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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:17 PM
    All encounters should be: 1) Interesting 2) Meaningful I don't want to waste any table time on "uninteresting" or "meaningless" encounters. Oftentimes, "difficult" falls under the classification of either (1) or (2) or both of them. Difficult could be "measure of challenge" or "costly in some non-fungible way (eg you aren't simply trading resources for success)".
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 7th November, 2018, 03:10 AM
    I can't find the old post by chao and I that went very in-depth into Blades, unfortunately. I'm sure a solid effort to search should find it. I'm currently running a very intermittent Wild West hack of Blades rifted off of Red Dead Redemption (after considering a Space hack) retrofitting the Duskvol map and refluffing all of the gangs/power players therein. I'd be glad to run DW for you...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 6th November, 2018, 02:25 PM
    On (1), one way to systematize it would be to mechanically gate every spell that is cast by an Intelligence (Arcana), Wisdom (Religion), Charisma (Perform), maybe Constitution (Endurance). Depending on how it’s subsequently systematized, there could be a few different emergent properties. One approach could be a success let’s you cast the spell normally, a success with a cost/Complication...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 6th November, 2018, 05:30 AM
    Agreed with everything above and that (b) is most certainly the lynchpin. The only thing I'll add is that you forgot to add the savant-level memory component required to assimilate an (dare-I-say genre-defying?) overwhelming curriculum of precise arcane formulae (surely in ancient, nigh-impossible-to-articulate, tongues) and spit them out with absolute precision and reproducibility under the...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 6th November, 2018, 04:50 AM
    You don't think the below are HUGE PARTS OF THE PUZZLE in the majority of D&D: a) the designers CHOSE (it didn't have to be done this way...plenty of systems don't...and they play VERY differently for it) to have a ridiculous number of codified spell effects covering an absurdly large number of broad, significantly gamestate-changing supernatural abilities ("I can expressly accomplish a, b, c,...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 6th November, 2018, 04:29 AM
    What is on the table is how "player-facing" (or codified/explicit) prospects for martial action declarations vs "GM-mediated" prospects for action declaration affect the table. Personally, my sense is it affects the table as follows: 1) In "player-facing" systems, players who play martial characters KNOW FOR CERTAIN (before play ever begins) that (a) their conception of their martial...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 23rd October, 2018, 02:23 AM
    On this, I would say that AD&D 2e actually suffers from too many various forms of discrete action resolution (2 of which you've mentioned above) rather than a dearth of them. Accordingly, it does (naturally), suffer from a unified framework of action resolution. Simultaneously, (alluding to my post above), it suffers from a dearth of all the things I mentioned above that would lend coherency,...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 22nd October, 2018, 06:55 PM
    Alright, lots of things I want to address here. I'm not going to quote anyone's particular text here, but it will relate to each participants' (thus far) posts. 1) Fail Forward (FF) vs Success With Complications/At a Cost (SWC) These are two different GMing techniques or components of a ruleset. I'm going to use Dungeon World and D&D 4e to untangle them. Dungeon World The 7-9 move...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Sunday, 21st October, 2018, 05:38 PM
    The 5e basic set has Fail Forward embedded in its GMing section on noncombat action resolution in the same way that 13th Age does. Given that 5e draws some inspiration from 13th Age, the easiest thing to do is just follow 13th Age advice for 5e noncombat action resolution failure: This is a skill that must be honed by GMs but most times it begins with a Yoda lesson; "you must...
    13 replies | 768 view(s)
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About Aenghus

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I run a 4e D&D game Saturday afternoons that sometimes has an opening for a new player. I have expe
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Saturday, 2nd June, 2018

  • 06:27 PM - Fitz Mac mentioned Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Aenghus I play with a group in Cork as well( 6 PC's ) , we are playing 5E D&D, always on the look out for more PC's. Thats why I asked.Plus I'm with a group that plays bi-weekly , over 50 PC's at 9-10 tables. So we are always up for more D&D players or DM's(Gm's) to join.

Tuesday, 15th May, 2018

Tuesday, 27th March, 2018

  • 03:10 AM - Maxperson mentioned Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...only goal. Second, while it does take a DM playing the game, it does not require DM help to accomplish. Even if there is no wine, I am still showing his personality and goals by making the attempt, and those goals are being addressed by the DM when he informs me that the tavern is out of wine. I don't need to be successful for it to be addressed and for my goal to come out, and the DM is forced to address it when I state I am looking for fine wine at the tavern. It isn't as if it's an option for him. Nor do I need his help in bringing my goal out in the game. First, who gets to decide that this campaign world contains northern barbarians? (Maybe the tales of their existence are all false. Maybe all the vikings in longships are really gnomes using disguise self and other illusion spells.) And once we get over the existence on the barbarians within the setting, you need scenes to be framed that actually allow going there to happen; and that allow becoming king to happen. As Aenghus points out, there are any number of ways this framing can fail to obtain. It might be as simple as every time you look for a boat there isn't one; every time you try to cross the mountain passes they're blocked by snow; and every time you try to teleport a strange magnetic-magical field blocks your way. This all goes back to the fact that these are fictions. They have no reality. No one can do anything in respect of them unless a story is told about them. Given the allocation of functions in a typical RPG, the players depend upon the GM to tell them certain stories (eg "OK, after struggling through the mountains you crest the pass - beneath you, you see the rolling hills of the barbarian homelands. What do you do?"). It's a given for my example. Maybe they are in the south, east, west, equator. It doesn't matter. The setting will have barbarians established in it somewhere. As for framing, I am forcing the framing to happen by stating to the DM that I am going north(or east, ...

