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MendedWall12's page

2,061 posts. Alias of Hoary and Wizened.


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Good morrow community. Well it's been over a year now since I moved to North Central Iowa, right about where I35 and Hwy 20 meet. Since my "local" FLGS is over 45 minutes away, I've had the darndest time finding people around me that are table top gamers. If this sounds like you, give me a holler, either here in this thread, or just shoot me a PM. Looking forward to hopefully finding a game to join, or would even be willing to GM a game for others, though it's been a while since I was a dedicated GM, so I'd have to shake off some rust.

Hope to hear that anyone is out there...


Great quote! I do wonder if Mr. Gygax's version of improving the rules meant both addition and subtraction? Perhaps he addressed that somewhere else? What I mean is, I wonder if improvement of a game was the availability of new classes and abilities, like Oriental Adventures, or if it was only adjustments to the mechanics themselves. In that case you might look at things like THAC0 in place of the more universal AC system that exists now. Is it improving a game to continue to add in new feats, classes, archetypes, spells, etcetera, ad nauseum, and then waiting to see how the players of the game discover the myriad strange ways those additions interact with the mechanics of the game as they already exist?

Or are all those additions not the game itself, but the material that any table might use to create their own game. In that case the "game" would be just the universal mechanics, and not the variety of sources that help players play the game with the kinds of characters and monsters, and in the setting that they desire. What I mean by that is, regardless of what character, archetype, feats, skills, etcetera a PC has been created with, the "game" says that when you are trying to hit something you roll a d20, add relevant bonuses (wherever they may come from), and try to overcome a target AC. <---- That is the "game." In which case Gygax's statements about improving the game would mean strictly looking at ways that the mechanics of actual gameplay can be streamlined for uniformity, ease of use, and make the most of contributing to a logical reality.

Holmes your two posts, on the surface, might seem contradictory, but I don't believe they are. Nor how could they be if Tim Kask was one of the first people hired by Gygax, and Gygax is the one saying players need to know the rules. I think the important thing to remember is that Tim says "ignore the rules they do not like." What I think he's saying there is not "if you read them and think they're silly don't use them." Rather, what I think he means is that someone has: 1) Read the rules; 2) Understood them; 3) Implemented them in a game; 4) Had negative experience with them. Which would, in no way, discount what Gygax is saying about knowing the rules. When both players and GM understand the RAW and how it is to be implemented they can adjust "on the fly" cohesively and collectively. They can say, "that's dumb" in the midst of the game because of their desire to create that "logical reality" that is agreeable to them all. In order to say "that's dumb" in an intelligent way, it requires that they understand how the rules work, and that in whatever situation they've found their characters, in the game, it doesn't fit with their logical reality.

In essence I think both Gygax and Kask would say, know the rules first, then ignore them once you've found they don't work for your table.

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Berik wrote:

Personally I have little interest in seeing the moderation policies on these forums become much more codified, and I certainly wouldn't want a more comprehensive set of rules to be put up. It's impossible to capture every nuance that makes interactions a problem or not, and I think forums that try feel very unfriendly places.

At the end of the day, if I don't trust the moderators then it doesn't matter what the policies are. I wouldn't much want to post here if I didn't trust the staff anyway, and the hypothetical untrustworthy moderators could make posting life hard for me whatever the written regulations. On the other hand if I trust the moderators then I'll trust them to use their judgement whatever regulations are written down.

So what you're saying is you prefer a rules-light system, that is based off of trust between the referee (read: GM) and the posters (read: players)?

I don't think Pathfinder is what you're looking for, and Paizo publishes that system.

Sorry! Couldn't resist.

Best table I ever played at we had a standing agreement: "Good story trumps rules." "Good" is a very nebulous word, but it was one of the best tables I ever played at because we all seemed to have the exact same idea of what a "good" story was, even if it meant calamitous elements for the PCs. :) Sometimes in a "good" story the main characters find themselves in some pretty precarious and un-heroic situations. :)

HolmesandWatson wrote:

Because I do like to interject Gygax' own thoughts as often as I can (seeing as how that's the point of the thread...). MendedWall's comments reminded me of something I read just recently in 'the other book,' Master of the Game:

However, when these things are added to the equation, we begin to reduce playability as we increase the amount of realism. As previously noted, too complex or complicated a system of any sort will raise the simulation level toward realism but reduce play­ ability.

It will dispel the suspension of disbelief because of the time and detail demanded, and will likely detract from all other aspects of the game as an entertainment vehicle. The correct balance between realism and playability is very much a matter of group taste, but there is a median level beyond which the vast majority of enthusiasts lose all desire to participate.

Master GMs must be able to discern the proper level of realism and complexity for both their milieu and their players.

Masterfully put by the original game master. It seems that this "balance" between realism and play ability is at the crux of many of the arguments I've seen on these boards. Interestingly though, I think if you polled the boards, you'd also find extremely varied definitions of both "realism" and "play ability."

Case in point, for me, play ability means the mechanics enhance my ability to tell a collective story, not bog me down in numbers crunching so microcosmic that my brain oozes out of my ear-holes.

Quark Blast wrote:
The DM for that particular adventure was (and I assume still is) very literal about RAW. And nothing in the rules (RAW) say he's doing it wrong, even though he obviously is.

Uhhhh... As a student of the game, I'm going to have to both agree and disagree with you. If a GM is playing by literal RAW, they are not "doing it wrong." In fact, they are "doing it right." That is, they are following the rules and executing them to the best of their ability in order to maintain fair adjudication for all players. I understand that in the situation you were relating the adjudication of RAW seems absolutely counter-intuitive to how it "should have been." The problem with that, is that you've entered this twilight-zone circular argument that no one will ever win, which occurs all the time on these boards. One side will argue, think about the reality of that situation! Certainly the goblin should not have been getting a shield bonus to AC, because shields. The gamer's answer to those arguments will always be, "because dragons and fireballs." This is not a game based in any recognizable reality that we can set an anchor in and step out from for discussion purposes. I mean, even the descriptions, weights, and damage types of many of the weapons have no basis in human history.

