Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Of the Tabletop, and other, lesser varieties.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:31 pm UTC

I could give some advice with rules, but what I've found to help is using Google Wave to play. If you need invites, I have loads. The ease of editing, real-time capability, splitting off sub-waves... all helps really.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Klapaucius » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:54 pm UTC

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby McCaber » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:18 am UTC

MHD wrote:Currently I really like the concept that WOD: Mages have. I am working on a campaign that uses d20 rules instead of the WOD ones.

Which system would you be running magic in? Because D&D spells-per-day magic doesn't really fit an Awakened Mage. Spheres/Arcana done instead of spell levels could work nicely, but I wouldn't want to be the one to figure it out.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Shadic » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:54 am UTC

I've been playing a 4.0 campaign, and I really like it a lot. Met a bunch of people on a site called Nearby Gamers and it actually worked amazingly well. I'm play a level 4 fighter now, and we all started from 1st level. Melee units seem a lot more fun to play than my experience from 3.5. I can do something other than trip and hit people! I have special moves!

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Vaniver » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:37 am UTC

Shadic wrote:I've been playing a 4.0 campaign, and I really like it a lot. Met a bunch of people on a site called Nearby Gamers and it actually worked amazingly well. I'm play a level 4 fighter now, and we all started from 1st level. Melee units seem a lot more fun to play than my experience from 3.5. I can do something other than trip and hit people! I have special moves!
This is the greatest part and worst part about 4th. All classes are casters, and thus all classes are special- compared to 3.5, where some people had nice numbers and other people were shiny and cool (and often could get nicer numbers). But, because all classes are casters, I personally only know the power lists, and then only a small fragment of them, of the two classes that I have played in 4th, and don't really expect to ever know more than a few classes in-depth, whereas I knew most of the stats of most of the classes in 3.5.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BigMcStrongmuscle » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:25 pm UTC

Eh, 4th is okay, I guess. It's definitely not all candy and ice cream, though. There's a lot of things about it that started bugging me about it after awhile. (I've DMed it for a year or so, so I'm not talking out my rear end here)

Most spellcasters are really really *REALLY* boring, comparatively. The combat spells are not, in general, terribly interesting. A few of the rituals are nice, I guess, but there aren't enough of them, and the ten-minute casting time makes them take way too long to cast them in a rough spot.

This is compounded by the fact that the classes are usually only really good at one or two things, so its very hard to play a generalist character. If you are not really really good at something, you will (most of the time) be really really bad at it. If you play a class with primarily melee powers, for example, odds are you do so little damage with a ranged weapon that you are more or less irrelevant.

Another thing you'll start to find is that the fights start to take a really long time as you go up in levels. If you have one long combat encounter, or two short ones, you won't be doing much else that session. The DM really needs to avoid any encounters that don't directly contribute to the story, because they will eat up such a huge chunk of your playing time. (This might seem normal if you are used to 3.5, but AD&D players will feel it keenly - pre-3E, you could handle your average random encounter in fifteen minutes or less)

Also, the system has way too many powers and fidgety bits to familiarize yourself with the whole thing, let alone make sweeping house-rules with any solid idea of how they will work. Oh yeah, and if you are into that sort of thing, they also got rid of most of the rules that made real-world combat tactics work. I realized a couple of days ago that the PHB doesn't even have lances on the equipment list.

Worst of all, (barring a whole lot of house-ruling -- say, better rituals, an good way to handle mass combat, more interesting magic items, or maybe some rules for handling dominions) it doesn't really ever seem to *go* anywhere - you still do the same sort of things at level twenty-five as you do at level one, except instead of fighting land-bound small-unit skirmishes with goblins, punctuated by the occasional skill challenge, you are fighting land-bound small-unit skirmishes with giants, punctuated by the occasional skill challenge. Even spells like Fly and Linked Teleportation don't really change anything fundamental, because they have very sharply limited effects.

None of this stuff is terribly obvious at first glance - mostly its things that start to frustrate you about three months in. Personally, I find 4e's not awful for a short novelty campaign that mostly just has combat. You will have a great time playing with your new characters, because there's a lot to discover. But it's mostly fluff and there isn't a whole lot of long-term substance to it, compared to broader systems. I wouldn't recommend 4e for anything but a quick game with lots of fighting, and *especially* not for a long campaign. IMO, it just doesn't have the breadth to stay interesting longer than two or three months.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:57 pm UTC

Do you mean "it is difficult to have a short, quick encounter that drains the party resources to any great extent"? Because a short encounter is easy in 4e -- throw 4 even-level minions against the party, and you'll have an encounter that takes no time.

