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 F117Landers » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:20 am UTC

Hey all, is there a thread specific for the Stargate SG1 tabletop? If not, does anyone have experience with it? (Looking to see if it's worth sinking the money to pick up the main book).

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EMTP » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:22 pm UTC

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?


A year late, here you go. I really like the additions to the rules, but I don't like having to wade through an ocean of FR lore to find it. I have never gotten interested in the FR as a setting and as Gob says, "I make up my own patter."

My $0.02: if you're going to give my a sourcebook, give me a sourcebook, with big fold-out maps and lots of adventure hooks and thousands of years of fake history. Give me Eberron or Lankhmar or the old Greyhawk boxed set. Background on one small region of a world…maybe if I already knew and loved it. But nothing about FR sticks in my mind. Maybe a fan of that setting can weigh in.

From a rules perspective, there are a lot of subtle touches. Variant half-elves can snag a cantrip or weapon proficiencies or Fleet of Foot. Winged Tieflings are now a thing (they could also be serviceable winged elves.) Bladesinger & weapon cantrips spice up your wizard options (like they need it!) Battleragers are back, although mechanistically they're rather meh.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:04 pm UTC

Note that Sword Coast's new Sorcerer subclasses are committing a sin that wotc's since stayed away from - they add more spells to the Sorcerer's Spells Known list. This has proven to be too powerful of a benefit, and so they don't do it any more.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EMTP » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:30 am UTC

Xanthir wrote:Note that Sword Coast's new Sorcerer subclasses are committing a sin that wotc's since stayed away from - they add more spells to the Sorcerer's Spells Known list. This has proven to be too powerful of a benefit, and so they don't do it any more.


Hmmm, maybe you're think of something else? The only new sorcerer path in Sword Coast is Storm, and they don't get any bonus spells.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:10 pm UTC

I might be; I know that Mearls said *some* early supplement had Sorc subclasses that added bonus spells, and those were a mistake they weren't repeating.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EMTP » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:18 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:I might be; I know that Mearls said *some* early supplement had Sorc subclasses that added bonus spells, and those were a mistake they weren't repeating.


I think you're thinking of Unearthed Arcana, the online column where they release playtest materials. One of their VERY early efforts was a ludicrously overpowered offering called the "Favored Soul." This was a sorcerer path that not only granted 10 additional spells, but also threw in armor and weapons proficiency and oh, just for kicks, a second attack at 6th level.

That option has now been full-on nerfed with the release of the UA Sorcerer article, in which the favored soul is completely reworked and is much more balanced and on theme, actually.

PS: Some good-hearted soul has collected all the UA material and formatted like the PH with awesome art and released it as a free PDF. If you haven't been following UA it's like the Player's Handbook, vol 2, for free: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4jAv0 ... RXMWc/view
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:31 pm UTC

Oh shit, I've just been saving all the UAs individually; this is awesome!

Oh, except that URL appears to be broken; there's nothing at the other end. :(
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:28 am UTC

I'm looking for a TTRPG system that would be appropriate to run a heavily Half Life inspired game. Right now I'm leaning towards a slightly homebrewed D20 Modern, or a heavily homebrewed DnD 5e adaptation, but I'm wondering if there's any other existing products worth looking into for this?
Or maybe if anyone would be interested in collaborating on this project?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Fri Feb 01, 2019 3:30 pm UTC

My first thought is Fate Core. It's basically designed to to be able to put together your own setting. Gonna be way more flexible than D&D. I don't really know anything about d20 modern, but I suspect Fate will also be easier to mold into what you want.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:09 pm UTC

Something like Delta Green - the Call of Cthulhu spinoff about current day agents defending Earth from Outsiders, and keeping the government from going all Weyland-Yutani on any remains (or live specimens) might be a better starting point.

