View Profile: Jay Verkuilen - D&D, Pathfinder, and RPGs at Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
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    Sunday, 24th June, 2018, 03:20 PM
    It's the internet, nothing is too old to come back from the dead! (I think I inadvertently revived it.)
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About Jay Verkuilen

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Baldur's Gate Designer Leaves Bioware To Form D&D Publishing Company Today 01:48 PM

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Monday, 2nd July, 2018

  • 10:50 PM - Lanefan mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Tony Vargas - Jay Verkuilen - first off, xp to both of you for a really interesting and civil discussion this last 20 posts or so. And then, a question: am I reading both of you correctly, when you're talking about how easy/hard it is/was to change or kitbash 4e, that it's relatively easy to drop things out you don't like but much harder to add things in you do like? For example, hit points and effects - if I'm reading you right you'll both say it would be way easier to drop or ignore the 'bloodied' mechanic than it would be to introduce a wound-vitality or body-fatigue system. Just curious... Lanefan

Thursday, 21st June, 2018

  • 03:37 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Hit points that aren't strictly meat damage can still be understood from a character being increasingly tired out or weakenedBut not so tired that you can't still move at your maximum pace, carry your maximum load, climb walls just as well as you could before entering melee, etc! But suppose we downplay the "weakened, tired" aspect and emphasise Gygax's other elements - luck, divine favour, magical protections, etc. Even here there are multiple subsytems that don't interact - saving throws, as per the quote upthread about poison saves, are a separate subsystem for this stuff, and then magical protections and divine favour can also be the result of magic items, spells etc. 4e closes some of these gaps - there is generally no distinction, for instance, between the threats of physical harm that AD&D handled via saving throws and the threats of physical harm that AD&D handled via hit points; and as Jay Verkuilen (I think) mentioned upthread, it uses healing surges to handle exhaustion. But 4e opens up at least one new gap (or, perhaps, generalises it from the 3E barbarian's rage) - namely, limited use non-magical capabilities that manifest as martial encounter and daily powers, and action points. Putting everything into a common pool can reduce the odd (non-)synergies between abstractions, but of course also reduces moving parts which itself has implications for game play. 3E is my personal least favourite for this stuff: it replaces poison saves (which, as Gygax describes in the quoted passage) were a type of luck mechanic, with Fortitude saves - but Fortitude is a mechanic largely independent of the hit point system; and poison doesn't do hp damage but stat damage. So your magical protections and luck stop you getting squashed by a hill giant's club (a mid-to-upper level PC can soak the 20 hp easily enough) but don't help agasint the STR damage (and resultant penalties to attack and...

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, 18th July, 2018

  • 07:20 PM - Mouseferatu quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Baldur's Gate Designer Leaves Bioware To Form D&D Publishing Company
    Huh, interesting. I am 100% the opposite. I only watch someone else play when I'm stuck in a game and need a hint. Otherwise, nope. But I know other folks who do watch streaming play. I totally get that. I think it's partly down to what people are looking to get out of a video game. If what you want is the actual play experience, then watching others play is absolutely not going to do it for you. But for me, what I want is the story, the character interaction. (Also just to keep up with what's popular, since I work in related fields.) So seeing someone else do it--again, as long as that person isn't a chore to listen to--meets those needs pretty well. I am, for the record, absolute garbage at video games. I have no reaction time, I have no sense of strategy or tactics beyond the immediate. I find it very frustrating to play even easy games without God mode or equivalent cheats. Add that to the fact that if I do too much gaming, I get pain in my fingers (lingering tendonitis issues), w...
  • 09:13 AM - Paul Farquhar quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Baldur's Gate Designer Leaves Bioware To Form D&D Publishing Company
    DA:O was definitely very D&D-influenced, especially, as was DAII. It had useful adaptations to the computer environment, like out of combat healing and spell point recovery not requiring explicit rests. A lot of video game developers seem to avoid licensed products. They're often nice about saying why, but my guess is that dealing with the license holder is often just a pain in donkey. It's pretty clear that dealing with licence-holders adds to bureaucracy, and when Atari folded exactly who owned the D&D computer game licence became a legal mess for a while. But it's inevitable that even the most agreeable licence holder will want to take a cut of the profits, which are already meagre compared to a microtransaction mass battle game. But Pillars of Eternity has certainly suffered as a result of a lack of a licence. Not just because of name recognition, but because without an established ruleset to aim at "what it should be like" the rules have drifted around all over the place, so you ...
  • 09:01 AM - Mouseferatu quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Baldur's Gate Designer Leaves Bioware To Form D&D Publishing Company
    Oops, I meant to say that both were a bit grindy and had the heavy hand of EA. I played the Xbox 360 version of DA:I, though, which was clearly nowhere near as good as the more up to date versions. Ah. Yeah, as much as I absolutely adore DA:I, I can't argue that it--that all the DA games, to some extent--can get grindy in parts. I can't actually say what style of play I prefer, because I get 99% of my video game experience by watching Let's Plays on Youtube. For a variety of reasons, I actually can't play much myself, and often don't enjoy it when I do, but (assuming the streamer is halfway interesting) I enjoy vicariously experiencing the stories, the worlds, and especially the characters.
  • 04:04 AM - Mouseferatu quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Baldur's Gate Designer Leaves Bioware To Form D&D Publishing Company
    They've been losing people for a while. Of course some of that might be the usual "I've been in the industry for 22 years" turnover, but both DA:I and ME:A were Were what? You've got me curious about the missing word(s). DA:I is an amazing game, and I've honestly never run across anyone who disliked it.

