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Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

Nobilis 2E

What's Left

It turns out that about the entire second half of the book is really just an appendix. Where it isn't, it's just writing things we've already been told with twice the word count and purple prose. Like, I think everyone already got the idea of what Light, Dark, Heaven, Hell and Wild are, but here the book is, wasting another chapter telling us about it.

There are some additional sections on how to stat up a Chancel or your Imperator, but I have to say, for a "rules light" game, I feel like I get more lost in Nobilis' rules than I do more conventional, rules "heavy" games. Maybe it's the excess of Proper Nouns, maybe it's the absolutely horrible editing/formatting of the pages, maybe it's the lack of a core mechanic which is instead replaced by a GM fiat where you're encouraged to hurt your players and waste their resources when they guess wrong on a solution, rather than having it fail-forward, fail-interesting or in general be anything other than a "no, you moron, you should have known better, sheesh."(and yes, that is pretty much how the writing presents it in given examples).

So I'm going to throw in a few closing comments and then consider this review Completed, not Abandoned, because there isn't really anything else of any substance in the .PDF to talk about as far as I can tell from skimming it, it mostly just got close to putting me to sleep.

So Nobilis, What Do I Think?

I feel like I've generally done my best to be generous towards the game, praising the things I felt were actually well-thought-out or in any real sense evocative and making me want to tell a story or play a character.

Unfortunately the game just didn't give me much to work with, the problem is that it feels like an Exalted Fair Folk/oMage crossover fanfic run through a purple prose generator and played as a freeform RPG on a circa 00's internet forum. The lack of limitations is what makes the game completely uninteresting. You start out at a divine power level and then throw huge miracles at other gods and they always succeed and then you write how cool it is that you won. It's supposed to be a modern occult sort of setting, but the power level and breadth of the world just makes Earth and the mundane reality seem uninteresting, rather than a backdrop where stuff happens.

Now, personally, I can see the seed of a good game in there. It just requires deleting a hell of a lot of pointless cruft. Scrap the world ash, scrap half the factions(dark and hell are the same, light and heaven are the same, Wild is just Chaotic Neutral. The simple choice between "humanity needs to be protected, at any cost" vs "humanity needs to be free to gently caress up, at any cost" would be enough of a philosophical divide to drive internal conflicts), completely dismantle the whole mythic reality thing. Make mundane reality the only thing there is, and Earth the only world we deal with, so it actually feels like it matters. Just make it a straight game about power on Earth, and Earth's survival. Now there are stakes I actually give a poo poo about. Also maybe stop trying so drat hard to make the Powers and Imperators VAST AND INHUMAN because the next line is always "except they're really not their boss just says they have to be." Stories are more interesting, personal and driven if the player characters actually care about Joe Average on the street or fall for the girl who delivers the paper, than if they're EMOTIONLESS MEGAGODS who only fight for reality's survival because it's in their job description.

The attempts at making things epic and magical just unmoor it from anything that has any sort of emotional connection or in any way at all makes me think "this is cool, this is worth fighting for." I have a way easier time giving a poo poo about trying to avoid the EXCRUCIAN DARKSHARD OF BAD killing those nice guys down at the corner store than the fact that he might chip away 0.1% of the colour in a butterfly's wings, thus making the world a less magical place.

Heck, having a small selection of narrow, narrative powers like "can talk to plants," "can turn liquids into solids on touch" or "can curse someone to never tell the truth." and needing to use those to stymie someone whose power is "can stab you real loving dead" would be something I'd actually be totally hype for playing. It'd be a real fun creative exercise forcing you to do some lateral thinking. And theoretically you could probably run that with Nobilis, but it feels like the game actively scoffs at trying to run anything with anything approaching vaguely parseable stakes or limiting powers.

So in short: It's a game that's sabotaged by its own power level and attempt to be WEIRD and EPIC. Keep it more down to Earth as a misfit superhero game and there's actually something playable in there.

So, basically, instead of playing Noblis, you should play Scion.


Sep 6, 2019

Rand Brittain posted:

I don't think Nobilis and Scion are aiming for remotely the same things.

It doesn't seem like it, but in truth, all I know about Nobilis comes from the above review (or portion of a review, anyway). I just recently got Scion with an eye toward leveraging the fact that it shares a system with Trinity to port some stuff from it into Trinity.

Still the reviewer seemed to indicate that he wanted "gods, sort of" that weren't utterly divorced from human concerns and relationships. And also not boringly all-powerful. Scion seems like the way to go to get to that.

Sep 6, 2019

Halloween Jack posted:

I'm not comfortable with these attempts to humanize the ruling class. You're going to have to boot them down a mine shaft anyway; why make it harder on yourself?

And beyond what Cythereal said, it's intrinsically a better story when your enemy is a three-dimensional person like you with needs and desires who was trying to make his way through the world as best he could than if he's some programmed "evil robot."

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:


Introduction AKA "What is this hot garbage?"

Back in The Elder Era of 2e AD&D we had a lot of big settings with a lot of content. Post-apocalyptic Dark Sun/Athas, high-concept Planescape, grand strategy Highlander intrigue in Birthright/Cerilia, the loving Forgotten Realms full of Greenwoods' magical realm bullshit, venerable classics like Mystara and Oerth(Greyhawk) that were inherited from 1e and fading into the background. Alongside those, we had Dragonlance. Now, I'm gonna be honest: Dragonlance is some incredible dogshit, but when I was 15 and a young nerd, it was totally the poo poo. I read the books, because oh man, there were books, based off a primary module chain, which the developers played through and then published as a book series. There were prequels. There were spinoffs.

Dragonlance's world, Krynn, was big in terms of its franchise. It even had a lovely direct-to-VHS(if it wasn't late enough to qualify for DVD, I don't believe it did) adaptation of one of the first books. It had a series of videogames made, probably some of the earliest D&D franchise videogames ever, released around the same time as the original Pools of Radiance(and if I remember right, even using something of the same engine). No one ever made a lovely Planescape or Birthright cartoon. Though both Birthright and Dark Sun got videogames.

Now obviously, a lot of people worked on this poo poo, but the two primary names are Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman who are reasonably prolific within the fantasy(and to a lighter extent sci-fi) sphere. The other big TSR project they were, as far as I remember, both part of was Ravenloft(though not in as leading roles as Dragonlance), and aside from that they've just been writing a shitload of books. They wrote, no surprise, the Dragonlance books. They wrote the Death Gate Cycle, they wrote a bunch of other stuff I've had no exposure to but which all seems pretty low-rent by-the-numbers fantasy.

Now, these two are bad writers. Not Chris Fields-level bad, I'm pretty sure menstrual cycles have no mentions at all in the books. Not Ed Greenwood-level bad, this isn't going to be their sexual fantasies crammed on to ink and paper. But keep in mind these are the fuckers who invented Kender. These are the assholes who wrote a 7-book series(the Death Gate Cycle) which had a few interesting ideas and periods of solid writing, and then decided to cap it all off with "IF'N Y'ALL'D JUST FOUND JESUS, NONE OF THIS APOCALYPSE WOULDA HAPPENED."

