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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



I also have a soft spot for 2E's class kits. Sure a lot of them were imbalanced one way or the other, but they were a convenient package that could add a lot of flavor to a class and it's no wonder that 3.5E after launch and all subsequent editions plus Pathfinder have tried to bring back the idea.

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Barudak
May 7, 2007



I feel bad for that 2e barbarian. He climbed all the way up the mountain only to discover at the end he climbed the wrong one.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





The OG 2E PHB - the one with a guy riding his horse all out on the cover - also had some choice art in it.

DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case




2e owns, because it has planescape and planescape owns. and, “Thats a fac t , JAck”

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


DAD LOST MY IPOD posted:

2e owns, because it has planescape and planescape owns. and, “Thats a fac t , JAck”

Planescape is pretty awesome. It's why I look forward to any Planescape material in the thread.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


MonsterEnvy posted:

Planescape is pretty awesome. It's why I look forward to any Planescape material in the thread.

http://projects.inklesspen.com/fatal-and-friends/

Planescape's actually had a write-up, and it's in the archive(link above), if you weren't there when it was originally posted in the thread.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Bieeanshee posted:

It's just so cack-handed. Someone had those warheads built in the first place. A little shave with Occam's razor, and it's very human elements panicking and trying to clean up their political mess. Have War transpose a digit or two after the order has been given-- amplify things, but keep the causes human. Make the Horsemen manifest as opportunists, not world-straddling Captain Planet villains.

LOL if you think that you need mind control to convince people in Washington to nuke Iran.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


PurpleXVI posted:

http://projects.inklesspen.com/fatal-and-friends/

Planescape's actually had a write-up, and it's in the archive(link above), if you weren't there when it was originally posted in the thread.

Yeah I know that, but there is more Planescape stuff then just that. I just like it and look forward to Planescape things getting covered, I know that a bunch have already.

The Great Modron March for example is a semi ongoing thing currently.

Red Metal
Oct 23, 2012

Let me tell you about Homestuck



Fun Shoe

Night10194 posted:

How many feats do you get now? Is it every even level or whatever or once per 3?

E: I also loved 2nd Edition, but that's a mixture of Baldur's Gate being in Second Ed (which I thought was the coolest loving game ever when I was a kid) and it being the first RPG I was ever exposed to or ever ran/played in.

- ancestry feat: level 1 and every 4 levels after
- skill feat: every even level (unless you're a rogue, then you get one every level)
- general feat: level 3 and every 4 levels after
- class feat: level 1 & every even level for noncasters, levels 2/4/6/8/10/14/18/20 for casters

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








Red Metal posted:

- ancestry feat: level 1 and every 4 levels after
- skill feat: every even level (unless you're a rogue, then you get one every level)
- general feat: level 3 and every 4 levels after
- class feat: level 1 & every even level for noncasters, levels 2/4/6/8/10/14/18/20 for casters
...or I could just play Godbound, D&D 4E, Gamma World 7E, SotDL, or even 13th Age. Some game where getting a new level is meaningful and yet not overwhelming. Because holy poo poo that's way too much to reasonably track without either the game flying out of control or half those feats just existing to push around numbers. It's the Exalted problem in miniature. (Knowing Paizo it's probably both, just one or the other at a time depending on whether you're playing a caster or not.)

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Red Metal posted:

- ancestry feat: level 1 and every 4 levels after
- skill feat: every even level (unless you're a rogue, then you get one every level)
- general feat: level 3 and every 4 levels after
- class feat: level 1 & every even level for noncasters, levels 2/4/6/8/10/14/18/20 for casters

This seems very complex.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Ronwayne posted:

Mind control is only an interesting theme for me when its encouraging someone to do what they already wanted to do. When its just outright hijacking someone and driving them around like a car, my feeling is a resounding "meh."
Based on some of the questions that Trump has asked about nukes, you could see him nuking the ME with only a little nudge from War, rather than outright mind control.

Was the political situation in Jordan significantly different from now when the game was written, because it seems an odd addition to the "Let's attack the US bases" coalition.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

The campaigns I mainly played in; were almost entirely three book, ADD 1st, and Arduin Grimoire blended together. This was the thing for the UW-Madison gaming groups in the 70s and really early 80s. We basically ignored BECMI, and were gradually phasing in 2nd when I joined the Army and left the area (We also played a poo poo ton of Champions, Villains and Vigilantes, Space Opera, Call of Cthulhu, and Traveller).

