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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:54 PM
    nevermind
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:52 PM
    Last post, and then I'll be done with this. How would the player know that? I mean, to begin with, how did you the DM know that a pointed crossbow didn't inhibit or prevent an effective defense? Suppose that the pointed crossbow was pushed up against the PC's back? Would that now "inhibit or prevent" an effective defense? Would this be equivalent to the "knife to the throat" situation...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:15 PM
    Bawylie Keep talking. You are doing a better job of explaining this than I am. I mean, why don't we just resolve all combats with an opposed athletics check?
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:12 PM
    It's worse than that. Because either we only know if it is a certain death scenario if we can project out the scenario using the normal rules, or the GM either decides in arbitrary abrogation of the rules that this is a certain death scenario. So either this rule does nothing except saying if there is no chance of survival after rolling the dice, you don't need to roll the dice, or else this...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 07:24 PM
    Well read 'em and weep. 1) System depends on complete fiat. (In fact, so much so that it's not even a system.) Check. 2) Rule adds nothing at all to the rope bridge scenario. Check. I'm feeling completely vindicated. I have a pair of Aces, and you have a busted straight. The given rule doesn't even do anything to handle the "knife to throat" scenario, which makes it even thinner...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 07:08 PM
    I wouldn't say that they are universally bad. I would say that they prevent you from playing D&D since they create random death opportunities from every attack and tend to create degenerate gameplay where combat is always avoided in favor of manipulating the new subsystem, which D&D in its other subsystems - because it assumes surprise while a big deal isn't that big of a deal - will generally...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 07:01 PM
    Yeah, it's pretty much always possible to design normal damage to be sufficient to instan-kill. However, normal process resolution usually provides an "out" to any given threat, which was my point. For example, while normally cutting a rope bridge completely (and for the sake of certainty, lets say at both ends at the same time) upon which are standing characters 500' above a pool of lava...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:54 PM
    We took, "suitably bound" as helpless, which allowed the classic hostage situation, though even this was not really endorsed by the rules since bound targets got saving throws in 1e. I don't think any DM in 1e ever really endorsed, "has been grabbed" (itself not an easy thing to resolve in 1e) as "helpless". Yeah, repeatedly gone over by both Umbran and myself, so we are all on the same...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:42 PM
    I don't think I argued that, but ok, now that you mention it, the rope bridge scenario may meet your criteria, but it in no way represents the same problem for D&D that "knife held to the throat" does. As Umbran has helpfully pointed out, the thing that D&D cannot cover by its standard rules is a called shot and in particular a called shot to the throat since "the throat" has no meaning to...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:11 PM
    Will wonders ever cease? After which you go on to make some perfectly valid criticisms of my attempt to explain the issue. We're pretty much on the same page here though, because although I didn't make myself as clear as you have here, I was considering the same fictional positioning when I equated attempting to put a knife to the throat of a character, with the common movie...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:56 PM
    But it is D&D we are playing, and so some of the characters falling off the bridge into the pool of lava may have rings of feather falling and rings of greater fire resistance, so that they land safely on the lava and can casually walk across it surface with only minimal hassle. And while I agree that the DM decides how the rules apply, your notion of "checkmate" is something so not found in...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:01 PM
    OK, that's fine, but that structure sure as heck wasn't heavily inspired by movie making or story telling. We could talk about when module writing for D&D went wrong in that direction because writers assumed that the goal was to exactly emulate movies or novels, but then we wouldn't be talking about 3e which was a reaction to all of that.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:58 PM
    I object that you do. Is that what the movie maker ultimately cares about as well? I mean, even a horror movie maker that wants to inflict scares, or a dramatists that wants to provoke tears in a scene, ultimately wants to do that because at some level the audience enjoys that experience and came to the movie to experience it. I don't see this distinction as a distinction at all. If...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:25 PM
    I'm not overlooking house rules at all. I'm assuming house rules exist. However, what I'm equally assuming is that generally the house rules for 'knife to the throat' usually suck either because they come down to pure fiat, which means that they exist as a sort of rail-roading technique for the GM to get the stories that he wants, or else they bypass the games normal assumptions so much that...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:04 PM
    You certainly could, and I also at one time had "called shot" rules. The problem that I've always run into trying to design my own rules or evaluating someone else's, is that they don't play nice with the rest of D&D's rules. They have a tendency to bypass both AC and hit points, and in D&D that means they have a tendency to bypass plot armor. They make the game much more lethal, especially...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 02:47 PM