So, how am I going to get revenge for what these fuckers did to my spongey, impressionable teenage brain? To ensuring that the first D&D setting I was ever exposed to as a 10-year-old when a cousin decided to run a game was Dragonlance rather than something good?

I'm glad you asked, because here's the loving game plan:

First I'm gonna go through the world book, with all of the DEEP DENSE LORE, as well as what rules set Krynn aside from generic D&D.

Then I'm going to go through the entire canon adventure module path.

And I'm dragging you fuckers with me.

Dragonlance Intro

Aside from the disparaging intro I've written, the book also has its own introductory section.

While I know you're meant to love and hype your own product, this seems a bit full of itself. What setting isn't full of Good vs Evil fights, especially back in those days where (intentional) moral grays in RPG's were a somewhat rarer meal? Oh poo poo, the exciting and rare chance to be a good guy! Holy gently caress! Not that I don't like being a clear-cut good guy on the side of good sometimes, but this just feels up its own rear end.

"Unlike those other, lesser, unheroic games, our creatures are fully detailed and described!" Let's not mention that minotaurs are hardly unique to Dragonlance, that gully dwarves are basically just dwarf hobos, and high ogres are just pretty ogres that know magic.

Just absolutely up their own rear end.

Ye Historie of Ye Dragonnes & Lances

Year 0, Day 0, Minute 0, Second 0, a GRAND DIVINE DEITY that's never relevant to the plot again wakes up, writes the blueprints for creation and then immediately subcontracts it out to a Good God and a Bad God, with a Neutral God for the tedious administrative business, before rolling over and resuming his nap. Looking over the job they've been given, the three gods then promptly subcontract the work of creating existence further to a bunch of minor gods. Thus our relevant cast is, for now: Paladine(very good), Takhisis(very bad), Gilean(very neutral,) and Reorx(has hammer, is the one doing the actual work of creating things while everyone else just administrates).

The good and bad gods each make themselves a batch of dragons and promptly start fighting so hard that they almost break the world even before it's had a chance to really exist, forcing them to call a truce. About five minutes later they then start fighting again, this time over who gets to own the stars. Eventually they pry the stars out of heaven and decide that this is great material for making mortals out of, and that's where all of the animals and sapient species come from.

Anyway, then we get like 10,000 years which can be summarized as "ogres enslave humans, humans do not like being enslaved, put an end to that. elves tsk tsk but don't interfere or help the humans because they're useless dickheads, plan a colonialist war against a bunch of dragons because they want more trees to live in." Not satisfied with stealing the dragons' lands, the elves also literally capture their loving souls and imprison them deep under vast mountains. The gods of magic help the elves do this and are imprisoned on the moon. Or all three of the moons, anyway, there are three. This is a stupid and meaningless plot point because literally the next paragraph is "some shenanigans happen and dwarves go to the moon and liberate the gods of magic." This is also what causes goblins, minotaurs, gnomes and kender to exist. So in a slightly roundabout way, we can blame elves for the existence of kender. loving elves.

This whole mess has also created a magic meteor that wanders across the world making unspecified changes to it. Trying to hide from it, the dwarves dig into the ground, find the stones full of dragon souls and, going "what the gently caress is this magic garbage?" just toss them up to the surface, awakening the dragons to go fight the elves again. Everyone in this setting is an incredibly moronic fuckup. A bunch of wizards show up, and this time rather than just trapping the dragons' souls underground, they wave their arms around and trap their physical bodies underground, too. Deciding that magic can do some stupid and awful poo poo, the wizards decide to make Magic Laws and from then on you're only allowed to do magic if you're a licensed wizard of Good, Neutral or Evil. So yes, you can be a licensed magic supervillain in Dragonlance, complete with wearing pitch-black robes and cackling evilly.

A bunch of other incredibly stupid poo poo happens, like kender suddenly getting their hands on a flying fortress out of nowhere and crashing it into a mountain, an entire dwarven city disappearing because no one can remember where the front door is and the elves being very concerned by "the half-elf problem" which sounds like a very unsubtle way to say that the elves are huge racists worried about racial purity.

The next section of Dragonlance history involves a lot of these guys, THE SOLAMNIC KNIGHTS, who are mostly remarkable for often being featured with sick manes and even sicker facial hair. Takhisis scams a bunch of lizardmen into hiding dragon eggs in dwarven mines, which the dwarves mistake for gems, and sell to people, and then the eggs hatch, the wyrmlings eat their owners, and flap away into the world to cause chaos. It seems like an extremely convoluted plot compared to just having the dragons' parents hatch the eggs and then unleashing them from their nests. Also somewhat, uh, flawed by the fact that most gems aren't just sold pried straight out of the ground but are usually carved and faceted, probably something that an egg would not tolerate well, even a dragon egg.

But whatever, this stupid cartoon villain plot brings the worlds to its knees until a Solamnic Knight named Huma, who's banging a dragon, is the first to figure out the secret of poking dragons with a really long stick(okay, so Dragonlances are supposedly something real special made for killing dragons and do have magic powers, but in the setting they're literally mass produced, and thus it's somewhat hard to take them seriously, and considering how ruinously loving dangerous they are to dragons, it's also hard to take dragons all that seriously as a threat... in this setting about how scary and cool dragons are). Eventually Huma and his girlfriend give Takhisis a good poking with his lance and she agrees to gently caress off and stop ruining the world for a while, taking the dragons with her. Both good and evil dragons are put in eternal hibernation at this point, so they'll stop loving the world up at the behest of any angry gods.

While all this is happening, a lil' burg called Istar becomes a big ol' trade center, allied with dwarves and the Solamnic Knights, they get loving rich and immensely loaded, using their economic power to brute force open new markets and increase their wealth(the only ones who manage to serve as a roadbump to their economic dominance are the cutesy, random innocent kender who organize massive market manipulation and threaten to crash the continent's economy until Istar makes them tax-exempt.). This is where Istar goes: "Man, being rich sure also makes us right. Since we're the richest, we're probably also the rightest!" and declares themselves the continental center of truth, morality and righteousness. Their next step is to start sentencing all criminals to death in the gladiatorial arenas, which mysteriously makes Istarian clerics start losing access to their high level spells. Probably just a coincidence.

Then they start burning wizards at the stake, except the ones they need to cast mind-reading spells on all comers, checking if they're committing any thought crime.

It didn't really go well for anyone involved. Lord Soth, in particular, was a spectacular fuckup. Perhaps next time the Gods shouldn't trust their last hope to someone who murdered his wife just so he could deep dick an elf instead, because he ended up killing both himself and his new elf wife just because some randos he met on the road told him she was a ho, turning himself into an evil Death Knight who hangs out in his fort being whiny for all time(until he inexplicably ends up in Ravenloft).

The mountain also hit Istar so hard it punches a hole through reality into the Abyss, giving Takhisis a back door into reality, which she uses to prepare for taking over the world. Again. Good Gods really not knocking this one out of the park.

