Search Amazon.com:
Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
«2001 »
  • Post
  • Reply
Contrabassoon
Jan 29, 2002
REALLY SHITTY POSTER

CHAPTER I. SPECIAL GAMING MATERIALS

Aside from the common gaming materials used, you must also add more. Extra gaming materials, no matter how cheap the cost, can add significantly to the image of production value. Some can also be used to produce an added dimension to the gaming experience.

A. Game Master's Mask

As the game master, you must create an air of separation between yourself and the players. You are not one of them. You are everyone else in the game world. The game master's screen is a common tool that accomplishes this somewhat. You can take it further.

For my sessions, I planned to wear a mask to hide my face. I chose a mask similar to the one used by the phantom of the opera, except that it covered both sides. White and expressionless to erase my appearance of humanity and partially detach the players from the notion that I am anything but the concept of the storyteller. It also creates an air of mystique, drawing the players' attention further into the story you tell.

It is important that you accompany this mask with a more subtle mask. The "true game master's mask". You must act more confident and add that to your voice when you narrate. Act like you know something that the players don't, especially because you do. You can go so far as to change the accent with which you speak, as if putting on the physical mask also changed your persona into that of "the game master".


B. The Stars of Fortune

In Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition, players can spend "action points" to take an extra action during their turn or activate some other effect depending on their feats, class features, powers, or magic items. These are rare, special moments of glory that the players' characters experience as a stroke of luck, passion, or genius.

I decided to add to the distinction of actions points as being "special" by adding a visual, tactile sensation. I would use bite-size plastic silver stars to represent the action points. It would remind players of the existence of their action points and give them a feel of extravagance as pretty, shiny objects often do. It would also have been fun to toss them into a bowl when they "spent" the points. Two points! (the audience cheers)


C. Capsule Rollers

When rolling dice, they can knock over other things on the table such as miniatures or fall off the table. This creates a disruption that interrupts the flow of a game. Remembering an old board game that had an interesting way of rolling dice by keeping them inside a plastic chamber, I came up with a simple and entertaining solution to this potential problem.

I went to the little toy vending machines at my local supermarket. I purchased a number of toys, some of which I could use as miniatures for combat encounters. The toys come in small plastic capsules made up of two halves that are re-attachable after opening. One half is opaque and the other is relatively clear. One could place a die inside and shake the capsule to roll the die. The opaque half may have a flat end (which my capsules do) so the die lands on that end with the result showing from the clear end. No risk of knocking over minis and no falling off the table. It also prevents some of the methods players use to cheat with their dice rolls.


D. Sticker Bottoms

In a large combat, it can be a hassle to keep track of which miniature is which if you are using a lot of the same miniatures to represent your monsters. That is why I decided to place blank stickers on the bottom ends of my miniatures and label them with a pen or pencil so that when their hit points or conditions are updated, one can simply look at the sticker to see which monster it is. No chance of forgetting or mixing them up. Becoming lost in thought takes away from the appearance of the game master's competence while this sort of preparation adds to the appearance of the game master's experience and foresight.


E. Printed Aids

If you have a printer, take advantage of it. Print out anything that can save time and help the game run smoothly as well as improve the storytelling of the session. Make sure that none of the text you print out requires a magnifying glass to read.

Reference Sheets - There are a number of "cheat sheets" that you can find online that are compiled or summarized versions of game rules. These sheets can greatly ease and quicken the decision making of yourself and the players, especially character skill summaries.

Combat Sheet - A printed, labeled grid that keeps tracking of initiative, hit points, and conditions clean and efficient.

Individual Maps - It helps if every player has a copy of the map being used for the party's travel instead of having to pass it around. Some decisions require mulling over and staring at different locations on the map. This can waste time if multiple players want to mull over the same map and have to wait their turns. A list of summary descriptions of notable locations may be included with each map.

Cinematic Pictures - Sometimes it helps to have pictures instead of words. Pictures can help immerse the players into the story much quicker and more efficiently than words can. They can also supplement the narrative with visual reference. In front of the GM screen I would have a stand where I could place pictures such as that of monsters or wondrous locations being visited by the party. While the players stare at the picture(s) I could voice the NPC speaking or describe the notable history of an ancient castle. It would also have been of great help when speaking as a character of the opposite gender. There's only so much a mask can do to alter one's perceptions.

Pre-Generated Character Sheets - Character death may be inevitable, and rolling up a new character mid-session takes away from a player's participation and can slow down a game session. If the players do not have back up characters, then have back up pre-gens ready to take their place in-game in the event of death or some other inability to play with the characters. Make sure that the players are aware of the pre-gens before the game and that they have a choice of which ones to serve as a back up. If possible, let the players give you an idea of what they might like as pre-gens before making them. Otherwise make sure to have an eclectic selection on hand.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Contrabassoon
Jan 29, 2002
REALLY SHITTY POSTER

This will undoubtedly make some people angry. That is not my intent, but rather it is to express my observations and opinion about something I felt was implied in another thread. If it makes you angry then I am sorry, but my opinion still remains the same. Some will undoubtedly agree with me, some will disagree. C’est la vie.

I forked this thread from How Do you Distribute Treasure?

It occurred to me from reading that thread that within the game (considering this particular issue) you basically have two ways of looking at the World and milieu in which the characters operate.


1. The World Exists for the sake of the Characters – therefore the players present “Wish Lists” to the DM/GM, and he makes sure that the treasure they receive, assuming magical items are included in such troves, is fit for their desires and “wishes.” I imagine by extension that such a wish list can or maybe will eventually incorporate other aspects of milieu-management, such as arranging events, dungeons, political situations, and a whole host of “goodies” for the benefit of the characters. The point of existing in such a world, I suspect? – to level up of course. To become more, or maybe far more, of what you already are. The point of the game is to a large extent the mechanics of the game. By getting what you want you become what you wish and what you wish is to be stronger, bigger, badder, and more powerful as a game-character. That is to say the point of the game is the nature of the game, the world exists to service the game-character as an expression of “gamism.” In short the various accoutrements and devices and badges of heroism are distributed and “given out” as a tangible reward based upon the wishes and desires of the player. If you want the implements of heroism, those things that will assist you in being heroic, then it is the duty of the world, through the agency of the DM, to give you those things as a reward for the idea that you want to be an imaginary hero. Which leads me to the second basic way of viewing the World in an imaginary gaming universe.

2. The Characters Exist for the sake of the World – therefore the players get whatever they happen to discover and it is up to them to make the best possible use of whatever resources they encounter and can gain in order to earn their heroism. They cannot petition the World, through the agency of the DM to get whatever they “wish for” in order to facilitate their further actions. On the contrary they must gain what they gain, either intentionally, or by accident, being in effect limited to what is, not to what is wished for. This way of looking at the world is far less like a video game full of self-imposed (auto-programmed) Easter Eggs and far more like the real world. Yes, you can create things at your own expense, but there is no Santa-Clause DM/GM to whom one can avail oneself for that special, bright, shiny toy one so desperately longs for in his secret heart of hearts. (And this toy may be an item, object, device, situation, ability, or power – anything that encompasses a possession of some kind.) Because of this the world does not exist for the characters but rather the characters exist for the world, they must make use of what is offered, and they come by that due to the logical demands of what is possible from the environment around them rather than from the environment they wish to exist. This creates an entirely different dynamic of both “heroism” and “power.” Heroism is not something made evident through the “goodies” you possess or even through the power they convey upon you, but rather what you possess is “empowered” by the cleverness by which you employ it. You cannot demand the world give you things or service your needs, so therefore you must service the world in order to make best use of what you can get. The world and the DM will not bow to your demands (though the world and the DM may consider your efforts to achieve some given end or object as noble, worthy, or even of deserving assistance of some kind) and wishes so therefore you must “earn what is possible” given the particular circumstances in which you and your comrades find yourselves.


