View Profile: Jay Verkuilen - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Campbell's Avatar
    Wednesday, 5th June, 2019, 05:44 AM
    You talk about excluding people as if it is a fundamentally bad thing. It's part of basic human socialization to have expectations and boundaries.
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Wednesday, 5th June, 2019, 01:12 AM
    Attitudes and expectations matter. I am fine with role playing that aims higher in the literary sense or is more casual. What is fundamental to me is that we are all involved in the process as creative peers and everyone's contributions are valued equally. Also that everyone is expected to contribute. Also that contributions move play forward and demand action from other players (GM included).
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About Jay Verkuilen

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Mythological Figures: Billy the Kid (5E) Wednesday, 19th June, 2019 06:01 PM


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Friday, 16th November, 2018

  • 09:12 PM - rmcoen mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Mike Mearls on how 4E could have looked
    Seems like I read a game or a class recently - this thread? a link? - where powerful spells were built across rounds like Jay Verkuilen mentioned. Your normal comabt actions were Words of Power, which had a low-level effect. But over time, the Words you used in the combat built more powerful spells with more powerful effects. Making up an example: Force (direct damage spell) + Levitation (perhaps used as a defense, lifting a temporary shield of debris to block an attack) + wYld (raw power, used to push enemies back a few steps) = FLY, enabling the wizard to escape from his foes and hover above the field of battle. 3 rounds to cast, with minor beneficial effects along the way. But then we're designing a whole new magic system, which isn't the same as "fixing" D&D. Guys (and gals), we're 89 pages into this disucssion. While a very interesting debate that has wandered about the field of battle.... what's the point? what's the goal? Are we trying to make 4e less artificially balanced? Give 5e martial characters more flash, more high level power? Make a better mousetrap?

Wednesday, 7th November, 2018

  • 10:32 PM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Dragon Reflections #16 – Gygax Fights Back!
    Jay Verkuilen - I like your suggestions better than power attack - the latter is purely an optimisation problem, whereas trading attack for defence involves intervening variables that are outside the player's control and that can't be readily computed. So it becomes more like choosing an orientation for your PC, than solving equations.

Monday, 5th November, 2018

  • 09:08 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Worlds of Design: Fantasy vs. Sci-Fi Part 1
    ...ive Fiction, and they appear in all sorts of Spec Fic. Is it a robot or a golem? Well, really, it doesn't matter all that much. What does matter though, is the different themes of the story which do (usually) differentiate fantasy from SF.I agree that tropes on their own don't do a perfect job. But for the reason I've given I don't think your version works either - it fails to pick the radical difference of both internal and external aesthetic of (say) LotR vs REH's Conan. That tropes don't do a perfect job doesn't mean that they do no job at all. What inclines us to call Star Wars sci fi? They talk about parsecs, and planets, and hyperdrives, and the like. That's tropes, and it pushes away from fantasy. Is Star Wars nevertheless really fantasy because it involves magic, and princesses, and dark lords, etc? Certainly the absence of those tropes from 2001 is what helps make it clearly sci-fi. But in Star Wars they are present in combination with sci-fi tropes. I think I'm with Jay Verkuilen in doubting that really is going to help us here. Genres aren't natural kinds; at best they're shortcuts to help us engage in analysis and criticism of a work.

Wednesday, 24th October, 2018

  • 12:40 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Worlds of Design: “All About Me” RPGs (Part 2)
    Jay Verkuilen I haven't played or run Conan 2d20. But I've GMed Burning Wheel with a bit of a S&S flavour. I've also GMed a 2 PC, all thieves AD&D game years (decades) ago which had a bit of a S&S feel. D&D-style dungeon crawling is not very S&S at all (Xuthal of the Dusk and Red Nails not withstanding). S&S has quite a social dimension, and doesn't have to be urban but frequently is.

Tuesday, 23rd October, 2018

  • 04:30 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Worlds of Design: “All About Me” RPGs (Part 2)
    Jay Verkuilen Absolutely! I've often posted on these boards that if you want to get REH Conan-style Swords and Sorcery adventure, you've got to change the D&D XP system (at least) and probably other aspects of the system also, so that players are rewarded for having value beyond the acquisition of loot, and don't get hosed when they leap before they look.