The problem is that 4e characters are so resilient that the "no time" encounter is also a "no resource" encounter.

Randomly, I brewed up a Paladin for someone the other day (they picked the class, race, diety, paragon path and background) that utterly randomly was competent at using ranged weapons (half elf, versatile master, MC bard, artificer magic weapon power -- at-will, decent accuracy use of something like a crossbow that buffed adjacent allies with a +1/+4 power bonus to hit/damage until the end of the paladin's next turn).

The homogeneity of the powers and "figety bits" actually helps with houserules. It does, however, require more than a bit of care to have the mathematics of the system still support the easy encounter building mechanics (as an example, my list of house rules change the daily pacing mechancs to a plot-based one, revises how magic items work, removes some entire categories of feats, changes the rate at which attributes increase, tweaks how avengers, assassins and warlocks work, etc). It also helps for your players to min/max sufficiently by paragon/epic tier to keep combats short: combat gets slower, because casual character building falls behind monster HP gradually as you gain levels.

By paragon tier, even raw HP damage differs by a factor of 2-3 between a casual build, a reasonably solid build, and a cheese build, let alone stuff like status effects. (Cleave longsword fighter vs Brash Assault axe wielder vs Fey charger is an easy 1:2:3 at-will damage output ratio). This continues to grow into late paragon/early epic and all the way to level 30.

And no, it doesn't *go* anywhere from direct combat mechanics. You are encouraged to tell different stories at early heroic and end epic, but much of the combat mechanics you use will be similar. Monsters will get more complex, action-veto will become more common, players will get more complex.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BigMcStrongmuscle » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:55 pm UTC

Yeah, I'll go with that no-resource encounter thing. That sounds more or less right. To my mind, if the encounter is so easy that you can blitz through it with no planning without taking a hit, it's a waste of time to play it out with dice. The Paladin thing is an interesting mix too, but you did multiclass it into a ranged attacking class. In my experience, that sort of mix isn't terribly common unless you are deliberately doing it.

Its easy to implement certain kinds of houserules, like new powers, monsters, magic items and the like. But anything that requires to you go in and either review or modify large groups of class powers at a time is going to be a nightmare to implement.

With regards to the combat system not changing all the time, that's not really the problem. All that stuff you mentioned is fine if all you are interested in doing is killing small numbers of monsters at a time and taking their stuff. Forever. No matter how wealthy you get. It's not that the mechanics never change. It's that they have no basis for conflict resolution outside of some (extremely bare-bones) skill checks and fighting very small groups of monsters in personal combat. There's basically only two options. You can pull an entire subsystem of rules from another game or fully formed out of the mind of Zeus. Or you can accept having no practical and informed way to deal with a character who decides that instead of upgrading his sword from +3 to +4 (yawn), he wants to build a tower, train a hundred soldiers, and lead his army against the evil Baron. I guess technically, you could play the siege out as a battle, but even using minions it'd take many hours, and you'd have to completely guess at what everything cost.

My point is this: While there are some players who (justifiably) don't care about this sort of thing, or are willing to just use a skill challenge and call it a day, there are others who think (equally justifiably) that that siege should be every inch as detailed and interesting as fighting a couple of minotaurs in single combat. And that if you happen to be one of those players, 4e is probably not for you. I'm not saying the system is bad, or that anyone is a bad person for liking it - I still run a 4e game myself - just that the game has some serious limitations that you'll want to keep in mind when you pick a system to play.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Chen » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:53 pm UTC

BigMcStrongmuscle wrote:Or you can accept having no practical and informed way to deal with a character who decides that instead of upgrading his sword from +3 to +4 (yawn), he wants to build a tower, train a hundred soldiers, and lead his army against the evil Baron. I guess technically, you could play the siege out as a battle, but even using minions it'd take many hours, and you'd have to completely guess at what everything cost.


Uh what base edition of D&D had good mechanics for dealing with this situation? Mass combat was never good if you used base rulebooks. There might have been some things added late in 3.5 that helped (Miniatures handbook) even then large scale warfare was never a solidly done rules issue. Costs for underlings were completely broken in most editions anyways. Not putting costs and stats means you need to just DM rule it, as opposed to have costs and stats that completely didn't work, which resulted in having to DM rule it anyways.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:13 pm UTC

Mass combat in 4e? That isn't hard.