I find this a fascinating contrast in both gaming theory and in the implications of such theories.

As a personal matter I should say I find the first method and worldview immensely fascinating and even seductively alluring. I also find it, personally speaking, as a way of approaching the game, any game, or of viewing the world, any world, ugly, repulsive, petty, doomed to eventual self-absorption, and very likely to generate little else in the end than utter apathy. I can find nothing heroic in it as an ideal at all, other than the rather atrophic and shortsighted view that heroism as a game ideal is best created through raw accumulation of power. That is to say the more power you have the more potentially heroic you must naturally become because after all it is power (in the sense of raw force) which is the true measure of heroism. (And there is something at the margins to warrant a serious examination of this assumption, without power it is simply not possible to be heroic, unless of course powerlessness is a form of power, and I suspect very much that given the right conditions that statement is also very, very true. Sometimes powerlessness is the greatest form of power.)

Nevertheless the idea of the game-world existing to service the character is as repugnant to me as the idea that the real world exists to service Paris Hilton. As a matter of fact I would call this way of looking at the game as the "Modern Entertainer" View of Heroism. I am a Hero when things go the way I wish and when I get the things I want in order to assure that heroism is worth my while. It is a sort of acting out of heroism, not as an actual thing, but as a sort of stage play in which the actor becomes a shadow or mask (a persona) of the man he is supposed to be truly representing. If on the other hand heroism makes real demands on me, such as that I serve the needs of the World, rather than the other way around, well, that’s either too tough, too demanding, not profitable, or gets in the way of my fun. Or put more simply, “Fun is the point of Heroism, and so Heroism must serve my needs and wishes to be ‘gainful.’”

I personally find that an extremely shallow view of the idea of fun, heroism, gain, or profit. To be perfectly honest all I have ever seen of real heroism makes me suspect it is in fact hard, dangerous, demanding, thrilling (at times - being deadly boring at others), patience-testing, taxing, excruciating, and exhausting work. Yes, it can be fun, it can also be incredibly disgusting, disheartening, heart-breaking, lonely, back-breaking, and yet the gains and profits of it are almost immeasurable in comparison to the dearth of “goodies” you ever really receive from your “wish list,” which is usually little more than, “God I hope I survive this,” or “God, I hope they survive this.” (Which to be perfectly honest is why I fully understand the allure of the first World View - who hasn’t been in a really tight or lethal spot and thought to themselves, “if only I had what I really needed I could have saved them,” or “if only I had the power to have prevented this I could have saved them.” That is a common condition when faced with servicing the world while facing the reality of doing so with a lack of sufficient resources and/or power.)

Nevertheless you do what you can with what you have and I’ve often wondered that if I possessed every degree of power I demanded or wished in order to solve any problem I faced, if I had every resource I desired to right any wrong or injustice, would then my actions under such conditions be heroic at all? Or those of a man who by being able to bend the world to my will through a wealth of whatever I wanted or wished, more akin to King Midas. Everything I desire turns to gold, but there is no more blood to warm my future, for everything has become through contact with me the more inanimate the more I accumulate.

I know why the world exists and it is certainly not for my sake. It is hard for me to imagine a world that exists for the sake of the hero. It is also extremely hard for me to imagine a Hero who asks that the world exists for him.

There are men who ask that the world exist for them, who make ceaseless demands upon it, and who seek to have their various wishes fulfilled for their own benefit, but you don’t call such men heroes. They have another name. Another name entirely.

Countblanc
Apr 20, 2005

Monsters attack people. It's good they're in sleep.

Well yeah, duh.

Ferrinus
Jun 19, 2003



This goes to my biggest problem with 4e and with many upcoming game designs in general - even including my love of Savage Worlds to a much lesser extent...

and that is removing challenge, thinking, and roleplaying from roleplaying games.

There should be risks and the very real possibility of character death and failure, otherwise why should I waste my valuable time as a DM to run a game, when I could simply say "you win" and narrate some cool story...is that a crass statement? Perhaps.

This new paradigm is also why I disliked to a lesser extent, 3x D&D - the players spent more time looking at their character sheets for skills, feats, etc. instead of thinking! How are they supposed to LEARN? I had to read up on small unit tactics, cover and concealment, medieval warfare, etc etc etc to really start mastering roleplaying combats.

Likewise, I see social combat rules and the like as severely detracting from roleplaying. You are there to be an actor in an improvised play - so act! If you are a social misfit, won't it help you come out of your shell? What's the harm in helping someone better themselves while at the same time having fun?

In general, as time goes on I find the who push towards ... mechanization ... of every situation via rules, ever-expanding player powers, no-serious-death rules and the like to be very off-putting.

And of late I have been studying management techniques and it occurs to me much of what us old geezers (lowercase) of Generation X and older are annoyed with are exactly what Generation Y is looking for...

In general, Gen Y tends to work and act in groups (hence the whole group dating thing which just boggles me), prefers immediate feedback, and requires constant positive praise and reinforcement (again something I think is nuts in the workplace, but something managers need to keep in mind to properly motivate their employees).

So - I have learned my lesson from previous posts that telling folks ...esp the younger ones...there way is wrong is silly and insulting. However, I DO feel Gen Y is losing out on great roleplaying when the games are deliberately socially engineered and modeled to their (spoiled, IMHO) way of seeing the world and made to be less challenging in the supposed name of fun. As I constantly tell my son when he uses cheat codes in his Nintendo - 'what is the point of being invulnerable? Where is the challenge?'

I think tough challenges and PC death build character. Just as tough challenges (and especially failures) build character.

So bring on the level drain, Old Geezer!

Oligopsony
May 17, 2007


First of all, I'm currently going through job interviews, ad searching, and auditions so that my mom and I don't get kicked out. I have time to post in-between because Im at the computer during ad searching but not to run a session. Maybe in a couple of months but not NOW. My article update is going to have to wait until after Tuesday. I've got a monologue to prepare.

Oh, and my gaming history as requested, noting the more influential events. Some of these overlap with each other, in which they happen at the same time. This doesn't include the thousands of hours of fantasy RPG video games, comics, books, movies, cartoons, and tv shows I've absorbed because that's more than I care to write down. I may have missed a few things related to tabletop but this is what I've got to share for now.

age 9 and earlier - introduction to fantasy games: Might and Magic on the C64

age 9 or 10 - introduced to fantasy games with actual story in the form of Final Fantasy IV - was given Dragon Quest game as a birthday present

age 12 - introduction to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition

age 13 - introduction to Dark Sun, Gamma World

age 17 - finally put down the "Dragon Kings" book and took a break from RPing in general - rolled more new characters than I can remember since age 13 - either for fun or character death (Dark Sun was brutal)

age 18-22 - played various trading card games a lot - wrote "Deck Master" rules book for YuGiOh that I never tried to publish - over 1,000 monsters covered, wrote various free rules supplements for YuGiOh, Magic, and Fullmetal Alchemist including 10,000 random effect dice roller (no 2 effects were the same) for YuGiOh

age 23-25 - played in a FR campaign from 3rd to 15th level, sessions were 3 1/2 to 5 hours long - was the paperwork keeper for party activities, including a theater house, a large adventurer's guild, special projects including airship construction - experiemented heavily with race, class, and spell design - also made a final fantasy tabletop rpg reinventing a few 3.5 rules and rewriting every single spell and power in the SRD + new additions

age 23-26 - spent a lot of time at local Barnes and Nobles reading various RPG books like Mutants and Masterminds, the Complete supplements, and Vampire the Masquerade

age 25-26 - DMed both 3.5e and 4e weekly for friend and his church youth group - sessions were 6 to 8 hours long - varied from 5-8 in the party - used remnants of the ff rpg 3.75e combined with 4e to make ff rpg 5e (50% complete currently) - played World of Darkness for 1 session - played Earthdawn for three 3-hour sessions, used rules from every RPG I ever played or read (including video games) as inspiration for some big ideas in ff rpg 5e - added content to FF 4e at final fantasy d20, keeping ff rpg 5e secrets to myself until I can publish it under an official license (coming late 2010 or early 2011 if things go well) or a new title without the ff flavor.

age 26 - made horrible business plan to run pay-for-play campaign - worked on creating a theatrical feel for sessions (currently unproven methodology) after going through lots of GMing forum threads - currently writing article for purpose of debate - looking for job

Whew. That's a load off my chest.