Wednesday, 10th October, 2018

  • 09:02 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Mearls On D&D's Design Premises/Goals
    Keeping numbers low (so basicly the same % chance thru the levels), while increasing, instead, the tiers of power/influence/effect of the pc vs the world and viceversa. (Like: on an enemy inferior by two/three tiers, you just deal damage/crit; one tier below: roll to hit with automatic advantage, same level: no change; and viceversa)4e is a version of this: in combat, for instance, PC and opponent bases scale at basically the same rate, and so the % chance remains largely the same through the levels; but creatures that are inferior per the fiction relative to the PC tier are framed as minions, and hence die on a hit; or get bundled up as a swarm, and hence get taken down in swathes. 4e non-combat has less tight maths, which can produce some of the issues Jay Verkuilen has identified (the big offender in my game is the +6 to all knowledge skills that a Sage of Ages gets). But the orientation of the game is still towards what you describe - level-appropriate DCs that try to establish roughly consistent chances of success, with the differences of tier being expressed in the fiction rather than the mechanics. I think this kind of approach could lead to getting rid of levels and DCs altogether, in favor of a more spread out growth and resolution mechanic, with more emphasis on situational, narrative bonus/malus, extended contests, multiple successes and the like.Again, 4e can be considered a version of this (and literally is a version of this if you strip out the level adjustments for creatures and the stat gain and enhancement bonuses for PCs). The differences between tiers are really about complexity (higher level PCs have more, and more complex, options); the range of effects available, which straddles fiction and mechanics (eg flight is available...

Friday, 21st September, 2018

  • 09:00 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    ... Iserith, is that if you play it your way (do not assume players are examining until told), the players always fail to spot the gloves. <snip> Unless of course, in the fiction ofthe world, they spot it by accident when moving past. What mechanic exists like that? A Perception check. Or at the very least, a dm examination of passive pereception, maybe giving a different description to a play with a passive score of over 15. Or at least, that's the way I'd do it. Some of the description is sometimes driven by random chance: that randomness being whether you by accident happen to notice something or not. if the history check fails the PCs just have to carry on without whatever clues might have been hidden in the Dwarven runes - if any. This is why pre-emptive checks can be useful - sometimes things just get found (or missed) by random chance en route to doing something else unrelated.There is another reason being suggested for GM-called for/deterined Perception-type checks, by Jay Verkuilen, which is that they serve a metagame purpose of mixing things up and putting the players on edge: that's exactly what I use an informational check for, as well as tension building. A failed check often does move the tension up. The players know there were failed checks with potential information missed, which makes them start to wonder what's going on. (Well at least I would hope so, but clearly that would depend on the player.) I've definitely curbed my own propensity for calling for rolls where there isn't any consequence but in this case or when the player's description is just fluff, but something like the check I outlined has consequences. I think this often depends on the table. Folks I've played with for many years will often call for checks where there's something that the player seems to be missing and it is possible the character might know something. I'll also call for checks from out of seeming left field to stimulate the player or push them in a different directi...

Monday, 2nd July, 2018

  • 10:50 PM - Lanefan mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Tony Vargas - Jay Verkuilen - first off, xp to both of you for a really interesting and civil discussion this last 20 posts or so. And then, a question: am I reading both of you correctly, when you're talking about how easy/hard it is/was to change or kitbash 4e, that it's relatively easy to drop things out you don't like but much harder to add things in you do like? For example, hit points and effects - if I'm reading you right you'll both say it would be way easier to drop or ignore the 'bloodied' mechanic than it would be to introduce a wound-vitality or body-fatigue system. Just curious... Lanefan

Thursday, 21st June, 2018

  • 03:37 AM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D?
    Hit points that aren't strictly meat damage can still be understood from a character being increasingly tired out or weakenedBut not so tired that you can't still move at your maximum pace, carry your maximum load, climb walls just as well as you could before entering melee, etc! But suppose we downplay the "weakened, tired" aspect and emphasise Gygax's other elements - luck, divine favour, magical protections, etc. Even here there are multiple subsytems that don't interact - saving throws, as per the quote upthread about poison saves, are a separate subsystem for this stuff, and then magical protections and divine favour can also be the result of magic items, spells etc. 4e closes some of these gaps - there is generally no distinction, for instance, between the threats of physical harm that AD&D handled via saving throws and the threats of physical harm that AD&D handled via hit points; and as Jay Verkuilen (I think) mentioned upthread, it uses healing surges to handle exhaustion. But 4e opens up at least one new gap (or, perhaps, generalises it from the 3E barbarian's rage) - namely, limited use non-magical capabilities that manifest as martial encounter and daily powers, and action points. Putting everything into a common pool can reduce the odd (non-)synergies between abstractions, but of course also reduces moving parts which itself has implications for game play. 3E is my personal least favourite for this stuff: it replaces poison saves (which, as Gygax describes in the quoted passage) were a type of luck mechanic, with Fortitude saves - but Fortitude is a mechanic largely independent of the hit point system; and poison doesn't do hp damage but stat damage. So your magical protections and luck stop you getting squashed by a hill giant's club (a mid-to-upper level PC can soak the 20 hp easily enough) but don't help agasint the STR damage (and resultant penalties to attack and...