Open grave started it -- creating swarms of medium-sized zombies -- but you can do the same thing with swarms of human-scale players.

A 5x5 aura 3 army (that 'actually' takes up the aura space) is 121 squares of territory, and it isn't hard to toss together a normal/elite/etc scale critter at that scale.

If you want that tactic to be reasonable but not optimal, then you need the cost of training and equipping an army to be on-scale with magic items.

I'd say purchasing a minion-scale ally for the price of a magic item would be expensive, while purchasing a normal-monster scale ally for the price of a magic item would be cheap. So let's split the difference -- hiring/recruiting/etc a companion, indefinitely, that is a level X normal monster should cost about as much as a level X+3 magic item, give or take.

So a +4 sword is roughly a level 18 magic item, costing 85,000 gp, and would produce a level 15 ally.

A level 3 human soldier costs as much as a level 6 magic item, or 1800 gp. (remember, this is indefinite costs -- setting that soldier up with a support network and fiefdom that makes him your loyal companion for life -- you can use economics to work out what it would cost to hire a guard for a single adventure, but note that if the death chance is reasonable, the cost will be substantially similar.)

So a level 15 army should consist of about 47 such soldiers (or fewer better trained ones).

The square root of 47 is about 7, so that is a 7x7 block on a map. We'll make it a 4x4 sized unit with aura 2 (which covers 64 squares if you include the aura in the territory -- in "reality" the unit would sometimes be in some squares of the aura, but not always).

Now all we have to do is build a level 15 normal monster that represents a swarm of trained soldiers, loyal to your Paladin. In order to recruit such a force, he'd have to purchase some land and provide for their kids, etc.

That wasn't hard, and I suspect the result would be quite balanced (ie, it would make the decision "do I recruit an army, or upgrade my sword" into an interesting question). It is also heavily based on emulation of the world -- I determined what it would cost to recruit a loyal competent soldier by working out what would make it a reasonably balanced decision to go either way, and then worked out how big the unit of a medium-sized force of such soldiers should be similarly.

If the player in question was level 20 fighting level 22 opponents, that level 15 normal monster might be best represented as a level 25 minion (where a hit means that the unit breaks and flees). If the player in question was level 10, that level 15 normal monster might be best represented as a level 11 elite.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BigMcStrongmuscle » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:49 pm UTC

Now that's a cool idea. I don't own Open Grave to look at the rules you are citing, but you might be onto something there. I suspect that the not-based-on-anything-really 4e economics system might throw a wrench in parts of it - is the price and XP earned different between ten groups of ten and one group of a hundred, etc - but you could probably develop an interesting and fun system from that. The biggest hurdles are the complete lack of economic information on armies, materiel, and castles; and how to set up the monster design so that solid real-life tactical choices (horsemen v. infantry, pikemen v. horsemen, and so forth) remain solid in-game tactical choices.

I should point out, though, that as awesome as this idea is - and it is awesome - this is basically writing the mass combat rules for yourself, and not something just anyone picking up 4e will figure out.

Chen: As for what D&D had mass combat, 1e AD&D had most of the groundwork laid, and there has been supplement or two with mass combat rules for just about every edition (of various levels of use - I found the 3.x Heroes of Battle to be almost worthless). A few that spring to mind are AD&D Battlesystem and the 3.x Miniatures Handbook. And if you wanted to turn the Wayback Machine up to 11, you could always try and locate a pdf of Chainmail.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:23 pm UTC

Note that I'm not making "real world mass combat" rules. You'll note that I was careful -- assuming 4e budgeting, the paladin who spends money on upgrading his sword ends up being about as effective as the paladin who doesn't upgrade his sword, and instead recruits an army, allied with that army.

Under the budget I described, the players who spend a bunch of money on an army end up with an allied force that ... is significantly weaker than their group. You can throw them against the same encounters, and watch as normal opponents tear entire armies of mere mortal troops apart with side blows as the party does most of the heavy lifting.

That is because I balanced it that way: I wanted PCs to be big damn heroes, and that recruiting an army isn't all that efficient for big damn heroes. So the power:cost ratio for an army was set by this desire, and set so that you aren't completely screwed by hiring an army, but it isn't all that ridiculously good. (You could call this the efficient market hypothesis: magic items wouldn't have those prices if you could more cheaply hire and equip an army than you get in power boost from the magic item).