While the good dragons are napping, Takhisis sneaks in and steals all their eggs, then kicks them awake and tells them she'll kill their kids if they try to interfere in this attempt at world-domination. This gives her a monopoly on dragon power for the coming war that she's plotting. Her plans are slightly foiled by the fact that some wandering idiot found her Plot Artifact(tm) lying in the woods and pried a part of it off as a souvenir, which prevents her from returning to Krynn in physical form. Her amazing godlike senses also fail to find him because he gets locked up in jail by a bunch of dwarves, and apparently police procedure trumps divine power.

Not being content just being one flavour of evil, Takhisis passes the time by jamming Tanar'ri into the good dragons' stolen eggs, making them explode into evil dragon dudes. Most of these dragon dudes are idiots who explode/melt/petrify on death or otherwise inconvenience their attacker if killed.

This is about where the canon adventure path and modules start. Takhisis kicks war into high gear, starts conquering the world and generally does pretty well at it. Elves get stomped, humans get stomped, dwarves get bottle up in their fortresses. It's all coming up Takhisis. Except then the Canon Heroes(tm) find the Dragonlance blueprints(which no one had, of course, thought to keep track of), figure out the blackmail Takhisis has on the good dragons(and rescue the eggs) and it all turns around. They stop Takhisis moments before she manages to manifest physically on Krynn and drag hordes of Tanar'ri with her, and all goes well except for the part where this doesn't make Takhisis legions completely vanish and they still hold large parts of the continent under their control. The main timeline ends at this point, except for an incredibly stupid bit that decides to introduce time travel to the setting, with several of the Canon Heroes going into the past and loving things up but ultimately changing nothing about how history turns out.

Next Up: Fantasy Geography!

I also recall Dragonlance from my high school days. It definitely wasn't perfect and there were many, many ways that it was up its own rear end. Still, it was kind of cool to see a full-on campaign saga that about more than a mediocre excuse for some underground robbery-homicide. The Cataclysm wasn't so much about "finding Jesus" as finding that Jesus got so loving pissed at Jerry Falwell Jr mouthing platitudes while sucking Donald Trump's dick that he dropped a mountain on Liberty University.

The kender were kind of rear end in a "why the gently caress aren't these little bastards murdered on sight?" kind of way. I did like the Draconians. They made a nice change from "Oh nos. The Orcs are on the warpath. Yet again." The idea that Ogres are ugly and stupid because of a curse punishing them by taking away their brains and beauty was kind of cool, too. Minotaurs being a bad-rear end seafaring race instead of dumb cow-looking fucks wandering around mazes was nice. Mages having an full-on organization that tested your rear end to see if you were worthy to learn cooler magics (and you died if you weren't) was pretty neat.

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

Also in part incredibly stupid because Evil Wizard Inc. has big ol' super-visible clubhouses and no one's cottoned on to the idea of burning them down. Like, you'd think that part of being a Good Wizard(tm) would be not tolerating the guy one lab over turning peasants into clams or whatever.

As noted, the Towers had multiple scary redundant defense that could kill you or make you wish you were dead.

Ithle01 posted:

I always thought of it as being like the Guild of Calamitous Intent from Venture Brothers. They're evil, but like the good wizards aren't all that interested in doing much about it and would rather the evil wizards just regulated themselves. Good has a very strange definition in Dragon Lance as evidence by elves being the race created by the gods of Good. I guess what' I'm trying to say here is that alignment systems are bad.

Maybe a little bit. Probably a closer comparison would be to the hotel and other areas in John Wick. Outside of it, you could kill the poo poo out of your enemies to your heart's content. Inside, no violence.

The other aspect is that while wizard have their moral outlooks, the one thing they share in common is their devotion to magic. Whatever disagreement a White Robe has with the Black turning peasants into zombie farm workers, if there's a threat to magic itself on some level they'll join forces without hesitation to combat that threat. Theoretically, anyway.

Really, this was the first AD&D setting where people acted like... people whatever their alignment happened to be.

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

And yet the Good Wizards and Neutral Wizards still built these clubhouses alongside the Bad Wizards and maintain them together.

If your dedication to Doing Magic is stronger than your dedication to not letting someone debone peasants with magic, perhaps you ain't Good.

From what I recall of the setting, it's highly likely that other Black Robes would zap the rear end in a top hat who was deboning peasants. Deboning peasants stirs up angry peasant mobs to kill wizards, which is a Threat to Magic. So the deboner will himself be deboned.

Sep 6, 2019

The Lone Badger posted:

But won't the black robes then go have to burn down an orphanage or two so they don't risk losing their Evil License?

One of the cooler aspects of Dragonlance is, that no, they don't. One aspect of the wizards that was neat was a bit from the Dragonlance sourcebook. Black Robe Wizard needed less XP to advance but they topped out faster than Red or White Wizards. There was a bit of the Star Wars "The Dark Side is faster, easier but not stronger" concept mechanically incorporated. Plus the bit with the Moons and spells was cool.

Recall that D-Lance came about in 1st Edition AD&D, there were some pretty innovative things it pioneered that got incorporated into later editions.

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

Gnomes are now Tinker Gnomes, which largely means they've been infested by a terrible strain of lolsorandom monkeycheese 90's comedy. You see, because Tinker Gnomes build things, but sometimes they don't work, and it leads to wacky!!!!!! consequences!

'cause it'd be a real shame if these little assholes who are apparently smart enough to invent gunpowder and cannons actually contributed something other than slapstick comedy to the setting. They've a couple of potentially useful special items, but all of them backfire "comically" about as often as they do anything handy, meaning they're basically Skaven but it's not supposed to be funny when they blow their own hands off, and the game, of course, has no actual rules(that I can see or find anywhere) for making your own wacky inventions of any kind. This kind of relegates them to an unfun NPC backwater.

Not actually true. In the Dragonlance Adventures source book, both Tinker Gnomes and the steps for their inventions are detailed. They're still pretty rear end and if you play one, you're really rooting for it to go "mad." "Mad" gnomes are better at building stuff (+5 to the roll) and their stiuff is 1d6 sizes smaller. So they actually become a decent, viable character class.

I recall actually playing one of those guys. For about five levels "Gnosh" hung at the bang, occasioally shot a crossbow and tried not to die. Then he went Mad (or the GM had pity on me and "Maddened" him). So, he built the Actuating Kineticizer # 4.7. It was a backpack contraption with a couple of hoses linked to a tube with a crossbow trigger and a lever on top. Steel piece coins went into the backpack. The lever controlled the rate of fire which was single or "burst" the trigger was to induce inverse magnetic polarity.

Basically, Gnosh built a rail gun. That worked.

Everyone fucked around with this message at 21:26 on Nov 28, 2019

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

So what you're saying is, they're not in the source book and you need to acquire extra books for them to be playable, at which point they'll still not be as good as an Irda or a Minotaur.

No, they are in the source book. Though we might not be talking about the same source book. This is the one that I'm talking about.

Tinker gnomes are listed at page 21. The general gnomish race of Krynn and Mad Gnomes are on page 56.

