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Leonard Kriegler

Mark Hoover's page

4,103 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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It's thread discussions like these that got me into this kickstarter in the first place. I've never played/run any FGG or Necromancer Games material ever. I've always homebrewed and my current setting is closer to Midgard by Kobold but my players were getting bored with both my style and the "dark fairy tale" kind of theme. They're all old school gamers so I decided to homebrew my first megadungeon in years.

In researching I inevitably came upon RA. I am also old in the gaming hobby and RA started pulling those primal chords in my memory. Unfortunately I didn't have the dough to grab a copy but I found myself continuing to search ALL of FGG's stuff with that same heady mix of nostalgia and inspiration.

Then fortunes for my family changed a little over a month ago. The first thing I did was start evaluating my initial frog purchase. At the same time I caught sight of this upcoming kickstarter. Hearing you guys in this thread and others going on about FGG, reading about their stuff for months and now having the opportunity to buy into the material myself; its really psyching me up for my games!

I don't know if I'll end up purchasing the whole lost lands setting, but I know I'm saving a little from each paycheck to pad my kickstarter contribution for that big huge book of old school madness called Rappan Athuk. That and Barakus alone will probably be enough for half a decade of gaming.

TL/DR. Bottom line: I think in me you've got a convert FGG. If I'm ever out west or at one of the bigger cons I'd love to meet some of the Frogs in person, if nothing else than just to shake one of your hands and thank you for re-igniting that fire that smolders in all gamers for epic adventure.

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DrDeth wrote:
Jay the Madman wrote:

Of course a magic Missile is situational. All spells are situational.

Wizard:"We need to get out of this deep hole, what spell should I use? Magic Missile!"
GM: No effect
Wizard: "Fireball! That is my go-to spell"
GM: Still no effect
Wizard: "ooo I know. Haste! That spell is perhaps the most useful spell available"
GM: ugh

Yeah, well that's one thing about the Optimizers here on these boards.

Toughness isn't the VERY VERY best feat evar, so it's useless. The rogue niche can be filled by other classes, so the class is worthless. The crossbow isn't quite as good as the Longbow for dedicated archers, so it's there as a trap. Or maybe just there because SKR hates crossbows or some other silly reasoning.

Everything must be the very very best in ALL situations and the way THEY play or it's worthless crud, and a TRAP! by the devs.

Unless you're talking about the sling or a slingstaff in the hands of a halfling; then cue Admiral Ackbar. [/humor]

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In! As I've said before its an honor just to submit. That being said fingers and toes crossed!

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I heard "Greyhawk folio maps" and immediately upped my pledge. Darn you guys and your shrewd sales tactics! Let's chip away all the stretch goals!

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Back in AD&D there was more threat of death and yes; more consequence when your character died. I wasn't necessarily a killer DM but I ran Tomb of Horrors for my PCs a couple times. Another DM I played under routinely ran a dark world. You couldn't grab a drink from a stream while dying of thirst because as you drank you were grappled and drowned by xvarts.

But one threat I DON'T miss from those days is hazards and traps. They were diabolical, quick, and deadly. In one module my buddy always tells me about there's a pair of boots in the first room.

DM: you see a pair of boots
Player: I try em on
DM: Give me a save
Player: umm (rolls)... seven?
DM you die.

See, there's yellow mold in the boots. Even if you look in supposedly the module just says "a yellowish substance coats the inside of the boots" but if the PCs try any other inspection of the footgear they risk dying. In the first room. Of a 1st level appropriate adventure.

Now yellow mold hasn't gotten any less lethal for novice 1st level players but experienced Pathfinders can use Knowledge: Dungeoneering to identify it, try a cantrip or orison to test it from a distance or sacrifice an animal companion or summoned creature for the effort. Bottom line, hazards are still hazardous, its just that now you have ways of dealing with them.

Now, there were ways of dealing with them in older editions, but either your chances were low OR they were esoteric, undefined by the system. There was thus a lot more interaction between DM and player, but since things like "knowledge" rolls were up to the DM to decide and adjudicate, there was even more of an attitude that the DM was a separate entity like there were the players and then this impartial/cruel/tyrannical/fair/fun/godlike entity off to the side called the DM.

This might be another part of the "essence" folks want to recapture.

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Ashiel wrote:
MattR1986 wrote:
Didn't watch it, but all the kids are obsessed with this movie atm. I'll probably have to watch it eventually now with the youngin' but I really don't like the CGI stuff that's done now.

I do miss the oldschool 'scratchy' Disney animation. My favorite Disney movie is probably Sleeping Beauty as well (even if it bombed at the Box Office, Maleficent forever!). But the animation is really good in Frozen. Really, really good. It's beautiful and feels right for the movie. I feel like a lot of it wouldn't have been as good with the oldschool methods and that's saying something 'cause I'm a big animation fan.


I've heard someone dies or something. Either way no Disney can ever fully traumatize a child like Bambi did.

Oh look the mommy and her fawn they're so nice and cute together an.. *BAM*


I won't spoil it for you, but yeah, Bambie. Jeez, Bambie. That movie was traumatizing for me as a child too. :P

It was also a good depiction of fighting an elemental. Now if Prince Hans had been in possession of, say, a +1 Flaming longsword, that probably would've been a different fight. It probably wasn't part of his build though.

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So, are we saying the essence of AD&D in PF is to complain a lot, do bold stuff with our characters and then tell people how awesome we are?

I think we should get back to the essence of AD&D in PF. I didn't play at a lot of cons back in the 1e/2e days, but I played a couple event games and now since PF I've played a couple of those at cons too. I think when it comes to events the games play pretty similarly. You get some pre-gens, roll some dice, and try not to die.

So I think a lot of the "essence" that's changed/stayed the same/disappeared/whatever is at home games/private games. Is that ENTIRELY due to the system and ruleset, or could it also be the maturity of the gamers?

I wonder if too much of this debate can be summed up with the fact that we were younger when we played 1e, and now we're older and playing PF.

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You might get some mileage out of an incorporeal "barker"; someone who directs the players' attentions to the myriad attractions.

If you've got all these Haunts and undead, you might also have someone/thing taking advantage of it all:

- Necromancer utilizing the place to collect souls needed to power a diabolical machine

- Mites using the fear factor to add to their own "Doom" SLA and general freakiness

- Old Man Witherspoon who's using the haunted amusement park to keep people away from the buried treasure he's searching for

I personally like to go truly horrible. I conceptualized but was never able to play a puppeteer, a really nice fellow, but wears a mask and never comes out at night. At the same time he arrives a bugbear starts manifesting though children's dreams and slowly terrorizes them, draining Wis and Cha from them until as mindless automatons they wander into the woods where Old Pogolo Peeps waits with a torture chamber to inflict the final horror; he replaces their eyes with mirror glass trapping their souls in the broken mirrors.

The bugbear hunts by the scent of fear and is in fact blind. He's also immortal. The only way to truly destroy Old Pogolo Peeps is to kill the puppeteer who has mirror glass embedded in his eyes as part of a witch's curse.

While I agree with Puma that curiosity should lead to horror I also think a great way to horrify folks is to muck with innocence. Children are a good metaphor here. Perhaps kids giggling and when the party arrives there's nothing but a drying blood pool around a dolly. You might also have one of those Attic Whisperer undead stalking the carnival. "Where's my mommy... I wanna go home..." then it turns out to be undead and "mommy" is currently being tortured on a wheel.

Finally, there's an element too that you might explore. What if the heroes aren't the ONLY mortals in the faire. If you give them real people amid all the horror you can really mess with them. Perhaps by the end of the game you've tricked them so many times with who's a real person and who's not that they just don't care any more. That's when you've got the last victim NPC standing right there, bloody axe in their hand, saying "if we just head through here we'll get out, I PROMISE!" and WHAM! They take 'em out, only to find the escape tunnel was real. Now THEY'VE killed an innocent, making them no better than the haunts they've just survived.

