View Profile: Tony Vargas - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 6th March, 2019, 01:45 AM
    … And, before I go (I'll be back in 40 days, not counting Sundays), I did this up a few years ago, and just now trimmed it to consider only 5e PH classes, just a little visual on how things have changed (and stayed the same) over the editions: edit: oh, yeah, blue is 'high for the tier' red is 'lower in the tier' I'm not sure I still agree with myself on all points, and I'm sure things...
    131 replies | 5213 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 6th March, 2019, 12:51 AM
    Tony Vargas replied to Permanency
    ...saw what you did there...
    20 replies | 612 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 5th March, 2019, 11:27 PM
    3.5 did introduce repeated saves vs Hold and eventually nerf Polymorph. But, yes, even minor-seeming, subtle, changes and changes to spells that seemed to decrease their power actually favored casters. The one that stuck out, for me, was Bull's Strength/Cat's Grace/Bear's Endurance. In 3.0 they had very long durations and gave a random bonus. (So if you had an odd stat, half the time, the...
    105 replies | 5353 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 5th March, 2019, 11:02 PM
    Nothing natural about it, it's DM-selection. If the DM likes big noses, the surviving PCs will all be male proboscis monkeys. Well, or gnomes. ;P I may be a cynical old man (OK, I am, no 'may be' about it), but it seems like the confusion is intentional. In the 3.x era, the community created a language of dissatisfaction (or glee, depending on which side of the fence you were on)...
    131 replies | 5213 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 5th March, 2019, 10:16 PM
    Treating the rules of any edition of D&D (OK, other than 3.x/PF/4e/E) as if they were, well, /rules/, is a lamentable lapse in judgment, in that sense. Even 'guideline' is pushing it. In the shell-game of DM Illusionism, the rules are just the shells, their purpose, misdirection. ;P And non-surge healing tended to be a Daily resource, as well. Though there were a few small,...
    105 replies | 5353 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 5th March, 2019, 02:31 AM
    Oh, CR still maps to level. As in 3e, 5e CR = level means the party can take on a lone creature of that CR as a sort of speedbump challenge. 5e skews significantly easier than 3e, in spite of that assumption, especially once magic items come into it, but it's there. In 3e, if you went against a too-high-level opponent it'd get too hard for everyone (possibly even the fighter) to hit, too easy...
    105 replies | 5353 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 4th March, 2019, 11:43 PM
    There were a lot more spells in 3.5, so the 3.5 wizard needed a lot more spells known to have a reasonable variety of them. Yet, really, there were a few really significant spells and a lot of chaff. So, sure, there's a distinction there, but is it a terribly important difference? Haste, Polymorph, et all aren't so broken, Fighter can't WWA, Spring Attack, or even charge. Fireball does more...
    131 replies | 5213 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 4th March, 2019, 10:14 PM
    True, mechanical choices matter a great deal in 3.x(or PF or 4e/E - even 2e, to a lesser extent), while they matter less in 5e or 1e AD&D where choices you make in your interaction with the DM are far more important. But that's part of the point. Zard's players ended up poking around with 10' poles and having everyone look for secret doors because that's what he, as the DM, allowed to work....
    105 replies | 5353 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 4th March, 2019, 09:31 PM
    Nothing before the "but" matters. ;P It can be hard to see the relation, since 4e was so much more evolved. Like how did T-Rex evolve into hummingbirds? It didn't, the common ancestor was further back, a teeny warm-blooded saurian that diverged into many species of dinos and has living descendants in birds, as well. The commonalities are there, though. 3.0 divested itself of some of...
    105 replies | 5353 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 4th March, 2019, 09:02 PM
    Versatility is power. One thing that's worth considering is the apparent versatility of a class vs the versatility possible for a single instance of that class. For instance, the fighter class gets all six fighting styles, while the Paladin class gets 4 and the Ranger only 3. It'd seem that the fighter's greater choice in fighting style makes up for some of the added versatility of...
    131 replies | 5213 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Saturday, 2nd March, 2019, 08:53 PM
    I feel the same level of total disinterest in both Bayformers and Goodfellas. ;p And, the major reason I like running 5e is that it feels so much like running AD&D. Some games hard-core more feelz than others, though. For all that 5e openly wants you to ignore it's own rules, and AD&D necessitated doing so, they both keep a definite feel, however far afield the DM takes them.
    105 replies | 5353 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Friday, 1st March, 2019, 08:56 PM
    There is something wrong with me, because that silly little pun just never gets old, I laugh every time. Not to be contrary (I mean, I am contrary, but in this case, not just for that reason), but my observation is that players tend to praise their current DMs and the games they're running … … the Jerk DM is often recognized as such in hindsight. IMHO, these fit in the Jerk DM...
    6 replies | 375 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Thursday, 28th February, 2019, 08:20 PM
    Also in the 1e DMG, IIRC, EGG goes on about the need for the DM to maintain superior knowledge of the rules relative to his players, which'd also contribute. For the first 25 years of it's history, D&D was a very DM-driven game, great DMs ran great games and jerk DMs tortured their players - both extremes did so because they could. It really seems an ingrained stereotype at this point,...
    106 replies | 3527 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Thursday, 28th February, 2019, 07:18 PM
    It's only the second time someone I've seen someone around here get indignant over the use of quote tags. Maybe it's my gnarled UseNet roots, but I don't see either the problem anyone could legitimately have with it (the opposite, quoting a whole post for a brief reply was annoying back in the day, because dial-up modem bandwidth, but I understand it should no longer be an issue worth...
    106 replies | 3527 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Thursday, 28th February, 2019, 08:01 AM
    I thought I did, very concisely: "What's necessary vs needless largely depends on the purpose of the system. I don't think the purposes of TSR & WotC era D&D, for instance, were tremendously different..." I got the impression, back in the classic game (1e AD&D, rather than 0D&D, from my perspective, having started in 1980), that spells and magic items were very often added to the game...
    137 replies | 5569 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Thursday, 28th February, 2019, 03:31 AM
