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Kirth Gersen's page

22,187 posts (22,882 including aliases). 8 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 12 aliases.

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My area (near NYC at the time) may have gotten a disproportionate amount of hype. This is what that great rag of the Plutocracy, the Wall Street Journal had to say:

Richard A. Gardner wrote:
From my perspective, the U.S. appears to be witnessing its third great wave of hysteria. The first, the Salem Witch Trials, in 1692, lasted only a few months. Nineteen people were hanged before it became apparent that the accusations were suspect. In the 1950s, at the time of the McCarthy hearings, hysteria over the communist threat resulted in the destruction of many careers. Our current hysteria [the so-called "Satanic Panic"], which began in the early 1980s, is by far the worst with regard to the number of lives that have been destroyed and families that have disintegrated.

Granted, the dude may be exaggerating somewhat, but the scare was no little thing (supposedly, Geraldo's TV special on Satanic activity was the most widely-viewed documentary ever aired on NBC).

So, yeah, pretty sure it wasn't as big as McCarthy, but as Comrade Doodle points out, far more bizarre: as far as I know, no one accused Communist sympathizers of flushing kids down the toilet into an underground Satanic abuse cavern, forcing them to watch giraffes being beheaded before raping them with knives, and then magically healing them and cleaning them up so that it appeared nothing happened -- and have people actually take those allegations seriously.

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I started in 1980 or so, and, yeah, we caught the whole "D&D is Satanism" thing. We all had to watch Mazes and Monsters, as if it was some kind of documentary; we were quite scornful that the movie seemed to involve LARPing, which wasn't a thing yet and we (a bunch of elementary school kids) considered it totally immature -- one played baseball outside, not D&D, just like you didn't play baseball indoors. Duh!

One day the principal called in maybe three or four of us who were known to play the game, and interrogated us on it; evidently our answers made sense, because I didn't get any more flack until I moved to a nearby town.

The important thing to remember, though, is that the whole country was caught up in a massive Satanism scare at the time, and it made the Red Scare in the 50s seem normal. It affected everything around us, not just D&D. Even people who were otherwise sane were convinced that there were millions of Satanists running around everywhere conducting evil rituals and sacrificing infants, and that they were constantly recruiting through a variety of nefarious means. So we were told that playing D&D would make us kill our parents and commit suicide, and that listening to Ozzy or KISS ("Knights In Satan's Service!") would make us kill our parents and commit suicide, and that doing drugs would make us kill our parents and commit suicide. (We once played D&D while listening to Black Sabbath, and were almost disappointed when no murders nor suicides ever occurred.)

But it wasn't just entertainment media, which actually got off easy compared to everything else. For instance, any number of day care centers in our area were shut down under allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse, and although the people were eventually exonerated of charges when no one could actually find a sacrificed baby (or even a single missing kid, for that matter), those peoples' livelihoods were pretty much destroyed.

Thankfully, by the late 80s the panic was pretty much over. We even had a D&D after-school club (although we had to call it the "Gaming and Hobbies Club" because the name D&D was still persona non grata).

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But, being so awesome, wouldn't any reason you do it for be, almost by definition, an awesome reason?

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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
[Grabs the ether can and cries some more]
Hunter S. Thompson wrote:
The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. And I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. Probably at the next gas station.

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wraithstrike wrote:

1. So the psion was getting past SR with ease and

2. nobody could identify his powers.

Thanks for the specific examples!

For (1), I could see a simple rule that "SR applies against spells and psionics and so one and so forth," as being a very simple, non-invasive compromise area. Again, though, I've never seen players have too much trouble overcoming SR, so I almost suspect this would be a relative non-issue.

For (2), that's the sort of thing I'm especially curious about. Obviously, from a story standpoint, it's cool to be able to include stuff like "You're not sure how Bob is being controlled. Your detect magic isn't pinging, but your Sense Motive check tells you for sure his mind has been clouded." That's a way to re-introduce mysteries into a game that usually doesn't allow them past a certain point.