    I'm half with you. The knife to the throat situation is a problem, but on the other hand I don't in any fashion think it applies to the sniping scenario the OP describes. The knife to the throat objection is one of the classic objections to the D&D rules and hit points specifically. D&D's abstract hit point system depends on the stakes of an attack not being known until after the...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:05 AM
    It's a normal combat situation. There is an obvious reason why. Suppose that the orcs now adopt the same tactics. How do your players feel about orc archers achieving die no save hits on the PC when they are not fighting back? I play a homebrew version of 3e and a sufficiently high level Hunter could pull of this sort of shot reliably, killing the orc with near certainty. It would be...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:17 AM
    I do love me some random encounter tables. The important thing to remember about a random encounter table it is supposed to be a scene generating device. So don't put anything on the table that you don't think you can improvise a meaningful scene out of. For a random encounter table in the jungle, that's generally pretty easy - everything on the table wants to eat the PCs. Bang. For a...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:59 AM
    For me, the thing is descriptive whether or not it is prescriptive. Whether you think of them as scenes or not, they are scenes. Thinking of them as locations is true, in the sense that any good sandbox will have locations where no scenes take place, and scenes that take place in locations where no participant knew before hand that there was going to be a scene there. But the scene happens...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:55 AM
    Ahh, yes. The problem with trying to conduct a conversation in English is that even though we have like 60,000 words, most of the common ones have several different meanings - sometimes not even that closely related to each other. In this case, definition two "a sequence of continuous action in a play, movie, opera, or book" is closer to the meaning that I've been going for. A scene is...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 11:39 PM
    Bedrockgames: I don't know how meaningful this is, but I think it's interesting that I have a tendency to write long posts whereas you have a tendency to respond with bursts of shorter posts, which would seem to mirror or preferences in seem framing. Sure, but suppose the PC's have gotten into the city, and let's suppose after they get in the city, you are given the player proposition...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 10:02 PM
    Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Goody. We are going to get into a discussion of what a "scene" is and how thinking about how you play a game is as important to how you play a game as the rules of the game. These are like two of my favorite topics. When I use the word "scene" with respect to a table top game, I mean "everything that happens between handwaves" (granted, that's a bit of a tongue and cheek...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 09:43 PM
    I think I do get where you are coming from, as I'm somewhat on the opposite end of the spectrum and prone to verbosity. So I'm keen to learn something from your take, if only to mitigate my flaws. However, I don't think I'm going to be convinced that "cinematic" (using the word as a term of art to mean "tending to cause everyone to imagine the same evocative scene") is unimportant to play,...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 09:37 PM
    It's amazing how many arguments depend on different understandings of what a word or phrase mean. Without knowing how exactly Bedrockgames defines narration or scene, I don't really know what his objection is in this case. But as best as I can tell Bedrockgames has right from the beginning of the thread tried to distinguish Narration from Conversation, and made it clear in his original post...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 09:09 PM
    I don't understand what you mean by that. I don't believe I have addressed the "Why?" in this discussion much at all. Ok, so that sounds like answering "Why?", but hitherto I've been mostly answering questions of "What?" and "How?" I don't quibble with your examples of "Why?" someone might engage in "railroading", though if we made a list we could probably list other ones. I...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 06:54 PM
    For now, we are forbearing from smiting the heretic until suitable time to allow for his repentance has transpired.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 05:17 PM
    I agree that they are narration in a general ordinary non-jargon sense of the word, but strictly they are not narration as it is normally meant in the table top RPG world because the player hasn't proposed anything that extends outside his person. In jargon, these are just first person propositions stated as actions, and are really no different than "I attack the orc." Don't get me wrong, I...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 05:08 PM
    Well, it is but I do understand where you are coming from. Compared to my typical example of play, your scene setting or frame setting is very sparse. You are expecting that the player will fill in any necessary details that he doesn't have with questions, and thus you are speeding play because you aren't giving the players details they don't want. In practice though, your artificial example...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 02:02 PM
    Jumping into this late, but why not "Both"? I strongly prefer a short boxed text to frame a scene, and being an advocate for the idea that gaming is an art, I prefer that the short boxed text be literary in quality and suitably evocative of the setting. In a fantasy that likely means a certain amount of archaic language and words and a certain floridness whenever something is especially ugly...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 01:32 PM
    Not as differently as you seem to think. Yes, but railroading almost never happens that way. Very rarely is a GM running a railroad so inept at running a railroad that they just start playing your character for you or telling you what your character does. I'm sure it happens, but most railroading employs much more subtle techniques than that. You say that the dice can't take agency...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 24th June, 2019, 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 druid 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...
