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Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Everyone posted:

I tend to do both. If a player is bright/intuitive/whatever enough to figure the problem out in real life, that's cool and she maybe gets some minor bennie/reward for pulling that off. But if she or no one else can, than I fall back on "Okay, roll your Intelligence/Riddles/Evidence Analysis/Figure poo poo Out ability."

even that is kinda weird to me though, because the inverse is rarely true - i.e. if i am capable of overcoming my DM in a contest of physical exertion (arm wrestling or lap running or knife fighting or whatever) i still have never been allowed to substitute my own physical prowess as a solution to an in-game problem.

"well, i feel like i could pretty easily defeat the goblins in melee combat because i'm bigger than you in real life and confident that i could wrestle you to the ground against your will. can we just try that instead, and if i'm right then we accept that my fighter slew all of the goblins in the cave?"

or even "look, i know for a fact I can run a 5 minute mile. let's break out the stopwatch app and if i can do that successfully, we just assume my barbarian manages to overcome and catch the fleeing bandits, even though he's on foot and they have horses."

edit: it just feels like another example where martial characters have to navigate incredibly complex mechanical systems just to perform the main function they should already be competent at, whereas a wizard's player can just go "oh i know the answer, it's xyz" and the game just moves on

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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!


I mean, there are also a few different considerations, such as the fact that you can actually do intellectual/social challenges around the gaming table, while if you want to do a physical challenge safely you may have need of a padded arena, some foam weapons, a track or acrobatic stage, etc.

Some plain practical thoughts.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Arm wrestling isn't that space- or gear-intensive.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The real issue is mostly that 'I talk my way through' is usually accepted as 'good roleplaying' (regardless of a character's ability to do it) while 'I describe how awesome I am with a halberd' usually won't get you through a combat encounter. When both should be recognized as a matter of what someone put character resources towards, but since combat is traditionally the main point of mechanical complexity in RPGs, the combat system tends to be adhered to while the much looser non-combat systems are more handwavey.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

I swear there was a game on kickstarter a while ago that had exercise as the core resolution mechanic. I can't find it right now, anybody know what I'm talking about?

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Freaking Crumbum posted:

even that is kinda weird to me though, because the inverse is rarely true - i.e. if i am capable of overcoming my DM in a contest of physical exertion (arm wrestling or lap running or knife fighting or whatever) i still have never been allowed to substitute my own physical prowess as a solution to an in-game problem.

"well, i feel like i could pretty easily defeat the goblins in melee combat because i'm bigger than you in real life and confident that i could wrestle you to the ground against your will. can we just try that instead, and if i'm right then we accept that my fighter slew all of the goblins in the cave?"

or even "look, i know for a fact I can run a 5 minute mile. let's break out the stopwatch app and if i can do that successfully, we just assume my barbarian manages to overcome and catch the fleeing bandits, even though he's on foot and they have horses."

edit: it just feels like another example where martial characters have to navigate incredibly complex mechanical systems just to perform the main function they should already be competent at, whereas a wizard's player can just go "oh i know the answer, it's xyz" and the game just moves on

When it comes to the "figure poo poo out" stuff, the fighter's player gets as much of a chance as the wizard's player because it's the players doing the figuring out. Now, sure, in a rolling situation, the wWzard with his 18 INT is way more likely to figure whatever-it-is out than the Fighter with an 11 INT. But it's more satisfying to the players to do it themselves than to say "I subject myself to the coldly indifferent forces of probability in the hope that they will not humiliate me this day."

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



Night10194 posted:

There's also just the fact that D&D has very loose out of combat rules at best. So any of this is usually left to the individual gaming group.
I'm inclined to think that this is largely not the case of the rules being loose, but more that the out-of-combat rules are the ones people are most likely to handwave or not learn, because you're here for the combat and spells (unless you're the rogue, in which case you are here for a few skill checks too)
AD&D/2e: Has proficiencies, and if you're a rogue, a codified list of explicitly what your percentile chance is for any given roguely task.
3x: Massive list of skills and an even longer list of the expected DCs for any of them, including the infamous "can't recognize a bear untrained" situation
4e: Has skill challenge rules for complex situations, and straight up says "if it's an obstacle that would only require one roll to bypass, it's just one roll, not a skill challenge" and lists examples.
5e: Like a slightly vaguer 3e, but probably owing more to not having a thousand sourcebooks defining every inch of playable surface than any design decision.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



4e was bear lore tho

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



Leraika posted:

4e was bear lore tho
Cool, is my point inaccurate?

