basis of the creation of d20 Conan itself.
The most important point (besides the flavor, of course) is the survivability of characters in a world without healing magic. This is the main driving point behind most of the mechanics that differentiate d20 Conan from "core" D&D.
1) armor which absorbs damage
2) defence which increases with level
3) widespread availability of skills to all characters

Well, the above have been addressed in UA:
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adven ... eBonus.htm
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Postby Clovenhoof » Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:07 pm

Well, it's not like those changes were an invention of UA either. Ever since RPGs were first designed, most systems followed the same, intuitive concept where
- experience makes you more difficult to hit
- armour allows you to take more damage
- magic has to be paid for in some kind of points, usually resembling magical energy
- and sapient creatures might be good or evil (or neither).

Virtually ALL fantasy systems from 30 years ago to now have handled it this way! But at the same time, there was this one strange little system that got it all wrong and mixed everything up, where
- armour makes you more difficult to hit,
- experience allows you to take more damage
- magic works by slots which you have to prepare
- and creatures are spread on a law-chaos axis.

In a way, these twists amounted to the most ingenious trick in the historyof RPGs, because it made D&D visibly stand out among all those other, typical systems which, as might be argued, were all the same old wine in new flasks, and eventually helped D&D become _the_ most famous and best-selling RPG of all times.

So if Conan copied from UA, then UA copied from all this plethora of other systems, and seeing how the progressions are set differently, I'm not sure that you can even claim Conan and UA are the same thing. With the same justification you could say that UA copied from Midgard.

Be that as it may, the single most _important_ merit of Conan compared to D&D is the shift of the focus away from a character's gear and back to the character itself.
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Postby rabindranath72 » Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:44 pm

Well, nothing new under the sun :) But let's just keep the focus on d20 and derivatives.
I did not say that Conan copied from UA (in fact, IIRC they were contemporaries) but that they address the same problems with similar results. Actually, the Defence increasing with level first appeared in Wheel of Time d20. Quite telling is the fact that d20 Call of Cthulhu has the option for Defence for "pulp styles" games.

d20 Conan elements vs UA elements:
1) Defence Increasing with level
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adven ... eBonus.htm
The effects of equipment are mostly felt in the defense department, since in d20 Conan monsters can be effectively hit in most of the cases. So increasing Defence makes protection magic effectively redundant. I tried this variant in my D&D Hyborian Age games and we did not need magic at all.

2) Armor as damage reduction
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adven ... uction.htm
Actually, the DR in UA is lower than the one in d20 Conan, but d20 Conan has weapons with armor piercing, so the net effect is quite close.

This rule here is also very interesting:
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adven ... ersion.htm

3) Skills more widely available
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/build ... ystems.htm
Many options, some of them very interesting because they simplify things quite a lot.

4) Reputation
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/campa ... tation.htm

There are also rules for Contacts, which can be useful if one does not use Nobles, and generally useful:
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/campa ... ntacts.htm

5) Honor
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/campaigns/honor.htm

6) Variant massive damage threshold
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adven ... esults.htm

7) Magic attack bonus
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/magicRating.htm
Quite interesting when combining spellcasters with other classes, much like in d20 Conan

8 ) Corruption
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/campaigns/taint.htm
The idea of corrupting magic is quite intriguing when used in standard D&D games. When I ran an Hyborian Age D&D game with these rules, they discouraged players from wanting to play sorcerers (my preference; I do not like the spell system in D&D nor in d20 Conan for Hyborian Age games).

9) Increased healing rates
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adven ... Points.htm
I used these rules to great effect in my games, characters recovered quickly (much like Conan in his tales) unless they were heavily mauled.

10) Power points
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm
This also works very well if one wants to use spells at all.
Though different in apparence from D&D, d20 Conan spells are still virtually organised in levels, since they require minimum MAB or skill ranks. Also, Conan sorcerers are limited in the number of spells they may know; in the end the d20 Sorcerer is a good proxy, w.r.t. spellcasting abilities (though obviously the spells differ)

Now, 4e addresses the most critical points 1,2,3,9 quite well "as-is". If one wants to use magic, then points 7 and 10 are also addressed (albeit the latter in the form of availability of powers).