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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...
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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...
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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.
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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?
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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...
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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'...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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,...
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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.
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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.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 09:15 PM
    Yes, that's pretty much the essence of it. So, here comes the stickler. I'm not really interested in arguing the qualitative. I'm arguing for essentially the quantitative. In other words, whether or not the DM is roleplaying isn't really an interesting contention. While I might agree that there is some diminishing point at which the GM is not roleplaying at all, that's not to me the...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 08:20 PM
    I think that there probably is an objective difference. I could easily write a computer program to adjudicate, in the same way you could write a program to play chess and determine what was or wasn't a valid move. But I don't think I could so easily write a computer program to author. And if I could write a program which engaged in authoring, it would be at least quantitatively different than...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 07:23 PM
    We're in full agreement on stirges.
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 07:15 PM
    A lot of people don't. You'll note, I don't either. What I actually believe is something much more controversial. I think "I try to intimidate the guard" replaces actual roleplaying, and that social mechanics are a problem only to the extent that they encourage these anti-cinematic social propositions. If your RP/social encounter tends to replace conversation with rules...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 05:49 PM
    Your example assumes that the players know OOG that rot grubs exist and have some idea what to do about them because they've read the entry, and that the party is of sufficient level that some solution is available and non-lethal. In too many cases, they are just whoops, "Die. No save.", and in the rest of the cases they get rather old fast. At least they usually have a period of time where...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 03:57 PM
    Only if there isn't a high level cleric on hand with a selection of Slow Poison and Neutralize Poison effects. Slow Poison can return a PC to life with no ill-effects, no resurrection failure chance, no lost CON, even if they fail a save or die poison effect that has an instantaneous result. Keoghtum's ointment along with a high level cleric renders most poison a non-issue, as your little...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 03:03 PM
    Depending on the style of treasure allocation, XP from combat tended to be between 1/3rd and 1/10th as much as the XP from treasure. The question I have for that statement is, "Is relying on Save or Die or Energy Drains to challenge PCs fun?" The problem started in 1e Unearthed Arcana. Fighters post UA were dishing about twice as much damage at a given level as the game had been...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 02:28 PM
    Doing this in a concrete way requires a bit of preparation of the sort people generally don't do. You have to define the Duke as a social character. The 'Seven Sentence NPC' article in Dragon #184 is still in my opinion the definitive starting place for this. You then need to define the basics of the social challenge, essentially setting the Difficulty, the various obvious modifiers that...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, 01:00 AM
    I'm not sure that there is a "right" answer (that is, there is probably more than one good way to do things), but I do think that there are wrong answers. In any event, assuming that both of those are right answers, I think that they are also a false dichotomy. It's not true that either everything is determined by DM fiat or else RP is just a mechanic. There are definitely ways to both...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 17th June, 2019, 11:36 PM
    More to the point, they tend to be less engaging than the social interaction that they are simulating. By the argument that I outlined above, the more detailed the social interaction rules, the less engaging that they will tend to be because the less they will resemble the thing that they are a model for. I can foresee this becoming Celebrim's Third Law of RPGs at some point, I just haven't...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 17th June, 2019, 08:47 PM
    My suspicion is that it is because gamers tend to prefer the least abstract experience of the scenario possible (or at least that is convenient). For combat, the least abstract thing to do would be dress up in armor, take up some sort of sparring weapon, and play out the combat. This is exciting visceral and only slightly abstract and many people do it, yet it is not particularly convenient...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Sunday, 16th June, 2019, 11:57 PM
    Yes, but I am postulating that modern society successfully conditions the majority of person to abhor actual violence through a variety of mechanisms, both subtle and overt. Thus, it is necessary to uncondition new recruits if they are from modern society. However, there is a lot of highly politicized research into this and because it appears to be agenda driven, I take with a grain of...
