View Profile: MarkB - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Today, 12:37 PM
    Stolid, careful and methodical. As an expert, he knows that each thunderhead that rolls in, each lightning bolt that lashes down, is specifically and deliberately placed in response to a whole range of complex conditions and circumstances. They only appear random and arbitrary to the uninitiated.
    5 replies | 143 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Tuesday, 16th October, 2018, 12:43 PM
    Yeah, if the spell could reveal absolute truth, you could pretty much twenty-questions your way through any mystery or puzzle you were ever presented with. It'd be a fun spell, but probably 9th-level worthy in terms of utility.
    16 replies | 368 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th October, 2018, 08:36 AM
    I didn't recognise him either - just haven't watched enough daytime TV, I guess. I did struggle a bit at first with Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, as I'd been completely unimpressed by the few comedy show performances I'd seen from her, but I ended up really liking her as a companion, and being genuinely saddened by the unhappy conclusion to her story.
    54 replies | 1434 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Monday, 8th October, 2018, 08:47 PM
    I downloaded the episode on iPlayer. When it opened with the fake Youtube blog, I spent the first ten seconds trying to work out how to re-maximise the window.
    54 replies | 1434 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th October, 2018, 12:45 PM
    The trailer had me laughing out loud on a few occasions, which is definitely a positive sign. I'm looking forward to seeing the final product.
    11 replies | 283 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Sunday, 7th October, 2018, 01:55 AM
    Maybe make it more than a coincidence that this woman is being framed. Instead of being a local priest, the man is a highly zealous member of a religion dedicated to opposing the evil god. He followed the same clues the PCs did but got here early, and immediately denounced the woman in front of the whole town, assuming that they would share his view that her bloodline made her inherently evil....
    11 replies | 332 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Thursday, 4th October, 2018, 12:32 PM
    Just make sure that you're playing out both the advantages and disadvantages of these area-effect spells. Both can be as much a hindrance to the PCs as their opponents. With Silence, in particular, any PC within the area of effect will be hindered in their attempts to communicate effectively with the rest of the party.
    25 replies | 787 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Wednesday, 3rd October, 2018, 07:29 PM
    I did once consider having an epic-level villain who wore armour made of low-level magic items. He wouldn't be attuned to any of them, or ever use their special properties - he'd just use them for physical protection.
    29 replies | 929 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Wednesday, 3rd October, 2018, 08:34 AM
    I think part of the issue is that Acrobatics tends to sound like a very good skill for dextrous characters, whose players imagine them performing all sorts of acrobatic bounds and tumbles, but in actual play it tends to have far fewer applications than expected. Anything involving climbing or jumping is purely Athletics, and anything which involves maintaining balance in the face of adversity is...
    74 replies | 1792 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Tuesday, 2nd October, 2018, 07:35 PM
    If you're looking for a reasonable compromise, maybe go with magic items becoming deactivated if they take enough damage. Essentially, their magical essence is turned inwards, dedicated to keeping themselves intact, and the item becomes mundane for practical purposes, until the character takes the time to restore it during a short or long rest. I'd require a deliberate attack against the item...
    29 replies | 929 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Saturday, 29th September, 2018, 11:41 PM
    Or to put it another way, the potential number of combinations increases exponentially for each additional source allowed, and the chance of some odd overpowered combination slipping through the cracks does likewise.
    37 replies | 2203 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Saturday, 29th September, 2018, 11:26 PM
    Me neither. I literally checked the rules in the PHB before answering, and still managed to gloss over the final sentence. Thanks for the correction Ristamar.
    22 replies | 612 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Saturday, 29th September, 2018, 05:57 PM
    Resolve each attack in the multiattack sequence sequentially, and apply their damage separately. If nothing else, after the first attack reduces the character to 0 hp, the second will be made with advantage, and will be a critical hit if the monster is within 5 feet of the character. Here's an oddity, though. The Instant Death rule only applies when an attack reduces you to 0 hp - which can't...
    22 replies | 612 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Friday, 28th September, 2018, 10:54 PM
    Back when I was playing 3rd Edition, I had a hankering to play a half-orc bard, with slapstick as his bardic performance style, named Krusky the Klown.
    173 replies | 12620 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Friday, 28th September, 2018, 07:28 PM
    MarkB replied to Drinking Problem
    I mostly play at a gaming club, so no alcohol at the table. In home games there are a couple of players who'll get through a beer or two, but no more than that. However, there was the one year when we decided to welcome in the new year by playing our D&D campaign on New Year's Eve. We knew the DM had over-indulged when, during the climactic battle that involved two dragons and multiple...
    78 replies | 2026 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Thursday, 27th September, 2018, 06:32 PM
    So many characters, trying to service so much existing movie backstory, and apparently trying to fit in quite a long timescale. It's hard to see an outcome where this whole thing doesn't collapse under its own weight.
    13 replies | 340 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Thursday, 27th September, 2018, 07:59 AM
    MarkB replied to Eberron mark
    Something like ghoul touch would probably work thematically, the visual effect being just for flavour. However, that spell didn't make it into 5e.
    12 replies | 559 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Wednesday, 26th September, 2018, 06:10 PM
