View Profile: Tony Vargas - D&D, Pathfinder, and RPGs at Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Today, 06:16 AM
    I am mulling a new near-future setting. Your setting has awesome stuff that I intend to borrow from.
    9 replies | 210 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Today, 04:34 AM
    Your damage calculations is the most optimistic cast. The second part of booming blade only triggers if they move, which often isn't true. Now, you can't have more SP then your level, and breaking down a spell slot to SP takes a bonus action. So you will need to skip the quickened GFB every once in a while to do that. However, since that's 2/3 of your SP budget, at lower levels it will...
    2 replies | 91 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Today, 01:10 AM
    Nope, I've run 1e & 2e extensively back in the day, 3.0 some, 3.5 very little, PF not at all, 4e & 5e weekly. I've run & played plenty of other systems, too, particularly Storyteller in the second half of the 90s, and Hero System. I've been at this a long time. I find running 5e to be fun, easy & even exciting, because my skills from running AD&D back in the day port over very effectively, but...
    43 replies | 1199 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Today, 12:17 AM
    Blue replied to MagicWeapons
    I never give "plus X" weapons. They are boring math modifiers that really aren't needed with bounded accuracy.
    8 replies | 194 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Today, 12:15 AM
    Eldritch Smite explicitly only allows Warlock slots. Paladin's divine smite has been errata'd that it allows any slot, so all those bard spell slots become extra damage.
    63 replies | 17190 view(s)
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  • The Grassy Gnoll's Avatar
    Today, 12:08 AM
    Make them rare enough and have enough backstory and you gain double the adventures, emulating many great fantasy stories. Evil Giant Bjorn Bigstacks is terrorising the land. Legend has it that there is a magic weapon that he fears, an axe created from the tears of Bjorn’s father when he was slain by the famous adventurer Leopold the Arcane. It is known to be a terrible bane to Giantkind and goes...
    8 replies | 194 view(s)
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  • The Grassy Gnoll's Avatar
    Yesterday, 11:56 PM
    “I’m Chaotic Neutral”
    50 replies | 1537 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 11:16 PM
    If you let the players choose items, you open the door to at least some potential optimization, and you make items a character building resource rather than a DM resource. I'd say stick to the random potions & other consumables, but don't give out signature items until you see a need for one. If one of the characters seems too limited or not capable enough in some way, and lagging the other...
    29 replies | 795 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 11:08 PM
    I somehow missed that PF used the 'Heavy'/'Light' Blade distinction. I'm familiar with it from 4e, in which a Glaive is a Heavy Blade with reach. (Is the Glaive missing, or somehow not 'heavy' in your campaign?) A fighter in my old group's c2009 campaign used a glaive re-skinned as a Naginata and a greatsword re-skinned as a No-dachi (or however you spell each of those). Mostly the latter,...
    7 replies | 205 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:57 PM
    Hands down the best of 'Heroes of _____' series. Better yet, the Elemental Sorcerer from HotEC
    11 replies | 433 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:53 PM
    Same answer, though: 13A icons should be ideal, or at least pretty workable, for the purpose. Either as just Law & Chaos, pick a side, or with several representatives of each.
    7 replies | 156 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:47 PM
    Sure, but it's still more effective than the non-magical version, which is all that counts. Is it magical? Yes. Does it make you 'just better?' Yes. That's all you need. Might a +3 weapon be better, even against a giant? Sure, but players shouldn't be choosing magic weapons from a golf bag, they should be using the ones the DM places, and there probably shouldn't be that many, less...
    8 replies | 194 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:42 PM
    Older, still: it's a vision of the DMs job ("Judge" - as in "Judges' Guild," yep) that came from the game's wargaming roots. Very complex wargames that pre-existed chainmail would use a 'judge' to settle rules issues between competing players. Arguably the role of DM evolved from that. But, I don't believe it has remained that. For one thing, players are no longer competing in pairs, but...
    111 replies | 2490 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:21 PM
    Meh. Verisimilitude is a subjective experience, it needn't be founded on objective 'fairness.' PCs /are/ different, they're the players' characters, if they're not the focus of the story, they're the focus of the experiencing of the story by the players. On the contrary, if something doesn't come up in the play of the game, it doesn't exist. You're thinking of simulations. 13A is...
    2005 replies | 45324 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:16 PM
    There's no need to go offering an explanation for why you don't like something, in the first place. There's no accounting for taste and it's OK to just like or dislike something on a purely subjective level. When you do offer a 'reason' though, you're not just expressing the feeling, you're offering a justification and, in effect, an argument that others shouldn't like it, either. And, at...
    43 replies | 1199 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:42 PM
    Why would a character with no player need to be a special snowflake? It's just there to be a challenge or a help or a source of exposition or whatever, the DM plays it for a bit, then the next one...
    2005 replies | 45324 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:23 PM
    I suppose, but it's hard enough generating enough DMs for all the would-be players with conventional groups of 5 or 6... (I've run for 12+ players, at times.) And, specifically, I was contemplating running at a convention that doesn't accept single-player games. There's no reason you couldn't run your scenario single-player though. Even if you're generally playing with a group, if you...
    19 replies | 301 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:21 PM
    Or two corporations or two AIs, if you want to get all cyberpunk. The setting you've envisioned certainly seems ideal for it. I'm just not sure how to take that story into an RPG neatly, because it's always a party of PCs. I've been toying with the idea of running a "Last Adventurer Standing" D&D game for years, but it never quite gelled for that reason.
    19 replies | 301 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 07:41 PM
    What's the issue with the BM having CS dice, up-front - a limited ability to pull tricks in combat, either because combat presents limited opportunities (abstract reasoning) or because pulling such a trick 'cold' requires the ol' 'deep reserves' or whatever the current BM explanation is - and also being able to set up tricks by forgoing attacks to 'probe' or 'condition' the enemy, or by scouting...
    480 replies | 9275 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:49 PM
    That kind of magic is almost like programing... ;) OK, it's like sympathy & contagion. You just have to uniquely identify a target, not see it or point precisely at it. Maybe with it's full name, or it's position in society, or whether it's bearing a specific item, or by making a campy voodoo doll of it, or by having a clipping of it's hair or nails, etc... Most D&D magic, though, doesn't...
    51 replies | 1459 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:36 PM
    Sure, we are talking D&D, and it can certainly deliver for DM's and Players who actively dislike balance. ;P There is the option of dropping the spell, entirely, and including some other, perhaps less classic, 9th level spell in it's place. It was a spell that was in no small part about avoiding certain very persistent limitations on spell casting - M & S components, casting in melee, and,...
    106 replies | 3868 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:28 PM
    Nod. The rules didn't require SC's be 100% open & above board, unlike some other parts of the rules (like, say, auras or reading powers, more generally), but overall the system worked best with everything above board - it didn't fall apart or anything if you took some of it behind the screen, it just didn't fall apart if you didn't keep much of it hidden. ;) 'Hiding' a skill challenge is...
    69 replies | 1960 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:20 PM
    On the contrary, variants like this probably bring casters into closer balance with the few non-casting options. Balance in 5e is rough, and based on spotlight time, a variant like this still puts casters in the spotlight reasonably often.
    34 replies | 807 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:09 PM
    If it's not a hex grid, it's not an RPG overland map! Get off my lawn! While, in reality, I haven't used a grid - hex or square - for any mapping in years. Not saying it couldn't be useful, just haven't bothered.
    19 replies | 425 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:48 PM