Monday, 26th March, 2018

  • 10:00 AM - pemerton mentioned Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... no taverns have any wine (maybe a disease destroyed all the grapes? maybe they all sold out?) then you can't get drunk. Likewise if the GM declares that you meet no NPCs (they're all staying home on the occasions your PC happens to turn up in town) then you won't get to show off your dour personality. Even for what you describe, you need the right framing from the GM. Let's say my PC decides to become king of the northern barbarians. I don't need the DM's help to accomplish this goal. My PC exists. The barbarians exist. I can go there and try to become king.First, who gets to decide that this campaign world contains northern barbarians? (Maybe the tales of their existence are all false. Maybe all the vikings in longships are really gnomes using disguise self and other illusion spells.) And once we get over the existence on the barbarians within the setting, you need scenes to be framed that actually allow going there to happen; and that allow becoming king to happen. As Aenghus points out, there are any number of ways this framing can fail to obtain. It might be as simple as every time you look for a boat there isn't one; every time you try to cross the mountain passes they're blocked by snow; and every time you try to teleport a strange magnetic-magical field blocks your way. This all goes back to the fact that these are fictions. They have no reality. No one can do anything in respect of them unless a story is told about them. Given the allocation of functions in a typical RPG, the players depend upon the GM to tell them certain stories (eg "OK, after struggling through the mountains you crest the pass - beneath you, you see the rolling hills of the barbarian homelands. What do you do?"). REALITY, actual world reality, is constructed such that every single element of it is causally connected to every single other element of it in some way! The amount of detail is effectively infinite. <snip> It is hopeless to attempt to achieve this in the fant...

Sunday, 11th February, 2018

  • 01:15 AM - AbdulAlhazred mentioned Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I think Aenghus' concern here in terms of probabilities and mechanics is cogent. Its also cogent in the sense that it demonstrates a way in which 'classic' D&D and its focus on tactical rules leaves us with a vast swath of room for the GM to simply engineer things to his own liking. In fact it seems that the resolution is so firmly in the GM's hands that it can hardly be else! This illustrates my earlier noted observation of the 'incoherence' of 2e, it claims to wish to be a system focused on stories and narrative, but it lacks any mechanics to support that, providing only the same dungeon-crawl-focused D&D mechanics that originated in OD&D years earlier. I will note that where D&D (and later versions moreso with their large spell lists) does provide for 'operational' level action it is virtually the exclusive province of casters, and particularly of wizards (though clerics/druids/priests are no slouches here either). While any PC could theoretically contact an assassin, etc. a wizard of sufficient...

Sunday, 28th January, 2018

  • 03:40 AM - pemerton mentioned Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... that the map is in the breadbin and not in the study, and telling the players as much. The GM is saying (in effect), "OK, everyone, this scene does not have the big reveal." That seems to me really to be a pacing decision. Whether it's a good one or a bad one depends entirely on context. And if a player looks around for clues to the couch - "There's an armchair on the map - is it of a style that is famous for coming in matching sets with couches?" - then previous considerations around the map apply. A GM who makes a deliberate decision to delay the big reveal, and then simply refuses to entertain action declarations that might generate momentum/foreshadowing etc seems to me - in the abstract - to be making poor calls. But it's not an instance of relying on secret backstory to adjudicate action declarations. Everyone can see the map on the table, and if there's no furniture on it well there's no furniture on it! (I think this point also responds to your discussion with darkbard and Aenghus.) If the player wants a couch for some more prosaic reason eg because, for whatever reason, s/he wants his/her PC to be able to gain elevation, or to take cover, then the situation is different. Burning Wheel (which doesn't use encounter maps in the D&D/miniatures style) favours "say 'yes'" to this - a player who wants an advantage die, and can set out a plausible context for one, is entitled to it. (There are other reasons in BW, to do with its advancement rules, that mean players don't always scrounge for every die they might be entitled to.) Cortex+ Heroic makes this an issue of action resolution - the player is trying to establish a Couch For Me To Stand On asset, with the Doom Pool as opposition. If the GM has established that the room is sparsely furnished - eg by way of a Sparsely Furnished Room descriptor - then that can appear in the Doom Pool as part of the opposed roll. In D&D I think the default approach is that this is up to the GM. D&D is (among other things) a g...