A lot depends on what era of the Half Life setting you're going for, and what sort of atmosphere you're planning on. There's a big difference between Black Mesa science team during Half-Life, the military clean-up squad, the black-ops scrub squad, Black Mesa security, anyone working for/with the G-Man or his employers, someone during the 7-hour war, someone in Ravenholm (when people still went there), Combine troops, resistance members, civilians. Or people involved with Aperture Science, or...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Dauric » Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:18 pm UTC

Depending on how crunchy you want your ruleset I can think of two options:

GURPS 4'th edition(Steve Jackson Games) "Generic Universal Role Playing System", very rules heavy but sourcebooks for pretty much any setting you want or want to invent. Steve Jackson is heavy on the research behind the books, so if you need a gamer friendly resource for modern equipment (High Tech) or how we currently understand solar systems form (to build your own, GURPs Space) it is a good series to look in to. There's options for cinematic games, but GURPS is much better for gritty realism (if you don't mind the crunchy rules).

I've played GURPS for years, from 3'rd edition in High School up through recently, though of late I've been looking at more "Rules Light" systems as having a job and a house I don't really have the time to pour through rulebooks all day.

Savage Worlds (Pinnacle Entertainment) is good for a cinematic game, and it' another non-genre specific ruleset. Honestly for your Half-Life game I'd go with Savage Worlds.

Edit:
Another potential option is Cypher System(Monte Cook Games). It's a genre-agnostic system like GURPS and Savage Worlds, but with a very different concept of how the rules work (the GM doesn't roll dice, stats like Strength and Intelligence act more like hit points than in D&D, so you exert yourself physically you lose points from your Strength pool.)

I mention it since I'm very much a proponent of seeing how other game systems work because even if you don't use that ruleset some of the ideas may improve your game in your system of choice.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:02 am UTC

I do like the softer systems like FATE, but my players tend to prefer more crunch.

If I go with a setting-agnostic system it would probably be GURPS, 3rd ed was my first TTRPG and I'll always have a soft spot for it. Also, the last game I ran was Shadowrun and just about anything would be lighter rules-wise than that.

I keep meaning to try Savage Worlds, there's a pulp 1920s-30s games I've had in the back of my mind for a couple years now that seems like it would be a good fit for, but I've been trying to track down a particular supplement I read about that's supposed to have a bunch of pulp character options/classes.

I hear good things about Monte Cook games, particularly Numenera, but haven't actually played with any of them. I also really like looking at systems that do different stuff to poach ideas from, so I'll definitely take a look at Cypher System.

I hadn't thought about trying to modify a Lovecraftian setting/system for this project. I guess Lovecraft has just become so popular/ubiquitous in the last few years that it's just background noise to me now. But actually giving it some thought, it seems like an obvious fit, and I was considering adding a bit more cosmic-horror flavoring anyway.

I think part of the problem I'm having is that while it would be relatively easy to let the players all be spec-ops ninjas or HECU Marines and any of the mentioned systems would handle that with little-to-no need for additional twerking, I want the party to all be members of the Science Team, with maybe a Barney and/or maintenance/janitor thrown in, while still having relevant/useful skills and abilities for navigating and surviving the damaged facility full of alien monsters from beyond the stars.

So far what I've got is that maybe different characters could have different clearances to access parts of the facility and operate machinery, and the maintenance worker could repair damaged systems. But that doesn't really seem like enough to hang a character class on or anything like that.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Dauric » Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:30 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:... the maintenance worker could repair damaged systems. But that doesn't really seem like enough to hang a character class on or anything like that.


Salvage and jury-rig (perhaps with a bit of "Weird Science" thrown in). Black Mesa was obviously barely holding together with bailing wire and sealing wax even before the resonance cascade incident, it's the maintenance guys that keep the particle scanners working on minimum budget and with available parts. Your "maintenance class" can build a one-shot missile launcher from a vacuum cleaner hose, a bottle of industrial solvent and that weird goo you found in that vat three floors down... Just.. use it before that goop eats through the hose...
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby DaBigCheez » Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:01 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:I hadn't thought about trying to modify a Lovecraftian setting/system for this project. I guess Lovecraft has just become so popular/ubiquitous in the last few years that it's just background noise to me now. But actually giving it some thought, it seems like an obvious fit, and I was considering adding a bit more cosmic-horror flavoring anyway.