    @Morrus talked about it his experiences DMing it recently. To paraphrase what I recall, his players were finding little to look forward in leveling up compared to their base 5e expectations, and a dedicated system like The One Ring might handle those expectations better. I believe they were 3rd level.
    5 replies | 275 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:53 AM
    I re-watched Land of the Lost a couple years ago, and realized it heavily influenced my style as a gamer. So, strangely, did some other childhood TV, particularly, oddly enough, Wild Wild West and The Avengers (no not the Marvel ones). I did Actually briefly play a character based on an Altrusian, though I didn't remember the name, just the idea of a time-traveler who thought he was visiting...
    24 replies | 1439 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:49 AM
    By the way, mentioning how Scandinavians themselves use the term ‘Nordic’ to describe the socalled ‘Germanic’ languages, is a thoughtful cultural accuracy. The term Nordic that Scandinavians themselves use, is also more neutral. It refers to the ‘northern’ branch of the Indoeuropean languages. Heh, moreover, the academic term ‘Germanic’ is wrong, the result of a scholarly fiction. Early...
    9 replies | 210 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:36 AM
    The 'balance' is likely to be more in a 'right spell for the job,' way. Wish lets you do anything less powerful than a 9th level spell, the other 9th level spells each do their thing. Power Word Kill's thing is that it's a Power Word. Which used to count for something when short casting times (theoretically, the exact mechanics were iffy) made a big difference. That shifts the balance...
    106 replies | 3868 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:25 AM
    The First Rule of Roleplaying is "don't listen to anyone who enumerates rules of roleplaying."
    111 replies | 2490 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:13 AM
    Nice setting. As DM, do you tend to use it for sandbox style, or specific story arcs?
    9 replies | 210 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 10:22 PM
    If there were more limitations to casting, in the first place, there could be more ways to illustrate the ease of casting a spell of but a single word.
    106 replies | 3868 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 10:20 PM
    I remember enjoying some sci-fi/horror B-movies like that.
    15 replies | 709 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 09:55 PM
    Quick, name 5 flaws of 5th edition. Actually, start a new thread and expound on them at length. ;P ...on to the actual topic...I pulled out these three quotes because they're all suggestive of what the Power Words were, originally, and maybe aren't so much anymore (or are they?): According to legend, EGG did originally conceive of the higher level spells (6th and up, at minimum) as tools...
    106 replies | 3868 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 09:28 PM
    It's why they cloned the cover of the Red Box for Essential, too, but that went over like a lead balloon. Timing is everything. And, with a nerd-beloved franchise like D&D, walking that tight-rope between fan-acceptable and mainstream-accessible is critical. 5e erred on the side of acceptability, with good results. You mean the starter set, since the module in question was just in it, not...
    43 replies | 1199 view(s)
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 08:20 PM
    whatever could go wrong with bottled rituals.... will go wrong with bottled rituals.
    195 replies | 18656 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 07:46 PM
    I'm not British nor familiar with Warhammer, so can't help with the last bit. But you could quite easily bring something like Moorcockian Law/Chaos into 13A using Icons. Either just the two, or the various adherents of each.
    7 replies | 156 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 07:18 PM
    Not that weird. The starter set was the biggest seller in the fad-years, too - the entry point that many people never went beyond. The famed Red Box sold 1.2 million copies, I think it was - or maybe that was one specific 'edition' (printing?) of the red box? I forget, exactly but it was apparently the single best-selling D&D product ever. The come-back having a similar pattern to the fad...
    43 replies | 1199 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 07:00 PM
    Why would it make sense to have a magical ability that you trade a weapon attack now for an extra die later? The fiction is feeling out enemies (making 'probing attacks' if in melee, for instance) and observing the battle to gain tactical insight, obviously. It could also represent 'conditioning' tactics, in which you make a repeated pattern of attacks that the enemy can easily counter,...
    480 replies | 9275 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 06:57 PM
    Some have a lot more spellcasting ability, certainly. But even a full caster has cantrips & skills when he's out of slots. The proposed system wouldn't limit characters to 1st & 2nd level spells. It'd just limit those higher level spells to long ritual casting. Such casters would still be contributing in combat via cantrips, just less likely to seize the spotlight with only 1st & 2nd...
    34 replies | 807 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 06:49 PM
    SCs were part of a system that generally played best 'above board,' and they share that quality. SCs work when the DM shares the set-up, and the resolution all takes place in the open. There's tension as the PCs rack up success & failures, there's game-play skill for the players to indulge in, an the abilities of the PCs, themselves, matter to the resolution. 5e, OTOH, works best with some...
    69 replies | 1960 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 06:30 PM
    Presumably because it fits the way magic is portrayed in the setting. D&D magic doesn't fit magic in /any/ setting (except, tautologically, settings built around D&D, of course) - not even the Dying Earth that inspired the system. There's really plenty of room to heap restrictions on magic and have casters balanced with the few non-caster options. Not just because they're starting out...
    34 replies | 807 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 05:50 PM
    Who told you they had that reputation? 3.5 was great for PvP, and could be used with adversarial DMing if you really wanted to, as could any edition, but 3.5 and, especially, 4e were they height of 'player entitlement' and old-school adversarial DMing was, let's just say 'frowned upon.' Very 90s. Not very D&D. ;P That can scare players worse. ;) Yes. Of course, I'm taking 'fair...
    111 replies | 2490 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 05:13 PM
    Yeah, 10 years, we should be seeing a 'fifth edition' pretty soon....
    43 replies | 1199 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 04:44 PM
    If it is necessary to remove the highest level spells, then instead only allow semi-casters: ranger, paladin, eldritch knight, or arcane trickster. An elemental monk might even make sense if able to cast rituals.
    34 replies | 807 view(s)
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  • darkbard's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 02:17 PM
    It did, complete with its own "quick start" rules, a very paired-down rules set that allowed players to level up the prefab characters provided with the adventure.
    43 replies | 1199 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 01:40 PM
    This stuff sounds awesome for a setting. I was wondering about defining ‘positive energy’ as a physical manifestation of the ‘divine infinite light’. Thus the D&D plane of positivity would be infinite, thus impossible to enter, but possible to access to ‘illuminate’ the finite planes, thus making them more ideal. All things that exist would be created out of this small steady flow of energy...
    26 replies | 571 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 01:00 PM
    True enough. If good actions are a manifestation of divine light, then refusing to do good actions for whatever reason is a kind of darkness. The descriptions of good are complex because there are different ways to do good. (There are also different ways to do bad.) The definition of ‘bad’ has more to do with refusing to do good for others. Thus a person who refuses to help others...
    26 replies | 571 view(s)
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  • Jacob Lewis's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 11:52 AM
    Really? When they show up late, pay more attention to their phones and facebooks then your descriptions, take the last slice of supreme pizza when they insisted on the Hawaiian that has barely been touched, borrowed your favorite set of dice because they can't be bothered to buy their own set even though they've been playing the game for years, and still spends ten minutes on their turn looking...
    111 replies | 2490 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 03:00 AM
    I think the amount of material needed to block an appreciably amount of the sun's radiation caught by the earth, and all of it's supporting infrastructure to hold it rigid, keep in in place even though it's so large that gravity has different pulls on different parts of it, and constantly deal with repairs from micro material impacts at orbital speeds. It would be vastly, hugely, mind boggling...