In hindsight, a workable business plan might be to work for hire instead trying to tackle a 6-day campaign. Respectable acting credits combined with published game design and story writing might make the big difference in attracting customers, particularly the kind that might pay a lot more than $20 for a session. That might work out lucratively.

I'll be back with the article hopefully Wednesday. No more posts from me until then.

Viola, here I come!

FirstCongoWar
Aug 21, 2002

It feels so 80's or early 90's to be political.


PARTS OF THIS POST

A. Overview of the project.
B. The Scenario

A. OVERVIEW OF THE PROJECT

The game you see before you is an outline of an educational simulation of industrial conflict in late nineteenth-century Australia. I have chosen "Melbourne 1890" as its working title. I intend to flesh out the details with data from a specific historical situation. This will be chosen from the local history of any community this simulation may eventually be taught in, and I would encourage other educators or gamers to study their own local history before implementing any "vanilla" dispute. I will, however, leave this title and any posts to this thread non-specific, partly to protect the anonymity of the students I may work with.

I am creating this project as a classroom resource to satisfy one of the requirements for my teaching degree. It may or may not ever see "action." It is intended as a radical teaching tool, both in its structure and content. It is, first and foremost, a history lesson. While some may argue about Marx's relevance to modern economies, his analysis has generally been accepted as valid for classical industrial scenarios. Therefore, much of the maths behind the game were derived from his labour theory of value.

I may be opening myself to accusations of indoctrination, but if properly implemented this simulation will grant students a degree of autonomy and creative freedom that is inconsistent with "indoctrination." No strategy is prescribed for either industrial leaders or their workers, though this simulation ought to be integrated into a wider curriculum that gives at least some historical knowledge on the period. Nor would I hope for "simple" truths from anyone. The post-game debate is meant to foster mutual sympathy and understanding, perhaps leading students to discuss modes of reconciliation that did not occur to them during the game. Furthermore, while the core dynamic is one of labour vs capital, I have tried to include some more post-modern critiques by noting the inclusion women and Indigenous Australians in the game. If the numbers of students are sufficient, the simulated town may include a rather broad middle class. If resources allow, I would much prefer to see a complex and multifaceted community represented than a simple economistic cliche.


B. THE SCENARIO

This outline taken from:
Marsh, C. "Studies of Society and Environment: Exploring the Teaching Possibilities" 5th ed (Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest NSW: 2008) 227.

=Objectives=
Through roleplay, the students will negotiate strategies and explore meaning in an industrial community in Melbourne going through an economic crisis in the 1890s.

=Scenario=
As Australian trade and communications flourished in the nineteenth century, a previously agrarian economy became a rapid industrialising one. The workers were in some sense left behind by this progress, leading to emergence of a strong Labour movement that, in Melbourne, won the eight-hour day in the 1850s, led a series of strikes during the financial crisis of the 1890s, and elected Labour representatives to the first Federal parliament in 1901. This simulation focusses on a small industrial community in the Melbourne area. As the financial crisis works its effects on the price of living, wages, and employment, students will attempt to maintain their livelihood.

The town will be set up to include housing, a grocery store, a police station/jail/courthouse, houses for town officials and wealthy individuals, a factory, a union hall and a railroad. Possible additions (depending on time and resources) could include a restaurant, a school, a doctor's office, and a church.

=Roles=
Minimum roles:
1-3 factory managers
10-15 workers
2-3 policemen
1 shopowner

Additional roles (in no particular order of preference):
Mayor
Judge
Doctor
Priest (or two: Catholic/Protestant sectarianism)
Teacher
Union leader

Teacher-supplied roles:
An accountant (helps managers with maths and prevents cheating on their part)
Possibly want teachers to play police?

=Role Profiles=

Factory Managers
One will play the owner of the factory, any others will be foremen hired and paid by the owner. The managers will be tasked with maintaining profits, procuring raw materials, selling their product on the market, overseeing production, and resolving disputes.

Workers
Workers may be male or female; employed, unemployed, or engaged in paid or unpaid domestic labour; Protestant or Catholic; European or Indigenous; etc. Some of these considerations will be affected by the size of the group, and composition will obviously affect the emphasis of the game. Each will have a detailed description of their upbringing, circumstances, and recent work history. They will perform factory labour; receive wages; spend it on food and housing; among other essentials, and sleep. If the setting is expanded, some may work as cooks/waiters in the restaurant; shop assistants in the grocery store; or other functions around the town. If there is a school, some will be young enough to go to school (though some of those will already be working).

Police
These students will draw and spend wages from the government; ensure order; and arrest legal violators.

Shopowner
This student will buy groceries from outside suppliers; stock their shop; set prices; and sell goods.

Mayor
This student, as a generic representation of the state, will oversee and advise or order the activities of the police, the judge, and the teacher.

Judge
This student will organise and oversee the trials and sentencing of those students under arrest.

Doctor
This student will offer medical treatment, though obviously at professional prices.

Priest
This student will be given a detailed description of their character's background and beliefs and will have to roleplay regular "sermons." They will be encouraged to fill the benches!

Teacher
This teacher will be given a list of "lessons" to teach in school. They have to stick to pre-chosen topics and maximise attendence. Remember, children who aren't at work may get harassed by the police unless they go to school, depending on Mayoral policy!

Union Leader
This student will be a worker, but with additional background elements and information concerning union activities. I have included this as optional as it changes the nature of the game significantly. Are students generating their own strategies, or are they learning about historical strategies? Obviously, with or without the inclusion of a union leader, they will to some extent do a mix of both. One thing to note is that the unions are employed, white, and craft-based.

=Role Interaction=
Interactions proceed in three rotating phases.

1. Work
Employed workers enter the factory. They will come equipped with green "energy" tokens. In each of eight rounds, they will select either 1 (slack off), 2 (steady pace), or 3 (work hard) tokens. They line up and one by one drop their counters into a large bucket (with a lid that conceals its contents). In each of those rounds, each manager selects someone to oversee, by stopping them in line. The "overseen" must reveal their choice of counters. There is a second bucket in the factory with yellow "push" counters. Anyone may draw from the "push" counters if they run out of green tokens, but their withdrawals are noted down, and they may only take one per round. At the end each rounds, each worker makes an injury roll, a % chance which is increased if they took a "push" counter that round (perhaps from 2% to 10%?). Any failed rolls result in an injury that effectively terminates their employment (either temporarilly if they receive proper treatment, or permanently). The management then distributes the day's wages.

2. Eat
As the workers leave the factory, the managers have a job to do. The day's bucket is then totalled up to determine the day's production. This process is performed by the managers with the aid of their Teacher "accountant". Yellow "push" counters accumulate to possibly reduce production, by shoddy or ruined work. I may also introduce in some part of the scenario a small number of red "sabotage" counters which workers may dump in the bucket for a drastic chance and severely reducing production.

