View Profile: Ratskinner - D&D, Pathfinder, and RPGs at Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Campbell's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:57 PM
    Sorry for disappearing. Been in the middle of a career transition while ramping up my training regimen. Here is my basic contention: The different expectations, culture of play, and specific play techniques in utilized in game like Sorcerer provides an experience that does not easily arise when playing modern Dungeons and Dragons. The same is true for Moldvay B/X. although modern D&D can...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Saturday, 16th June, 2018, 02:25 PM
    Obviously, I disagree. The murderhobo behavior, IME, correlates highly with the system used. When we play with newer systems, the behavior is much lessened. Systems (Boot Hill, I'm looking at you) without any non-combat resolution systems seem particularly susceptible. The simple matter of modern games like Fate mechanizing things like motivations and morality in ways that the players can...
    48 replies | 1344 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Wednesday, 13th June, 2018, 12:52 PM
    The nature of the innovations and the technological contexts are different. TNG was to my eyes the worst offender here. In a magical universe, against a specific foe, we often will see what you are talking about. But in a tech universe, where most of the innovation involves changes to your own gear, there's no reason to give that up. I remember the fan base as TNG went into its later seasons....
    48 replies | 1344 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Wednesday, 13th June, 2018, 05:28 AM
    Phone makes it hard to edit quotes so pardon the general response. Re: the Borg First to be clear. There are no underlying mechanics. Its a tv show. And I just can't interpret the narrative that way at all. The Borg basically stop adapting by the time Voyager is dealing with them. I mean, these techno zombies with their much vaunted ability to adapt have to come to Voyager for help adapting...
    48 replies | 1344 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Tuesday, 12th June, 2018, 11:00 PM
    I didn't say it couldn't be done, I said a traditional rpg system wouldn't do it. From here, it sound like your players ("knowingly and blatantly") did the work, not the system. If you're players are all in, then the system isn't as relevant. Which is fine. (Although, certainly, some systems can put up a bigger fight than others.) We've seen people doing things like that with all sorts of...
    48 replies | 1344 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Tuesday, 12th June, 2018, 03:17 AM
    This, I think, is the critical issue. Obviously, you can write a traditional rpg that has Trek's trappings, but it just won't re-create anything like the episodes. (Secondarily, rpg-style advancement is unusual in Trek. Only a few characters really go through any.) I do think there is room maybe for a non-traditional game, like Fiasco. That recognizes and utilizes that sort of structure up...
    48 replies | 1344 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Tuesday, 12th June, 2018, 02:35 AM
    Real space, yeah, sure. Gotta degree in physics, even. I wouldn't even worry about it. Star Trek space, though, its a near guarantee. That space is just lousy with earth-like planets and almost all of them are teeming with intelligent species. Warp-speed and distances and timing work at the speed of drama, there.
    36 replies | 930 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Monday, 11th June, 2018, 06:33 PM
    1) Questioning the rational of anything technical in Star Trek is ... well, I think just saw a rabbit checking his watch. 2) Don't forget an insulting eulogy. 3) My favorite part about the "burial in space" is thinking about some planet with a non-spacefaring intelligent species on it. Apparently the torpedo casing can survive re-entry and crash-landing. I mean, there they are at whatever...
    36 replies | 930 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Monday, 11th June, 2018, 11:06 AM
    Have to be a larger species. Large-print dice can be heavy.
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Sunday, 10th June, 2018, 01:59 AM
    Ditto I mean, okay, its fine, but I just don't see why its considered so awesome by so many. Never got the whole "just seeing it makes you crazy" thing, either.
    43 replies | 1897 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Campbell's Avatar
    Sunday, 10th June, 2018, 01:17 AM
    I feel you vastly overestimate the narrowness of the designs you see outside of the mainstream and grant mainstream designs a flexibility that I have not experienced in the real world. I think you assume that the things that make Apocalypse World, Burning Wheel, Dogs in the Vineyard, Masks, Moldvay B/X, Stars Without Number, Blades in the Dark, Sorcerer and even Fate great games are things you...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Friday, 8th June, 2018, 09:18 PM
    Probably more like a $50 idea.
    34 replies | 722 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Friday, 8th June, 2018, 09:16 PM
    As others have mentioned, I think we can't just count sales and betting amounts when we are looking for casual buddy games. Also, I honestly count the plethora of fantasy movies and TV shows as D&D movies for this purpose. I dunno how many poker-centric media sources there are (plenty of old school stuff, sure), but there's a ton of fantasy stuff in the recent past. Of course the whole...
    34 replies | 722 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Friday, 8th June, 2018, 09:07 PM
    I was thinking about this. Setting aside casino play, etc; since we're talking specifically about casual play at a buddy's house. I'm not so confident that the article is entirely without merit. I can't think of any of the poker players I know who have a weekly (or even regular) game. Is the weekly poker game amongst buddies a thing of the past?
    34 replies | 722 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Friday, 8th June, 2018, 01:45 PM
    My personal experiences would argue strongly that this was not the case. I started playing sometime in the early 80s and Charisma was regularly dumped. If anything, I would point to larger diverse parties as the key element.
    92 replies | 3412 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Friday, 1st June, 2018, 07:21 PM
    For the most part, I don't care. I will say that I used to get cross-gender characters that were....not good. Whether that's on the players' RP abilities, generally deficient personalities, or Sexism...who knows. Odd, when you think about it, that a person might be better able to properly portray an alien than a girl, but such is life. I haven't seen very many attempts at cross-gender characters...
    334 replies | 11875 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Wednesday, 30th May, 2018, 05:12 PM
    I never used minis until the phrase "attack of opportunity" was invented. Although we did tend to have some kind of visualization of the battlespace, I rarely measured anything. I don't think its the minis themselves so much as a heavy rule dependence on the spatial reality of the game. The early edition rules about space and positioning were easily handwaved. Not so much with 3e or 4e. My...
    392 replies | 9030 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Thursday, 24th May, 2018, 01:21 PM
    I would say, snarkily, a full spellless ranger class and a full warlord class, just to put a stop to things. But it wouldn't, because the ranger wouldn't be called a ranger because we already have one, and the warlord wouldn't be machanically capable of doing everything a 4e warlord does, because mechanics...so it would only change "how" those fans feel WotC screwed them.
    53 replies | 1873 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Wednesday, 23rd May, 2018, 07:36 PM
    Generally, I would agree. However my current group has adult life attendence interference that really makes it difficult on the narrative to span a series of tightly-packed events across multiple sessions: OTOH, I think people don't give enough credit to encounters with hordes of lower powered adversaries. IME, those drain a lot more party resources than they usually get credit for. Sure,...
    152 replies | 4458 view(s)
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  • Ratskinner's Avatar
    Tuesday, 22nd May, 2018, 05:51 AM
    I feel more like 5e's encounter/CR guidelines are garbage, and that 5e has a real problem making a singular big monster work well. Legendary just doesn't do it. I've completely abandoned the encounter guidelines. 5 lower level monsters (or 10 really lower level monsters) are much tougher than a singular monster (at least for my party). Which really stinks for development of that climactic battle....
    67 replies | 2143 view(s)
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About Ratskinner

