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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:36 AM
    Yeah, I realized I said PC's and I should have said "characters". There would likely be 3-6 players and a mitt full of NPC's as well. At least, that's what the presumption was. Your the one telling me that the presumption was 4 PC's. That an encounter should have multiple dragons because I have so many PC's. But, that's not true. I had the standard number of characters that was...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:46 AM
    The difference though, I think is that you have a pretty wide variety of modules to choose from. Whether it’s Tomb of Annihilation or Dragon Heist, you do get to see a pretty broad depth. It took a while to get that in the early days.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:43 AM
    But none of this changes the fact that Jayne was untrustworthy.
    229 replies | 5099 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:29 AM
    Whoops double post. My bad.
    294 replies | 8055 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:28 AM
    See this is why I have such a hard time taking you seriously Maxperson. You obviously never played adnd. 6-9 pcs was the standard group. Four pcs is a 3e thing.
    294 replies | 8055 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:22 AM
    Well. That’s fair I suppose. If the group is allowed to execute your character for stepping out of line, then your alignment doesn’t matter too much.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 10:52 AM
    Meh, the dragon had a non-zero chance of being asleep when you got there. :D And, again, given that level of a party, you've got so much fire protection that the breath weapon is a joke. And, let's not forget, we're cherry picking the biggest non-unique monster in the 1e monster manual here. Most other monsters were nowhere near this dangerous. There's a pile of variables here. My point is,...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 09:07 AM
    Heh. As the sort of genesis of this thread, thought I'd pop in. Yeah, I'll agree with pretty much everything said here. On one hand you've got those like me that cut their teeth on D&D modules. I did. I admit it. We were module junkies and most of my formative play years were spent running various modules. OTOH, you've got other folks who never touched one at all who likely have VERY...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 08:39 AM
    Now, how exactly did you manage to get that couple of tons of treasure out of the lair without fighting the dragon? Again, why did folks avoid combat when the PC's after about 6th level were FAR more powerful than anything they were facing? And Ancient Huge Red Dragon had 92 HP (IIRC). That was about 1 round of damage output for a 9th level party of 6-9 PC's.
    294 replies | 8055 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 04:49 AM
    B/X - The tight, holistic focus of design around its play paradigm. - The Exploration Turn/Rest > Wandering Monster Clock > Resource Attrition/Risk Reward Cycle Loop. - Monster Reactions/Morale. - Gold for xp. 4e - (Again) The tight, holistic focus of design around its play paradigm.
    36 replies | 1132 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 17th June, 2019, 12:04 PM
    Well, kinda sorta. Sure, the total would only be a small percentage of kill xp. Monsters weren't worth that much xp. But, in order to get that other percentage - the GP value - by and large you did it by killing the monster that was guarding it. So, yeah, the percentages were mostly for treasure, I totally agree. But, in order to get that treasure, most of the time, the solution was to beat...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 17th June, 2019, 08:03 AM
    Ok, ok. I surrender. 1e players were renowned throughout the hobby, throughout all the history of RPG's as the greatest, most wonderful roleplayers of all time who never once picked up a d20 unless they absolutely had to and solved nearly every single encounter through spectacular exposition and wonderous words of wisdom. Now, with the revisionist history out of the way, can we get back to...
    294 replies | 8055 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 17th June, 2019, 04:13 AM
    Like a lot of things AD&D, it was pretty schizophrenic. For example, while you can talk about xp for "tricking" monsters being in the 1e DMG, you also have the training rules. A fighter that didn't fight was actively penalized by being forced to take longer to train and spending far, far more money on training, for example. In 2e, while there were "bonus Xp tables" again, fighters ONLY...
    294 replies | 8055 view(s)
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  • steenan's Avatar
    Sunday, 16th June, 2019, 08:38 PM
    Your characterization screams "Dogs in the Vineyard" to me. It's a great game because, despite being about defenders of faith and faithful and containing supernatural evil, it's not a game of "us versus them". You have the rules of faith. Then you get faced with situations that are much more complicated. It's obvious that there is sin, that the demons are at work. But telling the good from...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 16th June, 2019, 10:03 AM
    I disagree. If your character is consistent, reliable, dependable and never impulsive, in what way is that character chaotic? What about any of those descriptors would lead an observer to the conclusion that this character is chaotic? As far as “policing” goes, I’m not really sure where you are getting that. I guess my question to the player would be the same as my question to you - if this...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Saturday, 15th June, 2019, 04:19 AM
    I disagree. Observable behaviour is the only determinant of alignment. Intention means nothing in an objective alignment system. People are evil because the DO evil things. I can think nasty thoughts all day long but if I’m outwardly kind to everybody then dnd says I’m good.
    229 replies | 5099 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 15th June, 2019, 02:48 AM
    I don't understand what you're trying to achieve. If you're not interested in the topic as it's been framed or discussed, or think the thread is unhelpful, you're very welcome not to post in it. If you think my threads involve code-of-conduct violation, you have the option of reporting them. Are you trying to pick a fight and have this thread shut down? Are you trying to clutter the thread...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 15th June, 2019, 02:40 AM
    Riley37, you didn't answer my question as to what you think it adds to the thread to insist that Hriston said something that he didn't, on the basis of attributing a meaning to his words that they were not intended to bear, and which no reasonable reader of them in the context of their production would impute to them. As to your question about light, light isn't an endeavour of any sort. It's...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Saturday, 15th June, 2019, 02:19 AM
    It's not a Chrome thing as such. I use Chrome, and when I cut-and-past text into the website editor I don't pick up COLOR tags.
    25 replies | 502 view(s)
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  • Nemesis Destiny's Avatar
    Friday, 14th June, 2019, 08:14 PM
    Good to know! I asked custserv if they could add my CC to my account to auto-renew my manually-granted sub, and they said 'no' and that they hoped any issues would be sorted before I needed to worry about it coming up for renewal.
    163 replies | 43540 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Friday, 14th June, 2019, 02:07 PM
    Ok, so I understand your position. So I guess I just have a few questions/thoughts: 1) Why can’t Aptitude Bias run the other direction (as so many do); overestimating the importance of a honed Skill-set or natural affinity? 2) In the last several years on these boards, we’ve seen a LOT of instances of people who are articulate, well-read, tenured GMs struggle significantly in one or both...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 14th June, 2019, 11:29 AM
    See, I've never understood this. Like I said, sure, in the early levels, say 1-3, I get it. You want to be pretty careful about not biting off more than you can chew. But, after that? Why would you avoid a fight? You were almost always guaranteed to win. The odds of losing a fight were pretty darn slight. And, even then, by 9th level, you have access to raise dead, so, big deal, you...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Friday, 14th June, 2019, 07:42 AM
    Lanefan, I'm not sure I agree with your premise. AD&D, while lethal at low levels, was not particularly dangerous at higher levels. Granted, save or die effects might have made it more dangerous, but, most save or die effects are not a result of combat - poisons, traps, that sort of thing. By the time the PC's were about 6th or 7th level, they were among the most powerful combatants in the...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 14th June, 2019, 05:38 AM
    I've mostly played RQ III, although I don't think we've ever used the Sorcery rules. Characters have a lot of colour. Resolution is generally straightforward enough. The system is set up to make combat an important aspect of play, but it also tends to produce fairly brutal results. That's probably the biggest weakness of the system.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 14th June, 2019, 05:26 AM
    If someone says "All the cheese is gone" before the dinner party, and then the next day you and a friend are debating whether or not anyone has ever thought that there's no cheese left in the world, the person who said "All the cheese is gone" doesn't count as an example of such. It's not that they said as much but didn't mean it. It's that anyone who thinks that's what they said doesn't...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 14th June, 2019, 05:21 AM
    Seriously? Let's put to one side the fact that, contra Imaro, Hriston's post was in reply to Hussar, not to him. Here is the exchange between Hussar and Hriston: Hriston is refuting an express claim that "dungeon dressing" is a literary matter simply because it's non-mechanical, and also an apparent implication that the role and significance of dungeon dressing is a matter of evocative...
    1470 replies | 40339 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 14th June, 2019, 04:55 AM
    This post makes many assumptions about how a game might work. Many games don't require "adding to the game" (eg by way of new subsystems, or new modifiers, or whatever) because they have resolution systems that are relatively straightforward to extrapolate to novel situations. I appreciate that D&D, historically, has not been such a system - it emphasises particular subsystems rather than...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Friday, 14th June, 2019, 12:56 AM
    I use the traditional colour scheme (white post text, orange button text, on black background). In the post I mentioned in the "literary endeavour" thread there are two quote blocks. The first I can read. The second is, for me, an empty quote block. When I highlight it the text appears. I assume that the text has COLOR tags around it that are making it black. In the past when posters have...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 10:26 PM
    Citing the above, I want to make sure I've captured your position before I attempt to move the conversation forward. To do so, I'm going to also cite the below from me: Is your position that I (and others) have a blind spot for the gravity of the amplification effect I cite above (or further still, that it is indeed a causal effect) because of natural ability/decades of honing the crafts...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 09:42 PM