Thursday, 12th July, 2018

  • 06:21 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    I think you've got the intention somewhat wrong, my intention. I really want people to stay in character as much as possible. A sense of mystery is important for that. I will play with the fourth wall a bit, of course, recognizing that it's really a bunch of players sitting around a table/logged into a VTT, but I work pretty hard for it to be there and avoid breaking immersion. Nod. You're saying that the sense of mystery is helpful in achieving the goal of immersion, I'm saying that a sense of immersion is helpful in achieving the goal of mystery (or maybe I should say 'uncertainty' or 'disocvery' or 'wonder'). Six of one, half-dozen of the other. ;) The point is, you can't go letting players make a magic-item 'wish list' OOC, that the DM will even take into consideration. They could, IC, learn about and decide to quest for specific items, of course. This means that games that have a lot of things that break me out of that---lots of tedious arithmetic, bookkeeping, or chart consultati...
  • 01:36 PM - pemerton quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    One way to handle this IC, though, is to have some means to exchange/sell/make magic items. This means an unwanted item can be turned into something else. I get why people who fear the excesses of CharOp and RAW wielded like a weapon like the plague don't want exchange/sell/make, but one thing is does a good job of is keeping things in character. Wish lists, by contrast, are totally out of character.A game in which PCs find fitting items may, at least in that respsect, resemble LotR. A game in which the PCs reduce iems to residuum and/or trade them at the Sigil item mart resembles LotR not at a all!

Wednesday, 11th July, 2018

  • 04:39 AM - pemerton quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    In one game, the DM handed out a Moonblade which we recovered after killing a pretty nasty black dragon and literally nobody in the party could make effective use it. Yes, that was bad planning, but it's also emblematic of how too many balancing restrictions get in the way. (What he should have done was alter the item to be something we could actually benefit from because it was something plot-important.) Ugh... wish lists. Talk about an idea that, in a small way, isn't bad but when taken to the extreme it was in 4E was crass gamist crap, IMO. In my opinion and experience, the idea that the GM is meant to magically know what is "good for the game", but without ever talking to the players about what the shared imagined content of the game might be, leads to the worst sort of RPGing possible.

Tuesday, 10th July, 2018

  • 06:18 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    IMO crassly gamist is something where the game mechanic is out front and center. It's a mechanic that may well work but it's only a mechanic and doesn't have any kind of integration with the fiction. You can spin it that way as hard as you like, you're still talking about a mechanic, and likely a game, that is probably strictly superior, as such. "Integration with the fiction," for instance, is very much a function of the imagination and buy-in of the players (and/or GM, depending on where the game puts it's emphasis). In 5e, for instance, it'd be mainly on the DM's shoulders to make, say Second Wind make sense 'within the fiction,' while in 4e it was up to the player to describe whatever power he was using at the moment in a way that worked for his in-fiction conception of his character. IMO a clever but unintegrated mechanic shouldn't be how the game runs all the time, though of course all games will have some rules like this, e.g., spell slots and the action economy being two examples. ...
  • 11:14 AM - Sadras quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    We have a few house rules (e.g., Counterspell and Dispel Magic are the same spell, crits do max damage plus dice) but for the most part we don't have them. So clerics at your table may Counterspell?

