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 SecondTalon » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:34 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:There's probably a bit of the connoisseur effect going on here. "Subtle" means different things to different people, and we're talking about a first time RPer here.

Sure, but I think that if you take a first time RPer and sit them down for D&D with all the requisite dice and so on...

Then sit them down for Nobilis, the thing that blows their minds is not going to be the transition from playing an Chaotic Good Elf Wizard to playing the personification of stubbing your toe.

It will be that the two systems have nothing to do with each other.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:38 pm UTC

Just because they're called gold coins doesn't necessarily mean they're pure. Gold is soft as shit anyway so it isn't unexpected that any particular gold based currency would be mixed with something else. Then again talking about currency realism in D&D is a bit silly given that they literally only have 'gold' and nothing else.

Edit: Well I guess they have silver and copper and platinum as well... but it's all the same 'currency' (gold pieces), they're just different denominations.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:40 pm UTC

They gave their weight, and they gave the material (gold). So the volume is implied.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:41 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:the thing that blows their minds is not going to be the transition from playing an Chaotic Good Elf Wizard to playing the personification of stubbing your toe.


To be fair, this may also blow their mind.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:58 pm UTC

Evidently I was unclear :)

There are large differences between systems, but they tend to be unimportant when it comes to whether the game is fun or not. The things that make one system better than another aren't the obvious things like experience-based vs skill-based character progression, or painless hit point loss vs crippling wounds, but more subtle things like synergy between setting and mechanics.

If you're just looking for "a good tabletop rpg" it's hard to go wrong - yes, there are sweeping differences between them, and once you have enough experience with the genre to form opinions, there will doubtless be ones you prefer (or elements you prefer in some), and there are holy wars between various camps, but, if you're looking for a first RPG as a group of virgin gamers, the difference in quality between a "good" RPG system and a "bad" RPG system is not worth worrying about.

I guess my point is to not worry about picking the "best" system - pick the one that sounds interesting, or with the easy startup, or with the shelf of published adventures in your FLGS, or which you find an online character generator for. Or, of course, ask the (gender non-specific) guy in the shop - if they know their stuff, and you catch them when they're not busy, they should be happy to help you find a good starting point - or possibly steer you to the line they expect to be most profitable (which may not be quite the same thing)...

(slow typing means I have some more to respond to now)
gmalivuk wrote:
Adam H wrote:There's probably a bit of the connoisseur effect going on here. "Subtle" means different things to different people, and we're talking about a first time RPer here.
Perhaps, but I think there's also a matter of wider or narrower experiences at play. If you've only ever played D&D and games with very similar mechanics to D&D, then even if you are a snobby connoisseur of that narrow range of games, you may admit that most of the differences would be fairly subtle to a complete newcomer. Just like if you're a connoisseur of a narrow range of wines or cheeses or anything else. As a self-aware connoisseur of, say, English stout beers you would probably admit that, among people with little to no experience with beer, the differences probably seem pretty subtle. But that doesn't mean there's anything terribly subtle about the differences between a very bitter, high-alcohol IPA and a low-ABV wheat beer, even among people who know next to nothing about beer.


But that same person who knows next to nothing about beer would be hard pressed to distinguish a good beer from a bad beer whichever categories it fell into.

For the record, I've played games in more systems than I can remember, and own and/or have read rulebooks for systems I've never played nor run - I've run games in 2nd, 3rd and 4th Ed D&D and 4th Ed Shadowrun, and systems I've played include Call of Cthulhu (5th Ed?), Paranoia (5th Ed), Amber, Tri-Stat, and 2nd and 3rd Ed D&D. Oh, I've also run a game in Paranoia (5th Ed) and at least one homebrew, and possibly others I'm forgetting. I have heard of weirder - like the one that uses Jenga for skill checks - so I don't claim to have experience of the full range, but I don't think I'm particularly narrow in my experiences either.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:00 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:If you're just looking for "a good tabletop rpg" it's hard to go wrong

Eh, someone could try to talk you in to playing FATAL.

On the other hand, the character generation in that alone should clue you to get the hell out and never speak to that person again.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:05 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:But that same person who knows next to nothing about beer would be hard pressed to distinguish a good beer from a bad beer whichever categories it fell into.
I've never met anyone who tried a beer and didn't have an opinion on its quality. They might not agree with connoisseurs about which beers were good or bad, but they still know which ones they enjoy more than others, and the difference between beers they like and beers they hate can be every bit as great as with the snobbiest snob that ever snobbed.

