Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:59 pm UTC

I'm four sessions into a D&D 5e game with my friends, and I'm really loving the system. Feels like "classic" 3e, but much simpler in tons of little ways; it just plays *smoother* I feel. I'm quite happy with it.

The big thing that's still throwing my DM is the transition away from saves/skills to just ability checks. Having an appropriate save/skill just means you add your proficiency bonus (between +2 and +6, depending on level) to the roll; it's a binary decision. This means that the skill list is no longer an integral part of the system -- you can, if you want, make up whatever skills you desire, as long as they cover roughly similar areas of gameplay, without causing imbalance.

Just resolving a lot of things with opposed checks is really nice, too. Abilities and skills and attack rolls all sit in the same numerical range now!
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Coin » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:03 am UTC

Totenkindly wrote:Most of my time nowadays is spent in Pathfinder (with a stint in NWoD, which I'd love to get back to at some point), but I've been fortunate to deal with GMs who approach things this way... they give flexibility to the players and will compensate on their end to deal with any unexpected decisions or strategies used by the group. I guess it helps that as players, they're the sort to think outside the box, and this carries over to their GM'ing as well. They usually have some extra ideas of the world around the current session, timelines of what else is going on where and when, and so a deviation from the script isn't really something that messes up the story. I think you described it very well: Rather than it becoming a battle between GM and player, where the GM is limiting options or "taking back things," instead the players actions are used to generate more storylines and likely impacting other NPCs and/or attracting them to getting involved as well.

It's just that the GM has to be the sort who isn't afraid of giving the players some flex, who has done some extra homework on the setting (so he can accommodate deviations), and who has a story that actually offers some flexibility in terms of what the players can do and where they can go at any given time. This seems to get a little crazier at higher levels, especially for the magic-based classes (for example, once a player gets "teleport," then you have to keep this in mind for any challenges within the campaign, and think about how NPCs might seek to deal with that kind of ability). I think one thing we've become aware of as players is that, anything we can do, so can our NPC opposition. So we're more careful... anything we might exploit could easily be exploited against us. It helps keep things in balance.


Currently being a GM I find that the most important tools enabling me to give my players flexibility are knowing the setting (as you say), which means you can extrapolate what should happen/exist at most times; and a folder with "spare parts" as it were. Exciting ideas, locations, organisations and most importantly, for me, a few pages of names. These always come in handy when the story takes an unexpected turn. The trick is to not get overwhelmed by preparations and just make some bare-bones outlines of things which may come in handy. If they don't come in handy now, they will surely do so later, but there is no way of predicting all the strange directions which the PCs can take a story to, so don't overdo it.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:58 pm UTC

The other thing you can do as GM is not decide where the next plot point actually happens until the PCs choose their path - maybe you originally intended the dungeon to be the catacombs below the ruined temple in the heart of the forest where druids once worshipped, but it turns out the same map and most of the same encounters also work for the abandoned dwarf mines in the mountains or the forgotten sewer system beneath the undercity. Or the last scion of an ancient order now living incognito who is the only person in all the world who knows the crucial piece of information that might possibly enable the PCs to get back on track could turn out to be whichever NPC the players happen to encounter while blundering around...

Rather than exploring a previously created map, you can fill in the map as the PCs explore, putting details in the places they go rather than trying to detail everywhere...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Dauric » Tue Oct 13, 2015 5:34 pm UTC

I've found it's good to be flexible with those plot points too. While running a Cyberpunk game after a particularly lucrative run (the party did some short-trading on the company they were hired to hit and made a small fortune after the run went down) the PC's "recreational biochemist" (ie: drug cooker) decided to take a majority of his earnings (better than 90%) and throw a party. A BIG party, it ended up taking two football-field sized warehouses and the space between, had all the PC's involved in running the infrastructure, took up a session and a half between planning and playing out the party, and even turned a bit of a profit.

It's success did not go unnoticed, and the PC's got 'bought out' for a reasonably fair price by a consortium of the local criminal elements who had found the strict "Neutral Territory" policy (enforced by the more trigger-happy PCs) to be useful for business. The PC's returned to their mercenary contracting work, and "The Party" became a regular set-piece in the campaign.

It wasn't anything that I'd planned, it just kind of took on a life of it's own once the event was suggested, but it became the most memorable part of the campaign.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Coin » Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:42 am UTC

Dauric wrote:I've found it's good to be flexible with those plot points too. While running a Cyberpunk game after a particularly lucrative run (the party did some short-trading on the company they were hired to hit and made a small fortune after the run went down) the PC's "recreational biochemist" (ie: drug cooker) decided to take a majority of his earnings (better than 90%) and throw a party. A BIG party, it ended up taking two football-field sized warehouses and the space between, had all the PC's involved in running the infrastructure, took up a session and a half between planning and playing out the party, and even turned a bit of a profit.

It's success did not go unnoticed, and the PC's got 'bought out' for a reasonably fair price by a consortium of the local criminal elements who had found the strict "Neutral Territory" policy (enforced by the more trigger-happy PCs) to be useful for business. The PC's returned to their mercenary contracting work, and "The Party" became a regular set-piece in the campaign.

