|Brennon asks Bangor the Riddle of Change
Ten years ago (wow, that was a long time ago), an enthusiastic barbarian took the field, hacking and slashing in the third person. Ten years later, one of Amtgards greatest Lords of War asked him a question. By Sir Brennon's request, Bangor's submitting this role play appraisal of the V8 Amtgard. The posts have been kept relatively intact, but formatted for your reading pleasure. Please post your comments back in the article section of the forums, Bangor's sure to be lurking about with his axe.
Brennon EH wrote:
Since you're a thoroughly RPish guy, I wanted to get your opinion on how the rules effect RP. Bonus points if you can compare V6/V7/V8. I'm trying to make sure that the V8 rules allow for robust RP and provide ambiance and it's good to get an outside perspective on it.
Bangor honored by your request. Bangor'll start with the bonus points because they are tastiest. In V6, the strong suit of roleplay was required garb items, inclusion of monsters, and classes that made you feel like you were a barbarian; V7 saw the removal of monsters, only lip-service paid to questing and quest abilities, sashes that Bangor hated, and classes that made you feel like you were a barbarian; V8 has a specific quest game, streamlined combat, and classes that make you feel like you are a barbarian. For Bangor, this is a question of how roleplay is affected, if any requirements or system features are missing, and is most importantly - it larpable?
You’ve done the heavy lifting already, ambiance. The strength of Amtgard roleplay is in the class system with a smooth combat system. Your team managed to make it smoother, simpler, and maintained the swords and sorcery atmosphere. Above all, these were the primary requirements, and V8 excels here.
The next question is if V8 is larpable, and to that end, yes, absolutely. The Croatians, clearly the best larpers in the game, said the generality of damage types and quick casting in V7 is what makes Amtgard a good system for larping. Bangor can mirror those experiences with our Great Adventurer's Challenge, and say that the simplicity of the system greatly enhances the ambiance that you can create. Bangor has tried other larps, and has seen how out of control magic and damage types can quickly bring down the veil.
V8 is more extensible than the best of V6 and V7 combined simply by being more generic. This allows for a larger set of games without resolving too many specialty rules, which is awesome. Better yet, even though the abilities have changed considerably from the last revision, each class still has its own feel that is in line with cultural expectations. Questing is directly mentioned, with a classic example of how to proceed included. To Bangor, this is the single best addition, as many people only try things that are directly mentioned in the manual. You even manage to subtly direct people on how to roleplay better by using appropriate props.
Since our game is real-time, the best roleplay is achieved by tying situations with extrinsic artifacts that can also be manipulated in real time, i.e., using real locks operated by the monsters. Brilliant. Right there in the rulebook, condensed to just two paragraphs, you’ve done more for roleplay than bags of herbs, carrying around plastic flutes, or wizard hats. Bravo.
There is also a marked attempt to increase the level of garb on the field, including bonuses for good looking garb that fits the part, specific exceptions to penalties such as the shoddy armor penalty, and with even a single point of armor inferring a bonus, more people will likely wear armor. Better garb helps with making a better roleplay environment, so another win for roleplay in V8.
Weapons no longer need to be omnis to be systematically effective, due to the variance allowed by heavy padding. This will make for much sexier looking axes and hammers, and makes possible some harder designs, which could stand to increase the ambiance and environment even further.
Bangor specifically likes that there is no specific mention of archetypes. You aren’t going to find a lot of ninjas not playing assassin, clerics not playing healer, etc. Most folks try to pick the thing closest to the idea in their head, whereas the feeling Bangor gets from the current archetype crowd is that any class can be any thing. From a classic D&D or even class-based larp style, that’s just silly. By wording it with an example rather than using an amtjargon catchphrase, you’ve cleverly guided the ambiance that will resolve from the ruling. Sure, you are still free to play a warrior in fancy wizard robes, but it’s probably not going to happen. Bangor also finds many people mistake ambiance for roleplay, but that’s another discussion.
The only possible improvements Bangor can see would be bringing the DuA committee more on board and streamlining the roleplay manual in a similar fashion, with a dual-release when V8 goes live. A definition of a "page" player hasn't been included (my favorite character was as an arrow-retrieving page who couldn't fight, but was still a target). Bringing back peasant to the fold, and allowing polearms as 'look the part' would be nice for roleplay, as some of the best roleplay Bangor has seen came from the lowly-garbed peasant, but its removal as a non-standard class with no clear role is understandable. Having both flatblade and omniblade construction in the main rulebook could help increase the number of sword-looking things on the field. A phrase that states that people with mild disabilities or medical conditions can have separate rulings for safety reasons, such as posting, refusal of a dangerous spell action, etc, would be nice, but not necessary to increase general safety and accessibility to outliers. Other possible directions would be to advocate for another team to concurrently work on an official construction manual, with an exact list of what the V8 committee would like set in it. Expect those entries to be the standard that most people will go for, and adjust accordingly.
Overall, roleplay stands to gain a lot from V8. It is as robust as it needs to be, more flexible in numerous categories, and increases the ambiance of every class. Great work, Bangor still wants his throwing axe back, but it just might have to go next to the herbs on the belt to make way for better things.
Axe in the back,
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