As thejeff said, and I actually mentioned earlier also, this game brings many people for many different reasons. For many players they want to know that the rules will be adjudicated just as they are written, because they understand the rules. For many others (perhaps a great many partakers of this particular thread) the rules are guidelines to advance the story and provide the element of suspense. As a GM myself, I hand-wave and retcon things all the time, because it seems more realistic, or just flat-out makes better narrative sense (in most instances that helps the players, but in some it hinders them). And it is very important for all of us, both the rules-lawyers and the story-stickers, to understand and verbally acknowledge that we are playing the same game. We may not be playing it the same way, but we are absolutely playing the same game.

I forget who it was, but once upon a time, a poster on these boards opened my brain by pointing out that many people have developed their own house-rules and adjustments to the game Monopoly. If someone who plays Monopoly by the rules came to their house and tried to play, they would most likely say, "you're doing it wrong." While the players at said house would certainly disagree, because they've found their adjustments to be the most fun way to play.

In the situation you described earlier, taking away an enemy's shield bonus to AC would definitely fall under house rules, because in Pathfinder there definitely is no such thing as "facing." In my game we use facing sometimes when it suits us, and not at others, when it suits us. Technically, we are the people "doing it wrong," but we're also still playing Pathfinder, and we're having a blast doing it.

TL/DR: playing by the rules is not "doing it wrong." Of course, neither is sweeping away whole swaths of the rules for narrative realism. This game is meant to be adapted to each individual, specific table. The real problem I've found over the years is finding a group of people to sit at a table that all agree on how things should be done. If you find yourself sitting at one of those tables, relish it, savor it, hold on tight! I had one of those tables once upon a time, and oh did we have lots of fun.

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kyrt-ryder wrote:

More options DOES give you more options, but only when the system makes it clear that these are extras not limitations.

When the game then goes on to have feats made for such mundane things as tying your shoes... You lose that.

I actually took the entire shoe-tying feat tree, and just recently achieve shoe-tying mastery. :P ;)

thejeff wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

Nah, but in S&W it hardly matters (other than qualifying for the "good" classes). I don't think it works very well in a game like Pathfinder.

I also tend to view PC creation as part of the game - the more modern style is to come up with you character concept before playing. Obviously, I wouldn't suggest the "ironman" method in a group with that culture.

Maybe not in S&W, but it definitely mattered back in AD&D.


Random example produces a not half bad set of stats, but unplayable in AD&D. 5 or lower Con could only be an illusionist. Illusionist needs a 15 Intelligence.
Even beyond that, the Con penalty will be pretty brutal given the smaller hit die sizes back then.

See the problem I have with this type of character creation has nothing to do with whether characters are "balanced" with each other. It is instead that, at least in my experience, the bad guys do not adhere to that same statistical core. Unless a GM is rolling all the monsters and NPCs in this same manner, the PCs are going to run into bad guys that would be considered "level appropriate" that are built with a baseline of way better statistics, and that sucks. I mean I can even remember baddies from the blue box that were "level appropriate" that would wipe the proverbial floor with PCs that were forced to adhere to the 3d6 in order, and maybe even the 3d6 reroll ones and put 'em where you want 'em. There's a shadow of the Gygaxian legacy that says that's how he wanted it. I mean, the phrase "Gygaxian trap" is there for a reason. In that regard I do much prefer some of what the "rules heavy" systems offer. I think I've said this before, too, but even in a rules heavy system that gives players the idea that everything they come up against should be a "leveled challenge" I like to throw an ancient dragon at them, or a mob of level one goblins (so they can listen to the whistle of their blades as they decapitate goblin heads, or the sweet sizzling of fire magic as it destroys whole swaths of lesser foes). Otherwise players tend to get into a mindset that they can handle everything that comes at them, and then the world ceases to have even the dimmest shade of realism.

TriOmegaZero wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
And they are. But DM's can assign a +2 bonus or -2 as they see fit.
I was saddened to see that this suggestion was not present in Pathfinder anywhere that I looked. I begin to wonder if I imagined it back in 3.5.

You were not the only one to have that thought TOZ.

I had the exact same thought back in January of 2014. If you follow the thread all the way through to the end, you'll see that the Core Rulebook has the GM Fiat rule on page 403, and it was almost certainly adapted from a very similar rule from the 3.5 DMG. I was astounded to learn that the rule in the DMG does actually address the +2/-2 as something to be reserved for when a situation "isn’t explicitly covered by the rules." Which is basically what the GM Fiat rule in Pathfinder is designed to address as well.

Digitalelf wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
Well the group is mostly my sons, and I'm the GM so... :-)

That's awesome!

I hope you are able to talk them into at the very least, trying another edition of the game that isn't so "rules heavy".

Who knows, maybe you'll wind up adding 2 more individuals who will embrace the older editions, to help keep that particular spark alive.

Believe me, I'm working on it. :)

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Digitalelf wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
Hah. Oddly I had a PC who could boost the party thru oratory and I gave part of that speech a couple of time!

What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin.
If we are marked to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honor.

