View Profile: Lord_Blacksteel - D&D, Pathfinder, and RPGs at Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
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About Lord_Blacksteel
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Long-time gamer & DM, for current info see the blog at http://towerofzenopus.blogspot.com/
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DFW
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Fort Worth
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Texas
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USA
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I am a 30 year RPG'er, miniature gamer, and board wargamer. I started with Holmes Basic D&D and worked my way through most of the major systems to come along since then. I have been a DM for much of that time, particularly with 3rd & 4th edition D&D,though with some Star Wars d20, Rifts, Shadowrun, M&M, Icons, and Traveller in there too.

I currently have a stable group of 4-6 players most of whom have been playing together since at least the early 3rd edition days. Current games are mainly Pathfinder though we also have occasional other games as well as schedules permit.

The big things in 2015 are running PF Wrath of the Righteous for the main group and playing in a Kingmaker campaign. The 4E game has come to a hiatus until schedules sort out but we will return to it at some point. We've tried 5th but aren't really planning to make it the focus of our main campaign. Also: 40K
More information:
http://towerofzenopus.blogspot.com/
My Character:
I have been the DM for 90% of the last 15 years, but I have played a shield-bashing 3.5 barbarian for the sheer mayhem he could cause. I have also since then played a knockdown specialist fighter and a battle cleric in 4E, a cavalier in Pathfinder, and a Necromancer in 5th.

If you're looking for a game or a player, send me a message!

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In Search of the World of Greyhawk Wednesday, 13th June, 2018 04:15 PM

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Today 12:33 AM
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Saturday, 23rd June, 2007
Home Page
http://towerofzenopus.blogspot.com/
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My Game Details
Town:
Fort Worth
State:
Texas
Country:
USA
Game Details:
I am a 30 year RPG'er, miniature gamer, and board wargamer. I started with Holmes Basic D&D and worked my way through most of the major systems to come along since then. I have been a DM for much of that time, particularly with 3rd & 4th edition D&D,though with some Star Wars d20, Rifts, Shadowrun, M&M, Icons, and Traveller in there too.

I currently have a stable group of 4-6 players most of whom have been playing together since at least the early 3rd edition days. Current games are mainly Pathfinder though we also have occasional other games as well as schedules permit.

The big things in 2015 are running PF Wrath of the Righteous for the main group and playing in a Kingmaker campaign. The 4E game has come to a hiatus until schedules sort out but we will return to it at some point. We've tried 5th but aren't really planning to make it the focus of our main campaign. Also: 40K
More information:
http://towerofzenopus.blogspot.com/
My Character:
I have been the DM for 90% of the last 15 years, but I have played a shield-bashing 3.5 barbarian for the sheer mayhem he could cause. I have also since then played a knockdown specialist fighter and a battle cleric in 4E, a cavalier in Pathfinder, and a Necromancer in 5th.

If you're looking for a game or a player, send me a message!

Wednesday, 13th June, 2018


Tuesday, 5th June, 2018


Sunday, 5th November, 2017

  • 09:16 AM - pemerton mentioned Lord_Blacksteel in post Loops in RPG Adventure and Game Design
    Most of us have read RPGs that are all about story, or all about combat (4e D&D?), or even all about politics. These are fine for people who want to focus on that kind of core loop, and not worthwhile for others.To be honest, this makes me wonder whether you have any experience of, or even first-hand knowledge of, 4e. Here is a link to just one actual play post from my main 4e campaign. It describes exploration and fighting. You'll see that much (not all) of the fighting is itself "story", in the sense that the opposition between the PCs and their opponents isn't based purely on expedience but is groudned in the deep commitments of each. Upthread, Lord_Blacksteel said that the "core loop" in modern D&D is rolling the d20. As a variant on that conjecture, I would say that the core loop in 4e is the same as the core loop in any "indie" RPG: the PC (and thus the player) is confronted with some obstacle to getting what s/he wants, and the player therefore has to declare an action for the PC that might overcome that obstacle. And rolling the d20 is central to resolution of those action declarations. I'm wary of the RPGs as novels or movies comparison. Similar tools like tension and release in storytelling definitely fit in, as do plot arcs of some sort, but the problem with a novel or movie is that the authors have freedom to do what they want for the most part. If it makes sense in the story, a character might just die abruptly. RPGs can play in a similar fashion - as in, a necessary condition of a character dying abruptly is that it makes sense in the story. How that story is established is the key to this. 4e actually comes closest to this...