And yes, that is what I said -- that swarm unit of 50-odd "level 3 human soldiers" is a chump next to the single level 18 Paladin. The level 18 Paladin will cut through that army like a knife through butter, and come out unscathed (well, to be honest, a wizard would do better -- it being a swarm, melee attacks do half damage to it, representing the time it takes for the Paladin to put his sword through yet...another...hopeless...mook).

That wasn't "oh, you hacked the system, and you managed to produce a more powerful force than you should have by buying help", but rather "you spend resources on an army instead of making your hero even stronger. That is enough to hire a force of troops that is marginally competent against the scale of opponent you are fighting."

For 4e to work well, you should (as a DM) pay attention to the intended scale of the characters. A level 18 Paladin isn't just a level 1 Paladin with more damage and powers -- he is a hero that is strong enough to fight 50 veteran troops at once and come out with barely a scratch. He is so persuasive, he could convince a Baron to step down with a single skill check. He makes small dragons quake with a glance. His compatriots, whose power he rivals, can open portals from one plane to the other in minutes -- or cross continents in seconds, or do things similarly ridiculous.

For this to come out in game, you need to deal with that kind of scaling when building DCs for things like skill challenges. By epic tier, a single skill check in a skill challenge might change the fate of a barony of dutchy -- by end epic, a nation. (An epic skill challenge might be "The dead, all over the world, are rising as unkillable zombies. Solve it." That could be justified as a single encounter for an epic tier group.)

Now, you don't have to do that -- you can set it up so that a level 18 paladin who buys an army is ridiculously more effective than upgrading his sword. Or that a level 18 paladin skill challenges consist of "doors, but they have bars and stuff, so the DC is higher". 4e will make that work, but that doesn't mean it will be fun.

I'd seriously recommend reading up on Exalted. By early Paragon, PCs should be able to do (with hard skill checks) low-end Exalted type stuff. By epic, they should be able to convince the rain to move over and let the sun shine through with a diplomacy check.

...

The open grave thing isn't all that important -- I was just pointing out that open grave contains this mechanical trick, so you might have some evidence that it works. It is a swarm, like any other. It just happens to consist of medium sized humans, and not rodents.

Just build a swarm unit that represents military force.

Swarms take half damage from single-target attacks, are vunerable to area attacks, and often have auto-attack auras.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BigMcStrongmuscle » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:18 pm UTC

Oh, it's just swarms. Yeah, that makes sense.

I get, too, that this is all based in 4e game balance and the crazy scope such things grow to. For that reason, I admit, I'm unlikely to use this much personally, exactly because it doesn't do "real world mass combat". For my own games, I'm interested in an efficient simulation with at least a nod to historical accuracy, where intelligent actions work better than stupid ones. As long as the outcomes of the players' decisions make sense, I don't care much about game balance and the equivalence of power:cost ratios. That's also why I never run games (or play PCs) in the epic tier - I find playing powerful unbelievably boring compared to playing smart.

That said, I still think your idea is a rather good one, and has the potential to make a mass combat system that a lot of people would find useful. In the spirit of SCIENCE!, I'll have to look more closely at it at some point and see how all the logistics would work out.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby kaimason1 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:19 am UTC

I just started playing DnD. As in have only made a character. It sounds fun, though, so I'm looking forward to playing.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:36 am UTC

Anyway, utter randomness inspired by the MP2 book:
Spoiler:
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Ornk, level 9
Dwarf, Warlord
Warlord: Battlefront Leader
Commanding Presence: Skirmishing Presence

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 18, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 13, Wis 20, Cha 8.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 16, Con 11, Dex 10, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 24 Fort: 21 Reflex: 17 Will: 22
HP: 65 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 16

TRAINED SKILLS
History +10, Endurance +12, Athletics +13, Heal +14

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +4, Arcana +5, Bluff +3, Diplomacy +5, Dungeoneering +11, Insight +9, Intimidate +3, Nature +11, Perception +9, Religion +5, Stealth +4, Streetwise +3, Thievery +4

FEATS
Level 1: Armored Warlord
Level 2: Weapon Proficiency (Superior crossbow)
Level 4: Weapon Expertise (Crossbow)
Level 6: Lend Might
Level 8: Harrowing Swarm Student