It wasn't anything that I'd planned, it just kind of took on a life of it's own once the event was suggested, but it became the most memorable part of the campaign.


That sounds awesome! I hope my campaign will lead to something as cool as that. Thus far I've only had "butterfly effects" through player questions which force me to think about the world in ways I hadn't considered before.
For instance, a casual question about the location of a library led to the creation of a mage academy with a public service function and a further complication of city politics as well as an associated city population doubling.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:07 pm UTC

Coin wrote:
Dauric wrote:I've found it's good to be flexible with those plot points too. While running a Cyberpunk game after a particularly lucrative run (the party did some short-trading on the company they were hired to hit and made a small fortune after the run went down) the PC's "recreational biochemist" (ie: drug cooker) decided to take a majority of his earnings (better than 90%) and throw a party. A BIG party, it ended up taking two football-field sized warehouses and the space between, had all the PC's involved in running the infrastructure, took up a session and a half between planning and playing out the party, and even turned a bit of a profit.

It's success did not go unnoticed, and the PC's got 'bought out' for a reasonably fair price by a consortium of the local criminal elements who had found the strict "Neutral Territory" policy (enforced by the more trigger-happy PCs) to be useful for business. The PC's returned to their mercenary contracting work, and "The Party" became a regular set-piece in the campaign.

It wasn't anything that I'd planned, it just kind of took on a life of it's own once the event was suggested, but it became the most memorable part of the campaign.


That sounds awesome! I hope my campaign will lead to something as cool as that. Thus far I've only had "butterfly effects" through player questions which force me to think about the world in ways I hadn't considered before.
For instance, a casual question about the location of a library led to the creation of a mage academy with a public service function and a further complication of city politics as well as an associated city population doubling.


In the medieval Western Europe which the default D&D setting is loosely based on, public libraries were an aberration - the majority of libraries were either private collections or institutional collections held by monasteries and other groups. Most libraries would lend books, but only in exchange for being lent a comparable book (which would often be copied before being returned) or paid a significant deposit as surety for the book's safe return. Even access to the collection was a privilege rather than a right.

Of course, with D&D's much higher baseline literacy, there must be some sort of public access to reading material - if only so children have something to learn from. Of course, widespread access to reading material means either large and busy scriptoria, or some form of printing press (or functional equivalent - magical copying of mundane text, for example).

Suddenly you've jumped to late Renaissance/early Enlightenment - Shakespearian rather than Arthurian.

That messes somewhat with some of the traditional default assumptions - rather than living in the shadow of past civilisations, Shakespeare's era was one where civilisation was was surpassing the ancients - the lost relics of bygone ages were no longer legendary artifacts, but rather commonplace items, no better, and often worse, than contemporary equivalents. In D&D terms, +1 and +2 weapons are widely available, +3 and +4 can be had for a price, and +5 are just being invented, while the ruins of the past offer regular weapons with no bonuses, or even -1 weapons...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Oct 14, 2015 3:00 pm UTC

D&D is post-apoc fantasy.

The ancient civilizations where destroyed and left ruins. The PCs are scavengers admist the hostile wreckage.

Reading is common, because there are lots of leftover books from ancient days. Back when they had magical printing presses, or undead scribes, or mind controlled foreigners, or imps paid with souls to mass-produce books for citizens.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:57 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:D&D is post-apoc fantasy.

The ancient civilizations where destroyed and left ruins. The PCs are scavengers admist the hostile wreckage.

Reading is common, because there are lots of leftover books from ancient days. Back when they had magical printing presses, or undead scribes, or mind controlled foreigners, or imps paid with souls to mass-produce books for citizens.


Do you know what the common name for a book is in a post-apocalyptic society? "Kindling".

Also, even under good conditions, books age - think about how many hundred-year-old books there are out there (not modern reprints - actual physical volumes that are at least a century old). Do you really think that a hundred years after the apocalypse, there'd still be a widespread supply of books? And that's without considering what happens when some charismatic individual decides that the apocalypse was the result of forbidden knowledge and convinces people to start book-burning...

There's also the non-trivial question of supplying writing implements and suitable surfaces to write upon - low tech sources of paper are pretty labour-intensive...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Dauric » Wed Oct 14, 2015 6:37 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Yakk wrote:D&D is post-apoc fantasy.

The ancient civilizations where destroyed and left ruins. The PCs are scavengers admist the hostile wreckage.

Reading is common, because there are lots of leftover books from ancient days. Back when they had magical printing presses, or undead scribes, or mind controlled foreigners, or imps paid with souls to mass-produce books for citizens.


Do you know what the common name for a book is in a post-apocalyptic society? "Kindling".

Also, even under good conditions, books age - think about how many hundred-year-old books there are out there (not modern reprints - actual physical volumes that are at least a century old). Do you really think that a hundred years after the apocalypse, there'd still be a widespread supply of books? And that's without considering what happens when some charismatic individual decides that the apocalypse was the result of forbidden knowledge and convinces people to start book-burning...

There's also the non-trivial question of supplying writing implements and suitable surfaces to write upon - low tech sources of paper are pretty labour-intensive...