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

As Berkshire said, I'm doing the boxed set. I thought Dragonlance Adventures was a supplement, but as the boxed set seems to be the definitive core for 2E, Adventures appears to be the definitive core for 1E. I've got Adventures but, uh, firstly I'm not as familiar with 1E as I am with 2E by any means, so I feel like any balance-related reviewing I do would be flawed. And secondly by .PDF of Adventures is some incredibly blurry trash.

Also ha ha, wow, these loving 1E Tinker Gnome rules. "why yes, my AD&D game does need rules for how difficulty it is to construct a time machine the size of a mountain that features colour TV, can exist in space and blow up dragons." I'm used to AD&D subsystems and this poo poo made my eyes glaze over.

Welcome to an age-old debate, it usually has three answers.

#1: "It's a game, stop thinking about it."

#2: "Not every hit point is a bleeding, gashing wound, sometimes it's a near-miss, a bruise or just plain exhaustion."

#3: "Ah, yes, a valid point, allow me to show you my homemade supplement that completely dispenses with HP, tracks character blood by the drop, has over 500 discrete hit locations, a new critical hit chart and- wait, where are you going? I haven't even shown you my homemade d35 you need to roll on subtable 89D yet!"

The Tinker Gnomes could be fun but scary - especially with Mad Gnomes. Stupid elevators? Sure. Goofy-rear end Net gun, of course. "Aww, and what do you have little fella?" *Pyong Zsorch* "Holy poo poo, it's a blaster rifle!." Or, "wasn't the Red Dragonarmy camp near here? " "I think it's that way underneath that big, bright cloud that looks like a mushroom."

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

So, the ORIGINAL RACES were Humans, Elves, Dwarves and (Irda) Ogres.

Ogre Ogres happened because the Irda fell from grace and became too evil to be smart.

Gully dwarves happened because humans and dwarves hosed, producing stable and fertile hybrids.

Kender, Gnomes, Goblins and Minotaurs happened because the magic rock(the Graystone) that had the magic gods' essence trapped in it, the one the dwarves somehow finagled off the moon, wandered by and polymorphed a bunch of people into new races.

Variant elves like the sea elves just seemed to happen because they happened.

Good luck finding a game that allows for physical violence, doesn't use some variation on Hit Points and isn't unplayable dogshit.

I also know it's hip and cool to hate on D&D, but I legitimately enjoy 2nd edition AD&D and still run campaigns on it.

Definite me too on that one. I could never get into 3.5 for fear that my character might die from a hernia if I forgot to get the "Take a poo poo" feat.

I do remember several years back playing through the "In Search of Dragons" trilogy. Nobody wanted to play a Kender, so the GM let me bring in a multi-classed psionicist/thief with the Investigator thief kit who was a "Tallboy" halfling that most Krynn would initially think was a Kender. His backstory was that he was a Guardsman from Greyhawk, specialized in Telepathy, Lawful Neutral, cold, ruthless and kind of rude. He was a blast to play because he'd match the suspicious/insulting good dragons sneer for sneer and say things like "Please find some other thoughtlessly ignorant way to embarrass your species aside from impugning my honor."

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:


A few of the NPC's are actually useful, but even the text admits that most of them are really only useful for giving out quests or for being the target of quests to kill bad guys.]

I did appreciate that there were a couple of the evil guys you could potentially manipulate in doing bad stuff to the bad side. The supplement at least broached the idea that "Hey, maybe not every battle against evil has to end with "We murder him to death and steal his poo poo. Yay for the good guys!""

I admit I wish this was being done under first edition so you could all appreciate that Dragonlance was kind of the proving ground for some of the second edition. The Wizards of High Sorcery laid the ground works for specialist wizards and making the illusionist a specialist wizard instead of its own class. The Moons thing might've fallen flat, but it was cool that a Wizard of High Sorcery didn't look like the bog standard mage in the book. The Order of the Stars finally put forth the idea that cleric were priests of actual god and didn't all look alike. That some gods granted special abilities and different spell selection.

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

For those not in the know, in literally every loving page of the Dragonlance books where Raistlin appears, the descriptive text will go on for lengths about how sickly and weak he is and how he'd be basically a paralyzed cripple without Caramon to haul him along. Sometimes he even coughs up blood.

When the stats insist that he's just an average guy, physically.

I know your pain, Eimi, I know your pain.

This is a point where AD&D could have benefited from some kind of Merit/Flaw system. Merit: Cool, somewhat useful Artifact at 3rd level. Flaw: Weak, tired occasionally coughing up blood.

And on a completely different topic, Yessssssss!.

Sep 6, 2019

Tylana posted:

Could be worse, you could start F&Fing the... 4th age (?) nonD&D dragonlance RPG that was deck based. Maybe used special dice too? I forget. I think I found the core book but not the core box.

EDIT : Also, Fenneko is the best, I approve.

Ah, yes. The Fifth Age with the SAGA system. That's pretty much where I just shrugged and "gently caress this setting." I admit I did like some of the set up. Heroes of the Lance getting the poo poo murdered out of them (in Dragons of Summer Flame if you didn't laugh your rear end off when The Chaos God killed Tasselhoff by stepping on him you have no soul)? Check. A bunch of kender finally feeling fear because a big-rear end red dragon roasted the gently caress out of a bunch of them? Awesome. But the whole card thing? Bleecchhhh!

PurpleXVI is razzing the poo poo out of the original Dragonlance, but its biggest problem was that it was written for 1st ed AD&D and by comparison with a lot of RPGs today, 1st ed AD&D sucked rancid donkeys ball.

But the SAGA system? I'm half-convinced that was a deliberate act of cruelty .

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

Technically? Yes.

Practically? The only character with any system for avoiding combat is the thief, there's no actual stealth or hiding skill for anyone else, so when a 2d6 Wraiths show up as a world map random encounter, you're reliant on GM fiat if he says you're allowed to hide from them or go in a large circle around them. Also all of these encounters are all wild or mindless creatures(undead, animals, dragon hatchlings) or members of the Dragonarmies that really should be pretty loving suspicious of anyone traipsing around in the wilderness near the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth and should be smart enough not to just let you say: "uhhhh, we're birdwatching." and let you go without at least patting you down for divine artifacts. In the case of the huge black dragon, Khisanth, she also attacks a certain percentage of the time whether aggravated by the party or not. It's only every fifth time she pops up, but that's still enough for a total party wipe just from a breath weapon driveby.

So with eight encounters a day, I think you can presume that the same GM who's sociopathic enough to actually roll for them all is also going to be enough of an rear end in a top hat to make you deal with them all. And we have to assume that people actually play this by the rules as written, if we want to judge how badly or well-made it is.

Hahaha, no. God, no. AD&D is not Dragonlance's biggest problem.

I'd say number one would be the writing and the level of railroading.

Number two, I'd say that the designers had no idea how to actually write for AD&D.

Eight random encounters per day in a swamp is not a flaw of AD&D, it's a flaw of these numbskulls writing this adventure module. Nine out of ten of those encounters being party wipes you'll only survive because the text says the True Protagonists(tm) are functionally immortal, is not a flaw of AD&D, it's a flaw of bad design.

