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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Today, 05:48 AM
    This all makes sense. I'd like to see a mega-FR box (or any campaign setting box, really), but based on your logic it makes sense to keep covering the FR as the default for their hardcovers and start a new line of "other D&D settings." On the other hand, it also makes sense for them to offer an FR set for those who want to go "off-roading." They could do something similar to the 2nd edition...
    36 replies | 1115 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Today, 05:39 AM
    OK, maybe. An Adventures in Eberron box set makes sense. That said, is it the best choice for Target (if that's what they're going for)? Wouldn't a more vanilla offering like the Forgotten Realms make more sense for the Target crowd?
    36 replies | 1115 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:49 PM
    If we're talking real world analogs, how about "Mythic Ancient World." The basic idea would be using creative license to combine various high points into Antiquity into one phase: Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Indus Valley, China, Norte Chico, all at a high point of civilization. Then you pepper in a mythic variety, so that demi-gods and heroes walk the land...so not as much Golden Age Greece as...
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:45 PM
    I highly doubt this is for an Eberron box set. Isn't the new Eberron producting coming out this year, in a few months? They wouldn't be polling like this just five months in advance. My money would be on Forgotten Realms. It just makes all kinds of sense. Greyhawk is possible, but let's face it: the setting is a bit anachronistic for contemporary sensibilities. Duchy of Geoff? Nyr Dyv?...
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Wednesday, 5th June, 2019, 04:32 AM
    How about some DJ Hodor:
    279 replies | 23842 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Saturday, 1st June, 2019, 02:34 AM
    I'm not including "dream books," just stuff that has existed in previous editions - as per the OP. The obvious choice is: Manual of the Planes, in some form or fashion. It is the largest area of "classic canon" that hasn't been resurrected for 5E. I'd also love a Deities & Demigods, but more for fun than utility. It could be a "Planar Monster Manual" to go with MotP, organized by plane with...
    71 replies | 2758 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Saturday, 1st June, 2019, 02:21 AM
    I will add that as a player, I greatly enjoy when I experience or even just sense that the DM has put a lot of work and thought into creating a setting, whether that is through their own world design or deeply knowing (and perhaps adapting) the lore of a pre-published setting. If I sense that the setting is paper-thin in either respect--the world design or knowledge of the world--then it takes...
    106 replies | 3277 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Saturday, 1st June, 2019, 02:07 AM
    A DM has two spheres to consider: the world of the setting itself, and the world as it appears in the game. We can call these "the world setting" and the "game environment," unless better terms come along. It is up to each individual DM how much emphasis to put on both. The game is designed so that you only need to create the game environment, and can either run campaign books with only an...
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Thursday, 30th May, 2019, 04:14 AM
    Keep on the Borderlands 17 Dragons of Despair 17 The Lost City - 20 Desert of Desolation - 20 Test of the Warlords - 20 Isle of Dread - 21 Castle Amber - 21 Red Hand of Doom - 20 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth 19
    209 replies | 7485 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 10:26 PM
    OK, fair enough - and I agree. This is an issue of setting design and to what degree the world exists beyond the active environment of game play. There are two polarities, one being the "Tolkien approach" in which setting design is a creative activity in itself, in some cases even more primary (to the DM) than game play; the other polarity being the "moving set piece" approach in which everything...
    94 replies | 4339 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 09:29 PM
    Hmm...I was under the impression that the "5E answer" was play the game as you like, so if demographics are important to your setting design, have at it. (Actually, that has been the answer in every variation of D&D, as far as I'm concerned)
    94 replies | 4339 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 09:23 PM
    I still can't get over the fact that Daniel Horne--a good artist, but not exactly one of the better known D&D artists--was included and Brom--one of the most iconic artists of the 2E era, and the Dark Sun artist, not to mention enormously popular during and after his D&D time--was not. In fact, there were quite a few who were not...it included most of the main ones but a smattering of relatively...
    253 replies | 7980 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 07:51 PM
    In addition to what others have said about Rome, Alexandria, et al, during the Renaissance, Britain was far less populous than France, Germany, Italy, and other parts of Europe. But I think the point is, could Waterdeep have 200,000 people, with a region of 1.5-2M? The answer is: yes. And that is all that really matters; it doesn't have to closely fit real world analogs, it just has to be...
    94 replies | 4339 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Monday, 27th May, 2019, 10:23 PM
    Or we can just accept that, as I pointed up just two posts before yours, the 1.3 to 2 million figure refers to the region/city-state, not the city itself.
    94 replies | 4339 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Monday, 27th May, 2019, 09:45 PM
