View Profile: Jay Verkuilen - D&D, Pathfinder, and RPGs at Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
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    Friday, 4th May, 2018, 07:50 PM
    Or the hobgoblins. They have some nasty upgrades like the monk and caster. I tend to think of hobgoblins as the masters of the goblinoids, including goblins (servants, cannon fodder, and tinkerers/alchemists) and bugbears (unpredictable muscle/scouts). The others tend to get bullied around by the much more organized hobs, but of course they deeply resent them, too, so one of the keys to fighting...
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  • Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
    Friday, 4th May, 2018, 02:38 PM
    At higher levels, the addition of a flind or two makes the gnolls feel very different. I ran an encounter with a bunch at high level (16th?) and the PCs didn't adequately focus on the flind, much to their detriment as the pack rolled over them. The base monsters are still just guys who beat on the PCs in slightly different ways but their upper tier monsters and tactics will differentiate them.
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  • Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
    Friday, 4th May, 2018, 01:10 AM
    Spellcasters can work in the kind of system found in AIME if there are ways for them to get some power back on short rests. Most of the rest of the time they'd be relying on things like cantrips or good old fashioned weapons. Many might multiclass, too. If I were doing a low fantasy adaptation of 5E that was allowing for magic, I'd shift things around, though. For instance, I'd probably give more...
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  • Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
    Friday, 4th May, 2018, 12:44 AM
    I agree. You can't and shouldn't always optimize every combat to the max, but if you just run everything totally by the numbers and attack in the most obvious way your combats will be boring. It also helps keep the more punk monsters threatening without slowing down the game if they're doing useful things like push. As to fireballing your friends... hey sometimes that has to happen, and it's...
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  • Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
    Friday, 4th May, 2018, 12:19 AM
    He's giving them essentially no reason to try for him, so unless he draws some aggro, I'm not sure what he's adding. Absolutely, I totally agree, you want to play monsters differently. Orcs and chaotic evil giant types go for the biggest, baddest threat they can find. Hobgoblins do the coordinated assault, reflecting their militaristic nature (and watch out if they have any...
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  • Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
    Friday, 4th May, 2018, 12:10 AM
    ] That's actually a really good encounter. It feels relentless and scary, which all too many combats do not. That's a decent enough approximation for the gaming table. (Note: I have advanced degrees in statistics and a decent enough approximation to answer the question is very much what most of the field is about. You could refine it but it probably won't get much bang for the buck.) ...
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  • Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
    Friday, 4th May, 2018, 12:03 AM
    Check out Cubicle 7's Adventures in Middle Earth. The rest system works exactly that way and it makes a BIG difference. Things like the bard's Song of Rest (retitled for AIME but never mind that) are actually valuable as opposed to being relatively minor afterthoughts.
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  • Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
    Friday, 4th May, 2018, 12:00 AM
    Just ignore him and let him "win". Let's break it down: Brother Turtell of Shellneck has a very high AC and some damage reduction off the top from Heavy Armor Master. Then he takes the Dodge action and casts one of his three precious spells as Shield of Faith to make his AC even higher. He's contributing essentially no threat and thus draws no aggro. Ignore him and beat on characters that are...
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  • Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
    Thursday, 3rd May, 2018, 11:50 PM
    I've played two warlocks, well multiclassers with a lot of warlock, one MCed with rogue and the other with bard. One changed patrons due to story reasons, from the Archfey (actually in the campaign fluff an old PC of mine who was imprisoned) to the Raven Queen. Partly this was due to my own general wanderlust after playing the same character type for many levels, but it also made strong sense in...
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About Jay Verkuilen

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Opening Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes Wednesday, 23rd May, 2018 03:36 AM

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Thursday, 2nd November, 2017

  • 03:52 AM - pming mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Loops in RPG Adventure and Game Design
    Hiya! Jay Verkuilen, yes, exactly. For a video game this is fine, the "loop method" works...minor variations of the general 'thing'. Different weapons, enemies, etc...but it's still very much the same thing: combat and tactics. Toss in a little bit of percieved overland travel to break it up, maybe a cutscene or two, but it's still a loop of "fight, fight, fight, fight, end, roll credits". This works for a lot of video games...even MMO's where people do the same "boss fights" over and over to get specific rewards. If you know what you are going into, this isn't a problem, it's a feature. :) In a First Person Shooter, I'm expecting to be doing a lot of shooting bad guys. For table top RPG's, however, using the loop method just isn't going to work. Well, I suppose it could if everyone at the table is going for this sort of game. The only time I can remember doing this was when we played the Street Fighter RPG when if was first released. Then again...it's a TTRPG based on a video game, so...uh...yeah. ;) ...

