View Profile: Josiah Stoll - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
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About Josiah Stoll

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What is missing in 5E that you had in other editions? Tuesday, 21st May, 2019 10:28 PM

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Sunday, 9th June, 2019 04:35 AM
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Saturday, 20th October, 2018

  • 02:53 PM - pemerton mentioned Josiah Stoll in post GM techniques (especially for non-combat challenges/resolution)
    Josiah Stoll I saw you've been looking at some other threads discussing GMing techniques. There's a range of approaches. The default on these boards emphasises GM-driven play (or APs where the GM channels the module author). What I'm going to talk about in this post/thread is a different approach. You might find it helpful, or not - all I can say is that it's been working for me for a long time now. RPGing is fun when the players are engaged. Combat is often engaging by default, because PC death is at stake. To make non-combat engaging, the players have to be able to see that something is at stake that they care about. This is what will get them wanting to engage. And they have to be confident that engaging the situation won't leave them hosed. The fear of being hosed leads to turtling, tedious tactically-focused play, a game that moves at the pace of treacle, etc. And also easily drifts back to GM-driven as the players look for the "correct" way to win (ie the one the GM has in mind) so that...
  • 02:34 PM - pemerton mentioned Josiah Stoll in post Why does 5E SUCK?
    Josiah Stoll, I've started a new thread and mentioned you.

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Monday, 17th December, 2018

  • 08:53 PM - Umbran quoted Josiah Stoll in post Betrayal Legacy
    How’s it different from regular Betrayal? A given session is in many ways similar to regular Betrayal - you are exploring a haunted house, you discover rooms as you go, and at some point the Haunt begins, and someone plays the role of the bad guys. All that is as you expect. There are two general ways campaign play is different: 1) Many of the game elements are hidden from you at start of play. You don't have full decks of Items, Events, and Omens at the start of play, for example. These are discovered as a result of play, and the ones you discover may not be the ones I discover. The campaign is a 13 episodes, and I am told that any given group will see only about half the cards provided in the box. 2) Some game elements are permanently changed over the course of play. Some are outright destroyed, others change in function. The rulebook lists a number of differences that are not spoilery, and I'll try to summarize them when I am home with the rules.

Monday, 3rd December, 2018


Friday, 23rd November, 2018

  • 04:59 AM - Celebrim quoted Josiah Stoll in post What would happen if you reversed all the alignments for all the creatures in the Monster manual?
    Celebrim What if we removed the association between “light” and “good?” In this world it would have to. The problem that I was trying to elucidate (see it there), was that I'm not sure that this association is as tenuous as all that. I'm not sure you can remove the association. Even if you try to start with a world reversed, it doesn't feel like it can last. Vampires are good aligned? Surely they'd have to stop feasting, stop polluting, stop dominating. And vampires and every rotting corpse is now good? Is death a goodness? Can we align good with annihilation, claim an empty dead universe with night forever as a benefice? Can you just call everything that was woe weal, and it be so? Or, if you turn everything upside down, will it not be forced to turn with it? Is it all as arbitrary as a bunch of hats? At first it seems so, but the more you dig, the less it feels like you can animate every evil with a spirit of good, and every good with a spirit of evil, and escape very far f...

Saturday, 27th October, 2018

  • 11:23 PM - Retreater quoted Josiah Stoll in post The Power Struggle for Dungeons & Dragons' Soul
    I suppose I’ve always liked Pathfinder’s business model. Like, their rules are hot garbage. But since Paizo makes all the mechanics free online after a month or two, people make pretty awesome “patches” or “mods” to fix the worst of it. Giving away "hot garbage" is hardly something worth receiving.

Sunday, 21st October, 2018


Saturday, 20th October, 2018

  • 05:41 PM - Kramodlog quoted Josiah Stoll in post Ravnica Table of Contents & More
    The Gnome effect? A concept that comes from 4e's PHB excluding the gnome race and some classes. The effect is even bigger with this campaign book as Ravnica isn't in he Ravnica campaign guide. But also MtG elements aren't in the book either. And that is weird cause Ravnica is part of the MtG universe.
  • 02:14 PM - pemerton quoted Josiah Stoll in post Why does 5E SUCK?
    Since not everyone can contribute to a Social or Exploration sceneTackling this in some fashion seems pretty important. There's probably some stuff you can do as GM on the framing side of things; and also stuff that can be looked at on the resolution side too. "Fail forward" resolution in particular - it's a bit tricky in 5e because so much action resolution involves spells, but it can probably be used for ability check/skill check resolution. ("Fail forward" is often misconceived as "partial success" or "success at a cost". I'm meaning something a bit different from that - a new thread would be a better place to discuss in detail if you're interested.) How do I make the Fighter useful?To some extent that's up to the player, provided you're doing your job as GM! But in terms of providing "entry points", is there anything useful to be found in his/her background?
  • 02:04 PM - pemerton quoted Josiah Stoll in post Why does 5E SUCK?
    I am our group’s DM most of the time, but I’m new to the hobby (senior in high school, started playing as an 8th grader, never had the opportunity to play under an experienced DM) and it’s been hard to create encounters that are interesting, different, and provide everyone a good opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way. If I play disallowing metagame social skills, the Bards/Sorcs/Warlocks are the only ones who get to do stuff; and if I allow out of game social skills to influence events, the most charismatic player hogs screentime. I’ve looked online for advice on how to make the game more interesting in and out of combat (phb and dmg are kinda worthless at giving DM advice) but the responses that I’ve gotten have been:A lot of those responses seem aimed at a very GM-driven, "follow-the-bread-crumbs" style of play. If you're interested in talking about more player-driven play there are posters on these boards who can talk about that (me, Campbell, Manbearcat and others). The best place t...