Oh man! This made me do some serious thinking about why people are drawn to this hobby, and it forced some realizations on me. People come to this hobby for a LOT of different reasons. It seems like many of the people in this thread (including myself) come to it with the idea that it can be some sophisticated collective narrative told by a gaggle of litterateurs with the added enjoyment of suspense because the dice frequently decide the outcome. Some people come to it because they like imaginary violence, and the euphoria associated with "winning" "treasure." There's definitely a part of this hobby that caters to the addict after their character finds their first piece of magical treasure. I'm sure there are a thousand motivations other than those two as well, but those are the first two that strike me. Some of us want every moment to be a St. Crispin's Day speech, and others just want to murder hobo until there are no more things to kill or treasure to be found. :)

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Digitalelf wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
The answer to that question would take a lot more time than I currently have to answer, and probably require you to be a psychiatrist, and me to be laying on a couch. ;-) :P
I see... Well, I hope things have improved and that you are currently in a group with a much friendlier DM/GM. :-D

Well the group is mostly my sons, and I'm the GM so... :-)

Digitalelf wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
Dude, the fact that you know that is amazing. I do believe that is exactly the module.

I wouldn't call it amazing. But thank you for the compliment. :-)

I agree that it was probably for the best that you didn't game with that DM again. But I have to ask: why didn't seek out another group afterward?

The answer to that question would take a lot more time than I currently have to answer, and probably require you to be a psychiatrist, and me to be laying on a couch. ;-) :P

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Digitalelf wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
As the GM read the description of the trap, it became clear that the "staircase" was actually a ladder, with rungs, and I could have in fact levitated down.

Sounds like you were going through module "I10: Ravenloft II - The House on Gryphon Hill". If that's the case, then yeah, the module's text gives a chance of lighting striking the lightning rod on the mansion's roof when a character climbs on the ladder (there is however, a major storm going on during the character's time within the mansion, so the lightning doesn't just spring from nowhere).

But it does sound like your DM wanted your character to get fried.

Here is the actual text from that module:

Ravenloft II wrote:
Every round there is a 1 in 6 chance that a lightning strike on the dome will electrify the ladder (Dmg 2d8, plus Strength check or fall).
The ladder in question (again assuming that the module was Ravenloft II) climbs from the basement to the 2nd floor of the mansion.

Dude, the fact that you know that is amazing. I do believe that is exactly the module. I do remember, though, that we were descending on the ladder/stairs, not ascending (which just means we didn't take the traditional route through the "dungeon"). My group had had inklings before that the GM was adversarial, but this particular instance was just too obvious to ignore. The sad thing is that module was still extremely fun to run through, but some of the things that happened during it caused me to not game with that group any more, and then it was over 15 years before I gamed again. At the time I felt like I was making the right decision, but there were many times over the 15 years that followed where I looked back and had the tingle of regret. Ah, nostalgia, she is a fickle mistress. She makes us remember only the positives, and the negatives become buried in a hazy fog.

Edit: Also, @Holmes: NEVER SPLIT THE PARTY!!!

I forgot to mention, but I feel it is absolutely worth noting. The particular GM I mentioned that ran us through the Ravenloft module had a penchant for rolling dice rather vigorously and if they came up with the numbers he wanted he'd yell, Boooom!!!! with much joy and impish satisfaction plastered onto his face.

@Quantum Steve: Thanks again for excellent things to think about. I will definitely need to consider this as I move forward.

Man, have I mentioned before how much I love this thread?! I learn so much. Sorry it's been a while since I've replied. A couple things I want to mention.

First to address your question of what edition I like the most Digitalelf, I would say that the most fun I had as a player was 2nd Edition AD&D. That's what we were playing when I was in high school. It's what hooked me in, and it's the drug I keep searching for today. 3.5/Pathfinder give me many of the same elements, but my problem with those editions are exactly what some people have brought up just recently in this thread. It is the idea that if it's not written on the character sheet with a number behind it, you can't do it. In fact, I just recently started a thread over in the homebrew/suggestions board about switching Pathfinder's skills out for 5e skills for just that reason. To me, the 5e skills are designed for creative wiggle room, and designed so that a character can attempt anything at any time, and have a reasonable chance of success even if they aren't "trained in that skill," "it isn't a class skill." Got some rather vociferous feedback from a few voices saying, essentially, "that's dumb, why?" We hashed it out after a bit, and I got some good advice for moving forward, which I think I will.

Now I want to talk just briefly about the "old school" traps. The blessing of the new skill system for traps is the ease of use. I take 20 on my perception check... In most cases, you found the trap. You cannot, however, take 20 on a disable check, because there is a chance of failure. So there is still the chance that even though you know where a trap is, you will fail to disable it, and it will go off. In the older games, finding a trap was as many mentioned, a conversation, and you had to rely on a very open and trusting dialogue of description both ways (GM->Player and Player->GM). One is, clearly, more narrative friendly, but, as was mentioned already, could absolutely create some weird situations where traps were not discovered, even though they should have been obvious, or what not.

In fact I remember once, in Ravenloft module that I was running my first wizard through. The GM had described a "metal staircase" to the lower level. I remember specifically asking if it was a staircase, because I had levitate ready, and would have floated down if it was at all feasible. I was told that no, it as a staircase, and I couldn't levitate down. As soon as the entire party was on the "staircase" lightning struck a lightning rod outside and the current floated into the metal we were standing on. As the GM read the description of the trap, it became clear that the "staircase" was actually a ladder, with rungs, and I could have in fact levitated down.

That was a moment where we all learned that we had ourselves an adversarial GM that had the attitude that it was us against him, rather than us all working together to tell a story.

Here's the reason I bring that up. At no point did the edition have anything to do with that situation. The "trap" was not a mechanical or magical trap, it was actually a percent chance rolled on a d100 of lightning striking the rod outside, at the moment the PCs were on the ladder. The only trap was a sadistic GM that wanted to hurt players, even though I actually was a savvy enough player to ask about the particulars of the descent.

Point being? What edition you're playing isn't always the culprit for bad traps/good traps, or unkillable monsters/mooks. In every edition a bad GM makes a bad game. Part of what a lot of the newer RPG games are trying to do is take the power out of the sadistic GM's hands, by empowering players with rules knowledge. Think not? Take a look at the number of threads that complain about "rules lawyers."

