My great sin as a fantasy gamer, fantasy reader, and general fantasy-genre enthusiast is that I don't like epic fantasy... at all.
Lord of the Rings, Sword of Shannara, Wheel of Time, Song of Ice and Fire, etc. I found poorly written*, predictable, cliched, long-winded, and generally so unenthralling I usually had difficulty finishing the first book and rarely went on to the second. LotR I can appreciate for its role in creating one of my favorite genres, and Tolkien's attention to detail and expertise in world-building is unparalleled. But his storytelling, not unlike most epic fantasy writers, leaves MUCH to be desired. For example, instead of taking us into the scene where Gandalf is imprisoned and subsequently escapes, we get a multi-page monologue some time after the fact- turning something that ought to be edge-of-your-seat exciting into a long speech to be endured.
*I can't make this statement without talking a bit about Game of Thrones. In my general experience as someone who doesn't like epic fantasy George R. R. Martin is the most talented writer in the field. I love his short fiction. The man is a master of words and frequently his turns of phrase are so exacting and elegant they'd turn even the best of writers green. But the genre itself doesn't conform well to anything approaching an engaging writing style. The massive cast of characters (most of whom, even in Martin's work, are just variations on archetypes because that's what people want out of epic fantasy), the copious backstory, the tremendous amount of time expended even relatively short events due to the number of actions and reactions that must be catalogued... it makes the story go very slowly and at times becomes difficult to follow, due to the level of detail.
So when I state I found them poorly written, I don't necessarily mean craft (though sometimes that is lacking as well), but that I did not find them written in a way that engages a reader or sucks them into the story. In contrast I'd use Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. The craft particularly in the first few books is painfully bad; the plots are exceedingly simple and the characters develop depth very slowly; but the way he tells a story picks you up and doesn't let you go until you turn the last page. He's also created a fascinating world, but reveals it in a way that is natural to the story, rather than seemingly inserted simply to show off his creation. Epic fantasy could use a little more of that. This is not to say Dresden Files is "better" than LotR or Song of Ice and Fire on some objective basis (that is a whole other conversation and I wouldn't take that stance anyways), but to highlight something that for me epic fantasy is simply lacking, namely engaging storytelling.
I am in a kind of odd situation right now with my online group. We are playing through Kingmaker, and the group was advertised as being roleplay-heavy. I have played with two of these people quite enjoyably for years in heavy-RP games (one of whom is the GM), two of them I had never met previously, and the fifth is my husband who has run tabletop games for us and our friends in the past that are pretty casual games.
There have been persistent problems with boredom in the group. The paladin and I have been most vocal about these, but everyone's felt them. The game feels stiff, repetitious, and almost more like an MMO than an RPG. The GM has been receptive to feedback about the combat elements and made some changes. But still, half the time when we are supposedly "RPing" I feel like I am talking to myself- whether interacting with the other players or the NPCs- and I've become severely self-conscious in this game as a result. When my character speaks I worry more about "wasting time" than about being in-character, which is not much fun. Nobody has said anything to me but I also worry about ticking off the other players by being too RP-oriented. And most of the RP- like most of the combat until recently, honestly- feels meaningless, like idle chitchat that is not adding anything of substance to the game, the plot, or the relationships between the characters.
The biggest problem is even though we've been playing for months now, once a week in five-hour sessions, there is no "spark" to the game. We are going through the motions but nothing is coming together. The plot progresses, but nobody cares about it. There are pretty much zero connections between PCs- if one were to drop off the face of the earth I'm not sure any of the other PCs would even notice. Personally, these are all the elements of the game that make an RPG fun for me. (There's not even OOC "tabletalk" to make things a little more interesting.) I am playing a pretty "bubblegum" character and sometimes I feel like it might be more interesting to me if I were playing something more controversial or conflicted, but there has to be some platform for interaction regardless of the character base.
I'm really tired of waiting for things to gel, and giving up a significant portion of the weekend to something I'm not truly enjoying. (Because three of the players are British, the game falls in the middle of the day Sunday for us Americans. Which pretty much kills all of Sunday, as Monday is a work day. I wouldn't mind if the game were more engaging than it is, but...yeah.) The problem is that quitting is easier to say than do; not only is one of the other players my spouse, but I do genuinely like the other players on an OOC level and would like to continue to play with them. This game is just not working. I already feel like I've given too much feedback on it in an honest effort to try to improve the situation, so I'm hesitant to make further comments. I miss games where balance between combat and dialog was not discussed because people were thoroughly enjoying all aspects of the game and events flowed naturally without needing to be "balanced". I miss caring about what happens to my character and the other PCs and NPCs in the game. I don't know how to bring that spark to this one.
I feel like every game I'm walking on eggshells. I spend more time tabbed out of maptool surfing the web and occasionally glancing at the maptool chatbox, due to how slow things move. I'm not sure the GM CAN fix the RP situation- that's a group effort, not something the GM can tune up or down very easily. A part of me wishes we could just start over now that we have a better idea what the game will be like, so we can tailor our characters and expectations to the reality. Another part of me just wants out. Compounding this is that I've been RP starved since my previous online game ended, so I really would like a game that works, and I don't know where to go if this one falls through.