But that's just mean...

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Personally I don't think you can go wrong with Hollow's Last Hope. I've used the module or a version of it modified for home used now to start up 2 home campaigns. It's become my "Keep on the Borderlands" for PF.

Hollow has some NPC interaction, exploration elements, and ends with a dungeon hack, all with a sense of urgency since the players are on a clock. It's also open ended; it could lead into more dungeon delving using the kobold modules after or just making it up as you go, or you could just as well throw a sandbox game at them with the map provided of the area surrounding Falcon's Hollow.

Come to think of it you could even, with a bit of modifying, even tie this module into the original Keep on the Borderlands for one mini-mega-campaign. They start out at the hollow, solve that crisis, then exploring out from there find the caves of chaos in the nearby mountains. Adventure ensues...

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No, you guys are right; I should stop dissing old school D&D. It wasn't all bad. My snarky post above was my experience as a player. As a DM I really liked the game. Yes, because of the grey areas of the rules there was a lot more talking, at least in my experience.

I usually let the players roll 4d6, take the best 3, and re-roll 1's, maybe 2's. I also tended to hand out something unique to get them going at 1st level. Maybe a 1/day magic power or a magic item that would grow in power with them. My games tended to involve a lot of roleplay, a lot of trying weird stuff and a lot of adventure.

I jumped right into 2e when it came out, but when 3x arrived I was there at Gen Con that year and I was soul crushed. They'd completely re-written the game I loved. I kept playing 2e for a couple years before finally getting into 3x.

But the thing I liked was that, with all the rules plus feats I had less work to do. I didn't have to houserule as much or try to balance a power I gave to one guy but not another. I had baselines from which to rule. It made my job easier.

Honestly, all snark aside the only thing I can consistently point to in AD&D that I wasn't a fan of is the arguing. Every time I houseruled something there'd always be that ONE guy who didn't agree because he read it differently. We were all DM's back then; maybe that was the problem.

But there was also debate over playing without maps. You guys that pulled it off flawlessly - bless you and your games. You obviously are better storytellers than I, and I mean that sincerely without sarcasm. I've struggled with such descriptions for years and it ALWAYS seemed that the vision in my head never quite matched what my players were seeing.

So for me AD&D was a LOT of talking, describing, debating and socializing with a few dice rolls thrown in for sound effects. The reality of killer DM's only came up when I was playing; when I ran the game hardly anyone ever died. But then a LOT of my games imploded and never made it past like 6th or 7th level because of all the debates and hurt feelings.

Yes, I like the new editions. For me the essence of old D&D versus new boils down to one thing: description.

Sure, you can make a roll with a skill and talk your way out of a fight with some gate guards, but I do honestly miss when you had to ACTUALLY talk to those guards. I don't miss other skill checks, but I do miss things like speaking in character, describing off the wall actions you want your character to take or whatever.

Anyway to Logan specifically or other folks in this thread: sorry for cheezing you off. I didn't mean to dis old D&D and I honestly do have reverence for it. It is a solid first step into gaming and none of what I have today would've been possible without it.

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Oh my goodness that's a lot of reading. One point I want to harp on though is this idea of "magic marts." Where are these places in your games? Barring some silly games as a kid that based loosely around the Bazar at Deva from the Myth series by Robert Lynn Asprin, I've never had a giant warehouse full of magic items.

Similarly though, I've never had a single settlement since converting to 3x that didn't AT LEAST have a crazy old cat lady that could make potions. In fact, I've played with unique ways to work magic consumables into new forms. One town had a crazy old lady making magic pies; she made them with "love" and when you ate them you just felt better - potion of cure light wounds.

I agree with many of you: if the PCs walked into the town square and I said "you see a massive superstore, with the sign 'Wall of Magic Mart' in blue and white and miles of towering shelves stocked with ALL the magic items costing 10k GP or less on them" I'd expect immersion to be compromised. But I don't do that do I. If they're on the hunt for magic items I usually run shopping trips through email, but I'll roleplay it out.

"You enter the small shop crammed with curios and trinkets. Many are useless baubles; other are arcane components used in the casting of spells. The interior is dark, musty, and smells of aging paper. 'Good morning, young master,' a voice purrs from behind the counter. Moments ago there was no one; you're sure of it. Suddenly at second glance there is a crooked little man, his eyes a hungry smolder beneath the white shrubbery of his furrowed brow. 'you are seeking something yes? Something beautiful, something dangerous...something, magical perhaps?' his words drip from his mouth like honey even as the light seems to fade at the corners of the shop until there is only his leering face and you. 'Then step into the parlor then young master; you have discerning eyes that I would not taunt with my usual fare. Such wonderful, young eyes...'"

And that's how, over email, a young wizard might purchase a new wand. I've also had sexually suggestive cougars that came on to the clientele; a tiefling wizard that boasted of his "TRUE power!" but was really a hack; a consortium of kobolds, gnomes and goblins called Tinkers and Gnaws that used spells to rework garbage into art or even magic items...for a price.

Now I'm not begrudging any playstyle here but it seems like the argument is over extremes. Either you can't buy magic items at all OR you have a "magic mart" with all the items listed in the settlement stat block in warehouse next to tubs of rations sold in bulk. I'm here to tell you that there are OTHER ways to buy, sell and craft items that might add to the roleplay of the game, if you're interested. If not, that's fine, but you'll want to make some adjustments if you go magic-light.

Me, I love the idea that you walk into a creepy old curio shop and the old man offers you junk until he realizes you're a real player with real money. Then suddenly he changes his tune and pulls one or two "real pieces" and grins maniacally as he asks (paraphrasing Hellrazer here) "What's your PLEASURE sir?"

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Want to recapture some of the essence, least from times when I PLAYED 1e/2e?

1. roll 4d6, take the best 3; no re-rolls and apply all rolls AS rolled. This means: you show up wanting to play a paladin; you end up rolling up a m-u with a 4 dex and a 12 Int as your highest stat (it happened)

2. If you're a level 1 spell caster cast 1 spell. That's it, just 1. No cantrips, scrolls or what-not at level 1... just that spell.

3. Learn to debate. Get REALLY good at it. Learn math, physics, history and study a lot of science. Be ready to quote not only game rules but also debate those rules with A LOT of passionate, real-world numbers/examples

4. Talk to NPCs. No, don't roll anything (Charisma is basically there to fill space on your sheet), just start talking and hope you impress your GM.

5. Learn to impress your GM. Not just in the game (see 3 and 4) but find out what his drink of choice is; buy him food; laugh at his jokes. This will pay dividends in rulings later.

6. Invent telepathic transmission. This is the only way you and your GM will see EXACTLY the same thing when he's describing the action. Otherwise see the post above about the mapless fight scene.

7. Manage disappointment. You won't be building your character; they will change as the game changes. Sometimes you will die, fail a save and turn to stone, be put to sleep, charmed, or otherwise transformed in some way beyond your control. You have far fewer resources to not only prevent these changes but to reverse them when they occur. Accept the change.

8. Don't get attached to your PC. For the first 3 levels don't even name them. Even after that make sure you've always got 5 backups ready to go at a moment's notice.

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Let me get this straight: the Great and Powerful TOZ is saying you should prep more? You're one of the kings of the no prep model of gaming. You've even told ME that when I was ranting in a thread, and I've GM'd for 3 decades. Now you're saying PREP MORE?


Oh Tri, what happened to you... :)

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Here's why the football analogy didn't work for me. Because back when I WAS watching in the 80's, I never saw Jim McMahon walk on the field, wave a hand, and change the snow falling on Soldier's Field into streaks of multi-colored lightning and a rain of frogs.

