View Profile: Ilbranteloth - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Campbell's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:15 AM
    I think a serious argument could be made for 3e. Giving monsters Strength and Constitution bonuses meant many monsters were tougher in comparison to fighters. Rock Paper Scissors saving throws meant PCs were more vulnerable to spells. 3e starts out fairly deadly and becomes more deadly as levels escalate.
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Yesterday, 05:10 AM
    Labels from Masks. Shifting stats to reflect a shifting sense of self in teenage superheroes. Absolutely brilliant.
    59 replies | 2244 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Yesterday, 04:51 AM
    Here's my take: Character sheets and game mechanics are representative of the fiction, but they are not the fiction. They are tools we use to create a consistent compelling fiction. I feel it is a grave mistake to confuse the fiction with its representation because it lowers our overall investment in what is actually going on. Some games (even games I am quite fond of) make it all too easy to do...
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Monday, 22nd July, 2019, 12:14 AM
    I'm going to start with some personal background. Before I ever touched any dice I got my start role playing in online free form communities associated with various fandoms. I also am a lifelong theater geek with a deep appreciation for the craft of acting. I have a group of friends who gets together every couple months to do read throughs of some of our favorite plays. Right now I'm currently...
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Saturday, 20th July, 2019, 06:50 PM
    Honestly, I don't think the 5e designers were up to the task. Everytime I hear them talk about 4e I'm amazed by how little they get the appeal of 4e.
    100 replies | 2313 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Saturday, 20th July, 2019, 07:00 AM
    I'm afraid this will sound like damning with faint praise, but it is the result of an honest evaluation that comes from running and playing 5e. Much like Fate, I consider 5e to be a really well designed game that excels at a style of play I have very little interest in. 5e excels at GM led and mediated storytelling where the emphasis is on resolving the adventure that is put in front of the PCs...
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Thursday, 18th July, 2019, 04:13 AM
    FrogReaver I think you are starting from a faulty premise. You are assuming that game mechanics cannot meaningfully contribute to play despite having no direct experience of games where the rules are meant to supplement role play. We play these games because we value what they have to say about human nature and how people interact with each other. They help us form mental models of who our...
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Thursday, 18th July, 2019, 03:57 AM
    In some game no one gets to decide if a mechanic is invoked or not. In Apocalypse World if a character attempts to do something in the fiction that triggers a move the mechanics must be applied. One of the things a GM must always say is Always Say What the Rules Demand.
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Wednesday, 17th July, 2019, 03:59 AM
    I would hope this would be obvious, but a system which in no way constrains GM narration is offering nothing of value. It says nothing. Provides nothing. It has no teeth. If a die roll does not constrain GM narration what is the point except empty ritual?
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Wednesday, 17th July, 2019, 02:55 AM
    I personally do not really care. I am not really interested in testing characters. I'm more interested in character exploration. Sometimes that means putting them through the crucible, but sometimes it does not. My own litmus test is if a scene will tell us something meaningful about a character. What's required is for everyone (GM included) to play with integrity and not put their creative...
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Sunday, 14th July, 2019, 06:27 PM
    I would be more than willing to discuss the merits of Exalted 3e elsewhere. It is a fundamentally different game that I feel delivers on the promise of previous versions of the game. Here I would like to focus on social mechanics, their effects, and implications.
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 06:29 PM
    Let me start off by saying I do not like viewing game mechanics through the lens of necessity. No mechanics are actually necessary. Anything can be resolved through consensus. That's what the online freeformers do. However, sometimes consensus is like boring and stuff. I'm going to start with an example of a system that I consider to have the most impact on player agency of the games I like to...
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 04:53 AM
    I have already spoken on how social mechanics can serve as an immersion tool to help players feel what their characters should be feeling in the moment. Another crucial function can be to deliberately welcome the wholly unwelcome. It introduces outcomes which no one at the table would deliberately choose, but are nonetheless compelling. Vincent Baker calls this the fundamental purpose of RPG...
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Saturday, 13th July, 2019, 02:53 AM
    B/X D&D as a wonderfully tuned focused sandbox dungeon crawling game that provides clear guidance on how to play is one of the better designed role playing games ever made. It does what it does very well. It's character options are remarkably well balanced (better than any edition barring 4e). I say this as someone who did not have the joy of playing or running B/X until the 4e era. My opinions...
    79 replies | 3196 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Friday, 12th July, 2019, 03:56 AM
    I'm going to say something I expect will be controversial here. If I am playing or running a game that is supposed to be more character focused I absolutely do make aesthetic judgments of other players and I expect the same in kind. We should all be invested in each others' characters - be fans of them. For that to happen players should play their characters as if they were real people with...
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th July, 2019, 11:48 PM
    I disagree that 5e is more flexible. I attribute most of its success in being wonderfully tuned to the predominant play pattern first established with Dragonlance and refined by 1990s games like Vampire, Shadowrun, Legend of the 5 Rings, etc. GM creates an elaborate plot for players to play through. Along the way they get to express their predefined awesomeness at controlled points, but never...
    88 replies | 3259 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th July, 2019, 11:30 PM
    Although I fought the label at first I have found that I'm fairly immersion focused as a player. Mechanics that help me feel the pressure of social expectations, emotions, and weight of character beliefs only serve to aid in immersion. I'm not a huge fan of mechanics that dictate behavior, but ones that impact success and failure like strings in Monsterhearts or Conditions and Influence in Masks...
    794 replies | 23407 view(s)
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 03:47 AM
    Scene framing isn't really part of play though. The play exists once a scene has been framed. Framing -> Play -> Framing -> Play. What's important is that player decisions are based on solid ground during the moment of play.
    233 replies | 15535 view(s)
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About Ilbranteloth

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About Ilbranteloth
DMing in the Forgotten Realms since 1987
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Started playing in 1978ish, and have been DMing ever since. Been running in the Forgotten Realms since it was released.
Canton, CT
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DM in the Forgotten Realms. Current 5e home campaign running since 2014. Started public campaign at local game store January 2015.


