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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Today, 02:24 PM
    I don't think I've ever settled on a "official" definition of player agency, but in general by player agency I mean tending to have the ability by your in game choices (propositions) to change both the direction and the outcome of the game. I think you'll find that defining "direction and outcome" tends to be difficult here. I've never defined railroading except in a Aristotelian manner...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 21st June, 2019, 10:08 PM
    On the subject of Druid power source, since it's never been particularly explicit, it was always sort of up to the DM. In my game worlds, the power source of Druids is pacts with spirits which are of greater than mortal power, but inferior to Deific power. These spirits either directly aid the Druid or who persuade or command their less spirits to act on their behalf. So a spirit might have...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 21st June, 2019, 03:35 PM
    This claim so shocked me that I did a text search over the last 140 posts, just to see if I had misspoke or what I had written that had so mislead you. And you know what I found? Despite being a wordy often overly verbose writer, I hadn't used the word "acting" except when quoting you. In fact, other than you, no one was regularly using the word "acting" in the same sense as you are until...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 21st June, 2019, 01:59 PM
    I didn't move the goal posts. You did. At no point did I ever include acting, accents, or mannerisms in my discussion until you brought them into it. When I provided examples, it was always contrasting dialogue with its absence. How can you accuse me of moving the goalposts? At this point you are arguing with yourself, and you don't need my help for that.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 21st June, 2019, 04:23 AM
    I heard the game he ran with HG Wells and Heisenberg was visionary. Decades ahead of its time. Unfortunately, it fell apart because they players kept interfering with each other and they couldn't agree on the fictional positioning. As for the pie, even if it is a finite pie, you actually don't know how big your piece is until you can compare it to the GMs piece. Because everything is...
    58 replies | 1927 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 21st June, 2019, 04:04 AM
    Amongst committed Christians there is an neurosis that sometimes develops where the person begins to perceive in more and more things that power of Satan evidenced in the world. Soon thier thoughts become dominated by the idea that everything is in some fashion controlled by powerful demonic forces that are manifesting around them. It's bad theology even in terms of theology, and it has often...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 21st June, 2019, 02:59 AM
    I think you for your considered and thoughtful response. Unfortunately, it goes wrong right with the initial assumption. You start out well enough, but you end up focusing on what is I think a rather minor characteristic of the concept of speaking - namely, affectations of mannerism and accent. Now, I like acting and accents and affecting different voices for characters. In general, I think...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 10:25 PM
    Good. And indeed, you have the advantage of me if you can read it in the original. But I still haven't the faintest idea what you are trying to say.
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 09:45 PM
    Who is "we" and "they"? And what is "the tale"? And if by "the book" you mean, "The Last Ringbearer", have you actually read it?
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 09:39 PM
    If it actually treated with the ideas in LotR, I might be sympathetic. But it doesn't actually. It attributes ideas to the LotR that are not found in it, and which are often as not contrary to the text itself. It's an ugly fabrication. And if a writer of some foreign nation created an original epic based on the mythos of that nation, I'd probably be very sympathetic to it. It wouldn't...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 09:17 PM
    Sorry about that. Strictly speaking, most of the time I employ the word 'you', I'm doing so improperly when I mean the English pronoun 'one'. But the pronoun 'one' is so uncommon in modern English, that if I employ it correctly I end up sounding like an even more stilted stuck-up person than I actually am: "And finally, I refuse to concede that one has some..." And dropping in 'y'all'...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 07:24 PM
    I have read 'The Last Ringbearer'. I consider it a distasteful, derivative, mockery of good which a person deluded by Morgoth might create. It is no more nuanced or reasonable criticism of Tolkien and his works than 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' is of Judiasm. And quite frankly, I believe it exists to serve the same purpose. If you can't create something interesting that stands on...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 07:20 PM
    One of my homebrew adventures involves the PC's investigating a series of attacks perpetrated by kobolds following a village festival. The PC's are meant to treat this as stereotypical murderous banditry from an aggressive group of non-persons. Certainly everyone in town is ready to pay the PC's to murder kobolds, and as inhabitants of the town they are certainly meant to sympathize with their...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 05:54 PM
    I believe you misunderstood my point. I'm suggesting that in games where players can engage in authorship, they can have less agency than in games where they can't. Consider my case of a railroaded traditional RPG where the players have only limited tactical choices and can't actually shape the overall story. We both agree this represents low player agency. The game is on rails. ...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 03:38 PM
    Why? No. For example, there is a connection between the word 'orc' and the world 'orcus'. Is it presumptuous to assume demons are evil? Are we not allowed to incarnate good and evil in a fantasy? I mean it would be one thing if humans and elves were the incarnation of good, but they are not either in Tolkien (where many of the villains are human or elves) or in D&D. The PC races...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 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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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 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,...
    58 replies | 1927 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 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.
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 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
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 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
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 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
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 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.
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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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...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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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.
    6 replies | 486 view(s)
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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...
    93 replies | 4452 view(s)
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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...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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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,...
    58 replies | 1927 view(s)
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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...
    350 replies | 10604 view(s)
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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...
    93 replies | 4452 view(s)
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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...
    13 replies | 458 view(s)
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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...
    135 replies | 4266 view(s)
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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...
    68 replies | 2754 view(s)
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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...
    664 replies | 26815 view(s)
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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.
    94 replies | 4695 view(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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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    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...
    94 replies | 4695 view(s)
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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...
    664 replies | 26815 view(s)
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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...
    664 replies | 26815 view(s)
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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...
    664 replies | 26815 view(s)
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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...
    664 replies | 26815 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    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...
    664 replies | 26815 view(s)
    1 XP
  • 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...
    664 replies | 26815 view(s)
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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...
    664 replies | 26815 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    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.
    16 replies | 2035 view(s)
    2 XP
  • 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...
    68 replies | 3578 view(s)
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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 | 4695 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
    171 replies | 11460 view(s)
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About Celebrim