    Guidance has a short duration, but it's also a cantrip, so it can be re-cast as often as necessary, if the character isn't otherwise engaged. While the ranger is leading the party through the wilderness, the cleric can be plodding along next to him, praying for guidance. Besides, it's thematic. When better to use a spell called guidance than when you're trying to find your way?
    67 replies | 1388 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Wednesday, 26th September, 2018, 08:32 AM
    What's to stop them from doing it once they hit the next map hex? Unless every one of your terrain areas is deep valleys or dense forest, they'll be able to tell they're lost sooner or later, just from surrounding landmarks such as rivers, coastlines and mountains. Ultimately, if you're going to run a campaign in this style, you need buy-in from your players. If they're happy to wander off the...
    67 replies | 1388 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th September, 2018, 10:54 PM
    Guidance comes to mind as being borderline at best. Since a passive check involves no action on the part of the character, how would they choose to apply it to the check? It also just feels like a weird fit. Passive checks represent a character's base level of competence when they're not actively pursuing a task, and a game that's centred upon exploration in which the characters take no active...
    67 replies | 1388 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th September, 2018, 12:49 AM
    The difference is that the stealth check was always opposed. With the navigation check, you're switching from a random check against a fixed DC to a fixed check against a random DC. The outcome is the same, except for the part where it invalidates the tools players may have to influence a random check. Effectively, you're reducing player choices for the sake of a purely semantic distinction...
    67 replies | 1388 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th September, 2018, 12:41 AM
    The process may have been the other way around as far as multiclassing is concerned. I doubt there was ever any consideration of not having multiclassing in 5e, so it's just as likely that the spell was written while they still considered multiclassing to be part of the standard rules, before they switched them to being optional.
    66 replies | 2572 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MarkB's Avatar
    Monday, 24th September, 2018, 11:01 PM
    Yeah, switching things from active checks by the players against a set DC to passive checks versus an opposed roll is effectively just bringing in rolling-secretly-for-the-players by the back door. At that point you may as well just roll the players' checks secretly, because it amounts to exactly the same thing.
    67 replies | 1388 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Monday, 24th September, 2018, 08:32 AM
    In a game that focuses on exploration, though, a failed navigation check isn't necessarily wasted time - it's just an unexpected destination. The PCs don't end up where they were expecting, but they still find themselves in a new place, facing new challenges.
    67 replies | 1388 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Sunday, 23rd September, 2018, 12:03 PM
    In this particular case, as I understand it, the fact that a roll is being made is not a secret - only the result of that roll. The players know that they're trying to navigate, and that the results of those efforts won't be known for sure until the next time they find themselves able to check their position by referring to known landmarks - which may, in dense terrain, be a session or two down...
    67 replies | 1388 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Sunday, 23rd September, 2018, 01:07 AM
    It's impossible for Lucky to apply to a passive check, because a passive check doesn't involve a roll on the part of the character. They are treated as having rolled a 10. It's also worth noting that Survival checks for navigation are generally taken against a set DC - the DM decides how difficult the task of navigating the current set of terrain is, and the character rolls to beat that DC....
    67 replies | 1388 view(s)
    2 XP
  • MarkB's Avatar
    Sunday, 23rd September, 2018, 12:11 AM
    That's genius. I'm totally going to steal it.
    10 replies | 393 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 07:50 PM
    The one that always troubles me is when a suspicious player badly fumbles an insight check made against someone who's actually being truthful. Do they think the person is lying? And since the player knows they've rolled poorly, how much effort do you go to in order to keep the metagame knowledge out of that reaction? Passive insight is also a potential stumbling block here. Does it provide a...
    57 replies | 1122 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 01:24 AM
    Skill checks aren't just about what you're doing. They can also be about what you know, or what you perceive. That's especially true of passive checks. I get that you don't want the DM to declare what your character is doing. Do you get that a DM can be implementing skills in such a way that calling for a check doesn't dictate what the character is doing, especially when those checks involve...
    1306 replies | 33304 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 12:06 AM
    That's only half of what the rules say they're for. The other half is "when the DM wants to secretly determine whether the characters succeed at something without rolling dice, such as noticing a hidden monster."
    1306 replies | 33304 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 10:45 PM
    Currently I have Netflix, and Now TV, Sky TV's streaming service. I cancelled my satellite TV service with Sky over a year ago, and now only subscribe to Now TV for a few months at a time when they're airing a few shows I enjoy. I've tried Amazon Prime a couple of times on free / cheap offers, but never found a good reason to stick with it. They have an okay selection of shows, but I didn't...
    27 replies | 607 view(s)
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  • MarkB's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 12:36 PM
    For such cases, the spell requires an additional material component: A magic marker, charcoal stick or similar item, which is used to draw a pair of googly eyes on the target.
    7 replies | 205 view(s)
    2 XP
  • MarkB's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 12:30 PM
    The only game I've left recently was due to a combination of railroading and favouritism. We were playing a zombie apocalypse game where we initially were heading towards an army base - but after things hotted up in that direction we decided we were better off changing course, and finding a nice inaccessible island to hole up on. So the GM had a bunch of army helicopters catch up with us,...
    1306 replies | 33304 view(s)
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Monday, 17th September, 2018

