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Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 1,468 posts. 71 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.


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christos gurd wrote:
Wait...phoenix wolves? This product now has my attention.

Phoenix wolves are basically hellhounds minus all the infernal baggage, but retaining the fiery aspect of them.

In other words, wolves on fire!

1 person marked this as a favorite.
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[Note: This is a cross-posting of the review I wrote over on RPGNow. I'm not affiliated with Silver Games, just to make that totally clear.]

Crossovers are something I’ve always enjoyed, and that’s doubly true for bringing characters from my favorite media into role-playing games. There’s an undeniable joy in being able to represent your favorite characters from comics, movies, and television in your campaign.

Said characters usually tend to be superheroes or the cast of various anime, in my experience. While I knew that there were plenty of fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic who fell outside of the show’s target demographic, I wouldn’t have thought that there’d be many Pathfinder fans among them, let alone enough to warrant an attempt to bring the former into the latter.

The existence of Silver Games’s Ponyfinder Campaign Setting is a testament to just how wrong I was. While unofficial (in that it doesn’t reference any of MLP:FiM’s intellectual property), this is still THE book for playing ponies in Pathfinder. Let’s take a look and see how well it brings the show to your tabletop.

Before we go any further though, a disclaimer: at the time of this writing, I’ve seen just over a dozen episodes of MLP:FiM (and read the show’s Wikipedia entry). As such, while I have a basic grasp on what it is this book is trying to showcase, there’s a good chance that I’m missing some of the finer points; if you’re a hardcore pony fan, then keep in mind that I may be overlooking something notable from later in the show.

I also need to take a moment to talk about the book’s artwork. I’ve seen plenty of first-offerings from new companies that were clearly operating on a shoe-string art budget, and wow was that not the case here. Ponyfinder is a book that’s resplendent with full-color art! Immediately after the colorful covers is a two-page map of the Everglow campaign world, drawn in a very bright style that makes it pop off the page. Moreover, the interior pages are all set on backgrounds reminiscent of the main Pathfinder books, being lightly-colored in the center of each page but slightly darkening towards the edges, where there are subtle designs in the background.

But far more notable than that are the character illustrations. The book is absolutely stuffed with colorful images of ponies (and other races). These illustrations are remarkably talented, and more than once I found myself smiling at the adorable pictures. Visually, this book knows exactly what to show to its fans.

Of course, all of this art means that the book is about 80 megabytes in size for 120 pages. Personally, my computer had no issues with displaying the images or scrolling through, but that might be an issue for some readers. Moreover, that makes the lack of a printer-friendly version all the more notable. This is similarly true with the book’s lack of search options – the table of contents isn’t hyperlinked, for example, nor are there any PDF bookmarks for ease of navigation. Still, the text is copy-and-paste enabled, so overall the book’s technical achievements are something of a mixed bag.

But enough about that, what about the ponies? Very cogently, the book opens with the first thing most readers will want to see: rules for pony characters.

Presented as a type of fey, full PC racial information is given for standard earth ponies. Smartly, the book doesn’t retread the same ground for other pony types, presenting breeds such as unicorns and pegasi with alternate racial traits, rather than presenting full stat racial stat blocks again and again.

If it had stopped with just the basic three types of ponies, that probably would have been enough for many, if not most, fans. But I have to give Ponyfinder props here – it went the extra mile and then some: there are over a half-dozen other pony breeds presented next, ranging from gem ponies to sea horses to zebras and more!

It doesn’t stop at just mechanics either, there’s a good page and a half of descriptive text regarding the pony race, and each breed has several paragraphs of description. Humorously, the book also discusses the mechanics of a race that can use their forelegs in a somewhat arm-like manner, but lacks fingers (hint: it’s not nearly as burdensome as it sounds – after all, the ponies on the show get along without fingers just fine). There’s also several paragraphs given to describing pony members of each class (although sub-classes such as ninja and samurai are ignored, as is the inquisitor, rather oddly).

A series of pony-specific mechanics follow, including two bloodlines (e.g. Unification, which is focused around bringing the pony tribes together), several class archetypes (ever wondered how a pony would be a gunslinger?), pony-specific evolutions for an eidolon, and quite a few feats for ponies. The last section is of specific note, as it’s here that we see a lot of the more notable aspects of the show brought into game form: a unicorn levitating items with her horn, for example, is a short feat-chain here, as is the way pegasi physically push clouds around, etc.

That’s not the end of it, as the book then moves on to seven other non-pony races that live in the world, such as griffons, sun cats, phoenix wolves, and others. Again, full racial information is presented alongside a discussion of their society, alignment, relationships, etc. Each even has a few (usually just under a half-dozen) race-specific feats presented.

That was the book’s first major section. While it was largely mechanics with a generous dose of expository writing, the second takes a more balanced approach between fluff and crunch. It opens, for example, with the eight gods of the pony pantheon. Deities such as the Sun Queen, the Night Mare, and Princess Luminance are all familiar shout-outs here. We also receive the height/weight and aging tables for the races in the previous chapter (information that I thought for sure would have been overlooked – kudos to the authors there).

I was quite pleased to see rules for ponies as animal companions and familiars presented next. That’s because having ponies as prominent, PC-focused NPCs like these is a great gateway to seeing how well ponies can work in your party if your group is unsure about the idea. Finally, a few optional rules (mostly in regards to how much realism you want regarding how well ponies can manipulate objects) are given.

