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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:17 PM
    Sure. But they were guidelines, and even if I was inclined to rigidly follow someone else's guidelines, it's trivial matter to show that two groups of 13 encounters with the same encounter levels have vastly different difficulties. Likewise, not even published modules rigidly adhered to those guidelines. More to t he point, if you read the 1e DMG, while Gygax doesn't give as detailed of...
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    Yesterday, 03:56 PM
    And both in practice could fail to provide player agency depending on the techniques that the game's moderator/referee/secret keeper/story teller employed to shift agency back to themselves. And that means that we have to look beyond just the systems that the game's rules put in place, but at the games actual processes of play. In practice, I think 'System 1' will be harder to railroad,...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 02:59 PM
    Yes. But I also remember how unreliable those guidelines were, how hard they could be to interpret in practice, and that they were guidelines.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 02:57 PM
    I have no stake in this "how many players is the right number of players" side discussion, and by quoting you I'm not at all asserting that you are being particularly or especially ridiculous compared to some of the other things that have been claimed. But, the whole argument strikes me as ridiculous, and this sort of claim just seems well beneath the logic and insight you'd normally bring to a...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 02:51 PM
    Nor is it merely a preference and subjective just because you claim it is so. Even the very definition of role-playing suggests a strong and natural connection between acting and the act of role-playing: "the acting out of the part of a particular person or character, for example as a technique in training or psychotherapy" To suggest therefore that this connection is therefore only a...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 02:33 PM
    This not at all my experience. ''Ease" or "difficulty" is entirely a matter of the DM. I can make a killer dungeon in any edition. I can run through a stack of photocopied character sheets in any edition. It's not particularly hard in any edition to make the game difficult. So I'm having a hard time understanding how you can judge which edition was easier. Is poison less immediately a...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 01:49 AM
    You are stating that as if it was an objective fact. I at least have an argument for why it isn't. I could make further ones.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 09:34 PM
    ParanoydStyle: I don't agree with all you have to say, but I would subscribe to your newsletter.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 09:15 PM
    Yes, that's pretty much the essence of it. So, here comes the stickler. I'm not really interested in arguing the qualitative. I'm arguing for essentially the quantitative. In other words, whether or not the DM is roleplaying isn't really an interesting contention. While I might agree that there is some diminishing point at which the GM is not roleplaying at all, that's not to me the...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 08:20 PM
    I think that there probably is an objective difference. I could easily write a computer program to adjudicate, in the same way you could write a program to play chess and determine what was or wasn't a valid move. But I don't think I could so easily write a computer program to author. And if I could write a program which engaged in authoring, it would be at least quantitatively different than...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 07:23 PM
    We're in full agreement on stirges.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 07:15 PM
    A lot of people don't. You'll note, I don't either. What I actually believe is something much more controversial. I think "I try to intimidate the guard" replaces actual roleplaying, and that social mechanics are a problem only to the extent that they encourage these anti-cinematic social propositions. If your RP/social encounter tends to replace conversation with rules...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 05:49 PM
    Your example assumes that the players know OOG that rot grubs exist and have some idea what to do about them because they've read the entry, and that the party is of sufficient level that some solution is available and non-lethal. In too many cases, they are just whoops, "Die. No save.", and in the rest of the cases they get rather old fast. At least they usually have a period of time where...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 03:57 PM
    Only if there isn't a high level cleric on hand with a selection of Slow Poison and Neutralize Poison effects. Slow Poison can return a PC to life with no ill-effects, no resurrection failure chance, no lost CON, even if they fail a save or die poison effect that has an instantaneous result. Keoghtum's ointment along with a high level cleric renders most poison a non-issue, as your little...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 03:03 PM
    Depending on the style of treasure allocation, XP from combat tended to be between 1/3rd and 1/10th as much as the XP from treasure. The question I have for that statement is, "Is relying on Save or Die or Energy Drains to challenge PCs fun?" The problem started in 1e Unearthed Arcana. Fighters post UA were dishing about twice as much damage at a given level as the game had been...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 02:28 PM
    Doing this in a concrete way requires a bit of preparation of the sort people generally don't do. You have to define the Duke as a social character. The 'Seven Sentence NPC' article in Dragon #184 is still in my opinion the definitive starting place for this. You then need to define the basics of the social challenge, essentially setting the Difficulty, the various obvious modifiers that...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 01:00 AM
    I'm not sure that there is a "right" answer (that is, there is probably more than one good way to do things), but I do think that there are wrong answers. In any event, assuming that both of those are right answers, I think that they are also a false dichotomy. It's not true that either everything is determined by DM fiat or else RP is just a mechanic. There are definitely ways to both...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 17th June, 2019, 11:36 PM
    More to the point, they tend to be less engaging than the social interaction that they are simulating. By the argument that I outlined above, the more detailed the social interaction rules, the less engaging that they will tend to be because the less they will resemble the thing that they are a model for. I can foresee this becoming Celebrim's Third Law of RPGs at some point, I just haven't...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 17th June, 2019, 08:47 PM
    My suspicion is that it is because gamers tend to prefer the least abstract experience of the scenario possible (or at least that is convenient). For combat, the least abstract thing to do would be dress up in armor, take up some sort of sparring weapon, and play out the combat. This is exciting visceral and only slightly abstract and many people do it, yet it is not particularly convenient...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Sunday, 16th June, 2019, 11:57 PM
    Yes, but I am postulating that modern society successfully conditions the majority of person to abhor actual violence through a variety of mechanisms, both subtle and overt. Thus, it is necessary to uncondition new recruits if they are from modern society. However, there is a lot of highly politicized research into this and because it appears to be agenda driven, I take with a grain of...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 06:13 PM
    Feeling bad about killing is a heavily conditioned response, and so far as I can tell is not natural. And, even if it were, the vast majority of civilizations in world history have built their culture around celebrating martial prowess and victory, and were ruled over by a martial elite class. The easiest way to achieve social and economic mobility was to kill your civilizations enemies. ...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 01:56 PM
    There aren't enough KKK left in the USA to fill a basketball arena. The leadership got busted up by state Attorney Generals about that same time, and they never recovered. Heck, even the neo nationalist socialists that we do have left in the USA have a bad opinion of the KKK because they consider them too soft. I can feel pretty safe in saying that no one in these threads has a positive...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 01:50 PM
    When preparing to run a game for them, I looked over some of the other options out there and decided (characteristically) that the systems were too complex and not expressive enough, so I wrote my own which I dubbed SIPS (Simple Imagination Play system).
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 01:58 AM
    Youtube's Seth Skorkowsky gives very thorough and practical GM centered reviews of Call of Cthulhu modules. Youtube's Dael Kingsmill (Monarchsfactory is the channel) can be very entertaining, and offers good GM practical tips.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 09:40 PM
    That may be true in part, but part of the negative consequence that gets drilled into small children is other small children bonking them in the nose or biting them back in response. That said, I don't remember a notable drop in violence between myself and my playmates, classmates, and even friends until we were about 15. There were plenty of explosive fights in elementary and middle...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 08:53 PM
    You are possibly right. Certainly, 10 software engineers with sufficient experience and knowledge would be able to agree as to when code was badly written. But one of the underlying assumptions of your statement is that they software engineers were reasonably familiar with the language paradigm of the code. I honestly don't have have a very good feel for what very elegant Lisp or Prolog code...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 06:57 PM
    It's not the board rules on what is a defensible political position that would get me in trouble. Heck, I'm playing in a Paizo adventure path right now, so if blatant attempts to be inclusive were a turnoff for me, I'd be a total hypocrite. I will risk that in the last session we all had a good laugh at how despite these often ham-fisted attempts, one of the encounters was probably the most...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 06:05 PM
    Then it will be closed. I mean, I could post my honest opinion of certain game systems right now and get it closed if that's what you wanted. Well if you mean we are better, then "No", I don't think we are. We've gotten a little better informed so that we are a little bit better at matching mechanics to their intention, but as far as clearing the hurdle and actually designing something...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 03:28 PM
    One thing I've noted in the past about playing with kids is that they tend to be vastly more moral than the adults. Most middle school and earlier players I've encountered tend to take moral quandaries very seriously, where as most adult players I've encountered are ruthless murder hobos. I've always been really fascinated by why that is. Is it that the kids can't separate fantasy and...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 03:15 PM
    I work in software development. There is a general sense in the industry, that for two given methods for solving a problem, the one that is lower complexity tends to be the better solution. We are certainly encouraged to right rules that reduce complexity according to very similar measures as some have proposed regarding RPG rules - length of the rules, readability, number of branching paths,...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 02:44 PM
    Certainly if I also had that background, I think I'd see why that would be your first pass understanding of the structure of D&D, but the fantasy foundations of D&D go back to a time well before Europe was a mighty colonizing power, to a time when on the contrary Europe was one of the world's cultural and technological backwaters and more often than not, it was being colonized by foreign nations...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 03:54 AM