  • 07:35 PM - iserith mentioned MarkB in post Roleplay opportunities in a mine (level 2)
    A social interaction challenge (because combat and exploration are roleplay!) might be the ghost of a miner who died in a cave-in who isn't aware of it. If the PCs can figure out what happened and explain it to the ghost, he or she can move on to the afterlife. If the PCs are successful, the miner shares with them a tunnel that serves as a useful shortcut around a dangerous area (perhaps a cave filled with odorless, explosive gas) and/or leads to a cave that contains a treasure. Edit: Dang! MarkB upstaged me!

Monday, 26th February, 2018

  • 09:06 PM - lowkey13 mentioned MarkB in post Musings on the "Lawful Jerk" Paladin
    ...r less entirely subjective. Mmmmm..... I give you all the points for "Paladin issues marinated[.]" It's like the worst steak ever. "Why does our kobold fillet taste so bad? It has to be the Paladin marinade!" Anyway, a quick point- OD&D- Paladin lost status by chaotic act; could not regain status. EVER, MAN! See Greyhawk supplement. 1e- If they perform a chaotic act, must confess and do penance. If evil act, cannot regain status. EVER. 2e- Same as 1e. Although it helpfully creates a rule because 1e had "knowingly commit" evil act, so 2e includes the whole, "You got charmed, yo, and now you have to atone!" So ... part of the problem, as it is with most things, is that weird translation from OD&D to 1e. "Chaotic" in OD&D meant, um, evil. Moorcockian. But by dragging out the whole different penalties in 1e/2e, it confused a lot of people, and (IME), most people just conflated the rules and made it, "If Evil, must atone." But contra what you are writing, and what MarkB is positing, these weren't the parts of the code that got people in trouble. There might have been some bad DMs out there, but as a general rule, the DM wasn't looking to strip you of your powers. Instead, and again IME, it was the rules about who the Paladin could party with ... um, who could be in the Paladin's party, that led to the whole "Jerky McJerkface telling the party what to do" reputation. That, and the fact that we all know Paladins suck and need to be excised from the game.

Wednesday, 14th February, 2018

  • 09:31 AM - Hussar mentioned MarkB in post Discovery Trailer
    I came to that conclusion maybe ten pages ago. These peeps need this show to be the best, actual show be damned! Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app Who says it needs to be best? I like it. I am not seeing the issues that you are pointing to, or, rather, the issues that are being pointed to are very much not issues for me. IOW, MarkB hits it square on the head. Like I said earlier, I get that people don't like the show. And that's groovy. There's stuff I haven't liked too. Fair enough. The difference is, I'm not jumping through hoop after hoop in order to justify my feelings. I'm not misinterpreting tropes in order to "prove" how bad Disco is. I'm not playing silly buggers cherry picking games to "prove" that they don't care about canon. I'm not trying to prove anything. I like the show. That's the end of that conversation.

Sunday, 4th February, 2018

  • 02:34 PM - pemerton mentioned MarkB in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...yle mystery scenario, getting the GM to read you bits of his/her notes is the whole point of play: get the clue from here, find the tome there, find the cultists' ritual headquaters, etc. This is all about learning what is in the GM's notes. It's not (or need not be) the GM reading a story: the sequence may not correspond to any particular pre-planned sequence, and there may not be any particular structure of rising action, complication, climax, etc. You also continually use examples of bad GMing to make your point that option 1 is a bad thing.Well, I make do with the examples I have. I don't believe that you've posted any actual play examples. (If you have, and I've missed them, I apologise - can you point me back to them?) The example of the map came (I think) from Lanefan - at least, it has been established in lengthy back-and-forth with him. The example of the plot on the Duke came from Lanefan. The example of the attempt to find bribeable officials came from MarkB. Are you saying that these are all examples of bad GMing? So what does good GMing look like, in this context? What is a good use of secretly-established fictional positioning being used by a GM to establish that a player's action declaration fails, without regard to the action resolution mechanics? A good GM will not send his players on a wild goose chase through the mansion for a map macguffin.So what would the pre-authorship be used for? Even the fiction that I've "pre-authored" can be impacted (or changed entirely if the situation calls for it) at any time by the players' actions - they are the heroes after all.Can you give an example of what you mean? For instance - and I am going to give an example I am familiar with, as I don't have much to go on from your game - I have a PC in my 4e game whose goal is to reconstruct the Rod of Seven Parts. He got the first part at the start of 2nd level. The campaign is now 30th level and he and his friends are in a fight that will de...

Friday, 2nd February, 2018

  • 12:35 PM - pemerton mentioned MarkB in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...shing a story of an orc. If the person asserts (as I think Emerikol does) that "As a player I only want to add those embellishments that correspond to causal powers exercised by my PC in the gameworld, so I will embellish deaths caused by my PC, but not maps discovered by my PC" that's his/her prerogative. It's a type of aesthetic preference. (As well as Emerikol, Lanefan has advocated it strongly in this thread.) My claims about it are two. (1) It is not more "realistic", or less "Schroedinger-y" than embellishing other parts of the fiction. (2) It means that a reasonable amount of your play experience will involve the GM telling you stuff that s/he made up (either in advance in his/her notes, or stuff that s/he makes up as needed but that is to be treated the same by the game participants as if it were part of his/her pre-authored notes). The reason for (2) I take to be obvious given the extensive discussion of it in this thread, and the example provided by Lanefan, MarkB and others. And the more the game involves "exploration" - that is, the players declaring actions which have, as an outcome, their PCs learning about the gameworld (eg opening doors, finding bribeable officials, searching for maps, etc) rather than their PCs changing the gameworld (eg by killing orcs or befriending strangers) - then the more that (2) will obtain. Furthermore, given that a PC's success in changing the gameworld often depends (in the imaginary causal processes) upon unknown but relevant factors (eg the armour of the orc; the temperament of the stranger) then even changing the gameworld through action declarations can become hostage to a resolution process that does not permit the player to embellish other elements of the shared fiction. For instance, if we go from player action declaration through resolution mechanics through embellishment that reflects outcome, then it is possible to have combat systems like D&D (AC, roll to hit, determine outcome from that) and h...