I guess I'm sort of at my wit's end and I don't know what to do at this point. Should I just bow out and lose the opportunity, and risk the anger of my friends? Or should I continue to try to make it work?
Sorry for the long post; I'm rambling a bit. It's been bothering me for weeks now and I really have no idea how to make it any better. :(
Quite aside from whether it was a dick move (though for the record I'm in the camp of it being spell misinterpretation/abuse), I've found as both a GM and a player that NOTHING on this earth or elsewhere will tick a party off like taking their stuff. I have NEVER seen this turn out well for a GM and in one case it destroyed the game. Even if the players go along with it being logical and accept that it happened, they will still grumble about it to a significant degree. For many players gear seems to be an essential component of how they view/construct their character.
I don't think it's a dick move to take/break items. Under the right circumstances it makes complete sense. However, my experience with it is that it is a bad idea and not worth the price. After the last game I played in where this happened, and seeing the resulting fallout between the GM and the other players, it's not a tactic I will personally use in future games. I'm sure it works for some groups, somewhere, but I've not encountered these mythical beasts.
The best way I ever saw this handled actually came from my online Kingmaker game.
We're playing with Maptool, so the GM got to play around with pictures (and sound, by way of links in the chatbox). We started our party by running through Crypt of the Everflame and then he had to get us up to Brevoy. So he wrote out this approximately 20-minute segue in which he described our epic 18-month journey northwest. In the process, he hinted at character traits/history that had not yet emerged, illustrated tribulations both serious and humorous, and made sure each character got a spotlight scene. It set us up properly for the next part of the game and bound our team together more tightly because we went into Kingmaker with a sense of already having overcome a lot together, and a better understanding of who each character was. I have no real idea how this would translate to tabletop but I feel it could be done- I just haven't given it much thought.
Would it have been better play this out? Arguably, yes. But the GM has, for several reasons, little desire to generate his own from-scratch campaign content (which is a whole other discussion) and this kind of journey would have taken potentially months of real-time with once-a-week sessions. It was excellent filler that prevented the transition from being jarring ("wait, WHY are we in Brevoy again??") and gave a similar feel of scope. Sometimes it's not worth the trade-offs to play out every single long travel scene, and I plan to use this technique when those times occur in my own games.
Inevitably, when I have seen a travel scene played out (from the inside of a wagon, or on horseback, or in some other way in which nothing else is really happening except the travel) there are inevitably some players who really enjoy it, and other players who are just waiting it out until something "exciting" comes along. The GMs in those cases had to balance the two.
My online game (Kingmaker):
4th level elf sorcerer
We are having some problems with the GM playing the game a little too by-the-book and being unwilling to alter things to motivate characters, so we may have a few people rerolling. The party functions fine, but the personas of the characters aren't fitting with the way the game is being executed.
The game I will be GMing starting in November so far has a human sorcerer, a human cavalier, and a half-elf bard. Still waiting on three players to make chars. It's a homebrew campaign that will begin as an urban adventure in Absalom.
Jason Ellis 350 wrote:
I've always wanted to know what it is about paladins that seems to inspire certain players to make something evil. It isn't just on the messageboards, I see it at the gametable as well.
Because for every player who creates an evil character to screw with a paladin, there is a paladin who rolled the class so they can strong-arm the group, kill anything that shows up on their radar with no respect for the plot, players, or nuance, and/or justify general douchebaggery with their alignment (they weren't acting GOOD! By MY definition of good which is the one that counts! I am within my rights to lecture/accost/imprison/attack/bully them!)
I've actually met far more jerky paladins than evil characters. Not to say messing with them is a mature or appropriate response, but I can understand where the urge originates.
As a sidenote I was playing in a campaign once where we (including the paladin's player) had a BLAST hiding our questionable actions from the paladin. I remember particularly a session where we traded off distracting him while the rest of the party desperately tried to hide a few corpses from a deal that had gone south. The fact that the paladin's player was in real life chaotic neutral on a good day just made it more amusing. So as long as everyone's having a good time, alignment problems can actually be fun.
Did the GM tell them they were werewolves? IMO if so, the GM bypassed the check already- he did not say "furry bestial men" or "these feral combatants make you uneasy" or any way of describing the opponents without identifying them. If he DID identify them, it's kind of a jerk move to backtrack and tell the players "even though I told you they were werewolves in my description and you logically acted on that knowledge, you have no idea what they are until you roll the check".
Furthermore, skills represent broad competency in a particular area. Knowledge (nature) ranks indicate the player is more likely than a layman to have an understand of the natural world and its inhabitants, with how much more likely determined by the number of ranks. It doesn't mean someone without knowledge (nature) doesn't know mud from grass, or that their life experience is worthless. A character who grew up on a farm can understand how a plow works without knowledge (engineering). Similarly, a character who has fought werewolves before at least gets a bonus to identify them, and will retain any knowledge s/he gained regarding them (i.e. silver weapons). Lack of knowledge ranks does not preclude characters learning about the world around them from experience. I would even argue lack of ranks doesn't preclude them from acquiring knowledge through study of a specific subject, for example the party knows they have been hired to combat a lycanthropy problem so they spend a few days in the library reading up, or speaking to people in the town who have fought them previously. Specificity is important; once you cross the line from the specific, isolated subject to the broad, you really need to invest the ranks.