I think part of the problem I'm having is that while it would be relatively easy to let the players all be spec-ops ninjas or HECU Marines and any of the mentioned systems would handle that with little-to-no need for additional twerking, I want the party to all be members of the Science Team, with maybe a Barney and/or maintenance/janitor thrown in, while still having relevant/useful skills and abilities for navigating and surviving the damaged facility full of alien monsters from beyond the stars.

So far what I've got is that maybe different characters could have different clearances to access parts of the facility and operate machinery, and the maintenance worker could repair damaged systems. But that doesn't really seem like enough to hang a character class on or anything like that.

You might consider something in the World of Darkness system, or similar to it; mechanically, I like how it handles degrees of success and failure, and the skill/stat system is fairly robust in both combat and non-combat scenarios. (Fair warning, I'm most familiar with Exalted, which does behave slightly differently.) It tends to have a *lot* of setting-specific crunch, though, so you might need to find a more general sourcebook or do a bit of jury-rigging to make it either more adaptable or more specifically suited to your needs. I'd think a basic World of Darkness (as opposed to Mage, Werewolf, Vampire, etc.) sourcebook should cover most of the things a Black Mesa squad would be interested in, though.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:17 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:I think part of the problem I'm having is that while it would be relatively easy to let the players all be spec-ops ninjas or HECU Marines and any of the mentioned systems would handle that with little-to-no need for additional twerking, I want the party to all be members of the Science Team, with maybe a Barney and/or maintenance/janitor thrown in, while still having relevant/useful skills and abilities for navigating and surviving the damaged facility full of alien monsters from beyond the stars.

So far what I've got is that maybe different characters could have different clearances to access parts of the facility and operate machinery, and the maintenance worker could repair damaged systems. But that doesn't really seem like enough to hang a character class on or anything like that.


I'm not sure a class-based system is a good idea for playing members of the science team, but if you include a Barney and a tech, then you could get 4 classes fairly easily: Physicist, Biologist, Security, Maintenance/Tech. Physicists could design (but not make) new devices, and control cross-dimensional effects (including teleportation and travel to/from Xen); Biologists would be able to understand, and get/provide bonuses against, intruders, and analyse and adapt things like the hornet gun; Security would have weapons and the training to use them; Maintenance would have access everywhere and the ability to build/repair/adapt devices.

In general, unless someone manages to get hold of an HEV suit, alien encounters are going to be lethal - having Barneys involved may help, but even they aren't going to be able to deal with more than a few enemies at once - without an HEV, just one successful attack by a headcrab is going to be lethal, so even a lone headcrab poses a serious threat.

It's also worth bearing in mind that there's considerable evidence that Black Mesa has been researching Xen for some time before the Cascade Event, so various members of the science team would have knowledge of common hazards like headcrabs and barnacles.

All of this points toward something more like Call of Cthulhu than D&D - skill-based rather than class-based, low combat, high lethality, and with investigation a big focus.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Dauric » Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:13 am UTC

Okay, I must vent...

I hate Paladins and Jedi.

and i'm going to spoiler it because I get a bit ranty

Spoiler:
It's not the "goody two-shoes" or the fanatical adherence to a moral code.

It's quite the opposite, everyone I know who plays a Paladin or Jedi either won't or can't follow a moral code.

These character types get a lot of really nice and powerful abilities, but what keeps slipping people's minds is that those abilities comes with a price: You don't get as much freedom to choose your actions.

(This week I had a session, first one I'd played with this group, with someone playing a paladin who elected to sit out a fight with a bunch of zombies because (in his opinion) he didn't have any say in the plan of attack. It was terribly passive aggressive thing in the first place, but his playing a paladin just added the cake topper to the attitude of utter shit at the table. He got better shortly afterwards so I didn't feel a need to make a deal about it at the session, but still... paladins... I hate them.)