POWERS
Warlord at-will 1: Direct the Strike
Warlord at-will 1: Paint the Bulls-Eye
Warlord encounter 1: Pin Cushion
Warlord daily 1: Relentless Wounding
Warlord utility 2: Knight's Move
Warlord encounter 3: Staggering Shot
Warlord daily 5: Create Opportunity
Warlord utility 6: Forward Observer
Warlord encounter 7: On My Mark
Warlord daily 9: Warlord's Recovery

ITEMS
Adventurer's Kit, Heavy Shield, Drakescale Armor of Durability +2, Peacemaker's Periapt +2, Rebounding Superior crossbow +2, Rope of Climbing (heroic tier), Floating Lantern (heroic tier)
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

A quite effective dwarven crossbow warlord. (Missing from the above is that I took the Archery option from MP2). He's heavily biased towards positioning powers, and carries a crossbow that most people would call a light ballista. Teamed up with even a single ranged striker, he's a Turrent of doom!

(prior to Martial Power 2, Warlords where exclusively Str/Int or Str/Cha melee based characters, and dwarves where decidedly mediocre at them. Post that splat-book, we have a character that fullfills the usual warlord duties, but (was) utterly off type. I just wanted to see how well it works -- and it does.)
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:14 am UTC

Just started running a new 4e campaign a couple weeks ago and I have to say I'm extremely pleased with how it's going. This is my first oppertunity to run a real commited 4e game (plenty of experience running 3.5e). I'm really enjoying the flow of the game and the way the rules work. It's making things go really smoothly. I love the online adventure tools, being able to browse every monster created and sort them by a variety of categories (and hell just the EXISTENCE of those catagories) makes planning encounters a snap.

Have had a few bumps along the way though, I've had to pull some serious punches in what should have been average difficulty encounters. For instance, I used these human mercenary monsters. L3 soliders. They have an encounter power that that's +10 to hit vs AC, 1d10+7dmg, and pushes the target back one square and dazes them (save ends). It also recharges on a 5 or a 6 each round. It's hugely devastating. A max dmg roll bloodies even the toughest of my PCs. Also put in the L3 magic crossbow trap from the DMG, once triggered you've got two crossbows firing at the PCs every round htiting with +8vs ac and doing 2d8+3dmg! If I hadn't pulled punches My PCs would be little more than bloody stains, despite the Xp value of the encounter being an "average" for the party size and level.

Gonna have to pay a little more attention to mob abilities from now on.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BoomFrog » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:53 am UTC

Wierd, I haven't had much danger of killing my PC's in average encounters unless their is some exploitive monster synergy (don't use more then 1, maybe 2 controllers) or lots of bad luck.

Expect 1-2 PC's to go unconscious during a fight, its totally normal. But assuming it's not the healer they should get right back up again. Max damage on a rechargeable power should bloody a PC. The main cause of death is lack of healing potions. Remember it's a minor to take out and a minor to drink, so they are pretty easy to use (the main problem is having a free hand). Just make sure to give out lots as treasure if your PCs are forgetting to buy them.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:58 am UTC

Hmmm good point, perhaps I'll drop a couple on them after the next encounter. They're due for a treasure package or two.
Watch your back, shoot straight, conserve ammo, and never, EVER cut a deal with a dragon.
Valar morghulis; valar dohaeris.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Chen » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:50 pm UTC

We're probably going back to a 3.5 game for our next one. 4th does seem to have something thats lacking so far for me, even though I MUCH prefer the mechanics. I really feel its the lack of non-combat abilities. There are just so few, and you need to focus on your combat abilities more so they are rarely chosen.

Anyways, we're thinking Dark Sun, but I can't remember what 3.5 resources actually exist for that. Im fairly sure there's no official Dark Sun 3.5 stuff but does anyone know of any good unofficial stuff? Or any Dragon/Dungeon magazine stuff?

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:20 pm UTC

heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Chen » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:34 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Dark Sun 3.5


Wow thats perfect. Thanks!

