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HolmesandWatson's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 786 posts (1,644 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 4 aliases.


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Options and rules bloat has been an occasional topic in a thread looking at Gary Gygax' Role Playing Mastery Book and I just posted, wondering how many classes there are in PF.

Then saw your post. Thanks!


Ask and I shall receive. Since I just posted about a class count for PF, was interested to see this thread.

That's a lot of classes.


Ah, cool. Thanks. The sheer amount of info in Shannon's books are amazing. I've skimmed over some stuff (like superhero RPG coverage), but there's so much on so many different companies.

I still call it 'thief' instead of rogue...


I didn't find it, but I thought that someone posted here in this thread that they created the thief class, or were part of the group that did so. Is that the case?

I got a Designers and Dragons KS update and it included the following about a bonus goal and it made me think about the thief reference here:

"While we're excited to approach Shannon's yearly updates, we're even more excited to close the gap to our $90k stretch goal, where our favorite RPG historian delves into the origin of the very first Thief class. Here's a taste...

It all began when a dwarven henchman wanted to pick locks with his dagger. The solution to this dilemma was a thief class, designed by Wagner and the rest of the Aurania gang. It was something that was rather shockingly missing from the original D&D game, which only included rules for clerics, wizards, and fighting men.

The Auranian class didn’t look quite like the one that would soon appear in OD&D and AD&D (1977-1979) because it laid its thief skills out like magic-user spells: a character got new skills with names like “pick locks”, “find traps”, and “disarm traps” as he went up in level. These skills weren’t rolled, but thieves did need higher-level versions to do more difficult things. Otherwise, the thief was built with the basic foundation of the cleric class.

It seems unlikely that an unofficial thief class created in Santa Monica, California could have influenced the creation of an official thief class in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, but that seems to be exactly what happened. Sometime prior to May 10, 1974, Gary Switzer made a long-distance call from California to Wisconsin, to speak with Gary Gygax. This might seem a minor thing in the modern day, but in 1974 communication across the country was much more costly. If Switzer talked to Gygax for 10 minutes, he easily could have run up a bill of $20-40 ($100-200 in 2014 dollars). Nonetheless, Switzer was eager to talk to creator of this strange new Dungeons & Dragons game — and along the way he mentioned the thief class that the Aurania gang was working on."


And if you are familiar with Runebound, you probably know about BattleLore: either the first or second edition.

I've never played, but thought it did look interesting.

Well, it's soon to be an app and looks like a lot of fun.
Battlelore app


@strayshift - Definitely becomes an issue for the GM, as we talked about earlier in the thread. I ran a game a PbP a couple years ago here and only allowed Core Rulebook.

The GM has to learn more and more as the options increase.


So, the Advanced Class Guide is out.

(Mostly due to me) we've discussed options bloat a fair bit in this thread.

So, PF has added 10 new classes and over 100 archetypes and class options. Cynically, this can be viewed as adding more 'stuff' just to sell more product.

Does anybody know if there's a race/class count for PF? We can easily determine how many of each there is in the Core Rulebook. But how many have officially been added through other core books; and even through the non-third party books, such as the Players Companion lines.

Just wondering: the longer an edition stays in play, the more options bloat (as opposed to rules bloat) can occur.


Possibly the most significant RPG kickstarter project ever is going on now: Shannon Appelcline's Designers and Dragons

Applecline published a book just a couple of years ago covering the history of role playing games. It's about impossible to buy.

It is being updated in a MASSIVE four volume version covering the seventies, eighties, nineties and two thousands.

As usual with kickstarter, there are different funding levels with different rewards. I signed up for $15, which gets me pdfs of all four volumes.

Even though the KS has almost a month remaining, I've already received the pdfs for the seventies and eighties. Each is about 400 pages long!

I've read the seventies and it was really something. Of course, the origins of D&D is extensively covered, but you can read about Traveller, Judges Guild and Dave Hargrave's Arduin and much more.

He traces relevant issues through the decades, so the seventies book covers some matters into almost today.

Lisa Stevens wrote the intro to the nineties and I'm sure Paizo features prominently.