Fictional setting with Magic rife with logical inconsistencies. In other news studies report water exceeds "Slightly Damp" in moisture content.

Most fantasy settings are broken that way. It's often hard to get the brain of an audience member who's not a historian, or at least has an interest in history, wrapped around the realities of living in the middle ages, or even the Renaissance (which most fantasy settings have a closer relationship to than the Dark or Medieval periods). Anachronisms are a pretty common thing in the genre, and why we have a word for them.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Coin » Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:06 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Coin wrote:
Dauric wrote:I've found it's good to be flexible with those plot points too. While running a Cyberpunk game after a particularly lucrative run (the party did some short-trading on the company they were hired to hit and made a small fortune after the run went down) the PC's "recreational biochemist" (ie: drug cooker) decided to take a majority of his earnings (better than 90%) and throw a party. A BIG party, it ended up taking two football-field sized warehouses and the space between, had all the PC's involved in running the infrastructure, took up a session and a half between planning and playing out the party, and even turned a bit of a profit.

It's success did not go unnoticed, and the PC's got 'bought out' for a reasonably fair price by a consortium of the local criminal elements who had found the strict "Neutral Territory" policy (enforced by the more trigger-happy PCs) to be useful for business. The PC's returned to their mercenary contracting work, and "The Party" became a regular set-piece in the campaign.

It wasn't anything that I'd planned, it just kind of took on a life of it's own once the event was suggested, but it became the most memorable part of the campaign.


That sounds awesome! I hope my campaign will lead to something as cool as that. Thus far I've only had "butterfly effects" through player questions which force me to think about the world in ways I hadn't considered before.
For instance, a casual question about the location of a library led to the creation of a mage academy with a public service function and a further complication of city politics as well as an associated city population doubling.


In the medieval Western Europe which the default D&D setting is loosely based on, public libraries were an aberration - the majority of libraries were either private collections or institutional collections held by monasteries and other groups. Most libraries would lend books, but only in exchange for being lent a comparable book (which would often be copied before being returned) or paid a significant deposit as surety for the book's safe return. Even access to the collection was a privilege rather than a right.

Of course, with D&D's much higher baseline literacy, there must be some sort of public access to reading material - if only so children have something to learn from. Of course, widespread access to reading material means either large and busy scriptoria, or some form of printing press (or functional equivalent - magical copying of mundane text, for example).

Suddenly you've jumped to late Renaissance/early Enlightenment - Shakespearian rather than Arthurian.

That messes somewhat with some of the traditional default assumptions - rather than living in the shadow of past civilisations, Shakespeare's era was one where civilisation was was surpassing the ancients - the lost relics of bygone ages were no longer legendary artifacts, but rather commonplace items, no better, and often worse, than contemporary equivalents. In D&D terms, +1 and +2 weapons are widely available, +3 and +4 can be had for a price, and +5 are just being invented, while the ruins of the past offer regular weapons with no bonuses, or even -1 weapons...


Thanks for your input! I was purposefully vague in order to make the post short and snappy and perhaps that made it out as a bit simple.

I'm very much aware of the low literacy levels of the medieval world and have applied similar levels to "my" world (sometimes it's good to know a PhD in medieval, anglo-saxon literature). However, the PC is a mage from an academy and was asking me if there was any "local depository of books and scrolls" and since the nobles in the area would be unwilling to share their valuable books, I instead opted for having a local mages academy. They would surely have books which might be accessed by a fellow practiser of the arts, for a fee or small favour of course... Very much like the monasteries you mention and from which I indeed did draw inspiration.

Having the academy there got me thinking about its greater role in society as well and how I would want it to interact with the local nobility. In this case I felt that the local Duke would opt to have the mages do "community work", eg. healing, protecting crops from insects, finding metal ore etc. in lieu of paying taxes. Thus the area would be able to support a greater population as well as enjoy lower death rates, further inflating the population.

I do put a lot of thought into my creations. =)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Ixtellor » Fri Oct 23, 2015 5:28 pm UTC

About every 2 years I pop in this thread and same basically the same thing:

Here goes,

The best adventures you will ever have are the player driven adventures. The best characters you will over create/own/etc are the ones for which you come up with your own narrative of what that character wants to achieve, then just make the DM the conduit thought which you complete your goals.

My old group had many sessions where the DM would come up with a generic adventure and the party would be like "fuck that, we want kill the sheriff and take over the town."

It makes the adventures a lot more meaningful, makes you emotionally connect with your character, and is very intellectually stimulating for the DM to come up with stuff on the fly.

My favorite formula is "For reason X, your group is now in charge of a town/castle... what do you do?"
Will they loot the treasury and burn it down? Actually try to build it up or improve it? Create conflict, etc.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby cphite » Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:31 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Yakk wrote:D&D is post-apoc fantasy.

The ancient civilizations where destroyed and left ruins. The PCs are scavengers admist the hostile wreckage.

Reading is common, because there are lots of leftover books from ancient days. Back when they had magical printing presses, or undead scribes, or mind controlled foreigners, or imps paid with souls to mass-produce books for citizens.