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Saturday, 23rd February, 2019

  • 12:44 AM - miggyG777 mentioned Ilbranteloth in post Initiative options?
    Ilbranteloth on top of that I really like to use Hemlock's idea of using INT to determine who decleares actions first in combat. So essentially the smartest guys go last when making a combat decision, therefore making INT relevant in combat resolution (how quickly you think) as opposed to only DEX (how quickly you draw your weapon).

Tuesday, 24th July, 2018

  • 01:45 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post Everybody Cheats?
    ...ules or campaign standards that vary from the standard rules. You might also want to know what character types the other players are playing so that you can create a character that fits in well with the group. Rule Zero was "check with your dungeon master." It is functionally impossible for the DM to cheat in a game with a Rule 0.Aldarc quoted "rule zero" from the 3E books. I don't see how that rule makes it impossible for the GM to cheat. at some point "skilled play" as a definition went away in favor of "immersive" or "story first" play. In this case XP were given for hours spent playing or hitting milestones instead of killing things. This is a function of political correctness as much as it is changing tastes. This is total nonsense. Pacing character progression to generate a form of story arc - which is how, say, 4e works - is not a political decision of any form. It's an aesthetic decision. Not everyone plays RPGs as wargames. This is probably the only point on which Ilbranteloth and I have something in common in our RPGing. Umm, we played AD&D without XP, at least without using it in the way it was originally designed, with XP for treasure and killing monsters. We leveled up at what we felt were appropriate times. Didn't seem to break the game. I guess you'd say we did reward XP for playing well, but used an entirely different system than what was provided.You seem to have misunderstood my point. You aren't using Gygax's AD&D rules with players who don't care about XP, thereby breaking the game. Because you've got players who don't care about XP, you've changed the rules of the game from those that Gygax published. That was exactly what I said in my post. (Contrast 2nd ed AD&D, which doesn't change the rules - though it does make XP for gp optional - and hence gets tangled up in knots.) I would add: a D&D game that does not use XP has moved a long way from the sort of game Gygax talked about in his AD&D books, even if it still uses the same chart fo...

Sunday, 22nd July, 2018

  • 02:52 PM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post Everybody Cheats?
    Have we considered the radical idea that maybe Mr. Gygax wasn't consistent in his writings? Because earlier in this thread, it has been noted (multiple times, I think) that he *also* wrote that GMs can alter dice rolls to get the results they want. I know, I am suggesting a saint may have been fallible... or not. Maybe he wasn't a theoretician hard-case, OneTrueWay kind of guy. Maybe, he actually was a little more pragmatic, and remembered that his game started as massivly house-ruled wargame and maybe being all hoity-toity about exactly how it should be done was not exactly intellectually solid. Who's being hoity-toity? Gygax talks repeatedly about skilled play. The closing words of his PHB say that, if you think AD&D is worth playing, you'll find it doubly so if played well. And the preceding two pages of text tell us what playing well means in this context, as do the passages Ilbranteloth and I have quoted from the DMG: it means preparing sensibly, having a plan of attack in relation to the dungeon, not being distracted by the GM's lures and wandering monsters, etc, in rulebooks that I think don't even use the word "story". Obviously that's not the only metric for RPGing well. It's not a metric that I use in my own RPGing. But it is clear enough, and if that is how one judges skilled play, then certain consequences follow. Which Gygax himself points to when he says that certain GMing practices would be contrary to the major precepts of the game. I don't know why it's so important to you and others in this thread to show that Gygax endorsed the White Wolf "golden rule" way back in 1978-79.

Saturday, 28th April, 2018

  • 08:42 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Yet if the players do want to spend time on it, what then? If a player thinks I've misconceived what's really at stake, they can tell me. To me, this is in the same category as my reply to Ilbranteloth not far upthread - as Ron Edwards says, a GM can take suggestions. And it is also in the same category as my response to you and Maxperson about the trip to the giants' cavern upthread - the players at my table don't need permission to speak, and so if they think something is heading in a weird direction, or think a call about framing seems wrong, they can say so. Then we can talk about it. EDIT: This is basically what darkbard said.