    Here's a very cool map that gives a sense of the area around Waterdeep, giving a sense of a much larger population. And this is only part of the city-state - which extends for more miles. Quote from the artist: "Itís funny how ppl sometimes imagine fantasy cities without the grains and supplies to keep the city alive. Waterdeep has more than 1M inhabitants, but only 250k fit inside the...
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Monday, 27th May, 2019, 09:41 PM
    And with itself. The Underdark has various powerful groups--illithids, drow, duergar, kuo-toa, etc--that keep each other in check. On the other hand, you could build an awesome campaign out of the premise that the illithid figure out a way to drastically increase their population and have designs on taking over the world. Seems way too low to me. To each campaign their own, but you could...
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Sunday, 26th May, 2019, 11:09 PM
    The short--and probably annoying--answer is that it is entirely up to you. This is something that has little to no bearing on actual game play, except insofar as it impacts setting design, and thus your own (as DM) handling of game play. For instance, if you decide on a high ratio of adventurers (say, 1% of population), then PCs are more likely to encounter other groups, especially in dungeons....
    94 replies | 4339 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Friday, 24th May, 2019, 04:21 AM
    Dial back to just about any 20th century science fiction movie and you'll see no sign of smartphones and similar technology. For whatever reason, most people had no clue about iPhones and such, or how they would change society (for better or worse). In a similar fashion that they often over-estimated certain advancements (e.g. flying cars). In watching the "old Picard show" trailer, I had the...
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 02:48 AM
    OK, thanks. Not quite my cuppa but could be worse.
    24 replies | 1078 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 01:06 AM
    Is it safe to assume that the AI book will largely be cartoonish art?
    24 replies | 1078 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 07:34 PM
    CapnZapp, good thoughts but I'd go further and say in an ideal world we'd get a Malazan series, or a proper attempt at Earthsea, or something else entirely. But you know how the biz works: you leverage a brand that works, and HBO is going to try to make as much money as possible off "Game of Thrones" as they can...and GRRM will laugh all the way to the bank, even if it veers further and further...
    24 replies | 650 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 05:04 AM
    I just want to make sure I'm up-to-date. Is this right? May: Ghosts of Saltmarsh hardcover June: Essentials Kit box set September: Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus hardcover ???: Eberron hardcover Is that the gist of it? Is this everything until next year (May), or might there be more surprises? For some reason I was under the impression there was going to be four hardcovers...maybe...
    24 replies | 1078 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 12:41 AM
    Maybe he broke the "childhood wheel" and forged "adolescent spokes." But yeah, it is a new wheel of sorts. I think this is true of "grimdark" (and GRRMdark) stuff in general: it isn't as edgy or rebellious as it thinks it is, or perhaps as it once was when it was rebellious against "father conventions."
    110 replies | 3595 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 07:32 PM
    To me this is the same logic that wants old campaign settings for the latest edition and is averse to new worlds. Speaking for myself, I like old settings, but also like to explore new ones. Of course with three spin-offs it doesn't have to be either/or. We know one is the distant past - not just a thousand years, but six or more. For the other two, how about a contemporary series set in...
    24 replies | 650 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 08:02 AM
    Robert's Rebellion would be tedious because we know a lot about it. Trod new ground.
    24 replies | 650 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 03:47 AM
    Zardnaar's Law: "The longer a post by Zardnaar or discussion involving Zardnaar, the greater the probability of it becoming a discussion on Star Wars, in particular how disappointing the Last Jedi was, approaches 1." (I jest playfully, Z)
    12 replies | 512 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 12:27 AM
    I haven't followed this closely, but as far as I can tell what we do know is that there are three planned, and one--"Bloodmoon"--is based in the distant past during the Age of Heroes and may feature Bran the Builder and the Night King, and has Naomi Watts in it. Presumably we'll get lots of Children of the Forest and giants action, and maybe other mythological creatures. The rest is...
    24 replies | 650 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Monday, 20th May, 2019, 05:12 AM
    Well, at least it keeps things open for one or two of the spin-offs to take place afterwards.
    110 replies | 3595 view(s)
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  • grodog's Avatar
    Saturday, 18th May, 2019, 06:59 PM
    Le bump! Allan.
    1612 replies | 409505 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Saturday, 18th May, 2019, 10:21 AM
    So we have Darth Emo with Kylo Ren, now we have BatEmo? Bruce Emo? Anyhow, I must say that Affleck was a pleasant surprise, and Batman v. Superman a rather underrated flick, imo. I very much enjoyed it, even moreso on a second viewing. It was flawed, certainly, but darkly epic with several really cool elements.
    25 replies | 689 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Saturday, 18th May, 2019, 05:40 AM
    A meaty edition war.
    71 replies | 3907 view(s)
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  • Mercurius's Avatar
    Friday, 17th May, 2019, 01:57 AM
    Why oh why is Brom not an option?
    253 replies | 7980 view(s)
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Saturday, 9th March, 2019