If you are at all interested in old school gaming or the development of RPGing, you will absolutely get your money's worth.


I never played in a tournament. From reading Designers and Dragons (seriously: if you are a fan of RPG history or companies that have come and gone; or even stuck around like Steve Jackson Games, this is a treasure chest) tournaments were a BIG deal in the early days.

Which makes sense I guess: packing up and heading out for a weekend of RPGing was an uncommon experience way back when.

And with Gygax' elevation of RP Mastery to almost PhD levels of respect and seriousness, tournaments were kind of the dissertation gravitas of role playing.

Thousands of people are at GenCon as I type this, playing the modern day version of tournaments. But I doubt any are viewing it in the vein that Gygax is writing about.


Have introduced a couple friends to it lately. Speeding up the game seems to be the key element for me to getting better buy in from newcomers.

We haven't managed to finish a game yet, as we have about two hours, max.


Great news. Love the card game and am always looking for good apps. I think this is a smart move for PF.


Whoa: I could hardly keep up with the comments!

There was a follow up post today, talking a bit about The Sands of Al-Kalim big box expansion.


Travelled this past weekend and finished up volume one of the Designers and Dragons kickstarter that I mentioned above.

There is just a staggering amount of information on the nascent years of role playing. And while that volume covers the seventies, it took the history of those companies into succeeding decades.

If you're at all interested in the development and early days of RPGing (which is mostly the story of D&D), you really should back this project.

For $15, I am getting pdfs of all four volumes (I've already downloaded #2, the Eighties). You can back at a lower level and get one of your choice, I think.

Just a fascinating look at things. I've already learned far more about Traveller than I ever thought I'd know.


We had a brief mention of the RPG history book, Designers and Dragons, not too long ago.

I recently backed the kickstarter that is revamping this project. The level I chose, just $15, will get me pdfs of all four volumes of the series. And as soon as I signed up, I had access to a pdf/epub/mobi version of the first volume, the seventies.

By nature of this thread, just about everyone who has posted is interested in 'old school' D&D to some extent. The Volume one pdf is 400 pages on the origins and initial growth of RPGs!

If that translates to over 1,500 pages on the history of roleplaying for only $15, that is one serious bargain.

You can check it out yourself.

I first read about Judges Guild, then Grimoire Games. Without even tackling the actual D&D part, I was certain it was well worth the price.


Gary Gygax’s 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery

Step Fifteen - Play In Tournaments

Note: Italics are quotes by Gygax, contained in the book, Role Playing Mastery.

Gaming clubs exist and game conventions are held in most areas of the United States and in many locations in other countries, especially Canada and Great Britain. To achieve mastery as a player, you must eventually (if not immediately) become involved in RPG tournaments that are staged by clubs and convention organizers. These are special play sessions in which various groups of players take part in the same game adventure at different times (similar to the way a duplicate bridge tournament is run).

By comparing your performance to that of other players whose PCs were faced with the same problems and challenges, you can get a sense of your strengths and weaknesses in a way that is not available to you as long as your experience remains restricted to one or a few local campaigns.

Seems like a natural progression from Step 14 (Play Outside Your Group's Campaign Frequently).

Tournaments often spawned new modules (Ghost Tower of Inverness comes to mind and I know there were at least a couple Judges Guild tournament modules).

Of course, in Gygax' time there was no D&D Encounters, Pathfinder Society or even online play. So, you were a lot less likely to find gaming opportunities outside of your immediate group and tournaments played a larger role in steps toward Mastery as he viewed it.

Many (if not all) of the points made in Step 14 would seem to apply here. I don't know: do you think playing at Gen Con, or Origins or Paizocon will make you a better player as Gygax saw it? Do you need to compare your play to other tournament RPGers to identify your strengths and weaknesses?

Surely it doesn't hurt, but does this step really remain relevant today?


Every Monday morning I post over at Black Gate and sometimes I talk fantasy-related stuff (it's a Sherlock Holmes column). This week, I posted about Runebound, a fantasy RPG from Fantasy Flight Games.