    Briefly, combat has a unique combination of elements that makes it a suitable focus for social gaming. 1) It's a team activity where all participants can make meaningful decisions. 2) It is a conflict that has a clear problem to solve. 3) Progress toward that problem can be easily observed and measured. 4) The progress toward that problem is uniquely dynamic, giving all participants an...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 03:03 AM
    I nearly put DitV on my list as well, but I didn't because the OP specifically said "systems you'd never play". And the thing is, I can think of some games I might want to play where I'd use the system, even though I am, as you are, inherently turned off by the game's built in setting. For example, I would definitely consider running a Star Trek game with DitV's rule set or something close to...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 05:47 PM
    "Space: 1889" While the basic concept of a game set in the world of HG Wells, Jules Verne, and Edgar Rice Burroughs is sound, the fact that it both creates a unique setting which is inferior to the material that inspired it in conception, and that it also has such a bare bones rules light but also procedural system that it couldn't even really explain what to do with the numbers in ordinary...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 06:59 PM
    I agree that is a 'Grave Robber' is a rogue with a 'Grave Digger' type background more than it is a new subclass. In my game world, owing to the problem of undead, Undertakers are skilled professionals who work closely with temples to ensure the dead are properly interred in such a way to both minimize the chance of undead occurring, and minimize the chance of undead getting lose and...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 02:23 PM
    I haven't the foggiest clue why the argument in this thread is meaningful, but you seem to be well on top of it. Conversely, we could have a single foe that dies after 5 units of damage, but reduces the damage from each attack by 1. Now Smough kills the target in a single blow, while Orenstein doesn't kill the target until the third round. There seems to me to be way too many...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 7th June, 2019, 06:42 PM
    No, I'm not. I'm not making any sort of evasive argument. The argument presented in the academic paper is fundamentally flawed. It's true that victims will tell their torturers anything they think will make the torture stop including making stuff up and that in general it is difficult to tell when someone is lying. However, that doesn't prove that torture fails to work. In fact, on the...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 6th June, 2019, 09:14 PM
    I can only answer how my campaign works. In general, mind control spells in my campaign world are treated legally as equivalent in distaste to rape (one violates the body, the other the mind). So if anything, most people would find them more distasteful than physical torture, and would certainly consider them equally violent. (We don't consider violation of the body less violent if it was...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 6th June, 2019, 08:50 PM
    I concur. Advice like "Underlings aren't given important information or have incorrect or incomplete information" is advice that is utterly agnostic on the question of whether torture is effective, and indeed is going to be especially true in a game where some sort of ruling exists that makes torture effective. After reading the OP's article, even leading aside whether he's misconstrued...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 6th June, 2019, 07:43 PM
    I would dispute this claim. The US army field manuals and instructions issued to captured prisoners suggest that prisoners should expect that in the long run torture always works, and that they should not expect to hold out against prolonged torture by strength of will. There is abundant evidence of torture 'working', especially against prisoners who have not been trained in techniques of...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 4th June, 2019, 02:54 PM
    R_Chance: OK, we seem to be on the same page then. We just differ in what we imagine to be low percentages. You give very few numbers, but you say things like, "As for mercenaries, the White Company (which operated in the High Middle Ages / early Renaissance, 1300s iirc) with about 2,000 men (Anglo Welch longbowmen) was one of the largest and most efficient." The thing is, in that period...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 09:13 PM
    Ok, with respect, since that went zooming by you without pause, let me be more blunt and say I think you are confused and that your rhetorical question indicates you fundamentally did not understand the OP's question. Simply put, the rhetorical device "would you write the world, and the associated stories of how it progresses around and with the NPCs, if you didn't have PCs playing in the...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 04:32 PM
    I agree with all of these statements, but I think there is something important captured in the idea of when acting is or isn't role-playing, that ought to be applied to the litmus test for when something is RP. Clearly you think that there is a litmus test, or you wouldn't have one for acting. So while I think you are right that it isn't "1st person rather than 3rd", still I think that the...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 04:26 PM
    It's a common confusion, but for the purpose of this topic I think we have to be very clear - PCs don't play in the world, players do. I think it's a much less interesting question as to whether the world exists for the players. The game and thus the world exists for the game's participants. When we say the world exists for the PC's or the NPC's, then we have to answer what that question...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 04:21 PM
    Perhaps all novelists are just frustrated GMs.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 02:21 PM
    Yes, or at least, they can. The proof of this is that things can happen and events can progress "off stage". And in particular, many GM's feel some obligation to have the events that transpire off stage be believable, so that if the PC's were there, they would observe something that could happen within their frame of reference. Thus the events that occur on and off stage are operating by...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 03:04 AM
    I'm always astounded at people's capacity for stupidity and evil. This sort of horror story always sounds made up, simply because it's so unbelievable that anyone would do this sort of thing. And yet, it keeps happening apparently again and again. Also, "shock value" is so trite and overrated. After Charles Baudelaire cornered that market like 150 years ago, if you are still thinking you...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 02:34 AM
    I think you are vastly underestimating the cosmopolitan nature of the Middle Ages. First, in the Middle Ages they organized a continental wide network of scholars, operating under the auspices of the Catholic Church and using church Latin as a common language to unite people of diverse backgrounds. Secondly, the Middle Ages had continental wide trade undertaken by cosmopolitan merchants,...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 31st May, 2019, 10:09 PM
    The world exists for the players, in the sense that I generally only bother developing the world in great detail if it pertains to something the players are going to interact with. But, the world is indifferent to the PC's. As far as the world is concerned, the PC's are nothing special, or at least nothing more special than a group of young but prodigiously talented individuals with amazing...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 30th May, 2019, 06:26 PM
    You are hitting on a real problem with running a gritty low magic setting, often with 1e AD&D inspired demographics where PC classed individuals are rare. If the PC's are that different from the norm, then they can easily run roughshod over the populace. So there are a couple of basic approaches that depend on how you want to handle this, and you can mix and match within the same campaign...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 30th May, 2019, 03:58 PM
    And that is a good approach. When a system provides NPC statblocks like that, what it's really doing is filling in demographic details - this is what average persons with a given job look like. The only thing really missing from having a complete demographic system is an idea of roughly how common a particular type of NPC is - for example, how many NPCs with the Merchant statblock are in a...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 30th May, 2019, 01:13 AM
    It was a pretty early division. At the time, they wouldn't have used the terminology. They would have distinguished between games that described characters in terms of "what they can do" versus games that described characters in terms of "who they are". And very likely they would have described the problem with player knowledge as it being "unrealistic" because back then, everything that was...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 09:56 PM
    That's great, but I can explain why it matters to my game and does impact how PC's interact with the world. Demographics allow me as the DM to improvise while still mostly wearing my Referee hat with its stance of neutrality, without having to put on my Storyteller hat with its non-neutral goals or at least serving to keep in check the impulses of my Storyteller hat. In other words, without...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 09:46 PM
    Oh I agree, but for each addition the distance between 'as is' and 'as I like it' varies. For 5e on some fronts it would mean a lot more work than some other editions. And probably, on some other fronts it would mean less. What I mean is that out of the box 5e doesn't answer the question of "What are ordinary NPCs in the setting like?" with any attempt at systematic or casual realism, and...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 06:34 PM
    I had that experience with pretty much all of The Forge some years ago. Stance does not directly address motivations for play. In theory GNS as a whole addresses motivations for play, but in my opinion has some huge holes in it. When I address motivations for play, I use the 'aesthetics of play' terminology. Stance only addresses the relationship of the player to the character. In...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 06:05 PM
    By not playing 5e, a game that has basically no interest in demographics or areas of life that exist outside of the adventure? The 5e answer is that NPC's don't use the same rules as PC's.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 04:03 PM
    As I use the term, that's Author stance. The difference between Author and Director, is that in Author stance you make propositions which are based on the fictional positioning. In Director stance, you out right declare new fictional positioning. As I define a proposition, it does not let you declare new fictional positioning, but only the intention to perform some action within the...
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    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 03:46 PM
    I'm inclined to agree, and I dropped the expectation that the average level in a D&D game world was 1st level back in the early 90's. Exposure to the FR didn't make me admire the FR as a setting, but it did force me to question the sacredness of my cows, and Gygaxian demographics was one of the things that went away, not the least of which is that Gygax himself didn't seem to really follow his...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 03:07 PM
    Indeed. The first thing that happens in my campaign world whenever some player that thinks they are clever does the clever and creative thing that countless such players have tried in countless games before him is that NPC's laugh at him. You see, unlike the player or the player's character, the NPC's have ranks in alchemy and knowledge (history) and so forth, and they know just how...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 02:37 PM
    I have said before that I have no proposition filter on actions declared for OOC reasons. I never abuse a player for metagaming or using OOC character knowledge, and I tend to believe that if any metagame knowledge is a problem for the game, then that problem was created by the GM. So, I'm pretty extreme on the end of the spectrum that says, "It's not wrong to metagame." And I don't think...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 02:12 PM
    Sure. But, on the other hand, I don't expect the DM to decide that no scrolls are available purely on the grounds that a PC wants one. Fortunately, for me this sort of thing isn't usually a problem, as I have no magic shops to speak of and certainly not ones were arbitrary desirable items are available. Agreed. But I've heard of DMs that get upset at this kind of thing because they...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 02:44 AM
