View Profile: Tony Vargas - D&D, Pathfinder, and RPGs at Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 01:49 AM
    Wait, the game that presents 12 classes, 12 of which explicitly use magic is somehow "pushing the players to always play magic using characters?" That's a bit of a stretch, isn't it? Sub-classes. There are 5 non-magical sub-classes (Berserker, Champion, BM, Thief, Assassin). Out of 40. "Low Magic" has such a fuzzy meaning (less powerful magic? less common magic items? fewer...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 01:35 AM
    That's just the d20, and he's 1st level, an 'Apprentice' thief. That's BA. We've already had the fun of the other extreme, in 3e, when you could have tripple-digit bonuses to your d20 check. So, again, artifact of the d20. Using 2d10 or 3d6 could even that out for you, a bit, if it's that annoying... You are, indeed, supposed to narrate success or failure quite a bit. Don't call...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 01:24 AM
    Reasonable enough. As you add more decisions points and complications and opportunities to affect that final die roll, you're also, presumably, making it less uncertain, and, you're adding drama & suspense to the intervening time, because what's going on bears on the final result and how that final result is coming about is unfolding. So, if loading stuff like that in between a declaration...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 01:06 AM
    Yeah, I just found it amusing that an off-the-rack 5e Action happend to 'Create' an 'Advantage.' There's a whole thread about that last bit. I honestly didn't even remember "Create an Advantage" from the times I've played FATE. But, then I barely remembered there were 'actions' at all, and, looking them up, it's probably because they're all pretty improvisational in nature, anyway, and...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 12:23 AM
    Like 5e did with Advantage and the Help action that, well, 'creates Advantage' for a buddy? ;)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 12:16 AM
    But if your source of suspense is just the uncertainty of the die roll, 'eventually' comes pretty quick... In the James Bond movie stuff happens as they play the hand. You can 'RP' that stuff to stretch out the moment, but you're just stalling, nothing is going to make a difference, the die will fall where it will. Now, if the game is more than a die roll, if there's a series of decisions or...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 12:02 AM
    Problem is that brand of suspense lasts until the die stops.
    45 replies | 712 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 11:53 PM
    It runs aground on relative difficulty. Are you opening a stuck door, lifting a portculis, bending an iron bar, a bronze bar, an adamantine bar? Roll under with a bonus? Roll under by X, so rolling 1 is your best effort? I settled on roll high w/o going over, so that a higher roll was a greater success, as long as it was w/in your abilities. But, fun as it was to practically make up the...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 11:48 PM
    3.5 Soul Bind, Level 9, Cleric, Sorc/Wiz. Necromancy, of course.
    4 replies | 53 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:44 PM
    In reallife, most full plate suit warriors stopped using a shield, because it was mostly redundant, and preferred using two-handed swords. But you are right. Looking at historical suits of armor, enough of them have shields that there must have been some benefit, even if it was worth trading it for a more damaging sword.
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:32 PM
    Probably a shield deserves max Dex 4 as well, similar to light armor. Otherwise, it feels weird for rogues to be slipping about with a shield in their hand. This also makes the awkwardness of Mage Armor + real shield, less optimal. Simply one shield is slightly less optimal than medium metal armor. Maximum AC Possible • AC 15 = unarmored 10 + (full Dex 5) • AC 16 = unarmored 10 + shield 2 +...
    73 replies | 1712 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:04 PM
    So far, the progression for AC totals is 16/17/18 + shield 2. To make plate armor ‘special’ (technologically advanced, renaissance era), make it AC 20, but unable to stack with a shield. Essentially plate armor (encasing the entire body in solid metal) is getting shield for free, while leaving both hands free.
    73 replies | 1712 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:41 PM
    Well, sure, if it were a hypothetical old-school-D&D movie instead of an old war movie, the Veteran might have died and been resurected, but it'd seem unlikely, as he's only a 1st-level Fighter. ;) ...oh, he could have been level drained.
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:38 PM
    Ah, I see you've met Saelorn. I'd say the design of D&D does not assume frequent character death, outside of the lowest levels (especially in the older eds when low-level was kind of a prooving ground), but, has Raise Dead &c 'just in case.' You just kludge/retcon it together like you're writing for a soap opera and one of the stars suddenly got sent to rehab, or wanted too much money and...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 07:52 PM
    I'm going to actually go off on a tangent with this, which is the D&D-significant availability of coming back from death. D&D makes it easy. A mid-high level spell, *poof*, you're back. From a play perspective, it makes sense, the game does try to model plot armor with hps & saves and so forth, but it's challenges aren't so consistently balanced that things don't go south now & then, so it's a...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 07:23 PM
    That's really the point: you absolutely can have suspense, even if you know the ultimate outcome. Heck, re-watching a Hitchcock movie can still be suspenseful. ;) In an RPG, the player often knows more about the probabilities and mechanisms of what's going on, not only than their character, but than a hypothetical reader/viewer being told their story, which can get pretty close to 'knowing...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:47 PM
    Depending on the genre and the mode of storytelling, you can absolutely know. For instance, if the first scene of the war movie is the old veteran telling a group of people about his experiences before they screen ripples & fades to his younger self, you /know/ he didn't die. He might very well have fallen off some cliffs and gotten shot, burned, blown up or whatever, but he didn't die. ;) ...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:22 PM
    Meh. You prettymuch do know the protagonist will /survive/ in some sense. You don't know if he'll extricate himself from predicament, or if he'll miraculously survive the fall, or get rescued, or fall presumably to his death, only to show up later with some improable story ("From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the Balrog of Morgoth... Until at last I threw down my enemy and...
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:04 PM
    Core defining trait of 4e. Hrrm. How's this: Characters are archetypes defined sharply by role and power source to populate a standardized array (AEDU) of primarily combat abilities centered around dynamic and highly tactical group combat system. It attempted detailed mechanical resolution of non-combat processes as well (skill challenges), and was willing to rewrite rules and subsystems...
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:00 PM
    No idea what "The Magic faraway Tree" is. If it's a M:tG reference I haven't played that for a pair of decades. Hmm, research, research, research. Ah, it's a set of kids books where there's a tree that the top goes to another land, but the land changes and they can't stay too long. Yes, that it close to part of what I had. Missed the whole refugees, the ruined worlds, the big secrets about...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 02:27 PM
    At first glance I read that last word as 'insanity.' Heh. Can't even stick D&D, itself, in the box once that wilely 4e comes into it. ;P D&D had been slowly inching toward players having more input into "the fiction" In, 2e they started getting some 'build' options, 3e more options & they got to re-skin their characters' appearnce & gear, 4e more options & could re-skin just about...
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:27 AM
    Simple and effective!
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:19 AM
    @mrpopstar, I like your system here. Some other thoughts when I think about it. • Make naked human Base AC 8 • Helmet +2 AC ( → AC 10) So a helmet works mechanically similar to a shield. This is a simple method to account for the importance of a helmet in combat. So that, in reallife, even someone in ‘light armor’ like a cloth gambeson should be wearing a metal helmet.
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:44 AM
    I get being accustomed to one paradigm, and having trouble acknowledging the things another does better or that yours doesn't do at all, while being hyper-aware of the things the other doesn't do. That'd make you perceive the other as 'narrower.' Similarly, if you're used to expecting DM + system to deliver/define the experience, and the system half of that is very limited and...
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:22 AM
    One additional thought: I despise when people open up a thread for a long time ago where rules have been errata'd or clarified since and call the original poster all sorts of unpleasant named because "that's not how it works". Sorry, even in a contemporary thread calling someone names is ungood and just to make yourself feel superior. When it's also because you are ignorant of what the...
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  • MoonSong's Avatar
    Yesterday, 01:33 AM
    I used to think you had to roll against Spell DC to cast a spell. I couldn't understand why the greater your casting stat the harder it was to cast.
    39 replies | 2736 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:44 AM
    Sure, like the Knightly Order of the Eye of Jet. I'm sure you've seen 'em around. Love casting Suggestion? Make their own Brilliant Energy katanas?
    244 replies | 9177 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:31 AM
    They were even cooler (arguably less broken, no CoDzillas) in 1e! :) Warp wood was always a goofy spell - really /only/ good for 'getting creative' with. The on-label uses - springinig doors and ruining spears & arrows? Really? Newfangled stuff, anyway. ;) At least you've got 8th & 9th level spells. But, yeah, compared to 3.5, everything's dialed down a bit. One thing to...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 10:21 PM
    I'm not trying to brow-beat you into changing your choice of wording, but I'm going to have to work may way through this, every time, because I can't imagine I'll ever be comfortable calling RPGs 'mainstream,' in any sense or context. What you're talking about is D&D, and I suppose d20, and related/similar games, when they are Played A Certain Way, that being some variation on the ways that...
