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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...
    153 replies | 4182 view(s)
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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 | 361 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...
    44 replies | 1131 view(s)
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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...
    64 replies | 2111 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...
    64 replies | 2111 view(s)
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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...
    153 replies | 4182 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,...
    44 replies | 1131 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...
    153 replies | 4182 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...
    153 replies | 4182 view(s)
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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...
    64 replies | 2111 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...
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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 | 3919 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 | 2424 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...
    68 replies | 2424 view(s)
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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.
    44 replies | 1220 view(s)
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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...
    44 replies | 1220 view(s)
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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...
    419 replies | 16564 view(s)
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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...
    106 replies | 3289 view(s)
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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...
    94 replies | 4360 view(s)
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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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  • 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 | 4360 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...
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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...
    664 replies | 26148 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 | 26148 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...
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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...
    664 replies | 26148 view(s)
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  • 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 | 1910 view(s)
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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...
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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
    164 replies | 10232 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...
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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 | 3362 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 | 3523 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 | 3362 view(s)
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  • 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...
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  • 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 | 3362 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...
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  • 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 | 5538 view(s)
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  • 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 | 5538 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...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 06:59 PM
    I see the thread is getting way off topic.
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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...
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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 | 3006 view(s)
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  • 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 | 2206 view(s)
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  • 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.
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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 | 3006 view(s)
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  • 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#/
    164 replies | 10232 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 | 3006 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 | 3006 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 | 5538 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 | 471 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 01:16 AM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    That's at least partially true. By the time you get to the Napoleonic Wars, melee weapons are basically obsolete as weapons of war and Kobold Avenger's vision of how wars in that era played out is actually as you say a century or two too late. The thing is though, it would take a bit over 100 years before everyone would really realize that and adjust tactics accordingly, and many of the...
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 20th May, 2019, 09:58 PM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    A lot of terms get tossed around without a clear definition of what they mean, to the point that I've become highly skeptical of jargon that consists of multiple everyday ordinary words which when put together form a new idea that means something special and technical. It seems to be the goal of a great many fields of study to coin one of these phrases, or just repurpose a single ordinary word,...
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 20th May, 2019, 09:06 PM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    I tend to think I've written a fairly influential essay on railroading, and at no point did I ever argue that the rules of the system themselves were railroading, nor do I see how that can be sustained. Are you defining any game where their are optimal and suboptimal builds as one that is "railroading"? The 1e AD&D Thief class was entirely suboptimal. Are you suggesting that anyone that...
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 20th May, 2019, 06:31 PM
    You'd think that would be easy to explain and without controversy. It's a bizarre form of 'mother may I'. I don't doubt you are right that it's not unusual, but it can't be logically supported IMO by any tortured path. There are plenty of GMs and even some players that seem frustrated by and even offended by the undeniable fact that the player's mind extends into the game universe...
