Gripnr / Glimmering - New TTRPG setting by Stephen Radney-MacFarland


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The Exchange

Interesting article over at Gizmodo.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland (former Senior Designer at Paizo, also worked for WOTC and created the Delve RPG) is the Lead Designer for a new RPG that is scheduled to come out this fall. The setting is called "The Glimmering" but there doesn't seem to be any information on the mechanics or setting yet. Just about the company's business model.

(I'll summarize the business model: You know how people sometimes buy accounts on MMOs so they can get high levels and cool items without putting in a lot of hours? This is like that but for tabletop games. Also, NFTs!)


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Well, maybe

Quote:

Gripnr .... is a digital platform meant to allow fans of the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons to roleplay using NFTs indicative of Player Characters (NFT-PCs), and then save the details of their gameplay adventures on the blockchain, increasing the complexity and value of the NFT. They call this a “play-to-progress” system.

After this is complete, Gripnr plans to generate 10,000 random D&D player characters (PCs), assign a “rarity” to certain aspects of each (such as ancestry and class), and mint them as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
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Next, Gripnr will build a system for recording game progress on the Polygon blockchain.
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As PCs gain levels in-game, Gripnr asserts that their associated NFTs will become more valuable,
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Unfortunately, writing data to a blockchain isn’t as simple as writing hit points in pencil on a well-worn paper character sheet. Every time a user wants to perform a function on the Polygon blockchain—like adjusting the character level on a NFT-PC—they have to pay a gas fee, a tiny charge that helps fund the computational resources required to make the change. This means on the Gripnr protocol, there will be two gas fees per game that players must pay.
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In an interview with io9, Comer emphasized Gripnr’s potential to distribute capital value to everyone at the table and behind the scenes. This is, according to Comer, one of its “core purposes.”

If a "core purpose" is to make money for Gripnr by charging you every time you update your character sheet, perhaps it's a bit more like an NFT scam than anything else.

Silver Crusade

If I'm understanding this correctly it kinda feels like a Ponzi scheme (although I don't think it is in a legal sense). There is absolutely nothing there except hype but that hype may (emphasis on MAY) cause it to actually be worthwhile for some time, especially for the early adopters.

If (huge if) it gets enough people interested then it will succeed for awhile. There will be people willing to pay to start with a level 5 or 10 character and people willing to crank out level 5 characters.

But if it works at all it won't be for the long term. If it works it will attract competitors and somebody will come along and monetize Marvel or Star Wars or something like that in this way and drive Glimmering into nothing.

The Exchange

Two thoughts:

One: I absolutely agree with the article's conclusion (and both of you) that the only people with a chance to make money off this are the company and possibly the very first adopters. That's true of most if not all NFTs. Which are often described as scams by those not investing in them (accurately, in my opinion). In this particular case it's also a matter of figuring out who is willing to buy the product in the first place.

Two: I actually had a very similar idea soon after I was introduced to Organized Play/Living Campaigns via Pathfinder Society around 2010. Without the NFT component, of course. MMOs were first starting to experiment with allowing character and item sales between players for real money - and taking a cut for the publisher. (Prior to this almost all MMOs explicitly banned such sales.) In my local community I was aware of several people who only enjoyed playing once they got past the "boring" first 5 or 6 levels, and others who didn't enjoy the "rocket tag" past 5th level and just kept starting new characters once they hit 6 or 7.

"Hmmm," I thought. "Maybe there's a way to match these playstyles up. Allow these people who have mid-level characters to sell them to the ones who think low levels are no fun. Could be a revenue stream for Paizo!"

And then I started thinking through the details. Obviously, people are going to cheat and make these mid-level characters appear out of thin air if they can sell them. All character records would have to be on a central server. And you needed some way to verify the games were actually played as reported. So lets have all games be played on a VTT. And the VTT would have to have very strict limits on what could be allowed so people wouldn't cheat. Including the GMs, who could otherwise be incentivized to cheat for their friends. So a lot of the options would have to be coded server-side instead of letting GMs do what they wanted. No "improvisation." And so on and so forth.

I quickly realized that what I had envisioned was a sub-par MMORPG. And with next to no market.

One plus Two: You would need to have an absolutely amazing product that people are dying to play the high levels to get this to work. Tacking on the NFT component (see spoiler) is just an attempt to create a speculative market independent of the quality of the product.

NFTs:
What people who are mildly conversant with NFTs may not realize is that NFTs have to be hosted somewhere. The "ownership" may be traceable through the decentralized blockchain but the artwork/details/character sheet/etc. is still on some server, not directly on the blockchain. Which means you're functionally putting as much trust in Gripnr to remain solvent and not have a major technical screwup as if the whole project was hosted by Gripnr. There's absolutely no technical or gameplay reason for Glimmering to involve NFTs at all. It's just a hot concept they hope will create speculation.