    Is it possible to provide examples where the obvious skillful move is known by the player? Sure. Can a skilled player choose when Actor stance is more appropriate than Author stance based on evaluating their own motivations? Probably so. But the real question for me here isn't player skill, but whether deploying a proposition filter that stops a player from metagaming is skilled play by the...
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    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 02:14 AM
    No, very literally I did not. I said, "You have no phaser, and there is no Klingon in the environment." I have said nothing about the characters beliefs or feelings or actions. Everything I described is external to the character. It's not really up for me to decide that. If the player tells me, "The character is delusional.", that's fine. However, my first thought is likely to be...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 11:30 PM
    While you can use such gates to feed players more information than they have, once the information is past the gate for whatever reason, including the player owns the Monster Manual and has read it, there is no effective way to put the information back on the other side of the gate. If the player knows everything about stone golems, it doesn't really matter what the player character knows, his...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 11:20 PM
    Although D&D doesn't have an explicitly defined proposition filter, I imagine that in practice any PC proposition that is nonsense will be rejected. So, "I set my phaser on 'kill and shoot the Klingon!", probably receives the error response, "You have no phaser, and there is no Klingon in the environment." And, "I catch butterflies!", probably receives the error response, "There are no...
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    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 10:35 PM
    Be warned. With the harsh time limits from the original putting pressure on the players to hurry up, coming from the bottom up, the dungeon is possibly more lethal than the famous 'Tomb of Horrors' for the suggested levels of play.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 02:09 PM
    This. They'd be better off reading a novel. The novelist presumably decided on a good story, and a good story at least conveys the since that the actions of the characters lead to meaningful consequences. When we read a novel and things happen purely to accomplish some preconceived plot and characters are made to jump through the essential story hoops without much motivation and...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 27th May, 2019, 06:44 AM
    Do you mean 'adventurers' or do you mean 'PC classed individuals'. If you mean 'PC classed individuals', in my game, PC classed individuals are probably 20% or more of the total population. If you mean 'people who professionally fight monsters and recover treasure', then that's probably like 1 in 5000 persons though the vast majority - indeed nearly all of them - would not identify as...
    94 replies | 4515 view(s)
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  • Mark CMG's Avatar
    Sunday, 26th May, 2019, 05:07 PM
    Wisconsin lost a legend today . . . https://www.packers.com/news/packers-legend-bart-starr-dies-at-85
    167 replies | 10700 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 24th May, 2019, 06:35 PM
    It doesn't work that way in practice. Different implies the possibility of uninteresting. You cannot guarantee that if different outcomes are possible, that they are all equally interesting. And if you can't guarantee that they are all equally interesting, you can't guarantee that they are interesting at all. But more to the point, if the different choices are all interesting, then the...
    68 replies | 3459 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 24th May, 2019, 02:55 PM
    That's impossible. In fact, it's self-contradictory. By definition, if the player decision - whether smart or stupid - always leads to ever more interesting decisions, then those decisions are not interesting. If regardless of what I choose, I'm going to get an interesting result, then the decision itself is not meaningful. I could roll the dice or flip a coin for every choice. What does...
    68 replies | 3459 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Mercule's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 10:57 PM
    Yup. I finally asked the psionics fan in my group why he likes them, a couple years back (we've gamed together for 25+ years, so it's a bit delayed question). His answer: change up from the slots of wizards.
    92 replies | 3643 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 06:53 PM
    I think this sums up my whole point in this thread: it's neither inventive, creative, or unexpected. It's almost the first thing that a group of players think of every single time. It comes up all the time. It's probably the least creative solution that PC's could possibly try to apply, and in most cases it is a non-solution. The only time I got took off guard by it was the time I...
    68 replies | 3459 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 06:35 PM
    In most of my games, that's really up to the player and not me. It is highly useful if one or more members of the party have a natural connection to each other, and so I encourage players to weave their backgrounds together somewhat, but basically any background that fits the setting and ensures the PC has a motive to participate is going to get approved. Generally, when I try to put a...
    18 replies | 594 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 05:02 PM
    Depends. Coins will likely survive, but could be difficult to find in the rubble. Soft metal objects - gold jewelry, copper items, pewter items, metal plated items - would possibly be fire damaged, and possibly reduced in value to their weight of metal. Most gem stones would probably be destroyed. Most magic items will likely be destroyed as well - potions will boil and explode, scrolls burn...
    68 replies | 3459 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 04:49 PM
    Last time I designed a haunted house adventure, the players did just that. In G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chieftain, a considerable portion of the 8 pages of original text is devoted to just why the PC's can't successfully burn down the dungeon, and what unpleasant things will happen if they try to do so. So, in general, my advice is have a plan for what happens if the PC's turn arsonist...
    68 replies | 3459 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 02:12 PM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    I've totally not got any problem with that. And it could even have color of realism at least in the loading times if you patterned the technology after say late 18th century flintlock muskets or even 19th century caplocks. One round of loading probably isn't going to be game breaking if you don't otherwise load the firearm up with realistic or fantastic advantages. Keep damage, range, and...
    161 replies | 5617 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 09:33 PM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    I have D20 rules for all firearms between their invention and the mid-19th century somewhere, based mostly on the firearms rules document by Ken Hood (of "Grim and Gritty" fame) which I consider the best 3.X era rules document on firearms by far. Between the 14th and 18th century, the muzzle energy from firearms didn't substantially increase, nor did the effective range of high end muzzle...
    161 replies | 5617 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 07:40 PM
    I'm sure we disagree over many things passionately. There are, as I'm sure you know, even personal offense taken over a great many matters of academic or trivial debate. I gather that for you this debate is not one that is either academic or trivial, but one you have a personal stake in. For my part, my stake while less personal and intimate than yours, is one I also feel strong emotion about...
    104 replies | 3060 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 06:59 PM
    I see the thread is getting way off topic.
    104 replies | 3060 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 06:29 PM
    Wait... what? You claim to not be offended by reality, but yet this is your response? In addition to the club teams, they regularly hold practice games against the US Boys U-15 squad and the US Boys U-17 squads. They did this for the longest time because there were few to no women's teams that could really push them, so this was a convenient solution that helped both teams. Yet, as would...
    104 replies | 3060 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 05:58 PM
    I'm not making that claim without evidence (although you've slightly altered my claim). You realize that they do play exhibition games against U15 and U17 teams, and that most of the time they do lose? Most of the time these games aren't highly publicized, but I'm sure you'll be able to find the case where they lost to FC Dallas's U15 boys team 5-2, for example. Are you in fact offended by...
    104 replies | 3060 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 03:21 PM
    I'm involved in another community where books are regularly rated, and 'normal curve' does not normally happen. Most reviewers have one of two curves: A) Bimodal Distribution: Everything is either good or bad, and good things tend to receive the highest rating and bad things the lowest. Average ratings tend to be rare, as cases where a person has mixed feelings about something unusual. ...
    41 replies | 2249 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 02:54 PM
    Because they are the exact same mechanic. It's well known you can trick the monkey brain of the player by turning penalties into "bonuses", but fundamentally the two modifiers have the same result. But as I said, I don't think arguing over the mechanics is a particularly interesting thing to do.
    104 replies | 3060 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 02:51 PM
    I don't think the question of stat penalties is particularly interesting. It's a D&D centric approach to mechanics, and one of several systems you could use. I don't really care about the mechanical details, since I think that would end up creating a proxy argument where we acted like we cared a great deal about the mechanical details and spent a lot of time arguing about them, but really we...
    104 replies | 3060 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Mark CMG's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 04:42 AM
    Steven Creech has passed. https://www.hshfuneralhome.com/notices/Steven-Creech https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-steve-creech-author-and-game-designer#/
    167 replies | 10700 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 02:12 AM
    Well, I sort of agree with you here, but that's because you are responding tangentially to the point I raised. Yes, I somewhat agree that in a fantasy game the issue of what is realistic regarding human strength isn't that important - this is afterall the position that I staked out at the beginning of the thread. That said, I really don't think that there is any reason anyone has to be purist...
    104 replies | 3060 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 11:39 PM
    The study cited suggests that chimp muscle fiber strength is 'only' 50% greater than human muscle fiber strength. It didn't in fact do anything to overturn earlier estimates that chimp strength is pound for pound about 3 times that of humans - it just overturned our assumptions about why they had that much strength. Turns out bone structure, tendon strength, and ratio of fast to slow twitch...
    104 replies | 3060 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 08:45 PM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    Tactics are governed by weapons and terrain. It sounds to me very much like you want tactics to be governed by stylistic and not realistic concerns, which suggests to me that you are going to want to avoid realistic weapon stats and instead balance weapons according to your desire for tactical diversity and racial trope fighting styles. For example, historically the blunderbuss was basically...
    161 replies | 5617 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 04:22 PM
    As far as I can tell, you aren't actually disagreeing with me. For example, I said: "Addiction and other things like that should be treated as color unless they are established mechanically by some process of play." For example, if the player in a hypothetical rule set had taken a defect 'Addiction (Alcohol)' on character creation in exchange for getting an extra feat (say 'Power Attack'),...
    13 replies | 478 view(s)
    1 XP
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Thursday, 13th June, 2019