Thursday, 1st February, 2018

  • 12:38 AM - pemerton mentioned MarkB in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...GM, that's not counterindicative at all of having trust issues about the GM being unfair.The last sentence is not something I intend to reply to. I'm not interested in analysing my own conjectured self-doubts in this thread. As I've said, a more prosaic explanation for my preferences is available - my pleasure in RPGing does not come from telling my friends stuff that I wrote in response to them making moves for their PCs that oblige me to engage in such tellings. As for the first bit, you are correct that I "seem to couch [my] arguments from a position where the DM is uses secret knowledge and fiat in ways that benefit the DM's ideas over the players". The reason it seems like that is because it is like that. (I didn't clarify that in my first reply because I assumed it was obvious.) And the reason I couch my arguments (I would prefer to say "analysis", but that's orthogonal) from that position is because that position is correct. Which is what I said was evident in the post from MarkB: inherent in the use of secret backstory as a factor in adjudication is that the GM's ideas are given priority in establishing the content of the shared fiction. I'll respond to the following bit too, though, if you like, though I think it's repetition: a GM may be fair or unfair in saying (on the basis not of action resolution, but of secretly established fictional content) that the map is not in the study where the players have declared that the PCs are searching the study for it. If every other bit of information points to the map being in the study, it's probably unfair. If the PCs have a potion of map detecing with a range that will encompass the whole house (kitchen as well as study) but are not using it, then what the GM is doing is probably fair. I don't care whether it's fair or not. The reason I don't like it is because I find it uninteresting. When I RPG, I don't want to engage in an activity in which my friends are spending most of their time trying to establish - by ...

Monday, 29th January, 2018

  • 02:15 AM - pemerton mentioned MarkB in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...layer agency in a GM setting-driven game, as it was completely orthogonal from the GM's setting. (Eg we had fragments of a prophecy, and we spent a lot of time debating them, imagining how we could read various PCs into various roles outlined in the prophecy, etc. I assume that the GM had some conception, in his mind, of what the prophecy meant and how the events of play related to it, but they were absolutely irrelevant to what we players were talking about. We could have done our stuff just as easily if the GM had simply handed us three random prophecies downloaded from a Google search.) Clearly, you don't trust that players have any form of agency in any game that has substantive GM backstory and adjudication. You're denying that they do all over the place here and in your response to Lanefan. And you don't really seem to trust us when we say that player do have agency in the games we're running in which we do make use of substantial backstory and adjudication. Your response to MarkB here is fairly dripping with it. "you think it is" makes it very clear that you don't believe him or think it's true. It's like you're calling him out but acknowledge he's not technically lying because he seems to believe it's true.We're doing analysis here. Trying to dig down into the processes of play is not "calling someone out". I don't think MarkB is lying. I do think that the suggestion that I don't trust GMs is (i) false, and (ii) irrelevant - as if the only reason someone would play DungeonWorld rather than 2nd ed AD&D is because they don't trust GMs! But anyway, on to the issue of agency: Here is one of my assertions - if the GM is entitled, at any point in the process of resolution to (i) secretly author backstory, or (ii) secrety rewrite backstory, and (iii) to use that secret backstory as if it was part of the fictional positioning so as to (iv) automatically declare an action declaration unsuccessful ("No, the map's not in the study") - then I assert that every acti...

Saturday, 20th January, 2018

  • 05:00 AM - pemerton mentioned MarkB in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    In many ways, they do the same thing, it’s just the puzzle is a little different, less constrictive, and possibly more complex. Instead of a relatively simple puzzle of doping out the best way to maximize treasure within a single dungeon, they might be working on visiting all of the adventuring sites in the region, foiling the impending invasion of the orcsish legion, stopping the predation of a wicked dragon, or just visiting interesting places.The last of these doesn't sound like a puzzle at all. As for the others, as I posted not far upthread (in response to Sadras and MarkB), I'm curious about how the puzzle-solving works, when there are so many (imaginary) elements in play which can introduce parameters to the puzzle to which the players have no access (in practical terms). I don’t see those as unsolvable, but then I don’t really buy into describing RPG gaming, even limited to dungeon crawls, as puzzles to solve. Unless the puzzle is figuring out how to have fun pretending to be a halfling Paladin or half-orc summoner.Right. As the OP said, I think puzzle-solving play is not so common in contemporary RPGing. Given that it's not, then, what is worldbuilding for?

Thursday, 18th January, 2018

  • 11:39 PM - Lanefan mentioned MarkB in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...e notes on any of it. Having it pre-designed even if just in broad strokes makes the describing so much easier. Particularly at the start of the campaign when the players in theory know much less about the game world than their PCs do (canon lawyers for pre-fab settings notwithstanding) the DM has a lot of describing to do and as a side effect of that description is going to drop the PCs into a particular setting be it a steamy jungle, a city based on ancient Athens, a snowy Viking camp, or a pleasant sunny farm village. You'd probably call this railroading, but how else can it work? Of course, that's just the start; if the PCs in the Viking camp immediately decide to go someplace warmer then the DM has to react to that. (one hopes she has a broad-strokes regional or continental map showing areas beyond a short radius around the camp!) Are you able to say more about how you see the GM's work on the setting in advance of play feeding through to give the players that sense? MarkB might see it differently, but for my part it's much easier to figure out a character's motivations, beliefs, goals, etc. when there's a culture (or cultures) and common history to fit into. If, say, the setting history shows that our starting town was devastated by a war ten years ago and since rebuilt, that's going to influence my character and what she thinks; and probably influence other characters as well. But if the starting history shows no such war it's not our place as players to just add it in. We have no right to, as world design is not in our purview. And if there's no pre-designed history then what's the point? What happened before our PCs became PCs? What major events shaped their lives? (it should be obvious but I'd better mention: the DM sets the event but the player chooses what influence it had on her character, if any). Lanefan

Thursday, 28th December, 2017

  • 04:08 AM - ArchfiendBobbie mentioned MarkB in post Han Solo movie incoming....
    MarkB I thought Force Awakens: Incredible Cross Sections was canon due to being written and published after Disney acquired Star Wars?
  • 03:31 AM - ArchfiendBobbie mentioned MarkB in post Han Solo movie incoming....
    MarkB Maybe. But if so, that's a retcon of the Falcon's history. It was originally a freight pusher for orbit; that's why it had the cockpit to the side instead of the YT-standard central cockpit.