Liberty's Edge

Wow, so none of you have any idea what you're talking about or what NFTs are now, how they work, or how they are already a boulder rolling downhill toward every commercial industry on earth...

I am in no way invested in any blockchain assets at all at this point and I don't have the money to sink into it now but if you want an honest take you all sound like cart-n-buggy enthusiasts hearing about internal combustion engine-driven vehicles. NFTs and the blockchain are here to stay and the tech is only ever going to get better, more affordable, accessible, and widespread.

I'm not going to educate you all on this but I do highly suggest you all work to dispel the cloud of ignorance and spoilage that has settled on you in the wake of the terrible press that has universally been focused on the handful of scam coins since the pandemic hit. I also suggest you go read SRMs own words on the subject at EnWorld if you want to have any clue what the game and project are and represent.

Silver Crusade

Eh sonny get off my lawn

I looked on Enworld and couldn't find anything by SRM on this topic. Link please.

Finally found it.
Link

After reading it, my opinion is completely unchanged. Ok, its good for the creators. It still is gonna fail and it still is really bad for the consumer and for the planet.

It brings absolutely no value to the table for me, quite the reverse. I LIKE making my own characters. I like the GM being able to change things.

And "we are very concerned with fraud and are creating protocols to confront and squash it before it starts. Our tech team is one of the best in the business." coming from a non techy is just verbiage with no value whatsoever.

The Exchange

Themetricsystem wrote:
Wow, so none of you have any idea what you're talking about or what NFTs are now, how they work...

The problem with the internet is that I can't assess how serious this post is. Are you a true believer or are you poking to see what opinions shake loose? Both happen all the time on these boards.

Quote:
I'm not going to educate you all on this but I do highly suggest you all work to dispel the cloud of ignorance and spoilage that has settled on you in the wake of the terrible press that has universally been focused on the handful of scam coins since the pandemic hit.

I am going to request that you do educate me. Because I really can't see any advantage here. Please tell me what, if any, benefit accrues to me as a player or GM vs. the same system but with all records and sales hosted on a Gripnr server instead of as an NFT.

Maybe you're right. But saying "I know way more about this and you are all wrong, I'm not giving you any evidence for my opinion, so go figure out for yourself why you are all wrong and I am right" does not assign a high level of confidence to your words.

Quote:
I also suggest you go read SRMs own words on the subject at EnWorld if you want to have any clue what the game and project are and represent.

Here's the link to that post for anyone reading this thread. Much easier than figuring it how to find it. Took me about 15 minutes since I don't visit En World constantly and didn't immediately know that Stephen Radney-Macfarland's username was "Delve SRM"

The Exchange

pauljathome wrote:
After reading it, my opinion is completely unchanged.

Yeah, there wasn't anything concrete in there. "We're working hard on these issues" isn't an answer. It did give me a better idea of why Radney-Macfarland joined: Gripnr is paying very well for the TTRPG field. But could have used a little something about the setting and why we should be excited about it, that's what we're looking for.

Quote:
Ok, its good for the creators.

Maybe. TTRPGs are still considered nerdy and niche, even by people who are investing in blockchain/NFT/coins. Will we still be in the "don't care what it is, it's an NFT!" phase of speculation when they launch? Or will things have cooled to where people are doing due diligence and only projects that might stand on their own have a chance?

Quote:
It still is gonna fail

Probably. It's got to be an amazing setting and amazing experience to have any legs.

Quote:
and it still is really bad for the consumer

Probably

Quote:
and for the planet.

Bad, yes. Really bad, maybe not. Without getting too technical, the Ethereum blockchain as a whole should use a whole lot less energy by the time the Gripnr project launches.

slightly technical:
Polygon is an attempt to create a way to easily translate between the various subtechnologies that use the basic Etherium blockchain. It also serves as an entry point for new projects to access the Etherium blockchain. (Supposedly a cheap entry point.) The key takeaway here is that it's all Ethereum.

Ethereum is scheduled to transition from Proof-of-work to Proof-of-stake this year. The net result based on trials is that the total computational usage should decline by about 99.5%. Considering the level of detail the Gizmodo article got to they really should have mentioned that.


Belafon wrote:


I am going to request that you do educate me. Because I really can't see any advantage here. Please tell me what, if any, benefit accrues to me as a player or GM vs. the same system but with all records and sales hosted on a Gripnr server instead of as an NFT.

I can't even figure out what the advantage to me as a player or GM is to have all records and sales hosted anywhere? Why is monetizing roleplaying a good thing?


pauljathome wrote:

If I'm understanding this correctly it kinda feels like a Ponzi scheme (although I don't think it is in a legal sense). There is absolutely nothing there except hype but that hype may (emphasis on MAY) cause it to actually be worthwhile for some time, especially for the early adopters.