Thursday, 2nd November, 2017

  • 03:52 AM - pming mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Loops in RPG Adventure and Game Design
    Hiya! Jay Verkuilen, yes, exactly. For a video game this is fine, the "loop method" works...minor variations of the general 'thing'. Different weapons, enemies, etc...but it's still very much the same thing: combat and tactics. Toss in a little bit of percieved overland travel to break it up, maybe a cutscene or two, but it's still a loop of "fight, fight, fight, fight, end, roll credits". This works for a lot of video games...even MMO's where people do the same "boss fights" over and over to get specific rewards. If you know what you are going into, this isn't a problem, it's a feature. :) In a First Person Shooter, I'm expecting to be doing a lot of shooting bad guys. For table top RPG's, however, using the loop method just isn't going to work. Well, I suppose it could if everyone at the table is going for this sort of game. The only time I can remember doing this was when we played the Street Fighter RPG when if was first released. Then's a TTRPG based on a video game, so...uh...yeah. ;) ...

Sunday, 1st October, 2017

  • 01:57 PM - pemerton mentioned Jay Verkuilen in post Power Creep
    Can't you just use classes and monsters from AD&D?I wasn't replying to you. I know (from reading earlier posts/threads of yours) that you want a system for pricing/buying/building magic items that is balanced from the point of view of PC build mechanics. But that didn't seem to be what Jay Verkuilen was asking for. It's quite conceivable that there is no mechanic that will meet your requirements. But Jay Verkuilen pointed to AD&D as providng an example of what he might want - and the AD&D rules manifestly are not a balanced system of PC-build rules. Rather, they're guidelines for how the GM should handle the item-creation process, which includes injecting balance at whatever point s/he wants to in whatever way s/he wants to. It's nothing like what 3E or 4e provided. (And it seems to be widely recognised that 3E fails in what you're asking for, and 4e largely achieves it by making magic items "boring".) To some degree I could, but it would require a good bit of calibrating to get right. I won't say that the 1E system was perfect, just that it's there. I shouldn't have to. That's what I pay game designers to do. It's not some kind of weird monster that only appeared in 2E, it's fairly core functionality.The AD&D system has rules for costing potions - gp = to XP value, whic...

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Tuesday, 18th June, 2019

  • 09:30 AM - Lanefan quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    I think that's been true from way back. Dorm room style argumentation aside, IMO the real problem spots tend to be the conflicted alignments like Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, and Lawful Evil, where there's inherent tension between the adjectives. Part of it, I think is that there's an implicit notion that many people have that "Lawful" is also "good", hence "Lawful Good" is the best good. Not helped at all by the fact that in the beginning - i.e. 0e and Basic - Lawful *was* Good; as there was no good-evil axis. Just three alignments: Lawful (implied good), Neutral, Chaotic (implied evil). Oddly, Chaotic Evil's pretty simple---maximum mayhem and destruction. Of course, not that many people play Chaotic Evil, at least on paper, though there are plenty who do in reality (cue "murder hobos").One could argue that the relative Evilness lies in who the hobos murder, and why. Are they, for example, quite well-behaved in town and only killing everything when out in the field - where often everythi...

Sunday, 16th June, 2019

  • 12:32 AM - Oofta quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    I agree overall about the issue of jerks, but in my experience it's often not so cut and dried. I know certain character types can bring out the worst in some people. These players may be totally fine with one kind of character but become really problematic with others. I can think of a few good examples from my own personal experience, but a classic one is a character that really doesn't "play nice" with the rest of the group can be quite difficult. People can also be going through bad times in their lives (relationship stress, divorce, unemployment, etc.) and act out. Furthermore, there can be social dynamics that can make it hard to just kick a player out. I also think that there can be valid reasons to say "No CN" or whatever, if the intended story doesn't line up with it. I'm not saying these issues all line up with the choice of alignment or some character issue on paper and thus can be headed off by banning a particular alignment or flaw because a real problem player will find a way, but sa...