Howard Andrew Jones is a bigwig at BG and there are various and sundry posts about Pathfinder, D&D and old time gaming, in addition to fantasy movies and book stuff. Check it out.


While I'm typing up the next step...

This week over at Black Gate, I posted about Runebound, Fantasy Flight's RPG board game. It's worth a play.

And worth a read...


It seems like there have been more Dungeons and Dragons-related posts Black Gate lately.

Since most of it is related to old school gaming, there's some interesting stuff.


Howdy folks. Today's Public Life of Sherlock Holmes over at Black Gate is about this thread and Gygax's book!

Thanks for all of the input you've all provided on this thread. It wouldn't have been anything of note without your comments. Hopefully we've got a bit more to say.


Gary Gygax’s 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery

Step Fourteen - Play Outside Your Group's Campaign Frequently

Note: Italics are quotes by Gygax, contained in the book, Role Playing Mastery.

In your quest for variety, don’t overlook the opportunity for education and enjoyment that is offered by playing in more than one campaign. If you know more than one GIM and are able to divide your playing time so as to be an active member of each campaign, there is no substitute for the breadth of knowledge and experience that this will give you.

Step Twelve talked about playing frequently. Playing with different groups will give you different experiences (good and bad), which should help with Mastery, so no surprise here with Step Fourteen.

We also talked about the five stages of group success. The fourth stage involved success outside of the group while the fifth was some form of national recognition: which presumably would involve outside play.

Gygax doesn't delve specifically into this step much. But in the course of our almost three hundred posts (yay group!), the themes of playing a lot and getting as much varied experience as you can inevitably lead to this latest step.

Practically speaking, it makes sense. The variety offered of gaming with different players and GMS is going to broaden your perspective. Of course, it could lead you into bad habits, but if that's the case, you probably weren't cut out to be a Master anyways (that's a bit flip).

It's much easier today to play in multiple groups, simultaneously or not. I only had one gaming group (which was often just me and one other guy) growing up. With the online gaming options (including right here at Paizo) you can find lots of different players and games. And you should certainly learn from them.

Now, someone who is playing in four games, with limited attention, time or both, quite likely isn't going to improve their gaming skills. Nor are they going to make the campaign more enjoyable for other players. But Gygax's idea that you should get experience with more than just your regular gaming group seems pretty sensible.


Greetings folks. Time still hasn't let me back into the thread, but I haven't given up yet.

Famed D&D guy James Maleszewski posts over at Black Gate, where I'm doing my Public Life of Sherlock Holmes column.

I thought that this one was pretty interesting.

I remember those early modules.

Still planning on getting this going again.

City State of the Invincible Overlord (kickstarter) funded. I'm looking forward to that classic in Pathfinder format.


I'm not dead (I feel like a Monty Python movie).

My new boss started on the 7th. And they took away my best employee, so I'm now training two (of the other three) people in my office. And it hasn't gone smoothly.

I'm keeping up on my Monday morning posts over at Black Gate, but otherwise my writing is stopped. But I'm still sticking with this thread and will have the next step up reasonably soon.

Full lunch hours are still rare but I hope that will end soon.

I know we have quite a few old school gamers in the thread. Did you see that they're Pathfinderizing City State of the Invincible Overlord?

Along with City State of the World Emperor, this was my gaming world, not Greyhawk.

Hope everyone had a happy Easter.


Hey folks: fear not! I'm still around. My two months of doing two full-time jobs is about to come to an end on April 7 (though I'll probably have an extra half-time job training my new boss AND a new direct report).

When I haven't fallen asleep early at night I've been working on my new column over at Black Gate, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes (every Monday morning).

I should be able to resume actually taking a lunch EVERY day, read Gygax again get the thread going in early April.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
So was this project moved to a different source? I went through the blog linked in the OP and only found steps 1-3 there.

Howdy. Posting it on my blog and adding pictures was proving inconvenient, so the whole thing is here in this thread. I'd actually forgotten I was doing dual posting.

Sorry about that.


I blogged about the show (and hope for a new season) today.


When I made the last Step post, I started doing some figuring on the combinations of races and classes (and archetypes) in the core rulebooks. Then I thought about those in the supplements and gave up before I even pondered third party stuff. The numbers are huge.

