I posted this to Ron over at The Games The Thing
but got no response
I was listening to Sean on TGTT
#47, Sean and Ron were talking about combat and kept saying "Gritty vs Pulpy" combat, What is the difference? I am trying (for years actually) to get players for SW and Runepunk but combat seems to be a sticky point for them (them being from D&D). Hearing this podcast made me wonder to myself what this might be. Please explain if you wouldn't mind.Also, as I said I have been trying to get players involved with SW and RP, can you give any advise as to how I can manage this?
Do you use house rules when playing SW or do you mainly play T20? thanks in advance,
First off, glad the podcast got you thinking! I’ll be glad to provide a bit of insight and perspective for you.
Pulpy combat can be viewed as cinematic- the sort of thing you see in action movies and blockbusters and read in novels and tales like Conan. It's funny because Ken Hite and I had quite a chat about the nuances of pulpy vs cinematic, but that's a tale for another day. At any rate, the sense of "pulp" is the sense of larger than life heroes facing overwhelming odds and triumphing. However, the possibility of acing that exists in the SW system maintains the necessary element of tension--the possibility that anyone/anything threatening the character has the possibility to do real damage--and keeps things exciting. Gritty damage is something in the upcoming Realms of Cthulhu that increases the danger of SW and makes the characters all more real.
Most of our settings, however, use the core SW system which has an element of the cinematic. In RunePunk, for example, an Overwrought can come out of a battle relatively uninjured, but usually not any the worse for wear. In Realms of Cthulhu, should you use the Gritty damage system, combats can be quite lethal, especially with investigators directly confronting eldritch threats- something entirely in keeping with Lovecraftian canon.
Hopefully this clarifies the distinction that I draw between the two styles of play a bit, but it has no direct bearing on RunePunk. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend using the Gritty damage system for RunePunk at all. Things could get messy.
Now, you said you wanted your players to migrate over to SW and specifically RunePunk. Very cool! How to get traditional gamers over is tricky? My old gang was very set on playing just a few systems, and I really convinced them to try SW when I told them I was developing for it quite a number of years ago. How to get them involved is to sell them on the story and your vision for the setting. I’ve played a number of games over the years where I wasn’t the biggest fan of a system necessarily, but the setting sold it for me. However, once they begin play with SW, they should be hooked. It’s not called fast, furious, and fun for nothing! Alternately, you can run them through a short scenario with some pregenerated characters. Moving them away from traditional fantasy is a good idea as well, as they won’t draw comparisons and conclusions to their old stand-by as readily. We have a number of one sheets for RunePunk available. I’ll also recommend Iron Dynasty: Journey to Red Temple. I’ve used it to introduce a number of new players to SW over the years, and it has great advice for starting GMs, is a great little adventure to run, and it has pregenerated characters. It’s my take on our upcoming steampunk fantasy setting and is available from RPGnow.
Your last question regards house rules. We don’t deviate from the core rules when you play a system except with the modifications that we make in-house to a system. In essence, our house rules become canon for the particular settings we develop. If you want to know which game I play more of personally? It’s SW. I enjoy running T20 as well, and developing for both, but I’ve got a T20 line developer that I work closely with, while I take the lead with SW. However, as we focus more on T20 variants for our properties, I cannot help but get my hands dirty. There is an old post on our website where I compare and contrast the two game systems: essentially, I view them as Marvel and DC. One is a macro system, while the other is a micro system. I enjoy both immensely, and they each have their strengths and areas of focus.