Wednesday, 25th April, 2018

  • 02:24 PM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... a bare stone wall in a D&D-style dungeon or fortress where it would be illogical for a secret door to appear! In a sense we're only arguing here about the DETAILS of the fiction, because EVERY narrative model game is going to have this character, the players declare actions to advance their agendas. Since it doesn't actually matter MECHANICALLY what those actions are (modulus which skill/power/whatever you get to use due to fictional reasons), the ONLY actual considerations are aesthetic! So it makes no sense for the players to declare dumb things, they are just as well off to declare cool things!What you say here is (in my view) absolutely correct for Cortex+ Heroic, 4e, HeroQuest revised, or any other system in which DCs are "subjective" ie based on pacing and similar considerations. In the context of an "objective" DC system (eg Burning Wheel, Classic Traveller, I think 5e by deffault), the players do have an incentive to identify an approach with a low DC. Relating this to Ilbranteloth's question above, if a secret door seems unlikely in some place, that would increase the DC. A related thing is the continued (seeming) insistence that with a prepared map or notes that it is impossible for the DM to make changes. This is simply not true. There's no reason why, if a player decided to search for a secret door, that I can't decide that one might be present, and even in that moment make the decision that the dice will decide and allow them to make a check.I'm certainly not insisting on this. Many many posts (over 1000) upthread, this was discussed at some length. From my point of view, it doesn't meaningfully change the distribution of agency over the content of the shared fiction for the chance of success to depend on the GM "allowing" the check to have a chance of success. the general thrust of everything is exploration. Exploring the setting. Exploring the characters. Exploring the politics, the dangers, dungeons, and such. Learning what makes these characte...
  • 08:52 AM - Sadras mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... genre, some plot elements which could be used, selected a mechanics to use, and characters were created with back stories appropriate to the genre and referencing some of the pre-generated 'stuff'. Now, I ended up GMing this, so I added a bunch of added 'things' in the course of scene framing. These included a child, a tower, a battle on a bridge with a black knight, a tournament, a plot to kill an important NPC, a giant, etc. A lot of stuff really. The players also invented a lot of stuff related to their characters. They invented followers, a way to dispatch the giant, a way in and out of the tower, etc. Honestly I'm not as systematic as pemerton in terms of remembering who did what, but we all had a good amount of input. I would call this typical for MY games. GM is important, but the whole game is an outgrowth of what all the participants were interested in doing. I do not play Story Now/No Myth games but you have just described one of my games. That is why I think Ilbranteloth is quite right when he says he plays a variation of both, sometimes switching between the two styles unconsciously and even within a period of just a few minutes. This below quote from Ovinomancer really concludes the railroad discussion for me. (snip)...under Story Now, the example would be a railroad because it's the GM overriding the play procedures to abridge player agency (as allowed by the system) and enforce the GM's preferred outcome... (snip)... the playstyles differ enough in core assumptions that maybe you cannot use the same metrics to analyze them both.
  • 08:32 AM - Lanefan mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...on, right? I mean, why are they here to begin with? What do they WANT? I would make something happen that was related to the story and the characters. Maybe there's a way out, maybe someone can get back out. I mean, what did you do? "OK, TPK, everyone roll up a new character!"? I mean, that's warranted, in a Gygaxian sense, and perfectly OK. It just doesn't serve narrativist ends and wouldn't happen in that sort of game. Nobody would frame a scene with that element in it which would produce that result. So in narrativist play players/PCs are never given the chance to do something TPK-level stupid and-or TPK-level unlucky? Sounds a bit dull... :) Who knows what reasons they might have had for jumping down. At the time it might have made perfect sense...well, other than the forgetting-the-rope escape from something or because it was the only obvious way to proceed or simply because they were all just really thirsty! The fact is, down they went. [later note: then saw Ilbranteloth 's write-up a few posts down from the one I quoted, which explains the scenario] Lanefan

Monday, 16th April, 2018

  • 01:11 PM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... Poker face: on!Ē And then Iím like ďwait a sec. I want them to figure out whatís wrong in the town. In fact, I want to show them whatís wrong! Otherwise theyíll wander around waiting for me to drop them a clue, Iíll have my dumb poker face on, and weíll be bored stupid the whole evening.Ē So instead of having the NPC say ďoh no, I meant that things are going just fine, and I shut up now,Ē I have the NPC launch into his or her tirade. ďThings are awful! This personís sleeping with this other person not with me, they murdered the schoolteacher, blood pours down the meeting house walls every night!Ē ...Or sometimes, the NPC wants to lie, instead. Thatís okay! I have the NPC lie. Youíve watched movies. You always can tell when youíre watching a movie whoís lying and whoís telling the truth. And wouldnít you know it, most the time the players are looking at me with skeptical looks, and I give them a little sly nod that yep, sheís lying. . . . Then the game goes somewhere. You, Ilbranteloth, are assuming that GM authority over backstory equals secret backstory. But it doesn't. Because, as Vincent Baker shows us in the passage I just quoted, the GM can author the backstory but reveal it to the players. This is how the "standard narrativistic model" works - the GM frames the PCs into situations. The elements of framing are backstory, but - just as DitV illustrates - they're not secret. It's an important part of PbtA also - the GM establishes the fiction by performing narrations in response to player moves (both failed moves - 6 or down - and half-way successful moves - 7 to 9 - and in some cases even fully successful moves where the player's result is 10+). When you sit down at a gaming table and are told that the game is taking place in Europe, 1943, and you can be a French, UK, or US soldier, it doesn't inhibit your agency. It shapes it.That is not secret backstory. It is revealed backstory. It is genre, feeding into framing. If the GM decided at the beginning ...
  • 04:05 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... - not Eero Tuovinen - to illustrate the contrast between resolution with or without GM secet backstory. The only connection they have to Eero's essay is indirect, in the following way: (i) the absence of secret-backtory is more typical in standard narrativistic RPGing, because (ii) the use of secret backstory makes it harder to "go where the action is" if the action involves discovery (as opposed to, say, killing) and makes it more likely that the game will involve a significant degree of the players declaring actions that trigger the GM to reveal hitherto-unrevealed backstory so that the players then know what the necessary fictional positioning is for their PCs to make the desired discoveries. I guess a third connection between the topic of the previous paragraph, and Eero's essay, is that his essay is moslty a criticism of conch-passing (or, as he calls it, narration sharing), and resolving an action declaration in a RPG is obviously not conch-passing. Subsequently, Lanefan, Ilbranteloth and Maxperson asserted that resolving action declaration is, in fact, a form of conch-passing, and hence is the sort of thing that Eero is cautioning against. I think this is obviously not what Eero had in mind, for the reasons that both AbdulAlhazred and I have given: whatever we think about action resolution, it is clearly not preparing something in advance of playing the game, nor a proxy for it.