  • 07:43 PM - dave2008 mentioned Mercurius in post Kids D&D Intro Books: Young Adventurer's Guides
    Are these rules specifically for younger players? If so I will definitely pick these up for my daughter. Shes still a little too young but I'm eating her into the game. No I don't think so and Mercurius backs that up based on what Amazon has posted. FYI, my 4 & 6 year old sons and their friends were able to pick up D&D without simplifying the game or a D&D light for kids version. I don't know the age of your daughters but I wouldn't be surprised if they could handle it. Also, there have been a couple of threads on these forums with advice for playing D&D with young children. You might want to check them out.

Thursday, 10th January, 2019

  • 10:45 AM - cbwjm mentioned Mercurius in post Matt Colville, and Most Tolkien Critics, Are Wrong
    Mercurius One thing I will definitely agree with is that when a teacher is interested and engaging with a topic, students tend to pay attention. It's something I noticed myself as a student at uni. I don't know if I fully agree with attention spans and devices but thinking about it more as I write this, maybe people do need to switch off more. Certainly as a teacher this is a phenomenon that you would be in better position to see. All I can say is that my nieces, and nephews, despite having devices still love to read and draw and play. They aren't teenagers though. I do wonder if it might have more to do with that period of life than easy access to devices and the internet.

Sunday, 9th December, 2018

  • 08:12 AM - Quickleaf mentioned Mercurius in post How to trim 5E down to "Rules Lite" (for kids)
    Mercurius My go to source of inspiration has been James Stowe's blog: http://jamesstowe.blogspot.com/2011/09/dnd-for-8-year-olds.html He took 4th edition I believe and created simplified character sheets oriented for kids. Good stuff! :)
  • 05:41 AM - Blue mentioned Mercurius in post Optimizing a two person party
    Mercurius had an thought provoking post about going through a published dungeon crawl with a small party, possibly a two person group. http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?655479-quot-Solo-crawling-quot-Dungeon-of-the-Mad-Mage That got me to thinking. We often discuss optimization of a single character, but how about a pair of characters (only!) that need to complement each other. Say we needed to handle: RP and social skills Knowledge skills Exploration and discovery Combat where usually the foes have a lot more actions then us Healing/recovery between challengesFind/remove traps, open locks, find hidden things (Assume standard type adventures, not the DM tailoring specifically to two characters - though that does mean the might advance faster so be a bit in level above where a 4-5 character party would be.) Can you suggest character pairs that will work at (around) 6th, 12th and 16th, providing a high degree of synergy as well as covering the needed tasks? It's okay if the...

Thursday, 2nd August, 2018


Tuesday, 31st July, 2018


Friday, 16th March, 2018

  • 02:25 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post Mythological Figures: Achilles (5E)
    Like Mercurius, I was surprised to see such low physical stats. And like Polyhedral Columbia, I was surprised by the lack of allusion to Achilles's rage. But anyway, the personality traits seem to be missing. Achilles is a great warrior, but there are other great warriors in the Iliad. What distinguishes literary/mythological peronsalities tends to be their character. As a starting point for Achilles I'll suggest Ideal: Glory; Bond: Patroclus; Flaw: Pride.

Friday, 2nd February, 2018

  • 01:26 PM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...he player should describe what the character does and then let the GM determine the outcome based on what's been established and the results of whatever check may be required (Search or Perception or what have you). The player is limited to describing what his character attempts to do.This isn't how D&D handles combat (subject to a qualification in the next paragraph). In combat the player doesn't have to describe what the player does (other than the very generic "I attack with my sword"); and the GM doesn't decide the outcome - we roll to hit dice, and damage dice, and track hit point totals, and some (not all) of us track figures on a map, etc. I agree with you for non-combat, though, in contemporary D&D (I don't know that it was always thus, but it has been at least since 2nd ed and its NWP system). Also, GM fudging of hit point totals or monster to hit rolls or monster AC will tend to change the character of combat to being what you described. That's why upthread, in reply to Mercurius, I described this approach to player action declarations as the player making suggestions to the GM as to how the fiction might be developed. Okay, but if we compare the search for the letter and the attack on the orc, I don't think they're exactly alike. One is the player actively seeking something, the other is the player responding to action from the game world. What if the orc is 100 feet away from the PC and is attacking them with a bow? Is not allowing the PC to retaliate with a melee attack denying their agency? Is the player free to resolve the issue of the orc in any way he sees fit? Or is he bound by the constraints of the fictional world? Is that any different than the hidden letter? It's location determines the chance of finding it.I posted a lot about this upthread. The difference I see is that in your orc example the player knows the fictional positioning - the GM has framed something, and the player has to deal with it. (If the player declared an action to sn...