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

Cool, is my point inaccurate?
I think the difference is that stuff like puzzles and brain teasers are the kind of thing that can be fun and quickly processed and so it can build the experiential pleasure, that mental joy of figuring out a mystery or similar, to present an actual riddle or puzzle and then give the players a sporting chance, rather than skipping straight to "There is a fiendish puzzle."

Like the idea that you should be able to address mental and social issues in a mechanical way with at most a narration of how the Puzzle Priestess applies her training back at the Puzzle Nunnery to this fiendish question, makes sense.

Mors Rattus posted:

Characterizing the Salem Witch Trials as "good intentions gone too far" is, uh, some ahistorical bullshit. Pretty much everyone with good intentions in there wanted them to stop, the actual trials were pushed by a bunch of people going after their enemies and scapegoats and whipping people into hysteria.
In the early modern period I think it was generally acknowledge that witches, as per the Bible, can exist, because they're in the Bible. However, it was real clear that instead of doing things like going after doges and princes, it would just be something that occurs in lovely rural areas that got economically stressed, and would mostly be aimed at local rivals and/or poor women, so when actual witch trials occured the magistrates were usually embarrassed about the entire thing at best.

Cthulhu Dreams
Dec 11, 2010

If I pretend to be Cthulhu no one will know I'm a baseball robot.


There are two:


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/196463444/lifts-ultimate-pump-edition-the-rpg-for-your-muscl which features Deadlifts and Dragons

And Dungeons and Workouts which has objectively the inferior name.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



'Gully dwarves' are just goblins wearing fake beards, right?

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!


The Lone Badger posted:

'Gully dwarves' are just goblins wearing fake beards, right?

They're basically just dwarves that like to roll around in dirt and filth and are constant comedy relief, except with the weird human/dwarf miscenegation angle making them not just annoying, but also pretty gross.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that


LIFTS! That was it! Thank you

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


Wait a minute. Wait a drat minute.

Xak Tsaroth? The Disks of Miskahal? Was Dragons of Despair responsible for that lovely NES Dungeons & Dragons game?!

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Dragons of Despair: Lost City of the Ancients: 3rd Edition Changes

It's not exactly spelled out in the adventures, but the rules for Hide/Move Silently and Listen/Spot mean that it's possible for non-Tasslehoff PCs to attempt to sneak around if they need to avoid encounters; even more so when the perception skills suffer penalties due to lighting and distance. But when most of the party are burly fighters in armor only Tasslehoff has any real skill at this beyond the luck of the d20. The 3.5 Chronicles level up not by loot or EXP but by the Speed of Plot (aka level up at the end of an adventure). This means that grinding is not a thing either.

The Blue Crystal Staff can cast Cure Minor Wounds at no charges. In 3.X this was a 0 level spell that restored 1 HP per casting. This meant that out of combat healing back to full was a given if the PCs were not pressed for time.

Xak Tsaroth still has that angled-side map showing the entire ruined complex, but it also added flat top-down maps of major sections for ease of use and perspective:





The random swamp encounters are coded to the overall party level, with crocodiles, ochre jellies, chuuls, and the like. Barring a single wraith (who can be hurt by divine magic) they are mostly melee monsters who aren't going to be unstoppable roadblocks and given the 4-8 PC action economy aren't in any danger of overwhelming the party.

Falling into the water does not risk triggering random encounters.

Mishakal has no stats, given that it's presumed no party in their right mind would want to fight/kill the goddess.

Khisanth's breath weapon does 12d4 acid and has a DC 23 Reflex save. This is on average 30 damage, half if successfully saved against. Far less damage than the AD&D version, but it's still deadly on account that most of the Heroes of the Lance have around 40~ HP max and given levels in Fighter rather paltry Reflex saves. The text advises that the deadliness of Khisanth's strafing run can be used to demonstrate the power of the true gods when any dead PCs are revived by Mishakal later.