Getting Bob loose of his psionic fog might be interesting, too, if they can't just chuck a dispel magic on they guy. Maybe they need to put him in protective custody in a jail cell until he eventually makes the save? Or maybe they need to find another psion to remove the effect?

That said, I can live without the obvious story potentialif it introduces a trojan horse into the game that I'm not seeing.

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LazarX wrote:
Saving throws apply to psionics only if transparency is in place.

Huh? Why do all psionic powers become "save: no" without transparency?

LazarX wrote:
Without transparency there are no magical defenses against psionics or vice versa.

Again, what defenses are we talking about? Amulets of spell resistance? No one wants those anyway because they prevent your friends from buffing you.

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necromental wrote:
It would end up being frustrating, IMO. I see creating detect psionics, dispel psionics and anti-psionic sphere spells, while the psion crafts equivalent powers.

I'd see that, too, but still can't quite see why it would automatically be bad for the game. I'm definitely open to being convinced, though.

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LazarX wrote:
Here's the problem: without transparency, defenses against psionics become non existent. But I'm sure you realize that.

I guess I don't realize that, or at least not fully. As far as defenses against spells, we have saving throws; regardless of transparency, they apply to both spells and psionics, so they still exist. Likewise for disruption of concentration with held attacks or ongoing damage; it's equally a thing for both magic and psionics, again regardless of transparency. Those are the main two defenses I usually deal with.

I could sort of understand SR being an issue for DMs, but in my experience it's never been hard for spellcasters to overcome anyway -- put that one down as "transparency might apply here."

After those, what other "defenses against psionics" are we looking for? I've never had anyone counterspell in a game, ever, so that's out. Likewise for any player actually antimagic field. Dispel magic for existing effects, sure, but why not have dispel psionics, too?

LazarX wrote:
As to putting in a partial version that becomes far more complicated than all on or all off, and adding complication when it doesn't make the game better for it is not something I do.

I don't see why it would automatically need to be complicated: "No transparency except SR," for example, isn't that complex. I personally probably wouldn't do that for the reasons cited above (never found SR to be all that important anyway), but it's an example to show you where I'm coming from.

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OK, here's the thing: I understand that most people consider this to be integral to successfully using psionics in a game, and that if you don't use it, the game will implode. I'd like to explore this, though, with an eye towards (a) why it's necessary; (b) whether it needs to be on/off or if a partial version is possible; and (c) personal gaming anecdotes with/without, focusing on how it worked for you, what was good with it, what problems arose, etc.

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Charon's Little Helper wrote:
The only way to make every possible character concept work is to use a system extremely light on crunch.

GURPS is very crunchy and also very flexible in terms of making different character concepts. (Kirthfinder is, too, for that matter, but in a different direction.) The issue is whether the crunch works towards enabling those concepts, or whether it actively impedes them. In 3.0/3.5/PF, it's the latter, but I don't see any reason why that needs to be the case, and, as I pointed out, there are counterexamples demonstrating that it doesn't.

In fact, in a lot of cases in PF, pure fluff gets packaged like crunch and so gets in its own way. Any time you need to spend a feat on simple flavor, your system mechanics are actively impeding your character concept. But there's no reason we couldn't have seventy zillion mechanical feats that actually do mechanical things facilitating concepts, without having them dictate whether or not you're allowed to have cool sunglasses or wear a red cape.

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Quark Blast wrote:
I'm saying we have mob rule today. Mobs as a democracy tend to do stupid stuff like elect Adolf Hitler.

Quite the contrary. As much as I hate to echo Comrade Doodles, what we have is a de facto plutocracy. Adolph Hitler (way to Godwin the thread, btw) would never be elected here unless the monied fatcats bought him into the election with their vast PACs of cash. The "mob" only gets to vote for people, and on stuff, that's put in front of them by the people with the purse strings.

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Thunder is associated with lightning. I think that sonic energy should be associated with the element of lightning, the way fire energy is associated with the element of fire.