If the GM really wants the players to have to roll to identify the werewolves and/or how to fight them, in light of the characters' previous experience, he really has to allow an untrained check for this single circumstance or base it off an int or wis roll to recall the information and put it together with what they are currently seeing. It's not fair or logical to tell a fighter with experience but without knowledge ranks that he is going to be functionally ignorant of past enemies and their weaknesses for the duration of the game.
Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed
I don't normally place this in the same category as most of the other books mentioned (though I guess it is definitely social commentary), but it is a most excellent book. Her Left Hand of Darkness is also a pretty good pick for the social commentary category.
I have had this happen to me twice. The first time I was about 20 and this woman was sandbagging through a subdevelopment at 10 below the speed limit. I will admit I may have followed a little closer than I should have, but nothing that was dangerous- as evidenced by her next move, which was to suddenly pull off the road into someone's front lawn and wait for me to pass. If I'd really been that close there's no way I could have avoided hitting her. Fifteen minutes later, I was standing on my friend's driveway chatting with a group of people when she pulls up and starts screaming at me out the side of her car. Apparently she had canvassed the neighborhood searching for my car. She tried to get me to tell her where I lived (uh, no, crazy lady) and then threatened to call the police (good luck with that). She also had her son in the back seat. Classy!
The second time, seven years later, was the day before my wedding when I was driving up to my parent's house. As I entered their neighborhood, I turned down a side street. This woman in a beat-up old car decided I turned too close in front of her. Unlike the previous situation, where I could sort of see her problem even if she really overreacted, I have NO idea what this woman was going on about as I was nowhere near her vehicle when I turned. I had a month's worth of pent-up wedding planning stress, I hadn't slept in two days, I was running an hour late for a luncheon my grandmother-in-law was hosting, and this woman thought she was entitled to follow me home and accost me. My dad eventually managed to get us to stop screaming at each other... >_> It wasn't mature, but it sure as heck was satisfying.
Anyway, long story short, people are crazy douches, people are EXTREMELY self-entitled when they feel The World Has Wronged Them, gender doesn't matter (both my crazies were female), and honestly the best thing to do is just whip out your phone and start dialing the police and see how fast the bullies can run. That's my plan for if this ever happens to me again. (I desperately hope not.) Possible auxiliary point: people in my hometown are more screwed up than the usual crop of people.
I'm sorry this happened to your wife- it's a horrible experience- but awesome of her holding her ground like that.
I keep coming back to my thought that these actions- having more RP, better ideas, being more helpful, what-have-you- typically reap natural rewards at the table. The player who hands their GM five pages of background usually ends up with more character involvement than the player who came up with two sentences. The player who comes up with the best ideas sees those ideas implemented more often. The player who spends the time to help their GM climb out of the plot hole they worked themselves into wins their gratitude. It's not favoritism in a game any more than it is in the real world, where people who put the most time and effort into an endeavor, at times aided by skill or talent, tend to see more rewarding personal outcomes. Any player can spend more time or put in more effort if they want similar results.
Whether or not it is the "mature route" to award individual XP, I keep coming back to why anyone would -need- to do this. The reward is implicit to the system without invoking an artificial prize.
I do agree it takes maturity to handle individual effort being rewarded. This applies no matter what kind of natural or artificial reward system is being used. Some people are not able to see it as "fair" whether a player gets an XP bonus for that two-page journal entry she wrote between games, or whether the GM simply ties her character into the storyline more deeply than others because he was given greater insight into her character's thoughts and motivations in the game.
I guess my question to the people who award individual XP is why? Are your players typically so poorly motivated to put forth effort in the game that they need the tangible reward? Or is it just a way of further encouraging the level of participation and the kinds of behavior you like to see?
Yeah, that's why I left the definition broad. A relatively quick adventure might be 2-3 sessions, which for most groups equals 2-3 weeks real time. Some (like an adventure path book) stretch considerably longer. And that assumes a weekly game; with one of my two current groups we are lucky to meet twice a month a lot of the time. Handling feelings of stagnation in long periodicity groups however is a totally different topic.
Obviously if you are talking about a group that meets more frequently (or does marathon sessions) you can likely get through more time without leveling before people begin to feel the lack of character progression. I've never played in a group that met more than once a week for actual playtime, though, so I can't comment much more on that.
Mostly this is a psychology thing. Most players like to see their characters advancing steadily. You can technically run interesting, level-appropriate content indefinitely without the PCs ever leveling up, but it frustrates people. A frustrated table is not going to be fun to sit at or to GM.
Assuming not a troll, I had a campaign once where I didn't hit anything in three months of play. Not once. It was an open-roll environment and as far as anyone at the table could tell there was nothing wrong with my build. Other people were able to hit things. It was just a horrible streak of dice luck.
It only lasted three months because I killed the character off out of sheer frustration.
At least as a wizard, you can resort to spells without saves, as many people have pointed out. It may limit some of your fun but it is a possible solution to your problem.
