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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Today, 02:15 PM
    I started the thread. Hussar is free to say what he likes about the dependence of much RPGing on the logic of genres (it's something I myself have been posting about for maybe 10+ years on these boards). But those things don't rebut the claim in the OP, which is pretty clear: I don't think Hussar has inadvertantely taken that for a claim that genre plays no role in RPGing. And your...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Today, 11:18 AM
    This is fine if, by literary endeavour, you means an activity that deploys and/or relies upon some devices used in literary composition. But that's not what the OP meant, and I think it is fairly clear what the OP did mean: quality of composition, with particular reference to the narration and descriptions used by the GM. Using genre tropes and policing genre boundaries doesn't really bear...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Today, 07:15 AM
    I just realized that there is a very simple test we can perform to prove my point. Can I play a character in your game that is 100% outside of genre? So, an elven wizard in a Call of Cthulu game or a Battlemech Pilot in your D&D game, or whatever. Can I sit down at your table with a character that is completely wrong for the genre of your game and play that character? If you just said no,...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Today, 07:02 AM
    pemerton - perhaps I missed it, but, the point I brought up about using literary techniques, IMO, does speak strongly to the notion that we do need "literary qualities" in an RPG. Without trope, theme, character, and the like, an RPG is simply a really complex board game. All of these aspects, all of these literary techniques, be it clarity of explanation, foreshadowing (which, Bedrockgames, I...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:27 PM
    Why not CON? Like other stamina-related feats.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:23 PM
    This is highly contingent on (i) system and (ii) ingame situation. To give one example, based on Burning Wheel: I stride down the hall sounds like a Conspicuous test, while I move cautiously down the hall looking carefully for anything out of place looks like a Perception check, perhaps also Stealth and/or Inconspicuous. In Prince Valiant the first might be a check on Presence, the second on...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:45 AM
    Honestly, I think two things are very true in this thread. 1. People have equated literary and performance with "flowery language". That is not what's meant and has never been meant. Literary or performance simply means HOW the material is presented in the game, either in written form or in oral during a session. Literary carries additional connotations of utilizing various literary...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Yesterday, 01:06 AM
    Sorry. I didn’t realize I had to give more evidence. 1e modules almost all had boxed text. Tomb of Horrors, one of the earliest modules has a picture gallery to show players. Until recently, setting guides were very, very popular books with hardcore fans who are dedicated to the canon of the setting. On and on. Hundreds of pages in Dragon dedicated to the performance end of running a game....
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Saturday, 18th May, 2019, 10:39 PM
    Considering that 5e now dominates the market, online play at least shows almost 70% of all RPG sessions are 5e, and 5e is selling in droves, would you care to restate your point that "lots of people" think like me that you've made a few times in the last few pages? Brushing it off as "marketing" seems a bit self serving no? You don't care for it, so, it's just marketing, and not core to an...
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  • steenan's Avatar
    Saturday, 18th May, 2019, 08:40 AM
    I'm not against making some character concepts gender-specific. But I'm definitely against making some character concepts legal, but painfully suboptimal. It wastes time for players who need to filter out such options and is a trap for these who start with a concept and don't notice in time that it doesn't work. The alternative is making restrictions hard and explicit. In a PbtA setup, you...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 11:07 PM
    Heh. I feel like such a dunce. I never made the connection between Merric and MT Black. :). No wonder I like his DMs Guild stuff.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 11:05 PM
    If the literary is unimportant, then why do DMG’d include dungeon dressing sections, most of which has little to no mechanical impact?
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 11:00 PM
    Not really. In all three examples the character simply moves from A to B. Content wise there is virtually no difference. There is no action declaration other than moving.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 11:52 AM
    Notice that you've got three different action declarations here. Two of them are contrasting: * Grgur walks down the hallway, be cautious and looking carefully to see if anything is out of place. * Grugr strides down the hallway. And one is less specific: * Grugr moves down the hallway.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 11:47 AM
    Not at all. Imaro is the person who introduced clarity as a desideratum. My point was that clarity is not really connected to literary quality, and pointed to instructions as an example. If you agree that instructions don't typically display literary quality, then I think you should agree that - to the extent that clarity matters in RPGing - then that doesn't really bear on the issues...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 11:24 AM
    Thanks for the heads up - I've deleted the stray material in that post. As per the OP, it came from multiple recent threads. One was the boxed text thread. Another was the action declaration thread ("DC to know a NPC is telling the truth"). In that second thread, there were some posters who seemed to equate describing a PC's action as a component of action declaration with a florid or literary...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 08:31 AM
    But, even in third person, it can still be performative. "Grgur walks cautiously down the hallway, looking carefully to see if there is anything out of place" is perfomative - you have desciptors like "cautiously" and "carefully". Compared to "Grgur strides down the hall." Both are third person, but, both are using language specifically chosen to evoke a particular scene. A non-descriptive...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 05:43 AM
    What module does not have a rough script? I have several years of Dungeon Magazine as well as a pretty hefty collection of other modules, and, AFAIK, a rough script is exactly what a module is. Heck, if you make a simple dungeon crawl, all that really is is a flowchart with decision points of a rough script. In what way is a module not a rough script? It tells you what happens where and...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 01:12 AM
    So, in your mind, an RPG is akin to technical writing? No emotion whatsoever. The only emotional connection comes when you put together that shelf, as it were? I would imagine, as well, when writing academic papers, that evoking an emotional response would not be the point either. But, when writing a scenario for an RPG, evoking an emotional response very much IS the point.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 12:48 AM
    What's wrong with having a familiar explore an entire adventure area? Isn't that what a familiar is for? Heck, currently, our group wizard animates zombies, has the zombie carry the familiar and a torch, and wander about 100 feet ahead of the group. :D Seems a pretty good idea to me.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 12:46 AM
    People spend millions of dollars painting buildings, too. That doesn't show that painting buildings is per se an artistic endeavour - maybe it is (if we're painting St Peters), maybe it's not (if we're painting a block of flats to protect the exterior against the weather). I'm a published author in a natural language based but technical discipline. (Or in fact two such disciplines: law and...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 12:46 AM
    What do you think a module is? If not a rough script? Since this whole conversation came out of the notion of using boxed text for modules, it does seem rather apropos. Come right down to it, what do you think happens in most RGP sessions? Do you really believe that most RPG sessions don't have a rough script, typically written by the GM, although, that can vary with more "pass the story...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 12:41 AM
    A complication for me in responding to Lanefan's question is what is the story which is not progressing?
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 12:41 AM
    Again, considering the immense expenditure companies incur in technical writing, I'm going to say that you are very, very wrong here. It matters a LOT how instructions are written and, for example Ikea, ease of use is often a strong motivator for sales. You're claiming that so long as the information is there, how it's presented doesn't matter. There's a mountain of evidence out there that...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 12:36 AM
    Yes. This is my point, so I'm not sure why you frame this as disagreeing with me. But this is exactly what I'm talking about. As I posted I think in my last reply to you, I don't understand what role you think action declaration and the distinctive player role in a RPG are doing. As you describe it, it would make no difference if everyone was working through a rough script but improving the...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 12:30 AM
    Nope. You are wrong. It's as simple as that. The point of a letter is to communicate information. That it moves you is because it's from a family member, not the fact that it's a letter. The identical letter, with identical words, written by a complete stranger likely won't engender any emotional response. Since I don't play with family members, it's very unlikely that my friend will...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 12:30 AM
    That's actually not what the OP says. Colour, obviously, is fundamental to heaps of RPGing. (Maybe not some classic dungeoncrawling.) I don't think the word "colour" appears in the OP. The OP does say RPGing requires narration: GMs describe situations - that narration and description will involve colour. My claim is about the focus of, and foundation of, emotional engagement in RPGing. As...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 02:42 PM
    I think that Choose Your Own Adventure books and boardgames are not very satisfactory vehicles for participating in a situation. Their structured natures make them relatively poor vehicles for protagonism. Video games I can't comment on. And I'm not denying that there are people who enjoy RPGs because they are entertained by performances or give entertaining performances. I'm denying that...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 02:39 PM
    Really? That's a surprise to me. When I read a letter from a family member I'm not really worried about the spelling or puncutation, let alone it's literary merit.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 02:30 PM
    It's not my distinction, actually. I never used the word content. That's Hussar's word. Hussar has suggested that I am eschewing description, but here's the OP: My point in this thread has been consistent: that what is distinctive about RPGing is that it engages by way of participation in situation, not performance to an audience. I don't think it's that hard to understand, whether...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 02:21 PM