Tuesday, 17th October, 2017

  • 05:14 PM - lowkey13 mentioned Lord_Blacksteel in post Is 5e Basically Becoming Pathfinder 2e?
    Lord_Blacksteel pming I think the Lord Blacksteel had some good points. I'm going to throw in another option- Why not just advertise a throwback game? Just run a OSR/Retroclone/BECMI/1e game? It may appeal to your desire to get back to basics, and appeal to some players who want to try something "new," (or, at least, new to them!). Depending on how that works, you could migrate to a stripped-down 5e game, and then (maybe) if you are comfortable with it, expand the options. (FWIW, I migrated my grognard group to 5e. We started as bare-bones as can be; we still don't play with MC because REASONS, but we have allowed in selective feats, and those have worked out well.)

Thursday, 29th December, 2016

  • 08:42 PM - aramis erak mentioned Lord_Blacksteel in post Looking Forward At The Year To Come In Tabletop RPGs
    Lord_Blacksteel It's not like people are paying attention... FFG stated their intention to do a new L5R RPG in their initial announcement, and yet people are going all chicken little about no mention of it, while ignoring that it's right there on their web page for L5R... Starfinder, however, seems to be aimed at the Dragonstar/Spelljammer crowd, IE "multiworld Fantasy with sailing ships in space", rather than the Space Fantasy ala Star Wars or Battle Beyond the Stars. Or 40K. And there's a lot of technofantasy. Things like resurgences of Space 1889, Deadlands, and (dare I say it) Dresden Files...

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Wednesday, 13th June, 2018


Saturday, 9th June, 2018

  • 08:02 PM - dumdragon quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post Keep These Tools in Your Real-Life Bag of Holding
    Solve two problems at once - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/643710787/stat-trackers-a-gm-accessory-for-5e-dungeons-and-d They are incredibly useful - glad I backed the Kickstarter but you should be able to order them separately now. I know James and these are great. You can find them here. https://www.topdoggames.net/shop-1 I have a couple large vinyl mats and some colored markers I use for most setups. Like many here I have way too many minis and need a portable hole to transport them. I also use a magnetic board with movable counters for conditions and hit points

Tuesday, 5th June, 2018

  • 08:14 AM - R_Chance quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post Pathfinder 2 Preview: Downtime
    It's amazing that people writing or commenting about a Pathfinder announcement seem to have little knowledge of the game. "Ultimate Campaign" came out in 2013 so it's been a published Pathfinder thing for 5 years now. It's 50+ pages of systems on how to make money or build things or accomplish goals outside of the usual turns/rounds type structure. It comes up a lot in Kingmaker campaigns that I see and it's included in some parts of the Wrath of the Righteous AP along with the mass combat system too. There are certainly ways to exploit it and there are some loose ends that have been discussed online but it's an interesting set of options if you want to give your players some concrete ways to do things outside of straight-up dungeoneering or plot-following. As far as "how would this work in play?" - well, it's been working for some groups for years now. I expect it's been popular enough that Paizo is building it in to the core game to give them a framework to hang some additional options on as the...