  • 12:22 AM - Blue mentioned Celebrim in post Systems You'd Never Play after Reading Them
    I also love Battletech. The Mechwarrior RPG is a mess. I run the Mechwarrior RPG by replacing the entire system with the ruleset from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG. The character to wargame conversion table for piloting and gunnery skills even matches up nicely with skill levels from BtVS. I'm with both you and Celebrim on MechWarrior. Unfortunately it was nt just on read, but after we started the campaign. It turns out two of the players (myself and one other) made well rounded characters that would have interesting things to do in or out of a mech, and because of the priority system were decent mech pilots in starter mechs. And the other three players built characters to be superb mech pilots with good mechs and not much else. Which ever way the GM ran it, mech heavy or balanced, would have half the table unhappy. EDIT: If I recall, I took a Panther, a light mech with a PPC because then I could snipe at range and not die in such a light mech then most of the group. However, I hadn't read the rules about skills advancement at the time. If I recall, it had to do with rolling a 12 or something. Which means that mechs with lots of tiny weapons like machine guns would find their MW advancing in gunnery a heck of a lot faster than a mech with one big powerful weapon.

Monday, 20th May, 2019

  • 09:37 PM - Fenris-77 mentioned Celebrim in post Firearms
    Hmm, yeah, railroading, or at least extreme versions of it, is bad, but nothing we're talking about here fits the bill. It's a term that tossed around a lot without everyone having a clear idea what it means. @Celebrim - you got a linky for that article? Maybe it'll help everyone get on the same page. I'd love to read it too! As for the console analogy, I'm with Kobold et al - the GM isn't a console at all. Fair arbitration is one of the GM's hats, but that's not the same thing as not having an opinion. As a GM I am doing a lot more work than everyone else involved in a game, so it's absolutely critical that I be enjoying myself. Generally that means that whatever contract and agreements that were set up between myself and the players in session zero are being adhered to, and everyone is on the same page with expectations and results. Even then, should I take steps as a GM to reign in players and get things back on track I'm still not railroading. Anyway, we've moved pretty far astray from firearms, but I do think we've hit upon one of the subterranean reasons why the arguments about firearms are so contentious sometimes. @Imaculata - you're making a category mistake. What is commonly true of mo...

Saturday, 18th May, 2019

  • 01:08 AM - hawkeyefan mentioned Celebrim in post Games That Changed How We Play
    I think that Vampire The Masquerade belongs on a list like this. I was never even really a big fan, but that game certainly impacted the hobby. I also think that Apocalypse World has to be on the list. The PbtA system has had a huge impact on gaming. I’ve played a handful of PbtA games, mostly Blades in the Dark. That game alone has greatly affected my approach to gaming. Can’t recommend it enough. Celebrim Seriously try to play this game at some point because I think you’ve misinterpreted some of the elements of a PbtA game. Blades deviates from PbtA, but still has the same core. It’s an outstanding game. And one that probably doesn’t belong on this list, but which was big for me and my friends, was the TSR Marvel Super Heroes game. So many cool things about that game that were different from D&D. And the chart! All you really needed was the chart on the back of the book and you could play.