    19 replies | 301 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 02:53 AM
    Turn this around: Do you think you can intentionally kill the party in a hard but fair fight? HA. 5e gives a lot of wiggle room to build up the tension and stakes of "we're all going to die" without getting anywhere close. Great, someone dropped to zero. They are closer to being unharmed then death. Literally. Because death is 3 failed death saves away (with one given for every damage...
    111 replies | 2490 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 02:38 AM
    I'll restate it a different way - the game assumes you'll be spending money on consumables, it's built into the economy. If they are potions or ritual components it doesn't care. And items are part of character advancement, and their costs go up fivefold every five levels - the amounts you pay for low level rituals are literal pocket change compared to paragon level characters.
    34 replies | 807 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Tuesday, 17th April, 2018, 02:08 AM
    Sure. I just feel like near-future stuff needs to feel a bit plausible in a way space opera and the like doesn't, so I limited myself. Some further thoughts: One interesting idea you had was that the satellites were ostensibly there to block sunlight to counter climate change, but that it didn't work, and OBtW, they generate lots of power to run massive orbital server farms that the...
    19 replies | 301 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 11:11 PM
    For starters, don't begin the game at 1st level... ;) You should probably keep things behind the screen, anyway, it just works smoother for 5e across the board, that way. Thus you can fudge a bit when things might otherwise go south. Be wary of lockdowns that depend on a player rolling a successful save, for instance, because that happens on the wrong side of the screen. But, it really...
    111 replies | 2490 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 10:47 PM
    How so? Is the earth's climate still borked? Do they block too much visible light leaving the earth in depressing twilight and not at all good for raising crops, while re-emitting IR so it's still too warm? Are there just not enough of them to do the ostensible job, but, coincidentally, enough to provide the power needed for... In orbit around the earth? There are a lot of...
    19 replies | 301 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 10:04 PM
    If that's the extent of the differences it shouldn't be too hard.... It'd make their contributions in combat less varied and critical, but a mage tossing cantrips is contributing more in combat than a non-proficient 10-CHA fighter in a group diplomacy check. ;) That actually sounds pretty reasonable. It'll shift the pace of the game some - every ritual will be a chance for a short rest,...
    34 replies | 807 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 08:56 PM
    I routinely throw very difficult encounters at my party, as well as traps and situation that I don't know how they will get out of. My between session planning is usually deadly*. (* Or cakewalk - there are times they need to curbstomp foes to remind them of how badarse they are now, and with super easy foes (goblin patrols for level 8s) I just let them montage and each gets to tell quickly...
    111 replies | 2490 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 08:25 PM
    Max HPs for PCs and foes stretches out combat, making it more of a grind. It devalues healing, and in-combat healing except for standing up fallen allies is already cheap. It devalues all limited resources (superiority dice, spells, etc.) that don't last an entire combat because combat lasts more rounds so it's active for less of your actions, and damage takes a double whammy because it...
    40 replies | 1000 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 08:18 PM
    As the only TTRPG with significant mainstream name recognition, bringing new gamers to the hobby has almost always been D&D's sole responsibility (for a bit, in the 90s, as the initial CCG fad cut into D&Ds traditional demographic, Vampire LARPs were arguably bringing in more new RPGers, however indirectly). And outside the fad years it's never been great at either attracting or retaining them,...
    43 replies | 1199 view(s)
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 11:26 AM
    A lot of little items are harder to create a theme on... they do become just gear because of that. Item sets are kind of a compromise that might help. Making the player involved in the design of an item has always for me been the key...
    195 replies | 18656 view(s)
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  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 04:43 AM
    It did sell a bit better than D&D a few times, and it's fans made a lot out if that, those particular fans could react badly if PF2 doesn't do well enough (whatever 'enough' might be for them). I doubt they're a huge number or that they'd war against a new/different PF the way they did a new/different D&D. One other factor is development costs, if, like 5e, PF2 keeps it's staff and costs...
    43 replies | 1199 view(s)
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 03:04 AM
    I generally agree with the flavor aspect... at a world level I think this is true. You can only have magic be integral or special by rarity, but can we make them special other ways? The idea of making the economic kick back on items so poor that even gathering up enemy gear for disenchanting is a time choice is something. There are lots of story reasons for instance perhaps items are very bound...
    195 replies | 18656 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 01:33 AM
    Can you unpack where you don't like it? Since I've explained several times that my "unequivocal conclusion" is solely for if the Order domain outdoes the War domain in the arena defined by the War domain mechanically, I assume that you are actually addressing what I'm saying and not looking elsewhere like what you think the War domain "should" be. My conclusion was from the weapon...
    25 replies | 600 view(s)
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  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Monday, 16th April, 2018, 01:13 AM
    The magic user impresses his ritual on his mind as a quick use... and forgets it after casting.
    195 replies | 18656 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 07:52 PM
    Well, dang. Okay, here's my baseball card collection.
    14 replies | 759 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 04:28 PM
    Request: A strongly flavorful Underdark scene while traveling in unexplored areas by those with little Underdark experience (but good spelunking skills), where the local Underdark taints all within with madness and psychopathic tendencies. Horror and psychological elements are welcome. Challenging for level 14-17 characters, but that's tweakable. Does not need to feature combat, and if it...
    14 replies | 759 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 03:15 PM
    So I think I've watched as much TV in these past 3 months as I've watched in the past three years combined. That's still not a lot of TV, but it's been taking a chunk out of my reading time. Picked up on recommendation Sarah J. Maas' The Throne of Glass. I think it's technically YA fantasy, but it was well done. She's got a good use of words, and crafts believable relationships. The main...
    15 replies | 392 view(s)
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  • darkbard's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 03:03 PM
    Ideology doesn't simply mean any belief a person holds. Ideology means, in literary critic Terry Eagleton's definition, "The largely concealed structure of values which informs and underlies our factual statements the ways in which what we say and believe connects with the power-structure and power-relations of the society we live in" (my emphasis). I was raised in a western (now global)...
    1309 replies | 46086 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 01:58 PM
    Expertise. This is assuming we're talking ability (& skill) checks that currently have expertise. I'd rather have the higher max roll, even if for most of my adventuring career my average roll would be a bit lower. Plus I can always do something else (like have someone do the help action) to get Advantage. If you expand this out to saves, my answer stays the same. But if you expand it...
    27 replies | 1009 view(s)
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  • Blue's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 01:31 PM
    I am speaking strictly mechanically. If you want to reskin another cleric domain as a cleric of war, go ahead. Speaking only mechanically, all clerics share the same chassis. That can't be used as a point of differentiation between domains. So looking at the mechanics of the domain that was published, the specifics of what the war domain is meant to represent is personal excellence in...
    25 replies | 600 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 03:28 AM
    If the setting only features one race, then I want it to be human. I like humans. I also like magic-incarnate elves, but would go with humans if forced to choose. If there is only one class, then I am torn between wizard and bard. I only play because of magic. I really like the 5e wizard and the 5e bard, and would be happy with either. I guess, this means a Harry Potter setting.