    I remember a lot more stories of terrible players, in the 3.5/PF context. And 5e is clearly the largest boom for D&D since the 80s fad. Or Player Entitlement, because it sounded even worse. That may well have informed the choice of terminology. But DM Empowerment, however cynical that naming choice may have been, has seen 5e become very successful, too. Please don't try to...
    106 replies | 3527 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Thursday, 28th February, 2019, 12:54 AM
    Necessary Complexity is good, I suppose, Needless Complexity, bad. What's necessary vs needless largely depends on the purpose of the system. I don't think the purposes of TSR & WotC era D&D, for instance, were tremendously different... Nod, it was just one example of needless complexity in the classic TSR era vs the comparatively clean/elegant and consistent complexity of the WotC era. ...
    137 replies | 5569 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 27th February, 2019, 10:25 PM
    Gee... what started about 10 years ago...? Oh, yeah, the edition war. When everyone was looking for language they could twist to make eachother's favorite games sound bad, and their own sound good. "Complexity," "Rules Heavy" and, conversely, for your favored system, "Simplicity" and "Rules Lite" fit the bill. They were far from alone. There's no question, though, that complexity can...
    137 replies | 5569 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 27th February, 2019, 09:17 PM
    I don't know how good these ideas are, but: Back in the day, I reasoned, in my sophomoric teenage way, that if D&D elves lived like 1000 years (100+ times longer than humans, but are otherwise quite human-like), then they must gestate for like 100x as long, too, which works out to over 7 years. And 7's a nice mystical number. Actually, I went through elven society/biology with an odd rule...
    9 replies | 367 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 27th February, 2019, 07:20 PM
    Sorry, I forget this isn't the 5e forum, sometimes. "DM Empowerment" is a feature of 5e D&D, one that I've talked up, a lot, so I felt obliged to acknowledge that it's not all rainbows & unicorns, all the time. Like so much of 5e, it's a feature that's been brought back from the classic editions of the game, the TSR era, in particular. (Though it wasn't seen as a feature or given such a...
    106 replies | 3527 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 26th February, 2019, 07:28 PM
    Yeah, my players at the time were also teenagers. The AD&D staff of striking did that, IIRC. Yep, and the longsword's numeric dominance continued in the WotC era. The longsword was also king back in the day because so many of the better magic weapons you found were statistically going to be longswords, of course.
    16 replies | 556 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 26th February, 2019, 07:24 PM
    Well, to start with, it's not just the GMs. Players aren't all sweetness & lite, either. But, mostly, it's that the big fish, the 500lb gorilla, the founding elder, the nucleus, the foundation, the axis mundi of the hobby - D&D - totally attracts, nurtures, and empowers jerks. 3.x was more of an incubator for jerk players, while AD&D & 5e breed more jerk DMs. But the unwritten rule of...
    106 replies | 3527 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 26th February, 2019, 06:35 PM
    I actually did that. I broke monster damage down into 6 types and gave them adjustments vs armor. ...but, I also ruled that magic armor & weapons negated unfavorable adjustments, and that monsters only hit by magic weapons (or with enough HD to hit such) did so as well... so, functionally, Weapon v Armor adjustments were a low-level feature. For which my players were thankful, since they...
    16 replies | 556 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 25th February, 2019, 11:36 PM
    3.5/PF is a much richer and more detailed system, there's also a lot more material out for either of them than for 5e, and they're fairly adaptable to eachother (and to 3.0), so 5e's relative dearth of support is in competition with the vast pool of stuff available for those systems, combined. As a player, you can get a lot closer to playing /exactly/ the character you envision in 3.x/PF...
    105 replies | 5353 view(s)
    4 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 25th February, 2019, 11:23 PM
    You could get insane single-target DPR from a non- or half-casting charge build, too. DPR wasn't exactly an optimal path to power in 3.5, though, so it was kinda moot. A SorLock is a non-full caster? I haven't done a full theorycrafting Deep Dive, myself, but from what I've seen, 5e seems to balance single-target DPR among the classes to a modest degree. Feats or clever builds can...
    21 replies | 1043 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Saturday, 23rd February, 2019, 07:40 AM
    5e did a fair job balancing the most readily quantifiable power stat: DPR. Aside from that, though, I don't see how versatility rules any less. Especially as neo-Vancian is a more versatile mechanism than 3.5 Tier-1 prep casting. They both tick the combat bad-ass box.
    21 replies | 1043 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Thursday, 21st February, 2019, 11:58 PM
    No and maybe. "Psionic" first appeared in science-fiction, in the 50s, a portmanteau of "Psi" (the letter that begins Greek words like Psyche) and "-onics" the 50's version of ".com" - it was meant to suggest psychic powers that could be improved by study and/or technological augmented. (I guess I better expand on that. Back in the 50s there was some pretty impressive growth in electronics,...
    23 replies | 972 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Thursday, 21st February, 2019, 12:27 AM
    If they seem that way on even a casual skim, maybe. 5e is very much a backwards-looking edition, it seeks to fundamentally evoke the classic game. The classic game wasn't "balanced" unless the DM wanted to put some work into making it balanced, whether re-writing the mechanics, or directly intervening in play. 5e leaves the DM the same leeway. You can sort through the classes, judge...
    21 replies | 1043 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Wednesday, 20th February, 2019, 08:17 PM
    That's reasonably fair. A lot of things could mess up the classic game, some even earlier than that, but certainly by the time you were using Enchant an Item and it's ilk, there'd be issues. In the classic game. And, not surprisingly since it evokes the classic game so well, in 5e, of course. In 3.x, by the time you had 4th level spells you were quite possibly seeing real problems. Thus E6....
    24 replies | 881 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 19th February, 2019, 09:48 PM
    Certainly. Depending on ed, it can be quite a challenge, mainly for the DM, but sure, a number of times. 5e hard-caps at 20, like 3.x did before the Epic rules, 4e capped at 30, like 3.x did with the Epic rules, only playable. AD&D had hard caps for some classes and most non-/demi- human race/class combos. But the basics - Human Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Thief, etc - had no stated level...
    24 replies | 881 view(s)
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About Tony Vargas