Now, I'll agree, a lot of RPG's are better designed than 1e AD&D, like 2e AD&D which I'm going to insist until my dying breath is the best D&D edition we ever got(so far. we might yet get another good edition!), but you can not heap the majority of Dragonlance's suck on it being a 1E game.

Actually! In the earlier incarnations of D&D, collecting loot was far more profitable, XP-wise, than killing monsters, in most cases. So you really wanted to not engage most enemies and even better yet, just get the loot without the killing, because the loot was itself worth a considerable amount of XP based on its value.

Part of it is that I was really, really into the Dragonlance setting in hgih school/college, but I haven't really looked at the modules since then. So yeah, 2d6 Wraiths for 3-7th level characters (and how many of them even had magic weapons at this point?) with no cleric to Turn Undead? Slaughter time - except they allow somehow get washed over a waterfall in the middle of a swamp and turn up alive again. And at the time I was one of those assholes who thought Kender were just adorable.

Yeah, Weis and Hickman's tendency to create entire races for the sole purpose of comic relief was a little annoying at times.

So part of my tendency to defend Dragonlance is from nostalgia, which is poisonous to reason. But the other part was that 1ed Dragonlance Advenntures sourcebooks, because I can trace a lot of stuff from 2ed AD&D (which we agree is the best edition) to that book and the concepts in it. Sure, the "Flyer" from Kitty Hawk was a deeply lovely airplane, but because of it, we have stealth bombers and commercial airliners.

Sep 6, 2019

PurpleXVI posted:

I gotta be honest, while I don't enjoy using level-draining undead, especially with no access to Restoration or similar spells, I actually think there's probably a good reason there beyond "lol Gygax was a prick," or at least a better one than that.

I mean, even if you don't agree with the end result, most stuff in 1E and 2E D&D actually have a reason behind them that implies that a rational human being thought about them. Like, take racial level limits. Seem like a lovely idea, probably most people houseruled them out, but they're actually there as an answer to "lol why isn't the world just full of level 20 elves everywhere since they live forever?????" which is kind of a legit question if you have a species with a much-longer-than-human lifespan. Why aren't they dominating the world? They even address, at least in the 2E AD&D DMG, that you might want to remove it, they just suggest that you consider what kind of world it might result in, compared to the default one.

For my games I just assumed that the gods of various long-lived races would "call them to higher duties" at which point they'd leave the world. Humans generally had a version of this called "death from old age." The "level limits" were the idea that a lot of folks in that race generally decided to step back and retire to quieter activities once they reached a certain "level" so they wouldn't get called up into some kind of godly forever war.

As for level-draining, I thought it was deeply stupid and just removed it. Instead I allowed undead to temporarily drain attributes (Con, Str, Wis) and permanently drain hit points. So, if a Spectre hits you, you'll lose 2 points of Constitution and 2 points from your hit point maximum (though restoration can heal all such damage). I also gave max HP at first level and instituted a half or above policy for other rolls. Your Rogue gains a level and rolls 1d6. On a 1 or 2 he still gets at least 3 hp for gaining a level. And yes, Con bonuses added to that.

Sep 6, 2019

Bieeanshee posted:

That's one of the reasons I always detested level drain: it was meant to scare the players, not the characters.

Honestly that's been a bit of an AD&D mainstay. When TSR put A1-A4 together into the supermodule, Scourge of the Slavelords the module included a scene (set before the adventure proper even began in terms of the A1-A4 modules) in which the PCs where captured by agents of the Slavelords and enslaved as rowers aboard a slaver ship. Within that scene is a bit where the slavers rifle through the PCs' equipment, taking the items they can use and toss others (like Good-aligned weapons, etc.) over the side of the ship to be lost forever.

Process that for a bit. Roll it around in your skull. This scene is the Big Motivator for the PCs - the thing that makes them really invested in taking the Slavelords down. And that Big Motivator is not "They kidnapped our friends!" or "They killed my wife/love/mentor/pet" or even just a basic "Slavery is vile and must be stopped!" Nope, the Big Motivator for this adventure is "They took our stuff!"

To be fair this module is one part of a supercampaign that potentially takes the characters from 1st level newbies all the way to being 14th level badasses. It starts with T1-T4 with The Temple of Elemental Evil (which finally expanded the village of Hommlet into a full campaign adventure story) goes through A1-A4 with Scourge of the Slavelords and climaxes with GDQ1-7 (Against the Giants; Descent into the Depths of the Earth and Vault of the Drow and then Queen of the Demonweb Pits) which has this cover:

Yep, just Lloth hanging in her sex club throne room with a couple of Fire Giant bouncers, two of her of BDSM Drow babes and a cool-rear end Illithid waving to the reader as if to ask "'S'up dudes?"

The upshot of all that is that after playing through T1-T4, the PCs would quite likely have ended up with some really good stuff.

Dragonlance had its problems and we'll see plenty of them for a while, but at the least it aspired to having players become invested in a story for reasons other than "They stole our poo poo!"

Everyone fucked around with this message at 02:26 on Dec 3, 2019

Sep 6, 2019

Freaking Crumbum posted:

i think some of the issue also comes down to having to model what a character can do vs what the player can do, and having to be able to mechanically differentiate between those two things. players want to be able to play a character smarter or more clever than themselves, but how do you model someone being able to solve a fictional problem that the actual player might not be able to solve in real life?

"i dunno jeff, your priestess has 18 INT, i guess roll an ability check and if you succeed then we'll just assume she can come up with the answer" is a lot easier than having the game drag to a standstill because nobody at the table can solve the totally-not-illogical riddle the DM came up with this time.

then you extrapolate that problem across the entire spectrum of people that might be playing your game, and having a mechanically simple (albeit narratively unsatisfying) solution is better than potentially putting players into a situation where they can't complete some objective because they can't figure out the correct Mother May I phrasing to satisfy their jackass DM.

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."

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."

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.

Sep 6, 2019
Review: The Fabled Lands Gamebook Series Part One

PurpleXVI's reviews of the DL module and their "Obey the plot! Dance little PC puppets! Dance for your master! And go where loving tell you!" has inspired me to do a bit on what's probably the opposite of that: The Fabled Lands gamebook series. You remember gamebooks, right? They're what you'd play in the 80s and 90s before computer graphics and engines stopped being so lovely. They were like modules you could play by yourself. You'd get a character with stats and equipment, often with a predefined set of goals and mission to accomplish within the book:

You are: The Buttfucker. You must save the good village of Sodomy from the evil Vaginaface Witch. It will take all your strength, cunning and bravery (aka good dice rolls) to accomplish this mighty feat. Blah, blah, ad nauseum.

And then in the mid-90s in the UK Dave Morris and Jaime Thompson tried to put together an open-world fantasy computer and it turned into a game book series instead, The Fabled Lands. So, diving right in.