Sunday, 28th January, 2018

  • 03:44 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Okay, but please explain how one type of note doesn't constrain the DM but another type does? Again, this reads like special pleading: this thing I prep isn't that kind of thing that's prepped, the one that constrains you.I think my longer post (just upthread) explains my analysis pretty clearly. But the short version is: an encounter map I'm carrying around in my backpack ready to whip out if/when needed (or a Monster Manual, or notes about a mysterious benefactor, or whatever) isn't an established element of the shared fiction that is secret from the players and yet that might be a factor in adjudicating the resolution of the actions that they declare for their PCs. And once the map is on the table, there is no secret. The players may not like the GM's framing (it's boring, it's contrived, whatever) but they can see what action declarations are and are not feasible within that framing. So it's not like Mercurius's omnipotent GM, who - in principle - enjoys the power to mediate every action declaration through his/her conception (be it prior, or made up on the spot) of what the fiction contains and has room for.
  • 03:40 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...es a desire about the state of the fiction, and the action resolution rules then determine whether or not that desire becomes true. In conventional D&D play, I think the GM is expected to exercise a fairly strong mediating role in narrating the outcome even on a successful check (eg the GM probably decides whether or not the crossbow bolt shot the orc in the head or the chest). In BW, by contrast, the GM is permitted only to add embellishments (so if the player says, "I shoot the orc in the head", and the dice deliver a success, well that's what happened). The player asking "Is the map in the study" and then - on a good roll - fiding it there is strictly analogous to the player "introducing" (by way of successful action resolution) that the orc is dead. Now, if it's controversial that RPGing should include players expressing desires as to the content of the fiction, which then become true if action resolution works out a certain way - well, we're back at what I talked about with Mercurius, namely, player action declarations as, at best, suggestions to the GM as to possible narrations of furure states of the fiction. Under no secret backstory conditions, the player has now signaled that they wish to introduce a map, and the DM has to engage this hook and say yes or roll the dice. If the dice are rolled and successful, then the player has now introduced fiction.Well, this takes me back to the two contrasting cases, both of Circles checks that I've seen occur in BW play: (1) "Jabal the Red is leader of my cabal. I reach out to him to see if he can help us." That is direct authorship of fiction - the cabal is led by Jabal the Red. Then there is a statement of desire - the player wants the fiction to include Jabal helps the PC who has reached out to him. (2) "I wonder if any knights of my order are living around here. As we travel, I keep an eye out for any signs of them." That is a statement of desire - the player wants the fiction to include As I travel through...

Thursday, 25th January, 2018

  • 04:47 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    This was a request to comment directly on a commenter's statement that world-building by the GM was an art, was something they appreciated as a creative enterprise in and of itself, and that (one of the primary) roles of players is to explore and appreciate that effort and/or engage in a choose-your-own adventure approach to RPGIng based on that worldbuilding. - This come on the heels of (after and before further) aggressive commentary by a GM stating that THE SETTING IS MINE (and other related commentary). This was not rebuked and this sentiment has been reiterated in other forms in this thread by other commenters and throughout ENWorld's many threads (again, especially in threads that decry players for optimization).And as (I think) the one who requested the comment - thank you, it was interesting! For what it's worth, I find your analysis pretty plausible, though - as I posted upthread following Mercurius's post - I think that there may be subsitutable values of your (2) (eg "Someone's got to do it!") which then feed through, in pretty straightforward ways, into your other points without fundamental effects on them. I want to say it was one of the Linear Fighters, Quadratic Wizards threads of yore!That sounds right. I believe that (as relates to this thread), the pair of contentions you, I, and others were making were the following: * In D&D systems with (a) Vancian casters with Enchantment spells (especially with prolific spell load-outs) and (b) noncombat action resolution governed by a process sim (internal causality rather than genre logic) task resolution (rather than conflict resolution), Wizards/spellcasters are going to be inevitably dominate noncombat action resolution. * The only way this doesn't take place is for GMs to either (a) preemptively protect crucial plot-points/NPCs by pulling out the classic (eye-roll-inducing to any hardened, long term player) block...
  • 01:20 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...gainst a difficulty set by the GM in accordance with the skill descriptions; but that mechanical difference doesn't mean that the GM gets to make the passive check fail automatically just because s/he thought it would be better for the map to be somewhere other than the study. In other words, (i) there is not only one model for RPG mechanics, and (ii) even when the mechanics are similar (both D&D and BW use checks against a difficulty), that doesn't tell us why it is the GM's job to do the stuff you say. To be clear: I'm not asserting that there is no answer to the question. But answers that don't take account of the range of ways RPGing works will (necessarily) be incomplete. I mean, obviously setting provides depth - but it doesn't have to be GM authored to do that (witness the various examples I've posted upthread). So a more complete answer adds information eg Caliban says that many players don't want to contribute to establishing the backstory, so someone else has to do it; Mercurius says that he wants the GM to tell him the backstory as part of his process of immersion (to me that seems very similar to being told a story by the GM - I think Mercurius queries that characterisation, but from my point of view I'm still working out why, and also why it's considered pejorative - I went to the pictures recently, and had a story told to me, and that doesn't make me feel offended). Nagol gave some different reasons: GM worldbuilding establishes levers/tools for the players. It makes sense that someone else has to do this, in that being able to just deem your own tools into existence seems a bit cheat-y. To me, that speaks to a style of play much closer to classic dungeoneering, though mabye Nagol would not agree with that. Also, the very term "action resolution" is here a bit misleading. Yes a PC has declared an action, and that action gets resolved...but the resolution of that action only applies to the PC and her immediate surrounds, not to anything static withi...
  • 12:35 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Congrats. You're free to play the way you enjoy. That doesn't make your way the "right"way, but it seems that was the entire purpose of this thread - and we all knew it. Your inability to understand why I prefer to play a different way has no bearing on the validity of that playstyle. Happy gaming.Three things: (1) I've never talked about a "right way" to play. I started a thread with a question: some posters answered it (@Nagol, Caliban, etc). Some other posters - Mercurius, Lanefan - asserted or implied that by asking the question I was insulting them. To be frank, that's on them, not on me. If they don't want to answer the question "what is GM worldbuiling for", or think that the answer is so self-evident that to ask the question is to commit some RPG faux pas, well, no one is forcing them to post in the thread. (2) What makes you think I don't understand why you prefer to play a different way? When I say "This is why I don't like such-and-such", what makes you think I'm telling you why you shouldn't like it? (3) I've replied with courtesy and honesty to all your posts in this thread, and have not attacked you or your preferences (unless you consider me explaining why my preference are different an attack - in which case see (1) and (2) above). I'm a little surprised that you don't seem capable of doing the same.