Everything so far has been high-quality work, but it was the next chapter that truly sold me on Ponyfinder. This section, which highlights the timeline of Everglow, the campaign world, is where the book truly comes into its own.

A relatively young world (it’s entire recorded history spans less than 750 years), Everglow’s history is covered in three broad sections. These are the early days when the Pony Empire was just beginning, the height of the Empire, and after its fall (the latter presented as the default option). After giving us a timeline, each era’s major events are overviewed. Interestingly, the book then presents major factions active in each era (including faction traits) and several era-exclusive rules, such as breeds that are found primarily during that era and no other.

What grabbed me about this section was the tone that it presented. Rather than rigidly sticking to the (almost naively) optimistic tenor of the show, Ponyfinder does a truly excellent job of presenting the ponies as living in a more nuanced world. This isn’t a setting that pretends that everything can be solved with friendship – there are differences of opinion with no clear resolution (e.g. was the early expansion of the Empire the work of a unifier or a conqueror?), wars with evil ponies, and an overall sense of poignancy as the ponies have realized that their best days are behind them with the death of their great Empire, with no clear idea about what that means for them or what they should do about it.

For that alone, I admit that I’m very impressed with Ponyfinder. It’s can be tough to admit that the tenor of the source material needs to changed when changing how it’s presented; actually pulling off such a change without completely alienating the original feeling it evoked is even trickier. But this book pulled it off. I think that the best example of this is the Denial of Destiny feat found in this chapter, which represents a pony that has voluntarily scarred her Brand of Destiny (e.g. her cutie mark) off of her flank, representing her rejection of the role in life that the gods have chosen for her in favor of one she’s chosen for herself. That’s the sort of mature take on a familiar subject that elevates Ponyfinder above simply aping the conventions of MLP:FiM.

Following this are roughly twenty pages that outline the various locations of Everglow, along with several ponies (and groups of ponies) of note. I do wish we’d seen some stat blocks here, as there are no NPC listings to be found, and this would have been a perfect place for them. While I can see the advantage of not setting levels for specific NPCs (such as the Imperial Queen), it’s better to have them and decide not to use them, than to want them and find that you need to make them from scratch.

Several pages of adventure hooks (covering each of the world’s eras) are presented before we are given a chapter full of new mechanics. Here’s where you’ll find equipment meant specifically to be held in the mouth, for example, along with things like the “elements of destiny” magic items, a spell to make hooves sticky (and so grip things better), and quite a few starting traits (including ones specific to certain times and locations).

The book closes out with a bestiary, and while nothing here was bad it felt like something of an afterthought. The deeptide horse has no descriptive text, for instance, and the vanguard inevitable, with its emphasis on punishing liars and oathbreakers, doesn’t feel like its breaking any new ground. It’s a slightly weak ending for the book, though one that’s easy enough to overlook.

I should also take a moment to mention that a few errors did crop up throughout the book, though they were rarely anything more than minor. For example, the alternate racial traits for zebra ponies didn’t have a -2 ability modifier (which every other race had and so I assume was an oversight), or that the deity entries had their domains and subdomains all listed in the same line, rather than separating them.

What was more notable were several areas that a Pathfinder aficionado would likely look at as a missed opportunity. While nothing was lost, per se, by not doing so, there were several areas that could have benefited from additional Pathfinder rules. The various pony racial stats don’t have costs in Race Points (from the Advanced Race Guide) for example, nor do the gods have inquisitions listed (from Ultimate Magic). While the factions do have faction traits, I wonder if they could have benefited from full faction rules (from the Faction Guide), or if the towns listed could have had – rather than just their alignment, government type, and population breakdown – full community stat blocks (from the GameMastery Guide or Ultimate Campaign). Certainly, the fact that the Imperial Queen was an earth pony who became an alicorn is reason enough to create an alicorn mythic path (from Mythic Adventures).

I want to reiterate that I don’t hold any of these exclusions against the book; it’s just that I’m cognizant that it could have presented more than it did. Still, when the worst thing you can say about a book is that it left you wanting more, that’s not too bad a criticism.

The material that is in here though is excellent for what it presents; enough so that I’d call this a 4.5-star book (rounded down). The coverage of the source material is not only thorough, but is evocative of what’s presented in MLP:FiM while still being suitable for a Pathfinder campaign setting. While it seems like a stretch to bridge that gap, Ponyfinder successfully straddles the divide and keeps one hoof planted firmly in each world. That’s something that anypony, er, anybody can appreciate.

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thejeff wrote:

It seems like the simpler approach would be just to play an E6 variant. Then you've got "guy is really good with a sword" being comparable to the casters. Sure, you could make another game system and stretch those levels out over 20 levels, and then build an entire alternate subsystem on top of that, but it seems like a lot of work.

In PF, once you're into the midgame, you're out of the realm of the mundane. Once you're into the high levels you're in the realm of superheroes or legends. That's not where the mundane guy fits.

That was my take on it.

I've internalized the message that 5th-level or so is the peak of "normal" ability, in terms of what can be "realistically" accomplished. After that, you're simply getting better than what an ordinary person (that is, a person from the real world) would ever be able to match.