Y'see, QBs are just guys in tight pants that throw well. They are more akin to players. The GM is more likely ALL of the things just on the outskirts of the plays. The GM is:

The distracting cheerleader on the sidelines
The snow coming down
The astroturf when you were expecting grass
The stress-induced heart attack the coach has
The league bosses who put the schedule together for that day
The air

All of these are the GM. Do they affect game play and thus might be considered players? Sure. But they are not exactly the same as the contributions of the other players, therefore the GM (IN MY OPINION) is not "just another player."

But there it is folks: opinion. This thread is about opinion, not fact, so everyone's right and no one is. Some people can think that GM = Player. Others may disagree with that opinion, and that's ok too.

Opinions are not fact. They should not be treated as such.

Personally I feel that the GM comes up with a game concept or chooses to run an AP. Then he sits down to play with his Players. Together they weave out the game with everyone contributing. But at the end of the day the GM decides the particulars such as what is available in the setting, what loot to give out, and what random encounters to drop. For this reason the Players should never demand any of these things from the GM, but should instead expect a reasonable amount of tolerance and consideration from the GM when making their decisions.

I would never as a player go up to my GM and say "I demand to fight a goblin tonight" anymore than I would say "I demand a +2 strength belt tonight." I would however have NO qualms saying "Y'know what'd be awesome? If we got to just completely WAIL on some goblins! It's been a long, stressful week and it'd be nice to flex a little in fiction! And hey; if said goblins just HAPPENED to have a +2 strength belt laying around, I wouldn't be sad..."

Now some GMs would drop a troll witch 6 riding an adult green dragon. Another GM would have a cave full of goblins guarding a +2 strength belt. Still another GM would have the goblins fight, then relent, bargaining with the PCs to go after the troll witch and his dragon and doing so with a +2 strength belt. Each style has their own merits.

If my player said this stuff to me, I'd ask why they're looking for the +2 strength belt, then decide if it would be game-breaking to just have some weird energy-gas that infuses power into the PC and gives him a 6/day use "strength surge" that grants him a +2 Adrenaline bonus to Strength for 1 minute/level. Then I'd throw in the goblins just to be nice. After all; he's had a hard day and all.

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We're through all but the last of the stretch goals already. I'm really psyched for this project! I hope the momentum continues so I can pick up that $5 player's guide so that, later when I finally have the product my players can completely ignore it and wander blindly through the campaign. C'MON FORUM!

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I use the Take 10 approach to several skills, Perception being one of them. I tell my players ahead of time that I'll be using their "base" perception or whatever and just tell them when they notice something if they're not under duress. Then, if we're in combat or some kind of conflict threatens the party, I make them roll.

For example if my players are exploring the entry of a cave and they tell me up front they're being cautious then I note their base perception checks. If it's high enough to notice the signs of the trap in the hall (Perception DC 20) then I'll just tell them "You notice an odd flag in the floor" and just roll from there. Similarly if I know a wizard has invested skills in Knowledge: Arcana and comes upon some arcane runes on a door, I'll tell the player they are arcane in nature, in the tradition of the flame mages of Kithyar, and may in fact be enchanted.

I think where I fall down as a GM is I rarely add things JUST to add things; they usually have some kind of game impact. As a result my players have learned that, if I'm telling them something, it must somehow be a boon/threat to them. On the plus side they pay close attention but on the downside they tend to be very jaded.

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Now Simon, I don't think they were saying "you're doing it wrong" but rather explain the math because I think in terms of tactics and don't understand how you have a successful battle with the odds stacked so heavily against you.

I too would love to be regaled by the story. Not because I think ANYONE (Damian OR Chengar or even Simon) is doing it wrong but because my tactics suck and I probably would've been obliterated in the same scenario. I'd like to learn how this party survived.

1. As a GM I like learning about new tactics to challenge my tactically minded players

2. As a potential player in an upcoming game I want to improve my odds and not be my usual "boat anchor" self in the party

Add on the fact that I think EVERYONE can benefit from learning how to go low magic if for no other reason than to astonish fellow gamers. D-Mage, tell us how you pulled it off!

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Grimmy wrote:

One big difference I've identified, is declaring actions in game mechanics terms versus descriptive terms.

As a kid I remember more "I want to swing from the rafters." "Ok, make a dexterity check." "

Now I see more "I make an acrobatics check to avoid the AoO." "Ok, you beat his CMD."

That's a bad example but if you've seen both you'll know what I mean I think.

Perception is an easier example.

"I roll perception." "OK there's a secret compartment in the bookshelf."


"I pull out some books from the bookshelf."

Very true Grimmy, I know exactly what you mean. What I've done is ask players to dig a little deeper.

"I make a Perception check"

Me: For what


Me: you notice a lot

"Are there any traps or anything out of the ordinary?"

Me: Oh, you were looking for traps? No, no obvious signs that say "trap here." you did however notice scorches on the wall across from the wall sconce and an oddly-colored flagstone covering most of the middle of the hall.

"I use acrobatics to avoid the AoO"

Me: how, and where are you moving to?

"I roll"

Me: please note - while you avoid the AoOs you are still flanked by the cardinal's guards here. Your acrobatics is high enough you might be able to make a jump for the chandolier overhead; I'll add your jump roll TO your 5' move to represent swinging, if you want to chance it?

Where I find it near impossible is on social rolls. Diplomacy took the wind out of a lot of RP sails. Still, I try to muddle through.

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Y'know, maybe I'm selfish but I DO expect my GM to "gimmie what I want." I also intend on delivering that to my players. Its just that what I want and (so far) what my players want is esoteric. My GM's have asked me and I've asked my players what to expect from the game. The answers are "Epicness; fun; cool fights and conflicts; engaging plots and worlds."

So yeah; gimmie what I want.

I don't know, maybe I've been exceptionally blessed. My players have wanted small, individual magic items over the years but no one's ever handed me a shopping list. I've also had A LOT of powergamer/optimizer types who are more focused on character power than plot. I've never had a one present me with a 20 level build. Maybe they have it statted out somewhere privately but they've never shown me.

Speaking for myself as a player I don't look at my character as a series of numbers to be massaged. I wonder what he'd look like; how cool would it be to see this guy in a full attack; why does he remain on the road of adventure? Because of this I don't hit the table with any expectation of material reward other than "if I succeed at achieving goals and defeating challenges, I'll level."

If others play with shopping lists, that's fine for them. That WORKS for them. I would further expect that there are GMs out there who welcome the communication with these players and synergize well with the playstyle. I wholeheartedly encourage these players and GMs to find one another.

It just probably won't be at my table.

I don't run low magic by any stretch of the imagination. I DO use magic ripped vanilla right out of the PF books. But it's not floating in the air after defeating your first skeleton like a video game either, and there should be no expectation of that in my games. Like I said; maybe I've been blessed. My players seem to be fine with the items they get or can seek out/purchase/make themselves.

And one final note on the "ye olde magik shoppe": this need not be magic Wal-Mart. I don't run it that way and I haven't played alongside anyone who has. If you DO run it that way and it works for you great, but that's not the only way it has to work.

Firstly I limit the number of those "major cities with all the cheap magic items" in them. Second I tell my players flat out that there are no Magic Item Shops, but rather there are individual sources for individual items. Like, if a player wants a wand of Cure Light Wounds, likely they'll need a major church; weird thing is there isn't a church big enough in the region. If they ask some questions they find that there's an old witch that handles local healing. She needs 750 GP, but not the actual gold. Instead she needs 750 GP worth of rare herbs, unique woods and exotic game delivered to her before she'll part with one of her wands.

Finally there is discovery. Since in my games there's no Magic Item Shop the players have to use some skills and roleplaying to find what they're looking for. If they're in a small city and they want a magic sword, that's fairly simple, but the fact that its magic means its not just sitting in a rack somewhere. So they need to use a Diplomacy roll, some Influence capital, or some good old fashioned roleplaying to chat up the locals. From this they might learn that:

1. Brok Battlehammer, the best dwarven forge in the city, has crafted magic blades in the past and may have one for sale

2. Old Yuric's father fought in the war and brought home such a magic weapon that might suit your needs, but he might not part with it. Then again, he's hit upon hard times lately...