A simple Knowledge check can inform PCs that entering the well is extremely dangerous given its length. However Tenser's Floating Disc, Fly, and Levitate are spells the PCs can learn at this level which the adventure does not account for.

The 500 foot fall trap which only a dwarf can detect can also work for anyone with an appropriate Craft skill. Additionally, the trap triggers in 2 rounds and you have an easy Listen check and a Reflex save to escape. And even if you fail the Reflex save you end up hanging by the fingertips instead of outright falling, which can be inconvenient if a nearby enemy hears the sound.

There's a half-page sidebar of likely questions the PCs have for the gully dwarves, and their answers which are of course less than straightforward:



Snakes individually do not do 3d4 damage, given how weapon/natural attack damage die values work based on size. They can still poison a PC, but they deal small amounts of ability score damage and the Blue Crystal Staff has Neutralize Poison as one of its chargeable spells.

A spectral ghost of a former librarian, Ossamis, can still give the PCs directions to the Disks of Mishakal. In the 3.5 version he can provide more answers on things like Khisanth's weakness and a potential secret path to her lair. His answers are less than straightforward, being more in riddles rather than gully dwarf stupidity.

There's a way to use Conversation/Persuasion to defeat Khisanth. She seeks to disarm the PCs of the Blue Crystal Staff, but is unaware of its potential Holy Explosion Mode. She offers to spare the PCs if one of them hands over the Staff, claiming that they are "merely returning that which is taken from me." A successful social roll (likely Bluff) can catch her flat-footed with a free attack. The staff-strike is not an auto-kill: it is made as a touch attack (which vs. the dragon's 9 AC is easy to make even if Goldmoon strikes with her +7 bonus in melee) and deals 1d8 damage to both the dragon and Prohpet for each charge expended, 2d8 if a critical hit. If the dragon takes at least 50 points of damage she auto-fails her save against massive damage (yes this was a thing in 3.X) and is consumed in light. The book also suggests making it an auto-kill if the DM is pressed for time or if it will be more dramatic to do so.

There's no random falling rock damage, with the only kind of damage happening if the PCs cannot escape at all and leap into the raging currents out among underground rivers to the New Sea (with added risk of drowning).

Khisanth also has 199 hit points in this version rather than 64 to account for 3.X making everything bigger number-wise. This is a pretty high number for a 5-7th level party, but the Blue Crystal Staff (which can have up to 20 charges) is meant to be an equalizer in this manner.

Also here's my blog post on how I ran this adventure myself when doing 13th Age, and what other GMs could change and look out for in their own games.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 08:12 on Dec 15, 2019

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!



"Change your game so you're not running Dragonlance, and look out for any sociopath who wants to play a Kender."? :v:

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Snorb posted:

Wait a minute. Wait a drat minute.

Xak Tsaroth? The Disks of Miskahal? Was Dragons of Despair responsible for that lovely NES Dungeons & Dragons game?!

Yup, I can't remember the name, but the NES D&D game was actually DragonLance. I think there might've been a Forgotten Realms one too, not sure. I can't remember the name of either, but know this because I loving loved DragonLance as a kid and had tons of the novels. I can't remember poo poo about them, but I my parents used to read some of them to me, which in hindsight would explain why they never wanted to hear a word about D&D growing up. There are also a couple DragonLance PC games, the only one I remember is one where you have to fight Lord Soth or something. It starts with your characters at a wedding (maybe?) then you get attacked by skeleton riders and I think the cover was literally that image that PurpleXVI has been using as his end of post things. Overall, it wasn't a bad game as a kid.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





PurpleXVI posted:

They're basically just dwarves that like to roll around in dirt and filth and are constant comedy relief, except with the weird human/dwarf miscenegation angle making them not just annoying, but also pretty gross.
I imagine they're based on Mim the petty-dwarf in the Silmarillion, who is an rear end in a top hat who sells out Turin. I think it was Turin. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Beren.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





PurpleXVI posted:

I've always enjoyed the Degenesis review, I just wanna say, I just don't always have something to add because half the time it's such a mess of Proper Nouns that I know it's weird, but it's too weird and confusing for me to have an opinion on other than "wow that's some weird poo poo."

