View Profile: Ilbranteloth - D&D, Pathfinder, and RPGs at Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:43 PM
    Agreed, which is why I've been tweaking rules like these for decades. The campaign could be considered a weird blend of Middle Earth and the published Forgotten Realms (it's set in the Realms). But in part because my impression of the Realms was set by Greenwood's Dragon articles and the original campaign set, where things were scaled down quite a bit. Even when you get to his Volo's Guides,...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:19 PM
    I know, and I'm happy that you brought them to my attention. And I understand that's what he was using them for, which is why I'm using them to point out that they also apply quite well for the exact opposite. Because pre-authored material and secret backstory can still be fluid and flexible, not only rigid and unchangeable. He has his preferences, I have mine. I (and my players) are having...
    2004 replies | 45324 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:53 PM
    Or those who follow Eilistraee. In the ancient history of the Forgotten Realms, anyway, it's clear that all elves are capable of the atrocities that the drow perform, but the drow were the only ones punished for it. If all elves have the capacity for hubris and destruction on such a mass scale, then at least some drow (if not all) have the capacity for compassion and good.
    46 replies | 2738 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:49 PM
    I just reread this part, and it's just not right. In D&D, evil is evil. Being evil isn't about legality. And in any good society a lawful evil creature will do a great many illegal things. It's more than just screwing everyone else over. It's that they have no qualms about committing acts of evil. They also value order (that's the lawful part), but that doesn't mean they adhere to somebody...
    46 replies | 2738 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Yesterday, 02:21 PM
    The opposite of what others seem to want, which is a more powerful spell. I'm fine with it as is, and like it better than the AD&D version which was stronger in comparison because of the lower hit points of monsters. I have suggested a modification to force a system shock check when used against creatures that have more than 100 hp. At a minimum the creature can't take reactions until the end...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:53 PM
    Although I don't agree it's a crappy PC spell, I'm OK with the assessment that it's better for NPCs than PCs. And I don't really have an issue with that being the case either.
    106 replies | 3868 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:04 AM
    It doesn’t equal murder but they have no qualms about it either. The mafia is the classic lawful evil organization. The boss may not commit the murders themselves, but they order it. Or to be more specific, there’s not a crime or a murder by one of theirs that they didn’t authorize, even if it’s indirectly.
    46 replies | 2738 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:47 AM
    Yeah, spotlighting has never really been a thing in our games. Don’t know why. My players are happy to be a participating spectator if they are killed or otherwise disabled (actually generally insist on it unless there’s a good option in the story for an alternative, and they have the power to make that decision). I’m sure that everybody does get the spotlight, it’s just not something that we...
    106 replies | 3868 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:19 AM
    I suppose when I think about it, I'm looking for the opposite. The idea that a high level wizard has a spell that would allow them to automatically kill 1 BBEG (whatever that might be, such as the 1e dragons given in examples above) is way too overpowered from a world-building standpoint. To consider it a different way, with a spell as powerful as it was, an evil wizard villain could simply...
    106 replies | 3868 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 11:12 PM
    So you’re expecting an instant kill of the BBEG at the start of the fight? That seems to be the exact thing that people complain about with broken spells, that it allows the PCs to avoid the encounter altogether. For a bigger opponent I think a guaranteed 100 points of damage, either at the end of a round where the rest of the team has weakened the creature, or the start of the next if your...
    106 replies | 3868 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 10:39 PM
    That sounds mostly like chaotic good to me. The evil portion is lacking, for example, it’s not always “cast aside” but destroyed. Evil creatures conduct too many “crimes” and their allies know too much. An evil character by definition doesn’t view murder, torture, oppression, and similar evil acts as problematic or distasteful. It goes beyond “just what’s best for me” and adds “by any means...
    46 replies | 2738 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 10:24 PM
    Our games level up more slowly, so from a game standpoint magic item provide different abilities and opportunities. I still use a lot of true consumable items (wands don’t regain charges, etc) so the selection of abilities changes over time too. I find this actually works better than gaining abilities as you level up because you aren’t restricted to the same abilities for the life of the...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 09:56 PM
    So what do you mean when you say “it cannot even deal with some CR5 creatures?” Do you mean to say it should be able to kill them outright without them being reduced to below their maximum hit points? I guess that’s a question that needs to be addressed altogether - if you’re not happy with the effectiveness of the spell, what CR should the spell target? That is, creatures of this CR or...
    106 replies | 3868 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 02:10 PM
    Agreed, although I'd just reiterate that while it's easy to find ways to add loops, etc., I don't do it just for the sake of adding them. In other words, I reject the idea that linear = bad. In the context of the game as a whole, yes. Within a single dungeon, even one that lasts for a number of sessions, not so much. -- As a side note, in terms of your experience with the way you ran Moria...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 01:56 PM
    Aaaaaand there we go. You've answered your own question and the thread can be closed! The purpose of world building is so the GM can have more cool things they can't wait to share. That covers absolutely everything I wanted to say. Because I'm not writing stuff for the players to determine what's in my notes. I'm writing stuff to help me figure out what cool things are going on, and...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 05:30 AM
    All good points. Although I’d say that there are different types of complexity, and the PF release schedule vs the 5e release schedule, especially in relation to rules rather than adventures, highlights those differences between the two. Whatever the appropriate term is, I think PF caters to a different gamer than 5e, with a lot of overlap. The overlap is where I think PF2 has an opportunity...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 05:16 AM
    I think that the only thing that is clear is that Eero's post isn't as clear as you think it is. We all seem to be pretty sure that what he writes in that post is directly relevant to our perspective. The very problem he points out as the basis of his post is: "The problem When we bring the above terminology together, I can finally express my issue: I think that mixing narration sharing...
    2004 replies | 45324 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 12:12 AM
    PF doesn’t necessarily need to do better than D&D. They just have to maintain sales to be a viable business. I think they have an opportunity to continue the 3.5e path to cater to a group that does want something different than 5e. At least some of the time. They don’t really have to compete, people can play both. I think WotC accidentally set themselves up for an opportunity to revisit D&D as...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 07:10 PM
    I often have strict linear dungeons because that’s what makes sense. I don’t design a dungeon to be interesting as a place for gamers to explore. It exists for a reason. For example, most tombs are a simple linear design ( and often use maps of actual tombs). Sometimes there are a couple of choices, but for the most part they are just simple tombs. That’s not to say you can’t Jaquay it....
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 06:27 PM
    I have lots of players that do that. In particular I’ve seen a lot of rogues that don’t use Sneak Attack or Cunning Action. We’ve tweaked the rules a lot impart to address this. First, as a DM I’m always happy to consider other abilities, skills, feats, or class abilities from another class if it makes sense for that character. We aren’t concerned about our niche or role based on abilities...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 13th April, 2018, 06:29 AM
    I end up tweaking the rules heavily over time to fit out old-schooling sort of AD&Dish approach while taking what we like from the new mechanics. It’s come to the point where it is quite different and yet oddly still feels like D&D and even 5e. We don’t use initiative or 6 second rounds, movement is constant and not part of your turn, and combat itself is not our focus. Although the system...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 13th April, 2018, 06:20 AM
    But this implies that the DM is driving the plot. I’d recommend the opposite, that the DM be responsible for the world (and potential plot hooks and background themes and schemes) and let the players focus on the plot through their characters’ goals, decisions and actions. When the players drive the plot, the DM needs to be able to react and respond, and for me that prep is what allows me to...
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Tuesday, 10th April, 2018, 02:41 PM
    Shared fiction does not (or at least need not) imply shared world building. We can value the here and now instead. Make the game more about what is happening right now than appreciation of someone else's individual creativity.
    1309 replies | 46086 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Saturday, 7th April, 2018, 02:42 AM
    Yeah, that's kind of where I usually land too. Thanks for doing the math, though, it helps clarify that. Although the 20th level math in D&D is still a lot higher than my preference across the board. Really, I guess if the Sneak Attack damage isn't enough for some, the easiest option would be to increase the die size for Sneak Attack. Instead of a d6, go with a d8 or d10. Or start at 1st level...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 6th April, 2018, 09:12 PM
    Absolutely. Not to mention the fact that the APs that have been released provide lots of exploration, adventuring, and scenarios where combat isn't the preferred option for resolution. Designing combat rules is complex, and has a lot of parts to address. Which means more words. In addition, the combat rules are very mechanically-based, and provide a framework for the players to engage directly...
    323 replies | 13212 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 6th April, 2018, 09:04 PM
    OK, I'll start with the last question. You know where I stand, I think the rogue plays just fine as it is. And I will also state that this thread is like many others where there is a declared "problem" with the game, with the assumption that it's a problem for everybody. So when you ask for input with that approach, you'll often get a debate about whether your declaration is right or not,...
    323 replies | 13212 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 6th April, 2018, 01:10 AM
    Although in a game that is not as focused on combat, the rogue is often a central character through the non-combat encounters. So bumping them up to be as good as the others in combat unbalances those games. Another option would be to look at the other options and consider reducing the damage of others. 5e combat is often very quick, over in a matter of a few rounds. Bumping up the damage...