Sunday, 1st October, 2017

  • 01:57 PM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Power Creep
    Can't you just use classes and monsters from AD&D?I wasn't replying to you. I know (from reading earlier posts/threads of yours) that you want a system for pricing/buying/building magic items that is balanced from the point of view of PC build mechanics. But that didn't seem to be what Jay Verkuilen was asking for. It's quite conceivable that there is no mechanic that will meet your requirements. But Jay Verkuilen pointed to AD&D as providng an example of what he might want - and the AD&D rules manifestly are not a balanced system of PC-build rules. Rather, they're guidelines for how the GM should handle the item-creation process, which includes injecting balance at whatever point s/he wants to in whatever way s/he wants to. It's nothing like what 3E or 4e provided. (And it seems to be widely recognised that 3E fails in what you're asking for, and 4e largely achieves it by making magic items "boring".) To some degree I could, but it would require a good bit of calibrating to get right. I won't say that the 1E system was perfect, just that it's there. I shouldn't have to. That's what I pay game designers to do. It's not some kind of weird monster that only appeared in 2E, it's fairly core functionality.The AD&D system has rules for costing potions - gp = to XP value, whic...

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Wednesday, 23rd May, 2018

  • 11:52 PM - gyor quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Opening Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes
    Definitely, and before the whole War Among the Seldarine, Correlon was getting down with both Sehanine and Araushnee, though I guess it depends on which of the various origin stories you believe. Among others, I mean Araushnee was his wife, but few Gods practice mongomy, eternity is simply too long and it interfers with any planes to have half mortal childern. I mean he promoted Celanil for her ability to love, Zandilar for her Capcity for lust, and that third god for his ability to party, and Keptolo for his Hedonism, so he likely tested them out first to see if they were worthy of Godhood.
  • 04:18 AM - Mike Myler quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Mythological Figures: Daedelus (5E)
    This is a tough one. D&D doesn't really have a useful crafting system to speak of, certainly not the kind of "items are so amazing they push into magic" that Daedalus would do unless you want to treat his impressive craftings as reskinned spells. I guess I just don't feel like this really does the greatest craftsman of the age, especially with his high skills in Investigation and Insight and not in Carpenter's Tools, literally the thing he's famous for inventing! I think you might consider some possibilities such as making him a multiclass bard/knowledge cleric/rogue, to cherry pick as many expertises as possible and choose spells that back up his crafting ability, e.g., Guidance. I'm also not convinced that Neutral Good is a fitting alignment for a man who murdered his own nephew out of spite.... Tool kits aren't inherently tied to any one ability score--they're usually used with one score, but they aren't tied to it in the same way that a skill is. I alluded to that in the Design Notes but as...
  • 02:41 AM - dave2008 quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Mythological Figures: Daedelus (5E)
    This is a tough one. D&D doesn't really have a useful crafting system to speak of, certainly not the kind of "items are so amazing they push into magic" that Daedalus would do unless you want to treat his impressive craftings as reskinned spells. I guess I just don't feel like this really does the greatest craftsman of the age, especially with his high skills in Investigation and Insight and not in Carpenter's Tools, literally the thing he's famous for inventing! I think you might consider some possibilities such as making him a multiclass bard/knowledge cleric/rogue, to cherry pick as many expertises as possible and choose spells that back up his crafting ability, e.g., Guidance. Well he would probably a good choice for an artificer class, if we had one!

Tuesday, 8th May, 2018

  • 05:56 AM - ad_hoc quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Dungeons & Dragons has 15 Million Players in NA Alone; Storyline Is "The Da Vinci Code meets Gangs of New York"
    I'm guessing that most of the "players" are people have had fairly minimal contact, not what people on a game board would count as "regular players". Furthermore, WotC has a tendency to lump Neverwinter players in with TTRPG players. Both of these things make their numbers a lot rosier than tighter definitions of "players" would be. But yeah, I don't think they're outright making things up and there has clearly been a growth in female players. Most of my objection to comments on this thread are about people who clearly know nothing about survey methodology spouting off. In early 2017 Chris Cocks estimated there were 9.5 million active players of the tabletop game worldwide. 2017 was a great year for D&D and now we're halfway through 2018. The new estimates are 12-15 million in North America. The Amazon sales rankings corroborate this as they continue to rise. Nothing in the numbers are shocking to me. The truth is, long time hobby gamers are now a minority of D&D players. They no longer...