Saturday, 23rd December, 2017

  • 02:05 AM - Hussar mentioned MarkB in post Tension, Threats And Progression In RPGs
    Yeah, I gotta go with MarkB on this one. What's the point of trying to draw boxes around whether something is a "game" or not. Like any genre discussion, it's ultimately a deep, deep dive down a dark rabbit hole. And, I would also point out that I don't think anyone has advocated completely taking death off the table either. Just making it a bit more rare.

Friday, 8th December, 2017

  • 03:27 PM - redrick mentioned MarkB in post Losing HP as you level up
    I usually forget that one even can roll for hit points on leveling up. I doubt it's something the designers give much thought to as well. Agree with MarkB, incentivizing rolling for hp would be counterproductive — average hp should be the preferred option. Easier to keep track of, doesn't lead to pointless power differential between characters, takes nothing away from the RP. If rolling for hp, on average, gave you better results, we'd have players groaning and complaining when I said, "and we'll all just take average hp on level up." With the average being statistically better, nobody even notices that rolling for it is gone after a level or two. (If they ever noticed at all.) Roll dice for PC actions. Live with the consequences. But why randomize the squishiness of a character?

Sunday, 17th April, 2016

  • 11:54 PM - Quickleaf mentioned MarkB in post Hard sci-fi question: rotational artificial gravity space station
    ...the questions I'm trying to determine. How high up do you have to climb a building for there to be noticeable change in gravity. I think it would affect how high-rise type buildings were constructed, since the shearing forces (might be using the wrong term) between regular G and lower-G would require stronger building materials. Plus it might suggest activities happening at the upper levels of high-rise buildings would be substantially different...for example moving construction activities to the lower-G zones for increased efficiency. RangerWickett Really helpful on how to visualize entering at the zero-G "fixed" axis and seeing the entire station spin around you. I suspected some kind of shuttle or elevator would be necessary, but hadn't conceived of exactly why... I plugged a 500 m radius in and got a Tangential Velocity (or "rim speed") of 156 mph, which would be "splat your dead" for anyone moving or falling from the zero-G axis to the ground...in scientific terms :) MarkB That's another one of my questions. I mean, nothing we throw on Earth actually travels straight, technically. But in the rotational artificial G environment I'm wondering if it would be more obvious...or would it basically be a case of "throwing a baseball while in a moving car"? In other words, if everything/everyone is rotating at the same rate in relation to each other, there doesn't appear to be any change from Earth-standard gravity (assuming 1 g centripetal acceleration). But what happens if I punt a football down a field or fire a railgun at the elevator/shuttle tube along the central axis when the station is rotating at 1.3 rpms and the rim is spinning at 156 mph?

Friday, 30th October, 2015

  • 09:13 PM - El Mahdi mentioned MarkB in post Warlord Name Poll
    ...epithet; @erf_beto ; @Eric V ; @eryndel ; @Evenglare ; @ExploderWizard ; @EzekielRaiden; @Fedge123 ; @fendak ; @FireLance ; @Fishing_Minigame ; @Flamestrike ; @FLexor the Mighty! ; @Forged Fury ; @Fragsie ; @Fralex ; @FreeTheSlaves ; @froth ; @Gadget; @Galendril ; @GameOgre ; @Garthanos ; @Ghost Matter ; @Giltonio_Santos ; @Gimul; @GMforPowergamers ; @Gnashtooth ; @Green1 ; @GreenKarl ; @Greg K ; @GreyLord; @Grimmjow ; @Grydan ; @GX.Sigma ; @Halivar ; @HEEGZ ; @Hemlock ; @Henry ; @Herobizkit; @Hussar; @IchneumonWasp ; @I'm A Banana ; @Imaro ; @Iosue ; @Irennan ; @JackOfAllTirades; @jacktannery ; @jadrax ; @Jaelommiss ; @JamesTheLion ; @JamesonCourage ; @JasonZZ; @jayoungr ; @JediGamemaster ; @JeffB ; @Jester Canuck ; @jgsugden ; @jodyjohnson; @Joe Liker ; @JohnLynch ; @Johnny3D3D ; @KarinsDad ; @kerbarian ; @kerleth ; @Kinak; @KingsRule77 ; @Kirfalas ; @Kobold Stew ; @koga305 ; @Lanefan ; @Lanliss ; @Leatherhead; @Libramarian ; @Li Shenron ; @LuisCarlos17f ; @lowkey13 ; @Manbearcat ; @MarkB; @MechaPilot ; @Mecheon ; @mellored ; @Mephista ; @Mercule ; @MG.0 ; @MichaelSomething; @Miladoon ; @Minigiant ; @Mishihari Lord ; @Mistwell ; @MoogleEmpMog ; @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; @shead...