Saturday, 15th June, 2019

  • 05:16 PM - billd91 quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Yeah, that's the problem I often have with CN and CE alignments in practice. There are interesting characters one could play with those alignments and I've seen it done, but... but... all too often players seem to end up using the excuse "but it's on my character sheet!" as a way to legitimate acting out. If the contract of the table is that that's what people are up for, then fine, but it usually really isn't. Ditto with written down flaws. The players who make CN into a problem are simply problem players. They’re going to try to be problematic whether they have CN on the sheet or NG, CG, LG, etc. Get rid of the problem players, you get rid of the CN problem.
  • 03:42 PM - Maxperson quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    I'm not sure I agree there. Every time I've tried ditching it, I kept finding my way back to it in various ways. In a current campaign, I've kind of embraced it by focusing on the Law vs. Chaos conflict. What I don't do, however, is make a big deal about it. However, I also try hard not to play with folks who fall into the murder hobo/griefer camp, though those tendencies do, sadly, exist in many otherwise decent folks. I find that alignment has a few uses. On the player side it helps new players by giving them an idea of how to roleplay their PCs. For myself, I find it invaluable. I have so many NPCs and monsters to play that I simply cannot come up with personalities for all of them. Alignment is a quick, easy way for me to know how generally to roleplay that NPC/monster. For my long time players, I've told them that they don't have to use alignment, but they can't seem to drop it. They come up with complex personalities for their PCs and then jot down an alignment anyway. That's as far as...

Thursday, 30th May, 2019

  • 07:23 PM - Lord_Blacksteel quoted Jay Verkuilen in post The Making and Breaking of Deities & Demigods
    It is only a good thing if the representation of other cultures is accurate. By the way, I own the book, the original one. I can say its presentation of Scandinavian animisms is ... inaccurate. Same goes for Native American animisms. Vedic texts are sacred texts to modern Hindus. Here is the rule of thumb. If it is too sensitive to talk about our own religions in our own countries, then for similar reasons, it is probably too sensitive to talk about other peoples religions in other peoples countries. So until D&D players become mature enough to talk about Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Atheism, and other traditions, with some sensitivity, we are probably not mature enough to talk about other reallife spiritual heritages either. Well, you're about 40 years too late so ... good luck with that. "Broad strokes" and all seems to work in comics and movies and that's right about the level where RPG's tie in. Gygax was a guy who was inspired by Taiwanese plastic dinosaurs with bizarre critters h...

Wednesday, 29th May, 2019

  • 08:15 PM - Sacrosanct quoted Jay Verkuilen in post The Making and Breaking of Deities & Demigods
    I don't know where the line falls, but a retreat to total avoidance is pretty much where the nitpicking will end up if taken to an extreme: Game companies will simply avoid any project that runs a whiff of risk of being accused of cultural appropriation and then slammed on social media. Indeed, especially when we compare TSR to other media at the time. I think moral relativism is important here. For example, we look at Clyde Caldwell and can say a whole bunch of his paintings are sexist. But look at what fantasy art was like in the 70s and early 80s? Frazetta and Vallejo. So while through a modern lens we can say Caldwell's paintings are clearly sexist, we should also say that TSR did a pretty good job being progressive in addressing sexism in it's art during the time. Progress never happens immediately; and I'm sure acceptable stuff now will be deemed offensive in the future, so we should acknowledge progress even if it's not where we want it to be modernly, because to do otherwise just s...

Monday, 27th May, 2019

  • 04:14 PM - Immortal Sun quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Worlds of Design: Citing Your Sources
    I have a hard time taking a villain named "Thanos" seriously. It's a really common Greek man's name! And that's why so many people underestimated "Bob from Accounting".
  • 02:28 AM - Immortal Sun quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Worlds of Design: Citing Your Sources
    I got busted by this. Way back when I stole the name "House Targaryen" from the very first Game of Thrones book for the ruling house of a country who were Weredragons. I found GoT really tedious and didn't bother reading further in the series. At the time my players hadn't read any of the novels and the show wasn't even a glimmer in anyone's eye. Unfortunately, that's just not something I can actually use in my campaign now. :/ Yeah, I try real hard to avoid using exact names from any material really. I might copy a character whole cloth from something and make some minor changes (different hair, different skin tone, etc...), but I'll always give them their own name. In part because if people put 2+2 together they start having expectations about how the character should behave based on the source material. In other part because my luck has always been there's that one guy who knows these names. I mean, I literally wrote Thanos into my last campaign but called him "Ja'Gor" and nobody eve...