Oh, wait, that doesn't work, either.

And why is water + cold a thing? Because most ice cubes are made of water? Hell, I can make ice cubes out of organge juice...

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
If the homeless man or employee was showing murderous intentions, and you just shrug and say "Oh, well, murderers gonna murder," and handed over the cash, I don't think you can totally shirk a bit responsibility there.
I don't think anyone does that.

I do exactly that every time I pay U.S. taxes, so that more unasked-for overseas military invasions can take place, so that more of our own citizens can have their lives destroyed as casualties of the "war on drugs" and "war on so-called sex offenders" and "war on pirates" and finally "war on everyone left after that." So, yeah, the horrible things that Uncle Sam does with some of that money are, to some extent, on my head, too.

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Talonhawke wrote:
Another question i may have missed the answer to if a cleric cast spontaneously instead of prepared how do domain spells work? Since several domains like magic rely on your highest level prepared domain spell.

Your domain spell would still be your bonus spell (the "+1" on Table 1 in Chapter 7), but would be known instead of prepared. You'd then gain the [reserve] effect based on the highest-level spell slot you have available, as per all [reserve] effects (such as the sorcerer's eldritch blast). This is one of the advantages of standardized mechanics!

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Jaçinto wrote:
(Numerous paragraphs dripping with condescension)

Good thing we have you here to tell us all what's what. I'm sure no one else in the last 40 years has ever thought of actually role playing before.

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The blossoming "war on child pornography" looks like it will make the "war on drugs" seem positively reasonable, sane, and useful in comparison.

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I'm infamous for house rules... 650 pages of them, in fact.

But I've never had a problem with them, because in our home game I always followed this procedure in implementing them:

1. I propose a rule and distribute the text in writing.
2. Any player can call for a discussion, during which the rule may be amended.
3. Any player can call for a vote on the new rule; I abstain except in the case of a tie. If it's voted down, it's gone.

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I'm not a fan of increasing crits through Vital Strike.

I am pretty much sold on having things like Blinding Critical activate on a crit OR on a Vital Strike, though. That way a high-level fighter can be a mobile debuffer instead of a guy who just stands around full-attacking.

Status effects are far more interesting and versatile than more damage.

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Thomas Long 175 wrote:
Those numbers might be useful at low level, but by the time you hit 11 BAB an extra 14 damage average won't mean much, you'll still just do everything you can to full attack at any point. 21 extra damage at 16 BAB will mean even less.

Just looking at the numbers, I agree. But what if we sweetened the pot:

BAB +6: +2d6 damage (or whatever).
BAB +11: +4d6, and can activate one effect (feat, item property) that normally triggers only on a crit.
BAB +16: +6d6, and can activate two effects that normally trigger only on a crit.


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Ssalarn wrote:
the fact that the current Vital Strike doesn't deal precision damage is probably one of the only things I like about it.

Really, the only difference is that it wouldn't affect oozes and elementals, and how often are you doing that in cases when Vital Strike is making a noticeable difference? To me, the convenience of having a 1-word tag that spares me from having to spell out "does not multiply on a crit" ad nauseum would be worth almost any price.

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Overall, I still feel the biggest issue with Vital Strike is how it works, not when it works. Making the bonus damage a flat bonus (or, better yet, one that scales with # of iterative attacks), as opposed to one based on damage dice, would move it from obscure niche feat into something more people might actually take.

Allowing it to work on a charge, or when spring attacking, would be great, but mostly just gravy. Collapsing the chain into a single feat would be logical, but that's true of almost all combat feat chains (TWF, I'm looking at you). But fixing Vital Strike so that a guy with a glaive or a short sword can use it and not feel like a shmoo -- so that a fighter or rogue gets as much out of it as a druid -- that would be the very first thing I'd do.

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1. Its current niche is to make giant dinosaurs (or druids wildshaped into them) scarier, because (a) it's based on damage dice, and (b) it doesn't work with anything else.
2. Wild shape and strong jaw.
3. None of them would.