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Enginerd27 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:53 am UTC

Hey guys. I'm in the middle of a 4e game that's been going on for over a year now. I'm torn between likeing 4th edition's breadth of character classes and 3.5's spells and non-combat abilities. Although honestly the thing that bugs me the most is the change they made to the Alignment system. Honestly LE and CG along with the three neutral alignments were the interesting alignments in my book. Lawful Stupid and Chaotic Dumb never really ranked. I know people say that you can house rule and use the old alignment system but when everyone can just say "I'm unaligned" and then do whatever the hell they want no matter how out of character it is something gets lost.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Vaniver » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:10 am UTC

Enginerd27 wrote:Hey guys. I'm in the middle of a 4e game that's been going on for over a year now. I'm torn between likeing 4th edition's breadth of character classes and 3.5's spells and non-combat abilities. Although honestly the thing that bugs me the most is the change they made to the Alignment system. Honestly LE and CG along with the three neutral alignments were the interesting alignments in my book. Lawful Stupid and Chaotic Dumb never really ranked. I know people say that you can house rule and use the old alignment system but when everyone can just say "I'm unaligned" and then do whatever the hell they want no matter how out of character it is something gets lost.
As far as I'm aware, effects based on alignment are few and far between (if not nonexistent) in 4e, whereas they were a pretty important part of 3.5. I personally prefer being able to put in whatever morality you want, rather than having to decide how Protection From Evil works in your morality.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Enginerd27 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:58 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Enginerd27 wrote:Hey guys. I'm in the middle of a 4e game that's been going on for over a year now. I'm torn between likeing 4th edition's breadth of character classes and 3.5's spells and non-combat abilities. Although honestly the thing that bugs me the most is the change they made to the Alignment system. Honestly LE and CG along with the three neutral alignments were the interesting alignments in my book. Lawful Stupid and Chaotic Dumb never really ranked. I know people say that you can house rule and use the old alignment system but when everyone can just say "I'm unaligned" and then do whatever the hell they want no matter how out of character it is something gets lost.
As far as I'm aware, effects based on alignment are few and far between (if not nonexistent) in 4e, whereas they were a pretty important part of 3.5. I personally prefer being able to put in whatever morality you want, rather than having to decide how Protection From Evil works in your morality.


Don't get me wrong I think that some of the morality based restrictions needed to go I just think that they should have kept the two axis system with less restrictions. I love the fact that you can have an evil paladin of grumsh.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:59 am UTC

I think the Law/Chaos thing was a nice touch, and it gave the cosmology a nice symmetry as far as demons and devils go. That said, I agree with the removal of pretty much any mechanical effect of alignment--morality in 4e is a bit less objective.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BoomFrog » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:43 am UTC

Enginerd27 wrote:Hey guys. I'm in the middle of a 4e game that's been going on for over a year now. I'm torn between likeing 4th edition's breadth of character classes and 3.5's spells and non-combat abilities. Although honestly the thing that bugs me the most is the change they made to the Alignment system. Honestly LE and CG along with the three neutral alignments were the interesting alignments in my book. Lawful Stupid and Chaotic Dumb never really ranked. I know people say that you can house rule and use the old alignment system but when everyone can just say "I'm unaligned" and then do whatever the hell they want no matter how out of character it is something gets lost.


I've always found alignment to be an extremely bare bones way of fleshing out personality anyway. Try making people actually answer the Shadowrun 20 questions if you want someone with a 'real' personality or at least history. Really depends on your group, some people just don't care.

Btw for 4th ed non-combat abilities see rituals. Although I like to house rule the standard 10 minute ones down to 1 minute, it seems less of a waste of time for everyone, and if you can spend 10 rounds of combat opening a portal be my guest.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:15 am UTC

Enginerd27 wrote:Hey guys. I'm in the middle of a 4e game that's been going on for over a year now. I'm torn between likeing 4th edition's breadth of character classes and 3.5's spells and non-combat abilities. Although honestly the thing that bugs me the most is the change they made to the Alignment system. Honestly LE and CG along with the three neutral alignments were the interesting alignments in my book. Lawful Stupid and Chaotic Dumb never really ranked. I know people say that you can house rule and use the old alignment system but when everyone can just say "I'm unaligned" and then do whatever the hell they want no matter how out of character it is something gets lost.

If your only decider for what's in character for a player is their alignment, you're doing it wrong. Playing in character has *nothing* to do with one's alignment. An alignment arises from a character, not the other way around. Alignment is solely a game construct used for spells, DR, and one or two other things.

To put it another way, if you somehow think that calling yourself "Neutral Good" was sufficient to make you play in character, you are solely mistaken.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Shadic » Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:31 am UTC

My only issue with roleplaying is that it can put a serious damper on efficiency in terms of dungeon-exploring. I like to play a character that's a bit impatient and will go wandering off (He's a pretty meaty Goliath Fighter), and the other players around the table are like "Hey, wait!"