    664 replies | 26148 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 20th May, 2019, 06:10 PM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    None of that is true, and I think you'll find very few DMs agree with any of those claims. Fundamentally, your opinion seems to continually come down to, "You shouldn't do things that way because I wouldn't do things that way." There are always going to be DMs that do things differently than you do and have different priorities than you do. That's OK. The DM does have a referee hat to...
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 20th May, 2019, 03:29 PM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    This is an example of how different persons can have very different perceptions of what makes sense and feels right. For you, owing to the power of firearms, pirates need to leap on to the decks of other ships armed with all manner of firearms, and to treat swords as a backup weapon. For me, I'm perfectly happy to have a band of cutthroats be mostly armed with all manner of stabbing and cutting...
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 20th May, 2019, 06:01 AM
    No, having low wisdom means you have low perception which already covers your inability to concentrate when on the watch. However, once you've established that the perception check is failed, you or the player may be free to color the failure as being explained by the players poor habits. Personally, I'd leave that job to the player, though some groups allow the GM's to narrate failures. ...
    13 replies | 471 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 20th May, 2019, 05:56 AM
    Wisdom. Wisdom governs self-control and the ability to apply yourself to tasks. If the story or subject is not something they care about, high intelligence is arguably a negative. Some intelligent people have what is known as inappropriate hyper-focus, but this quirk is only a virtue when applied to something they deeply care about (at which point they become inattentive to everything else)....
    13 replies | 471 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Sunday, 19th May, 2019, 06:03 PM
    LeGuin's "Left Hand of Darkness"? Brin's "Glory Season"? I'm struggling to understand just what you are going here or what you think will happen. I'm hesitant to project or imagine how anyone - much less a hypothetical someone - would react to something else, and I wonder equally whether this discussion of the "sheer amount of baggage" itself smacks of denigrating stereotyping.
    104 replies | 3006 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Sunday, 19th May, 2019, 06:44 AM
    First, because science fiction and fantasy are different. And secondly, because even in fantasy, it helps to have an explanation for why the world has dragons or magic. In fantasy however, that explanation is allowed to be (but does not have to be) mythic as opposed to scientific. For example, we can in fact answer the question, "Why are their dragons?" with respect to Tolkien's Middle Earth.
    104 replies | 3006 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Sunday, 19th May, 2019, 06:41 AM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    No one is suggesting you have to do anything.
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Sunday, 19th May, 2019, 05:41 AM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    No, that's just not true.
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Sunday, 19th May, 2019, 05:35 AM
    Seems like a reasonable thing to do for a science fiction novel. You could then speculate on the conditions that caused this state of being to come about, presumably paralleling the conditions that make say females the larger stronger of the sexes in eagles and spiders. I doubt anyone is going to feel threatened by that speculation.
    104 replies | 3006 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 06:50 PM
    I think that this is an important point. One of the problems I've noticed with cooperative board games is that in practice, they tend to devolve to a single more experienced, more domineering, or more tactical player playing all the roles and directing all the other participants. It's rare that you see one where everyone is getting equal input as to what the teams plan is, or even has full...
    46 replies | 2036 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 06:30 PM
    I've always liked the CoC system in that it "made sense" that what the player would get better in would be what they practiced doing, and it had built in balance that the better you were the harder it was to advance. Mouse Guard does something similar where to advance you must accumulate a certain number of successes and failures. And that probably makes even more sense. But over the...
    20 replies | 674 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 06:15 PM
    Meh. I'd never do it in a fantasy setting of any sort. The only setting I can imagine doing it in was a hard realism historical setting where you used some sort of character burner to establish life histories, and out of either slavish or respectful (your pick) adherence to the reality of the setting your characters life path and available choices prior to the start of play depended on their...
    104 replies | 3006 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 02:18 PM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    So you are saying they shouldn't care whether it is realistic, because you don't care if it is realistic?
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 05:34 AM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    Economics? Demographics and population? Geography? Realistic weather patterns? Feudalism? Army sizes? You've never heard arguments about realism applied to these things? You've not been around that long. No one rants about the fact that studded leather armor shouldn't exist? Or that chain mail should be just called mail? Or that what's called a 'longsword' in D&D is actually an arming...
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 03:27 AM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    I've never really understood the point of this statement and others like it. What are you trying to demonstrate?
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 03:25 AM
    Celebrim replied to Firearms
    The best known explosives in my campaign world has the stability of raw nitroglycerin (or less) and the explosive power of black powder. The goblins have on several occasions tried to weaponize it, including inventing firearms. However, in battle the tendency is for one spell or accident to set off one or more soldiers stored powder, which then sets of a chain reaction that decimates the...
    161 replies | 5538 view(s)
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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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Saturday, 15th June, 2019