Lastly I wanted to pipe in about the game balance thing as well. I completely agree that there is definitely a streak these days where players all want their "moment to shine," or their fair amount of "time in the spotlight." I don't know if that's a problem of editions, or a problem of increased entitlement as a culture. I do think that there is definitely an increase across all sections of the population of entitlement. If that's the case, RPG games will suffer just as much as anywhere else. So part of my own nostalgia for older systems might be for the designed lack of balance, and how it created a cohesive party where everybody relied on each other, but part of it may also be for an age gone by when students respected their teachers authority, and entitlement was not a part of the everyday jargon.

@Quantum Steve: Excellent point, I will definitely need to look at things like Feint and find a suitable workaround for them, thank you for that advice.

@Cyrad: I do appreciate you trying to make sure my motivation for switching will actually be what is accomplished. I'm not worried about lower skill bonuses for the players, because all of the DCs will be lower as well, based off of the 5e table of typical DCs. In addition, since I'm the GM I can set the DCs as I see fit. Which is one of the major reasons I want the switch. It gives me the freedom to set a DC that is reasonable and fair for the situation, rather than turning to a table somewhere and saying, this is what the rules say the number is. I'm sure at this point some people will think, well if you just want the liberty to set the DCs as you see fit, go ahead and do that, you don't need to change rulesets to do that. The thing is, though, that if I'm just randomly adjusting DCs without any guidance whatsoever the skill system becomes entirely GM fiat, and would lose any semblance of actual game work-ability. Thus my idea of changing to a new, similar, but different system, entirely. Switching to a new complete skill system provides the guidance I need for DCs, and helps the players by giving them a different idea of how things will run. It very well could be that, deep down, this is my biggest driving motivation, and I'm okay with that. Also, I kind of disagree with you about the language of the rules not having any effect. I think giving the set of pages from the 5e rules to my players and reading through them with them will actually give them the mindset that they should not say, "I want to use this skill..." but instead say, "I try to hide in the bushes..." because that is how the language of the rules is written. It might not, but it certainly does have that potential. Also! And probably even more important than me being able to set the DCs, I HATE Pathfinder's Diplomacy rules. I think the DCs are ridiculously high for anyone that hasn't devoted all available resources to that skill, and the game I run is social interaction heavy. I've often thought of throwing them out, and switching skill systems altogether to a separate established rule set makes that easy.

@Wraithstrike: I understand what you're saying, but in my case that doesn't actually apply. My game is a home game for my middle-school aged sons and their friends. :) They understand the rules, but they don't spend hours pouring over them. They wouldn't know the DC of a diplomacy check, or a climb check unless I told them what it was. In fact they are very much used to rolling, telling me the number including all bonuses, and then waiting for me to narrate the results. What I'm trying to accomplish here is to make it easier for all of us by giving me the liberty to adjust the DCs (with an example table as guidance), and them the knowledge that just because they aren't trained in a skill doesn't mean they can't attempt something. I also realize, this deep into the conversation, that saying that ahead of time might have made some people's responses change, but what is happening at my table should never have to be brought up in a thread where I'm simply asking the community to help me figure out how to do something, should it?


I realized, after the fact, why I felt like the thread became adversarial. Here's why. My original post was an honest ask for people to tell me if replacing one skill system with another was possible, and then help me figure out what things I would need to worry about to do it. One of the reasons I thought about the switch is because the systems are pretty similar but provide more leniency and creative room to wiggle. Instead of people doing that, most of the posters basically said, "that's dumb, why would you want to?"

I didn't ask for comments on my motivation for doing it, I asked for people to help me figure out if it would work, and what things I hadn't thought about that might need addressing. If you like the Pathfinder skills and don't think they should be replaced, great, go find another thread and post there. Coming into this thread and replying to the original post with anything other than a "yes, and here are things you need to think about," or "no, it won't work, here's why," is not helping, nor is it addressing the intent of the original post.

So...! For any future posters, please do me the huge favor of helping me figure out if the switch is possible, and what things I need to look at for actual implementation of the switch. Commenting on anything else really isn't helping.

wraithstrike wrote:

I don't see their post as insulting at all. I see them as saying "there is not really enough difference to change systems + <whatever else they had to say>".

What did they say that you took offense to?

Good question, in Quantum's case it was these two things: "It's "corner case," closet case is something different." Pointing out an inadvertent misused phrase is nit-picky arguing, and sets the tone of ad hominem; and "a fix for which is so trivial I shouldn't even have to mention it." The tone of this is both superior and dismissive, which demeans the recipient of the advice.

For Cyrad it was this: "You're supposed to run Diplomacy checks as you describe in the first scenario. You're not talking about game mechanics and rules here. You're talking about how players and GMs use the rules." Which may not have been meant as offensive, but, also has an air of superiority and condescension. Especially since I actually posted the thread to talk about the differences in the mechanics, and how they are applied. Believe it or not, I'm actually here to discuss the mechanics. I understand that how players and GMs use the rules dictates the collective story they are telling. My point was that I think the Pathfinder rules as written, very much lend themselves to players saying, "I use diplomacy," because the specific situation can only be resolved that way, while the 5e rules actually make allowance for player and GM to find creative ways to let a character make a check for whatever they are doing:

5e Basic Rules wrote:
Similarly, when your dwarf fighter uses a display of raw strength to intimidate an enemy, your DM might ask for a Strength (Intimidation) check, even though Intimidation is normally associated with Charisma.

That's why I said that, to me, the 5e rules read like they are designed to further the narrative without mucking things up. They seem designed to not make a player worry about whether they are "trained" in a particular skill, or not. Simply say what you want your character to do and the GM and player will find a way to do it.