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


MonsterEnvy posted:

This seems very complex.

THAC0 must have confused the gently caress out of you.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

JcDent posted:

LOL if you think that you need mind control to convince people in Washington to nuke Iran.

Exactly! Not to mention all of the grumbling about people in real life itching to start the End Times.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




MonsterEnvy posted:

This seems very complex.

It seems like a really, really clumsy away to attempt to make up for feat bloat without actually realising the problem, let along fixing it.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Angrymog posted:

Based on some of the questions that Trump has asked about nukes, you could see him nuking the ME with only a little nudge from War, rather than outright mind control.


I think this has to do with many people, even as recently as three years ago, thinking of the presidency as some sort of :decorum: thing with Serious, Good Intentioned People Doing The Best They Can. So obviously despite any political disagreements I have with the guy, surely the president wouldn't kill millions for laughs?

Even as dumb as GWB got, writing for an audience of the 90's/2000s people and telling them there'd be an orange goblin clown with an anus mouth building literal child concentration camps would've got you accused of exaggerating for effect. The apocalypse would be as dumb and cretinous as anything else in 2018.

Ronwayne fucked around with this message at 15:14 on Oct 20, 2018

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Ronwayne posted:

Even as dumb as GWB got, writing for an audience of the 90's/2000s people and telling them there'd be an orange goblin clown with an anus mouth building literal child concentration camps would've got you accused of exaggerating for effect. The apocalypse would be as dumb and cretinous as anything else in 2018.

If Trump was more political during the early '90s instead of getting self-owned with the Taj Mahal and trying to ingratiate himself in the New York elite, he would definitely would have been part of Ray Winninger's Underground.

Tsilkani
Jul 28, 2013





Introduction: A Wilderness of Mirrors

So, as grassy gnoll has mentioned a few times, Infinity's fluff originated as a campaign ran by one of the Corvus Belli founders. Things finally came full circle in late 2015 when Modiphius picked up the license and ran a staggeringly successful Kickstarter campaign to produce the official RPG, with the total amounts pledged through Kickstarter and the BackerKit unlocking every single stretch goal they had, for a total of over 20 books planned. So far, they've put out the Core Rulebook, a Player's Guide, and a couple of adventure books in print, and the Gamemaster's Guide, Ariadna sourcebook, and Haqqislam sourcebook in pdf. There's also an advance pdf of the PanOceania sourcebook available to backers. If it seems like a small amount of product to have put out in 3 years, that's because absolutely everything written for the fluff has to be approved by the original designer, which slows things down a bit.

I'm a big fan of the miniatures game (Nomads 4 Lyfe), and I like the work Modiphius has done with other lines, so I ended up backing for every book they're making. I'm going to start with the Core Rulebook, plus the extras from the Collector's Edition and the Player's Guide. The Player's Guide, by the way, is just a cut-down copy of the Core Rulebook with all of the fluff taken out, so you can have multiple copies of the rules around the table without shelling out the full Core price. It's a nice move on Modiphius' part, and one they've also done with their other game lines. Since grassy gnoll is currently hitting some of the fluff with his look at the minis game, I'm going to start with the rules, and then go into the RPG fluff, jumping around the order a little. Before I start on the rules, though, I am going to briefly go over the default campaign structure the book assumes.

So, in addition to the Five Nations (Ariadna, Haqqislam, PanOceania, Yu Jing, and the Nomads), there is another major player in the Human Sphere, and that is O-12. Originally founded as a replacement to the outdated United Nations, their integral role in negotiating treaties after several horrific conflicts increased their power to the point where O-12 now serves as a overarching government for all of humanity. Their remit includes such things as basic human rights, and the rules of warfare and what weapons are allowed to be used. O-12 is broken up in to several Bureaus, each handling a different sphere of responsibility.

The default structure assumes everyone is playing agents in service to Bureau Noir, O-12's Secret Service, who recruits agents from across the galaxy. PCs will be working together to complete objectives handed down to them through the Bureau. However, in addition to their public objective, PCs will often have secondary, covert objectives given to them by their previous faction, leading to conflicts between players as everyone tries to secretly complete often-conflicting agendas.