Wednesday, 15th July, 2015


Saturday, 29th November, 2014

  • 09:03 PM - Stormonu mentioned MarkB in post Star Wars The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer is now live!
    R2 and 3PO are both still in it. They haven't been replaced. That's good to know. MarkB - On the Death Star, they're low in the trench, but not as ridiculously low over the lake. Yeah, you can fly real-life jets ridiculously low, but the over-the-topness bothers me.

Sunday, 9th November, 2014

  • 08:21 AM - Jester David mentioned MarkB in post Doctor Who s8e12: Death in Heaven [spoilers]
    My wife says Danny shot her to save the Doctor getting his hands dirty. I'll have to rewatch. Like MarkB I assumed it was the Cyberman assumed to be the Brigadier keeping the Doctor's hands clean. But the FX did look more like a teleport. They could have just reused the SFX (those are pricey) or deliberately used that one to allow room to bring back the Master. But, while neat, the Brigadier semi-returning felt deux ex machnica. (Heh. A deus ex machina cyberman. Heh.) It was kinda foreshadowed and it makes total sense but it's so abrupt. Still, any excuse to namedrop Lethbridge-Stewart is fine by me. I liked the mutual lying at the end. Such a different way for companions departing. Despite being extra long it felt like there were some bits missing. I felt there was a scene missing between the graveyard and Clara's room where the Doctor explains that someone could come back. Likely cut for time/pacing but awkward from a story purpose. But I liked Danny sacrificing his life to return the boy he killed. That was such a nice bit of his overall character arc. Perhaps that's a...

Saturday, 4th October, 2014

  • 01:22 AM - JEB mentioned MarkB in post Replacing Use Magic Device
    Thanks for the replies, all! I like where this is going, a "jury-rigging" or "MacGyver" ability. MarkB, that's an excellent start, though it'll need to be streamlined and modified to be more 5E-like. (For starters, I'd probably drop the skill check and just require a certain length of time.) I'll try and take a stab at it myself later this weekend (not happening right now), but if anyone else wants to develop this further... As a sidenote, in this situation, I could see Use Magic Device sticking around as a feat. Mainly because feats are supposed to represent an unusual or exceptional talent (as opposed to UMD being something any Thief can do).

Sunday, 13th July, 2014

  • 06:59 PM - gyor mentioned MarkB in post Thaumaturgy Cantrip.
    Its a Cleric/Tiefling spell, not a Wizard spell, although if the wizard is a Tiefling, Multiclass Cleric, or has a feat that allows him to take a Cleric cantrip he can use it. MarkB good list.


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Wednesday, 10th October, 2018

  • 08:14 PM - Satyrn quoted MarkB in post Unearthed Arcana: Magic Items of Eberron
    I always wondered how people could get so passionate in their opinions about certain supplements. I genuinely hadn't considered that they might actually be in an intimate sexual relationship with them. Well, there was a certain book back in 3e . . .

Monday, 8th October, 2018


Wednesday, 3rd October, 2018

  • 09:39 AM - UngeheuerLich quoted MarkB in post Do you allow Acrobatics and Athletics to be used interchangeably?
    I think part of the issue is that Acrobatics tends to sound like a very good skill for dextrous characters, whose players imagine them performing all sorts of acrobatic bounds and tumbles, but in actual play it tends to have far fewer applications than expected. Anything involving climbing or jumping is purely Athletics, and anything which involves maintaining balance in the face of adversity is as likely to be a Dexterity saving throw as an Acrobatics check. I actually really like the idea of dropping Acrobatics entirely, and allowing Athletics to be used as a Strength or Dexterity skill as appropriate. Many people say Str is useless because there is only one skill that depends on it. The opposite is actually true. Athletic ia a powerful feat which cam be applied in many situations. Dex skills are more splitted up. Acrobatics gets you past an opponent and allows to run over the rooftop. It might also get you up if it involves minor jumps or changes of direction. I'd also allow you to...

Monday, 1st October, 2018

  • 03:52 PM - Ralif Redhammer quoted MarkB in post Proof that PHB +1 is a completely unneeded rule
    As someone who plays and runs AL games, this. I find that for as straightforward as AL rules are, people still manage to mess it up. Having this solid baseline, though, generally makes for an even playing field where you don’t need to worry about someone showing up with some broken nonsense at the table. It provides that much more ease of character portability. Or to put it another way, the potential number of combinations increases exponentially for each additional source allowed, and the chance of some odd overpowered combination slipping through the cracks does likewise.

Saturday, 29th September, 2018

  • 07:34 PM - Satyrn quoted MarkB in post Damage at 0 hp / Massive damage clarification?
    Here's an oddity, though. The Instant Death rule only applies when an attack reduces you to 0 hp - which can't happen if you're already there. If that second attack hits, and deals damage equal or higher than the character's maximum hit points, it will not be instantly fatal. At most, it will instantly inflict two failed Death saves due to being a critical hit, leaving the character with one more remaining before death. as Ristamar says. But don't feel bad, I never noticed that until this thread, too. And Quickleaf, are you essentially asking if everything in a multiattack counts as a "single" attack?
  • 06:48 PM - Ristamar quoted MarkB in post Damage at 0 hp / Massive damage clarification?
    Here's an oddity, though. The Instant Death rule only applies when an attack reduces you to 0 hp - which can't happen if you're already there. If that second attack hits, and deals damage equal or higher than the character's maximum hit points, it will not be instantly fatal. At most, it will instantly inflict two failed Death saves due to being a critical hit, leaving the character with one more remaining before death. Unfortunately, that is incorrect. Here's the exact text from the PHB, p. 197: Damage at 0 Hit Points If you take any damage while you have 0 hit points, you suffer a death saving throw failure. If the damage is from a critical hit, you suffer two failures instead. If the damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum, you suffer instant death. EDIT: Which is the exact text Quickleaf already had placed in his initial post. Ugh. I need more sleep.