Monday, 7th May, 2018


Friday, 4th May, 2018

  • 08:13 PM - iserith quoted Jay Verkuilen in post High AC and encounters
    Or the hobgoblins. They have some nasty upgrades like the monk and caster. I tend to think of hobgoblins as the masters of the goblinoids, including goblins (servants, cannon fodder, and tinkerers/alchemists) and bugbears (unpredictable muscle/scouts). The others tend to get bullied around by the much more organized hobs, but of course they deeply resent them, too, so one of the keys to fighting them is to figure out those fractures. Hobgoblins have taken over entire countries. Gnolls are a pack with pack rules. They never get that large due to their inherent chaotic natures. Orcs are, for story reasons, no longer existing in my campaign world, although there are some half orcs. I guess I'd have to think how I'd differentiate them. I'm fond of the hobgoblin monks. That was a good addition to the book. I rewrote Red Hand of Doom and ran that for my last campaign and it features goblins and hobgoblins heavily. I also had them in the campaign previous to that, The Delve, a town-to-dungeon ca...
  • 03:14 PM - iserith quoted Jay Verkuilen in post High AC and encounters
    At higher levels, the addition of a flind or two makes the gnolls feel very different. I ran an encounter with a bunch at high level (16th?) and the PCs didn't adequately focus on the flind, much to their detriment as the pack rolled over them. The base monsters are still just guys who beat on the PCs in slightly different ways but their upper tier monsters and tactics will differentiate them. For sure. The higher order gnolls are good like that. The orcs in Volo's are no slouches either.
  • 12:50 AM - TheSword quoted Jay Verkuilen in post High AC and encounters
    Check out Cubicle 7's Adventures in Middle Earth. The rest system works exactly that way and it makes a BIG difference. Things like the bard's Song of Rest (retitled for AIME but never mind that) are actually valuable as opposed to being relatively minor afterthoughts. Yeah, I’m currently a player in the Mirkwood campaign and loving it. The lack of spellcasters removes the biggest issue, which stops it making the game too much harder. The solution would certainly stop the 15 minute adventuring day. Albeit if spells like secure shelter and rope trick were amended.
  • 12:30 AM - Oofta quoted Jay Verkuilen in post High AC and encounters
    ] That's actually a really good encounter. It feels relentless and scary, which all too many combats do not. Yeah, the first time I pulled that trick on a player I really wish I had had a camera. The look on his face was pretty priceless. Then the "oh #$%#" reaction of the other players as he simply disappeared under a sea of rotting corpses and they couldn't even see him any more. I think they ended up fireballing the mob, PC included. :devil: Not something to to all the time, but it's always good to mix things up and threaten characters in ways they aren't expecting.
  • 12:05 AM - dave2008 quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Mythological Figures: Aladdin (5E)
    Usually you can figure a CR from comparison to various NPCs built to approximate a PC listed in the MM and Volo's. I don't have it in front of me but a rough guide is 2*Hit Dice/3, so I think Alladin's CR is probably too low by that logic. Of course, I tend to think that the CR math is wonky but even so, it looks too low. Of course this build is pretty far from optimized for a combat challenge, so... eh. In the right kind of game, this would be a fun PC. Oh, let me clarify. I am quite proficient at calculating CR per the DMG and that is how I prefer to do it. I am only interested in comparative analysis as check after the CR has been calculated. However, the DMG doesn't have all possible features / traits listed that could affect CR. That is why I was asking another designer how they handled features that are not explicitly listed in the DMG or do not have obvious analogs. I was not so interested in the final CR, but how the author got there - does that make sense?

Wednesday, 25th April, 2018


Tuesday, 24th April, 2018

  • 03:07 PM - WyleType quoted Jay Verkuilen in post White Wolf Announces Vampire The Masquerade 5E Preorder And Distribution Partnership With Modiphius Entertainment
    I can't think of a better description of 5E than "workmanlike." It barely incorporates any of the new design features that two generations of games have evolved, even though to us old timers many of them in the late 90s were evident as things many folks wanted. It has essentially no rules that allow the player to take an "authorial role", barely existent personality mechanics, a poorly designed skill system, no real economy or crafting rules, and a number of other clunky legacy mechanics. Yet it's selling quite well and manages to occupy a lot of play time (including mine). That's absolutely true. Somehow WotC managed it with 5E, but I bet they're still wondering how that happened exactly, if you catch them on an honest day. I'm think the 5e devs know exactly why 5e is so successful. They built a simple ruleset that most people can grasp, and they built up a strong connection with popular online personalities like Mike Krahulik, Jerry Holkins, Jared Knabenbauer and Holly Conrad. They've embra...
  • 02:33 PM - CapnZapp quoted Jay Verkuilen in post White Wolf Announces Vampire The Masquerade 5E Preorder And Distribution Partnership With Modiphius Entertainment
    That's absolutely true. Somehow WotC managed it with 5E, but I bet they're still wondering how that happened exactly, if you catch them on an honest day. Simple. Simple to DM. Caster martial equality. Backgrounds. Most things previously offered at way too low level, like OP Charm Person, Detect Evil, travel and obstacle bypass spells. No new-fangled player agency abilities that just rip you out of the immersion to force meta-think. (Inspiration weak but easily ignored)