Do you know what the common name for a book is in a post-apocalyptic society? "Kindling".


Except that in this post-apocalyptic world, books hold more than mere knowledge; many of them hold lore that can lead directly to great wealth, power, and so forth. So it isn't unreasonable to expect that people would be somewhat more inclined to preserve them, recopy them, and so forth.

Also, even under good conditions, books age - think about how many hundred-year-old books there are out there (not modern reprints - actual physical volumes that are at least a century old). Do you really think that a hundred years after the apocalypse, there'd still be a widespread supply of books? And that's without considering what happens when some charismatic individual decides that the apocalypse was the result of forbidden knowledge and convinces people to start book-burning...


Again, you're thinking of the real world where books aren't routinely used to create magical effects, or to uncover sources of enormous wealth and power. In our world, the value of a book is mainly based upon the physical book itself; highly expensive books are expensive because they're rare. Find the most expensive book in the world, copy it, and that copy is worth nothing relative to the original.

Valuable books in D&D are valuable because they do something, or allow you to do something; and their copies are just as valuable.

There's also the non-trivial question of supplying writing implements and suitable surfaces to write upon - low tech sources of paper are pretty labour-intensive...


Considering that many of the pre-apocalyptic folks lived in cities that floated in the sky, it's not unreasonable to expect that making cheap yet durable paper in mass quantities was beyond them.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:22 pm UTC

cphite wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Yakk wrote:D&D is post-apoc fantasy.

The ancient civilizations where destroyed and left ruins. The PCs are scavengers admist the hostile wreckage.

Reading is common, because there are lots of leftover books from ancient days. Back when they had magical printing presses, or undead scribes, or mind controlled foreigners, or imps paid with souls to mass-produce books for citizens.


Do you know what the common name for a book is in a post-apocalyptic society? "Kindling".


Except that in this post-apocalyptic world, books hold more than mere knowledge; many of them hold lore that can lead directly to great wealth, power, and so forth. So it isn't unreasonable to expect that people would be somewhat more inclined to preserve them, recopy them, and so forth.

Also, even under good conditions, books age - think about how many hundred-year-old books there are out there (not modern reprints - actual physical volumes that are at least a century old). Do you really think that a hundred years after the apocalypse, there'd still be a widespread supply of books? And that's without considering what happens when some charismatic individual decides that the apocalypse was the result of forbidden knowledge and convinces people to start book-burning...


Again, you're thinking of the real world where books aren't routinely used to create magical effects, or to uncover sources of enormous wealth and power. In our world, the value of a book is mainly based upon the physical book itself; highly expensive books are expensive because they're rare. Find the most expensive book in the world, copy it, and that copy is worth nothing relative to the original.

Valuable books in D&D are valuable because they do something, or allow you to do something; and their copies are just as valuable.

There's also the non-trivial question of supplying writing implements and suitable surfaces to write upon - low tech sources of paper are pretty labour-intensive...


Considering that many of the pre-apocalyptic folks lived in cities that floated in the sky, it's not unreasonable to expect that making cheap yet durable paper in mass quantities was beyond them.


None of which addresses the point I was making about mass literacy - at least I hope you have a separate written language that doesn't turn every love letter into a personalised Charm spell.

The mass-produced books - the works of fiction, the histories and encyclopedias, the autobiographies, the kindergarten primers - the ones written in the Common tongue rather than in arcane runes - those only have value in the "knowledge is power" sense - and no more so then their real-world counterparts. Entertaining though it may be to have the PCs ransack the Lich's library to find a lovingly preserved copy of the Wheel of Time, and A Song Of Ice And Fire volumes I-VI (book 7, alas, having been lost to time), most players would object to having such tomes treated as reverently as those with more mystical import.

And it's not that there's a shortage of old paper around that's critical - it's the fact that learning to read and write uses up paper - unless someone found a way to keep the enchanted paper-mill running, the supply of writing materials would dwindle and be exhausted fairly quickly. In a setting where you have to make your own paper, you think very carefully before you write something down...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:07 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Yakk wrote:D&D is post-apoc fantasy.

The ancient civilizations where destroyed and left ruins. The PCs are scavengers admist the hostile wreckage.

Reading is common, because there are lots of leftover books from ancient days. Back when they had magical printing presses, or undead scribes, or mind controlled foreigners, or imps paid with souls to mass-produce books for citizens.


Do you know what the common name for a book is in a post-apocalyptic society? "Kindling".

Also, even under good conditions, books age - think about how many hundred-year-old books there are out there (not modern reprints - actual physical volumes that are at least a century old). Do you really think that a hundred years after the apocalypse, there'd still be a widespread supply of books? And that's without considering what happens when some charismatic individual decides that the apocalypse was the result of forbidden knowledge and convinces people to start book-burning...

There's also the non-trivial question of supplying writing implements and suitable surfaces to write upon - low tech sources of paper are pretty labour-intensive...


Except...spellbooks are sort of like weapons. So, they're more akin to a gun in the post-apoc.

Sure, practical difficulties exist, but it's more like Canticle for Leibowitz in nature than Mad Max.

