The Maltese Falcon wrote:
After eating and breaking camp, you proceed deeper into the moors... the grasses become thicker, and the ground marshier. You pass a small herd of red cattle -- the bull snorts angrily in warning, and prepares to charge if you come near; his cows and calves stampede away, frightening aloft a flock of the gigantic boobries.
Since you can speak to animals, you know the bull is saying to you, "Dese are MY b&!!~es! Come near and I cut you BAD!"
The birds, in turn, are saying to the cattle: "That's really rude of you to stampede over our lunch. For revenge, we're going to poop on your heads."
In the end, I think Kirth said it best when he said a GM has to clearly transmit their intent before accepting a player; I know I probably wouldn't want him as a GM (except maybe in the b-team), and I know I wouldn't want mlpindustries as a GM, and that is perfectly fine, we just have play styles that dont concur.
I'll never forget houstonderek's statement, before I DMed for him the first time: "If I do stupid things and my character doesn't die, I'm walking out that door and not coming back."
Contrast that with Mrs Gersen saying, "I just want a pet pony for my gnome, and I don't want things to be too icky or die-y."
The game is big enough for both of them -- just not at the same time, in the same place.
D&D is a Game. Games should be Fun.
Not everyone's idea of what's "Fun" is the same, so maybe a lower-case "fun" would be a lot more appropriate. For example: For you it's "not fun" if your beloved PC dies. For me, the game actually loses most of its fun if my PC has no chance of dying.
Trying to make blanket statements about what's Fun and what's badwrongfun isn't a really useful pastime. What's more helpful, to me, is making sure that the people you're playing with are all together on their opinion, or at least know which way you lean and are on board with that.
Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:
There is a level of GM agency in the creation of e ogre lair in the first place. That's what makes it an ogre lair and not a fire giant lair or a goblin lair. So, at what point does the encounter building 'finish'? Where is the point where we say 'this encounter is complete and cannot be changed' when we are the people who invented it ?
Flip that around -- at what point does character building finish? I mean, no one gets to undo their last level advancement and redo it mid-encounter, right? So, as DM, I hold myself to pretty much the same rules. When I design a challenging encounter, I do it fairly (i.e., the PCs have a chance to survive unless they're stupid about it) and to the best of my ability (and I follow all the rules, down to the number of followers the bad guy has being determined by his/her leadership score). Once the game is actually in play, that encounter is set, in the same way the PCs are set. After the game, players are welcome to audit my adventure notes for inconsistencies (no one has taken me up on that, but I'd totally do it).
The one essential truth I've found is this:
If you're going to fudge dice and so on, make that clear at the beginning of the campaign. That way you don't need to mention it whenever you do it, but everyone knows what they're signing up for.
Likewise, if you won't fudge and let them die, make that clear at the outset also.
Lying to your players (even by omission) over something that essential to how the game runs is the absolute worst thing you can do as a DM.
I like to run two concurrent campaigns.
The "A" campaign will have optimized PCs, all rolls in the open, hard-mode tactical gaming. Sometimes the BBEG will go down like a chump. Sometimes he'll TPK the party, and I don't shed a tear. PC deaths happen; if yours dies, roll up another one if you can't get resurrected. If the fate of the world is at stake and you screw it up, then that campaign world suffers the consequences of that failure.
The "B" campaign will have experimental or "fun" PCs, no real emphasis on dice rolling, and overall will be soft-mode. Character death probably won't happen, but you'll be sure to get into all kinds of zany stuff -- the DM (me) gets to be experimental, too! The setting probably won't get destroyed by anything you do, but all kinds of unexpected stuff might get added in.
I don't think one is "better" than the other. Everyone just needs to be on board with which one you're playing, is all. If I'm in an "A" game and all fired up for hard-mode tactics, and the DM starts pulling punches so that the party "just barely" winds all the encounters, I'll probably quit that game because of the problem of incompatible goals/expectations. (If I make a "B" character and the DM pulls out a hard-mode game, I'll die quickly, so that problem is quickly self-correcting!)
