View Profile: Jay Verkuilen - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Campbell's Avatar
    Sunday, 24th February, 2019, 07:20 PM
    The quote comes from Jesse Burneko's Play Passionately blog. He's a member of The Forge who just really grokked Sorcerer in the same way that John Harper just really got Apocalypse World. His blog just does a much better job of articulating the way I approach role playing games. Here's the post:
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Thursday, 21st February, 2019, 04:36 PM
    AD&D 2e turns 30 this year. It feels very odd to suggest that someone playing a 30 year old game is insufficiently set in their ways.
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About Jay Verkuilen

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Friday, 16th November, 2018

  • 09:12 PM - rmcoen mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Mike Mearls on how 4E could have looked
    Seems like I read a game or a class recently - this thread? a link? - where powerful spells were built across rounds like Jay Verkuilen mentioned. Your normal comabt actions were Words of Power, which had a low-level effect. But over time, the Words you used in the combat built more powerful spells with more powerful effects. Making up an example: Force (direct damage spell) + Levitation (perhaps used as a defense, lifting a temporary shield of debris to block an attack) + wYld (raw power, used to push enemies back a few steps) = FLY, enabling the wizard to escape from his foes and hover above the field of battle. 3 rounds to cast, with minor beneficial effects along the way. But then we're designing a whole new magic system, which isn't the same as "fixing" D&D. Guys (and gals), we're 89 pages into this disucssion. While a very interesting debate that has wandered about the field of battle.... what's the point? what's the goal? Are we trying to make 4e less artificially balanced? Give 5e martial characters more flash, more high level power? Make a better mousetrap?

Wednesday, 7th November, 2018

  • 10:32 PM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Dragon Reflections #16 – Gygax Fights Back!
    Jay Verkuilen - I like your suggestions better than power attack - the latter is purely an optimisation problem, whereas trading attack for defence involves intervening variables that are outside the player's control and that can't be readily computed. So it becomes more like choosing an orientation for your PC, than solving equations.

Monday, 5th November, 2018

  • 09:08 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Worlds of Design: Fantasy vs. Sci-Fi Part 1
    ...ive Fiction, and they appear in all sorts of Spec Fic. Is it a robot or a golem? Well, really, it doesn't matter all that much. What does matter though, is the different themes of the story which do (usually) differentiate fantasy from SF.I agree that tropes on their own don't do a perfect job. But for the reason I've given I don't think your version works either - it fails to pick the radical difference of both internal and external aesthetic of (say) LotR vs REH's Conan. That tropes don't do a perfect job doesn't mean that they do no job at all. What inclines us to call Star Wars sci fi? They talk about parsecs, and planets, and hyperdrives, and the like. That's tropes, and it pushes away from fantasy. Is Star Wars nevertheless really fantasy because it involves magic, and princesses, and dark lords, etc? Certainly the absence of those tropes from 2001 is what helps make it clearly sci-fi. But in Star Wars they are present in combination with sci-fi tropes. I think I'm with Jay Verkuilen in doubting that really is going to help us here. Genres aren't natural kinds; at best they're shortcuts to help us engage in analysis and criticism of a work.

Wednesday, 24th October, 2018

  • 12:40 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Worlds of Design: “All About Me” RPGs (Part 2)
    Jay Verkuilen I haven't played or run Conan 2d20. But I've GMed Burning Wheel with a bit of a S&S flavour. I've also GMed a 2 PC, all thieves AD&D game years (decades) ago which had a bit of a S&S feel. D&D-style dungeon crawling is not very S&S at all (Xuthal of the Dusk and Red Nails not withstanding). S&S has quite a social dimension, and doesn't have to be urban but frequently is.

Tuesday, 23rd October, 2018

  • 04:30 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Worlds of Design: “All About Me” RPGs (Part 2)
    Jay Verkuilen Absolutely! I've often posted on these boards that if you want to get REH Conan-style Swords and Sorcery adventure, you've got to change the D&D XP system (at least) and probably other aspects of the system also, so that players are rewarded for having value beyond the acquisition of loot, and don't get hosed when they leap before they look.