Lastly, another reason that I like the 5e rules seems to be why some people think they are not useful. It's because they give a very vague table of DCs and let the GM decide the difficulty of a task based off of all variables. Thereby the GM could actually adjust the check based off of what the speaker says, as opposed to just adding a circumstance bonus to their roll. On page 58 in the 5e rules is a table of typical DCs that just lists them as: very easy, easy, medium, hard, very hard, and nearly impossible. Again, I get that means a GM doesn't have a specific thing to point at and say, "this is the number, I know because it's right here in this book," and for some people that's scary because they don't trust their GM.

Edit: I also want to point out that regardless of character death, it is a narrative. An interactive story is still a story, thus it is a narrative. Have you ever read any of the Game of Thrones books, or watched the show? Characters that could be described as "main characters" die all the time. Character death does not change the narrative status of this or any role playing game.

I'm not sure exactly how this thread turned adversarial, but it obviously did. Quantum Steve, and Cyrad, whether you meant them to or not your posts come off like this: "you're an idiot, and you clearly should play a different game." Way to be a welcoming community. Not sure if you actually read the OP but I actually said I posted the question because I wanted the communities' opinions and advice. At no point did I say that the game you're playing sucks and I hate you all for playing it, but somehow everybody decided that's what I meant, and reacted accordingly.

Having said that, I am grateful for the actual clarity and pragmatic advice that everyone has brought. After thinking about it for a bit, I think part of the reason I like the 5e system is because the actual language of the rules reads as if it is designed for a shared narrative. The Pathfinder skill rules read like a how-to manual for fixing your car, to me at least. I also really like the fact that the DCs are nebulous and are set by the GM based off of their perception of all variables. Cyrad, you are right that for new GMs that definitely makes things more difficult, not less. I guess as a GM that's been doing it for a while, I don't like the conscription of Pathfinder's DC sets. (Diplomacy, I'm looking at you.)

Last thing is in regards to the group mechanics. Pathfinder does actually have those, it's called Aid Another, which I've kind of always hated, because it forces the table to keep rolling and adding +2s onto somebody else's check. In that sense, 5e's group mechanic does actually streamline play, in those situations.

Can'tFindthePath wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

I will have to read that document later to see how it makes the narrative better.

edit: As long as the dice matter the character will still likely fail because they represent the character's ability to convey the message, not the player's.

Not sure if this is MendedWall's aim, but the biggest difference I see (other than the sheer absurdity of 1 to 20 skill ranks) is the lack of detailed charts and long-winded explanations of the skills function in the 5E doc. From that perspective, the 5E skill rules do have superior narrative power, in that they leave more up to the GM and the player to describe and adjudicate.

This is more or less what I was saying. The 5e skills are a bit more "nebulous." Some of the things that I saw, that to me made it seem more narrative friendly, are: 1) not every closet case is covered, nor is it supposed to be. 2) Passive checks cover routine tasks without constant rolling; you don't have to take 10 on a check, you are just passively taking 10 all the time, and the GM has a number at hand to check up against DCs. 3) Group checks are streamlined, everybody checks, majority rules.

Essentially the way I see the 5e skill sets working is the player says, "I tell the guard..." and the GM can call for an opposed skill check, or set a DC based off of the guards background and disposition, instead of the player saying, "I use Diplomacy." See the difference? Granted it is a subtle difference, and dice will, obviously, still play a factor, but the 5e skills give the table the ability to run the narrative first and foremost, and only use the skill checks if the challenge might fail based off of varying circumstances.

I actually prefer that there are not a strict table of DCs covering every situation. That way the players ability and the current narrative situation set the DC, not a table in a book. As mentioned this requires a lot of trust between the GM and players, but, for me, that is how any P&P RPG should be played anyway. I realize not everyone has that luxury, but I'm asking for a hypothetical situation anyway.

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MeanDM wrote:

Lastly, I feel like if this had just been a post opening a discussion as opposed to a link to a blog (where the author presumably can hope to collect advertising revenue for clicks) it might be better perceived. I think this is an attempt to use Paizo's free portion of their website to back door around paying for real advertising and search optimization.

I can all but guarantee you that it was only intended as clickbait. The OP has a history of posting links to his blog and disappearing from the conversation thereafter.

wraithstrike wrote:

I will have to read that document later to see how it makes the narrative better.

edit: As long as the dice matter the character will still likely fail because they represent the character's ability to convey the message, not the player's.

Very true Wraith. The dice will still lead to failure regardless of player skill... That's a different thread though. I still feel like this set of skill rules is just more elegant and simple. Maybe not necessarily more narrative friendly, but certainly much more time friendly. Good point, though, about the dice.

Digitalelf wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
Elf, I want to play a game with you. I feel like it would be one of the most awesome games I've ever played in. :)

I thank you. That's kind of you to say. :-)

I'm afraid that my style of DMing would not go over very well by today's standards. I am very much a DM of the past (if you catch my meaning).

Trust me, I know exactly what you're saying, and that is why I said what I did. I think I would have mind-boggling amounts of fun with you as my DM. :) Probably get caught up in a sweeping narrative of epic proportions and never be able to look back.

Digitalelf wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Kind of odd too. OD&D, which S&W supposedly emulates, didn't have a Druid (or a Ranger for that matter)

Druids did appear in OD&D. They were in the "Greyhawk Supplement" (1975) as NPCs, and then again in the "Eldritch Wizardry Supplement" (1976), though this time, as a proper PC class.

The Ranger was in the second issue (1975) of "The Strategic Review" - the predecessor of (The) Dragon Magazine.

Elf, I want to play a game with you. I feel like it would be one of the most awesome games I've ever played in. :) I mean, honestly, I think the people that are regular posters in this thread should start up a PbP here on the boards. How fricken fun would that be?