Largely same. I find it borderline impenetrable but that’s not the reviewer’s fault.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


PurpleXVI posted:

I mean, there are also a few different considerations, such as the fact that you can actually do intellectual/social challenges around the gaming table, while if you want to do a physical challenge safely you may have need of a padded arena, some foam weapons, a track or acrobatic stage, etc.

Some plain practical thoughts.

It's a false dilemma. I would 100% allow a player with a high STR roll to say "I smash the puzzle" and proceed as if it were solved (or better yet, set up the puzzle to be a Towers of Hanoi type of situation where the discs are made of solid granite and you have the choice of muscling through OR using an elaborate pulley system -- and if the player solves the puzzle they get to just describe how their character did it).

Similarly, spellcasters use mental attributes within the highly mechanical combat system all the time.

e: mind you I also tend to just not use IRL puzzles because they slow things to a crawl and unless you're really creative they turn the session into each player playing solo, but just on principle, the above isn't really a problem unless you make it one

Tuxedo Catfish fucked around with this message at 04:41 on Dec 4, 2019

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Or put another way: it's not about character INT and player cleverness being interchangeable. It's about roleplaying games being exercises in narrative creativity, and benefiting because you're good at that is as natural and appropriate as doing better in combat because you're better at the tactical minigame.

e: or whatever other skills you want to test, including puzzle-solving, arm-wrestling, etc. what matters there is that you all agree it's worth rewarding and how it's weighted relative to other skills, not what it gets substituted for in the game.

if the fighter's player solved a really hard puzzle it's perfectly legitimate for the in-game narrative impact to have nothing to do with the character's intelligence, for instance.

Tuxedo Catfish fucked around with this message at 05:03 on Dec 4, 2019

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Night10194 posted:

The real issue is mostly that 'I talk my way through' is usually accepted as 'good roleplaying' (regardless of a character's ability to do it) while 'I describe how awesome I am with a halberd' usually won't get you through a combat encounter. When both should be recognized as a matter of what someone put character resources towards, but since combat is traditionally the main point of mechanical complexity in RPGs, the combat system tends to be adhered to while the much looser non-combat systems are more handwavey.

yeah

"i hit the goblin with my battle axe, doing a totally badass flourish that sends his head flying the opposite direction of his body"
"no you didn't, he dodged you and stabbed you in the leg with his shiv"
"nuh uh, i am totally a badass barbarian and i would not let a puny goblin avoid my mighty blows"
etc. etc.
and everyone decided "okay fine lets come up with incredibly granular rules to determine whether or not steve actually killed the goblin". but then

"i'm a charming rogue, so i simply tell the soldiers a very plausible lie to explain why the crown jewels happened to be in my backpack during this random search"
"uhhhh . . . i don't know if they'll just believe that"
and best case scenario, someone said "hey at least role a single d20 but just give it a binary pass/fail outcome, we don't want to spend too much time figuring out the finer details of how jeremy persuaded the captain not to arrest him"

Baku
Aug 20, 2005

by Fluffdaddy


Squaring that circle is tough because at the end of the day a lot of players think it's way more fun to solve puzzles themselves or important social encounters through direct dialogues than it is to roll dice and have the DM tell them what happened.

Honestly, my preferred solution is more "let people fudge poo poo with physical challenges and combat, too" than to try and remove any way for players to bleed into characters in mental and social encounters. The cooler, more creative, or more in-character a physical stunt or questionable combat maneuver is, the more likely I am to just forego a roll and be like "that's bad rear end, you do that and..."

There's a guy in our group playing a Tabaxi Drunken Master and he's pretty much everyone's favorite bc the player is a goofball who actually will do things like demonstrate himself swaying.

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011


I think a core problem at work here is that D&D and games of its ilk are semi-modal. Combat and non-combat are mostly distinct, but there are some resources that effect both or either, and you have a limited selection of these resources. This results in situations where characters can over-invest in non-combat stuff and wind up with limited combat utility, which means that bypassing non-combat challenges via RP means that those resources are essentially wasted.

The real options here are to go either fully modal or non-modal. The latter would be something like PbtA where everything is handled roughly the same (and there is also enough mechanical attention paid that even if you can RP around most problems you’re still going to wind up hitting mechanical triggers). The former is probably most closely achieved with D&D 4e, but even then you have the ability score problem which just muddles things.