Wednesday, 24th January, 2018

  • 09:01 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Mercurius If the GM has the inherent power to veto/filter/manipulate, then it is inherent that the GM is not bound by action resolution. Having regard to it when you're not inclined to overturn it is not a mode of being bound. This then relevant to your question "Why not (1) through (4)?" (3) and (4) aren't avaiable to an omnipotent GM, because they only make sense if the GM is bound. An omnipotent GM can, of course, make a dice roll or call for one from the player: but as s/he has the power to disregard/override it, it is nothing more than a suggestion, an additional factor that s/he might consider. This is why I don't like it as a GMing method: when I'm GMing I want to find out what happens; not to take suggestions, consider input, and the decide what happens. The way I do this is by following the rules for action resolution. You say that only an abusive GM would decide that "my guy wins" without action resolution: but in fact that is exactly what is happening every time a playe...
  • 07:03 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Mercurius, there are some point where I think you have mis-spoken, or seem not to understand some RPG techniques. A player's agency in the fictional world is roughly the same as our agency in the real world, and even slightly more so, as I explained. The difference, though, is that in the fictional world, there's a GM - who is akin to a hypothetical supreme being in our world.The player has no agency in the fictional world, any more than you have the power to punch Sherlock Holmes in the nose. The PC has agency in the fictional world, but it's fictional ie imaginary agency and so, as I explained to Lanefan not too far upthread is orthogonal to issues of railroading etc. (A PC might be enlaved by some other being, yet the player have unfettered autonomy, because the player determines the details of what the enslaving being asks of the PC.) And the player may or may not have agency in the real world, in the playing of the game, depending on his/her capacity to change the state of the sha...
  • 05:22 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...eed some other technique for dealing with retries. I had to deal with this fairly recently in my Traveller game, because it doesn't use "fail forward", and instead mostly manages retries either through it's rules for the passage of time - so if you're in your starship your life support only lasts for so many days, and so with one chance to fix the engines per day, you only get so many tries before the PCs all asphyxiate - or through a flat-out "no retries" rule. But it's mechanics for overland exploration don't have a no retries rule and don't have time constraints like starship activities do, and hence are - in my view - the weakest part of the ruleset, as they easily lead - I can report from experience - to rather boring play with dice being rolled although nothing significant is at stake.) It is a wrong question, Mr. Pemerton. You seem to have this black or white view of the situation: either the GM is telling the story or the players are. Neither are correct.Well, tell that to Mercurius. He was the one who said that it is the GM's story, and the players are actors - and it was that contention that I was responding to. I would work with the player to develop those religious organizations and the world in which they exist based on the player's assumptions. In some cases, I'd deliberately subvert the player's assumptions to keep things interesting and challenging. We'd play out the scenario, and I would use that predetermined setting information to inform my adjudication of the players' actions and the consequences thereof.Well, I guess all the action is in the words "We'd play out the scenario." I was wondering how, in actual practice, this would work. Eg what sorts of actions might be declared, and how would they be adjudicated? The players declare actions and the GM determines how the world reacts. How is the GM to determine how the world reacts without first determining the nature of the world? Assuming we agree that determination must take place, why do y...
  • 04:48 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Adventures that are ostensibly open world, where the players have the agency to walk away from the plot, are more difficult to run unless the players voluntarily commit to staying within the confines of the plot. The alternatives are things like railroading, moving scenery, or trusting to luck and/or skill, or letting go of the plot and leaving the players wander.Those are not the only atlernatives. A well-established alternative is the one I posted upthread (in replay to Mercurius), put forward in summary form (but in no sense invented) by Eero Tuovinen. Instead of the GM hoping to hook the players and keep them on the rails of plot, the players build PCs with "hooks" for the GM and the GM etablishes situations that speak to those player-evinced flags. It doesn't depend upon luck, nor upon any particular skill (I started GMing in this fashion as a teenager in the second half of the 80s; the player hooks, on that occasion, were provided by the Oriental Adventures character generation process). But nor does it involve the players "wandering". If the GM is doing his/her job properly, then play will be rather focused (I mean, it may or may not traverse a wide geographic scope, but whether or not it does will be a secondary matter). The ideal, of course, is that the players voluntarily stay on plot because they find said plot/story interesting and-or engaging enough to want to play it out. Which means that in a DM-driven game it's squarely on the DM to come u...