Zombies are (certainly to a Lawful Good Paladin) an abomination, an anathema to life and goodness which he was supposed to be upholding. It shouldn't matter a whit whether you helped devise the attack plan or are just a cog in the tactical wheel, a Paladin is all about ending the abomination of false life. They're not mercenaries that can decide "Meh, the rewards for this fight just aren't worth the effort." To a Lawful Good Paladin -all- false life should be destroyed.

The kick in the ass: The GM didn't say anything. It was the other players that had to remind him of this and even then he stood out the fight. The GM has the power, and the responsibility, to strip a Paladin of their powers if they're not adhering to their tenets.

(To be fair, this certainly isn't the only GM I've seen let this slide, I think most GMs I've seen face this issue do. Players who choose Paladins can be an obnoxiously whiny lot, as is the nature of power-gamers.)

Jedi, Same thing. They get all kinds of cool powers and an awesome laser sword to boot, but there's a price to pay: your moral choices have a heavier impact on you than they would on a non-force user. You don't get to justify shooting lightning bolts from your fingertips as "not dark side" because you were using it for the rebels. It's using the force of life to harm or end life, it's dark side, period.

(The Jedi thing's been simmering in my cauldron of pet peeves for a while now, the Paladin thing just helped it boil over because it's essentially the same issue)

Some of the blame I place on the power-gaming players who infamously will pick these kinds of characters because they have powerful abilities an ignore the limitations. I place a degree of blame on GMs that don't disallow Paladins or Jedi, or at the very least make them like old D&D 3.5 Prestige Classes where you need to meet certain requirements, like being able to play with a moral code (at least one that isn't less rigid than overcooked pasta).

But I also place a measure of blame on the game rules that don't emphasize these limitations. D&D 5'th for example only has a bit of a sidebar in the PHB, and the penalties for being an "Oathbreaker" are buried somewhere in the DMG.

The other thing I think the rulesets need to emphasize, and GMs and Players need to think about is that Paladins and Jedi, as part of their narratives, require the occasional test of faith. Something to challenge their moral code, to force them to choose between the penalties for breaking that code and some unfortunate outcome because they stuck to it.

This means extra work for the GM. Extra work that I think most GMs don't realize they need to do to balance the Paladin or Jedi with the test of the party. Extra work that they should weigh before allowing characters with divine/supernatural connections to a moral code.

Extra work that most GMs don't do, don't consider that they need to, and don't disallow Paladins or Jedi if they'e not willing to do it.

"But without Jedi it's not Star Wars" I hear some fans of the intellectual property say. To which my response is "Jedi that are not impacted by their ethical choices, that don't face moral tests, and who can bullshit their way in to doing anything they want regardless of the moral/ethical impacts aren't Star Wars either. A game is more Star Wars if it's played as a generic space opera without Jedi and Sith in the foreground (they are supposed to me incredibly rare after all), than it is with force (ab)users doing whatever with complete disregard to the nature of Good and Evil, corruption and redemption that is central to the entire Star Wars narrative.

Paladins need that narrative as well, or else they're just overpowered spell-casters with swords and full plate.

And that's why I hate Paladins and Jedi.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby eran_rathan » Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:16 pm UTC

I always love having Paladins in my group, precisely because I (since I typically GM) can hold them to certain moral choices or have them stripped of their powers (which I am not at all loath to do - I do that Clerics and Druids too. The gods in my world are VERY active.)

One of my favorite games, the group came across a vampire who was turned unwillingly and wanted to be 'cured'. He was a paladin of Pelor, with the specific ethos of "Bringing Light into the dark places." The group was all for 'lets just kill it and move on' but the Paladin was like, "No. This is an innocent, and we have the power to save her soul. I will not let you kill her." He actually was willing to fight the rest of the party to save this kid.

That began an epic quest that ended with the Paladin bringing her to a specific temple and getting her cured of the vampirism. It was really emotional.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Feb 04, 2019 3:09 pm UTC

Ugh, DnD powergamers.