There are six Abilities in the books that are fairly self-explanatory: Charisma, Combat, Magic, Sanctity, Scouting and Thievery but I'll briefly go through them

Charisma is about influencing/persuading people. Want to talk yourself out of going to prison? That's this.
Combat is about fighting/strength and is used in tests and actual fighting encounters
Magic is about magical/occult knowledge and spells. There really aren't any spells as such in FL. You just use this in tests.
Sanctity is about Divine connections and wisdom.
Scouting is about wilderness lore and survival, including tracking and the like
Thievery is about stealth, lockpicking and such

All the Abilities are used in Tests which means rolling 2d6, adding the Ability (and apply modifiers) and trying to score higher than the Difficulty of the Test. You come to a locked door with a Difficulty of 12. You have a Thieving of 5 and Magic Lockpicks (Thieving +2), so you'll succeed by rolling a 6 or higher.

Aside from Abilities, you have Stamina, which is basically your hit points, Rank, your "level" and Defence, which is your Combat Ability plus your Rank and any modifiers for armor or other items. A Rank 3 character with a Combat of 5 who was wearing Chain Mail Armor (Def+3) would have a Defense of 11 in fighting. A starting Rank 3 character gets a Stamina of 16.

And speaking of that, Combat in this is pretty simple. Your character always goes first. You roll 2d6 and add your Combat, applying any modifiers (-1 for having some disease, +3 for a magic weapon, etc.) then subtract their Defense. Any positive number remaining is the damage to their Stamina. Behind that door you unlocked is a Guard with Combat 9, Defense 11 and Stamina of 15. You have a Combat of 5 with an Enchanted Sword (Com +3). If you roll an 8 your total is 16, minus Defense 11 means the Guard takes 5 damage and his Stamina is now 10.

At this point he strikes back, rolling his own 8 giving him a 17, minus your Defense of 11 meaning you take 6 damage, dropping your own Stamina to a 10.

Usually defeating an opponent gets you some money or an item or two. The Guard might have a Sword, Chain Mail (Def +3) and a Brass Key. The first two items aren't that useful but can still be sold in markets for money. The third might be useful later. Or something that just takes up space.

And space is a thing. You can carry a total of 12 Items in your Inventory at any given time. Find a 13th Item you want or need and you'll have to drop something (which is gone forever) to make room for it. That said, you can carry an unlimited amount of mone

So far, so pretty much bog standard for these books.

Along with Weapons, Armor and other stuff, in these books you can buy Ships, Cargo and Houses.

Yes, Houses. You can go to your House and drop off some of the poo poo you're carrying. Most of the time a House/storage area will have conditions like "Roll 2d6 every time you come here. On a 2-9 your stuff is safe. On a 10-11 a thief broke in and stole your money and possessions. On a 12 the house burns down. You lose you stuff and have to buy a new house." However, there are places without conditions where your stuff is safe.

Each book have Code Words and Page Ticks that make the book "remember" your actions. Say you meet a wizard who wants you to find his magic aardvark figurine. Take up the quest and you get the code word, aardvark. Some place else an encounter is a "rustling in the bushes." Investigate and you'll find an angry bear that you'll have to fight. After the fight you'll get a few coins or something and then the book will ask "Do you have the Aardvark code word?" If so turn to section 455. If not, there's nothing left but gnawed bones and bear scat. Go left by turning to 300 or right by turning to 222. Assuming you get back to the wizard and turn the aardvark over to him, you'll likely lose the code word or have it be replaced by something else like Aided to reflect your friendly relationship with the wizard.

There are also page ticks. At the top of some pages is a small empty box. Your character is going into a cave. When he does the text says, "If you have already ticked the box, turn to 333. If not read on. Reading on means you fight a troll and gets a good bit of money or items. Coming back to the cave and going to 333 shows an empty cave where a fight played out since you already went their earlier.

More stuff later.

First, building your character. Pick a name and gender. For the most part the books are neutral, gender-wise but there are a couple of points where gender is important.

Everyone fucked around with this message at 21:17 on Dec 5, 2019

Sep 6, 2019

Speleothing posted:

Charisma, Combat, Magic, Sanctity, Scouting, and Thievery. drat that's a satisfying set of attributes. Add in athletics and I think you'd have just about everything covered.

Athletics tended to fall under Scouting and/or Thievery. Swimming was Scouting. Climbing could often be Scouting or Thievery.

I'll talk a bit more about them later, but while there are Professions, class isn't that much of a thing in FL, though Professions sometimes give situational advantages. Nothing stops a Mage from having a high Combat (or wearing even Heavy Plate (Def +6) as armor). He'll just start lower is all.

Sep 6, 2019

Seatox posted:

D&D crossbreeding is an ethical and moral cesspit. Half-orcs and rape implications, Dark Sun's Mul (at least Dark Sun is supposed to be a horrible bleak wasteland, so they're not as jarringly out of place as the gully dwarves). Then gully dwarves exist, blowing even the kender out of the water for cringe-worthy awfulness, since they're treated as comic relief of a particularly offensive, regressive "ha ha look at the r-word" vein.

The weird thing for me is that it wasn't until this thread that I grokked the concept that gully dwarves are what happens when humans and dwarves mate. That... is just deeply hosed up on so many levels. First off, enough humans wanted to gently caress enough dwarves to make an entire subrace of these guys. Then, instead of caring for their offspring they threw them the gently caress away in places like Xak Tsaroth. At this point I think the gods should've thrown multiple mountains at Krynn, wiped out the lot of them and started over with something else. Dolphins, maybe.

Kender are at least cute. Fine, the halflings of Krynn are an entire race of 9 year olds (who still have sex to make more kender but whatever). I'm surprised we don't have half-kender running around because the human "punishment" for pedophiles in Krynn is exile to the lands of the Kender or something.

Half-orcs. Half-elves. Half-ogre. Now Half-dwarves. Half-dragons. Tieflings, which apparently Half-demons/devils or something. Is there anything that humans won't gently caress?

I remember a guy from the Dresden Files RPG bouncing the idea of a Half-hob off of us. And my take was:

This is a Hob.

Take a look at that thing and realize that what you want means that someone had sex with that thing. Someone wanted to have that thing's babies.

And his take was "Maybe it was rape?"

Because in RPGs rape always makes everything better. *sigh*

Sep 6, 2019
Dragonlance minotaurs are basically Klingons with wooden pirate ships - so they are absolutely cool.

Sep 6, 2019
Review: The Fabled Lands Gamebook Series Part Two

Continuing into the Fabled Lands, at character creation, you pick a Profession from a list of six: Mage, Priest, Rogue, Troubadour, Warrior and Wayfarer. While there are points in the books where Profession is important (certain Quests can only be taken up by certain Profession and sometimes Professions give bonuses (Warriors have an easier time fighting Pirate in ship-to-ship combat)), mostly the Professions determine which of your Abilities is highest and lowest. Mages have a high initial Magic but a very low Sanctity, for example.

I think I'll stop here as far as the game system goes. It's okay. It has its flaws (the 2d6 is absolute, so if your Defense is at least 12 points higher than an enemy's Combat, it can't hurt you) but works reasonably well for a solo-player gamebook. Still, let's move on to the unique parts of this series.

First, the Fabled Lands books are organized geographically instead of chronologically. In most other gamebooks the adventure takes place fully within the specific book. Lone Wolf might use the Silver Bow he got in Book 6 to snipe some enemy in Book 9, but all of the Book 9 adventure occurs in Book 9. He can't decide that he really could have used a Silver Bow and travel back to Book 6 to get one.