Anyway, chatting about 5e. Thoughts regarding the Sword Coast book that just came out? It's been *super* popular, to the point where I almost ran out since friday, but I'm not sure how much of that is just players starved for any content other than adventures. Anyone get a chance to review and comment?

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby cphite » Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:36 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:None of which addresses the point I was making about mass literacy - at least I hope you have a separate written language that doesn't turn every love letter into a personalised Charm spell.


It's generally established in these games that either a.) magical scrolls and books are written in such a manner that only people capable of casting spells can read them; or b.) there is something else about a person that makes him or her capable of casting off a scroll. Except for some special exceptions, just anyone cannot simply read a scroll or book and have it work. So that isn't an issue.

The mass-produced books - the works of fiction, the histories and encyclopedias, the autobiographies, the kindergarten primers - the ones written in the Common tongue rather than in arcane runes - those only have value in the "knowledge is power" sense - and no more so then their real-world counterparts. Entertaining though it may be to have the PCs ransack the Lich's library to find a lovingly preserved copy of the Wheel of Time, and A Song Of Ice And Fire volumes I-VI (book 7, alas, having been lost to time), most players would object to having such tomes treated as reverently as those with more mystical import.


Sure; but assuming the Lich has a library, would you expect every book on every shelf to be a powerful artifact? Would it be that surprising to find that the Lich - who until you destroyed him (you hope!!) just now had a lot of time on his hands - has books that he reads for pleasure? Indeed, in most games, you might be looking for one very special book - perhaps the reason you sought out the Lich in the first place. You might find a handful of others that are worth taking and either selling or using. But that still leaves shelves of books that could include anything from history, to treatises on goblins, to fiction.

And it's not that there's a shortage of old paper around that's critical - it's the fact that learning to read and write uses up paper - unless someone found a way to keep the enchanted paper-mill running, the supply of writing materials would dwindle and be exhausted fairly quickly. In a setting where you have to make your own paper, you think very carefully before you write something down...


In the real world, as early as the 1300's there were paper mills in Europe that were able to mass produce quality paper; and they didn't even have magic to help them. It's not unreasonable to assume society with similar technological capabilities - with the addition of magic - would be able to do as well, or even better.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Coin » Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:22 am UTC

cphite wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:None of which addresses the point I was making about mass literacy - at least I hope you have a separate written language that doesn't turn every love letter into a personalised Charm spell.


It's generally established in these games that either a.) magical scrolls and books are written in such a manner that only people capable of casting spells can read them; or b.) there is something else about a person that makes him or her capable of casting off a scroll. Except for some special exceptions, just anyone cannot simply read a scroll or book and have it work. So that isn't an issue.

The mass-produced books - the works of fiction, the histories and encyclopedias, the autobiographies, the kindergarten primers - the ones written in the Common tongue rather than in arcane runes - those only have value in the "knowledge is power" sense - and no more so then their real-world counterparts. Entertaining though it may be to have the PCs ransack the Lich's library to find a lovingly preserved copy of the Wheel of Time, and A Song Of Ice And Fire volumes I-VI (book 7, alas, having been lost to time), most players would object to having such tomes treated as reverently as those with more mystical import.


Sure; but assuming the Lich has a library, would you expect every book on every shelf to be a powerful artifact? Would it be that surprising to find that the Lich - who until you destroyed him (you hope!!) just now had a lot of time on his hands - has books that he reads for pleasure? Indeed, in most games, you might be looking for one very special book - perhaps the reason you sought out the Lich in the first place. You might find a handful of others that are worth taking and either selling or using. But that still leaves shelves of books that could include anything from history, to treatises on goblins, to fiction.

And it's not that there's a shortage of old paper around that's critical - it's the fact that learning to read and write uses up paper - unless someone found a way to keep the enchanted paper-mill running, the supply of writing materials would dwindle and be exhausted fairly quickly. In a setting where you have to make your own paper, you think very carefully before you write something down...


In the real world, as early as the 1300's there were paper mills in Europe that were able to mass produce quality paper; and they didn't even have magic to help them. It's not unreasonable to assume society with similar technological capabilities - with the addition of magic - would be able to do as well, or even better.

If you are the creator of the world, who is to say that there isn't a good source of pen and paper substitutes?
Perhaps they write with ink made from the juices of the abundantly growing Black Weed or using the blue blood of the Frondle beasts who have been successfully tamed long ago. As for paper substitutes, parchment is a bit tedious to make, but fortunately they have an excellent substitute in the thin bark of the Olorond tree which can be pealed off in great big sheets. Or perhaps they would use complicated writing signs which condense entire sentences to the space of a thumbnail, thus using a lot less paper (this would also be an excellent reason as to why only trained wizards can read the more powerful, but hideously complex signs). A good substitute for paper when learning to write could be a chalk board which can be used again and again at no great cost.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby PolakoVoador » Thu Oct 29, 2015 4:21 pm UTC

Terribly late for the "how much one should prep" party, but this technique works fine with me (and here is the followup article, for one more example).