Between that, and the fact that the game system seems to assume a fairly high degree of magic (or other mystical) power in the world - and that many non-spellcasting classes have mystical abilities, from ki powers (monks) to the minor magic talent (rogues) to barbarians that get so angry it lets them see in the dark (the night vision rage power) - and it's eminently believable (to me, at least) that at some point even the "normals" start to simply intuitively use mystic abilities.

These abilities may be so subtle that they can't be recognized as such in the game world (e.g. roll twice and take the better result), but as you gain more levels, this will compound until at some point it becomes obvious from an in-game standpoint, which is perfectly fine - popular media over the last few decades has portrayed heroes who bridge the proverbial gap between non-magical warriors like Conan and full-on wizards like Gandalf.

In other words, if you put the peak of normal ability as being at the lower levels, then it becomes a foregone conclusion that higher-level characters of any stripe will have some sort of mystic ability.

(Which is also why mythic struck me as being largely unnecessary. Now we have characters who are tapping into mystic powers and characters who are tapping into uber-mystic powers.)

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This sounds like the sort of campaign that The Noble Wild was written for.

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"Adam Smith said, 'The best result comes from everyone in the group doing what's best for himself.' Right. Incomplete." - Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind

The issue under discussion here, as I see it, is that there's a disconnect with the implicit promise of Pathfinder characters (or rather, Pathfinder classes) and what actually happens.

The game presents its character classes with the silent guarantee that all choices will contribute meaningfully to the party dynamic (said dynamic is typically presumed to be combat) - and while this contribution may not be precisely equal it's taken to be effective enough to be satisfactory.

In point of fact, this is not the case. This is most obvious in terms of recognizing that the group has roles that it expects to be filled, and that not all classes are capable of filling them. It's one thing to have a four-person group where everyone makes a fighter; it's quite another to have a four-person group where everyone is a cleric.

The problem, as with so many other things, comes from trying to figure out when an individual character (or worse, specific choice about a character's abilities) crosses the line from "good for me AND good for us all" to just being "good for me." While we can put forth about mechanical averages and underpinning assumptions about daily challenges, the real answer is going to be the notoriously hard-to-quantify "whatever's fun for everyone at the table."

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I use DuckDuckGo for my homepage, which seems to be just as good as Google, save for not having image and video searches (that I've found so far).

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Ross Byers wrote:
a Law-on-Law conflict.

You may call hot Law-on-Law action a conflict, but I call it Lawful Sexy.

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Sean's leaving is going to result in some mighty big shoes to fill - I hope whomever Paizo hires is up to the task!

Sean, good luck to you and Jodi!

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I'd say that Pathfinder is a game of disappearing bears' abilities.

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Coriat wrote:
Alzrius wrote:

Trophy hunters are now actually proficient in the firearms they're expected to use. Also, the Prone Shooter feat now actually gives you a benefit, rather than letting you do something you could already do anyway.

Neither of these are spell nerfs, but they are instances where the errata was trying to make non-spellcasters stronger.

There's a difference between errata that simply tries to fix obvious missing text or nonfunctional rules, and errata that is intended to change a functional rule for balance reasons. The two you cite are both the former.

Well, his post didn't specify, and I was reading it RAW. ;)

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Trophy hunters are now actually proficient in the firearms they're expected to use. Also, the Prone Shooter feat now actually gives you a benefit, rather than letting you do something you could already do anyway.

Neither of these are spell nerfs, but they are instances where the errata was trying to make non-spellcasters stronger.

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Bickering Partisans wrote:
Is it time to say "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS" yet?

I thought it'd be more along the lines of "THIS! IS! PAIZO!" and then get kicked (off the site).

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EntrerisShadow wrote:
Besides, I thought Exalted had become the new sex-in-the-poorest-taste-possible whipping boy with their book of rape ghosts. (Not safe for work or your faith in humanity.)

I'll admit I know nothing about Exalted, but I couldn't read that review when I realized where the link went. My impression is that Something Awful is aptly named, as it seems to exist solely to hate and mock things that don't appeal to its constituent members...said "things" seeming to be pretty much everything.

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Domestichauscat wrote:

Amazing thread is amazing.

Gotta say, I'm curious about those who would assist the Bear Druid break free from this scenario.

The bear druid doesn't need assistance; he knows to go for the honey pot.


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MagusJanus wrote:
So, I am relying upon the best information I have at the moment. If you have better, please post a link to it so I can correct my misinformation.

I would, but I'm searching using LexisNexis, which is a pay-for service. That said, I checked all federal and state courts, and found no such case (though I did find the other well-known cases involving Gary and TSR, such as their suits with Dave Arneson, Mayfair Games, etc.).

EDIT: For an excellent source of coverage regarding Tolkien and TSR - and indeed, all things concerning TSR as a whole - check out the TSR preview chapter of the forthcoming first volume of Shannon Appelcline's revised Designers & Dragons, from Evil Hat Games (specifically "The Tolkien Connection: 1974-1977" on pgs. 27-29).

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LazarX wrote:
MagusJanus wrote:

That bibliography helped get him sued for plagiarism. That's a major contributing factor to why it became a lost artform.
Would you care to elaborate?

I suspect that he's saying that "Appendix N" in the 1E PHB was the impetus behind the Tolkien estate taking legal action against TSR for their use of "hobbits," "ents," and other original intellectual properties of Tolkien in the first few printings of the game.