Wednesday, 10th October, 2018

  • 09:02 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Mearls On D&D's Design Premises/Goals
    Keeping numbers low (so basicly the same % chance thru the levels), while increasing, instead, the tiers of power/influence/effect of the pc vs the world and viceversa. (Like: on an enemy inferior by two/three tiers, you just deal damage/crit; one tier below: roll to hit with automatic advantage, same level: no change; and viceversa)4e is a version of this: in combat, for instance, PC and opponent bases scale at basically the same rate, and so the % chance remains largely the same through the levels; but creatures that are inferior per the fiction relative to the PC tier are framed as minions, and hence die on a hit; or get bundled up as a swarm, and hence get taken down in swathes. 4e non-combat has less tight maths, which can produce some of the issues Jay Verkuilen has identified (the big offender in my game is the +6 to all knowledge skills that a Sage of Ages gets). But the orientation of the game is still towards what you describe - level-appropriate DCs that try to establish roughly consistent chances of success, with the differences of tier being expressed in the fiction rather than the mechanics. I think this kind of approach could lead to getting rid of levels and DCs altogether, in favor of a more spread out growth and resolution mechanic, with more emphasis on situational, narrative bonus/malus, extended contests, multiple successes and the like.Again, 4e can be considered a version of this (and literally is a version of this if you strip out the level adjustments for creatures and the stat gain and enhancement bonuses for PCs). The differences between tiers are really about complexity (higher level PCs have more, and more complex, options); the range of effects available, which straddles fiction and mechanics (eg flight is available...

Friday, 21st September, 2018

  • 09:00 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    ... Iserith, is that if you play it your way (do not assume players are examining until told), the players always fail to spot the gloves. <snip> Unless of course, in the fiction ofthe world, they spot it by accident when moving past. What mechanic exists like that? A Perception check. Or at the very least, a dm examination of passive pereception, maybe giving a different description to a play with a passive score of over 15. Or at least, that's the way I'd do it. Some of the description is sometimes driven by random chance: that randomness being whether you by accident happen to notice something or not. if the history check fails the PCs just have to carry on without whatever clues might have been hidden in the Dwarven runes - if any. This is why pre-emptive checks can be useful - sometimes things just get found (or missed) by random chance en route to doing something else unrelated.There is another reason being suggested for GM-called for/deterined Perception-type checks, by Jay Verkuilen, which is that they serve a metagame purpose of mixing things up and putting the players on edge: that's exactly what I use an informational check for, as well as tension building. A failed check often does move the tension up. The players know there were failed checks with potential information missed, which makes them start to wonder what's going on. (Well at least I would hope so, but clearly that would depend on the player.) I've definitely curbed my own propensity for calling for rolls where there isn't any consequence but in this case or when the player's description is just fluff, but something like the check I outlined has consequences. I think this often depends on the table. Folks I've played with for many years will often call for checks where there's something that the player seems to be missing and it is possible the character might know something. I'll also call for checks from out of seeming left field to stimulate the player or push them in a different directi...

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'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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Thursday, 21st March, 2019

  • 12:27 AM - Oofta quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Casting Begins Soon For D&D Movie?
    Selling well doesn't make a movie good from an "am I going to enjoy this movie?" standpoint. I mean, The Hobbit movies made a lot of money and, while they had some potentially good ingredients, they were really drowned under the desire to bloat out one novel into three movies. There are also acclaimed movies such as The Princess Bride which didn't sell well but instead took off later, although I don't know if that's a property of the time when it came out. LOL. Just because the haters didn't like it doesn't prove everyone else wrong. If The Last Jedi and The Hobbit were failures, it's a failure that most corporations would love to cash in on. Although I will always wonder what Jackson could have done with The Hobbit had he been involved from the get-go or been given time to do what he wanted. Then again I liked The Last Jedi so what to I know? But if you've already decided your not going to enjoy it, don't let me rain on your parade. Or should that be shine sunlight on you parade? No...