    The point is simple: a novel probably won't move you if it's poorly written. A letter from a family member is likely to move you regardless of how it's written. RPGing is more like the latter than the former. It's about moving people through shared engagement with an imagined situation, not entertaining people by performing for them.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 02:15 PM
    This is important. You are right about fluidity: actual play doesn't manifest discrete types or moments of the neat types we use in analysis and criticism. Some of what I had in mind in my post that you responded to is elaborated in my posts to Hussar just upthread. Here's a passage from Christopher Kubasik that also captures what I had in mind: The tales of a story entertainment are...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 01:54 PM
    Yeah, I'm done here. Pemerton's off using definitions that are just way out in left field and I honestly have completely lost whatever point he was trying to make. Every criticism is brushed off as a "non-sequitur" and not even remotely addressed. Bedrockgames cannot even be bothered talking about what the rest of us are talking about. I'm rather tired of simply talking past each other. ...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 12:16 PM
    I have no idea what the bolded bit has to do with the topic of this thread. What players contribute to the game is protagonism. Which in a RPG primarily takes the form of action declaration (though I think I have a thicker notion of action declaration than some other posters on these boards). Perhaps I've misunderstood something - but I've repeatedly posted about the centrality of action...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 12:08 PM
    I don't know what you have in mind by never references anything. We're playing a RPG. So there is a lot of talking. Exchanges between participants are the main currency of play. Action declarations are spoken. The player describes what his character is doing. I would hope it's obvious that, in denying that RPGing is a literary endeavour characterised by performance, I am not asserting that it...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 11:25 AM
    I tend to take a pretty negative view of the player who "just plays himself as a dwarf" (or whatever). To me, this player is a giant black hole sucking all the life and enjoyment out of the group, contributing next to nothing. Now, before anyone jumps up and down, I'm certainly fine with making allowances - a new player for example who just hasn't really gotten into a character. Fair...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 10:34 AM
    Whoa, hang on. No one is saying color is the only thing. We are saying that color is just as important as content. There's a significant difference. Or, put it another way, content bereft of color is tasteless.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 09:25 AM
    Put it another way. Two players choose English Gentleman and Butler for their descriptors. According to you folks both characters should be indistinguishable from each other.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 09:17 AM
    Hrm, so, your Butler player never references anything? Zero description. We're supposed to guess that he's a butler and proper English Gentleman by the fact that he does what exactly? The player never attempts to sound like a butler or English for that matter? Never tries to affect a different diction? Nothing? His responses in no way give any clue about what he is?
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 09:14 AM
    Good grief Bedrockgames, how many times do you need it explained? I KNOW, since you've entered this thread, I've explained the points pretty clearly at least twice. Now, you might disagree with the points, fair enough, but, complaining that you're not understanding it because no one is taking the time to explain it seems a bit disingenuous.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 03:17 AM
    Seriously? You have no problem with players who play non-humans exactly the same as human characters to the point where no one at the table knows the race of the character? That it comes as a surprise when it is revealed (you're an elf? Really? Since when?)? Well, takes all kinds I suppose. To me, it's no different than any other aspect of your character. A successful portrayal of a...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 16th May, 2019, 03:06 AM
    If canon is important to you and you don't like it when the writers ignore stuff, then, do NOT watch later Voyager. I'm really not a canon guy (shock, surprise), but, even I am looking at the last couple of seasons and going, "WTF?"
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 04:06 PM
    Right. Which is not consistent with the suggestion that the player has total authority over what the character thinks and feels. But they're not free to come up with the answer because he is smelly. That is, they're not free to make their perceptions non-delusional. Again, the GM - by declaring that the chamberlain doesn't stink - is able to exercise control over what beliefs and sensations...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 03:33 PM
    I agree with all this. Darkvision and poison resistance seem like elements in action declaration and action resolution rather than performance/presentation, so I'll put them to one side. In most FRPGing, grooming one's beard, choosing one's food, not liking boat,s is all just colour. If my familiarity with the underground, or the distinctive histories or politics of my people, actually...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 12:25 PM
    There's way too much of a wall of text up there to answer everything, but, I think this gets to the heart of it: Well, let's see. I'd probably talk about growing up underground, reference my appearance by mentioning the beard and spend some time grooming it. I'd probably reference relations between my people and various other people as being different than everyone else's. My food...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 11:37 AM
    This post is a follow-up to some of Manbearcat's posts in this thread, and to the idea - mentioned in the OP and taken up a bit since - that consequences can be implicit rather than express. I'm not sure how coherent it is, but it is trying to convey a thought I have. So, here's something from John Harper about making hard moves in Apocalypse World; I've bolded one sentence for emphasis: ...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 11:03 AM
    The religious teachings could be TN, or not - from what's said we can't tell. But at least we have a canonical grounding for the need to fight a combat to gain an upper-level title! Would Chariot of Eratsus have the same ring to it?
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 09:45 AM
    Well tell me what you mean by performance, then. What do you mean by the performance of a character revealing the character to be (say) a dwarf? Who do you have conversations with? In the conversations I have, only rarely is the purpose to convey information (in the way that eg a newspaper or an encyclopedia does that). Typically the purpose is to generate emotional responses - to...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 09:29 AM
    You seem to be projecting.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 07:02 AM
    See, I think we're talking past each other. Presentation is simply the manner in which you convey information from the DM to the players (or vice versa). Presentation can be full on thespianism or bare bones minimalism, but, in any case, it's still presentation. You and pemerton, for some reason seem to be stuck on this idea that presentation needs to be speaking in funny voices. It's not. ...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 05:13 AM
    I reject the notion that rpgs are closer to conversations than performances. They just aren’t. The purpose of a conversation is to convey information. The purpose of performance is to elicit emotional response. There’s so much more to an rpg than just the transference of information. I would hope that players always have in mind that they are there to help the table have a good time, not just...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 04:22 AM
    Ah. We’re back to performance = funny voices and everything else is apparently content. Well if that’s the definition you’re insisting on working from then sure you’re 100% right.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 01:08 AM
    I have used the words "literary" and "performance" in what I hope are reasonably clear senses. Theatre (typically) involves both. Salon repartee with Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker involves both. Conversation with friends typically invovles neither. I've also said - repeatedly, although lowkey13 may not have read those posts - that everything else being equal a mellifluous GM can be a good...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 12:53 AM
    If a character's race or background or motivations or capacities figure so little in the action of play, then to me the problem at that table is not one of an absence of performance! Conversely, if the only way I would know a player was playing a dwarf was because of his/her Scottish accent (or whatever) but it doesn't make any difference to what that character actually does in play, then why...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 12:00 AM
    Umm nope? I pretty clearly defined performance as being anything that is not content. Others amended that to be presentation, which, in hindsight is probably a better way of saying things. pemerton has pretty strongly argued that presentation is not very important and that content is all that really matters. That the scenario regardless of how that scenario is communicated to the players is...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 14th May, 2019, 10:53 AM
    Well said Lanefan. One of my biggest pet peeves is when one player turns to another at the table and says, "What race is your character again? Were you human or elf?" Because, to me, that just screams that the performance of that player is so flat and uninteresting that the fact that this character isn't even human isn't readily apparent at the table. I'm not talking about someone...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 14th May, 2019, 04:10 AM
    Careful. Your bias is showing just a teeny bit there. I'd argue that removing Zak S's name from a book and refusing to have anything to do with him after it's definitively shown that he is a scumbag, is hardly throwing "a valuable employee... under the bus" to "appease the influencers". Funny how refusing to work with abusers and whatnot is "en vogue social values". :erm:
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 14th May, 2019, 04:05 AM
    Meh. The fact that some would love it shows that it's an idea that has legs. "I love it"or "I hate it" isn't a criteria for what is a TTRPG. I mean, heck, I've had entire sessions that have barely, if at all, referenced any mechanics. Does that mean I'm not playing D&D? Or I'm doing it wrong? Lots of folks look at the books of D&D as the starting point, not the ending one.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 14th May, 2019, 12:48 AM
    Amber Diceless would like to have a word. As would a huge swath of TTRPG's which don't rely or even heavily rely on mechanics. The notion that unless we're throwing dice, it's not really an RPG needs to die in a fire.
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 13th May, 2019, 09:49 PM
    Again, interesting because we have agreement and disagreement here. I agree that the "simmer" (let's call it) of Game of Thrones has been essential to the cognitive workspace that viewers inhabit as they watch it unfold. But for my part, (more food!) oversteeping something can lead to a bitter, wrong-noted product. When I look at two of the primary character arcs that were just recently...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 13th May, 2019, 09:03 PM