Gantolandon
Aug 19, 2012



After reading the dialogue with the gully dwarves, I can't stop imagining them as little clones of Baldrick.

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


Huh. Even as a small child, I found gully dwarves extremely tedious, but miniature Baldricks...I...how did I never see that before? Suddenly, it's entirely different.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

As someone who has yet to watch Blackadder, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Freaking Crumbum posted:

yeah

"i hit the goblin with my battle axe, doing a totally badass flourish that sends his head flying the opposite direction of his body"
"no you didn't, he dodged you and stabbed you in the leg with his shiv"
"nuh uh, i am totally a badass barbarian and i would not let a puny goblin avoid my mighty blows"
etc. etc.
and everyone decided "okay fine lets come up with incredibly granular rules to determine whether or not steve actually killed the goblin". but then

"i'm a charming rogue, so i simply tell the soldiers a very plausible lie to explain why the crown jewels happened to be in my backpack during this random search"
"uhhhh . . . i don't know if they'll just believe that"
and best case scenario, someone said "hey at least role a single d20 but just give it a binary pass/fail outcome, we don't want to spend too much time figuring out the finer details of how jeremy persuaded the captain not to arrest him"

I think the problem is that resolving social conflicts in this way often makes the resolution less interesting, even if it's easier.

Allowing an attack to be resolved by a roll is easy enough because you can still describe the before and after of the roll easily enough to make the scene interesting.

But in the second example, you're skipping the part of that action that's really interesting: the clever lie. Just saying "I came up with something" robs the scene of the bit that makes it fun.


For comparison, imagine the scene as a fantasy TV show. In one scene you have the fight where allies and enemies trade blows and eventually one or the other is victorious, perhaps at a great cost. You can simulate that exact sort of scene purely with dice with no trouble.

Now, imagine the scene with the thief. They're confronted by guards and the scene just cuts to black with the words "one plausible lie later" and then the guards leave them alone. That's not an interesting story.

You can play things this way with no shame and if it works for you and your group, then more power to you. But there's a reason that this is a persistent topic of debate in RPGs. A lot of people are just not going to find handwaving verbal interactions satisfying. For a lot of folks, they want to see that stuff happens, not just be told it happened.

-------------------

Now, is this fair to players who want to focus on the social/intellectual elements of RPGs? No, absolutely not. It's kind of a sucky fact of life...making a verbal interaction interesting is inherently more demanding than creating an interesting physical or combat challenge.

It's easy to mechanically reinforce "guy who is big and strong and tough and can inflict lots of damage. It's hard to mechanically reinforce "guy who is full of witty retorts and clever lies" if the player can't provide at least a seed of an idea. It's one of those things where just having a high number isn't really enough for a lot of people.

90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006
:gay:


Libertad! posted:

As someone who has yet to watch Blackadder, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
It would be good if they weren't done as a race.

Tylana
May 5, 2011



Pillbug

If gully dwarves were only one inbred clan in Xak Tsaroth (although obviously the isolated inbred family trope could offend to) it might work better.

On the other thread running through the thread, I've generally cut the difference on player vs character ability with the analogy that players set policy, and the characters enact it. In the same way the players pick the tactics for the fight (in a large number of games.) I expect the players to pick an approach that fits the scene and adjust difficulty/deny rolls appropriately. It's very much a spectrum though, because either ideal can be taken to an extreme from rolling one die and if it's a six you win! To running around the woods with sticks.

Even in PbtA Honesty Demands that you say "What the gently caress, you can't just say the crown jewels fell into your bag." if that is utterly ridiculous in your premise or context. If it's only moderately ridiculous then yeah, roll it.

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!


My personal policy is that players can make their intellectual or social rolls as long as they put in a bit of effort. Like, you can't just go: "I roll Cha(or appropriate stat/skill) to make the guard let me through." but you can absolutely go: "I try to convince the guard that this box full of poisonous snakes is a special delivery for the evil vizier, can I roll Cha(or appropriate stat/skill) for that?" Though generally I tend to go relatively light on the rolls as a GM, I only call them if it's something where I'm not sure. Like an 18 Str D&D character wanting to push through a rotten door doesn't need a check for it, it goes down. A guy who comes up with a very believable argument that an NPC would be prone to believing doesn't need to roll for it, the guy lets him through.