3. There is a Dunevain traveler family in town for the market day. They are known as the Buhlevek Caravan and they have been known to deal in such rarities. However they are shrewd and not to be trusted. They are wandering folk after all.

So any of these will provide the magic sword the player wants but Brok might have to make modifications so the PC has to wait; Old Yuric might have a quest for the party and the Buhlevek Caravan might deal fairly on the sword but then pick a PCs pocket or something. I tell my players that buying magic items (other than some consumables) isn't just a trip to Target so they're not blindsided by the event.

Sure, at the end of the day they're still buying a magic item and that's not very epic. But it's THEY'RE game; if they don't want to buy magic they don't HAVE to. Or if they'd rather commission it so it's unique to them, make it themselves or whatever, so be it.

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I go to bed, we're hovering at 9K; I wake up and we've got the whole thing funded, we've got our special 1day goal, and we've got level 4B. We've ALMOST hit the first ACTUAL Bill Webb wilderness goal. That's really cool!

Congrats FGG! Now let's watch everything else pile on for the REST of the month...

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Of course you're all right about the statue, but it's part and parcel to a larger problem with my 40-something year old gamers. ANY detail I hand out is something for the game in their opinion. If it isn't, they waste time investigating and get frustrated. If it is, they were right all along.

"You come into a hall; the floor here is black and white checkerboard." When I was 12, I wouldn't know what that meant. Now as a grown up my mind immediately begins working:

Is it trapped?
Are they disintegration pieces?
Are chess pieces going to appear?
Can I only move a certain way?

If it's then revealed that the dungeon designer was into art deco, then why bother telling me about the floor in the first place? This is the mindset of my players, for better or worse. I try to add detail for the sake of aesthetics and nothing more, but as I said it vexes them. Not looking for advice, just explaining.

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39. Bookstrap of Kindlenook
The Loremasters of Kindlenook devised an ingenious way to lug their tomes around with them on the road and keep organized at the same time. This bandolier has buckles that fasten around up to 6 books weighing up to combined maximum of 100lbs. Once fastened the book and buckle fuse into a single leather icon along the strap. By tapping twice (or "double clicking" as the old wizards say) on the icon the book reappears for use. The title of the book appears under the icon so that they are easily identified and accessed (Swift action). The strap cannot be used to hold anything other than books in this manner, though they have mundane hooks so as to affix up to four scroll cases.

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So if there's no essence of old school what precisely are we debating? Again, I come back to newness.

I don't know about you guys, but I had some awesome games as a kid. It didn't have much to do with the rules system. We made up a lot, got silly, and spent most of the session laughing, screaming and high-fiving. I've been banned from a lot of basements because of those HS games...

But nowadays the "essence" I'm trying to recapture has little to do with the rules. I'm trying to be silly, laugh more than narrate, and earn some high fives from my players.

Maybe that's what's missing in our games? We're not kids. We want to be: we play pretend on a semi-regular basis. But the reality is we've all grown up and our games have gotten more mature.

It might not be the same for all of you, but that's what's happening with me. My "old school AD&D" was stuff like one guy putting just his head into the black hole on the wall of the Tomb of Horrors; racing in a head-long charge right at an ancient red dragon while flying, hasted and carrying 2 artifact swords; riding magic surfboards with machine guns mounted on them across the Nyr Dyv.

Now my games are "I move here and attack. +2 for flanking... I hit an AC 22?" If I played AD&D it would be the same, just with different math. If I played Rifts it would happen with percentiles.

I'm not lamenting being a grown up. I love being married, I love my kids and its really nice having the life I've been able to provide. But the trade off is my thinking has subtly shifted, gotten mature and jaded even.

One of my players put it best. They came into a hall and I was trying my best to make it epic and grandiose; I even put down a custom mini on a molded base made to look like the female statue at the end of the great hall. My player looks at the rest of the team and smirks "don't go near the statue boys. You KNOW a statue in a dungeon is always a trap or a monster." Yeah, I know; metagaming. But y'know what? He's right - it did have a trap on it.

Anyway, that's the essence of AD&D for me. Its youth, plain and simple. I'm trying with every game to get a little of it back.

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Ok, I know you want epic, but what about funny? I learned to talk in character as a player in part by playing Marvel Super Heroes and naming my powers like video game moves.

You see, the character was a never-was pro wrestler who owned a gym called Zero Gravity Gym. Ironically, it was in his 20's that he discovered latent mutant powers centered on gravity control. In order to muster the concentration needed for his "Power Moves" he'd have to call them out.

GM: Mark, it's your turn; what's Gravitun doing?

Me: "BLACK HOLE BEAR HUG!!!" *in best Randy Macho Man Savage voice*

So yeah, it was silly and childish, but it really gave me a feel for the character. Maybe instead of "Fear Aura" you have "The Choir of a Thousand Seraphim" or instead of turning on your "Smite" you are calling out "Iomedae; Iomedae; IOMEDAE; HOOOOOOO!!!"

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Any magic item that gives a +: remove from game, give static bonuses when you want.

So, does that solve it then? Oh, wait, stat increases. Award x3 stat bonuses every 4 levels to be used on 3 different stats.

Everyone happy? I'm guessing not. See, because not everyone's happy, period. Some people like PF core; others tweak it. Some like AD&D 1e and some like 4e. Bottom line, there's AT LEAST 3 different ways of playing, but maybe more.

Will my game be right for Anzyr? No. Will his be right for Jaelithe? Maybe, maybe not. But this thread, despite its INSANE tangents has suggested ways to work with the RAW, work around it, or completely do away with it in regards to magic items.

Pick your faves. Or don't; it's entirely up to you. Your fun is your own and no amount of rules, systems, settings or magic items is going to change that. Make YOUR game what YOU want and own what you make.

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Touc wrote:
houstonderek wrote:
Amen. Some of my 1e games had quite a bit of "epic". Those "epic" combats just took up WAY less time looking stuff up and adding a zillion modifiers (stuff that is decidedly not "epic", quite draggy and boring, actually).

That's where rules bloat gets in the way of the story. AD&D wasn't anywhere close to perfect, but there wasn't a lot of mechanics to get in the way of an epic story. If the 1st level gamer wanted to throw acid at the roof of the building to weaken the rafters to smash a rampaging basilisk that he has no chance of beating in a traditional "grid-based" combat, that's a whole lot more epic than stopping play and flipping to page 2xx to argue the relative hardness of each rafter, much less finding the rules for "cave-in" once, if ever, the ceiling falls. This may simply be a matter where a DM steps in, adjudicates "normally the acid splash is too weak to do real damage to treated wood, but termites have been working on the building along with some exposure to weather over the years. The ancient rafters give a creak and'd better think about finding something to hide under..."

There's also something non-epic about being engaged in the middle of battle with the Death Knight Lord Sinister who has razed the local church atop his flaming nightmare steed, and stopping play to recount "...ok so I get a +1 from bless, a +1 from prayer, a +2 from blessing of fervor, a +1 from (oops, that's a morale bonus, doesn't stack with bless, scratch that), a +1 from haste, a -2 because of the shaken effect, did I count that +4 for the Potion of Bull Strength, (no wait, that should only be a net gain of +2 because of my strength already) I hit AC 30. No wait, I forgot that I had activated a swift action to gain a temporary +2, I think that's a class bonus so it counts...(and now another player indicates his abilities grant a bonus so long as they're in proximity), and was bard song playing? What's that grant again? Hold on, I lost my count on...

Ok, let me stop you right there. To each their own right? My own experience with this sort of thing went like this back in AD&D:

I'm DMing: yes, the rafters collapse! I reward your creativity; it's a LIGHT world!

One of my buddies are DMing: Make a to hit roll. You missed (arbitrary since no AC was given); the acid falls back in your eyes. That was an epic waste of your actions. On the plus side you can't be turned to stone. It's a DARK world.

