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Yeah, I think a lot of those books get a bit more flak than is deserved. The names are a large part of the culprit - the idea itself of having a diverse range of monsters within a monster entry is not a bad one. But while this led to some very creative monsters in terms of mechanics, the creativity often didn't carry through to naming the critters.

It wasn't always completely awful, but the worst ones certainly stood out, and provided lots of fodder for mockery.

Whether the naming was done for IP reasons or because the designers thought melded names had a touch more distinction, it did end up reaching somewhat silly levels, and often distracting from areas where the creature design and background was, itself, reasonably interesting.

Would there have been less complaints if the Fire Archon Emberguard, Fire Archon Blazesteel, and Fire Archon Ash Disciple were instead simply named the Fire Archon Templar, Fire Archon Trooper, and Fire Archon Magus?

Perhaps.

I'm hoping some of the creativity in design will carry over in the new edition, while also stepping away from the less impressive areas, such as creature naming.


1) Advantage/Disadvantage:

The big thing about advantage is that it allows you to sneak attack. It is not the only way to sneak attack, however. While flanking no longer exists, the rogue has a special rule that they can sneak attack (with melee or ranged attacks!) if, essentially, at least one ally threatens their target.

So if you have friends that will often be in melee, you will usually have targets to sneak attack.

If not, you will need to find ways to gain advantage on your own. The most common way will be via the hide action. This will tend to work best with ranged attacks, since you will usually need to getout of sight of the enemy. Some races can impact this - halflings can hide behind larger creatures (like, say, other party members), while wood elves can hide in certain natural forms of light cover (mist, foliage, etc).

Hiding takes an action, which means at level one, if using it heavily, you will typically end up hiding one round and then attacking the next. However! At level 2, Rogues get something awesome called 'Cunning Action'. This is a bonus action they can take every turn, usable only to Dash (double move), Disengage (avoid Attacks of Opportunity) or Hide. So this makes it much more viable to dart in and out of hiding every round while attacking your enemies.

Other ways of gaining advantage include allies helping you in combat (the new form of Aid Another), or spells and abilities of various sorts. As an Arcane Trickster, you can pick up some of those spells yourself. As an Assassin, you get advantage vs creatures that haven't yet acted, so that can help in round one of combat. Or, if you multiclass into the right class (Barbarian, Fighter), there are various ways to get advantage on a regular basis.

Disadvantage is bad for you because it can negate your own advantage and prevent you from using sneak attack. Concealed enemies cause disadvantage on your attacks. If you are Blinded, Poisoned, Prone or Restrained, you have disadvantage. So those are things to watch out for. Ranged attacks no longer provoke if threatened, but instead have disadvantage up close, so that is also worth keeping in mind with some builds.

2) Optimal weapons:

Assuming you are a standard dex based rogue, the Rapier is always a solid choice. A short sword can work as an off-hand weapon - you don't need any special feats to attack with two weapons. Your off-hand attack won't do a ton of damage, and it won't let you sneak attack twice a round, but it will give you two chances to hit, which can be nice. It does use up your bonus action to take that off-hand attack, which means it conflicts with that Cunning Action ability I mentioned early.

So if you are a rogue that wants to bounce in and out of combat and the shadows, dual-wielding will probably be less useful. But if you plan to roll in and just keep stabbing the enemies your fighter is keeping busy, it can work quite well.

Daggers are lower damage but give you the flexibility to throw them.

3) Assassin:

The big thing for the Assassin is that it is very scary in that first round of combat. You gain advantage automatically on any creature that hasn't yet acted. And if you can actually catch enemies by surprise, you can auto-crit them. (Which doubles the damage dice you roll. Which, with Sneak Attack, is quite scary!)

How useful that is will often depend on the party. Is the party as a whole sneaky enough to occasionally catch enemies by surprise? Or will they be willing to let you scout ahead to try and take some sniper shots at unexpecting foes? If so, the Assassin can definitely pay off. But if the group just charges into each fight without caution, it won't be as useful.

Trickster gets you quite a bit of utility, both in and out of combat - summon your own concealment with Fog Cloud, go invisible, create illusions, charm enemies, etc. Or even lets you pick up a few direct damage spells to help out in non-standard ways for a rogue. But I think it doesn't get too much raw power until later levels. Early on, it does get quite a few cool tricks, like picking locks from across the room, so that can be neat.

4) Wood Elves are a pretty good rogue choice. They boost your speed by 5'. They also get good stats for a rogue (+Dex), can hide easier than most, and gain proficiency with the longbow (a great ranged weapon for a rogue sniper).

However, keep in mind that starting at level 2, Cunning Action lets a rogue double move and still attack (or do other stuff). So even a dwarf rogue can end up moving pretty fast at that point, compared to most other classes.

5) There doesn't seem much involving either of those in the basic rules. Assassins gain proficiency in making poison, but the actual details on that seem to be elsewhere (presumably the DMG when it comes out).


Irontruth wrote:

I do like the base rules and how things operate. My knock right now is the structure of classes. I don't necessarily need a plethora of options, but rather just the opportunity to make choices.

Character creation is good IMO. I'm very happy with it so far. Just looking down the road, I wish I had more control.

I am curious whether we will see, in addition to new sub-class options themselves, also new additional choices / alternative class features, on a smaller scale.

For example, the Totem Barbarian gets to choose an animal spirit bonus at levels 3, 6 and 14. When they do so, they can choose from the Bear, Eagle, and Wolf totems. I could easily see a future book adding more animal totem options to that list.

Or even with the Berserker Barbarian, who doesn't have any options to make - could they at some point add those in? At level 6, the Berserker gets immunity to Charm and Fear while raging. Might they introduce future options that the Berserker could take instead? Perhaps he can choose between Mindless Rage (immunity to Charm/Fear), Unstoppable Rage (bonuses vs prone / grapple / forced movement), Instinctual Rage (blindsense or bonuses vs invisible enemies, blindness/deafness, etc)?

I mean, I think to some extent the Berserker Barbarian (like the Champion Fighter) are intentionally lacking in choices and decision making. But I think options could be presented within even those, if one wanted to do so, much the way alternative class features were presented in 3.5.

I think adding new options via the subclass approach is more likely, myself. But at the same time, more totem animal options for the barbarian or more Hunter options for the ranger, both seem well within the realm of possibility.


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I finally got my copy of the PHB, and now that I can see different path options within each class, I'm really feeling the approach the class design, even more than what I saw in the playtest.

So I figured I'd start up a thread for everyone to share the elements they've noticed that have them most excited or interested in the edition, or any other stuff that just looks cool.

Here are the big ones for me thus far:

1) Character choices having a big impact.

I'm really impressed by how much weight goes into the different character path choices within each class. Wizard specialists not just being about having different spells, but actually getting truly unique abilities that fit the flavor of their specialization. Same goes for cleric domains, with domain impacting skills, equipment, spells, special abilities... that's really cool.

It also shows me the direction, I'm guessing, for any future content. Will we eventually see future classes like the Psion? Sure, seems likely. But plenty of other character options seem like they will simply be incorporated as path variants within the existing classes. Why come out with a Psychic Warrior class, for example, when you can just make that a Martial Archetype for the Fighter - just as the Eldritch Knight is?