The interesting descriptions are also often part of what makes combat fun to engage in, though. You tell players "you do X damage to the goblin, it gains the DEAD status and is removed from combat" and they're gonna be yawning before long. But you give them some over-the-top description of how their critical hit nukes the goblin out of combat in a some sort of goofy ultraviolence way and they'll be eager to roll the dice again.

Althalin
Nov 19, 2019

Putting the ham in Chamon


Pork Pro

Now that the furor around the show has died down a little, does anyone have any strong feelings one way or another about me taking over/rehashing ThisIsNoZaku's A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying review?

I'd just jump right in but :effort: and don't want to write thousands of words if nobody cares

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!


Althalin posted:

Now that the furor around the show has died down a little, does anyone have any strong feelings one way or another about me taking over/rehashing ThisIsNoZaku's A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying review?

I'd just jump right in but :effort: and don't want to write thousands of words if nobody cares

:justpost: is the usual reply to this. I've heard some decent things about the game, but I'm not sure if it actually uses any sort of novel system or mechanics or is just a 3e reskin or whatever, and the only things I know about the setting are extreme second hand stuff picked up via cultural osmosis, so it'd be interesting to see if they manage to turn a book/show universe into something you can actually have adventures in.

Althalin
Nov 19, 2019

Putting the ham in Chamon


Pork Pro

PurpleXVI posted:

:justpost: is the usual reply to this.

Basically what I was expecting haha

Yeah, I'll put proverbial pen to paper and get a post or two out today, depending on how slow work is

Althalin
Nov 19, 2019

Putting the ham in Chamon


Pork Pro

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memor- wait, poo poo, wrong grandstanding fantasy series.



A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplay: Why Are IP Tie-In Games Always So Clunky?
Part 1: Worldbuilding and Background

I’m gonna dive in to A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, a d6 system based on George R.R. Martin’s series of doorstopper books. This game system is explicitly based on those books, and don’t use the canon of the show.

For those who don’t know, the Song of Ice and Fire books are set in the land of Westeros, which is the Not-Great Britain of Not-Europe.



The setting period of the game is up to the GM (in-system referred to as the Narrator); the default expectation is that your game is set at, or around, the same time as the books take place.

This is 300 years after Westeros’ feuding feudal fiefdoms were conquered by Aegon Targaryen, all-around badass from Not-Rome with two sister-wives and three dragons between them.
Aegon used the dragons to great effect, crushing the natives, and forged a kingdom.

He took the swords of those he conquered, partially melted them, and turned them into the Iron Throne.


What a baller

After centuries of rule under the Targaryen dynasty, Westeros was torn asunder by a rebellion by Robert Baratheon (known to some people as Bobby B). This rebellion was successful, and placed Robert on the Iron Throne; the first non-Targaryen king since Westeros was united.

Though united under a single king, the Seven Kingdoms are somewhat autonomous, and are subject to a lot of infighting and political machinations between the Great Houses that were, formerly, kingdoms unto themselves. We’ll cover the Great Houses in the next post, after which we can hopefully get into the game system itself.

The backstory and worldbuilding are fairly integral to the game system; you’re not likely to be playing this game if you’re not familiar with or interested in the setting. Unfortunately, it’s also somewhat constrictive from the standpoint of the GM.

Ideally, you’re weaving a compelling story of conflict and intrigue, allowing the players to have some level of agency over the nation in which they reside. This isn’t a long-term, D&D Stronghold goal for players who’ve weathered several levels and reached the point where single conflicts aren’t narratively important. The player’s House is its own entity, with its own stats, and nearly 10% of the game book itself dedicated just to the House.

That said, I imagine most campaigns end up in purely alternative history territory - I know ours have. My players wanted a story where they could actually move up in the world, and the canon doesn’t have a lot of room for upward mobility.

But I digress.