    323 replies | 13212 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 6th April, 2018, 01:02 AM
    And I say that I obviously need you to show me where that's wrong. Because he specifically recommends that the players don't have any authority to author the fiction outside of advocacy of their characters, other than possibly (part of) the backstory. After that point, what happens in the world around the PCs is in the hands of the GM. "The problem we have here, specifically, is that when you...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 6th April, 2018, 12:55 AM
    So the absurd examples is really to have you answer this question: If it's not obvious by the fiction, and the rules don't give clarity, who decides yes or no? And it's not so much about people doing absurd things like giving themselves a holy sword. It's about the players who aren't as fully invested in the story or the direction it's going and decides they are going to go someplace else....
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 6th April, 2018, 12:36 AM
    That was exactly my point. Don't project YOUR experiences on others either. Not everybody has a combat heavy game. That's what the OP did, and I responded specifically to that projection. I certainly won't disagree that the current design might not work well for all combat-heavy games. But there are many threads like this that make an assumption that there is something broken with the game,...
    323 replies | 13212 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Wednesday, 4th April, 2018, 07:08 PM
    In my 35+ years of D&D it has been anything but a combat heavy game. I’d say it has generally been 80% exploration (including social interaction which varies a lot depending on circumstances and scenario), 20% combat. I realize that for folks that started in 3e or especially 4e that combat plays a much bigger role. But that has never really been the case for us. Rogues are (and have...
    323 replies | 13212 view(s)
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Sunday, 1st April, 2018, 06:14 PM
    Agreed about not going crazy on the HP discussion. That's another thread another time sort of thing. Damage is not measuring ability to kill, but a measure of depleting HP is valid. However, Depleting HP results in killing. Therefore, within our escalating damage die discussion it would force a review of how HP are earned and how AC and HP are related. Nuff said to avoid crazy. KB
    141 replies | 3843 view(s)
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Sunday, 1st April, 2018, 04:43 PM
    I hear you, but that's largely irrelevant to the damage discussion. Weapon choice matters but within the confines of the current d&d system, it matters for the wrong reason for the sake of simplicity and it takes away from how cool weapons really are. Reality of the situation is that regardless of what the primary weapon was, whether it was longsword (which was really rare actually) axe...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Sunday, 1st April, 2018, 04:35 PM
    There are certainly more talented and effective weapon fighters than I but I count myself among them. I know just enough to have a strong opinion. I have no intention of questioning or discounting your intuition. This is an academic discussion for me. Wielding a sword is slower than wielding a dagger. The larger the weapon the more momentum is required to use it and that generally requires...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Sunday, 1st April, 2018, 04:10 PM
    Entirely fair. Here's my reply to sword v. dagger Sword has more reach than the dagger. The key to getting over on a sword wielder when you're the dagger wielder is to get inside the swing and be where the sword isn't. Example. If I'm going up against a guy with a sword and they're swinging down from their right hand side to their left. My goal is to actually walk into/under the swing...
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Sunday, 1st April, 2018, 09:31 AM
    Here's what I find entirely frustrating about this conversation: I cannot speak to how Maxperson runs his game or Lanefan runs his game unless they clearly speak to the principles that determine how they frame situation. I get that you guys identify with the orthodoxy, but that profession does not seem to line up with any particular text. There has also been indications at least from Maxperson...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Sunday, 1st April, 2018, 12:11 AM
    The starting point when dealing with any stupidly high threshold that the PC's are operating at, is realizing that they're not the only things in the gameworld that can operate at that level. - So the PC's can pass without trace through the evil woods.. you know what.. so can the fey. If the fey see hummies walking through the woods without trace, they're "interesting" .. have fun. ...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 05:10 PM
    I wouldn't call it "hunger" for a new setting. I'd call it "visceral hate" for Forgotten Realms. * *Unless Ed's the one running the table.
    115 replies | 4761 view(s)
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 04:55 PM
    I dislike this but it's a good story effect. When you absolutely must hit, even if for garbage points, you can. If someone knows of a reason or has a scenario why a fighter might gimp himself every round where this would be imbalancing, do tell. KB
    54 replies | 1620 view(s)
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 04:50 PM
    Entirely fair. Glad to work with you on anything that meets your needs. I was just walking down the necessary path to make weapons feel "right" in the spirit of the OP.
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 04:15 PM
    That's all well and good, but a few things need to be kept in mind. 1. My reply has more to do with the problem and not your specific needs. So pulling your publication desire out of mid-air during a conversation about a solution that was never intended to meet DM Guild requrements, isn't going to help much. 2. Any significant change to any math in any system requires the entire system to...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 03:32 PM
    True, and thanks for the clarification. In the "escalating damage die" solution, any extra damage ability is not added to critical and is a flat amount based on proficiency level with the weapon and the nature of the ability. The only variable damage is the base die. There's a separate incapacitation or assassination rule that handles the desire to take someone out without doing massive...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 03:16 AM
    Exactly. Which is why the answer isn’t additional dice, but rather an escalating single damage die.
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 03:12 AM
    Of course you’re correct. The issue I’ve had with D&D over the years is that designers have either over complicated or under complicated the weapons and initiative rules and missed the middle ground that allows for the minimum of fiddly bits to achieve scalability and support options. You can have realism and skill and diverse weaponry that matters inside an easy to use D&D framework. The...
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  • Nytmare's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 02:35 AM
    Yeah, that's the thing. I can completely understand how it might taste good, I just can't figure out how the inventor ever decided to mash those things together in the first place and stick them between two pieces of bread.
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 01:04 AM
    That's fair. The die is completely new in terms of the suggested fix. It's a bit more elegant than exploding dies based on 12s and still allows for a weapon to be significantly more deadly or less depending on who is wielding it. The properties would allow an axe to feel different than a sword and give people reasons to carry different weapons for different things without over burdening...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 12:46 AM
    1e had piercing and bludgeoning (affected armor) as effects on particular weapons as well as speed factor, which acted as a second attack in some cases compared to other weapons during the same initiative spacing between characters. 3e had feats that added to damage, added to hit rolls or simply increased critical ranges with weaponry. The only "new" things are the standardization of the...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Saturday, 31st March, 2018, 12:18 AM
    Considering it's an amalgam of 1e, and 3e with the exception of the single damage die and use of feats for real effects, I chuckled at this. I do respect your tastes and opinion though. Just know that any solution that keeps different weapons at different damage die isn't going to solve the issue. Averages won't change. Single base damage die with character skill will. Especially since...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Friday, 30th March, 2018, 11:35 PM
    My solution. Kill basic damage because if you don't know how to use the weapon you'd be limited to your strength bonus plus half of basic damage die. So for example. STR bonus +0 plus one half base damage die, lets' just say D8 so 4 = four points. This would be enough so that a bunch of untrained folks could start a murder spree on common people. Each weapon has the ability to do the...
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  • Nytmare's Avatar
    Friday, 30th March, 2018, 02:56 PM
    I was nine, but we didn't make it much past the first text block before my cousin got bored and wanted to play ColecoVision instead. I was first introduced to D&D by my father, who bought the red box, but never figured out how to play. A summer or two later, there was an activity camp I was a part of that started offering a D&D "class" and that's where I learned how to play.
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  • Nytmare's Avatar
    Friday, 30th March, 2018, 02:20 PM
    My wife's favorite sandwich is peanut butter, butter, banana, and mayonnaise. I've never had the strength to ever try a bite of one and see why she likes it so much.
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 04:40 PM
    First, thanks for the reply. I appreciate the candor. It's probably best to classify me as "simply aggressive". I don't see much that's passive in my approach. I'm pretty biased against Twitter in general. As to the devs, it's really pretty simple. I can dislike something that someone does, without disliking them as a person or making the matter personal. Once we moved away from TSR does...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 03:58 PM
    I don't think there's a shortage in my area. I do think that people getting out of their comfort groups and finding each other in any area can be a problem when everyone has a life to manage before the game can be organized. Folks fall back on what's convenient because it's what's possible and easy to do. KB
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 03:53 AM
    Entirely fair, but as an example.. if you cast, and need to maintain concentration, then you're not dropping into bear form to tank after said casting :) Of course, I chose the example most favorable to my point and there are plenty of other good uses of the ability. Surprisingly if this is the intention, I'm completely good with it as I like the idea of the totemic druid. That said, I'd...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 03:14 AM
    Respect is shared. I have no experience with the animal form first play style as I've never allowed it to happen in 3.5 (house ruling broken) and didn't have a druid PC in my 4e game. Four thoughts that only matter if you agree with them, but they solve a lot of problems. 1. If your race is human or elf or whatever, it's not bear or hawk. The intention is not to spend all of your time...
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  • Nytmare's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 02:49 AM
    That kinda reminds me of a Vampire: The Masquerade game I played in in college where the set up was essentially that the PCs were the Frog Brothers from The Lost Boys. We spent 2 or 3 game nights discovering that there was a secret throng of vampires hidden in the city. All the signs were there if you knew to look for them. So we stormed the "castle" and discovered to our horror that we had...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 02:19 AM