Adding new variants within each class seems like it will let you capture plenty of unique builds and concepts without needing to resort to countless new classes / prestige classes / paragon paths / etc. Which has me hopeful that they will have plenty of room to develop new content without going down the usual path of option bloat and optimization.

2) Character abilities that really feel unique.

Warlocks who have made pacts with Great Old Ones (ie, Far Realm / Star Pact / etc) just straight up get telepathy at level 1. Wild Magic Sorcerers have a chance to trigger a wild magic surge every time they cast a spell - or more often, if the DM invokes it upon them! Rogues are wily, crafty skirmishers who get free utility actions each round of the combat, letting them dash safely past enemies, dart out of sight to go hide, disable traps while tossing a dagger at a foe, etc.

I feel like they have done a good job, with many abilities, of giving out benefits that feel meaningful and useful, without being overpowered. I'm not sold on every such build - the Shadow Monk looks awesome, for example, but the Elemental Monk hasn't really grabbed me.

But nonetheless, I like how just about every class has something unique going for it (or at least has some options in that category). I feel like it avoids the disparity of 3.5 (where some characters were pretty mundane from start to finish), while also avoiding the 'sameiness' that could crop up in 4E.

3) Taking the best of both worlds.

I like seeing the blend of concepts from editions - not just in the mechanics, but also in the flavor. Discovering the Avenger was still around - as a Paladin buld - was a great surprise.

I was thrilled at how the Warlock incorporates elements of both the 3.5 warlock (with at-will invocations) plus elements of the 4E Warlock (with different pacts, unique spells like Hellish Rebuke, the Fiendish Warlock's ability to gain temps by killing foes, and the ability to Hex enemies for ongoing damage bonuses).

Does it support every build found in every edition? Well, no, but that's a bit of an impossible task. But I was impressed at how many different versions and references seemed to be around.

Does it only have the best options from every edition? Given that 'best' is subjective, the answer there is inevitably going to be no. There are certain some elements I'm not entirely sold on, as well as things I miss from some editions that got left behind. But they obviously made an effort to try and incorporate as much as possible for those who liked different styles of play, as well as different elements of flavor that cropped up in each edition.

4) Character build flexibility.

One of my fears about the new edition was that options would be somewhat limited. And there are some areas where elements of that are true - once you make some of your big choices (character path within a class, feats, etc), you might not have many more decisions to make within your character build.

However, within those choices themselves, I feel like there are a vast number of playstyles and character builds that are not just available, but feel perfectly viable for play.

Fighter is a great example of this. Do I want a 4E style tank that protects his allies? I take the Protection Fighting Style, the Battle Master Archetype with Goading Attack, and the Sentinel Feat, and suddenly I've got all the best aspects of the 4E protector.

Do I instead want an Elven Bladesinger? I go Eldritch Knight with the Dueling Fighting Style, a finesse weapon, and the Defensive Duelist and the Mobile feat. I'm fast, agile, hard to hit and able to wield sword and spell to good effect.

Or let's go for a Warlord! I take the Inspiring Leader feat, and snag Commander's Strike, Manuevering Attack and Rally as Battle Master options. I can hand out temps to help my friends, and give them free movement and attacks (with bonuses) on my turn.

Having a class that can so easily accomodate those builds - as well as more classic builds like sharpshooting archers, or charging greatsword wielders - or more unusual stuff like unarmed grapplers or shield bashers - is a very good sign to me.

The big worry, of course, is whether those builds are viable at all levels. You don't get a feat until level 4, after all. You don't get your fighter archetype until level 3. On the other hand, it seems intentional that the first few levels should get pretty quickly - and are even perhaps deliberately less defined, so that you have a few levels before really having to decide where to focus one's build. I'll wait to see how that plays out.

Still - overall, I find myself thinking of countless different types of characters I can build and play with these rules. For me, that is a very good sign of things to come.


Irontruth wrote:

My one complaint right now is that for some of the classes, once you finish making the character at level 1, there are little to no meaningful choices to be made.

I'm playing a Barbarian, which I get that it's supposed to be one of the simpler classes available, but I get to make a choice at 3rd level. That's pretty much it. I get to play the character how I want, but mechanically, if I made 3 barbarians, they're all going to be very similar to each other IMO. The differences will largely be superficial and purely in how I present myself to the group.

This is my one big worry with 5E - that the number of choices you make with some character builds is very small compared to past editions. Now, I don't think that the second part of your statement follows (about making 3 barbarians and them all being very similar to each other.) When you do make choices, those choices are pretty big - and a Half-orc Berserker Barbarian who is a Great Weapon Master is going to be very different in play from an Elven Wolf Totem Barbarian with the Inspiring Leader feat.

But I do still worry about some of those builds and how few choices you may be making. Your berserker barbarian gets to make big choices when getting the chance for Ability Score bonuses / feats - but you are ending up with half as many feats as you might see in 3rd edition. Now, I think those feats and choices have a definite impact and support a wide range of builds - especially since there is also multiclassing still on the table. But there is still many fewer decisions to make, especially if going with the more obvious feat and stat bump options.

That said, this applies to some builds more than others - and having several very straightforward builds is something many playtesters asked for. So having a mix of both types can be a good thing. And I think they've set themselves up well for adding more character paths and feats that will expand the options available over the life of the edition.

Having just gotten the PHB and read through all the builds and options, I'm feeling reasonably optimistic about it all. I do really like how much impact there is in the choices you make. Choosing a Domain for a cleric isn't just making some slight adjustments to a spell list - it completely defines how the character plays. That's huge in my book, and really shows me what the system is capable of, allowing a wide range of new builds and paths within each class, without the need to instead keep expanding with more and more new classes themselves.


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Bave wrote:

The problem is with simplified you get undesirable side effects. The simpler a game system is the less variability you have in it. I could easily make a simple game with the rules on a 3x5 card, one class, one race, one mechanic. Great, but it's boring.

The problem I saw in 5th ED was that the damage was toned down heavily, the healing increased dramatically which leads to grinding battles.

I agree that a game without options or choices is not an especially compelling one, sure. But 5E is a far cry from that. Is it as robust and developed a system as existing systems like 4E and 3.5... which have had years and years of support books and supplements? Of course not. But it seems to present a solid amount of potential for character creation, and I've seen plenty in the PHB that has me very excited about making characters. (For example, the new Warlock, which melds together all my favorite things about both the 3.5 and 4E warlock.)

I also haven't seen any indication that combats are about lengthy, grindy battles. In my own playtesting they were fast and quick-paced, and other reports have been largely the same. Yes, a character moving and taking one attack is going to be much less damage than a character taking 4 attacks with a full-round action. But the counterpoint is that the time it takes to resolve that turn is much faster.

A fight in 3.5 might take 3 rounds of combat, while one in 5E might take 8 rounds of combat. But the 5E fight, in my experience, will take half the real world time of the 3.5 fight, if not less.


I think that 5E Prot Energy is definitely weaker than the sort of things you could do in 3.5 - but for me, at least, that's not a bad thing.