"Individual XP" tends to be more trouble than it's worth. Players can get sidetracked by quarreling over "fairness" or how much XP is deserved, or just by the bookkeeping itself. Small amounts can boost desired behavior (like keeping an in-character journal between sessions, or being on time to games) but shouldn't result in some players leveling significantly faster than others (like multiple session lag between corresponding level-ups). Even if it feels more equitable it can easily create accusations of favortism and feelings of unfairness. (Generally, players that demonstrate a high degree of contribution through RP, ideas, and input will reap their own intangible rewards with most GMs- their characters will be more involved and they will have a richer game experience, simply because they've interacted more with the GM and given him more material to work with. Time invested pays off, and this is an equal-opportunity resource- if the other players put in the same time/effort, they would reap the same rewards. You don't need XP to balance this situation.)
If a GM is not using XP this should be clearly stated upfront. (This is what it sounds like your "now you're level 2, now you're level 3" GM was doing.) That way the players at least know what to expect. Some players (and GMs) really like XP because it feels rewarding and represents steady progress towards a goal. Others find the bookkeeping tedious. Given your concern over this I would guess you're in the former category.
The end of the adventure, imo, is too long to wait if you are using the XP system. An adventure can span weeks to months real-time. People typically don't like to go that long without seeing any character advancement. End of the session, however, I think is acceptable. It doesn't interrupt the flow of the game, doesn't sidetrack a session with people leveling up, and can be given in one lump, which constrains the bookkeeping to an acceptable level. I am also personally not a fan of people getting XP for the session when they were not present* so this easily enables XP to be distributed on those grounds. (I have no problem with the guy who bails two sessions out of three ending up way behind the rest of the group in levels.) If the players badly want to see the actual XP rewards for each enemy defeated, I suppose that can be arranged, but I guess I don't really see the point unless you don't trust your GM.
Fairness, simplicity, and ease of use should be the goal of awarding XP. It should also be a system everyone at the table is comfortable with using. Once those goals are achieved, the nuts and bolts don't really matter.
*Obviously, special circumstances apply. If a player has a legitimate reason to be frequently absent and the rest of the group desires their continued presence, accommodations can be made. Similarly I would not "punish" a player for a genuine emergency. But people who decide they just don't feel like playing that night, or can't keep their own schedule straight, thus inconveniencing everyone else involved? I can't stand that.
Bring your concerns up with your GM and figure out why he is playing this way. Does he consider magical items a "crutch"? (And if so does he know the game pretty much assumes you are obtaining them as you go?) Is he trying to run a low-magic world (and doing it badly by not compensating for the lack of magical items when planning encounters)? Does he think players get too much loot in standard campaigns and doesn't realize that he's gone too far in the other direction?
A game is not a dictatorship. It's about a group of people working together at a project- including the GM and players both. If he's running it like one you the players need to have a talk with him even more urgently.
My husband refuses to roll his stats any more because he once was in a campaign, years ago, where his highest stat was 11 and the GM refused to allow him to reroll or otherwise modify the stat block. I think the key when rolling stats is to ask "is this so bad that it's going to inhibit the player's ability to have fun with the character?" or "is this so good relative to the table that it will interfere with the other players having fun?"
Answers to those questions will vary from group to group and player to player. Some players honestly do get a kick out of playing a major underdog or liability. Some tables can handle one PC outshining the rest in terms of capabilities. Others don't or can't, and the breaking points will vary as well. There's really no way to set a hard and fast rule.
Most games I've played in the stuff just disappeared. We didn't discuss it; it just vanished along with the dead character. Even in games where we buried the character IC this was the case.
The replacement would typically be the same level as the lowest level PC in the party.
Typically what I've seen is losing the original character for most players was sufficient "punishment" and I haven't seen anyone exploit the loss. Of course, I HAVE seen people "work the system" when they disliked their original character and chose to roll a new one (rather than losing the old to death), but that's not really the same thing.
Anecdotal experience is anecdotal.
I don't really see much of a point in "punishing" a player whose character died unless they have demonstrated that trust is misplaced. And then I wouldn't call it punishment so much as imposing limits to balance the game, because that's more the objective than to make the player feel chagrin or remorse.
Flaming sphere is a great spell, but if you're running in a party that can take on high CR encounters relative to level, and your GM likes using monsters with high reflex saves, it will hit about once every six attempts if you're lucky. Not that I speak from experience or anything. >_> Though the utility of starting fires and cordoning off areas frequently makes up for the lack of direct damage (though if you fight indoors more often than out this would be more a disadvantage, though you could still use it to block stone corridors, either to herd enemies or prevent retreat). And yeah, as another person said, it's rare in my experience for it to go out before combat ends. I usually end up dismissing it.
Glitterdust is also a great spell. I'd probably be taking it if it weren't one of my bloodline freebies. It seems like you currently don't have much utility so I'd go with that. Since you don't have silent image, minor image might also be a good choice for you, but honestly it may be better to either a) pick up silent image for your next first level spell, or b) wait for the next rank of the image line. As a fourth level sorc I use silent image probably more than any other spell- but I like outsmarting an encounter as opposed to making pretty numbers. If you're more in the latter camp it may be a less good choice. Image spells are pretty good bang for the buck in terms of utility.