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About Ratskinner
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I wish more people played Indie games in North Akron.
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Currently running 5e for a mostly OSR group. Occasionally, I get them to try out newer games like Fate and PbtA games. Good times.
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Town:
Cuyahoga Falls
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Ohio
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USA
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Currently running 5e for a mostly OSR group. Occasionally, I get them to try out newer games like Fate and PbtA games. Good times.
More information:
Fate is not a choice for games I enjoy?
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Wednesday, 2nd May, 2018

  • 04:37 PM - Gradine mentioned Ratskinner in post Simple Superhero Systems
    ...vel's Runaways. Thanks for the advice everybody! My very limited experience with superhero gaming involved creating characters using an older DC Roleplaying Game system to build a new class of X-men (don't ask) that never actually got off the ground, but I do remember taking a long time to build my character. I'm trying to advertise and recruit new players into roleplaying and given the, err, prominence of superheroes in our current moment of popular culture, I'd figure I'd be remiss without playing to that genre. I'm using at least one other PbtA game, and I have some familiarity with that style of system, and I'm definitely digging what I'm reading from Masks right now (fun fact: the mutant character I made all those years ago was codenamed Aegis). Given my audience is "people who work primarily with college students" the emphasis on young heroes also seems like it'll be a good draw. But I'm also definitely checking out CapesLite as an alternative; thanks for the suggestion Ratskinner!

Monday, 5th February, 2018

  • 04:28 PM - Manbearcat mentioned Ratskinner in post Is D&D Too Focused on Combat?
    @Ratskinner and @pemerton I donít want to rehash the history of the 4e Skill Challenge or our own history in discussing it! However... Can we at least agree that the fundamental components of noncombat conflict resolution machinery are: - mechanical substrate/framework - procedures to move from framing to locked-in resolution - techniques that being about dynamic, coherent fiction and interesting decision-points A nice bonus would be to have a resolution procedure where tactical depth meets a tight feedback loop with resources/PC machinery that augments PC habitation in the unfolding situation (eg creates urgency or a sense of risk or a sense of emotional investment) for a player. But that isnít fundamentally mandatory (but contemporary game design should include it as understanding has matured significantly). Now, whether one feels 4eís instruction (establish a goal, go to the action, change the situation, success with complications, fail forward, failure is not an endpoint) is sufficien...

Sunday, 4th February, 2018

  • 02:49 PM - pemerton mentioned Ratskinner in post Is D&D Too Focused on Combat?
    Ratskinner, Lanefan Picking up on the "tacitcal socialising" aspect - Duel of Wits encourages very tactical socialising. At the table, this is a player who knows how to work the different action declaration options to maximise successes while minimising risks (I have a player who is very good at this). In the fiction, this corresponds to a character who knows when to speak, when to listen, when to push hard, when to pull back a bit, in order to get what s/he wants. And a bit more generally - I posted an example of play where the main focus of the action was a bar and the downstream consequences of a pick-up attempt. It wasn't a "side quest" or "downtime" - the PC heroes encountered three mercenaries trying to steal a piece of equipment from the Smithsonian, and were able to stop them from doing so because one was trapped in ice in the Washington Monument after Bobby Drake took her there for some romantic late-night skating; another was seduced and then abandoned on the top of the Capitol by...