    Heck, when I played a binder, I looked forward to making bad pacts, to the point where I'd just stop rolling and declare that I made bad pacts. It was more fun.
    77 replies | 2787 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 07:28 PM
    The former. my color scheme is default text on black background of that helps (I’m computer incompetent so that is the best I got).
    25 replies | 502 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 07:21 PM
    YOU ARE CORRECT SIR Invisible text in other thread and linked thread.
    25 replies | 502 view(s)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 07:09 PM
    The text in the bottom quote is visible to me.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 11:15 AM
    Having just re-read lowkey13's post, I think I may have misread - by "my last post" perhaps he mean "my previous post" (the next bit of the post itself is not legible for me because of some text formatting issue, but maybe it's a quote of a previous post?). I feel that reinforces my view that meta-comments (ie on the quality and formal properties of poster's posts, as opposed to what they're...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 10:05 AM
    The post you quoted is nearly 400 words, has two footnotes and an edit, and references Hemingway and Henry Miller. I'm not sure there's much profit in critiquing posting styles or trying to diagnose irony. lowkey13 has (by my count) 7 posts since posting "My last post". Is that irony? An atypical use of the word last? (Maybe we should debate the meaning of the word last, or even post - my...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 07:49 AM
    Shhhh, shhhhh, shhhh, I got pilloried for several pages for suggesting that north is the top of a map. Quiet, quiet. The map police will come and drag you into the most bizarre, meaningless conversations ever. :p
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 01:16 AM
    I think that for at least some maths teachers, who have graduated in the first instance with a qualification that emphasises skills other than verbal communication, training to teach and then working as a teacher improves their ability to speak clearly, to convey ideas well, to choose the right word for the task at hand, etc. I don't think this suffices, in and of itself, to show that teaching...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 12:43 AM
    Further: a message board is a written medium. It's not a conversation except in some rather metaphorical sense. Doubly so in my case given that most of the other posters are in a different country and different time zone from me. And further further: I would have thought it's pretty clear my now that the OP is talking about the aims/virtues or RPGing. What it's about as an aesthetic activity....
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  • Jonathan Tweet's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 06:19 PM
    Indeed Gradine is right, and I typed too quickly. I would say that violence is generally more suitable than sex, rather than either/or, one being suitable and the other not.
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 04:36 PM
    I think the fault line here is going to be if you answer “yes” to the below two questions, and pretty much all iterations possible of good/bad/mediocre on either side of the balance. I would have to answer “yes” to all of them because I neither conceive nor have I experienced anything approximating a tight (or even shabby) coupling between the two. I’m like most people; good at some...
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  • Jonathan Tweet's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 02:28 PM
    I've been thinking about this issue for almost 40 years, and this summary is pretty good. Humans find sex and violence to be interesting, and of those two pursuits violence is the one suitable to group activity, as in a roleplaying game.
    294 replies | 8055 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 07:05 AM
    I did rather like the cleric spell spheres. It made it pretty easy to make very thematic cleric classes. I MISS the binder. I would love to play that again but, that's more of a mechanics thing. Lorewise? I miss the days when D&D had virtually no lore at all and things were wide open and I didn't have to listen to canon cops bitch and whine about how this or that was changed by this or...
    77 replies | 2787 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 12:53 AM
    Man, Myth & Magic Immortals D&D PF 5e D&D DragonQuest
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 12:44 AM
    I don't quite follow this, and so am not sure what view is being attributed to me. For my answers to Manbearcat's questions, see the post immediately upthread.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 12:40 AM
    Yes. Someone can be good at plotting but poor at scripting. Someone can have good imagination for drama, conflict, story and yet be a bad writer. I would say so, yes.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 12:28 AM
    That's probably a point that generalises to all narration!
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 12:02 AM
    But of course you’re not victim blaming at all by implying that the folks here were being dishonest in their reactions. :erm: Good grief. You have a very strange definition of cruel if it’s okay in your mind to drive people away from a table because of the content (the best reaction would be to walk away) but apparently not letting someone drive people away in the first place is a bridge...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 11:08 PM
    The truly frustrating thing about these conversations is we have to spend so much time on hypothetical situations that the actual issue never gets dealt with. I mean when some guy can get staggeringly drunk, stalk a woman, assault security staff and we STILL have to debate whether it’s okay to socially sanction him, it just staggers belief. Tell you what. Go into your workplace and begin...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 08:41 PM
    I feel like there is a teeny tiny excluded middle between MAXIMUM TERSENESS (SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY) and exposition economy (while still managing the key components of dramatic device) :)
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 08:31 PM
    This is so much more entangled than I ontrmdrf. EDIT - (Lol how about INTENDED. My phone autocorrected to ontrmdrf. Makes sense). Ok, let me pose a simple question. Is it possible to be very good at conflict framing (a) and resolution (b) yet be mediocre in words usage on the journey from a to b? Is the inverse possible (poor at framing and resolution but beautiful prose/oratory)?
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 08:07 PM
    lowkey13 I think you’re more or less saying what I said in my initial post in this thread: Framing and understanding of dramatic device (arc composition and pacing, tropes) are fundamentally tethered. Insofar as they are (and they are), if one wants to fold “understanding and deftness in deployment of dramatic device” into “literary”, then we’re going to have a (self-imposed imo)...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 06:53 PM
    Couple things: 1) In the spirit of this thread, I was trying to demonstrate that the framing of the creature is hierarchically more important than the words used to depict it (though again, they matter...they’re just lower in the hierarchy). 2) If you aren’t thematically framing a “bogeyman” as a bogeyman, then it seems pretty apt to point out that the situation the PCs are confronted with...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 04:15 PM
    Just want to say a bit of a my bad. I misread part of the blog post about someone trying to gain publicity. My misread. Thanks for correcting me. I’m actually a little disappointed that the person in question would not have been identified by the con. I would think that it’s in public interest to disseminate the fact that someone was banned for bad behaviour so that others can decide if...
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  • Jonathan Tweet's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 02:28 PM
    Another factor to consider is that reliability and consistency matter a lot to whichever side has the advantage. The underdog in a fight benefits from increased randomness, while the favored group benefits from a lack of surprises. In RPGs, the PCs are almost always the favored side. A disadvantage of a single large attack compared to two small attacks is that the single attacks are more likely...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 01:41 PM
    Heh, irony is a wonderful thing. Bedrockgames is complaining that folks are rushing to judgement and we're negatively impacting this guy's life without learning the facts all the while not bothering to actually spend any time learning the facts that are IN THIS THREAD. That's a whole lot of irony right there. So, folks, the moral of the story is, actually do a bit of due diligence before...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 01:41 PM
    When I posted I wasn't thinking of DW, but since starting the thread I was reading the AW rules seriously and I think I posted somewhere upthread the passage from AW where Vincent Baker talks about the game as conversation. It's on pp 11-12: oleplaying is a conversation. You and the other players go back and forth, talking about these fictional characters in their fictional circumstances...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 12:22 PM
    Bedrockgames - did you read the blog posting that was linked? Or did you skip a bunch of pages. Because, I think that you might be missing a LOT of information here.
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 12:21 PM
    Not sure if this can be used or not, but, the 1 million square foot island might be useful: https://www.deviantart.com/zatnikotel/gallery/69418922/Island-One-Million
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 12:17 PM
    Oh, please. 1. What kind of impact is this having on the life of the GM? He can't run games at conventions? Oh, noes, the horrors and despair. Again, if I was at a job and I screwed up on this kind of level, I'd get fired from my job and I wouldn't be allowed to work at that company any more. Is that "mob mentality"? And, if it's just "Oh, well, he can't run at this con this year, but,...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 12:07 PM
    Figured I'd start a thread here to try to collect as many GoS resources as I could in one place. Here's a little something I whipped up for your players - it's the region around Saltmarsh (I'm using the default Greyhawk setting). Note, it IS oriented North to the top, which might be disturbing for some viewers. :D
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 10:55 AM
    No, what you are seeing is folks looking for the "mob mentality" and not seeing any in this case. And other folks defending the GM in question from the hypothetical mob this out to get him.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 10:47 AM
    Yes. The OP was the result of two threads that were current at the time it was posted - one about boxed text, one about narration of action declarations. In the former thread, some advocated for boxed text argued that it is important for establishing tone/mood. In the latter thread, some critics of the idea that players should narrate their action declarations based their criticisms on an...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 04:20 AM