There are big differences between systems, and those differences can have a significant impact on the perceived quality of a system. It's just that different people perceive the quality differently and a good or bad GM+players relationship can easily swamp any intrinsic quality differences in any case.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:31 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:more subtle things like synergy between setting and mechanics.
Absolutely, and I'd even take a step further since I've played plenty of games without an implied settings. Or a very loosely defined setting meant to be fleshed out by the players.

To me a good game is where the mechanics accomplish the intent of the game and facilitate a certain experience that the designer has in mind.

edit: or, hell, you know what? If a group of people all have fun playing a game together, then I'm gonna call it a good game. It may be a game I very much dislike, but I'm totally on board with other people having a good time with it.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:36 pm UTC

I agree with that for the most part, but there are games that are just terrible mechanically, or have books that are poorly written, edited, or otherwise lacking. Examples being FATAL, Synnabar, Human Occupied Landfill (which is a joke, but nigh-unreadable anyways).

My point being that while it is possible to have fun playing games that are terrible, it doesn't make the game you are using not terrible.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:51 pm UTC

True. There's a distinction to be made there for sure.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:30 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:There are large differences between systems, but they tend to be unimportant when it comes to whether the game is fun or not.


I disagree... but I feel like the disagreement I have is maybe with something different to what you're saying.


Edit:

SecondTalon wrote:FATAL


Also WTF.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sprocket » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:18 pm UTC

I have yet to do the Path Finder thing, but I'm curious about it and some other RPGs I've only recently stumbled upon. Anyone play Apocalypse World?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:28 pm UTC

Yes, and it is a very good game. The mechanics are solid, and it has one of the most adapted mechanics now for other settings, including Dungeon World and MonsterHearts, both of which are also fantastic. Having running them, they encourage inter-party relationships through the use of simple and guided character creation, which also allows very lethal play.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:03 pm UTC

What clockworkmonk said. I love Apocalypse World, as well as most games I've played that are based on the engine (notably Dungeon World & Monsterhearts). 'Course, I'm unashamedly a huge Vincent Baker fan. I enjoy all of his games a lot.

In addition to what clockworkmonk said about Apocalypse World, I think one of the best things about the game is the chapter/chapters on running the game. There's some really brilliant stuff there and most of that text can easily be seen as really solid GM advice for any game. I try to think like an Apocalypse World GM in a lot of games I run and I think it really helps me out.

Another thing I think is really cool that I think some people miss or just don't think about as much in play is that advancement isn't solely prescriptive. For instance, say there's a character move (Apocalypse World speak for the mechanical things you can do) that involves being a gang leader. It's possible to level up and take that move -- now you're a gang leader with a small gang. On the other hand, if through the course of the game you manage to get enough people to follow you, you now have a gang and you have access to that gang leader move.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:50 pm UTC

Two major non related questions:
1) Can someone summarize how the first Apoc gaming session is supposed to work? I read that the GM is not supposed to prepare anything and that the chars create the world during char creation. It was not clear exactly what their choices are or how that all works.

2) D&D. I have always had problems/questions with the prices of things and salaries.
My old D&D group still plays and are currently in a campaign where they have roughly 75 employees (soldiers, masons, cooks, labor, stablemasters, etc --- a small keep)

Their prices do not match reality. The wage a laborer makes would not cover the cost of food.
When you then start thinking about the minimum wage an unskilled, but married with kids, person would accept it doesn't add up.

I.E. Based on handbook prices of goods, what is the lowest amount you could live on in terms of just food. What about adding shelter, total squalor.

Seems to me like a DM should calculate the price of a bushel of a grain, calculate how much of that grain would be required for 1 person/day, to live on. Assume people will have wives and kids, then calculate the price it would cost a city dweller living in squalor to survive.

THEN factor in skilled workers, a few minimal luxury items, clothing for a family, etc... and start arriving at real wages.

So... Someone volunteer to do that as an intellectual exercise and improve D&D economics. (Busy professional here with no books, and internet filters)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:17 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:2) D&D. I have always had problems/questions with the prices of things and salaries.
My old D&D group still plays and are currently in a campaign where they have roughly 75 employees (soldiers, masons, cooks, labor, stablemasters, etc --- a small keep)

Their prices do not match reality. The wage a laborer makes would not cover the cost of food.
When you then start thinking about the minimum wage an unskilled, but married with kids, person would accept it doesn't add up.