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  • ardoughter's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 10:09 PM
    Look for a monster in the right CR range for the party that is close to dragonish and reskin. If it is solo give it lair actions and legendary saves. Cannot be more specific without more info.
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 08:59 PM
    Most solo encounters are much weaker in 5e then they seem on paper because of the disparity in the number of actions a single creature gets vs. a full party. I wouldn't use your hatchling - it's a bag of HPs that if it hits does minor scratches, to be attacked by everyone else in the party and worn down quickly. Unless it stays far up, in which case the ranged characters will be the only ones...
    22 replies | 479 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 08:04 PM
    Blue replied to D&D CRPGS & You!
    BTW, in the same ida as the two Balder's Gate's games was Icewind Dale. Same basic idea, you know what you are getting into. Oh, and if you haven't played them yet, the old Dragon Age games and Mass Effect games. Which as first-person and not turn-based. It's three person teams and you only have full control over yourself in terms of both build and actions - you level up the others and...
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 07:28 PM
    Just finished Night Watch by Sir Terry Pratchett. I've always liked Vimes, how can you go wrong with Fifth Elephant or any of the other stories highlighting him and the Night Watch? This one I especially enjoyed. Just who is Sam Vimes when he's free of any external expectations about who he is. (Well, perhaps except from some external pressures from himself, which is a sentence that will...
    15 replies | 349 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 05:57 PM
    Yeah, that's not buying victory, it's bartering for victory. That's, like, totally different. ;) Somewhat seriously, though, there is a line between a price paid that's modeled in the system (you have so many slots/points/whatever, when do you use them?), and a price paid that's part of emerging story-line (this is the current situation, it could change/might not be what it seems, what...
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 05:50 PM
    1e had the analog of attacks of opportunity...not saying this is an absolute must mechanic but...
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 05:41 PM
    True I was going to say with damage you weren't aiming for a target number but since armor is damage resistance ... It parallels perfectly
    31 replies | 585 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 05:23 PM
    Just remembered a bit of time travel in a less than serious game with rotating DMs. The party was in an inter-dimensional bazaar where anything was for sale, and they needed to be able to time travel (I don't remember why). So they tracked down a lead where to go and are heading there, when across a busy street they see themselves. The other set of them wave and yell out over the traffic...
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 03:48 PM
    For theater of the mind style, the game is better without OAs.
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 02:44 PM
    Blue replied to Suspense in RPGs
    Just to add to your list, players buy victory with a lot of non-mechanical currency as well. Trading in that favor they are owed. Accepting loss of face to the court to beg the king to intervene. Promising an open-ended favor to an honorable villain for him to withdraw his support from the irredeemably evil big bad. Sacrificing themselves to allow the ritual to be stopped and the world saved.
    45 replies | 712 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 01:44 PM
    I think it would work balance-wise. Something I don't know if you intended, but is a big feature for me, is that if you replace the equipment section with this it gives a lot more flexibility in describing the appropriate armor for your character without the potential to mechanically penalize yourself. Your street rat could be wearing leather jacket and chaps, your barbarian is wearing...
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 09:51 AM
    Your riposte be made of straw.
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 08:30 AM
    The latest episode of Happy Fun Hour is up! Mearls focuses specifically on the nomad psion teleporter. The nomad enjoys powerful teleportation abilities (at the apprentice tier) at levels 1 thru 3. A ‘teleportation attack’ teleports chunks of an enemy away from the enemy.
    244 replies | 9177 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 06:31 AM
    I wonder if he was trying to balance more powerful or longer lasting abilities with a small area of effect?
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 06:31 AM
    I tossed in the 2e S&P reference, just in case, since I barely glanced at it, having given up on 2e bloat by then. 3.0 was the main point.
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 06:08 AM
    It is a remarkably tiny 'area,' smaller than the area w/in reach of a medium creature, and oddly defined. But, overall the draft does a /lot/ for the limited design space of a fighter subclass. I've run for HotFw Skalds, whose leader tricks are restricted to an aura 5 (25' radius/55' cube) and they ran aground on that limited an area, frequently. Of course, even Essentials was more dynamic...
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 04:29 AM
    There are high level celestials, and low level celestials. There are high level fiends, and low level fiends. There are high level feys, and low level feys. There are high level shadows, and low level shadows. There are high level elementals, and low level elementals.
    54 replies | 1151 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 04:19 AM
    It in a way says sorry Mr fighter you are neither smart or inspirational enough to effect an entire skirmish so here is this small area you can effect.
    5 replies | 266 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 04:14 AM
    Arch-celestials are the powerful good spirits. Arch-fiends are the powerful evil spirits. I am unsure how to refer to the LN, NN, CN, with regard to the celestial-v-fiend division. But I always saw the elemental forces as the main ethically Neutral forces anyway. (Maybe Slaads and Modrons can be understood as aspects of elementals?)
    54 replies | 1151 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 01:22 AM
    I may be thinking more of Traveler as in the 'Characters & Combat' booklet, back in the day, vs /some/ d20 game. But, no, I'm not impressed by long or open-ended lists of skills, quite the opposite: I think they can undermine play by 'creating incompetence.' (and, for the record, the 3e/PF skill list is too long) Remove "out-of-combat" and I'd agree with that sentence. ;P Seriously,...
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 01:03 AM
    I do not expect this thread to get a gentle repose. :cool:
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 12:59 AM
    I wouldn't of minded the EK so much if it had a bit of story and identity woven in. This is possible as I have used it as a template to make a Dark Knight subclass that had access to Necromancy, Conjuration and an Imp familiar. Remove some of the not necessary stuff throw in a dash of Necrotic damage with melee and a bonus to intimidate and I got something that had story and flavour.
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 12:50 AM
    OK, I feel bad about that, I'm going to /try/ to be serious, now... Incremental ones, I suppose. One giant drama-suck in many games is a skill system that goes no further than single-check pass/fail. Similarly, for a combat challenge, 'Nova's or death-spirals can blow or drain your encounter's suspense... ...sorry, I slipped there for a moment... I know those have some game-theory...
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 12:40 AM
    Don't forget to lock up and to turn the lights off after you close up......
    25 replies | 657 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 12:30 AM
    I just finished watch the happy hour video on MM idea for the Warlord Fighter subclass. I am not sure what to think of the tactical zone idea that he came up with. Is it good bad, is it restrictive, does it add depth......I don't know how I feel about it??? I would be interested in hearing other peoples thoughts on the mechanic.
    5 replies | 266 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th June, 2018, 12:26 AM
    I have noticed there are a few gatekeepers around these parts.
    25 replies | 657 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 11:45 PM
    I suppose you could just put price tags on victory conditions, take it or leave it. Or you could put certain conditions that /could/ lead to victory on sale, for a limited time, or offer two victories for the price of one. Or you could auction off victory, like ebay, or take sealed bids... ...puns, pemerton, puns were what I had in mind. Sorry. edit: oh, and if you can't afford to...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 11:31 PM
    Like don't have a 3rd level Discipline, Pyrokinetic Sphere, that does 8d6 fire damage to everything in a 20' radius. Oh, the 're-inventing' argument is obvious and even compelling, it just doubles as an argument not to have psionics, at all. So, IDK, have them work nothing like spells. Instead of discrete effects, construct effects up from disciplines, like supernatural Legos, using power...
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 10:24 PM
    Runequest was highly consistent about rolling under a target number for just about everything
    31 replies | 585 view(s)
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 10:17 PM
    i think people make a big deal over minor differences (who cares rolling under and over even the benefits of consistency are mildly over blown) and ignore big ones like the difference in how the turn, movement and initiative resolution were actually handled... hint 3e and 4e and 5e are very nearly identical about this and treat things like we are taking turns in a manner like chess pieces ......
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 09:52 PM
    Plenty of love for following the direction the players put out. With the "super NPC" analogy, there's a writing big about "Kill your darlings" - in other words anything that you've fallen so in love with that it will warp the rest of your story needs to go. That doesn't mean you can't have cool campaign ideas (or cool NPCs), it means that you can't let them take the spotlight or the choices...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 08:46 PM