Basic Information

About Tony Vargas
Introduction:
I played D&D for a long time...
About Me:
I discovered D&D in middle school, in 1980, so I was kinda on the leading edge of the fad. I played avidly through 1995 when 2e AD&D lost my interest.

I continued to play other games - White Wolf and Hero System, mostly.

Late in 1999, or early 2000, I returned with 3.0, which I quite liked from the player side of the screen - running it was a bit of a pain. I stayed with that through the full official run of 3.5, and adopted 4e with no problems, in fact, I found it as much fun to run as to play, so I started running a lot more, as well, including an Heroic-Epic campaign from 2012 through 2018.

In 2010 I started playing, then running, in Encounters program at an FLGS in Santa Clara, Illusive Comics & Games. They eventually spun off Isle of Gamers - no comics, just gaming - in 2014, just in time for 5e. (Check 'em out, they're still going strong!)

5e reminded a lot of folks of 2e, and I have to concur with that observation. I did enjoy running 5e, at first, finding it nostalgic. I ran a lot of introductory games, and converted 1e & Basic modules for that purpose, and also ran AL for a while.

As of early 2019, I find I don't have a lot of energy left for gaming (I've had some serious health challenges) and not much interest in using that energy on D&D.

Maybe I'll check back in on D&D for it's 50th?

Happy gaming and best wishes to all of you who stick with the hobby.
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San Jose/Santa Clara, CA
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Details of games currently playing and games being sought.

Town:
Santa Clara
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California
Game Details:
The last serious game I ran was an Heroic-Epic campaign lasting from 2012 through 2018. The second-longest campaign I ever ran, the longest being '85-'95, spanning 1e & 2e AD&D. I never did get around to a 5e campaign, just AL and one-shots.
More information:
https://www.isleofgamers.com/
My Character:
The last PC I played was Ghourah the Foresworn, a Disgraced Dragonborn Noble Bravura Warlord, Mercurial Assassin*, Deadly Trickster.







* yes, that was a terrible choice, but it fit - he worked /for/ a Mercury Dragon for a while, who turned out to be an Exarch of Bane - really, a terrible choice on a number of levels.

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My Game Details
Town:
Santa Clara
State:
California
Game Details:
The last serious game I ran was an Heroic-Epic campaign lasting from 2012 through 2018. The second-longest campaign I ever ran, the longest being '85-'95, spanning 1e & 2e AD&D. I never did get around to a 5e campaign, just AL and one-shots.
More information:
https://www.isleofgamers.com/
My Character:
The last PC I played was Ghourah the Foresworn, a Disgraced Dragonborn Noble Bravura Warlord, Mercurial Assassin*, Deadly Trickster.







* yes, that was a terrible choice, but it fit - he worked /for/ a Mercury Dragon for a while, who turned out to be an Exarch of Bane - really, a terrible choice on a number of levels.
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Friday, 1st February, 2019


Tuesday, 22nd January, 2019

  • 09:40 AM - Sadras mentioned Tony Vargas in post Robert Schwalb releases his version of Warlord
    Over 10 pages in a Warlord thread and no @Tony Vargas. Consider me nonplussed. EDIT: Just saw that the North American meaning of the word nonplussed is considerably different to the UK meaning of the word. In this instance it is very much the UK version being used (surprised..etc).

Monday, 26th November, 2018

  • 04:53 PM - lowkey13 mentioned Tony Vargas in post On Variability, House Rules, Research, and the 1e/5e Difference
    ...ystems that had no resemblance to the rest of the game. As I've often recounted, I tried to run an AD&D campaign with psionics; it was terrible and was quickly abandoned. I modified the original rules- it was still terrible. The only time it worked was when I ripped out the system completely and replaced it was a complete homebrew based on Julian May's books. An easier example for most people to grok is the Armor Class Adjustments Table. IMO, it was Gygax's wargamey routes trying really, really hard to make "fetch" happen. While it made sense in theory (a flail is good against plate armor, while a jo stick is not), it suffered from several issues- first, the lack of clear explanation as to what constitutes armor class, second, the fiddliness of the rules, and finally, the fact that the vast majority of the time, unlike a wargame, you would be fighting monsters with natural AC, and it was unclear what, if any, modifier should be used. So IME almost all tables did away with this (except Tony Vargas !). Communication Breakdown, It's Always the Same. Explaining life before the internet is like explaining life before cell phones, or before ATMs (you had to go to a bank, when it was open, and take out the amount of money you needed to hold you over!). You just take it what you have now for granted. But just think- not only do we have rulebooks, we have the ability to post questions to forums (such as this one), conduct research, and even get tweeted responses ... not to mention you can always watch streaming video of how other people play! But it wasn't always like that. Imagine each gaming group trying to figure out how to play on their own, with maybe some crossover to other gaming groups in the area and/or the FLGS (or, um, Waldenbooks); sure, maybe (MAYBE!) there would be a convention, but the majority of players and DMs didn't go to conventions. There was Dragon Magazine, if someone subscribed. But otherwise, there was a high degree of variability in home campaigns because the...