Monday, 19th June, 2017


Wednesday, 14th June, 2017

  • 11:14 PM - Sadras mentioned Ratskinner in post Why I Am Starting to Prefer 4d6 Drop the Lowest Over the Default Array.
    I absolutely love the stat requirements of earier editions - I just remember I was never a fan of the rolling due to the disparity it created between players, I was also a much younger DM back then and that certainly didn't help. I will certainly incorporate them (stat requirements) now that Ratskinner posted that neat card system for generating stats.

Thursday, 8th June, 2017

  • 10:33 AM - pemerton mentioned Ratskinner in post Consequence and Reward in RPGs
    Also Ratskinner, double post => double XP. A strategy for level gain!
  • 10:33 AM - pemerton mentioned Ratskinner in post Consequence and Reward in RPGs
    Ratskinner, there's a lot in your post, this is just picking up on the bits where I thought I had something to contribute. Often, making a good/interesting story involves loss on the part of the protagonist. Most traditional rpgs have no mechanism rewarding a player for a substantive loss by their character. Reward mechanisms, like XP/leveling, are based solely on "winning" whatever goals the character has, and apply to the character and player as well. Contrast this with Fiasco, in which you the player can "win" by having your character suffer the most during the course of the game. (Although if you do win in this fashion, your character walks away winning as well.) This puts a player's immediate interests at odds with the character's immediate interests in a way that allows for plotlines that D&D would have great difficulty creating.I know of Fiasco but don't know it. Of the systems I do know (again, nothing very radical) I like BW the best in this respect: advancing your PC requires con...

Wednesday, 7th June, 2017


Thursday, 25th May, 2017

  • 01:54 PM - Celebrim mentioned Ratskinner in post Players building v players exploring a campaign
    Ratskinner: I think that's largely fair. For me, the one way D&D gets in the way of story is that in addition to narrative it is also trying to serve the aesthetic of challenge. And sense it is trying to serve the aesthetic of challenge, then it provides for the possibility of failure - without which there would be no challenge. But the problem with providing the possibility of failure is that the timing of failure in a game serving the aesthetic doesn't always - and usually doesn't - well serve the timing required of narrative. One problem that you run into trying to recreate narrative in a game is that in narratives the protagonists can't fail unless it serves the story for them to do so. But in the game, characters just die off at random leaving plot threads dangling unfinished. It's not easy to remove that. A game without challenge becomes like watching reruns of a sports competition. The linearity of the game - the fact that you don't know what is going to happen - is I think t...
  • 10:48 AM - pemerton mentioned Ratskinner in post Consequence and Reward in RPGs
    ... some fashion. One example: all the systems I'm GMing at the moment use some version of "say 'yes' or roll the dice", which means that the GM never calls for a roll unless the situation involves something being at stake which matters to the player, as that player has been build and played by its player. In which case a bad roll doesn't spoil the story; rather, the story is one in which, at the moment of crunch for that PC, things went wrong (this happens to Gandalf multiple times in The Fellowship of the Ring, for instance - first with Saruman, then with Butterbur, then with the Balrog). "Say 'yes' or roll the dice" works well in conjunction with other techniques, too, like "fail forward" - so that allowing failure as a regular part of play doesn't mean the end of the story. But certain resolution systems (especially but not only sim-oriented ones) are very hard to adapt to "fail forward" adjudication. So my own view is that, in fact, system matters a lot. (But I also agree with Ratskinner that many systems are actually not very different in the relevant respects from D&D. Eg changing the resolution mechanic in D&D from d20 to 2d10 or 3d6, or changing the spread of PC ability scores and the way they're calculated - all of which many people would regard as important system changes - probably won't change anything relevant to whether or not D&D supports alternatives for avoiding bad dice rolls other than my (1) and (2) above.)

Wednesday, 29th March, 2017

  • 02:00 PM - pemerton mentioned Ratskinner in post Compelling Storytelling
    ...arly all to revere LotR, and Gandalf doesn't try and pick Theoden's pocket. Rather, he asks him for - and receives - a gift (of a horse). There is an element of trickery in Gandalf getting Shadowfax as his horse, but it does not have the juvenile, "game disrupting" tone of trying to pick the king's pocket. If the framing and adjudication of the fiction makes it clear that the players can impact it, including eg by actually befriending NPCs, or successfully dealing with them, receiving gifts from them, etc - and this is all built into action resolution (eg one can easily imagine framing Gandalf, and then the whole Fellowship's, dealings with Theoden as a skill challenge or a Duel of Wits) - then I think that many players will step outside the limits of the "id". I've observed profound changes in "magey" characters' combat behavior (even my own) after they acquire the flight+invisibility combo that removes much of the risk they face in a typical combat.Can you elaborate? EDIT: Ratskinner - I lost my quote tags in this post, so just letting you know I replied (at excessive length).