Tuesday, 2nd October, 2018

  • 04:38 AM - Erechel quoted Josiah Stoll in post Why does 5E SUCK?
    Everyone can contribute pretty well to combat. Since not everyone can contribute to a Social or Exploration scene (and some characters like full plate-armored fighters in a Stealth game actually detract from the game sometimes)the game focuses on Combat to make screentime pretty even. And 5e Combat is really boring if the game focuses on it too much.That is a false claim. Furthermore with the skills the fighter has in your game! Intimidation is a pretty solid skill for interaction: do you ever played mass effect? You could either persuade (paragon) or intimidate (renegade). Perception is a solid skill, too. And remember that the skills are loosely tied to stats: in the example that I've just improvised for you, Survival+Intelligence will be the way to discover the paths to infiltrate. The warlock, druid and rogue could be the infiltration team, whereas the fighter buys time with threats, and directs the team from a good perspective (Perception+Intelligence). Intimidation is an "all or nothing" app...
  • 02:34 AM - Erechel quoted Josiah Stoll in post Why does 5E SUCK?
    I pretty much figured that out. Could you point me towards some better stuff?Damn cellphone! I didn't want to give experience nor laugh. I only wanted to quote. My best advice is: go for Angry GM. As for improving games, the best thing you can do is to play the three pillars balanced. First of all, there is one (big) difference between the three of them: complexity. Whereas most combats include a minimum degree of tactics and has at least the relative complexity of skill checks and result checks (attack roll and damage dice, until you drop the enemy to 0), most GMs strive to make challenges outside combat that don't end in a single check, even with idiotic rerolls until you succeed. The main issue there is to make complex tasks out of skill checks. I'm not talking about the Skill Challenges of 4th edition: I'm talking of actual challenges with consequences, both in failure and in success. Let's take for example a hostage negotiation, a perfect mixture between Exploration, Combat and Social Interact...
  • 01:20 AM - cmad1977 quoted Josiah Stoll in post Why does 5E SUCK?
    I am our group’s DM most of the time, but I’m new to the hobby (senior in high school, started playing as an 8th grader, never had the opportunity to play under an experienced DM) and it’s been hard to create encounters that are interesting, different, and provide everyone a good opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way. If I play disallowing metagame social skills, the Bards/Sorcs/Warlocks are the only ones who get to do stuff; and if I allow out of game social skills to influence events, the most charismatic player hogs screentime. I’ve looked online for advice on how to make the game more interesting in and out of combat (phb and dmg are kinda worthless at giving DM advice) but the responses that I’ve gotten have been: Do funny voices out of combat (My voice is kinda raspy, so everyone sounds kinda like Batman) Vary monster tactics in combat (Do you mean monster attack descriptions? Most low level monsters only have one or two viable combat strategies) Figure out how to put the Fighter’s p...
  • 12:26 AM - Tallifer quoted Josiah Stoll in post Why does 5E SUCK?
    I’ll start a thread dedicated to advice-getting, but I can’t find the button to do so. Go to D&D 5th Edition Forum. There is a button that says Post New Thread. It is right above the block of text that says Forum: *D&D 5th Edition Discuss D&D 5E rules and products or post your own creations for others to share. Also for discussion about the D&D Adventurers league (DDAL). Character builds and NPCs belong in the Character Builds & Optimization forum.
  • 12:00 AM - BookBarbarian quoted Josiah Stoll in post Why does 5E SUCK?
    Tons of HP and almost no focus on Out-of-Combat encounters mean that those same-y feeling fights take up most of the screentime. The big HP criticism is valid. I think that influenced a number of MtoF monsters. Now I've only played in 5e Official published adventures, but I've always had lots of non-combat encounters, in fact, combat can be avoided entirely in a lot of cases. Even my current brutal Barbarian in SKT is shrewd enough to know if you fight you might die, so make sure you've got a good reason to fight first.