Tuesday, 23rd January, 2018

  • 11:36 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    We are talking about player generated content (shared worldbuilding with the player) - you cannot seemingly skip that stage in the debate when it doesn't suit you.Well I know what I'm talking about, seeing as I wrote the OP. I'm asking what GM pre-authored worldbuilding is for. You and Mercurius say that it one thing it does is support immersion, by sparing the player from having to generate content. I'm making the point that there are many, many RPGs in which the player doesn't have to generate content in the way you and Mercurius don't like, and yet which don't depend upon the GM pre-authoring content. The reason that I know this is because I play such RPGs. (The only RPG I'm personally familiar with that has the feature you and Mercurius object to is OGL Conan, and I've never played it.) How do I know I'm looking for a map?You declare as your action, for your PC, "I search the study for the map", or something similar. The GM sets an approriate difficulty, the dice are rolled, they tell us whether or not hopes are realised or dashed. In my experience it's quite immersive, and it doesn't require the player to generate any content beyond his/her PC's desires, and the actions that those desires move him/her to undertake. EDIT: the basic concept is no different from...
  • 11:12 AM - pemerton mentioned Mercurius in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I consider TTRPGs primarily a mechanism for shared storytelling, because that's the one aspect of a TTRPG that cannot be replicated in a book or videogame. Someone has to develop the shared world in which that storytelling takes place, and it usually falls to the GM to do so.I'm not sure about the has to - can't the setting be generated in the course of the telling of the story? I will admit, for the sake of argument, that any GM who declares ownership over the campaign is overstepping. Well, that's what the poster to whom I was replying did. Mercurius also asserted that the GM is omnipotent in respect of the campaign: "One approach assumes that the GM is omnipotent, and the player's relationship to the world is akin to our own relationship to our world." I think it's perfectly reasonable for a GM to declare ownership over the campaign setting. Many of us put a LOT of effort into developing our campaign settings to include NPCs, geography, situations, maps, motivations, etc. Most players put proportionally less work into the game; they roll up their characters, perhaps include a backstory, and show up with some dice. GMing a simulated living, breathing world in which the players can explore and adventure involves a ton of work.OK - I didn't think any of this stuff about effort was in dispute. Writing is hard and takes time. But I'm not sure how that relates to the actual process of play. And the metaphors "exploration" is still in need of cashing out. The way that I "explore" Middle Earth is to read JRRT's books. How does a pl...