My suggestions: During any round in which you make only a single melee attack, for whatever reason, Vital Strike deals an additional 2d6 precision damage (does not multiply on a crit). If your BAB is +11 or higher, the bonus damage increases to 4d6, and to 6d6 if your BAB is +16 or higher.

Then it's useful for almost any build, not just a druid, and it can be used with charges and spring attacks and so on, and it doesn't require a long feat chain.

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Alzrius wrote:
You know that nobody's giving their money to Hasbro for the Basic game that just came out - what with it being completely free and all - right?

Thanks for the link! I'd been curious, and from what they've shared, the new edition looks very, very good to me. It's been streamlined in a lot of places that needed it, the modifiers don't overwhelm the random number generator anymore, and options are built into each class.

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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:

I bid him adieu and wished him good luck in taking over the United States. He then wished me good luck in taking over the United States. Lowell's awesome.

"You meet the damnedest people in Hell." --Roger Zelazny

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Gotta love Vance. Space Opera is literally that: an opera company takes a tour of the galaxy to bring the gift of music to aliens everywhere. Expecting to be met with accolades, they instead encounter the following:

  • One alien criticizes the composers' childish lack of comprehension of the underpinnings of music, bans the troup against playing for a larger audience of his fellows (lest their awful discord cause psychological distress), and charges a hefty sum for his recommendations.
  • Another audience is enthralled with the "pretty noises." Accustomed to slavery as a universal truth, and assuming the performance was something like a Tupperware party, they attempt to buy two oboeists and a soprano from the director.

    Can't wait to see what the next planet brings. No footnotes yet, though, alas.

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    In landing a blow, technique counts for a lot more than strength or size. The more body weight behind the blow, the more force -- this is why boxers and martial artists torque their hips. A trained flyweight boxer can hit a lot harder than a huge, untrained power lifter. Bruce Lee would hit a lot harder than the guy playing Gregor. PF doesn't model this, though, so it simply gets written off as a function of Strength, but if you wanted "realism" for some insane reason, melee blows would deal bonus damage equal to like half your BAB or something, in addition to STR modifier. But at that point you're partly dismantling the math behind hp by CR and so on, so it's not generally recommended. Therefore, using STR for melee damage is fine, but don't try to pass it off as being "super-realistic."

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    Andrew R wrote:
    THAT is my point. we are a odd mix of vastly different people in one nation and that helps lead to our friction with our own people
    MagusJanus wrote:
    That's why universal solutions that work for most nations are epic failures for the U.S.; the U.S. doesn't have the unified culture necessary to pull them off.

    If you guys honestly think the entire EU is a "unified culture," you need to turn off Fox News for a minute and book a freaking flight. Seriously, this is ignorant to the point of absurdity. In the EU, we're looking at states that fought each other every bit as nastily as the north and south did in the Civil War, but within living memory, and with centuries of animosity before that. And they generally speak different languages and have different religions and radically different customs.

    But they manage to get along now, as partners, and have a murder rate a lot lower than ours.

    I suspect we could learn from them.

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Andrew R wrote:
    These great low crime rate nations tend to be small and homogeneous. Almost all the same ethnic group, religion, a shared culture. similar economic standing. We very widely, and clash often

    You've never been to Malmö, for example (to pick a large city in Sweden), have you?

    Demographics wrote:
    41% have a foreign background. The Middle East, East Africa, Ex-Yugoslavia and Denmark are the main sources of migration.

    Is 59% of a quarter-million "small and homogenous"?

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Andrew R wrote:
    I suffer constant pain to earn my modest means and take nothing from anyone.

    You use no public roads? And don't use a phone or internet? You have no police in your alternative reality? No fire department? No public schools? Do you live in a state that benefits from mining subsidies? Farm subsidies? No one checks on food or drug safety in your universe, or checks the water to make sure it's drinkable?