Sunday, 12th May, 2019

  • 06:47 PM - iserith mentioned Celebrim in post What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?
    ... entire point of the example has been to show that players can take actions with player knowledge beyond just simply attacking something in combat. Maybe they buy items specifically to defeat an enemy they have never researched, maybe they break into the shop to steal a wish scroll they only know about because they read the module, maybe they use knowledge from the books to confront a powerful being in disguise as an old man and use a clue they were supposed to get later down the line to trick it into fighting against their enemies. There are many ways in which players can use the carte blanche to know anything with no restriction to disrupt the game. And the GMs job is more than just adjudicating actions, it is making sure things run smoothly. And, while this is amusingly ironic, you seem to be fine with it on this end of the spectrum, but on determining things about a player's past and the people they know after the game has started, you are not fine with it. I think Celebrim establishes a good line here: The player is free to draw upon hard-won knowledge to inform how he or she has the character act. The limit is when the player is not acting in good faith and has, as you suggest above, read the module and presumably didn't tell anyone. I think a player not being forthcoming about this many people would consider rude or worse. But sometimes my players replay my one-shots to try out a different character or approach with a new party. It can work just fine even with perfect knowledge. But anyway let's say that the player does say "earth elementals are vulnerable to thunder damage" then says he or she wants to go Ye Olde Magick Shoppe to buy some scrolls or thunderwave for the party wizard to use. You know as DM that THESE earth elementals have no particular vulnerabilities to thunder damage. Let's up the ante and say that the characters have never encountered earth elementals before. Let's go one step further and say the character is an Int-8 barbarian. W...

Saturday, 11th May, 2019

  • 03:04 PM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?
    Celebrim. Yup. I’d largely agree with that.
  • 04:04 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?
    ...o the players to do things like this. It is pretty understood at my table that we can all do this, with the understanding that we will try to do this to make the game more interesting for everyone at the table. The player can't introduce a new character to the setting without permission of the GM (because the GM absolutely owns the setting), and the GM can't decide something happened to the player's character in the past without permission from the player (because the player absolute owns the PC). I would add the line, "at my table" to the above to make it true for you. It most certainly isn't true at my table. I don't own my setting and I strongly invite players to fold, spindle and maul my setting to their hearts content. On the other side, the players don't really have a problem with me getting my sticky fingers on their characters because they trust that I won't abuse the situation. ((And, generally, I'll ask first, but, not always)) Not really disagreeing with you Celebrim, just cautioning against making too broad a statement about "the game".

Friday, 10th May, 2019

  • 12:27 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?
    Already addressed upthread. And there are approaches that DMs take that simply cannot be derived from the plain English words on the pages of the D&D 5e rules books. Some certainly could if you were reading a rules book from some other game. When that happens, expect me to point it out, especially if the poster is reporting dissatisfaction with the game experience. But, what if the poster is reporting satisfaction with their game experience? Why point out the "rules book from some other game" to those posters? What are you trying to prove? No one who is arguing with you here is saying, "Well, my game sucks, but, I'm not doing it your way." What you've gotten as counter arguments is, "We are running games that work quite well but, we aren't doing what you are advocating, therefore, what you are advocating isn't really universal, regardless of what the rules say". Celebrim, I largely agree with what you've said, with a slight amendment that, as a DM, I tend to fob off a lot more authority at the table onto the players. While I understand the notion that letting players have limited fiat control might be off putting to some, I find that since each player has their own fiat control powers, it becomes more a sense that everyone at the table is contributing towards authoring the game, rather than the DM being so central to the larger campaign. And, just because Bob adds in "Frances is my friend" to use an example, doesn't mean that the scene suddenly becomes a non-issue for the rest of the group. As far as everyone else is concerned, does it really matter if "Frances is Bob's friend" comes from Bob or the DM? Either way, the rest of the group now has more information in the scene to work with. I just don't have a real problem with a player adding in elements like this. And, since 5e does allow for this sort of thing by leveraging backgrounds, nemes...

Sunday, 5th May, 2019

  • 06:07 PM - Oofta mentioned Celebrim in post What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?
    Celebrim, I think you're seeing things a little black-and-white. Some things (climbing a wall) have little or nothing to do with player capability in my game. It's a straight die roll if the outcome is uncertain. It relies only on your Strength(Athletics) score and the luck of the die. Some things, like figuring out how to disarm a complex trap may be a mix of player skill and PC abilities with the players figuring out what skill to apply where to ensure success. Other things, like resolving a mystery, or deciding whom to support in a political drama are primarily player challenges. At least that's how I see it. You could stretch it and say that if your PC has a high athletics score that makes climbing the wall simple that it was the player who ultimately decided where to put ability scores and proficiencies but that's pretty tenuous connection to me.
  • 08:17 AM - iserith mentioned Celebrim in post What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?
    Isn't the issue, regardless of how we're playing, that the player is trying to game the DM? I don't think the game imagines that the players or DM are playing in bad faith. That is a social problem, not a problem of adjudication or the rules from which that process is derived. What I find rather ironic though is how folks jumped up and down and yelled at me for not understanding how things are played when I talked about players hunting for the "magic phrase" in the goal:approach method, but, when talking about other ways of playing, we immediately jump to dysfunctional play where the players will ask endless streams of questions in order to hunt for the "magic question". It looks to me that you are conflating different people's positions and even topics again and trying to drag @Celebrim into whatever crusade you appear to be on. Perhaps folks just don't understand what we're talking about when we don't use goal:approach methodology. :D But you said in this very thread that you do.
  • 07:59 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?
    Heh. Not a major deal Celebrim. Just pointing out the irony. Not a worry. Interesting points you are making actually and apologies for giving in to a bit of humour.
  • 12:02 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?
    Isn't the issue, regardless of how we're playing, that the player is trying to game the DM? I mean, Celebrim talks about a player who asks a stream of questions in order to hit upon the "magic question" that allows the player to overcome the challenge without referring to the rules. I talk about players that try for a stream of action declarations in order to hit the "magic declaration" that allows them to overcome the challenge without referring to the rules. The problem isn't in the strengths or weaknesses of a given approach, the problem is with players playing in bad faith. It's not that goal:approach solves the problems, it just shifts the problem of the player playing in bad faith to the left. What I find rather ironic though is how folks jumped up and down and yelled at me for not understanding how things are played when I talked about players hunting for the "magic phrase" in the goal:approach method, but, when talking about other ways of playing, we immediately jump to dysfunctional play where the players will ask endless streams of questions in order to hunt for the "magic...

Saturday, 4th May, 2019

  • 02:27 AM - Sword of Spirit mentioned Celebrim in post Cleric shenanigans (metaphysical, no right answers)
    Defining faith as different from belief is nonsense in my opinion. As Celebrim noted, the word faith has come to have variable connotations in modern usage, but I don't think there is really any substantial difference between the meanings of the terms that is useful for D&D purposes. All belief is based on some sort of evidence, and we act on our beliefs constantly. We eat because we feel hungry and we believe we will feel less hungry if we eat something. In D&D it's no different. People see divine power exercised, and they act based on that. The less clear those manifestation are, the more disagreement there is over what they mean and how to act upon them. I really feel like we basically get into discussions about nothing when we start talking about faith in the context of D&D religion. 1) What do people think are the results of their actions with regards to the gods? 2) How devoted is a person to their gods? 3) Is there any necessary connection between 1 and 2? Those questions are more relevant.

Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

  • 06:05 PM - Laurefindel mentioned Celebrim in post Cleric shenanigans (metaphysical, no right answers)
    Are there any counter-examples you can find from official published settings or adventures? I think @Paul Farquhar meant that examples given in adventures are not representative of the game world because if they were, the adventure would not happen there. You and @Celebrim are advocating that despite the guidelines restricting character classes to a minority, nothing in the published material seem to support that claim according to the examples we are given. From where I stand, it appears to me that both sides are pointing at some inconsistencies, but are comparing apples to oranges. Both claims are true and coexist simultaneously. To a certain point, I like that the players aren't the only casters around. There needs to be enough of them to make believable adversaries (casters can't be THAT rare if that's the 5th one we battle in the last 5 days...) and to support the described economy of spell material components, spellbook supplies etc that is hinted at in certain settings (mainly Forgotten Realm and Eberron). Due to the wide breath of power level from lvl1 to lvl20 (or even lvl10), D&D struggles at giving believable quests for 1-3 lvl characters. Either they become king of the hill by lvl5, or you wonder why the other lvl5 npcs aren't taking care ...

Tuesday, 30th April, 2019

  • 04:13 PM - iserith mentioned Celebrim in post What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"?
    ...alone, to resolve a social challenge, without reference to the relevant mechanical qualities of the character. While the rules (and here I'm referencing D&D 5e) do say that the character's ability scores and race are taken into account when imagining the character's appearance and personality, there is no particular prohibition on action declarations for a given ability score. Further, the DM is told that it's "when a player wants to do something, it's often appropriate to let the attempt succeed without a roll or a reference to the character's ability scores." So far as I can tell, some posters are adding an additional requirement about who can propose what based on some idea of what, for example, an 8 Intelligence or Charisma means. This is not supported by the rules of the game and, in some cases under examination here, it causes them to have to change the game to one of random number generation followed by description in order to enforce this additional requirement. Which as Celebrim notes appears to be a means by which they try to control dysfunctional player behavior.

Wednesday, 17th April, 2019

  • 01:31 AM - Blue mentioned Celebrim in post Vampire's new "three-round combat" rule
    Celebrim - well presented. Part of calling out something as a personal soap box of mine is I would be lax if I didn't acknowledge it was opinion. You've put together a well thought out different opinion. I see where you are coming from even if for myself my view differs some. Here's my general viewpoint in a nutshell: I think that the amount of time spent on a scene should be in-line with how interesting it is to the players, which is usually (but not always) proportional to how important it is. That is regardless if a scene has combat or not. (And leads back to what we were already discussing, the debated point of combat-focused character creation both a symptom and then a cause of combat taking a lot of RL time.) If my mid level player wants to sell off a magic item in a big city, it's a moderate-big deal. We can spend 10 minutes on how/what/when, with dice rolls and others involved from the bard doing marketting and the rogue planting rumors, the cleric talking to the temple t...

Friday, 12th April, 2019

  • 12:08 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post How do you handle hit points?
    Celebrim - I'd say you're right. There's no real functional difference in saying that you are spending HP vs losing HP. At the end of the day, you are down 9 HP either way. The difference is in perception. Because D&D has never actually modeled process simulation at all, despite protestations to the contrary, HP loss in the traditional method doesn't make a lick of sense. You cannot actually narrate any HP loss without the chance of contradiction until combat is over. Otherwise, you run into all sorts of issues - how did you heal that gash in a day (3e D&D and later)? - you were dying six seconds ago and now you can run a marathon, how? - how can those wounds not have any impact on your performance? etc. But, by switching it around, and allowing the players to explain how they have avoided the negative consequence (typically death in D&D), then all the burden of contradiction lies on the player. You shift all the narrative power to the player and all the narrative responsibilit...

Wednesday, 10th April, 2019

  • 03:27 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post Keep On The Borderline
    Needless to say Celebrim I disagree with pretty much everything you just said. ToH is unfair because the puzzles are largely nonsensical and have no rational solution.

Saturday, 6th April, 2019

  • 06:42 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post Keep On The Borderline
    My problem with ToH, as written, is that virtually none of the "puzzles" can actually be solved without basically just brute forcing your way through the possible combinations. And many of them rely on really out of character meta gaming stuff like knowing how a slot machine works. That sort of thing. But, yeah, mostly my issue is that very many of the "puzzles" are not really puzzles in the sense of something to be solved using the information at hand, but are rather just exercises similar to those old text computer games where you just had to keep bashing away at the keyboard until some fairly random conglomeration of keys allowed you to get to the next point. Celebrim talks about the module being lethal if you make a choice. My issue is, without prior knowledge, I cannot see how any group actually made those choices without relying on either the DM to allow them to find "clues" or simply bypassing the situation entirely. To be fair though, ToH was the one and only time I had ever seen Snakes to Sticks (the reverse of Sticks to Snakes) cast. :D An old post by user Stoat goes through the module rather line by line, explaining my point much better than I ever could.
  • 02:24 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post Keep On The Borderline
    Celebrim, while I agree with a lot of your points, I do disagree about S1. I think that if S1 were published today, it would be panned as a terrible module, bereft of virtually any redeeming qualities. Acerak is important to the game because they added stuff AFTER the fact, retconning in all this background material because the module, like B2, holds a place in gaming history, due mostly to nostalgia and ubiquity. As far as quality goes? Naw, both modules are barely adventures. As was mentioned, gimme B4 or X1 long before either of these two.

Friday, 15th March, 2019

  • 04:50 PM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post Role-Players vs. Actors
    Heh. Good, Celebrim, you took that in good fun. :D Posting can be tricky sometimes and I didn't want to rub things the wrong way. That being said, again, I don't see it as my job to move anyone "out of their comfort zone". That zone is comfortable for a reason and I have zero interest in trying to push anyone in any direction. If they want to go all thespian on me, great. If they want to say, "I diplomatize the NPC" that's equally fantastic. To me, it's not about entertaining me. It's about knowing that I provided a fun experience for the group. If everyone is happy, I'm happy. I don't need the players to entertain me. Then again, I do not view D&D as any sort of "art". It's a game. I just played Cribbage with a buddy for three hours over beer. It was pretty much the same experience as a 3 hour D&D session. Lots of fun. I don't treat D&D as a learning or growth experience. It's my fun time to unwind and decompress. Accepting how others want to engage the game has led to me having...


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Thursday, 20th June, 2019

  • 05:22 AM - Maxperson quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    1 Dragon = 3 PCs? Really? Is that how you think it has ever worked? Are dragons and PC's as standardized as coins? 3-5 depending on the PC mix and dragon, yes. You don't encounter half a dragon, and a dragon is an encounter for PCs of X level, depending on the age of the dragon. Given that 3 or more is the ideal number of players, you won't see encounters that are going to be auto death for 3 players. That's just not ideal.
  • 05:15 AM - Maxperson quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    This not at all my experience. ''Ease" or "difficulty" is entirely a matter of the DM. I can make a killer dungeon in any edition. I can run through a stack of photocopied character sheets in any edition. It's not particularly hard in any edition to make the game difficult. So I'm having a hard time understanding how you can judge which edition was easier. It's really easy. I played 1e, 2e and 3e extensively with a variety of DM types. 3e was far easier across the board. I worried in most combats in AD&D. I worried in relatively few combats in 3e, and most of those were when facing things with CRs 2 or more higher than the party. All you are really showing is that 3e was less arbitrary than 1e. As far as difficulty goes, there are a ton of things in 3e that are vastly more difficult than 1e. Monsters don't top out at effectively 'CR 10'. The rules include standardized methods for increasing the HD and difficult of foes through advancement, templates, and character levels. In 1...