Thursday, 25th January, 2018

  • 01:25 AM - pemerton mentioned Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Is the naga in consistent communication with the PC? If yes, then in theory the PC would be receiving instruction now and then (if not constantly) as to how to react to or initiate developments and would be forced by the Force of Will to obey.The spell says "The words of the mage become thoughts - as if the victim had formulated them himself". Whether the naga has the power to send words over distances is a little bit up for grabs - it has sent dreams, and also has a Whispering Wind ability, but in any event is a primeval magical being. The real point here (which is, I think, a bit different from what Aenghus has said) is that once the player has formulated a Belief for his PC that reflects the command from the naga to bring it the (NPC) mage so that it can spill said mage's blood in sacrifice to the spirits, that's enough. I don't need to tell the player what his PC is told to do. He can play his PC, including having regard to his Belief, and we have a game in which one PC is the thrall of the dark naga. It's still the player playing his character, with full agency. (Ie making action declarations that he wants to make, which are resolved in the same way as every other action declaration, etc.)

Sunday, 21st January, 2018

  • 09:24 PM - Manbearcat mentioned Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Aenghus I'm not expressing what I think about these things and I'm not asking what you (personally) think about these things. I'm expressing my opinion of the prevailing winds of this thread specifically and ENWorld generally. What is your opinion on the ENWorld's collective (as it is currently constituted) regarding these things?

Tuesday, 17th October, 2017

  • 10:22 AM - pemerton mentioned Aenghus in post RPG Combat: Sport or War?
    I'd like to stress that when playing a 'grittier' RPG system, you have less freedom, in a way: Since combat is lethal, it's something that must be avoided at all cost. Players _must_ come up with ways to overcome their opposition by means other than open combat, otherwise your campaign is going to be short-lived.For me, this illustrates the point I've been making upthread, to Saelorn, Shasarak and billd91. In a genuinely grim & gritty RPG, ambushing someone with a sword, or a crossbow, should be (more-or-less) as dangerous as dropping a rock on them. It's purely an artefact of D&D's mechanics, which rates a sword at d8 or d10 but leaves the rating of a boulder to the GM, that results in a fighter being unable to kill someone in a weapon ambush but able- at least at the tables of those GMs mentioned - to kill someone with a boulder ambush. Which once again relates back to Aenghus's point, that the effectiveness of the boulder vs the sword turns primarily on end-running around the damage rules. It's entirely an artefact of mechanics, not of "narrative first". In a "narrative first" game involving people of "flesh and bone" (to quote Saelorn), an ambush with a sword or bow should be capable of lethality. (And in games like RuneQuest, Rolemaster, Burning Wheel, etc - ie with broadly simulationist action resolution mechanics - it is.) But D&D chooses to subordinate lethality and grittiness to heroics, via the hit point mechanic. That design choice having been made, why should boulders - of all things - be exempt from it?
  • 03:34 AM - pemerton mentioned Aenghus in post RPG Combat: Sport or War?
    ...lders (apparently, they aren’t tall enough for that ride). The 2e cyclops, now he gets to throw boulders for 4d10 and that’s really not likely to be the upper limit on boulders that Conan (or others) could drop on someone. So, yeah, if the PCs get a chance to drop some big boulders on their enemies, I expect they may give it a try.I didn't know that "boulder" was a technical term in this context. When I Googled, though, I found that Wikipedia says "In geology, a boulder is a rock fragment with size greater than 25.6 centimetres (10.1 in) in diameter". I think the rocks that giants are hurling in AD&D are envisaged as being at least that big. If you're dropping really big rocks on someone, presumably it's an ambush. In which case stabbing them with a sword should (presumably) be just as dangerous! (And to the extent that D&D hit points provide protection against ambushes with swords, why should they not provide comparable protection against ambushes with boulders? Which goes back to Aenghus's point about the merits, or otherwise, of circumventing the rules.)

Thursday, 12th January, 2017

  • 07:43 AM - Manbearcat mentioned Aenghus in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    @Sword of Spirit , thanks for always being congenial and friendly in our conversations. Even though we're typically on opposite ends of things, you're always a gentle(wo?)man. Its not typical. Anyway, on with it. Regarding GM/player latitude, plausible inference (based on fairy tale logic), and bounded results: Games underwritten by (a) (often fairly granular) task resolution, (b) causal logic grounded exclusively (or at least nearly) in worldly empirical observation or experience, and (c) significant GM latitude in adjudication/resolution is going to produce play outcomes with very binary/bounded results. However, as @Aenghus canvassed above, the marriage of (c) to (b) doesn't necessitate that the relationship of player inference from available information > subsequent player action declaration > GM adjudication will reliably produce results that the table agrees upon (even before we get to the mechanical resolution stage). As the proxy for their in-character observation and orientation to any given situation, players must rely entirely on (i) the coherency/utility/sincerity of the play conversation and (b) GM: player perception/understanding alignment. The problem therein is that all sorts of cognitive biases and holes in forensic knowledge base can create an awkward disparity between a/the player(s) and GM. Their proxy becomes hazy, unreliable. Immersion recedes while insecurity proliferates. This will typically lessen with time. Sometimes, folks are miraculously on the same page from the word go. Sometimes, the social dynamics (the GM is an overwhelming alpha, folks are willing to cede full author...