  • 01:34 PM - Scottius quoted Celebrim in post Inspired RPG advice sites/YouTube Channels
    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. Glad to see a shout out already for Seth Skorkowsky, and I'll addy voice to this as well. He's become my favorite gaming YouTuber since I discovered his channel last year. He does reviews (mostly Call of Cthulhu, some Cyberpunk and old school D&D mixed in). He also does good videos on gaming in general like good and bad DM traits and the like. His few videos of memorable gaming table stories are also highly worth seeking out like his Bonesaw and Scott Brown videos. They both had me in stitches.

Friday, 14th June, 2019

  • 04:04 AM - pickin_grinnin quoted Celebrim in post Systems You'd Never Play after Reading Them
    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 that is elegant and playable, I don't think we are much better. Pendragon, for example? Basic RPG and WEG D6 are still some of the better designed systems of all time, and for all the problems D&D had, many of its choices - hit points, classes, spell slots, etc. - are still defensible and have not been improved on. I agree. These days I find myself using WEG D6 (or OpenD6) and BRP anytime I don't need to use a specific system. I default to Savage Worlds with the Super Powers supplement for superhero games, and right now I'm running a 5e campaign (because that's what the players wanted), but the types of games I run work well in D6 and BRP. D6 in particular is built to be a toolkit that is easy to modify, so I do a lot of that. I spent the last couple of days cataloging all of my rpg books. I have 579 of them...
  • 01:05 AM - Riley37 quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    That said, I don't agree with your first sentence, nor does the management. I'll believe that when I hear it from the management. There are opinions one may not express on EN World; but one can *hold* them, as long as one can refrain from expressing them openly, while chatting merrily about how to optimize a sorcerer-warlock. I may benefit from a Klan sympathizer's advice about how to optimize the sorcerer-warlock, and I may or may not ever learn about the differences between my ideology and theirs. An actual member? Statistically unlikely, after membership downsizing in recent decades, but I would not rule it out, not as confidently as you do. Someone who agrees with *part* of the Klan platform? I find it likely that I've given XP to at least one post from at least one such participant. You and I have, in PMs, debated differences which have, historically, sometimes put people on opposite sides of a battlefield. I'm not sure that my differences with the Klan are actually deeper than my differ...