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 06:13 PM
    Feeling bad about killing is a heavily conditioned response, and so far as I can tell is not natural. And, even if it were, the vast majority of civilizations in world history have built their culture around celebrating martial prowess and victory, and were ruled over by a martial elite class. The easiest way to achieve social and economic mobility was to kill your civilizations enemies. ...
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    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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    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 | 494 view(s)
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    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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    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...
    62 replies | 2317 view(s)
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    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...
    94 replies | 4858 view(s)
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    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...
    94 replies | 4858 view(s)
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    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 | 11012 view(s)
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    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,...
    62 replies | 2317 view(s)
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    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 02:44 PM
    Certainly if I also had that background, I think I'd see why that would be your first pass understanding of the structure of D&D, but the fantasy foundations of D&D go back to a time well before Europe was a mighty colonizing power, to a time when on the contrary Europe was one of the world's cultural and technological backwaters and more often than not, it was being colonized by foreign nations...
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    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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    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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    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...
    94 replies | 4858 view(s)
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    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 | 472 view(s)
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    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 | 4342 view(s)
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    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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    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 | 2841 view(s)
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    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...
    68 replies | 2841 view(s)
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    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 | 2841 view(s)
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    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...
    94 replies | 4805 view(s)
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    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...
    44 replies | 1494 view(s)
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    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...
    106 replies | 3913 view(s)
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    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...
    44 replies | 1494 view(s)
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  • Celebrim's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 04:21 PM
    Perhaps all novelists are just frustrated GMs.
    44 replies | 1494 view(s)
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Tuesday, 25th June, 2019

  • 09:28 PM - Hussar mentioned Celebrim in post GM DESCRIPTION: NARRATION OR CONVERSATION?
    It might be but I wouldn’t describe that as narration or a scene But, see, at least three other people - dragoner, Michael Silverbane and myself WOULD describe this as bog standard narration and a scene. The fact that you happen to be using an idiosyncratic definition of the word seems to be the major sticking point here. Had you actually posted something like this a long time ago, when asked repeatedly to do so, would have saved a LOT of time. So, fair enough, call it a throat warbler mangrove if that floats your boat. For everyone else, this is just a scene (gambling den in a city) with (very sparse) narration. It requires that the players know the setting very, very well and that the majority of the details have already been established. This generally isn't true for my groups because we tend to change settings very often and rarely spend enough time in any one setting to have that level of familiarity that we can forego more details - as Celebrim has very nicely illustrated. So, no, Bedrockgames, it's not about any sort of semantic trap to show that you aren't playing the way you are. It's that you are playing more or less the same as everyone else, but, you want to call it something different and that's what's confusing the issue.

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.