I.E. Based on handbook prices of goods, what is the lowest amount you could live on in terms of just food. What about adding shelter, total squalor.

Seems to me like a DM should calculate the price of a bushel of a grain, calculate how much of that grain would be required for 1 person/day, to live on. Assume people will have wives and kids, then calculate the price it would cost a city dweller living in squalor to survive.

THEN factor in skilled workers, a few minimal luxury items, clothing for a family, etc... and start arriving at real wages.

So... Someone volunteer to do that as an intellectual exercise and improve D&D economics. (Busy professional here with no books, and internet filters)

Handbook prices generally include an "Adventurer premium" - it's not what the things would cost for one of the neighbours, but what the guy flashing antique gold coins gets charged.

Also, things like travel rations cost more than food intended to be eaten on the spot.

And a Keep would normally be expected to be fairly self-sufficient - the running costs the player gets charged are a lot less than the actual gross expenditure (a lot of which won't be monetary anyway) - the hire cost of a labourer is not just the money, but also access to the kitchen and a place to sleep. It's the perks that don't come out of the player's pocket that close the gap...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:24 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Handbook prices generally include an "Adventurer premium" - it's not what the things would cost for one of the neighbours, but what the guy flashing antique gold coins gets charged.

Also, things like travel rations cost more than food intended to be eaten on the spot.

And a Keep would normally be expected to be fairly self-sufficient - the running costs the player gets charged are a lot less than the actual gross expenditure (a lot of which won't be monetary anyway) - the hire cost of a labourer is not just the money, but also access to the kitchen and a place to sleep. It's the perks that don't come out of the player's pocket that close the gap...


Everything you said makes logical sense.
I am still curious --- what would a living wage consist of. (no luxuries, bare necessities)
Thinking of a typical poor unskilled man with a family living in a city. (Forgotten Realms)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:59 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Two major non related questions:
1) Can someone summarize how the first Apoc gaming session is supposed to work? I read that the GM is not supposed to prepare anything and that the chars create the world during char creation. It was not clear exactly what their choices are or how that all works.


You ask the players for world-building details. For example, if a player asks if there is another community, you say sure there is, tell me about it. Let the players describe the world as you go, and that is basically how it goes.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Chen » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:00 pm UTC

The hireling guideline is 1 sp/day for untrained labor and 3 sp/day for trained labor. If you have the Profession skill you can make half your profession check in gold over a week. So an average person with 1 point in profession earns around 5.5 gp/week or almost 8 sp/day.

A load of bread is 2 cp. A half pound of cheese is 2 sp and a half pound of meat is 3 sp. Anyone with ranks in Profession EASILY pay for food for their whole family. A trained laborer is going to have a bit harder of a time, but can probably afford to have meat at least once a week. The untrained laborer is going to be stuck eating a lot of bread and maybe sometimes splurging for some cheese for his family. Seems pretty in line with what I think of for serfs and the like in old times. This also assumes they have no animals/farms for growing their own food.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Tomlidich the second » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:24 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:2) D&D. I have always had problems/questions with the prices of things and salaries.
My old D&D group still plays and are currently in a campaign where they have roughly 75 employees (soldiers, masons, cooks, labor, stablemasters, etc --- a small keep)

Their prices do not match reality. The wage a laborer makes would not cover the cost of food.
When you then start thinking about the minimum wage an unskilled, but married with kids, person would accept it doesn't add up.

I.E. Based on handbook prices of goods, what is the lowest amount you could live on in terms of just food. What about adding shelter, total squalor.

Seems to me like a DM should calculate the price of a bushel of a grain, calculate how much of that grain would be required for 1 person/day, to live on. Assume people will have wives and kids, then calculate the price it would cost a city dweller living in squalor to survive.

THEN factor in skilled workers, a few minimal luxury items, clothing for a family, etc... and start arriving at real wages.

