View Profile: Tony Vargas - D&D, Pathfinder, and RPGs at Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • MoonSong's Avatar
    Today, 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.
    38 replies | 2432 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 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?
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 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...
    15 replies | 529 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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
    Yesterday, 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.
    9 replies | 198 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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...
    9 replies | 198 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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...
    4 replies | 128 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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...
    14 replies | 318 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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...
    23 replies | 423 view(s)
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:50 PM
    1e had the analog of attacks of opportunity...not saying this is an absolute must mechanic but...
    21 replies | 682 view(s)
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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
    22 replies | 422 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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...
    34 replies | 758 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:48 PM
    For theater of the mind style, the game is better without OAs.
    21 replies | 682 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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.
    23 replies | 423 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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
    Yesterday, 09:51 AM
    Your riposte be made of straw.
    33 replies | 817 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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.
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:31 AM
    I wonder if he was trying to balance more powerful or longer lasting abilities with a small area of effect?
    5 replies | 242 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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.
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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...
    5 replies | 242 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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.
    51 replies | 1014 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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 | 242 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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?)
    51 replies | 1014 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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,...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Yesterday, 01:03 AM
    I do not expect this thread to get a gentle repose. :cool:
    24 replies | 593 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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.
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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...
    23 replies | 423 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:40 AM
    Don't forget to lock up and to turn the lights off after you close up......
    24 replies | 593 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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 | 242 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:26 AM
    I have noticed there are a few gatekeepers around these parts.
    24 replies | 593 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...
    23 replies | 423 view(s)
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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...
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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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
    22 replies | 422 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 ......
    22 replies | 422 view(s)
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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...
    26 replies | 610 view(s)
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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. ...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
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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...
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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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? ...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
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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...
    405 replies | 16094 view(s)
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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...
    4 replies | 128 view(s)
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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)...
    23 replies | 423 view(s)
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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...
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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  • Eubani's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 01:48 PM
    Great another thing to take away from Martial characters.
    33 replies | 817 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 01:46 PM
    ‘gods’ → archcelestials
    51 replies | 1014 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 | 472 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...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
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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...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
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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....
    2803 replies | 76718 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...
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  • 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.'
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
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  • 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...
    26 replies | 610 view(s)
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  • 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...
    47 replies | 1817 view(s)
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  • 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...
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  • darkbard's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th June, 2018, 12:50 AM
    Super useful. Thanks!
    38 replies | 1882 view(s)
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  • 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?
    47 replies | 1817 view(s)
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  • 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...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
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  • 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...
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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  • 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...
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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  • 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.
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
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  • 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 | 110 view(s)
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  • 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 | 3227 view(s)
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  • 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...
    22 replies | 422 view(s)
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  • ardoughter's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 07:04 PM
    Ok, now I understand. I build my EK with greatsword, never noticed.
    26 replies | 916 view(s)
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  • 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 | 2779 view(s)
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  • 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
    47 replies | 1817 view(s)
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  • darkbard's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 06:25 PM
    I've been considering adopting the following house rule, cribbed from Alcestis on the old WotC forums: "Enhancement Bonuses: The enhancement bonus of the weapon or implement used for an attack is added to its damage roll once for each die of damage in the base roll. This rule applies only to the damage dice listed in the power itself, not dice added by outside sources such as class features,...