While I appreciate the book providing an option that can make a group made up of multiple factions work together, the Wilderness of Mirrors concept seems like it'd only work if you can get everyone prepared to handle a little antagonism at the table without getting bent out of shape. Nothing prevents you from running a single-faction campaign, though, so it's really just a matter of preference.

Next up: So what is the 2d20 System, anyways?

Tsilkani fucked around with this message at 03:00 on Oct 21, 2018

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Young Freud posted:

If Trump was more political during the early '90s instead of getting self-owned with the Taj Mahal and trying to ingratiate himself in the New York elite, he would definitely would have been part of Ray Winninger's Underground.

Underground is the only RPG i can think of that captures the grotesquerie of the current zeitgeist. Maybe SLA industries.

Sage Genesis
Aug 14, 2014


Tsilkani posted:

PCs will often have secondary, covert objectives given to them by their previous faction, leading to conflicts between players as everyone tries to secretly complete often-conflicting agendas.

While I appreciate the book providing an option that can make a group made up of multiple factions work together, the Wilderness of Mirrors concept seems like it'd only work if you can get everyone prepared to handle a little antagonism at the table without getting bent out of shape. Nothing prevents you from running a single-faction campaign, though, so it's really just a matter of preference.

I'm running an Infinity game, and the key is to provide side-objectives that are never ever PVP. Bug an NPC's office, steal some data, covertly take a package from location A to location B, there's tons of things people can do which don't tread on the others' toes.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Angrymog posted:

Based on some of the questions that Trump has asked about nukes, you could see him nuking the ME with only a little nudge from War, rather than outright mind control.

Was the political situation in Jordan significantly different from now when the game was written, because it seems an odd addition to the "Let's attack the US bases" coalition.

That's basically what War did, coercion to make it seem like a good idea rather than full on mind control... As for Jordan, not really much different than now. This is actually one of the few actual missteps on the politics of the time. When this was published, I had just gotten out of the Army after Somalia and Desert Storm of course; and this mistake seemed really weird considering how decently the rest of world history was being done.



The Third Seal

On March 20th, 2003, the is when the Third Seal, Famine, is broken.

from The US Farm Report, March 2003

quote:

...Scientists at the Department of Agriculture are recommending SS-141, a new chemical fertilizer nicknamed Miracle Grow, to combat the high levels of acidic rain which are attributed to the nuclear strike on Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

"The strike has caused heightened levels of acidic precipitation on a global scale. To combat the effects of this acid rain in the soil of America's farms, the Department of Agriculture has developed SS-141. Free distribution will begin on March 21st, at the rate of 100 gallons per acre of farmland. Any farmer whose property taxes are paid in full is eligible for this free fertilizer," said Beverly Harvey, head of the Department of Agriculture. "We, at the Department of Agriculture see this as a positive step forward for the American farmer. The government has taken this critical first step to regain the trust and prosperity of the American farmer."

Famine had, with Pestilence's help, arranged that the combination of acid rain (a serious 90's justified fear) and radiation would alter SS-141 to be an ind\credibly lethal herbicide to food crops and any animals that grazed on this land while remaining non-toxic to humans. The loss of pasture and farmlands was incredibly serious. And the sudden destruction of so much food put the US in immediate rationing. In Europe and Russia, swarms of locusts appeared and destroyed their grain while anthrax epidemics swept through their livestock.

Meanwhile in Japan...

World News Network Broadcast from Hong Kong, 1:13 p.m. Greenwich Standard Time, March 20, 2003

quote:

"...has just been confirmed. An unknown toxin, similar to a potent nerve gas in liquid form, has been released into the Sea of Japan. Members of the infamous Black Chrysanthemum Cult have claimed responsibility, though Japanese authorities have yet to comment on this."

Sadly for the cultists, it did not boil up like they were expecting and immediately start murdering humanity, but instead began poisoning all sea life to the point where...

quote:

"The effects of the toxin on humans are still unclear, though it does appear to be lethal to all forms of marine life. Fish have been washing up on shore for several hours now. They are now so dense that anyone trying to get near the water has to wade through a barrier of fish several feet deep. The water itself, as I said earlier, is a bright crimson, almost the color of blood."

Yes this is convoluted, but you have to remember the Horsemen are there to make people suffer, not kill them immediately but make them wish they were dead and wonder why this was all happening. The Book of Revelations ended up as the ultimate 'gently caress You! Got Mine.' religious text so that the 'right' people could feel smug as poo poo about what was going to happen to all the 'wrong' ones.