Wednesday, 19th June, 2019

  • 09:24 PM - Oofta quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    After seeing everything we agree on, I'm beginning to think that the real problem is we have different definitions of good. What would Han have to demonstrate in order for you to think he was Good? Well, I think it's easy to get caught up in assigning a detailed alignment chart for a fictional character, alignment is just one factor determining why somebody does what they do. In addition, I'm not saying Han didn't shift alignments, people change. But respecting that other people should also be able to choose for themselves is part and parcel of being chaotic. As far as my overall definition of good and evil ... Good: this is complex, but essentially it comes down to empathy (the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes), and not wanting to harm others. This doesn't mean you don't fight or kill, but that you will fight and kill because you need to protect others. You may do things for your own personal gain as long as you are not harming innocents. Evil: in general evil peopl...
  • 09:14 PM - Oofta quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Yes, but feeling because he had no connection to the pair that he had no obligation to act in any manner other than for his own benefit, and that he could choose to act in that manner entirely under his own authority is precisely what makes him Chaotic. Being Chaotic doesn't mean you have no loyalty to your friends. On the contrary, it tends to mean you only feel any obligation to be loyal to people you have a personal and emotional attachment to. And despite the fact that he wouldn't have necessarily turned in Mal for a profit - and that's certainly not at all clear - he did go behind Mal's back and betray him. The real key in that scene is when Jayne thinks he's about to die, Jayne's last request to Mal is for Mal to not tell the others what he has done. When Jayne says that, Mal realizes that Jayne has formed a personal emotional attachment to the rest of the crew, has realized that he has betrayed his friends, and does not what his friends to know that he has betrayed them. There...
  • 06:42 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    Role-playing is role-playing whether it is done as a leisure activity or for some other more serious purpose.I can't agree. Both the 'role' and the 'playing' refer to quite different things depending on whether you're roleplaying with a therapist, a friend-with-benefits, or a GM... ...or a director. The two things aren't mutually exclusive. You can improv all you want in the context of a TT wargame - or not at all - it'll have no effect on play, and at worst might annoy your fellow player & the judge, if any. I don't think there's a lot of wargaming at improv theatre groups, nor that they'd be impressed with the thespianism of the guy in the bicorn hat, commanding his tin soldiers. The direct ancestor of Blackmoor, the first RPG in the modern sense, was a Braunstein - which was an entirely improvisational wargame. From the little I've heard of it, sounds more like a spiritual predecessor of LARPs and quasi-RPGs like Fiasco. And, D&D is generally accepted as the first TTRPG or ...
  • 06:37 PM - billd91 quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Han in 'A Force Awakens' is basically unrecognizable as the character we knew at the end of 'Return of the Jedi'. He's even much more of a defeated man than he was at 'A New Hope', having lost all the idealism and maturity that the had gained over the course of the trilogy, and is now acting as an irresponsible man-child who has abandoned his beliefs, his wife, his son, and in many ways is thoroughly wretched. Since we are given little to no explanation of what has happened beyond some vague hints, and because there seems to have been no concrete idea what those events where and the authors seemed to think they'd be fleshed out at some future point if needed, it's really hard to know what Han's alignment is but it's a moral collapse not that far from Anakin's complete moral collapse in 'Revenge of the Sith'. (And as badly explained and rationalized as that was, at least it was better explained and rationalized than Han's moral collapse.) Han is CN, possibly even CE given the depth of his...
  • 06:08 PM - hawkeyefan quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    Yes, that's pretty much the essence of it. So, here comes the stickler. I'm not really interested in arguing the qualitative. I'm arguing for essentially the quantitative. In other words, whether or not the DM is roleplaying isn't really an interesting contention. While I might agree that there is some diminishing point at which the GM is not roleplaying at all, that's not to me the essence of the issue. The point is that he is roleplaying "less well"/"more badly" than the first GM. And as a mature form of art, we ought to be pushing toward the skillful play of the GM who brings the gnoll more to life and creates the more interesting characterization. So the more a GM does to try and portray the NPC, the better off the game is. I mean, I get the idea in general. But what if he's so bad at doing character voices that it actively undermines his goal? This is my point. I understand yours and would agree with a general "do what you can to enhance immersion" kind of approach. But I thi...
  • 05:57 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    This not at all my experience. ''Ease" or "difficulty" is entirely a matter of the DM. I can make a killer dungeon in any edition. I can run through a stack of photocopied character sheets in any edition. It's not particularly hard in any edition to make the game difficult. So I'm having a hard time understanding how you can judge which edition was easier. Well, starting with 3e there were explicit encounter guidelines. They may not have always delivered a consistent level of difficulty, but they could be said to tend one way or the other? Prior to that you could go off tone, advice, and some vague sense of HD ~= level, sorta. Even the very definition of role-playing suggests a strong and natural connection between acting and the act of role-playing: "the acting out of the part of a particular person or character, for example as a technique in training or psychotherapy"Is that a dictionary definition? Because, if so, it's more likely alluding to Therapy and er.. 'games' t...
  • 04:17 PM - Ovinomancer quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    Nor is it merely a preference and subjective just because you claim it is so. Even the very definition of role-playing suggests a strong and natural connection between acting and the act of role-playing: "the acting out of the part of a particular person or character, for example as a technique in training or psychotherapy" To suggest therefore that this connection is therefore only a preference, and not in some way closely connected to the act of role-playing and in particular to the degree and quality of the role-playing requires a very high burden of proof on your part. At the very least, you have to address the argument I have developed showing why it was the "superior form of role-playing" (as you put it). And though I'm not one, I'm inclined to think that a therapist or an occupational trainer would agree and encourage the more immersive, more literal experience, for much the same reasons that I've outlined. For one thing, when you are applying role-play to train a person for...
  • 02:06 PM - Ovinomancer quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    You are stating that as if it was an objective fact. I at least have an argument for why it isn't. I could make further ones.Well, yes, that's how it works -- your preference isn't objective just because you have it. And having an argument doesn't make it so, either. If acting is the superior form of roleplay as you claim, where is the evidence for such? I'm a bit surprised that you're actually arguing this. You've already acknowledged that roleplaying includes non-acting performances, so let's both ackowledge that roleplaying is broader than acting. Fundamentally, roleplaying is about assuming the role and motivations of a character. Now, it would seem to follow that the closer one can approximate the character's role and motivation, the better the roleplay. Agreed? Your argument is that this is accomplished by acting out the character in 1st person. I agree this can be so, but disagree that it is always so. Acting is a skill that isn't evenly distributed, and poor acting can act t...
  • 03:28 AM - Maxperson quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    The question I have for that statement is, "Is relying on Save or Die or Energy Drains to challenge PCs fun?" It was and wasn't for me as a player. As a player I enjoyed risk and took great pains to scout and avoid ambushes, as well as avoiding undead when possible. Then 3e came out and saves were allowed against energy drain. At first I was very happy. Then I noticed how easy those saves were, how you got two chances to make them, and how easy it was to get restoration. I played 3e from the day it came out, until about a year ago. Not once did I ever lose a permanent level. Maybe once or twice poison got a PC of mine.....maybe. I stopped being as careful, because the game became waaaaaaay easier. There was far less challenge than in the prior two editions, which did take away from my fun. So while it wasn't fun to lose a ton of PCs to poison, and while it wasn't fun to lose tons of levels/exp, it also spiced up the game in a way that 3e and 5e don't really have. The problem st...
  • 01:14 AM - Ovinomancer quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    Yes, that's pretty much the essence of it. So, here comes the stickler. I'm not really interested in arguing the qualitative. I'm arguing for essentially the quantitative. In other words, whether or not the DM is roleplaying isn't really an interesting contention. While I might agree that there is some diminishing point at which the GM is not roleplaying at all, that's not to me the essence of the issue. The point is that he is roleplaying "less well"/"more badly" than the first GM. And as a mature form of art, we ought to be pushing toward the skillful play of the GM who brings the gnoll more to life and creates the more interesting characterization. I do think it is essential to roleplaying, and that a game in which it is not essential at all to be immersive isn't a RPG. Thus, you can speak in character in the game of monopoly, but doing so is no part of the game. Thus, it's not a roleplaying game. I'm not going to argue at what point immersion so disappears from pl...
  • 12:19 AM - Bedrockgames quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    I do agree that certain systems have no adjudication by this definition, as in some systems the GM is empowered always to imagine a resolution based on undefined categories and never really has an outcome imposed on them. These 'wheel of fortune' systems never really say what happens, but instead generate very vague hints like 'Fumble', 'Failure', 'Partial Failure', 'Success with Complications', 'Success', 'Critical Success' and so forth, and leave it up to the GM or some sort of non-procedural negotiation among the participants to decide what that hint means. You can imagine my opinion of that sort of system. But this seems very much not objective because you are defining away games you don't like. I think this is a classic problem in gaming taxonomy and nomenclature where we often frame the language in a way that gives primacy to our preferred playstyle and minimizes other play styles.
  • 12:14 AM - Bedrockgames quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    I think that there probably is an objective difference. I could easily write a computer program to adjudicate, in the same way you could write a program to play chess and determine what was or wasn't a valid move. But I don't think I could so easily write a computer program to author. And if I could write a program which engaged in authoring, it would be at least quantitatively different than one that could adjudicate. Present cRPGs are very good at adjudication, but authoring in the sense that Umbran means it is beyond our understanding. We can attempt to simulate authoring through what is called procedural generation of content, but the very fact that it is procedural and therefore bounded, suggests that even this is more like adjudication than what Umbran is calling authoring. Adjudication seems to relate to some sort of finite set. While authoring seems to be boundless, or at least a set so large it would be beyond our ability to even imagine constraints. So I offer this objective ...