I like that you've got spells that can reliably protect you from energy damage (by dropping it in half), but that stopping it entirely is much more difficult (as opposed to 3.5 Resist Energy, which could trivialize most energy-based encounters).

Similarly, I like the idea of buffs being a much more precious resource, rather than all the casters just burning half their spell lists on pumping everyones AC and Saves, and giving protection vs all incoming energy damage and immunity vs poison, fear, etc.


GreyWolfLord wrote:

I actually DID play the Rogue. Was out done in skills by a Bard, outdone in battle by the Barbarian, and really DO feel like the Rogue isn't that impressive...BUT I DID give it a shake.

Maybe I just don't understand exactly what the Rogue's speciality is supposed to be in D&D next.

My take on it would be that the Bard is good at both skills and spellcasting, while the Rogue is good at both skills and combat. A focused spellcaster (like the Wizard) will be better with spells than the bard, while a focused combatant (like the Barbarian) will be better at combat than the rogue.

But, in return, the bard and rogue have their improved skill use and utility features to give them a solid role in the party.

When compared against each other, meanwhile, the bard has the bonus of spells, vs the rogue's greater capability in combat.

I wouldn't think that the bard would be better at skills than the rogue. I suppose it could be the case that in the specific adventure you played, the bard's skills and abilities happened to be more relevant to the situation, but I think that tends to balance itself out over the course of time.


bugleyman wrote:

Because that's not how D20 games work? Seriously, it really isn't. The game is designed so that the majority of one's ability is defined by class; ergo, if you want to be good at fighting, pick a class that's good at fighting.

I'm not saying that's good or bad...it just is. Fighting the design of system seems like an unnecessary headache.

If that was the case, things like skills, feats, race, ability scores, background, etc, would not exist. Class is a central part of a character - the most central part, even - but many of the last few editions have had plenty of other elements that make up one's character.

You represent you are a strong character by having a high Strength - not by being a fighter. You represent whether one is capable with a weapon via weapon proficiency. Being a Fighter is one way to get that proficiency, but not the only way. It also gives a variety of other benefits - even if I play an Elven Wizard with high Strength who is proficiency with a Longsword, that is still going to be a very different character on the table than the Human Fighter. Even if both are swinging swords at the enemy.

Modern design of d20 games, at least, seem to value having a variety of options available for customizing one's character, rather than having the entirety decided by class choice alone. For me, that's a valuable part of such systems, and one that in this instance, I think is being handled quite well.


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GreyWolfLord wrote:
Can't see any reason to play a Rogue, just play a criminal or other background for proficiency with Theives tools and you are set.

See, for me, this is a feature, not a bug. I like that if I want to play a rogue for the playstyle, the option is there - but if I want to be a thief of Olidammara who serves as the party's trapsmith, the options are right there to do so.

Playing a rogue still has plenty of perks - they get awfully good at skill checks (and with the new bounded approach to most bonuses, doubling one's proficiency bonus on expert skills is a huge deal.) I love how elegantly they made rogue's into dynamic skirmishers by giving them extra actions in combat - but all of them non-attack actions. Sure, the Fighter can flip out and take a flurry of attacks in one round and shred someone.

But every round of combat, the rogue can dart out of the shadows, shoot someone in the neck, and then dash back around a corner. Or can fling a dagger with one hand while the other hand unlocks a door. Emphasizing those utility perks and abilities, for me, is what gives the rogue a great role - but without making them a 'required for play' choice in order to deal with traps. For me, that's the best of both worlds.

Logan1138 wrote:
es, I am aware that Wizards won't do as much damage but they simply should not be able to hit as well with weapons as other classes. They don't spend much time training with weapons and they should suck hard when it comes to using them.

Except we are explicitly talking about Wizards who do spend time training with weapons. That's the point of them being proficient! Whether they spent a feat on it, or have a racial benefit, the idea is that this isn't some random scholar who just picked up a sword, but someone who actually has spent time and effort learning to wield a blade. Why shouldn't they be perfectly capable of swinging the sword with skill, if they have the stats and proficiency to do so?


thejeff wrote:
The Wizard's AC and hp would be a bigger concern than being able to hit and add to the hit point damage of the bad guys.

Of course, this entire thing is mostly moot unless someone is playing with your houserule limiting cantrips.

Other possibilities:

1) Say my mage has Shocking Grasp as my main damaging cantrip. Usually it is good enough to do what I need when I run low on bigger spells. Then I run into something lightning resistant - suddenly, being capable of contributing in another fashion seems like a good thing.

2) Even better - what if I don't want to take a damaging cantrip? A Mage gets 3-5 cantrips over their career. I could easily see someone wanting to fill up on some of the more useful utility ones, especially if they can feel like they will be good enough at swinging a weapon to still contribute when needed, as opposed to swinging that weapon being completely pointless once past the first few levels.

3) Here's one from experience - the opportunity attack. The scene: The party has nearly finished off a powerful adversary, who is down to the last few hitpoints. On his turn... he flees out the door, with the wizard the only one nearby that can take a swing on him. The wizard swings his weapon, he needs a 20 to hit, the villain escapes. Having at least a chance to hit would make that scene a much more interesting one.


thejeff wrote:

Except that the wizard won't survive long, in the front line with a horde of orcs. Since they'll be able to hit her.

And swinging with a sword will be so much worse than her other options

That could well be the case. It could definitely be that 'being able to hit enemies' might be true, but meaningless besides, 'not being able to do appropriate amounts of damage' with such attacks. I haven't really seen things play out yet at that level.

But, at least for me, the approach being taken makes it feel more like a viable capability than in the last edition or two. I'm not looking for a complete redefinition of the nature of the game - but it is a nice perk and an example of something like about how the system works, overall.


thejeff wrote:
And again, it depends on what you mean by "decent swordsman". If you mean "Can hold a sword without embarassing himself", that's been possible with minimal investment in every version of the game.

Except that isn't the case. If a wizard, in 3.5, spends a feat on Martial Weapon Proficiency, and has an average Strength score, than they are moderately competent with it at level 1, when compared to the Fighter. But, by level 10, it has become basically useless for them.

With the approach Next is taking, the Wizard who has some basic melee combat ability at level 1 will still retain that basic competency at level 10. Does that mean that swinging the weapon will be their best option each round? Probably not. But the ability to use it and not embarass themselves will be there, without the significant investment it would take to do the same in previous editions.

thejeff wrote:
If you mean "Can compete with the martial classes in melee", which is what I assumed the OP meant by "get to learn how to fight", it's also always been possible, but required enough investment to weaken their casting abilities.

Ok, sounds like we are actually on pretty close to the same page. A lot of the comments I've seen were concerns that the removal of different BAB classes made the wizard 'as good a swordsman' as the fighter. I don't think it does, but I think it does give them a level of melee skill that is functional, without being nearly as heavy an investment as required in the past.

I agree that a build where the wizard is just as much a threat in melee as the fighter, and just as capable of taking punishment on the front lines, is the sort of thing that should require a specific build and the right resources to manage.