    Foul! The description only said that you /could/ draw on your inspiration in those thematically appropriate way. You could instead draw on the compassion you RP'd when negotiating with the beggar king to assassinate him later that evening, sure, but that doesn't make you dissociative (mechanically)... You know if there were some players'd just horde it until they drowned in one. ...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 07:20 PM
    I got the impression there was a stark dividing line between 1-5th & 6-9th level spells (magic-user spells, obviously, others it seemed like 1-4 vs 5-7)), c1984, if not earlier. In my campaign world (& variant rules) there was thus a distinction between 'Low Order' and 'High Order' spells. Aside from the tenor of the spell just shifting dramatically, there were other indicators. The 1e...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 06:09 PM
    Any given system can 'withstand' modding, if the modding is done skillfully - or be wrecked by it, if not. ;) Ironically, the closer a system is to broken, the more amenable it is to modding - in fact, if a system is broken to begin with, you might as well mod it to suit, while you're fixing it! I suspect you don't mean in the sense of INT starting at 3 and Computer not being a skill? ...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 05:39 PM
    Not the way I'm used to 'flexibility' being used around here, which tends to be about the range of capabilities of the character, no. I mean in terms of options presented to the player. A game like Hero, for instance, is super-flexible, in part because it presents a finite set of options that are mixed & re-skinned as a matter of course to model virtually anything, it wouldn't get credit...
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 05:38 PM
    Blue replied to D&D CRPGS & You!
    A spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment is out with Cypher system (Monte Cook) rules, called Torment: Tides of Numenera. While not D&D rules, I strongly recommend Pillars of Eternity. (Yes, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire just came out. The first one is really good and worth playing first, then try the second one. I'm still playing the second one and found the first plot more...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 02:44 PM
    Obviously, the PCs buy victory with the currency of limited resources: in D&D, spell slots; in FATE, FATE points; in Storyteller pools/tracks (BP, Willpower, Humanity)...
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 01:52 PM
    I think of the constructor as the Star Trek ‘holodeck’. Objects made out of force. The main difference is, a kind of ‘phantasmal’ resonance. The constructor can also ‘pull’ objects out of an other persons mind, so that that person is especially impacted by the object, even while other people can see the object as well. If adding to this telekinetic mastery, there is awesome...
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 01:48 PM
    Great another thing to take away from Martial characters.
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 01:46 PM
    ‘gods’ → archcelestials
    54 replies | 1151 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 11:46 AM
    Mending and prestidigitation immediately come to mind.
    13 replies | 487 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 05:29 AM
    Backgrounds are actually in the basic pdf, they're about as optional as race & class - a significant change from their introduction in 4e. Taken together, that is a great deal more complexity, and, considering the structure of classes, a great deal less flexibility, than FATE Aspects. There's a lot to Fate that is about Playing A Certain Way, it's clearly spelled out and consistently...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 04:48 AM
    Obviously, GURPS was going for universal, thus the U, but it didn't make it. In the final analysis you needed a worldbook before you could play in another setting or genre, even though it didn't constitute a new game Thus SJG finally went with the multi-genre label. BRP, OTOH, was the core of a system, built up into other games. IDK, having watched MM share his design process, I'm dubious...
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 04:05 AM
    Traveller's just basic pass/fail skill checks, apart from the technological gulf changing the names and emphasis of skills, and D&Ds pronounced discomfort with acknowledging leadership or tactical acumen as character, rather than player traits, I see no major impediments... of course, it'd really be d20, not D&D... Well, if you want 4e, forcing bloodied enemies to surrender via intimidation....
    2824 replies | 77753 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 03:41 AM
    Considered. It has no bearing at all on the connotations of 'principled' or 'disciplined,' that I can see. It carries different information, fiat implies arbitrary and without regard to anyone or anything. Judgement implies consideration of other factors - not excepting principles, though also implying some flexibility, perhaps more so than discipline. But I'd consider it as an...
    2824 replies | 77753 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 02:36 AM
    Plus, qualifying it that way implies that it would otherwise be unprincipled & undisciplined. How about 'judgement' rather than 'fiat.'
    2824 replies | 77753 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Blue's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 02:33 AM
    I look for something that is particularly different and compelling, and then hang from there. I like coming up with what's unique about the setting and crafting a story around that, which couldn't happen in a "standard" faux-european-medeival-wtih-magic world. Let me give an example of a D&D campaign I've got "on-deck" to show what I mean that the setting leads the story and the story the...
    29 replies | 732 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 01:28 AM
    Hilarious: 4e! ;P I mean, if anyone still needed proof-positive that 4e was NOT D&D, just try running a 'low-' or even NO- magic game with it. 1) tell everyone to play one of the 4 martial classes. 2) turn on 'Inherent Bonuses.' 3) don't place too many magic items or magical-seeming enemies (though some, because there is a second S in S&S, and it's usually the bad guy). See, if...
    62 replies | 2160 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 01:03 AM
    It sounds like skills are part of the issue. If casters actually try to preserve their spells, won't they at least try skills, first? ... and if those start succeeding, perhaps habits will change...? Actually, setting DC's low is fantastic IF you want to let the players use skills. Honestly, I think it's the other way that causes the problems and trains players to always rely on spells. If...
    62 replies | 2160 view(s)
    1 XP
  • darkbard's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 12:50 AM
    Super useful. Thanks!
    38 replies | 1921 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 12:35 AM
    It's not like casters don't have skills, either. To be fair, 5e adventures set pretty low DCs, for the most part (to the point they draw complaints from certain critics... OK, critic... OK, CapnZapp), so maybe that's an attempt to address the issue?
    62 replies | 2160 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 12:29 AM
    Call me cynical (it's unnecessary, we all know I am, but go ahead if you feel like it), but D&D-style DM Empowerment is not about just empowering the DM, but also assiduously avoiding 'player entitlement' (ie, empowering players) as a polar opposite. It's a pendulum thing. 3.x/PF/4e were very player-empowering (albeit in different ways), and 5e has been a reaction to that, a return to the...
    2824 replies | 77753 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 12:11 AM
    That's true of everything in 5e down to the illos and use of white space. :) (that was just an exaggeration for rhetorical effect, I know the illos are nicer this time around; and I've made no comparison in the use of white space, point is just, even trivial stuff could get the classic treatment) But, really, optional rules, in quixotically-named supplements, don't have to concern themselves...
    244 replies | 9177 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 11:40 PM
    It's just that it's redundant, because psionics was only ever magic re-skinned for use in sci-fi, so when D&D 'mashed up' fantasy & sci-fi (because it was the 70s, and that was just the tenor of the times, I guess) by including both, they were really just including magic, twice, but with different mechanics. If MM keeps trying to design psionics 'efficiently,' by re-using existing sub-systems...
    244 replies | 9177 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 11:21 PM
    Modern? I thought we were talking about D&D? Fair 'nuff. BitD & Fate seem to give a lot of latitude to players, as well, though.
    2824 replies | 77753 view(s)
    0 XP
  • darkbard's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 11:04 PM
    Thanks for the response, MwaO! Yes. I'm less concerned, though, with cutting down multiattack damage on the whole than making multitaps such autopicks. Btw, I misattribued Alcestis as the author of the house rule. The author is Alraune. Should anyone be interested, here is a list of their house rules, with explanation. "System-Wide Rule Changes Action Points
    2 replies | 116 view(s)
    0 XP
  • ardoughter's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 07:57 PM
    Staff of Forcebolt. Same as staff of Firebolt but it goes Boom! and does force damage. Call it a Gonne and you are done.
    21 replies | 3242 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 07:18 PM
    An obvious, 'low-hanging-fruit,' sort of improvement. Yes, if each dice mechanic delivers a flat uniform distribution with some % chance of success, there's no reason not to consolidate on just one such mechanic. Yes, needless complexity is needlessly complex! ;) Meh, 'style' has been overblown in the community for years now: dice mechanics are just mechanics, they do what they do in a way...
    31 replies | 585 view(s)
    1 XP
  • ardoughter's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 07:04 PM
    Ok, now I understand. I build my EK with greatsword, never noticed.
    26 replies | 928 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 06:59 PM
    Really, which of the many systems out there did you switch to? Did you have to switch players, as well? ;)
    81 replies | 2794 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 06:57 PM
    Well, cantrips aren't really the problem, systematic daily spell casting is, so what about removing slots rather than removing classes? Casters with just cantrips and rituals would display abilities much more in keeping with genre! ;D
    62 replies | 2160 view(s)
    0 XP
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I run a light-hearted Encounters-style 4e/Essentials D&D campaign that's open to the public.
When I get more than 8 players, we split and run two tables.
Every Wednesday at 5p for 2 hrs, Illusive Comics & Games, Santa Clara, CA.
http://www.illusivecomics.com/events/95/dd-pixies-pirates/