So... Someone volunteer to do that as an intellectual exercise and improve D&D economics. (Busy professional here with no books, and internet filters)


Being DM, (assuming you are DM) you have alot to think about as far as economics. and, there are many ways to rebalance that.

one instance that comes to mind is when the adventurers came upon a windfall of cash, mountains of it... at level 3. game breaking amounts of cash.

of course, naturally, this amount of cash is cumbersome to keep around, and dangerous because, bandits. So, i invented the idea of an arcane bank. Where all their cash was promptly cleared out. by bandits.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:52 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Everything you said makes logical sense.
I am still curious --- what would a living wage consist of. (no luxuries, bare necessities)
Thinking of a typical poor unskilled man with a family living in a city. (Forgotten Realms)


First, you have to consider that, while using skill checks doesn't give experience, for an NPC it .. pretty much should. So a 30 year old with a spouse and family has likely been more or less on their own for a decade and is probably a 3rd-6th level commoner.

While they may have more than one profession under their belt, odds are they have a primary. At 3rd level, they are likely to have a +6 in Profession (whatever), meaning they earn roughly 8 gold a week, or 1.14 gold a day. (Average check is going to be 10.5, 10.5+6=16.5, 16.5/2=8.25, round down). At sixth level, this would be 9.5 gold a week. Granted, this can swing as low as 3.5 gold or as high as 13 for the 3rd level commoner...but our average remains 8. You could always look at the craft rules too, where an expenditure of resources and a week's work results in a tripling of the input money, assuming they sell it to PCs, or an additional 1/6th if they sell via the Selling rules.

Unskilled labor - that is, a profession skill check in a profession they don't have - earns .7 gold a week, or 1 silver a day for miscellaneous work.

As Chen pointed out, most food prices are in the copper and silver range. Someone bringing in a gold a day would have no problem feeding a small family, even if their spouse does not work, provided they are working in their profession.

And unless there's been a recent crisis, everyone is going to be working in their profession. A lumberjack is not going to be working on the docks unless a green dragon has chased them out of the forest. The miners aren't going to be trying their hand as teamsters unless the Drow chased them out of the mountains.

Now, as a far as respectable leveling goes... Start at level 1 at age 16, and every 3 years thereafter add a level. 3rd level commoner at 25, 6th at 34, 9th at 43, 20 at 73. This does presume a pretty much peaceful existence. Not unreasonable at all.

Or you can drop that to 2 years a level, if you want your NPC commoners to hit level 20 at age 56. Or bump it up to 4 and they hit 20 at 96.

All that being said, the game is Dungeons and Dragons, not Serfdom Simulation, so yeah, the pricing is a bit.. peculiar. For food prices, you could always just half everything for townies if you think a silver a meal is too much (or, as I interpret it, the meals price is for three in the day, not just once).

I'm also going to add that working in a typical D&D city with it's typical threats is not at all the same as working in a PC's keep, where the threat of attack is far, far greater.

I'd expect to pay my level 5 cooks a lot more than the average 9 gold a week. I figure 10 gold a day per cook is a good starting point. This reflects not just the greater danger they work in, but a steady source of good income for them, making them less susceptible to those bribery checks when the villain's lackeys try to get them to put some laxatives in the food and offers them 500 gold to do it.

At 9 gold a week, that represents more than a year's income. At 10 gold a day, it's not even two months. And fighting on laxatives is going to be something like Nauseated (Experiencing stomach distress. Nauseated creatures are unable to attack, cast spells, concentrate on spells, or do anything else requiring attention. The only action such a character can take is a single move action per turn. ) or Exhausted (An exhausted character moves at half speed and takes a -6 penalty to Strength and Dexterity. After 1 hour of complete rest, an exhausted character becomes fatigued. A fatigued character becomes exhausted by doing something else that would normally cause fatigue. )

I'd probably go between the two - one standard action a round, -6 to Stats, half speed, and a -6 to concentration checks to cast spells, all spellcasting requiring the check. Clears up with a Lesser Restoration or Remove Poison spell, sure, but...

...

Whadaya mean, your D&D sessions aren't crossed with "Don't Shit Your Pants" ?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:59 pm UTC

Adventurers are going to cause runaway inflation in most reasonable economies anyway - they're routinely going out and bringing back loot that's worth a small village and the only reason they don't crash the local economy is because no-one can afford to buy it off them...