Thursday, 19th April, 2018

  • 12:59 AM - Kobold Boots quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Mythological Figures: Miyamoto Musashi (5E)
    Hi Jay - Since you only quoted the pieces of my post that could have been taken as disagreeing with you and didn't bother reflecting on the end of my post that pretty much explained why I had my position on the matter I'm going to reply to your points and make my final point again. If you didn't read me fully the first time, do it this time before you reply to me again. Please and thank you. People in Medieval France found Khutulun's story compelling enough to make pictures of her and invent a character based on her. I think it's not a massive stretch to think she might be compelling enough for us. All things that become mythology are compelling. That's really not the point. The point is, that these articles are being paid for to hit a word count. Things that people already have some familiarity with get more space for stats. Things that people don't have familiarity with need more explanation at the expense of stats and game goodness. So if you're going to go with things...

Wednesday, 18th April, 2018

  • 10:32 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Lost In Translation: Adapting Fictional Characters To Games
    Yeah, figuring out what the vision is is one thing, but the game system often doesn't cooperate. I do think it's one reason why modern games often have mechanisms for extraordinary success above what is just generated by the dice. Willpower (from oWoD and nWoD), bennies from Savage Worlds, chips from Deadlands, Doom and Momentum from Modiphius games, and so on can help avoid having everything just come down to the dice. Oh, I see what you mean, the resolution systems in play don't cooperate. They might be trying to simulate a character in a setting where the fictional character's story /could/ have happened, but because that story included a number of improbable events, statistically, will likely never happen to a player trying to play that fictional character as a PC. Mechanics that let the player take 'author stance' and make an event come out like it did/would-have in the fictional character's story can help with that. They shift the game from 'simulationist' to 'narrativist' and, in the ...
  • 06:30 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Lost In Translation: Adapting Fictional Characters To Games
    Sure, you can often do pretty well but fiction characters often have a lot of abilities that make them require very high point totals. Furthermore, the game system may "fight" you to some degree, though nowhere like is the case with a class/level system. Yep, that's back to the OP's issue. You can get a lot more exact in modeling your vision of a fictional character in a point-build system than in a class/level system, but you still have to nail down that vision...
  • 05:37 PM - Kobold Boots quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Mythological Figures: Miyamoto Musashi (5E)
    I am 100% with you on anyone living or even alive in the last 100 years. However I think the "no lookup rule" might be a bit too restrictive because it may really bias towards the same-old same-old. There are some cool stories of mythologized figures from the tales of the Mongols, just to pick one example, that would likely not meet the "familiar to the community" test but would push people's interest. Just as an example, consider Princess Khutulun. She's described by Marco Polo and is clearly a figure who's myth exceeds what would have been the reality---as impressive as the reality was. Ching Shih is another of those larger than life figures. She died in bed the 1850s but was at one point the leader of a massive pirate flotilla in Southern China. I wouldn't want to have figures from, say, Africa or India, kicked out simply due to lack of familiarity with those tales. The fact that both JRR Tolkien and Michael Moorcock (despite their antipathy, at least one-sided on the part of Moorcock; unclear ...
  • 01:48 PM - Morrus quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Mythological Figures: Miyamoto Musashi (5E)
    Tomoe Gozen would be a good choice. There's a series of novels about her translated to a fantasy Japan by Jessica Amanda Salmonson that's worth reading and would provide good inspiration. Aphra Behn is another. She was a playwright, poet, and spy in the late 17th Century. Spying didn't work out so she took up the pen. If you want to go off the beaten path, there's the infamous Cantonese pirate captain/madame Ching Shih. I think I’d rather focus on fictional or semi fictional characters. The occasional real person is OK, but this is about mythology not history.
  • 02:27 AM - pemerton quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Lost In Translation: Adapting Fictional Characters To Games
    The thing is, D&D and RPGs in general, tend to be designed around an ensemble cast of rough equals with relatively defined and necessary niches. However, most of those fictional sources really aren't. Most notably, they feature usually fairly clear and often solo protagonists.This is one reason why I think superhero comics are a good model for fantasy RPGing. the protagonists are really not the kind that are easily buildable with 1E or most RPGs for that matter.I agree that AD&D has trouble building fictional protagonists - its class framework is rather rigid. But I don't think this is true for RPGs in general.

Friday, 13th April, 2018



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