Sunday, 25th November, 2018

  • 02:41 AM - Garthanos mentioned Tony Vargas in post Mike Mearls on how 4E could have looked
    Admittedly this didn't come online until late heroic, and then really took off in paragon - maybe that's the point I'm missing. It was definitely @Tony Vargas point of view with Martial Controllers or atleast the polearm build one. I am looking at medium range Warlord style enemy manipulating martial controller.

Monday, 19th November, 2018

  • 03:48 AM - Garthanos mentioned Tony Vargas in post Mike Mearls on how 4E could have looked
    You're not trying to make an acrobatics check against a stationary chandelier in that example. You're trying to make a combat move that happens to involve a chandelier while an at-level opponent could use that opportunity to bash your head in. The DC changing represents that the harder opponent you happen to be fighting is making it progressively more difficult to attempt the same task. Tony Vargas used that principle and came up with a rather innovative way to use caltrops for those in the caltrop field with no adjacent enemies they can move carefully and take no damage(shift) or quickly and take minor hazard damage however with an adjacent enemies interfering its more like the Caltrops are an extra attack from the enemy interfering with you being careful of the caltrops.

Sunday, 11th November, 2018


Saturday, 20th October, 2018

  • 09:59 PM - Satyrn mentioned Tony Vargas in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    Except nobody is arguing that the DM can't change the fluff. :) Hey, I'm not arguing anything. It's just my life's mission to point out this fact repeatedly when discussing gods in 5e. Well, it's more like one of my life's continuing side quests. My life's mission is to top the Laughs columns. I'm almost there. I'm topping the Laughs Given by quite a wide margin over Tony Vargas and I'm closing in on him for Laughs Received. Once I catch him, its just TwoSix and . . . . . . lowkey13. Sigh That one's gonna take a while.

Wednesday, 10th October, 2018

  • 02:40 AM - Garthanos mentioned Tony Vargas in post Warlord Flavor (One favorite of mine)
    The Hector build Warlord passes up on some of the limelight of regular inspiring of allies in favor of battlefield control, which goes even beyond that of the Tactical Lord. They gain the Gifted Manipulator feature in place of Inspiring Word. Gifted manipulator grants extra move distance (not as much as the Mage Enchanter) and extra damage when you induce an enemy to harm their ally. (Friendly fire style attacks) - these are not massively on the Warlord list but new ones are in the works. But some powers like the following seem very very Hectorish and so I am wondering if I over did the benefit or if its too complicated to use... beware I can do that too @Tony Vargas. Usually the enemy aids you involuntarily but sometimes being ultimately convincing works even better 102207

Thursday, 9th August, 2018

  • 08:30 AM - Garthanos mentioned Tony Vargas in post Out of combat balance - skills trained and known
    Just for a comparison In HERO for agility skills they have Acrobatics - same skill Breakfall - subsumed in acrobatics Climbing - subsumed in athletics Combat Driving - combat riding feat Combat Piloting - more combat riding not differentiated Contortionist - subsumed in acrobatics Fast Draw ? independent ability allowing drawing a weapon as part of the Attack or drawing and sheathing as one minor action. Lockpicking - subsumed in thieving Riding - subsumed in nature usually but see combat riding feat Sleight Of Hand- subsumed in thieving Stealth - same skill Teamwork - not sure how this relates it is a combat teamwork bonus wrt coordinating with others enabling maybe simultaneous attacks? or something I thought HERO was supposed to be clear @Tony Vargas

Thursday, 26th July, 2018

  • 12:10 PM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post My Attempt to Define RPG's - RPG's aren't actually Games
    ... tell them to, move pieces (literal or notional) around maps in accordance with the D&D rules for doing so, etc. Until someone actually uses the guidelines of the RPG to create that adventure, there's nothing to really do with an RPG.This isn't true either. When I wanted to play Classic Traveller with my friends, we sat down and started playing: PC gen; world gen; patron gen; GO! (Further details here.) They're playing Against the Giants. They're playing whatever campaign they happen to be playing. We use RPG's to create the campaigns which is essentially the game that we play, whether it's some massive dungeon crawl or some high rp court intrigue game. Or combinations thereof. And the campaign that I play is distinct from the campaign you play. Unless we're using the same module, it's virtually impossible for two campaigns to share any points of similarity. Doesn't that mean, at that point, we're essentially playing different games?I mostly agree with Umbran and Tony Vargas on this. Was I playing chess, or the Sicilian defence? Presumably both. Was I playing D&D, or Against the Giants? Presumably both. Maybe there's a better analogy? I see RPG's as having three levels. At the top, you have the RPG itself which we use to build a campaign. At the next level, you have the campaign which, in my mind, is the game that this group is going to play, and at the third level, you have the session, which is roughly analogous to a single instance of the game. For most games though, you only have two levels. The game and the instance. You don't use charades, to use the example, to build a specific kind of pantomime game that players then play. You just play instances of charades. There's no higher level tier, such as what you get with RPG's.Does what you say apply to My Life with Master? DitV? Even The Dying Earth? And even for RPGs that have "the campaign", how is that different - in a structural sense - from dealing a hand? Or agreeing at a casu...
  • 03:13 AM - AbdulAlhazred mentioned Tony Vargas in post Morale systems
    ...eader ability. The solace in numbers element would need to be something else. Perhaps an ability enemy has bonus hit points per ally currently on the field. (and loses them when they die) I do like the idea of thinking morale is all in terms of hit points. Yeah, my thinking and practice has evolved through 4 stages: 1) 4e - there simply is no provision for morale as such, except for the highly broken Intimidate implementation (which is IMHO garbage). This indicated the lameness of having a system that breaks with the "get the enemy to 0 hit points and he's defeated" paradigm, which is a good solid paradigm. 2) Morale system v1 - This was just basically an adaptation of what happens in AD&D (which is how I would classify Lost Soul's mechanics too). It requires managing morale as a separate system and has the same disadvantage as the Intimidate system from 4e, it creates a 'second path' to defeating monsters, with attendant problems. 3) Morale system v2 - This was basically what Tony Vargas is proposing here, that morale is some sort of a hit point penalty which creatures take when certain conditions are met. This DOES fix the issues with #1 and #2, now you have one thing to worry about, hit points. I've already stated why it is unsatisfactory, as it is ESSENTIALLY just cutting monster's hit points. 4) Morale system v3 - (this hasn't been implemented) Model morale as a positive influence on creatures hit points when they are in favorable morale situations. Thus leaders effectively heal their allies, bolstering their hit points. This would most likely have to be coupled with a system like #3 where hit points could wane due to situational factors. However that might be able to be factored into a combination of initial hit points and the effects of at least some powers. As you can see, coming up with something that is both workable and satisfactory is hard. Mostly I have come to the conclusion that it is not really worth it. Instead simply downrate the levels of weak mora...