Night10194 posted:


E: One of the wildest things about biblical canon to me, because it's a bit beyond my specialty, is that Revelations was the Apocalypse they picked. Apocalyptics were a genre! There were others to choose from. Why take that one?

Church politics probably

Humbug Scoolbus fucked around with this message at 16:51 on Oct 20, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


That's how it ended up, yes, but when Revelation was written it was much more 'gently caress all these people who ever recanted their faith to not get tortured to death or who are newly come to the religion and didn't suffer through the persecutions like I did'

'Also, gently caress Rome.'

So actually not that different.

E: One of the wildest things about biblical canon to me, because it's a bit beyond my specialty, is that Revelations was the Apocalypse they picked. Apocalyptics were a genre! There were others to choose from. Why take that one?

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 16:44 on Oct 20, 2018

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


MollyMetroid posted:

THAC0 must have confused the gently caress out of you.

THAC0 was hard to understand at first, but I eventually understood it.

When I mean this seems complex, it's pretty much that you have to go through a large amount of choices each level it seems.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


You're making at most two choices a level though? The reason I compared it to THAC0 is that it's effectively straightforward information that was presented poorly.

quote:

- ancestry feat: level 1 and every 4 levels after
- skill feat: every even level (unless you're a rogue, then you get one every level)
- general feat: level 3 and every 4 levels after
- class feat: level 1 & every even level for noncasters, levels 2/4/6/8/10/14/18/20 for casters


Level 1: Ancestry Feat, Class Feat (Except for Casters), (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 2: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 3: General Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 4: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 5: Ancestry Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 6: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 7: General Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 8: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 9: Ancestry Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 10: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 11: General Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
...etc


When you see it presented as a chart, it's suddenly simple. When you see it as a list with different presentation for half of the items, it's less straightforward to read.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


MollyMetroid posted:

You're making at most two choices a level though? The reason I compared it to THAC0 is that it's effectively straightforward information that was presented poorly.



Level 1: Ancestry Feat, Class Feat (Except for Casters), (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 2: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 3: General Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 4: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 5: Ancestry Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 6: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 7: General Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 8: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 9: Ancestry Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
Level 10: Class Feat, Skill Feat
Level 11: General Feat, (Skill Feat for Rogues)
...etc


When you see it presented as a chart, it's suddenly simple. When you see it as a list with different presentation for half of the items, it's less straightforward to read.
That still seems more complicated then it needs to be. I am of the opinion I don't need to pick a new feat every level.

Monathin
Sep 1, 2011


Empty Levels are bad but creating five new systesms to fill those levels are worse. That's my hot take.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Ronwayne posted:

Underground is the only RPG i can think of that captures the grotesquerie of the current zeitgeist. Maybe SLA industries.

No kidding. Mitch Gitelman and Winninger have been talking about a new edition, considering how everything in the original game is now paled in comparison to the Trump era. I feel the superhero aethestic would also be on point because of the popularity of the Marvel films, so it just FEELS like a perfect synchronicity for Underground to make a comeback and be really popular this time around.

Tsilkani
Jul 28, 2013



Sage Genesis posted:

I'm running an Infinity game, and the key is to provide side-objectives that are never ever PVP. Bug an NPC's office, steal some data, covertly take a package from location A to location B, there's tons of things people can do which don't tread on the others' toes.

That's true, but a lot of the adventures published so far have distinctly antagonistic secondary objectives, which kind of sets the tone for the line.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Feat categories are not new systems? Feats is the system.

I mean, I can't help it if you want to roll 3d6 down the line and that's your whole loving character, no choices needed ever. But getting something when you level up is fun and makes levelling up rewarding. It's certainly not "complex". Fiddly, is about the only word I can think of that I'd apply. But even then...this isn't rocket science or inventing anything new, and they certainly aren't doing anything worse than D&D 4e for making sure there's no dead levels.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


How many of those choices are worthwhile, though? Because that was the biggest problem with feats (there were bigger problems as a whole, mostly inherited from 3.5) in PF 1e, there being hundreds of feats and maybe a couple dozen that were ever actually mechanically worth it.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


And that's a valid criticism and a valid question, to which I don't know the answer.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Monathin posted:

Empty Levels are bad but creating five new systesms to fill those levels are worse. That's my hot take.
Agreed you should get something each level. I just don't think this is the way to do it.