But I also think that there is a difference between being a capable melee combatant, and a melee expert, and that letting wizards have access to the first option - if they have the stats and proficiency to back it up - is a good thing.


thejeff wrote:
Given that spellcasters are already by far the most powerful classes in the game, I'd actually kind of assumed you were being sarcastic.

Spellcasters are the most powerful in what game? In 3.5? In Pathfinder? In Next?

Just because spellcasters had a problematic power level in a past edition doesn't mean that is guaranteed to be the case in the new one. Assuming that they have found a better way to balance them - and my sense thus far is that the have - allowing for more versatile builds for the class is not inherently unbalancing. And a wizard able to be competent in melee combat - but still not the star of the show that the fighter will be - seems quite reasonable to me.

One can object to the idea for thematic reasons, but as mentioned, there are plenty of works of fantasy fiction (like LOTR) where being a wizard doesn't mean you can't swing a sword. You can object to the idea for balance reasons - but I haven't seen any actual indications that anything here unbalances the game.

And, again, the wizard does just inherently become an expert swordsman. If you have the stats to support it, and the proficiency to wield a weapon - whether from racial features or otherwise - you get to be competent at using that weapon. Like you said - past editions had plenty of ways to blend such skills, including Elves in 0D&D.

So now an Elven Wizard gets to be a decent swordsman. Why is this version somehow a problem compared to the versions in the past?


sunshadow21 wrote:

The problem is that a lot of the audience they are trying to grab may very well be more familiar with Thor the Norse God, not Thor the Marvel Superhero, whose backstory happens to include being a Asgardian. This is where it just doesn't work for me, and wont' work for a lot of people.

Those who are familiar with, and accept, Thor the Norse God, are not going to find it any easier to get into the character because they made Thor a female, and are likely to be turned off by the seemingly random and entirely political correct nature of trying to use an established male character's name for a female character on a story that may or may not end up being decent.

So, when Thor was replaced by a horse-faced alien, that was apparently completely trivial to accept alongside the existing Thor mythology - but Thor replaced by a woman, on the other hand, is just too far?

Even though that very Norse mythology includes things like Loki turning into a female horse and giving birth to Sleipnir, Odin's 8-legged steed? Seriously, there is plenty of weirdness in the ancient norse stories, and there has been plenty of change over the six decades of Thor comics. Pretending that this one change is somehow a travesty requires a lot of intentional forgetfulness about everything that has come before.

Now, that doesn't mean you have to read it, or enjoy it, or care at all about the new character. But you also don't get to decide the character isn't 'worthy' of the name of Thor - that decision is in the hands of the writers and the story, and as long as the story and the character are well-written, that's more than enough to get me on board.


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Lord Snow wrote:
Quote:
To each their own I guess. The nature of the beast has always been apparent to me, and as long as they still deliver an entertaining product, I really don't care.
But, wouldn't you prefer that some sort of minimal effort to conceal the nature of the beast was made? if only as a sign of respect to your (the consumer's) intelligence? It's not that there's a reason for anyone in Hollywood to respect the general audience's intelligence, but it would still be nice to get the benefit of a doubt...

I thought the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was excellent. Despite it being based on a theme park ride.

Assuming they are actually making these movies, I'm guessing that they aren't planning to just show a bunch of fantastical beasts without any story to tie it all together. I imagine they'll have a plot, and character arcs, and all the other things you need for a proper movie. It will draw on the ideas and creatures in the book, and draw on the setting as a whole. Yes, with the goal of making money. Presumably making money by creating a good product that people will be interested in. What's wrong with that?

I love Toy Story. I hate Cars. That isn't due (directly) to the motivations behind them, but because I find one to be a good product, and the other a disappointing one. Now, it may well be true that marketing and other factors have played a part in making one of them an inferior product. But that isn't always the case, and even if a product is commercialized, if it still ends up being entertaining, that's good enough for me.


Lord Snow wrote:
So is this game good? I keep hearing rave reviews about it, but then I went to it's website and watched a couple of videos that really stressed the fact that there's loot but there aren't classes, which isn't what I really care about in an RPG.

It it more that it is 'build your own class'. You can allocate skills where you want them, so you can be a sneaky wizard just as easily as a diplomatic fighter. You can hurl spells while wielding an enormous sword. Skills get more expensive the deeper into them you go, so you can choose to either be a very focused character (and end up with a relatively standard rogue or fighter or wizard), or dabble in a lot of different areas. One of my characters started out very focused on being a fire mage, until I ran into a bunch of enemies made of fire. Then I shifted in some other elemental options, just to add a bit of versatility. There is absolutely quite a bit of depth to the character system overall.

Lord Snow wrote:
Is the story interesting? are the characters? is the voice acting good? how is dialog handled? Is the setting good?

I'm not too deep in, but I'm liking the story. There's a couple different plot lines going on, ranging from solving a murder mystery to cosmic obliteration, and they manage to work surprisingly well alongside each other. The game has a lot of fun with the characters and the voice acting. The amount of voice talent and dialogue put into a cheese vendor's sales-pitch that you overhear while traveling through the market is... quite impressive. Definitely a setting with a good deal of humor in it.


I've been enjoying it. I dove in rather unprepared and floundered at first, but eventually did some research and found a good party that has been quite successful.

The big discovery I had was how important it can be to control terrain and the elemental effects. There is a lot of synergy between the different elemental magics, and using them well can be a huge boost to the party - while being careless with them can get you killed.

For example, earth magic can create pools of oil or clouds of poison gas, which fire magic can ignite. Pair them together and you can leave a cluster of enemies poisoned and slowed and on fire - and your air mages can use Teleport to drop more enemies into that mess.

On the other hand, you don't want to create a huge wall of fire and smoke and end up with your warriors having nowhere safe to go to fight the enemy. So leaving them some targets is important. Or using water magic to summon rain and put out the fire once you are done with it, for example. Just be careful throwing around electricity spells once everything is wet, or you might end up shocking your own party. Etc.

Once I started paying attention to the elemental interactions and using them to my advantage, I gained a lot more control over the encounters. And I also found the tactical options added by them to really keep things interesting, and make many fights really feel dynamic in a way that CRPGs often have trouble with.


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Slatz Grubnik wrote:
Censorship is censorship. It doesn't matter who's doing the censoring.

That's not entirely true. Yes, editing posts on a message board is censorship. So is forbidding newspapers from criticizing the government. And so is telling my crazy drunk uncle not to curse at kids when the family gathers for a holiday dinner. Those are three very different situations, and who is doing the censoring, and where, makes a huge difference.

Censorship that infringes on public communication is a very different thing from censoring individuals within a private domain. I can't prevent you from cursing in my house - but I can say that if you do, I'll ask you to leave and won't let you come back in. Similarly, the owners of private internet forums - like this one - are entirely in their rights to edit posts and ban posters, and they can do so for whatever reasons they choose. You are free to show your disapproval by taking your presence to a more open message board. But accusing them of infringing on your freedom of speech is, honestly, way off base.

That said, I certainly think it silly - and even self-defeating - that posts mentioning the existence of piracy were removed out of fear that they encourage piracy. But the role of a moderator is a harrowed one, and I can understand the tendency to err on the side of caution over reason - even if, in this case, I think it the sort of thing that has done more harm than good.