    2 replies | 110 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 05:54 PM
    For better or worse, that's the definition of balance I'll be using when I discuss it... Since it's a solved game, we can know exactly how (im)balanced Tic-tac-toe is. It presents X with 9 initial choices, obviously. However, 6 of them are meaningless: it doesn't matter which corner or side you place your X in, the game's potential results set will be the same, regardless (there's nothing...
    405 replies | 16094 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 05:08 PM
    I've been involved in time traveling as both player and DM several times, but never in a D&D-type game. Well, not entirely true, there was an adventure in the far past, but it was very strictly limited in scope. Superheroes has been the most common time-travel genre, up to the point where one player had a character who was a time agent who worked to keep the timeline "correct". (In a game...
    34 replies | 758 view(s)
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  • ardoughter's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 04:33 PM
    I am just curious, because I have seen this a couple of times already but why does shield per RAW require Warcaster? I do not seem to see it/what am I missing?
    26 replies | 916 view(s)
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  • ardoughter's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 02:58 PM
    Oh! I know, I was just venting. I have been around a long time.
    566 replies | 17328 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 02:11 PM
    Telekinesis (moving objects) feels different thematically from elemental-kinesis. I like the wizard getting elemental-kinesis. I still want the psion to have telekinesis. Possibly the constructor psion can also be the master of telekinesis (mental force), so much so, one can even create force constructs (made out of mental force).
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 02:05 PM
    As far as where Mearls is currently at, it seems something like the following. I want to update the Original Post, but am hesitant about the unclear relationship between the psychic warrior fighter and the immortal barbarian Psion • Awakened (telepath) • Nomad (teleporter) • Metamorph (shapeshifter, psychometabolism) • Constructor (force constructs, shaper, metacreativity)
    225 replies | 8364 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 01:33 PM
    Rather that convoluted definitions of ‘deity’. I would rather the rules organize around levels. Any creature that is level 21 and higher is ‘epic’ and is an ‘immortal’. There might be finer distinctions. Something like:
    51 replies | 1014 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 01:21 PM
    Blue replied to Balancing D&D
    It's amusing, but as an analogy misses the point. All of the pieces of a color are controlled by the same player - they are more like class features, not individual characters. The two players are balanced in features - the primary difference at the state of the game is who has initiative. :)
    81 replies | 2779 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 12:59 PM
    Blue replied to Balancing D&D
    Because a DM balancing a min/max build without overwhelming the players with regular builds is actually a real challenge. If I was going to be snarky, I would make a comment along the lines of "if a DM doesn't know that, then maybe someone else should DM" - really it's easy to adjust your challenges to a group that on even keel, be it all min/maxed or all median, or all suboptimal. The game...
    81 replies | 2779 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 12:54 PM
    Blue replied to Balancing D&D
    While he doesn't describe my table, I have seen plenty of it, especially at the AL games at my FLGS. We shouldn't try to be gatekeepers, dismissing other's style or games as not part of regular play.
    81 replies | 2779 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 06:41 AM
    The system steps back 10yds and punts to the DM, as part of its core resolution mechanic. Its written in 'natural language,' so is ambiguous enough to require constant interpretation & rulings, from the DM. It simply doesn't exist without one. Is that hogwash? Maybe, but since MM washed the 5e hog, it's been immunized from criticism. I know from another thread that you've moved past...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Jacob Lewis's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 03:34 AM
    Free floating toilet paper dispenser. If you've been camping, you know it's a great idea.
    65 replies | 105643 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 18th June, 2018, 12:58 AM
    Doesn't eliminate analysis as a useful tool. ... That'd be testing playtesting, obviously, which is also helpful. Testing will find a problem, analysis will isolate the root cause, and point to possible solutions. What we have, here, is a failure to communucate... So, games present players with choices. The more choices at each choice point and the more choice points, the greater the...
    405 replies | 16094 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 11:24 PM
    "It's the only way to be sure..."
    81 replies | 2779 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 10:56 PM
    One way to reward your D&D players would be to run something else for them, now & then...
    1 replies | 152 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 08:53 PM
    Arguably, in D&D, 5e especially & intentionally, the system us not independent if the DM, so you can't talk about what the system can do without bringing the DM into it... 5e is in no way a universal system. At best, d20 is a core system, like BRP or d6 or Interlock or many others have been since the 80s. GURPS tried to be a Universal System (it's what the 'U' is for), but eventually copped...
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 08:39 PM
    Apparently, its an objectionable quality. ;) Seriously, though, balance is a quality that games have, and, while it may be difficult to analyze in more complex games (its closely related to acquiring system mastery, that way), it is not entirely opaque. Balance is the maximizing of player choices, while keeping those choices both meaningful & viable. Impact & output factor into viability,...
    405 replies | 16094 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 07:09 PM
    In 5e, as in the hallowed classic game, The DM /is/ D&D. Like "The King is The Land." It one of the Gygaxian Mysteries. Reward System Mastery?
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Blue's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 06:57 PM
    Blue replied to Balancing D&D
    Simplest doesn't always mean best though. The MC removal in particular sounds like using a shotgun to kill flies. Not as overwhelming as nuking ti from orbit, but still massive overkill.
    81 replies | 2779 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 06:37 PM
    So, with any game in either position, all you have to do is kitbash the second game into a functional clone of the first. That says litterally nothing about the second game, which is just a placeholder in the exercise. Hold both games to RaW and the comparison might mean something.
    2803 replies | 76718 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 06:25 PM
    Sure, the Sorcerer, the most lack-lustre of the 5e full casters, flirts with strict superiority to the fighter, the premier ('best' at fighting, with weapons) 5e non-caster. Not exactly a shocker, and not exactly strict (strict being a very easy bar to avoid), but still, a terrible defense of the sorcerers specific DPR build and fighters perennial lack if versatility. It's essentially a...
    405 replies | 16094 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 05:42 PM
    Interestingly, it's those who decry any attempt to improve balance who seem more inclined to bring up 'perfect balance.' "Perfect balance is impossible!" (so stop trying to improve balance) "Perfect balance would be boring!" (So don't worry if you wreck what balance you have, it'll be more fun!) "Of course, we admit that the game isn't perfectly balanced..." (...so we don't have to...
    405 replies | 16094 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Jacob Lewis's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 03:30 PM
    Wait just a damn minute!! Is that ball really made of animal skin? I am so offended right now!! Shocked and offended, sir!
    42 replies | 1541 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Jacob Lewis's Avatar
    Sunday, 17th June, 2018, 03:25 PM
    You have already done a lot of work just writing up this treatment, and 4 times no less! Creating more work shouldn't be a deterrent to anyone willing to put in this much effort if it makes an improvement. If I had the time, I would rewrite the system from the ground up and tailor it specifically for this setting. And it would play much better for it.
    28 replies | 968 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.
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Every Wednesday at 5p for 2 hrs, Illusive Comics & Games, Santa Clara, CA.
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A 1-3rd level character of one sort or another in Encounters, typically a leader or controller.