Meanwhile, the workers go and spend their money at the general store for food tickets. These are taken home where anyone may "cook" them by exchanging them for green energy tokens. Each cook must also expend two energy tokens to do this (Cooking rules are meant to introduce a feminist angle, by showing domestic work). These tokens are then divied up (the "meal"). If one were to drop the domestic setting, the shop would merely provide green energy tokens, rather than food, providing an eerie "soylent green" effect.

This phase should be long, giving the workers time to socialise and discuss issues as well as simply consume their pay.

3. Sleep
Any worker with a house must return to it and is delivered 4 green tokens. Any worker in a tenement is delivered 2 green tokens by their landlord.

=Procedures and Win Criteria=

There is no "victory" per se. This game will run for a set period of time during which pressures will mount that will almost certainly cause an industrial dispute. To begin with, wages will begin barely above the subsitence level. Inflation will set in (the prices of raw materials and bulk groceries will go up for managers and shop keepers respectively). When the banking crisis hits, the managers will find their capital become suddenly very thinly stretched. The managers will be in a situation that encourages them to either slash wages, demand a speed-up (any worker found slacking, one token, gets fired immediately), or lay off workers. The workers will be in a situation that encourages them to seek job security, a safe work environment (the manager will have the option of investing in safety equipment), a slower pace at work, and better wages.

When the time alloted to the simulation ends, there will be an extensive debrief including group discussions across (and now outside) roles, followed up by a written assignment.

Oligopsony
May 17, 2007


Triphos posted:


that's actually pretty cool

FirstCongoWar
Aug 21, 2002

It feels so 80's or early 90's to be political.


Oligopsony posted:

that's actually pretty cool

The LF'est RPG

Mikan
Sep 5, 2007


For giggles, and to make a point, I want to make the unoptimal character.

See, back in the day when D&D was geared toward mature people, you rolled for your stats, in order, and you kept the rolls and you did your best with the results.

Not in 4E. In 4E, everyone's a pro. The party consists of John Rambo, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Jack Welch, with Chuck Norris for good measure. Nobody ever dares play a character, say, a Fighter, with a 10 Strength and 16 Dex.

I just got told nope, you're playing a Ranger!

But, I don't want to play a dinky Ranger. He doesn't get the armor that the Fighter would get.

PLAY A RANGER! OR YOU'RE NOT PLAYING WITH US!

Or, what if I want to play the suboptimal Cleric. A guy with a 5 Wisdom. You know, the Point Buy system of 4E won't give me point credit toward other stats for it.

PLAY A PALADIN!

But, I want to be a priest.

Wouldn't you let a player play a Cleric with low primary stats? Or a Fighter with a low Strength that didn't boost his Martial Powers? Isn't this a role-playing game? I mean, people tell me it's a role-playing game, right?

Basically the point is that I am not allowed to make the character I want to make. Why? Because, as you've pointed out, it might not be optimal for the party.

Optimal for the party. I don't know. I thought this was a role-playing game. Not a wargame. I thought this was a game about overcoming challenge. Not being mollycoddled into everything. About heroism.

Wrong. They're simply playing to type. Every character they make is no different from each other. Their Rangers look exactly the same stat wise. Their Clerics are always wise. Always strong. Their Warlords, always very Charismatic. Always. No changes, except with regard to feats and powers, but they're still very much the same. Why put names on them? Why bother? Hell, why bother with gender? It doesn't matter at all. Why bother with alignment?

Note the sheer interdependence in this version of the game. Once was that you could play anything you wanted and not really have to worry so much about this sort of thing. But I come in with a sub-par character, and people go ape-poo poo!

Sorry. You're not playing a Role-Playing Game. That's a wargame and a wargame mentality. Sorry if you think I'm being a dick. But I thought this was a role-playing game with OPTIONS. Maybe I want a challenge, for once. Maybe I want some character, for once. Maybe I want something interesting, for once.

Or maybe, I just have skill and guts. I don't cry when I get a low stat. I take it, and I work with it. It's a role-playing challenge. But, if that isn't optimal for you, then we're not really playing a role-playing game, are we?

Could it be that such a character is the only guy you could find to fill a niche? Why does everyone feel as though they got to play the Pros from Dover? Why can't we have some people who aren't all that optimal, who have deficiencies, who aren't playing to type? Why can't we be like the Mystery Men?

Well, you see, in a wargame, you can't do that. You have standard units. Standard heroes. If they wouldn't muster up, they wouldn't be on the battlefield. Apparrently, judging by some of these replies, that's the same measure used in D&D 4E. So, get real.

If this game purports to be an RPG, then I should make whatever the hell I drat well want. Part of role-playing is dealing with the cards you're dealt. None of us get to choose all of our characteristics.

So, in truth, this notion that the Players are role-playing characters who would weed out such characters is not only nonsense, it's stupid nonsense that has no bearing on either reality or fantasy. Why? Because sometimes, you have to deal with what you got. That's called coping. It's a part of life. And if you can't handle it, go back to kindergarten.

Mikan fucked around with this message at Mar 16, 2009 around 04:28

AndItsAllGone
Oct 8, 2003



I want to kill that last guy. Literally kill him

Ferrinus
Jun 19, 2003



AndItsAllGone posted:

I want to kill that last guy. Literally kill him

Yeah I have to keep fighting the urge to reply with a line-by-line

Oligopsony
May 17, 2007


Mikan posted:

For giggles, and to make a point, I want to make the unoptimal character.

Um, excuse me sir. I believe we have already established that only OD&D is for character building.

Countblanc
Apr 20, 2005

Monsters attack people. It's good they're in sleep.

Unsticky this thread. Maybe try Roleplaying instead of Rollplaying next time, OP.

Maarak
May 23, 2007


AndItsAllGone posted:

I want to kill that last guy. Literally kill him

One of my IRL players was this guy to a T

AsexualAtheistAnime
Sep 11, 2001

by Peatpot


Countblanc posted:

Unsticky this thread. Maybe try Roleplaying instead of Rollplaying next time, OP.

Go back to YCS and stay there. *ptoo*

Dammit Who?
Aug 30, 2002

may microbes, bacilli their tissues infest
and tapeworms securely their bowels digest

Bipolar Bear
Moody Ursine Albino
1st Level RPGnetter

CC isn't a troll. It's worse than that: I'd posit that there is a dangerous psycho-pathology afoot and that it is actually irresponsible, and possibly damaging for us to be giving him the attention we are.

I say that as a masters candidate in psychology, a teacher of abnormal psychology and a counselor of disturbed teenagers.

As has been already touched on, CC demonstrates an irrational enthusiasm for a creative idea that crosses pretty clearly into demonstrable grandiosity. Even in the face of irrefutable evidence that he overestimated his plans, he still shows hyper focus on the concept, narcissism about his skills and abilities (and histrionic tendencies with his posting habits).

This indicates either some form of bipolar disorder, some mix of personality disorders, or possibly an extreme case of AADHD. Regardless of the diagnosis (which I admit I am 2 months premature in being able to actually give credibly), we're all fueling something self-destructive.

In all seriousness, it's probably asking too much for us all to walk away from this train wreck, but it would probably be best for him.

CC: you should consider finding someone who can be objective, not about your talents and skills as a game master but rather about your judgment. Take a look at these resources available to you

Oligopsony
May 17, 2007


You are goddamned right TSR/WOTC should have.

Imagine if Magic did a total revamp and made all the cards incompatible.

Just ask Wizkids how well that turned out. Oh. Can't. It basically helped kill them, or at least many of their lines.