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Sunday, 16th June, 2019

  • 06:39 AM - Parmandur quoted Mercurius in post New survey from WotC about boxed sets
    OK, maybe. An Adventures in Eberron box set makes sense. That said, is it the best choice for Target (if that's what they're going for)? Wouldn't a more vanilla offering like the Forgotten Realms make more sense for the Target crowd? Based on the direct wording they used in this survey, Forgotten Realms can be rules out: why would anyone need example adventure material to demonstrate how to campaign in the Realms? Eberron, however, is more exotic: but it fits well with modern aesthetics just fine, so I think it would fit the Target crowd. The most leading part, though, is that they released similar material last year to dovetail with the Ravnica book, and asked the community last year about box sets in detail. Not much of a stretch. And the Essentials Set was made because Target came to WotC to make more products because of how well the Starter Set has continued to sell, and Target wanted boxes for the board game section rather than game books...
  • 01:12 AM - Parmandur quoted Mercurius in post New survey from WotC about boxed sets
    I highly doubt this is for an Eberron box set. Isn't the new Eberron producting coming out this year, in a few months? They wouldn't be polling like this just five months in advance. My money would be on Forgotten Realms. It just makes all kinds of sense. Greyhawk is possible, but let's face it: the setting is a bit anachronistic for contemporary sensibilities. Duchy of Geoff? Nyr Dyv? Maybe a bit later as a legacy/collector's product, but for some reason it just seems more dated than the FR, perhaps because the creator was a pre-Boomer, actually "Silent Generation" (born 1938), while Ed Greenwood was late Boomer/fringe Gen X (born 1959). I just don't see them doing their first new setting box as Greyhawk (if that's what they're doing). Planescape would be wonderful too. Of course the best case scenario is "all of the above," but that seems unrealistic, or rather a bit optimistic. But I could see a smattering of box sets over the next two to three years: FR, Planescape, Greyhawk, m...

Thursday, 6th June, 2019

  • 12:40 AM - Azzy quoted Mercurius in post Jonathan Tweet: Prologue to Third Edition
    Good stuff. As someone who grew up on 1E but didn't really explore "alternate games" until the early 90s, I remember being struck by how anachronistic 2E felt by the time we got to the 90s Oh yeah. I had given up of AD&D in the mid 90s after exposure to other game systems made me realize how amazingly bad some od AD&D's mechanics were. It was 3e that brought me back D&D after several years. The lead up from rumors on Eric Noah's site really hooked me.

Wednesday, 29th May, 2019

  • 09:46 PM - Celebrim quoted Mercurius in post What proportion of the population are adventurers?
    Hmm...I was under the impression that the "5E answer" was play the game as you like, so if demographics are important to your setting design, have at it. (Actually, that has been the answer in every variation of D&D, as far as I'm concerned) 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 as such the DM would be on his own to build a system if he wanted a systematic answer to that question. So, for example, I'd find myself building rules for non-PC classed NPCs.

Tuesday, 28th May, 2019

  • 04:04 AM - Umbran quoted Mercurius in post What proportion of the population are adventurers?
    Or we can just accept that, as I pointed up just two posts before yours, the 1.3 to 2 million figure refers to the region/city-state, not the city itself. Well, consider - the population of England and Wales together, in 1500, was probably about 3 million. Is the city state/region of Waterdeep comparable to... half of Renaissance England? If yes, then fine. If not...

Friday, 24th May, 2019

  • 11:19 AM - Nagol quoted Mercurius in post The future of SF, life extension, and other "surprise technologies"
    Dial back to just about any 20th century science fiction movie and you'll see no sign of smartphones and similar technology. For whatever reason, most people had no clue about iPhones and such, or how they would change society (for better or worse). In a similar fashion that they often over-estimated certain advancements (e.g. flying cars). In watching the "old Picard show" trailer, I had the thought: could life extension technology be similar? If you follow futurism, transhumanism, or medical technology, then you know that some speculate that at some point in the next few decades we're going to make medical breakthroughs that will see us living centuries, if not indefinitely. Now there are more conservative views that the human body is hardwired for around 120 years max, but even then you would think that in a sufficiently advanced near future, we'd have tons of centenarians walking around who look middle aged. Presumably that's the (unintentional?) assumption of the Star Trek universe. F...
  • 09:25 AM - ccs quoted Mercurius in post The future of SF, life extension, and other "surprise technologies"
    some speculate that at some point in the next few decades we're going to make medical breakthroughs that will see us living centuries, if not indefinitely. My futurist prediction: That won't end well.
  • 06:37 AM - Tonguez quoted Mercurius in post The future of SF, life extension, and other "surprise technologies"
    106643 This is 143 year-old Pavel Chekov in Star Trek Renegades, so 120 might be the new 60 (just as now 60 is the new 40) Dial back to just about any 20th century science fiction movie and you'll see no sign of smartphones and similar technology. For whatever reason, most people had no clue about iPhones and such, or how they would change society (for better or worse). In a similar fashion that they often over-estimated certain advancements (e.g. flying cars). Aren't Star Trek communicators early predictors of cellphones? Star Trek also predicts touch screen Tablets (the PADD), wireless headsets and advanced 3-D printers (replicators). What say you? Any other possible "surprise technologies" that will change everything? personally I'm still waiting for the advent of personal robot maids (like Rosie), but then of course you get the whole issue of do Robots have rights, is robot-human love ethical and will we be overthrown by skynet. On a related note the 3-D printing of sy...