Wednesday, 25th July, 2018

  • 07:04 PM - Cyber-Dave mentioned Tony Vargas in post Why I feel so abysmally let down by the "Ravnica" news...
    @Tony Vargas Cyberpunk is, in many ways, cynical or dystopian. It is also, in many ways, utopian. Arguments about whether it is utopian or dystopian are standard critical fair. Quite frankly, in my opinion, cyberpunk is innately ambiguous more than anything else, at least when you examine any given set of texts synchronically. I believe that a diachronic analysis is required in order to make anything even resembling a clear interpretation of the genre as a whole or a specific set of texts from the genre tenable. All that, however, is beside the point. The point is: a romantic text can be hopeful, cynical, or both. Romanticism has virtually nothing to do with how hopeful or cynical a text is. Likewise, your claim that cyberpunk and steampunk are innately different on the level of spirit is not accurate either. Steampunk largely owes its existence to William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's The Difference Engine. That text is considered to be the foundational steampunk text. The text is, in many ways, a...
  • 02:57 AM - Hussar mentioned Tony Vargas in post My Attempt to Define RPG's - RPG's aren't actually Games
    Think about what you just said Tony Vargas. You take the game, ok fine. Then you added a pre-deigned adventure. Whoops. Now I’m not playing just the rpg anymore. Now I’m playing that adventure. IOW, I can’t just play the rpg. The rpg is the game creation engine and operating system, but the actual game is that module. I don’t think you’re actually disagreeing with me.

Sunday, 22nd July, 2018

  • 04:01 PM - Aldarc mentioned Tony Vargas in post The roots of 4e exposed?
    Oh, come now, it was a triumph of expostulation...:cool:Despite how heated many of these threads get, I have increasingly found myself drawn to many such threads in General Roleplaying Games. Because a lot of the insight on game design, game theory, and play approaches provided by you, pemerton, Hussar, Maxperson, Lanefan, Manbearcat, Imaro, Bedrockgames, Tony Vargas, among many others unlisted, has been incredibly engaging for me, as it I can apply those insights and approaches to games outside of D&D.

Friday, 20th July, 2018


Thursday, 19th July, 2018


Tuesday, 17th July, 2018

  • 03:51 AM - MNblockhead mentioned Tony Vargas in post Please share advice for running first game at a convention
    Tony Vargas Thanks! Regarding "Judge", yep, the menu and GM registration page are titled "judging" and there are two registration options under "judging": "judges" (GMs who pay a registration fee and can both judge and play) and "Referees" (registration is free but the GMs can only run their own games, not participate in other events). http://conofthenorth.org/judging/

Saturday, 14th July, 2018

  • 09:07 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post Would you allow this?
    ...y acting on it, does not make you invisible. It ONLY makes you unseen and/or unheard. I love how you are now claiming the discussion is about being unseen, when you were clearly arguing that it makes one invisible. Invisibility is defined in the 4e book and stealth does not fit the definition.You're wrong about 4e - it's in the rules for Stealth in the PHB2 that a succesful Stealth check makes you invisible to the person you're hiding from, which means that they can't see you with normal vision. (Depending on the circumstances, they may be able to see you with Blindsight or Tremorsense.) And as I've already said, 5e refers to being unseen - which in many circumstances is functionally equivalent to being invisible. I don't know what you think this whole discussion is in aid of, but I certainly don't need schooling from you in how 4e works, given that I've run far more of it than you; and I don't need schooling in the 5e skill rules, either. As I already said, but which only Tony Vargas has replied to - my take away from this is that non-magic users in 5e are significantly hosed compared to their 4e versions, and in many ways it seems even compared to their earlier edition versions. (Eg in AD&D hiding in shadows is as good as invisibility once you are hidden and assuming potential observers don't have infravision, although there are no very clear rules for moving and remaining hidden.)

Friday, 13th July, 2018

  • 08:19 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post OSR/older D&D and XP from gold - is there a "proper" alternative?
    4e's reward system is magic items.I agree with Tony Vargas in having a different view of this. In 4e, you get XP for playing and (via the parcel system) get treasure for earning XP, so magic items aren't a reward either. The "rewards" in 4e (as in, stuff that isn't a guaranteed result of playing the game, and which is obtained, or not, based on player decisions) are either in the fiction ("story rewards"), or else the thrill of victory in some particular encounter or other circumstance. I'm not familiar with Traveller, is combat the primary mode of play? Is it how you advance your character? Generally speaking, RPGs tend to have a heavy focus on character advancement, either through unlocking new abilities with levels/XP/etc., obtaining loot, or a combination of both. I would say that the "victory condition" for most such RPGs, in as much as there can be a single defined victory condition in such games, is such advancement. That's how you know you're "winning" at D&DClassic Traveller doesn't have very much PC advancement in the D&D s...