Ask Rackham how the new ruleset and amount of minis required for 4th edition Confrontation is working out for them. (I like the game, but it has landed with a dull thud at best.)

I'll be over here buying stuff for new and different games, or supporting the ones that don't make me replace almost everything except maybe the dice every few years.

Why buy a new version of an existing game that was apparently loving fine when it was around, but is immediately poo poo the second the beancounters decide its time to scam the consumer whores with a brand name obsession?

As to you EXPLAIN VIDEOGAMES folks? First off, videogames are different than hobby games. Hobby games can effectively be played as long as someone is willing to run them. Its part of the glories of paper and ink. Second, its amazing how many games are little more than point upgrades with new missions anyhow. Is Halo 1 really that massively different from 3? Even on a different platform with a new engine its the same game. Hell, Fallout 3 is pretty much built on Oblivion's engine. Some game companies do little more than sell game engines others bolt their game on top of!

And an edit with something I just thought of:

How come you 4e fans seem hell bent on stopping any negative commentary about 4e wherever it is found, like some kind of consumer product white knight? Do you really think its gonna make the haters magically decide to drop whichever edition or RPG they had and be born again, and join you in consumerist bliss? If its as good as yall say and doing as well as yall think its destined to be, you don't need to do any defending.

Unless like, your self esteem is so low you can't take anyone not liking what you do, or perhaps, you just don't like what the detractors are saying, and you hope if you yell real loud, it will somehow not be true, that the cracks aren't really there and those who chose not to buy for whatever reason are in the wrong....

Yall sound like furries really. I don't actually care what you do, however since its not illegal or genuinely harmful (except maybe to my potential player pool of a pleasant time wasting hobby) I will defend your right to do it.

But I will be god damned if I praise you for it.

Dammit Who?
Aug 30, 2002

may microbes, bacilli their tissues infest
and tapeworms securely their bowels digest

all right yeaaaah we doin' this

quote:

[hear me out!] Why the big fuss about surprise sex?

quote:

Let me think...

In Highschool, one guy narrated in a surprise sex scene after we saved the princess. we were, collectively, squicked out. Now, as an adult, he's in jail as a sex offender, which is a shame because... well, outside of that one incedent, he allways struck me as a really good guy who I could talk with. I just never knew his tastes ran towards unwilling women.

quote:

surprise sex leaves psychological damage. Trained professionals can fix that.
Murder leaves you dead. That's not up for grabs. Anyone that claims surprise sex is worse than murder doesn't understand the concept of psychiatry.

quote:

I think the answer is quite simple.

Because most people who are playing RPGs are Amercian and there are extreme double standards in regards to violence and sex in the U.S.

quote:

My group is entirely young white heterosexual males and thus not particularly offended by it.

quote:

I'd say that the main problem I have with it is that for every game where it would be unrealistic and illogical for a character to not be raped and therefore it should occur, there are at least 10 that are just the GM getting a kinky pleasure out of it.

quote:

I agree. Murder is obviously worse than surprise sex, but for some reason people get weird about surprise sex, so I tend to avoid it coming up in games.

I don't need to know why some people have this particular form of craziness: it's enough just to realize that they do.

quote:


let me run some numbers for you

happiness of person immediately before horrific event= x

trauma (as negative happiness) of beig murdered = y, is calculated by multiplying the traume per minute (a) by the number of minutes it takes to kill the subject (b).

Total lifetime happiness of first victim = x-y = z

traume of surprise sex is measured in a triangle, startig from thepoint of surprise sex to the point where happiness begins again surprise sex base traume level = j, time untl healing is at point where happiness is geater than additional traume =k

there fore surprise sex trauma total m = (j*k)/2

the first change is the simple difference in magnitude of k vs b

now for the surprise sex to be less in magnitude than the murder the subject has to live long enough.

Long enough is defined by the point at which the subbject has had more new happiness than the differente between z and m.

if they die before then, they had less total happiness in their life than if they had been murdered instead.

to make it back to emotional and personal stylings. If i die before, at a guess, another 7 years has passed. I would have been better off killed.

Male. Bi. Unix.
Mar 2, 2007



"why the big fuss about surprise sex" is my new favorite sentence

H.P. Grenade
Oct 21, 2003

Smooth.

Holy poo poo, a surprise sex formula. How can you even think up something like that.

ManMythLegend
Aug 18, 2003

I don't believe in anything, I'm just here for the violence.


Male. Bi. Unix. posted:

"why the big fuss about surprise sex" is my new favorite sentence

If ever TradGames needed a tag line, it's now.

H.P. Grenade posted:

Holy poo poo, a surprise sex formula. How can you even think up something like that.

The ability comes from years of being conditioned by a game that requires extensive spreadsheet work to calculate all your attack and defense bonuses

Dammit Who?
Aug 30, 2002

may microbes, bacilli their tissues infest
and tapeworms securely their bowels digest

H.P. Grenade posted:

Holy poo poo, a surprise sex formula. How can you even think up something like that.

rpg.net is a special place for special people

Contrabassoon
Jan 29, 2002
REALLY SHITTY POSTER

First of all this all became a lot more complicated than I had ever intended or imagined when I wrote the first post. That's fine, that's good as a matter of fact, but I'm gonna have to think carefully for awhile about some of my replies to some of the things addressed to me to try and avoid misunderstandings on my part. Sadly, as big as this has grown (I did not anticipate that) I'm not sure I'll ever, given time limitations, be able to address all of the interesting points brought up. Even all of the ones brought up directly to me. Don't feel slighted guys if it seems I am ignoring you. I have classes to teach and papers to write and work to do.

Let me just say these things though from my point of view:

I am not against in-game wish-fulfillment - but not all methods are the same, or have the same value.

This debate from my point of view was about the various reasons for the world existing, not whether careful preparation or no preparation were best in world design - situationally I'm agnostic on this point, but I think it is a separate debate at the very least. An interesting one, even a related one, but a different one than the one I intended. (I'm not saying "take it somewhere else guys," I'm saying it wasn't my original intent.)

I am not against world design elements that specifically service the character, anymore than I'm against real world elements that service and help me. I am under no illusions however that this world exists merely to service me, and I think heroism is a to a large degree not a demand made on the world, but a service rendered to it. In real life or in game.

I understand the difference between fun and entertainment as it has been proposed, passive and active for both. I don't think it would be a bad idea though to carefully distinguish between the two concepts in a specific way as regards game function.

I'd be glad to have others (as well as myself) set out to try and define a basic concept of game heroism. I think in this case though it might be bets to start out saying what heroism is not. After all if heroism is a real thing, if the point of the game is to be an heroic character, or to at least have characters who are heroic, then the opposite must be true as well. If there is heroism, then there is villainy and non-heroism. To have some idea of what heroism is then you have to at least have a clear conception of what heroism is not.

Personally I don't think killing Orcs or looting tombs is heroic at all if that is your only motivation. If orcs however are evil and committing crimes and atrocities, or if the tomb is the tomb of a monster who got his goods by theft and killing then killing orcs and raiding tombs can very well be heroic. It depends upon your motivations and those of your enemies. And being willing to risk your own life or face danger regularly is, in and of itself, not a mark of heroism. Even evil men often risk their own lives, especially at the beginnings of their career. Being willing to face danger and risk though is a necessary component of heroism. There are no cowardly heroes, but bravery takes on different forms just as it has different motivations. So when it comes to heroism I think you have to define motivation, possible forms, and even actions to a degree, but every definition must have bravery at the core. It's just that not every act of bravery is sufficient to rise to the standard of being heroic. Some acts of bravery are even outright evil and anti-heroic.

I am however enjoying reading many of these debates and side debates.
Keep it up.