    See, this is interesting to me (and one of the reasons I brought up gaming as a corollary or coincidental reference-point if you'd like). I've enjoyed the ramped-up pacing. If there is one complaint I've had about Game of Thrones and other modern media (Avengers Endgame, The Last Jedi, and Black Panther come to mind), its a combination of pacing and (mostly related) poor cutting (including...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 13th May, 2019, 06:08 PM
    DW and AW work off of the "shared intuitions/understandings of the fiction" model above, very much. However, a couple things work in concert to constrain GMs very much: 1) The explicit, focused, clear Principles, Agenda, and Move structure. 2) The fact that the game will push back against you if you deviate from (1). 3) The fact that if you just follow (1) devoutly, the game works...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 13th May, 2019, 05:38 PM
    Its been far from perfect yes. But I enjoyed it because I enjoy media in a very focused way. Its probably similar to the way I enjoy my gaming. In fact, I would say that the issues that I've seen being put forth by hoards of people on Reddit and by personal nerd friends have great parallel to TTRPG incredulity and disdain. Unsurprisingly, on these boards at least, I'm often on the opposite...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 13th May, 2019, 05:17 PM
    I’ll second that emotion. Loved it. Loved this season (save for perhaps 3-4 scenes and transitions...which is a minor quibble). Clearly I’m just a bad, shallow Game of Thrones’er.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Monday, 13th May, 2019, 04:12 PM
    There's a parallel here to saving throws. From the fact that, in mechanical terms, getting a save against a fireball is automatic, it doesn't follow that PCs don't have to try to save themselves. Rather, the mechanics take for granted that this is what PCs do. If a player describes his/her PC as standing unperturbed in the fireball making no effort to avoid or mitigate its effects, then...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 13th May, 2019, 07:59 AM
    I loathe the Dyson Logos stuff. It's boring, dry and looks for too 80's for me. Give me a full color map a la Cartographer's Guild any day of the week. I ejected every single map from my Dragon Heist module and replaced them all. It's to the point where I'm really on the fence about the new Saltmarsh modules simply because of the inclusion of Dyson Logos cartography. .............. Ok,...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 11:55 PM
    It would be interesting to see what you and others think of "the smelly chamberlain". Suppose that the players play their PCs as keeping their distance from the chamberlain, opening windows when he enters the room, etc - because the players have decided that their PCs think the chamberlain smells - while the GM, exercising his/her power to describe the environment, insists that the chamberlain...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 01:32 PM
    You seem to be setting up a contrast - performance intended to creata a mental image of who the PC is vs dice bot with a heart beat - that doesn't correspond to my own RPGing experiences. Central to player-side RPGing is action declaration. That's how the player reveals who his/her PC is. Whereas being a dicebot suggests that someone else (perhaps the GM?) is deciding what the actions are. ...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 08:33 AM
    Yes. The action declaration is premised on some other elements of the shared ficiton established by the players - something along the lines of that such-and-such a character believes such-and-such a thing, and has shared that belief with other PCs. If the GM is intending to introduce fiction that reveals the PC belief to be false, and it is established or implicit in the fiction that the PC is...
    571 replies | 19637 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 07:13 AM
    Frankly, playing an RPG isn't a conversation. I don't pretend to be someone else during a conversation (generally), nor am I trying to convey that new person to everyone else around me during a conversation. So, yeah, I'd say that's where the greater disconnect lies. Playing an RPG and particularly role playing during an RPG, while still of course using language, is not a conversation. A...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 06:41 AM
    Small point of order - I didn't. But as we all know, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet! (Ie, in less literary terms, what matters isn't labels but phenomena.) Obviously there's a lot of room between is equally important and doesn't matter at all. Upthread I said that, everything else being equal, a mellifluous GM is a good thing - though I also agree with Bedrockgames that,...
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 06:32 AM
    Clear enough, but it doesn't capture what I'm talking about, because - for instance - it renders ordinary conversation a species of performance. That usage is fine enough for a certain sort of cultural studies or communication theory seminar, but doesn't map onto what I'm saying in this thread. Correct. Evard's tower is in the game because there is a character - Aramina - who wants spell...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 06:15 AM
    I'd also point out that there are numerous characters that are killed in the Avengers movies. Is Vision fridged? He didn't get a funeral. His death is a major motivation for Scarlet Witch. Does that count as fridging. He was also killed to further Thanos' story, so, what's the difference between Vision and Black Widow? As I recall, didn't Thanos kill The Collector as well, for exactly the...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 06:10 AM
    Without a common framework of language, all we are doing is talking past one another. I'd hardly call defining content vs performance as "new terminology". It's using the words pretty much as they come out of the dictionary. A little context. This thread spawned out of a discussion about boxed text in modules. pemerton argues that the boxed text is pointless since all you need is the...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 04:53 AM
    Ok, let's boil it down even further. Content is what you do at the table. What is the situation about? What needs to be done? Performance is how you communicate that content to the players. Is that clear enough?
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 04:48 AM
    I don't adventure in every hat and cape in the setting though. I DO adventure in Evard's Tower. And if Evard's tower's description is essentially "a tower", then well, why is it even a tower? Because wizards live in towers? Again, maybe this is because I play exclusively online. The images that I use in my game are rather painstakingly chosen or created. I could simply use an "O" with a...
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 03:52 AM
    So, tihs is dead on-topic. And, to me, is strange. I'll relate it to something you've posted recently in another thread - not as "gotcha", but because I'm trying to work out where you're coming from. In that other thread, you were discussing approaches to adjudication, and expressed a preference for swift adjudication rather than (what you saw as) a lot of needless narration. But...
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 03:43 AM
    This is all consistent with what I was trying to say in the OP. Further unexpected agreement!
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 03:40 AM
    I can't answer for Chaosmancer, although I get the sense that he (? I think) and I have some similar views here. The things the player characters believe, the things they say to one another, etc are a part of the gameworld as much as anything else. If a character is telling another character something about earth elemental, then that belief and conversation is part of the fiction. Now when...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 12th May, 2019, 01:57 AM
    Yeah, that typically happens when folks can't agree on working definitions. Yup, some of the things that are included in "performance" might not be important at your table. Cool. But, that doesn't follow that performance isn's important. It's not like speaking in the 3rd person suddenly removes the "performance" aspect or speaking in 1st person is necessary for performance. Go back a...
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Saturday, 11th May, 2019, 03:05 PM
    Note no one is claiming it is more important. Just very important.
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Saturday, 11th May, 2019, 03:04 PM
    Celebrim. Yup. I’d largely agree with that.
    571 replies | 19637 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 11th May, 2019, 05:31 AM
    Not always, in my experience. But in any event, what is the advantage in having the guard by my old friend Frances? Does the GM have no challeng to put before the players (and their characters) except that of getting past the gate? Huh? I don't think that the main purpose of RPG rules is to curb, or manage, dysfunction. They're to guide the play of the game. I don't think my table is...
    571 replies | 19637 view(s)
    1 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 11th May, 2019, 04:12 AM
    I've made no assertion about your experience, or anyone else's but my own. I've said nothing about whether or not what you are doing is RPGing. As for your analogies: some unpunctuated writing is interesting avant gardism; most is just bad writing. Mutatis mutandis for film and theatre. I'm not making a claim about what can be done in avant garde RPGing. I have expressed an opinion about...
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Saturday, 11th May, 2019, 04:10 AM
    But, again, it's not like this is a male centric viewpoint. There are lots and lots of women who react exactly this way to being able to have children. It's entirely plausible. There are numerous papers that support the psychological effects of a hysterectomy on women. Never minding being violated in such a way that you are forcibly sterilized. And, I keep coming back around to the fact...
    176 replies | 4700 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Saturday, 11th May, 2019, 04:04 AM
    Is character backstory external to the character? I realize that you would say, resoundingly, yes, it is. I'm not sure it's so cut and dried as that though. For a lot of groups, or at least mine :), character background extends beyond the skin of that character. Things like friends, mentors, family, etc, is part of creating a character and I frequently extend authority to the players to do...
    571 replies | 19637 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 11th May, 2019, 04:00 AM
    I don't understand where this "monotone" red herring is coming from. I have compared RPGing to a certain sort of structured conversation. Maybe I just hang out with unusual people, but I can't think of anyone I know who converses in a monotone. People talk more loudly, and/or more quickly, when they are excited. They snap when they are angry or frustated. In short, they manifest emotions and...
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
    1 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 11th May, 2019, 02:56 AM
    I think we are broadly agreed on this. Perhaps a first! This, too, is very much in the neighbourhood of what I'm saying.
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Saturday, 11th May, 2019, 02:19 AM
    Totally agree that effort is the key here, rather than degree of professional acting ability. The simple fact that you are trying is, by and large, more than good enough. "mysterious", "sinister", "great master" - these are all important elements of performance, not of content. None of those elements matter one whit about the letter written by your mother. Yet, you include all this...
    384 replies | 8224 view(s)
    0 XP
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Monday, 25th February, 2019