In Fabled Lands you can. Book One details Sokara, a land experiencing a rebellion after a general deposed the old king. Book 2 two details the lands just to the west. Book 3 centers around the Violet Ocean and this is where you get a lot of use from a ship you'd obtain. So during the course of your Fabled Lands adventures, you can (and generally should) travel back and forth between the various books. In fact, there are a considerable number of quests that start in one book and require you to go to one or more other books in order to complete them. Traveling can be accomplished by ship, by gates or teleports or simply by walking far enough within a book to reach a border.

However, along with geography, the books are organized by Rank. Book one starting characters begin at Rank 1 Book 2 at Rank 2 and so on. The various challenges and encounters (along with possible treasures) in each book tend to be gear toward the Rank of the book. Can you take your Rank 1 character into Book 6? Sure, but it's very likely he'll run into something that'll cut him up for snack food. And this runs in reverse. A character starting in Book 7 begins at Rank 7. Aside from increased Defense and Stamina the character's starting Abilities generally increase by one in the odd-numbered books. A Rank 7 Warrior in Book 7 starts with a 9 in Combat instead at a 6 as per Rank 1 (and that's out of a maximum of 12) As you can see, most of the encounters in Book 1 will likely be a cakewalk for him.

Beyond the geography, is the story of Fabled Lands. The story of Fabled Lands is your story. You choose your own goals and the quests that support them. Book One has as its background the coup and rebellion. In a conventional game book, you'd be working with the rebels supporting the son of the old king in taking back his father's throne from the evil general who usurped it. There might be some side quests, but your main goal would be overthrowing the general.

You could still work toward that in Fabled Land. Or you could work for the general in suppressing the rebels. Or you could mostly ignore both sides and do something unrelated, like making yourself rich trading cargo between areas using a Ship. Or just leave Sokara completely with an eye toward coming back later if you wished to choose sides. Fabled Lands has a definite lack of infinite Kapak draconians trying to force you onto the path of the One True Quest. You decide what your "One True Quest" is. Or what your "Multiple True Quests" are.

Everyone fucked around with this message at 21:19 on Dec 5, 2019

Sep 6, 2019

Mors Rattus posted:

...I mean, yes, thatís generally how collaborative fiction works? Is the game trying to present personal agency as an innovation here or are you?

E: oh, wait, this is a cyoa series, isnít it

It is. RPG mechanics but basically CYOA. And if you've read much CYOA you'll note that most of the time you really don't actually get to "Choose Your Own Adventure" except in terms of playing the book or not playing the book. You might have some agency in choosing how you play through the book (though many times there's one "correct" path and everything else leads to death/bad endings). So, looked at that way, personal agency really is kind of an innovation. And that innovation occurred back in the mid-1990s and didn't really spread all that far.

One thing Dave Morris has noted is that Fabled Lands had some trouble because a lot of players couldn't deal with an unstructured adventure setting and personal agency. The Kapaks had trained them against that.

Everyone fucked around with this message at 21:01 on Dec 5, 2019

Sep 6, 2019

Dalamar? Granted that Raistlin wasn't exactly cuddly or personable but what exactly did Dalamar accomplish aside from loving and then later killing Kitiara? That's an accomplishment, but not exactly an archmage-level accomplishment.

Mors Rattus posted:

Yeah, as a CYOA it’s fairly innovative, I was just reading it as some heartbreaker at first.

The thing I love about FL is that your choices are generally meaningful and will have consequences. But they won't be punished. If you side with the rebels and do what they want, there will be parts of Sokara in the cities where you might get hunted down and slain or imprisoned. Likewise if you side with the general and try to to get to the rebels again, they'll attack. But those are consequences of the choices you made and the actions you took. What will not happen is you getting harried and attacked until you do something the book story wants you to do (like haul rear end for Qualinost). Because the book's story is ultimately your own story.

BTW, what does "heartbreaker" mean in this context?

Night10194 posted:

Also for Inklesspen's sanity you should put a bolded header and a post number on your review posts.


Sep 6, 2019

Night10194 posted:

It's the Forgotten Realms; the whole setting is about nothing interesting happening.

It's pretty much the other generic AD&D setting aside from Greyhawk. It exists to give Drizzt do'urden a place to stand while he kills stuff and looks cool.

Sep 6, 2019

Mors Rattus posted:

Essentially? Someone trying to sell their RPG that is 'what if D&D plus some houserules and maybe one good idea that just breaks your heart to see in this lovely-rear end fantasy RPG clone.'

e: "Ah, but in MY game you have personal agency" is the kind of sales pitch you tend to see for these, where it feels like the person has never read any other RPG except, possibly, D&D.

Well, Fabled Lands isn't that. Or if it is, it definitely has more than one good idea. Like, there are elves and goblins in the setting, but they aren't the bullshit D&D versions. They're the Fair Folk of Celtic/English/Norse folklore and they one reason to keep your Sanctity somewhat high.

Sep 6, 2019

Freaking Crumbum posted:

forgotten realms is so generic fantasy that for a good portion of my adolescence, i thought FR was AD&D and that any other setting was a completely different game. like, it didn't make sense that any of those other settings were AD&D because FR was the most bland tolkien fantasy and that's obviously what AD&D was so they were clearly the same thing.

mostly i'm bitter as an adult that i never got to play dark sun or ravenloft or anything else cool when i was young and had a dedicated gaming group and near limitless freetime

I'm 51 now. I was lucky to have landed in college with a group and GM that rapidly decided that D&D was gently caress-off boring and rapidly moved on to other games and systems. I was even luckier to have been able to maintain a friendship with that GM over the years. So, I got lengthy campaigns in Feng Shui, Deadlands, Fading Suns and Warhammer Fantasy. Plus some exposure to White Wolf WoD, West End's Star Wars (still the best incarnation of that setting as an RPG IMHO), TORG, Gurps Car Wars and just a poo poo-ton of other stuff so I never labored under the delusion that D&D was the be-all/end-all of RPGs.

Sep 6, 2019

Terrible Opinions posted:

I'm aware of bastards and bloodlines. Which is more about the weird eugenicsy stuff that should really be avoided. I'd just prefer if the baseline assumption, for games not explicitly about fighting prejudice, was that two sapients of different species can be attracted to one another and gently caress without there being any weird explanation needed.

That's fair and reasonable as far as it goes. If a drow elf and a beholder are adventurous enough to get their freak on together, I'm cool with it. But no, you don't get to play their magic resistant offspring who also has a Disintegrate gaze. At least not in one of the games I'll run.

Sep 6, 2019

U.T. Raptor posted:

You will probably not like this, but there is actually a half-kender in one of the short story collections.

You say that on the Internet, exhibit A for "no, there is not".

I'm reminded of the bit from Doctor Who.

Rose: "Wait, you mean we just go out into the the universe and..."

The Doctor: "Dance."