To become an expert at a game/system, I understand the idea of playing different combinations. We Christians say that if you want to walk on the water, you have to get out of the boat. It's about leaving your comfort zone. I would think it's natural for a gamer to, over time, instinctively lean towards a few favorite classes and races. I don't think I ever played a Monk (what was that thing: the Quivering Palm?) in D&D. And I didn't know a component of the game because of that.

I've been frequenting the thread less lately because I've been building up my www.SolarPons.com website and pushing a Solar Pons page on Facebook. And working on some short stories. Pons is my ticket in the mystery world and I've only got so much time and words.

But I'm still here and you're doing great moving the discussion along on your own.

Starting this coming Monday the 10th, I'm a regular blogger over at Black Gate, the leading fantasy blog on the web. My posts should be up every Monday morning. They'll mostly be Sherlock Holmes related, but with a horror/fantasy/scifi/supernatural twist. So pop over on Mondays.

Now, time to go roll up yet another elven ranger....


Gary Gygax’s 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery

Step Thirteen - Play various characters as often as possible in as many different circumstances as possible.

Note: Italics are quotes by Gygax, contained in the book, Role Playing Mastery.

It is not enough to play as frequently as possible if each of your play sessions is essentially the same as all the others. To gain mastery as a player, you must experience firsthand what it’s like to take the roles of as many different character types as your game provides for. You do not play these characters simultaneously but consecutively. If you start a new character after one is killed or retired, make a point of selecting a PC type you have not yet played or one with which you have relatively little experience. If action in the campaign occasionally shifts from one place to another in the GM’s world, you may have an opportunity to change the character you play from one game session to another. However you do it, expose yourself to as much variety in the choice and operation of PCs as you possibly can.

I remember a thread I saw a few months ago, in which a GM complained that one of his players would only be a Paladin. Every time, that's all he wanted to play. The general response was, "Yeah: so what? If he likes playing a Paladin (and it fits in the game), let him play it." I recall that's pretty much what I thought as well.

But again, Gygax is talking about more than just enjoying the game: he's talking about Mastering it. Along with classes, races would probably be included today. Looking at Pathfinder offerings (no, I'm not going into options bloat again), mastering all classes (and races) would seem to require an awful lot of games. Or to get killed a lot (which would be the opposite of Mastery).

But I do get his point. Other than a cleric, I'm not sure I ever played a spellcaster as I worked my way through all those D&D silver and gold box games. And I was almost certainly missing out on aspects of the games in doing so. Somebody who plays a fighter or magic user but never plays a thief/rogue is missing out on part of the makeup of an RPG. And will not be a Master of that aspect.

Remember, we're talking Mastery. I have no interest in playing a witch or an oracle and I wouldn't play one (not having fun) just to try and play them all. But the would be Master is a different case. There's certainly something to be gained in overall expertise by playing different types of classes and races.


Gygax is talking about RPG mastery in terms of whichever game you choose to play. He mentions space, spy, etc: not just fantasy. Mastery is achieved on a game by game basis. Understandably, he doesn't specifically mention AD&D too often.

He does say that you have to know the game system and the rules. And not just knowing the rules, but how they work together. There's an entire chapter on Rules: Construction and Deconstruction.

I think Role Playing Mastery per Gygax in this book is being the best possible player. Sort of like being the master of a video game, or an elite player in a sport. People stand and watch you play.

System Mastery is required for Role Playing Mastery: it's not optional. And the play of your character and the success of your group is part of mastery as well. Which his huge list of research contributes to.

Next step is Play various characters as often as possible in as many different circumstances as possible.


Gygax says the following in his discussion of different types of groups:

The regular veteran playing group is most desirable. If you are
seriously interested in the play and mastery of role-playing games,
it is absolutely necessary to engage in frequent and regular exercise
of role-playing with a skilled GM and players who are as enthusiastic as you are.

The next level down, is:

The fragmented veteran playing group is basically the same group just described. The difference is that the GM and players are unable to meet frequently on a regular basis. The game master might hold irregular meetings with only a few or even none of the regulars. The regular players might be found playing in other, less desirable groups because of their inability to play with the fragmented
veteran group.