Sunday, 18th February, 2018

  • 10:03 PM - dbm quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post Gallant Knight Games Designing 2nd Edition of WEG’s D6 System
    Finally - "generic" game systems are not doing great right now. Savage Worlds is the only one I can think of offhand and that's mainly because of Deadlands and the other strong settings/campaigns available for it. How big is GURPS right now? Hero? Most systems used in multiple games (and doing well) emphasize the individual games more than the system: It's Conan, Star Trek, Mutant Chronicles, etc., not just "The 2d20 system". It's FFG's Star Wars, L5R, etc. not just "The Funky Dice System". I think this would do a lot better if it was tied to a setting and not just sold a standalone rules system. Just my $.02 Ironically, FFG has just released Genesys, which is indeed ‘the funky dice system’ and has pretty much sold out the first print run immediately. Cortex Prime kickstarted last April and ended up with over 2700 backers. So there is still demand for generic systems out there. Whether this will be a good addition to the stable remains to be seen.

Tuesday, 13th February, 2018

  • 01:58 AM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post Whatever Happened to D&D's Underdog?
    0 level characters were never particularly popular as a whole. Certain groups or individual players thought they were great but mostly what they did was extend the amount of time you spent playing an incompetent, fragile, character with little combat power or magic ability and that's really not why a lot of us play the game. There's nothing wrong with options but this type of character is really not the focus of D&D in the rules or in the published adventures or in the fiction that has grown up around the game or even in the fiction that inspired the game as was noted in the article. I don't really remember anyone back in the D&D or AD&D days saying "hey I'd really like to spend more time as 1st level characters". Definitely. It could be really unpleasant to put a good bit of work into a character only to have them bite the dust due to one lucky hit. I recall starting most characters at 2nd level when I was playing a lower level game just so they could take more of a beating. Depending on the game w...

Monday, 5th February, 2018

  • 08:58 PM - WayneLigon quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post Why Didn't Harry Potter Change the Game?
    Big-name licensing has been tricky in the RPG world for a long time and I suspect that's a factor here too - on top of the author's rejection, of course. - In the middle of Lord of the Rings movies we had the one short-lived Decipher RPG and then nothing for 7-8 years. - In the middle of the Marvel Cinematic explosion we had the one MWP Marvel RPG for not even a year and nothing new since - Reasonably and perpetually popular Star Trek had no active RPG after 2003 and even after the new movie series started up in 2009 there was no RPG until last year. This is despite all of these universes having long-lived, successful RPGs in the 80's and into the 90's for some. I think the IP holders have become far more strict about terms and costs have surely increased. I agree that Harry Potter is a huge missed opportunity, particularly regarding potential new players. I'm not sure there's any reason to be more optimistic about this changing right now. Maybe if there's a new book or movie series ...

Thursday, 28th December, 2017

  • 11:43 AM - aramis erak quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post View From The Rifts: Looking At Palladium's Rifts Role-Playing Game
    "Rifts is complicated, both to GM and play." I would disagree. The game itself is not that complicated, being roughly comparable to second edition D&D. The fact that it has a large number of character options really doesn't matter once you start playing as it doesn't really do multiclassing nor does it have a feat or advantage type system so you're pretty much just running down the list of levels as you advance. Skills are a straight-up percentage chance to do something so there are not a lot of complicating factors there either. By the book, Rifts is pretty straightforward. FAR simpler than AD&D, either edition. If you try to fight the rules, if you try to make them make sense, if you try to turn them into a unified mechanics type of game, then it gets tricky real fast. A lot of us tried to do this over the years and if you can get to something that makes you and your players happy then it can be fun but the simplest answer may be to just let go and stick with the rules as written and only...
  • 04:28 AM - Guang quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post View From The Rifts: Looking At Palladium's Rifts Role-Playing Game
    they released a whole bunch of sourcebooks which cover the main world, other worlds, other dimensions, and even other time periods. There are at least 70 supporting books for Rifts. This is exactly what my question is about. I've run into a few of those books over the years, and they always left me puzzled as to the underlying structure of Reality According to Rifts. Is there some kind of chart, or even a several-page explanation somewhere that would tie all of these worlds, dimensions, and time periods together into some kind of averarching multiversal structure?