Monday, 27th March, 2017

  • 09:50 AM - pemerton mentioned Ratskinner in post Compelling Storytelling
    ...ips. The problem with RPG's is that your average player is totally incapable of actually roleplaying. They can react "in character" when prompted, or give a quip using a funny accent, but it's actually a rare thing to have players roleplay with each other in a way that allows character development to take place. <snip> To put it another way, compelling storytelling is about character development, and character development can't happen without relationships with other nouns.But character development doesn't have to be about roleplaying in any theatrical sense. It's about character motivations, goals etc. These can be fairly easily put into play, provided that (i) the players provide some hooks, and (ii) the GM manages the framing properly. I think the bigger obstacles tend to be a sense that player/PC focused "story" is a "sidequest" that should be secondary to the GM's "main plot", which is often set up to be independent of any player/PC hooks. (This is the converse of Ratskinner's point about sandboxes.) EDIT: You're probably not going to get great literature out of RPGing. But presumably that's not the goal. In the same way the pretty crappy music is still enjoyable when you're playing it yourself; or that less than cordon bleu food can be enjoyable when you've prepared it yourself; so I think the same is true of stories and RPGing.

Wednesday, 22nd February, 2017


Friday, 10th February, 2017

  • 05:04 AM - Manbearcat mentioned Ratskinner in post (LOTR) I don't normally ask for system recommendations, but when I do, it certainly doesn't involve Dos Equis
    innerdude , a few things: 1) On Dungeon World, I would say Ratskinner has the right of it in that it is fundamentally anti-metaplot and anti-setting-tourism. Make a map, have some (very loose) backstory, a premise and fill in the blanks and let play snowball. In that vein, heavily defined canon and geography will be problematic for the game's basic agenda (which intersects with the narrative authority of moves and the expectation of freeform "just in time" content generation as the result of moves). That being said, I've run two long term Dungeon World games and a long term Apocalypse World game. Both can handle longterm play without a problem. The Powered By the Apocalypse system is extraordinarily robust and trivial to hack. You could easily hack: a) LotR Playbooks (the Heart of the Fellowship, the Battle Captain, the Reluctant Hero, the Destined Scion, the Sage of Ages, et al) b) Use LotR-themed Bonds and Alignment c) the End of Session move to address specific LotR themes and tropes rather than D&D action/adventure. As long as you'...

Thursday, 9th February, 2017


Friday, 30th October, 2015

  • 09:13 PM - El Mahdi mentioned Ratskinner in post Warlord Name Poll
    ...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; @sheadunne ; @Shasarak ; @shidaku ; @shintashi ; @Shiroiken ; @SigmaOne ; @sleypy; @sleypy01 ; @SpiderMonkey ; @Staccat0 ; @Staffan ; @steeldragons ; @steenan @STeveC ; @strider13x ; @Strider1973 ; @Sword of Spirit ; @Talmek ; @TerraDave; @TheCosmicKid ; @The_Gneech ; @TheHobgoblin ; @The Human Target ; @the Jester; @The Mirrorball Man ; @The Myopic Sniper ; @ThirdWizard ; @Tia Nadiezja ; @Tinker-TDC; @Tonguez ; @Tony Vargas ; @Tormyr ; @TrippyHippy ; @tsadkiel ; @tuxgeo ; @twigglythe Gnome ; @TwoSix ; @Uchawi ; @Ulorian ; @UnadvisedGoose445 ; @UngeheuerLich; @Us ; @Valmarius ; @Warbringer ; @was ; @wedgeski ; @Wednesday Boy ; @Wik ; @WillDoyle ; @Winterthorn ; @Wuzzard ; @Xeviat ; @Yaarel ; @Yunru ; @Zalabim ; @Zansy; @Zardnaar ; @Zeuel ; @ZickZak ; @Zo...

Saturday, 24th January, 2015

  • 05:16 PM - Rune mentioned Ratskinner in post You Roll Low, Nothing Happens. Can this/should this be changed?
    Thanks, Ratskinner. I debated with myself whether or not to derail my post with a discussion about how DW is narrative-driven and what that means, so I'm glad you brought it up. In DW, every single mechanical expression that happens in the game triggers off of narrative (this is one of the reasons it has no turn structure--and why it can function without it). There are broad mechanical expressions designed to catch most narrative expressions (and the GM is encouraged to make adventure/campaign-specific ones, as well). These aren't necessary, though--they're an improv safety net, more or less. They are designed to provide the players some degree of agency in determining the type of result they will get, but all of this can be handled on the fly, if desired. Taking clues from the narrative really makes that easy. The 5e tweaks I posted upthread hint at how I would incorporate this in a 5e game. To fully make it happen, I think you have to lose the round/turn structure completely. ...