My wife runs a home D&D 4e campaign started June 2010.
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Brother Enoch, a Human Radiant Servant and refugee from a zombie apocalypse.

A 1-3rd level character of one sort or another in Encounters, typically a leader or controller.

Damrak, an heroic-level Kobold Bravura Warlord.

Abu Hazeen, a 'Djinn' bound in mortal form (Stormsoul Genasi Windlord/Prince of Genies/Emergent Primordial)

Past characters include: Lt David Freeborn, a Demigod Battle Captain; Varinhal Mith'renial, a Wizard of the Spiral Tower; Blaize Fairchilde, Deva Devoted Cleric; Nappo the Lion, Gnome Resourceful Warlord; Stephano di Orsini, Brawling Fighter; Ghourah the Foresworn, Dragonborn Warlord; Kern Ilgrath, 1/2 Orc 'archer' (Slayer); Vincent Draco, Mage (Enchanter); T'kli, Shardmind Warlord|Shaman; Herrak Shield-Biter, Dwarf Berserker; Illara, Watershaper Druid(Sentinel);
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Thursday, 21st June, 2018

  • 09:40 PM - Hussar mentioned Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Tony Vargas - I'm going to disagree with you on this a bit. 4e was very up front about HP being just an abstraction. Unlike earlier editions, every single keyword became a damage type, including a number of pretty non-obvious ones like "Psychic Damage" and the like. Fear effects that caused damage. That sort of thing. 5e carries the same explicit damage types as well - psychic damage as a keyword, for example. Earlier editions were not quite so explicit about their damage types, outside of weapon damage type - bludgeoning, piercing, slashing.
  • 08:20 PM - Skyscraper mentioned Tony Vargas in post Death and Storytelling
    Bedrockgames so I understand that you like to have death be a real threat and let the dice decide when it happens (so do I); but this apart, how do you reconcile death with the story that the now-dead PC was linked to, when it happens? Do you simply let the storyline that was linked to that PC exclusively, die with him or her? Tony Vargas you appear to suggest that death is frequent, but so is resurrection, so it's no big deal because PCs are brought back easily; or in the alternative, you use back up PC's. In the case of back-up PC's, how do you reconcile the story that the PC was linked to, with his disappearance from the game? Re: the ease to access of raise dead in D&D: I've done away with that spell, personally; but for the purposes of this discussion, let's disregard the situation where the PC dies but is brought back which is, in essence, equivalent to healing the PC.
  • 01:21 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...than OSR and Indie games. I only meant to convey that they are not somehow contained within and represent a narrowing of the basic experience of playing a role playing game. Difference of kind. Not a narrowing of experience.Absolutely. I don't get this idea that "different" = "narrower", or that "GM curated experience" = "caters to/generates a wide range of experiences". For instance: if player X wants to play Fate, and player Y wants to play Moldvay Basic, a game in which the GM curates Ideals/Bonds/Flaws for X, while rolling wandering monsters for Y, isn't giving either of them the experience they wanted. Perhaps it will still be fun, but it won't play much like Fate if the rest of the table is not doing the "aspect" thing; and the Moldvay Basic aspects will be tanked if most of the table is not playing with an eye to skilled dungeoneering. (In practice, I suspect that this game will turn into fairly traditional mid-to-late 80s D&D play, but perhaps that's just me!) EDIT: Tony Vargas: Campbell's "mainstream" is not just that mid-to-late 80s D&D; it would also include most GURPS and HERO play, I reckon, and - judging from when I used to hang out on the ICE boards - most RM/MERP/HARP play as well.