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bugleyman wrote:
Charlie D. wrote:

I am impressed the PF Core Rulebook is till in spot 7 years after it released for Fantasy Gaming on amazon.com. D&D is in five of the six top spots. D&D has a huge spike now. I wonder what it will look like in 6 months?

The good news is it looks like both D&D and PF can both be very successful at the same time at least on Amazon. Which is good for the hobby as a whole.

Point of order: The Pathfinder Core Rulebook will be five years old next month, not seven.

I think you misread that initial line. I did the same at first! I believe the statement is intended to be parsed as 'the PF Core Rulebook is still in (spot 7) (years after it is released)'.


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The more I think about it, the more the approach to proficiency seems like a good thing to me. I like the idea that elves being proficienct with certain weapons actually means just that - they are all capable combatants when using a sword. Rather than proficiency meaning, "You suck just a bit less when using this weapon, unless you've actively built your character to be decent at it."

I like that if I can gain proficiency with a sword, my wizard can go full Gandalf and swing it with confidence. That doesn't make me trump the fighter, since they get plenty of extra capabilities of their own (like staying alive while being stuck in combat!) But proficiency in something means that, yes, I'm actually competent with it, regardless of most everything else.

Now, being *exceptional* at something requires going a step further - good ability score, plus various benefits from class features / feats / etc. And that's fine. And, more importantly, the level of difference between competence and exceptional is much more contained than in other editions - so while the exceptional character will often have the chance to shine in the right scenario, the competent character can at least take part right along side of them, rather than feeling like it wasn't even worth showing up.


magnuskn wrote:
Could you try to explain it, then? I really didn't get why what happened did happen in that exact way. Spoiler tags advised, of course. :)

Somewhat conjecture, but here is how I made sense of it:

Spoiler:

During the movie, Cage is exposed to the blood of an Alpha, which lets him tap into the Mimic's time-manipulation ability - when an Alpha dies, the Omega can sense this in the past, and resets time. In this case, Cage takes on the role of the Alpha, so when he dies, this triggers the reset, and he retains the knowledge of what has happened.

At the end of the movie, the Omega dies, and my assumption is that since the Omega is constantly connected to its perception of the future, when it is killed in the future, its consciousness also experiences that death in the past.

So I viewed the ending not as another reset, but instead as its death in the future causing a ripple effect that killed it in the present. Cage's consciousness happened to be carried along for the ride, due to being exposed to the Omega's blood at the end. And presumably the ripple effect went back further in time due to the Omega being a more powerful entity than the Alpha.

Sure, it involves some guesswork and assumption, but nothing that seems too outrageous once you accept the initial premise of a race of time-manipulating aliens.


Saw it last night, thought it was great. Wasn't bothered or confused by the ending. A good, solid sci-fi flick.


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I loved the 'epic scope' of the last few books, and was not expecting something a bit more back to basics - but it worked. It worked damn well! It really showed how much he has woven the series mythology together, that it feels like he can at any time draw on such a large cast of allies and villains, can introduce new players and new adversaries, and still have it all fit together remarkably well. I had been worried that the series might be nearing its end, but this one did a great job of reassuring me that there is still plenty of room for it to keep on growing.


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I was definitely very happy with the movie. Some minor nitpicks here and there, but overall, left me very pleased, and very interested in where they go from here.

Spoiler:

Peter Stewart wrote:
I enjoyed Wolverine taking sort of a backseat in both the past and present. Too often I've felt like it's been Wolverine and the X-Men, which again I think goes against what the X-men are and what a movie about them should be.

Yeah, this. Growing up, Wolverine was my favorite X-Man. But the focus on him ruined X-3 for me - it just became the all-Wolverine show, and completely missed what made the X-Men great.

This movie has Wolverine in perhaps the most central role as the bridge between past and future - and yet, manages to let him largely reside in the background while letting the others have the spotlight. And most importantly - he isn't there to save the day by kicking ass. The situation isn't one that can be won by physical force. Instead, his contribution was largely in the role that Professor X normally plays - to bring the team together, to give them the motivations they need to remain true to their convinctions.

X-Men 3 ruined Wolverine for me, while this movie again made me celebrate him. That alone would have made me like this movie, and it was just one great element among many.


It might require the PHB, or the Starter Set might do the job. I am reasonably sure you won't need to wait for the MM or DMG - as in the past, typically those are the tools you need to start running your own campaign, and they rely on the adventures and Starter Set to last you through the initial release.


Lord Snow wrote:
On the flip side of that, Colson seemed to have forgotten how mad he was at Fury for the TAHITI project. As I mentioned in a previous post, I think the season finale did a bad job with the various tensions that were building throughout the season.

Coulson's flip-flopping on how he felt about Fury was definitely a weak part of the second half of the season, especially the point at which he was desperately believing in Fury above all others, while simultaneously being enraged at May for following Fury's orders.

But the final resolution of it seemed fine, at least in light of what had happened to SHIELD. Fury's explanation of, "I brought you back because you were one of the only people I could trust" carries a lot more weight when betrayal by those closest to him brought down his entire secret agency and left Coulson as one of the few people who could pick up the pieces.


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I wouldn't read too much into it. While 4E had some exceptional adventures over the course of the edition, the ones they opened with were not especially exciting, and I don't think it was the first edition to have that flaw.

They may have realized that they just didn't have the resources in house to devote to both the rules and producing an adventure they would be happy with, and so decided to turn to a company that has a well-deserved reputation for designing such adventures, in an effort to help the edition get off on the right foot.


Lord Fyre wrote:
Also, I notice that Fury did not seem too upset that Colson murdered either two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents or Fury's own men. (That is a pretty major flaw - even for us violence tolerant Americans.)

You know, I was one of those most bothered by how things played out in Coulson's raid on the Guest House. But the revelations that emerged in the later half the season helped alleviate how much the team could be blamed, at least for me. Remember that it was Garrett and Ward who actually did the killing of those Agents. That changed my perspective on that scene quite a bit.

Now, Coulson definitely earned more than a few marks for incompetence in letting that come to pass (not to mention letting himself get manipulated into the assault in the first place, and blindly bringing along the big enemy with him.)


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LazarX wrote:
I really question what was on Marvel's minds when they chose to green light t his project. Captain America and the Avengers are characters with broad appeal. The Guardians of the Galaxy in it's recent incarnations, are a group that only comic nerds can love. The only thing that might save it is that they might be hoping that Karen Gillan's casting may bring the Dr. Who crowd in.

I have at least one friend who hasn't read comics in years, doesn't watch Dr. Who, and was entirely unfamiliar with the Guardians of the Galaxy comic, but the trailer alone got him to go hunt down a bunch of their recent run to read.

I have no idea how it will do, honestly. But if it is a good movie - as all the Marvel in-house movies have been, thus far - I wouldn't be surprised if word of mouth spreads and gets it a decent showing. The Marvel movies have worked well because they are polished films that blend humor, action and solid casting, and this seems well-suited to do the same. Green Lantern didn't fail because of space battles, it failed because it was a bad movie whose production and promotion was a mess.