    48 replies | 1152 view(s)
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  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 03:12 AM
    Yeah, originally, I simply counted encounters, relying on mostly level-appropriate encounters. I went with the suggestion of weighing encounters. I now assess encounters afterthefact as 1 ‘substantial’ (challenging), ½ ‘something’ (easy), and 2 ‘an amazing example of heroism’ (hard). I uses dashes ‘−’ to tally an easy encounter, and several of them influence the decision to level. Usually the...
    17 replies | 503 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 02:56 AM
    Here, there seems some miscommunication. Personally, I like it when players think outside of the box. If they come up with an ingenious way to defeat the challenge, I want to reward it. In this case, the ‘difficulty’ wasnt the hit point slog, but the coming up with a good tactic. So I do consider it a ‘substantial’ encounter that feels right to count toward the eight to advance. The fact that...
    17 replies | 503 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 02:39 AM
    Compassion somewhat correlates with Chaotic Good. Justice with Lawful Good. And Mercy with Neutral Good. ‘Evil’ is essentially predation, that harms others to help oneself only.
    26 replies | 571 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 02:28 AM
    :) As I read the thread, I am not the only one who saw this setting as more inherently monotheistic. The fact that the ‘divine’ is infinite and abstract, means, all finite creatures are unable to fully grasp the divine. So, there would normally be different opinions about how to best implement the divine will. Thus different angels and so on with different schools of thought.
    26 replies | 571 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 02:10 AM
    The purgatory-reincarnation setting is interesting. I think it works better as a monotheistic setting. Since even the negative spirits have a relatively useful ‘job’ to do, thus are part of a more unified benevolent worldview. This monotheistic divinity is moreso an abstract force, like ‘light’ or spiritual gravity pulling humans and spirits upward toward good. Describing various creatures as...
    26 replies | 571 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Yaarel's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 01:51 AM
    Heh. Great cubes of fire! Fortunately mind-style easily visualizes circles, so its a nonissue. If I was ever using a grid, I would either explicitly convert everything into squares, or else use a piece of string to pull around for the circle.
    51 replies | 1459 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Eubani's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 01:23 AM
    The devs have said from the beginning that errata will only be for things like typos and poor wording. Everything else will be left alone and something will be added. A good example of this is the under performing Bladelock causing the creation of the Hexblade Subclass, one could say that the Brute is the answer to feedback about the Champion.
    25 replies | 600 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Blue's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 12:40 AM
    Okay, let's focus on the game mechanics since you are asking for a balance check. I'm going to put in a little formatting: I'd say this is rather well above the power level of other races. Once you get rid of some glaring issues, I'll take the wood elf as another +2/+1, 35 speed medium race and doing a 1:1 comparison of features. Group up ones of equal power, and then see if you have...
    12 replies | 298 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Blue's Avatar
    Sunday, 15th April, 2018, 12:01 AM
    War clerics specialty seems to be about personal excellence in combat. This is taken from their weapon proficiencies, their features, their channel divinity, and a number of their domain spell selection. This will be the basis if Order clerics overshadow War clerics at what the War domain is intended to do. Order clerics don't have martial weapon proficiency. With the exception of the...
    25 replies | 600 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Blue's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 11:52 PM
    One thing I've had success in my current campaign is that the religions are not monocultures. They have sects and different interpretations of dogma. This can allow priests of the same god to be helpful, to block you, to be indifferent, and otherwise stay interesting. So you could have different interpretations and competition between followers even in a monotheistic interpretation,...
    26 replies | 571 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Garthanos's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 10:39 PM
    Oh I do not doubt one can scale damage so that over all durability is higher from the equipment instead of the wielder what I was referring to was the up and down surge in the flow of the battle ... ie the second wind style pacing which 4e has uniquely more so than other editions of D&D, and which I think connects better to fantasy fiction and a sense of fear that they might fail followed by an...
    246 replies | 23134 view(s)
    0 XP
  • darkbard's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 10:30 PM
    And herein is another reason why I mentioned ideology earlier. You seem to buy in to, unexamined, the myth of progress that our global western society tells itself, seeing this not only as obviously true on a grand, sweeping scale but also at the granular level of the individual. I could point you to a hundred works of cultural anthropology that demonstrate the falsehood of your claim. I could...
    1309 replies | 46086 view(s)
    2 XP
  • darkbard's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 09:38 PM
    Are you familiar, shidaku, with the philosopher Slavoi Zizek's take on the Rumsfeld statement you quoted? He points out that Rumsfeld omits the fourth, and natural, category from his list, unknown knowns: those beliefs we hold without being aware of how they act upon us which shape how we act in the world. In other words, ideology. I'm pretty sure Zizek writes about this in the introduction to...
    1309 replies | 46086 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 08:37 PM
    How is it that different from 5e? Cantrips. Spells which you cast with slots/day, some of which you can cast as rituals? For that matter, how is it different from 4e, with at-wills, dailies, and rituals that cost you copious cash in exotic components? Sounds like you just need to: Reduce & simplify slots/day - maybe use the Warlock as a guide: fewer slots, but all of your top...
    34 replies | 807 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 08:14 PM
    That aspect seems like a good design, on its own merits, but it's ironic that it's a standard that Mearls didn't even hold himself to when balancing his Fighter(Warlord). That could certainly work for the kind of 'faux MC' sub-classes 5e seems to go in for, but it probably shouldn't be comprehensive. I'm not surprised they didn't go for that, but it is a good idea. It'd've been a good...
    480 replies | 9275 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 08:12 PM
    Nod. In 5e the DM, as the arbiter of the world, would decide if the cleric's powers came direct & revocably from the god, in which case, he would, in the person of the deity, decide whether any give spell was granted and whether any give spell worked. OTOH, in 1e low-level spells came from the cleric, himself, and higher level ones were granted - IIRC, irrevocably, because they were indeed,...
    65 replies | 2424 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 08:01 PM
    I don't see any way of getting around the bug of challenges becoming statistically more likely to succeed the more 'complex' (and higher exp value) they happened to be. It didn't /need/ to be, of couse, and IMHO, worked best entirely 'above board,' but it /could/ be used that way if the DM wanted to have players feeling their way through challenges one action declaration at a time rather...
    2005 replies | 45324 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Tony Vargas's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 06:34 PM
    That's most of the 5e that I run, I use converted old-school modules or, if the organizer insists, AL adventures. I figure if they like it, they just might go out and buy the starter set.
    43 replies | 1199 view(s)
    0 XP
  • darkbard's Avatar
    Saturday, 14th April, 2018, 06:14 PM
    Look, I'm hardly an expert in the field of psychology, but one of the aspects of my professional research has been theory of mind and neuroscience with regard to issues of free will and identity. I readily agree we don't know nearly enough about how the brain functions. I disagree, speaking not only through opinion but with the authority of science, that we don't know enough to say cognition is...
    2005 replies | 45324 view(s)
    0 XP
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My Game Details
Town:
Santa Clara
State:
California
Game Details:
I run a light-hearted Encounters-style 4e/Essentials D&D campaign that's open to the public.
When I get more than 8 players, we split and run two tables.
Every Wednesday at 5p for 2 hrs, Illusive Comics & Games, Santa Clara, CA.
http://www.illusivecomics.com/events/95/dd-pixies-pirates/