And the half-Kender doesn't really bother me all that much. I recall reading another short story with Fewmaster Toede (from Dragons of Flame) getting involved with a Kender resistance movement and one girl Kender in particular with the implication that there would likely be some hybridization occurring between them in the near future.

Sep 6, 2019

Halloween Jack posted:

The answer to that problem is that if someone wants to play a beholder, fine, but they don't get all its abilities at level 1. Granted, writing a balanced monster class from scratch is easier said than done. In 4e I think I would treat special attacks as alternate power picks. A beholder ray would be maybe an alternate Lvl 13 encounter power.

That's your answer. My answer is "No, play one of the normal races. If you really want your backstory to be 'Mommy hosed a beholder and I came out.' that's fine, but in terms of abilities you're still playing a human/elf/etc." As a GM figure I'll have plenty of other stuff to do aside from building a custom monster class because one of my players wants to start with an overpowered character.

Sep 6, 2019

Selachian posted:

I should note that there's a free Java-based version of the Fabled Lands gamebooks available here. I think there's also an Android version floating around out there.

The biggest catch about Fabled Lands is that it's only half finished. The creators intended to publish 12 books, but only six were printed during the dying years of the gamebook fad. The seventh got published through Kickstarter last year. This, of course, means that you will occasionally find yourself on quests that try to send you to books that don't actually exist.

The JAVA game is a little broken. It adds the Combat bonuses of weapons to Defense.

As you noted, the FL series is actually up to seven main books with the release of The Serpent King's Domain a year or so back as a double-sized book with Paul Gresty as the writer. Dave Morris also rewrote the old Fighting Fantasy book, Keep of the Lich Lord to work under the Fabled Lands rules. Meanwhile, there are real plans to Kickstart Book 8, The Lone and Level Sands perhaps next year with Paul Gresty as the writer. There's also another remastered book by Paul Gresty that has been rewritten and mostly edited which could see publication at any given point.

While it was in a deep coma for a good long while, the Fabled Lands series is still very much alive and progressing, if slowly.

Sep 6, 2019

Kaza42 posted:

Gave the java client a try as a Warrior. Did pretty well, until I got a mission to cross into a new book and immediately got my rear end kicked. Was fun though, and the first volume is only like 8 bucks, I think I'll try the actual book form

The books are better than the JAVA, especially after the first one. Random encounters of sorts tend to be a thing in Fabled Lands and they tend to break down to Roll 1d6 or 2d6. On a 1-2 or a lower number, X happens. On a 5-6 or higher number z happens. On a 3-4, etc. there's no encounter and you proceed. And while in some cases the low number is a thing to fight and the high number is a useful item (even in the you can sell for shards sense), a lot of the encounters are flavor and/or informational. And you'll find yourself going through quite few of the same areas as you travel. So, once you've heard from the "wise friar" and know all the stories that Storyteller has, there's no reason not to just skip ahead via the "no encounter" section. Which is where you end up after the encounters are resolved anyway. Except that the JAVA program will not let you do that. You have to roll, have to go through whatever it and only then do you get to move on.

Also, remember the "personal agency" bit. You choose what quests you want and when you want to pursue them. The books don't care when you do them. Though if you go back to somebody who's issued you a quest without having fulfilled it, you will eat some version of "Why the gently caress are you here? Get back out there and get my poo poo done!"

Also, money/shards are very, very useful in this series. You can buy better equipment. You can also buy Blessings which give you re-rolls on failed Ability checks. Or protect you from the effects of something. Safety from Storms is nice, though traveling in a Galleon with an Excellent crew is almost as good. But Immunity to Poison/Disease is a literal godsend. And Luck lets you re-roll any other roll. Emphasis any. That enemy that just tagged you for a bunch of damage? Re-roll. It's expensive by really nice. Also, Resurrection Deals. Finally, there are potions. Potions can be drunk right before a roll or combat to add +1 to a specific ability for that roll or combat. And they add to the Ability. So drink a Strength (Combat +1) boosts your attacks and you Defense by 1 for that fight. Finally, potions can be used at any time - even during a fight. And there are healing potions too.

Sep 6, 2019

Prism posted:

That part isn't in the AD&D Monster Manual (I just checked) though it makes a lot of sense. Did they just... forget?

They did give them a (very small) bonus to saving throws against certain damage types, depending on what damage type their breath weapon was, and very good saving throws in general.

Presumably for the 1ed AD&D they decided that dragons weren't immune to their own breath weapon effect - so that hitting a red dragon with a lit torch could still do damage. For 2nd ed they went full tilt the other way. Fire/heat does nothing to red dragons (and gold dragons), etc.

Sep 6, 2019

Selachian posted:

From what I remember in the 1E days, there was a general feeling that dragons were too weak for what were supposed to be some of the most fearsome enemies in the game. Even the mightiest huge ancient red dragon had "only" 88 hp, and dragons were subject to special subdual rules that other monsters weren't. This led to many variant rules intended to power up dragons, particularly adding more attacks (tail lash, wing slap, etc.), and eventually to 3E's supergenius caster-dragons.

I "loved" the subduel rules. "Yep, I'm gonna make this evil, centuries old engine of fiery destruction into my flying horsie by spanking him with the flat of my blade."

As for DL3, in terms of the novels, you finished the books in DL2. The books had a pretty decent final fight with Verminaard and had Flamestrike sacrifice herself to kill Ember. Cut to Book 2 and some southern city near the Krynn South Pole? that I don't remember and the refugees are safe with the party splitting up to do other poo poo.

Everyone fucked around with this message at 01:59 on Dec 8, 2019

Sep 6, 2019

Libertad! posted:

Imagine seeing the healing miracle of Goldmoon's divine magic, converting after realizing you were wrong all along and that "The Gods did not leave Krynn, Krynn left the Gods."

Then when all seems darkest and you die at the hands of a whacky wizard, you go to heaven and find out that whacky wizard is your god.

That kind of rates a "gently caress you! gently caress YOU! Send me to Hell, you unbelievable deific oval office! Hell is better than eternity with you!"

Sep 6, 2019

Seatox posted:

I'm sure they're going to lean on some kind of "oh putting up with all of Fizban's idiot murderous antics were a TEST! OF YOUR WORTH AS HEROES!" crap at some point. That's loving abuser logic, Hickman, you hack.

Nope, not even a little bit - in the modules, anyway. I think in the novels Fizban didn't come off as quite as much of a "Tom Green with funny Alzheimer's" but I could be wrong.


Sep 6, 2019

Angry Salami posted:

Yeah, the books basically skip 90% of this nonsense. They especially don't have the party recruit a dragon, since it's a big surprise later on when they find out there are good dragons...

(What happens to your brass dragon buddy? I'm going to go out on a limb and assume the later modules don't bother taking into account that you might have a full sized dragon with you...)

(And if they're cool with having the party recruiting dragons this early, why couldn't Flamestrike join the heroes? RIP Mad Aunty Dragon.)

Purple skipped over it, but as per the cover, the brass dragon sacrifices himself luring Verminaard and Ember away yet again to lead into DL4 - where if you're lucky, you can finally be shut of these whiny-rear end Pax Tharkans once and for all.

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