I thought it was a great hour of television. It does leave me with some reservations going forward, but it also avoided almost all of the outcomes I was afraid of, so I'm willing to see where it goes.

Spoiler:

The awesome:
-Thea shooting Malcolm.
-Felicity throughout the episode.
-The fight scene in the tunnel.
-Ollie, upon learning Laurel was in danger, doesn't drop everything to go after her, but puts the city first.
-Detective Lance snarking at Nyssa.
-Ollie and Slade, visibly exhausted by the fighting, still trading blows.
-The Ollie / Felicity scene in the mansion. At first because I thought it was real, and was thrilled. And then, when I figured it out, I thought it was a clever move... even if it was playing with the fanbase somewhat.
-Nyssa tranqing Laurel mid-sentence.
-Harbinger dropping the hammer on the goons filling the Clock Tower.
-Ollie, Felicity and Diggle, still the core team, still together at the end.

The less awesome:
-Detective Lance and the death-scare. I really hope they don't kill him - he was a large part of why I started watching the show, after liking him so much as Harry Dresden.
-Sarah passing on her 'jacket' to Laurel. I really don't want to see Laurel as the Canary. Laurel didn't even particularly bother me in this episode, but I just can't see her making that role work. Honestly, the character is pretty much unsalvageable to me after how she's been handled, and finding a graceful way for her to bow out would really help the show going forward.


There was definitely a lot to like in this episode.

Spoiler:
I liked the Ward vs May fight. I liked the Fitz and Simmons scene. I liked how the Clairvoyant identity ended up as somewhat ironic foreshadowing for Garrett. I liked Coulson and Fury dealing with Garrett's new craziness, and I liked the subverting of his 'not-really-dead' scene at the end. I liked the rescue of Mike Peterson's son as 'the Ace in the Hole'.

My main disappointment was that they spent the season setting up the threat of Hydra and Cybertek, and suddenly the bad guys are just... painfully inept. They are advertising the creation of these teams of super-soldiers... who don't get to use any weaponry or armor, and who have gone from being big individual threats early in the season, to squads of mooks that are trivial to deal with.

We also discover that the entire structure of the organization is apparently built on the flimsiest of foundations. We've got an army of super-soldiers who are being controlled by their lethal eye-implants. And apparently many of the handlers controlling them are, in turn, being forced to do so via threats to their loved ones - up to and including the guy running the program itself! Like, do handlers really require such a specific skill set that you have to blackmail people into the position? Is having your entire agency built on such threats really the most stable control structure?

Especially when they apparently don't bother even leaving guards to watch those oh-so-valuable hostages. Or maybe the guards were the super-soldiers and they got diverted away during the attack? But why would you use the super-soldiers to guard the hostages when the soldiers are being controlled by the people who are threatened by the hostages?

Anyway, rant over. I just like seeing a win that feels earned, and they didn't really pull that off here.


Yeah. Honestly, an appearance change alone wouldn't have really bothered me. But at least for me, I found the new version almost entirely non-functional, almost crashing my browser anytime I tried to open multiple tabs. I switched back to the old version and disabled updates as quickly as I could.


Kthulhu wrote:
Maybe the Joker killed my parents and my little sister yesterday, but I can take comfort in the fact that Batman doesn't have to feel bad about killing a psychotic mass-murderer.

I think the best explanation for Batman not killing villains, even if he knows they may break out of jail to kill again, is that he knows that he himself is not especially mentally stable, and once he crossed that line once, it might not be that far before he descends into his own area of supervillainry.

But ultimately, the problem is that the traditional form for corporate comics, as a medium, are largely incapable of preserving a long-term narrative. The comics attempt to have a legal and justice system that reflects the real world in order to preserve commonality between the readers and the comics universe. But in the real world legal system, prison breakouts and escapes are an extreme rarity. In the comics universe, they happen every other week.

And no matter what measures one writer might put in place to lock the Joker up for good, the next writer that wants to use the Joker will just come along and invent some reason why they don't work. It doesn't even matter if you kill the Joker, or cure him, or reform him, or exile him to another dimension. Eventually, he'll come back. No permanence is truly viable in a shared-storytelling universe.

It is the same reason why Reed Richards Is Useless. With the technology that he has access to and the scientific invention that he displays, countless real world issues - from disease to third-world hunger to the energy crisis - should be trivially solved. But doing so would transform the setting into a place completely alien from the real world it is patterned after, and would do so not just for his comic, but for every comic in the Marvel universe.

Same thing with, say, the Flash. There are times in the comics when it claims he can move - and fully function - faster than the speed of light. If true, shouldn't he be able to basically just stop all street crime across America? But no, because that doesn't make for a good story. For the same reason that Gotham will not only have a bunch of psychos who are willing to tangle with Batman, but will also have an endless supply of idiot thugs who will work for bosses that will kill them on a whim, and whose job description consists of having the crap beaten out of them constantly by a man in a bat suit.

Batman can never win his war on crime. Not just because the villains will always break out of jail, but also because if Gotham ever truly becomes safe, then you don't have any more stories to tell. Or at least, you can't tell 'that' story, and comics have a great deal of trouble with actually allowing characters and the setting to grow and evolve.

Even when you do have actual change in the form of legacy characters or character evolution... eventually someone will be in charge who wants things back the way they were when they first read comics. And everything resets to the default once again.


Lord Snow wrote:
Well, I'm never going to consider killing anyone, innocent or not, as a 100% moral action. What can I say, Batman impressed me. I mean, killing Garrett is certainly better than letting him live, but it's worse than neautralizing him and putting him in some jail to rot.

Right, but if you are captured by an enemy who is imminently preparing to either kill you and your partner, or torture you until you work for him, and you don't *have* the option to neutralize them... I don't see anything heroic about not making every effort to stop this homicidal terrorist before he can go through with his plot to create an army of unstoppable murder-soldiers.

Seriously, the team may have done plenty of questionable things in this series, but fighting for your life against a psychotic cyborg is not one of them.


Chris Mortika wrote:
No; gloating "I'm glad I did it," is wrong.

Yeah, as has been demonstrated by those immoral monsters known as the Avengers, who have also been known to display pleasure when they stopped unquestionably evil villains in their attempts to do unquestionably evil things.

...

Seriously, this show had several issues early on with questional moral behavior. This isn't one of them - and, for that matter, most of the earlier ones were largely resolved when we learned that the folks responsible (Ward and Garret) were the bad guys.

Trying to kill or disable your villanous captor before he kills you and your friend, and not regretting that act... I don't see anything wrong with that. And I don't see Fitz's line as 'gloating', just trying to put on a bit of bravery and affirm a bit of self-control while in the midst of a rather traumatic situation that seemed likely to end in his death.


Regarding DeathQuaker's thoughts on Peter's thoughts:

Spoiler:

DeathQuaker wrote:
I'm kind of looking forward to even-more-psycho Isabel once she wakes up from the Mirakuru. But I agree, she nor the story sold the "I am a woman scorned!" story very well.... even if it is very true to the comics, from what I understand.