Sunday, 15th November, 2015

  • 11:59 PM - pemerton mentioned Aenghus in post Alignment thread - True Neutrality
    ...rpose labelling system, but rather makes sense against a particular set of world assumptions. You are right that if the mortal realm ("nature") is the creation of the gods, and in some sense plays out or expresses their cosmological concerns, then the idea of nature as "neutral" or "balanced" breaks down. But, in that case, True Neutrality as described by Gygax ("this naturalistic ethos", "Nature will prevail and keep things as they were meant to be" - see the OP for more quotes along similar lines) is erroneous, because it rests on a false premise about the character of "nature" and the "natural" world. It seems to me that, if the GM has already decided as part of the campaign backstory that the world is created in the way you describe, and hence that Gygaxian naturalistic True Neutrality is already known by the game participants to rest on a false premise, then there is no point allowing True Neutrality as an alignment option. It would just be a trap (in something like the way Aenghus has articulated in posts upthread). Another way of going, though, would be to allow the cosmological status of the mortal world to be something that is up for grabs in play. Is it, in fact, as the naturalistic True Neutrals conceive of it, and to the extent that it looks otherwise that's just because of imbalances introduced by human and divine action? Or is it inherently a site of mortal and divine striving that makes so-called True Neutrality mere foolishness? That could make for an interesting game. In 4e, it might involve something to do with the nature and role of primal spirits. In my 4e game, the primal spirits have played no role in the campaign to date (and are extremely unlikely to do so in the remaining handful of sessions), but a somewhat similar sort of question is playing out, as the PCs (and their players) struggle to decide whether the mortal world is something good in itself, worth preserving with all its apparent imperfections, or whether the Lattice of Heaven s...

Friday, 30th October, 2015

  • 09:13 PM - El Mahdi mentioned Aenghus in post Warlord Name Poll
    ...ordinatus in the poll) Counsellor (booooooooring) Consigliere (too Godfather) Ambassador, Emissary, Mediator, Delegate, Envoy (too much Diplomat and not enough strategy, tactics, and combat – and too Noble) Master/Maester/Maesteri/Maestro (predominantly craft skill level, craft guild rank, or academic/musical) Headman/Hauptman (root of Captain and too authoritative) Proconsul (the Pro- makes it too authoritative) Shepherd (too religious, too bucolic, too Firefly) Synergist (too boring, and sounds like some kind of psychic) Armiger (exclusively military and noble) Sherriff (too noble, too law enforcement) Impetro/Impetrus (too authoritative – Imperial) Adjunct (too subordinate, too Star Trek Borg - Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One) Prolucutor (the Pro- makes it too authoritative, sounds like the person is a professional talker, and is just too hard to say) Warden (too Ranger) Leader(zzzzzzzzzz…) @3e4ever ; @77IM @Aaron Of Barbaria; @AbdulAlhazred ; @admcewen ; @Aenghus ; @Ahrimon ; @Ainulindalion ; @airwalkrr; @Aldarc ; @akr71 ; @AmerginLiath ; @Andor ; @AntiStateQuixote ; @aramis erak; @Aribar ; @Arnwolf ; @Ashkelon ; @Ashrym ; @Athinar ; @AtomicPope ; @Azurewraith; @Azzy ; @Bawylie ; @bedir than ; @Bedrockgames ; @bert1000 ; @billd91 ; @Blackbrrd; @Blackwarder ; @Blue ; @Bluenose ; @brehobit ; @BryonD ; @Bupp ; @Campbell ; @CapnZapp; @CaptainConundrum ; @CaptainGemini ; @Carlsen Chris ; @casterblaster ; @CasvalRemDeikun; @cbwjm ; @ccooke ; @Celebrim ; @Celondon @ChameleonX ; @Charles Wright ; ChrisCarlson; @CM ; @cmad1977 ; @costermonger ; @Creamsteak ; @Crothian ; @Cybit ; @Dausuul; @Dayte ; @dd.stevenson ; @DEFCON 1 ; @Delazar ; @DersitePhantom ; @Diffan ; @discosoc; @D'karr ; @Doc Klueless ; @doctorbadwolf ; @DonAdam ; @Dragoslav ; @Duganson; @EdL ; @EditorBFG ; @Edwin Suijkerbuijk ; @Eejit ; @ehren37 ; @Elfcrusher ; @El Mahdi ; @epithet; @erf_beto ; @Eric V ; @eryndel ; @Evenglare ; @ExploderWizard ; @EzekielRaiden; @Fedge123 ; @fendak ; @Fire...