Thursday, 12th April, 2018

  • 03:42 AM - AbdulAlhazred mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... I asked him where they come from - player (in which case it's the agendas he claims to reject) or GM (in which case it's the menu he claims to reject). The fact that the player might ignore any given opportunity doesn't actually answer my question. How is that not "informally signalling an agenda"? What do you think "informally signalling an agenda" looks like, if not the sort of thing you describe here? I've come to the conclusion that what Maxperson really needs is to play in a No Myth Story Now mode for a month as a player and see for himself. Complete with GM explication of the reasoning behind framing specific scenes, etc. I think he's going to see that he's already trying to do it, and his issue is really just one of not having been really exposed to the technique in a way that is conducive to his understanding it. He seems to WANT not to understand, and yet at the same time to DO what he claims he doesn't do and doesn't want to do! I really need to make good on my offer to Ilbranteloth to do some kind of a demo game.

Saturday, 7th April, 2018

  • 03:23 PM - Maxperson mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    Obviously, you can use words however you want. But I'm explaining why Ilbranteloth is not making an error in reading Eero Tuovinen. When Eeor Tuovinen refers to "backstory", he is not talking about the outcomes of action resolution. I'm not talking about action resolution, either. Action resolution is different from backstory authority, but can result in changes to backstory as I demonstrated above. The resolution to the action was only to find a secret door or not. Nothing else. The backstory authority comes from a secret door appearing where there was none in the backstory prior to the action resolution. Below is the quote from Tuovinen on backstory. "Backstory authority Backstory is the part of a roleplaying game scenario that ďhas happened before the game beganĒ. The concept only makes sense when somebody has done preparatory work for the game or is using specific heuristics to simulate such preparation in real-time. For example, if the GM has decided in advance that the butler did it, then that is part of the backstory Ė it happened before the pl...
  • 02:45 PM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    A character declaring he is searching for a secret door is exercising the authority to declare an action for one's PC. A player creating a secret door via a roll is establishing backstory, as that secret door is now a part of the history of the scene. It now has existed PRIOR to the search for it and is backstory. To me on a success it is, as it's directly adding something to the backstory (in this case, the scene as framed) that wasn't put there by the GM.Obviously, you can use words however you want. But I'm explaining why Ilbranteloth is making an error in reading Eero Tuovinen. When Eero Tuovinen refers to "backstory", he is not talking about the outcomes of action resolution. The backstory was established by the GM in framing the scene.But the GM didn't know there was a secret door there until the player/PC found it, so how could she have already framed it into the scene even in her mind?The GM didn't frame the secret door. It's not part of the backstory. It's presence or absence is being established by way of action resolution. Backstory is not being used by Eero Tuovinen (or me) to denote stuff that, in the fiction, existed. It's being used to denote stuff that, at the table, is already established as part of the shared fiction. In the context of a check for a secret door, the backstory - which is part of the framing - might include that there is a stone wall in an ancient castle built by a people well-known for their cunning engineering. This is another case of being misled by not distinguishing stuf...

Tuesday, 27th March, 2018

  • 10:05 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ... one reason why not. Four hours (or whatever) of nothing interesting happening from anything the protagonists do is not a story. It might resemble an Andy Warhol movie, but those are deliberate repudiations of story! (And I'm not sure that anyone actually watches Empire.) And it's these times of frustration that makes times of success all the more rewarding.Failure is not the same things as nothing interesting resulting from what is attempted. If the player's agenda is for her PC to get rich or to accumulate magic items then you're wide open to this sort of thing. Silly, perhaps, but legal by the letter of this narrativistic type of system where success on an action declaration cannot be denied.If everyone at the table knows that the game is not silly, then everyone equally knows that (in the absence of some context, such as searching the home of a fairy) there is no point looking for wands in trees, as there won't be any there. This repeated concern, from you and now Ilbranteloth, that the first things players will do who actually have the power to contribute to the content of the shared fiction will be to find gold and items for their PCs, rests on the same illusion as other concerns you've expressed. The gameworld is not a reality. If you don't want a silly gameworld, it's easy to avoid: just don't author one! If you want PCs who are more than just a Gygaxian id, then build and play them. One of the true appeals of RPGs is that as player you're (in theory) free to try anything, no matter how ridiculous. There shouldn't be any system-based limits on the actions players can declare or have thier PCs attempt.I don't understand what you are claiming here, or what purported contrast you are drawing. What's the DC for your D&D character to flap her arms and fly to the moon? What's the DC for a 1st level character to jump into a volcano and survive? What's the DC for your 1st level fighter PC to try and kill ten orcs in one round? There are all sorts of li...