Of course, that's a fairly garbled version of events. For one thing, no lawsuit against TSR or Gary Gygax was ever filed by the Tolkien estate - in other words, Gary was never sued for plagiarism (unless MagusJanus is referring to something else entirely). While I can't find any sources, it does seem to be "common knowledge" that Tolkien's estate did make a legal threat against TSR a few years after D&D was released, but it never went to court that I could find.

Further, said legal threat almost certainly had nothing to do with Appendix N. The references to Tolkien-based intellectual properties were excised as of the sixth printing of the OD&D rules in 1977. The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook, with its Appendix N, wasn't released until 1978.

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For some reason I read this thread as asking if driders were allowed to wear studded leather.

Now that's the REAL question.

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I think that Sisters of Rapture did fairly well.

In my opinion, it's biggest success was by focusing on a particular organization in the game world that was itself highly focused on sex.

(Disclaimer: I was involved with the PFRPG version's production.)

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I feel like I should say comprehend languages...but I suspect that I wouldn't be able to resist abusing charm person.

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Orfamay Quest wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Needs to be false to be slander :)
Depends on the jurisdiction. Not in Japan. And remember that the Internet runs everywhere.

Which is especially serious, as you can face criminal prosecution for slander in Japan, not just civil.

That said "If the act relates to matters of public interest and has been conducted solely for the benefit of the public, the truth or falsity of the alleged facts shall be examined, and punishment shall not be imposed if they are proven to be true. " (Criminal Code of Japan Article 230-2)

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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Perhaps should have read it instead of just looking it over.

I find that rather amusing, as you cited the case as supporting a point that it actually denied. That it denied it along broad lines, rather than categorically, doesn't mean that it's supporting your assertion.


That's the key phrase there, highlighted. The Court of Appeals specifically noted that reviews can be actionable (`A writer may not commit libel at will merely by labelling his work a "review."') and that `there is no wholesale exemption from liability in defamation for statements of "opinion."'

The important question is whether the opinions expressed are "supportable." Again, quoting from the decision, "[Consider] if, for example, the review stated or implied that Interference was a badly written book because its author was a drug dealer. In that situation, this case would parallel Milkovich: the reviewer would simply be employing the medium of a book review as a vehicle for what would be a garden-variety libel, and the review would thus potentially be actionable." The court suggested specifically that "a critic's interpretation must be rationally supportable by reference to the actual text he or she is evaluating" and that "[a] critic's statement must be a rational assessment or account of something the reviewer can point to in the text, or omitted from the text, being critiqued." (Emphasis in original.)

Oddly enough, that's exactly what most "kvetching" on the Internet isn't.

This last sentence is where you jump the rails; complaining about the quality of something is not enough to meet the quoted guidelines given above. You have to ascribe some sort of defamatory nature to the person(s) involved for it to potentially rise to that level.

Oddly enough, that's exactly what most "kvetching" in the Internet isn't, as it's typically focused on the body of work itself, with no particularly defaming elements with regards to the creators. Hence why you had to reach for mock-quotations rather than having any real ones available.

In other words, the case helped lay down that most internet kvetching doesn't, unto itself, have the defamatory element necessary to rise to the level of libel.

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Sarcasmancer wrote:
@ Alzrius thanks. "You're meant to come out here and defend me against these characters, and the only one I've got on my side is the blood-sucking lawyer!"

Well, I'm no lawyer; I just play with their toys.

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Sarcasmancer wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Sarcasmancer wrote:
Pretty sure kvetching about something on the Internet doesn't legally constitute libel,
I'm not sure where you attended law school,.... but you're not really doing it proud with that comment. Yes, kvetching about something on the Internet can be libel just like any other type of (written) commentary can. [Moldea v. New York Times Co., 22 F3d 310 (D.C. Cir. 1994)]

I didn't go to law school, and I assume (from this and other posts) that you are actually a legal academic of some sort, so I am happy to stand corrected.

I hope that cite actually uses the word "kvetch".

Actually, I just looked the case over, and you don't stand corrected; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the New York Times, which Dan Moldea was suing for their negative review of his book.

Any intelligent reviewer knows at some level that a bad review may injure the author of the book which is its subject. Indeed, some bad reviews may be written with an aim to damage a writer's reputation. There is nothing that we can do about this, at least not without unacceptably interfering with free speech. There simply is no viable way to distinguish between reviews written by those who honestly believe a book is bad, and those prompted solely by mischievous intent. To allow a plaintiff to base a lawsuit on claims of mischief, without some indication that the review's interpretations are unsupportable, would wreak havoc on the law of defamation.

There's no use of "kvetch" though. ;)

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The worst thing I can say about Jessica Price is that I disagree with her stance regarding whether or not artists have a duty to advance social justice when creating their art.

Based on that alone, I find that I can't in good conscience burn her for being a witch.

2 people marked this as a favorite.
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Ellis Mirari wrote:
This is not true, at least, not the way you put it. Every work of fiction is a self expression of the author. While the thoughts and feelings of character in a work are not necessarily the opinions of the author (and they couldn't always be, because you will have characters with varying opinions), how those attitudes are approached in the story reveals the opinion of the author.

I don't believe this to be true.

The most that can definitively be said about a work of fiction as an expression of the author is that the author felt motivated to write a story. Beyond that, there's nothing that approaches certainty.

You admit that the thoughts/opinions/actions of characters don't necessarily reflect the view(s) of the author, which I agree with, but then hold that "how those attitudes are approached reveals the opinion of the author." This strikes me as being counterintuitive, as it hinges on the author having enough self-awareness to be able to write characters with a different point of view than his or her own, and yet lacking that same level of cognizance required to manipulate how those attitudes are "approached."