Wednesday, 26th September, 2018

  • 11:02 PM - Hriston quoted MarkB in post Does (or should) the halfling “lucky” ability apply when the DM is making the roll?
    Guidance has a short duration, but it's also a cantrip, so it can be re-cast as often as necessary, if the character isn't otherwise engaged. While the ranger is leading the party through the wilderness, the cleric can be plodding along next to him, praying for guidance. Besides, it's thematic. When better to use a spell called guidance than when you're trying to find your way? If the cleric's player declares an action to continually cast and concentrate on the spell for the duration of the episode of travel, which would preclude the cleric from doing other travel-related tasks, including keeping watch for hidden threats, then I'd certainly allow the bonus to apply to the ranger's passive Survival score.
  • 10:56 PM - Hriston quoted MarkB in post Does (or should) the halfling “lucky” ability apply when the DM is making the roll?
    What's to stop them from doing it once they hit the next map hex? That's exactly how it would go in my game because I resolve travel one hex at a time, so if there's uncertainty as to whether the party successfully travels in the desired direction and enters the adjoining hex that lies in that direction, a navigation check is used to resolve that. If the check fails, a different adjoining hex is entered. I always let the party successfully navigate a hex they've already explored, so retracing their steps would be trivial. Unless every one of your terrain areas is deep valleys or dense forest, they'll be able to tell they're lost sooner or later, just from surrounding landmarks such as rivers, coastlines and mountains. Yes, and that sort of thing is just fine. I'm just looking for some variation in outcomes. Ultimately, if you're going to run a campaign in this style, you need buy-in from your players. If they're happy to wander off the beaten path, take the road less travelled, find t...
  • 04:26 PM - Hriston quoted MarkB in post Does (or should) the halfling “lucky” ability apply when the DM is making the roll?
    Guidance comes to mind as being borderline at best. Since a passive check involves no action on the part of the character, how would they choose to apply it to the check? It also just feels like a weird fit. Passive checks represent a character's base level of competence when they're not actively pursuing a task, and a game that's centred upon exploration in which the characters take no active role in navigation just doesn't feel right. I disagree that the "passive" in passive check implies any passivity on the part of the character. It simply means the check is made without the player rolling dice. It's still an ability check, so when guidance says you can "add the number rolled to one ability check", a passive check can be considered fair game by the rules. Clearly, I'm describing a player declaring that their character is actively navigating during a specific episode of travel. Because the declared action is one that is continuous over the course of the journey, and because I want to ke...

Tuesday, 25th September, 2018

  • 02:23 PM - Hriston quoted MarkB in post Does (or should) the halfling “lucky” ability apply when the DM is making the roll?
    The difference is that the stealth check was always opposed. With the navigation check, you're switching from a random check against a fixed DC to a fixed check against a random DC. The outcome is the same, except for the part where it invalidates the tools players may have to influence a random check. Effectively, you're reducing player choices for the sake of a purely semantic distinction between rolling secretly for the players and rolling secretly against the players. Yes, I’m going to try turning navigation into a contest in my games. At the same time, I’m going to make it a passive check. As you note, the game already has passive contests in the form of Stealth/Perception checks. I haven’t made an exhaustive study of which PC features could potentially be used to influence a rolled ability check but can’t be used to influence a passive check. The halfling's "Lucky" trait is one that I think we agree wouldn't apply. I don't have a problem with that because with a passive check the hal...
  • 08:43 AM - Li Shenron quoted MarkB in post An "Insightful" Question
    I found the original post to be a bit confusing, so I am not sure I'm answering the actual question here... I think there can be problems depending on what kind of rolling procedure the DM chooses to use, so choose wisely :) In the scenario when an NPC is talking (possibly lying), the DM usually makes a Deception roll in secret, or no roll at all if there is no lie. Then there is a first choice: the DM may decide to give the PC a chance at spotting the lie only if the player declares so, or she may decide to give that chance anyway, just like you often get a Perception roll to notice something even without asking. Whatever the choice here I don't think it affects the problem much. On the other hand, when an Insight check is rolled, the DM can choose to roll herself (hidden) or have the player roll (in the open). Quite obviously, if you want to make sure the player won't metagame after seeing the check result, then just do not let the player roll in the open, but have the DM make ...
  • 12:08 AM - Hriston quoted MarkB in post Does (or should) the halfling “lucky” ability apply when the DM is making the roll?
    Yeah, switching things from active checks by the players against a set DC to passive checks versus an opposed roll is effectively just bringing in rolling-secretly-for-the-players by the back door. At that point you may as well just roll the players' checks secretly, because it amounts to exactly the same thing. Fair enough, although I don't think there's much difference between rolling for a creature's DEX (Stealth) check versus a PC's passive Perception and rolling for the terrain's navigation DC versus a PC's passive Survival. The point is that it's a passive check because it involves hidden information. Obviously, a DM can run navigation checks without hiding information.