Wednesday, 20th June, 2018

  • 09:01 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    I keep thinking of the late scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious. Cary Grant is with Ingrid Bergman and they have to escape her Nazi husband who has been poisoning her. But they keep drawing out the scene even though we've also seen her husband and his Nazi cronies and we know that if they don't get a move on and get out of the house both of them are in deep trouble. So there's this massive tension and you wonder if they will escape in time or she will die of the poison.But isn't this a bit like Vincent Baker's example of Babe? We're pretty sure, aren't we, that Ingrid Bergman will survive - so what exactly is generating the suspense? That's not to object to the sorts of reveals (and cut scenes?) that you mention in your post, only to wonder more about how they're related to the generation of suspense. Another issue has to do with making a RPG work - which is what I was trying to get at with Tony Vargas upthread. If the players fail their check, and so they don't get out of the house and get found by the Nazis, how does this feed into the maintenance of suspense? How does the scope for paying further costs get introduced into the play of that game at that moment?
  • 01:04 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Tony Vargas, if you really think that skills in 3E/PF are capable of carrying the same heft in play as they do in Classic Traveller (where they are the whole of the PC sheet) then I guess there's no arguing it with you! To me it seems obvious that, in 3E/PF, the main way of resolving out-of-combat challenges is not the skill system but the magic system, with the skill system acting as something of a secondary framework. This is why I made the point that an INT 2 bruiser was also the one who was able to save the data: in Traveller it is quite feasible to have a INT 2 ex-nayy guy like this one who, as a result of the lifepath rolls, happens to have Computer-2 (in the backstory: he was passably competent in the Engineering section, but when transferred to bridge duties his limitatins became clear and he was mustered out). In D&D that role would be played by a spell-user, or (perhaps) a thief, but not by a fighter or barbarian. I'm not very familiar with D20 modern, but my understanding is that ...

Tuesday, 19th June, 2018

  • 01:38 AM - Manbearcat mentioned Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    @Aldarc and @Tony Vargas Just read the last page or so right quick (anymore my reading of EnWorld is extremely sporadic, quick, and bouncing around) and I just wanted to add something to clarify your discussion. I'm not a big fan of the term "fiat" to describe GMing in games like BitD, DW, etc. When we deploy the term "fiat" with respect to GMing in RPGs, we're typically talking about a game that affords a GM basically (or nearly) a full mandate, extraordinary latitude to make decisions about the mechanics and the fiction under the auspices of some very zoomed-out agenda like "whatever (the GM thinks) provides the most fun/tells the best story." So these decisions can either be somewhat arbitrary (under scrutiny) or feel arbitrary in the moment. Contrast this with games like the aforementioned BitD and DW where GMing is extremely (transparent and explicit) principle-and-premise-constrained. GMs who enjoy the former latitude will often struggle under the enforced discipline and directives of the latter (...

Monday, 18th June, 2018

  • 03:01 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Lanefan, billd91 - Tony Vargas's reply makes the point that needs to be made aboout "realism" in a hit point paradigm. As far as narration of hp loss and zero hp is concerned - if you're narrating hp loss, and dropping to zero hp, in surgical detail, and then having your suspension of disbelief disrupted by the recovery that the game rules provide for, well, I would suggest changing your narration! As I posted upthread, as a former RM player/GM, and someone who was pretty familiar with the drfit from AD&D to RM, RQ etc in the 80s/early 90s, it remains very strange to see posters arguing for AC-&-hp combat on "realism" grounds, and to be distinguishing AD&D or 3E from 4e on that basis. Also, someone upthread (maybe Sadras) mentioned tinkering - the most trivial tinkering possible to a RPG is to change the short and extended rest durations in 4e or 5e. (I don't know how common it is with 5e; based on dicsussions on teese boards it was extremely common with 4e.)

Friday, 15th June, 2018

  • 03:47 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    ...hand of resources" model and generalise it across all classes. And, as with hp, make the encounter rather than the expedition the focus for managing those resources. And so far from having "open" PC-build, the importance of class to PC building is reinforced, with each class having its own mostly unique set of abilities (powers, feats, etc) that favour the creation of recognisable archetypes, or - if one prefers - game pieces with clearly distinguished roles to perform. (Much like Gygax's apparent vision for character classes in his PHB and DMG.) This is why I find that particular line of attack on 4e from D&D players so weird. It would make sense coming from players of RM, RQ or similar games, because it is a reinforcement of all the core elements of D&D that those systems are built on recting. Whereas I can't make sense of D&D players posting as if D&D already answered to the concerns of "purist for system" RPGing up until 4e was published. Maybe this has some connection to Tony Vargas's idea of "backwards simulation". (There is one fearure of RM that is very close to 4e martial encounter powers: Adrenal Moves, especially in conjunction with rules for sustaining them, which I thin may frist have been in RMC IV. I remember discussing these as a precedent for martial encounter powers on ENworld back in 2008.)

Tuesday, 12th June, 2018

  • 07:06 PM - DM Dave1 mentioned Tony Vargas in post Why doesn't the help action have more limits and down sides?
    To put an abrupt end to the "piling on" effect Tony Vargas describes above, we've been employing Angry's rules for Teamwork and Group Checks (http://theangrygm.com/tweaking-the-core-of-dd-5e/). It has worked out quite well in multiple campaigns. Working Together. When two or more characters work together to accomplish the same task, the character with the higher modifier leads the effort. The leader makes the appropriate ability check and enjoys a +2 bonus for one or two helpers or a +5 bonus for three or more helpers. Characters can only work together if it is task where such help is feasible and possible. In addition, a character can only help with a task if they would not be incapable of attempting the task on their own (due to a lack of Proficiency for instance). Group Checks. When several PCs are trying to accomplish something as a group, the GM can call for a group check. First, the GM determines whether the group will succeed if any member succeeds (such as with searching) or if the group will fail if any member fails (such as ...

Thursday, 7th June, 2018

  • 04:55 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post The final word on DPR, feats and class balance
    ... This style gives the player resources (generic ones, or ones that are particular to his/her PC build) that enable the player to make mechanical choices that will realise the concept. Come and Get It is the best known example from 4e. The "through death's eyes" move in Dungeon World is another example ("Name an NPC who will die. The GM will make your vision come true.") If the resources are very generic, this can become a free descriptor approach (like eg HeroQuest revised; and Cortex+ Heroic comes pretty close) where the descriptor is important for fictional positioning and narration of consequences, but has no bearing on prospects of success. (So eg being a knife fighter compared to an archer is relevant to permissible action declarations given context, but does not effect your likelihood of killing someone if an attack is declared.) 5e (like AD&D 2nd ed before it) eschews this approach for non-magic-users. The second approach is how 2nd ed AD&D seemed to do it, and is what Tony Vargas seems to have in mind when he talks about "GM empowerment". The GM manipulates framing, and possible outcomes, to ensure that the concept is realised. At the limits of this approach mechanics don't matter much, and the PC build is mostly a signal to the GM as to the desired manipulations. This is the exact antithesis of the "indie" approach. The third approach is the one that isn't working for the OP: you build your character according to concept, the GM applies the mechanics more-or-less at face value, and we find out whether or not your concept is mechanically viable. I think this can work in systems with a relatively high degree of "sim" in their DNA (eg RQ, RM, Burning Wheel) because those systems will try to reflect eg the fact that, in the real world, you can kill someone by stabbing them with a knife. In D&D, though, I think there is more scope for some concepts to be crowded out by eg the hp and damage dealing rules. This is another way in which D&D continues to suppor...

