View Profile: Jay Verkuilen - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Campbell's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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...
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  • Campbell's Avatar
    Yesterday, 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.
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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?
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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...
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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.
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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.
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About Jay Verkuilen

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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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Sunday, 7th July, 2019

  • 06:36 PM - Parmandur quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    That's all true, but I think it misses the competition in the market. 3.X had the misfortune of being in the marketplace competing against a ton of D20 RPGs (which was, arguably, their own doing) as well as the widespread success of MMOs and collectable minis games (things that couldn't be foreseen), both of which took substantial market share from D&D. As I recall, Monte Cook said that 3.5 came out when it did not because it wasn't part of the overall business plan (it was for a few years later) but because 3.0 sales dove faster than they expected. 2E came out right when two big competitors emerged: The White Wolf games and, way more importantly, CCGs, both of which were certainly unforeseen by TSR management. So, in a lot of ways, the fight for market was a whole lot harder. Of course, one might argue that this doesn't account for why 5E has been so successful... to be clear, I don't know either, but I really don't think that things like live streaming of other people's games would be so popular w...
  • 10:13 AM - Lylandra quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Gamer Stats From White Dwarf in the 80s
    There actually are a growing number in the undergraduate levels, but at the graduate and post-graduate levels, there are a ton of barriers that differentially hit women and minorities. Not that these fields are easy for anyone, but if the difficulty level for a single guy is, say, 1 at each hurdle, and the difficulty for a single woman or minority at any one of the hurdles is, say, 1.05, once you chain several hurdles together, you end up with the resulting final hurdle being quite substantial. For instance, if there are five independent hurdles (undergraduate, graduate, post-doc, assistant professor, associate professor) with that slightly higher difficulty, once you chain them (by multiplying) the resulting additional difficulty ends up being nearly 1.3. The reality is probably much worse for a few of the later ones, such as surviving to get tenure in an academic or senior research position, particularly given the choice many women face between having a scientific career and a family---remember th...

Saturday, 6th July, 2019

  • 07:37 PM - Parmandur quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    Well it worked GREAT in 3E for a while and brought in a lot of new folks, but failed badly in 4E. Sometimes people over-learn lessons from the past. Still, I don't mind substantial backwards compatibility so I'm OK with the notion of not making massive changes. In general, 5E is pretty smooth, maintaining a lot of what was good from Ye Olde Dayes but with more modern mechanics. But it does certainly have some rough patches and missed opportunities. I totally get why bounded accuracy is generally a good idea, but they didn't really manage to make it work in a number of spots, most notably saves and skills at medium to higher levels. There are other areas I don't really like either, but some of that's more taste than messed up math. One of these days I should really write down all the changes I want, if for no other reason than that way I can just have all my house rules in one spot. It worked-ish. 3E was replaced by a new edition within 3 years, and 3.5 was ultimately a losing proposition in t...
  • 06:46 PM - Parmandur quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    Nothing's evergreen. There probably were things that WotC did in the past to make the boom and bust worse---the OGL in 3.X that induced the D20 glut was a good example, as did the way 4E got rolled out without the online development they'd over-promised---but I suspect many of those things weren't easy to foresee, even if they seem obvious in retrospect. I wouldn't be unhappy with a 5.5 that cleaned up some of the rough spots that exist in the original 5E design. I'm not saying the game won't change: I don't doubt that there will be a 6E eventually (no 5.5, 3.5 was apparently a marketing disaster per WotC). However, it will be more like the latest edition change for Monopoly or Magic: different and improved, but not necessarily heralded, and backwards compatible to make the transition easy on players (backwards compatibility with 5E is the number one design consideration for any theoretical future edition, as WotC has been at pains to say every time the topic comes up). WotC has, for example,...
  • 05:58 PM - Parmandur quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    I'm not sure I'd agree with that. Mid-edition re-covering and other things like that, certainly tend to be cash grabs. Often edition changes were really done with fixing the rules or pushing in a new direction in mind, though. Of course they do sell a ton of books because most sales tend to be to core books, which generally have much higher print runs and thus better margins. They also generate a lot of buzz, which isn't bad for marketing either. Well, they are fraught enterprises: every edition WotC released before 5E had crashed and burned within five years (ignoring the "half edition" fiction of "3.5"). It's a boom and bust cycle, not necessarily the best model to follow. WotC us currently operating on an Evergreen theory, and it just might last.
  • 01:42 AM - Parmandur quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    If I recall correctly, AC used to be ascending in very early versions of the game and then it got switched. I'm not sure why. I believe that is incorrect: my understanding is that the non-Chainmail rules in OD&D used some modified naval combat rules, which became standard D&D combat. The ships in these rules were put in "Armor Classes": First Class was hardest to hit, Second Class was slightly easier, etc...