Last 5e game I played in, every other PC was Variant Human and I had to spend an excessive amount of time each level explaining how I knew that the way I was building my character wasn't 'mechanically optimal' and that I was ok with that.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:51 pm UTC

The main issue is that early editions of D&D had very tight fluff/crunch integration - just look at things like the non-human level caps and the rigmarole for high level Druids in 2nd Ed - but that's been largely dropped over subsequent editions. Paladin ethos is a holdover from that era, and is easily overlooked by murder-hobos and their enabler DMs now that it's an isolated anomaly rather than being just one among many fluff-based limitations on crunchy abilities.

Of course, rules-as-written, straight-rolling 3d6 for each stat in turn, the chance of rolling the stats needed for a 2e Paladin is around 1 in 750, so Paladins are, in theory, incredibly rare and it's a great privilege to have the opportunity to play one and attempt to follow the code of ethics etc. In practice, players want to play the cool shiny tin can, and DMs are sympathetic to players who feel that having a character class in the PHB that you might have one person at the local game store who legitimately met the requirements to create is somewhere between a tease and a waste of paper.

Third ed scrapped the entry requirements for races and classes, which is generally a good thing, but it did mean that Paladins lost a lot of their rarity value, and left their piety requirements as an oddity. 4th Ed was even more crunchy and less fluffy, and I've not yet picked up the 5th Ed rules so can't comment on them.

There was a story I heard some years ago about a DM who allowed a party of all Paladins, and, as a hook, gave them a desperate request for aid from a village under threat of extermination by an oppressive force. They adventure that way, and arrive to find that it's an Orcish village under threat from their human neighbours. At which point the players quit the game...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:28 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:
These character types get a lot of really nice and powerful abilities, but what keeps slipping people's minds is that those abilities comes with a price: You don't get as much freedom to choose your actions.


That's extremely not true. The Paladin class in D&D is mechanically balanced with the other classes, straight out. Roleplay is not involved or considered in the balancing; Paladins aren't "more powerful, but with an RP drawback". You can take the Paladin's mechanical skeleton and do a simple reflavor into a Mageblade, and end up with a perfectly fine and balanced class.

The character you're ranting about was being a passive-aggressive dick. Their character class doesn't play any part in that; their actions would be no better and no worse if they were a Wizard or a Fighter or anything else. Roleplay restrictions are roleplay-based, and should stay that way; if your Paladin was roleplaying a typical "godly fighter-ish character" and, in an immersion-breaking manner, roleplayed jerkishly, that's a bad deal because of their bad RPing.

(Jedi may or may not try to balance mechanical power with RP drawbacks; I haven't played any SW RPGs, and anyway there's many independently-created systems that might make different choices.)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:31 pm UTC

As an aside, I have been quite enjoying the "Natural 1" podcast: https://natural1podcast.com/

I like the idea of a randomly generated world. Some of the random generation was done in the background. It makes me itch for a randomly-generated "west marches" system.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby wumpus » Mon May 13, 2019 3:04 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:
Dauric wrote:
These character types get a lot of really nice and powerful abilities, but what keeps slipping people's minds is that those abilities comes with a price: You don't get as much freedom to choose your actions.


That's extremely not true. The Paladin class in D&D is mechanically balanced with the other classes, straight out. Roleplay is not involved or considered in the balancing; Paladins aren't "more powerful, but with an RP drawback". You can take the Paladin's mechanical skeleton and do a simple reflavor into a Mageblade, and end up with a perfectly fine and balanced class.


This was one of the things I hated about the original Unearthed Arcana (AD&D, 1e). They included four classes (archer, barbarian, cavalier, and thief-acrobat). Not only that, they changed the paladin from a subclass of fighter to a subclass of cavalier, so when they introduced a broken cavalier class, they broke the paladin class as well.

I don't remember much of the archer class (and it might have been included elsewhere). I doubt it was a real issue.