It has crossed my mind to do a high-level campaign that makes excessive use of interplanetary teleport in order to create a D'ni-esque feel. But I have a rather irrational love of that setting. A whole race of people whose basic purpose is scientific exploration has a lot of appeal to me (though obviously they weren't without their failings).
I once went an entire three month campaign without ever managing to land a hit. As far as the GM and the other players could tell, there was nothing wrong with my build, and they certainly had no problems hitting things with their characters. Just the worst streak of dice luck ever. I actually ended up killing the character off out of frustration. (She could win an opposed grapple check like nobody's business though...one of the other PCs kept trying to pick her up as a means of restraint. :P ) This is also how I learned there is nothing to dice mysticism, because believe me, it didn't matter how many new sets I bought or whose dice I borrowed.
Dice aren't true random number generators for a variety of reasons, but they're good enough for this kind of application. It's just that the sample sizes are generally pretty small, and people forget that while statistics makes statements about probability in large data sets, any outcome is as likely as any other for any particular individual roll. So the fact that you've rolled badly all night has no bearing on whether your next roll will be good or bad.
If you have a real worry about your dice rolling poorly, there's no reason you can't substitute a computerized generator (though some of the same caveats apply).
As far as ways to cheat, well, obviously I don't endorse it but I've seen my brother-in-law reliably roll any number he wanted on a d6 and a d20 as a party trick. So it's possible to learn how to roll well or poorly, which is why some groups insist on dice tower devices to randomize rolls.
I was sort of wondering if anyone else had noticed how much better the mystery setup was compared to the bloodline setup...bothers me a lot. I can see some positive things about making the bloodlines act more like mysteries (as well as several other classes' pick-off-a-list-plus-other-built-in-bonuses construction).
As I understand the spell, the sphere rolls and jumps - it does not fly, so you cannot summon it in mid-air on top of a creature.
We ruled recently that if a flying creature was in range, the sphere could be summoned on them and they would have to save to avoid damage, but it immediately began to fall to the earth after being summoned (because it doesn't fly- but there's nothing to prevent the caster from summoning it in the air). But the spell doesn't address this issue specifically so I imagine each table makes their own ruling if needed.
Don't forget the starsoul bloodline either. It's a bit more focused on what's IN space than the emptiness of void-touched, but they are similar.
What I would do is either create your own bloodline out of whole cloth (something I considered a bit for my own starsoul sorc, but decided against for practical reasons), or pick something like starsoul, void-touched, or another thematically appropriate bloodline (maybe earth? I haven't looked at the elemental ones in awhile) and have your sorcerer research his own spells. I definitely considered changing some of the fire spells to do cold damage, for instance.
I think it also helps when you're trying to match spells to a theme to write down somewhere the elements of the theme. For example, for a lunar theme, the underlying elements might be gravity, earth, desolation, age/ancient-ness, void (most moons are airless), mysticism, and titanic events (cratering, lava outflows, etc.) I found this kind of thinking to be a much easier basis for selecting spells than just a general theme, because then you're tying things to much more specific qualities than "the moon(s)".
You also have to be willing to proxy some things- for example, for my starsoul, obviously stellar activity is one of the elements, for which I use fire as a proxy, even though it's not an exact match.
See, I think it's more that we're introducing the idea that the expectation that everyone at your table behave like a respectful human being (which, incidentally, includes not spouting sexist/racist/homophobic/what-have-you crappola regardless of who is or is not present) is not synonymous with special consideration.
Frankly, the people whose behavior inspired this thread, who are convinced their behavior should be excused because they're "just joking", because they've always been that way, because people will always be that way, and everyone else should just get over it, are the ones asking for special consideration- not the women (and men) at the table who are made uncomfortable by their actions. They are asking their fellow players to excuse what would not be excused in most other settings.
That said- socially awkward people are socially awkward. Heck, I'm one of them. I really prefer that when I make someone uncomfortable or piss someone off that they tell me, because I'm NOT good at picking up on this stuff, and it helps me improve my own behavior. I don't expect other people to be more perfect than I am. But I do expect them to not be jerks or make excuses when the problem is pointed out.
Is it possible the unhappy ladies in particular are encountering normal, dumb guys who would think the same thing about them fixing a car as playing a game, and just attributing it to gamer guys because that's who they most come into contact with?
I don't think I've read anything in this thread that claims every gamer guy is like this. People are using the term gamer guy because it's more convenient than typing out the disclaimer every time you need the noun, and in this kind of discussion I think people understand this basic assumption.
Do some guys behave like this in other parts of life? Absolutely. I majored in physics and I now work with a bunch of engineers subcontracting to the military-industrial complex. It's not that different from gaming in the sense of it's extremely male-dominated and this has allowed more than a few men to persist with their offensive attitudes, because they're in the company of other guys and men like this tend to assume all other men (secretly or openly) share their views. So they feel comfortable expressing them when there's only the very occasional woman to call them out on it. This is why I think it's a particular problem in gaming; in many areas of modern life the ratio of the sexes has become much more equalized than it seems to be in most gaming groups. Is it getting better in gaming? Sure. But there's still room left for improvement, as some of these women's stories can attest, and in some cases a lot of room.