Thursday, 13th June, 2019

  • 10:46 PM - Greg K quoted Celebrim in post Systems You'd Never Play after Reading Them
    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 that is elegant and playable, I don't think we are much better. Pendragon, for example? Basic RPG and WEG D6 are still some of the better designed systems of all time. Agreed. There are several older games that are still examples of elegant and playable games including Bond 007, DC Heroes (Mayfair Games), Elric/Stormbringer (Chaosium), Ghostbusters (WEG), Pendragon, and Toon are all great games that still hold up well, (imho). I also still consider Hero and GURPS to be great games despite preferring Savage Worlds over both Hero or GURPS. In fact, I am debating as to whether I want to keep tailoring 5e with house rules for my next fantasy campaign or use Hero System (4e or 5e).
  • 06:57 PM - Umbran quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    Feeling bad about killing is a heavily conditioned response, and so far as I can tell is not natural. You say that as if humans *have* an identifiable "natural state" - we are a tribal, social species and an extremely extended infant period compared to other animals. We, more than any other creature on the planet, are focused on *learned* behavior, not inborn, "natural" behavior. What is natural for us is to try out a large number of different behaviors, and see what works. I will push back on the idea that, since very young kids can be observed being rough with each other, that violence is the human "natural state". Human children are not born with a full suite of natural behaviors that they get conditioned out of. Human children are more blank slates - they *experiment* with behaviors, and they observe the behaviors of others, and they learn and develop. Note: learning and developing are not synonymous. Some learned behaviors can be unlearned. Some behaviors come from how ...
  • 06:29 PM - Bedrockgames quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    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. Until relatively recently, in many societies a young male couldn't even hope to marry unless he achieved a certain level of above average social standing and economic success, so most societies - from North American aboriginals, to Scottish Highlanders, to the steppes of Asia, and on and on - had a huge surplus of unmarried young men eager to kill other unmarried young men. That was human culture worldwide for most of humanities existence, so much so that evidence for it is written into our genes, and you can mark in the genetic code where the culture started to shift. I am pretty sure when soldiers go t...
  • 06:18 PM - Elfcrusher quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    Feeling bad about killing is a heavily conditioned response, and so far as I can tell is not natural. I thought it was the other way around: the military puts a whole lotta effort into un-conditioning new recruits, so that they won't be all conflicted about it when the moment comes. And that this is why the military actively promotes derogatory slurs for people of whatever state they happen to be fighting. To de-humanize the enemy.
  • 10:11 AM - Riley37 quoted Celebrim in post What would be some good metics to evaluate RPG rules/systems?
    Nor is it obvious that any 10 people highly expressive in English will agree as to what constitutes good writing in English. The range of what ten people consider "literary" English has arisen on another thread. Arisen, or perhaps descended. At least I've learned a new phrase: "high Gygaxian". I have my doubts about whatever design team developed the English language. I hope it was delivered on time, for a low cost, because it sure isn't winning any prizes for ease of use, nor for internal documentation.
  • 10:02 AM - Tonguez quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    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 (Huns, Turks, Moors, etc.). D&D's fantasy and folk roots don't start in the 18th or 19th century. Trolls and goblins and elves and dwarves and the like didn't come out of Europe's colonial experience, but out of its dim dark prehistory. The fantasy roots of goblins and trolls and the like aren't Europeans driving out indigenous groups in the Age of Exploration, but the brutal man versus nature fight of the European Dark Ages. my nephew use to watch the cartoon series Blinky Bill, which is about a group of Anthropomorphized Australian animals having adventures in the Australia bush. Anyway I r...
  • 08:56 AM - Riley37 quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    And then there was that time the sons of the local KKK chapter told our RPG group we couldn't call ourselves Knights, and we had to explain to them with more than words that we really weren't going to be intimidated. On one hand, EN World is for gamers regardless of political allegiances, and for all I know, some of us (in this thread or otherwise) have a positive opinion of the KKK while others have a negative opinion of the KKK; there are differences we "check at the door" or take to PM. On another hand, bravo for standing your ground on "knight", and (if I infer accurately) for succeeding.
  • 08:28 AM - Riley37 quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    One other problem I encountered when running RPGs for 5 year olds, is that the players (my children) refused to make choices that would put them in danger. If a house in the neighborhood was said to be haunted, well that was more than sufficient reason not to go into a run down house. Besides, going into an abandoned house was dangerous in itself, and it was trespassing. Perhaps you have taught your children that danger and morally questionable choices are best left to adults. IMO, this is good parenting of five-year-olds. If your children's off-the-cuff response to "you see something moving in the windows of an abandoned house" is "find Daddy and tell him", so much the better. Have you tried games written for young players, such as "No Thanks Evil"?