The gist of it is: you create factions and their relationships, and sort of go with the PCs flow. Do they attack or befriend Faction A? Will this anger Faction B? You don't waste much time prepping and have a lot of flexibility.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Oct 29, 2015 5:20 pm UTC

Coin wrote:If you are the creator of the world, who is to say that there isn't a good source of pen and paper substitutes?
Perhaps they write with ink made from the juices of the abundantly growing Black Weed or using the blue blood of the Frondle beasts who have been successfully tamed long ago. As for paper substitutes, parchment is a bit tedious to make, but fortunately they have an excellent substitute in the thin bark of the Olorond tree which can be pealed off in great big sheets. Or perhaps they would use complicated writing signs which condense entire sentences to the space of a thumbnail, thus using a lot less paper (this would also be an excellent reason as to why only trained wizards can read the more powerful, but hideously complex signs). A good substitute for paper when learning to write could be a chalk board which can be used again and again at no great cost.


Chalk boards require a supply of chalk. And periodic re-blacking in most cases. Yes, you can introduce a pencil tree or a biro bush to the setting, but you also need to have an economy where literacy is relevant to people's lives - either because they make frequent use of written reference, or because a lot of their leisure time is spent with words - otherwise, literacy is a luxury that tends to wither and die through lack of interest/relevance.

You need a thriving postal service, or mass-produced literature, or some such to provide a reason for people to read significant amounts.

Compare it with mathematics, which is fairly universally taught at school, but how much does the average man on the street remember?

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Coin » Fri Oct 30, 2015 10:20 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Coin wrote:If you are the creator of the world, who is to say that there isn't a good source of pen and paper substitutes?
Perhaps they write with ink made from the juices of the abundantly growing Black Weed or using the blue blood of the Frondle beasts who have been successfully tamed long ago. As for paper substitutes, parchment is a bit tedious to make, but fortunately they have an excellent substitute in the thin bark of the Olorond tree which can be pealed off in great big sheets. Or perhaps they would use complicated writing signs which condense entire sentences to the space of a thumbnail, thus using a lot less paper (this would also be an excellent reason as to why only trained wizards can read the more powerful, but hideously complex signs). A good substitute for paper when learning to write could be a chalk board which can be used again and again at no great cost.


Chalk boards require a supply of chalk. And periodic re-blacking in most cases. Yes, you can introduce a pencil tree or a biro bush to the setting, but you also need to have an economy where literacy is relevant to people's lives - either because they make frequent use of written reference, or because a lot of their leisure time is spent with words - otherwise, literacy is a luxury that tends to wither and die through lack of interest/relevance.

You need a thriving postal service, or mass-produced literature, or some such to provide a reason for people to read significant amounts.

Compare it with mathematics, which is fairly universally taught at school, but how much does the average man on the street remember?

To be sure, I was merely addressing the logistical issues in that post as an example that there are no problems, only possibilities.
There are many ways of designing a society with a vibrant literary climate and the Roman/Latin world is an excellent example of a pre-medieval times society in which writing was important and widespread. There is a reason why the alphabet was created in the Mediterranean and that is seafaring and its resulting trade. Of course, that is only one way of motivating it. Drawing on the literacy page of Wikipedia it is easy to see that literacy in 1600th century Sweden was pushed by the church. Religion can be a powerful tool in any setting. If one doesn't want to use religion, societal codes and pressures can be used: Perhaps poetry is very important for your status, such as in China and Japan, or maybe people just have a lot of free time in the winter, like the Scandinavians of the 900s, and come up with stories to read in the summer time.

The key here is that if you are in charge, anything is possible and that the only limit is your imagination or your research.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby PolakoVoador » Wed Nov 04, 2015 2:16 pm UTC

Another thing to consider is: does any of your players really care about it? Most of the time the suspension of disbelief on a RPG game is quite high, as long as things remain somewhat consistent.

It's like theater. Maybe the players see the ropes holding the fake world up, maybe they don't. If the players do see them, they will usually have the tact to ignore them.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:24 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:And it's not that there's a shortage of old paper around that's critical - it's the fact that learning to read and write uses up paper - unless someone found a way to keep the enchanted paper-mill running, the supply of writing materials would dwindle and be exhausted fairly quickly. In a setting where you have to make your own paper, you think very carefully before you write something down...


I'd just like to point out that in medieval Russia, birch bark and charcoal sticks were used to teach children, and in England wax slates with styluses (stylii?) were used. Chalk and slate blackboards were rather common by the end of the late Medieval period in Europe.