In other words, you seem to be holding that how characters are contextualized in the body of the narrative itself infallibly shows the author's personal stances towards the attitudes said characters embody. Needless to say, this is just as flawed as presuming that a particular character is nothing more than the author's mouthpiece.

Because there's no method for objectively knowing what someone else thinks, or feels, or believes, there's no form of creative expression (that is, art) which will flawlessly convey the message - if any - of its creator. The viewer will always bring some sort of personal interpretation to that which they consume; presuming that you've found a way to accurately judge the nature of the person who made something is therefore, to me, among the worst kind of mistake to make when reflecting on a given piece of art.

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My belief is that the OP is attempting to ask a different question than the one they actually ended up asking.

I think that what was intended to be asked is "Is it immoral to create/play in/expect others to play in a game/setting where things that contemporary morality says are immoral are regarded as moral (or at least, amoral, rather than immoral)?"

In other words, do you find it objectionable to have something that we all commonly acknowledge to be bad (at this point in time) in real life be widely accepted within the context of your game?

I suspect that that's what's really under discussion here.

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My deepest sympathies to Louis and his family on the tragedy they're suffering.

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I'm sympathetic to Mystically Inclined's point, and I think that he makes some good statements with regard why "player entitlement" is a bad thing.

However, I think that his post gets the idea of player entitlement wrong, not in its definition, but in its applicability.

From what I've seen, the issue with player entitlement isn't that they want an equivalent level of control with the GM over any/all aspects of the game itself - that is, entitled players (usually; I'm generalizing here) aren't trying to add new combat rules or setting details, or things like that.

Rather, it's an issue of an entitled player presuming that there's an area within the game that's their exclusive milieu, to use a word that Gary was fond of. That milieu is their character.

In other words, most issues with player entitlement that I see tend to come from the mindset of "it's my character; the GM has no place here!" It's often used to justify characters that are disruptive, either in their presumptions ("we're playing in a tribal, savage setting, so how exactly do you have an android PC?"), or their mechanics ("I cherry-picked my feats, traits, and classes from across a half-dozen books"), or both.

In fact, this dichotomy of entitled player-character theme and entitled player-character mechanics are fairly different, and need to be addressed separately.

The latter problem (e.g. mechanics) is one regarding the plausibility that all "official" rules play well together, so there's no rational basis for being denied something if Paizo's created it. A lot of players honestly seem to believe that GMs have no right to disallow a Paizo-created book, regardless of whether or not the GM has read it, because of the implicit assumption that Paizo has rigorously play-tested their materials, and so no combination of materials could ever be "unbalancing" in any regard.

Of course, that's nonsense. While Paizo certainly has high standards for what they put out, a diverse array of options and "balance defined as parity regarding combat effectiveness" are mutually exclusive for all but the most restrictive RPG systems (which the d20 System is not), and there's no level of quality control or play-testing that can change that.

Balance, I believe, is far more situational than mechanical. That is, making sure that everything is "balanced" (which I don't think necessarily means "equally effective in combat") is going to be incumbent primarily on the GM's ability to design encounters and arbitrate unexpected situations rather than how well all the rules interlock. The fact that people want different things out of the game seems to be proof enough of that, but I continue to see people who think otherwise - there's nothing wrong with the opinion that balance is a mechanical issue (there's certainly a mechanical component to it), but those who say that it's the primary issue tend to also be the ones most frustrated by the game rules, that I've seen.

The other issue is the sense of entitlement of theme of character. This is very different than rules-entitlement, because it deals with a different set of presumptions on the player's (and, to a degree, the GM's) part.

Thematically-entitled players believe in the credo of "PC exceptionalism" with regards to genre and setting convention. Questions of "appropriateness" with regard to their character don't apply, because an exceptional character will - by definition - exist free from such restraints to begin with.

Taking that view into account, telling someone else that they shouldn't be playing their character because it's inappropriate can often make them feel like you're undercutting the basic premise of playing in a heroic fantasy game. Likewise, having their character face in-game repercussions for being (wildly) different feels like you're punishing them for doing what they're supposed to be doing. It doesn't matter that they're playing a celestial-bloodline kitsune sorcerer in a low-magic medieval campaign, they're special because they're the hero/PC, so playing up social prejudice as a natural consequence is undercutting the unspoken underpinnings of the game itself.

The focal point for both views is that the player has absolute control over their character, and the GM controls everything else. How much the player insists on that level of separation and personal control is likely to be the indicator for just how much of an "entitled" player they are.

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I posted some ideas on this very topic a while back on my blog.

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I posted some ideas on reducing the power of spellcasters a while ago over on my blog.

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Mikaze wrote:
Rysky wrote:
@ Alzrius This it?
That's some excellent Google-fu right there. :)

Holy crap, that's it! I'm amazed you found that! Your Google-fu is stronger than mine!

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Wow, nostalgia flashback! Man alive I remember how those pics inspired me so vividly back when I was a kid.

Ironically, the one that did the biggest number on me isn't there; it wasn't by the same artist, and wasn't from Nintendo Power. I can't find it today, but it was (if I recall correctly) on a plast lunchbox, of all things, and showed a close-up of Link on a staircase inside some tower. The stairs ended (implying a long drop) directly behind him, and a huge armored knight took up the entire stairway in front of him...and I think a window showed a castle in the background.