Okay, I know I'm not the only one that finds Pathfinder's skill system to be at times absolutely ridiculously broken, and not at all narrative friendly. It can lead to moments like this (watch until you hear the DM say, "oh, you fail."

What I want to know is, do you think it would be possible to replace this and this with pages 57 - 62 of of this document?

This is not a joke, and I'm not trying to start a popcorn thread or a flaming edition war. I really want to know if the community, that has proven over the years to be much smarter than I am, thinks this is a feasible way to run skills while keeping all else in Pathfinder the same?

The one thing that struck me right away was a difference that needs addressing is the way proficiency in a skill is run, but taking the proficiency bonus progressions from the class guide (earlier in the document) you could easily break them up into: Martial, Utility, and Caster progressions and apply to the wealth of Pathfinder character options as table agrees and go from there. Martial and Casters would get to choose two skills that get their proficiency bonus, and utility characters would get four skills to choose to add their proficiency bonus onto.

Edit: Thanks to whichever moderator moved it to suggestions... I wasn't sure general discussion was the best place, but wasn't sure where else to put it. Now that you moved it, I see this is where I should have put it in the first place. :)

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HolmesandWatson wrote:

But in S&W, the spells don't do much early. Shape changing doesn't occur for several levels and at 1d4 HP and leather, they probably won't last long in melee.

So, while maybe a good choice because leveling occurs so quickly in a PC game, it's going to be a tough hall in S&W. A Ranger seems like a more powerful outdoor-oriented character. But I'm letting them play anything they want within the rules. Fun is the goal.

Right!!! Here's the thing with that though, which you'll hear a lot in the min/max, flavor vs. optimization threads. It isn't fun to die. Right?! I mean, it isn't. You want a character that is viable, and this is one of those situations where a players ability absolutely has to trump the game design. You want a druid, why? Because they are awesome in WoW... Looking at the early specs you have here, they are NOT awesome in S&W, at least at early levels. Do they progress quickly, and gain access to some powerful spells after suffering through damn near uselessness (read: I ready my sling) in early levels? They darn well better, or you're going to run into a situation where nobody ever plays a druid, because, why would you... This, for me anyway speaks to the reason why some of the changes in game design happened. It also speaks to, at least parts of, the idea of balance. Clearly, from what you've displayed here, characters are not balanced at early levels. Do they balance over the course of leveling up? Over the course of a long running campaign? These might be good things to keep track of as your game continues.

HolmesandWatson wrote:

The impetus for starting this awesome thread up again was a post I decided to write on why I picked Swords & Wizardry over Pathfinder for a game I'm going to run. And that was really a discussion of old school vs. modern gaming style.

And the heart of that was Matt Finch's A Quick Primer to Old School Gaming.

The post went live this morning. I think it's got some pretty good stuff that reflects a lot of what we've been talking about over the life of this thread.

I think folks will enjoy it and I'd love to see some comments here in this thread. I quoted Gygax early in the post.

Excellent stuff Holmes. I really look forward to future posts about how the game is actually progressing. Good thing your Dwarf Fighter/Cleric rolled that high Wisdom score, eh?! :)

HolmesandWatson wrote:

Mended - Frog God reposted my Black Gate Swords & Wizardry essay and the first comment was similar to yours about getting your kids to leave all those Pathfinder options behind.

What can you say that would get Pathfinder players to try S&W?

And I came up with a reply:

'In the ‘Role Playing Mastery’ thread I link to in the post, a guy is having the same dilemma, wanting to move his sons’ game to 5th edition, but they love the plethora of Pathfinder options too much to switch.

It’s a tough obstacle to overcome because all those options are right there, written down, available for your character to use. And there are a LOT. But maybe one way is to try and sell them on the idea that in a rules lite system, you actually can do more.

You’re not limited to attempting just those feats and skills written down on the character sheet. It’s more like a movie, where the player gets to explain what they want to do in a scene. And anything is allowable. They can try to swing from a chandelier or pull a Matrix kind of move. What they attempt is limited only by their imagination – not the character sheet.

I know my response is a bit thin - it's a really tough sell. Most players seem to love the plethora of options (which I call 'options bloat'). And I get it: I'm a big Pathfinder fan myself. But looking at it from behind the GM screen, it's kind of like, "Get your head out of your cell phone and look around." Don't be tied to your character sheet. Look up and tell me what your character wants to do and maybe we'll try it.'

So funny! Your argument here is the exact argument I use for tearing them away from RPG video games to come to the table and play. In a game, say for example Skyrim, when you see a collection of crates, you may or may not be able to interact with it. When we play at the table, when I've described the environment, it is a playable environment in it's entirety. Want to light the crates in front of you on fire? Yep, you can do that, and guess what, they'll burn. Want to cause a distraction by throwing a rock onto the roof of the building across the street? Yep you can do that.

I do agree that your argument is a bit thin for switching from one table system to another. No matter the system, any RPG should allow a good GM and good players to do whatever their imagination creates. The one thing I've been mulling over lately is how much they LOVE character creation. They love it! We've made more new characters in the years they've played than I can even remember. They have a whole folder full of characters they've played once, or maybe even not at all. That is the beauty, and the trap, of the options bloat. They have a folder of characters as thick as my wrist and not one of them is exactly the same. The beauty of 5e and other old school systems is the elegant simplicity of play. I just need to find a selling point for my boys for that elegant simplicity of play. Part of me wants to create characters for them, and say, hey, let's play a little encounter with these pregens in the 5e system, and see how it works? Another option I have is that my oldest son is currently eating up R.A. Salvatore's Drizz't novels. If I picked up this Faerun accessory book, I might just be able to convince him it would be worthwhile.

I'll tell you what though, I need to come up with something that gets them back at the table, because I'm starting to get the withdrawal itch!

Looking forward to reading your post Holmes! I'll pop back in and comment once I have a chance to read it thoroughly later this morning.