    Your threads suck! And you're terrible! And we hate you! More stuff!
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 04:13 AM
    Fantastic idea. ((heads off to unsubscribe from the thread))
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 04:05 AM
    Let's be fair here. How much effort are you actually going to expend on a news story where a guy gets booted out of a gaming convention? Sure, they may not have the details exactly right, but, by and large, they've got the gist - guy goes way beyond the pale when running a game, players complain on Twitter, guy gets expelled from Con. That's pretty much the long and the short of the story. ...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 03:44 AM
    Maybe posters who think the thread is not worthwhile, or is overly cluttered, could cease posting in it?
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 03:41 AM
    And if the OP was The Old Man and the Sea then I might have won a Nobel Prize. If you wnnt to start a thread about spotlight-hoggin narration, go for it! It's not something that I've got much experience of, but I'm sure it's a thing. But the OP is about something else - namely, the stuff that I said in the OP and have been discussing with other psters since!
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 03:39 AM
    This isn't something I have strong views on. When I'm trying to adjudicate an action as GM, and I'm GMing a game in which the fiction has a big affect on resolution and consequences (say Buring Wheel or Traveller) then I like to have a fairly clear sense of what the character is doing, and overly complicated narration from the player can sometime hurt that. But if the players want to banter...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 03:18 AM
    In conversation I choose words depending on what I want to say - for instance, if I want to describe a building, I might choose what other building or structure to compare it to. If I want to describe how a person behaved or seemed to feel, I might say they seemed upset and then clarify that to mean (say) angry, not sad. I didn't say I choose words to convey mood or theme. I did say that my...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 07:16 PM
    No worries. If your saying that conversation with some pals while you're at dinner is different than TTRPG conversation, then sure. TTRPG conversation is structured such that it produces an evolving gamestate and the participant experience that goes with that. The former does have structure, but its more etiquette and cue-driven (so different in some ways, similar in others) and its purpose...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 03:55 PM
    I haven't been following this thread. I'm assuming the above contrast or dichotomy you're trying to draw is something essential to this thread? But if you're looking for an answer (insofar as I'm even remotely capable of inferring what you're looking for from this scant bit)...how about... Probably both? It seems to me that if a bogeyman creature of folklore with specific thematic...
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  • Manbearcat's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 03:22 PM
    So the Qallupilluit is quintessential bogeyman mythology. For bogeyman mythology to be thematically potent, it has to have some way to hook into the PC's childhood or folklore, otherwise, its just another creepy monster. So this is actually the perfect example where a GM's deftness of framing is hierarchically the apex currency in the purchase of a great gaming moment. "Your little...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 05:10 AM
    But, at that point, why not just eschew all description? After all, the player has zero idea what a githyanki is, so, Generic Monster X has just as much heft. "You enter a room with monsters" should be just as good as "You enter a room with orcs" since all the background (what I'm lumping into literary anyway) doesn't matter.
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 01:25 AM
    Why not? This take me, at least, back to some of the points Manbearcat was making fairly early in this thread. If I'm going to use a qallupilluit in my game, I will want to establish a situation which gives it some sort of heft or significance. There are very many ways of doing that (and obviously RPG system will have a significant impact, on top of system-independent techniques). In my...
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    2 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 12:49 AM
    But, that's the point. All the "literary" work has already been done for you so you can shorthand "zombie". But, as soon as you get outside of common genre stuff, you're back to having to describe it. A qallupilluit is an absolutely terrifying monster from Inuit folklore - a kind of hag that lives under the pack ice. If you drop that into your horror game for the first time, I don't think "a...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 12:47 AM
    The thread doesn't ask does, or can, RPGing have a literary aspect? It asks whether it is a literary endeavour. That is: does RPGing aim at possessing the virtues and exhibitng the qualities of literature? (Note that - because in this thread it seems to need to be repeated - something can have an aim that it does not maximally achieve. For instance, when high school students write stories they...
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    2 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 12:46 AM
    Ah, oops. Missed that part. Then fair enough, the jargon would be perfectly understandable. Like I said, two baseball fans can slide into incomprehensibility pretty quickly. OTOH, though, those two mechanics are not going to use other language (excluding jargon) to talk about the cars when plain conversation language will do. It's doubtful that "scintillating" will be used instead of "nice...
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    1 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 12:42 AM
    If the village in the Marvel game is a small, remote, sinister mountain village in (say) Latveria, then probably yes. I use the words I need to describe the situation. These will depend on mood, whim, what has previously been said, what seems to matter in the current situation, etc, as well as (obviously) upon what I want to describe. That is to say, the words I use will depend on all the...
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    1 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 12:42 AM
    Hrm, so, exactly how much evidence is needed here? We have one of the players directly contradicting the GM's story. The Con says that it investigated and found evidence of wrong doing as well as evidence that a game company might have had a hand in what was going on in order to drive publicity for their game. So, at what point is is acceptable for cons to say, "Hey, we don't want this guy...
    419 replies | 17137 view(s)
    9 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 12:37 AM
    Canaydia. They're from Canaydia. Get it right. :D
    1470 replies | 40339 view(s)
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 12:30 AM
    Having run The World's Largest Dungeon, I would love to say that all my descriptions were there first type, but, frankly, I probably mix it up. There's times when the second description comes out. But, generally, that's because there's nothing in the room and I just want the party to move on, or, I'm tired (which happens) or my brain just decides to phone it in. :D Which also happens more...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 12:19 AM
    The question I guess would be, "why"? Psychic in an X-Men game of course would be common, as it would likely be a game defined term. Like "to-hit" or "githyanki" or "humanoid" really. But, where Aldarc gets it wrong, is that we're talking about situational language that makes sense in context. Obviously there are going to be all sorts of jargon terms in any specialized and stylized...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 12:10 AM
    This is why I don't think we're as far apart as it might appear. I look at words like "intricately" and I think "literary" not "conversation" because the words "intricately carved" would almost never appear in a conversation. Aldarc above talks about a mechanic using technical language. Thing is, that's not really a conversation either. That's a mechanic imparting information to the...
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 9th June, 2019, 02:25 PM
    Popper has a (controversial) theory of what makes a claim, or perhaps a collection of claims, scientific. I'm not making a scientific claim. I'm making an aesthetic claim. So Popperian falsifiability has nothing to do with it. My claim is about the point of RPGing, what makes it a distinctive and worthwhile creative endeavour. Not far upthread Aldarc has given a pretty good account of my...
    1470 replies | 40339 view(s)
    2 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 9th June, 2019, 02:08 PM
    I don't think there are any Americans among me and my colleagues. A couple of Candians. My play group has a mix of educational levels - Year 12 through to PhDs in literary disciplines - but all can read above a 7th grade level. I have no idea whether the typical American would follow our conversations - it's never come up that I can recall - but that doesn't make them not conversation.
    1470 replies | 40339 view(s)
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  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 9th June, 2019, 02:03 PM
    This shows you misunderstand what I'm claiming. And you reiterate your disagreement with me. I've bolded it for you. I don't think the language makes it suck. I think the language as such is neither here nor there; and that working on the language - which is a common practice when aiming for literary quality - may well be an impediment. Here's another example to illustrate my point: I've...
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  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 9th June, 2019, 08:03 AM
    Sorry, you're right, they aren't unknown. But, my point being, they aren't what you'd use in conversation either. Would you actually use the words "wield" or "gaunt" in a conversation? "A gaunt man wielding a gun robbed a liquor store" is not something you will ever hear in a conversation. You certainly might hear "A thin man armed with a gun" or "carrying a gun", but "wielding"? That's...
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    1 XP
  • Hussar's Avatar
    Sunday, 9th June, 2019, 05:44 AM
    Not really. If you are using language that is above and beyond every day speech, then it's not really a conversation anymore. Not when you are specifically CHOOSING those words. Sure, Githyanki is a neologism and obviously is outside the realm of standard conversation. But, note, your description doesn't actually use that word. My point is, the words you used are very far outside the realm...
    1470 replies | 40339 view(s)
    1 XP
  • pemerton's Avatar
    Sunday, 9th June, 2019, 05:41 AM
    I don't agree that there's a consensus: I can't really tell what Maxperson thinks, but Imaro and Hussar have made claims about the need for entertaining/evocative narration that I think clearly contradict the position I asserted in the OP. But one complicating fact pertains to vocabularly: eg I wouldn't regard cadaverous as a word to describe a Githyanki as especially remarkable or...
    1470 replies | 40339 view(s)
    1 XP
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Tuesday, 21st May, 2019