Wednesday, 6th June, 2018

  • 01:53 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post The final word on DPR, feats and class balance
    This is a well thought out and reasoned post.That's generous of you - thank you. The fact that we mostly have normal assumptions about gravity or use swords instead of spoons as weapons speaks volumes. The flipside to this is that we also have assumptions that defy all normal assumptions about gravity - eg dragons can fly, giants dan walk and run, etc. I would say we have certain tropes. These include martial artists who are just as dangerous with their bare hands as a dragon is with its bite. I think there is room in those tropes for a deadly knife thrower. (I agree with you (I think) and some other posters that the fighter vs rogue thing complicates matters. But I also agree with Tony Vargas that the fighter is advertised as the "weapon expert". The system has tensions that are a legacy of D&D class design from way back and aren't easily resolved. Light weapon fighting is one place where those tensions become quite evident.) Lastly, the fighter can do it at will all day. I am not saying the gap is huge, but it is not clearly in sorcerer's favor.I agree the "do it all day" doesn't run the sorcerer's way, but if the sorcerer can keep it up for five or six combat encounters then I would call that a draw. I think the advantages of "do it all day" tends to be exaggerated, as the real constraints are around hp recovery, table time and session planning, etc. (To put it in a more tendentious way: "do it all day" is white room theorising!)
  • 01:30 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post The final word on DPR, feats and class balance
    I think there is value in having some choices be less powerful. Granted this is a fantasy game, but how many individuals on a battlefield ran around throwing daggers? Correct, probably none. Many knights had a dagger for finishing a kill. A rogue doing sneak attack damage is another matter and rules increase damage in this case substantially. <snip> Some limitations and differences are there for some sense of a model, however loose it may be. <snip> The idea that I imagine a really fast peasant with a dagger is fine. However, some level of absurdity might not be fun for others. As an aside, I can do something like with with a monk.I agree with Tony Vargas that this is an odd combination of claims. How many individuals on a battlefield ran around fighting dragons, armoured soldiers, etc using bare-handed martial arts? Yet 5e has monks, and you don't seem to have an issue with that. How many individuals on a battlefield defeated dragons, soldiers etc by stabbing them in the kidney while they were distracted fighting a knight? Yet not only does 5e have rogues with their sneak attack ability, but you seem to endorse that aspect of the game! If we can have monks fighting dragons, and alley knife-fighters going toe-to-toe with giants and dragons, why can't we have knife-throwers? The limitations you are arguing for appear to be quite arbitrary. (And if you really didn't like the knife-thrower feat, couldn't you just ignore it?) I wonder at which level are they out of hand? Is it at level 11 with three attacks? Now we see it is high level fighters only that we are super concerned with...and why should a fighter not have SOMETHING? ...

Tuesday, 5th June, 2018

  • 12:58 PM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post The final word on DPR, feats and class balance
    ... of being a D&D spell caster. It seems to me that there are two main responses to these points (other than agreeing, as eg TwoSix seems to). One is to dispute their mechanical foundations eg to show that, in fact, the rules support a knife fighter whose mechanical effectiveness is comparable to a greatsword wielder, a warlock, a sorcerer, etc. I don't think anyone in this thread has tried this in a serious fashion. (I feel that showing that the sorcerer has enough spell points for "only" 5 or 6 powered-up encounters is proving the OP's point rather than refuting it!) The other is to show that it shouldn't matter to the player of the knife fighter, who [i]wants to do meaningful amounts of damage[i], that his/her typical expected damage is less than that of other fairly standard builds. I don't think this second response is hopeless, but I think it needs to be tackled head-on. Simply telling that player that s/he's wrong to want to do meaningful amounts of damage doesn't count. Tony Vargas is coming closest, I think (with his empasis on "GM empowerment"). As someone who is mostly a spectator in this thread, I'm finding the failure to fully engage with the OP's claims a bit frustrating, as the second response in particular has the prospect of being quite interesting in bringing out some deep considerations in RPG play and RPG design. EDIT: I wrote the above before reading Gadget's post. I read that post as making a point at least somewhat similar to mine.

Sunday, 3rd June, 2018

  • 04:10 AM - Garthanos mentioned Tony Vargas in post Revised 4E Wizard Class with Freeform Spellcasting System
    After MUCH tinkering in various games (some wargames which were pretty widely played) I am of the opinion that this sort of 'build your own power' is not ever going to work. IME you have to have some neutral arbiter to look at it and decide if its borked or not. There's just too many ways to create subtly OP stuff this way, and players WILL find it ASAP! Again I look at HERO and the closest thing I can think think of is Power Frameworks configured to allow ultimate versatility. (They do put in campaign limits which I would translate in D&D to maximums on effects at given levels. ) Perhaps @Tony Vargas can think of more. Or perhaps since we are starting with 4e we can find those cases in advance? If twin strike was made along side dual strike perhaps twin strike might have had a ranger class feature to allow them only to focus on one enemy with both attacks once per encounter or something similar.

Saturday, 2nd June, 2018


Wednesday, 30th May, 2018

  • 07:03 PM - jacktannery mentioned Tony Vargas in post Keep on the Shadowfell vs Reavers of Harkenwold
    I've DMd both. @masteraleph is correct. I also agree with Tony Vargas. Keep of the Shadowfell was awful. 4E was different to older versions of DnD, because it was organised around the encounter, rather than the adventuring day (or week). Thus adventures need to have exciting decisions during the encounter in 4E, in contrast to earlier editions that might have worked with boring encounters but exciting long-term planning. 4E has no long-term planning. This adventure was written by someone who hadn't worked that out yet. So it feels grindy, and railroady. It might have worked well in 2E, for example, because then the plotting back in the town could have worked. Both Reavers of Harkenwold (and the even better Madness at Gardmore Abbey) work perfectly with 4E, because the decision points are during encounters, rather than between them (or at the end of the day/week), so the structure of the game works with the adventure. In 4E an encounter IS a decision point (and many of the 'encounters' in Harkenwold and Madness are not best dealt with by combat); where...

Sunday, 20th May, 2018

  • 04:44 AM - Garthanos mentioned Tony Vargas in post Conan vs the Swarms of Soldiers.
    @Tony Vargas Here I go with an ironic comment.... Putting all the powers in common buckets has a risk of robbing class specific flavors that are enabled by and encouraged by distinctly described spells for Arcane Bards, Arcane Swordmages and Arcane Warlocks and Arcane Sorcerors since to me flavor is core to actual feel, bunching them will make them all feel ahem "homogenous"

Wednesday, 9th May, 2018

  • 06:07 AM - Ancalagon mentioned Tony Vargas in post What happens to the "suboptimal?"
    D&D 5 does a really good job of reducing “trap” options, and someone really has to go out of their way to make a character that actually negatively contributes to a group. (9 INT human Wizard with a dagger, and prestidigitation, mending, and light for cantrips, anyone? Even then, with point buy, he probably can’t help but have a 16 to STR or DEX!) Tony Vargas can say it's faint praise, but I see this as quite the important feature. It definitely wasn't true in 3.X/PF!

Wednesday, 2nd May, 2018


Friday, 27th April, 2018

  • 09:23 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    The terms are adequate already. Completely redefining the long standing definitions in order to use the new definitions to attack other playstyles isn't helpful. Nor does it clear things up to call an apple an orange.Which terms? What "long standing definitions"? Where are these found? What makes you think you've got better cognitive access to them than I do? And following on from these questions . . . Except that it doesn't. Agency is another word that you are attempting to redefine for your personal needs in order to be dismissive of the traditional playstyle. The fact is, agency doesn't mean what you say it means. Agency is just the players being able to control the actions of their PCs, and without a true railroad(not your altered definition), agency is unfettered in both styles of play.According to Tony Vargas, the concept of "player agency" was invented at The Forge and means more-or-less what I use it to mean. I don't have my own independent recollection of the use of the term at The Forge - I'm more familiar with their notion of "protagonism", which has a similar (but maybe not identical) meaning. I've just gone to check The Forge Provisional Glossary, and found that it generally uses the word "control" rather than "agency" - but it defines force as The Technique of control over characters' thematically-significant decisions by anyone who is not the character's player. When Force is applied in a manner which disrupts the Social Contract, the result is Railroading. No definition is offered of "thematically-significant decision", but "theme" is defined as The point, message, or key emotional conclusion perceived by an audience member, about a fictional series of events. Now you insist that Agency is just the players being able to control the actions of their PCs. I don't di...