Now, a couple sessions ago my players entered a ruined tomb. One of them said "I look at the ceiling" and I know he has knowledge: engineering. I promptly told him about the buckling crossbeam overhead. "How bad is it?" I had him roll and he did pretty well, so I told him it had the Broken condition and then some; it's one good hit from total collapse.

No sooner did they discover that then a zombie otyugh revealed itself from a sewer under the floor. The stench was so gross that the PCs were Shaken; eyes watering, gagging on bile - you get the idea. The party realizes upon it's first grapple attack that even as a zombie this thing will probably kill one of them.

They instantly formed a plan. The paladin would cut the cleric free of the grapple. The cleric in turn would hit the crossbeam with a Firebolt. The magus would time a Ray of Frost for the same moment and the ranger would lay down cover from the doorway. By RAW should the 2 energy weapons have set off the collapse? I have no idea; I didn't look it up.

The rules are there, yes, and you're right that sometimes they get in the way. But they are guidelines that set a basis for my decisions as GM; they can be bent or broken on occasion. It even says so somewhere in either the CRB or the Gamemaster book (I'm not looking it up so if you guys want to prove me wrong that's totally cool - I'm lazy).

Anyway, the 1-2 punch took out the beam but of course this brought down the roof. I began counting while the party called out their actions on their initiatives. Once I got to 30 whoever was left would be paste. They all made it out but the cleric had to make a save which he just barely made landing him in the slide zone (3d6 damage) instead of the crush zone. It was fun, epic and there was some cheering afterwards.

Bottom line: epic scenes aren't due to rules, rules bloat, or whatever. Despite my earlier snark they're not even because of mechanics. If the GM and their players are firing on all pistons it doesn't matter what the rules and mechanics are, it's just fun! It could've been just as much fun in Dungeon World, AD&D, Marvel Super Heroes or Rifts. Just own your fun dangit, and don't rely on rules or systems or whatever to govern it for you.

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rando1000 wrote:
Touc wrote:

From Mike Mearls, creative directing (summary), the 120,000+ playtesters are indicating it's the "story" element, the "idea of what a character is, that's really important." Players want to be engaged in an "evocative" story and the "mechanics are really just a means to an end." Players are less interested in the "feats/powers" than making a fun story with others.

I'm not sure that's accurate. For me it is, sure, but quite a few RPG gamers are also wargamers. Their minds work differently than mine, more tactically. They like finding bits of rules that will give them a competitive advantage, even if the game is not "supposed" to be competitive. I know a guy who will spend as much time tweaking his character while pouring over tome after tome of rules as I spend setting up the adventure for the week. For some, mechanics IS an enjoyment in itself. And the more there is, the more satisfying it will be for those people.

I game with about 10 guys; 4 of them regularly. 4 of these are tactics types. I've said it before and I'll use the example again: they feel that the 1 paragraph setup to a Descent scenario is too much fluff for an RPG. For them it's all about the mechanics, wailing on monsters and getting loot. This doesn't make them bad guys or bad gamers.

Some folks just don't dig on story. No shame in it. These particular guys have started to get into the roleplaying aspect a little just to have some fun in silly voices and such, but overall they're just there to roll some dice and make Conan proud.

Now, if you're doing the math that still means that 6 of my players enjoy plot to some degree. This is true though not all to the SAME extent, and one of these guys is ALSO a rules lawyer. This makes him equally happy engaging the NPCs in lively debate as it makes him to engage me the same way over a ruling.

I've run AD&D and 2e with guys like that before. They like gray area, because it provides the most fertile grounds for debate. Unfortunately this debate can eat up game time if you're not careful.

So I play rules-heavy PF. It smooths out the gray, helps me manage debate, and empowers the tactically minded. Is it a perfect system? No, that's ridiculous.

But when it comes to an "old school feel" I think back to my old Greyhawk books. Old school to me is more feeling than fact, and that feeling was grim, gritty. Sometimes evil won (Iuz) and madmen ruled (Robilar in the City of Greyhawk). Sometimes the gods were cruel even to their own worshippers (Cuthbert) and even solemn, helpful monks were not to be trusted (The Scarlet Brotherhood). Dungeons were deep; dragons were deadly and the world could very well kill you. THAT is what old school feels like to me.

Not surprisingly I'm very much looking forward to the next Frog God Games kickstarter tomorrow...

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Um, Malwing? I still think it takes different strokes to change the world.

I was that GM; the one who said "I have restrictions in my world" and the player said "but...creativity" and I relented. I paid for that decision with my campaign and ended up flaming out for like 4 months.

The reality ended up that the player pushed so hard to get the "unique character" he wanted in the game basically because this player wanted to be center stage. I didn't recognize that at the beginning, felt guilty, and worked his PC into the cannon of the setting. This involved a bit of shoehorning right up front.

As the campaign went on each session devolved into the 3 other players and this other one fighting for stage time. When the one player with the unique character wasn't center of attention they'd sulk.

First I dismissed it, then when my other players complained I talked to the offender. We talked privately, then I tried some solo email gameplay but nothing would assuage. Finally the whole group chatted and vented to one another; both the offender and the other players got their chance to explain. Even after that the problem persisted. I got so fed up with trying to work in places for this player to shine that I just burned out right at the table. My campaign of over a year ended at level 6 and I didn't RPG for 4 months.

I don't game w/that player any more. I have nothing against them personally and they've continued playing with other, like-minded gamers. But at the end of the day I should've recognized the mindset BEHIND the unique character request. That mindset, put bluntly was "I want to be unique and special."

Even after all that though, I'm willing to say to each their own. If this is the way you want to game, bless you and great gaming! Its just now how I want to play.

I very much resent anyone telling me I'm not a creative GM for running my games this way. It disgusts me that in THIS hobby of all places someone could be that rude. The folks who play these games are drawn from every walk of life and have an extremely diverse culture. This invariably leads to more than one play style.

This diversity is not the antithesis of creativity but the crucible!

Some GMs will have different styles, different methods and their games will feel different as a result. This is a GOOD thing! This fulfills the original intent of the creators of the first RPG: no 2 games should EVER be exactly the same. This was one of the founding principles of D&D.

It is not a lack of creativity to restrict classes, equipment, magic levels or anything else in a game. It is merely the setting. If this isn't to your liking, don't accuse the creator of not being creative - that's rude. Instead, either begin your own setting, find a game that suits your needs or flex your own creativity adapting your vision to the setting at hand.

You have choices. Namecalling and inflammatory remarks should never be one of them.

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Wizards are better at having a lot of spells

Sorcerers are better at always being able to cast, no matter what until their power runs out for the day.

Wizards are better at starting with a familiar/bonded object

Sorcerers are better at starting with cool SLA's

Wizards are better at having scribe scroll

Sorcerers are better at having more weapon proficencies

Oh, and also Wizards are better at pointy hats; sorcerers are better at robes.

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Anzyr wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

It is like this, the game assumes certain things so unless you as a GM say no, players will expect them. If you are going to ban something or make it hard to get then just be honest about why. Some GM's wont like something, but wont be honest about why so they make up house rules to make it hard to work. Sometimes they dont even know why they dont like it.

Example: Some GM's don't like Tome of Battle. They say ___ and ___ is why. I prove that is not true. They make up more reasons. I debunk those. Eventually they just say "I still won't allow it because (insert real reason). Well if they had said that up front.....

But the real reason is that they are close minded and prefer their fun over that of the other players (How does Jim being a Crusader affect the way you feel about you?) and that sounds terrible to say up front. I mean would you want to admit that upfront?

Yes, and I have. I told my players "no guns/gunpowder in my homebrew." One guy said "Why?" and I politely responded "I just don't like them and how they feel in my fantasy world. I try not to be judgmental or obtuse, but on this I am." He shrugged and went on with it anyway. After only a session zero and one adventure with the team he's asking me when the next game is.