  • 04:28 AM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post If there's one game where stat differences are justified, what game would that be?
    you've framed it in the context of wanting to make a game where "men are from mars" because you think that's how "things are IRL" CapnZapp didn't say that's how things are iRL. To the contrary, The point isn't to moralize or repress someone's real-life gender identity. The point is that in this world, and in particular my take on it, "men come from Mars, women come from Venus".The phrase this world referst to the imagined world of the RPG, not real life. I doubt I would play the game that CapnZapp posits. I do play RPGs which, as part of their presentation of mediaeval life, note the significance of certain gender distinctions (Burning Wheel has some lifepaths that are women only; Prince Valiant has a discussion of assumed gender roles, and how this might bear on the incorporation of women PCs into the game). I agree with the suggestion by you and steenan that what CapnZapp is looking for would probably be better achieved by having gendered lifepaths or gendered "playbooks" (to use the PbtA terminology). In a D&D-type game, this would be gendered classes. Mazes and Minotaurs is a semi-spoofy OSR-ish RPG that does this, with its women-only amazons and men-only barbarians and spearman. I have no idead how many people actually play it.

Monday, 25th February, 2019


Sunday, 18th December, 2016

  • 07:05 AM - TheCosmicKid mentioned steenan in post Multiclassing
    This reads to me like you don't like classes and like multiclassing because it makes the game less of a class based system.No. Please don't put words in my mouth. GURPS and M&M have different design goals than D&D. GURPS is trying to be the Generic Universal Role-Playing System, and M&M is trying to emulate the superhero genre. For those goals, freeform is better than a class system. Which is what I said. But one size does not fit all, and for a heroic fantasy game like D&D, a class system is an excellent design choice. What, in your words, are the advantages to a class based system?I basically agree with steenan: ease of character creation and advancement and archetypal clarity. I've already explained how multiclassing detracts from neither of those things. To steenan I would add a clear and satisfactory sense of progress over a character's career, which, again, multiclassing does not detract from -- it just means the character has two careers rather than one. I ask because I believe we see different advantages. Multiclassing does take away from what I enjoy about the class based system of 5e. If you don't like classes in the first place, isn't it better to just play a different game? It just seems like the worst of both worlds. Yes, for people who don't like class based games, multiclassing makes that game less of that so for them it will be better. But why not just make it much better for you by playing something else?Between the two of us, you're the only one who is expressing dissatisfaction with a part of the D&D rules. If you don't like multiclassing, then why not make it much better...

Saturday, 30th January, 2016

  • 04:30 PM - The Fighter-Cricket mentioned steenan in post HELP! I'm a new DM
    Just a few quick most basic tips for anyone who dons the DM cape: - Relax You are not there to entertain, but to make play possible. If you don't know something or are lost in the job of DMing, talk the other players and tell them about the situation you are in. If you feel that your game night was unsatisfactory then talk to one another what would make it more fun for everyone. - Situations not Stories You lay out certain situations (see steenan's spot-on advice) in which the PCs can interact but you don't have to create hundreds of interlocking parts of a world. (And in fact: also shouldn't.) Pro tip: Write down three NPCs (maybe three helpful or neutral ones and up to three "bad guys") that can be of importance to the next 4 hours of play (or the next session if it's longer then 4 hours). Write down one (!) motivation/trait/quirk for these NPCs. When they appear (whether it's a magical pawn shop owner, a fighting military baroness, or a dragon librarian) try to go with the flow and improvise. (There are no false ways to do it.) - Let it go Don't try to control everything in the world or the gameplay situation. Let your and the players' imagination run wild if you wish. And don't let the rules stop you too much. (If you have e.g. a great underwater fighting scene with a demonic kraken and you keep messing up rules for underwater fighting: ditch them now and if you really wish, look them up later.) One of the most ...

Friday, 30th October, 2015

  • 09:13 PM - El Mahdi mentioned steenan in post Warlord Name Poll
    ...oogleEmpMog ; @Mon @MonkeezOnFire ; @MoonSong(Kaiilurker) ; @MostlyDm ; @Mouseferatu ; @MoutonRustique; @Nemesis Destiny ; @neobolts ; @Neonchameleon ; @Nifft ; @nightspaladin ; @nomotog; @n00bdragon ; @Obryn ; @Ohillion ; @oknazevad ; @Olgar Shiverstone ; @Orlax ; @Otterscrubber ; @Pandamonium87 ; @Paraxis ; @PaulO. ; @Pauln6 ; @Pauper ; @payn; @pemerton ; @peterka99 ;@ Pickles III ; @Pickles JG ; @pkt77242 ; @pming ; @pogre; @PopeYodaI ; @Prickly ; @procproc ; @Psikerlord ; @Psikerlord# ; @(Psi)SeveredHead; @Quickleaf ; @Raith5 ; @raleel ; @Ralif Redhammer ; @Raloc ; @Ranes ; @RangerWickett; @Ratskinner ; @redrick ; @Rejuvenator ; @Remathilis ; @Ristamar ; @RolenArcher; @Roland55 ; @RPG_Tweaker ; @Rune ; @Rygar ; @Sacrosanct ; @Saelorn ; @Saeviomagy; @sailor-Moon ; @SailorNash ; @Saplatt ; @Satyrn ; @Shades of Eternity ; @shadowmane; @sheadunne ; @Shasarak ; @shidaku ; @shintashi ; @Shiroiken ; @SigmaOne ; @sleypy; @sleypy01 ; @SpiderMonkey ; @Staccat0 ; @Staffan ; @steeldragons ; @steenan @STeveC ; @strider13x ; @Strider1973 ; @Sword of Spirit ; @Talmek ; @TerraDave; @TheCosmicKid ; @The_Gneech ; @TheHobgoblin ; @The Human Target ; @the Jester; @The Mirrorball Man ; @The Myopic Sniper ; @ThirdWizard ; @Tia Nadiezja ; @Tinker-TDC; @Tonguez ; @Tony Vargas ; @Tormyr ; @TrippyHippy ; @tsadkiel ; @tuxgeo ; @twigglythe Gnome ; @TwoSix ; @Uchawi ; @Ulorian ; @UnadvisedGoose445 ; @UngeheuerLich; @Us ; @Valmarius ; @Warbringer ; @was ; @wedgeski ; @Wednesday Boy ; @Wik ; @WillDoyle ; @Winterthorn ; @Wuzzard ; @Xeviat ; @Yaarel ; @Yunru ; @Zalabim ; @Zansy; @Zardnaar ; @Zeuel ; @ZickZak ; @ZombieRoboNinja ; @ZzarkLinux