Monday, 26th March, 2018

  • 10:00 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    In the rogue example the player is clearly and strongly letting the DM know what the PCs is doing and why. That qualifies as full agency, even if that particular example isn't showing all aspects of what Eero talks about in that paragraph.That example has zero to do with what Eero Tuovinen is talking about. Ilbranteloth is just wrong to think that declaring a search for a secret door, and looking for scuff marks as part of that, is the sort of thing that Tuovinen has in mind. the rogue's agenda is clearly to get inside unnoticedThat's not an agenda. It's a means, and a very generic one. Why does the rogue want to enter the castle? What would s/he risk to do so? If s/he is entering stealthily, what provocation would make her reveal herself? These are the sorts of things that show us who the character is, what s/he wants, what her goals are, what sort of person s/he is. I as a player establish my character's personality, interests and agendas. Here's the thing. I don't even have to tell the DM what they are in order for me to bring them out in the game. Nothing is required on the part of the DM. Let's say that I'm playing a dour dwarf(I know, it's a stretch ;) ) who is interested in fine wines and with an agenda to get drunk on fine wine in every town he comes to. Without telling the ...
  • 09:50 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    What we don't see in this example is all the lead-up showing how the rogue got to this point. The agenda and reasons for being here would very likely have long since been established. What the rogue thinks and feels at that particular moment would of course be up to the player to narrate on the fly, should she so desire; as would the decision of what if anything to sacrifice or trade off in order to achieve her immediate goal of stealthily getting into the castle.My point is that Ilbranteloth doesn't tell us anything about (for instance) any such sacrifice being required. Or anything else that brings character personality or agenda to the fore. The only choice the player of the rogue had to make was do I declare a search, or do I not bother? Nothing was at stake. it's not very often that much characterization comes out of what are in effect largely mechanical action declarations. "This is a logical place for a secret door so I'll search for one" tells us maybe a bit about the character, but mostly that's just a simple Search declaration - not much in it; and it's unfair to point at this as a reason for any lack of characterization or personality.What it tells me is that this is not a game in which advocacy, in Eero Tuovinen's sense, is important. And at least in my games most of what we learn about characters comes out of action declarations. I've posted many actual play links in this thread, and described a number as well. Here are just a handful: * A Travel...
  • 01:28 AM - AbdulAlhazred mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...hat it must be undertaken in a strictly linear fashion, is a FIXED set of scenes. If these scenes address character needs and player agenda it by pure chance. 2) The keep itself is, again, not particularly well-adapted to Story Now. It will work as a backdrop to various scenes, but there's nothing especially compelling about it. The Evil Cleric exists as-is. You can confront him, or not, and he will only address player's interests haphazardly at best. There are other characters who are basically either quest-givers or resource dispensers, or both. These characters are mostly peripheral, they could be co-opted into playing a part in the character's story, but nothing about them is ESPECIALLY compelling in this regard, any collection of similar NPCs would do as well. 3) The general premise, the stronghold on the edge of civilization, may or may not be a suitable setting in which to play out the character's story, but we cannot say unless we know what that story is. In terms of what Ilbranteloth has to say about it specifically: OK, the premise is the keep on the edge of civilization. What does this say about civilization? What does it say about wilderness? About their relationship, and that of people, PCs particularly, to either of those things? Establishment of a Fighter, wizard, cleric, and thief: These are generic characters built to classes which are basic archetypes. What is unique about these guys and what compels them? B/X and 1e both ASSUME fighters want to build keeps, wizards want/need components etc, rogues want riches, and clerics want to build temples. What is actually pushing these guys? Does the fighter wish to establish a keep because his family honor is at stake after they lost their holding somewhere else? Is the wizard attempting to achieve some specific magical effect? Why? What is the basis of the cleric's friendship with the fighter? Are they related, old friends, lovers?! What deity does this cleric even serve? Why is the rogue out here on the edge o...

Saturday, 24th March, 2018

  • 09:15 PM - Lanefan mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    ...d even in a DM-driven game can sometimes have a function - usually when dealing with off-screen details the DM doesn't want to bother with such as determining each inhabitant of the PC's home village. But that type of agency is not a part of the normal run of play, and thus is meaningless in that context. Here's one way that B2 restricts player agency: if a player declares "I want to meet an alchemist in the keep" then, as the module is written, that action will fail. That doesn't restrict their agency at all! They declared an attempted action (thus exercising their agency) and were told that action failed. Which also shows that the characters can't do whatever they like. They can do whatever the established fiction of the keep might permit them to do. Yep. Just like reality, in that regard - if I go to the mall and look for a hardware store, no matter what I do if the mall doesn't have a hardware store I ain't gonna find one there. Side note: thanks to Maxperson and Ilbranteloth for saving me loads of typing these last few days. :) Lanefan