What really bugged me is that she proclaimed, "Do you think that I am just some jilted lover?" And for a moment, I was expecting some more powerful motivation or something genuinely serious... and instead, nope, jilted lover is it.

Slade's motivation is equally absurd, but it works just fine because he is literally insane due to the drug. But having this motivation for her felt pretty weak. If they just played up the greed part of it - the chance to take his company, gain power, no longer feel helpless, etc - I could totally buy it, but they really seemed to emphasize the parts that don't hold up under much scrutiny.

DeathQuaker wrote:
The big wall-banger there is of course that if Ollie really knew about a possible cure and didn't seek it out for Roy's sake, it makes him to look waaaaay more selfish and idiotic than I think the writers intend. Or maybe the writers did intend that.

Yeah, that was the thing that most bothered me about the episode. Especially since, again, it felt like they could have come up with some sort of explanation. ("We knew there was a cure, but knew we didn't have the resources for it, so didn't want to create false hope.") But the entire "I didn't talk about it, because I felt bad about this one moment of the backstory..." just felt kinda weird.

On the other hand, I think it did rule out the speculation I've heard about Ivo being Felicity's father, since Ollie namechecked Ivo and Felicity didn't show any unusual reaction.


You can certainly build a pretty potent Warlord in terms of how much buffing they do for the party - and that can include both healing and condition-removal, to ensure your allies are able to act to full capability.

But honestly, any class can be optimized. A Warlord certainly has more you can do with them than, say, a Shaman or Ardent. But an optimizer will typically find a way, and you can build pretty extreme versions of any of those classes if that is what you set out to do.


Caineach wrote:
So, overall I really liked the movie, but did anyone else have an issue with the fact that all of the intelligence they had came from a bad guy deciding he would tell Captain A his evil plot just before he was killed?

It bothered me for a moment, but once I considered it, I realized it wasn't really a problem.

Spoiler:
Yes, Zola gloated and gave away the evil scheme. But think about it - even if he doesn't tell them anything, they've already unraveled quite a bit just by arriving there and finding him.

Once Cap recognizes who they are dealing with, he suddenly knows that:

1) A member of HYDRA survived; and
2) Was in some way connected with an early version of SHIELD.

Sure, it might not reveal the specifics of their plans for INSIGHT, but it would still be enough for them to figure out the general gist of what is going on, and that leads them to go after suspicous members of SHIELD, which leads them to Sitwell, who then confesses everything anyway.

So I think the real key was simply finding the facility itself - once they've uncovered that, and have confirmation that something is very wrong with the House of SHIELD, everything else flows naturally from there, regardless of how much Zola blabs to them.


The interview could be correct or could just be to throw people off the scent. Or they could just change their minds later.

I hope they don't, though. If they truly commit to this and run with it, it both sets up some excellent opportunity for future story and conflict, and also retroactively addresses, like, 90% of the previous complaints I had about the show. I'm really looking forward to the next episodes, which is the first time in quite a while that has been the case.

So here's hoping that last scene is exactly what it appears to be!


I can definitely see a frustration with the format, especially on a show that already is sharing the screen-time among such an ensamble cast. And I can definitely see preferring some heroes to others.

Though, at least for me, that's one thing I've been grateful for. I was never a fan of Green Arrow in the comics. Despite that, the show won me over and gave me a new appreciation for the character. The same thing happened with Iron Man - never liked him in the comics. His movie made me finally 'get' what makes the character awesome, and made him one of my favorite heroes.

That's what I've liked the most about the last decade of comics characters moving to tv and movies - not just seeing my favorite characters in action, but getting the chance to find appreciation for new characters who I never cared about before.


Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
I think I liked Smallville better because Clark has awesome powers. Call me a kid at heart, but seeing Superman in action is much better. His super strength, speed, breath, heat vision allows him to break in and out of places unseen, be anywhere he wants, etc. and thus, the plot does not revolve around violence and killing all the time. A no power "hero" like Green Arrow is basically just a nut job vigilante killing crooks, now that you think of it... and the 'bow' choice of weapon does not really tend to nonlethal subjugation...

I take it you haven't actually watched the current season of the show, where the grapple with whether to kill or not to kill has been a core dilemma in the second season?

I definitely had issues with the show's body count early on. But they've deliberately addressed that and incorporated it into the show. That earns it quite a bit of credit in my mind.

Should a non-super powered character be fighting crime? When, if ever, is it ok for them to kill? It is a tricky question. Ollie came back to the city having learned of a massive criminal conspiracy that was effectively above the law. Who else was going to try and stop it?

One of the things I really like about Arrow is that they don't try and hide the fact that the 'heroes' in the show are fundamentally broken people. Both Ollie and the Black Canary have gone through hell, and that is what has given them the skills and abilities that let them operate on the level they do. Both of them suffer from the trauma of their past, and both of them wrestle with how it impacts their personal lives and relationships.

That brings the heroics down to a very human level, and has been a large part of what makes the show so appealing to me. I think there is a place in comics for figures who are beyond human limitations and are an ideal to strive for (Superman), as well as for those who have pushed themselves to their limits and overcome personal loss and suffering (Batman). This show embraces that second concept, and I think that makes it work on a very real level.

Yes, sure, having superpowers that solve all the problems would let you bypass any real conflict or difficulties. I'm not sure that presents as good a story, though. You can certainly still have character developments and questions arise out of being such a figure, but it makes for a very different type of show.


They might have put most of that stuff in the Ritual category at launch, but that definitely didn't remain the case for long. I know I played an illusionist who had the spells to do pretty much all of those tricks without a problem, completely within the system.

And I've definitely played in and run campaigns that allowed the exact same sort of 'special effects' and 'houseruling' you describe without any major departure from the rules.

Indeed, I'm kinda confused how you see one system as requiring minimal alterations, while the other is too rigid to change. If you declare that a cleric in 3.5 can spend all of their remaining spells/turn undeads/etc, to hit a lich in a single attack, what in the world prevents you from doing the exact same in 4E? I know I've had plenty of times where a character has asked to expend their Channel Divinity power (which normally powers turning) in a non-standard fashion, and it has typically been quite easy to find a way to let them do so (such as providing temporary protection against an area filled with negative energy, or using it to disable an undead monster's protective aura.)

If anything, I've found 4E has an easier time handling such actions, since it at least provides some guidelines for the DM on dealing with them. But either system is quite capable of such adjustments as long as the DM and their group have a shared sense of trust and creativity. Honestly, it just seems strange to me to claim that you have no problem bending the rules in one system, but find it impossible in another.

I can certainly understand claiming that you find it easier in one system than the other, even if it just due to more familiarity with one system over the other! But your description of 4E is so far removed from my experience with it in actual play that I have trouble reconciling the two.


Yeah, it wasn't as epic as the first one, but they kinda acknowledged that. And it was a good, solid, funny episode overall, and had some excellent moments. (Like having a moment of silence for a fallen companion... before taking all their stuff. Classic D&D!)


DeathQuaker wrote:
Matthew, I'm with you on Waller. My headcanon is that that woman isn't really Waller, but a decoy to act as a front person, while the real Waller, massive and ill tempered and AWESOME, is of course running things behind the scenes out of sight.