Wednesday, 20th December, 2017

  • 03:12 AM - Corrosive quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post EN World in the Top 100 RPG Blogs
    So what's the story here? Over at Tenkar's Tavern they have looked at Feedspot and it appears you have to pay to receive this "award". Comments? No you don't. As it takes two seconds to figure out. Thank the known harrasser for his deep-felt concern though.

Tuesday, 19th December, 2017

  • 07:55 PM - Morrus quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post EN World in the Top 100 RPG Blogs
    So what's the story here? Over at Tenkar's Tavern they have looked at Feedspot and it appears you have to pay to receive this "award". Comments? Oh, is it that time again? No, you do not.

Monday, 18th December, 2017


Friday, 1st December, 2017

  • 11:02 PM - Shiroiken quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post Is there any 5e love for skill challenges??
    That's quite the opposite of my experience - giving the "less social" player a mechanical element to work with pulled them in far more than asking them to improvise. Probably depends on the player. Depends on the DM. My first 4E DM assumed that players had to explain what they were doing, not just rolling dice. Even experienced role-players had a hard time coming up with arguments for our 4th and 5th checks. Less social players had a hard time coming up with one. I did play in a different group that just rolled out skill challenges. For a Watcher this might have been good, but as a Roleplayer, it was totally disconnected with anything going on in the game. We just rolled dice and the DM told us if we passed or failed, and the consequences. Innovation and RP was strictly discouraged, especially when it broke the skill challenge (such as when I figured out a riddle long before we succeeded in the skill challenge to solve it).
  • 05:01 PM - 5ekyu quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post Is there any 5e love for skill challenges??
    Yes, there's definitely a place for them. Don't expect people who are unfamiliar with 4E to understand what you're doing the first time you use one but they are another useful tool in the toolbox. Also don't overlook the "Group Check" in the 5E skills chapter. I have used that quite a bit more in play than I ever expected to. Including those in a skill challenge type framework is fun too. That's quite the opposite of my experience - giving the "less social" player a mechanical element to work with pulled them in far more than asking them to improvise. Probably depends on the player. i agree... the mechanical involvement adds a chance for a player otherwise not involved to get involved and gain a stake.

Wednesday, 15th November, 2017

  • 09:15 PM - Sacrosanct quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post They Broke Arcane Archer!!!
    Well, it's nice to see that in response to me advising you to avoid fallacies, you doubled down on the strawmen. Also, I'm not sure you know what the word "fallacy" means, by how you use it. To go with your football analogy, have you ever heard a team described as "lazy" or "lacking effort"? Is that "by literal definition" a shot at a person? Or is that a shot at the whole team? or in this case, a shot at the department responsible for this? No one says the field is lazy. Or the stands are lazy. Or the goalposts are lazy. "Lazy" is a term used to described behavior from someone. So by saying the editing was lazy, he's making an attack (and false assumption) on the people involved. That is literally the definition of a personal attack. Speaking of definitions... Ah, it's the "you have to have done it to legitimately criticize it" fallacy. Awesome! That is not a fallacy. I'm using the literal definition of an armchair quarterback: someone who does not do occupation X, but compl...
  • 09:14 PM - Ovinomancer quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post They Broke Arcane Archer!!!
    To go with your football analogy, have you ever heard a team described as "lazy" or "lacking effort"? Is that "by literal definition" a shot at a person? Or is that a shot at the whole team? or in this case, a shot at the department responsible for this? Regardless, it's people you're calling lazy, not work. If you're calling people lazy, that's insulting, even if true. Ah, it's the "you have to have done it to legitimately criticize it" fallacy. Awesome! Pretty sure Sacrosanct has made it clear they don't believe this at all. They said it explicitly in an earlier post. Sacrosanct isn't saying people can't criticize, he's pointing that the kind of criticism that involves assuming the work is easy and something the criticizer could easily accomplish is armchair quarterbacking. The error was a mistake and regretable. Noting it isn't bad, or something Sacrosanct is saying you shouldn't do or can't do if you haven't done it. His point is assuming the job is easy when you have n...
  • 06:13 PM - Sacrosanct quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post They Broke Arcane Archer!!!
    If anyone had tried to actually build and play an arcane archer from one of the almost-final drafts that contained this error it seems likely that they would have noticed the breakdown. It's not difficult to see the problem. If he feels like that's "lazy" on the part of WOTC then he has a basis for that complaint. How are you inferring that's a shot a someone in particular? Is it possible your experience in the field is making you extra-sensitive to the criticism here? That has nothing to do with my experience. Calling a work effort lazy is literally calling the person(s) involved lazy. Work by itself can't be lazy, by definition. Only the people doing it because lazy is a description of behavior. So by literal definition, that's a shot at someone and not just a criticism of the work. Especially since it's just an opinionated guess with not evidence or objective basis behind making it. And as for "armchair quarterbacks" - you mean everyone who bought the book that isn't an editor? So a...