The books are centered on political intrigue, so the laws and customs of the Seven Kingdoms are expected to be important in the game, as well. There are a few pages dedicated to the important customs:

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: Core Rulebook posted:

  • All authority descends from the king, who rules by divine right.
  • Nobles have more rights than common folk, and higher ranking nobles have more than lower ranking ones.
  • Men have more rights than women, except in Dorne where age is more important. For inheritance, male children inherit, from eldest to youngest, and females only if there is no legitimate male heir.
  • Lords have a duty to administer and enforce the law in their lands. Common punishments are maiming, execution or loss of property and/or titles. Lords have the right of “pits and gallows,” allowing them to imprison or execute law breakers. Landed knights may also enforce laws, but cannot imprison or execute.
  • An alternate punishment is to be forced to “take the black” and join the Night's Watch. The crime is forgiven but you must completely abandon your old life to serve on the wall.
  • Execution is normally by beheading. In the tradition of the First Men, the individual who passes sentence must be the one who executes the convicted; this tradition holds mainly in the north, while southern nobles have executioners. A cruel alternative is to stick the condemned in an iron cage called the “crow cage” to die of exposure, named for the crows that gather to pick at the body.
  • Nobles accused of a crime may demands trial by combat or trial by lords, where a group of fellow nobles serve as judge and jury.
  • A common longstanding tradition is “guests rights,” where a host is obligated to feed guests and cannot cause any harm to anyone who eats at their table for the duration of their stay.
  • Children become adults at 16, and a girls first menstruation is an important milestone. Nobles often betroth children much younger than this for political reasons, but sleeping with a girl before her first “moonsblood” is seen as super gross everywhere.
  • Followers of the Seven are wed by Septons while followers of the old ways say their vows in front of a weirwood.
  • Family allegiances are built by fostering children from the age of 8 or so until their age of majority. Wards are work the same way, except the children are kept as hostages to ensure the good behavior of their family, instead of guests.
  • Bastard children are distrusted due to the circumstances of their conception. Every region has a surname given to the illegitimate children of nobles.
    Dorne: Sand
    The Iron Islands: Pyke
    King's Landing and Dragonstone: Waters
    The North: Snow
    The Reach: Flowers
    The Riverlands: Rivers
    The Vale of Arryn: Stone
    The Westerlands: Hill
    The Stormlands: Storm

Technologically, Westeros is roughly on-par with 15th century Europe. This is an age of horse and sword, as gunpowder doesn’t exist in the setting.



Knighthood is an important part of society, with knights being styled as “Ser.” As is typical with chivalrous orders, there are no female knights. Most often, a knight is sworn to a noble House, either trained by the Master-at-Arms of the House or as a result of a marriage. There are wandering Hedge Knights, those who have taken the vows but serve no House, but they are looked upon as untrustworthy scoundrels (not entirely unjustified). Strictly speaking, a Knight was anointed by a Septon of the Faith of The Seven, the largest religion in Westeros. If you don’t follow the Faith, you can’t become a Knight.



The Faith of the Seven, as previously mentioned, is the dominant religion in the setting. The Seven are worshiped in nearly all of the Seven Kingdoms, save the North and the Iron Isles. The religion worships seven aspects of god, embodied in The Father (Judgement and justice), The Mother (Mercy and protection), The Warrior (Patron god of knights and soldiers), The Smith (God of craftsmen), The Maiden (Marriage, young women, forgiveness of women who use sex for manipulation :stare:), The Crone (Widsom, Guidance), and The Stranger (Death).

Priests and priestesses of the Seven are known as Septons and Septas, respectively. Oftentimes, a noble House will have a Sept (church) of their own, with a resident Septon to hold services and offer counsel.

So far, so Catholic.



The Old Gods, or the Gods of the First Men, is a religion practiced primarily by those in the North, the wildlings north of The Wall, and crannogmen, who live in the Neck (a natural causeway of swampy land separating the North from the rest of continental Westeros). They are unnamed, innumerable, and omnipresent.

Moreso than in the Faith of the Seven, guest right and the protection of hospitality are taken seriously by those who follow the Old Gods.

Followers of the Old Gods venerate Godswoods (essentially, curated forests) as holy places, rather than Septs. Due to the former ubiquity of the religion, many great castles still have Godswoods despite being held by Houses that worship The Seven.