None of which require paper.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birch_bark_manuscript
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wax_tablet
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:01 pm UTC

Hell, you got sand and a stick? You got a writing surface. Dirt'll work too. Hell, any sort of surface and some colored rocks can do it too.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Coin » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:30 pm UTC

Last week was the last session of the year for me and my group and I wanted it to end on a high note. The past two sessions have been very much a build up for next years big campaign of tracking a band of necromancers hidden in a Scandinavian-style archipelago and, although they have been interesting, they have contained a lot of planning and very little action. Since I knew that planning was a likely outcome (my players like to talk) I had earlier planted a mission which they could choose to accept, but with a time limit so they couldn't save it for after hunting the necromancers. This mission was to sneak into the harbour watch HQ and retrieve a hidden box of gems from an impounded ship and return with it to the ship-owner. The outcome was a very tense, Metal Gear style infiltration of the gated grounds during a rainy night, while the druid, in the shape of a big bird, distracted the guards and the fighter stood ready to cause a further distraction by setting fire to a pile of rubbish without knowing that it was dangerously close to a warehouse filled with highly flammable barrels of pitch.
The thief and the mage who did the infiltrating were nearly caught several times, one of which was when they forgot that they left a window open and closed it only seconds before the guard came back. The action didn't stop there though; once they had the box the thief almost succeeded in convincing the mage that the two of them should make off with the loot :)

All in all I couldn't have wished for a better season finale!

Does anyone else have any "end of the year" stories to share?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yablo » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:32 pm UTC

Coin wrote:Does anyone else have any "end of the year" stories to share?

The final session of my Delta Green game (write-up in my sig) was fun, but it wasn't spectacular. It went pretty much where I had seen it going for two months; apartment building torched, tenants "disappeared". It was a success for the group, but it came at the expense of a fair bit of sanity and bad karma. I'm still a little surprised that the "Halloween Episode" took two months, but it was a good one. Now I get a month to relax and enjoy my vacation before I have to set up the next one.

As a side note (which is ironically to the main point of the thread), I really miss old-school D&D. I started playing about two weeks before 2nd ed. came out, and 3rd ed. was tough for me to get into. I've given Pathfinder a shot, and I tried 4th ed, but nothing quite has the feel of the old games. From what I understand, 5th might be a good fit for me, but I haven't had the time to try it out.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:12 pm UTC

5e is "better 3e", so maybe? It depends on what you liked about 2e and didn't like about 3e. (I don't have experience playing 2e, just reading its books, so I can't really comment on its merits.)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:54 pm UTC

I started playing about two weeks before 2nd ed. came out


Wow. That's old school. What do you miss about 1st edition? I've only played modern systems like Pathfinder, World of Darkness, 13th Age, etc. etc. My friends make fun of THAC0 and other stuff from earlier editions, but I don't have any experience with the old school games.

As a side note, I've been running Iron Gods since October. My group only meets twice a month or so, and we're maybe 30% through the 2nd book. Its my first adventure path that I'm running for an extended period and I definitely am having a good time. Before now, I always homebrewed a campaign or just tried to randomly play the game... playing an actual adventure path has allowed me to focus 100% on mechanical understanding of Pathfinder (leaving the story and fluff to the adventure path). I definitely want to homebrew a campaign, but DMing an adventure path has taught me more about this game than anything else I've ever done. So I recommend that everyone play through at least one pre-written module or path, as just part of your learning experience.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:03 pm UTC

Not who you were asking, but I played a lot of 2nd. 1st had charts for To Hit but I can't remember if it was called THAC0 or not.

THAC0 is basically no different at all from the system now, only that armor class was backwards in that 10 was where you started and -10 was where you wanted to be. THAC0 was simply the number you needed to hit something of armor class 0. Classes started at THAC0 20, and the fighting classes went down by one every level, cleric and thief types down every other, wizards every third. Not too different from how BAB goes up every level for fighting classes, every other for mid-fighters and every third for nonfighters in Pathfinder and the like. At least that's how it worked in my memory - looking at some charts real quick, Clerics might have gone down by two every three levels because of course things can't be simple.

You just had to do some quick math when you rolled a 9, had a THAC0 of 14 and were trying to hit something with an AC of 4. (That's a miss, by the way, as you hit AC 5)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:48 pm UTC

Every time I notice myself getting nostalgic for 2E, I go back and reread the rules for high-level Druid character progression, or for multiclassing, dual classing, and level caps. And suddenly the nostalgia vanishes...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:06 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:You just had to do some quick math when you rolled a 9, had a THAC0 of 14 and were trying to hit something with an AC of 4. (That's a miss, by the way, as you hit AC 5)

So, if you where seasoned, you added the opponents AC to your roll and compared against THAC0.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby doogly » Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:09 pm UTC

Yeah this was just a really not at all complicated system, and yet people would shit all over it.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:20 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:You just had to do some quick math when you rolled a 9, had a THAC0 of 14 and were trying to hit something with an AC of 4. (That's a miss, by the way, as you hit AC 5)

So, if you where seasoned, you added the opponents AC to your roll and compared against THAC0.

Or, if you were really with it, you subtracted your opponent's AC from your THAC0, and compared your rolls to that number all combat long...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:41 pm UTC

You also have to subtract your modifiers from that number too.

The real problem was a -2 bonus to AC and a +2 penalty to AC. Or a +2 bonus to hit and a +2 penalty to your THAC0. Etc.

Bonuses and penalties going in different directions for different abilities.

It gets worse when you subtract your attribute bonus from the THAC0, and your attribute bonus is negative. Or you penalize your THAC0 by your attribute bonus.

Sure, I can do it in my head; but requiring multiple sign swaps and keeping track of numbers that want to be high, or low, in order to determine if an attack hits is a bit much.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:49 pm UTC

Yeah, if a -2 had consistently been in the entity's favor, and a +2 against them, it wouldn't have been bad. But needing high in one number and low in it's opposition made it weird.