Bottom line: GM's need to work WITH their players all the way. If they're not willing to budge on something, they need to be brutally honest. Mom always said honesty is the best policy, and she was right.

But on the other hand if you are willing to budge, even a bit, you SHOULD. Why? Because you want to work WITH your players, not around them.

So, you've got a guy; his build depends on greatswords and later gloves of dueling (IDK if that's a real build but whatev). If you're willing to see those in the game somewhere and he's been up front with you about his guy wanting them/building on them, why would you NOT put them in? Are they a random drop? A shopping trip? A sacred quest? I have no idea, but by adding them somehow to the game you're telling your player "your choices are valid and I'm willing to work with you for your fun at my table."

GM's aren't gods; they're customer service reps. Your player could've chosen from ANY game available in the local area or online. They chose yours. Now your job is to satisfy their request while also maintaining the integrity and interests of the company you work for (the game). You can't give away the store, but at the same time you'd never say to an internal or external customer "no, you can't ever have what you're asking for" as a CSR.

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Y'know what I miss and want to recapture? Newness. Yeah, there were a lot of "dark" games when I played 1e and 2e. Heck, we played in a dude's basement primarily and the walls were cinderblock painted black and grey even! But those old games were fun 'cause we were kids and made stuff up all the time.

We didn't have an internet or even a lot of video games. Even though it was the 90's and some of that existed we didn't have it. So we played in a vacuum. To us it was a novel idea to add the Predator to a game, complete with a crashed space ship. It wasn't until later that I realized that folks had been mashing up their fave movies and D&D for years.

My point is, recapturing the essence of the old games, for me, would mean un-learning everything I've picked up over the past 30 years. Thinking that a magic sword is really cool instead of a weapon needed to get me through the next tier of monsters; making a land ruled by a vampire and finding that original instead of a trope.

But I can't do that can I?

No, innocence only goes away, it can't come back. So too with newness. Once you've lost a sense of wonder it's really hard to reclaim. And that was the upside of AD&D for me: wonder. I wonder if I'll survive this encounter; I wonder what this staff is; I wonder if there's a village priest to un-curse me. Now, no matter what the game system, I've learned enough to watch for answers both in the game and in the participants.

Aside from that, going back to older editions then just means: less rules, more areas of gray for debate, and math that goes down instead of up. Without wonder, they are just games; exercises in mechanics leading to one of 2 possible outcomes.

I'm not trying to be depressing. The point I'm trying to make is, for me, it really doesn't matter what system I'm using. I like PF just 'cause it fits my current gaming style, but honestly it could be ANY system. It's ME that needs to change.

I need to create my own sense of wonder. I am in charge of my own happiness, not a rules system. If I acknowledge and accept that as my reality, then everything else is just semantics.

So I choose to go on, to keep dreaming. I may never use most of the stuff in my notebooks and laptop, but I'll keep making stuff up. And if I'm just making up what's already been done, then maybe I'm in good company then.

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How did this get on to setting creation. Was I sleeping?

Well whatever. I like my settings like I like my men: big and vacant.

By that I mean I hint to my players that the land is vast and sweeping. I create names and a map that seems to go on forever. Then I add a single settlement. Finally I say "go" and the whole thing starts.

I use default gods 'cause, really, who's got the time for all that? I like to make a decent amount of map; enough to sustain at least one campaign. But then my list of place and people names far exceeds the map so I'll just rattle one off and suggest it somewhere on the map or beyond. If the players don't care, it never needs creating. If they do, I've got enough generic info lying around to make it up.

I don't pretend to know every facet of my worlds. Kudos to you that do, seriously. You are obviously passionate, detail oriented folks with a high degree of organization, or at least you play them on TV. Me? I'm kind of a slob with a family, a hectic job, going to school and occasionally trying to game. Needless to say, I don't have the resources to keep it all together.

But even more than that I like the idea that I don't know something. If I get a wild hair to throw a vampire at my players (not a lot of undead so far in my current campaign) they'd be like "where'd that come from?" and I could invent a land of the dead on the spot. I feel that allows me MORE creativity than less. It might be the opposite for some GMs; I don't know, I'm not them.

My players help too in their small way. Sometimes directly by creating settlements in their backstory. Sometimes indirectly by suggesting things they like or would like to see.

This comes back to my philosophy for giving out magic items in my games. I have a lot of pre-generated hoards written up in a notebook and some of these have some weird wild-card magic items in them like handkerchiefs of repair that, after 10 minutes of use on an item provide the combined efforts of a mending and prestidigitation cantrip or a club of dancing that plays subtle techno music and can 3/day cause irresistible dance on a victim by touch. If the players want these, great; if not, they sell the loot and get what they want. If they want something specific and I know about it I'll give it to them somehow.

TL/DR: I make up a lot of Cra...stuff. I jot it down on my laptop, in notebooks and what not. I keep it for a rainy day. Then I just play with my players, see what they want, and provide it. I don't know what's coming up next, and I often forget as much about where we've been as my players do. I hope that doesn't make me a bad GM, but that's my design philosophy for just about everything - world building, magic items, encounters, etc.

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I'm not saying no prestidigitation. Despite what I'm saying in this post, in my homegames I've largely ignored what the spell ACTUALLY says in favor of player creativity. Drake, if you conjured a sheet over someone I'd probably give it to you. I've also had a player make puffs of smoke over one enemy's face in order to help him escape and I've allowed it to color a window black and thus cut off sight through it.

I was just playing devil's advocate above. Personally I love cantrips and actively encourage them in my game. The fact that my players don't use them that often isn't my fault.

The one player I've seen use them consistently and creatively was my own daughter. She'd use Mage Hand to carry a 5lb bag of rocks around with her, once using the rocks in an open clearing to check for traps. She used ray of frost to weaken a metal grate so the fighter could rip it open - sure by RAW it wouldn't do enough damage to help but after explaining it with an experiment they'd JUST done in her AP science class I threw in an Aid Another bonus that ended up making the difference. She used dancing lights as distractions; that plus ghost sound to entertain and confound a crowd; spark to start a fire in a jail cell mattress.

Cantrips are wonderful, spammable, and infinitely useful at low to mid level. I call on the folks reading this thread. If you're playing a spellcaster and you're between first and eighth level, go back over your cantrips and rediscover all the magic you have. Play with these tricks and see what you can do with them.

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SlimGauge wrote:

What Snorter said. Enforce the six second limit on free action speech in a given round. My group has taken to using some military/radio/movie quote jargon with message. Examples

"Tally Ho!" (meaning enemy sighted, I am engaging)
"I see dead people" (I have detected/encountered undead)
"Game Over, Man" (overwhelming enemy encountered, I am withdrawing)
"Danger Close, Fire for Effect" (fireball my position, hope I make my save, I trust my improved evasion)

"I've got cookies" - it's advisable to converge on my position

"I've got chlamydia" - stay well away from my position

These were quotes actually used by a battlefield control wizardess played in one of my campaigns back in the day.

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Player: I want to build my character this way. That will include shooting for a magic greatsword.

GM: Ok, I've got some choices here. I can:

1. give the player what he wants (player entitlement)

2. give the player what I want - not fun for the player but I'm happy

3. play a session involving shopping - can be quite boring for everyone

4. make the player craft it/have it crafted (player entitlement)

5. create a balanced subsystem or employ one already made to add bonuses without material needs - too many rules

There are pros and cons to all of these. We as GMs choose the least evil from the list that works for us. Personally I just give the players what they want. They build based on wanting to see a certain combo come to fruition. I feel my job as GM is to help them achieve that.

Now this doesn't mean they don't work for it. They don't just say "gimmie a belt of strength!" and I bow and scrape and one falls from the sky. No, instead I know ahead of time that they'll need the item. Then they fight a monster; a truly frightening monster made all the more frightening by the fact that its wearing/wielding/usurping the power of the item the PC wants. Or maybe there's a legend that partially encapsulates the item they want.