As for SecondTalon's figures, I'd probably throw in an assumption that NPC commoners working at their primary profession take 10 on their income checks, making it 6.5+level/2 for their weekly income (0.25 lower than ST's averages, but he's rounding that away anyway)

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:19 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Ixtellor wrote:Everything you said makes logical sense.
I am still curious --- what would a living wage consist of. (no luxuries, bare necessities)
Thinking of a typical poor unskilled man with a family living in a city. (Forgotten Realms)


First, you have to consider that, while using skill checks doesn't give experience, for an NPC it .. pretty much should. So a 30 year old with a spouse and family has likely been more or less on their own for a decade and is probably a 3rd-6th level commoner.


In particular, just surviving day-to-day is a CR1 encounter for most people in the world. Sean K Reynolds (one of the 3rd edition authors) put together some variant rules for leveling commoners by age, explained through encounter/XP rule application: http://www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/misc/theoryaboutpeasants.html

The gist of it - a standard commoner, living with a spouse, makes about 1k XP a year by surviving day-to-day life. SKR arbitrarily started counting XP at age 20, just to make the math easier, so they're level 2 at 21, level 3 at 23, level 4 at 26, level 5 at 30, level 6 at 35, and level 7 at 41. After that the XP chart starts reducing the reward from a CR1 encounter, so it takes 8 years to reach level 8 at 49, and 12 years to reach level 9 at 61. After that you no longer get XP from CR1 encounters at all. Unless they encounter particularly harsh months, that's the max level for NPC commoners. (Of any class, really - most Warriors are just guards who don't deal with much day-to-day trouble beyond the CR1 level, etc.)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Chen » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:33 pm UTC

Tomlidich the second wrote:Being DM, (assuming you are DM) you have alot to think about as far as economics. and, there are many ways to rebalance that.

one instance that comes to mind is when the adventurers came upon a windfall of cash, mountains of it... at level 3. game breaking amounts of cash.

of course, naturally, this amount of cash is cumbersome to keep around, and dangerous because, bandits. So, i invented the idea of an arcane bank. Where all their cash was promptly cleared out. by bandits.


Uh why give the PCs the windfall in the first place if you were just going to take it away.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:57 pm UTC

So, while I don't play D&D anymore, I was thinking about a campaign I would like to DM or one I think would be interesting.

The equivalent of super hero chars at level 1.
Either by birth or by some random encounter (Gods summon X number of players and grant them substantial abilities for reason Y)
I was kind of leaning towards Earth, Air Wind, Fire.
Earth = 25 str and 25 con.
Air = Ability to invis, some limited flying, naturally low AC 0, -1 per 2(or 3) levels.
Fire = Shoot 1d6 flames at will (1 per round, or follow archer, burning hands X times per day, resistance = to 50 fire damage, etc.
Water = Shape change, move through objects, no need to breath, possible some ice related power.
Also thought about granting one 25 Int, and they basically comes with a built in danger sense, and near ability to tell future based on evidence... etc.
[I picture this like telling that PC, while they are talking with a blacksmith, "You are confident that player Y is going to die in 4 rounds"]

Just an idea I was toying with and clearly would need a lot of work/balance.
Also, I think it would be best to let the chars know their abilities before they decide on a class.
I think it would be interesting to see how it changes their perception of their character.

For example the friend that always plays a mage is suddenly given 25 STR, would he still play a mage or be excited by the prospect of playing a mega fighter?

I am not sure how D&D works now, but in the olden days you rolled your stats first and basically that dictated what you would be. As D&D matured, people would develop their character concept then use various means to get the stats that fit that concept (rolling 6 stats, placing them where you like or the very modern just assigning points). [Side note, I think D&D loses something... when the players have total control over their archtype, history, and path ]
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:27 pm UTC

I kinda don't, and rather prefer the point system if for no other reason than it putting your own failures solely on you.

For example - and I've probably rambled about this elsewhere, but under the 3d6 in order system (or even the modern 4d6 drop low, arrange as you want them) you're still going to end up where you have Tom the Fighter (Str 18, Dex 16, Con 17, Int 14, Wis 15, Char 12) in the same party as Fred the Wizard (7 Str, 10 Dex, 8 Con, 16 Int, 11 Wis, 7 Cha) or even Brad the Thief (8 Str, 12 Dex, 9 Con, 6 Int, 5 Wis, 9 Cha) whose highest score is as high as Tom's lowest.