    Got you. So here's where I'm coming from. 1. There can be many reasons why a rule exists. Your reason (spamming HP) is just as valid as mine (not staying in wild shape forever) 2. Once a rule is in place it should be internally consistent to all possible applications of its use. So if you can't spam HP, that also means you can't be in wild shape forever. I feel that the intention is...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 01:59 AM
    As a DM I can kill a party whenever I'd like whether it's 1 fight or 4. Beyond this, there are plenty of resources for a party to handle a challenge appropriate level appropriate encounter multiple times before a short rest if the party is composed well. End of day, it's game dependent. So using your experiences to counter another person's is a bit difficult if there's no effort made on your...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 12:50 AM
    Actually, I'm sorry for being saucy. I missed that in Celebim's text wall. My bad. Thanks for the quote. KB
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 12:36 AM
    I'm not a Starbucks guy. I'm a Dunkin Donuts guy, but I like to pay for the coffee of the other folks behind me in line. It typically costs me less than $10, and makes the other people feel good, but more importantly, it makes me feel so good, and random acts of kindness change the world one person at a time. The above has nothing to do with what you wrote above, but since I can't see where...
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  • Kobold Boots's Avatar
    Tuesday, 27th March, 2018, 04:58 PM
    Celebim already covered it nicely but I'll add my 2c. 0-1 year in - usually 99 percent or more RAW 2-3 years in - usually 90 percent or more RAW. If I'm running a long-standing game in the same edition for longer than 5 years the homebrew gets thick like a guinness draft.
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 26th March, 2018, 08:24 PM
    Agreed. And, no, I like those too actually. Nothing is really that binary. Just an off-hand thought with no real support, I guess.
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 26th March, 2018, 05:24 AM
    First, does "no myth" mean there is no established setting, and it's invented by the players and/or GM as the game progresses? So, when I read this example I'm just reading a railroad, the only real difference from a traditional railroad is that in theory the "plot" came from the character. But I don't think that's a fair assessment either, it's just the way it reads. Examples: How far away...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 26th March, 2018, 04:29 AM
    I think it's a few things, some of which have little to do with the game. 1 and 2. The design is elegant and simple, yes, but I think the real win is that it seems to have a feel that makes players of any earlier edition feel at home. Perhaps 4e players are the least served by this, but to me it feels very much like AD&D, but I think that the number of 3e and Pathfinder players that have...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 26th March, 2018, 04:02 AM
    OK, I'm sitting here working on some things while my wife is watching NCIS LA. And the bit of the scene I just saw I think speaks to both what I think many are trying to accomplish with Story Now, and also highlights what I don't like about this approach. I wasn't paying much attention to the show until I was taking a short break from what I was working on, so I don't know all of the details...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Monday, 26th March, 2018, 12:09 AM
    OK. Part of my issue is the fact that I still don't think Agency is a good term because it can mean too many things to too many people. In my comments, I was referring to agency as what the player is allowed to do within the context of the game. So when the rules allow something, and the DM blocks the ability to use that. In most cases people complain about this when the DM alters the rules...
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  • Nytmare's Avatar
    Sunday, 25th March, 2018, 08:25 PM
    NYTMARE'S TOP FIVE FAVORITE SOCIAL DEDUCTION BOARD GAMES The Resistance / Avalon - This is my top pick due to the amount of complexity and depth of play it manages to squeeze in with the fewest number of rules. All of the joy and sorrow of Werewolf or Mafia without having to have one player sit out as the GM or making people sit and wait around for the game to end once they're killed. ...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Sunday, 25th March, 2018, 05:05 AM
    The feats (we’ve rewritten them for our campaign) largely avoid this by granting bonuses or advantage instead of new abilities. Where we do provide additional abilities, it is the sort of thing that we feel would be known to fewer people who have training in that specific thing. For example, we have an Acrobat feat that allows you to tightrope walk and pole vault. I think there’s a big...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Saturday, 24th March, 2018, 06:13 PM
    This is Eero's definition of advocacy: "Character advocacy Players can have different roles in a roleplaying game. Typical overarching categories are “player roles” and “GM roles”, which are fuzzy and historically determined expressions of natural language. One type of player role is when the game requires a player to be an advocate for a single player character – this advocacy thing is an...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Saturday, 24th March, 2018, 03:09 PM
    But this is still all missing my point. I never once indicated that my game is, or that I ever wanted it to be, a “standard narrativist game.” Which means that this specific definition of player agency is irrelevant to me. The narrativist model is one way to design or play an RPG. Not using that model doesn’t mean the players lack agency. Character advocacy is to have control of your...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Saturday, 24th March, 2018, 05:56 AM
    So I’m OK with your point about Story Now, that’s the intent and design of the game. I disagree with your assessment regarding player agency in something like B2. The players have complete agency over the decisions and actions of their characters, in other words, the advocacy that Eero talks about. In an RPG, the PCs can do anything that their character can reasonably do. That includes...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Saturday, 24th March, 2018, 05:29 AM
    So what you’re saying is that if I run a published adventure as is, without modification and without allowing the players to modify the dungeon as presented, they simply advocate for their characters and the outcome is determined by their actions and decisions within that world, that the GM has all the agency and the players have none?
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Saturday, 24th March, 2018, 04:42 AM
    Because you and I disagree with the premise that option #1 means the DM determines all the fiction. That is not the case. The player decides whether they want to search or not. That is a contribution to the fiction. That there isn’t anything to find is irrelevant, they still have complete control over their actions. They search, they don’t find anything, they learned something, and fiction...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd March, 2018, 04:03 PM
    Or perhaps that there are more ways than one to get to the same results of play? Because I look at what both of you are posting, and thing that while the mechanics you use are different, the results can be the same. Looking through both of your posts (and others), the reality is that in all cases, the GM has an influence on the fiction. The methods might be different, but by inclusion/omission...
    2004 replies | 45324 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd March, 2018, 02:39 PM
    Exactly. Because they are an "agent" of the game. Nobody can control their piece except them. Even in something like Sorry!, you are still in control over your own pieces, even though others can make moves that impact them. In something like Snakes and Ladders you really only have the choice to play or not to play. Or to go to the other extreme, 100% player agency could only be achieved by...
    2004 replies | 45324 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd March, 2018, 04:08 AM
    Agreed, and that's the case with a lot of these theoretical discussions. But they can be interesting, because a year or two ago if you had asked me if players can help author the world fiction in D&D I would have said no, but as I've parsed through it more I find that it's exactly that, a shifting overlap. I think you're right, in some games the player probably can force the passage to exist....
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd March, 2018, 03:57 AM
    I'm not saying that they are bad. And I, for one, have enjoyed the fact that each one of the APs has been written with a different design approach. Although OotA has a lot of different adventures, they are all ultimately leading toward one final conclusion. The AP doesn't have a lot of potential alternate story lines should they decide to go a different direction, nor is it designed in a way...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd March, 2018, 03:22 AM
    A campaign doesn't have to be homemade. Mine has been set in the Realms since '87 and has incorporated almost all of the published materials including novels. And it's not that the APs can't be used as part of a campaign. They just aren't designed that way inherently. I guess if I were to define it a bit differently, a sandbox is open exploration of the setting, and a campaign is open...
    141 replies | 6077 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd March, 2018, 02:34 AM
    But even in a system with this definition of "player agency" they don't always find the secret passage. Even if the player is the one declaring the fiction at that point in time, the dice can indicate failure, although most of them espouse the type of "fail forward" of success with complications. But if the circumstances and dice align, then the result could very well be one of failure, and in...
    2004 replies | 45324 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Thursday, 22nd March, 2018, 10:25 PM
    But they still have 100% player agency in both scenarios. What that agency allows them to do is different, and that's my point. The "issues they engage within the game" is dependent upon the rules of the game. In your spherical cow example, the player can say "I try to find the secret passage which leads to the land of the Yuan Ti, my character is obsessed with finding them." That doesn't mean...
    2004 replies | 45324 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Thursday, 22nd March, 2018, 10:04 PM
    It's an interesting post. I kind of have a different sort of issue with the AP approach, but I also recognize that for a published mass market game, they are probably the best option for their business model in terms of the economics in producing them, and for overall sales potential. Where DM David seems to be seeing a disconnect is in the expectations of the DM, and mostly because there are...
    141 replies | 6077 view(s)
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Thursday, 22nd March, 2018, 07:05 PM
    1. I don’t believe most people felt 3.5e was broken. There were certainly plenty of overpowered options, but those were easy to house rule out. I think that it was a business decision because the splatbook approach can only be taken so far. You can only add so many new classes, races, and rules. In addition, it gets more complicated to add more as time goes on since each one adds additional...
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  • Ilbranteloth's Avatar
    Thursday, 22nd March, 2018, 01:26 PM
    15 to almost 50, with 20s, 30s and 40s covered.
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DMing in the Forgotten Realms since 1987
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Thursday, 19th April, 2018