My wife runs a home D&D 4e campaign started June 2010.
7 regular players.
Episodic, but with an overall plot-arc.
Currently Paragon level.
My Character:
Brother Enoch, a Human Radiant Servant and refugee from a zombie apocalypse.

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

Damrak, an heroic-level Kobold Bravura Warlord.

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

Past characters include: Lt David Freeborn, a Demigod Battle Captain; Varinhal Mith'renial, a Wizard of the Spiral Tower; Blaize Fairchilde, Deva Devoted Cleric; Nappo the Lion, Gnome Resourceful Warlord; Stephano di Orsini, Brawling Fighter; Ghourah the Foresworn, Dragonborn Warlord; Kern Ilgrath, 1/2 Orc 'archer' (Slayer); Vincent Draco, Mage (Enchanter); T'kli, Shardmind Warlord|Shaman; Herrak Shield-Biter, Dwarf Berserker; Illara, Watershaper Druid(Sentinel);
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Thursday, 19th April, 2018


Wednesday, 18th April, 2018



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Thursday, 19th April, 2018

  • 12:47 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post Game Mechanics And Player Agency
    ...hen but superficially. Nature will prevail and keep things as they were meant to be, provided the "wheel" surrounding the hub of nature does not become unbalanced due to the work of unnatural forces - such as human and other intelligent creatures interfering with what is meant to be. So true neutral, in AD&D, is a "naturalistic ethos" which holds that all is as it is meant to be, with each facet of life contributing to that overall balance - provided that humans and their ilk don't disturb the balance through their attempts to change things (which cannot have any long-lasting effect). This is not unaligned, but more like the outlook of some realworld philosophies and religions - stoicism, for instance - and also some political movements - eg Burkean conservatism. The Han Solo-type scoundrel, who in 4e is unaligned and in OD&D or B/X is neutral, in AD&D I think is chaotic neutral: they prioritise their own self-realisation over other-regarding moral obligations. EDIT: I see Tony Vargas made a similar point to this upthread.

Friday, 13th April, 2018

  • 03:55 PM - DMMike mentioned Tony Vargas in post Ten basic medieval fantasy classes
    I think it's a good idea to think about medieval archetypes that may not be well served by the current class selection, but ... ...you need a day or two to let us know what those might be? ;) PPP - Fighter PPM - Tomb Raider, Adventuring Scholar, Horseman, Monk PPS - Cleric (Paladin) MMM - Scholar, MMP - Rogue, Merchants and Swashbucklers MMS - Priest SSS - Scorcerer SSP - Warlock SSM - Wizard PMS - Bard The "adventuring" is a good distinction on the PPM scholar. It implies that a character, or adventuring, has a required Physical component to it. Tomb Raider is a good choice, but is there a medieval equivalent? Also interesting to see rogues and merchants in the same category. Does the handling of large quantities of money constitute a class characteristic? Are merchants less physically oriented than rogues, or is that not a necessary distinction? Tony Vargas dropped the Mastermind into the MMM slot, which has a definite villain-flavor to it. Scholar has no flavor, except for a hint of Harry Potter. And sages...are just old. Aren't they? I was looking at putting Ranger as I did because I view that as a Fighter who earned his place through being a very skilled fighter. (M being more a focus on skills and learned tricks, application of the brain if you will, P being a kick ass fighter/combatant, application of the body, S being a how natural magic is to them, as I view it) This has me thinking that there could be three base classes - warrior, mage, thief - and each one has two varieties based on which direction it takes to differ from the base. The Skyrim standing stones might be too much of a pigeon hole though, but warrior/fighter and mage/wizard seem pretty obvious. Poet doesn't sound like a good class, but as a person who uses his mind to get what he needs, it fills the gap between warrior and mage pretty well. Aristocrat co...

Tuesday, 10th April, 2018


Friday, 6th April, 2018

  • 08:10 PM - Yaarel mentioned Tony Vargas in post Mike Mearls and "Action Economy"
    Tony Vargas Heh, I would never have guessed you were a Skinnerian who hated the ‘black box’. I get the impression that you feel that something that you want is being taken away from you, by those who say it is for the sake of immersion. What would that be?

Friday, 30th March, 2018

  • 07:30 PM - Yaarel mentioned Tony Vargas in post Mike Mearls Happy Fun Hour: The Warlord
    Tony Vargas I have a sense of what you are looking for in a warlord class from various discussions. But have you designed your own class, with all of the features that you want to see? I would love to have a look at if you did.

Wednesday, 28th March, 2018

  • 09:26 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Tony Vargas, I think your post was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but where I thought I had something worthwhile to say in response I've said it: I think the issue is that the system implies qualities of the world, so if the system seems silly, the world will seem silly. Well, the systems that Lanefan is talking about include Burning Wheel, Cortex+ Heroic, HeroWars/Quest, a certain approach to 4e, etc. Which of those is supposed to imply a silly world? It's a reward for showing up, thenIn default 4e, showing up doesn't as such earn XP. Playing the game (by engaging encounters, realising quests, and - per the rule in DMG2 - meaningfully engaging the non-encounter fiction) accures XP at a rate of (roughly) 4 level-equivalent monster's worth per hour. Or approximately 3-4 sessions per level. I think one of the most remarkable things about 4e is how, on the surface, it retains so many D&D mecahnical tropes (hp, XP, attack rolls, magic items, and the like) but uses them to build a game which is ...

Monday, 26th March, 2018


Friday, 23rd March, 2018

  • 07:21 AM - FrogReaver mentioned Tony Vargas in post Lets design a Warlord for 5th edition
    @Tony Vargas I have a solution for scaling at will warlord powers while still providing short rest or daily healing. I don't have a solution for scaling long rest ones at all. Level 1 looks a little convoluted as I'll have to add the long rest powers in but also add something else just about as strong as them but not capable of producing healing. Level 3 looks even worse as I would potentially need to go from 2 uses to 6 uses (or maybe more). Level 5 even with extra attack you likely need to greatly upgrade your uses or their effects at this level. (probably effects would be best which would be doable) I guess I may have just answered the question for you. It looks adequate and not too bad when compared to the cleric or anything else.
  • 05:27 AM - FrogReaver mentioned Tony Vargas in post Lets design a Warlord for 5th edition
    Tony Vargas Since your direction is so strongly pushing to have the Warlord's Core ability be daily perhaps you can give us a preview of how to capture that ability and any others needed at level 1 while still keeping the potential healing power level in line with a cleric or bard and having as much potential combat power as those classes? How would you accomplish that? Further, how would you plan on scaling the Warlord Core ability in the level 1-5 range to ensure the warlord has enough uses and power in his core ability to keep up in power with classes like the cleric and bard?