The players might well all serve as GMs regularly, by force of circumstances, even though they are more proficient as players and enjoy that form of participation more. The participants of such a group will certainly bring much tc those outside it-if they continue to be active. The problem is that members of fragmented playing groups tend to fall out of regular gaming unless each is able to find or establish a regular play group. Failing this, the group will lose its members, with only one or two actively playing or game mastering. The balance of the people will join them on rare occasions, but as an entity, the group has disappeared.

As is mentioned more than once in the book, if you can't carve out a significant amount of time to play, Mastery just isn't in your future.


There have been a bunch of articles on the 40th birthday of D&D. This one from James M. is pretty darn good!

And if you don't read the Black Gate blog, you're really missing out.


In an unrelated note:

I'm a fan of both Tolkien's books and the Peter Jackson films. I have enjoyed the three LOTR movies and the first Hobbit film. Monday, I saw the second Hobbit film.

Meh.

It's not a bad movie, but I found I was far less pleased with it than the four prior Middle Earth adventures. I think this is primarily due to, for the first time, the stretching out of the series made the product (an individual installment) too 'thin'. The action sequences in the middle and end of the film were just too much.

Now, I don't know how you film a set piece dragon encounter where both sides survive (if that was a spoiler, you really need to read the book, but don't worry, I didn't ruin the third film), and maybe they did the best they could with it, but it didn't work. It was like too much cotton candy. But they had to fill up two and a half hours so they did what they could.

LOTR - three books, three movies.
The Silmarillion - one book, enough content for many movies.
The Hobbit - one book - being stretched too far for three movies.

If you like the other films, I still recommend this: visually, Jackson is an artist. And there's some good stuff. But it wasn't a memorable film for me.

We now resume our regularly scheduled programming.


Gary Gygax’s 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery

Step Twelve - Play as frequently as possible

Note: Italics are quotes by Gygax, contained in the book, Role Playing Mastery.

Just as in step 5, this could almost go without saying. The hobby of role-playing games is no different from any other endeavor in that exposure to the activity must be frequent and ongoing in order for the participant to achieve a high level of skill. If your life-style or life circumstances do not permit you to play often, or if you simply don’t have the desire to spend a great share of your leisure time involved in RPGs, then you cannot hope to achieve mastery unless the prohibitive factor(s) can be removed. You can, of course, still enjoy playing.

A pretty common sense, straight-forward point. When I began playing Ultimate, I couldn't even throw a backhand. Within a decade, I was scoring goals in a national championship game. Early on, someone told me, "You play in tournaments like you practice." I carried that advice with me to every team I played on. But enough about me...

The more you play, the more familiar with things you become. Compare your first time playing a card or board game with your fifth or tenth or twentieth.

Again, Gygax takes this pretty seriously. Few, if any of us would consider the impossibility of acheiving RPG mastery because we have too much other stuff going on in our lives. But that's his frame of reference for the book.

Steps Fourteen (Play outside your group’s campaign frequently) and Fifteen (Play in tournaments) are related to this step, dealing more with the external impacts of frequent pay (i.e., different styles and environments). Here in Step Twelve, it's more about increasing your skill level and proficiency through repetition.

We had a fair bit of discussion about the five steps of group success and increasing individual mastery through frequent play is related to those as well.

I'm only partly joking, but if you followed his Outline of Study for Mastery (posted earlier in the thread), I can't imagine you'd have much time left to actually play the game.


Review of the game

Need to claim my download!


DrDeth wrote:
HolmesandWatson wrote:


I've read that Dave Hargrave, author of the Arduin Grimoire stuff, could be a real jerk as a GM.

Yep. But also a nice guy.

BTW, I'm a fan of the early Arduin books. Was just making the point that some of the pioneers likely had some control issues and ended up with negative perceptions about them over the years.

Next step coming by this weekend. I'm a big Sherlock Holmes/Solar Pons buff and have a couple different projects going, including a recent relaunch of my Pons website and an article to write for Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. I still plan on getting one post up a week to keep the thread moving along.