RagnarokAngel
Oct 5, 2006

D:


Mikan posted:

stupid gay playing against type crap

Sorry to bring this back up but up until 3rd edition wasn't a fighter with 10 Strength or cleric with 5 wis impossible by the rules? I know 2nd edition had this for sure.

Red_Mage
Jul 23, 2007
I SHOULD BE FUCKING PERMABANNED BUT IN THE MEANTIME ASK ME ABOUT MY FAILED KICKSTARTER AND RUNNING OFF WITH THE MONEY


RagnarokAngel posted:

Sorry to bring this back up but up until 3rd edition wasn't a fighter with 10 Strength or cleric with 5 wis impossible by the rules? I know 2nd edition had this for sure.

To some extent yes. Many classes had entry requirements of "must have at least 13 wis" etc...

however it was still pretty cake to be a special and unique snowflake by gimping your character.

clockworkjoe
May 31, 2000

Rolled a 1 on the random encounter table, didn't you?

Dinosaur Gum

From the last page of the current godawful rpg.net motivational poster thread. I post this as a representative of the thread and how terrible 99% of them are.



and one I did last loving year.



Why won't rpg.net let this die already.

clockworkjoe fucked around with this message at Mar 16, 2009 around 18:24

ManMythLegend
Aug 18, 2003

I don't believe in anything, I'm just here for the violence.


clockworkjoe posted:

and one I did last loving year.



Why won't rpg.net let this die already.

Say what you will, but I think it's pretty funny.

Oligopsony
May 17, 2007


Today I was going to do a classic rant on account that its the day The Wench heads back to Canada. But I decided that instead I'd be writing about a fairly classic topic, something I haven't ranted about in a long time: RPG.net.

RPG.net has changed a lot in the past year or so; they've moderated considerably their moderation policy (pardon the pun) and they've gotten rid of some of the worst offenders of the modclique; the clique's power has been broken, it would seem, largely because they saw people leaving the site in droves. In some part it was due to theRPGsite, and the fact that we demonstrated that you can have intelligent discussion that is MORE interesting by virtue of being unmoderated. But it was also, and much more directly, due to the fact that people were just sick and fed up with the atmosphere of total repression on there, where you couldn't say anything meaningful about anything without someone reporting it as a "group attack" or a "hurt my feelings attack", nor could you express any opinion contrary to the "mainstream" (the "mainstream" for RPG.net, namely its modclique) without the modclique coming down on you for being "intentionally obtuse" or a "disruptive influence" that hurts their "emotionally safe environment". In other words, you dared to disagree, so you're going to be banned.

Those times have passed, mostly, and so there's been less reason to write about RPG.net in recent days. But they're in the process of purging a ton of their old Tangency threads, and that creates some interesting historical information. It gives us a chance to see how the gently caress RPG.net got to where it got with the modclique, how it went so horribly wrong.
Because there was a time when RPG.net was essentially unmoderated, and where the general atmosphere was one of open flame-wars unlike anything theRPGsite has ever seen. And somehow it went from that to the police state we know now. The question "how did that happen?", how did it get subverted into a place where a tiny minority were in total control of the discussion, the opinion, and the atmosphere of the place come to pass?

Threads like the "no report pledge" thread where Gareth Michael-Skarka was trying to fight against the rising of the tide present a very clear indication of how things fell apart. By the time that was posted, admins like Cessna had managed to allow themselves to buy into the idea that they needed to bring in people like Darren or Eric Brennan into mod status, and that measures had to be taken to make RPG.net into an "emotionally safe environment".
So things changed from where people would work things out among themselves by argument or discourse into a situation where "reporting" had become the main past-time of a significant group in the board. This group had influenced things to make it that you could report another poster for hurting your feelings, and they had worked it out so that there would be moderators friendly to them in place to ban said people.

And then, of course, they set about to using the Report function. By tattling on everyone they didn't like, as often as they possibly could, they were making a concerted effort to purge the boards of their ideological opponents, while those who were believers in free speech were not inclined to report anyone.

That meant that the free-speech advocates were automatically at a disadvantage of massive proportions; unwilling to report others, they were being reported on by those who hated them for not wanting the board to be moderated. It was only a matter of time until all of these people were hounded out.

Cessna and Darren have posted to the "No Report Pledge" thread as if it somehow vindicates their moderation policies, Cessna pointing out that allegedly, GMS himself reported a dozen people from that pledge.
Well, for starters, I'd say that this thread pretty well DAMNS you, Cessna. It shows with such clarity how assholes from what was to become the modclique came in, provoked those who were advocates of free speech, tried to disrupt an effort to speak out against their pogroms and secret policing, and generally tried every trick in the book to manipulate or intimidate those who didn't want RPG.net to turn into what it eventually turned into. It was nothing short of visionary, that thread, in that GMS was trying to argue against a future that most definitely came to pass, one where in the name of "security" NO ONE on RPG.net could safely speak about ANYTHING, unless they had a Mod badge on.
And then you have the gall to point out that GMS was reporting people? This was like tying one hand behind his back and going out and telling him to fight; then accusing him of dirty tactics because he wasn't standing still when they beat him.
His reports weren't an effort to tattle, they were self-defense, trying to shout out against the system.

Finally, theRPGsite, just as it played a part in bringing the Modclique down, has served to vindicate not just all those who were banned in RPG.net but all of those who were argued down with the claim that moderation and reporting and banning were required to create a site where people could have interesting conversations; or where it was claimed that people are incapable of policing themselves and needed a system of reporting and punishment.

Those who argued this were wrong, and many of them were more than wrong, they were intentionally lying about their motives and how far they wanted it to go, as part of an effort to take over RPG.net. TheRPGsite is our revenge against them and how they ruined what was once a fine and free discussion forum.

Incidentally, if anyone notes any other threads that make a good historical accounting for how RPG.net turned fascist, please point them out.

Contrabassoon
Jan 29, 2002
REALLY SHITTY POSTER

ManMythLegend posted:

Say what you will, but I think it's pretty funny.

I think it's more that the entire "motivational poster" thing has been beaten into the ground more thoroughly than just about any other element of internet pop culture except for maybe AYB.

ManMythLegend
Aug 18, 2003

I don't believe in anything, I'm just here for the violence.


Contrabassoon posted:

I think it's more that the entire "motivational poster" thing has been beaten into the ground more thoroughly than just about any other element of internet pop culture except for maybe AYB.

I don't disagree with you there, but for some reason that GURPS one makes me chuckle. Maybe it's because that exactly what I, as a non-GURPS player, pretend all GURPS games are like.

clockworkjoe
May 31, 2000

Rolled a 1 on the random encounter table, didn't you?

Dinosaur Gum

actually that was my retarded way of showing how the motivational posters had gone from moderately entertaining images like the gurps one to absolutely stupid ones. The thread now is full of rpg cheesecake, stupid anime references and poo poo that would make even GBS ashamed.

Adept Nightingale
Feb 7, 2005

Those eyes were what scared me. When I looked in your eyes I saw myself staring back.


I'd make this an even longer, better organized post, but it's getting late so I'll just put up some random notes I jotted down while reading the thread.

Concerning where the combat matrices were in 1E - just being in the DMG doesn't mean that players weren't still given that information as a matter of course. Saying that the DMG is for DM's and players should keep their busybody noses out of it didn't mean that all the info in there was "forbidden knowledge". It meant that the players should be letting the DM run the game, not having the players run the DM.