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Monday, 16th April, 2018

  • 01:11 PM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... Poker face: on!” And then I’m like “wait a sec. I want them to figure out what’s wrong in the town. In fact, I want to show them what’s wrong! Otherwise they’ll wander around waiting for me to drop them a clue, I’ll have my dumb poker face on, and we’ll be bored stupid the whole evening.” So instead of having the NPC say “oh no, I meant that things are going just fine, and I shut up now,” I have the NPC launch into his or her tirade. “Things are awful! This person’s sleeping with this other person not with me, they murdered the schoolteacher, blood pours down the meeting house walls every night!” ...Or sometimes, the NPC wants to lie, instead. That’s okay! I have the NPC lie. You’ve watched movies. You always can tell when you’re watching a movie who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. And wouldn’t you know it, most the time the players are looking at me with skeptical looks, and I give them a little sly nod that yep, she’s lying. . . . Then the game goes somewhere. You, Ilbranteloth, are assuming that GM authority over backstory equals secret backstory. But it doesn't. Because, as Vincent Baker shows us in the passage I just quoted, the GM can author the backstory but reveal it to the players. This is how the "standard narrativistic model" works - the GM frames the PCs into situations. The elements of framing are backstory, but - just as DitV illustrates - they're not secret. It's an important part of PbtA also - the GM establishes the fiction by performing narrations in response to player moves (both failed moves - 6 or down - and half-way successful moves - 7 to 9 - and in some cases even fully successful moves where the player's result is 10+). When you sit down at a gaming table and are told that the game is taking place in Europe, 1943, and you can be a French, UK, or US soldier, it doesn't inhibit your agency. It shapes it.That is not secret backstory. It is revealed backstory. It is genre, feeding into framing. If the GM decided at the beginning ...
  • 04:05 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... - not Eero Tuovinen - to illustrate the contrast between resolution with or without GM secet backstory. The only connection they have to Eero's essay is indirect, in the following way: (i) the absence of secret-backtory is more typical in standard narrativistic RPGing, because (ii) the use of secret backstory makes it harder to "go where the action is" if the action involves discovery (as opposed to, say, killing) and makes it more likely that the game will involve a significant degree of the players declaring actions that trigger the GM to reveal hitherto-unrevealed backstory so that the players then know what the necessary fictional positioning is for their PCs to make the desired discoveries. I guess a third connection between the topic of the previous paragraph, and Eero's essay, is that his essay is moslty a criticism of conch-passing (or, as he calls it, narration sharing), and resolving an action declaration in a RPG is obviously not conch-passing. Subsequently, Lanefan, Ilbranteloth and Maxperson asserted that resolving action declaration is, in fact, a form of conch-passing, and hence is the sort of thing that Eero is cautioning against. I think this is obviously not what Eero had in mind, for the reasons that both AbdulAlhazred and I have given: whatever we think about action resolution, it is clearly not preparing something in advance of playing the game, nor a proxy for it.

Thursday, 12th April, 2018

  • 03:42 AM - AbdulAlhazred mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... I asked him where they come from - player (in which case it's the agendas he claims to reject) or GM (in which case it's the menu he claims to reject). The fact that the player might ignore any given opportunity doesn't actually answer my question. How is that not "informally signalling an agenda"? What do you think "informally signalling an agenda" looks like, if not the sort of thing you describe here? I've come to the conclusion that what Maxperson really needs is to play in a No Myth Story Now mode for a month as a player and see for himself. Complete with GM explication of the reasoning behind framing specific scenes, etc. I think he's going to see that he's already trying to do it, and his issue is really just one of not having been really exposed to the technique in a way that is conducive to his understanding it. He seems to WANT not to understand, and yet at the same time to DO what he claims he doesn't do and doesn't want to do! I really need to make good on my offer to Ilbranteloth to do some kind of a demo game.

Saturday, 7th April, 2018

  • 03:23 PM - Maxperson mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Obviously, you can use words however you want. But I'm explaining why Ilbranteloth is not making an error in reading Eero Tuovinen. When Eeor Tuovinen refers to "backstory", he is not talking about the outcomes of action resolution. I'm not talking about action resolution, either. Action resolution is different from backstory authority, but can result in changes to backstory as I demonstrated above. The resolution to the action was only to find a secret door or not. Nothing else. The backstory authority comes from a secret door appearing where there was none in the backstory prior to the action resolution. Below is the quote from Tuovinen on backstory. "Backstory authority Backstory is the part of a roleplaying game scenario that “has happened before the game began”. The concept only makes sense when somebody has done preparatory work for the game or is using specific heuristics to simulate such preparation in real-time. For example, if the GM has decided in advance that the butler did it, then that is part of the backstory – it happened before the pl...
  • 02:45 PM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    A character declaring he is searching for a secret door is exercising the authority to declare an action for one's PC. A player creating a secret door via a roll is establishing backstory, as that secret door is now a part of the history of the scene. It now has existed PRIOR to the search for it and is backstory. To me on a success it is, as it's directly adding something to the backstory (in this case, the scene as framed) that wasn't put there by the GM.Obviously, you can use words however you want. But I'm explaining why Ilbranteloth is making an error in reading Eero Tuovinen. When Eero Tuovinen refers to "backstory", he is not talking about the outcomes of action resolution. The backstory was established by the GM in framing the scene.But the GM didn't know there was a secret door there until the player/PC found it, so how could she have already framed it into the scene even in her mind?The GM didn't frame the secret door. It's not part of the backstory. It's presence or absence is being established by way of action resolution. Backstory is not being used by Eero Tuovinen (or me) to denote stuff that, in the fiction, existed. It's being used to denote stuff that, at the table, is already established as part of the shared fiction. In the context of a check for a secret door, the backstory - which is part of the framing - might include that there is a stone wall in an ancient castle built by a people well-known for their cunning engineering. This is another case of being misled by not distinguishing stuf...