Thursday, 8th October, 2015

Wednesday, 7th October, 2015

Tuesday, 6th October, 2015

Monday, 5th October, 2015

Saturday, 22nd August, 2015

  • 01:57 AM - pemerton mentioned Aenghus in post A case where the 'can try everything' dogma could be a problem
    ...ims of play - namely, that when the dice are being rolled those other elements of play are not at issue. As you (Tony Vargas) say, the debate was framed as one between AD&D and WW, but it is not a debate between their texts. It's a debate between players. If you look at the AD&D 2nd ed PHB, you can see that it is already on the "roleplay" side of the debate - it disparages the idea of action resolution by rolling dice at every opportunity (eg it presents combat resolution as the first step on a slippery slope to a "hack-and-slash" campaign), and the whole system encourages the GM to override dice rolls in the interests of "the story", just the same as the Storyteller books. What gave the debate genuine currency is that there werre some AD&D players who were using 2nd ed AD&D to run a game that ignored those parts of the books and was pretty similar to how many people ran 1st ed AD&D, and B/X as well - namely, the sort of "token roleplay as a veneer over skirmish wargaming" that Aenghus has described upthread. The "breakthrough" in RPG design that makes the "roll-play" vs "roleplay" debate the irrelevance it deserves to be is identifying mechanical systems that support rather than cut across the story/thematic/dramatic aims of play. That support can be a matter of degree, but my own experience suggests that three main aspects of a system are relevant: (1) A capacity for players to flag their story interests/inclinations to the GM by way of PC building; (2) Resolution mechanics that allow those flagged interests/inclinations to be engaged in play without the outcomes turning simply on GM fiat; (3) A capacity, within the system, to make the consequences of that engagement matter to future play. When I reflect on (1) and (2), I see a connection to a different group of 80s/90s anti-AD&D RPGers, namely, the players of the more sim systems like RQ, RM, HERO etc. The rhetoric of those players tended to be around realism rather than aesthetic sophistication, b...

Friday, 17th July, 2015

  • 09:03 PM - innerdude mentioned Aenghus in post What makes us care about combat balance in D&D?
    ...uences for wounds make D&D better for regular combat than Runequest. See this is interesting to me too, because one of my groups is waaaaay into GURPS, but their playstyle is completely at odds with GURPS' strengths. They want "heroic" combat, where they're made to look "badass," but are constantly fighting against GURPS' natural inclination to make combat intense and deadly. GURPS' strength is its free-form skill system. Characters should be broadly competent at a lot of things, which opens a variety of avenues for victory depending on the challenge. In a world where individual or small group combat is that deadly, wouldn't it make sense to roleplay making alliances? Currying favor with well-positioned NPCs? Covering your backside with local authorities? But instead of playing up to that inherent strength, the group basically ignores it and still approaches everything as a combat scenario. And when that's the the case, combat in GURPS plays out exactly as you describe here, Aenghus. They ruthlessly ensure that victory is preordained, or they simply don't take the risk. In D&D a "straight up fair fight" typically ends with most of the party at 1/2 to 2/3 hit points, and the cleric has expended the bulk of their healing for the day. In GURPS a "straight up fair fight" means there's a 50/50 chance half the party is dead in three rounds....

Saturday, 21st March, 2015

  • 05:37 AM - pemerton mentioned Aenghus in post The Best Thing from 4E
    ...d to make a pitch for what is feasible in the fiction, and (ii) the GM is under instructions to say yes when possible rather than block, and (iii) there are mechanical systems that tell both players and GM what to do if the GM says yes (eg no "insta-win" buttons, but instead a system of accumulating failures and successes determined within a framework of "subjective" DCs that are at least notionally designed with the maths of PC build in mind). I think the way that (i) and (ii) confer power on the players is fairly self-evident once stated. (If you don't think someone being entitled to negotiate with someone else who is under instructions to say yes when possible empowers the first person, OK, but then I think the issue is one about word use or about the deep metaphysics of social interactions, and not about game design.) The way that (iii) confers power on the players is, in my view, two-fold. First, it prevents GM blocking, calling for endless re-tries, etc. All the stuff that Aenghus and I have talked about, which for me is part and parcel of 2nd ed-style D&D. Second, and a bit more indirectly, it supports the GM in saying yes because it ensure that saying yes has predictable, workable consequences rather than leading to game-breaking outcomes. It might seem paradoxical that the removal of insta-win buttons empowers rather than disempowers the players, but I think that it does. Insta-win buttons create the illusion of power, because of their nature within the fiction, but the fiction is not self-executing - the need to mediate insta-win buttons via GM adjudication means that, at least in my experience, they are not a source of player power but rather a cause of illusionist or adversarial GMing (with the traditional treatment of the Wish spell being just one obvious paradigm).

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Tuesday, 28th August, 2018

  • 12:01 AM - Hussar quoted Aenghus in post My Attempt to Define RPG's - RPG's aren't actually Games
    My take on the OP is that wargames are distinctly games despite often requiring scenario creation, printed scenarios or user created scenarios. They often also involve worldbuilding. I don't see RPGs as any different, apart from the difference in game activities. I bought the 1st edition Warhammer white box set, which was half wargame and half RPG, the state of the art being quite primitive at the time. I certainly see it as a game. I see RPGs as games as well. My question to the OP is that I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Why is it important to you to designate RPGs as "not games" despite having "Game" in the title? Is there a "and therefore" that you haven't mentioned yet? Yup, there is. This has been asked and answered. Again, mea culpa for the clickbait in the title. RPG's are games and game creation engines. Sigh.