    You really have no idea how much tax dollars do? Unless you live on an unsettled continent (Antarctica is the only one left) and use no public services, you are taking from others.

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    Khrysaor wrote:
    Just smart high level monsters that can cast it at will and ready actions to counter a secondary spell.

    Still against the rules. You can't cast it, then ready an action and cast it again in the same round.

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Khrysaor wrote:
    And now you're out a feat.

    Check out wizards at 1st level. It's not like Scribe Scroll is a bonus feat or anything.

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    Undone wrote:
    I've got a question for you. Why don't humans kill pigs, dogs, flies, horses, dolphins, whales, dodos, or any other animal just because they can?

    Wait... pigs, dogs, flies, horses, dolphins, whales, and dodos turn into people when you kill them?

    That's freaky.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Kirthfinder wrote:

    There are two proposed rules keeping undead spawn from overrunning the world; a combination of the two is recommended. A referee should break these rules only in the event of an epic campaign-destroying adventure involving a zombie apocalypse or something similar.

  • Bound to Location: In this variant, spawn cannot stray more than 100 ft. from where they were created. This is appropriate for haunted grave sites and so on.
  • Bound to Master: Using this variant, no single undead can have more spawn at one time than described under the Command Undead feat (Chapter 5).

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    "This adventure can only be completed if someone climbs this rope for 24 hours straight, while someone else stands and full attacks all day, and no one uses any spells to bypass these sorts of insanely contrived scenarios. Rogues and fighters are awesome!"

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    Khrysaor wrote:
    What's the point?

    Of you attempting to rewrite history, based on your incomplete understanding of Paizo's publishing vs. edition timeline, in order to try and bolster some BS claim that no one believes anyway? I have no idea.

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    Khrysaor wrote:
    The game was also designed around no system mastery and being able to read a book and create a character. Optimization causes problems and greater disparity. They won't cater to optimizers if it will affect entry level players. You reduce the player base by demanding a high level of understanding.

    The problem is that a vast amount of optimization is required to make a martial character even halfway effective at median level, whereas a sorcerer is pretty hard to screw up even for a new person. Optimization causes problems only in a system designed with huge imbalances in it. In a better balanced system, a well-optimized fighter and wizard are on equal footing, as are a pair of poorly-optimized ones. Ideally, the system is transparent enough that optimization itself is built-in and all characters are more or less equal, at equal levels.

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    DrDeth wrote:

    Perhaps its then your play style, not the system?

    The system could easily be fixed to accommodate his play style as well as yours -- by adding options, not straight power-ups.

    I don't think the appropriate response to a problem is to always blame the victim.

    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    No, his evidence DOES count -- for how things work in his campaign and others like it (such as, presumably, the developers'). What his evidence doesn't do, however, is dictate how everyone else's games "should" be played.

    I believe that he has no problems with fighters and rogues at high levels. When he says he's played for 400 years across all editions with no class disparity, I don't think he's lying.

    I know that other people do have a problem, however, and those problems directly stem from the rules for the classes' abilities, not from the players' supposed "maturity".

    I believe the best solution is not to simply tell people they're "being immature" or "playing wrong." I believe a far better solution is to expand the potential of the monk, fighter, rogue, etc. so that they can perform on equal footing in campaigns other than DrDeth's "correct" ones.

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    Ipslore the Red wrote:
    Kirth, out of curiosity, how would you handle a 13th-level fighter who dumped Str, Con, and Dex as opposed to a 13th level fighter who didn't? Are they equally powerful?

    They would be in different campaigns. Because they're playing in two totally different games. The 13th level fighter who dumped Str, Dex, and Con is playing in a game with a sorcerer 4/monk 5/druid 4, not a druid 13.

    And that's sad, because, in a better-designed game (one in whioh CR means what 3e claims it means), they'd all be fine together. But multiclassing blatantly doesn't work (witness all of Paizo's "hybrid classes" as a patch), and some classes are objectively weaker than others (rogue vs. wizard) even at the same level, and some characters can really be screwed up badly if you're not careful (your fighter who's dumping physical stats) without coming out equally as far ahead in other areas. These are flaws, not features.