So, yes, d20 Conan has been designed with Conan in mind (and so it's very good at what it does), but other systems are not too far mechanically, and come quite close to the flavor which these mechanics should invoke. Obviously we miss the nifty races and custom classes, but these could be built from existing pieces, much like the Conan classes were built.

Cheers,
Antonio
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Postby treeplanter » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:22 pm

Yeah, every system in the end is the same crap.

You declare an action, roll one or more die, add or substract a number and acheive a certain difficulty to success.

Whatever the system, experience make your character stronger. Also, whatever the system you use, EVERY system NEED to be adapted to the setting since setting in a RPG is the single most important thing and reason you play an RPG.

So when you analyse a SYSTEM, (a setting is subjective, thus very difficult to analyse. For my part I just HATE the DnD setting and LOVE the Conan setting, wich as nothing to do with the system), you have to settle objective way of analysis.

Each system will mainly vary on 3 points.

1. Balance: How fair is the system between the players.
2. Versatility: How much option the system offer for flavouring character.
3. Playability: How well play the system. Is it so complexe you spend your time rolling dies and doing math? How long is the learning curve?

4ed is a pretty balanced system and with an average Playability. However, the versatility offered by the system is awful. After the character creation you're basicly stuck with your package for the campain. You can't multiclass, skills are limited, and power are basicly all the same.

OGL is not as well balanced, but have I would say is a bit more Playable.
However, it offer a lot more option than 4ed between multiclassing option, wider feats and skills selections. Is it the more versatile system available? No, but in my opinion it is decent.

Does 4ed could emulate the Conan universe? YES
If you're obssessed with balance within combat, then it is clearly better than OGL. However balance come with a cost. Yes you could have your Barbarian and Noble performing exactly the same in combat. But then why play one or another? Also someone mentionned it early, but how do you justifiate "encounter" or "daily" power in a sword and sorcery?
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Postby rabindranath72 » Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:16 pm

treeplanter wrote: If you're obssessed with balance within combat, then it is clearly better than OGL. However balance come with a cost. Yes you could have your Barbarian and Noble performing exactly the same in combat. But then why play one or another? Also someone mentionned it early, but how do you justifiate "encounter" or "daily" power in a sword and sorcery?
Nah, as Greg Stafford said "balance is for wussies" :)
I would say that the noble and the barbarian would perform quite differently in combat (in 4e slang perhaps one is a leader, the other a striker.)

RE encounter and daily powers...I would say player autorship (the concept is best explained in the Sorcerer & Sword book). This means that, since we do not accept that martial powers are magical in some way, we can provide an in-game explanation, well knowing that we are doing it to further the creation of an interesting story.
Off the top of my head, the encounter and daily powers would simply represent the chance openings which happen during combat. Take the d20 Conan maneuvers for example. They are always conditional on some Circumstance, so you are not guaranteed that you can pull one every round, or even every combat; some you cannot attempt at all if you are not of a given level, or you do not have the right feat.

Roughly the same happens with martial powers: the ebb and flow of combat only guarantee that on average you can perform those manuevers (exploits) only a few times each day, since they rely on a combination of luck, skill, opportunity etc. (the proverbial "lucky shots" which happen once in a lifetime).
And the player must also evaluate if/when to perform them. Here comes the authorship: the player decrees that something happens on the field of battle so that his character can perform an astounding maneuver (to use a d20 Conan term).
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Postby warzen » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:28 pm

Thanks for the analysis treeplanter.
treeplanter wrote: 4ed is a pretty balanced system and with an average Playability. However, the versatility offered by the system is awful. After the character creation you're basicly stuck with your package for the campain. You can't multiclass, skills are limited, and power are basicly all the same.
Why are you telling you can't multiclass in 4E ? I agree it's more difficult to grasp how to do it properly than in previous version but it's there.

W.
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Postby treeplanter » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:09 am

well you "can" but you basicly just take a feat. I guess it's better than nothing
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