Monday, 20th August, 2018

  • 11:51 PM - pemerton quoted Aenghus in post Tink-Tink-Boom vs. the Death Spiral: The Damage Mechanic in RPGs
    I'm convinced a lot of players who want deadly combat in RPGs desire it to permit effective ninja one-strike takedowns, something that hit point systems struggle with.In 4e, the solution to this is to allow one result of a successful skill check (or perhaps skill challenge) is for a creature/NPC to be "minion-ised", thus becoming vulnerable to a one-strike takedown.

Monday, 23rd July, 2018

  • 01:55 AM - Emerikol quoted Aenghus in post Suspense in RPGs
    Primarily unless the players want suspense in their game, attempting to create it may be a lot more difficult. Players who are primarily target or objective driven, whether that's hack and slash, loot, spotlight grabbing etc may not want suspense because suspense is often about the unknown and unknown variables increase the chance of failure. Players who want to succeed in game probably try to minimise the number of unknowns in the game and reduce suspense. I agree with your points. So this is just me adding a nuance. There are two types of target driven groups.. 1. Those that always want to win and want to look good doing it. The process of being victorious over their enemies is enjoyable. If you make things hard for them, they aren't happy. 2. Those that want to work hard to achieve their goals and if they get it easy it's unsatisfying. And when I say "work hard", I mean the group using their wits and strategic planning to out smart enemies. Gygax in teaching DMs ...

Monday, 9th July, 2018

  • 01:29 PM - Caliburn101 quoted Aenghus in post Suspense in RPGs
    As I and over people have mentioned more than once, if there is some sort of script immunity in operation in a game the play is about stakes other than mere survival. The very script immunity allows players to feel safer forming bonds with NPCs and laying down roots in setting, safe in the knowledge that a random deathtrap won't meaninglessly kill them the next day. The village can burn, the beloved npc can be hurt, killed or kidnapped, war can break out etc (I'm assuming the feelings are "real, not faked here). There's a whole multiverse of stakes other than personal survival to play for. I find "combat as war" to degenerate into a "PCs escalate first" until one side is wiped out cycle that I see as just as unrealistic as the alternatives. Negotiation and treaties aren't an unrealistic way to temporarily or semi-permanently end hostilities, but IMO they are less likely if the PCs are just trying to wipe out the opposition (which can seem rational if the PCs only care about themselves and...

Friday, 6th July, 2018

  • 12:17 AM - Lanefan quoted Aenghus in post Suspense in RPGs
    Negotiation and treaties aren't an unrealistic way to temporarily or semi-permanently end hostilities, but IMO they are less likely if the PCs are just trying to wipe out the opposition (which can seem rational if the PCs only care about themselves and don't give a damn about the setting).Negotiation will only realistically happen when a) one side knows it cannot win and tries negotiation as a plan B, or b) both sides realize the cost of continuing (or starting) battle will be too high. For a) to work the winning side has to consent to negotiate - which IME isn't something PCs often do, though the opposition will on occasion. For either a) or b) to work there needs to be enough intelligence and reason on both sides to make it worthwhile. Negotiating with a purple worm, for example, is only going to get you eaten faster; negotiating with fanatical cultists is also likely doomed to failure before it starts. And, for either a) or b) to work one or both sides has to have something to bar...

Thursday, 5th July, 2018

  • 09:58 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Aenghus in post Suspense in RPGs
    I find "combat as war" to degenerate into a "PCs escalate first" until one side is wiped out cycle that I see as just as unrealistic as the alternatives. Every playstyle has its degenerate forms, sure. CaW can also devolve into a metagame of DM manipulation (yes, either the players manipulating the DM to get easy victories every time, or the DM manipulating the players to jump through his hoops in pursuit thereof). CaW is also the style that makes "what if LotR were in D&D" jokes, where Gandalf scry/buff/teleport pwns Sauron or whatever, funny - because to a much lesser extreme, some of the fun of an RPG /can/ come from doing the 'smart' thing in defiance of genre conventions.