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Shifty wrote:

Indeed, and now anything you want to do you need a 'Feat' for, whereas before it was a case of looking at various skills and trying to determine 'can I do...?'

The GM had the latitude to work something into a story.

Now we need Feats, we need a customised PRC or even full blown class to specifically represent my idea.

Want to be a Samurai? Fighter.
Want to be a Knight? Fighter.

I think the endless proliferation of rules and endless softcovers sort of set the subtext that it's 'all about the crunch' - even though ruleplay and roleplay can certainly co-exist.

Back in the day it seemed ok to approach a game as a full blown roleplay experience, or a dungeon bash with beer and pretzels and still use the same ruleset with no problem.

Oh Shifty! I'm right there with you. I remember playing AD&D in high school, and the introduction of Oriental Adventures opened up the idea of playing an oriental warrior. Loved it! Some of the abilities in there were VERY corner closet abilities that were either only useful once in a while, or not at all. But the FLAVOR was what I was after for my character. Still remember doodling little "oriental" symbols on his character sheet, and trying to approach every interaction with an NPC as a chance to show my adherence to a code of honor.

Now I look at all the character option books, and it makes me get verklempt. I'm not sure where the happy medium is, because I know that character options are not inherently evil, but when you flood the market with so many character options that the average GM has to have a "standing order" of what "they allow" at "their table." I think you've reached the point of retrogression.

I keep eyeing D&D 5e and thinking how nice that would be, and, as I mentioned earlier, I keep having zero luck selling the ruleset on my boys because they like the wealth of character options Pathfinder offers.

Perhaps it is only GMs that get tired of bloat? I can't see casual players caring AT ALL how many character option books there are. Why should they, it just means more ways to build their epic hero.

Funny! When we roll up characters at my table I always use pick the best set from three sets of six from 4d6 drop the lowest number. This will create slightly bigger numbers for the attributes than a straight 3d6. I also, then, let them assign the numbers where they want. I was just reading about the Legend RPG the other day. You can download the full rulebook for free, which is quite nice. They have a set array for ALL characters, as their recommendation. The character can put the numbers from the array wherever they choose, but the developers strongly recommend everyone just uses the array. That idea intrigued me because of the absolute balance that it brings, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized a little "imbalance" in character creation isn't necessarily an evil. The world is full of people that are very complex in terms of physical and mental build, and, for me, I want my game world to reflect that. This creates almost a dilemma of conscience for me, because I've complained on these boards in various places about Patfinder's brokenness, and many times that brokenness comes in terms of balance of power between characters. Once I admitted to myself that I like a little imbalance, it forced me to question whether or not the game's inherent imbalance is necessarily a bad thing. What I came up with, eventually, is that there's a difference between a little imbalance of power between characters because of dice rolls, and player choice, and the level of imbalance that makes one class almost unplayable when compared to another at high levels.

Digitalelf wrote:

I look forward to reading about your experiences with it.

Likewise! :)

Chess Pwn wrote:

So it's a flavor V Mechanics to take a non-caster.

Right, so you take a caster but flavor it as a fighter. When the wizard casts a fireball you just change the narrative and say the "fighter" ran into the melee and layeth the smack downeth smiting all his enemies in a single vicious fury. Do you smeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllll what the Doc is cooking?!

So this is the new martial vs. caster thread?!

I'll look forward to reading your post. :)

wraithstrike wrote:

The repeating crossbow is worse than a normal bow. I would rather take a normal bow and just pretend it is a repeating crossbow since you can run the clip empty in one full round action.

And that right there is proof that a character can be both flavorful and optimized. You pick the optimal option, but flavor it to fit the narrative-sense of the character. Boom! You've got yourself a flavorful and optimized character.

Welcome back... :)

Two things that recent posts have me mulling over, bloat and the ease of introducing people to the table top with rules light (read: GM Fiat) systems.

Interestingly these two topics intersect/intertwine in a VERY weird way at my home table. Because of the remote nature of the midwest town where I live I play entirely with my sons ages 11 and 13. They love the wealth of character options that Pathfinder has available. Love it! My 11 year old is currently playing a goblin alchemist fire-bomber, and he can't get enough of blowing things up with fire. My 13 year old is currently playing a dragonborn (created using the Advanced Race Guide's race creation rules) fighter. So, like I said, they love the absolute wealth of available options in Pathfinder. Guess what they don't like? Yeah, you guessed it, the intricate complexity of how all those options affect rule interactions, and the ease (or lack there of) of running the game at the table.

Holmes, you mentioned running an S&W game for people coming to the table top from video games, this is the case with my boys as well. They played Zelda games, Runequest, Mystic Quest, and similar games. I actually introduced them to the table top at the ripe ages of 5 and 7 through an OLD board game called Dragon Strike. That is a VERY rules light game, but it has all the elements of classic D&D including the six attributes, rolling polyhedrals, gaining and using magic treasure, disabling traps, healing hit points, and magic spells. In recent months we've actually taken a hiatus from playing because the last time we ran, combat took forever because I had a LOT of rules interactions to try and keep track of, and the boys (being only 11 and 13) started to get bored. Even before the hiatus, I had spent a great deal of time looking through the new 5th edition Player's Handbook, and OH MAN! do I like what I see there. But I asked the boys if they wanted to switch systems, and they both (even though the 13 year old could still play a dragonborn fighter) agreed that they like the character options in Pathfinder more than they dislike the wonky rules interactions. However, that doesn't change the fact that I'm having trouble getting both of them back to the table to game, since the last time-sucking session.

So what's the point? Bloat is a double-edged sword, to use a bad analogy. While it is keen enough to cut to the heart of being able to build the exact character that a player wants, it also slices the rules up into so many small and disorganized segments, that it makes playing those characters much more difficult. I am heavily leaning toward starting my boys off afresh with the new 5th edition rules, (whether they like it or not) and teaching them that you can play a "goblin alchemist fire bomber," you just have to realize that the chassis of the that character is a gnome wizard that focuses on fire-damaging AoE spells.