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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

  • 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...

Thursday, 26th April, 2018

  • 06:18 AM - AbdulAlhazred mentioned Tony Vargas in post Why Worldbuilding is Bad
    I got it. It was very droll. I assume you really meant 'very troll', because that Tony Vargas, once you start cutting him up, he just keeps fighting! :lol::lol::lol:
  • 01:19 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post What Aspects of 4E Made It into 5E?
    Are you talking about things like "I, as DM, didn't think about or establish whether or not there's a chandelier in this room. Therefore, when the player asked if there was one to swing from, I decided there was because it was cooler"? If so, I agree. If there's a detail I hadn't already specified--at least in my own head, if not out loud--and it makes even a bit of sense, I'll usually try to incorporate it if the players' actions warrant. If that's not what you meant, could you clarify?As a reply to Tony Vargas, I was alluding to discussions in the current "worldbuilding" threads - which he had alluded to in the post that I replied to. With less allusion and more literalness: the more precise/detailed the framing, then (everything else being equal) the less "creative"/"imaginative" the action declarations will be, and the more "tactical"/"wargaming". That's painting in very broad brushtrokes - but contrasts would be resolving a 4e skill challenge (which relies upon a capacity on the GM to narrate and re-frame in response to action declarations and resolutions, and thus upon a lack of detail in initial framing) vs playing through Tomb of Horrors. Here's a passage from Paul Czege that expresses the same idea in a particular context (dealing with NPCs - I've boled the key sentence), and also suggests that it's not always about "saying 'yes'": [W]hen I'm framing scenes, and I'm in the zone, I'm turning a freakin' firehose of adversity and situation on the character. It is not an objecti...