I like that idea! I think I'm going to co-opt that in my own mind as well. :)

DeathQuaker wrote:
I have a feeling some of the Laurel stuff ended up on the cutting room floor, given the way the actors, writers, and producers talk about it... I think they filmed a bunch more stuff and we've only seen the highlights. I was watching the Season One DVD deleted scenes and there's a bunch of stuff where, while I can see why they deleted something for time or pacing, the deleted scene does add character development or depth that otherwise sometimes feels missing.... the problem with this season is they've been trying to do waaaaay do much so it's like we're seeing the clip show version of a plot that actually should be two or three seasons worth of story crammed into one.

Yeah, that does seem a likely possibility. I do like how fast they have kept things moving, since I thought dragging things out was one of Season 1's weaknesses (and one of my current issues with Marvel's SHIELD). And I like how they have expanded the cast and the role they've found for most of their new additions. But there is definitely a sense that some stuff has gotten left by the wayside in the process (like the partial takeover of Queen Industries, for example), so that makes sense with this as well.


Yeah. I'm still not a fan of the actress playing Waller, but the rest of the squad is really exciting to watch, and I am really glad at how they've developed Deadshot's character.

The Ollie thing doesn't bother me as much, simply because the show really does focus on the fact that is a traumatized, broken person, slowly trying to put the pieces of his life back together, and every time he gets close to doing so, something new (like Slade) gets in the way. And Stephen Amell does a really good job of selling that.

I can't help but compare it to Laurel's character - who, honestly, I didn't really mind early on. But it feels like they've been so desperate to give her some emotional weight that they've gone way overboard in doing so, and just ended up with a really inconsistent character. I don't know how much of that is the actress or the writing, but the character just seems to completely shift from episode to episode, and even scene to scene.

I mean, one of the things I like about Arrow is that (at least this season), it has kept plots moving quickly. Unlike the slow reveal of the Undertaking in Season 1, we've had some ongoing arcs and confrontations with Blood, with Slade, with the Squad, with Sarah. But I feel that same approach works well with plot elements more than character elements, and the slow burn of Ollie's recovery, his connection to his team members, the relationship between the characters - that has much more impact. And trying to rush Laurel through her own 'trial' - which is what it felt like they were trying to do - only muddled up the character more than ever.


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Hama wrote:
Matthew Koelbl wrote:
Hama wrote:
Coulson genuinely regrets having to kill those two guards. I call the subject closed.
Are you suggesting that because he regrets it, that makes it ok?
Yeah. I don't really care about those guards. Much less then I care about Skye anyway. Plus it's Coulson we're talking about here. If he could have found a peaceful solution, he would have.

You mean other than the non-lethal guns they had ready access to? ;)

Now, I tend to credit that more to inconsistent writing than anything else. I suppose if we wanted to come up with a reason for it, we could claim that Coulson was distracted by what had happened to Skye and was off his game.

Nonetheless, the situation remains - the team crossed a line, and decided that murder and theft were acceptable means to save a team member. It will take quite a bit more than simple regret for them to redeem themselves as heroes.


Hama wrote:
Coulson genuinely regrets having to kill those two guards. I call the subject closed.

Are you suggesting that because he regrets it, that makes it ok?

Anyway, I thought the new episode was very strong, and had some great guest stars. (I even got a kick out of 'Rooster', whose actor I've been a fan of from other shows.)

The only thing that really bugged me was how Lorelei's power was treated.

Episode Spoilers:
It was genuinely creepy seeing the folks under her command act 'normal' aside from being devoted to her (and seeing the biker apologetically kill his wife on her command). I thought that was really well handled... and then it got weird, since the rest of the show basically played her ability for laughs. Even while one team member is out there being raped by her. Which doesn't really get addressed at all, other than it being an excuse for him to get dumped.

So... the show definitely still seems to have a really weird moral code - or lack of it.

That said, this was a good episode. It had some great fight scenes. The sword-fighting didn't come off as particularly convincing, but everything else was really well choreographed.


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Aranna wrote:
First, I am sure SHIELD agents do carry credentials and if given the chance it is clear Coulson would have presented them. But the guards refused to consider anything other than their pass code.

Right. As far as the show indicated, the ability to enter that facility was dependent on knowledge of the entrance protocols. There was no indication that random SHIELD agents, operating outside of mission parameters and without authorization or credentials, should have simply been allowed entry based on their words and nothing else.

Aranna wrote:
Second as agents in the field the are acting as representatives of SHIELD itself.

I don't think that is remotely the case. They aren't there on assignment. They are, in fact, defying orders by going there for personal reasons. A police officer who, while off-duty, uses his badge to intimidate a shop-owner into giving him free stuff is not 'acting as a representative of the law'. He is breaking the law and abusing his power. SHIELD is doing the same thing here - only worse.

Aranna wrote:
I could understand if the guards used a secure line to call up the chain of command and maybe get further orders, but they simply locked and loaded. Which is bad for two reasons 1: They have NO idea if these agents have been sent here on an approved mission or not. 2: If they fail then their superiors have far less intelligence as to what happened at the destroyed facility.

If the guards didn't call up the change of command, the logical assumption is that doing so isn't part of the protocols - that there is a reason they had strict orders not to allow anyone access who wasn't supposed to be there.

Aranna wrote:
I bolded the false part of your statement. From what we have seen so far SHIELD seems to have no limits to it's authority over local or national concerns. So you are false in assuming they had no authority to enter. I could be wrong but so far I have seen no evidence to the contrary.

We've seen that SHIELD is powerful, and that it is willing to work outside the law. I don't think we've been shown that their power is limitless, though - they have worked with local authorities on most missions.

Look, if simply flashing a SHIELD badge got you entrance to anywhere, why wouldn't all bad guys just carry SHIELD badges and claim to be from SHIELD? Presumably if SHIELD agents do need to enter a facility in the course of their mission, they can get the authorization and be given access.

Given that Coulson didn't do that here, there is every indication that the guards were acting appropriately in not simply letting him walk into a secure facility on the basis of his word alone.

And we return to the original point - even if SHIELD agents are supposed to have that authority while on a mission, Coulson's team wasn't on a mission. They were running solo, defying orders, on a personal agenda. Hence why they didn't have the passcodes that would have gotten them access if they were actually supposed to be there. Hence why the guards acted correctly, and hence why Coulson forcing a confrontation with them was on his head, not theirs.


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Arnwyn wrote:
I agree. I have no qualms with mook guard #1 and mook guard #2 shooting at these unknown dudes, if that's how they felt they should best handle the situation they're in. Obviously, of course, they should expect to be popped back.

Sure. That's part of the job - the risk of being killed by intruders. The fact that the guards know that is what the job entails, however, doesn't remove the team's guilt in causing those deaths. Coulson and his team chose to break into a location they weren't authorized to enter, and killed those who tried to keep them out of it. They did so in pursuit of personal reasons, with the planned theft of something that was presumably valuable, experimental, and dangerous.

I can understand why they did it. But that doesn't make it right.

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