Thursday, 22nd March, 2018

  • 08:48 AM - Kinematics mentioned Tony Vargas in post Lets design a Warlord for 5th edition
    ...l, the Warlord becomes a long-range supporter, and has freedom to work from pretty much anywhere in the battlefield. Given the concept of the Warlord, Int is pretty much a required stat. Its complementary stat must be Dex, Con, or Wis (the 'big three' defense stats). Every single class has proficiency in one of the 'big three', and one of the other three; never two of the same type. If Int is a given, then the complementary stat must pretty much be Con. This benefits concentration checks, assuming concentration becomes a component, as well as the frontliner Icon/Vanguard types. Even if you discount the Tactical Focus and concentration, I have a hard time seeing the Warlord fitting a Dex or Wis proficiency. So an Int/Con support class. Of course, there are various concepts that go with it that draw on all of the other four stats. Str on the vanguard, Chr for inspiration, Dex for the ranged version, or Wis for the diplomatic or guerilla version. It's a very MAD class. Tony Vargas came up with a lot of subclass concepts. My own approach is much more concise. Icon - Inspirational focal point. Shonen hero (or protected princess). Minimum tactics, maximum guts (or luck). Commander - Focuses on tactics that can be executed by allies. Mix of working to gain advantage, and reactions. Strategist - Plots and schemes and creates elaborate strategems. Anticipates the enemy and preemptively counters. Defender - Tactician shaping the battlefield. Affects movement, hindering the enemy, and traps. Tony's Bravura, Inspiring, Hector, and Icon all wrap together into the same general concept (be a focus, inspire to heal, temp hp), which I call Icon. Protector might also fall in here. His Tactical/Commander, Combat Veteran, and Artillerist all fall under what I have as Commander, though I like the extra flavor he added about the cynical world view. His Resourceful and Skirmisher both roughly map to my Defender. His Insightful/Watcher is my Strategist....
  • 02:31 AM - FrogReaver mentioned Tony Vargas in post Lets design a Warlord for 5th edition
    Tony Vargas, Healing is an ability that Mearls believes should be gated behind some kind resource taking ability that you can run out of. I think most of us agree with mearls on that. This issue is that adding in a healing ability like that ends up constraining design a lot. Is it independent of our other warlord abilities or does it use a shared mechanic with them? If it's independent then we have to track the healings power and reduce the other warlordy stuff appropriately If they share a mechanic then suddenly you are requiring that mechanic to be gated behind some kind of spell slot or superiority dice or ki style mechanic. None of those abilities equal to the heal can then be at will, whereas there's many abilities a warlord could do at will that are just as strong as healing but because of how healing works, at will healing is bad. Basically, be aware of how your demands for core class healing will constrain other warlord mechanics.

Sunday, 18th March, 2018

  • 02:07 AM - Yaarel mentioned Tony Vargas in post Mike Mearls Happy Fun Hour: The Warlord
    So the concept as described in the two hours of video does cut it? For me, the Happy Fun warlord comes close to meeting all the criteria of the warlord. Close enough that it seems to me, it might work. So I am enthusiastic. Heh, but the truth is, to me, Tony Vargas pretty much personifies the warlord fan. If he is happy, I will rest easy about the warlord tradition. The reason why care about the warlord is, it opens up viable nonmagical options for D&D, that are essential to a DM for worldbuilding. Plus, if the warlord turns out cool, as Happy Fun suggests it will, I would love to play it as a player.

Friday, 16th March, 2018


Wednesday, 14th March, 2018

  • 12:29 AM - Kinematics mentioned Tony Vargas in post Mike Mearls Happy Fun Hour: The Warlord
    ...defense, or maybe recognizing the opponent's fighting style, and knowing how to counter it, etc. Mostly it just rewards the fighter for not dumping Int, because he's supposed to be smart. The Inspiring/Insightful Heal/Damage thing will need more mechanics behind it to really evaluate. This is the bit that's most strongly tied to the available dice pool. Maybe give a few temp hit points before the fight starts, or urge the paladin to keep fighting when he's just about to fall over. On the other side, it might grant damage boosts, though I'm rather unsure in how that might be applied that isn't in conflict with the other ways of boosting damage that the Cunning Plan offers. ~~~ Overall, I'm already very much liking the design. It provides an easy hook to readily expand its minor cantrip-level abilities, and even spell-level abilities, and it maintains the essence of "flavor before mechanics" design. Even in this incomplete state, I'm very much interested in playing it. Tony Vargas provided this list of 4E Warlord builds earlier in the thread: Tactical - a canny warlord, who excels at devising & coordinating cunning plans. This is the one that Mearls was talking about in the podcast as if it were the whole class, so, in 5e would use INT and 'Gambits' that map, vaguely, to spells in the way Mearls went into, only, to do it 'right,' it'd map more to the casting of Druid or Wizard than an EK. It would emphasize 'Tactical Gambits' in the same sense that an Evoker emphasizes blasty spells, an emphasis, being better at it, not in the sense of being unable to use everything else. Inspiring - the original opposite number to the tactical warlord, the inspiring warlord did exactly what it says on the tin, bolstered his allies (hps, both healing &temps and handed out buffs), mainly keyed off CHA. It tended to be less about maneuvering & commanding and more about leading & aiding. In 5e, it would use the same Gambits & Maneuvers as other warlords, but better at the ones...

Sunday, 14th January, 2018

  • 01:00 AM - Elfcrusher mentioned Tony Vargas in post Which classes would you like to see added to D&D 5e, if any? (check all that apply)
    I chose "Other". I can't possibly determine just from a list of names. What matters is the design space, not the title. So maybe you're assuming they would be similar to classes from previous editions, but I think that's a bad way to go about it. The "design space" I could see exploring: - A more animistic/primitive caster class. Something that encapsulates shaman and witches and witch-doctors. -INT-based, but whereas Wizards are "book learned" these would be more informally schooled, or self-taught. Mechanically I would like to see spell lists that exclude most direct damage spells, especially the flashy nukes, and maybe even make it a half-caster, then make up for it with interesting, subtle support features. The druid could have served this role if they had put the shapeshifting into sub-classes. - Although I detest Warlords, I have been persuaded by Tony Vargas and Bawylie and some others that there's room for a more flexible "martial support class". So I could picture something that is like a fighter but less so (if that makes sense) with more room in the sub-classes to tack on interesting and flavorful abilities. - I've also always wanted a divine magical support class that more resembles a priest from WoW than a cleric from D&D. While you can build such a thing, it's always a bad tradeoff. But this could also be solved with a cleric sub-class that had an ability or abilities that only function when no armor is worn. And that's about it. Looking through the list in the poll I could see almost all of them (if we are envisioning the same thing because, again, the OP just provided titles, not concepts) fitting in as subclasses of existing classes.

Monday, 8th January, 2018


Sunday, 31st December, 2017


Wednesday, 29th November, 2017

  • 02:58 AM - AbdulAlhazred mentioned Tony Vargas in post Keywords vs Damage Types
    This is exactly how I do it of course. ;-), cannot imagine why. It also works for when my ray of frost is cast on a flyer vs cast on a grounded character... different method. Feet sticking to the ground is significantly different perceptually than wings clumped with ice. Yeah, and MOSTLY this is OK. It can seem a bit forced at times though. I mean think about the 'Ray of Fire' example that Tony Vargas uses: Why does a Ray of Fire cause you to move slower in order to put yourself out, but some other Fire power just does ongoing damage UNTIL you put yourself out (presumably covered by the save ends or the EONT or whatever it is). I'm not saying this doesn't work, but 4e always left me wondering why the same 'narrative' effects get mapped so inconsistently to mechanical effects. Of course I don't think 4e is especially unique in this respect. D&D in general has been fairly ad-hoc. It just seems that 4e, with its rich repertoire of standardized effects, didn't do better. Well, clearly it would have added a whole extra rule to do so. I think maybe there should have been fewer but more interesting 'damage changers', and if effects WERE standardized then those could have been where some more comprehensive approach would be undertaken. In other words you could create a set of powers that exchange damage types and encapsulate the rules (however complex) for changing effects. Then anythin...

Wednesday, 22nd November, 2017

  • 12:34 AM - pemerton mentioned Tony Vargas in post How much back story do you allow/expect at the start of the game?
    ...am simply disagreeing with Man in a Funny Hat that there should be no correlation between attention and player roleplaying skill. I think such a correlation is fairly inevitable in player-driven RPGing, and I prefer player-driven RPGing. That's not an argument for player-driven RPGing. It's an argument from player-driven RPGing to the falsity of MitFH's contention. Some of the DM driven style games do a great job of balancing between character options and don't pay any attention to spotlight time. 4e is a great example of the latter, where niche protections are weak, there's little mechanical drive for spotlight time, and player options are keenly balanced against each other. But 4e runs fine without regard to your theory of spotlight time.I don't really follow this. 4e, at least as I've experienced it, defaults to a rather player-driven game (some better-known illustrations: player-authored quests; player wish-lists for one category of "reward"); and I think it illustrates Tony Vargas's idea that balanced player options which allow players to engage the ingame situation together, in mutually reinforcing ways, makes spotlight non-zreo-sum.