Wednesday, 20th March, 2019

Monday, 25th February, 2019

  • 05:34 PM - oreofox quoted Jay Verkuilen in post The New D&D Book Is Called "Ghosts of Saltmarsh" [UPDATED!]
    The problem I have with all the adventures in the book is that they're deadweight if you don't want to run them or have run them already. Honestly, that's really all of the 5e books. I only use the adventures for possible monsters. The adventures for the most part mean nothing to me. SCAG is about 70% useless if you don't use Forgotten Realms, with the only useful bits being the cantrips and the subclasses. Volo's is about 50% useless if you don't give a damn about the lore stuff in Chapter 1. Xanathar's has a bit of dead weight with the Appendix B, and possibly Chapter 2. Mordenkainen's is about 90% pointless if you only cared about monsters (all the way in Chapter 6) and had no use for the Blood War or the other stuff about the races. Ghosts of Saltmarsh will have lots of dead weight if you have no desire for the adventures and just want the nautical rules portion. Not calling them "Player's Handbook 2" or "Monster Manual 2" is great. Shoving rather useless information in 50% of the book whe...

Saturday, 23rd February, 2019

  • 07:09 AM - Jester David quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    For the company, possibly, though not totally---there are lots of ways to jack sales figures up in the short run that hurt medium to long term. For consumers? Not so much. I don't see why I should really care overly much. By that metric alone, McDonald's is the master of a good burger and Britney Spears produced good music. SCAG is fine. It was a decent player’s guide to the Realms with a smattering of new content and introduction to the gods. It did exactly what you expected based on the name and did it well. My comments now mirror my comments when I first reviewed the book: It’s only “flaw” just that it wasn’t the “giant book of unnecessary amounts of splat” people expected after 3e and 4e player centric books. The problem wasn’t SCAG, but the expectations of the fans. Honestly, I think SCAG is a better and more solid product than XGtE and its endless pages of ...
  • 02:08 AM - Parmandur quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    So the only metric is success in the marketplace? Sword Coast Adventurers Guidenis also successful based on reviews: positive recommendation here on EnWorld, and pretty overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon. I'm not aware of any objective metric by which SCAG isn't successful for an RPG book.
  • 12:40 AM - Hussar quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    So the only metric is success in the marketplace? For determining the right course of action for a company? Yup.
  • 12:00 AM - FrogReaver quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Here Are The Most Popular D&D Feats (War Caster Leads The Pack!)
    I'm not entirely convinced they did the various subsetting properly, or else it means something slightly different than we think. I don't know for sure but I know that things like this are rather challenging to manage given the nature of the data. In particular, the fact that everybody's account has customizable resources means that a Basic (i.e., free) account has very different access that someone with the PHB and Xanathar's purchased. I'm not saying this is the issue, but I do know that analyzing user data or administrative data more broadly runs into the serious problem of generating comparable cases. I thought that they had given us a previous chart showing that variant human was a little less than half as popular as normal human. Did I dream that up?

Friday, 22nd February, 2019

  • 01:07 AM - Hussar quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    /snip Well, it is what it is, but WotC's release schedule was definitely not to many people's liking, not just the reflexive whine brigade. I don't know how many constitute many. I do try to avoid making broader statements without evidence. And, I'd point to the fact that even "thin" supplements like SCAG are still selling far, far more than any single title of the same age for any other edition, outside of core books. Seems like they are doing something right. Quality of dmsguild products is questionable, hence my first comment about it being rather bad. However, I would rather wade through the bad to find the good than receive nothing at all, hence my second comment about wanting the old settings available for the dmsguild. I wasn't flipflopping on my stance. And I had to look up the number of subclasses in the SCAG, as 11 seemed a bit high. But it's actually correct. 12 if you count the extended totems for the barbarian. It also seemed D&D and Hasbro had no faith in 5e, since t...