The rest don't "play well with others". This isn't an issue for the thief-acrobat, as it appears to be designed for solo play. The others balance "does not play well with others" as a RP counterbalance to the crunch benefits. Personally, I'd go far as to say that "party cohesion" is so central to [A]D&D (and what Gary Gygax was trying to do with the game) that these are fundamentally wrong, not just completely unworkable.

In a normal game, these game-braking parts (Barbarians hate wizards (magic users), and barely tolerate clerics [they can't even group with clerics at first level]), cavaliers ignore party tactics during combat : essentially becoming the worst stereotype of bad D&D play) are simply ignored. This leaves the classes still overpowered and the other players are wondering what disadvantages (wizards wearing armor? fighters casting spells) they can simply ignore.

And don't ask about what happens when the DM realizes that slipping in a 18(72) strength means that your cavalier (or paladin) will hit 19 strength somewhere around third level...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Mon May 13, 2019 7:36 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:
Dauric wrote:These character types get a lot of really nice and powerful abilities, but what keeps slipping people's minds is that those abilities comes with a price: You don't get as much freedom to choose your actions.
That's extremely not true. The Paladin class in D&D is mechanically balanced with the other classes, straight out. Roleplay is not involved or considered in the balancing; Paladins aren't "more powerful, but with an RP drawback". You can take the Paladin's mechanical skeleton and do a simple reflavor into a Mageblade, and end up with a perfectly fine and balanced class.


Which edition of D&D?

Back in second edition, Paladins were Fighters plus spellcasting plus healing plus turning undead, but needed more XP per level, had stringent stat and race requirements, and were required to have a particular requirement and follow a particular code. You could argue about whether the increased XP costs were enough to balance the benefits, but, if that was ever the intention, it failed in practice. Paladins were definitely ahead of the curve mechanically (at least in the range where most people spent most time playing - it's possible that once you got past level 10 the level gap balanced things better) but they were (at least when following the rules-as-written) incredibly rare, so it was okay that they were also super-powerful (except when people were allowed to fudge character generation to get to play Paladin anyway).

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Fri May 17, 2019 11:09 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Which edition of D&D?

5e, clearly. Previous editions' foibles aren't relevant to most people playing D&D today.

rmsgrey wrote:
but they were (at least when following the rules-as-written) incredibly rare, so it was okay that they were also super-powerful (except when people were allowed to fudge character generation to get to play Paladin anyway).

"Rare" isn't a balancing factor, not even remotely. You're not playing a thousand games and averaging your win% over all of them. You're playing a single game, where you have a character that's more powerful than the rest of your party, and that feels bad.

Same with race/stat/code restrictions. None of those are actually balancing factors. They can be part of *world-building*, to explain why this more-powerful class doesn't show up everywhere in the world and dominate, but it has no relevance whatsoever to balancing a single character against the other characters in the party. I'm so, so glad D&D has finally recognized that all of these are flavor only. (Tho I do wish they were more forthright with a statement in the rules that when such restrictions do show up, they're just flavor-based and should be considered freely alterable/discardable depending on your campaign world, because they don't actually have any mechanical impact.)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Sat May 18, 2019 2:00 am UTC

Xanthir wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Which edition of D&D?

5e, clearly. Previous editions' foibles aren't relevant to most people playing D&D today.

If so, that's a change for 5E - during 4E, there were a lot of people sticking with 3.5 (or switching to Pathfinder)
Xanthir wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
but they were (at least when following the rules-as-written) incredibly rare, so it was okay that they were also super-powerful (except when people were allowed to fudge character generation to get to play Paladin anyway).
"Rare" isn't a balancing factor, not even remotely. You're not playing a thousand games and averaging your win% over all of them. You're playing a single game, where you have a character that's more powerful than the rest of your party, and that feels bad.