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Thursday, 19th April, 2018

  • 09:18 AM - Lanefan quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    On the contrary, if something doesn't come up in the play of the game, it doesn't exist. Sure it does, at least in the mind (or in the notes) of whoever thought it up. The secret door shown on the DM's map that connects rooms 23 and 27 exists in the DM's notes and mind even if the PCs don't find it and thus it never comes up in play. The set of loaded dice my PC carries around in her backpack exist in my notes (i.e. written on the character sheet) and mind even if I never bring them into play or make anyone else aware I have them. 13A is decidedly less a simulation than D&D, which wasn't ever much of a simulation. Besides, even at its most simulationist - 3e - D&D had different rules (NPC classes, for instance) for NPCs.3e's NPC classes were a not-great but still appreciated attempt to solve a very real believability headache that's been around forever: that of how non-adventuring NPCs can mechanically acquire some skills and hit points and luck during their lives.
  • 08:24 AM - Lanefan quoted Tony Vargas in post Game Mechanics And Player Agency
    ...but, yeah, Lanefan was prettymuch talking about winding back the clock to early 1e, before there was anything much resembling skills outside the Thief class.The various physical "skills" that model things done in real life, including physical skills (jump, balance, hold breath, etc.) and mental skills (memory, knowledge, etc.) are all just fine and weren't much of a part of 1e at all. It's the interpersonal skills - the ones that replace or short-circuit actual RP at the table - that have to go.
  • 06:50 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted Tony Vargas in post [4e] A slim(er) 4e experience through class and options cutting
    Hands down the best of 'Heroes of _____' series. Better yet, the Elemental Sorcerer from HotEC Possibly the finest RPG supplement of all time. Certainly in the top 10!
  • 01:02 AM - hawkeyefan quoted Tony Vargas in post Game Mechanics And Player Agency
    Yeah, yeah, imply anyone noting the complexity is a moron. Classy. I said no such thing. Saying that somethibg isn’t that complicated isn’t the same as saying anyone who doesn’t get it is a moron. That’s a really lousy attempt to put words in my mouth. I’m gonna drop this whole side topic. I think I made a point, you addressed something about the way I made my point, and I then clarified. I’m not gonna get drawn into any further semantic quibble with you on this.
  • 12:15 AM - aramis erak quoted Tony Vargas in post 5e & PF2 - Why Choose the Same Approach?
    It did sell a bit better than D&D a few times, and it's fans made a lot out if that, those particular fans could react badly if PF2 doesn't do well enough (whatever 'enough' might be for them). I doubt they're a huge number or that they'd war against a new/different PF the way they did a new/different D&D. One other factor is development costs, if, like 5e, PF2 keeps it's staff and costs down, it won't need as high sales to be profitable, that could be a reason to adopt some 5e-isms, like slow pace of release, or re-cycling older mechanics. The difference between 5e & PF isn't simplicity, D&D has never been simple, it's varied a little here and there in the nature of its complexity. PF has more content than any single edition of D&D, for instance. While, 5e has drawn together traditional elements of multiple past editions to make it familiar or at least acceptable to fans of the TSR era and 3.5, both, making it easily as complex, mechanically, as any single other edition. The main differ...