Using the D20 stat system and adding up their bonuses, Tom's rocking a +15 to Fred's -2. I don't even want to discuss Brad's -7

Now, you are correct if you want to argue that Fred can lead to a lot of interesting roleplaying scenarios as you level, and you'd be right. But what's more than likely going to happen is Fred's going to die in the second encounter and Carl the Wizard (10 Str, 12 Dex, 14 Con, 17 Int, 12 Wis, 10 Cha) is going to replace him. Still not as good as Superhuman Tom, but has a much more respectable +8 total bonus. All the same, Carl is going to have a bit harder of a time overall than Tom.

A point buy system where stats start at 8 and you have so many points can lead to characters with flaws as well. Yeah, you're going to have some characters who are 12s with a 16 thrown in one stat... or you'll have a couple of 14s and some 6 or 7s thrown in so they had the points to get that one 18.

It also pretty much stops the "Time to roll up characters, so spend the next 30 minutes rolling stats until you get something that's actually viable" problem where a player just can't seem to break a 7 on three dice. Which I've seen happen and it's... sad? Embarrassing?

At any rate, while I'm not familiar with 4th, Pathfinder and 3.X use 4d6 drop low, put where wanted OR a point buy system and I favor point buy myself.

But I disagree that it allows you full control over your path. I've got no problem with a player deciding on the history and current standing of their character. Where they go from here is something the player, the other players and the DM all get to figure out. After all, the Ranger who was wanting to become a Monster Hunter isn't likely to follow through if the entire game has been about hunting and arresting lawbreaking humanoids.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sprocket » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:41 pm UTC

pseudoidiot wrote:What clockworkmonk said. I love Apocalypse World, as well as most games I've played that are based on the engine (notably Dungeon World & Monsterhearts). 'Course, I'm unashamedly a huge Vincent Baker fan. I enjoy all of his games a lot.

In addition to what clockworkmonk said about Apocalypse World, I think one of the best things about the game is the chapter/chapters on running the game. There's some really brilliant stuff there and most of that text can easily be seen as really solid GM advice for any game. I try to think like an Apocalypse World GM in a lot of games I run and I think it really helps me out.

Another thing I think is really cool that I think some people miss or just don't think about as much in play is that advancement isn't solely prescriptive. For instance, say there's a character move (Apocalypse World speak for the mechanical things you can do) that involves being a gang leader. It's possible to level up and take that move -- now you're a gang leader with a small gang. On the other hand, if through the course of the game you manage to get enough people to follow you, you now have a gang and you have access to that gang leader move.

I would love to try a game of this…maybe I just need to pony-up and run a game, but I'm terrible enough at studying up enough in an RPG to be a prepared player. I don't know if I have my shit together enough to run a game.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:47 pm UTC

If you're playing, you only need to know you. Not using magic? Then who gives a shit about magic rules. Only using guns? Then screw the sword dueling rules. That sort of thing.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Chen » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:00 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:At any rate, while I'm not familiar with 4th, Pathfinder and 3.X use 4d6 drop low, put where wanted OR a point buy system and I favor point buy myself.


The only part about point buy that I dislike is that it can remove some interesting role playing opportunities if you're in a high optimization campaign. If you're high op, you clearly are going to optimally place your stats for your combat/social effectiveness. It removes that odd chance that you're a fighter who rolled a 18 int or a mage who is quite physically strong (18 str).

In our latest game we came up with an interesting method that still gives you strong characters, but a bit of randomness added to it. Basically it was split your stats into blocks of 2 each. So e.g., Str/Int, Dex/Con, Wis/Cha. For one of the blocks you can choose either two 16s or one 18 and one 13. The second block was roll 4d6 drop the lowest twice and place as you want. The last block was roll 3d6 twice and place as you want. Unless you're running a MAD class like Monk or Paladin in 3.5 it allows you to get two solid stats (or one great one) and then gives you a fair chance at some decent off stats but also the risk of something quite low, which can again add a bit of flavor to characters without really gimping them. We tend to like higher power games so I think we also had some sort of mulligan thing to ensure that the rolled stats weren't total below -1 in bonuses. This is for pathfinder too, so the MAD class problem didn't really come up since the rules fixed a lot of those problems themselves.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:10 pm UTC

What, you people don't have fighter skillmonkeys and melee wizards in your games sometimes? Y'all are doin' it wrong.

Seriously, I know that point, and while I do kinda miss it.... I don't at all miss playing a character that is just awful.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:59 pm UTC

1) The way my groups did stats (from about 1983-91) was you roll 3d6 6 times for each stat, taking the highest - Period. This almost always eliminated horrific chars, but also it led to characters following the stats instead of their preconceived idea of what they wanted to play. Its hot I got my first ever Paladin --- I happen to roll 18 CHA with some decent fighter stats.