    The claim that the game makes is that a 13th level fighter is equal to a 13th level fighter is equal to a 13th level wizard. That's why they need equal xp, and supposedly adventure together as equal partners. Any time that doesn't work, the system itself isn't working. Any time someone nods sagely and says, "good, because it's more realistic that way," that person is missing out on how the game, mechanically, is supposed to be functioning.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Aelryinth wrote:
    thanks for looking it up!

    No worries -- gotta keep up my grognard cred.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Hitdice wrote:
    I never would have tried it with your recommendation

    Just for that, I'm gonna dig me up some Delany next. Just not the one about the pederast with worms.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Hitdice wrote:
    The problem is, Kirth has such an bad footnote habit that he'll go to some really ugly places to get his fix.

    Luckily, Mrs Gersen sent an old Jack Vance book to my kindle -- miraculously, one I haven't read yet (Space Opera). Hopefully I'll get all the footnotes I need from that.

    Hitdice wrote:
    When's the last time you enjoyed yourself without reading any footnotes?

    Dude, this is just crazy talk.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    This is good, though. K177Y C47 can play Angsty McGrit and Arnwolf can play Dudley Do-Right, and everyone wins. Is this a great game or what?

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    Khrysaor wrote:
    Your first point only serves to make casters stronger. Haste isn't a spell wizards use for themselves it's to benefit the rest of the party. If anyone can haste themselves it just frees up a spell slot.

    The next step in this logic chain is, "Why not just cut out the fighter entirely, then, and save the spell slot? We'll use his wages to pay another caster instead, and cast two 'I win' spells a round instead of using all our spellcasting to buff some bozo just so he can do what we hired him to do in the first place."

    Forcing casters to carry dead-weight companions, Harrison Bergeron-style, maybe isn't the best way to make everyone feel special.

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    M Goblin Beer Snob 1/Freethinker 3

    There's only one church in town, and you slept in the grass outside of it, so it's not too hard to find. The problem is that Victor was the vicar, and Jaegr pulled a Gallagher routine using his head as a watermelon.

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    Muad'Dib wrote:
    I think of Corona as the typical/generic beer of summer since I don't know anyone who drinks it on a cold day.

    I wouldn't drink Corona on any day, cold or warm.

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Cheburn wrote:

    A Fighter, if played competently, can contribute positively to most campaigns. That's all that matters to a large number of gamers.

    You don't always have to play at the optimum. It doesn't matter if another class is better at doing your job than you are.

    Agreed on both counts.

    But here's where I differ with many in the thread -- I accept that some people enjoy playing at the optimum. Sometimes I do (not all the time, but it can be really fun on occasion). And certain classes allow you to do that, and others (in actual practice) cannot sustain it.

    If those classes were brought up to par, the game would function for everyone -- not just a "large number," but everyone in the thread. I notice that you've listed a number of possible improvements for fighters, so we're on much the same page, I think. For the benfit of the nay-sayers, I see boosting fighters, rogues, and monks as a win-win, not the start of a zombiepocalypse.

    I'd like to be able to play equally awesome fighters and rogues in ALL my games, not just my non-optimized games.

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    DrDeth wrote:
    I will still argue that they are balanced, just because the that's the way they play IRL as opposed to PvP theorycraft.

    Remember how we talked about different playstyles? Remember how these classes are balanced for some specific playstyles (including yours), but not others (e.g., Anzyr's)? Remember Paizo repeatedly explaining that everyone's style is supposed to be valid, not just yours?

    Dismissing others' actual play observations as "schoedinger theorycraft" is akin to dismissing their playstyle not only as badwrongfun, but actually as being fictional -- which is not only demonstrably not true, but also is basically you telling them that they're lying.

    Not cool.

    You can say "these classes are balanced, given the way my group plays." You don't get to say "anyone who finds them not balanced isn't really playing."

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