Those are what were Calc I and Calc II at Rensselaer; everyone was required to take them in their 1st year. They weren't too bad... but finishing them meant it was time for Differential Equations (aka "DiffEQ," aka "Diffy-Screw!"), the first lecture of which opened with these words: "Hi! My name is Gregor Kovacic. You will all fail the final! I will give you many quizzes and tests to try to raise your grade, but it will do no good!"
King of Elfland's Daughter is one of my all-time favorites; its description of how time works differently between the Elflands and "the fields we know" is unbeatable in its beauty, and it just breathes pure fantasy. And the novel has also got trolls, will-o-wisps, towns taken over by fey, magic swords made of lightning, unicorn hunts, quests led by madmen, extraplanar borders that shift around... all that is hard to beat. Naturally, the idiots at TOR didn't read it (one of them said he gave up after 20 pages). And they said they wouldn't want to play in it because it seemed to "Spenserian," although if they'd bother to read "The Mathematics of Magic," they'd know that Spenser's Faerie Queene is a perfect game setting... oh, wait, that was deCamp and Pratt, who wrote MoM. Never mind.
Can we stay on the issue rather than definitions, please?
OK, here it is: if one PC is so focused on DPR that he dumped his Wis to 7, he likely fails Perception checks and gets eaten by a pouncung lion, or fails a save vs. hold person and gets a coup de grace. Then he rolls up a new character.
I don't see what the problem is.
But for most of the rest of us, those with a problem with “optimization”, then we’re talking about “hyper-optimized’ PC’s.
Whatever you're talking about, in this case you're still butchering the English language. "Optimized" doesn't mean "specialized." The very phrase "hyper-optimized" is something of a tautology.
"Hyper-specialized" is a lot closer to what you mean.
18+2,16,14, 7,7,7, is hyper-optimized and I think is a problem build. This is the issue. OK? It doesn't really matter what *YOU* call "optimized', it's what folks here are complaining about. And they are not complaining about the 16+2, 14, 14, 10, 10, 10 they are compaining about the 18+2,16,14, 7,7,7- ESPECIALLY when that player then complains about the rest of the party being "useless".
DPR only goes so far even in combat; remember that a successful save-or-lose spell does "all" points of damage in one round. And, as someone previously pointed out, if you dump your Will save and spend most of every game either held or attacking your own party, you're a net liability in combat and all of your DPR is counting against your own party. There is no sense of the word by which I can apply the word "optimal" to that.
Unless as DM I'm taking pity on them (I don't), PCs like that die quickly enough that I don't consider them problematic at all.
The only time "optimization" of ANY kind is a problem at my table is when there's a mismatch in the level of optimization. And by that I mean what I said before: "being able to handle whatever challenges exist within the game rules." If one character contributes strongly towards that, that character is "well-optimized." If another interferes in comparison, he/she isn't.
"Optimization" and "specialization" are not synonyms.
I don't consider hyper-specialization to be "optimization," unless another team member is intentionally covering in another area. In other words, I'd look at party optimization. Is your team maximally equipped to handle anything within the rules? Then they're optimized. If not, they're not.
"Optimation = DPR" doesn't make any sense at all to me.
Skilled roleplayers can take on a HUGELY complex and challenging scenario that would leave combat-optimized characters lost and helpless...
Stormwind there. Many optimizers are skilled roleplayers, and the best optimize to avoid needless combat by obvating the need. But they do so by speccing out their characters in accordance with the game rules. They do not do it by intentionally making characters that aren't actually good at anything.
Flip that around, too. The game has BOTH aspects, not just one or the other. If your group wants a tactical combat game with some RPing to make things interesting, you have no business bringing in a monk/druid/sorcerer with 10 Int, 10 Wis, and a pet squirrel.