Friday, 5th September, 2014

  • 03:15 AM - pemerton mentioned Ratskinner in post I for one hope we don't get "clarification" on many things.
    I am not sure anyone could develop rules to embrace a certain bias as specific as stealth or a similar concept.You can do this if the rules are written with a certain looseness or incompleteness, but can work provided that the reader/player incorporates certain additional assumptions which are being supplied by experience with prior editions, or via "common sense", or whatever else (and Mearls et al will presumably have used the playtest to identify some of these). Rules written in this way may frustrate those who are familiar with multiple, different RPG systems and are looking to the designers to project a clear account of how this particular system is meant to be played (I would put myself in this category), but dd.stevenson's point is that, according to Mearls' market research, those players are a (small) minority. Not that it will frustrate all members of that small minority, though: both Imaro and Ratskinner belong to it, but apparently had little trouble making sense of the stealth rules.

Thursday, 17th July, 2014

  • 07:51 AM - pemerton mentioned Ratskinner in post Is there a "Cliffs Notes" summary of the entire 4E experience?
    We have a dozen different powers that "stun" a foe. Couldn't there have just been one that let the PC define how he did it?In some cases there is arguably needless duplication (eg there are two powers, I think - an Avenger one and a Swordmage one - which are identical to, or very nearly identical to, the fighter power Footwork Lure). But in general, the gameplay reason for different powers is the same as the reason for different classes: to ensure diversity of approaches to the game. (There is also the marketing reason noted by TwoSix, and I think also Ratskinner further upthread.) What you just described is the textbook "reaction" power: a foe does something and the player/character responds."Reactions" and "actions" are metagame notions - devices for regulating turns in the action economy of the game. They don't correspond, except very loosely, to distinct categories of events in the gameworld. Balesir has already made this point in relation to melee exchanges. It can also be applied to OAs: one natural way to understand OAs vs archers and casters is that, when fighting a foe who isn't fighting or parrying back, you get more chances to hurt them. Instead of upping the rate of attacks, though (which can happen in AD&D when very fast weapons are used vs very ponderous weapons), we grant opportunity attacks. In the actual gameworld, the fighter is just attacking - there is no ingame distinction between the action, the immediate action and the opportunity action. Technically, the opponents can't do anything once they get in range until...

Tuesday, 15th July, 2014

  • 03:16 AM - Manbearcat mentioned Ratskinner in post Is there a "Cliffs Notes" summary of the entire 4E experience?
    Just wanted to say great posts @Nagol , @Remathilis , and @Ratskinner . I've discussed my own thoughts on what I tend to label 4e's in-coherency at length with @pemerton , @Manbearcat and a few others. It's just good to see there are others who felt the same way after reading the 4e core books. I get the idea that they were trying to do something D&D has always claimed to do: cater to a wide audience of fantasy and game enthusiasts. Combat was built around tactical/co-op play, with movement and strategy that appealed to wargamers and skirmish-gamers. Character design was built with an eye to MMO gamers with clear roles, powers that returned at various cool-downs, and an emphasis on "builds" and item-acquisition. Role-playing and Non-combat advancement was clearly borrowing from Indie-gaming, but I don't think they were exactly going for "story first". I think that was a pleasant side-effect of the way powers, skills, and such interacted. It was order built from chaos, rather than the "grand design" which is why it seems absent in the early ...