Additionally, because it was so difficult to get high stats, it made you appreciate the chars more.

Nobody in my group will ever forget the first time they had an 18/00 Str, if ever. (you had to roll 2 10 sided if you happen to get an 18, and declare which dice was the 10's slot, pre roll)

This is how my group got its first every monk, which then became that persons all time fav char.

I suppose the point is it forces/challenges you to do things you wouldn't normally (I only play fighters in every MMO) and it makes high stats feel valuable, unlike the modern system where people scoff at an 18.

Also, if you can then use races to help get to the class you wanted. Don't qualify for fighter, then maybe playing a half-orc will qualify you. (Could be literally qualify as in minimum stats, or just emotionally qualify "I refuse to play with less than a 16 str... ")

So suddenly a person who thought they would spend the next few months/years as a half-elf bard, finds themselves playing a Half-Orc warrior --- and loving it. (A friend who only played clerics, ended up with his favorite all time char doing that exactly)


As to character background, I have done it both ways. The player with a concept just makes it happen and plays it out --- very rewarding. (My lawful evil cavalier that I played for like 4 years)
or if you have a GOOD DM they throw something at you that complete intrigues and motivates you. )
[I found over the years that telling people they were from nobility would almost always alter play)

{Total side note, did anyone else force chars to roll social class from the unearthed Arcana --- Your first '00' SOOO epic}

Lastly, (wordy post, but D&D is wordy)
Assigning back ground the DM can nudge you towards character motivators --- especially for unimaginative players.
While the "I'm a fighter, lets do adventures" works for lots of people --- as you get older and more sophisticated you want to understand your characters motives and create a rich history that explains their actions. I have been in many memorable campaigns where people get strongly attached to their characters from some simple background provided by the DM --- that fits in with their long term campaign goals. (Oh btw, you come from a long line of Asmodeus worshippers and your father was the head priest covering 3 nations)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:22 pm UTC

Well, in fairness of the system you're accustomed to, stats stopped at 25.

They don't do that anymore. They can also increase every four levels, no wishes needed. A 18 in 2nd Ed is roughly a 12 in d20, and a 2nd ed 18/00 is roughly a 16 in d20. The 2nd Ed 25 is a d20 25, though, so there's that.

Given the rarity of the 18/00 though, it's more like starting out with a 22 Strength.

But yeah, doing a 2d6 6 times take high would eliminate the worst possible outcomes. Probably did see a lot in the 12-14 range on stats, with the occasional 18 thrown in. Not unlike what point buy does. Just sayin'

Really, at the end of the day you use whatever you like. The modern point-buys are there to try and put a stop to the "I don't really want to be a fighter but that's all I can really be with these stats" plays, or even the guy who just got really unlucky. It also helps the DM help figure out what is and is not an appropriate challenge, because a character with an overall bonus of +2 can take on X and be reasonably expected to survive, while a character with an overall bonus of +15 can take 2X and be reasonably expected to survive. Or, you know.. the +2 can face 2X and maybe walk out of it if they're lucky, and the +15 can do the same with 4X.

If you know your entire party is in the +12-+15 range on their stat bonuses, you can play a little more with the horrors a CR 1/4 can really do.

Yeah, the DM is there to provide a challenge and yes, the DM should throw in things that the party can't handle to remind the party that discretion is the better part of valor... but it's not a DM vs Players game. If it was, 20 Balors versus the 5 man party of level 1 characters. DM wins.

But it's also nice when the 3rd level party takes out the three Ogres when the math says the Ogres should have curbstomped them and you were expecting the party to run.

... as a side note, I know it's not accurate and I know a lot of the monsters need work, but I really, really like the CR system where you get a ballpark of what a party is expected to handle way way more than the 2E system of ".. I dunno, throw it against them and see if they all die?"
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:16 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:... as a side note, I know it's not accurate and I know a lot of the monsters need work, but I really, really like the CR system where you get a ballpark of what a party is expected to handle way way more than the 2E system of ".. I dunno, throw it against them and see if they all die?"


Years of experience solves that problem. But I can see your argument for new players.