Don't read too much into the lack of organization and coordination between the 1E PH and DMG. As Gary stated therein this was all very piecemeal stuff being pulled together from various existing sources as well as new added stuff. That is to say that Gary and other DM's had been using a lot of it. But then again, he later admitted that some parts he definitely did NOT use and were included only to appease others who DID want such information. The fact that some stuff that probably SHOULD have gone into the PH instead went to the DMG only indicates that the release of the MM, PH, and DMG were each a YEAR apart - the game was being written AS it was being released.

The downside of the game being handed over to the players is... the game is being handed over to the players - which means it is gradually being taken OUT of the hands of the DM, in whose hands it had been SOLIDLY placed in previous edtions. With 3E I believe the pendulum swung too far over the course of its printed lifetime from DM to player control, with the DM being seen as subservient to the rules and held IN CHECK by the players manipulation of the rules. In older editions (OD&D and 1E especially) the DM was for practical purposes a "codesigner" who was fully expected to add, modify and delete as he saw fit. It wasn't until the players were presented with practical realities (if not open statements) to the effect of, "These are the OFFICIAL rules, accept no substitutes," that I personally started to chafe as a DM against the shift towards the players.

In the old days players DID have a different experience when playing the game. By being denied UPFRONT information from the MM and DMG they HAD to approach play from a learn-as-you-go standpoint, and don't expect things to always remain the same. As of 3E it started to become a matter of, these are the rules, the rules do not change, you may as well have access to the lot from the get-go. I feel that much information that has been given over to players IS better left as a mystery to be revealed to them by the DM through active play. That means players should be expected to NOT have access to the MM and DMG.

If nothing else the downside to the players is that they are OVERWHELMED with information that they are expected to master if they want to be considered as being "good players". I've come to see a lot of complaints from players on the boards about their fellow players ability to "play a fighter PROPERLY" or words to that effect. There isn't supposed to be right/wrong way to play D&D - until there IS because someone wants it to be so.

A lot of the discussion could be summed up as the continuing struggle of D&D as a rules-heavy game versus D&D as a rules-light game. Both approaches have been tried. The same approach does not work for everyone.

Rules laywers were a pox on 1E DM's. It only became worse when WotC started treating the rules for D&D in exactly the same way they treated the rules for the competitive game of M:tG. Rules lawyers were given the training, legal precedent, and tacit approval to insist that the DM is not, in fact, ultimately in charge of the game - the rules are.

I nonetheless have encouraged DM's to be transparant with their rulings and what they do behind the screen. When players know WHY the DM is ruling as he does they have less/no reason to object that he does indeed make the rules.

The discussion has reminded me that in 1E we came to refer to the PH as, "The Book of Common Knowledge." Mostly it was just as a reminder that players do still need to have a reliable source to refer to that their characters operate under, and it was the one thing the DM couldn't tell them not to look at. At the very least if a DM was going to change/omit information from it there should be a hard copy for players to refer to.

In 3E the players and DM eventually came to be expected to be held strictly to the same set of rules - which I hold to be total bunk.

I'm also reminded that during the big runup to the release of 3E and just after I said (a LOT) that 3E should be judged according to how 3E did what it did, not according to how 2E or 1E did it. That is, just because it did things differently didn't make it either superior or inferior. Judge each version of the game by its OWN merits, by what IT purports to do (or doesn't purport to do but does.)

Lastly, yes it's true in any edition that the DM can make up his own monsters, but that's one of the great fallacies. The DM shouldn't HAVE to make up his own monsters due to the players being GIVEN complete access to monster data.

ManMythLegend
Aug 18, 2003

I don't believe in anything, I'm just here for the violence.


drat those players! They ruin every game!

Red_Mage
Jul 23, 2007
I SHOULD BE FUCKING PERMABANNED BUT IN THE MEANTIME ASK ME ABOUT MY FAILED KICKSTARTER AND RUNNING OFF WITH THE MONEY


Of course, the RPG industry has also changed, and that's got some people down on D&D. Understandable. World of Warcraft is still top of the charts, of course, now claiming that they're on par to break 100 million players by the end of the year. What with the 6.0 changes and the latest expansion, it's easy to see why millions are willing to shell out $25 a month; that's less than a single night out to the movies, when you factor in the cost of gas.

But enough about WOW; let's talk about D&D 5th Edition!
To Begin With

there's no more delineation between Players and Dungeon Masters

The biggest noticeable change here is that we're not talking books, any more. At least, not physically. Instead, you've got one big download and then the ongoing subscription, sort of a trickle download thing like Steam used to do when Valve was still around. We'll get to that soon enough.

I'll assume you own 4th Edition for the purposes of this review. If not... good luck. A few years ago I'd have sent you down to your FLGS to grab a copy off the Used Books shelf, but of course the last one closed up shop last month, so that's not an option. You want print you'll have to check out Ebay or Amazon. Irrelevant, though, since what you REALLY want is 5e, right? Right.

So with that, let's look at the D&D Handbook, what we formerly called the Player's Handbook. Why the name change? Well, that's because there's no more delineation between Players and Dungeon Masters. Everyone is a player, and the DM is just a piece of code on the D&D server now. All automated! Sign up and create your characters, and the DM automatically generates a sequence of events for you, perfectly balanced. No prep time, no need to wait for the DM to get his crap together. More on that later. For now, let's look at what's in the D&D Handbook.

For the most part, this is the D&D we know and love. Most of what was in 4e is still here, except it's all been refined and streamlined even further.

Hit points still work the same, but healing surges have been completely revamped. Now every player can use a healing surge in place of a standard action if they want, without any penalty. You won't have to rely on the Leaders to heal you up; you can solo if you want. And best of all, healing surges reset after every encounter -- infinite healing! -- so now you and your group can charge into every encounter without having to spend a half hour discussing, planning or resource managing.

Alignment has also gotten a much needed revamp. Nine alignments were way too many in 3e, and even 5 was cumbersome in 4e, so now we're down to just three: Lawful, Good, and Unaligned. This is a heroic game about good vs evil and I'm glad these rules emphasize that.
Characters

there's no messy character generation process at all

And then there's the biggest change, which is the merging of class and race into one set of Character Packages. This is really old school, and I mean OD&D old, when elves were a class. We're back there, and it really feels natural. It's not really a surprise. I mean, 4e was already pushing certain races towards specific classes: Tiefling Warlocks, Dragonborn Paladins. Playing things like Dwarf Wizards and Gnome Barbarians never made sense, so there was never any reason to allow it. With these Character Packages, you get perfectly balanced numbers every time.

In fact, there's no messy character generation process at all. Pick a package, and your starting stats are all precalculated. Gone are the bad rolls when generating a character: 13 Strength, gone! Now you're a fighter, you get a 20 Strength automatically. Everything is balanced like it should be. Armor is picked with the best option chosen for your character (Paladins get their Plate, Rangers get their Scale, etc). Weapon specializations are picked, and weapons distributed, and now all weapons do a d10 damage so everything is balanced. No unfairness!

Here are the new Character Packages you can pick from:

Martial: 1/2 Orc Barbarian, Dwarf Fighter, Dark Elf Ranger, Halfling Rogue. Each of the martial classes has a different weapon specialization. Barbarians use axes, Fighters use sword and shield, Rangers use two swords, and Rogues use daggers; missile weapons are hand axes, crossbows, longbows and shuriken, respectively.

Divine Classes:Aasimar Cleric, 1/2 Elf Druid, Human Monk, Dragonborn Paladin. Divine classes also have different weapon paths, all using bloodless weapons. Clerics get maces, Druids get shillelaghs, Monks get bare-hand attacks, and Paladins get warhammers.

Arcane Classes: Gnome Bard, Genasi Sorcerer, Eladrin Wizard, Tiefling Warlock. Arcane classes get different implements. Bards get lutes, Sorcerers get staffs, Wizards get wands, and Warlocks get orbs.