@Magus Janus - welcome to the thread.

I know that if I created D&D, I'd think of it as "my game" and likely tell people how they should play it. Which would leave some folks thinking I was a jerk (I'm sure they'd have lots of other reasons to think it as well...).

I think there are cycles where "Gygax isn't cool' is a trendy thing to ascribe to as well. And he's disparaged by those in that camp.

I've read that Dave Hargrave, author of the Arduin Grimoire stuff, could be a real jerk as a GM.

Burn-out/lack of enthusiasm: that's a pretty serious topic. Going back to RPGing being a hobby (as opposed to a paid job), it should be something you enjoy doing. And if you've lost enthusiasm, you aren't enjoying it. What are the causes for the lack of enthusiasm? Is it a player or players? The GM? The actual RPG being played itself? The scenario or adventure? Having to truck across town on Wednesday night to play? Just a cyclical interest in gaming that wanes and waxes?

Figuring out why the enthusiasm has dimmed is a pretty helpful first step. Sorta like determining the cause of the illness before you try to treat it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm blocked from the D&D webpage that hosts these walkthrough comics, but click on this link to see some very cool depictions of classic D&D modules.

This is one of the neatest graphical D&D things I've come across in awhile.


the madness that is mid to late December for me has come and gone. So, back to the book!

Gary Gygax’s 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery

Step Eleven - Put forth your personal best during play.

Note: Italics are quotes by Gygax, contained in the book, Role Playing Mastery.

The advice given in step 10 does not mean that you should ever compromise in your efforts to succeed as a player. Your PC may have to subjugate his or her individual desires from time to time to ensure the general welfare of the group, but that is as it should be, and this does not mean that you should ever allow your enthusiasm and drive as a player to lessen.

I think this is our last kicking of the dead horse and we'll move off of the group focus with the next step. I found the last part of note. I read this as saying sometimes it's not all about what you want and you shouldn't get depressed or down on the game because the group's welfare comes before your own.

In our 'It's all about me, and if it's not, I'll take my ball and go home' culture, what Gygax is saying is counter to that. However, RPGing is a past-time and something to be enjoyed. He's talking about a mindset; a different way of thinking about your play. He's not saying you should keep playing if you're not having fun. He's saying that you should still be able to have fun even if it's not all about you. And you should be able to play well.

He's saying this in the context of doing your best at each session. Don't get down on the game and go through the motions, or overtly or covertly adopt a "Fine, whatever," type of attitude where you pull less than your full weight.

I mentioned I was a competitive Ultimate (Frisbee) player for a long time. I didn't always agree with the captains and had little snit fits during games. But every time my cleats (with me in them) went out on the field, I gave 100% to the extent I was capable. I gave my personal best. Of course, that wasn't always good enough, but hey, I tried.

Gygax is sort of tying a bow on the package of 'Group First' with this step.


@Pehlan: Have you played yet? What do you think? I've got the Skull and Shackles Beta but we haven't mananged to get together and play it yet.


As I only play PbP these days, 'acting it out' is different than sitting around a table. I'm still using my imagination and the words are key, but there's no "delivery." Acting it out through a keyboard is its own form of character immersion.

Merry Christmas to everyone.


December combines year-end close at work, Christmas and my son's birthday. Man oh man! Here is step 10:

Gary Gygax’s 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery

Step Ten - Always seek to contribute the most to the team’s success

Note: Italics are quotes by Gygax, contained in the book, Role Playing Mastery.

From the players’ and the PCs’ standpoint, any role-playing game is a group endeavor. Individual success is secondary to the success of the group, for only through group achievements can the quality of a campaign be measured.

We discussed this quite a bit earlier in November. Chapter Four of the book is titled "The Group: More Than Its Parts."

There are snippets throughout the book like: Group operation and cooperation are at the nucleus of any RPG activity.[i/]

And [i]Whatever rewards you seek, all that might come are based on
the play group.

I'll sprinkle in some more, but it's clear that Gygax measured success and accomplishments via the group, rather than individual characters. Which makes this Step a natural one for his list.