Tuesday, 27th March, 2018

  • 10:05 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... one reason why not. Four hours (or whatever) of nothing interesting happening from anything the protagonists do is not a story. It might resemble an Andy Warhol movie, but those are deliberate repudiations of story! (And I'm not sure that anyone actually watches Empire.) And it's these times of frustration that makes times of success all the more rewarding.Failure is not the same things as nothing interesting resulting from what is attempted. If the player's agenda is for her PC to get rich or to accumulate magic items then you're wide open to this sort of thing. Silly, perhaps, but legal by the letter of this narrativistic type of system where success on an action declaration cannot be denied.If everyone at the table knows that the game is not silly, then everyone equally knows that (in the absence of some context, such as searching the home of a fairy) there is no point looking for wands in trees, as there won't be any there. This repeated concern, from you and now Ilbranteloth, that the first things players will do who actually have the power to contribute to the content of the shared fiction will be to find gold and items for their PCs, rests on the same illusion as other concerns you've expressed. The gameworld is not a reality. If you don't want a silly gameworld, it's easy to avoid: just don't author one! If you want PCs who are more than just a Gygaxian id, then build and play them. One of the true appeals of RPGs is that as player you're (in theory) free to try anything, no matter how ridiculous. There shouldn't be any system-based limits on the actions players can declare or have thier PCs attempt.I don't understand what you are claiming here, or what purported contrast you are drawing. What's the DC for your D&D character to flap her arms and fly to the moon? What's the DC for a 1st level character to jump into a volcano and survive? What's the DC for your 1st level fighter PC to try and kill ten orcs in one round? There are all sorts of li...

Monday, 26th March, 2018

  • 10:00 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    In the rogue example the player is clearly and strongly letting the DM know what the PCs is doing and why. That qualifies as full agency, even if that particular example isn't showing all aspects of what Eero talks about in that paragraph.That example has zero to do with what Eero Tuovinen is talking about. Ilbranteloth is just wrong to think that declaring a search for a secret door, and looking for scuff marks as part of that, is the sort of thing that Tuovinen has in mind. the rogue's agenda is clearly to get inside unnoticedThat's not an agenda. It's a means, and a very generic one. Why does the rogue want to enter the castle? What would s/he risk to do so? If s/he is entering stealthily, what provocation would make her reveal herself? These are the sorts of things that show us who the character is, what s/he wants, what her goals are, what sort of person s/he is. I as a player establish my character's personality, interests and agendas. Here's the thing. I don't even have to tell the DM what they are in order for me to bring them out in the game. Nothing is required on the part of the DM. Let's say that I'm playing a dour dwarf(I know, it's a stretch ;) ) who is interested in fine wines and with an agenda to get drunk on fine wine in every town he comes to. Without telling the ...
  • 09:50 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    What we don't see in this example is all the lead-up showing how the rogue got to this point. The agenda and reasons for being here would very likely have long since been established. What the rogue thinks and feels at that particular moment would of course be up to the player to narrate on the fly, should she so desire; as would the decision of what if anything to sacrifice or trade off in order to achieve her immediate goal of stealthily getting into the castle.My point is that Ilbranteloth doesn't tell us anything about (for instance) any such sacrifice being required. Or anything else that brings character personality or agenda to the fore. The only choice the player of the rogue had to make was do I declare a search, or do I not bother? Nothing was at stake. it's not very often that much characterization comes out of what are in effect largely mechanical action declarations. "This is a logical place for a secret door so I'll search for one" tells us maybe a bit about the character, but mostly that's just a simple Search declaration - not much in it; and it's unfair to point at this as a reason for any lack of characterization or personality.What it tells me is that this is not a game in which advocacy, in Eero Tuovinen's sense, is important. And at least in my games most of what we learn about characters comes out of action declarations. I've posted many actual play links in this thread, and described a number as well. Here are just a handful: * A Travel...
  • 01:28 AM - AbdulAlhazred mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...hat it must be undertaken in a strictly linear fashion, is a FIXED set of scenes. If these scenes address character needs and player agenda it by pure chance. 2) The keep itself is, again, not particularly well-adapted to Story Now. It will work as a backdrop to various scenes, but there's nothing especially compelling about it. The Evil Cleric exists as-is. You can confront him, or not, and he will only address player's interests haphazardly at best. There are other characters who are basically either quest-givers or resource dispensers, or both. These characters are mostly peripheral, they could be co-opted into playing a part in the character's story, but nothing about them is ESPECIALLY compelling in this regard, any collection of similar NPCs would do as well. 3) The general premise, the stronghold on the edge of civilization, may or may not be a suitable setting in which to play out the character's story, but we cannot say unless we know what that story is. In terms of what Ilbranteloth has to say about it specifically: OK, the premise is the keep on the edge of civilization. What does this say about civilization? What does it say about wilderness? About their relationship, and that of people, PCs particularly, to either of those things? Establishment of a Fighter, wizard, cleric, and thief: These are generic characters built to classes which are basic archetypes. What is unique about these guys and what compels them? B/X and 1e both ASSUME fighters want to build keeps, wizards want/need components etc, rogues want riches, and clerics want to build temples. What is actually pushing these guys? Does the fighter wish to establish a keep because his family honor is at stake after they lost their holding somewhere else? Is the wizard attempting to achieve some specific magical effect? Why? What is the basis of the cleric's friendship with the fighter? Are they related, old friends, lovers?! What deity does this cleric even serve? Why is the rogue out here on the edge o...

Saturday, 24th March, 2018

  • 09:15 PM - Lanefan mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...d even in a DM-driven game can sometimes have a function - usually when dealing with off-screen details the DM doesn't want to bother with such as determining each inhabitant of the PC's home village. But that type of agency is not a part of the normal run of play, and thus is meaningless in that context. Here's one way that B2 restricts player agency: if a player declares "I want to meet an alchemist in the keep" then, as the module is written, that action will fail. That doesn't restrict their agency at all! They declared an attempted action (thus exercising their agency) and were told that action failed. Which also shows that the characters can't do whatever they like. They can do whatever the established fiction of the keep might permit them to do. Yep. Just like reality, in that regard - if I go to the mall and look for a hardware store, no matter what I do if the mall doesn't have a hardware store I ain't gonna find one there. Side note: thanks to Maxperson and Ilbranteloth for saving me loads of typing these last few days. :) Lanefan

Thursday, 1st March, 2018

  • 10:14 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I think he means the sort of game where once the DM has set the world up and placed the PCs into an initial setting she from there on acts as nothing more than a glorified CPU whose only purposes are to react to what the PCs do, to narrate those reactions neutrally, and to describe the scenery around the PCs wherever they may be. The parameters for action declaration are set by a combination of the rules system in use (what actions are allowed and-or how are they resolved) and the fictional environment in which the PCs are at the time (as per your example of no boats in mid-desert).I understand what sort of game Ilbranteloth is describing. I'm just saying that it's a mistake to say that the GM doesn't influence the action at all. When one says that the fictional environment establishes a parameter for action declaration , and also note that the GM established the fictional environment, we see that the GM is influencing actions a great deal. In thinking about the significance of this for play, I think it's helpful to think about game conventions or conceits. If I turn up to play a session of Moldvay Basic, or of the sort of D&D that Gygax describes in the "Successful Adventuring" section of his PHB, then of course the fictional situation is going to be a dungeon. That's what the game is about. And it has a lot of system elements - mechanics, methods, implicit understandings - to support play in that context. If I turn up to play a game of AD&D and the GM says, "Right, you're in a desert" that's already very different from the Moldvay Basic case.

Thursday, 2nd November, 2017

  • 02:58 PM - Salamandyr mentioned Ilbranteloth in post Group Rule Deal-Breakers
    I find myself in agreement with the way Ilbranteloth does things. Not every character class has to represent a "job" somebody can have in the D&D universe. We don't need Orders of Paladins to have paladins. We just need one guy (the PC) the gods have chosen to bless with those kinds of powers. We don't need tribes of BearBarians; we just need one guy (the PC) who has made a vision quest to the mountaintop to request the blessing of the Bear spirits. Maybe not every priest is a cleric, but the PC is the once in a lifetime holy scion blessed with the powers of the gods. Yeah...fighters are going to exist, but there might be only one Champion. Do sorcerors need to be common? Gandalf was a wizard and Radagast was a druid but they were both Wizards. One can play the D&D game entirely RAW and still keep control of the world, as long as one reinforces the idea that PC's are exceptions even when they're playing as classic a concept as the paladin or cleric.