Thursday, 12th July, 2018

  • 01:09 AM - Hawk Diesel mentioned Tony Vargas in post The Bullymong: A Symbiotic Player Race
    ...d the feedback helped. I enjoyed reading through your thoughts. If you are still thinking about the Rock Throw ability how about this alternative: Four-Arm Smash. With your Bullier you can use your action to smash the ground with all four fists. When the Bullier smashes the ground, pick a point up to 60’ away. Each creature within a 10’ radius of the chosen point must make a Dexterity saving throw. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Strength modifier + your proficiency bonus. A creature takes 3d6 bludgeoning damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. The damage increases to 4d6 at 5th level, 5d6 at 11th level, and 6d6 at 17th level. After you use your four-arm smash, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest. That way you don't need to have it be dependent on too many rocks being around or not enough. The mechanics stay the same. I added the bludgeoning damage because you didn’t indicate a type. That's a great idea! Tony Vargas Thanks for the reference. I haven't read the series but I've heard good things. I've updated the original post with more flavor text and history. I also changed the name Bullier to Bulliox. Other than that, I think at least for now I will keep the name until someone suggests something better. I'd like it to be something that would be two interesting names that can be smashed together, similar to how Bullymong can become Bulliox and Mongo.


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Wednesday, 6th March, 2019

  • 04:43 AM - Hussar quoted Tony Vargas in post The New Class Tiers
    … And, before I go (I'll be back in 40 days, not counting Sundays), I did this up a few years ago, and just now trimmed it to consider only 5e PH classes, just a little visual on how things have changed (and stayed the same) over the editions: 105236 edit: oh, yeah, blue is 'high for the tier' red is 'lower in the tier' I'm not sure I still agree with myself on all points, and I'm sure things have wiggled around a bit in the last column with all the new sub-classes. Giving up En World for Lent?
  • 02:49 AM - Autumn Bask quoted Tony Vargas in post The New Class Tiers
    … And, before I go (I'll be back in 40 days, not counting Sundays), Are you, like, a genie? I did this up a few years ago, and just now trimmed it to consider only 5e PH classes, just a little visual on how things have changed (and stayed the same) over the editions: 105236 edit: oh, yeah, blue is 'high for the tier' red is 'lower in the tier' I'm not sure I still agree with myself on all points, and I'm sure things have wiggled around a bit in the last column with all the new sub-classes. Also, I can't open your attachment for whatever reason. It says "Invalid Attachment specified. The Attachment might not exist, or you may have blocked or been blocked by the thread starter."

Tuesday, 5th March, 2019

  • 11:01 PM - Celebrim quoted Tony Vargas in post Why do people still play older editions of D&D? Are they superior to the current one?
    Treating the rules of any edition of D&D (OK, other than 3.x/PF/4e/E) as if they were, well, /rules/, is a lamentable lapse in judgment, in that sense. Even 'guideline' is pushing it. In the shell-game of DM Illusionism, the rules are just the shells, their purpose, misdirection. ;P Yeah, well don't let your players know that. ...but 3.5 didn't do a thing to limit them, and doubled down with Lesser Vigour. From a balance perspective, 3.5 was terrible. Before it came out, the big arguments were over whether or not Haste and Harm were broken as written and needed errata (remember those?). 3.5 came down on the side of nerfing the spells, so my expectation was that 3.5 would take a look at overall spell power (clearly the worst designed part of 3.0e) and roll it back wherever the spells were abuseable - Force Cage and Find the Path would be cases that immediately came to mind as needing attention. Instead, 3.5 implemented the worst slate of unplaytested rules errata I had ev...

Monday, 4th March, 2019

  • 09:05 PM - Zardnaar quoted Tony Vargas in post The New Class Tiers
    Versatility is power. One thing that's worth considering is the apparent versatility of a class vs the versatility possible for a single instance of that class. For instance, the fighter class gets all six fighting styles, while the Paladin class gets 4 and the Ranger only 3. It'd seem that the fighter's greater choice in fighting style makes up for some of the added versatility of those other classes... ...except you don't ever get to change your Fighting Style once you pick it. For a given character, that's no versatility, at all. There's many other comparisons analogous to that in ranking classes into tiers. That's why, for instance, the 3.x Wizard was ranked above the Sorcerer, because being able to choose your spells each day was more versatile than choosing them at chargen/level up, even given that the Sorcerer got to cast spontaneously, meaning more versatility was retained after slots were expended. (The 5e wizard, BTW, not only retains the 'prepped' advantage in vers...

Friday, 1st March, 2019

  • 12:19 AM - S'mon quoted Tony Vargas in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    or (if you can imagine, it's maybe a little Pollyanna) one in which every player stays engaged with and enjoys each other player's time in the spotlight, enhancing everyone's fun (positive sum). Well that's my default expectation. If the group are suffering through other people's turns it's a problem.