That, to me, was the iconic "back against the proverbial wall" image. I remember it being more "cartoony" than these images, but I was awed by it nonetheless.

Rysky wrote:

*sees picture of Marin and Link on the beach*



I think that might have been the first game where I cried at the end.

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Skeeter Green wrote:

We are working on overhauling the entire delivery system for these files, and we are on track to get that completed by the end of the month. I am currently (even as I type this, strangely enough) going through email addresses and verifying the info people gave me is correct (in many cases it is not).

So, by the end of the month, expect and email if we have any quesitons, and when everything it loaded, we'll announce.


Thanks for the fast reply, Skeeter! No worries regarding when it gets done; I was just worried that things had been completed already and I'd gotten left behind due to my taking a while to notify you guys.

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Cubic Prism wrote:
I don't see a problem with smite working on all creatures given that if they start abusing their powers, eventually they would cease to be Paladins. It frees them up some.

For what it's worth, this was my mindset when I wrote that alignment-free paladins can potentially smite anyone in the aforementioned article. Paladins are still supposed to be paragons of virtue, it's just that what constitutes "virtue" is entirely abstracted under that system, rather than having mechanics with weird in-game implications.

In other words, if they start smiting people that their god wouldn't approve of being smote, then the paladin will have some 'splaining to do. (Likewise, I kept the doubled damage on the first attack against dragons, undead, and outsiders because evil members of these groups are the traditional foes for "questing knight"-style characters, which paladins play towards.)

I recognize that this makes for "situational" powers - that is, powers where their appropriateness is variable based on, ultimately, the GM's discretion, and that some people staunchly dislike such things. I respect that opinion, though I personally disagree. To me, drawing strength from a (sentient) higher power means that you're going to be operating under oversight, and will have to explain yourself at times.

Having said all of that, I want to thank everyone who's linked to and discussed those articles I wrote about removing alignment from Pathfinder. They remain the most popular posts on Intelligence Check, and I'm glad that people are using them to have a more enjoyable game!

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I'm not sure this is the right thread to necro, but I wanted to mention to the FGG guys that my RA and CD files from backing the Kickstarter haven't been transferred over to my account.

Admittedly, I made the account late after the announcement was made, but I did mention it here and sent an email. Could someone at FGG please help me with this?

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thenobledrake wrote:
A final note: AD&D 2e followed 1e before it in providing no absolute limit to level advancement for characters with "unlimited" level in a class... at least, until the book DM's Option: High Level Campaigns was released. That book set an absolute maximum level at 30th, and presented rules that made high level characters far more potent than they already were.

This is a misconception. AD&D 2E did have a limit on how many levels characters could earn; it was just a "soft limit" at first, rather than a hard one.

I say "soft limit" to indicate that rather than having an express prohibition, the AD&D 2E PHB simply didn't present the information necessary for gaining levels beyond 20th.

AD&D 1E class tables all had (notwithstanding the assassin and druid) a final row that listed "+X" number of experience points that were the amount necessary to gain a level beyond the ones listed previously; that is, if it cost "+300,000 XP" to gain a 13th level of fighter, then it would cost that to also gain a 14th level of fighter, a 15th level of fighter, a 16th level, etc. (I don't know if that was the actual amount, since I don't have my books at the moment.) This also indicated how many more experience points were gained with each such level (e.g. "+2 hp").

AD&D 2E, by contrast, had no such final line listed. There were 20 levels listed for each class, and that was it. No listing was given for how many experience points were necessary for any subsequent levels; no hit points that would be gained at those levels were listed either.

In other words, AD&D 2E didn't allow for unlimited level advancement by simply not giving you the material to keep advancing. It was only later that it began to gradually expand the levels available (first in Dark Sun's Dragon Kings hardback, which had expanded class tables for up to 30th level, and then - quite a bit later - DM's Option: High-Level Campaigns did that more generically. That's not counting Arcane Age: Empire of Netheril's 45th-level limit!), and finally offered the aforementioned "hard limit" on post-30th level advancement in DMO:HLC.

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I'm a pretty big fan of the setting. I quite like how it's pretty well explicitly stated that the PCs can't achieve any sort of real, lasting victory against the BBEG of the campaign - he's essentially Sauron with no One Ring to act as a weakness.

Some people find that to be a downer; "why play a game where you know you're going to lose?" I hear them ask.

To me, that question misses the point. Heroes are heroic (again, to me) because they struggle uphill; they know that losing is - as Dr. Strangelove said - not only possible, but likely. To them, winning may be necessary, in terms of giving up not being an option, but it's improbable. Heroes don't operate under the notion that we, the audience, have about stories requiring that heroes win in order to fulfill our expectations of narrative structure - to them, it's probably going to end badly.

I enjoy Midnight because it doesn't let that grim expectation of loss be subverted, at least not at the highest levels of good vs. evil in the campaign world. You can make a difference on a local level, but at the end of the day evil is going to win. It's quite literally a foregone conclusion.

That, to me, makes the heroes of the realm even more heroic, because they know that there's no real victory to be had by fighting...and then they fight anyway. With nothing to gain and everything to lose, along with no specter of hope (which, again, is what we the audience project onto them in our certainty that good must triumph over evil), they still go and do the right thing, even when it costs them everything.