Monday, 2nd July, 2018

  • 10:08 PM - Lanefan quoted Aenghus in post Death and Storytelling
    GMing murderhobos or even neutralish extreme self interest can be wearing I get this; even if I don't necessarily agree with it. and limiting on the type of adventures that can be run. But this makes no sense. You can run a group of the most murderous of hoboes through a high-heroism adventure any time you want; or through any other adventure for all that. All you have to do is set the type of hooks that'll grab their interest. Hell, Han has no interest at all in rescuing Leia until he's told she's rich... You just have to be prepared for if-when those adventures don't necessarily turn out like the adventure writers (or you) expect. Happy-ever-after might be a very rare event. :) Lanefan

Sunday, 1st July, 2018

  • 07:58 PM - Les Moore quoted Aenghus in post Death and Storytelling
    Except we don't all participate in this, at least not in the same way. Throughout the editions, game style and genre have varied amazingly from group to group and campaign to campaign. A significant minority of campaigns avoid the sort of behaviour what would label them brigands, whether that's the decision of the participants or at the insistence of the GM. GMing murderhobos or even neutralish extreme self interest can be wearing, and limiting on the type of adventures that can be run. It's possible to keep uglier stuff off camera, or in soft focus, and zoom in on more accessible activities. D&D, like any other RPG, can be what we want it to be, and can omit content we want to omit. There's no need to focus on content that any of the participants feels goes too far, quite the opposite in fact IMO. This doesn't have to be the case, if the participants don't want it. Shock horror, campaigns, house ruling and rule zero apply in all directions, and can facilitate content you personally ar...
  • 09:59 AM - Saelorn quoted Aenghus in post What is the essence of 4E?
    I disagree that 4e classes are homogenous and easy to learn after learning one of them.. Learning a 4e class involves more than just reading the individual powers, there's often a particular "flow" to learn to get the best out of a class, and that requires playing them with something of an open mind. The learning curves can be more complex than it seems due to in class synergy, and synergy with other classes.It's like the difference between Street Fighter and Smash Bros. There is a lot of hidden depth and complexity that you need to learn if you really want to make the most of Samus (most of it involving frame data), but at a more basic level, everyone still utilizes the same inputs. If every class in AD&D used the same mechanics as the wizard and priest, then you would still need to learn the subtleties of their unique spells and spell lists, but you wouldn't need to re-learn the mechanics of how spells work. You could make a decent showing of it, right out of the gate.

Friday, 29th June, 2018

  • 07:27 PM - darkbard quoted Aenghus in post What is the essence of 4E?
    As regards running out of healing surges, in later 4e there was a 1st level magic ritual Comrades' Succor, that at the cost of one healing surge from one of the participants allowed up to six participants to trade healing surges between each other. Plus the 7th level wondrous magic item Vistani Buzuq.
  • 01:02 AM - Shasarak quoted Aenghus in post What is the essence of 4E?
    4e is very much a team game rather than a game of rugged individuals. Players need to cooperate, keep their heads, not overcommit, spread the damage around, and the squishies need to stay safe most of the time. It seems like a team game and on the other hand the way that healing surges work mean that instead of healing being a team resourcet it became an individual resource that could force the whole party to have to rest. I know that 5e Hit Dice and healing mostly fixed this problem.

Thursday, 28th June, 2018

  • 09:52 PM - Lanefan quoted Aenghus in post Death and Storytelling
    This can happen by accident when casualties lead to only one PC being connected to the plot and/or caring about it. For instance one dedicated player and a bunch of casual players who are along for the ride. It can, but it's also fairly easy for the DM to focus the plot on the party as a whole rather than just the PC(s) belonging to the one dedicated player. It can also happen when the DM wants to run plots and only one player habitually bites. I have found no reliable way to make all the players care about a particular plot. That's 'cause there isn't one. :) All you can do is vary up your plots and adventure types/settings to spread the love, so to speak. If one player, for example, just loves maritime swashbuckling but has no interest in court intrigue while another loves court intrigue and diplomacy while a third just wants to bash giants and a fourth only cares about da lootz then it's kind of on you as DM to synthesize these a bit - or at least run a maritime adventure followed by a...

Wednesday, 27th June, 2018

  • 08:02 PM - Lanefan quoted Aenghus in post Death and Storytelling
    Although our group always uses this rule, I can't remember if it was an official rule either. I'm 99% sure max h.p. at 1st is official in 3.0 but I've no idea if it carried forwatd to 3.5. So the effects of PC death on their player and the campaign in general vary a lot. For me, one of the signs of a bad DM is not caring about this difference. I've seen more than one campaign fall apart when the central PC got killed, and more than one mystified GM who didn't understand why their campaign fell apart afterwards. The GM in this case need only look in the mirror while saying "Hey, dummy - next time, don't build the whole campaign around one character and you won't have this problem."

Saturday, 2nd June, 2018

  • 03:36 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Particularly in my D&D I prefer fairly conventional action adventure where the PCs are sufficiently "good" to be the good guy protagonists. I see it as a problem in functional world-building to design a world where this seems reasonable and isn't irritating, at least for those players willing to go half-way on the issue. As a referee or player I try to be very clear that I like white hats to be viable and if they aren't I want to know in advance so I can consider walking away. In the action adventure genre as I understand it, the problems of the PCs can be solved by action-focused plans, the planning may be anywhere from non-existent to complex, and where there might be temporary setbacks or even ultimate defeat, the players get an understanding that they aren't wasting their time, they get to have a positive effect on the setting with no mean-minded clawbacks. Heroism is possible and not futile or counterproductive. YMMV. I understand there are loads of people who prefer greyer, dark or...