Tuesday, 14th November, 2017

  • 07:07 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post Where did the 6-8 encounter standard come from?
    To answer the OP. I think they pulled 6-8 encounters out of a hat. Or more likely it came from 4ed. It's been so long since I looked at 4e I couldn't say for sure.It's funny, there was no solid or explicit guideline for the number of encounters/day in 4e. In one sense, it didn't really need one - the classes had a rough parity in resources, so a shorter or longer day wouldn't greatly disrupt class balance. In another sense, it did, since everyone had dailies, shorter or longer days would make encounters easier or harder - and the dreaded 5MWD was thus still on the table. Eventually, as best as the community could divine from the material, 3-5 encounters/day shook out as a consensus on the intent (an odd number because of how milestones worked). I vaguely remember, sometime leading up to the playtest, perhaps, someone coming out and saying that at release, the intent had been 8-encounter days, and when it became clear that was not the norm, they dialed up monsters a bit in the MM3, and we got to t...

Thursday, 9th November, 2017

  • 09:49 PM - Parmandur quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post The State of D&D: Products, Psionics, Settings, & More
    Based on this discussion I'm not sure we will see a traditional "setting" book. I know that's what most of us are used to, but I think it's more likely we will see setting as an element of an adventure book (more like Strahd). They seem very reluctant to dive into those DM-only type books beyond the obligatory monster books and even those include some player material. The SCAG might be their least-well-received book and it's the closest thing we have to a campaign setting so I would assume that's a factor too. As far as doing best since the 80's, I have a firm "maybe": The launch of 3E in my view was pretty comparable to 5th: several years of dissatisfaction with the prior version of the game and how it had been handled by the company that led into a new edition with new management, a "back to the dungeon" philosophy along with a serious rules cleanup to better fit the tastes of the time, a lot of returning players, and an explosion of supporting material from third party producers. Necromancer Game...

Friday, 3rd November, 2017

  • 05:53 AM - GreyLord quoted Lord_Blacksteel in post Loops in RPG Adventure and Game Design
    How on earth does anyone assume that all of the players want to play the same thing? That they are looking for the same "loop"? You can go all the way back to "Strike Force" from 1988 to see a discussion about identifying different types of players and how a GM can include elements to keep their interest. I actually think there were quite a number of RPG players that wanted to utilize this loop method, but not necessarily as you think. 4e focused on combat, but let's be honest, combat was no 30 second loop in 4e most of the time. Thus, that's NOT the loop you are looking for. The loop 4e utilized started all the way back in 3e. That loop was the D20. It was the idea that people had fun rolling a 20 sided die. Thus, for almost every resolution except for damage, it was resolved via the 20 sided die. The loop therefore, was rolling a d20 and seeing what the pay off was, whether you had a success on the d20, or a failure. This loop was replicated not just for battle, but for saves,...


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