Friday, 17th May, 2019

Monday, 13th May, 2019

  • 12:46 AM - Parmandur quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Ghosts of Saltmarsh: First Impressions
    Yeah, exactly. I suppose one could have some faction of the SB that's not nearly so awful as being cultists dedicated to the ultimate destruction of the universe help out. Based on what has been leaked out so far, the SB are one of three major quest-giving groups in towns, and seem to function pretty much exactly like the Zhentarim have in 5E Adventures so far as "Lawful Evil" that the players can work with against more immediate threats.
  • 12:00 AM - pukunui quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Ghosts of Saltmarsh: First Impressions
    I seem to recall Boccob is more important and definitely more distant than Mystra, which is why I thought of Ao, but you're right.Mystra’s pretty darn important too! Every time she gets murdered, it sets off a Realms-shattering event! Also, Ao is extremely distant - so distant that he doesn’t even have any clerics. The only reason anyone knows he exists is because of his brief appearance during the Time of Troubles.

Sunday, 12th May, 2019

  • 11:48 PM - pukunui quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Ghosts of Saltmarsh: First Impressions
    Boccob: God of Magic (not sure origin, Neutral, parallel to Ao... maybe) Mystra is FR’s god of magic. Ao is the overgod.
  • 07:25 PM - Azzy quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Ghosts of Saltmarsh: First Impressions
    That seems... odd. The Scarlet Brotherhood are really, really bad. They were likely worshipping/drawing on Tharizdun's power, for one, and even if they weren't directly, they were slaving and slaughtering a whole lot of people. But, changes might well have been made to the overall story, so who knows. It's only one faction within the Scarlet Brotherhood that revere Tharizdun. But, yeah, the SB is pretty much as scummy and evil as it gets—they're pretty much the nazis of Greyhawk.
  • 06:37 PM - Parmandur quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Ghosts of Saltmarsh: First Impressions
    The Scarlet Brotherhood absolutely don't parallel the Harpers, as the review indicated. They're Suel supremacists and are one of the key villain groups in the setting. They're very much akin to the Zhentarim or Thayans in Forgotten Realms. You could use them as a player faction if you were running an evil campaign and, I suppose, you could have a PC be a renegade, but in general they're adversaries, often secret and in the shadows. One of the preview images that's been circulating has some text about working with the Scarlet Brotherhood alongside the other factions in town against a greater threat (a Final Enemy).

Sunday, 5th May, 2019

  • 03:56 PM - chrisshorb quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Shields, Leather, Daggers, & Healing Potions: Most Popular D&D Items
    I think they really missed an opportunity with not having a clear mundane gear upgrade path, with starting gear generally being the worse options. They hint at it with Splint Mail and Plate but really should have done the same thing with some of the better weapons and other armor, making the mundane but definitely much nicer weapons cost a lot. Saving for better gear is a HUGE motivator for many players and opportunity for people to savor at lower to medium levels. Using the cost differential from Ring to Chain to Splint to Plate as a guide, I think you could easily have some of the better weapons cost similarly. For example, have Rapiers, Longbows, Greatswords, etc., cost like 500 gold or more. That preserves the utility of the cheaper weapons for a while and gives the PCs a reason to get treasure. It can even be built into the campaign world, nicely, too, when the PCs outgrow the work the village smith can do and need to head to Waterdeep or Greyhawk to get better armor when the wizard is ...

Friday, 26th April, 2019

  • 07:49 PM - Morrus quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Ohlen &amp; Sky Interview About Odyssey of the Dragonlords
    Perhaps the interview happened before the announcement about WotC in which case why would the interviewer think to say it. Regardless, I tend not to think failing to ask questions like "what are you going to do with WotC?" to be fairly small beer. It's far from some horrible failure of journalism. It’s neither. It’s a press release. Modiphius is publishing Odyssey of the Dragonlords for them and sent this out. Modiphius isn’t in the business of sending out press releases about WotC’s future business plans. :)

Thursday, 25th April, 2019

Tuesday, 23rd April, 2019

Monday, 22nd April, 2019

  • 07:40 PM - Staffan quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Hobby Games Down 3% But RPGs Up 18%
    Which is, in general, smart, and something that folks should do more often with these kinds of numbers. Agreed, and it makes perfect sense when talking about numbers in the hundreds. But when the numbers go from 15 to 25 to 65, it can cause some weirdness.

Wednesday, 3rd April, 2019

  • 09:53 PM - Toriel quoted Jay Verkuilen in post James M Ward: Meeting Gary Gygax and Learning D&D
    Yeah, I recall that problem too. The infamous D4.... The dice that were in the old Red Box (Erol Otus cover, thankyouvermuch) were really crazy super cheap plastic, too. Those would wear down to nubs. At some point I lost all my dice and had to replace them so those are long gone. I still have the dice from both the basic and expert set boxes. The D20 from the basic set is almost completely spherical; it rolls for a very long time before settling on a number.

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