Thursday, 21st September, 2017

  • 09:34 PM - DeJoker mentioned Ilbranteloth in post A New Thought About Skills
    @Ilbranteloth you got ahead of me -- please look again at my previous post I think that will help you understand what I was getting at -- if you still do not understand let me know and I make an even more verbose version
  • 05:58 AM - Harzel mentioned Ilbranteloth in post Casting multiple spells with bonus spells and the order they are cast.
    I see I have arrived late and @Ilbranteloth has found a definitive tweet from Crawford. Nevertheless, I will add this, let us say, for completeness. I'll try again. Reactions are not part of your turn, even if they hasten during your turn. We can tell because the rules provide what you can do on your turn and reactions aren't part of it (you get a move, and action, and maybe a bonus action). Reactions are a special action that can happen anytime - during your turn, during someone else's turn, whenever it's trigger happens. So far, so good. Here's the bit that I'm saying. The restriction on casting due to bonus action casting is a specific rule that trumps the general rule of what you do on your turn. That's the extent of the exception: only what you can do with your turn is affected. Therefore, even though your reaction may trigger during your turn and occur on it, outs not part of your turn (it's a special action outside of what you can do on your turn), and so restrictions on what you can do on your turn do not app...

Monday, 28th August, 2017

  • 07:53 AM - Hussar mentioned Ilbranteloth in post Point Buy vs Rolling for Stats
    At that point, I'm honestly wondering why you'd bother rolling Ilbranteloth. Those arrays you listed are pretty much standard arrays. Certainly within a couple of points anyway. Besides that guy with the 17 Dex and 15 con who's pretty much just begging to be a fighter or rogue. So, he's going to start with an 18 or 19 Dex. Effectively a bonus feat at first level. Sweet. He's actually better than EVERY rogue will ever be who starts with a point buy. Nice. As a fighter, he attacks several levels higher and has a better AC than the heavy armor characters for a fraction of the cost. Again, sweet. Never minding that poor schmuck you force to play the 12, 10, 10, 11, 14, 10 array. Whoohoo. I have to be a fighter or rogue who will never, ever be equal to Bob sitting beside me. Fantastic. Gimme more of that please. Yeah, no thanks. It's funny. We play with array or point buy (player choice) and yet, despite my current campaign of no casters (two rangers, a paladin, two fighters and a monk) none of the characters have even remotely similar s...

Sunday, 27th August, 2017


Saturday, 26th August, 2017

  • 08:34 PM - DEFCON 1 mentioned Ilbranteloth in post How do I build an interesting climbing challenge/encounter? Tipps please!
    I think Ilbranteloth is right on the money. If you map the climb route like you would a dungeon, you'll be able to plot out and lay out much of what he says. The description of each area as you reach it (and what is there to look at, grab, hold, use), the different pathways up, the different encounters at various "chambers" of the climb. And most importantly... treat a lot of the hand holds, shelves, outcroppings etc. the same way you might treat traps in a dungeon-- it's not enough to just say "I disarm the trap!" and then get told to make a Thieves' Tool check... you need to actually describe what it is you are doing first and *then* roll the check to see how well you accomplish it (and if what you were describing had nothing to do with what needed to be done, then the trap goes off regardless.) By the same token, the PCs need to describe how, where ropes are tied off, where they stand and grab, make Perception/Investigation/Survival checks to verify things, and *then* get to make Athletics checks (o...

Monday, 14th August, 2017

  • 07:04 PM - clutchbone mentioned Ilbranteloth in post The Thug, A Subclass for Strength Rogues
    ...can’t cast spells that include a verbal component. In addition, when you successfully shove a creature, you can knock the target prone and push it up to 10 feet away from you. Cheap Shot When you reach 17th level, you've honed your ability to strike when the opportunity presents itself. When you use your action to grapple or shove a creature, you can use your bonus action to make a weapon attack against that creature. Things I'd like to add but am unsure about: - adding unarmed strike for Sneak Attack (ie eye gouging, fish hooking, headbutting), would work great (too great?) with grappling. - a version of the Mastermind's 13th lvl feature Misdirection, "use a reaction to force an attack to target the creature you're grappling with instead of you". Idea stemmed from Larrin's input. - Delete Dirty Work's advantage on grapple/shove checks (with expertise & reliable talent, adv. is just overkill) and replace with Cheap Shot. Too powerful at 3rd level? Things I thought about: - Ilbranteloth's reaction v. prone, but thought 1) it requires teammates, limited use when no one else can prone for you, 2) if teammates can prone for you, theoretically limitless source of off-turn reaction sneak attacks (two sneak attacks per round) is more powerful than comparable features (Thief's Reflexes, Death Strike). - Xeviat Remathilis , I have no issue with the mechanical balance of Sneak Attacking with any weapon. Personally I just prefer the image of thugs using one-handed weapons; grab enemy with one hand, shank/bash with the other. I left versatile in mostly because of wording issues, and justified it to myself with baseballs bats (versatile quarterstaves) seeming thematic.
  • 02:18 PM - lkwpeter mentioned Ilbranteloth in post Make Characters being affected from conditions without telling Players explicitly?
    WoW! Your tipps are amazing - all of them! But special thanks to @Ilbranteloth and @Quickleaf. Your suggestions are absolutely fantastic. I will mix them, because they seem to fit quite well. So, there will be real lights that will also be placed as tokens on the map. These light will try to influence the characters. I will ask for a D20 roll without saying it's a WIS saving throw. After they rolled, I will tell that the characters with high rolles recognize something like"tiny sun rays clustering and forming to little light globes" . They will think that they rolled a perception check. Characters that failed their save will believe that these globes will guide the right way through the forest. Characters that succeed their save will also see lights. They will also find them wonderful and nice, but they have no "connection" to them. The won't be able to communicate and therefore will not understand why the "charmed characters" are so obsessed about these globes. Aims of the globes: What could they aim for? Make the group get lost in the forest? Lead them to d...
  • 08:52 AM - Hussar mentioned Ilbranteloth in post Resting and the frikkin' Elephant in the Room
    ... with police officers. Funnily enough, police officers find crimes pretty much everywhere they go. However, that doesn't mean that crimes are committed everywhere. Encounters are how you build campaigns. Not worlds. Your encounters will be informed by your world building, but, the reverse is not true. Back a few pages ago, Lanefan mentioned a group of 100 soldiers wandering down a road and meeting something that disagreed with them and only 17 survived to return. Yet, at no point, were any mechanics actually used. I'm going to bet dollars to donuts that he never rolled a single random encounter, never rolled any combat mechanics, never actually engaged the game in any way, shape or form. Yet, I'll double down and bet even more dollars to donuts, that if the PC's walk down that EXACT same road, random encounters will be rolled and every encounter, random or otherwise, will be played out using the mechanics. Mechanics DO NOT APPLY to the world. End of story. Even Ilbranteloth who claims to use random encounters and mechanics when PC's aren't present only does so arbitrarily. He (or she, appologies) won't use them for every single NPC in his entire world. Not even for a tiny fraction of NPC's. And, I'll bet that not a single classed or leveled NPC has been created using actual encounter mechanics. The argument is ludicrous on its face. Game mechanics might inspire world building. And world building will certainly impact encounter creation, but, there is no evidence whatsoever that the reverse is true.