Sunday, 18th December, 2016

  • 07:05 AM - TheCosmicKid mentioned steenan in post Multiclassing
    This reads to me like you don't like classes and like multiclassing because it makes the game less of a class based system.No. Please don't put words in my mouth. GURPS and M&M have different design goals than D&D. GURPS is trying to be the Generic Universal Role-Playing System, and M&M is trying to emulate the superhero genre. For those goals, freeform is better than a class system. Which is what I said. But one size does not fit all, and for a heroic fantasy game like D&D, a class system is an excellent design choice. What, in your words, are the advantages to a class based system?I basically agree with steenan: ease of character creation and advancement and archetypal clarity. I've already explained how multiclassing detracts from neither of those things. To steenan I would add a clear and satisfactory sense of progress over a character's career, which, again, multiclassing does not detract from -- it just means the character has two careers rather than one. I ask because I believe we see different advantages. Multiclassing does take away from what I enjoy about the class based system of 5e. If you don't like classes in the first place, isn't it better to just play a different game? It just seems like the worst of both worlds. Yes, for people who don't like class based games, multiclassing makes that game less of that so for them it will be better. But why not just make it much better for you by playing something else?Between the two of us, you're the only one who is expressing dissatisfaction with a part of the D&D rules. If you don't like multiclassing, then why not make it much better...

Saturday, 30th January, 2016

  • 04:30 PM - The Fighter-Cricket mentioned steenan in post HELP! I'm a new DM
    Just a few quick most basic tips for anyone who dons the DM cape: - Relax You are not there to entertain, but to make play possible. If you don't know something or are lost in the job of DMing, talk the other players and tell them about the situation you are in. If you feel that your game night was unsatisfactory then talk to one another what would make it more fun for everyone. - Situations not Stories You lay out certain situations (see steenan's spot-on advice) in which the PCs can interact but you don't have to create hundreds of interlocking parts of a world. (And in fact: also shouldn't.) Pro tip: Write down three NPCs (maybe three helpful or neutral ones and up to three "bad guys") that can be of importance to the next 4 hours of play (or the next session if it's longer then 4 hours). Write down one (!) motivation/trait/quirk for these NPCs. When they appear (whether it's a magical pawn shop owner, a fighting military baroness, or a dragon librarian) try to go with the flow and improvise. (There are no false ways to do it.) - Let it go Don't try to control everything in the world or the gameplay situation. Let your and the players' imagination run wild if you wish. And don't let the rules stop you too much. (If you have e.g. a great underwater fighting scene with a demonic kraken and you keep messing up rules for underwater fighting: ditch them now and if you really wish, look them up later.) One of the most ...

Friday, 30th October, 2015

  • 09:13 PM - El Mahdi mentioned steenan in post Warlord Name Poll
    ...oogleEmpMog ; @Mon @MonkeezOnFire ; @MoonSong(Kaiilurker) ; @MostlyDm ; @Mouseferatu ; @MoutonRustique; @Nemesis Destiny ; @neobolts ; @Neonchameleon ; @Nifft ; @nightspaladin ; @nomotog; @n00bdragon ; @Obryn ; @Ohillion ; @oknazevad ; @Olgar Shiverstone ; @Orlax ; @Otterscrubber ; @Pandamonium87 ; @Paraxis ; @PaulO. ; @Pauln6 ; @Pauper ; @payn; @pemerton ; @peterka99 ;@ Pickles III ; @Pickles JG ; @pkt77242 ; @pming ; @pogre; @PopeYodaI ; @Prickly ; @procproc ; @Psikerlord ; @Psikerlord# ; @(Psi)SeveredHead; @Quickleaf ; @Raith5 ; @raleel ; @Ralif Redhammer ; @Raloc ; @Ranes ; @RangerWickett; @Ratskinner ; @redrick ; @Rejuvenator ; @Remathilis ; @Ristamar ; @RolenArcher; @Roland55 ; @RPG_Tweaker ; @Rune ; @Rygar ; @Sacrosanct ; @Saelorn ; @Saeviomagy; @sailor-Moon ; @SailorNash ; @Saplatt ; @Satyrn ; @Shades of Eternity ; @shadowmane; @sheadunne ; @Shasarak ; @shidaku ; @shintashi ; @Shiroiken ; @SigmaOne ; @sleypy; @sleypy01 ; @SpiderMonkey ; @Staccat0 ; @Staffan ; @steeldragons ; @steenan @STeveC ; @strider13x ; @Strider1973 ; @Sword of Spirit ; @Talmek ; @TerraDave; @TheCosmicKid ; @The_Gneech ; @TheHobgoblin ; @The Human Target ; @the Jester; @The Mirrorball Man ; @The Myopic Sniper ; @ThirdWizard ; @Tia Nadiezja ; @Tinker-TDC; @Tonguez ; @Tony Vargas ; @Tormyr ; @TrippyHippy ; @tsadkiel ; @tuxgeo ; @twigglythe Gnome ; @TwoSix ; @Uchawi ; @Ulorian ; @UnadvisedGoose445 ; @UngeheuerLich; @Us ; @Valmarius ; @Warbringer ; @was ; @wedgeski ; @Wednesday Boy ; @Wik ; @WillDoyle ; @Winterthorn ; @Wuzzard ; @Xeviat ; @Yaarel ; @Yunru ; @Zalabim ; @Zansy; @Zardnaar ; @Zeuel ; @ZickZak ; @ZombieRoboNinja ; @ZzarkLinux

Saturday, 6th June, 2015

  • 04:29 AM - Manbearcat mentioned steenan in post Let's Talk About Metagaming!
    .... If you want to ensure the death of your enemy (story), you choose to use your shortsword that does 4d6+10 damage (rules). You use the rules to create the story. Metagaming is one step removed from gaming. When you're metagaming, you're not trying to ensure the death of your enemy (story). You're trying to do as much damage (rules) possible, and using your 4d6+10 weapon (rules) to do it. It's a subtle difference, so I'll boil it down a little bit (a lot?): Gaming is using rules to make a story. Metagaming is using rules to affect other rules. I have to admit, I'm struggling to find the distinction that you're making here between Gaming and Metagaming. I think what you might be aiming to imply is that Metagaming is "using rules to affect other rules with disregard for the (perhaps aberrant) fiction that is created (hence genre/trope-incoherent story emerges)." Is that what you're meaning? If it is then we've completed the circle and we're back to LostSoul's and steenan's well-constructed points above (and pemerton and my own). If the system incentivizes PC build choices that produce genre/trope-incoherency or aberrant fiction, then the blame needs to be placed on the system...not on the players.