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Past 6 years running a homebrew campaign using a rules set evolved from 3e D&D.
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Past 6 years running a homebrew campaign using a rules set evolved from 3e D&D.
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Monday, 24th June, 2019

  • 12:34 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Or its a case of a character shifting alignment. would not be the first time in Wheedonverse shows. We won't ever know because the show got cancelled. Good doesnt hold any any sort of monopoly on caring about people. Umm, yes it does? Caring about people is the definition of good? If you actually care about people, that makes you good. Now, caring about this group of people once probably doesn't make you good, but, it makes you a bit leaning in that direction. Repeatedly caring about other people does show a pretty strong leaning towards good. But, yeah, not caring about other people? That's pretty much the heart of what it means to be evil. ----- And, Celebrim, LG being the most good has always been the standard in D&D. I'm surprised you'd argue otherwise. There's a reason paladins were restricted to LG, once upon a time. And, every archetype for LG is among the most good of characters - Superman, King Arthur, Gawain, that sort of thing. Chaotic is selfish it its heart. It's all about the self. You can't be as good as the selfless (Lawful) by definition.

Friday, 21st June, 2019

  • 05:19 AM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    Nice Celebrim. Folks that disagree with you are now delusional. Yeah, that's going to go over well. Of course, it's convenient when you ignore 2/3rds of the examples I posted to fixate on the one that maybe you can argue with. That's pretty much par for the course. Look, it's pretty simple. Early D&D draws very heavily from the pulps. Yes? We can agree on that? Genre pulps of the early 20th century were misogynistic, racist, bigotted and deeply, deeply grounded in colonialist ideology. So, it's not really a shock when early D&D also shows signs of being misogynistic, racist, bigoted and grounded in colonialist ideology. I'm rather surprised that this is even contentious to be honest. I figured that this was pretty much common knowledge. First half of the 20th century genre fiction was racist, bigoted and grounded in colonialist ideology should not be news to anyone. It's shocking how far people will go to rewrite history in order to somehow protect this idealized fiction of...

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.