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Wednesday, 26th June, 2019

  • 09:39 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    But I don’t think you’re forbidden from bypassing HP simply because HP exists. HP are a mechanism the game presents for resolving uncertainty. Was so-and-so killed by such-and-such? Yes/No: narrate it. Not certain: determine damage and compare to remaining hps. Saying that's "bypassing hps" is doing it out of order. Hit points only come into it if you're not sure they're dead. It's like resolving any other action declaration. Sometimes you just don't call for a check. If a player declares "I waste him with my crossbow." Then the DM narrating "He falls to the floor twitching and bleeding for a few moments, then is still," is as valid as "Roll to hit." How would the player know that? I mean, to begin with, how did you the DM know that a pointed crossbow didn't inhibit or prevent an effective defense?The DM exercised judgement, the player would only know it if he asked took some action to determine if it were true or not (possibly a mental action, like, "in my years of milita...
  • 09:05 PM - Bawylie quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    Last post, and then I'll be done with this. How would the player know that? I mean, to begin with, how did you the DM know that a pointed crossbow didn't inhibit or prevent an effective defense? Suppose that the pointed crossbow was pushed up against the PC's back? Would that now "inhibit or prevent" an effective defense? Would this be equivalent to the "knife to the throat" situation now? What if the crossbow was six inches away? What about a foot away? How far back does it have to be before the player can make a judge whether resisting is suicidal? How many kobolds are required to grab a PC so that they negate the PC's ability to effectively defend and allow one of their number to gut the PC without an effective defense? You did say, "swarms of ankle-biters like goblins and kobolds who might try to overwhelm and drag you down." How many is a swarm, that I might know ahead of time as a player when I'm automatically doomed and have no defense? For example, if any one o...
  • 08:27 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    It's worse than that. Because either we only know if it is a certain death scenario if we can project out the scenario using the normal rules, or the GM either decides in arbitrary abrogation of the rules that this is a certain death scenario.The idea, as I see it reading 5e's, admittedly natural and thus ambiguous, language is that the determination of uncertainty happens before referring to the mechanics that might be used to resolve said uncertainty. ... or else this rule basically means the GM can decide for any reason whatsoever that something is just dead bypassing hit points. Yes, that. It's prettymuch the Empowered DM's privilege. I mean, why don't we just resolve all combats with an opposed athletics check?Presumably because we (as DMs) don't want to. But, there's no reason a DM couldn't do that. Personally I don't care for opposed checks: set a DC for the PC's group athletic check and resolve the (presumably not very important nor potentially fun, but still uncertain?) co...
  • 08:22 PM - Bawylie quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    It's worse than that. Because either we only know if it is a certain death scenario if we can project out the scenario using the normal rules, or the GM either decides in arbitrary abrogation of the rules that this is a certain death scenario. So either this rule does nothing except saying if there is no chance of survival after rolling the dice, you don't need to roll the dice, or else this rule basically means the GM can decide for any reason whatsoever that something is just dead bypassing hit points. "First level Town Gaurds come up on you unaware. They have their crossbows pointed at you so you've been defeated. You must surrender your weapons or die." Does that sound familiar? You’ve ignored the caveat that there is no reasonably effective defense. Pointed crossbows don’t inhibit or prevent an effective defense. Your failure to imagine a good use for the rule doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Your insistence that all uses of the rule are DM-screwjobs doesn’t mean they are.
  • 07:48 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    1) System depends on complete fiat. 2) Rule adds nothing at all Now we're just straying into immemorial failings of D&D. ;P Seriously, though, a rule (of thumb) that if the player's action declaration boxes the victim into a certain death scenario, the victim dies, isn't even really a variant, it's just the 5e describe-declare-resolve cycle. The player declares the action that initiates the inescapable-death-scenario, the DM narrates success, no reference to mechanics required. It's not even a freaking rule It's a ruling, yes. A rule is not a system. Was that in dispute? Probably not worth splitting that tree-trunk. Finally, it does address the knife to the throat scenario, at the time the knife applies to the throat. The prerequisite is that you must create that circumstance through play. That kicks the uncertainty upstream in the process. The question becomes "how do you get that knife to the victim's throat?" Which is, I think, a better question, because it might be...