Thursday, 21st February, 2019

  • 11:56 PM - Jester David quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    Hmmm, I think a lot of it was just how thin SCAG was in terms of content other than Realms fluff, so it was essentially two full years before a decent non-AP release happened.Yeah, SCAG does only have 11 new subclasses vs the 28 in XGtE. That does have twice as many. But still hardly the smorgasbord of options people are used to from 3e. I think had they released XGtE in 2015 instead of SCAG there would have still be as much complaining.
  • 11:40 PM - Jester David quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    Yeah, that's nuts, really crazy binary thinking. Releasing the core and then setting to work on additional content after gaining some additional experience with things in play is the way to go. The problem I had with what WotC was doing initially was that pretty much everything was APs. That's essentially all they released until Volo's, with SCAG being the only contrary example, and the player-facing content of that was pretty minimal.It felt like they were only doing APs, but they always did something else every year. But, again, we got SCAG after a year, VGtM after two, XGtM after three, and by year four we also have MToF andGGtR. That's a lot of content already. We're pretty good for races and subclasses. And that's just four years and change into an edition that needs to last several more years. If they had released something, oh, every six months rather than every year, we'd had gotten everything we have by 2016, and by now we'd already be looking at twice as much content and getting into bloat...
  • 11:02 PM - jayoungr quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    Certainly, and quite frankly I'm not a huge fan of level 1-15 APs myself, but just because people were begging for something doesn't mean that TftYP's not particularly imaginative conversions of some classic modules or, in one case a direct republishing of something that had already been released not too long back, fit the bill. Well, you said you didn't know why they published it, and my answer is because there was demand. Whether you like the final project is a separate point.
  • 09:53 PM - Jester David quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    Also, what do you need to play Forgotten Realms in 5e that wasn't already available from the past 30-40 years? Why focus on Greyhawk, and not mention one of the other settings. Greyhawk and FR both have basically the same races. But why not open up Ansalon and Dragonlance? There are races, classes, subclasses, monsters, and other things rather unique to that setting that are not available using the generic Forgotten Realms products. What about Spelljammer? What about Dark Sun? I see so many people pining for that setting (I don't see the appeal, but apparently a large number love it). FR could use an update as the current state of the world is a decade out of date, during which time there were several wars and a major Realmshaking event. The current status quo of large regions of the world is unknown. Meanwhile, virtually every other setting is identical to how it was last published. I like settings, but opening up every setting in a short period is probably a bad idea. Any chance of those "g...
  • 09:21 PM - jayoungr quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    Yeah, I love those old modules but Yawning Portal was... well... appropriately named. I totally don't get why that was a hardcover. Nice PoD redos of classic modules on DMs Guild? Sure. I suspect they had a production schedule to fill and something wasn't working out. I remember people on this very board were begging for collections of short adventures, rather than a long 1-15 adventure path.
  • 08:43 PM - MonkeezOnFire quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Here Are The Most Popular D&D Feats (War Caster Leads The Pack!)
    No kidding, especially in combination with Great Weapon Master! I suspect that the reason Polearm Master doesn't make it into the top 3 of Fighters and Barbarians is that the characters that took it also take Great Weapon Master. But because Great Weapon Master is also viable on weapons that are not polearms it eclipses it in popularity here. My best guess for why it appears in the Paladin's top 3 is that since Paladin is a bit MAD with wanting both charisma and constitution after their primary stat that they don't typically get a chance to pick up both Polearm Master and Great Weapon Master.
  • 08:33 PM - S'mon quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Here Are The Most Popular D&D Feats (War Caster Leads The Pack!)
    No kidding, especially in combination with Great Weapon Master! And Barbarian Reckless Attack!
  • 02:50 PM - oreofox quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    As I recall, al'Qadim was always in Forgotten Realms, albeit a fairly distant part of it. I honestly don't know much about Al'Qadim. I just know the adventures set within it had a different heading than Forgotten Realms. Though I am sure Maztica and Kara Tur did as well, and I know they are attached to the Forgotten Realms world. Ravenloft was opened up AFTER Curse of Strahd. Meaning that DM's Guild becomes a giant resource for anyone wanting to run Curse of Strahd. IOW, DM's Guild wasn't competing with CoS but rather was busily banging out supplements FOR WotC's adventure. Same goes for the latest modules too. Dragon Heist has enough DM's Guild supplementary material to run for 20 levels. Easily. There's fantastic supplements for a module. This is what's different today. The notion that modules now get supplementary support. It's amazing really. That's what I was actually trying to get at. Set this aquatic adventure in Greyhawk, which will open up the setting for dmsguild, and ...