If the group all has pet squirrels and wants to focus on the roleplaying stuff and ignore combat, then your buddy has no business bringing in Rambo.
IT DEPENDS ON THE TYPE OF GAME EVERYONE WANTS TO PLAY.
Try hard to understand that PF can be used for both endpoints, and everything in the middle. Neither style is "wrong." It's a matter of what people want.
If Michael Jordan in his prime is playing basketball with me, my kid brother, and the paraplegic kid from down the street, he's going to need to tone it WAY down, or essentially he'll be playing by himself. One optimizer in a group of stooges is no good.
If I'm made center for the Celtics tomorrow, the games are going to suck, because the other team will walk all over us. The rest of my team won't be able to make up the difference. Someone unoptimized for basketball has no place in an NBA lineup, and will ruin the playoffs.
Optimization isn't bad. Lack of optimization isn't bad. The problem is when one person does one and the other people do the other, and no one thinks to try and bridge the gap.
All part of being a "hero" playing a GAME for FUN.
For some people, the tactical part of the game IS fun. They actually want to tweak out optimized characters so they can face hard-mode challenges and have some chance of success. If you deep-six what the other three people are trying to do, you actually ruin their FUN. Which is why you ALL have to AGREE on what style of game you all want to be playing.
Look, I said it before, everyone needs to be on board about what kind of game you're playing.
Is it a softball Three Stooges game where you can create a monk/sorcerer/druid basket weaver with a squirrel companion and still be OK?
Or is it an Age of Worms-style hard-mode game where anyone but a full caster maxed to the eyeballs is nothing but worm food?
If the former, then everyone needs to make that kind of character, as optimized PCs are totally out of place. If the latter, there's no place for your basket-weaver, because you ARE dragging down your teammates.
The game can be played at either endpoint, or anywhere in the middle. EVERYONE NEEDS TO AGREE WHERE, and then meet there.
The optimizers at the table tell me "You're doing it wrong(TM). Fighters are supposed to DUMP Charisma. By not playing to your full potential (i.e., boosting your AC, damage, and HP to their theoretical maximums), you're robbing us of a good tank and forcing us to carry you. You're Not Doing Your Job and that means we can't have fun because your chaacter is useless--not just non-optimized, but USELESS. Go fix it."
Pshaw. If they don't tell you to Play a Caster Instead, their hard-mode gaming creds are revoked.
Yeah, the people I know who optimize the most are the ones who are most interested in the game overall, and they tend to create the most original characters and immerse themselves in the role-playing the most. The people who don't optimize their characters, in my experience, seem to have a more casual approach to the whole hobby, and are less likely to do much role-playing and more likely to want to play angry birds during game time.
YMMV, but that's what I've seen: a strong positive correlation between optimization and role-playing, as opposed to the inverse one people tell me about.
And, yeah, we're all mostly grognards here. I played a lot when "elf" was a class, and played the most with "weapon type vs. AC modifier" tables on the character sheets, and still remember THAC0 as a major innovation.
most of the tasks that Hercules were won through use of his brain and not his "class" abilitys.
Fighters, essentially, have no class abilities except "hit it with a stick." That's the rub. Oh, and they get extra feats, which allows them to grab some minor bonuses to dice rolls. None of them (with the exceptions listed above, which are open to everyone) gives them any influence past the length of their reach or weapon range.
So unless your DM fiats that every character must be optimized to be as cosmically powerful as every other player - then the fighter will have a solid place at the table at all levels.
OK, if the rules don't matter -- "the DM's job is to fix everything!" -- then why do we have dice, classes, set class features, and so on? That's a serious question. I grew up with what you're describing, but found recently that if the rules are more or less well-balanced, the DM can take more of a referee role and less of a storyteller one, and really let the players' creativity come out: they know what they can do, and know they're not relying on a game of "mother-may-I" for a lot of it, so they're free to come up with any kind of outrageous uses for it. That sort of a game is more fun for me, and for my players, because it frees me up to focus my efforts on making fun scenarios, rather than worrying about making sure the fighter doesn't get bored all the time.