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Thursday, 21st June, 2018

  • 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...
  • 02:49 AM - Manbearcat quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    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 alternative to fiat, specifically. Hmm. When a player declares an action and picks a skill in BitD, as GM I have full authority to set the position and effect. Yes, I should follow the fiction, but I find that constraint present in any game I run. The rub is, though, that I, as GM, have the fiat to declare the position and effect of an action. I don't find the constraints to be a compelling argument for that not being fiat, because they're not actual constraints rather than advice. Much like your pitcher example in your other reply above, the coach's advice isn't a constraint on the pitcher so much as good ad...
  • 02:39 AM - pemerton quoted Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Except for the 'If,' that is correct. Its about familiarity. Ok, it's not just spell tables, but the lack of them was really noticeable. In any other ed, a glance at spell progression gives you a rough, immediate, idea of the class.There was a chart, near the front, that did this for all classes. (They shared the same chart.) I remember it was one of the first things I looked at! You don't randomly draw 'power cards.' There's no 'deck.' A mid-level magic-user memorizing spells is closer to 'deck building' than anything in 4e chargen, and its still not very closeAgreed. RQ and RM are not, afterall, very realistic. It turns out that DnD models real life much better then those other games because the human body does keep operating at close to 100% until it cant. Exactly like HPs would suggest.As someone who has various sorts of ankle and knee injuries that have slowed me down but never created any risk of killing me, I can't agree with this. I think my main problem is when the n...
  • 02:11 AM - pemerton quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    In this case, though, I was thinking more of just the structure of the challenges. Can you have a scenario involving the elements in question, and resolve it, depending on edition, with as much interest & agency as I ever got out of TravelerProbably. You could probably also do the same with the Fighting Fantasy system (three stats: Skill, Stamina and Luck), in so far as you can frame the challenge, make checks to resolve them, and find out what happens. I don't think this shows that the play experience of Fighting Fantasy closely resembles Traveller (or D&D). and I did play it more than a bit in the 80s - I'll laugh if 'Classic' Traveler is nothing like it was then, though I suppose I won't be too suprisedI'm running the 1977 edition with some MegaTraveller inspired mods to the lifepath tables, and a skill list influenced by Citizens of the Imperium, Mercenary, High Guard and Scouts.
  • 12:28 AM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Which doesn't work for modeling a character dropped, but who is saved from a mortal wound by his nifty elf armor. Once you're in negatives, you've been mortally wounded, and must be saved, or die with a minute (2e) or 10 (1e). Not really, though I guess it might with certain description. But I generally think that a game that has Body and Stun would reflect that better. Frodo's Stun was exceeded but the mithril shirt protected him from the Body damage. 3e had like 40 named conditions. 4e had 18. 5e trimmed that down all the way down to 15. Yes, there were more conditions but they weren't dished out as regularly or synergized with the way they were in 4E. There was a reason 4E benefitted greatly from condition tracking chips on minis and the last thing in most combat turns involved saving against all the "save ends" conditions. High level 3E had other slowdowns, of course. At one point we used to play in a college conference room that we weren't technically supposed to have access to an...