The most important feature of a Godswood is the Heart Tree, which is generally a large Weirwood. These are large trees with red sap, “bark as white as bone and dark red leaves that look like a thousand bloodstained hands.” Charming. Many of these weirwood trees have faces carved into them, serving as a visual representation of the Old Gods.



Next Time: We cover our bases with the Great Houses, so we can start looking at the actual rules of the game

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


oriongates posted:

I think the problem is that resolving social conflicts in this way often makes the resolution less interesting, even if it's easier.

Allowing an attack to be resolved by a roll is easy enough because you can still describe the before and after of the roll easily enough to make the scene interesting.

But in the second example, you're skipping the part of that action that's really interesting: the clever lie. Just saying "I came up with something" robs the scene of the bit that makes it fun.


For comparison, imagine the scene as a fantasy TV show. In one scene you have the fight where allies and enemies trade blows and eventually one or the other is victorious, perhaps at a great cost. You can simulate that exact sort of scene purely with dice with no trouble.

Now, imagine the scene with the thief. They're confronted by guards and the scene just cuts to black with the words "one plausible lie later" and then the guards leave them alone. That's not an interesting story.

You can play things this way with no shame and if it works for you and your group, then more power to you. But there's a reason that this is a persistent topic of debate in RPGs. A lot of people are just not going to find handwaving verbal interactions satisfying. For a lot of folks, they want to see that stuff happens, not just be told it happened.

-------------------

Now, is this fair to players who want to focus on the social/intellectual elements of RPGs? No, absolutely not. It's kind of a sucky fact of life...making a verbal interaction interesting is inherently more demanding than creating an interesting physical or combat challenge.

It's easy to mechanically reinforce "guy who is big and strong and tough and can inflict lots of damage. It's hard to mechanically reinforce "guy who is full of witty retorts and clever lies" if the player can't provide at least a seed of an idea. It's one of those things where just having a high number isn't really enough for a lot of people.

The second example gets a "roll your Charmisma/Fast Talk/etc to see if the guy bought it" from me. Actually role-playing out the "plausible lie" means you get bonuses on the roll or maybe bypass it entirely. At least that's how I'd GM it. I'm likely to toss out bonuses/XP for coolness and creativity. I won't actively punish stuff like:

"I hit the orc."

"I hit the orc a sec-ond time."

"For a third time I hit the orc."

Me: "Whoops, looks like the orcs killed you by chopping of your head. Now they're dragging off your corpse to use your neckhole as a privy. Roll up something else and try not to make it so gently caress-off boring this time."

But I'll play it straight RAW with no extras.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Ithle01 posted:

Yup, I can't remember the name, but the NES D&D game was actually DragonLance. I think there might've been a Forgotten Realms one too, not sure.

There is; Pool of Radiance (the first Forgotten Realms gold box game) had a NES port and it's probably the one you are thinking of.

Actually there were a surprising number of NES D&D games; Heroes of the Lance and its sequel Dragons of Flame, Dragonstrike, Pool of Radiance, Hillsfar (also Forgotten Realms)... I might be missing one.

Prism fucked around with this message at 15:01 on Dec 4, 2019

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!


Althalin posted:

Knighthood is an important part of society, with knights being styled as “Ser.”

I think this is probably just me, but one of my personal little petty grievances with fantasy writing is when authors take a perfectly normal Earth English term and flip a couple of letters or something to pretend they're a store-brand Tolkien who actually thought about any of their fantasy linguistics. Like, either you go full loving Tolkien and you give us a language, or you only make up/twist words to name stuff that has no exact real world analogue. Anything in the middle just tends to grate on me.

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90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006
:gay:


PurpleXVI posted:

I think this is probably just me, but one of my personal little petty grievances with fantasy writing is when authors take a perfectly normal Earth English term and flip a couple of letters or something to pretend they're a store-brand Tolkien who actually thought about any of their fantasy linguistics. Like, either you go full loving Tolkien and you give us a language, or you only make up/twist words to name stuff that has no exact real world analogue. Anything in the middle just tends to grate on me.
Yeah but you tell authors that and they start writing Thibbledorf Pwent or just go extremely generic with poo poo like Helm Hammerhand. I swear Tolkien stole that one from a time-travelling Elminster.

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