The setting is called Midnight because it presents a pitch-black world of evil that never moves towards the dawn. As Archpaladin Zousha said, light shines much brighter against such a background.

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In an adventure set up for a small party of paladins - all of whom are endowed with full legal authority - they must fight their way to the top of a tower where a gang is producing contraband, battling hordes of thugs, corrupt paladins-turned-blackguards, and...even more hordes of thugs.

Dredd: the Adventure - because sometimes paladins make other people of buildings.

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DarkPhoenixx wrote:
Thats why when know you gonna encounter succubi you need to don your armor of Grinding.

I prefer to use my rod of lordly might on her.

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Taskmagus Black wrote:

Since we started with a Monk grappling a succubus, why didn't the monk use a style while fighting the succubus?

Was it monkey style grapple giving you your Wisdom bonus on Acrobatics checks, and take no penalty for attacking while prone, monkey moves for a Wisdom bonus on Climb checks, and climb and crawl at half speed?
Could lead to faster and easier mounting of the succubus if you try to pin.

Snake style grapple, Gaining +2 on Sense Motive checks, and deal piercing damage with unarmed attacks, then leading to Snake Sidewind to gain a bonus to avoid being knocked prone, and use Sense Motive check to confirm critical hits on unarmed attacks. This would be great for a Monk/Alchemist hybrid with the tentacle discovery because with sense motive you "HAVE SEEN" enough hentai to know where this is going and the tentacle is considered an unarmed attack. Research pending on using said knowledge for confirmation on critical hits. I just can't seem to find the right spot!

Or in the case of a female monk pinning the succubus what about Snapping Turtle Style or Snapping Turtle Clutch? Sure one handed grapple is -4 to the maneuver but you get a +1 shield bonus when one of your hands is free and your shield bonus applies to your CMD and touch AC. Hmm... I wonder where a woman would use that could be called a snapping turtle in a pin or grapple? We must research this at once!

That's without getting into the benefits of the monk using doggy style grappling.

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Crunk...I had forgotten about this until just now.

Okay, I've set up an account at the FGG website and sent a support email. Hopefully it's not too late to get my RA and CD subscriptions set up there.

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For help with this query, we turn to...DR. BEES!

Ahem. That said, I suggest they work in symbiosis with giant Plant-type monster (e.g. an apple treant that has giant bees help it pollinate every spring).

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Claxon wrote:
My point was not that he'll get in some sort of trouble for his action. That's preposterious. The accusation that such was my intent as evidence to indicate he should go about creating stats for gods is dubious.

It's not dubious; it's the most logical conclusion that can be drawn when someone asks "how do I do X" and someone else answers, "Paizo doesn't want you to do that."

It's his home game, and he's not concerned with keeping things "canon" or "official" - so then the question becomes why did you or anyone else bring up Paizo, let alone their desires, in the first place? They have no input into this equation, so who cares what they want?

My assertion was to say to him, "Think about the question you're asking and the way the game world is intended to be." It's fine if he wants to circumvent this, it is his world and his players game. I will never know the difference. But as LazarX said, does he really intend of having mortals fight a god? Does he actually want to give them a fair chance of success? If not, then their is no point in creating stats for them.

The game world is "intended" to be whatever the GM and players want - again, this isn't a setting issue. Even if he is using Golarion, he's not bound to use any of the setting's intrinsic assumptions, tropes, or defaults. He's not circumventing anything - he's making the game his own, which is something that most people here seem to support, except for when it becomes something like stats for deities, which just seems to make many people start frowning and trying to explain why that's badwrongfun.

Your last sentence is a perfect example of that - you and LazarX have objectively set what the "point" of stats for deities is, and then questioned if the OP can possibly meet that. The idea that the point of this is to have fun - whether in a combat encounter, some other kind of encounter, or even just in making the stats themselves - suddenly isn't the most important thing anymore; now it's measuring them on a (rather harsh) scale of practicality, which can be objectively measured and critiqued.

Even that might have some merit if the OP had asked for a discussion about the merits-versus-faults of having stats for gods at all. But (s)he didn't; they just wanted to know how to do it, rather than have a debate.

Requests for help with something (at least something game-related on these boards) shouldn't have to be justified. If you don't want to help, just don't answer.

That said, Reynolds-sama, you might want to try checking out the Immortal's Handbook: Ascension for an alternate take on (3.5) stats for deities.

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Evil Hat Games has just put up a huge (over a hundred pages long!) excerpt from the forthcoming first volume of Shannon Appelcline's revised Designers & Dragons set of books.

This excerpt covers something that I think will be of interest to a lot of people here: the history of TSR!

Download it over on their website.

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Blood of the Moon #21.

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If it's still available, I'd like to ask for (what I think is the last available copy of) Book of Heroic Races: Reapers.

Many thanks to Mikaze for showing such incredible generosity, time and again!

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HolmesandWatson wrote:
Just wondering if the 'disposability of characters' concept was some aspect of tournament vs 'regular' modules.

I believe that it was. I wrote this a little while back in another thread, but I'll repost it here:

I've been doing some reading about the early history of D&D, and this idea of "Gygax was always throwing around instant death traps" is overstated.