Thursday, 1st March, 2018

  • 10:14 AM - pemerton mentioned Ilbranteloth in post What is *worldbuilding* for?
    I think he means the sort of game where once the DM has set the world up and placed the PCs into an initial setting she from there on acts as nothing more than a glorified CPU whose only purposes are to react to what the PCs do, to narrate those reactions neutrally, and to describe the scenery around the PCs wherever they may be. The parameters for action declaration are set by a combination of the rules system in use (what actions are allowed and-or how are they resolved) and the fictional environment in which the PCs are at the time (as per your example of no boats in mid-desert).I understand what sort of game Ilbranteloth is describing. I'm just saying that it's a mistake to say that the GM doesn't influence the action at all. When one says that the fictional environment establishes a parameter for action declaration , and also note that the GM established the fictional environment, we see that the GM is influencing actions a great deal. In thinking about the significance of this for play, I think it's helpful to think about game conventions or conceits. If I turn up to play a session of Moldvay Basic, or of the sort of D&D that Gygax describes in the "Successful Adventuring" section of his PHB, then of course the fictional situation is going to be a dungeon. That's what the game is about. And it has a lot of system elements - mechanics, methods, implicit understandings - to support play in that context. If I turn up to play a game of AD&D and the GM says, "Right, you're in a desert" that's already very different from the Moldvay Basic case.

Thursday, 2nd November, 2017

  • 02:58 PM - Salamandyr mentioned Ilbranteloth in post Group Rule Deal-Breakers
    I find myself in agreement with the way Ilbranteloth does things. Not every character class has to represent a "job" somebody can have in the D&D universe. We don't need Orders of Paladins to have paladins. We just need one guy (the PC) the gods have chosen to bless with those kinds of powers. We don't need tribes of BearBarians; we just need one guy (the PC) who has made a vision quest to the mountaintop to request the blessing of the Bear spirits. Maybe not every priest is a cleric, but the PC is the once in a lifetime holy scion blessed with the powers of the gods. Yeah...fighters are going to exist, but there might be only one Champion. Do sorcerors need to be common? Gandalf was a wizard and Radagast was a druid but they were both Wizards. One can play the D&D game entirely RAW and still keep control of the world, as long as one reinforces the idea that PC's are exceptions even when they're playing as classic a concept as the paladin or cleric.

Thursday, 21st September, 2017

  • 09:34 PM - DeJoker mentioned Ilbranteloth in post A New Thought About Skills
    @Ilbranteloth you got ahead of me -- please look again at my previous post I think that will help you understand what I was getting at -- if you still do not understand let me know and I make an even more verbose version

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Tuesday, 26th February, 2019

  • 04:06 PM - lowkey13 quoted Ilbranteloth in post Do you want Greyhawk updated to 5e?
    So youíve already skipped/ignored a lot of other published material anyway. So what difference does it make if they publish/republish now? New gamers arenít likely to search out those resources now. Because it doesn't matter. I don't understand why people have the need to update the setting. It's not Eberron or Dark Sun where you need new rules that are 5e-specific. More bluntly, the things that remain special about Greyhawk as a setting are the things most likely to get screwed up if they get touched again. In other words, Greyhawk isn't FR, and I'd rather it just be mentioned in passing than have it turned into that. But that's just my opinion, and I created the poll and the thread to see what other people thought. Because I am not the KING OF EVERYONE! .... yet.
  • 03:59 PM - TwoSix quoted Ilbranteloth in post Do you want Greyhawk updated to 5e?
    But thatís not entirely true. Greyhawk went through a major timeline upgrade in the Wars/From the Ashes era, and Dragonlance has covered multiple eras too, although not always by TSR/WoTC. Sure. My point is only that having a reference of up-to-date, canonically true lore isn't as important to those settings as it is to FR. Being the setting for lore nerds is a major part of the point of existence of FR.
  • 03:49 PM - lowkey13 quoted Ilbranteloth in post Do you want Greyhawk updated to 5e?
    Well, aside from the Living Greyhawk, there was the whole Greyhawk Wars and From the Ashes box sets and series of modules, while still under TSR, up through the unreleased (although previewed Ivid the Undying). Did you ever purchase those, or did you stick with the early material only. My Realms campaign is most heavily influenced by the original campaign set and materials by Ed Greenwood, but I have drawn a lot from later sources, even if I havenít used them entirely as is. I use very little of the 4e/5e material, with just hints of some of the APs from time to time. I had the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover (1988). That's it for GH stuff, but I only use the 1983 folio, and the earlier Dragon Magazine articles to inform the world.

Friday, 22nd February, 2019

  • 10:48 AM - dave2008 quoted Ilbranteloth in post Initiative options?
    Yes. We only use initiative as an opposes check when you need to know what action resolves first. Otherwise we donít use it at all. Everybody describes what they are doing, and the DM does the same for the monsters. Actions are resolved in a logical order, often resolving the full change of blows between two combatants, and others can react to the action thatís already happened. Itís relatively rare that you actually need to Know who hit first. Unless itís a killing blow, your each just taking damage. We have a number of guidelines written up, but thatís the gist of it. Have been using it for several years now, with groups as large as 13 players. Works great. care to share?