Wednesday, 18th April, 2018

  • 11:35 PM - Elfcrusher quoted Tony Vargas in post Game Mechanics And Player Agency
    And, if you don't have such scenes, you've cut out half the game. That doesn't leave a very large slice of the pie for Exploration...
  • 10:09 PM - Lanefan quoted Tony Vargas in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    In 13th Age only PCs get One Unique Thing but the GM is certainly free to make NPCs equally unique if they like. To an extent I think this is a good idea - NPCs should certainly be interesting - but not so interesting that they step on the PCs' toes. 13th Age very much takes the view that the PCs are The Heroes, analogous to the protagonists in fiction.Ah. So kind of the opposite, then, of the small-fish-in-a-big-pond type of PC I prefer. Fair enough. :) Why would a character with no player need to be a special snowflake? It's just there to be a challenge or a help or a source of exposition or whatever, the DM plays it for a bit, then the next one... Because the same rules that apply to PCs need to apply to NPCs, if the game world is to maintain any believability or verisimal...whatever that word is. The special-snowflake bits of any given NPC might never become relevant during its interaction with the PCs, but that doesn't mean those bits shouldn't exist. Lanefan
  • 09:56 PM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Tony Vargas in post Lost In Translation: Adapting Fictional Characters To Games
    Yep, that's back to the OP's issue. You can get a lot more exact in modeling your vision of a fictional character in a point-build system than in a class/level system, but you still have to nail down that vision... Yeah, figuring out what the vision is is one thing, but the game system often doesn't cooperate. I do think it's one reason why modern games often have mechanisms for extraordinary success above what is just generated by the dice. Willpower (from oWoD and nWoD), bennies from Savage Worlds, chips from Deadlands, Doom and Momentum from Modiphius games, and so on can help avoid having everything just come down to the dice. I think that goes a long way towards making fictional characters not need quite so maxed out abilities. D&D has had that in different times in the form of Action Points (from Eberron) or some of the human abilities, or Lucky and Inspiration in the current edition, but for the most part it's not really been a big part of D&D.
  • 09:22 PM - Ovinomancer quoted Tony Vargas in post Game Mechanics And Player Agency
    In 5e, specifically, the DM is Empowered to support or undercut player agency as he sees fit. A conscientious DM might always do the former, a bad one the latter, but a really good one, IMHO, will consistently present the appearance of the former, while judiciously doing the latter when it's best for the campaign & the player experience. I disagree. The presented play procedures are as @Iserth keeps repeating: the DM narrates a scene, the players declare actions, the DM resolves the actions (via mechanics or declaration) and narrates the results. Wash, rinse, repeat. The amount of DM Empowerment is in the first and last parts, not the middle part. The players get the freedom to declare actions however they wish. They may declare impossible actions, to which the DM narrates failure, but the DM shouldn't be choosing player actions. As for deciding what's best for the campaign and the player experience, under what metric is the DM determining this? What means does he use to divine this...
  • 09:17 PM - Elfcrusher quoted Tony Vargas in post What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
    Or two corporations or two AIs, if you want to get all cyberpunk. The setting you've envisioned certainly seems ideal for it. I'm just not sure how to take that story into an RPG neatly, because it's always a party of PCs. I've been toying with the idea of running a "Last Adventurer Standing" D&D game for years, but it never quite gelled for that reason. Well, the world could use "more" (1?) RPGs that are ideal for 1 DM and 1 Player.
  • 06:54 PM - hawkeyefan quoted Tony Vargas in post Game Mechanics And Player Agency
    Particularly in the subjective sense, and by past experiences and expectations. Something familiar seems more intuitive and simpler than something new, even if, objectively, they're the /same/ thing, viewed from different perspectives. D&D is very complex, but the more you play it, the less you notice that complexity. Similarly, D&D deviates radically from many of it's sources of inspiration, so if you come into it with expectations formed from those same sources, it'll seem less intuitive than if you come to it with expectations shaped by past editions of the same game, or by, say CRPGs or MMOs - or fiction based on them - that cribbed heavily from D&D, themselves. Sure, I agree with that. But honestly, I don't think the addition of the word Chaotic or Lawful really muddies things all that much. My 8 year old self was able to suss it out pretty easily, and I wasn't some kind of prodigy. Your level of concern or knowledge of past editions doesn't change the facts. If you prese...
  • 04:15 PM - hawkeyefan quoted Tony Vargas in post Game Mechanics And Player Agency
    Maybe 'backsliding' is an unfairly easy thing to hang on a game that set out, explicitly, and continually re-affirmed throughout it's playtest, the goal if evoking the classic game. But, it is certainly going back to the 9-alignment system, and some mechanical impact, from a simpler/more intuitive (CG, LE, CN, LN, & TN having each thrown some folks) one with less mechanical impact. Backsliding has a negative connotation and that is what I was disagreeing with. Whether or not it's more intuitive or simpler will vary by person. 9 alignments is the middle ground between 9 alignments and no alignments? Wouldn't 4.5 be the mid-point. ;P Seriously, though, it's fine to note that alignment has not been returned to nearly the invasive mechanical bugaboo it was in the classic game. Just don't kid anyone 5e 'reduced' that impact, anymore than it nerfed casters relative to the preceding edition. 5e is very much a compromise edition, so for any given horrendous D&Dism it's typically better tha...
  • 02:45 PM - Irda Ranger quoted Tony Vargas in post Using beyond the wall's magic system in 5e
    Don't see the point of 2 & 3. Why force the complexity of multi-classing on what promises to be a simpler variant? So playing a caster doesn't suck. You seem uninterested in maintaining fairness and balance between your players, but I'm not uninterested. I want to make sure that the guy who chooses to play a caster isn't punished for that choice. If you want to limit casters to cantrips and 1st-2nd level spells, you can either (1) allow casters to keep leveling up but give them something else for it, or (2) just cap the level advancement and have them level up in fighter or rogue instead. My first post (allowing all 1st and 2nd level spells to scale with character level) was an attempt at option 1, and my second post (just capping advancement) was a stab at option 2.
  • 08:45 AM - Sadras quoted Tony Vargas in post Do you use skill challenges?
    I don't use SCs. Instead, I set objectives in the game that can be met with skills, spells, or just creative role playing and I let the PCs go at it however they choose. As an example, a bandit robbed a merchant near the PCs and they decided to chase him down. In 4E, this would have been an excellent option for a skill challenge. However, PCs might just cast hold person, teleport ahead of the NPC, persuade him to stop with a good threat, etc... Or they might engage in a lengthy chase involving several skill checks. All that makes sense and I use those examples too. :) As I said I'm not locked into the SC, I see it as another tool in the box. SCs were part of a system that generally played best 'above board,' and they share that quality. I'm not necessarily 100% convinced of this as I think it depends on the challenge (and the Rules Compendium allows for both options), but to be honest I know I do not have the experience you have had with the mechanic. A game where the players do not...
  • 03:56 AM - FrogReaver quoted Tony Vargas in post Lets design a Warlord for 5th edition
    Why would it make sense to have a magical ability that you trade a weapon attack now for an extra die later? The fiction is feeling out enemies (making 'probing attacks' if in melee, for instance) and observing the battle to gain tactical insight, obviously. It could also represent 'conditioning' tactics, in which you make a repeated pattern of attacks that the enemy can easily counter, then vary one part of it when they've gotten used to your 'predictability,' creating an opening. That might be a lot more satisfying of an explanation if the character in question didn't also get uses of the same abilities without having to feel out enemies by making probing attacks etc.
  • 01:55 AM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Tony Vargas in post Lost In Translation: Adapting Fictional Characters To Games
    Entirely depends on the system. A highly-customizeable build system, like Hero or a more freeform one like FUDGE/Fate, OTOH, lets you build to /your/ vision of the character in question. Sure, you can often do pretty well but fiction characters often have a lot of abilities that make them require very high point totals. Furthermore, the game system may "fight" you to some degree, though nowhere like is the case with a class/level system.
  • 01:23 AM - shidaku quoted Tony Vargas in post Lost In Translation: Adapting Fictional Characters To Games
    Entirely depends on the system. A class/level system like D&D? Nah, even at it's most customizeable (3.x) or balanced/re-skinnable (4e), it's unlikely to work well - maybe you'll capture the feel of the character at some level, if everything in the campaign comes together, possibly if you squint at it just right. An officially-licensed system purpose-built to simulate a specific property? Maybe, if your vision of it matches that of the guy who wrote it closely enough, and the system's not just some slap-dash thing to make it technically an RPG because the RPG license was available relatively cheaply. A well-researched GURPS worldbook? Again, if your vision is as well-researched and your research led you to the same conclusions. ;) A highly-customizeable build system, like Hero or a more freeform one like FUDGE/Fate, OTOH, lets you build to /your/ vision of the character in question. Sure, I'll generally agree with that. I'm not familiar with the system but I understand they'r...
  • 01:10 AM - pemerton quoted Tony Vargas in post Lost In Translation: Adapting Fictional Characters To Games
    I seem to recall there being several fairly satisfactory translations of Gandalf (my favorite only missed out on cantrips) these often involving the Shielding swordmage some times the Avenger. Early paragon with level 11 or 13 in most cases for Gandalf the White. I felt both Half-Celestial and Deva captured Maiar, conceptually, better than cleric. And what did Gandalf (or anyone in genre, really) ever do that was at all D&D-Cleric-like?I thought "cleric" because it (i) gives ritual magic, and (ii) gives melee capability (in STR form), and (iii) gives the power to rouse allies' spirits by speaking a gentle word of encouragement (Healing Word), and (iv) gives the power to drive back the Nazgul (Turn Undead). I though multi-class wizard to get access to Scorching Burst as an encounter power. Aside from that Gandalf is a DMNPC argument.I know it's common, in discussions of LotR from a RPG perspective, to frame Gandalf as a NPC or DMPC. But I think it's fruitful to actually think of him as a...
  • 12:47 AM - Ilbranteloth quoted Tony Vargas in post Let's talk power words!
    The 'balance' is likely to be more in a 'right spell for the job,' way. Wish lets you do anything less powerful than a 9th level spell, the other 9th level spells each do their thing. Power Word Kill's thing is that it's a Power Word. Which used to count for something when short casting times (theoretically, the exact mechanics were iffy) made a big difference. That shifts the balance consideration from "is character A able to pwn character B" to "does having character A in the group tend to obviate the contributions of character B to the group" It's not as big a shift as it sounds. 'Spotlight' balance is still important in 5e whether it's because you're all grandstanding rivals or because you're all trying to make meaningful contributions to your success as a team. Yeah, spotlighting has never really been a thing in our games. Don’t know why. My players are happy to be a participating spectator if they are killed or otherwise disabled (actually generally insist on it unless there’s a g...

Tuesday, 17th April, 2018

  • 10:25 PM - Gardens & Goblins quoted Tony Vargas in post Let's talk power words!
    If there were more limitations to casting, in the first place, there could be more ways to illustrate the ease of casting a spell of but a single word. I do miss the constraints on spell casting. The Mage Slayer feat can make life tricky but.... Even spell most components can be hand waved away with a spell focus.


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