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Monday, 24th June, 2019

  • 09:51 PM - MoonSong quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    This I strongly object to on several grounds. First, it belongs to the hideous bias that chaotic is a conditional that makes something less good, while lawful is something that makes something more good. I blame Basic for this. As far as I remember the line had Lawful as code for Good and Chaotic as code for Evil. That distinction took me by surprise the first time (I mean why would a chaotic cleric be unable to cast healing spells?)
  • 05:16 PM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Indeed, the very fact that Gygax struggled to come to grips with what he believed at various points in his life to me suggests someone who is likely to have given this more than the usual amount of thought. I'm not sure one could conclude from the fact that his writing in D&D evolved much about his own personal thoughts. D&D itself was a rapidly evolving thing during the course of the '70s, with many of its tropes not really being solidly established until the late '70s. Ironically enough, my stepmother studied moral psychology when she went back to school as an adult and got a graduate degree. Her thesis advisor, who became a very close friend of the family after graduation, knew Gygax quite well, but neither he nor Gygax are alive so there's no point asking. Nonethless, it can also mean (and this is what I was trying to point out) - especially for early Gygax - that the Gygax writing on that day doesn't fully agree with the Gygax writing a short period later because his own thinking on ...
  • 04:05 PM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    And basically my argument is that Gygax's ideas of what constituted Goodness were biased in a complex way by his own personal upbringing. This can be seen by the fact that at the same time Gygax was capable of both advancing the idea that Lawful Good was the most good or goodness++, and also presenting ostensibly Lawful Good figures in a derogatory and even villainous manner. This is reflective in my opinion of Gygax's own personal moral struggles. Or, you know, him not actually thinking that the various things he wrote for the PHB and DMG were, you know, equivalent in intellectual depth to, say, A Theory of Justice... which is to say, E. Gary Gygax != John Rawls. :erm: Whatever his own personal flaws, Gygax wasn't pretending to present anything besides useful fictional source material.
  • 01:14 PM - Elfcrusher quoted Celebrim in post What would be some good metics to evaluate RPG rules/systems?
    I believe you misunderstood my point. I'm suggesting that in games where players can engage in authorship, they can have less agency than in games where they can't. Consider my case of a railroaded traditional RPG where the players have only limited tactical choices and can't actually shape the overall story. We both agree this represents low player agency. The game is on rails. Consider a hypothetical game with typical Nar mechanics. It will have rules for allowing players to engage in authorship, but only in a finite way. However, the storyteller - or 'guide' - still has the unlimited authorship of a world builder and secret keeper. Additionally, Nar games often flat out encourage the guide to engage in traditional railroading techniques such as Schrodinger's Map or Schrodinger's Stat Block. Now suppose we are engaged in some sort of story arc and have reached the climatic encounter (or a climatic encounter) with a villain or foil. Because the guide has unlimited authorship and...
  • 08:04 AM - Hussar quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Selflessness is in fact evil I actually thought that was a typo until I read the rest of the post. Needless to say, I disagree with this. As does pretty much every single moral code in human history.

Sunday, 23rd June, 2019

  • 02:40 PM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    I wanted to break this out and deal with it separately, because that is not actually what the story claims. Bizarrely, in the story - and I don't know if Margaret Weiss or Tracy Hickman is responsible for this line - the author has the embodiment of Good in the story claim that Good does not exist and that ultimately Good and Evil are identical. The Chronicles of the Dragonlance doesn't claim that the Kingpriest of Istar went bonkers, which would be reasonable, or that the Kingpriest fell in an act of Hubris, which would also be reasonable. Interesting. I haven't read any Dragonlance since the '80s so I was going on memory and Wikipedia, which didn't have a lot of details. I'm in a campaign where, after winding the Horn of Change, we drove many of the forces of chaos out of the campaign world but this has created a real problem with the White Lords, a super activist Lawful Good group, taking over our characters' home city. They seem to be pretty set up for a fall when they go on the milit...

