You could keep it old school. Forests and hills are tremendously dangerous, but settled lands are mostly fine and safe.
As a dm, I like to work out the monsters of my region, and make it all make a form of sense. So it is less random, but they may rock up at the worst time.
Dr. Calvin Murgunstrumm wrote:
Frank guardsman is walking along, stares down at his hand, feels the ki power. Shouts "Je suis un ninja!"
Leaps over a wall and starts hunting English.
I believe that 1E with it's 4 classes and lack of modern game design might be right up your alley.
There is real merit in trying the basics, or a simple system, again. Evade the crunch, the arguments, the optimisation and the powergaming and actually get some gaming done.
Yeah I see them as scouts, but also light spellcaster rushers. They can soak spells (mmm those saves, mmm evasion). Heavy buffed clerics take them out though, so they are more anti-wiz and anti-sorcerer, which you will never get players of these classes to ever acknowledge. The monk is crap, it is known, they say.
Rushing a wiz, taking the spell, charge with stunning fist. Then flurrying them to death, aaaaah, it is one of the great joys of this game, and 3.0-3.5.
If a heavy fighter comes to bash your teeth in, lure them away. Do not engage a greatsword fighter in close; and be very wary of barbarians because they are a counter to the monk.
Hmm, well you could make a feat or trait:
You may use a spear as a double weapon, doing d8 pierce/d6 bludgeoning. You may use a standard two-handed spear one-handed, in accordance with historical accuracy.
The Koreans are another people that were all over spears, here are some types:
Often the bard is not the military commander type, and that is the crux of Hugo's grievance. They could be 3.5 marshals, but they are not by default or typically.
So on they sing and play, and powerful verisimilitude shattering effects come from that. I know I know, sometimes it isn't the dragons or orcs and chests that seem off.
Quantum Steve wrote:
You aren't the only one quantum Steve; but these "don't kill evil types that would make you evil" are very loud on boards. I don't understand their perspective, but I hear it a lot.
Heroes oppose the forces of darkness, and axeing an evil orc/ogre/drow opponent a question of alignment is not an evil act. Tee hee. Now murdering vulnerable weak evil actors like drow slaves that come into your power but are not your enemies is an abuse of power so it does start to get more complicated. These are not wonderful rosy do-gooders, but they could be put on a better path. I am reminded of being attacked by desperate escaped slaves trying to take my stuff in a game last night, and that is what could happen, but does not have to happen (but it is easily prevented with some gifts, rp and checks to settle them).
There are also wondrous opportunities inside a city, that involve combat in the short term but mainly are about increasing your renown, spreading funds, making friends and developing your character.
Two come to mind, old classics:
1) Compete in a tournament. Even if it isn't exactly your thing, give it a go, your bab, ac and hp may set you straight. Make coin, meet other fighters, perhaps get adoration. This must heavily involve gambling. As Quark said, the bigger the risk, the bigger the win!
2) Night raid on the thieves guild or look to get yourself mugged. The former requires a bit of research, but it can be hilarious fun for the fighter all plated-up and ready to go to kick the door in to a pickpocket's den or local rogue toughs safe house with archer/mage support.
Bonus points you bring a party hat, tinsel, poisoned weapons and drink your delay poison potion before entering. The poison, it does nothing!
Now this involves combat sure, but it isn't just that. Once you get your earnings lavish it upon the people, be the nicest guy around, donate it to good faiths and public works, hire bards to spread your reputation.
Be the coolest fighter around in and out of combat. The RP combat circle.
Good lines, one I've seen in samurai comics was putting a grain of rice between two knuckles, and cutting the rice in two without harming the holder. Maybe need an attack of 20, but could be a very cool demonstration.
"Before you force me to kill you..." ha ha ha, using that in game.
Our group had one, as the foes charge and shoot, raise shield and say "We do take prisoners." The delivery must be reasonable and happy.
What do you mean quickly? They level and rank up just like every other character. There is no special delay that you can't put your earned ranks in your skill because you have a 7 int. Knowledge int skills are trained only, int doesn't matter if you don't have the ranks. Also, if a knowledge skill is a taken class skill with ranks thrown in, they will never be on -2 at 7 int because of the class skill bonus (3.0 was far less forgiving).
Don't forget the unpredictable nature of the d20 as well. Where a roll of 15+4 is better than a roll of 7+10. I have been at times shocked how badly all the knowledge wizards can roll.
Behind a little bit on some numbers doesn't mean dumb or without a capacity for intelligence and problem-solving (especially in the example of the low int bard, or rogue or a fighter in a dungeon).
Now I want to play a character with an interesting backstory in which his family hoped he would go into wizardry, but it turns out he has an int between 3 and 8.