Monday, 9th July, 2018

  • 10:47 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    I guess it depends on the order. I've often found that unless one really chokes back on items it always seems that the three item cap is there, waiting. Of course in a home game we could simply ignore it, but I do think it serves a useful purpose and the table politics of our game is rather anti-house rule. Ouch. Anti-house-rule might as well be anti-5e. You're really not getting the most out of it if you're trying to stick to some kind of half-imagined 'RAW.' Players need to trust the DM to make good rulings for 5e to work, it's 1e's true heir, in that sense. Ugh... wish lists. Talk about an idea that, in a small way, isn't bad but when taken to the extreme it was in 4E was crass gamist crap, IMO. Calling a game "gamist" shouldn't be an insult - it's a sign of how toxic the edition war was to our community that it's become so. But, wish lists were not taken to an extreme, at all, in 4e, actually. They were a suggested mechanism the DM could use, or not, as he saw fit. And though 4e h...

Thursday, 5th July, 2018

  • 09:29 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Not all items that require attunement are that awesome. Just give them out in ascending order of awesome? I've seen it happen pretty often that the DM hands out some item nobody can use or wants to. In one game, the DM handed out a Moonblade which we recovered after killing a pretty nasty black dragon and literally nobody in the party could make effective use it. Yes, that was bad planning Yeah it kinda is, if the point of the item is to be cool/useful to the party, and there are easy ways to avoid it (as well as controversial ones like wish lists). OTOH, finding an item no one in the party can use is also an indicator that the world does not revolve around them, for campaigns where that's party of the desired theme. IMO there are ways to make items cool by having them grow, for instance, or do something without attunement and do more with it, which makes it more tempting. Or have items have some variable cost for attunement rather than just being an all or nothing thing. Like a lot of t...

Wednesday, 4th July, 2018

  • 12:25 AM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    I don't know about 4E but I think 5E solo monsters could use some work. For instance, one thing WotC tends to like is to jack save DCs up through the roof. This isn't actually a good way to make a combat work. Legendary monsters have some pretty cool stuff, really, that learned from the difficulties 4e had with solos - legendary actions, most obviously. I agree that Legendary resistance may not always cut it, though. One substantial *cost* of attunement as it is currently written is that it frequently means that an item handed out gets a reaction of "meh" because nobody can use it without giving up something else. That shouldn't be a 'meh' - 4e got 'meh' for items all the time, because they just didn't do much, 5e items are back in a big way in that sense, they can be as character-re-defining and game-'breaking' as ever they were back in the day - not unless the party already has 3 XOMG AWESOME items attuned, /each/. ;) I'd never give away that many items in 5e, myself. Players shou...

Tuesday, 3rd July, 2018

  • 05:05 AM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    . Yeah, reskinning definitely went a long way all the way back in prior editions and it's still useful so I definitely think that's worthwhile. My general reason for wanting to do more was to realize a particular vision of some sort. In a highly defined system like 4E this was difficult. Combined with the general need for the CB, I felt it simply wasn't possible for the games I would have been able to run. While 'skin' comes to us from videogames, the idea in RPGs goes way back, in paleo-D&D as a designer/DM tool: the familiar phrase 'counts as,' in rulebooks & modules, for instance. In 3e, finally, extended to players being able to describe the appearance of their characters and gear - so you didn't have to wait for some rule to say what an way if counted as, you could take a rapier and describe it as such. 4e, as above took it further than any other ed... ...but the ultimate use of re-skinning in an RPG long antedates the term: Champions! 'special effects,' c1981.
  • 04:15 AM - billd91 quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    I remember Doug Henning but obviously didn't recall it was one of his lines! I remember, "Anything is possible in the world of magic and illuuuuuusion. Thank yeeeeeewwwwww."
  • 04:06 AM - pemerton quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    The "milestone" daily item use limit was... ugh. I know this is so last week, but that was one of the worst examples of a gamist/dissociated/whatever you want to call it I've literally ever seen.As far as the mechanics-to-fiction correltion is concerned, I don't see that this is any different from attunement in 5e. The idea that a person has a certain amount of "inner power", without which the powerful magic is just a lump of metal in his/her hand, doesn't seem too far-fetched to me. (And if you don't like it, you can just drop it as you would attunement. What's going to happen? It's not as if 4e item daily powers are super-strong, and anyway most of those who would want to make this sort of change aren't so worried about balance.) As far as inherent bonuses go, they're hardly a cunning thing! The DMG2 was the first book to mention them (not Dark Sun, as some posters have suggested in this and other threads), but I think I first saw them suggested on these boards about 5 minutes after the PHB cam...