Saturday, 6th June, 2015

  • 04:29 AM - Manbearcat mentioned steenan in post Let's Talk About Metagaming!
    .... If you want to ensure the death of your enemy (story), you choose to use your shortsword that does 4d6+10 damage (rules). You use the rules to create the story. Metagaming is one step removed from gaming. When you're metagaming, you're not trying to ensure the death of your enemy (story). You're trying to do as much damage (rules) possible, and using your 4d6+10 weapon (rules) to do it. It's a subtle difference, so I'll boil it down a little bit (a lot?): Gaming is using rules to make a story. Metagaming is using rules to affect other rules. I have to admit, I'm struggling to find the distinction that you're making here between Gaming and Metagaming. I think what you might be aiming to imply is that Metagaming is "using rules to affect other rules with disregard for the (perhaps aberrant) fiction that is created (hence genre/trope-incoherent story emerges)." Is that what you're meaning? If it is then we've completed the circle and we're back to LostSoul's and steenan's well-constructed points above (and pemerton and my own). If the system incentivizes PC build choices that produce genre/trope-incoherency or aberrant fiction, then the blame needs to be placed on the system...not on the players.

Thursday, 4th June, 2015

  • 01:02 PM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post Let's Talk About Metagaming!
    I think you'd be hard-pressed to find game rules that don't correlate to anything in-game. Metagaming, then, isn't about what has an in-game correlation; it's about intent. If your intent is to impale a foe, you're not going to hop off a charging horse with your lance to do it. <snip> Let's not chastise players. But let's hold them accountable when their metagaming causes other players to see the table, dice, and rulebooks, instead of the battlements, sunset, and flaming arrows.I don't really follow; and I see LostSoul's post as making a pretty similar point to mine. If the rules of the game make a PC more likely to impale an enemy by attacking on foot rather than mounted, then what is wrong with the player having his/her PC attack on foot? Conversely, if we want the players to have their PCs act as if attacking on horseback is a better way to impale, why don't we make the game rules reflect this? EDIT: I hadn't read post 16 yet. steenan makes the same point too. A well-designed game shouldn't give rise to conflicts between fiction and mechanics.

Tuesday, 17th March, 2015

  • 01:47 AM - Neonchameleon mentioned steenan in post I suck at DMing. Can anyone help?
    ...most any acceptable PCs in and they will in theory come out the same way. So. I'm going to make three suggestions. The first is a book of guidance. Play Unsafe which is basically what we can learn about stories from improv drama. It's going to be a completely different way of looking at things from the one I think you have - but a really useful one. The second is Fiasco - an RPG made by boiling down the Five Act Structure into a mechanical system and playing from there, You can use it to write a Cohen Brothers movie in the time it takes to watch one - and it really teaches about relationship maps, the five act structure, and tilts. To see how it works watch the Tabletop playthrough - and remember that that's a good playthrough but not an outstanding one. The third is a new RPG - Apocalypse World. (If you've got a group for it then Monsterhearts can be even better, but I doubt you have the right group). Apocalypse World is the non-D&D parent game of Dungeon World (mentioned by steenan), and it flows quite a lot better. It also has two real things that DW (and for that matter D&D) doesn't. First is PC investment in the setting during character creation; D&D (and DW) has you create PCs as near islands; AW character creation and character classes represent your place in the world from the local boss (the Hardholder), the local gang leader (the Chopper) to someone trying to get by (the Operator) or even a lethal drifter (the Gunlugger). Second is the narrative dynamite. PCs don't just get more skilled as they gain experience, they also change even to the point of changing Playbooks/Class. This can be obvious career development (e.g. Chopper->Hardholder as the gang leader takes over), a reversal (e.g. Gunlugger -> Angel (Medic)), or just something that kinda happened in play and looks like a really interesting direction for the character (e.g. Operator -> Hocus as one of the Operator's schemes involves them founding a cult and their cult becomes their defining drive). Al...

Sunday, 21st December, 2014

  • 06:04 PM - Manbearcat mentioned steenan in post How to design a game where players don't seek to min-max
    Great post steenan . Its a pity that it hasn't gotten more traction with/commentary from other posters in this thread. Unsurprisingly, I agree. Players will always min-max, no matter what you do. You can only try to make it a suboptimal choice by making the game as varied as possible instead of a primarily combat game which seems what you are designing now or by minimizing the direct influence players have during character creation like with career based character creation seen in Traveller. This isn't always true. While it is true that a great many systems do line up classic TTRPG incentives (win/achieve your primary goals and you progress/advance your character) to create a feedback loop that rewards min/maxing, that isn't the only primary goal:xp paradigm out there. You can make character progress/advancement either outright at tension with or orthogonal to "winning". This creates a dynamic where "winning" is irrelevant to or outright adverse toward character progression. Obviously, th...

Sunday, 14th December, 2014

  • 04:35 PM - D'karr mentioned steenan in post Saves and 4th Edition and Jim Darkmagic *SPOILERS*
    4e has several mechanisms within the base framework that can be used/modified to act like some of these desired effects. For example I've used the Disease Track to evoke the feel of short term and long term injuries. Something similar could be done to evoke the feel for a long term domination/charm, similar to Saruman's hold on King Theodred of Rohann. But I agree with steenan that these should be used as part of a "high stakes game" in which the player is interested in playing out the effect, not as simple save or suck effects. I would have really liked to have seen WotC put out a book like Unearthed Arcana with variant things like this.

Friday, 12th September, 2014

  • 12:36 PM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post It needs to be more of a sandbox than a railroad?
    ...So I did provide something interactive for the players, drawing on the material provided by the module. But, contrary to the paragraph from mcbobbo in the middle of the quotes, the players didn't have to take their PCs into the caves. All of us (players and GM) followed the adventure where it led. Either your DM allows for you to leave the area and ignore Giants/Temple (playing a sandbox campaign) or forces the issue (railroads the campaign)Similar to my discussion with Quickleaf, I think it misdescribes the range of options to treat sandbox and railroad as two extremes on a spectrum. There are other approaches. For instance, if the GM describes the Keep being under attack by hobgoblins from the Caves, then that is "forcing the issue", but - provided the GM is actually framing the PCs into a situation of interest to the players - then they are not just going to have their PCs leave the area. But this goes back to the issue of D&D adventure design, raised upthread by Yora and steenan. D&D modules have a tendency to be very weak when it comes to the situation. So instead of suggestions for forcing the issue by dropping the players into the action ("You are in the Keep when hobgoblins assault it - how do you react?"), they tend to either set out a rather static situation (static, at least, as far as the PCs are concerned - eg KotB, GDQ, etc) or else set up a "hook" which the PCs have to follow if the adventure is to go anywhere at all (countless examples could be given, but Dead Gods and Expedition to the Demonweb Pits are two that come straight to mind). That's one reason why I'm fairly choosy with the modules that I use. A railroad gives that emotional narrative and provides a strong direction, but sacrifices player agency. With more active or critical players it can lead to moments without a strong sense of motivation and a sort of "why do I care?" attitude.I think the tension in this paragraph brings out my own objections to railroading - they purport to g...

Monday, 9th June, 2014

  • 03:41 AM - dd.stevenson mentioned steenan in post Old School Exploration in 5E: A Dungeon World Hack
    Inspired by the feedback from steenan and DMMike , I've rewritten most of the questions--hopefully in a way that will be more appealing to players. I've also attempted to clarify what these skills grant during ordinary gameplay without spending an HD. Naturally, I'd love to hear any and all comments on these rewritten skills.