Monday, 2nd April, 2018

  • 01:41 PM - pemerton quoted Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Most games can tolerate passengers, people who attend the game but don't participate. I get the feeling that conventional GM-driven games can more easily facilitate casual or less-invested players. The player can generate or be given a PC, often a simpler one, and the GM can handle the bulk of the work to customise the game experience to the aesthetics and mechanical preferences of the particular player. This can translate to not punishing players for a lack of system mastery. More casual players have a detailed gameworld to interact with, and can take small actions in the gameworld that lack the inherent weight of actions in Story Now games. Story Now games seem to demand a lot more investment from players to pay off. I'm not saying that casual players can't participate at all, but a lack of mechanical engagement or system mastery will limit their interaction with the game I don't know. I don't think there's any specific degree of system mastery or player skill/experience that is de...
  • 04:45 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Story Now games seem to demand a lot more investment from players to pay off. I'm not saying that casual players can't participate at all, but a lack of mechanical engagement or system mastery will limit their interaction with the game (unless there's fudging). Similarly, I've seen GM-driven games that insist on high system mastery from all participants, as that's the aspect of the game the group emphasises. I've seen other GM-driven groups that emphasise roleplay and downplays rules. I don't know. I don't think there's any specific degree of system mastery or player skill/experience that is demanded by Story Now IN GENERAL. Many such systems are very simple and easy to master. Moreover, if the emphasis is really on the STORY part, then the mechanics are mostly a way of expressing that. There's not so much of a problem as there might be in a game where you better understand how Fireball works, or else you'll toast the party! In a game where you declare what you WANT to happen, then that's...

Tuesday, 27th March, 2018

  • 03:22 AM - Maxperson quoted Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Thanks for your response. Sure thing! Every player I have met is a distinct individual with their own preferences. It isn't as simple as just good GMs and bad GMs, either, every GM has strengths and weaknesses. It really is. While every DM has strengths and weaknesses, only bad DMs are going to shut down player goals the way you described. A mediocre DM might not engage them as well as a good DM will, but he's going to try. Some GMs just don't cater to player goals, or do so in a fitful fashion. These would be bad DMs. Safe to say I still prefer a more collaborative approach. Which is absolutely fine. We all have our preferences as you mentioned above. I just don't think bad DMing should be a factor when considering which playstyle you prefer. Bad DMs are going to wreck any game they run regardless of playstyle. Quiet players can't rely on being heard once the game starts, they often get drowned out by louder, pushier players. This is something the DM should...

Monday, 26th March, 2018

  • 01:52 AM - Maxperson quoted Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    But your PC may never get to the country, or discover the barbarians have all been enslaved and dragged to hell or whatever. In a lot of games player goals are irrelevant to the GM and there's no guarantee you will get anywhere near your goal, especially if there's some problem with telling the GM your player goals. Or maybe "Fine, your character goes off on his mission, but the game is here. What's your new character?" A base assumption of mine is that the DM is at least mediocre. If he's a bad DM as you are describing, then nothing really matters for any playstyle, Bad DMs are bad. If the DM as at least mediocre, that stuff isn't going to happen. For a start, interacting with anything that doesn't exist in the setting specifically until the player requests it. This is a violation of the social contract on the part of the player. By agreeing to play in a setting, the player is agreeing to be bound to the limits of that setting. So while yes, playing a Cormyrian War Wizard in th...
  • 01:12 AM - Maxperson quoted Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I can think of many, many interests and goals that require DM help to achieve. IMO the set of such goals is significantly larger than the set of goals that don't require DM assistance. (Both being infinite, but DM-required goals are a bigger infinity). Settling for smaller, meaner goals is certainly less trouble for the GM, and less work. Unless the player deliberately avoids any expectations for the consequences of their modest secret goals, it's entirely possible that the campaign or GM will crush them inadvertently. Fundamentally, if I have a character with significant goals, I want the GM involved, I want him or her to give a damn, and I want the goal to mean something in the context of the campaign. If they can't deliver I can always vote with my feet. Edit: whatever goals someone wants are fine, whatever their size, so long as they are appropriate to the circumstances. Your drunk dwarf example sure seems smaller and meaner, so to speak. I've seen drunk PCs get hit with a va...

Sunday, 25th March, 2018

  • 04:54 PM - Maxperson quoted Aenghus in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    It still seems unfair to keep judging a different style of play by the criteria of another style of play. "Your orange isn't a good apple". I haven't been. I'm not making judgment calls about his playstyle. If the players genuinely want to move from scene to scene, and pile all the decision making into the scenes, like in a play or movie, then the alternate paths that are important to player agency in a conventional GM-driven game are actually a waste of time for this different style of play and content the participants don't want or need. Which I already acknowledged when I told pemerton that when players are okay with being railroaded, being railroaded isn't a bad thing. That's how they like to play and the important thing is that they have fun. I'm not judging his playstyle good or bad. I'm simply pointing out that it does railroad players. I suppose there could be a hybrid game, where some players want the big scenes with big dramatic decisions and others want naturalis...

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