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Wednesday, 18th April, 2018

  • 09:18 PM - shidaku quoted Ilbranteloth in post Duergar and "nonstandard" races
    I just reread this part, and it's just not right. In D&D, evil is evil. Being evil isn't about legality. And in any good society a lawful evil creature will do a great many illegal things. It's more than just screwing everyone else over. It's that they have no qualms about committing acts of evil. They also value order (that's the lawful part), but that doesn't mean they adhere to somebody else's order. Something like theft isn't in and of itself evil. It might seem like it leans that way, but stealing bread to feed your family, for example, doesn't. Theft can only occur along with the "civilized" concept of ownership. If theft can't exist where there is no ownership, then it can't necessarily be a universal measure of good and evil. Murder, torture, slavery, wanton destruction, etc. aren't dependent upon the laws of people. Yes, they can certainly make laws that define or even eliminate the legal ramifications of performing some of these acts. Even in a lawful good society, killing others is acc...
  • 04:32 PM - Gadget quoted Ilbranteloth in post Let's talk power words!
    The opposite of what others seem to want, which is a more powerful spell. I'm fine with it as is, and like it better than the AD&D version which was stronger in comparison because of the lower hit points of monsters. I have suggested a modification to force a system shock check when used against creatures that have more than 100 hp. At a minimum the creature can't take reactions until the end of their next turn, it has a 20% chance of imposing disadvantage on their attack rolls, a 20% chance of stunning them, and a 30% chance of dropping them to 0 hp (which in many cases would be the instant kill that others seem to want against more powerful creatures). I also like the variability of this approach, rather than a fixed effect. Fair enough. That sounds like an interesting option, and I must have glossed over your system shock suggestion, I had to look it up in the DMG. Seems like a viable option. The game has traditionally been balanced via hit points, and starting with 2e they started i...
  • 11:48 AM - CapnZapp quoted Ilbranteloth in post Let's talk power words!
    So you’re expecting an instant kill of the BBEG at the start of the fight? No. Read my reply to my fellow Captain just above. :)
  • 02:49 AM - Gadget quoted Ilbranteloth in post Let's talk power words!
    I suppose when I think about it, I'm looking for the opposite. The idea that a high level wizard has a spell that would allow them to automatically kill 1 BBEG (whatever that might be, such as the 1e dragons given in examples above) is way too overpowered from a world-building standpoint. The opposite of what? balanced? You seem to be saying that the only options are: have the spell not be to particularly useful for its level, or instantly pawn almost any foe. There are other ways. Perhaps it could have a lesser effect (stun, slow, etc.) on foes with greater than 100 hp. IIRC 3e had something like this over several categories of HP ranges. Or the spell could just do a boatload of damage to those who's HP total exceeded the limit, as I proposed above. Or even a casting time of a bonus action or reaction. To be fair, I generally have problems with the way high level magic scales in campaigns, and for that matter, high level adventurers. While 5e has reigned things in a bit with boun...
  • 02:45 AM - SkidAce quoted Ilbranteloth in post Let's talk power words!
    In terms of it being the one and only 9th level spell per day, I can certainly understand the desire for things to be balanced between spells. But I've never really worried about the level of a spell per se, or if the wizard's spell is just the "finishing" spell as CapnZapp mentions. I've always viewed and played D&D as a group thing, that the group succeeding or failing is what's important. Not necessarily who did what with what level spell. If power word kill allows me to prevent the party from being subjected to additional damage or danger by taking out the last 3 hp of the BBEG, then cool. That was the point - I don't really care how much the others did or didn't do (as long as the spell worked). Although if the spell didn't work, that's just as fun anyway. It just leads into a new circumstance that has to be resolved. My reason for resurrecting the thread was the incredible difference I discovered depending on who is casting the spell, PC or NPC. So you enter the evil liche's throne r...
  • 01:22 AM - shidaku quoted Ilbranteloth in post Duergar and "nonstandard" races
    That sounds mostly like chaotic good to me. The evil portion is lacking, for example, it’s not always “cast aside” but destroyed. Evil creatures conduct too many “crimes” and their allies know too much. I disagree. The strongpoint of lawful evil and it's ability to remain party-friendly is in the fact that nothing they do is technically illegal. A lawful evil individual is much akin to a politician, they'll use the system to protect themselves, enrich themselves and generally screw everyone else over. An evil character by definition doesn’t view murder, torture, oppression, and similar evil acts as problematic or distasteful. It goes beyond “just what’s best for me” and adds “by any means necessary.” If that means I must kill my “best” friend, or his mother, so be it. To the first part, they may not, but neutral and lawful evil shouldn't view them as necessary either. Neutral evil tortures because it is efficient. Like true neutral, their concern is a resolution, they just have a lowe...
  • 12:36 AM - Tony Vargas quoted Ilbranteloth in post Let's talk power words!
    To be fair, I generally have problems with the way high level magic scales in campaigns, and for that matter, high level adventurers. Since they stopped allowing spells to be disrupted in combat, and eliminated most of the risks associated with a lot of the spells, the balance has been off even more. In terms of it being the one and only 9th level spell per day, I can certainly understand the desire for things to be balanced between spells. The 'balance' is likely to be more in a 'right spell for the job,' way. Wish lets you do anything less powerful than a 9th level spell, the other 9th level spells each do their thing. Power Word Kill's thing is that it's a Power Word. Which used to count for something when short casting times (theoretically, the exact mechanics were iffy) made a big difference. I've always viewed and played D&D as a group thing, that the group succeeding or failing is what's important. That shifts the balance consideration from "is character A able to pwn character B"...

Tuesday, 17th April, 2018

  • 11:55 PM - Gadget quoted Ilbranteloth in post Let's talk power words!
    So what do you mean when you say “it cannot even deal with some CR5 creatures?” Do you mean to say it should be able to kill them outright without them being reduced to below their maximum hit points? Kind of. If there is a particularly beefy opponent, maybe not. I guess you would have to investigate the average HP per CR, to really look into it. I guess that’s a question that needs to be addressed altogether - if you’re not happy with the effectiveness of the spell, what CR should the spell target? That is, creatures of this CR or lower are automatically killed. Is it the 12 levels of difference? To look at it a different way, how many levels of difference does a fighter need to guarantee a kill in 1 round? Should the spell not be similar? Does the fighter only get one of these attacks a day? I would like the spell to be worth consideration of the one and only 9th level spell slot a caster gets a day. I'm not sure it is, as written. Even setting aside the whole 'does the pl...
  • 11:01 PM - CapnZapp quoted Ilbranteloth in post Let's talk power words!
    So what do you mean when you say “it cannot even deal with some CR5 creatures?” Do you mean to say it should be able to kill them outright without them being reduced to below their maximum hit points? I guess that’s a question that needs to be addressed altogether - if you’re not happy with the effectiveness of the spell, what CR should the spell target? That is, creatures of this CR or lower are automatically killed. Is it the 12 levels of difference? To look at it a different way, how many levels of difference does a fighter need to guarantee a kill in 1 round? Should the spell not be similar? Somebody better at the math than me will have to figure that out. Not Gadget, but if I'm gonna spend my only level 9 slot on a single target spell... ... that target needs to be pretty much taken out of the fight guaranteed. And even then, only if we're facing a true BBEG. Exactly the kind of enemy the spell is the most useless against! Wasting it on a run-of-the-mill CR 5 mook is a stupe...

Monday, 16th April, 2018

  • 08:18 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Ilbranteloth in post 5e & PF2 - Why Choose the Same Approach?
    My hope is that PF2 will do a lot of what 5e seems to be doing - bring new gamers to the hobby, rather than just shifting existing gamers to the current system. As the only TTRPG with significant mainstream name recognition, bringing new gamers to the hobby has almost always been D&D's sole responsibility (for a bit, in the 90s, as the initial CCG fad cut into D&Ds traditional demographic, Vampire LARPs were arguably bringing in more new RPGers, however indirectly). And outside the fad years it's never been great at either attracting or retaining them, mainly because it faces the same dilemma any nerd-hobby does when trying to mainstream: the basic product is inaccessible if not outright repugnant to mainstream tastes, but any changes that might make it more palatable can outrage the existing nerdy fans, creating toxic buzz that repels the mainstream before they can even be repelled by the actual content. 2e and 3.x, in their own quite different ways, both had a lot of appeal to existing D&Ders,...
  • 02:05 PM - pemerton quoted Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Aaaaaand there we go. You've answered your own question and the thread can be closed! The purpose of world building is so the GM can have more cool things they can't wait to share. That covers absolutely everything I wanted to say. Because I'm not writing stuff for the players to determine what's in my notes. I'm writing stuff to help me figure out what cool things are going on, and determining when and where I can share them.The words you quote aren't mine, they're Vincent Baker's. And of course he's putting them forward in explaining why he thinks the game is better if the GM avoids using "secret backstory".
  • 01:28 PM - pemerton quoted Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    a GM determining ahead of time that a secret door does or does not exist has no bearing on your agency. You are still free to search for a secret door. It does have a bearing on the potential success of that action.It bears on agency in the following way: if I, playing my PC, would like to discover a secret door here and now, the GM has already decided whether or not that is possible. Hence my agency, as a player, over the fiction concerning my character, is constrained by and mediated through the GM's unrevealed decision. You may be indifferent to that particular burden on this particular way of a player manifesting agency, but it's there. Part of what a lot of people seem to enjoy in RPGs is overcoming obstacles, and succeeding in the adventure, not a single use of a skill.Well, to requote something from Ron Edwards, "[t]here cannot be any 'the story' during Narrativist play". That is, there is no "the adventure". To quote again from Eero, Story is an outcome of the process as choices...
  • 01:09 PM - pemerton quoted Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... Poker face: on!” And then I’m like “wait a sec. I want them to figure out what’s wrong in the town. In fact, I want to show them what’s wrong! Otherwise they’ll wander around waiting for me to drop them a clue, I’ll have my dumb poker face on, and we’ll be bored stupid the whole evening.” So instead of having the NPC say “oh no, I meant that things are going just fine, and I shut up now,” I have the NPC launch into his or her tirade. “Things are awful! This person’s sleeping with this other person not with me, they murdered the schoolteacher, blood pours down the meeting house walls every night!” ...Or sometimes, the NPC wants to lie, instead. That’s okay! I have the NPC lie. You’ve watched movies. You always can tell when you’re watching a movie who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. And wouldn’t you know it, most the time the players are looking at me with skeptical looks, and I give them a little sly nod that yep, she’s lying. . . . Then the game goes somewhere. You, Ilbranteloth, are assuming that GM authority over backstory equals secret backstory. But it doesn't. Because, as Vincent Baker shows us in the passage I just quoted, the GM can author the backstory but reveal it to the players. This is how the "standard narrativistic model" works - the GM frames the PCs into situations. The elements of framing are backstory, but - just as DitV illustrates - they're not secret. It's an important part of PbtA also - the GM establishes the fiction by performing narrations in response to player moves (both failed moves - 6 or down - and half-way successful moves - 7 to 9 - and in some cases even fully successful moves where the player's result is 10+). When you sit down at a gaming table and are told that the game is taking place in Europe, 1943, and you can be a French, UK, or US soldier, it doesn't inhibit your agency. It shapes it.That is not secret backstory. It is revealed backstory. It is genre, feeding into framing. If the GM decided at the beginning ...
  • 04:43 AM - Tony Vargas quoted Ilbranteloth in post 5e & PF2 - Why Choose the Same Approach?
    PF doesn’t necessarily need to do better than D&D. It did sell a bit better than D&D a few times, and it's fans made a lot out if that, those particular fans could react badly if PF2 doesn't do well enough (whatever 'enough' might be for them). I doubt they're a huge number or that they'd war against a new/different PF the way they did a new/different D&D. They just have to maintain sales to be a viable business. One other factor is development costs, if, like 5e, PF2 keeps it's staff and costs down, it won't need as high sales to be profitable, that could be a reason to adopt some 5e-isms, like slow pace of release, or re-cycling older mechanics. It’s kind of similar to how the Wii became so popular. 5e’s simplicity is pulling in a lot of people who would never play D&D in its more complex forms. But there’s still a market for those who like more crunch. The difference between 5e & PF isn't simplicity, D&D has never been simple, it's varied a little here and there in the nature of its com...