Multi-classing? Gone. Nobody did it anyway so why keep it?
Magic and Powers

No more needless decision making or wasting time

And now let's talk about magic items. Moving the magic items to the PHB in 4e was a great decision. Who wanted the DM to mysteriously roll on magic charts to dole out surprises? In the old days sometimes you'd get something you couldn't use. In 4e the players already got to pick their own items when they were found instead of the DM, and now it's one step better: there's no need to pick! Since there's one logical set of items for each Character Package, there's no need to mess around with random charts. Here, at each level, the game tells you what you get. Level 2? Here's your +1 Magic Sword, sir! Level 5? Here's a Healing Potion and a Magic Shield. It's awesome; you get stuff as you level without having to worry about random bad stuff.

Class Powers also get a much-needed revamp and work the same way. Instead of making you agonize over a couple of choices at each level, each Character Package now gets a standard power tree that tells you what you get at each level. No more needless decision making or wasting time; each Character Package gets the same thing when they level up. The kickass part is you are totally free to role-play what the power looks like though. Like if you want it to be fire-based you can say it's fire-based. Sweet!

The best thing though is the revamped and streamlined combat. You don't have to sit around wasting time while you try to decide what power to roll for. Each time your turn comes around, you just play the power card with the highest value, and the game makes it really clear which one that is. So if you have a Level 10 power, you play that one first, and then Level 9, and so on. Once you get all the way down to Level 1, you just use that one over and over. But since every encounter is balanced to only go for about 4 or 5 rounds, that means most of the time you'll never get all the way back to your turn more than a few times. This is really cool since you are constantly using new powers each time. Of course 4e already worked sort of like this, since it always made sense to use your most powerful Encounter powers first, followed by At-Wills, etc. But that meant you always saved the Daily powers up for the last encounter of the night. Is it 11:30 and we're quitting at midnight? Daily time. BORING. Now everything is an At-Will and you just go in order through the power list. Much better.

Plus since magic items are now tied to character advancement all the numbers are added up for you on the power displays. No math required! Just roll a die, or use the pre-built in roller embedded into the document, and go for it! Spiffy!
Dungeon Maker

Entitlement is the new word in Role-Playing

Now let's talk about what used to be the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual. These have been entirely replaced with the DM (Dungeon Maker)'s Dungeon Scenario. When each player signs up their character on the server and downloads the D&D Handbook, they just plug in the name of their group or campaign and the Scenario is generated and downloaded to the book.

This Dungeon Scenario is custom-tailored to your specific group, and perfectly balanced so no one ever has a chance of dying. It's like being in your very own novel as the heroes! Each Scenario includes a brief introductory scene (you can role play if you want to but why bother, you can skip this) and then a Dungeon Delve to enter, with a monster encounter and some treasure, all pre-designed in the book and well-balanced. Kill the monster and move on. Just run through 5 two-page encounters and you get a level. 10 pages per level, 500 pages total, lots of content, and all of it is predictable, fun and fast!

And yes, you heard me right: that's at least a guaranteed level every night. Entitlement is the new word in role-playing, and Dungeons & Dragons delivers. Begone unfairness, imbalance and asymmetry! Everyone is rewarded at the same pace regardless of ability or effort. The reward is playing the game.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, you'll be pleased to know that skill challenges are gone! Players still have skills of course but they don't have to mess around with role playing through them. Just roll the d20 when the game tells you and see if you passed or not. Skill challenges are way streamlined, so there's no more need to determine if you succeed or fail by accumulating 7 or 8 die rolls (TEDIOUS!). It's just one roll to see if you succeed immediately, and if you fail, then another roll to see how long it takes you to succeed.

The best part about the scenario is that every encounter is totally unique. You won't have to fight ten rooms of goblins; you'll only meet them once. Each Dungeon Delve has unique creatures and different treasure that's perfectly balanced to where your level is. No "too easy" or "too hard" encounters. And yes before you ask, (SPOILER WARNING) in the final you all fight the T-------e and when you kill him you get to reach level 30 and win the game! Then your characters get Achievements and you get to pass on your best magic item to your next character.

Of course, the next time you pick one of the twelve Character Packages, the entire scenario is re-generated for you. Next time through, you can try it in HARDCORE mode and get to level 50. I think there's even an IMMORTAL mode after that one but we haven't got that far.
In Closing

In closing, you should definitely download a copy of D&D 5e. I'll post the torrent later. Since it's a free game now (completely ad supported in the ebook, but I'll write an article soon on how to block those) there's no piracy going on with 5e. Just download, share, and play! It's an amazing game that brings a new dawn to Role-Playing, and best of all it's definitely something you can play with your friends while you're waiting for a WOW raid to start. You can level up 5 or 6 times before the raid, then play some WOW, then do a few more during the raid... You can all hit level 50 inside of a week or two of playing 5e, even if you only play it around other activities, so it's easy, it's quick and it's fun. Campaigns don't take years any more - just a month. With D&D 5e, it's really like an epic fantasy story that you can always win. Adventure, excitement, balance, and awesomeness.

A++++++++ Would Play Again!

Countblanc
Apr 20, 2005

Monsters attack people. It's good they're in sleep.

Haha how can you type so much just for a "4e is WoW" troll?

Red_Mage
Jul 23, 2007
I SHOULD BE FUCKING PERMABANNED BUT IN THE MEANTIME ASK ME ABOUT MY FAILED KICKSTARTER AND RUNNING OFF WITH THE MONEY


Countblanc posted:

Haha how can you type so much just for a "4e is WoW" troll?

The best part is not that post itself, but the 38 page thread on RPG.net fellating the author.

Countblanc
Apr 20, 2005

Monsters attack people. It's good they're in sleep.

i'm a nerd therefore i have no concept of brevity

Ferrinus
Jun 19, 2003



dailies and healing surges that reset after every encounter could be pretty fun if balanced right

Naar
Aug 19, 2003

The Time of the Eye is now

In another thread, Jonathan says

quote:

Posted By: Jonathan M
It's difficult for me to look at the universal desire of gamers to play not only heroes but supernaturally powerful heroes who go about murdering people and imposing their will on the world by force as anything other than an expression of some kind of inferiority complex or oedipal power fantasy. As Deleuze and Guattari once suggested, everyone wants to be a fascist because everyone wants to gently caress their mother.

I'd say that the indie scene was as much a part of that mindset as mainstream gaming.

I think it may have been Judd who, in the tone discussion for Flaming Taft, said, 'I don't want to be in another game where I gently caress my mother.' And one of my wife's professors once said to her that 'repression is good - otherwise we'd all be loving our grandmothers.' (I paraphrase in both cases).

That said, I also don't see as there's anything particularly wrong with the occasional engagement with your fantasies, power or otherwise. Isn't it the hallmark of liberalism to be able to do so? It seems perculiarly catholic to conflate the deed and the thought.

I'm pretty happy to accept that much mainstream gaming is associated with power fantasies (although probably not Call of Cthulhu much at all or Traveller quite so much) but it seems to me that one of the strengths of Indie gaming is the variety of experience it produces. Steal Away Jordan, Dogs in the Vineyard, Grey Ranks and others give rise to much more complex character motivations

But is it ever possible to play Heroic Fantasy without it being a fantasy of murderous heroism?

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Countblanc
Apr 20, 2005

Monsters attack people. It's good they're in sleep.

Ferrinus posted:

dailies and healing surges that reset after every encounter could be pretty fun if balanced right

A lot of DMs treat them like this anyway in my experience by having PCs do, at most, two combats before an extended rest.

  • Post
  • Reply
«2001 »