Put more simply, I (and many others) would rather not have to work in direct opposition to the rules, in order to make the rules work. If that's the case, it's easier to abandon the rules altogether and play Magical Tea Party. But if we're going to play in a game with rules, we prefer for the DM to be able to work with the rules, not against them. Again, YMMV, but this is sort of important:
If the rules are well-balanced, you can still play Magical Tea Party. If they're not, you can't have a DM-as-referee. It's not a zero-sum thing.
Depends on what type of game the participants are after. I used to run two campaigns concurrently: one for a party of optimized characters, for hard-mode gaming full of quick death; and one for a party of unoptimized characters, enabling us to try all kinds of goofy things that would normally get an adventurer killed. That way we could pick whichever one suited our mood that week.
I really, really enjoy hard-mode optimized games. I also enjoy easy-mode beer 'n' pretzels games. It's nice to be able to switch off, instead of playing only one of them all the time.
Basically what you are saying is that unless you are free to play what ever you want, you won't be playing in that campaign. Correct?
Incorrect. This is what I mean by trying to understand other people's points of view.
What I am saying is that, when I encounter people who, right away, aggressively assert their need to impose limits, I recognize that I'm better off not sitting in their games, because past experience has shown that I do not enjoy spending time around people like that.
A person who says, "we can probably work X in if you really want to play it, but to be honest, Y or Z or Q would work better, if you wouldn't mind..." is going to be able to quickly get me to pick Y or Z or Q, because they approach me with a compromise, and I'd feel obligated to return the favor.
Watching the surface of the waters... eventually a small, charred body floats up, motionless. The great gold, silver, and green-crested head of a magestic dragon turtle breaks the water as well, sniffs the body, decides it doesn't look at all appetizing, and submerges again.
Using boat hooks and lines, the rest of the party is able to recover the goblin's body. It is blasted almost beyond recognition, and quite motionless, but Kelgan, by virtue of listening to his chest, declares that Cricket is somehow alive, albeit comatose.
Cricket: Used both your hero points to give you the "left for dead" condition (Intro document) instead of leaving you at -30 hp. The save DC was 19.
Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:
I can't remember where I read this, but somewhere (fiction? memoir? essay? hopefully someone can help) I read a mention of a 19th-century aesthete and sculpture enthusiast whose marriage was ruined when he discovered, on his wedding night, that women have pubic hair.
He should have fast-forwarded to 2010 or so, and there would have been no such shock. Hell, I'd be willing to swap times with him...
Yes, I'm aware of all that. You've made it quite clear. And it works for you, so more power to you. My method works for me.
And the two are, in fact, mutually-contradictory. Either players can have input into the setting beyond their characters' actions (mine do), or they can't (yours don't).
Which is different from Kirth's second example, the one that he says has been called out as never being encountered outside his games.
Right. It's in fact a textbook example of the first scenario: "Here's the campaign, take it or leave it." The setting is totally fleshed out before the players ever get to look at it, so there's no opportunity for them to say, "let's put a tribe of elves over here!" or "can we make some giant waterfalls over there?"
The second scenario is what I did with silverhair in my game: "Can we put some orc tribes up here in viking-land so I can be a half-orc? And can we add Monte Cook's runeblade class for him?" And I made these happen, without "damaging" the setting at all.
we're better off with 1d4+ strength... which actually isn't that bad.
1d4+Str, with no crit multiplier, with half the range, and with no iterative attacks possible unless you burn two extra feats on that alone? That's stupefyingly bad.
Doing any one of those things would make the sling less effective than the composite bow. Doing all of them is, as Raymond Chandler said, like knocking in someone's teeth and then shooting him for mumbling.
The question is in the proportions.