There are a lot of things coming to mind when I read this thread, but the strongest is I really hate special butterfly syndrome. I don't actually want to be treated like an exotic "catch" at the table- whether that treatment is negative OR positive- and it's all too often that guys, especially guys who I only know through gaming, don't know how to simply treat me like a regular person. Girl gamers are not some kind of rare species that should be revered, studied, oogled, or preserved in the wild, know what I mean? The vast majority of women are there for the exact same simple reason as the vast majority of men- to have fun at a particular activity. It's not malicious and usually not even a conscious action, just a subconscious attitude some players exhibit.
But yeah, being put on a pedestal as an example of what some dude wishes more women were like (into his hobbies), or having guys at the table act overbearingly helpful in an attempt to seem welcoming, is as annoying as being demeaned for lacking a Y chromosome. Or worse yet being told, proudly, that you're not "one of those girls" as if their off-hand dismissal of the majority of your sex, and all the misogynistic assumptions that come with it, is somehow supposed to be a compliment.
For the most part though, my positive experiences outnumber the bad, though like most women (that I've met) I have my share of awful anecdotes. And most of the awkward players I've encountered have mellowed out after we've played a month or two together.
Honestly? Most of the people who ask me what I did on my weekend are coworkers (as generally the friends who live close by already know, and those who live further afield don't have these kinds of small-talk conversations). Most of my coworkers are the kind that give D&D the side-eye. So I usually leave the gaming, miniature painting, etc. out of my answer.
But subjecting me to a fifteen-minute discussion of their baseball game, home repair endeavor, children's antics, etc. is perfectly acceptable, of course. /yawn. (I should really try this "describing my character's actions as my own thing sometime- "Well, I broke into a building and then set it on fire in the process of killing all the occupants because they were trafficking slaves, how was YOUR weekend, Jim? I bet your kids really liked their swimming lessons!")
Anywho. There's nothing wrong with calling it D&D, or calling it Pathfinder and then explaining (if they ask) short-and-sweetlike that it's a game like D&D.
All my characters end up being skill-monkeys to the extent their class allows. Love being able to do as much stuff as possible. :P And they tend to be human or elves. But those are the only real patterns I can spot looking back.
And it's the converse of the question but I've not had a single divine magic character in a campaign.
All kinds of things lol. Name dictionaries, name lists I've compiled myself, generators, things from the real world that sound like names but aren't actually names (the wine list on another thread comes to mind), and so on.
But I'll say this- every character that was really memorable to me, their name simply sprang into my head without requiring effort on my part. It's kind of a weird thing to say but I've found this is a pretty accurate gauge of how likely it is I'll stick with the character in the long term. (Some of them got sat on for years before I actually used them, but nonetheless.)
I personally found NWN2's Toolset way easier to use and far more flexible than NWN1's--and I'm a freaking secretary, I barely know a thing about video game design or programming).
Everyone's personal experience will vary, of course. However my own experience and that of pretty much everyone I knew in the NWN1 community who tried to make the switch was the opposite. *shrugs* Different strokes and all that.
Sorry you never got your t-shirt! That sucks.
It also kind of depends on what "makes" Pathfinder for you- if it can't feel like Pathfinder without changing stuff that is hardcoded (like some of the skill problems you describe) then no, it's not possible. But if what "makes it Pathfinder" to you is how the races are constructed, what abilities the classes receive and how they are portrayed, and the setting of the system- then I think that is entirely possible. It just won't have -exactly- the same rules.
That if you and your co-GM have told your players approximately a hundred times that this is a dangerous module in which acting stupidly is likely to result in death, you will STILL see the wizard run over the hill and charge the camp of 30 goblins all by his lonesome. And he will STILL complain about the result afterwards.
If your character has had phenomenally bad experiences with the divine, leading to repeated insults of religion in general and the cleric's religion in particular, it is not surprising that the cleric will stop healing you. However, deciding to do this while en route to the underdark is a really bad idea, and will leave you a charred mess.
We had a situation in a game where the GM was pretty much ignoring initiative altogether (because it took too much time, in his eyes) and allowing players to act whenever it was "generally their turn". I'm bringing this up because it led to the players doing basically what your player did- point out the many problems this was causing and insist on an initiative order.
I think most GMs run the enemies in a group for the reasons that have been stated, but to focus on the player's demand alone is to lose sight of his actual complaint. He feels like their opponents are using this rule of convenience to exploit strategies they would otherwise not be able to pursue, or pursue as effectively, and furthermore that his character is being placed in unfair situations with no time to react. Whether or not this is true in your eyes, it is how your game is being perceived by your player, and it deserves to be addressed with more than a "this is standard practice" brush-off. There are ways to reassure the player on these fronts (or address any actual problems that may have inadvertently developed in this area) without resorting to a strict initiative order for NPCs. Address his real problem (this perception of unfairness) and I'm willing to bet his demand for this particular solution will evaporate.