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Goldstein » Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:07 am UTC

Shadic wrote:My only issue with roleplaying

You make a good point, roleplaying and game mechanics don't go well together, but surely this should be your issue with the game mechanics!
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EmptySet » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:11 pm UTC

I also dislike the removal of Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil. I though they represented a legitimately different view from the other good/evil alignments and should have been included if you're going to insist on an alignment system. I don't have a problem with Unaligned since it is actually a better description of many True Neutral creatures, and also tends to reduce the more deranged interpretations of True Neutral.

That said, I think writing down your Official Alignment isn't really helpful as a roleplaying tool. It's really just there to enable game mechanics, most of which do not exist in 4E anyway.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BigMcStrongmuscle » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:29 pm UTC

Alignment is more useful for describing whole races of monsters in broad strokes than for describing individual PCs in specific details. And the definitions of the Good/Evil spectrum seem particularly troublesome for players. The number of sociopaths people have tried over the years to pass off on me as "Chaotic Neutral" is staggering. "Evil characters hurt people for fun! I hurt people because it's a convenient way to get what I want! And Chaotic!"

Yeah. Easier to do away with the whole damn thing.

If I bother with alignment for players at all, I just use Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic. Nobody ever argues about those. Divine versions of alignment-based spells only work on things that are actually powered by holy mojo or dark magic -- Mostly angels, demons, undead, sacred relics, and other divine casters. Arcane versions (all maybe two of them) lose alignment entirely, and just work on all undead, intrinsically magical, and extraplanar creatures regardless of origin. Haven't had an argument about alignment ever since I started doing this.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:30 pm UTC

Goldstein wrote:You make a good point, roleplaying and game mechanics don't go well together, but surely this should be your issue with the game mechanics!
Not true. Roleplaying and some game mechanics don't go well together. Other games have the roleplaying built right into the system.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:32 pm UTC

Shadic wrote:My only issue with roleplaying is that it can put a serious damper on efficiency in terms of dungeon-exploring. I like to play a character that's a bit impatient and will go wandering off (He's a pretty meaty Goliath Fighter), and the other players around the table are like "Hey, wait!"


One time a DM put my powerful party into a 'dungeon' (Think it was an old module) that was basically no challenge for us. So my UberTank just started banging on his shield announcing to the whole dungeon we are coming and going to kill them all unless they vacate.

Sometimes its actually more efficient to get the whole dungeon to engage you at once.
(Your a mage with 2 fireballs memorized for the whole adventure, and it takes place underground --- better to get them all togeather)

I have also never been a big fan of 'following' the carefully laid out dungeon path.
Thats dumb really... the whole point of a 'stronghold' is to make it difficult to invade if you follow their 'path'.
Hence, I had a mage that would memorize lots of Dig spells in underground adventures.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BigMcStrongmuscle » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:12 pm UTC

Not all dungeons are strongholds, though. Strongholds are usually built so that there's only one channel to get through the defenses. But if your dungeon isn't a single stronghold -- Say, if its so huge it contains several of them -- you'll usually see more of a branching or web structure. The Caves of Chaos from Keep on the Borderlands, or the Lost City in Dwellers of the Forbidden City are some pretty good published examples. I'd throw you some more recent ones, but I haven't bought published modules in a dog's age. That last one might be my all-time favorite module ever, though.

Personally, I think linearity and small dungeons take all the fun out of the crawl. Being able to choose where to go next is the lion's share of figuring out your strategy.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:43 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Enginerd27 wrote:Hey guys. I'm in the middle of a 4e game that's been going on for over a year now. I'm torn between likeing 4th edition's breadth of character classes and 3.5's spells and non-combat abilities. Although honestly the thing that bugs me the most is the change they made to the Alignment system. Honestly LE and CG along with the three neutral alignments were the interesting alignments in my book. Lawful Stupid and Chaotic Dumb never really ranked. I know people say that you can house rule and use the old alignment system but when everyone can just say "I'm unaligned" and then do whatever the hell they want no matter how out of character it is something gets lost.
As far as I'm aware, effects based on alignment are few and far between (if not nonexistent) in 4e, whereas they were a pretty important part of 3.5. I personally prefer being able to put in whatever morality you want, rather than having to decide how Protection From Evil works in your morality.

Random: One of my characters has a sword that does 2d8 instead of 2d6 damage on a crit against evil and chaotic evil targets.

It also has a daily power whose effect varies from daze, to daze(save ends) on evil or chaotic evil targets.