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Wednesday, 13th June, 2018

  • 11:59 PM - Umbran quoted Ratskinner in post Star Wars, Star Trek, and Gaming
    Re: the Borg First to be clear. There are no underlying mechanics. Its a tv show. We are talking about getting results similar to the show in an RPG - so we should then talk about the game-representations we can use for things. And I just can't interpret the narrative that way at all. Well, if you can't think in new ways and directions, that'll get in your way here. My answer becomes, "if you think about your game differently, you can get these results." The Borg basically stop adapting by the time Voyager is dealing with them. Well, perhaps we have different ideas of what Borg adaptability really is.... The Borg (with the exception of the Queen) have no individual or original thought, no imagination*. They create nothing new, and are thus incapable of R&D. They adapt by assimilating new technologies and biologies. They are adaptable in the way that a spellcaster with a large and varied spellbook is. If you hit them with a weapon, they run through their list of tricks,...
  • 10:12 PM - Umbran quoted Ratskinner in post Star Wars, Star Trek, and Gaming
    The nature of the innovations and the technological contexts are different. TNG was to my eyes the worst offender here. In a magical universe, against a specific foe, we often will see what you are talking about. But in a tech universe, where most of the innovation involves changes to your own gear, there's no reason to give that up. People in military organizations typically use standard issue gear in the field, for several good reasons. In addition, it is already just about the best out there - narrative details vary, but in effect it doesn't matter too much if it is a Starfleet phaser, a Klingon (or Romulan, or Cardassian) disruptor. The target is usually down in one shot - dead or stunned, your choice. What's to improve? A gun that will kill the enemy *before* you draw it? In a meta-game sense - you're looking for a Trek-like experience. That means you are looking for an experience where the tactical combat is simple and generally quick. Your friendly engineering and science depa...
  • 05:36 AM - Umbran quoted Ratskinner in post Star Wars, Star Trek, and Gaming
    Most of the Star Trek "PCs" do not seem to accumulate loot, they don't even seem to consistently remember their innovations and discoveries from one episode to the next Trek characters don't generally accumulate loot, because material wealth is not meaningful in the context of their world. There's no need to buy anything most of the time. We should note that innovatiosn and discoveries are often forgotten between D&D adventures, too. A great many of the innovative applications of abilities a D&D player may come up with are one-shot solutions to one-shot problems or puzzles. D&D PCs may fight only one vampire in their entire adventuring career, and the new lessons learned in doing so are not all that applicable to other undead that don't turn into mist of have coffins lying about. The only innovations and discoveries that you are sure to carry around with you are the things you get from character advancement, and those flow from XP, not from the explicit action of the adventure.
  • 03:42 AM - Umbran quoted Ratskinner in post Star Wars, Star Trek, and Gaming
    I didn't say it couldn't be done, I said a traditional rpg system wouldn't do it. Reading this post, I will summarize - I think you are conflating "system" with "adventure". I think a great many systems will produce Trek-like play, if you feed it a Trek-like adventure. From here, it sound like your players ("knowingly and blatantly") did the work, not the system. If you're players are all in, then the system isn't as relevant. Note that I said that the players *didn't recognize* the scenario. They were not "all in" in that sense. From their point of view, they were playing teh adventure du jour. It played out like Trek, even though they only knew it was Trek after the fact. I would also say that I'm not 100% sure how I categorize Gumshoe games wrt being a traditional rpg. (I'm also not familiar with Ashen Stars, in specific, but have Night's Black Agents and a few others.) Ashen Stars is pretty regular GUMSHOE. Just Space Opera themed. There's a spaceship combat system la...
  • 12:45 AM - Jester David quoted Ratskinner in post Star Wars, Star Trek, and Gaming
    I didn't say it couldn't be done, I said a traditional rpg system wouldn't do it. From here, it sound like your players ("knowingly and blatantly") did the work, not the system. If you're players are all in, then the system isn't as relevant. Which is fine. (Although, certainly, some systems can put up a bigger fight than others.) We've seen people doing things like that with all sorts of traditional systems for years...usually by fudging rolls or making increasingly weird house rules. For example, most traditional rpgs have all sorts of problems with recurring enemies. I would also say that I'm not 100% sure how I categorize Gumshoe games wrt being a traditional rpg. (I'm also not familiar with Ashen Stars, in specific, but have Night's Black Agents and a few others.) The investigative portions and the fairly procedural GMing instructions in the Gumshoe games that I have seem fairly untraditional to my eyes, but the "action" portions seem to go more traditionally. So what is that? Demi-Tra...

Tuesday, 12th June, 2018

  • 02:17 PM - Jester David quoted Ratskinner in post Star Wars, Star Trek, and Gaming
    This, I think, is the critical issue. Obviously, you can write a traditional rpg that has Trek's trappings, but it just won't re-create anything like the episodes. (Secondarily, rpg-style advancement is unusual in Trek. Only a few characters really go through any.) I do think there is room maybe for a non-traditional game, like Fiasco. That recognizes and utilizes that sort of structure up front. In fact, I think there's a lot of (particularly TV) genres that would fit that kind of framework better than a traditional rpg. You can't do it as easily with D&D. But D&D isn't the only RPG out there. RPGs without formal levels work best. Like the current Star Trek Adventures game or even something like Dread. Or a skill based game, like Call of Cthulhu where experienced characters are better at their field. As far as plot, that's just a matter of setting up the tone of the episode. For the ones when they science! a solution, that is harder. But all it requires is figuring out the mystery a...
  • 05:34 AM - Umbran quoted Ratskinner in post Star Wars, Star Trek, and Gaming
    This, I think, is the critical issue. Obviously, you can write a traditional rpg that has Trek's trappings, but it just won't re-create anything like the episodes. Oh? I think that needs to be unpacked a bit. What, exactly, from episodes can't be re-created at an RPG table? I ask because in my Ashen Stars game, in the last adventure I knowingly and blatantly ripped off the plot of ST:TNG, Season 2, Episode 4: "The Outrageous Okana". My players, not being as into Trek as I, didn't get the reference, but it played out almost exactly like the episode. I would like to know how I managed that, if it cannot be done. :p (Secondarily, rpg-style advancement is unusual in Trek. Only a few characters really go through any.) What do you mean by "RPG-style advancement"? Many (perhaps most) games don't have the meteoric rise in power seen in D&D. If the GM is scaling challenges to PC ability, the result may be largely invisible when rendered in narrative form.