  • 07:31 PM - Bawylie quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    ...oning. D&D has always presumed "helpless" is that circumstance where there is no reasonably effective defense, but if "helpless" is that situation then your rule no more adds anything to the "knife to throat" scenario than it adds to the rope bridge scenario. It's not even a freaking rule, which means your hand was emptier than even I thought it was. A rule is not a system. Was that in dispute? Rule adds nothing to the rope bridge scenario. Again, not really important. My claim was that the rope bridge scenario qualified, not that it was impossible to resolve by any other application of the rules. Finally, it does address the knife to the throat scenario, at the time the knife applies to the throat. The prerequisite is that you must create that circumstance through play. The consequence is that the reward for doing so is defeating the enemy, and not a measly d4. It’s very easy to win an argument when you get to play both sides, isn’t it? “Yes, Brad it is. I concede.” - Celebrim.
  • 07:08 PM - Bawylie quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    I don't think I argued that, but ok, now that you mention it, the rope bridge scenario may meet your criteria, but it in no way represents the same problem for D&D that "knife held to the throat" does. As Umbran has helpfully pointed out, the thing that D&D cannot cover by its standard rules is a called shot and in particular a called shot to the throat since "the throat" has no meaning to the rules. Whereas, everything about the bridge is, as I've already pointed out, things covered by the rules. That makes the two things different, even if they aren't different under your checkmate rules. It is not at all obvious that the rope bridge needs "checkmate" rules nor can I see how applying the "checkmate" rules solves a problem there, since the same outcome can be achieved without them. Regardless of whether your criteria can cover the rope bridge scenario, that is at the least a categorical difference between the two. Well, I mean, it's just not. I suppose you could apply y...
  • 07:02 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    I think this is a good point, and my typical response to this sort of thing is that every single time I've ran into complaints about this one, it's a DM complaining (explicitly or implicitly) how D&D's rules prevent them from easily railroading the players, since the players - when threatened - ought to act afraid and meekly submit to the NPCs and they just don't. And invariably this is all wrong because "realism" and they've got house rules to solve the problem.IDK, I've heard it coming from players who (miraculously) get the drop on someone, too. I've heard of DMs in 4e and 5e applying some ideas like that to the game, for example with a character that makes an attack which could kill a target being allowed to narrate the <result>, thus allowing the game to handle capturing targets better and not requiring all lethal combats to have lethal ends. ... However, in the case of "knife to the throat", a HERO style "covered" status doesn't really address the general problem since you are s...
  • 06:22 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    The knife to the throat objection is one of the classic objections to the D&D rules and hit points specifically.It is, but 1e, at least, wasn't /as/ susceptible to it - if creatures were "sleeping or otherwise helpless," I think the phrasing was, you could kill them at 1/round. No CdG or anything. If the DM takes the knife-to-the-throat scenario as helplessness, it was taken care of. But there's one huge, unspoken assumption in that scenario... D&D's abstract hit point system depends on the stakes of an attack not being known until after the attack is made. Thus, a 4 hit point attack on a 40 hit point target is described in an entirely different way than an attack on a 4 hit point target. <snip Forge jargon> That is to say, nothing in the D&D rules <resolves the action declaration> "I put a knife to the target's throat." The assumption is that you can get a knife to the victim's throat without first either reducing it's hps to the point that said knife is a threat of near-cert...
  • 06:05 PM - Bawylie quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    But it is D&D we are playing, and so some of the characters falling off the bridge into the pool of lava may have rings of feather falling and rings of greater fire resistance, so that they land safely on the lava and can casually walk across it surface with only minimal hassle. And while I agree that the DM decides how the rules apply, your notion of "checkmate" is something so not found in the rules I can't imagine what it is, and that makes it - and the situations its designed to solve - entirely different than the rope bridge scenario. Man, come on. If I have a house rule about checkmate scenarios and I give you an example of one I consider to be a checkmate scenario, isn’t it a little bit unfair to argue that example doesn’t meet my criteria? I mean, “here’s an example of the sort of thing I’m talking about” and you respond “no it’s not.” I feel like I’m probably an expert on my own darn opinion.