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Friday, 22nd June, 2018

  • 01:39 AM - Bedrockgames quoted Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    Reasonable enough. As you add more decisions points and complications and opportunities to affect that final die roll, you're also, presumably, making it less uncertain, and, you're adding drama & suspense to the intervening time, because what's going on bears on the final result and how that final result is coming about is unfolding. So, if loading stuff like that in between a declaration and a die roll that's "uncertain" (for the sake of suspense) can /add/ suspense, can't loading it in front of relative certainty (you know the hero isn't going to die, but not what bad stuff might happen shy of that) also add suspense? It seems like it should. And, IMX, a die roll, however uncertain can be a brief, anti-climactic affair, and so be contributing relatively little suspense. And of course, the cost of that uncertainty is toted up in dead heroes, anti-climaxes, de-railed stories, and the like. Oh, hey, I'm back to "cost" - that wasn't even intentional. Again, I am not too worried abou...
  • 01:16 AM - Bedrockgames quoted Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    But if your source of suspense is just the uncertainty of the die roll, 'eventually' comes pretty quick... The suspension is resolved by the die roll, and much of the suspense is set by the stakes involved. But you are going to have things leading up to it naturally in play. It isn't like you are just rolling a series of dice and saying what happened. People are explaining what they want to do, asking what they see, NPCs are responding. There is a lot that will be going on prompting the die roll in the first place (and it might not be a single die roll---depends on the situation). In the James Bond movie stuff happens as they play the hand. You can 'RP' that stuff to stretch out the moment, but you're just stalling, nothing is going to make a difference, the die will fall where it will. Now, if the game is more than a die roll, if there's a series of decisions or complications or whatever, then the delay feels purposeful. It isn't just a delay. What the players are doing leading up ...
  • 12:59 AM - pemerton quoted Tony Vargas in post Skill Feats In Pathfinder 2
    If he's not doing anything, why does he need the wall?I didn't say the monk is not doing anything. I asked what the monk is doing physically? From an article on the monk in a 1981 Dragon article ("He's got a lot to kick about", vol 53): The new special abilities and powers presume that the inner strength of monks flows from the mind - that it is a sort of psionic power. After all, no degree of skill or knowledge will let a human being fall an unlimited distance when within 8’ of a wall and take no damage when hitting bottom at terminal velocity. Oriental Adventures (pp 104-5) had two martial arts special maneouvres that allowed dealing an attack at a distance: One Finger: This skill requires long and difficult practice. It is said that the student first learns to push a heavy bell with the touch of a single finger. He concentrates then on touching it lighter and lighter while making the bell swing even more. Finally, he reaches the point where he can make the bell move without actual...
  • 12:45 AM - Aldarc quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Like 5e did with Advantage and the Help action that, well, 'creates Advantage' for a buddy? ;)I was speaking more along the lines here of tactical combat. 5E Advantage/Disadvantage has undoubtedly been an effective mechanic for streamlining certain subsystems of play between 3E and 5E. It's also something fairly easy for GMs to apply as a general rule of thumb or eyeball gauge for when it applies as well as for new players to grasp. Advantage does, however, get kinda dull or rote when it becomes too ubiquitous in practice. I should look up again a fun example in "the Book of Hanz" of the Fate mechanics used by a roguish character for getting the drop on two guards because it highlights a lot of Fate's fiction first mindset and how it variously uses mechanics to emulate the desired fiction of the scene.
  • 12:10 AM - Bedrockgames quoted Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    Problem is that brand of suspense lasts until the die stops. All suspense eventually gets closure. If the players are at a casino, you'll have building suspense as they win, until they place that final bet. If it is a single hand or something, well, sure, but the suspense also ends in a James Bond movie when the cards are laid on the table. There is plenty of room in an RPG for the suspense to build prior to that (particularly if players and/or NPCs are using dodgy means or trying to psyche each other out). If the situation is role-played, it won't just be a quick moment of the die roll. How long the suspense lasts is entirely dependent on what is going on. The suspense can last a long time if the player is moving down a mile long corridor filled with traps; it can also last a long time if the player gets news that someone he loves is about to be shot on the other side of town, and he needs to race their as quickly as possible before the tragedy unfolds.