Monday, 11th June, 2018

  • 10:44 PM - Umbran quoted Ratskinner in post Wrath of Khan questions
    3) My favorite part about the "burial in space" is thinking about some planet with a non-spacefaring intelligent species on it. Apparently the torpedo casing can survive re-entry and crash-landing. I mean, there they are at whatever their equivalent of the Colosseum is and Ka-Bam! There's a shiny black...thing that just came from the heavens....with a frozen dead guy inside. Prime Directive? Well, its not like we intended to mess with them, anyway. That series of Holy Wars and revolutions in cosmology and astronomy are totally not our fault. You realize that space is *really* big, right? And that planets, by comparison... aren't? That unless you specifically aim for a planet, you aren't going to hit one just at random? And if you hit one, the chances of hitting one that *just happens* to have an intelligent but non-space-fairing species is not high?
  • 06:46 PM - Erekose quoted Ratskinner in post Wrath of Khan questions
    3) My favorite part about the "burial in space" is thinking about some planet with a non-spacefaring intelligent species on it. Apparently the torpedo casing can survive re-entry and crash-landing. I mean, there they are at whatever their equivalent of the Colosseum is and Ka-Bam! There's a shiny black...thing that just came from the heavens....with a frozen dead guy inside. Prime Directive? Well, its not like we intended to mess with them, anyway. That series of Holy Wars and revolutions in cosmology and astronomy are totally not our fault. While this is clearly handwaved I think the idea is that it wouldíve burned up in the atmosphere of an ordinary planet but survived because the atmosphere was just forming on the Genesis Planet. I think David mentions this in Star Trek III ...
  • 04:12 AM - KenNYC quoted Ratskinner in post Jon Peterson posts Mordenkainen in 1974
    I reject the assertion that there is a singular 1e perspective. I've seen way too many variations on rules and play to believe in it anymore. Weird then, since you were playing 5e, that the DM didn't somehow forbid you from acting on this assumption. How on earth is that stat-dependent? An AD&D monk player might just as well have said "Monks can't use swords." Having a 13 Str or 9 Str is irrelevant to the statement. I don't know what to tell you. If you don't see a difference between someone thinking, reacting to, and talking about the in narrative facts of the game, and worrying about what is going on in the plot, and someone who is looking and thinking about how he can keep and manage a +2 proficiency bonus, then you just don't see it and that's fine. I am talking about the facts in the encounter, and my buddy was talking about the facts on his sheet. I half wanted to say in character "what is a proficiency bonus?" Keep on managing your stats and playing based o...
  • 12:11 AM - aramis erak quoted Ratskinner in post Everybody Loves Lovecraft?
    Is this a question/poll thread?... My answer...."no". I have never really found his work compelling, but rather pretentious. He strikes me as an almost-smart kid who wants to hang with the smart kids and thus uses arcane vocabulary to try and sound more impressive. I'm not really all that impressed with his general premises, either. I was actually rather dismayed when Dresden Files seemed to take a Cthuloid jaunt in some of the recent books. anyway...no. You're giving HPL way too much credit, IMO.

Sunday, 10th June, 2018

  • 04:18 PM - Sacrosanct quoted Ratskinner in post Jon Peterson posts Mordenkainen in 1974
    ...a little circular there. I mean, I'm glad you've never seen those problems. I'm not sure I've ever played AD&D with a party that I believe was legitimately rolled, and its always...always...the guy who says he loves AD&D above all other editions who ends up with 18/% "naturally" rolled. And the lunacy of rolling methods...yeesh. AD&D doesn't have that explicitly, but its clear to me that the designers expected that either (A) You'd be cheating to get high stats anyway or (B) You'd be "weeding out" characters with low stats at high levels. There are, to my knowledge, exactly zero editions of this game that don't factor your stats into the game design. Even if it adjusts your XP and nothing else...that's a factor into the game design itself. (I mean, otherwise, why bother having stats?) erm...okay....gonna have to disagree with you there. And the difference between a 9 STR and a 18/00 STR is +4/+6. So, yeah like 4 levels or more worth of offensive power for the Fi...
  • 05:48 AM - KenNYC quoted Ratskinner in post Jon Peterson posts Mordenkainen in 1974
    Personally, for these reasons, I'm always completely and utterly baffled when an old-schooler derides the later editions as stat-dependent. I I come to games from a 1e perspective. It's a 5e game set in a 2e world. We ran into a demon who could just devour you but masqueraded as an old man who hosted us weary travelers. Hanging over his mantle was a sword for no particular reason. When we were woken up by the screams of our dying NPC and knew we were in trouble we started to battle but it wasn't going well because we had no magic weapons. I am playing and it dawns on me after my turn, and I say to the player playing our monk: "It has to be the sword! Get the sword, it has to be magical or why would it be hanging over the mantle?!?" That's 1e, no reference to rules, no mention of arcana checks, nothing but me responding to the situation. The 5e reply came: "I'm not proficient in martial weapons" That's stat dependent, that's 5e. And as I understand it, this thinking...