Thursday, 4th June, 2015

  • 01:02 PM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post Let's Talk About Metagaming!
    I think you'd be hard-pressed to find game rules that don't correlate to anything in-game. Metagaming, then, isn't about what has an in-game correlation; it's about intent. If your intent is to impale a foe, you're not going to hop off a charging horse with your lance to do it. <snip> Let's not chastise players. But let's hold them accountable when their metagaming causes other players to see the table, dice, and rulebooks, instead of the battlements, sunset, and flaming arrows.I don't really follow; and I see LostSoul's post as making a pretty similar point to mine. If the rules of the game make a PC more likely to impale an enemy by attacking on foot rather than mounted, then what is wrong with the player having his/her PC attack on foot? Conversely, if we want the players to have their PCs act as if attacking on horseback is a better way to impale, why don't we make the game rules reflect this? EDIT: I hadn't read post 16 yet. steenan makes the same point too. A well-designed game shouldn't give rise to conflicts between fiction and mechanics.

Tuesday, 17th March, 2015

  • 01:47 AM - Neonchameleon mentioned steenan in post I suck at DMing. Can anyone help?
    ...most any acceptable PCs in and they will in theory come out the same way. So. I'm going to make three suggestions. The first is a book of guidance. Play Unsafe which is basically what we can learn about stories from improv drama. It's going to be a completely different way of looking at things from the one I think you have - but a really useful one. The second is Fiasco - an RPG made by boiling down the Five Act Structure into a mechanical system and playing from there, You can use it to write a Cohen Brothers movie in the time it takes to watch one - and it really teaches about relationship maps, the five act structure, and tilts. To see how it works watch the Tabletop playthrough - and remember that that's a good playthrough but not an outstanding one. The third is a new RPG - Apocalypse World. (If you've got a group for it then Monsterhearts can be even better, but I doubt you have the right group). Apocalypse World is the non-D&D parent game of Dungeon World (mentioned by steenan), and it flows quite a lot better. It also has two real things that DW (and for that matter D&D) doesn't. First is PC investment in the setting during character creation; D&D (and DW) has you create PCs as near islands; AW character creation and character classes represent your place in the world from the local boss (the Hardholder), the local gang leader (the Chopper) to someone trying to get by (the Operator) or even a lethal drifter (the Gunlugger). Second is the narrative dynamite. PCs don't just get more skilled as they gain experience, they also change even to the point of changing Playbooks/Class. This can be obvious career development (e.g. Chopper->Hardholder as the gang leader takes over), a reversal (e.g. Gunlugger -> Angel (Medic)), or just something that kinda happened in play and looks like a really interesting direction for the character (e.g. Operator -> Hocus as one of the Operator's schemes involves them founding a cult and their cult becomes their defining drive). Al...

Sunday, 21st December, 2014

  • 06:04 PM - Manbearcat mentioned steenan in post How to design a game where players don't seek to min-max
    Great post steenan . Its a pity that it hasn't gotten more traction with/commentary from other posters in this thread. Unsurprisingly, I agree. Players will always min-max, no matter what you do. You can only try to make it a suboptimal choice by making the game as varied as possible instead of a primarily combat game which seems what you are designing now or by minimizing the direct influence players have during character creation like with career based character creation seen in Traveller. This isn't always true. While it is true that a great many systems do line up classic TTRPG incentives (win/achieve your primary goals and you progress/advance your character) to create a feedback loop that rewards min/maxing, that isn't the only primary goal:xp paradigm out there. You can make character progress/advancement either outright at tension with or orthogonal to "winning". This creates a dynamic where "winning" is irrelevant to or outright adverse toward character progression. Obviously, th...

Sunday, 14th December, 2014

  • 04:35 PM - D'karr mentioned steenan in post Saves and 4th Edition and Jim Darkmagic *SPOILERS*
    4e has several mechanisms within the base framework that can be used/modified to act like some of these desired effects. For example I've used the Disease Track to evoke the feel of short term and long term injuries. Something similar could be done to evoke the feel for a long term domination/charm, similar to Saruman's hold on King Theodred of Rohann. But I agree with steenan that these should be used as part of a "high stakes game" in which the player is interested in playing out the effect, not as simple save or suck effects. I would have really liked to have seen WotC put out a book like Unearthed Arcana with variant things like this.

Friday, 12th September, 2014

  • 12:36 PM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post It needs to be more of a sandbox than a railroad?
    ...So I did provide something interactive for the players, drawing on the material provided by the module. But, contrary to the paragraph from mcbobbo in the middle of the quotes, the players didn't have to take their PCs into the caves. All of us (players and GM) followed the adventure where it led. Either your DM allows for you to leave the area and ignore Giants/Temple (playing a sandbox campaign) or forces the issue (railroads the campaign)Similar to my discussion with Quickleaf, I think it misdescribes the range of options to treat sandbox and railroad as two extremes on a spectrum. There are other approaches. For instance, if the GM describes the Keep being under attack by hobgoblins from the Caves, then that is "forcing the issue", but - provided the GM is actually framing the PCs into a situation of interest to the players - then they are not just going to have their PCs leave the area. But this goes back to the issue of D&D adventure design, raised upthread by Yora and steenan. D&D modules have a tendency to be very weak when it comes to the situation. So instead of suggestions for forcing the issue by dropping the players into the action ("You are in the Keep when hobgoblins assault it - how do you react?"), they tend to either set out a rather static situation (static, at least, as far as the PCs are concerned - eg KotB, GDQ, etc) or else set up a "hook" which the PCs have to follow if the adventure is to go anywhere at all (countless examples could be given, but Dead Gods and Expedition to the Demonweb Pits are two that come straight to mind). That's one reason why I'm fairly choosy with the modules that I use. A railroad gives that emotional narrative and provides a strong direction, but sacrifices player agency. With more active or critical players it can lead to moments without a strong sense of motivation and a sort of "why do I care?" attitude.I think the tension in this paragraph brings out my own objections to railroading - they purport to g...

Monday, 9th June, 2014

  • 03:41 AM - dd.stevenson mentioned steenan in post Old School Exploration in 5E: A Dungeon World Hack
    Inspired by the feedback from steenan and DMMike , I've rewritten most of the questions--hopefully in a way that will be more appealing to players. I've also attempted to clarify what these skills grant during ordinary gameplay without spending an HD. Naturally, I'd love to hear any and all comments on these rewritten skills.

Friday, 28th February, 2014

  • 09:51 PM - Neonchameleon mentioned steenan in post Things to do in a tabletop rpg that are not combat related?
    I am wondering if my group is just hack'n'slash. We have 6 players, could maybe be 7. 2 are power players, 1 likes sandbox, 1 doesn't really care to much and like 2-3 of us kind of prefer RP'ing rather than crunching numbers. Find a different game than D&D I'd suggest. D&D is very combat heavy - find something that gives as much weight to non-combat solutions as it does to combat ones. It's what the rules point you at; they give more weight to combat than anything else except spellcasting (and that mostly for combat). steenan's already suggested Fate Core, Smallville, and Mouse Guard. To that I'd add Apocalypse World, Leverage, Hillfolk, Nobilis, and Fiasco. Monsterhearts if you feel up to it (many won't, for good reason). 2. What are some things you can do in a table top RPG that are not combat related? Like I've read you can have PC's goto a tournament. Do they compete? What can they compete in? Hmm... just current experiences for me. Last night in my Firefly game, (not linked because this is the playtest version) the PCs were in a cheat-like-there's-no-tomorrow boat race. Which included trying to drive their boat, trying to keep it afloat, trying to investigate the other crews to work out how they would cheat, trying to shame the race organiser into giving them their winnings, and above all trying to stay afloat in the boat race enough to win - which included when they were sinking and the only boat in front of them had no engines, driving their boat up the other one's back and using its bouya...