Thursday, 21st June, 2018

  • 09:29 PM - TheCosmicKid quoted Tony Vargas in post Psion class (Mearls, Happy Fun Hour)
    Oh, the 're-inventing' argument is obvious and even compelling, it just doubles as an argument not to have psionics, at all. So, IDK, have them work nothing like spells. Instead of discrete effects, construct effects up from disciplines, like supernatural Legos, using power points to fuel each block. Or simply don't have "high level" disciplines, don't level-gate them, just learn more as you go, and pouring more power points into them brings them up to level-appropriate effectiveness. The Lego approach always sounds awesome in principle, but there are a couple of practical hurdles there, both in design and play. The more-power approach seems cleaner, simpler, more... 5E. (Also: incarnum magic.) It also seems like a perfect fit for some disciplines, such as telekinesis. Just brainstorming: Telekinetic Talent: Basically mage hand, but with open-ended actions available (attack, grapple, ready...). Augment: Spend psi points to increase hand's effective Strength score (and size?). Augment: Spend p...
  • 08:38 PM - Lanefan quoted Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    For instance, if the first scene of the war movie is the old veteran telling a group of people about his experiences before they screen ripples & fades to his younger self, you /know/ he didn't die. He might very well have fallen off some cliffs and gotten shot, burned, blown up or whatever, but he didn't die. ;) As most fantasy RPGs have revival mechanics, this example doesn't quite cross over perfectly: the veteran might have died several times, in fact, and been revived each time. :)
  • 07:05 PM - Bedrockgames quoted Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    Depending on the genre and the mode of storytelling, you can absolutely know. For instance, if the first scene of the war movie is the old veteran telling a group of people about his experiences before they screen ripples & fades to his younger self, you /know/ he didn't die. He might very well have fallen off some cliffs and gotten shot, burned, blown up or whatever, but he didn't die. ;) . I think this is less true than it used to be (in part because some of the suspense got lost as people became more familiar with these patterns). Even if the character is narrating, it doesn't mean he survives now. Just look at a film like Casino. Clearly not a war movie, but still one where that narrator survives lulls you into a false sense of security. I find when I watch movies these days, I am a lot less sure whether a character will survive. More importantly, I tend to find that more entertaining. I specifically seek out films where I think who survives will be less predictable. Not saying you...
  • 06:50 PM - Bawylie quoted Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    Depending on the genre and the mode of storytelling, you can absolutely know. For instance, if the first scene of the war movie is the old veteran telling a group of people about his experiences before they screen ripples & fades to his younger self, you /know/ he didn't die. He might very well have fallen off some cliffs and gotten shot, burned, blown up or whatever, but he didn't die. ;) Neither am I. It looks like a 'price' could well be extracted in the process and contribute to the suspense, but not that it's the main point. And resource management in a pretty conventional aspect of RPGs. But I don't find the idea that it's uncertainty of the ultimate outcome that's the main point, too compelling, either. That’s literally what suspense is though. And if your goal is “more suspense in your games” I feel like you’d probably want to understand what it is before you try to put more in.
  • 06:37 PM - Bawylie quoted Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    Meh. You prettymuch do know the protagonist will /survive/ in some sense. You don't know if he'll extricate himself from predicament, or if he'll miraculously survive the fall, or get rescued, or fall presumably to his death, only to show up later with some improable story ("From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the Balrog of Morgoth... Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side... ") that doesn't really adequately explained how he survived. ;P In a cliffhanger, you just come back later ("same bat-time, same bat-channel!"), in a movie you can cut to a different scene, or show the character's efforts in agonizing detail. In an RPG, what are you going to do, get a /reeeeallly/ tall dice tower? Resolution mechanics are not overly time-consuming - heck, some RPGs go out of their way to make 'em fast. I think that's what the point was, you put things in the way of the 'inevitable' resolution that, in turn, need to be dealt with, somehow...
  • 02:06 PM - gyor quoted Tony Vargas in post Psion class (Mearls, Happy Fun Hour)
    Sure, like the Knightly Order of the Eye of Jet. I'm sure you've seen 'em around. Love casting Suggestion? Make their own Brilliant Energy katanas? Never heard of them.
  • 09:51 AM - pemerton quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I can't see any grouping, other than TTRPGs, that all those would fit in, and would have any value or meaning.They all tend to define the character in terms of mechanically-rated abilities to perform certain tasks. They all tend to approach resolution in a fairly granular, "Did my attempt to do that work?" fashion. (D&D hp-attrition combat is an exception, but (i) it tends not to be generalised by D&D players to other spheres of action, except in 4e - skill challenges - which seem to have been rather controversial, and (ii) every time some change is made or new thing added on to that system, it drifts it towards granularity and task-orientations - eg grapple rules, disarm rules, rules for facing and movement/positionin in combat, etc.) None makes *the scene* the unit of resolution (4e is an exception: see above for its controversy). And all assume that the GM is the principal deliverer of content for the fiction. (There are hints to the contrary in HERO - eg the Hunted disadvantage and similar ...
  • 02:56 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I tossed in the 2e S&P reference, just in case, since I barely glanced at it, having given up on 2e bloat by then. 3.0 was the main point. Ah, OK. I stopped buying 2e products a while before S&P showed up. The newest ones I have are various 'complete' books and the nonhumans book, etc. Everyone I played with considered the stuff coming after that to be basically crap.
  • 02:38 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Foul! The description only said that you /could/ draw on your inspiration in those thematically appropriate way. You could instead draw on the compassion you RP'd when negotiating with the beggar king to assassinate him later that evening, sure, but that doesn't make you dissociative (mechanically)... Sure it does. It is everything that 4e powers were accused of. The mechanical effects of the rule are divorced (dissociated) from narrative logic! Nothing could clearer. You know if there were some players'd just horde it until they drowned in one. So what? Wouldn't that be 'good RP' in the absence of any incentive? How would it be accomplished? The incentive is simply one side of a mechanical economy. It isn't about the player getting ahead, so it is hard to even call it an incentive. Neither the current ed of D&D nor Fate really lend themselves to casual play. Fate Accelerated, maybe, but FATE, with it's session 0 story-braiding (I don't know if that's fair, but it's hard to ...
  • 01:02 AM - pemerton quoted Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    there is a line between a price paid that's modeled in the system (you have so many slots/points/whatever, when do you use them?), and a price paid that's part of emerging story-line (this is the current situation, it could change/might not be what it seems, what do you do?). The former is part of the game, the latter is system-independentI don't think the latter is system-independent at all. Compare Manbearcat's example of DitV, where the system establishes a relationship with the PC's brother; or In a Wicked Age (that's on my mind befause I GMed a short session of it not too long ago) which establishes interlinked and conflicting "best interests" for each character (PC and NPC). For players to be able to 'buy victory' they have to have something to pay with. In the types of games lumpley is talking about, players create characters with multiple dramatic needs and progress towards fulfilling these needs, or not, is how costs are paid and what drives the arc of the story. <snip> The pla...

Wednesday, 20th June, 2018

  • 10:45 PM - billd91 quoted Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    And it was fine until 40 years later, some nerds decided it was 'dissociated' because hit points /had always been all about physical damage/, when, in fact, on the grounds of (defense against) realism, hit points had 'always' (as of 1979) been about non-physical factors, as well or even instead. Let's not over-use the 4venger complaints about the identification of dissociated mechanics. The hit point arguments are far more about the degree of abstraction than whether or not the rules are disconnected from an in-character/in-setting perspective. Hit points that aren't strictly meat damage can still be understood from a character being increasingly tired out or weakened from blocking/dodging the attacks that would probably have killed less skilled/lucky/divinely-favored people.
  • 02:44 PM - Blue quoted Tony Vargas in post Suspense in RPGs
    Obviously, the PCs buy victory with the currency of limited resources: in D&D, spell slots; in FATE, FATE points; in Storyteller pools/tracks (BP, Willpower, Humanity)... Just to add to your list, players buy victory with a lot of non-mechanical currency as well. Trading in that favor they are owed. Accepting loss of face to the court to beg the king to intervene. Promising an open-ended favor to an honorable villain for him to withdraw his support from the irredeemably evil big bad. Sacrificing themselves to allow the ritual to be stopped and the world saved.
  • 09:07 AM - Aldarc quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Foul! The description only said that you /could/ draw on your inspiration in those thematically appropriate way. You could instead draw on the compassion you RP'd when negotiating with the beggar king to assassinate him later that evening, sure, but that doesn't make you dissociative (mechanically)...That's my point. The source of inspiration is dissasociated from how that Inspiration is spent. This is discussed in Angry DM's article "11 Ways to Take the Suck Out of Inspiration in D&D." In particular check out the part Where the System Falls Apart: Where the System Falls Apart Now, there is this implicit connection between Inspiration, Personal Characteristics, and Background. They are presented together and sequentially and Backgrounds offer examples of each Personal Characteristic. Moreover, on PHB 125, it explicitly says that the DM typically awards Inspiration for portraying your Personal Characteristics. It also lists other ways the DM might award Inspiration, but it’s pretty str...
  • 06:04 AM - pemerton quoted Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    I feel like there was a 'forced march' rule somewhere that caused the loss of some % of hps...In 1st ed AD&D it could cause level loss - so you can get worse at fighting because you're tired from walking/running, but not because you got hit on the head with a mace? Or (more plausibly) hit point loss doesn't correspond to being hit on the head with a mace.
  • 05:56 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Since 3.0, if not 2e S&P, skill checks have been the main mechanical way of addressing non-combat challenges. They're often avoided, because they haven't always worked great, or because players realize they can couch actions to get success without checking the character's skill, but they do exist, FWIW. I think it is very trivially easy to see how 'skills', when implemented at all, in 'classic' D&D were of little significance, even in 2e where NWPs were at least presented as a possibility in the core books. 1. They were NEVER used to represent anything like a class or race ability, even when they obviously could have been (IE thieves, rangers, elves, etc.). 2. They were always optional systems (2e NWPs, 1e Secondary Skills, etc.). The one marginal exception was OA, where they ALMOST became a significant subsystem. 3. No implementation in classic D&D was actually mechanically viable in any sensible way. DSG, WSG, OA, and 2e PHB (etc.) implementations were mechanically unworkable in significa...


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