Night10194 posted:

How many of those choices are worthwhile, though? Because that was the biggest problem with feats (there were bigger problems as a whole, mostly inherited from 3.5) in PF 1e, there being hundreds of feats and maybe a couple dozen that were ever actually mechanically worth it.

Yeah that is pretty much my issue too. Like I don't mind a choice between a bunch of abilites once in a while, but I don't think it should be the entire system.

MonsterEnvy fucked around with this message at 19:48 on Oct 20, 2018

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Im not sure why each level isnt a mixture of static pre-baked feats and occasional levels where you pick one of three or whatever. I feel tired just imagining going through splat books for not just feate, but feats of the right type in the right level order to make my build work.

Monathin
Sep 1, 2011


I mean this essentially comes down to the age-old issue of meaningful choices vs number of options, in that it's extraordinarily hard for any given system to give you hundreds of options but that means that the number of options that matter (and what options that do matter being considered the 'optimal path') are way more limited. There are ways to balance for this, but I don't think PF2's is making it work at all from what we've seen.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


AD&D: 2nd Edition



It occurred to me that I spend an awful lot of time lauding the 2e AD&D DMG, and also that the DMG for its first ten or so chapters is more or less running commentary on the PHB. So why not do both at once? Do a chapter of the PHB, then the relevant chapter of the DMG(in the same post if at all possible). Let's try that out now.



Analyzing Chapter 1: Player Character Ability Scores

Chapter 1 of the DMG is more than just an in-depth of the possible stat generation methods, though those are in there as well. It starts out by going over the potential stat generation methods we got in the PHB, describing their pros and cons. 3d6 down the line, for instance? Fast and simple, players don't need to do much planning or worrying, but getting bad rolls may discourage some players. The more complex methods(like 4d6-drop-lowest-and-arrange) are mostly described as being disadvantageous due to potentially hitting players with choice paralysis or:



Simply the fact that people might start aiming for power when they have an opportunity to actively do so, rather than aiming for an interesting, possibly flawed, character. Other analyses get downright philosophical about the game itself:



I just love the book so much for insights like this. It's probably stuff that a lot of us have internalized over the years, so to us it isn't particularly earthshattering, but we're roleplaying veterans. Imagine being a new player and getting hit with this bombshell? I don't remember any other game ever capturing the spirit of roleplaying, and the issues with it, this concisely and without being pretentious before. It feels like 2e AD&D's DMG is unique in that it actually understands the players, and predicts the irrational behavior that can sometimes break otherwise-rational systems. Like players reacting to the feeling that their character is hot garbage just because they didn't roll all bonus-granting stats or similar.



It also addresses a few things that I've never really had to deal with before, like players bringing in a PC from another campaign, which I can't imagine many GM's these days struggle with... but I can see the relevance in the sense of "my last so-and-so GM let me do X, why won't you let me do X?" and GM's still needing to take a stand against that sort of thing. Or the issues inherent in players running multiple characters in the same world/campaign("no, Joe the half-elf isn't going to loan Johnny the level 1 half-orc you just rolled up his +99 Vorpal Doom Avenger Blade. Or tell him the secret to the Riddle of the Level-Granting Sphinx. I don't care if they're both your characters. No dice.").

It also branches into some advice for GM's on how to help players come up with backgrounds(without forcing the GM's ideas on them) and how to deal with complicating backgrounds(the examples given are players who want to start as noble scions or as heirs to large fortunes). The suggestions are to either forbid it, if it'd ruin the game(like if Johnny Half-Orc starts with a million gold and just pays NPC's to adventure for him) or to play rear end in a top hat genie with the players(though the game also suggests not to repeatedly do this or push it too far). Guy wants to be the son of a duke? Fine, he's got a noble title... but his dad was or is up to his ears in debt and the player's hounded by debt-collectors, so he might not want to mention his title too loudly.

Not much more to chapter 1 of the DMG, so let's get back to the PHB for Chapter 2.

Chapter 2: Player Character Races



I believe 2nd edition AD&D was the last edition of D&D to have demihuman minimum stat requirements, and I think it's one of the parts of the game that I've never experienced anyone actually using. No matter what other fiddly, minor rule someone's been insistent on making use of, no one's ever cared about someone playing an uncharismatic elf or a weak dwarf. Core AD&D eventually got expanded with a lot more playable races, just about every setting added two or three, in the same way that every goddamn book for 3e added two or three more classes, but at launch, it had a pretty limited complement: Human, Elf, Half-Elf, Dwarf, Gnome and Halfling. Three tall options and three short options, in other words.