Tuesday, 25th February, 2014

  • 05:41 PM - Cadence mentioned steenan in post 4e/13thA immersion question and 5e/13thA DoaM question
    Thanks for all the suggestions! @(Psi)SeveredHead for asking about the surroundings and looking for the coolest move @steenan for thinking about whether some powers focus a lot more on the system than the story @Dragonblade for suggesting to think about how each power should play out for the character @TheFindus for focussing on what the character would do in the situation @Dungeoneer for avoiding analysis paralis by trying to simplify some things in the build @Balesir for thinking about what I want to achieve and then grabbing a power that helps that, instead of the other way around Next game is tonight. One of the other players suggested printing out the various spells and powers (index card size) instead of literally having them on a big list. I'm hoping that having them sorted into thematic piles will make it easier to follow the suggestion to think about what I want to do, and then grabbing the action that enables it. (Seems obvious thinking about the power cards in 4e, but something I'd never used in the editions I've played more). Since a bunch of the domain powers are buffy/quick actions, I...

Monday, 24th February, 2014

  • 03:47 AM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post My happiness or yours.
    I don't get this whole "my turn" thing. And agree with steenan, the Jester and others: buy and play games you enjoy, don't buy and don't play games you don't enjoy. If you are compromising in playing a game with friends that is not your favourite, well that's not the publisher's problem. It seems to be a result of friends having different tastes. Most of us have worked out ways to deal with this, from choosing pizza to choosing movies to choosing games. For WotC it is a commercial problem - how to maximise their market uptake - but I can't see that it has any moral dimension. No one has an entitlement that a commercial publisher deploy its resources to make a game well-suited to them. Heck, design your own game and then invite your friends to play it with you! (I think there are some posters on these boards who have done just that.)

Thursday, 23rd January, 2014

  • 01:13 AM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post Do alignments improve the gaming experience?
    ... correctly up until the point where you have 3 hit points left, an unscathed giant is bearing down on a mother and her child and you think... sacrificing myself in a hopeless situation isn't REALLY about commitment or duty... it's just senseless stupidity... and so you decide to hide or run as the mother and child are killedThese characterisations of "advantage", or of "temptating the player of the paladin to have his/her PC act expediently rather than honourably", seem to me to make a whole lot of assumptions about both mechanics and playstyle. The mechanical assumptions are that the paladin player will be more mechanically effective when making attacks that are sneaky rather than honourable. That is not true across all RPGs, and not even true across all versions of D&D - for instance, it is not really true in 4e, where the paladin's powers are designed so as to mechanically support the play of an honourable warrior. (This is 4e's approximation to the sort of approach suggested by steenan upthread.) The playstyle assumption is that the GM is not adjudicating in a "fail forward" style, and hence that, unless the PC achieves immediate victory in the confrontation, the player will have "lost" the game. Once you change that assumption, the player does not need to worry that if s/he compromises her conception of the PC's values, s/he will lose the game (eg by having his/her PC die and hence his/her participation in the campaign terminated). I don't understand whether this is a rebuttal to the quote you posted or simply a development of an interesting point about gaming and philosophy in general (or both!). Who says the mindset of the Paladin is that the universe is on the side of good?This actually relates to the issue about weaknesses and advantages. There is a moral/cosmological tradition - found in Plato, and also in a number of mainstream religions - that the good person cannot suffer. If this is true, then the paladin who succumbs to expedience is not gettin...

Tuesday, 21st January, 2014

  • 12:02 AM - Manbearcat mentioned steenan in post Do alignments improve the gaming experience?
    ...D&D. I don't know the Dungeon World version of this, but it is similar to Beliefs in Burning Wheel, or to Milestones in Marvel Heroic RP. In these approaches, it is generally accepted (I think) that the player has primary authority over deciding when the trigger has been meant: ie provided the player makes it clear in play that in (say) forcefully suppressing the testimony of the farmer who is being stalked by the werewolf s/he is doing so in order to stop a village-wide panic, s/he gets the benefit of the LN trigger. The GM's role is simply to judge player sincerity as part of overall game management, not to second-guess whether or not the farmer really is innocent, nor whether or not preventing a village-wide panci is really a social benefit. Hence these approaches don't exhibit the features that I am critical of in relation to traditional mechanical alignment, of requiring the player to subordinate his/her evaluative framework to that of the GM. Right on the money (and good post steenan). steenan's post is very much like Beliefs in Burning Wheel and Milestones in Marvel Heroic RP (first thing I thought of), and to a lesser extent, like Dungeon World (and I agree with steenan that the feedback in Dungeon World is less provocative). The facets of such a system are very different than classic alignment in D&D. You have: - Transparent, codified, non-negotiable trigger mechanism requiring no real adjudication. - Immediate, positive mechanical feedback. It produces a very different sort of play than what classic D&D alignment produces. Further, I would say that it functionally, in play, fulfills the promise that D&D alignment promised (tight thematic play that challenges on an ethical/moral basis and allows those answers to emerge in play) whereas D&D alignment so often has sown dysfunction and angst at the tables I have overseen. I say that as a GM with a considerable background in philosophy and ethics and a very stringent moral compass throughout my life. Regard...

Tuesday, 10th December, 2013

  • 01:38 AM - Trit One-Ear mentioned steenan in post Player Preference Survey
    This is some solid advice. If I were starting a game from scratch, I would probably do more of what steenan and Quickleaf are suggesting. We've luckily played together on and off for a year now, so we have a decent idea of how we like to play together (or at least, I hope we do). That being said, I'm definitely going to take some of these questions and thoughts and inject them into my original survey. I like el_stiko's way of giving the heroes two clear options to decide between, but I'm wary of making players who like a mix of play give me a polarized opinion. His 1-5 rating is more helpful for me as a GM to deduce where my player like to spend the most of their time. I'm sure I will get varying responses from my group (composed of multiple age groups, experience, gender and of course personalities). By counting up which responses get the highest number however, I can take a general reading for the group as a whole. Will this mean I'm crafting the "perfect" game for everyone? Extremely doubtful. But I can at least give player A enough hack-and-slash while balancing that with player B's lov...

Monday, 9th December, 2013

  • 02:49 PM - DMMike mentioned steenan in post Top 8 Monsters and Spells!
    steenan: those sounds awesome! What the heck are they? Let's start a list... Monsters (level): Kenku (1), Kobold (1), Goblin (1), Skeleton (1) Kuo-Toa (2), Rot Grub (2), Lizardfolk (Reptillans?) (2), Zombie, Human (2) Werewolves (3), Doppelganger (3), Bugbear (3), Ghoul (3), Ogre (3), Dire Wolf (3) Minotaurs (4), Gargoyle (4), Flock of carnivorous butterflies (swarm) (4), Chocobo (4) Werebear (5), Gray Render (5), Basilisk (5), Slime/Ooze (5), Mind Flayer/Cthulhu acolyte (5) Will o' Wisp (6), Vampire, Dwarf (6) Aboleth (7) Dragon (10) Demon (from between the stars) (92) Lich (just a vampire who hasn't been keeping up his appearance) Quasar Dragon (no idea) Consider levels (and several of the above are arbitrary) to mean "general danger level." And if you have an interesting twist to put on some of the simpler ones (kobold?), chime in!

Monday, 4th November, 2013


Monday, 7th October, 2013

  • 02:36 AM - howandwhy99 mentioned steenan in post Running proactive campaigns
    Hey Derren, We should be more specific about what we're talking about here. Obviously steenan and I run very different styles of game, yet both are currently using the same label of "character driven" games. You should know they are vastly different due to the style of game assumed being run. 1st is the follow the path game. This isn't the one you are looking for, I believe, to help create proactive players, but the players are actively following the path too. So it could certainly be considered a proactive campaign. The 2nd is the new story-game post-modern game design where all participants are players and all are trading off in expressing themselves to create a narrative. Goals, plans, achievements are used strictly about the characters, not the players. They are part of the story. Player proactivity comes when each player gets time to express him or her self and be creative. The 3rd way, the old school one I've been talking about, is a pattern recognition game where the players actually have to actively strategize and attempt movements in the game in order to achieve an...


