Friday, August 14, 2015

Tutorials for Table-Top RPGs: lessons from Dungeon World

Extra Credit has one of the best well written and presented Game Design material. One of my favourite  is Tutorials 101. Now in TTRPGs, the question is: How  do you apply Tutorials 101 in TTRPGs? 

Go to Dungeon Worlds and download the Character sheet. You will notice that the rules are built into the character sheet. I cant remember when was the last time I saw this done, but it was so simple I wondered why it didnt become the industry standard. 

So basically if you didn't get the EUREKA moment and see the connection between Dungeon World Character Sheets and Tutorials 101 then let me explain:

In Dungeon World Character I realized I can slowly let people learn the rules 1 page (1 prefer A5 or Statement Size aka 1/2 Letter) at a time. Why can't I just add pages of rules to the character sheets 1 page at a time? I dont need to teach EVERYTHING at once. 
Scaffolding is worth looking into. This method allows for the Scaffolding techniques. It comes to this point that it becomes a great way to strategize teaching not just Adults Difficult Life skills - like communication skills and self awareness (EQ) , but teaching children as well. 
Second. I can SCOPE the encounter or scene to only use the Rules of One Page. Again following Tutorials 101, I just make a scenario where I only use the rules on that page, then Build Up. 
Anything that takes more than 2-5 minutes to explain verbally for me,  if someone asks to clarify,  is what I'm looking for.  The rule or mechanics that takes the least time to explain but used most (explanation to use ratio) is the most important. Since explaining is work note that a rule that is used more but hard to explain is worth trying to master explaining. 

Now that I've learned to Partition the Tasks I can build up based on the simplest core concepts, and most essential or basic challenges. 
Character Creation: Note that this can be applied to Character Creation as well. This is even fun given the Traveller Character Creation where it is a Game Making a Character. 
The Next Problem is that Certain Game Systems are a Mess. Admittedly if I tried to do this to GURPS its kinda going to be a little hell and a thankless effort. (experience from making GURPS Lite for Low Tech 11C ). Some Systems will be Awesome in this: MG Traveller or Classic Traveller or (more crucial is) Traveller 5E can benefit from this. DnD will take some work, but they need it the least. 
What typically Happens in such a tutorial system:
  • Rereading the rules and making extensive notes. This depends on how much rules I will be going through. I need to budget so I consider average skill level of audience and the free time I have to do this kind of prep. This will take almost half the tim. 
  • Several revision of the Plain speaking version of the rules in the shortest possible way. After making initial drafts there is a period of letting the ideas play around in my  head until better wording can be dreamed up. 
  • Layouting and Sourcing Images (if possible). What will add hours is graphing it because I can't do it in one Try. 
  • All this is accelerated if I have another POV from a friend who can review the work. Another person imagining all the possible ways this can be misread or misunderstood makes this much  more efficient. 
  • Printing it out since my Printer is a multi-step process. 

List of Systems and how much time I figure it would take for me to make some with my Libreoffice Writer Skills. 

  • Qin- The Warring States. 5-8 hours. 
  • Fading Sun 2E-Revised. 8-12 hours.  
  • In Nomine 5-8 hours
  • Eclipse Phase 12-16 hours. (because i have to telegraph key concepts)
  • Song of Ice and Fire, 5-8 hours (but the system is broken and last I checked no one bothered to fix  it; by broken is that benchmarks are off. PCs are way more powerful than the Book's characters). 
  • World of Darkness: 5-8 hours. 
  • Savage Worlds: 5-8 hours. 
  • Castle Frankenstein. 5-8 hours.  

Check out +Tobie Abad  teaching the apocalypse engine. The brilliant and crucial piece that lead me to this realization.

Although this does not count me LEARNING the system from scratch. But one thing GURPS taught me very well is RESEARCH lolz. I owe my citation and research skills to it. 

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