  • 04:06 PM - Bedrockgames quoted Celebrim in post GM DESCRIPTION: NARRATION OR CONVERSATION?
    OK, that's fine, but that structure sure as heck wasn't heavily inspired by movie making or story telling. We could talk about when module writing for D&D went wrong in that direction because writers assumed that the goal was to exactly emulate movies or novels, but then we wouldn't be talking about 3e which was a reaction to all of that. I get that. But it is equally important here for me providing an explanation. A movie inspired period was more the 90s which is a whole other topic
  • 03:54 PM - Umbran quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    I'm half with you. The knife to the throat situation is a problem, but on the other hand I don't in any fashion think it applies to the sniping scenario the OP describes. For once, I largely agree with Celebrim - not just on this, but on the entire post. I have some additional thoughts I'll add. The knife to the throat objection is one of the classic objections to the D&D rules and hit points specifically. D&D's abstract hit point system depends on the stakes of an attack not being known until after the attack is made. In a game theory sense, the stakes are known, but probabilistic. It is like playing a hand of blackjack for the right to make a spin on a roulette wheel. You don't know the exact outcome, but you can totally work out the expected return on the bet. Where this system runs into problems is if somehow you can arrange to have the stakes of the action be assumed to be known by the participants before the fortune roll is made, a situation normally considered to be Fortune at the End. In systems built for Fortune at the End, the game rules arbitrate between two outcomes in some manner, with high stakes like the death of the opponent normally being quite difficul...
  • 03:51 PM - Bawylie quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    I'm not overlooking house rules at all. I'm assuming house rules exist. However, what I'm equally assuming is that generally the house rules for 'knife to the throat' usually suck either because they come down to pure fiat, which means that they exist as a sort of rail-roading technique for the GM to get the stories that he wants, or else they bypass the games normal assumptions so much that they basically create a new game. The existence of house rules, even in a system that validates Rule Zero and the right of the GM to create house rules on the fly, does not actually contradict my statement. "The rules have no problems because you can always create a house rule..." is such a notorious rebuttal, that it even has a name. Not even remotely equivalent, and no it isn't. I mean, even if the fall was infinitely long, it still wouldn't be an automatic loss in D&D to fall. I suppose you could have some sort of 500' drop into a pool of lava, but even that in general isn't an autom...
  • 03:17 PM - Bedrockgames quoted Celebrim in post GM DESCRIPTION: NARRATION OR CONVERSATION?
    For me, the thing is descriptive whether or not it is prescriptive. Whether you think of them as scenes or not, they are scenes. Thinking of them as locations is true, in the sense that any good sandbox will have locations where no scenes take place, and scenes that take place in locations where no participant knew before hand that there was going to be a scene there. But the scene happens whether you think about it as a scene or not. . Depending on how you define scene (which is very important here), I don't think this is true. It again brings us into 'everything is really X so you are always doing X no matter what'. If that is the case, then it doesn't really matter I suppose. But if we are drawing on Scenes here as an analogy it leads to problems, or at least problems for certain styles of play. Calling it a scene immediately invokes movies and plays. And scenes in movies in plays have things we expect to occur, that we might not expect to occur in the spontaneous medium of a game. Also,...
  • 03:08 PM - Bawylie quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    I'm half with you. The knife to the throat situation is a problem, but on the other hand I don't in any fashion think it applies to the sniping scenario the OP describes. The knife to the throat objection is one of the classic objections to the D&D rules and hit points specifically. D&D's abstract hit point system depends on the stakes of an attack not being known until after the attack is made. For any proposition to attack, the exact nature of the attack (how it is described) is not known until after the fortune is described and the hit points that are inflicted are compared to the hit points of the target that remain. The resulting wound (if any) is then described in terms of the proportion of remaining hit points that the attack removed from the target. Thus, a 4 hit point attack on a 40 hit point target is described in an entirely different way than an attack on a 4 hit point target. One results in some minor wound, while the other results in a potentially mortal wound - ev...