Give him spellcraft for giggles.
"You were a wizard?"
"Yeah the mages said I was the worst pupil they had seen in a generation."
Yeah, I've run with all manner of houserules, but it was only a few months ago I started thinking, wait, I can do this, I can make the system I want. It is quite rewarding actually, and what came out was nothing like d20, but it was for fantasy.
Last friday in one of my games with the new system, at the end of a good night a player excitedly exclaimed "the system works!"
And there was much rejoicing.
Bwahaahahhahahaha! That is inaccurate.
Japan developed from Korean, Chinese and Indigenous Ainu influences. Zen Buddhism is the Japanese form of a belief from India.
On China, there were all manner of ethnicities, languages and cultures in this territory simplified by the term "China" and the "Chinese". The Han have control now, it was not always so. There is also the contact and trade with south east asia, Korea, India and Mongolia to consider. Asian homogenisation and isolationism is an assumed western inaccuracy.
We can talk Tokugawa Japan and the post-European influences and after the extermination of the Christian faith in Japan. That "very little came to them from outside their borders" is false. I have done my units in Asian Studies to come to these conclusions.
Because magic isn't the solution to Tucker's kobolds. You gas yourself more than the kobolds behind the murder holes, no chance to get a great fireball off, the spellcaster is being shot constantly (probably poisoned or hit with rot grub dung pies as well).
The whole idea behind Tucker's kobolds is that the typical actions of the powerful players (I hit it with my spell, it dies) do not work by design. It is a true ambush where hitting back is hard.
:DSandboxes are just great. So much that can be done, no need to be linear at all. For published adventures and paths, just slot them in and allow time to roam and do other stuff between books.
You are anthrop, I'm in Sociology. Both can get the world building juices flowing.
Nice guy paladin stands over his defeated foe, a hobgoblin fighter now bleeding out.
Hob: splutter, gasp, urrrgh, accck, cough cough.
The best option is not to lie, but to joke. Just because you are a paladin doesn't mean you don't have a sense of humour.
Then in an rp roundabout way, explain to the fiend that you are immune to fear and intimidation. While this torture is really going to hurt, you the paladin have nothing to fear (due to your secured place in the afterlife) and cannot actually experience fear, you only have dim memories what it was like anyway. Damn god took all that sniveling away from you, turned you into paladin kill-bot.
So yeah, kind of wasting your time evil buddy.
Rouge is all about the application. It doesn't have to be dull.
As they say in politics, "Here here!"
I've ran into the player obsessed with playing a gunslinger and determined to argue for it being allowed, even if it doesn't fit at all with what is being run.
You would think with the number of first person shooters they would just go and play one of those, and not try to drag that in and muddy up the setting.
Yeah, railroading takes away what is best in this game--actually making choices, adapting, trying new things and the unexpected.
I think you are on to something there; people have been fooled into hating who they are, and the anxiety kills some of them every year, because they can't match the standards of beauty. I found myself hating some shows for similar reasons and inaccurate portrayal.
I do find I emphasise the physical a bit more in female characters, no chain-mail bikinis though. The most recent three female characters deserve mention:
Sorceress: racially/culturally somewhat of a mix of medieval Hungarian and warring states Japan. A powerful and determined sorceress, no sense of honour but loyal and a monster-hunter for the good of the less powerful (NG), slow to develop relationships, short and low in weight, fine pale features but low personal hygiene (sorcerers in this setting really live on the fringes, swamps, that sort of thing).
Witch: the all powerful soccer mom. A village leader, 40s, forceful, dangerous, proud, evil but not totally unreasonable (LE). Quick-thinking, skilled in politics, good appearance with the wealth to spend on looks but not physically fantastic since she is mostly village bound these days.
Ranger: grim forest hunter, thrilled at the taking of lives, loves an ambush and the clash of steel (favours the shotel and shield). Cruel, and has respect for the powerful and those that kill well and fast (CE). Somewhat sexual and suggestive. Rough looks, strong shoulders, a body hardened by combat, so her most attractive physical feature would be her wheat coloured short hair.
Kill them all, the kender god will recognise his own.
Thieving trickster characters are the reason two-handed weapons were invented. To split them in twain!
Rynjin seems rightjin.
Alignment should never be a straight-jacket. Chaotic isn't hard to play, and you don't have to play it one way.
Well from what I've read from the more unpleasant parts of history, I cannot agree Chaotic evil is the rarest alignment.
It may be rare today in our comfy little democracies, but there are also pure thugs, rapists, war criminals, kidnappers and serial killers our there.