Thursday, 21st February, 2019

  • 09:25 PM - Lanefan quoted Ilbranteloth in post So is it official now? Counterspelling
    I thought so originally. But if you picture it as the counterspell trying to interfere with your shaping of the weave, and your counter of that as modifying the casting of your spell to counter that it makes more sense. It might look similar to the Harry Potter battles. That's certainly one way of looking at it. I guess it boils down to how much concentration/focus/trance is required in the fiction to cast the original spell and thus whether said caster is - or even could be - aware of a counterspell attempt. My original thought was also, ďhow often does this really come up?Ē But then I realized that people who play MtG probably would think of it/use it.What makes me really shudder is the thought of there not just being two casters involved, but three or four or eight all flinging counterspells at each other. If the rule for resolution sequence was first-in first-out (for spells of the same "type" e.g. bonus as a type, reaction as a type, etc.) this would never be a problem*, but they foo...
  • 03:49 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted Ilbranteloth in post How Did I Become a Grognard?
    I think the ďyou canít choose a target in meleeĒ was referring more to a mass melee, like 6 PCs, possibly with henchmen, fighting a dozen orcs in a 20íx20í room. At least thatís the idea I got from it. And thinking about it, it would be interesting to come up with a way to handle a frat like that differently. If I recall, I think the most interesting thing in the example of play, though, is the wizard makes an attack roll to deliver a touch spell. I donít remember that rule anywhere else in the DMG or PHB. Well, OK, but then what is the dividing line between 'mass' and 'regular' melee? I don't really see those terms used in any consistent way, the word 'mass' or 'mass combat' seems to crop up now and then, but I don't get the impression Gygax is saying there are clear categories of combats. Truthfully, in all my years of AD&D play (20+) I never saw a DM insist on attacks vs random opponents, unless there was some reason like they all looked identical. Even then such things were rare enough that I...

Wednesday, 20th February, 2019

  • 03:47 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted Ilbranteloth in post How Did I Become a Grognard?
    Yes, it does. And @pemerton just quoted it for us. And my issue isnít the grid. The nature of the use of the grid changed as the rules became more grid focused, and changed even more with the modification of a round, the alteration of where your entire roundís worth of movement occurs on your turn. The game shifted from a TotM approach with things like minis and a grid as aids, to a game that switches to a board game when combat starts. Oh, combat - roll initiative and hang on while I set up the minis. Ok Bob, what do you do? Bob starts counting squares....ĒIf I move here I can do this, but if I move here I can do that...Ē It doesnít have anything to do with grid or no grid really. The focus shifts dramatically from TotM for the rest of the game to moving minis on a map. Of course, the moving minis on a map evolved from what some people were already doing, combining some, evolving some, but the feel of the game, especially combat, was decidedly different. I agree that the type of use of the gr...
  • 12:28 AM - ParanoydStyle quoted Ilbranteloth in post How Did I Become a Grognard?
    * Heck, my preferred system is HERO I am fully erect I mean please let me know if you ever have an online game or even a meatspace game that can could maybe take an online player, I love HERO System.

Tuesday, 19th February, 2019

  • 09:22 PM - Shasarak quoted Ilbranteloth in post How Did I Become a Grognard?
    But I donít think that was the norm, it certainly wasnít even for Garyís games, and the mini-centric design didnít really happen until Combat & Tactics. But as Iíve said, that didnít come from nowhere, there were obviously a significant enough number of people to move that direction. I think that using minis must have been a big part of the game in Seattle. They probably just assumed that everyone else was using them as well.
  • 07:21 PM - Flexor the Mighty! quoted Ilbranteloth in post How Did I Become a Grognard?
    Simply a tongue-in-cheek over generalized response to the same. But I donít think that was the norm, it certainly wasnít even for Garyís games, and the mini-centric design didnít really happen until Combat & Tactics. But as Iíve said, that didnít come from nowhere, there were obviously a significant enough number of people to move that direction. I was the first person I know of to use minis and I started that with 3.0 in 2000. I had older players ask me if I was trying to make D&D into a board game. :lol:
  • 06:49 AM - AbdulAlhazred quoted Ilbranteloth in post How Did I Become a Grognard?
    I have those dice! And for the OP - Iíd say you disqualified yourself from being a grognard by NOT using theater of the mind. Oh, we had minis. But battlemats? Grids? Bah! That didnít start until 2.5e. If a measurement needs to be made itís with string or a tape. But really the minis were to look cool, not to turn D&D combat into a board game. Theater of the mind is the real old school way (and Iím happy itís made a comeback). I beg to differ. Having started playing D&D in 1975 I assure you that there was combat on the table top with the terrain drawn out, and it was pretty much THE way it was done in our neck of the woods. I never heard of this 'Theater of the Mind' or playing without stuff laid out on the table with minis until at least the mid 80's and then we only did it because we were in college and just didn't have a large surface to use in our dorm rooms! After I graduated and got my own place, we were right back to BIG table tops with full layouts. Even if we had a small table, still...
  • 12:25 AM - Maxperson quoted Ilbranteloth in post A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life
    Actually thatís roughly how I run combat. Of course itís not real time in terms of each swing, but we donít use initiative and donít really use rounds either. We go with a general idea how long an action might take, and if there is time before that action is completed other things happen. And they are free to change their actions in response to other actions. Itís not unplayable at all, and helps move things along and keep people involved. Itís not as tough or complicated as it sounds. Yeah, but that's also not what I'm describing. What I'm talking about is everyone being able to react to everyone else in roughly real time. In a combat situation, as the party and the 20 goblins move, it's unlikely that they are going to be able to move more than 5 feet without the combat adjusting to what is going on. So every 5 feet you have 20+ combatants reacting to each other moving, and to attacks, spells, and more. You can definitely get more realism out of combat than D&D has without bogging it...