Tuesday, 19th February, 2019

  • 04:36 AM - guachi quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    Yeah, I love those old modules but Yawning Portal was... well... appropriately named. I totally don't get why that was a hardcover. Nice PoD redos of classic modules on DMs Guild? Sure. I suspect they had a production schedule to fill and something wasn't working out. I'd charge zero dollars for my conversion of U1 if someone just wanted something functional to use with a pdf of the original and its actual content probably wouldn't be much worse. It'd be a very plain 3 page pdf of an Excel spreadsheet of the encounters with creature stats and treasure. I suppose I could even add a few lines for DCs for things and it'd be 3.5 pages!!)
  • 01:07 AM - gyor quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Pages From The Upcoming Nautical D&D Book!
    Desert of Desolation was retrofitted to FR. It was originally released as being setting-neutral. I'm running it now. It really is a very good adventure, though I think that a good-faith update---not a thematically loosely related "spiritual successor" to other IMO often overdone classics as the others have been, but one that keeps a good bit of the story and plot intact---would be in order. The supermodule version has some rough patches and annoying decisions (e.g., the whole "teleport people to Raurin" to force them into the adventure) and a lot of areas that could be explored/filled out, either by WotC or by writers online. It would make a magnificent levels 1 to about 15 campaign, although I ended up running it starting at level 8 with existing characters. I wish I'd thought of running it before establishing some things I'm running now, because I'd fill out a lot of the details myself. It's a great story. Expand it and set it in 5e you could have a great 1-20 levels. I'd want enough to e...

Wednesday, 13th February, 2019

  • 11:22 PM - Ash Mantle quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Humans, Fighters, and Life Domain Most Popular On D&D Beyond
    I was very much referring to how successful things were overall. What I meant about "they got lucky" was that I don't think anyone in 2014 would have anticipated the really substantial success that's happened and their released for a while afterwards felt a bit uncertain because it wasn't too clear where things would go. And I will say this, which you can take as being belittling if you want: WotC may playtest like heck, but their math skills haven't really impressed me in a lot of areas and it really never has. 3E had chained rounding errors in the saving throws which led to some really strange stuff and there are a number of areas in 5E as well. I don't recall ones in 4E but I'm sure they were there, too. Doing a good job with an established game like D&D is hard and in general they did a good job, although there are some poorly functioning aspects of 5E, still. I'd like a 5.5E that fixed up some areas, e.g., saves and skills especially at high levels, and made a few classes less prone to ...
  • 12:11 PM - Ash Mantle quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Humans, Fighters, and Life Domain Most Popular On D&D Beyond
    But you're right, it's tough to see a clear logic---I think they got lucky with 5E in many ways, which makes figuring out how this happened tough. I'm totally moved! Someone shares my opinion about this! Please believe me, I swear no irony here, I would never expect that. thanks, really. I feel this extremely belittles the amount and length of the ongoing playtesting and feedback process, of both mechanics and adventures, that Wizards has its content undergo.

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