Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another take on a "D&D Endgame"

I've been thinking a bit about the idea of a sandbox. It is basically the idea that you give the players an area wherein they can shape things. Having read John Wick talk about player empowerment in his Houses of the Blooded, I'm amazed by the similiarities.

John isn't exactly old shool. He masterminded they metaplot for AEG when they published the Legend of the Five Rings and acompanying CCG. Talk about story trumphing player initiative.

But, in HotB, he talk alot about how players can, and should, take the part of the narrator. To shape things.

I realized that this is the sandbox ideal, in another form. There have been a lot of discussion about the "D&D endgame", and how there are or not rules supporting something of that kind. Now, look at HotB. It's a game where the players will rule a land, have servants, fight for resources, spy on foreign powers, make strategy and take decisions on how to manage their fief. Add to that game mechanic that actually support player the tools to shape things. Hand out points, currency, for the players to help set the things in motion.

Don't it sound like old and new are converging here? I think the main difference is that in the game John Wick designed there are game mechanic for what the old school think is a natural development.

Sure, that means it's less of a wide open toolbox, but John is upfront with his intentions. He explains that this is a game about one specific thing, and D&D never did that. On the other hand, many have theorized that D&D also are a game about something specific, like exploring. I happen to agree, and also think it's kind of cool to make it explicit and have game mechanic support your vision. I will just mention gold for xp again, since I think it's the idea in a nutshell.

Take a peek at what John Wick is doing. He is interesting.


  1. In general I'd say that the game that D&D wants to be now (I'm talking about 4th Ed in particular) is very much focused away from the types of things that Houses of the Blooded strives to achieve.

    1- Am I saying you can't play it? No.
    2- Am I saying that the game will break if you try to play it? No.
    3- Am I saying that the game is designed to enhance a different type of stories? Yes

    That being said, it'd be interested to see what people want to do with the fiction of D&D (I'm talking more about setting material here) since there's a lot of room for the type of conflict that HoB brings to the fore. Then again, if you want to play that, you probably should...

    "(...) make it explicit and have game mechanic support your vision."


  2. Strangely enough, as much as I love some of Wick's other work, I found that I wanted to play HotB setting... but that the game mechanics did nothing for me. I would love to play HotB using a different system, and have considered trying some other systems out, but as written, I don't feel it supports itself very well... just a quick off-the-cuff response.

  3. Just to set the record straight - Wick was behind the storyline for the L5R CCG. When he wrote the RPG he set it in the years before the CCG storyline began, specifically so that the story events would not interfere with the destiny of the players. The RPG as Wick wrote it was pretty much free of thematic railroading.

  4. I find it interesting to hear the opinion that HotB would work better with another rules set, since it's so much of what John seem to aim for with the game. Style points and wagers are the mantra of the whole book!

    I have seen it mentioned before, though.


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