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Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019

  • 04:36 AM - Ratskinner quoted steenan in post Why the hate for complexity?
    That's definitely not the case with Capes. The flow of play in Capes is very structured. It's clear who makes each decision, who narrates each part and what exactly is resolved by dice. What is, in traditional games, the responsibility of GM, in Capes is not only distributed between players but also moves from one player to another during play. Each player in turn sets a scene. Within a scene, each player may use their action to define a stake that must be resolved and it's typically other players who select sides on given issue (which allows them to narrate its resolution). It's impossible to be a "backseat GM" without clearly violating the rules of the game. Capes is near-miraculous, IMO. Totally changed my perspective on what story/role-playing games could be: clearly-structured Conflict Resolution, insanely fast character creation including drives, as well as the power and speed of completely abandoning Simulationism. I've often wished for a "Second edition" that had the rules more...

Sunday, 31st March, 2019

  • 12:46 PM - pemerton quoted steenan in post How to deal with death in RPG?
    In my opinion, if death isn't a possibility in your campaign, this undermines the stakes and severely undermines the threat of your monsters. The moment the players notice that you are jumping through hoops to keep them alive, you lose a lot of the suspense.This is a General RPG thread. So I don't think there can be any assumption that the only "loss condition", even in combat, is death. The three FRPGs I've GMed most recently are Cortex+ Heroic, Prince Valiant and The Dying Earth. The former two don't involve death as a serious threat. The third I only GMed today, and I didn't have to remind myself of its health/death rules because there was very little fighting in the game, and no successful attacks. In Prince Valiant, the most common form of fighting is jousting between knights, and the stakes are losing (or gaining) warhorses, arms and armour, as well as status/dignity. And these are some of the most dramatic fights I've GMed! It's just a matter of the game following a consistent...
  • 11:16 AM - Imaculata quoted steenan in post How to deal with death in RPG?
    If character arcs and character development are an important part of the game then the game shouldn't have random character death. Death in D&D is almost always going to be random. You don't pick which fight you lose, and neither should the DM. There may be a few cases where a player decides to sacrifice himself for his party, but quite often you don't get to choose the moment and manner of your character's death, no matter how focused the game is on character development. On the other hand, if the game is about deadly danger then it should kill PCs and should make it explicit that they are not expected to last. To be consistent, such a game should not push players towards character development arcs nor hide interesting abilities behind mechanical advancement. This seems very odd to me. I would think that the more the players care about their characters, the more real the threat of death is. It is especially those characters who have had a lot of character development, whose death ...

Thursday, 21st March, 2019

  • 11:16 PM - Staffan quoted steenan in post Why the hate for complexity?
    Complexity is always a cost. It requires mental effort and time spent handling it during play. That's a good point. I read a similar discussion over on the Paizo forums, where someone said something like "Complexity is the currency with which you buy depth," and I thought it was a great analogy. It's very hard to have (mechanical) depth without complexity. You need the complexity to get the depth. But the complexity has to be spent carefully, where you get the most bang for your metaphorical buck. This is probably different for different games - a game about playing wizards can get away with tons of info on magic - summoning, research, magic languages and having those have different uses, and so on. But when the wizard is one character type among many, you don't need that much magic stuff. And different people have different tolerances for complexity - and that tolerance may change over time. I sure know mine has - I used to love getting into the nitty-gritty stuff of 3e/Pathfinder, b...

Wednesday, 20th March, 2019

  • 10:30 PM - Sword of Spirit quoted steenan in post Why the hate for complexity?
    Complexity is always a cost. It requires mental effort and time spent handling it during play. This, in itself, does not make complexity bad. It makes it a budget. The question is, how well it is spent. How much value does the game offer in exchange for the complexity? Or, in other words, how well do the complex rules support and direct the process of play, compared to what simpler ones would do? Unfortunately, RPGs tend to waste their complexity budget. We still have to learn what creators of board and card games already did - how to get the most return in exchange for the least amount of complexity. In a lot of cases, rules are made complex in the name of "realism" or "simulation" that really isn't. They replace common sense with processes that produce absurd results and need to be moderated by the GM to work, thus turning their supposed gain into a loss. In a similar way, offering a lot of options that are wildly unbalanced wastes complexity, as many of them will never be used (or...

Monday, 25th February, 2019

  • 02:14 AM - Maxperson quoted steenan in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    It has a lot in common with Stanford Prison Experiment. Nearly all traditional games game the GM a lot of authority and power, without anything to keep it in check. A GM had nearly total control over in-game events, could change or ignore the rules, could reward and punish players. In such setup, one doesn't have to be a jerk initially to become one in the context of the game. Friendly and well socialized people can become very toxic GMs while still behaving well outside of the context of a game. While this approach is rarer in modern games - they often clearly define agendas and areas of responsibility - it's still treated as a default by a lot of groups, as can easily be seen on most RPG boards. Until this changes, we'll keep creating jerk GMs. The loss of players keeps it in check for most people. It isn't much fun to DM a solo game with no players, so DMs do feel pressure back from the players to not be a jerks about their position.

Sunday, 17th February, 2019

  • 02:37 PM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Rules Light Games: Examples and Definitions
    I call a game "rules light" if I can run it for players new to the game and they have all the information they need on their character sheets and single page cheat sheet. No need to browse books during character creation or during play, no need for me to handle the mechanics because it takes too long to understand it. Traveller started out pretty rules light and then supplements came.I'm a big fan of Classic Traveller and have recently been playing it a fair bit (a report of today's session is here). But I don't think it reasonably counts as rules light. Character creation can be reasonably quick and quite colourful, and the skill names generally give you a sense of what your PC can do. But the game has a lot of subsystems (for intersteller travel; for using vacc-suits; for vehicular travel; for landing small craft in inclement weather; for combat, both melee and ranged; for ship combat; for making repairs to a ship during combat; etc, etc). In our play I'm finding that, as referee, I'm c...

Saturday, 19th January, 2019

  • 03:56 AM - Shasarak quoted steenan in post Worlds of Design: How "Precise" Should RPG Rules Be?
    It may also be both strict and detailed, like D&D4 or Burning Wheel - such games work great when everybody knows the rules and engages them fully, but very poorly when played casually. I found that the Pathfinder 2 playtest was very much like this, full of strictly detailed jargon that works great if you can understand what is going on but man was a real pain to groke at the start.
  • 01:40 AM - dave2008 quoted steenan in post Worlds of Design: How "Precise" Should RPG Rules Be?
    I think it's important to notice that there are two different axes that ... 5e as three actually: handaxe, battleaxe, and greataxe ;)

Friday, 13th January, 2017

  • 07:35 PM - MonkeyWrench quoted steenan in post What happened to the punk aesthetic in D&D?
    So, it's not that people are not creating their own material. They just do it using different games and typically write on different boards. ;) This is very true. The DIY attitude is alive and well in the OSR and the games that have spun off from it.

Sunday, 8th January, 2017

  • 04:16 PM - knasser quoted steenan in post Explain to me again, how we know the Earth to be banana shaped.
    Observing that Earth is round is simpler. Choose two points, preferably on the same meridian (for ease of calculations). Measure how high above the horizon the Sun is at noon in each od them. From the difference between the angles and the distance between measurement points you can calculate the Earth's radius with not much trouble (it's distance/angle, with angle in radians). This kind of measurement has been performed successfully in ancient times, by Eratosthenes, IIRC. Thank you also. I guess I can't really do a flat earth because for the sun to rise and set in anything like our own world, the flat world would have to be very small, I guess. I mean, assuming the sun goes round the world.