Whatever, TL/DR. Bottom line, for me it's more about working WITH my players instead of against them. If that includes items alongside powers and experiences they want, I provide them in a fun way.

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Dungeon World looks very fun; I may have to check that out. Besides that though I've yet to find another game system I want to play besides PF. My personal experience (yours will be different):

1e: try whatever you like but I, as DM, will decide everything so make me happy or I'll kill you.

2e: as 1e, but maybe you get a kit to build your character in.

3e: oh, you're the player? Hang on, let give you these 50 books of increasing power creep. Go make your GM cry

4e: (in best SpongeBob/normal voice) hey, how you doin; nice weather we're havin. I'm normal (goes from pock-marked sponge to smooth, shiny completely homogenous yellow dude...)

Rune Quest: ... what?

Palladium: roll ALL the percentiles...

White Wolf: yeah, it's dice-light, and no rules man, c'mon inside. Sure it's dark; we play by candlelight and listen to NIN while wearing all black. Now have some red wine...

GURPs: ...but it's a Tuesday and the moon's full so roll these 3 d6's and hope

Marvel Super Heroes: these rules all contradict one another and there's tons of gray area. Want to just read some comics instead?

Now again, your experience will vary. That last one though, Marvel; that was the closest I ever got to what Dungeon World is doing now. I'm talking about the old 1980's version of the game.

Basically you were a hero (either a comic book guy or one you generated) and you fought villains. Their combat rules were supposed to be cinematic and based on percentile rolls. There's a chart with varying levels of success and then villains have health points and such.

Anyway, the rules get confusing, there's gray areas and things you see in the comics don't directly translate. After a while I was only making my players roll for stuff when they had to do something really critical. Inadvertently I was also doing the DW thing where if success was the only way to advance the game but the dice showed no success, I'd handwave things.

One time there were a bunch of heroes fighting a villain on a rooftop and they were trying to keep said villain from escaping. One of the players had a staff she could make a thunderclap with to stun a victim with. Well the player rolled and didn't succeed but I wanted them to take the guy down, so basically I said that she swings wild and THOOM! The villain goes down, the other players go down, and the thunderclap has also done sonic damage to the roof...that's about to collapse. Now the player has to decide to fly away with her 2 companions or the villain; there's not time for both.

So for me I don't know that I really liked 1e all that much. What I did like was making stuff up with my friends. Since I can do that in PF now I don't know that I'd want to backpedal.

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@ Umbral: When I was a kid I had this older brother, Matt. My name actually is Mark. We were 2 years apart and best friends, even as brothers. My first gaming experiences were diceless out of necessity.

You see, our next older brother David owned all the books and the dice, so we didn't get to play true D&D without him around. Being 7 and 9 and David being 12 and cool, that meant we were without gear often.

So began: the Matches and Markles dungeons

Yes, we played diceless RPing off and on for about a decade under that cute moniker. Over the years we adapted diceless gaming to every system. Diceless Boot Hill; diceless Marvel Super Heroes; diceless Cyberpunk (pre CP 2020).

Now, I only mention all this backstory to then explain that it fell apart entirely when we invited others into our diceless games. Matt and I knew each other so well and trusted so completely that diceless, ruleless pure RPing was ok. With other friends it just became who can top the other guy.

My point is that as more people enter my gaming group and all our myriad experiences pool into our shared game we bring all that to bare in our own way. It's nice for me anyway to have the rules, cumbersome as they may be at times, in PF to set the framework we play from. As I have built trust with my current group I've messed with that framework from time to time.

That's a little trick 1e taught us all. As Morpheus put it so eloquently: some rules can be bent; others can be broken.

I know that nowadays there are systems out there for diceless RP. I like to think though that Matt and I, ours was the first. I don't play that way anymore. Matt passed away from testicular cancer when he was 20 years old.

But my big brother taught me a lot and he did it through roleplaying. I learned to share, to be a good sport, to enjoy and pretend and be creative and spontaneous. I'm grateful for the Matches and Markles campaigns and I look forward to playing them again someday.

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houstonderek wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
3.5, Pathfinder, and Kirthfinder are akin to Chevy, Dodge, and Ford. Just because you drive one doesn't mean you don't know how the others work.
What if you've driven all three?

What if you're driving all 3 right now. I probably shouldn't be typing...

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- You meet in a bar

- A mysterious stranger hires you

- You are guards on a caravan

- You all are members of the same church

These are all cliché ways of starting a campaign. What if you simply tweaked them.

- You meet in a: Brothel/Church/debtor's prison/floating castle

- A mysterious stranger: begs you/contacts you from beyond the grave/magically dominates you/blackmails you

- You are: mercenary soldiers/circus performers/strangers adopted into the same traveler family/field agents of the same cartographer

- You all are members of the same: rogue's guild/family from different generations brought back from the dead/piece of literary fiction/foreign city

I have heard it said that there are only 6 original stories and everything else is a permutation thereof. Well, if that's true there's probably only 6 ways to start a story. Your goal then is to pick a standard trope and twist it in a new way that makes sense to your game.

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- Fighter specializes in Simple weapon; chances are someone somewhere is going to have enchanted ones

- Fighter specializes in Martial weapons; odds are good that there are specialists out there who can enhance these since a lot of the military carries these

- Fighter specializes in Exotic weapon; wherever they received training might have leads on where to get enhanced ones (roleplay needed)

My point is it all comes down to the GM and working w/the players. In other words: if you're a GM that feels they're a participant equal to the players then you can find SOME way to work with the player's "wish list" of items. If you're a GM who feels that you are a separate, godlike force of the game that the players have to work around, then they should be told that up front so there's no expectation of such a "wish list".

Please bear in mind: I am not saying either version is good or bad. I am saying however that the RAW are predicated on a certain amount of material wealth filling in the gaps of martial ability. There have been numerous suggestions on how to get around these if you favor a "low magic" world. There is also nothing wrong with playing core and working with the RAW. It's all up to the GM.

I actively encourage my players to create wish lists. One player told me he wanted a cool shield to work with a sword-and-board build. A couple weeks later I had an adventure ready to go and began planting plot hooks about the legendary dwarf hero who died sealing himself into a dungeon to contain an ancient evil; said dwarf had this really awesome shield...

If I know what the players want, be it material wealth, story-based achievements or even just a general feel of the game, I can then create adventures for what they want to get done. Otherwise they're just playing MY game, not OUR game. This is my experience; yours may vary.

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Personally I hope that my DM gives me what I want. I'm a player; I'm not really entitled to anything my DM doesn't give me. My DM is lord and god; all that he says and gives is all I'll ever need to survive in his hurtful world. I exist purely by his grace. I like to bring him pizza on game night, stroke his ego a bit and hope for a magic greatsword since I specialized in that. If he instead graces me with a magic dagger instead I must have not worshipped him correctly and therefore he is angry; I must appease him by spending loot and downtime to re-train my feat to specialize in daggers instead.


Except that in PF, they're now called "GM" and players can make their own stuff if we let them. In PFS, they can buy their own stuff. Players don't have to live at the whim of the person running the game; they have ownership over their own builds. That includes the gear. To paraphrase Highlander: "Players cannot DIE McCloud; accept it."

But as Monty says with his big hat on: to each their own.

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In older editions, "building" a character looked like this:

1. Grab a notebook and write up a character sheet
2. Grab a few D6 depending on what method your DM allowed you to use
3. Roll and hope for lucky sixes
4. Pick the best race and class dependent on said rolls
5. Pick gear and plan for the worse while hoping for the best

I remember a "campaign" that was nothing more than a trip through a tavern cellar into Underdark where I repeated this process no less than four times before I finally called it quits. I only felt really connected to 2 characters I played throughout 1e and 2e; ironically they were the PCs my DM's gave me the most leeway to design completely on my own.