Thursday, 28th February, 2019

  • 10:18 PM - Dannyalcatraz quoted Tony Vargas in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    It's only the second time someone I've seen someone around here get indignant over the use of quote tags. Maybe it's my gnarled UseNet roots, but I don't see either the problem anyone could legitimately have with it (the opposite, quoting a whole post for a brief reply was annoying back in the day, because dial-up modem bandwidth, but I understand it should no longer be an issue worth complaining about). ::shrug:: I didn't mull over my reply long. My initial impulse was to ignore the complaint, and reply only to the interesting bits. In retrospect I shouldn't've mulled it over, at all, and just gone with that. Not that any of this is meaningful, but the cost I'd be concerned about would be that he'd pull that wounded bit again and again if he saw it worked the first time. I don't have the greymatta resources to keep track of every posters' personal list of peeves, let alone conform to them, even if I were consistently paying attention to who posted what when I read somet...
  • 04:03 PM - Umbran quoted Tony Vargas in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    And, it won't work. You can block me if you can't handle someone thinking slightly differently from you. Does the word "de-escalation" mean anything to you? You might find it a far more constructive goal. An, "Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to misrepresent," would have cost you nothing meaningful, and done a lot more to keep minds open than this, which really only ensured further ego-headbutting.
  • 05:48 AM - Immortal Sun quoted Tony Vargas in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    I remember a lot more stories of terrible players, in the 3.5/PF context. And 5e is clearly the largest boom for D&D since the 80s fad. But sure, the same abuses of system mastery that let 3.5/PF players be total jerks, also worked for DMs. They were just a step down from the good ol' bad ol' days. That may well have informed the choice of terminology. But DM Empowerment, however cynical that naming choice may have been, has seen 5e become very successful, too. Please don't try to dictate my posting style, it's very rude, and makes it seem like you're approaching the discussion in bad faith or with a chip on your shoulder. And, it won't work. You can block me if you can't handle someone thinking slightly differently from you. k, bye
  • 02:21 AM - Immortal Sun quoted Tony Vargas in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    Sorry, I forget this isn't the 5e forum, sometimes. "DM Empowerment" is a feature of 5e D&D, one that I've talked up, a lot, so I felt obliged to acknowledge that it's not all rainbows & unicorns, all the time. Like so much of 5e, it's a feature that's been brought back from the classic editions of the game, the TSR era, in particular. (Though it wasn't seen as a feature or given such a trendy name as 'empowerment' back then - DMing was just hard, and the DM held a lot of imaginary 'power' in the play procedures, thus, between the two, a lot of social power in the group dynamic.) Since the D&D of the 80s was so influential in the development, perceptions - and stereotypes - of our hobby, and 5e is again far out in front, today, it seemed relevant. So....how did we have stories of terrible GMs during 3.5, arguably the largest boom for D&D since the "good old days"? How does Pathfinder have stories og terrible GMs? Putting this on "DM empowerment" is hooey. DM empowerment was only made ...
  • 01:41 AM - Celebrim quoted Tony Vargas in post Why the hate for complexity?
    Necessary Complexity is good, I suppose, Needless Complexity, bad. Yes, but that is just a truism. You might as well say good complexity is good and bad complexity is bad. You've just used fancy words to connotate 'good' and 'bad' in this context. The question you should be asking is, "How much complexity do I want, and why?" Back to the World's Simplest RPG. It's a complete system. However, some problems with the system are immediately forth coming, such as that the propositions, "I jump over a puddle.", "I jump over the Atlantic Ocean.", and I get up from my chair are equally likely to succeed. The results that we achieve using this system might be funny in their incongruity, but unless that is what we are going for we are likely to become dissatisfied with this system over time, and the longer we play it the more dissatisfied we might become. So, while the World's Simplest RPG is complete and universal and as rules light as it comes, there are still things missing from it th...

Wednesday, 27th February, 2019

  • 10:51 PM - Umbran quoted Tony Vargas in post Why the hate for complexity?
    Yet, when criticizing 3.x/PF & 4e/E, grognards would harp on how much less complex AD&D was! Really? They used /one/ system, roll a d20 + modifiers vs a DC, to resolve everything AD&D used entirely different systems for, above. Heck, 4e didn't even screw around with /who/ rolled that d20. Now, 5e is doing the exact same thing (almost - sometimes you'll roll TWO d20s - gah! the complexities!), but does get credit for being simpler? It's a bunch of nonsense. Um, there's more to overall system complexity than the task resolution mechanic. For example: Questions - how much text does it take to describe the OD&D Fighter class? How many choices does one have to make in character creation, leveling up, and play? How many decisions do you make or elements do you have to line up and know before you can engage whatever resolution mechanic is used? Then, same questions, but for 3e, 4e, and 5e.
  • 09:34 PM - Celebrim quoted Tony Vargas in post Fey Society - Seelie and Unseelie
    Back in the day, I reasoned, in my sophomoric teenage way, that if D&D elves lived like 1000 years (100+ times longer than humans, but are otherwise quite human-like), then they must gestate for like 100x as long, too, which works out to over 7 years. And 7's a nice mystical number. I don't know how sophomoric it is, or at least I don't want to think of it as sophomoric because I reasoned along similar lines (just with different math). There is also canonical justification for this reasoning. According to the lore of the elven deities', they are long lived because Labelas Enoreth gave them the gift that time would pass slowly for them. Thus, it's a very major portion of my elvish lore that elvish pregnancy and childhood (and really all parts of a normal elven life) are things that last a very long time. A good deal of the writings on the culture of elves in my homebrew world is about this very thing. It's also one of the reasons that half-elves are so very rare in the lore of my game, ...
  • 03:20 AM - D1Tremere quoted Tony Vargas in post It's a Good Thing D&D Isn't a Toy
    Yes, it was very popular for a few minutes (OK, years) in the 80s, and is even more popular, now, at a time when the 80s are finally getting some overdue play in pop culture. That's a fad & a come-back. It's especially fun if you were around for the original fad. I'm the sort of 80s throwback who /was/ one of the NERDS, and hasn't changed as much as I should've. ;P (Though I suppose the fact I still use forward slashes to denote /italics/ shows I'm also kinda a 90s UseNet throwback.) I've been paying attention /the whole time/. (OK, I may have blinked in the second half of the 90s, and missed what 2e was doing around the time WotC acquired TSR.) I'm seeing it more with college-age millennials, but, sure, yeah. The geriatric set who where there for the fad are the hoary ice-crystals that seed the cloudburst of the come-back. It's a standard formula, generational demographics had just delayed it, this time around, so we're getting it now, instead of c2004. #kidsthesedays #go...
  • 03:17 AM - lowkey13 quoted Tony Vargas in post It's a Good Thing D&D Isn't a Toy
    #itsaneffingpoundsign On that, we are in complete agreement!
  • 02:34 AM - Immortal Sun quoted Tony Vargas in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    There's a 'dark side' to Empowerment, sure. Er....I feel like this is alluding to something I wasn't saying. Considering how little of my post you queted in your response and the capitalization of the world empowerment, I feel like there's something you're saying but aren't actually saying it. If this is some game commentary on the DM empowerment of 5E that's a load of hogwash. Stories of jerk DMs are not new and 5E certainly is. So, in the words of a computer: DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Tuesday, 26th February, 2019