This, of course, made me think about the experiments that would be required in order to determine, in-game, if a target is evil or not!

Now, meta-game wise, I know what damage dice I rolled. But presuming we can measure points of damage in-world, but we don't know what dice we are rolling: then I can tie a test victim down (so they are helpless), stab them (getting an auto-crit), then repeat until I surpass (max normal damage+12) on an attack. Between stabs I'll heal the target.

...

heh.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:56 pm UTC

I think most D&D players come up with a scenario like that at least once.

It reminds me of a dungeon my DM came up with when I still played D&D. He started with the idea that everyone realizes pretty quickly that negative energy is pretty obviously something you want to avoid (unless you have some special ability or something of course). So he made a dungeon that was permeated with positive energy. At first we thought it was cool, a dungeon that heals us (and give us temporary HP over our max). Then he revealed that, like everything, too much can be bad. Our mortal bodies could only contain so much positive energy before something bad happened. So as we were exploring the dungeon and gaining more and more temporary HP, we'd have to stop every so often and damage one another to keep the party from exploding with positive energy.

It was kind of novel at first, but got pretty tiring. We weren't have to expend anything to keep our HP normalized, unlike if the dungeon was sapping away HP from negative energy where we'd need to use spells/potions to keep us afloat.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Goldstein » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:02 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:This, of course, made me think about the experiments that would be required in order to determine, in-game, if a target is evil or not!


To give it a slightly more 'natural' feel, invite the town guard to take part in an archery competition/training exercise that spans over two days. Record their scores over the course of the first day, then before they turn up on the second day cast protection from evil on the archery targets.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:10 pm UTC

pseudoidiot wrote:I think most D&D players come up with a scenario like that at least once.

It reminds me of a dungeon my DM came up with when I still played D&D. He started with the idea that everyone realizes pretty quickly that negative energy is pretty obviously something you want to avoid (unless you have some special ability or something of course). So he made a dungeon that was permeated with positive energy. At first we thought it was cool, a dungeon that heals us (and give us temporary HP over our max). Then he revealed that, like everything, too much can be bad. Our mortal bodies could only contain so much positive energy before something bad happened. So as we were exploring the dungeon and gaining more and more temporary HP, we'd have to stop every so often and damage one another to keep the party from exploding with positive energy.

It was kind of novel at first, but got pretty tiring. We weren't have to expend anything to keep our HP normalized, unlike if the dungeon was sapping away HP from negative energy where we'd need to use spells/potions to keep us afloat.
Heh. That was how the Positive Energy Plane worked. You gained (I forget, let's assume it was fairly low, like 2d6) hit points per round. Once your hit points were above your double total (Essentially where 0 would be if you started at -YourHitPoints), you went boom.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:35 pm UTC

BigMcStrongmuscle wrote:Personally, I think linearity and small dungeons take all the fun out of the crawl. Being able to choose where to go next is the lion's share of figuring out your strategy.
.


I both agree and disagree.

Having freedom in an adventure is highly rewarding, and actually makes it more fun to DM.
However, sometimes a Lich needs killing. And you have no choice but to enter his domain and get it done.

I think my personal favorite type adventure is take low level characters and put them in a high level situation and see what they come up with.
Example:
A King pays a bunch of 2nd level adventurers to clense the area of a large Ogre incampment.

One of my favorite adventures, was when a DM told my group of level 3's to prepare a towns defense for an Orc invasion. We had like 2 weeks, a 1000 gold, and the towns people to prepare a small town to be attacked by a few thousand orc warriors with a full compliment of seige equipment. (it was a little convoluted and illogical... why us? but was fun as hell)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:48 pm UTC

Goldstein wrote:
Yakk wrote:This, of course, made me think about the experiments that would be required in order to determine, in-game, if a target is evil or not!


To give it a slightly more 'natural' feel, invite the town guard to take part in an archery competition/training exercise that spans over two days. Record their scores over the course of the first day, then before they turn up on the second day cast protection from evil on the archery targets.

Protection from Evil doesn't exist in 4e, while the sword does. :-)

The closest thing to Protection from Evil is Magic Circle, which wards an area against sufficiently low level creatures with particular origins (Natural, Fey, Immortal, etc). Using it, you could experimentally determine the level of a creature in the world -- note, however, that the damage done when the barrier is breached by a sufficiently high level being would kill minions.

This, naturally, is an example of catgirl killing in 4e.
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