Merry Christmas to all of you.


Fear not, I haven't abandoned the thread (again..). Working on a Solar Pons project (what? You don't know who Solar Pos is?) and will have the next step up shortly.


I think that Ravenloft was an amazing gaming experience. It broke new D&D ground and offered a spooky vampire atmosphere. I recall liking the Swords & Sorcery third edition books, though I never played them.

I did spend a little time in Prisoners of the Mist, a Neverwinter Nights persistent world with a Ravenloft theme. Fun stuff.

Paizo did a nice job with Ustalov, which is pretty different from Ravenloft but fills that vampire region niche.


I remember playing Ravenloft and the GM did a great Strahd. Of course, he went on to be a professional improv performer who is on track to break it nationally. So, no suprise there. The rest of us just played, not acted. That worked out fine for everybody.

Totally unrelated: If you are looking for a fun present for Christmas that won't break the budget (under $20 on Amazon), I highly recommend Munchkin (including the new Pathfinder version). We started playing it during lunch at work this year (average game is 30 minutes to an hour) and it is an absolute BLAST. It's very funny and it's also kid friendly (they might not understand everything..). It works for two players, but because of the help someone/shaft someone element, it really shines with three or more. Alliances shift constantly based on self-interest. While I am a big fan of the PFACG, I think Munchkin is probably the all around most fun game that I play.


He also said this, which reflects your comment on more experience resulting in being able to handle more difficult character challenges:

Do you really have the proper mind-set to play the particular game persona at this time? While it isn’t possible to perform at peak level at all times, an uninteresting or a distasteful PC is sure to lower your performance drastically over a long period of time. This might be acceptable in a casual episode in which experimentation and aberration are of no import, but it is quite destructive in an ongoing campaign. You will not gain enjoyment, the others in the group will have theirs hindered because of your imprudent choice, and the whole level of the campaign could suffer. Until you are a master-an individual capable of accepting any challenge and dealing with it willingly to the extent of its limits-it is always best to let your enthusiasm direct your selection when in doubt.


@MendedWall - a comment from Gygax sorta related to the second part of your post:

These nonparticipants had no intention of taking part because they were fearful that the process would reveal too much about their actual personalities. What these people don’t realize is that players generally prefer to choose and develop a character type that is not similar to one’s true personality, and most games are designed so as to encourage this sort of selection.

A master gamer will understand that one of the most intriguing aspects of RPGs is the opportunity to portray a character that bears no resemblance to his actual persona. In some cases, depending on the particular game or the result the player desires from the activity, it may be appropriate or even necessary to reflect one’strue self in the choice of a PC, but the general statement still holds.


Bob's Character Building

Mechanics - the skeleton of the character

Background - the flesh of the character

Equipment/Goods - The clothes of the character.

The insubstantial concept becomes substantive with the selection of class and race. Gender is less important in most cases. Alignment is a reflection of personality and could be included in this step or the next: I lean towards the latter.

The character is basically a golem at this point, a construct. It exists but is inanimate. Life is breathed into the character with a story. Background, history, personality traits: Now it's a living being with depth.

But it's naked as far as being an adventuring character goes. The skeleton and the flesh are essentially permanent. They can be enhanced, but not simply removed as if they never were. Now, the character is equipped and outfitted at ye old general store. It's clothed. Those clothes will change. New and better stuff will be obtained through adventuring. But frame, flesh and clothes: we have a player character.

Humble fellow that I am, I kinda like this analogy.

There are some who would reverse one and two: if the build works, hey, it's not a perfect analogy. But for my character build, this works.


Pax Veritas wrote:

I just finished reading this thread. Very excellent topic, worthy of time and reflection. Thanks for everyone's contributions.

As a big Gygax fan myself, I will share my all time favorite quote with you from the First Edition Dungeon Masters Guide:

"... NEVER HOLD TO THE LETTER WRITTEN, NOR ALLOW SOME BARRACKS ROOM LAWYER TO FORCE QUOTATIONS FROM THE RULE BOOK UPON YOU... BE CERTAIN THE GAME IS MASTERED BY YOU AND NOT BY YOUR PLAYERS. [...] YOU ARE CREATOR AND FINAL ARBITER."