Saturday, 22nd June, 2019

  • 08:21 PM - quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Wait? What? That's not at all what I said. I didn't in the slightest outline a sort of moral relativism. Each position is one of moral absolutism. All I did was outline a framework under which a rational person might believe that their moral absolutism was correct. Then I misunderstood. Perhaps it was word choice. If fantasy reality defines good and evil, then "belief" isn't necessary. None of what you said would exist at all in an existence where "good" and "evil" are definitive concepts. Whether they think their alignment is the correct one is immaterial. None of them could claim any of the things you outlined, because again, the very fabric of reality outlines what is or isn't good or evil. There's no "evil is just a lack of good" perspective, because there's a literal list, written into reality of what comprises evil. Also, the best way to not comment is to, ya know, not comment. Just a little FYI I've learned from this very forum.
  • 07:46 PM - quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    I'm not going to debate it. I'm not even going to quibble with what you've revealed about your own view of the real world. However, going back to the fantasy world, one way to define each of the alignments point of view in a rational way is that the adherents to that philosophy do not believe that the other philosophies represent something that is actually real. And, if they are correct in their assessment, then we would have good reason to believe that they are also correct in their philosophy. For example, good aligned people tend to believe that evil is just the absence of good. And, if good is correct, that evil is simply just unnecessary destructiveness, then Good really is the correct thing to believe in. Chaotic people tend to believe that order doesn't really exist and doesn't really reflect the nature of the universe, lawful people tend to believe that chaos is simply a flaw in the natural order, and so forth. Evil for its part naturally believes that Good is not a real thing...
  • 03:41 PM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Yeah, but people are not only really bad at evaluating their own alignment; they are really bad at evaluating the alignment of their friends and neighbors as well. Most people will identify as good people whom they like, and who are friendly. But a person who is amazingly friendly and cheerful and who makes you feel good and who is nice to you doesn't have to be good. <...> There is a line in Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn who looks like homeless ruffian is trying to win the trust of Frodo - an aristocratic hobbit. Frodo's servant is telling him that it's beneath him to have anything to do with a person like Aragorn, and Frodo has a gift of discernment and says that Aragorn "Seems foul, but feels fair" but a servant of the enemy would go out of his way to look fair, but would feel foul. Most people are not as wise as Frodo, and what seems fair feels fair to them. Real life is filled with examples like that and I've used the Frodo meeting Aragorn story more than once to illustrate the diffe...
  • 02:26 PM - Maxperson quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Fundamentally, your alignment is revealed by what you do in secret when you have to make a choice about what you believe and making the choice like what you say you believe is costly. Alignment is something that is only revealed by the testing. A person who is comfortable and reasonably wealthy does not reveal their alignment by being generous. A person who has nothing to lose doesn't reveal their alignment by telling the truth. A person who is poor doesn't reveal their virtue through their austerity. Most people will never know whether or not they are a thief until they don't have anything. Alignment isn't how you treat upstanding members of the community who can reward you with status, respect, and financial remuneration. Alignment isn't what you say you believe or what you do that gets you rewarded, it's what you do when you think you can get away with it. So the fact the neighbors respected the guy and thought he was a good person tells us nothing about his alignment. And real...
  • 10:25 AM - Staffan quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Fundamentally, your alignment is revealed by what you do in secret when you have to make a choice about what you believe and making the choice like what you say you believe is costly. Alignment is something that is only revealed by the testing. A person who is comfortable and reasonably wealthy does not reveal their alignment by being generous. A person who has nothing to lose doesn't reveal their alignment by telling the truth. A person who is poor doesn't reveal their virtue through their austerity. Most people will never know whether or not they are a thief until they don't have anything. Alignment isn't how you treat upstanding members of the community who can reward you with status, respect, and financial remuneration. Alignment isn't what you say you believe or what you do that gets you rewarded, it's what you do when you think you can get away with it. So the fact the neighbors respected the guy and thought he was a good person tells us nothing about his alignment. And real...