I think this is also part of what makes the following editions feel so cluttered to 2e AD&D players. Extra race options were usually limited by game world(no playable Thri-Kreen frolicking around Cerilia, for instance, nor was Athas clogged with Aasimar and Tieflings), so you had a tight handful of racial options for the most part, and while a few settings modified the class options, it was, again, usually one or two local additions(which tended to also be combined with some universal options being limited or missing. Athas had Gladiators, but no Paladins. Cerilia had its half-thief spellcasters, but pure actual mages were extremely rare in turn, and so on).

Anyway. Dwarves, Gnomes, Elves and Halflings get stat modifiers(Elves and halflings are agile, dwarves are tough and gnomes are smart), while humans and half-elves get jack poo poo(for now, they have something to make up for it later), and everyone who isn't a human gets to see in the dark. One thing, again, that stands out here compared to the later editions is that every stat bonus is balanced by an equivalent stat malus. Elves get +1 Dex? Well, they also get -1 Con. Gnomes getting +1 Intelligence? Suck up a -1 Wisdom in return. At the risk of sounding like an old man complaining about kids these days, that also feels like a change in philosophy going onwards: As rarely as possible hand the players a drawbacks, instead focus entirely on giving them piles and piles of bonuses. From 3e onwards, players will basically never start with a stat on a level that gives a penalty unless they choose to, outside of a few extremely niche starting options.

Dwarves, Elves, Humans and Half-Elves we're probably all familiar with, Halflings get top billing in a few settings and gameworlds(WFRP, Middle-Earth, Athas and even Cerilia), but Gnomes are sort of the odd one out. They're less clearly based on anything Tolkien wrote(and, let's be frank, that's where most classic Fantasy gaming has its roots, flavour-wise) and thus have less of an obvious hook for most players. I can understand why they got phased out for a lot of worlds and settings. Reading their pitch, they mostly seem like a non-divine version of Tom Bombadil, living out in the woods and being able to learn the languages of badgers and other woodland creatures, as well as being somewhat fond of pranks.

Generally, though, mechanically, the races are kind of lackluster. They're all more or less humans except shorter/skinnier/fatter/more agile/longer-living. None of them really have any exceptional differences to them(mostly just some saving throw bonuses to some of the rarer saving throws you'll ever encounter. How often does some evil dude bust out a wand or rod?), though the +1 Dexterity for Halflings and Elves is somewhat broken compared to the other advantages, since a Dexterity upgrade yields a lot more advantage than a Constitution or Intelligence upgrade(Dwarves and Gnomes respectively) for most characters. Outside of some optional rules and stat checks, Intelligence is really only relevant to Arcane spellcasters(and even then primarily only for spell-learning), and +1 Con will at most produce +1 HP per level. Both of those can be good, but a +1 Dexterity can result in a +5% additional chance to dodge any attack(+1AC) and/or a +5% additional chance to land any ranged attack. Piddly small-change in the later editions, but huge in 2e.

After the races, the same chapter also dives into our character's "basics," that is to say: Age, Gender, Height and other stuff like handedness. It's generally described as entirely aesthetic, though a sufficiently advanced age can start accruing physical negatives and mental positives(oddly enough no amount of age will make us go senile). It's worth noting that all human adventurers with a randomly generated age start at between 16 and 19 years of age, meaning that all default human adventurers are literally teenagers and some of them have barely even finished getting all their permanent teeth.

Analyzing Chapter 2: Player Character Races



The DMG starts out strong by hitting on something here that the PHB has yet to hit on, but which I've hinted at: The advantage of humans and, to a lesser extent, half-elves. That would be racial level limits. Basically, only humans can reach any level in any class, while half-elves are for some reason unbounded as Bards. Most of the other core races have one or two classes where they can hit level 15 or 16, and the rest they barely reach level 10 in(for some later additions in other games, it can be even worse. Some of the Player's Option races have barely any classes they can actually advance in), not to mention that most races have a lot of classes(usually specialist classes, but sometimes something as basic as a thief, cleric or mage) which they can't even be.

