View Profile: Jay Verkuilen - D&D, Pathfinder, and RPGs at Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
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White Wolf Announces Vampire The Masquerade 5E Preorder And Distribution Partnership With Modiphius Entertainment Yesterday 02:09 PM

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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, 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 Iíd 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


Friday, 6th April, 2018

  • 03:19 AM - pemerton quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    I agree about REH. I think he's much more an example of "product of his times." He might even be somewhat more open-minded than many of his background and era given that Conan "had black friends" In addition, there's a pretty obvious divide in the REH canon between stories he wrote for a quick paycheck and stories he wrote because he wanted to, and the former deal in cheap stereotypes and flat female characters while the latter show some interest in asking questions about race and culture and gender. Much like Tolkien, nobody is gonna accuse Howard of being a 21st-Century progressive, but he had an active mind and an interest in the subject, when he had the freedom to exercise it.The Scarlet Citadel. The Queen of the Black Coast. The Vale of Lost Women. Shadows in Zamboula. That's off the top of my head, and the only REH I've read are the Conan and Kull stories. These don't "ask questions" about race and culture. They're just virulent racism. (The third and fourth are also pretty mediocre stor...

Thursday, 5th April, 2018

  • 07:35 PM - TheCosmicKid quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    I agree about REH. I think he's much more an example of "product of his times." He might even be somewhat more open-minded than many of his background and era given that Conan "had black friends" and there are a number of independent female characters in the stories. Neither are things a hardcore racist/sexist of the time would countenance at all. In addition, there's a pretty obvious divide in the REH canon between stories he wrote for a quick paycheck and stories he wrote because he wanted to, and the former deal in cheap stereotypes and flat female characters while the latter show some interest in asking questions about race and culture and gender. Much like Tolkien, nobody is gonna accuse Howard of being a 21st-Century progressive, but he had an active mind and an interest in the subject, when he had the freedom to exercise it.
  • 08:45 AM - Aldarc quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    I think the 4E designers mostly wanted to find some what to mechanically differentiate half-elves from elves and humans and settled on the notion of "well they live in both worlds and have to navigate them... sounds like a Charisma bonus!"A move in that direction already began in 3rd edition. Half-elves (and half-orcs) were undertuned in 3.0. In 3.5, half-elves were thrown a slightly bigger bone, and they gained a +2 Diplomacy and Gather Information. From here the transition to a Charisma bonus is apparent, particularly in the context of how 4E did stat bonuses. And humans similarly were thrown a bone in 4E with a floating +2 to stat bonus of your choice. But I do think that the Numenorean humans (i.e., Aragorn) likely played a significant role in shaping the half-elf. In terms of Tolkien, the mortal, lives longer than regular humans, charismatic presence, Numenoreans have more overlap with half-elves.
  • 08:37 AM - pemerton quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    Lucky halfling is a pretty new one to D&D. As far as I know it's a 5Eism.From the 4e PHB "Halfling" entry: Second Chance Halfling Racial Power Luck and small size combine to work in your favor as you dodge your enemyís attack. Encounter Immediate Interrupt * Personal Effect: When an attack hits you, force an enemy to roll the attack again. The enemy uses the second roll, even if itís lower.
  • 08:33 AM - Lanefan quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    True, D&D is and always has been a grab bag. However, a number of the more explicitly Tolkien-esque influences seem to have reduced over time, or else have been subsumed into "generic fantasy." And, as I said, 4E is by far the least Tolkien-influenced of the D&D editions. Lucky halfling is a pretty new one to D&D. As far as I know it's a 5Eism. The halfling has clear Tolkien influence (the three sub-types) but the 1E halfling was very definitely built on Bilbo Baggins and Shire hobbits. Over time I think that's reduced a good bit. They've become nomadic (unless they stopped being nomadic again), the art often looks much less hobbit-y, and so on. All of which is unfortunate, as they work best when left as close to Hobbits as the Tolkein estate will tolerate. Otherwise they just intrude on the design space belonging to Gnomes. And I'm not even going to start on the art other than to mention the sample halfling they've got for PF2 is probably the ugliest halfling/hobbit I've evern seen. It'...
  • 03:44 AM - Lanefan quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    I think the 4E designers mostly wanted to find some what to mechanically differentiate half-elves from elves and humans and settled on the notion of "well they live in both worlds and have to navigate them... sounds like a Charisma bonus!" This matches my take on it as well - they ran out of bones to throw by the time they got to half-elves and this was all they had left to give 'em.
  • 03:27 AM - Hriston quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    Well they could have but I find the notion that they'd take six steps away from "traditional" Tolkien-esque fantasy and one step towards it more than a little reach. That assumes a more-or-less cohesive approach to the design of such elements. I don't know if such an approach is explicit in the presentation of 4e, but I don't see much evidence that it is in the editions with which I'm familiar. They mostly just pick and choose from various medieval fantasy tropes. Even if they did, I don't really get the notion of how Elrond and Elros had particularly high Charisma---I'm not sure that's true about Elrond---would therefore translate to all half-elves having it. It would just be a case of designing the race to resemble those characters, kind of like how halflings are lucky because Bilbo Baggins was lucky. D&D half-elves have essentially never been particularly like Tolkien's half-elves anyway. They have always been decidedly mortal, for instance, and have no particular "choice of which k...
  • 01:12 AM - Hriston quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    Of course not, which is why I said "direct influence", but IMO 4E was one of the most contra-Tolkien editions: Among other changes, halflings were intentionally moved away from being hobbits with the serial numbers filed off and they introduced a lot of decidedly odd races (there's that word). Dragonborn in the first PHB, to say nothing of those weird races like the crystal guys whose name eludes me now. OK, but presumably the developers could have picked up a copy of Tolkien's work and had it inform their idea of what a Half-Elf is in assigning a bonus to CHA. Of course it's pure conjecture on my part. I'm almost completely unfamiliar with 4e.

Wednesday, 4th April, 2018

  • 07:09 AM - pemerton quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    I'm not saying Tolkien is perfect on these issues in a modern sense, but by comparison to, say, Lovecraft or Howard, he's markedly more nuanced.I agree that JRRT is not in the same virulent camp as REH or HPL. I prefer people as a replacement term. It seems neutral and genre appropriate. JRRT uses it interchangeably with race, for example in the title of Appendix F to LotR, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", where he lists several peoples, including Elves, Men, Hobbits, Ents, Orcs, Trolls, and Dwarves.A different possibility is that there is a generic category of "Heritage" or "Background" or "Origins", and then the game offers various ways to answer this: pick a people, pick an arpprenticeship or training, pick a nation, pick a blessing, etc. Maybe choose two, and each gives some modest element of PC build (+1 or +2 to a stat, a vision boost, a proficiency boost, some other comparable perk). A player who chooses (say) to be an acolyte (apprenticeship) from Veluna (nation) might...
  • 04:14 AM - Hriston quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Do We Still Need "Race" in D&D?
    Half-elf bonus to Cha is a pretty late add to the game, actually. It's not even in 3E, although half-elves do get a fairly trivial bonus to Diplomacy. As far as I know, it first appeared in 4E. I doubt there's much direct Tolkien influence at that point. Why? Were the developers of 4e immune to influence from Tolkien?


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