  • 08:05 PM - lowkey13 quoted Tony Vargas in post It's a Good Thing D&D Isn't a Toy
    A fad and a come-back? Sure. Aside from that, it's track record is relative to other RPGs, which is like saying lemberger has a good track record in the US compared to natto… Je sais quoi: nostalgie Seriously, Stranger Things is an 80s period piece, D&D was part of the period. Those of us in our 50s appreciate that for the obvious reasons. Ummmm...... D&D podcasts are doing great. D&D does well enough that it has multiple popular youtube streams and twitch. D&D has animated shows based off of playing the game (see, e.g., Harmonquest). D&D has a movie in production. D&D is the primary mover behind multiple on-line platforms (Beyond, Roll20, Fantasy Grounds). D&D is causally referenced in popular mainstream culture, from "retro" (Stranger Things) to "nerd" (Big Bang Theory, Community, etc. etc. etc.). You realize that the whole world is breathlessly awaiting Captain Marvel and the next Avengers movie ... right? You can have talk show hosts and major actors discuss D&D on the most popu...
  • 07:32 PM - lowkey13 quoted Tony Vargas in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    (snip) The check on DM privilege is DMing. Walking away from the table an starting your own table, that sucks less. The easier D&D is to DM, the more of an option that becomes. DM Empowerment is awesome, but it doesn't make the game easier for a player to segue into DMing. I'm snipping the rest of it because, well, this is the same "Mearls hates players, something edition war" that I'd rather not get involved in. Play what you want! :) However ... I've mentioned that I run 5e for kids many times. The goal is for them to DM. They can run games as 7th graders. This isn't rocket science. Are their games "Critical Role" level. No. But they are doing it, and having a great time. Which is what this D&D is about. It is easier today than ever to DM if you want to given the number of sources that people have, and the easy availability of instructional videos on free sources like youtube. If seventh graders can do it, I'm pretty sure that the people on this forum can, too.
  • 06:55 PM - Celebrim quoted Tony Vargas in post Are there any fantasy/medieval RPGs that take into account the effectiveness of different weapons against different armors?
    For which my players were thankful, since they universally disliked them. My players seemed to universally appreciate them, but this could be because I was dealing with players with 10-15 years of experience who were by that point seeking novelty from their games, and my particular house rules contributed to my table having a very different flavor than they'd become accustomed to. Also, as I said, I didn't force play to slow down to accommodate the rules. While I did not rule that magic negated the adjustments, one advantage a legendary magic item might have over the common sort is that it struck as if it was an advantageous sort of weapon. Thus, a special magic dagger might strike 'as if it were a short sword' (there was one RAW dagger that I believe already did this), or a magic short sword might strike 'as if it were a short sword or broad sword, which ever is superior'. Where the weapon versus armor table really shined for me is it vastly broadened the sorts of weapons that were ...
  • 06:45 AM - Man in the Funny Hat quoted Tony Vargas in post Why do people still play older editions of D&D? Are they superior to the current one?
    You know 3.5? And you can create a tailored campaign in one afternoon? Then trust me, you can learn 5e in a single afternoon as well. Thing is, ANY edition can be learned in an afternoon. Less, if someone who ALREADY knows the edition can teach it. But just because a new edition exists does not invalidate any older edition. No edition has an expiration date. The choice to NOT learn 5E is not just a matter of, "can it be learned fast/easily". If you have ANY other edition that works well enough for you and the people you game with, you don't NEED another edition. "I like it," is all the more reason anyone needs to play any past edition, and "I just don't want to," is likewise sufficient (or should be...) to end any and all attempts to convert the Luddite Heathens. :) As DM my first choice of editions is 1E. I have pretty much got it how I want it after some 40 years. I can also run or play 3.5 at the drop of a hat and have chosen to do so over 1E in the past simply because I can do so w...

Saturday, 23rd February, 2019

  • 01:44 PM - FrogReaver quoted Tony Vargas in post Tiers - The Other Kind of Tiers
    5e did a fair job balancing the most readily quantifiable power stat: DPR. I seem to recall that even in 3.5e the path of DPR power single target or multi target was being a full caster. In 5e non-full casters tend to dominate the single target DPR domain. A large portion of this is due to feats, but not only by feats. Full Casters tend to dominate the multi target domain. I think this is a very important distinction when talking about 5e balance. They have given non-full casters a DPR role that full casters struggle to fulfill as well as other party members and that directly correlates to them feeling more balanced. That said, when you look at a rough expectation of the amount of daily damage the non-full caster can put out at various levels without feats or multiclassing, (following the 2 short rests per day whiteroom) there's a remarkable thing that happens. Nearly every class is much more closely distributed in daily damage output than you would have ever excepted to happen. It's almo...


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