Saturday, 9th June, 2018

  • 01:49 AM - aramis erak quoted Ratskinner in post D&D: The New Poker?
    I was thinking about this. Setting aside casino play, etc; since we're talking specifically about casual play at a buddy's house. I'm not so confident that the article is entirely without merit. I can't think of any of the poker players I know who have a weekly (or even regular) game. Is the weekly poker game amongst buddies a thing of the past? No; I know guys who do so. (They're mostly in their 50's & 60's now.) My friends in their 30's and 40's generally don't play poker at all, but most of them either play RPGs, board-games or card-games regularly, just not-traditional card games. For a period of 8 years, Hand & Foot was the "if you're two hours before game scheduled, we'll play" default, with TTRE or Carcassone as occasional alternates. Prior to that, I often ran a full RPG session prior to another RPG session, plus another 1-2 sessions weekly. One group, players A-C showed up at 15:00 for Pendragon, ending between 17:30 and 18:00 for dinner, as players D-G showed up, wit...

Friday, 8th June, 2018

  • 09:28 PM - AmerginLiath quoted Ratskinner in post Jon Peterson posts Mordenkainen in 1974
    My personal experiences would argue strongly that this was not the case. I started playing sometime in the early 80s and Charisma was regularly dumped. If anything, I would point to larger diverse parties as the key element. Type of parties and type of campaigns was definitely as X-Factor. I suppose the point I was trying to make is that Charisma wasnít seen as some sort of global dump-stat until much later in the life of D&D. In campaigns where the party didnít use aid or didnít count on reaction adjustment, physical skills of the PCs were (as they are now) far more valuable; while I was I was in games that valued Charisma heavily ďback in the day,Ē I was also in games that didnít (particularly as someone coming late to 1st edition, he younger brother of an early player whoís more along the age lines of 2nd edition folks). I do remember the fun of playing a 2nd edition Druid ó the character whose name I use for this account, actually ó and taking advantage of the legacy Charisma requiremen...
  • 05:54 PM - Sacrosanct quoted Ratskinner in post Jon Peterson posts Mordenkainen in 1974
    Personally, for these reasons, I'm always completely and utterly baffled when an old-schooler derides the later editions as stat-dependent. I've seen AD&D parties break up over the distribution of stat-based items particularly Strength-based ones. Similarly, the temptation to get 18 Str was just too great. I know guys now who just can't fathom playing a AD&D fighter without exceptional strength, and pull all sorts of shenanigans to claim that it was "legit". Watching the PCs scrabble over stat-changing feature-traps or other gizmos first, though, that was always precious. Does anyone else remember an AD&D adventure with, I think, a magical waterfall or fountain that basically let you pick your stats if you went through it enough times? Sounds like you have more of an immature player issue, rather than a game design one. I've played AD&D as my preferred edition from 1981 to 2012 when 5e came out. Almost never saw those problems you describe, and the only times they did happen, was whe...
  • 05:50 PM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Ratskinner in post Jon Peterson posts Mordenkainen in 1974
    Personally, for these reasons, I'm always completely and utterly baffled when an old-schooler derides the later editions as stat-dependent. Me too. I'm not sure I like the linearity of the 3.X and later table, which is highly stat-dependent, but the AD&D ones were a mess. As I said in the original post, I think the BESM progression has a lot to say for it: You get benefit for having a high stat and start getting bonuses at 13 or penalties at 8, but it didn't get over the top either way. It wasn't enough to overwhelm the benefits of experience (in the form of level advancement). I think that 5E would have benefitted from that for making bounded accuracy work better. It mostly works, although it starts to get wonky at high levels due to things like Expertise doubling proficiency bonuses or some of the DC creep that happens in saving throws. I've seen AD&D parties break up over the distribution of stat-based items particularly Strength-based ones. Similarly, the temptation to get 18 St...

Saturday, 2nd June, 2018


Thursday, 31st May, 2018

  • 01:42 AM - pemerton quoted Ratskinner in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    I don't think its the minis themselves so much as a heavy rule dependence on the spatial reality of the game. The early edition rules about space and positioning were easily handwaved. Not so much with 3e or 4e.That's what I said! But the biggest thing requiring almost pinpoint positioning of melee combatants was weapon reach - could you reach your intended foe or not? Not everyone cared too much about this, but in 1e RAW it's a thing.Rounds in AD&D are 1 minute, movement rates as 10s of feet per minute, and there are no rules for actually positioning in melee - only for getting cut down when you try to disengage from it! So while weapon reach can matter (eg in establishing first strike in a charging situation; for establishing how many soldiers can work together or fight one another in a confined space; etc) I don't actually see how you need minis/tokesn to track the ways in which it matters. (And I see that billd91 has made much the same point.)

Wednesday, 30th May, 2018

  • 05:49 PM - Kobold Boots quoted Ratskinner in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    . I do think that minidependence is a barrier, because it makes it harder to play casually. This is supposed to be game, right? Great point +1 Do I think I'd introduce players to the game with a mini heavy slugfest? No, not at all. Do I think that I'd need minis when a storyline required a combat heavy or combat exclusive session? Yes, absolutely.


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