  • 01:00 PM - Bedrockgames quoted Celebrim in post GM DESCRIPTION: NARRATION OR CONVERSATION?
    So for example, what meaningful interaction is going to happen with the opera troop performers? Or at least, the crowd watching the opera troop? Whatever write up you give about the opera troops needs to help you and the intended audience frame a meaningful scene, even if it is something like - "10% chance, member of the troop is drunk/ill/injured/missing, and the director tries to press a PC into service as a character.", or "10% chance, opera troop is presenting a play that faction X considers a direct attack on them, and they've hired rowdies to throw rotten fruit at the performers and break up the play." Point is, while you or I might be experienced enough to brain storm up this on the fly, under the pressure of play it's a lot harder than it is now while I'm typing this, and it will be even tougher for the people who by your book. . That table is a work in progress, so I don't know if Opera Troupe is going to stay as is, or if it is going to get more elaboration. It is a wuxia game, ...
  • 12:53 PM - Bedrockgames quoted Celebrim in post GM DESCRIPTION: NARRATION OR CONVERSATION?
    So remember it's not a random creature generator, it's a random encounter (scene) generator. . Don't know if you were meaning to suggest this or not, but to be clear: there aren't really any any creature entries on this table (at least in the supernatural sense of the word). Those are all different sects and organizations. So the 7 Demons entry refers to a group of bandits in the area who wear demon masks.
  • 12:45 PM - Bedrockgames quoted Celebrim in post GM DESCRIPTION: NARRATION OR CONVERSATION?
    I do love me some random encounter tables. The important thing to remember about a random encounter table it is supposed to be a scene generating device. So don't put anything on the table that you don't think you can improvise a meaningful scene out of. For a random encounter table in the jungle, that's generally pretty easy - everything on the table wants to eat the PCs. Bang. For a random encounter table in the city, the sort of interaction that the named thing is going to have with the PCs is much less obvious and so often needs to be specified. If you can't see what that interaction is going to be immediately, then it's probably not that great of an entry for the table, and it's going to be even less obvious if you are preparing this for someone else not steeped in the intricacies of your campaign world. So for example, what meaningful interaction is going to happen with the opera troop performers? Or at least, the crowd watching the opera troop? Whatever write up you give abo...
  • 12:24 PM - Michael Silverbane quoted Celebrim in post GM DESCRIPTION: NARRATION OR CONVERSATION?
    I agree that they are narration in a general ordinary non-jargon sense of the word, but strictly they are not narration as it is normally meant in the table top RPG world because the player hasn't proposed anything that extends outside his person. In jargon, these are just first person propositions stated as actions, and are really no different than "I attack the orc." Don't get me wrong, I think they are well phrased propositions and the example of play is very functional, but when people speak of player narration they are usually speaking of something different. Player narration formally would be something like, "I lead the way to the gambling hall. The merchants in the crowd sense we are dangerous men, and address us respectfully as we walk by. Peasants scurry to get out of the way of these formidable warriors, bowing deeply as we pass." The player is taking it on themselves to add to the scene things that are external to their own character. In essence, the player is in a limite...
  • 10:00 AM - 5ekyu quoted Celebrim in post Attacking defenseless NPCs
    It's a normal combat situation. There is an obvious reason why. Suppose that the orcs now adopt the same tactics. How do your players feel about orc archers achieving die no save hits on the PC when they are not fighting back? I play a homebrew version of 3e and a sufficiently high level Hunter could pull of this sort of shot reliably, killing the orc with near certainty. It would be well within the rules for a high level hunter to make a single arrow shot that did 4d8+10 damage, with a 10% chance of a critical hit for about 10d8+30 damage - a total all but guaranteed to additionally provoke at least one and possibly two catastrophic damage checks with, because this is a Hunter, a very high DC to save even in the unlikely event this was a rather high hit point orc. A multi-classed Hunter/Rogue with suitable feat selection could also pull this off. And that's really not getting into all the possibilities available with magical weapons and buffing. Despite the lack of realism in a hit ...


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