If (huge if) it gets enough people interested then it will succeed for awhile. There will be people willing to pay to start with a level 5 or 10 character and people willing to crank out level 5 characters.

But if it works at all it won't be for the long term. If it works it will attract competitors and somebody will come along and monetize Marvel or Star Wars or something like that in this way and drive Glimmering into nothing.

It seems like a lousy Ponzi scheme too.

It's a Ponzi scheme with a built in cap. People might want to buy 10th level characters to play (emphasize "might" there), but the way Ponzi schemes work is that you buy in thinking you'll be able to sell and profit big. Why would I pay big money for a 10th level character if I'm not going to be able to sell that character off for much more after a couple levels?
Assuming there's profit, there'll be more of it in starting at low level and selling off at whatever the optimal level is.

I guess you could make basic profit off grinding low levels, but I don't see how you get the spikes that drive NFT mania out of this.

It also assumes that the whole Gripnr/Glimmering setting and adventures hold up well enough that people want to pay money to play them at high level - which is a huge assumption for a new game.

The Exchange

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thejeff wrote:
Belafon wrote:
I am going to request that you do educate me. Because I really can't see any advantage here. Please tell me what, if any, benefit accrues to me as a player or GM vs. the same system but with all records and sales hosted on a Gripnr server instead of as an NFT.
I can't even figure out what the advantage to me as a player or GM is to have all records and sales hosted anywhere? Why is monetizing roleplaying a good thing?

That is a philosophical question, one that I can see reasonable people disagreeing on. It's been a bone of contention in MMOs for well over two decades. However I sat that rather opinion-driven question aside to focus on one that should have a concrete answer.

My question for Themetricsystem is to explain what technical or gaming benefits are added by the NFT component vs. Gripnr hosting the whole thing.

The NFT is the part that I'm really taking exception to. Like I mentioned above, I actually thought of the basic buy/sell idea years ago. I think the safeguards that would have to be implemented would result in a game something less than a TTRPG and less than an MMO. I could be wrong about that, that's an opinion. But it's just really hard to see what the NFT component is adding other than a hope that people will spend money just because those three letters indicate a hot speculative market.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Belafon wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Belafon wrote:
I am going to request that you do educate me. Because I really can't see any advantage here. Please tell me what, if any, benefit accrues to me as a player or GM vs. the same system but with all records and sales hosted on a Gripnr server instead of as an NFT.
I can't even figure out what the advantage to me as a player or GM is to have all records and sales hosted anywhere? Why is monetizing roleplaying a good thing?

That is a philosophical question, one that I can see reasonable people disagreeing on. It's been a bone of contention in MMOs for well over two decades. However I sat that rather opinion-driven question aside to focus on one that should have a concrete answer.

My question for Themetricsystem is to explain what technical or gaming benefits are added by the NFT component vs. Gripnr hosting the whole thing.

The NFT is the part that I'm really taking exception to. Like I mentioned above, I actually thought of the basic buy/sell idea years ago. I think the safeguards that would have to be implemented would result in a game something less than a TTRPG and less than an MMO. I could be wrong about that, that's an opinion. But it's just really hard to see what the NFT component is adding other than a hope that people will spend money just because those three letters indicate a hot speculative market.

Which from a business perspective is enough of a reason.

I can't really see this taking off as a speculative bubble though, even enough to make a real profit for the owners. There's an awful lot of work involved in making an RPG setting and adventures that are good enough to attract a paying player base.

Hmmm, looks like they're planning to mint and sell those 10,000 NFT PCs long before everything else is ready to start. Guess that's where the grift comes in.


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I have not heard a single good argument for NFTs and I have heard many. What it costs vs what it can do is so stark.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Themetricsystem wrote:

Wow, so none of you have any idea what you're talking about or what NFTs are now, how they work, or how they are already a boulder rolling downhill toward every commercial industry on earth...

I am in no way invested in any blockchain assets at all at this point and I don't have the money to sink into it now but if you want an honest take you all sound like cart-n-buggy enthusiasts hearing about internal combustion engine-driven vehicles. NFTs and the blockchain are here to stay and the tech is only ever going to get better, more affordable, accessible, and widespread.

I'm not going to educate you all on this but I do highly suggest you all work to dispel the cloud of ignorance and spoilage that has settled on you in the wake of the terrible press that has universally been focused on the handful of scam coins since the pandemic hit. I also suggest you go read SRMs own words on the subject at EnWorld if you want to have any clue what the game and project are and represent.

The one accurate thing in this post is the Boulder analogy. Given the havoc blockchain mining wreaks on the climate, it's an apt one.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

NFTs are worthless in all forms.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I've seen Line Goes Up. I learned enough to steer clear of NFTs, thank you very much.


Line Goes Up is an amazing documentary. Yes, educate yourself. Absolutely. And doing so will show you how bad blockchain tech and NFTs are.

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