And as fucked as Highlander Druids were, nothing compares to the 1st ed Bard. What the hell crack were they smoking when they came up with that?

To become a bard, a human or half-elf had to begin with very high ability scores: Strength 15+, Wisdom 15+, Dexterity 15+ and Charisma 15+, Intelligence 12+ and Constitution 10+. These daunting requirements made bards one of the rarest character classes. Bards began the game as fighters, and after achieving 5th level (but before reaching 8th level), they had to dual-class as a thief, and after reaching 5th level as a thief (but before reaching 9th level), they had to dual-class again to druid. Once becoming a druid, the character then progressed as a bard, but under druidic tutelage.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:59 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Sure, I can do it in my head; but requiring multiple sign swaps and keeping track of numbers that want to be high, or low, in order to determine if an attack hits is a bit much.


Most of the time, you just needed to run through the numbers once and you could then reuse that number until something significant changed. Where things get problematic is when you start having the conditions varying rapidly in a way that makes your pre-computed values useless...

We had some character sheets someone somewhere had put together and people had photocopied repeatedly before they ever reached us, including a THAC chart - rather than a single box for THAC0, it was two rows of boxes - one for target AC; the other for to hit values.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Aiwendil » Mon Dec 28, 2015 5:31 pm UTC

I still run 2nd edition. The funny thing is that back in the '90s, I don't remember any of my players getting confused about high-is-better vs. low-is-better conventions, but the new players in my game now (new to RPGs in general, not just 2e AD&D) complained a lot about the inconsistency when they started, and still have trouble remembering which things follow which convention. I've been playing so long that I've just internalized it: attacks and saving throws are roll high (and thus the associated stats are low-is-better), proficiency/ability checks and thief skills are roll low (and thus the associated stats are high-is-better). Initiative is roll low, because it represents an ordering of actions, and going 1st is better than going 2nd, etc.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby raudorn » Thu Feb 25, 2016 8:26 am UTC

Since there doesn't seem to be a seperate thread for Pathfinder, I'll post this here: There is currently a Humble Bundle on sale, which includes a whole bunch (maybe all?) Pathfinder books for the usual pay-what-you-want price. Some books are tiered behind certain amounts, but we're talking 25$ for 22 books here. So maybe check it out?

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Dauric » Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:23 pm UTC

raudorn wrote:Since there doesn't seem to be a seperate thread for Pathfinder, I'll post this here: There is currently a Humble Bundle on sale, which includes a whole bunch (maybe all?) Pathfinder books for the usual pay-what-you-want price. Some books are tiered behind certain amounts, but we're talking 25$ for 22 books here. So maybe check it out?


Grand total for me with shipping for the physical box set was a little under $38 . Still a pretty good deal, thanks for the link!
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Feb 26, 2016 3:40 pm UTC

Yeah, usually the tiers ascend in price, but I'm thinking the $25 box is skewing everything high. At any rate, way I figure it, it's a kind of last ditch effort on Paizo's part to get people who haven't bought the books (because that's easily $500+ MSRP worth of books) to buy them and, as a result, get interested in buying more [after all, it's only half of the adventure path, so you'll need to drop $30-60 to finish it out] AND a way for people who have ... less than legitimate digital copies to get actual legal versions of .pdfs they've been using for years.
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Re: Dungeons & Dragons (& other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:43 pm UTC

Random game crunch thought:
A game based off saving throws.

When in peril, you roll a saving throw. You have a *pool* of saving throw dice.

The peril has 3 results:
1) Success -- you avoid the peril, and gain something in-game.
2) Harmed -- you fail the saving throw, and it costs you the die you rolled, and something in-game
3) Defeated -- you fail your saving throw, and it was your last saving throw die

A rather passive game.

Characters might be a collection of capabilities (things they can do). Players are able to do anything in their capabilities, but the GM throws hazards at the player. The player defends against the hazards with saving throws.

I guess it feels a bit like Dungeon World, but more mechanically passive.

The core idea is that, unless opposed, you can do anything.

There might be a standard set of hazards, like "out of ammo", "out of time", "stabby stab stab", "lost".

So you take a gun and want to shoot someone. With unlimited ammo and the target not reacting, you *will* shoot them. If they won't react and you have limited ammo, the hazard is "out of ammo".

Success: You shoot them!
Harmed: You have no more bullets. Your gun now a club.
Defeated: You fumbled your gun and shot yourself in the leg. You are bleeding out unless someone saves you.

---

Mechanically, it is a mixture of attrition mechanics (where you defeat someone by taking away their HP) and saving throws (where you roll to avoid something bad happen).

Symmetry, where you roll to do something, and roll to avoid something, is cumbersome.

And anyhow, this forces the DM to work out how you *fail* to do something instead of "well, you swung your sword. Nothing happens. Next!", which is a waste of narrative space.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby DaBigCheez » Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:47 am UTC

The dice mechanic reminds me a bit of Elder Sign (though not as purely a dice game, ofc).
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