Friday, 28th February, 2014

  • 09:51 PM - Neonchameleon mentioned steenan in post Things to do in a tabletop rpg that are not combat related?
    I am wondering if my group is just hack'n'slash. We have 6 players, could maybe be 7. 2 are power players, 1 likes sandbox, 1 doesn't really care to much and like 2-3 of us kind of prefer RP'ing rather than crunching numbers. Find a different game than D&D I'd suggest. D&D is very combat heavy - find something that gives as much weight to non-combat solutions as it does to combat ones. It's what the rules point you at; they give more weight to combat than anything else except spellcasting (and that mostly for combat). steenan's already suggested Fate Core, Smallville, and Mouse Guard. To that I'd add Apocalypse World, Leverage, Hillfolk, Nobilis, and Fiasco. Monsterhearts if you feel up to it (many won't, for good reason). 2. What are some things you can do in a table top RPG that are not combat related? Like I've read you can have PC's goto a tournament. Do they compete? What can they compete in? Hmm... just current experiences for me. Last night in my Firefly game, (not linked because this is the playtest version) the PCs were in a cheat-like-there's-no-tomorrow boat race. Which included trying to drive their boat, trying to keep it afloat, trying to investigate the other crews to work out how they would cheat, trying to shame the race organiser into giving them their winnings, and above all trying to stay afloat in the boat race enough to win - which included when they were sinking and the only boat in front of them had no engines, driving their boat up the other one's back and using its bouya...

Tuesday, 25th February, 2014

  • 05:41 PM - Cadence mentioned steenan in post 4e/13thA immersion question and 5e/13thA DoaM question
    Thanks for all the suggestions! @(Psi)SeveredHead for asking about the surroundings and looking for the coolest move @steenan for thinking about whether some powers focus a lot more on the system than the story @Dragonblade for suggesting to think about how each power should play out for the character @TheFindus for focussing on what the character would do in the situation @Dungeoneer for avoiding analysis paralis by trying to simplify some things in the build @Balesir for thinking about what I want to achieve and then grabbing a power that helps that, instead of the other way around Next game is tonight. One of the other players suggested printing out the various spells and powers (index card size) instead of literally having them on a big list. I'm hoping that having them sorted into thematic piles will make it easier to follow the suggestion to think about what I want to do, and then grabbing the action that enables it. (Seems obvious thinking about the power cards in 4e, but something I'd never used in the editions I've played more). Since a bunch of the domain powers are buffy/quick actions, I...

Monday, 24th February, 2014

  • 03:47 AM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post My happiness or yours.
    I don't get this whole "my turn" thing. And agree with steenan, the Jester and others: buy and play games you enjoy, don't buy and don't play games you don't enjoy. If you are compromising in playing a game with friends that is not your favourite, well that's not the publisher's problem. It seems to be a result of friends having different tastes. Most of us have worked out ways to deal with this, from choosing pizza to choosing movies to choosing games. For WotC it is a commercial problem - how to maximise their market uptake - but I can't see that it has any moral dimension. No one has an entitlement that a commercial publisher deploy its resources to make a game well-suited to them. Heck, design your own game and then invite your friends to play it with you! (I think there are some posters on these boards who have done just that.)

Thursday, 23rd January, 2014

  • 01:13 AM - pemerton mentioned steenan in post Do alignments improve the gaming experience?
    ... correctly up until the point where you have 3 hit points left, an unscathed giant is bearing down on a mother and her child and you think... sacrificing myself in a hopeless situation isn't REALLY about commitment or duty... it's just senseless stupidity... and so you decide to hide or run as the mother and child are killedThese characterisations of "advantage", or of "temptating the player of the paladin to have his/her PC act expediently rather than honourably", seem to me to make a whole lot of assumptions about both mechanics and playstyle. The mechanical assumptions are that the paladin player will be more mechanically effective when making attacks that are sneaky rather than honourable. That is not true across all RPGs, and not even true across all versions of D&D - for instance, it is not really true in 4e, where the paladin's powers are designed so as to mechanically support the play of an honourable warrior. (This is 4e's approximation to the sort of approach suggested by steenan upthread.) The playstyle assumption is that the GM is not adjudicating in a "fail forward" style, and hence that, unless the PC achieves immediate victory in the confrontation, the player will have "lost" the game. Once you change that assumption, the player does not need to worry that if s/he compromises her conception of the PC's values, s/he will lose the game (eg by having his/her PC die and hence his/her participation in the campaign terminated). I don't understand whether this is a rebuttal to the quote you posted or simply a development of an interesting point about gaming and philosophy in general (or both!). Who says the mindset of the Paladin is that the universe is on the side of good?This actually relates to the issue about weaknesses and advantages. There is a moral/cosmological tradition - found in Plato, and also in a number of mainstream religions - that the good person cannot suffer. If this is true, then the paladin who succumbs to expedience is not gettin...

Tuesday, 21st January, 2014

  • 12:02 AM - Manbearcat mentioned steenan in post Do alignments improve the gaming experience?
    ...D&D. I don't know the Dungeon World version of this, but it is similar to Beliefs in Burning Wheel, or to Milestones in Marvel Heroic RP. In these approaches, it is generally accepted (I think) that the player has primary authority over deciding when the trigger has been meant: ie provided the player makes it clear in play that in (say) forcefully suppressing the testimony of the farmer who is being stalked by the werewolf s/he is doing so in order to stop a village-wide panic, s/he gets the benefit of the LN trigger. The GM's role is simply to judge player sincerity as part of overall game management, not to second-guess whether or not the farmer really is innocent, nor whether or not preventing a village-wide panci is really a social benefit. Hence these approaches don't exhibit the features that I am critical of in relation to traditional mechanical alignment, of requiring the player to subordinate his/her evaluative framework to that of the GM. Right on the money (and good post steenan). steenan's post is very much like Beliefs in Burning Wheel and Milestones in Marvel Heroic RP (first thing I thought of), and to a lesser extent, like Dungeon World (and I agree with steenan that the feedback in Dungeon World is less provocative). The facets of such a system are very different than classic alignment in D&D. You have: - Transparent, codified, non-negotiable trigger mechanism requiring no real adjudication. - Immediate, positive mechanical feedback. It produces a very different sort of play than what classic D&D alignment produces. Further, I would say that it functionally, in play, fulfills the promise that D&D alignment promised (tight thematic play that challenges on an ethical/moral basis and allows those answers to emerge in play) whereas D&D alignment so often has sown dysfunction and angst at the tables I have overseen. I say that as a GM with a considerable background in philosophy and ethics and a very stringent moral compass throughout my life. Regard...

Tuesday, 10th December, 2013

  • 01:38 AM - Trit One-Ear mentioned steenan in post Player Preference Survey
    This is some solid advice. If I were starting a game from scratch, I would probably do more of what steenan and Quickleaf are suggesting. We've luckily played together on and off for a year now, so we have a decent idea of how we like to play together (or at least, I hope we do). That being said, I'm definitely going to take some of these questions and thoughts and inject them into my original survey. I like el_stiko's way of giving the heroes two clear options to decide between, but I'm wary of making players who like a mix of play give me a polarized opinion. His 1-5 rating is more helpful for me as a GM to deduce where my player like to spend the most of their time. I'm sure I will get varying responses from my group (composed of multiple age groups, experience, gender and of course personalities). By counting up which responses get the highest number however, I can take a general reading for the group as a whole. Will this mean I'm crafting the "perfect" game for everyone? Extremely doubtful. But I can at least give player A enough hack-and-slash while balancing that with player B's lov...

Monday, 9th December, 2013

  • 02:49 PM - DMMike mentioned steenan in post Top 8 Monsters and Spells!
    steenan: those sounds awesome! What the heck are they? Let's start a list... Monsters (level): Kenku (1), Kobold (1), Goblin (1), Skeleton (1) Kuo-Toa (2), Rot Grub (2), Lizardfolk (Reptillans?) (2), Zombie, Human (2) Werewolves (3), Doppelganger (3), Bugbear (3), Ghoul (3), Ogre (3), Dire Wolf (3) Minotaurs (4), Gargoyle (4), Flock of carnivorous butterflies (swarm) (4), Chocobo (4) Werebear (5), Gray Render (5), Basilisk (5), Slime/Ooze (5), Mind Flayer/Cthulhu acolyte (5) Will o' Wisp (6), Vampire, Dwarf (6) Aboleth (7) Dragon (10) Demon (from between the stars) (92) Lich (just a vampire who hasn't been keeping up his appearance) Quasar Dragon (no idea) Consider levels (and several of the above are arbitrary) to mean "general danger level." And if you have an interesting twist to put on some of the simpler ones (kobold?), chime in!