PCs back in the day had no say in what magic items they got; "combat options" consisted of "do I use a mace or a 2-handed sword?"; even spells were left up to random chance. Every wizard had the chance to be the same as every other wizard depending on rolls. This meant that while you could inject whatever personality you wanted into your character, beyond ability scores he/she was mechanically the same as other kinds of the same race/class combinations.

Now in PF, if I want a bully-boy rogue, a classic burglar or combat-focused knife man, I have mechanical options that build each of those. I even have traits, feats and other little bits and bobs that let me make 2 DIFFERENT burglars; one that focuses on dungeons and stealth while another is a canny con-man charmer. THAT'S what I meant by player agency.

Please understand; I mean NO disrespect to older editions, old-school gamers or the rich heritage of my games. In fact I have a very healthy respect for them. Its just that, in MY experience, the one thing I happily left behind from older editions was the sense that the players were passive to the story save for their own combat actions or general plot interaction.

IMO GMs are NOT god. They are teachers, guides; a lens through which the players' eyes see the world better. I want my players to create the story with me and as they build their characters, making choices both mechanical and fluff in nature, they help craft the world we all inhabit.

Again, other people might have had a completely different experience than I did in those older editions. I have been playing for over 3 decades now and I'm fully aware that not everyone plays like me. However these are my opinions based on my experiences. And again, let me be clear; I mean no ill will towards the old school.

@DrDeth: to you specifically I'd direct this - thank you. I don't know that I've ever seen it before in other threads but this would probably be an appropriate place to do it. Thank you for your contributions to the game I love. I had the opportunity to thank Gary Gygax once in person. He wasn't at a table but just hanging out on the steps outside the convention stage while just 40' away 3x was being announced. He was very gracious and I know he was a mortal man but when he chatted for a minute with me and my buddies it was like being in the presence of some mythical creature.

Anyway doc, we owe you, and other creators of your vision a real debt for your lovely creations. I truly appreciate every effort you ever poured into the game. Moreso I thank you for instilling a sense in the game of ownership; this idea that if I as the DM didn't like something I could change it and make the game my own. Now with current editions my players have the same options. Thank you DrDeth for the thief and everything else you've gifted us. I just hope we don't let you prometheans down now that you gave us fire.

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What an insensitive ninny I've been in this thread. I've thought only of myself in earlier posts. Happy birthday to RSP and here's hoping the next four are just as great. Many happy returns!

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I have used these creatures off and on now 4 times over the past 3 campaigns and I'd like to use them again but I'm looking to make a few mods. I'm looking at the alternate race traits of kobolds and considering things like:

Dayvermin: mites who trade out Darkvision to lose Light Sensitivity

Mounties: replace Hatred with a +1 to hit when attacking while mounted

Sounders: swap out Ghost Sound for Prestidigitation in their at-will SLA slot

I want to keep them as vermin-using fey but the rest of the mite abilities are so basic and now overused in my game, I'm looking to freshen them up a bit. Your suggestions and comments would help out immensely.

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ShadowcatX wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:
WAITAMINUTE! Are you telling me that for only $30 US I can have both the hardcover AND the PDF of ALL the compiled wilderness dressings? You are a kind and benevolent king!
You'd be better off if you didn't bundle it with the pdf due to Raging Swan's Free PDF Initiative. If you don't get the bundle with pdf with it you can get the pdf and another $15 worth of pdfs for free.


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Talk really fast, like the old Micro-Machines guy

Drink tons of coffee

Reduce all descriptions to bullet points

Pre-roll every villain's rolls with a sheet of extras if the baddies last longer than expected

Limit it to one bio-break a night. Period. Anyone else but that one guy's gotta hold it

Give each player a set of blinders


... or just go with everyone else's awesome suggestions 'cause they've already mentioned all the other ones.

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@ Claxon: shoot, well, I guess I'm in the "overdoing it" section too. In my homebrew of Karnoss in one far corner of the world I have something called the Unyielding Legion. Essentially it is a whole mercenary troop of corporeal undead along the trope from LOTR. They're LN in alignment though.

The legion fought against an evil necromancer/goddess (ended a 3.5 game w/a PC worshipping the Magic/Undead goddess from D&D) whose vessel on earth was about to decimate the land. These guys were bad but turned morally at the last second and made a stand that turned the tide. They should've died heroes but they live on as the Unyielding.

So with their unlife they have nothing left but to march. They work for whoever can pay them and being LN they always honor their debts and dealings. Many fools over the past century have tried cheating them but the legion's ranks swells with dealbreakers they defeat.

So far these guys remain a myth of the land; my PCs haven't met them yet but if the campaign continues into mid or high levels I may bring in the legion.

I get your point though; such things should be rare and unique. If I have the legion for example, that's only because ALL other undead stalk the living with malice and evil in their lifeless thoughts. If there were a truly good undead, it would be a special snowflake, perhaps seeking some redemption before moving on into the Boneyard.

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aceDiamond wrote:
I think that some optimization isn't terrible. Though I wouldn't necessarily go whole hog on it. Just because a character is good at what they do doesn't mean they can't have interesting stories or personalities.

In some cases it's BECAUSE of optimization that they have interesting stories. "Hey, remember Joe Average, with all 13's that went into the Beige Forest and found that McGuffin?" "No, but I DO remember when Conan ran for three days and THEN took out 18 wolves with his greatsword." "Oh, where'd you hear THAT story?" "From Conan himself. He's also an optimized storyteller on top of being a barbarian hero and a king of legend..."

So, yeah. Extremes are just that: extreme.

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This is silly. RP and Optimize are not different. There is no normal. I am a person as a player who wants to RP a lot at the table; it doesn't mean I haven't jacked up my shield-wielding PFS ranger and my gestalt Halfling ranger/cavalier for a home game. I even came to these boards to do it.

That doesn't make me normal OR abnormal; it makes me a gamer.

We're all weird. We're math nerds who like to play pretend, or wargamers with intimacy issues, or IT professionals who miss human contact once in a while, or a million other permutations. But we're all striving toward the same goal - fun at a game.

Stormwind, a thousand times Stormwind. Lets put this to bed once and for all. @Greylord Wolfenstein: roleplaying is fun and worthwhile, leading to many real-world social skills. Just as valuable are the skills practiced in optimizing.

For my PFS ranger, I am playing him cocky yet naïve. He's an urban ranger who's never been out of the city of Absalom but he's got knowledges and diplomacy cranked high enough that he feels like he KNOWS the rest of the world well enough to walk around with a chip on his shoulder. Yet, whenever he gets somewhere his obvious alien status gets the better of him. Essentially, he's a modern teenager.

This hasn't precluded him from unleashing a torrent of pain in the form of charging spiked shield bashes and sword-and-board attacks while simultaneously defending his fellow Pathfinders from harm.

I do the same as a GM too. I have some LE kobolds dug into a couple sections of a megadungeon. They've been there a while, so heck yeah they've optimized. A direct assault, even by 5th level characters would be very foolish (one fatality in the game so far after only 4 sessions). And yet they've done a lot of talking, even going so far as monologuing and helping the heroes win. Heck, I even set up a kobold brothel where LN "courtesans" take in adventurers and let them "rest" for a fee!

When I tried to be all storyteller the games weren't fun for me unless I was playing White Wolf games. When I tried to be a hardcore min/maxer I got so obsessed with the numbers that the games became stale simulations. But when I put that chocolate and peanut butter together? Magic...

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I owe you nothing!

I once played a game with four elven brothers. Each was a fighter specializing in a different weapon. They rode about on horseback, getting into adventures in a human-dominant world and winning everything, all the time. They got so cocky that when they ran into humans they'd taunt them in the silly French accents of the tower guards from Monty Python's the Holy Grail. "You silly human monkey-boy; why don't you go climb a tree and get yourself a banana? We will take it from here..."

This game can be as successful or as tragic as the players want. It has nothing to do with the characters chosen, but rather with how the participants play.

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