Rather than just telling us this is how things are, the DMG decides to explain why it is as it is. Firstly, it's to give humans an advantage: Unlimited potential. Secondly, it's to give the races some flavour. Like the coolest, most badassest dwarves will be Fighters, elves excel as Rangers and Mages, halflings as Thieves, etc. And thirdly... it's to explain why humans, with their barely-100-years max lifespan are somehow the most populous and powerful race in most settings, rather than the elves and gnomes who easily rack up multiple centuries of training and experience if they don't die to violence or some other unnatural cause.



Personally, I've always adhered to the racial limitations on what classes can be played, but I've never actually tangled with the racial level limits, because dear God, who's actually run a campaign for that long? It's just never come up. But I appreciate the reasoning behind it. I'm one of those assholes who always wanted my setting to be internally consistent to the extent that if we applied the rules to everyone and everything, all the time, we'd come up with a sensible result. This is probably some sort of deep-seated psychosis and I should be locked up.



But as is usual for the DMG, the designers aren't happy to just lay down the law and demand we play their way. Instead, they argue for why they believe their way works... and then suggest what we could do if we don't want to work with it. They're giving us optional rules, mutators, for the game to let us tailor it to our liking, based on their game design experience. For instance, we could let demihumans advance to their max allowed level... and then simply double-cost them advancement for levels beyond that. Or only let demihumans with exceptional prime ability scores advance beyond their starting limitations. Or we could just scrap the limits and say "to hell with it, I'm running this game my way." and the developers don't try to shame us for it.



There's also a short section following this that I've literally never experienced anyone using: The create-your-own-playable-race section. It's basically a flowchart for determining whether a non-playable race would make sense, how you can determine why, for instance, Illithids or Wights would be poor choices, while letting someone play an Orc or a Centaur would be more workable. It can be summed up as: Do they have any exceptional abilities that would unbalance them? Can they play well with others(i.e. aren't required to eat other PC's for sustenance)? Can they adventure with the rest of the party(this is phrased as "do they have legs" and "can they move around on land and enter dungeons")? Followed by a few questions that we can use to establish what stat bonuses they should have(and what penalties) as well as what classes that it'd be appropriate for them to have access to.

In time (Player's Option) we'd get a more robust system for introducing new races to the game without having them previously statted out by a setting book, but that's some years off yet.

Next up: Classes and analysis of same.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


It's weird, given the first games I ever ran were in 2e, but I've never read the 2e DMG.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


My homebrew fantasy heartbreaker has 10 levels and is truly class based - no feats, skills, talents, proficiencies.

Maybe I'll actually release it someday and add it to the pile.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Night10194 posted:

It's weird, given the first games I ever ran were in 2e, but I've never read the 2e DMG.

When 2E first came around, I didn't buy the DMG; I continued using my 1E DMG with it for years, and it worked just fine.

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Sage Genesis
Aug 14, 2014


PurpleXVI posted:

I just love the book so much for insights like this. It's probably stuff that a lot of us have internalized over the years, so to us it isn't particularly earthshattering, but we're roleplaying veterans. Imagine being a new player and getting hit with this bombshell? I don't remember any other game ever capturing the spirit of roleplaying, and the issues with it, this concisely and without being pretentious before. It feels like 2e AD&D's DMG is unique in that it actually understands the players, and predicts the irrational behavior that can sometimes break otherwise-rational systems. Like players reacting to the feeling that their character is hot garbage just because they didn't roll all bonus-granting stats or similar.

Eh, I don't know about that. I started with 2e but reading it back now, it smacks an awful lot of One True Way with two scoops of passive-aggressiveness. "Oh yeah you can use this method, if you want. Now, let me devote half a page on why you shouldn't..."

Like, "personalities to be developed"? Do I need a lovely Dex score for that? Does that give me personality? I guess Odysseus and Conan were some of the most boring motherfuckers ever, because their problems were all external in nature rather than them being clumsy or belching all the time or whatever. Frodo's personality is revealed because he's (initially) a naive plucky little chap who has to wander through a bleak hosed up world that's been through some poo poo. The fact that he's got lower Strength than Aragorn is not really the issue here.

Now don't get me wrong, having all six scores cranked up to the max doesn't sound very interesting either. But we're talking 4d6 drop the lowest, that's a 13 on average. The game pretends like this is a "Super" character, but by their own ability score charts, the actual impact is negligible. And if the Fighter does get enough Strength to deal a whopping +1 damage, so what?

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