Monday, 1st October, 2018

  • 11:45 PM - Tallifer quoted Josiah Stoll in post Why does 5E SUCK?
    The emphasis on reflavoring is nice, but eventually all the fights feel the same. Tons of HP and almost no focus on Out-of-Combat encounters mean that those same-y feeling fights take up most of the screentime. I do not see what that has to do with the 5E rules. That sounds like the adventures a dungeon master chooses to create OR the personality of the players. Does the dungeon master provide NPCs to talk to and interesting cultures to explore? Do the players talk to new NPCs and take time to explore, or do they just kill everything and take their stuff?

Monday, 6th August, 2018

  • 07:32 PM - gyor quoted Josiah Stoll in post The Art of Ravnica
    So maybe it would be a better plan to make each guild like a background or something? Or like those cool Faction Traits you can get in Pathfinder? They have repeatedly stated that Guilds will be factions, but with more depth then usual.

Sunday, 29th July, 2018

  • 11:08 AM - Staffan quoted Josiah Stoll in post The Art of Ravnica
    Theros and Kaladesh have some gorgeous art, but I think I agree with you. I think I’d represent the Boros as all having the same Paladin oath, or maybe being Battlemaster fighters. The Izzet probably deserve their own warlock pact, maybe something that lets them risk taking damage increase damage output. I don't know. Each guild has a wide variety of folks in them. The Izzet guild is pretty Wizard-heavy, I'll grant you. Though I'd represent them with D&D wizards - they don't get power from an outside source, but though experimentation, study, and experimentation. Oh, and sooo many experiments. But take the Boros Legion for example. They are an army, and armies have many different types of troops. Looking at the cards, the following class-type creature types are represented: soldier, wizard, cleric, berserker, knight. Similarly, the Selesnya Conclave has: knight, warrior, cleric, soldier, archer, shaman. So while each guild has a particular role in the city, and a particular outlook on li...

Saturday, 16th June, 2018

  • 05:18 PM - gyor quoted Josiah Stoll in post How Mainstream is Dungeons and Dragons with 5e? Vox Mainstream.
    Why remove it? I thought the different Oaths made the Paladin actually fun to play. Bard- now THAT’S a class that needs to be removed. Bards and Paladins are awesome.
  • 08:56 AM - NaturalZero quoted Josiah Stoll in post How Mainstream is Dungeons and Dragons with 5e? Vox Mainstream.
    Why remove it? I thought the different Oaths made the Paladin actually fun to play. Bard- now THAT’S a class that needs to be removed. The paladin-hate always strikes me as bizarre but then I realize that my concept of the class is probably pretty different from the haters. The goody-two-shoes, plot-killing, small-box-shoehorn character concept is pretty lame but I've never run a paladin like that IRL. One of my favorite characters this edition was basically a golem with a radioactive meteor for a heart, built by a cult to plant beacons at ley lines in order draw the attention of an elder god, deep in space (Allabar from 4e). His body would open and he would melt people with radiation (radiant damage), being a paladin.

Monday, 11th June, 2018

  • 07:35 AM - Annie Bulloch quoted Josiah Stoll in post Creating a More Immersive D&D Experience
    What color is that? I’m no interior designer, but I love the idea. The floor has vivid blue tile. The room is shaped like a long rectangle. The short wall at one end is a charcoal gray -- that's where the big TV is mounted, and the dark color makes it easier to look at the screen when it's on. The long walls are a lighter, silvery gray color, and the opposite short wall(s) around the restroom and soda machine are the same yellow we used in some areas of the sales floor. We have a lot of art and such on the walls too. Overall it helps it feel warm instead of sterile and oppressive.

Wednesday, 6th June, 2018

  • 04:55 AM - sominator quoted Josiah Stoll in post My team is creating a cyberpunk RPG, and I've started a video series to journal the process.
    Thanks for your interest, and questions! I worked as a professor in anthropology, media, and religious studies. Our game is a d20 cyberpunk RPG that has a strong urban fantasy element. We're working to streamline a lot of the rules that you'd find in a d20 system and place the emphasis on action and roleplaying. We've also got a card-based collaborative hacking minigame in the works that can be played in under a minute (this will likely be a stretch goal in the eventual Kickstarter). You'll find less grit and more heroics here than in Shadowrun, with a lot of fiction and worldbuilding to back it up. I quite like SWSE, and there's some feat/talent flavor in our game that is reminiscent of that system, but it's a much different game entirely. You mentioned that you worked as a professor, can I ask what you taught? Also, how does your game shape up in comparison to games like Shadowrun, Eclipse Phase, or the various Star Wars RPG’s? (I know that Star Wars is a Space Opera, but it is s...


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