Wednesday, 12th June, 2019

  • 09:10 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Celebrim in post What would be some good metics to evaluate RPG rules/systems?
    We'll likely have to build a mind subtle and powerful enough to get the answer....We could call it "Deep Thought."
  • 08:22 PM - Elfcrusher quoted Celebrim in post What would be some good metics to evaluate RPG rules/systems?
    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, number of subsystems, depth of hierarchies, number of cross references, number of meta-rules, etc. The trouble is that it turns out that measuring any of those things in a meaningful manner is really hard, and often two metrics are in tension with each other - for example, you can make the rules more compact, but only at the cost of reducing readability, increasing cross references, and/or increasing the number of meta-rules. So then there is the problem of how you would weight the tradeoff. And then it turns out that things like space, complexity, and processing time are also trade offs, so that y...
  • 07:41 PM - billd91 quoted Celebrim in post Systems You'd Never Play after Reading Them
    No, what would get me in trouble is disparaging the talent of a game designer. One of the half-dozen or so times I got a temporary ban here was suggesting that the design a of supplement was so amateur, that the designer probably shouldn't plan a full time career in the industry - without realizing that the designer was in the thread. Well, yeah, you veer into making evaluations of the person involved, you go past critiquing the game and into the personal sphere that's against the rules around here. Keep it away from that and things should be fine.
  • 06:26 PM - Gradine quoted Celebrim in post Systems You'd Never Play after Reading Them
    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. I mean, if your honest opinion would run afoul of the board's stated rules on inclusion, for example, then by all means keep that to yourself. Edit: I will add that a statement such as, for example, "the explicit sexual themes in systems like V:tM, Monsterhearts or Apocalypse World is a huge turnoff for me" is a very different statement than one laced with judgment at the people who make/play said games. 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 that is elegant and playable, I don't think we are much better. Clearly I disagree. We've gotten significantly better at matching mechanics to their intention, which is to say, we're actually doing t...
  • 05:07 PM - Gradine quoted Celebrim in post Systems You'd Never Play after Reading Them
    And I'm going to stop there, because there are a ton of games I could add to my list, but I was afraid I would start a firestorm of controversy by writing negative reviews of them. That's the entire point of this thread! I'll bring up another one: basically anything related to OSR. Ya'll realize how much better we've gotten at game design in the past four decades, right? I'll acknowledge that part of it is, for me at least, guilt by association (though I'm sure there are plenty of fine people who play or even produce OSR), but the much bigger part of it is... we really have gotten way better at game design. I once read through LofFP to see what all the hub-bub was about and was basically left with the impression "this is just OD&D but better organized, which, I mean, talk about a low bar."
  • 02:28 PM - Jonathan Tweet quoted Celebrim in post Why are we okay with violence in RPGs?
    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 opportunity to imagine something visceral and exciting. I've been thinking about this issue for almost 40 years, and this summary is pretty good. Humans find sex and violence to be interesting, and of those two pursuits violence is the one suitable to group activity, as in a roleplaying game.

Tuesday, 11th June, 2019

  • 10:42 PM - MechaPilot quoted Celebrim in post Systems You'd Never Play after Reading Them
    MechWarrior I enjoyed Btech immensely back in the day. But upon reading the RPG, I immediately was struck by the fact that a game based on a futuristic wargame that gave basically no plot armor to the participants was likely to not have a survival rate that would make it much worth playing as a story game. 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.

Friday, 7th June, 2019

  • 05:01 PM - Charlaquin quoted Celebrim in post Torture Should Not Work in Dungeons & Dragons
    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 deception. I think you and the OP are using different standards for “working.” When the US army manuals say torture always “works” in the long run, it’s saying that torture always eventually succeeds in getting the victim to tell the torturer whatever they want to know. When an academic paper says torture doesn’t “work,” they’re saying it isn’t a reliable means of gathering intelligence because it always eventually succeeds in getting the victim to tell the torturer whatever they want to know. Victims will tell their torturers anything they think will make the torture stop, which may include accurate informat...

Tuesday, 4th June, 2019

  • 08:53 PM - R_Chance quoted Celebrim in post What proportion of the population are adventurers?
    I agree, that we largely agree :) The numbers could be argued for ever. And, as you say, some things were not locally available and those things had to be traded for. The numbers just aren't that available, the Domesday Book is the single most complete record of taxable assets in any medieval kingdom. It doesn't address issues like literacy but it does give an economic overview of England at the time of the Norman Conquest (its available in print). Economic information for gaming purposes is a tad more difficult to come by. I have always used two sources, to determing / generate a region economy / population. "Chivalry and Sorcery" (1st edition from FGU) and "A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe" (from Expeditious Retreat Press). No data on things like trade per se, but good numbers on specialization. Expeditious Retreat Press also make a rather handy book on long distance trade called "A Magical Society: Silk Road". They were quite well done. FGU is gone and the first edition rules can b...


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