Or, sometimes the challenge isn't killing but surviving --- how are we going to get out alive can be rewarding and nice change from time to time. Or like you said, being shocked at the ingenuity of players for overcoming obstacles you did not foresee.

Side note: Tomb of Horrors is a piece of garbage and the very worst kind of role playing IMHO. Based on my reading, Gygax was actually not a good DM. He was just creative at coming up with Dungeons provided logic wasn't part of the equation.
(Why does the lich have monster X living in a random part of his home or Why is that torch really a flaming sword? Or why is there an invis box full of insanely powerful magic items just sitting in an Giants bathroom? I dunno.)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:24 pm UTC

Oh god, yes. Gygax's stuff is usually just a giant meatgrinder. And what parts aren't meant to instantly kill someone who hasn't memorized the module simply make no sense at all. And probably just fuck you up real bad so the next thing does kill you instantly.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:27 pm UTC

To be fair, I believe most of those early published modules where tournament modules, not encodings of actual play. The goal was to winnow out the people trying the module to get a champion...
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sprocket » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:29 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:If you're playing, you only need to know you. Not using magic? Then who gives a shit about magic rules. Only using guns? Then screw the sword dueling rules. That sort of thing.

I just tend to be the person in a D&D game who doesn't actually ever remember the details of my attacks and how many dice I get to roll and such. As that stuff doesn't really interest me that much, and I don't want to "do homework" I just want to play.

But I was saying "since I'm never prepared for X, I probably wouldn't be able to get myself prepared for 10X." aka wouldn't be able to get my shit together enough to run a game.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:39 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:1) The way my groups did stats (from about 1983-91) was you roll 3d6 6 times for each stat, taking the highest - Period. This almost always eliminated horrific chars, but also it led to characters following the stats instead of their preconceived idea of what they wanted to play.
I like this technique, actually. It's the sorta-real-life aspect of not being able to decide your strengths ahead of time, without the all-too-real-life aspect of being incredibly unlikely sometimes. I've had a DM mock-threaten to run his next game with the original 3d6 six times as they fall, because he felt that some of the PCs were too overpowered (which imho as a player just meant that he needed to put more work into designing appropriate encounters than he was willing to do). And of course that threat is never carried out because those of us used to the mechanics of later versions would simply refuse to play his campaign if we rolled stats we weren't quite happy with.

18 15 17 12 18 13 were what I just rolled this way, so in fact I *really* like this technique now. :-)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:33 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Ixtellor wrote:1) The way my groups did stats (from about 1983-91) was you roll 3d6 6 times for each stat, taking the highest - Period. This almost always eliminated horrific chars, but also it led to characters following the stats instead of their preconceived idea of what they wanted to play.
I like this technique, actually. It's the sorta-real-life aspect of not being able to decide your strengths ahead of time, without the all-too-real-life aspect of being incredibly unlikely sometimes. I've had a DM mock-threaten to run his next game with the original 3d6 six times as they fall, because he felt that some of the PCs were too overpowered (which imho as a player just meant that he needed to put more work into designing appropriate encounters than he was willing to do). And of course that threat is never carried out because those of us used to the mechanics of later versions would simply refuse to play his campaign if we rolled stats we weren't quite happy with.

18 15 17 12 18 13 were what I just rolled this way, so in fact I *really* like this technique now. :-)



Er the odds of rolling an 18 are 1/216 so you got incredible lucky. (your a math Wiz, so I assume you know this)

I am not a fan of just 3d6 one time for each stat. Rolling an 5 for Constitution is basically devastating. I mostly agree with the premise that Characters are not normal people, they are to some degree heroic hence why I like 3d6 6 times per stat.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:22 pm UTC

The best way of generating character stats depends on what sort of game you're running - if it's a hack'n'slash dungeon-crawl, then you want evenly-balanced characters as far as possible; if it's improvisational story-telling, then you want characters with, well, character. Points-buy gives you balanced, competitive characters, while dice give you prompts for your creativity. Sure, it's harder for the GM to throw something survivable-yet-challenging at a party with a range of power-levels, but interpreting low stats as character flaws gives you more memorable characters than having a standard array...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:54 am UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Er the odds of rolling an 18 are 1/216 so you got incredible lucky. (your a math Wiz, so I assume you know this)
Yes, I'm well aware, though that's the advantage of rolling 6 times: the chance to get it at least once out of six tries is 2.75%.

Still quite lucky to get two of those and a 17, granted.
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