Friday, 21st June, 2019

  • 11:02 PM - Maxperson quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    I think we said mostly the same thing, and agree on the basic point that people are complex. I don't want to get too far into a discussion of real world cosmology, theology, or normative ethics that would have to be a part of talking about applying the idea of alignment to the real world, because invariably that would get religious or political or otherwise get people triggered. Well, those actions are far more detailed and spectacular than your original statement, which was only: "an upstanding citizen who would sacrifice himself to save the community, helps little old ladies across the road, donates money to help orphaned children". To be honest, you complain about how someone who is perfect being a caricature, but I'm not sure that Dudley Doright is less of a caricature than your upstanding heroic person who is also and at the same time a depraved serial child abuser, and who is quintessentially lawful good but also and at the same time engaged in repeated acts of depravity. I'm not c...
  • 04:09 PM - Ovinomancer quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    This claim so shocked me that I did a text search over the last 140 posts, just to see if I had misspoke or what I had written that had so mislead you. And you know what I found? Despite being a wordy often overly verbose writer, I hadn't used the word "acting" except when quoting you. In fact, other than you, no one was regularly using the word "acting" in the same sense as you are until you introduced it. Whenever someone else was talking about it, they used in the sense of "doing" such as a GM "acting in the role of referee". In particular, please start with post #200 where I began to outline my viewpoint with respect to why combat and social interaction needed different proposition declarations. When you initially quoted me in post #264, the entire post you quote doesn't contain the word "acting", yet you respond 4 times with the word "acting" in your brief refutation. Then when I replied and you started to develop your argument, you used "acting" 10 more times even though I ...
  • 02:33 PM - Ovinomancer quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    I didn't move the goal posts. You did. At no point did I ever include acting, accents, or mannerisms in my discussion until you brought them into it. When I provided examples, it was always contrasting dialogue with its absence. How can you accuse me of moving the goalposts? At this point you are arguing with yourself, and you don't need my help for that.You clearly said "acting" in your earlier posts. If you had a narrower definition, that was the time to present it. If you wait until a response addresses "acting" to clarify, that's moving the goalposts. And, to boot, dismissing the entirett of my argumeny because you don't nean funny voices us ignoring that the performance of the dialig is still critically important -- sarcastic vs bored vs excited all change the exact same dialog to very different meanings. Try "I believe you," each way for reference. This means even your ckarification of "dialog" is incomplete. That said, I addressed the just dialog aspects and the complete per...
  • 01:33 PM - Ovinomancer quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    I think you for your considered and thoughtful response.  Unfortunately, it goes wrong right with the initial assumption.   You start out well enough, but you end up focusing on what is I think a rather minor characteristic of the concept of speaking - namely, affectations of mannerism and accent.  Now, I like acting and accents and affecting different voices for characters.  In general, I think these are all net positives, and I'd strongly encourage people to at least try these things, practice doing it, and get better at them because of the value that that those skills can bring to the table.  By all means, put points on your "character sheet".   But ultimately, that's not really what I've been focused on here.  What I've been focused on as the essential element of speaking is concrete dialogue.  In other words, the most important element of the conversation is the words actually said, and that these are much more important and much more evocative than merely stating some abstract intention. ...
  • 01:28 PM - Maxperson quoted Celebrim in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    I would imagine that the majority of people do not know their own alignment, and misrepresent their alignment to others and even to themselves. In D&D terms, it requires a high degree of Wisdom to be self-aware enough to know what you actually believe and what it means. This is complicated by the fact that no mortal however wise is going to be absolutely pure in their alignment, but will depart from it consciously or unconsciously at times in a variety of ways. And again, in D&D terms, the lower the character's Wisdom, the less understanding and willpower they will have to actually perform the deeds that they claim to believe in. Being absolutely pure in an alignment means that you are caricature of a person. People are more complex than that and I doubt that a single person on Earth would fall into a single alignment. In the case of Maxperson's hypothetical child abuser, I don't think many members of the community will - once they discover his secret vice - think twice about labeling ...
  • 01:13 PM - Ovinomancer quoted Celebrim in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    Oops, wrong thread.
  • 03:54 AM - DMMike quoted Celebrim in post What would be some good metics to evaluate RPG rules/systems?
    Consider a hypothetical game with typical Nar(rative) mechanics. It will have rules for allowing players to engage in authorship, but only in a finite way. However, the storyteller - or 'guide' - still has the unlimited authorship of a world builder and secret keeper. Additionally, Nar games often flat out encourage the guide to engage in traditional railroading techniques such as Schrodinger's Map or Schrodinger's Stat Block. Sure, sure. Infinity makes any other amount look like zero. Or actually zero (not sure). I see Schrodinger's Pie as a finite one. And you don't know how much control pie the GM has until the players have their pieces. BTW, didn't know Schrodinger was so into role-playing! Sales price - (Develop Cost + Printing cost + business cost) = profit. For me. (Purchase price + upkeep cost (soda, note pads, new modules) ) / # of hours of enjoyment = fun ratio. Is that ratio upside down? Also, does it mean that free games have a fun ratio only if they have an...

Thursday, 20th June, 2019



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