Tuesday, 18th June, 2019

  • 11:16 PM - Beleriphon quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    ...ly, I really think too often this good foundation is ignored and at most people attempting to play the game do no more than a rough draft and build nothing on it, thinking that they can get away with little or no preparation. Based on what I've seen from play run by even the designer of the system, this is not a great idea. I get not liking FATE, its not for everybody, but it does a good job of explaining why you want to setup your social encounter and lay out what the moving parts are in advance. As you noted of course. FATE can be played off the cuff, for a physical fight, but it works best with at least a bit of setup. This can be with or without player input. A social encounter needs the same kind of work, but requires much more description because you need clear ideas about what will work, what might work, and what will not work. I can think of a few ways that we can look at using D&D similar ways without dramatically changing the way skills are used, but as you noted Celebrim it requires a substantial amount of prep work, and it requires a willingness to explain why the perfect speech you ginned up actually insulted the Duke after the dice are rolled. Which isn't that different than combat, where you figure out why your attack didn't actually do anything (on a descriptive level) after you know the results.
  • 08:29 PM - hawkeyefan quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    A lot of people don't. You'll note, I don't either. What I actually believe is something much more controversial. I think "I try to intimidate the guard" replaces actual roleplaying, and that social mechanics are a problem only to the extent that they encourage these anti-cinematic social propositions. If your RP/social encounter tends to replace conversation with rules propositions, that is what the problem is, and not that there is an underlying system for guiding the GM on how to adjudicate social interaction. I don't think it replaces roleplaying. It's just a more straightforward version of roleplaying. What you seem to be advocating is speaking in character as a more cinematic version of roleplaying; does that sound right? I would say that may be the case just as if the DM makes a snarling face when he describes the gnoll that your party has just encountered. But if he describes the gnoll without making the face, I don't think he's not roleplaying. I think as long as the player i...
  • 06:36 PM - Flexor the Mighty! quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    Your example assumes that the players know OOG that rot grubs exist and have some idea what to do about them because they've read the entry, and that the party is of sufficient level that some solution is available and non-lethal. In too many cases, they are just whoops, "Die. No save.", and in the rest of the cases they get rather old fast. At least they usually have a period of time where the party can respond to them before they become lethal. Things like the Bodak, which are randomly lethal and a pushover if they aren't, aren't ever fun. I tend to get really annoyed by monsters that just come down to, "Do you roll well?" This can include in 1e things like the Death Knight, where if you win initiative as a party it will probably not survive the round, but if it goes first then Power Word: Kill or 20HD Fireball, and someone in the party is probably dying (without a save, or even if they save), turning the initiative into a save or die roll. Say what you will about the danger of 1e AD&...
  • 06:27 PM - hawkeyefan quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    More to the point, they tend to be less engaging than the social interaction that they are simulating. By the argument that I outlined above, the more detailed the social interaction rules, the less engaging that they will tend to be because the less they will resemble the thing that they are a model for. I can foresee this becoming Celebrim's Third Law of RPGs at some point, I just haven't figured out how to phrase it. But I have a strong suspicion that one of the reasons that the systems that try to cover everything using the same mechanical resolution system never seem to catch on is that fundamentally the things that they are trying to model are more different than they are similar. You can hammer every square peg through the round hole in order to get some sort of 'pass/fail' answer, but you can only do so at the cost of increasing abstraction and with that an intuitive and cinematic transcript of play. "Cinematic" word I realize has been defined in several ways by tRPG writers, but as I use it I mean a process of resolution that tends to increase the ability of all participants to imagine what is transpiring in the scene in the same concrete way. That is to say, it has mechanics which tend to be self reifying. For example, if your process of resolution of a social encounter primarily depends on holding some so...
  • 05:17 PM - Flexor the Mighty! quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    Only if there isn't a high level cleric on hand with a selection of Slow Poison and Neutralize Poison effects. Slow Poison can return a PC to life with no ill-effects, no resurrection failure chance, no lost CON, even if they fail a save or die poison effect that has an instantaneous result. Keoghtum's ointment along with a high level cleric renders most poison a non-issue, as your little spider needs a 20 to hit most likely, and the fighter needs only a 6 or so to pass the save, and worse come to worse, you cast 'Slow Poison' and then neutralize the venom by some means. There are of course things with save or die effects that aren't "little spiders", but most of those IMO aren't very fun - Rot Grubs, Magnesium Spirits, Bodaks, etc. They are just random unavoidable death determined in the long run by dice and not player action. I largely agree with that. But I also think the problem was that the designers didn't really expect players to advance to more than 10th level or so, and if they...
  • 03:14 PM - Flexor the Mighty! quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    The question I have for that statement is, "Is relying on Save or Die or Energy Drains to challenge PCs fun?" The problem started in 1e Unearthed Arcana. Fighters post UA were dishing about twice as much damage at a given level as the game had been built around, but even before UA AD&D had a problem that almost everything in the game was a glass cannon capable of dishing out far more damage than it could take. I used to joke that the initiative roll was the mid-game of AD&D combat, and that round 1 was the end game. Any monster that went last in the round would never get an attack off. Still there are a variety of things you could do about that. The most important is to not put your fights in 'tournament spaces'. Instead of arenas with flat floors, you put the fight where the PCs are at a disadvantage of some sort. And you use the sort of monsters that can actually manage to challenge PCs. You can also tweak monsters from the MM's a bit and end up with good challenges, which work...


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