Thursday, 4th July, 2019

  • 03:50 PM - Scott Christian quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Worlds of Design: What's Your Style?
    I'm much more Classical, though not totally. In my view, it's very important to be true to the character and if the character should be more of a hothead, then they should be played appropriately. This right here, minus the die roll in Jay's original answer. Know the rules, but play the character within the rules.

Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019

  • 04:09 PM - Sacrosanct quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    Of course, those explanations aren't really all that different, one's just a bit more diplomatic/positive spin than the other. The interview I recall is quite long but here it is. I'm trying to find the spot where they mentioned the fact that management wanted minimal changes, but I haven't yet. I’ll try to find the interview. The question asked of Skip was why they didn’t think of ascending AC when designing 2e. He responded, “Of course we thought of ascending AC, but we wanted the players, who had all of this 1e material already, to be able to use it in 2e”
  • 02:51 PM - Dausuul quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    Of course, those explanations aren't really all that different, one's just a bit more diplomatic/positive spin than the other. What? Trying to ship outdated product in a warehouse so you can realize a little more profit is very different from supporting product in customers' hands, when you already have the profit. Normally, if you want to maximize profits from a new edition, you make it deliberately incompatible with the previous one, and then you look at every sourcebook that sold well in the previous edition, and you reissue it using the new rules.
  • 05:14 AM - Orius quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    A senior professor I knew in grad school had done a good bit of work on the topic of business failures. Especially a company that had a killer product generated by a founder can often last a long time on the momentum started that way, which can cover for a lot of business shenanigans. But yeah, TSR sure did seem to have some real problems along the way until they finally died. It may be hard (and sobering for those of us of a certain age) to realize, but WotC has owned D&D for nearly as long as TSR. TSR went from 1974 to 1997, so 23 years, and WotC has owned it for 22.... Yeah, TSR had a lot of momentum from D&D, which is probably why it took them a bit over 10 years to finally burn out after Gary left. And I'm aware of that bit about WotC -- and I'd add that they've had far fewer stumbles than TSR did during that time. The biggest weak spot they had was during the release of 4e and the big flop over pulling the .pdfs not long afterwards, and even that wasn't anywhere near the idiocies that T...

Monday, 1st July, 2019

  • 05:32 PM - Venley quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Gamer Stats From White Dwarf in the 80s
    . But one thing that also happened from the mid '70s to the mid '80s was how much younger the player base was as D&D moved into toy stores. D&D was more of a college thing initially. College students can make their own choices. That could be part of the difference between what Celebrim remembers and what I do. I started in '79 in the summer vacation between 1st and second year of university. So I was already 19, already working on archaeological sites. And almost all my fellow gamers were (still are for the most part) students or archaeologists. Our minds were already free & we were already nerds/geeks, rather than US schoolkids following their peer pressure. I returned to uni that autumn and founded the D&D society. Of the 1st 15 members, 3 blokes played C&S, there were 2 women and 5 guys in my group, & 1 woman and 4 guys in the other D&D group.
  • 05:28 PM - Sacrosanct quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    They really started having some stern competition from White Wolf on one hand and many CCGs and computer games on the other. (And probably yet other hands I'm not thinking about.) It's amazing how high quality a lot of the '90s TSR material really was, though. Planescape, al Qadim, and Dark Sun, just to name a few of their lines were really excellent. Seriously, take a look at the material from then---it was well-written, clearly thought through, and often had quite good art and play aids, too. It might well have helped them to have update the ruleset more, though. 2E was really a bare update on 1E with the decision to make such a minimal change due to, as far as I know, the fact that there was a bunch of 1E material sitting in the warehouse. Nope. Skip Williams did an interview years ago, and said the reason they kept things like descending AC was because they wanted players to be able to use their 1e stuff with 2e. Nothing about still having 1e material in a warehouse.

Saturday, 29th June, 2019

  • 05:11 PM - Parmandur quoted Jay Verkuilen in post TSR's Amazing Accounting Department
    A senior professor I knew in grad school had done a good bit of work on the topic of business failures. Especially a company that had a killer product generated by a founder can often last a long time on the momentum started that way, which can cover for a lot of business shenanigans. But yeah, TSR sure did seem to have some real problems along the way until they finally died. It may be hard (and sobering for those of us of a certain age) to realize, but WotC has owned D&D for nearly as long as TSR. TSR went from 1974 to 1997, so 23 years, and WotC has owned it for 22.... Yeah, it's not like Scrooge McDuck levels, but D&D brought in a lot of money: in the end, it wasn't even lack of sales that seemed to do them in, but they overextended themselves in expenditure and loans...