The reason that this idea caught on is because, back in the early days of TSR, they were trying to drum up business by running tournaments at various conventions. These tournaments were usually multi-round elimination contests, where dozens of characters who played through the first round needed to be whittled down to a much smaller group who could advance to the second round. Also, the PCs received scores based on the things they did during the adventure, and the longer they were running around the dungeon the more the DM had to tabulate after the adventure ended, again, for dozens of characters usually run back-to-back in a very tight time-frame.

Both of these considerations meant that these tournament modules were incredibly lethal, as that eased the burden on the DMs that were doing so much so quickly. The fact that these were one-shots with (randomly) assigned pre-gens for the players helped to dull the sudden loss of a character also.

But these tournament modules had a tendency to survive the tournaments they were made for. TSR realized that they could make some extra money by repackaging and selling these adventures for retail purchase...and often, the only changes made were to remove the scoring instructions for the DMs, since those weren't needed for a campaign (though sometimes those were left in).

So you eventually had extremely deadly modules sitting on store shelves, many of which had Gary's name on them, and the idea that "Gygax is a killer DM" quickly began to become accepted wisdom in the community, with people forgetting that there was a very specific reason why he wrote them that way to begin with.

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MendedWall12 wrote:
@Alzrius -- Very thoughtful post. I agree with much of what you are saying, but I do think Holmes has a good point about the GM required knowledge.

Oh, I think so too. I mentioned at the end of my previous post that there were "other reasons" to disallow some books, and simply not having enough time/energy to read and absorb new materials (and, by extension, not wanting to allow materials that you're unfamiliar with) is a not-inconsiderable one.

It's also something that I've had some experience with myself.

The expectation of mechanical balance does make many players balk if a GM says "no, you can't use that," but "I don't like it," isn't always the reason we, GMs, say no. Sometimes they coincide. I don't allow guns because I don't want guns in my fantasy world AND because the difficulty and time necessary to learn, understand, and successfully integrate the firearms mechanics is time I'd rather have in prepping other things for our campaigns.

I quite agree. I'm just pointing out that people who take the opposite approach have been developing counter-points for these objections. If you say you're unfamiliar with it (or are otherwise worried about balance), they say that you don't need to worry about that, since it has Paizo's "seal of approval" and so should work just fine anyway. If you say you don't like it, they say "Well I like it, and why should your preferences shape what I get to play?"

(The answer to the latter question has traditionally been "Because I'm the GM, and I'm running the game," but this has fallen out of vogue recently, as people have colored that answer as being some sort of ego-trip, rather than a simple acknowledgment that the game needs a referee/arbitrator.)

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HolmesandWatson wrote:

But I just can't get around the feeling that too many "official" options cheapens the game. When paizo puts it out, it has a stamp of 'inclusion' that a third party product doesn't.

And certainly, the GM gets to decide what's in and what's out, which is the fail safe that ensures nobody has to run something they don't want to.

This isn't one of my better arguments and I know that my footing is less firm than usual. So what if somebody wants to play a half-troll, half dwarf, pathfinder rogue/dominatrix? My day goes on.

Giving players more options sounds like a good thing. But I feel like Pathfinder is a very good game that is being spread thinner and thinner.

I haven't read through the entire thread, so my apologies if this was dealt with in more detail elsewhere. That said, I think that what you're referring to, Holmes, is what I call the Expectations Gap.

This is where the player(s) and the GM come to the table with different preconceived expectations regarding what is - or rather, what should - be allowed for use in the game. (e.g. A player believes that more books should be allowed as a default, and the GM believes that fewer books should be allowed as a default.)

The reason I call this a gap is because there's a difference between the stated answer to this dilemma (which is "just use whatever books you want and ignore the rest," which favors the GM's point of view), and what I often see as what many people think of as the actual answer to it (which is "the GM should be the one who bends to accomodate the player," which naturally favors the player).

What's fundamental here, I think, is that the latter interpretation (that the GM should allow the player to use what they want) seems to rely on the unspoken idea that there's no legitimate reason for the GM to deny a player's request for using non-Core Paizo materials. The issue of the GM's reason(s) not being legitimate is fundamental here; it holds that any GM objections are little more than some sort of personal issue that the GM is foisting off onto the player(s).

The underlying reasoning for this default assumption rests with the implicit statement that Paizo makes whenever they release new content for their game: "Everything works (e.g. is balanced) with everything else." This is key, because it tells us that there can be no non-personal reasons for refusing to allow Paizo-created materials in a Pathfinder game. You can't legitimately disallow something for being "unbalanced" - we already have Paizo's unspoken guarantee that it is!

Now, this isn't something that every gamer believes whole-cloth. We have plenty of threads here examining, questioning, and critiquing many different aspects of the game with regards to how balanced they are. But these are held to be exceptions to the general rule; it's still presumed that the Paizo people have an advanced understanding of the game's underpinnings, and put their material through rigorous quality-control processes that should identify and prevent any unbalanced combinations between the newest release and absolutely everything else that they've released to date. I personally find that to be a somewhat absurd belief, as well as one that falls apart under any kind of logical examination about how weighing so many myriad combinations would actually be done, but that belief seems to remain nonetheless widespread.

Now, to be certain, there are other reasons at work in issues of what books should be allowed or disallowed. But I believe that this issue, the Expectations Gap, is one of the main points of contention between those who feel that all of Paizo's books should be "on the table" as a default and those who don't.

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TOZ wrote:
What is Nightmare Keep?

It's a Forgotten Realms adventure from right around the beginning of AD&D Second Edition.

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