Tuesday, 19th June, 2018

  • 11:21 PM - pemerton 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)...But what have you got in mind? Eg what sorts of structures for framing challenges will lead to choices to buy victory? For example, how do you establish stakes or buy-in?
  • 10:54 PM - TheCosmicKid quoted Tony Vargas in post Psion class (Mearls, Happy Fun Hour)
    Or just, y'know, not map 'em to spells, at all. I suppose that depends on what you mean by "mapping". To some extent, the comparison between psi powers and spells is going to be inevitable: characters expend limited resources to create discrete effects, and the number and strength of these effects grows with level. It may also be useful, on not-reinventing-the-wheel grounds, to say things like "when you use this power, you cast confusion" or whatever.
  • 06:02 PM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Yeah, 3e did get a few things that started to model armor protecting rather than just deflecting - Fortification, I mentioned, above, and the mithril coat could certainly have been a +X Mithral Chain Shirt of (sadly, IIRC, only 'Light') Fortification, but, sure, also crits w/confirm rolls (spears are x3, so yeah, ouch). 1e didn't, and 3e & 1e both have characters dropped below 0 on an inevitable death countdown. 5e doesn't confirm crits, but it at least has the chance of a dropped character recovering on his own... after d4 hrs... so not actually 'fatally wounded,' as it turns out. 1E/2E had the widely used -10 rule. Those're all still pretty weak, though, compared to a mechanism like FATE 'consequences' which, of course, very consciously model the kind of dramatic treatment of injuries you see constantly in examples like the above, across many 'action' genres, not just fantasy, or armor that absorbs damage and separate unconsciousness & death tracking of damage, like Fantasy Hero (r...
  • 05:00 PM - 5ekyu quoted Tony Vargas in post The final word on DPR, feats and class balance
    Doesn't eliminate analysis as a useful tool. ... That'd be testing playtesting, obviously, which is also helpful. Testing will find a problem, analysis will isolate the root cause, and point to possible solutions. What we have, here, is a failure to communucate... So, games present players with choices. The more choices at each choice point and the more choice points, the greater the potential depth of play. But just adding choices doesn't always help. The classic example is the token in monopoly, you may like being the shoe, but it makes no difference in play. That's not 'meaningful' - RPGs add nuance to 'meaningful,' though (that you 'want to play a shoe' might carry some weight). Another is the worthless choice - there's a variation of rock-paper-scissors that adds 'well' rock & scissors fall in the well, paper covers it - it obviates rock, so once both players realize that, the variation is back to three viable choices. At absolute minimum, a viable choice must not have an alter...
  • 04:08 PM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Except for the 'If,' that is correct. Its about familiarity. Ok, it's not just spell tables, but the lack of them was really noticeable. In any other ed, a glance at spell progression gives you a rough, immediate, idea of the class. Exactly. I'm not saying that 4E's way was bad. They did it the way they did it, but it's one of many, many expectations from prior editions that were altered. Spell levels running from 1 to 9 was a big one. Alter a few things here and there, especially on the margins? Most people adapt. 3E was a pretty drastic change for many folks but 4E was... wow. Despite all those changes, there were things that felt like D&D and I'm not saying it was a bad game (despite my overall evaluation being negative).
  • 04:00 PM - billd91 quoted Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    The whole armor saving your life, but not leaving you untouched, thing is non-existent in classic D&D (3e Fortification is the closest thing I can think of - of course, requiring magic). Systems where armor reduces damage come closer to literal simulation of that, but Frodo wouldn't have presented as fatally wounded in them. That depends on exactly how abstractly you want to look at it. In 3e, had that orc chief rolled a crit threat and failed to hit with the confirmation, you could argue the armor saved Frodo's life in a way that works with the depiction in the book. It was a hit, maybe the orc rolled high damage, but didn't crit which would probably have killed the hobbit. But even in 1e, considering the attack roll didn't necessarily represent a single thrust of a spear but a minute's worth of combat, that round of attacks directed at Frodo could have included multiple attacks (if the orc was a high enough level) - at least one of which hit and at least one of which missed - and leave F...
  • 10:23 AM - Lanefan quoted Tony Vargas in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    And the total absence of debilitating or lasting injuries, too. Very true, which is why some 35 years ago we put in what amounted to a rudimentary (but persistently robust, as is turned out) wound/vitality system to our 1e games; which by extension brought in a rudimentary lasting-injuries system (magical curing doesn't work beyond a certain very low point if you've been badly hurt recently, until a length of time - mostly set by how badly you were hurt - has passed). The explanation of hps going back to the 1e DMG, combined with the system eschewing any sort of wound spiral or lasting injury, makes it clear that it can't be modeling any too-serious/difficult-to-recover-function-after injuries, right up to actual death. Its unrealistic, of course, but, having accepted it ... But that's just it - some of us didn't accept it, right from day 1... actually more consistent to allow hp recovery in a short time - second wind, HD/Surges, martial healing, non-physical damage, &c. ...which is why w...
  • 10:22 AM - pemerton quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    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&DIn the episode of play I referenced, skill checks (or abilities gated by skills, like driving a speeding ATV out of a starship hold to assault a base) were at the core of the action. But D&D doesn't give you PCs who are centrally defined by skills. The closest it gets to this is the classic Thief class, but that itself is a pre-determined bundle of skills. So D&D simply doesn't permit an INT 2 bruiser who also happens to have Computer-2. Even if the fighter has "cross class skills", it's the nature of D&D that skill checks are not the main way of addressing the challenges posed by the game - they're simply not that big a part of PC build. (Even in 4e, and even in a skill challenge, skill ch...


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