Monday, 4th November, 2013



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Monday, 17th June, 2019

  • 06:17 PM - doctorbadwolf quoted steenan in post What Would You Want From A Game About Defenders of The Faithful?
    Your characterization screams "Dogs in the Vineyard" to me. It's a great game because, despite being about defenders of faith and faithful and containing supernatural evil, it's not a game of "us versus them". You have the rules of faith. Then you get faced with situations that are much more complicated. It's obvious that there is sin, that the demons are at work. But telling the good from evil is your job and there is no "correct" answer. There is no "right" judgement, known to the GM, that you need to figure out. You judge and you take the responsibility for it. It's a great game about faith and morality in part because it has no rules for faith and morality. Instead it has rules that force players to think about what faith really means to them, what is moral and what is not. If you haven't played it, you definitely should. ;) Definately not what I’m looking for in this context, but I’ll check it out.

Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019

  • 04:36 AM - Ratskinner quoted steenan in post Why the hate for complexity?
    That's definitely not the case with Capes. The flow of play in Capes is very structured. It's clear who makes each decision, who narrates each part and what exactly is resolved by dice. What is, in traditional games, the responsibility of GM, in Capes is not only distributed between players but also moves from one player to another during play. Each player in turn sets a scene. Within a scene, each player may use their action to define a stake that must be resolved and it's typically other players who select sides on given issue (which allows them to narrate its resolution). It's impossible to be a "backseat GM" without clearly violating the rules of the game. Capes is near-miraculous, IMO. Totally changed my perspective on what story/role-playing games could be: clearly-structured Conflict Resolution, insanely fast character creation including drives, as well as the power and speed of completely abandoning Simulationism. I've often wished for a "Second edition" that had the rules more...

Sunday, 31st March, 2019

  • 12:46 PM - pemerton quoted steenan in post How to deal with death in RPG?
    In my opinion, if death isn't a possibility in your campaign, this undermines the stakes and severely undermines the threat of your monsters. The moment the players notice that you are jumping through hoops to keep them alive, you lose a lot of the suspense.This is a General RPG thread. So I don't think there can be any assumption that the only "loss condition", even in combat, is death. The three FRPGs I've GMed most recently are Cortex+ Heroic, Prince Valiant and The Dying Earth. The former two don't involve death as a serious threat. The third I only GMed today, and I didn't have to remind myself of its health/death rules because there was very little fighting in the game, and no successful attacks. In Prince Valiant, the most common form of fighting is jousting between knights, and the stakes are losing (or gaining) warhorses, arms and armour, as well as status/dignity. And these are some of the most dramatic fights I've GMed! It's just a matter of the game following a consistent...
  • 11:16 AM - Imaculata quoted steenan in post How to deal with death in RPG?
    If character arcs and character development are an important part of the game then the game shouldn't have random character death. Death in D&D is almost always going to be random. You don't pick which fight you lose, and neither should the DM. There may be a few cases where a player decides to sacrifice himself for his party, but quite often you don't get to choose the moment and manner of your character's death, no matter how focused the game is on character development. On the other hand, if the game is about deadly danger then it should kill PCs and should make it explicit that they are not expected to last. To be consistent, such a game should not push players towards character development arcs nor hide interesting abilities behind mechanical advancement. This seems very odd to me. I would think that the more the players care about their characters, the more real the threat of death is. It is especially those characters who have had a lot of character development, whose death ...

Thursday, 21st March, 2019

  • 11:16 PM - Staffan quoted steenan in post Why the hate for complexity?
    Complexity is always a cost. It requires mental effort and time spent handling it during play. That's a good point. I read a similar discussion over on the Paizo forums, where someone said something like "Complexity is the currency with which you buy depth," and I thought it was a great analogy. It's very hard to have (mechanical) depth without complexity. You need the complexity to get the depth. But the complexity has to be spent carefully, where you get the most bang for your metaphorical buck. This is probably different for different games - a game about playing wizards can get away with tons of info on magic - summoning, research, magic languages and having those have different uses, and so on. But when the wizard is one character type among many, you don't need that much magic stuff. And different people have different tolerances for complexity - and that tolerance may change over time. I sure know mine has - I used to love getting into the nitty-gritty stuff of 3e/Pathfinder, b...

Wednesday, 20th March, 2019

  • 10:30 PM - Sword of Spirit quoted steenan in post Why the hate for complexity?
    Complexity is always a cost. It requires mental effort and time spent handling it during play. This, in itself, does not make complexity bad. It makes it a budget. The question is, how well it is spent. How much value does the game offer in exchange for the complexity? Or, in other words, how well do the complex rules support and direct the process of play, compared to what simpler ones would do? Unfortunately, RPGs tend to waste their complexity budget. We still have to learn what creators of board and card games already did - how to get the most return in exchange for the least amount of complexity. In a lot of cases, rules are made complex in the name of "realism" or "simulation" that really isn't. They replace common sense with processes that produce absurd results and need to be moderated by the GM to work, thus turning their supposed gain into a loss. In a similar way, offering a lot of options that are wildly unbalanced wastes complexity, as many of them will never be used (or...

Monday, 25th February, 2019

  • 02:14 AM - Maxperson quoted steenan in post Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?
    It has a lot in common with Stanford Prison Experiment. Nearly all traditional games game the GM a lot of authority and power, without anything to keep it in check. A GM had nearly total control over in-game events, could change or ignore the rules, could reward and punish players. In such setup, one doesn't have to be a jerk initially to become one in the context of the game. Friendly and well socialized people can become very toxic GMs while still behaving well outside of the context of a game. While this approach is rarer in modern games - they often clearly define agendas and areas of responsibility - it's still treated as a default by a lot of groups, as can easily be seen on most RPG boards. Until this changes, we'll keep creating jerk GMs. The loss of players keeps it in check for most people. It isn't much fun to DM a solo game with no players, so DMs do feel pressure back from the players to not be a jerks about their position.

Sunday, 17th February, 2019

  • 02:37 PM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Rules Light Games: Examples and Definitions
    I call a game "rules light" if I can run it for players new to the game and they have all the information they need on their character sheets and single page cheat sheet. No need to browse books during character creation or during play, no need for me to handle the mechanics because it takes too long to understand it. Traveller started out pretty rules light and then supplements came.I'm a big fan of Classic Traveller and have recently been playing it a fair bit (a report of today's session is here). But I don't think it reasonably counts as rules light. Character creation can be reasonably quick and quite colourful, and the skill names generally give you a sense of what your PC can do. But the game has a lot of subsystems (for intersteller travel; for using vacc-suits; for vehicular travel; for landing small craft in inclement weather; for combat, both melee and ranged; for ship combat; for making repairs to a ship during combat; etc, etc). In our play I'm finding that, as referee, I'm c...

Saturday, 19th January, 2019

  • 03:56 AM - Shasarak quoted steenan in post Worlds of Design: How "Precise" Should RPG Rules Be?
    It may also be both strict and detailed, like D&D4 or Burning Wheel - such games work great when everybody knows the rules and engages them fully, but very poorly when played casually. I found that the Pathfinder 2 playtest was very much like this, full of strictly detailed jargon that works great if you can understand what is going on but man was a real pain to groke at the start.
  • 01:40 AM - dave2008 quoted steenan in post Worlds of Design: How "Precise" Should RPG Rules Be?
    I think it's important to notice that there are two different axes that ... 5e as three actually: handaxe, battleaxe, and greataxe ;)

Friday, 13th January, 2017

  • 07:35 PM - MonkeyWrench quoted steenan in post What happened to the punk aesthetic in D&D?
    So, it's not that people are not creating their own material. They just do it using different games and typically write on different boards. ;) This is very true. The DIY attitude is alive and well in the OSR and the games that have spun off from it.