You're also not shackled to the AP if you'd prefer to start at a higher level. My current Kingmaker GM adapted the first module so we could start it at our characters' present level (4). From what I can tell he's just scaling up the encounters and keeping the storyline the same (but as I haven't "read ahead" so to speak, I can't 100% verify this).
I also would think it'd be possible to adjust an AP so that your group's characters can enter into the middle of an evolving plot. Maybe some other party completed the legwork but heroically perished (or betrayed the people depending on them, or are stone-cold mercs whose prices finally became unaffordable, etc. etc.) Or you could adjust the storyline to represent trouble brewing over an extended period that has been dealt with by different people on a case-by-case basis up until the point where the party enters the scene.
My face-to-face gaming group currently consists of:
1) A physicist/materials engineer (me)
2) An accountant (my husband)
3) A third-year law student (soon to be married to 4)
4) A manager at an indie jewelry store (soon to be married to 3)
Probably adding in November:
5) An insurance underwriter
6) Another law student (girlfriend of 7)
7) An IT professional who works for an education company (boyfriend of 6)
So we're a little unusual in having a number of real-life couples in our game, but it works out very well for us. 5's husband is also a gamer but probably a little too much of a control freak about games to fit in with ours (he likes things the way he likes them and it isn't necessarily how we roll).
My current online gaming group consists of myself and my husband, plus:
3) A police officer hopeful
4, 5, 6) Three Brits about whose personal lives I know very little, but are a blast to play with
No basement troglodytes here. In the past I've played with everyone from high school students to well-off professionals in their 40s. The game draws interest from all walks of life.
Dragon Age and Dresden Files are on the top of my list to try. (Technically, I have tried Dresden Files, but it honestly didn't grab my usual gaming group, as they're more into swords and sorcery stuff.
I love the Dragon Age setting though I've never looked at the RPG book. I meant to pick it up at GenCon but with all the other stuff happening I sort of forgot. :P
As another long-time NWN player I concur with Sigil.
However, a number of "adapted" rule mods were made- I know of both a traveler mod and a d20 modern mod- so it might be possible to get something with the same feel as pathfinder even if it isn't 100% true to the rules. You can still create new classes and spells, for instance.
NWN2's toolset is not nearly as robust as NWN's. You can (in theory) create more modern-looking areas and characters, but it's buggy as heck in addition to a much steeper learning curve. It's a big part of the reason NWN2 never really caught on as a natural replacement/successor to NWN in the broader multiplayer community (well, that and the DM option was more poorly constructed, if I'm remembering correctly).
I'm horribly biased though- NWN DM'd multiplayer campaigns in college was my first introduction to P&P style D&D so I'm rather sentimental about the whole thing.
Another person who would love to see Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 redone with a modern engine and graphics. BG2 I honestly wouldn't change anything (except maybe less restrictive romance options, or at least a romance option for female chars that isn't a whiny douche). BG1 I might make a little less randomly exploring everywhere and a little more story-focused, or make the random exploring pay off a little better in terms of more frequent, in-depth NPC encounters or scenarios.
I would add the Myst series to this list but really I don't want it remade so much as for it to run properly on modern computers. I've tried several machines and there are always fatal glitches.
Adam Morgan 175 wrote:
I use the PRD extensively; I just make shortcuts to the information I need to look at frequently so I don't have to go through a search each time.
However, I think a lot of people when they sit down to game don't have a computer with internet in front of them, or a smartphone (either available- some GMs don't like phones at the table- or at all, as it's an unnecessary and expensive device). Therefore they need printed resources of some kind to access during play.
The player might not care much about the game or is not having fun.
Or is just scatterbrained. Or is supremely bored by the rules even if they find the actual play interesting. Or finds the amount of material s/he needs to assimilate to construct the character overwhelming. Or just doesn't understand that to this GM and group constant rules errors are impacting their own game enjoyment (seeing it as a smaller problem than they do). *shrugs* I think it's kind of a leap to assume that the player must dislike the game- usually when that is happening it gets expressed in different ways, passive-aggressive behavior, disengagement from actual play, texting/reading/having side convos, etc., even if the player is unwilling to come right out and say it.
I found I also have trouble keeping track of details when you have a character with a lot going on (caster, situational bonuses, companions/cohorts, metamagic, etc.) What really helped me was finding a google docs spreadsheet for the character that I could update in real time as I used spells or lost health (without having it covered in erasure marks). I could also add my own sheets to the workbook to track other bits of information that a character sheet doesn't provide- I have used it for everything from planning level advancement (detailing which spells and abilities a character gains at each level on one chart goes a long way towards avoiding "level five oracle with level eight ability") to totaling gear purchases to outlining an upcoming leadership feat.
The other half of my strategy involves creating a bookmarks folder that is dedicated to that character. In the folder I have a link to the character sheet, as well as links to the most common pages I need to reference (for example my sorcerer's bloodline page, a page showing patterns for spells of different sizes, everything you never wanted to know about movement rules, etc.). I also have a subfolder with links to every spell known by my character, and named the links according to spell name and level, i.e. Color Spray (1).