Regards,
Pax

Sounds like my approach to being a dad :-)

That quote immediately reminded me of the subheading at the start of The Master GM chapter: THE CREATOR, ORGANIZER, AND ARBITER OF ALL

It is also a strong indicator that Gygax wasn't a devotee of RAW (rules as written).

I'll probably drop a few more concepts from The Master GM chapter along the way.

Welcome to the thread.


Since we've epanded upon playing the character and touched a bit on player creation, Gygax says, "For instance, the AD&D game uses a character system based on profession, or “class.” In that game, the direct, highly physical approach is embodied in the fighter and cavalier classes. The magic-user class offers the indirect, possibly intellectual approach- a sort of mixture of artillery and superscience. Between these two extremes lies the cleric class, with its mixture of direct and indirect action (being able to use both heavy weapons and heavy magic).

Finally, the thief class presents a manner of approach that is basically individualistic and unobserved (as differing from indirect). Of course, other PC types and the nonhuman races add to the mix. If the AD&D game has a single obvious shortcoming, it is the attempt to present so many facets of the whole world to itsparticipants that players lose sight of the reason for all these classes of PCs. Because the game is so extensively detailed and reflects a fantasy milieu in world-scale terms, there is no meaningful level of character success that is achievable with respect to the world community. That is, no matter how powerful a PC becomes, the choices for the player are but two: Continue to ue the character as an adventurer, or retire the character from active play and have the figure become a tool for use by the Game Master (GM).

He added, In addition to delineating a field of endeavor for a PC, some game systems allow for selection of a race, or species, other than human for the PC. This can be a so-called demi-human, such as a dwarf or an elf, in a fantasy setting; or it can be some alien creature type in a science fiction milieu.

Whatever the selection of races or species presented, the choice facing the player is quite similar tothat of profession or skill grouping. There will be advantages and drawbacks to each potential selection. The rules must be understood, and all the decisions that pertain to profession or skill area should be made prior to selecting a PC’s race. If you simply must play a magic-user in the AD&D game campaign being developed, then your character cannot also be a dwarf, because the rules of the game prohibit dwarves from being magic-users, and vice
versa. The inclusion of choices for race or species in RPGsis simply another method of allowing participants to explore the possibilities and solve the problems of the system.

And, Knowing the whole of the system, and studying carefully that portion of the rules that deals with the creation and advancement of player characters, gives the participant a great advantage when choosing and developing a PC. Since the game persona is created to serve in a lengthy series of play sessions (the campaign), care must be used in selection of profession or skills, race or species, gender, and alignment of the new PC. Above all, the player must be enthusiastic about long-term participation in the game with the chosen PC.


John Woodford wrote:
Properly done you'd build the mechanics of the character around its personality and history, but it's not surprising how much of it goes the other way. In practice I tend to do them both together. The other consideration is that no set of game mechanics is going to be all-inclusive, so there are personalities and concepts that just won't be supported. And when you and the GM make something up, it can be hard when Paizo comes out with the official version and you're left scrambling.

Thinking about it, I build around the mechanics. I look at the game I'm going to play in (an Urban Ranger in the deserts of Osirion would be dumb), pick the class and race I want, then do the build. I try to tie in background, personality, etc (fluff) to the adventure (I find GMs really do appreciate that effort), but they are definitely the clothes over the skeleton (hopefully there's some flesh in between..).

In relation to the OP, I still try to RP my character the "right" way, but as far as constructing the character, I'm definitely mechanics driven.


Folks probably saw the Paizo blog post, but just thought I'd mention the Pathfinder Dice Game kickstarter going on. I backed it because I like board games and I'm interested to see how this rather odd looking game comes out; hard to know what to make of it.

I consider most of Paizo's PF RPG stuff to be of very good quality; the PFACG is fantastic and the Wizkids minis I've gotten have been good. On the other hand, I think PF Online is going to be a disaster.

But generally, I think Paizo officially aligns itself with quality product. We'll see which side of the line this game falls on.

Back to normal discussion....

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