Friday, 6th January, 2017

  • 10:49 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Twist. Just DM enjoyment or OK for Players?
    ...e twist fits the social contract and metagame conventions of the campaign. For example, in most games I run, the story is strongly player-driven. When I create NPCs for players to encounter, I make no assumptions on whether players will like them or not, if players will trust them and what will come of their interactions. And players know about it. NPCs have their beliefs and motivations and it's not that rare that a genuinely moral person is opposed to PCs for some reason. But in a quest-driven game, there is a metagame convention that quests are accepted. If players become distrusting and refuse to accept quests (or haggle too much on rewards, or demand explanations why the patron does not handle the matter themselves, or ...), the game grinds to halt. The group, for metagame reasons (fun play) ignores this kind of concerns and skips to the quest itself. So if a patron betrays the party, it's not only an NPC abusing PCs' trust. It's also the GM abusing the social contract.I think steenan's analysis of the dynamics of this in a "quest-giver" game, where the job of the players is to "follow the story", is a very good one. My suggestions in my previous post are intended to straddle the two different sorts of approach - by avoiding having the quest-giver be the villain, and by locating the twist in a different NPC.
  • 08:21 AM - 77IM quoted steenan in post Twist. Just DM enjoyment or OK for Players?
    There are two important things about twists to be taken into account. One of them is foreshadowing. Events that seem meaningful but their full meaning in unclear until the twist is revealed - and then everything falls into place. Foreshadowing ensures that the twist does not come out of the blue. When it happens, players think "Why haven't we realized it earlier? It should be obvious from the facts we knew!". And maybe they do realize it earlier. In this case, the GM should accept it, without trying to change things behind the scenes and take the well deserved success from players. A twist well foreshadowed is like a good detective story - fun whether the reader deduces the solution or not (getting the "I should have noticed that" moment). The other aspect is how the twist fits the social contract and metagame conventions of the campaign. For example, in most games I run, the story is strongly player-driven. When I create NPCs for players to encounter, I make no assumptions on whether pl...

Thursday, 5th January, 2017

  • 12:53 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    On the other hand, a world that runs on "realistic" logic makes it easier for players to make predictions and exploit the way the setting works. While it's possible in fairy-tale logic too, the world behaving like our one (plus magic, monsters etc. and their implications) allows players to use scientific reasoning within the game, and that gives them a powerful tool.Depending heavily on how adjudication and resolution work in that system. To go back to @I'm A Bananna's example, for instance - in one sense being able to defeat the elves by burning their crops may be a powerful tool, but how does burning the fields get adjudicated in the game? In high level D&D a Firestorm-type spell answers that question, but what if the PCs are low or mid-level and trying to do it with flint, tinder and torches?

Wednesday, 4th January, 2017

  • 06:49 PM - Tony Vargas quoted steenan in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    I don't think either one is more valid or inherently preferable for D&D than the other, and you often need a mix of both in a single campaign, just as JRRT mixed them both in his works. Nod. Like most "there are two kinds of..." saws (or three kinds in the case of GNS). At its best, combining the two can get you something like the literary genre of "magical realism." There are dangers, though... D&D, since it has mechanics, can easily fall into a mostly-'naturalistic' (or deterministic, or simulationist, I suppose) rut that sucks the fantasy/fairy-tale/mythic feel right out of it, elevating the mechanical details of the rules system to a sort of de-facto set of laws of physics that dictate the nature and development of the world and characters. Mixing the realistic and fantastic can also result in a double-standard in which some game elements are mundane and marginalized while others are miraculous and run the show. In a fantasy game grounded in realism, all the PCs have to be in about...
  • 01:27 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    Thanks all for replies/posts. I've picked out a few to respond to that struck some particular chord in relation to the ideas that prompoted my OP. I don't know if the question here is "how to rationalize it", really. It's more of a question of "Does it help the game to rationalize fantasy?" Should you, as a DM, have answers ready if your players want to find the "man behind the curtain", as it were? Or should your players have an expectation that such systems exist at all? Assuming your players do go looking for explanations, my go-to rationale is extraplanar activity. D&D players are pretty conditioned to accept weird stuff from other dimensions as a reason for situations not working the way they normally do. This is indeed something I typically do not like featuring in our stories, unless we're playing old-school dungeon crawls, but even in that case I avoid ecology-based monster and prefer undead, golems/elementals, outsiders etc.I think it's not a coincidence, relative to my...

Monday, 26th December, 2016

  • 10:16 PM - quoted steenan in post DMs, Do you allow your group(s) to play Evil PCs and/or parties, & why?
    ... to preserve their ethics, even if that makes it harder to achieve their goals. Now mind you I like playing paladins. Really do. I like being the good guy, always have. But I like the idea that my character makes a conscious choice to do the right thing. Sometimes playing a paladin is just too easy and it makes the character flat and two-dimensional. They never really make any real decisions, their codes and alignments and religions have it all laid out for them where they should step and when they should take that step. Further: selfish motivations can be some of the best motivations. And really, I don't even see how a person would use questionable methods if they weren't selfish. You use questionable tactics for the simple reason that it is a faster way to achieve your goals. Maybe your goals are to help the poor, but if you think the best way to do that is to kill the bourgeoisie, that's a selfish decision. You have decided that your goals trump other people's lives. @steenan if your players are never selfish, I don't see how they could ever use questionable tactics. I will add though, it's one thing I've like that 5E and other systems have codified: that "ideals" (bonds/flaws, etc...) are something that should go down on your character sheet for the GM to reference right along with your attack mods and class levels. Even if your only goal is to get rich and retire young, that's a goal I can work with to put you in some interesting situations.

Friday, 23rd December, 2016

  • 11:56 PM - Lanefan quoted steenan in post DMs, Do you allow your group(s) to play Evil PCs and/or parties, & why?
    Anything goes around here. As DM, if the party want to spend all session pranking each other or whatever...even killing each other, if it comes to that...I'm cool with it; I can sit back and have a beer. :) The only rule is that it stays in character: Eldrahon arguing with Tamarrik is fine, John arguing with Cindy is not. And while the party's busy arguing the opponents are busy doing whatever they're doing that the party was supposed to be preventing... Long-term experience tells me that in any party there's always going to be a run - usually early on - where they want to do each other in, after which it (mostly) settles down. As player, any game where I was forced to play altruistic or heroic characters all the time would lose me pretty fast, as would this: I run campaigns for PCs that are idealistic. They may have bad tempers, they may use questionable methods sometimes, but they can't be focused on selfish motivations (eg. money).As the player who invented the alignment "Neutral Gree...

Tuesday, 20th December, 2016

  • 09:30 AM - Sorcerers Apprentice quoted steenan in post A simple questions for Power Gamers, Optimizers, and Min-Maxers.
    It is only a problem when the group uses a ruleset that doesn't fit their style. Using a system that rewards build optimization and then not optimizing and complaining that someone optimizes is like using screwdrivers to drive nails and get offended when someone uses it to drive a screw instead. If the group is not interested in playing the optimization game, there's a lot of systems that cater to this. The game systems that have the most potential for optimization are often the ones that are not designed with optimization in mind, since those tend to have balance holes big enough to drive a truck through. The only systems that are close to impossible to optimize in are extremely rules-light and narrative-centered, but if you want to play a system with detailed rules then it will invariably have tools for optimizers to work with.
  • 07:45 AM - Sword of Spirit quoted steenan in post Multiclassing
    TL;DR: It's not about classless system being better than one with classes or vice versa. Multiclassing combines disadvantages of both with no significant gain. I don't agree with the italicized part, but the rest of your post was excellent. I never understand why many DM's feel the need to dictate arbitrary restrictions on rules as written in the core books... The next part of your sentence actually answers the implied question: ...since the core rules are the foundation for everyone's shared hopes and expectations for the game experience. We all develop our own idea about what D&D is about and how it is meant to be played (we may have more than one of these). However, every few years these people we pay to make official products seem to want to change the texts that these assumptions grew out of it. So new people coming to the game are going to pick up a book and start having their impressionable minds imprinted with a version of what D&D is about that may not be the same a...


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