Is there "Happy" NSR?

While not NSR this was just released and captures what I am looking for well. Great idea for a setting too. Astraterra The Explorer's Guide - Ironspine Press | Role-playing games and adventures | Astraterra RPG | DriveThruRPG.com

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Indeed, there’s a lot of variation to be had in how death fits into a story! I find, also, that procedure (which is related to rules (kinda the superstructure to rules)) is very handy indeed for how a game feels tonally, setting up what gameplay loops will look like and how players will interact or do things has a big effect even mores (or perhaps equally) to the bare mechanics.

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Since “happy” is subjective then I would encourage play group discussion around celebration. What elements of your character’s life do they want to celebrate? What rules can you use to achieve new “levels” of celebration? Then apply those rules to define metrics of success.

The NSR framework is super modular. All the tools are already available to achieve this. Simple reframing of HP to fit whatever range of available ability to work towards a character’s goal is one idea. Another is flipping the debt mechanic into a savings account to achieve a goal. If combat is a part of your world explore how combat changes a character’s life not how it ends it. Lean into cooperative actions leading to greater success.

Where the real work happens is how to represent struggle if you discard long toothed snarling beasts. Monster manuals are simply mechanical obstacles. So we ask, in our pursuit of “happy” what stands in the way of our goals? I do not have any concrete examples to provide here, but my mind is now considering a wider range of representing adversity. Thanks for the inspiration!

Celebrate the achievements that bring more happiness into your world.

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That is absolutely great. Thank you for that post.

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I’m really enjoying this thread. I’m currently planning on running a game in a pretty darkest dungeonesque setting (the main setting element is literally a metaphor for anthropogenic global warming), but I still want the players to A) have fun and B) get invested, neither of which really happen if you regale them with endless misery.

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Cross-post:

Similar topic, Happy New School: Mörk Borg & Gardens of Ynn?, but more specific!

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I wrote a blog-post that might fit in with these thoughts.

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I have always found a striking combination of verdance and that traditional aesthetic of ruin in the second Vampire Hunter D movie, Bloodlust. There are rusted out industrial zones and spaceship palaces and horrible monsters and the ruins of civilization…but there are shockingly green and lively spaces where the people live and farm, and even the ruins are overrun with greenery and life. Its not directly commented on or pulled into the narrative like Nausicaa does it with the fungal forest acting as a source of danger, resources, and hope, but green and black can live alongside one another.

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I’m very late to the party because I am new to the site. But figured I might as well throw in my two cents.

One of my favorite rpg experiences was a game of Troika using the adventure in the back of the book. There was no combat, but there was still a lot of tension in the decision making and interactions with fun characters. The whole experience was very much “Happy” NSR to me.

However even though we didn’t engage with combat (or almost any of the mechanics), the threat was still there. I’m wondering if some of the more grim mechanics actually need removed or replaced at all? It seems to me like even if you don’t use a mechanic, the fact that it is there can still flavor the game and also add contrast. That Troika adventure was partly a happy one because the players chose not to interact with those grittier systems.

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I’m running Blancmange & Thistle right now [edit: oops, linked the wrong post - fixed!]. It is really a great example of ‘Happy NSR’ that nonetheless contains threat and tension (suffocating gas blobs, spiteful owls, etc).

I feel like B&T specifically achieves that by making everything so wild and fun for the players - even while containing real threats to the PCs. The adventure is about trying to get to a party, but the whole ridiculous journey feels like a very dangerous party.

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There are some excellent suggestions in this thread but I’d like to add Troika! to the mix, especially Very Pretty Paleozoic Pals Permian Nations!

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Late to the party as well.

Besides all things mentioned, I take as an example of non-gritty OSR/NSR games Mausritter and Tunnel Goons as well. (Tunnel Goons is labelled on the website as a “game for nice people”. :grinning:)

It is true that the OSR began by recovering that sword & sorcery gritty medievalism in fantasy tabletop of early D&D. However, it is not — of course — an aesthetical prerequisite: as long as they comply with the Principia Apocrypha, nothing wrong to have a light, happy mood for the game. Beyond the Wall is an example, Hero’s Journey is another one of Tolkeniesque adventure. There are many NSR/OSR games taking distance from grim fantasy.

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Mausritter, great call. Totally forgot about that one. BtW is my all-time favourite OSR game for that reason. However, the rules framework is a bit too old school for my tastes these days. Hero’s Journey is most excellent too! Has the same “problem” though. They both adhere to the old rules standard and I am more of an NSR fan.

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Something I’ve been finding myself doing to cut down on the grim and dark is to have NPC’s who aren’t just corrupt assholes all over the place but having folks who are also people doing their best in a bad situation. Even if the world is difficult or the situation is tough, that helps.

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Definitely. If the world is full of bad people it won’t work. There can be bad people but they need to be the exception that stands out.

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Just saw this quote from Ursula Le Guinn:

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid . Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”

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This quote MADE MY DAY. Thank you. It perfectly expresses something I’ve felt for a very very long time. Brilliant, as Le Guinn always is.

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She really was, and I miss her dearly.

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Maybe this: https://brighterworldsrpg.com/

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I wonder, how exactly are games such as Mausritter and Tunnel Goons happier than any other random OSR game?
What makes them “for nice people”?

Is it just the art style?
Is it just the fact that somewhere in the game text it is stated “this is nicer”, although the game mechanics do absolutely nothing different than, say, Into the Odd or OSE?
Or am I missing something?
(I read both MR and TG rulebooks, and found nothing obvious to my eye)

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