Monday, 2nd July, 2018

  • 10:03 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Like my point of attune at a cost of life, these don't have to be in conflict but WotC seems to miss opportunities to use rules that work game mechanically to reinforce themes. It's like any signal, encoding and decoding both matter. Game designers should try to model the genre & the setting & make a good, functional game all three. We should cut them some slack, and make the effort of imagination to accommodate near (or not so near) misses - the community has not been too consistent with that. Yeah that was Jeremy Crawford's "explanation" for it. Bah. What a lazy rationalization. He annoys me so much that if I see a video of him I know not to watch it. But it's maaaaagic! ;) ...what? nobody remembers Doug Henning?
  • 09:31 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    "Action-genre RPG" is what I think I felt when I've said "minis game" in the past. The encounters as written generally seemed to be set-piece scenarios. A lot of this is driven by the impetus of having a board but many of the early modules really felt very much like "here's my cool setup" regardless of how illogical it was. I can see that. ;) Though, 'regardless of how illogical it was' is, I think, one way in which 4e was evocative of the classic game, since old-school dungeons were notorious for quite crazy layouts and bizarro mixes of monsters & the like. I thought it was in the Dark Sun book, which was a few years on, but I'm not sure. I thought it was PH2.... (which was 8 months in, not 9, my mistake)... looks like it may have been DMG2, so 2009, better'n a year, but I seem to remember using the idea in 3.5... I just can't find where it was introduced into 3.5, since 'Inherent bonus" was just one of the 18 or so named bonuses in that edition, and included the stat bonuses from manu...
  • 07:57 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Exactly, as opposed to the themes that WotC built into the design, such as the genre emulation that you noted was a lot of 4E's design choices. Fantasy can be a fairly broad genre, D&D traditionally did it's own oddball take on the genre, more or less by accident, and people really expect it to evoke that very strongly, since it has done so consistently for decades. 4e left that unique sub-genre for dead in a field of slaughtered sacred cows that would have given alien cattle mutilators pause. Instead, it embraced the broader fantasy genre, particularly the pop-culture 'action' side of it - to the point of being almost more an action-genre RPG focused on fantasy as the default example than a fantasy genre RPG leaning toward action. It was a disconcerting change. From all this discussion I wonder If much of my issue really came down to things like the CB and the general intricacies of the rules such as the long list of powers for every class, the long list of feats, etc., just made me fee...
  • 06:07 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Because I don't know what changes, or even what sorts of changes, you're talking about, I don't really know how to respond. I think fundamental changes, the kind you use to fix up a system or get it to evoke (force) a specific style, feel, or theme. IMHO, you can generally get what you want out of 4e that way without hacking the system, per se, just being selective about what you allow in and what you use when you design adventures. Low-/no- magic is the example I like to use because it's so problematic in all other editions even if you do take a machete to them, but in 4e you just allow only martial classes, turn on Inherent bonuses, and off you go. It was easy to cut things from 4e: you could ban a class or a whole source - or allow only one source - and things'd still work, because niche protection had died with the other sacred cows, for instance. It was easy to add certain things, especially monsters, but also items (or even artifacts) if they were one-off... But there wasn't much ...
  • 05:12 PM - pemerton quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    4E didn't have templates, for instance, that I recall (something I really wish 5E had to a real degree).Various sorts of templates and monster themes are found in the DMG, the DMG2, the Plane Above, I think Open Grave, and I'm pretty sure other books as well that I'm not remembering at the moment.


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