Sunday, 15th April, 2018

  • 03:43 PM - Rossbert quoted Ilbranteloth in post Have you ever intentionally ignored a character aspect?
    I have lots of players that do that. In particular I’ve seen a lot of rogues that don’t use Sneak Attack or Cunning Action. We’ve tweaked the rules a lot impart to address this. First, as a DM I’m always happy to consider other abilities, skills, feats, or class abilities from another class if it makes sense for that character. We aren’t concerned about our niche or role based on abilities or class, but in developing interesting characters. We also don’t have any min/maxers, and about half the players don’t even know the mechanical aspects of the abilities they have. My approach as DM reduces focus on the mechanical aspects as well. I use passive skill checks extensively, which takes into account character skills, and apply modifiers (usually including advantage/disadvantage) based on the PC’s decisions and actions, along with the circumstances. Combined with degrees of success and failure, a +1 or +2 helps, but it’s not essential since your actions will usually have a greater impact. ...

Saturday, 14th April, 2018

  • 09:10 PM - Lanefan quoted Ilbranteloth in post Can anyone point me to an excellent, visual, article on dungeon design? (or the lost images of a certain enworld thread xD)
    I often have strict linear dungeons because that’s what makes sense. I don’t design a dungeon to be interesting as a place for gamers to explore. It exists for a reason. For example, most tombs are a simple linear design ( and often use maps of actual tombs). Sometimes there are a couple of choices, but for the most part they are just simple tombs. That’s not to say you can’t Jaquay it. But in that case it’s usually because of natural causes (erosion, weather, earthquakes, etc) or creatures such as burrowing monsters, or prior expeditions that have altered the dungeon. I also try to design as if living breathing people actually once lived there...but even then it's not that hard to come up with reasons for loops and interweaving: trap bypasses, secret exits, servants hallways vs. nobles hallways/stairs, etc. A good example of this - and not to pick on gamerprinter but if he will insist on graciously putting his maps on here for us to analyze... :) - is in the map in post 9 there would ...

Saturday, 7th April, 2018

  • 02:39 PM - CapnZapp quoted Ilbranteloth in post Anyone else tired of the miserly begrudging Rogue design of 5E?
    Yeah, that's kind of where I usually land too. Thanks for doing the math, though, it helps clarify that. Although the 20th level math in D&D is still a lot higher than my preference across the board. Really, I guess if the Sneak Attack damage isn't enough for some, the easiest option would be to increase the die size for Sneak Attack. Instead of a d6, go with a d8 or d10. Or start at 1st level with 2d4 instead of 1d6. So I guess that's a question for CapnZapp - is it just DPR that you're looking for? If so, what's the target number? Because once you have a target number, it's easy to tweak things to meet those numbers. If it's not just DPR, then what exactly are you looking for? Increasing the damage die is certainly doable... but I would say it is pretty much identical to what I suggested myself? Whether you gain one d6 each level or a d12 every other level is not important. I prefer a nice even progression (Nd6 at level N) over "strange" die combos myself. But let's not forget my...
  • 03:01 AM - Oofta quoted Ilbranteloth in post Anyone else tired of the miserly begrudging Rogue design of 5E?
    Yeah, that's kind of where I usually land too. Thanks for doing the math, though, it helps clarify that. Although the 20th level math in D&D is still a lot higher than my preference across the board. Really, I guess if the Sneak Attack damage isn't enough for some, the easiest option would be to increase the die size for Sneak Attack. Instead of a d6, go with a d8 or d10. Or start at 1st level with 2d4 instead of 1d6. So I guess that's a question for CapnZapp - is it just DPR that you're looking for? If so, what's the target number? Because once you have a target number, it's easy to tweak things to meet those numbers. If it's not just DPR, then what exactly are you looking for? Apparently for people to agree with him and tell him that his solution is the best solution ever. I'm sure we could go back through this list and there have been several suggestions. Increasing the dice damage, making it easier to get multiple sneak attacks (via magic item or simply removing the 1/turn limit...
  • 01:17 AM - Helldritch quoted Ilbranteloth in post Anyone else tired of the miserly begrudging Rogue design of 5E?
    Beyond that, if I were to consider altering the Sneak Attack mechanism, I might look back to earlier editions that multiplied damage instead of adding damage. This can be much more variable (not just because of the die rolls, but the die types used, etc.). Perhaps the Proficiency bonus could be used as the multiplier (x2 at 1st level, x3 at 5th level, etc.) I have no idea how the math scales out, and the damage increase happens slower. But it might address the issue that you have. Although I still think that the rogue is fine as it is, this idea caught my eyes. 20th level Assassin... +1 Rapier, 20 dex. 14 max damage multiplied by 6. For a total of 84 dmg. +1 Arrow, Longbow... Same results... Factor in the SS feat... 144 dmg. And that is just one attack. One attack that will normaly be made with advantage. That strike can kill a lot of things. That is way too much damage if you want my opinion. At least a fighter with the PM and GWM will have to roll a few dice and might miss some attack...

Friday, 6th April, 2018

  • 10:27 AM - CapnZapp quoted Ilbranteloth in post Anyone else tired of the miserly begrudging Rogue design of 5E?
    Although in a game that is not as focused on combat, the rogue is often a central character through the non-combat encounters. So bumping them up to be as good as the others in combat unbalances those games. Another option would be to look at the other options and consider reducing the damage of others. 5e combat is often very quick, over in a matter of a few rounds. Bumping up the damage output of the rogue would probably shorten it more. I refuse the argument "you need to remain weak, little rogue, so us others can have enough combat time". The rogue isn't "as good as the others", you yourself said it. But there is nothing the Rogue can do out of combat that is qualitatively better than what a Druid or Warlock or Bard can do out of combat. They don't do the same things (at least not in the same way), but they can all pick ooc tasks and be successful at them. --- So I ask again - why single out the Rogue as the sole class with no or little build flexibility to contribute in combat esp...


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Ilbranteloth's 5th Ed DM Screen (incorporating house rules)
OK, V3 and I think I'm pretty satisfied with it. If there's anything missing that you'd like to see added, let me know.

The portrait and landscape versions are slightly different in order to fit them on their respective pages. All of the info is the...
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