Sunday, 8th January, 2017

  • 04:16 PM - knasser quoted steenan in post Explain to me again, how we know the Earth to be banana shaped.
    Observing that Earth is round is simpler. Choose two points, preferably on the same meridian (for ease of calculations). Measure how high above the horizon the Sun is at noon in each od them. From the difference between the angles and the distance between measurement points you can calculate the Earth's radius with not much trouble (it's distance/angle, with angle in radians). This kind of measurement has been performed successfully in ancient times, by Eratosthenes, IIRC. Thank you also. I guess I can't really do a flat earth because for the sun to rise and set in anything like our own world, the flat world would have to be very small, I guess. I mean, assuming the sun goes round the world.

Friday, 6th January, 2017

  • 10:49 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Twist. Just DM enjoyment or OK for Players?
    ...e twist fits the social contract and metagame conventions of the campaign. For example, in most games I run, the story is strongly player-driven. When I create NPCs for players to encounter, I make no assumptions on whether players will like them or not, if players will trust them and what will come of their interactions. And players know about it. NPCs have their beliefs and motivations and it's not that rare that a genuinely moral person is opposed to PCs for some reason. But in a quest-driven game, there is a metagame convention that quests are accepted. If players become distrusting and refuse to accept quests (or haggle too much on rewards, or demand explanations why the patron does not handle the matter themselves, or ...), the game grinds to halt. The group, for metagame reasons (fun play) ignores this kind of concerns and skips to the quest itself. So if a patron betrays the party, it's not only an NPC abusing PCs' trust. It's also the GM abusing the social contract.I think steenan's analysis of the dynamics of this in a "quest-giver" game, where the job of the players is to "follow the story", is a very good one. My suggestions in my previous post are intended to straddle the two different sorts of approach - by avoiding having the quest-giver be the villain, and by locating the twist in a different NPC.
  • 08:21 AM - 77IM quoted steenan in post Twist. Just DM enjoyment or OK for Players?
    There are two important things about twists to be taken into account. One of them is foreshadowing. Events that seem meaningful but their full meaning in unclear until the twist is revealed - and then everything falls into place. Foreshadowing ensures that the twist does not come out of the blue. When it happens, players think "Why haven't we realized it earlier? It should be obvious from the facts we knew!". And maybe they do realize it earlier. In this case, the GM should accept it, without trying to change things behind the scenes and take the well deserved success from players. A twist well foreshadowed is like a good detective story - fun whether the reader deduces the solution or not (getting the "I should have noticed that" moment). The other aspect is how the twist fits the social contract and metagame conventions of the campaign. For example, in most games I run, the story is strongly player-driven. When I create NPCs for players to encounter, I make no assumptions on whether pl...

Thursday, 5th January, 2017

  • 12:53 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    On the other hand, a world that runs on "realistic" logic makes it easier for players to make predictions and exploit the way the setting works. While it's possible in fairy-tale logic too, the world behaving like our one (plus magic, monsters etc. and their implications) allows players to use scientific reasoning within the game, and that gives them a powerful tool.Depending heavily on how adjudication and resolution work in that system. To go back to @I'm A Bananna's example, for instance - in one sense being able to defeat the elves by burning their crops may be a powerful tool, but how does burning the fields get adjudicated in the game? In high level D&D a Firestorm-type spell answers that question, but what if the PCs are low or mid-level and trying to do it with flint, tinder and torches?

Wednesday, 4th January, 2017

  • 06:49 PM - Tony Vargas quoted steenan in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    I don't think either one is more valid or inherently preferable for D&D than the other, and you often need a mix of both in a single campaign, just as JRRT mixed them both in his works. Nod. Like most "there are two kinds of..." saws (or three kinds in the case of GNS). At its best, combining the two can get you something like the literary genre of "magical realism." There are dangers, though... D&D, since it has mechanics, can easily fall into a mostly-'naturalistic' (or deterministic, or simulationist, I suppose) rut that sucks the fantasy/fairy-tale/mythic feel right out of it, elevating the mechanical details of the rules system to a sort of de-facto set of laws of physics that dictate the nature and development of the world and characters. Mixing the realistic and fantastic can also result in a double-standard in which some game elements are mundane and marginalized while others are miraculous and run the show. In a fantasy game grounded in realism, all the PCs have to be in about...
  • 01:27 AM - pemerton quoted steenan in post Fairy tale logic vs naturalism in fantasy RPGing
    Thanks all for replies/posts. I've picked out a few to respond to that struck some particular chord in relation to the ideas that prompoted my OP. I don't know if the question here is "how to rationalize it", really. It's more of a question of "Does it help the game to rationalize fantasy?" Should you, as a DM, have answers ready if your players want to find the "man behind the curtain", as it were? Or should your players have an expectation that such systems exist at all? Assuming your players do go looking for explanations, my go-to rationale is extraplanar activity. D&D players are pretty conditioned to accept weird stuff from other dimensions as a reason for situations not working the way they normally do. This is indeed something I typically do not like featuring in our stories, unless we're playing old-school dungeon crawls, but even in that case I avoid ecology-based monster and prefer undead, golems/elementals, outsiders etc.I think it's not a coincidence, relative to my...

Monday, 26th December, 2016

  • 10:16 PM - quoted steenan in post DMs, Do you allow your group(s) to play Evil PCs and/or parties, & why?
    ... to preserve their ethics, even if that makes it harder to achieve their goals. Now mind you I like playing paladins. Really do. I like being the good guy, always have. But I like the idea that my character makes a conscious choice to do the right thing. Sometimes playing a paladin is just too easy and it makes the character flat and two-dimensional. They never really make any real decisions, their codes and alignments and religions have it all laid out for them where they should step and when they should take that step. Further: selfish motivations can be some of the best motivations. And really, I don't even see how a person would use questionable methods if they weren't selfish. You use questionable tactics for the simple reason that it is a faster way to achieve your goals. Maybe your goals are to help the poor, but if you think the best way to do that is to kill the bourgeoisie, that's a selfish decision. You have decided that your goals trump other people's lives. @steenan if your players are never selfish, I don't see how they could ever use questionable tactics. I will add though, it's one thing I've like that 5E and other systems have codified: that "ideals" (bonds/flaws, etc...) are something that should go down on your character sheet for the GM to reference right along with your attack mods and class levels. Even if your only goal is to get rich and retire young, that's a goal I can work with to put you in some interesting situations.

Friday, 23rd December, 2016

  • 11:56 PM - Lanefan quoted steenan in post DMs, Do you allow your group(s) to play Evil PCs and/or parties, & why?
    Anything goes around here. As DM, if the party want to spend all session pranking each other or whatever...even killing each other, if it comes to that...I'm cool with it; I can sit back and have a beer. :) The only rule is that it stays in character: Eldrahon arguing with Tamarrik is fine, John arguing with Cindy is not. And while the party's busy arguing the opponents are busy doing whatever they're doing that the party was supposed to be preventing... Long-term experience tells me that in any party there's always going to be a run - usually early on - where they want to do each other in, after which it (mostly) settles down. As player, any game where I was forced to play altruistic or heroic characters all the time would lose me pretty fast, as would this: I run campaigns for PCs that are idealistic. They may have bad tempers, they may use questionable methods sometimes, but they can't be focused on selfish motivations (eg. money).As the player who invented the alignment "Neutral Gree...

Tuesday, 20th December, 2016

  • 09:30 AM - Sorcerers Apprentice quoted steenan in post A simple questions for Power Gamers, Optimizers, and Min-Maxers.
    It is only a problem when the group uses a ruleset that doesn't fit their style. Using a system that rewards build optimization and then not optimizing and complaining that someone optimizes is like using screwdrivers to drive nails and get offended when someone uses it to drive a screw instead. If the group is not interested in playing the optimization game, there's a lot of systems that cater to this. The game systems that have the most potential for optimization are often the ones that are not designed with optimization in mind, since those tend to have balance holes big enough to drive a truck through. The only systems that are close to impossible to optimize in are extremely rules-light and narrative-centered, but if you want to play a system with detailed rules then it will invariably have tools for optimizers to work with.


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