If a sling were 3/4 as good as a bow, I'd be pretty happy with it (that's 75% vs. Nico's 80%, so I'm 5% easier to please!). The current sling, which is about 1/10 as good as a bow, I'm not at all happy with.
But reality aside -- and as a more important consideration, to my mind -- the game suffers if you cling too strenuously to the paradigm you listed. What if James Bond never used anything but an AK-47? Does anyone maybe feel like the movies would lose something in the translation? To encourage a game that reflects the movies and not trench warfare, you take liberties with the stats to encourage people to use pistols. Victory Games did this extremely successfully, back in the day.
If you want anyone to use a sling, you've got to throw it a bone. No one wants slings to be better than longbows, but punishing people for selecting a sling and then calling them idiots isn't the way to encourage its use.
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
"I have this setting I've been working on; I'd love to run a campaign in it so I'd like to review the setting with you to get a feel for it. I haven't had time to introduce every possible race, class, or rules addendum, but it's pretty extensive and should satisfy most requests. If you really want to do something that I haven't yet incorporated, I may or may not be able to adjust the setting in time to play this campaign, and if I do have time, I'll need to work with you a lot to make sure we're on the same page. Here's my campaign world guidelines, let me know what you think."
The question is whether "I may or may not be able to adjust the setting" means "I will try very hard to do so" (as I've said) or "I might claim I will but it's not my job to do so and you know I damn well won't" (as shallowsoul has stated more or less point-blank). It's not an absolute thing, but people do tend towards one or the other of those. In other words -- you're either willing to let players add stuff, and/or redo stuff for them, or you're not. Or, as I've been told by at least 4-5 different people now, "either your setting is fully-formed and pure, or it's a kitchen sink."
Bigger social units bring CORRUPTION. Power-hungry people will seek administrative roles, specifically to use them as far as the system will allow, for personal benefits.
This happens equally in small groups, which often don't have the bureaucratic red tape to bog down the corrupt official and keep his/her mischief to a minimum. I suspect that a lot of the decline in violence over human history is due to moving towards larger groups -- seeing more people as "us" and fewer as "them" -- and that moving back to tribalism and clan warfare is not the way to go.
Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
I can't help but remember all those Occupy stories about the NYPD working in cahoots with the banksters' security divisions. And then I start thinking stop-and-frisk...
Your mind and mine are running disturbingly alike. Makes me want to open up my skull and pour bleach in there or something!
Kahn Zordlon wrote:
I wasn't familiar with the pinkertons... Yes, I would prefer pinkertons to police officers or the military.
Novelist Dashiell Hammett was originally a Pinkerton. He solved a couple of cases, served in WWI, got a reputation as a trustworthy "op," and got sent to Butte, Montana as a strikebreaker for the Anaconda mine. Apparently the mine was the only real employer there, the local school was substandard to say the least, and people were generally too poor and too poorly educated to move and try and start over. Working conditions were grim to the point of dystopian. Hammett's job was basically to hang around with other ops and, anytime someone complained or offered a suggestion for improvement, bash them over the head with an ax handle. When the Workers of the World tried to organize, he was offered a $5,000 bonus to murder the organizer.
He eventually quit in disgust (citing poor health as a cover) and joined the Communist Party in protest.
Any "solution" that makes Communism seem reasonable in comparison is most emphatically not a good one, to my mind.
So, the ideal solution is to reduce and/or abolish the role of government and the rule of law, and instead have a large group of property owners and their enforcers -- who have no oversight but their own -- deal with everything? That sounds suspiciously like robber baron factory owners hiring the Pinkertons as strikebreakers. Some people might argue against that model as representing an "ideal" scenario.
The 8th Dwarf wrote:
Quigly was a s@*+ movie it made me want to punch Tom Selleck in the face and any movie that makes me hate Magnum PI is a travesty.
I loved QDU! And I tried re-watching some old Magnum episodes on Netflix recently -- they seem to have aged poorly. I really, really like Selleck in the "Jesse Stone" TV movies, though.