Monday, 24th September, 2018

  • 09:49 PM - Hriston quoted MarkB in post Does (or should) the halfling “lucky” ability apply when the DM is making the roll?
    It's impossible for Lucky to apply to a passive check, because a passive check doesn't involve a roll on the part of the character. They are treated as having rolled a 10. It's also worth noting that Survival checks for navigation are generally taken against a set DC - the DM decides how difficult the task of navigating the current set of terrain is, and the character rolls to beat that DC. Using characters' passive skills does not change that. If you're using characters' passive skills for navigation, then if their passive Survival score is equal or higher than your set DC they'll succeed every time, and if it's lower they'll fail every time. If you change things up by using the characters' passive checks and making an opposed check against them, you're effectively treating the terrain as though it were a living opponent trying to outmatch them - much as would be the case with a creature using Stealth to hide from them. Yes, this is one of the misgivings I have about using passive Surviv...
  • 11:38 AM - Rya.Reisender quoted MarkB in post Does (or should) the halfling “lucky” ability apply when the DM is making the roll?
    In a game that focuses on exploration, though, a failed navigation check isn't necessarily wasted time - it's just an unexpected destination. The PCs don't end up where they were expecting, but they still find themselves in a new place, facing new challenges. Sure that's another possibility. I mean if I had some material for it or a good idea, I'd probably put the encounter into a nice location. Again, depends strongly on what the players want to accomplish. Like if they really want to go to dungeon X, then I usually wouldn't force them to go through a completely different dungeon just because of a failed Survival check. And if it was all about exploration without any particular goal, you might cause your players wanting to fail survival rolls because that brings them to random interesting locations then! Probably would make more sense the other way around. Successful survival roll makes them find a location of interest in the area, otherwise they don't find anything and have to move on. O...

Friday, 21st September, 2018

  • 06:08 PM - Celebrim quoted MarkB in post An "Insightful" Question
    The one that always troubles me is when a suspicious player badly fumbles an insight check made against someone who's actually being truthful. Do they think the person is lying? And since the player knows they've rolled poorly, how much effort do you go to in order to keep the metagame knowledge out of that reaction? I think the answer here is make that insight check behind the screen and report the results to the player. The player should not know that they failed an insight check. The character doesn't know that they failed an insight check, so why should the player have that knowledge? With that change, all problems go away.

Thursday, 20th September, 2018

  • 08:12 PM - 5ekyu quoted MarkB in post An "Insightful" Question
    The one that always troubles me is when a suspicious player badly fumbles an insight check made against someone who's actually being truthful. Do they think the person is lying? And since the player knows they've rolled poorly, how much effort do you go to in order to keep the metagame knowledge out of that reaction? Passive insight is also a potential stumbling block here. Does it provide a baseline below which a player cannot fail when making an active check? Or, by making an active check, does the act of effectively second-guessing themselves mean that they forego the passive check result?Fwiw in my games players always roll PAR so there are no hidden rolls. I tell them "you can interpret the roll as an indicator of confidence if you wish" because there are a thousand intangibles to every scene that can lead you to "this is a poor low confidence result or a "yeah i got this". The catch is on a failure they know they might get good results with a setback... Maybe their insight was dead ...
  • 02:11 AM - iserith quoted MarkB in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    Skill checks aren't just about what you're doing. They can also be about what you know, or what you perceive. That's especially true of passive checks. I get that you don't want the DM to declare what your character is doing. Do you get that a DM can be implementing skills in such a way that calling for a check doesn't dictate what the character is doing, especially when those checks involve things like knowledge and senses that may be independent of any specific volition on the character's part? There are no "skill checks" in D&D 5e. There are ability checks which may or may not have a skill proficiency applied to them. Ability checks are necessarily resolving an action by the character. That is the definition of an ability check as I point out here. Passive checks are just a special kind of ability check that doesn't involve any die rolls. If the DM is calling for an ability check and I have not declared an action, the DM is establishing that my character has done something that has an ...
  • 12:11 AM - iserith quoted MarkB in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    That's only half of what the rules say they're for. The other half is "when the DM wants to secretly determine whether the characters succeed at something without rolling dice, such as noticing a hidden monster." Yep, that is correct. It still doesn't say the DM can ask me to make a check without me describing what I want to do. So the DM can feel free to resolve my described action with a passive check if he or she wants to keep it secret. He or she still can't say what my character is doing.

Tuesday, 18th September, 2018

  • 08:21 PM - Satyrn quoted MarkB in post Most Outlandish Creative Non-sense You Ever Thought Up.
    Also, as background for the same campaign, Bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies were a front for a secret project to develop a true distributed AI. The blockchain algorithms masked hidden code that distributed the extremely complex mathematical number-crunching across the entire world, creating the first true AI, who went on to become a minor antagonist in the campaign. So, you're saying the Bitcoin AI . . . became a bit player 101527

Monday, 17th September, 2018

  • 11:04 PM - robus quoted MarkB in post Running an actual heist?
    XP to @Umbran for mentioning Leverage. I've only played one session of it, but it's very well-suited to this. As I recall, one thing in particular that it incorporates which is a staple of the genre but very difficult to pull off in a traditional D&D game is the fake-out ending - that point in every heist movie where it seems like the bad guy's won and the good guys have all been caught, and then it turns out to have all been part of the plan. Effectively, if the players earn enough 'plot coupons' during the execution of the heist, they can retcon in some extra piece of planning or deception that will get them out of trouble during the endgame. I’ve not looked at Leverage yet (and it sounds cool!), but as for “plot coupons” one could interpret inspiration in this way perhaps. The players during planning or execution could accumulate inspiration such that it could be used as a pool in order to finagle a clever escape at the end? How many plot coupons equivalents are we talking? :)


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