Monday, 24th June, 2019

  • 04:55 PM - Celebrim quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Or, you know, him not actually thinking that the various things he wrote for the PHB and DMG were, you know, equivalent in intellectual depth to, say, A Theory of Justice... which is to say, E. Gary Gygax != John Rawls. :erm: Whatever his own personal flaws, Gygax wasn't pretending to present anything besides useful fictional source material. I'm actually neither denigrating nor praising him, and certainly don't mean by saying moral struggles to mean he had greater than the usual moral failings. So far as it goes, I consider Gygax's description of the alignment system more coherent than most later writers as he seemed to have a better handle on defining good and evil than 2e and 3e writers did. Third edition was particularly incoherent for example. Indeed, the very fact that Gygax struggled to come to grips with what he believed at various points in his life to me suggests someone who is likely to have given this more than the usual amount of thought. Nonethless, it can also mean (and...

Saturday, 22nd June, 2019

  • 06:44 PM - Celebrim quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    For instance, a Lawful Good society can have the leader go bonkers, much as the Kingpriest of Istar did in Dragonlance. I wanted to break this out and deal with it separately, because that is not actually what the story claims. Bizarrely, in the story - and I don't know if Margaret Weiss or Tracy Hickman is responsible for this line - the author has the embodiment of Good in the story claim that Good does not exist and that ultimately Good and Evil are identical. The Chronicles of the Dragonlance doesn't claim that the Kingpriest of Istar went bonkers, which would be reasonable, or that the Kingpriest fell in an act of Hubris, which would also be reasonable. Instead we have Paladine asserting that the Kingpriest became too good, and that in becoming too good - by becoming too much of an extremist about good - that he become indistinguishable from evil. This goes back to what I was saying in a post not long before this one about you can tell accurately what a person believes by what the...
  • 06:36 PM - Celebrim quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    This is all very useful IRL, but one huge difference between RL and fantasy is that, at least in many (but not all) fantasy games, there are supernatural forces of Good, Evil, Law, Chaos, etc., and, indeed, many characters are servants of these very powers. This is in fact the intellectual justification for fantasy. In real life, because real evil and real good is often something ordinary and hard to discern and stories about it are often mundane, we can take those ordinary concerns and view them in a more extraordinary framework, and if we do it well then the extraordinary will teach us something about the ordinary, so that we ordinary people encounter ordinary problems we can heroically act like the figures in extraordinary stories. It's often difficult to talk about good and evil in the real world, but in fantasy we can reify these concepts and make them easier to talk about by embodying them - much as they are embodied in the video game you talk about. To reference some other arguments...
  • 05:03 PM - Beleriphon quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    Sauron's motivation to turn to serve Melkor in Tolkien's Legendarium comes primarily from an excessive love of order and keen results that Melkor seemed to accomplish. Sauron uses the well worn trope of "Only I know what is good for the world" in addition to "Following in the Bosses Footsteps". For alignment I like comic book characters as examples, they tend to be fairly black and white in that regard. Some are hard to peg for a variety or reasons, but you can always find one solid example of an alignment in comic books. I'll use Marvel because I can think of more characters there that I can explain. DC is way easier with the bad guys (seriously Joker is Chaotic Evil). LG: Captain America - He's Good, don't argue. Lawful, he thinks the rules and constitution of the United States are it, they define the best way to deal with the world and societies. He'll fight the US government if they're wrong, but he always stands up for The People. NG: Spider-Man - He's Good, don't argue (or bring up w...

Friday, 21st June, 2019

  • 11:46 PM - Charlaquin quoted Jay Verkuilen in post Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!
    It really depends on what "group as a whole" means and there's no reason to suppose it would represent the nation as a whole. IRL nationalism is actually a pretty new concept, only really dating to after the Napoleonic era. The Mafia and other similar ethnic criminal organizations are actually not all that uncommon in terms of being hierarchically structured groups that think of themselves as being part of the only "tribe" that matters. The societies they live in are viewed as outsiders or prey, primarily. Revolutionaries often engage in organized crime, first to fund their activities and then over time they become criminals. The fact that they are an in group makes them function well. I think many of these organizations end up as essentially being Lawful Evil groups within the overall society. This person gets it. Um, no. I'm not. The Mafia is the classic example of a LE group. One used in many, if not most alignment threads that I've seen, yet rarely brought up by me. That is exactly what you’...

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...

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