D&D has always had a bit of split personality - as a collaborative story-telling medium, the fluff is a lot more important than the crunchy stats, and you can tell a perfectly good story of the noble Paladin and her trusty companions, where the Paladin is unstoppable in combat, but the other players shine in non-combat encounters. Meanwhile, as a miniatures wargaming system, yeah, once you get a Paladin in play, the balance is thrown way off.

If you're only playing a single game of D&D, then having a rare and powerful -whatever- in the game is, yeah, going to throw things off. If you're playing dozens of games of D&D over time, then having an occasional one where something wildly unbalanced happens makes a nice change - and the rarity does act as a balancing element meaning that most games will be moderate.

Different underlying assumptions producing different outcomes.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sun May 19, 2019 4:44 am UTC

I finally got around to reading the Cypher rules primer, and it seems super neat! I immediately started having ideas for how to use it in my planned Half-Life inspired and Pulp Interwar games.

Actually, Matt Colville was talking about some ideas for what DnD 4e "could have been" on his stream and one of the ideas was just make everything an 'ability/power' card, Skills, Items, Spells, etc. If you have a sword, you get a 'sword attack' power card and so on. That got me thinking about using a similar system as an easier way to make characters for the Half-Life inspired game than trying to design full custom classes from basically scratch.

One of my ideas was to make 'equipment/item' cards that would give specific classes unique benefits. Like, anyone could 'use' firearms, but firearm 'item cards' would have additional abilities on them only usable by a Security class, while other types of items might have abilities only for Science Team classes or Maintenance/Technician classes.

There would also be 'prototype' and 'alien' items that would be an excellent fit for the Cypher system's eponymous 'cyphers'. Though I also like what Dale Friesen did on the first season of Dice Friends with magic weapons that started with a bunch of check-marks, then got a new check-mark every time a nat 20 or nat 1 was rolled on an attack, and the player had to roll percentile dice against the number of check-marks to see if the weapon exploded spectacularly.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Mon May 20, 2019 9:45 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Xanthir wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Which edition of D&D?

5e, clearly. Previous editions' foibles aren't relevant to most people playing D&D today.

If so, that's a change for 5E - during 4E, there were a lot of people sticking with 3.5 (or switching to Pathfinder)

Yup, 4e was a huge change from 3e (and had its own set of growing pains that, imo unfairly, doomed it), so a lot of people stuck with 3e or its variants.

5e is essentially "3e but way better", so 3e and earlier is only relevant insofar as people are purposely doing legacy gaming. (The same position 2e held during 3e's dominance; only old-schoolers who enjoyed the legacy feel used it, but nobody asked "do you mean 2e or 3e?" when you asked a question about D&D; it was assumed you were talking about 3e in the absence of any obvious version indicators.)

Xanthir wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
but they were (at least when following the rules-as-written) incredibly rare, so it was okay that they were also super-powerful (except when people were allowed to fudge character generation to get to play Paladin anyway).
"Rare" isn't a balancing factor, not even remotely. You're not playing a thousand games and averaging your win% over all of them. You're playing a single game, where you have a character that's more powerful than the rest of your party, and that feels bad.


D&D has always had a bit of split personality - as a collaborative story-telling medium, the fluff is a lot more important than the crunchy stats, and you can tell a perfectly good story of the noble Paladin and her trusty companions, where the Paladin is unstoppable in combat, but the other players shine in non-combat encounters. Meanwhile, as a miniatures wargaming system, yeah, once you get a Paladin in play, the balance is thrown way off.

If you're only playing a single game of D&D, then having a rare and powerful -whatever- in the game is, yeah, going to throw things off. If you're playing dozens of games of D&D over time, then having an occasional one where something wildly unbalanced happens makes a nice change - and the rarity does act as a balancing element meaning that most games will be moderate.

Different underlying assumptions producing different outcomes.