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Jiggy wrote:
JiCi wrote:

When you build a character, be a PC or NPC, how do you balance gameplay and flavor? ...

So... what's your stance on flavor vs gameplay when creating characters, be playable or not? (GMs are welcomed to share their opinions too ;) )

My stance is that if the topic of this thread is even a thing to be considered, then you're probably not playing a very well-designed game in the first place.


This! So much this. Why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, do we still persist in this hobby with the idea that flavor and play-ability are mutually exclusive? Why can't my PC or NPC be both flavorful AND optimal for play-ability?!

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Snowblind wrote:
phantom1592 wrote:

I like the term adventurer. It's a 'catch-all'. If the king is looking for a group of adventurers to retieve the missing princess... He really doesn't care if you are fighter, paladin, wizard, cleric, rogue... burgler, conman, circus acrobat, swashbuckler... whatever you want to call yourself on a given day.

He isn't looking for a specific skill set or archtype... he only wants people brave enough to face the dragon and get his daughter home.

If he put out an add for 'brave warriors'... there are a lot of potential heroes that wouldn't bother answering the call.

I think that king just doesn't want to admit that he is recruiting a mercenary strike force for his daughter's rescue. "Adventurers" sounds so much more noble.

As an aside, what sort of names would "adventurer" types get called in a modern setting that has magic jammed in?

Preternatural Operators?
Independent Contractors?
Paramilitary Detectives?

I haven't figured out an answer beyond just calling people "Operators" and role-playing the NPCs as rolling their eyes at the incredibly cliche term.

That's easy: Transporters. That is essentially the job of an adventurer anyway, isn't it? Transporting some thing or person to another thing or person for money, and killing anything and everything that gets in their way? Man, come to think of it, I really like that title. Maybe I'll change the label at our table from adventurer to "expert transporter."

King: Who will go and save my daughter from the dragon's clutches!?
Us: We will.
King: Who are you?!
Us: We're expert transporters.
King: Transporters? I don't need a wagon ride.
Us: No, but your daughter needs a wagon ride out of the clutches of that dragon and back to your greedy fingers, so you can marry her off to some hideously ugly son of the king next door, doesn't she? You need her transported from one place to another. That's what we do, we transport, we're transporters, expert transporters.

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Frequently my party of adventurers (aka murderhobos) kills an entire village of goblins or lizardfolk without properly ascertaining the environmental or economic impact that might have on the surrounding areas. Does that make the term adventurer apply more, or less?

GM fiat: boss is immune to being dazed.

Mic drop.

I'd say yes. Taking 20, no, because there is a penalty for failure, but take 10 seems perfectly legit to me.

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Neal Litherland wrote:
Can We Stop Using The Word "Adventurer" Now?

I've got a better idea. How about we stop trying to impose our pet peeves and personal opinions on the gaming tables of the greater community. If you don't like the term adventurers, the only we that should be discussing that is your table, cause my table loves the term adventurer. Cause, you know, we go adventuring... :)

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My guess is not. The latest official announcement is that it is "not dead" but also not being actively developed, nor is it scheduled to be actively developed any time in the near future. As another poster put it in that board. Not sure what definition of "dead" they're using, but something that isn't being actively developed, nor even has the slightest esoteric idea of a schedule to be developed, is more than likely dead, and just waiting for the coroner's official report.

Snapshot wrote:

I am working with what little free time I can get so bear with me.

Ummmm, I hope I speak for everybody when I say, THANKS! You are under zero obligation to do what you are doing now. Take your time. We're not going anywhere. :P

Umbral Reaver wrote:
Aranna wrote:

I can help you with some depression advice.

Keep a close friend who can check in on you at regular intervals. Someone who will recognize your depression and can pick you up and take you out to do something they know you will enjoy. Because DOING something is the fastest route through depression, and if you have had severe moments were you couldn't even watch TV then that friend is a lifeline.

I don't really have any support of that level.

Umbral, not that it makes much difference but if we lived in even the remotely same neck of the woods, I would offer to be this level of support. I know, heck of a lot of good that does you.

My advice is going to sound much like Aranna's. I've found that my creative outlets are entirely blessed when I share them with friends. There is no law that says writing has to be done in isolation. If you have any friends, or even acquaintances you know that share your interest in creative writing, it can be really rewarding to get together and write, together. Cooperative fiction is an excellent outlet not only for creativity, but also for entertainment and just good clean fun! The great thing about cooperative fiction is that you don't have to do it face to face. Google sheets makes creative fiction possible right over the internet. If you'd like, I'd be happy to be your creative writing buddy over the web? Shoot me a PM and we can try and get something going. :)

Your friend,

Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:
Lorila Sorita wrote:

Apparently 500 gold coins weighs about 10 pounds in this game. Which makes gold coins about a 1/3 ounce per coin. Which for fun, means a gold coin in game is equal to about $300 in real money today. If it was pure gold.

That is a lot of approximating so don't take it too seriously though. Any way, what does that make a gold coin in pathfinder? Like the size of a nickle or something?

10 pounds means that joybuzzer gold brick is too heavy to lift with mage hand (so the wizard can't just resolve it with a cantrip) and a 10ft pole is probably not good enough a leverage to even move it.

How annoying.

Unseen Servant could lift it. :)

Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:
anyone who even thinks of robbing the place

Oh, dude! You just made me think of like some Minority Report level stuff. Like three oracles in a pool of water and they predict who would have robbed the bank before it happened. Some PC gets arrested while they're just strolling the market because they happen to see somebody purchase goods with a bank note, and the casual thought crossed their mind that those documents could be forged.

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