Thursday, 23rd May, 2019

  • 01:23 AM - Kurotowa quoted Mercurius in post 2019 WotC D&D Releases
    Is it safe to assume that the AI book will largely be cartoonish art? There's been a few art previews released. I'd say they look more cartoonish than a mainline D&D book but not nearly as exaggeratedly stylized as Penny Arcade is these days. Have a look yourself to judge.
  • 01:19 AM - cbwjm quoted Mercurius in post 2019 WotC D&D Releases
    Is it safe to assume that the AI book will largely be cartoonish art?Presumably. I think most of the people in the C team are web cartoonists.

Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019

  • 06:10 AM - Parmandur quoted Mercurius in post 2019 WotC D&D Releases
    I just want to make sure I'm up-to-date. Is this right? May: Ghosts of Saltmarsh hardcover June: Essentials Kit box set September: Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus hardcover ???: Eberron hardcover Is that the gist of it? Is this everything until next year (May), or might there be more surprises? For some reason I was under the impression there was going to be four hardcovers...maybe the Essentials Kit is the fourth product? Or maybe a second Baldur's Gate book? Or maybe another surprise PDF ala Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron, except for...Dark Sun? Yeah, the Acquisitions Incorporated book is an official D&D branded rule book as well. Given that Eberron was a successful experiment, I reckon we might seem them fo something similar, as you suggest.
  • 02:04 AM - Parmandur quoted Mercurius in post Another Look at the D&D Essentials Kit
    So let me get this straight: the Essentials Kit is basically an updated/improved version of the Starter Set and an expansion of it at the same time? Seems like a win-win. Five years is a lot of time to learn how to improve the starter set; seems like a good time to come out with something new. And I haven't looked at in awhile, but didn't the Starter Set only have pre-gens? Yup, the Starter Set only had pregens, no PC creation rules (though it did refer folks to the online Basic Rules, and there was a blank PC sheet). At this point, Lost Mines might be one of the most widely played adventures, too, a classic in it's own right. Expanding the sandbox makes sense.

Tuesday, 21st May, 2019


Tuesday, 14th May, 2019

  • 10:10 PM - Sacrosanct quoted Mercurius in post Survivor: D&D cover artists
    Daniel Horne -- 22 Keith Parkinson -- 24 Jeff Easley -- 24 Larry Elmore -- 20 Clyde Caldwell -- 22 Todd Lockwood -- 17 David Trampier -- 24 This one looks like it could go on forever. No longer than any other survivor thread, since every vote post is a net -1 ;)
  • 08:04 PM - Satyrn quoted Mercurius in post Help me name the fantasy-historical pantheons
    Would Garius Gygaxius be the Father God? Danggit. I passed on that golden setup. Nice work!
  • 08:01 PM - Dannyalcatraz quoted Mercurius in post Help me name the fantasy-historical pantheons
    Would Garius Gygaxius be the Father God? Damn, Iíve been struck down by Typonius, the god of clerical errors!
  • 02:22 PM - Raunalyn quoted Mercurius in post GAME OF THRONES SEASON 8--Final Run-- Part 5
    Regardless of criticism, from the more literary-cinematic to the more fannish outrage at missed expectations and/or questionable elements of the story, GoT remains quite enjoyable in terms of pure entertainment. That last episode was wildly entertaining television. That said, the episode was hard to watch: the sheer number of deaths, the wanton violence, the gratuitous gore (more so than most other episodes); and yes, the tragedy of seeing one of the main characters complete her transformation into villainy. But it worked - it was effective. I was wowed. But I ended it in a similar mental space as after watching something like Requiem for a Dream, thinking "that was quality cinema, but why do I need to see that? How does that in any way nourish me as a human being except as yet another reminder of how messed up things can get?" So I'll add another element: What is it in us, culturally and individually, that so relishes this sort of "suffering porn?" I understand that story requires conflic...

Friday, 10th May, 2019


Wednesday, 8th May, 2019

  • 01:47 PM - Morrus quoted Mercurius in post Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4 "The Last of the Starks"
    *Dany is becoming more villainous--they've made her less likeable for a couple seasons now, preparing us for her death. She's always come across like that to me. She does not like it when people disagree with her, and is very happy to coldly mete out extreme punishments and executions.

Tuesday, 7th May, 2019

  • 08:59 PM - zztong quoted Mercurius in post Paizo To Make Kingmaker Bestiary... For D&D 5E!
    This is key. Americans in particular have the "king of the hill" mentality, as if the King Gorilla is the only successful gorilla. It is an incredibly myopic worldview. Not everyone has this view explicitly, but it is a subconscious influence that is particularly prevalent among Americans. Perhaps. But I think it is more the notion that "business is war" and this is the discussion of the spectators and fans. That isn't unique to the USA. I want to say it is probably shared with parts of Asia, but that's not my field of study and I could be... well am... usually full of it.


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