I've been playing D&D (and other rpgs) for near twenty years. I've never had the experience where "something wildly unbalanced" is fun, at the level of campaign-long choices. Within a single session, fuck it, go crazy, things'll even out in the long run, so no need to worry about one person shining over the rest as long as you have reasonable assurance others will get to shine later. But class balance is a whole-campaign sort of issue, which means you'll have one person outshining the rest of the party for months. That's not fun and not defensible.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Tue May 21, 2019 2:00 am UTC

Xanthir wrote:I've been playing D&D (and other rpgs) for near twenty years. I've never had the experience where "something wildly unbalanced" is fun, at the level of campaign-long choices. Within a single session, fuck it, go crazy, things'll even out in the long run, so no need to worry about one person shining over the rest as long as you have reasonable assurance others will get to shine later. But class balance is a whole-campaign sort of issue, which means you'll have one person outshining the rest of the party for months. That's not fun and not defensible.


If you're closer to playing one campaign per year, sure. Or if you're mostly using off-the-shelf adventures.

If you're closer to playing ten different campaigns over the course of a year, or if you have a GM who's good at customising the adventures and campaign so that none of the characters hog the spotlight, then it's not a problem. A 2E Paladin is great in combat, but sucks at stealth or trap detection, and has no racial bonuses whatsoever.

I have played with people who enjoy rolling up relatively weak characters, or characters with a major weakness, because they find them more interesting to play than a standard superman. For them, significant imbalance against their character is part of the fun.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Tue May 21, 2019 2:11 am UTC

Oh yeah, *weak* characters can be a blast to play, when you do them on purpose as a fun challenge. But extra-strong classes tend to attract precisely the people who are annoying when given extra-strong characters. ^_^
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue May 21, 2019 1:02 pm UTC

Multiple campaigns a year? Finishing a campaign a year?

The hell kinda endless free-time speedrunners y'all gaming with?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Tue May 21, 2019 6:09 pm UTC

Not me, mang. My group has been rotating thru our three campaigns (each of us GMs one of them) for the past two years; I've been shadow-DMing my little brother's campaign for about that long too. We're starting a new spring+summer campaign while the rest are on hold due to one member hiking the PCT, but still.

2-3 hours of gaming, 3-4 times a month, is all we get.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Dauric » Tue May 21, 2019 7:12 pm UTC

Wait.. Y'all "Finish" a campaign?

My groups tend to have half the group have some sort of 'life happening' (job changes, schedule shifts, moving out of state or to another part of the same state, having kids, etc.) that kills the campaign before we could even be said to be halfway in to it.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Tue May 21, 2019 7:45 pm UTC

Back in my Uni days, at the tail end of 2E, myself and a friend or two were in 4 campaigns and a couple of oneshots across as many different systems. There was a year-long D&D campaign run by a final-year student, there were three single-term campaigns run with our group of friends (Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu and Heavy Gear), and we also turned up to a couple of soc evenings where we ended up playing one-shots (Paranoia and Amber Diceless).

With a known external time-limit, a finite campaign is entirely practical.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue May 21, 2019 9:37 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:There was a story I heard some years ago about a DM who allowed a party of all Paladins, and, as a hook, gave them a desperate request for aid from a village under threat of extermination by an oppressive force. They adventure that way, and arrive to find that it's an Orcish village under threat from their human neighbours. At which point the players quit the game...
So did they not like orcs, or did they not want a morally complex/talky scenario, or is there some 2e rule against them hanging around orcs?
The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rmsgrey » Tue May 21, 2019 9:51 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:There was a story I heard some years ago about a DM who allowed a party of all Paladins, and, as a hook, gave them a desperate request for aid from a village under threat of extermination by an oppressive force. They adventure that way, and arrive to find that it's an Orcish village under threat from their human neighbours. At which point the players quit the game...
So did they not like orcs, or did they not want a morally complex/talky scenario, or is there some 2e rule against them hanging around orcs?


I got the impression that they wanted super-powered hack-and-slash with high-powered characters.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed May 22, 2019 3:05 pm UTC

But, couldn't they being saving the orc villagers with super powered hack and slashing of evil humans?
The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed May 22, 2019 5:31 pm UTC

Yeah, but Orcs =/= Evil means they have to think
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