So now I have everything I could ever want to know about this character's mechanics at my fingertips, and organized in such a way that all I need to do is scan over the folder and wait for the page to load. It helped immensely in both preparing the character properly and in making rules-based decisions quickly.
Of course, it relies on having a computer and an internet connection- seldom a problem for me, but may be for others. I'm sure paper-based alternatives could be generated (like organizing the spell descriptions into a doc file and printing it out, etc.)
I suspect it really depends on the group.
My GM is currently running two groups through the same content, with the other group being a little ahead of us. Both groups started off by running Crypt of the Everflame. The first played it pretty much as intended, cheerfully hacking away at skellies and zombies and bringing their prize back to Kassen to be covered in praise. Our group, on the other hand, was horrified by what was happening, and had a pretty serious argument over the role of the village, and their quest to recklessly glorify a dangerous pursuit (even if they didn't plan the undead). (It sort of scarred my sheltered little sorc, to be honest. Dude's used to being the coddled youngest child with three squares a day, never being allowed to do anything on his own, and SUDDENLY: zombie juice and corpses, everywhere. :P)
Some groups want to battle for fun and profit. Others want to explore themes like "is killing all orcs indiscriminately an evil act?" I don't think it's wrong to tailor one's interpretation to the mood of the particular table you're sitting at.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Ommegang is extremely good, but I remain partial to Thelonious. It is possible to get "bad bottles" with North Coast- I've encountered it with some of their other brews- which is pretty unfortunate since they're otherwise producing solid beer. I think I had Maredsous recommended to me recently, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet. Abbey ales are a particular pet of mine, sometimes it seems like I've tried so many of them I've lost track. Mostly chosen by just browsing the proper section of local huge liquor store or plucking beers off bar/restaurant menus by description. :P
BrewMaster Aberzombie wrote:
Yeah, I know, right? Apparently they were outgrowing "microbrewery status", or something along those lines, and pulled out of a number of locations. I think they still sell in Ohio so at some point I might make the trip across state lines to get a fix. XD
Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale is my fav.
Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA is also very high...they stopped selling in my state earlier this year and I am quite sad :(
Anything and everything by Three Floyds is spectacular, and as their brewery is located in my state, we can get pretty much everything they distribute fairly easily (some stuff they only sell at their restaurant, so you have to drive up to get that).
There's also a small brewery in Bloomington, IN called Upland that I like quite a bit. And a newish brewery in Indianapolis that is producing something called a "cream ale" that is rapidly becoming a house favorite.
As far as "cheap beers" go I like Blue Moon, Fat Tire, Smithwick's, and other sort of high-low-end/low-mid-end beers.
My big thing is browsing. I've tried, and I just can't browse books online with the same enjoyment, intensity, or results I get from browsing a brick-and-mortar store. If I know exactly what I want beforehand Amazon is great... if I'm looking for a good read without a title in mind I still hike over to the store.
Yeah, it's not all about who has the best stats for it. Charisma is a tricky stat that way, it covers such a broad territory and not all parts are contiguous. Being well-liked, for example, may not have anything to do with being a good ruler and could even be detrimental in some circumstances (as I think someone noted above).
Our oracle by the book likely has the best stats for rulership. She also can't speak in a language most people can understand when she's upset or stressed. That's a pretty big point in the minuses column of this particular decision.
We're starting to gossip a bit on who will end up as ruler in our KM campaign... we have several CHA-heavy chars (sorc, pally, oracle). The sorc (my char) is basically a teenager and wouldn't have the temperament for it even if he outgrew his immature worldview overnight- way too soft-hearted. The pally has no brains, and the oracle is chilly and pragmatic (Cheliax ex-noble...we segued from another game into KM). I'm starting to feel our alchemist may be the best choice, personality-wise, honestly... he is level-headed and smart. (The last character, our rogue, would probably try to turn all of Brevoy into an orc-styled clan, so yeah, no.)
If I make a monster character, I expect that working to overcome prejudice against the character (in the case of good or neutral characters, anyway) will be part of playing them. In some ways the conflict is both internal and external to the character, because they're caught between self-knowledge that they are, due to nature or circumstances or whatever, different, but their culture may well merit its reputation. I'm actually disappointed when their race is brushed over, because it's jarring and breaks immersion in the game world, as well as eliminates one of the reasons I made that character.
But on the other hand I also expect the GM to step in during character creation and tell me if this is not an element they want in this game, not be passive-aggressive towards my character over their race for the entirety of the campaign. When I'm using a character concept that I know might not fly, whether it's a monster race or a strange background or an odd class combo, I always seek GM input before proceeding, and I fully expect them to be honest with me. If they're not, they have only themselves to blame for the resultant situation, imo.
As far as "special snowflakes" are concerned, all characters are unique in their own ways, even the nth "raised a farmer and left home after tragedy" character. When everyone is unique, uniqueness is no longer "special". A snowflake comes from a player (or GM) assuming their atypical race/background/ability/whatever will confer recognized, fully positive specialness in-game or in-game advantages. Unique is not the same as special or important, and it's only when those wires get crossed that stuff like this really becomes a problem. (Barring of course particular campaigns where certain concepts just won't work, but you could say that of any character feature, not merely race.)