As for a vigilante, er, I met one. Nice guy, very driven, walks around on edge. As for chaotic evils, I've met a few people that would easily qualify for NE and some just don't care about morality and decency and will be as crude and violent as they can get away with.
Theodore Dalrymple is the pen-name of a psychiatrist that writes on the degeneration of British society. A lot of what he talks about is CN and CE behaviour and attitudes. Real immaturity, hatred, lashing out at people, that sort of thing. The chaotics are out there.
Ha ha, yep. Which has eternally marked them as a people. As in, they have a culture that is part papal states at war, theocracy, but also with a love of joyous times, drinking, games, competition and fine craftsmanship done right (still according to the old Dwarven standards). Marked in that they are known to turn on allies at the worst time if great advantage can be obtained. Duplicity and betrayal is down deep in their bones, but not an everyday event, but something they can mentally handle (not the type of people to suicide at all).
If this side comes out, they claim betrayal was for the greater good, that their leadership is best and most religious and thus they are a dangerous people. Big smiles, happy faces, shorter than average and love to hug and embrace, welcome converts but cannot ever be trusted if something important is on the line.
Very human in that respect.
I called them Catarinans (more formally Catar'ina) a country name off dark souls. For this setting (not in the Dark s game), the two main tribes were the Catar and the Ina. Both came from the plains and the hills, and both were under Dwarven influence. Now there is only Catarina. Although the Dwarven tombs and old castles remain in the tallest mountains far behind the Catarina border. The Catar'ina shy from such high places, rocs, ghosts, golems and other constructs guard them. The Catar'ina expunged the Dwarves from history, taking their accomplishments as their own, and only some of the very old factions remember them.
The Catarinans copied the fortification design of the Dwarves and transplanted them across their territories, aiding the sprea of their theocratic feudalism. Designs have not changed for millenia. :D
The longest opponent that this theocracy has faced? The Scythian-like faction to the south. Taller dark-skinned people that while wild and dangerous, never betrayed their masters and stuck to their own traditions. Masters of bow, steed and the parting shot, not stone, steel and religion like the Catar and Ina chose (and stole). They are the same race as the original two tribes, but the Catar and Ina blended with captured Dwarven slaves and a host of smaller tribes they absorbed.
A bit rape of Nanking and Japanese atrocities as well.
Glad I could share this with you.
Sociologist, so yeah, I'm all over this whether I like it or not. :P
Ah the helpless princess. How will we escape this? I alas dislike Ameiko taken in the Mary Sue, and eventually princess direction.
Good point on male traits and desirability.
Peace over war is to believe in nurturing and good will for all over warrior masculinity. Masculinists find the former offensive and the latter natural and god's will if religious radicals.
Ha ha, yep.
Although female culture and the associated behaviour and thoughts, do exist.
Negation or de-feminisation isn't always the answer, feminine women exist (adhering to the culture they have been socialised into) but you can play the feminine as a light card.
Or it is curiously absent, as in one npc char I've put together. The hard mercenary and ranger Khergita. She isn't that pretty, has done a lot of fighting and hunting of people (evil, but not in the manipulating sense). If she fancies you she will be frank about it (puts on the beard of frank), and if a pc goes along with it, she will f*** them like a man. Lol.
All types out there.
I also throw homosexuals into my games, and avoid stereotyping. A hetero dandy may be more feminine than a homosexual.
Whewww, is good to be able to talk about this here.
Mary Sue protectionism annoys me. She is so beautiful wonderful blessed and lucky that she always overcomes. Yawn.
Or, this npc cannot be touched or influenced, they are set in stone and you cannot change them meddlesome adventurer.
Slut archetype or evil lustful witch woman is unfortunate to see.
In my games, I try to make the women as believable as the men. With their sexuality and appearance not the most important factor. Some will be asexual, others into sex/showing affection but without it being a big deal or all there is to them.
Put some of the real world into the game, without being a sexist weirdo pig is a code I game by.
One of my favourite characters was an Oriana Jeggare, Chelaxian warmage. Had a few near romances, but was not lucky in love. Powerful, commanding, sometimes feminine (appearance and the arts mattered to her).
One char in a recent game is trying to romance an asexual sorceress (her magic is certainly not sexual or tied to skimpy outfits). That has been a bit different, the quiet npc has been taking it very slow.
Who tells people what to do and what they can and can't drink?Answer: Parents, politicians, clergy.
Enforcing (or trying to enforce) teetotalism at the table is entering a creepy space. It only happens when a dm doesn't trust their players.
Note: getting a bit tipsy or drunk and gaming can be a whole lot of fun. My group generally prefers ale or cider.
A boot hill gm favoured whiskey, and spirits for his vietnam game.