Monday, 18th February, 2019

  • 09:53 PM - Shasarak quoted Ilbranteloth in post A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life
    But others might argue our death mechanic is less realistic. That we donít get to choose when we live or die and that it should be the dice that do so. In real life there are examples of people choosing when to live or to die.
  • 12:01 PM - Olaf the Stout quoted Ilbranteloth in post Converting Grimtooth over to 5e
    Ahh, good old Grimtooth. I remember when the first Grimtoothís traps came out. The format changed over the years, but they were supposed to be system agnostic. Itís really a matter of determining DCs and damage ranges, really. They work best with an old school, ďtell me what youíre doing,Ē rather than just a roll of the die. I agree with this. I think the traps work better as something almost like a puzzle to be interacted with, rather than a DC and a die roll. That takes all of the theatre out of it otherwise. You could allow die rolls to help players figure out how the trap works or might be disarmed, maybe with advantage if the player says that they are investigating a particular part of the trap relevant to what they're trying to figure out.

Sunday, 17th February, 2019

  • 04:04 AM - 5ekyu quoted Ilbranteloth in post Strength requirements for ranged weapons
    None of this occurs in our games where weíve been using the DEX/STR dichotomy since AD&D, and where for a good amount of that time it was RAW if I recall.You mean effectively different systems? Well not surprising.

Saturday, 16th February, 2019

  • 04:55 PM - SkidAce quoted Ilbranteloth in post Campaign Notes Software Suggestions
    By far the best Iíve found is The Brain (, a mind mapping software. Unfortunately the paid version is pricy, but Iíve found itís worth it. ... It totally blows a Wiki, OneNote, EverNote, or any RPG tool out of the water. Seriously, nothing comes close, and Iíve been looking. Can you share the info...or is it local?
  • 04:05 PM - Sorcerers Apprentice quoted Ilbranteloth in post Half-Dragons and Dragonborn: What's the difference?
    ... a half-elf/half-elf child is a half elf, but if one parent is human, the child is human with some elven traits, and if one parent is elven, then the child is elven, but perhaps some sign of their human heritage. Although they may still be considered ďnot elvenĒ by other elves. In the 2E PHB, the only place I've seen half-elven genetics discussed in any kind of detail, it says that elves only have elven ancestors, while half-elves are those with 50% or more elven blood. So a half-elf that has children with an elf will have half-elf children, and human children with a human. Does anyone know if this lore has been explicitly changed in a later edition, or is it simply not discussed at all?
  • 12:22 PM - Bedrockgames quoted Ilbranteloth in post A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life
    Ok, something that interests me greatly, but I donít have time to go through all the posts now, so I apologize if Iím repeating othersí positions. To me the crux of the matter is the perception of the players. Iím not concerned whether the causal processes of the game world mirror that of our world. My concern is that it seems like they are. For example a common leadership technique to help build buy-in and consensus is to make somebody else think an idea is theirs. It doesnít really matter if it is, as long as they think it is. Because people tend to be more invested in things that are. So when a scenario like your example comes up, I donít care whether I had written up the people that are present ahead of time, determine it randomly, decide on the spot, or any combination of these and other approaches and techniques. What I care about is how the players/PCs experience it. And that essentially comes down to being believable, which is a bit of an art. For example, something nat...
  • 11:16 AM - Yunru quoted Ilbranteloth in post Strength requirements for ranged weapons
    It doesnít need to be that complicated, and crossbows function quite differently. A bow isnít really going to take longer to ďload.Ē And itís capable of a bonus based on its draw weight. For example, a bow (STR 15) would require a minimum of a 15 STR to draw, and grant a +2 bonus. Even if you had an 18 STR, it would still be +2. A simple rule would be to use the better of DEX or STR, but the STR is capped by the capability of the bow. This is essentially finesse, since a bow can be used for Sneak Attack, but with a restriction for STR. Crossbows, however, already have a much higher draw weight than a bow, but a shorter draw length as well. I would make light crossbows useable without a lever or crank. Heavy crossbows would grant a bonus based on the crossbow, but take a full round to load (realistically, it should be more like 5 rounds). This may sound harsh, but the reality is that since it doesnít require a minimum Strength, as long as they are available and have the coin, everybody will get ...

Thursday, 14th February, 2019

  • 09:59 PM - Shasarak quoted Ilbranteloth in post How Did I Become a Grognard?
    And for the OP - Iíd say you disqualified yourself from being a grognard by NOT using theater of the mind. Oh, we had minis. But battlemats? Grids? Bah! That didnít start until 2.5e. If a measurement needs to be made itís with string or a tape. But really the minis were to look cool, not to turn D&D combat into a board game. Theater of the mind is the real old school way (and Iím happy itís made a comeback). In my experience the only edition of DnD to require a board was 4th edition. The only people who used minis in the 2e days were the Warhammer players.

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Ilbranteloth's Downloads

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Ilbranteloth's 5th Ed DM Screen (incorporating house rules)
OK, V3 and I think I'm pretty satisfied with it. If there's anything missing that you'd like to see added, let me know.

The portrait and landscape versions are slightly different in order to fit them on their respective pages. All of the info is the...
1553 0 4 Monday, 29th September, 2014, 02:13 PM Monday, 29th September, 2014, 02:13 PM

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