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Demon-Spawn

Prime Evil's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 262 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 Pathfinder Society characters.


Cheliax

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One interesting question is whether WoTC are planning to offer some kind of licensing arrangement less restrictive than the 4th Edition Game System License. WoTC pretty much lost the entire third-party publisher ecosystem to Paizo overnight when they abandoned the Open Game Licence in favour of the GSL. While the direct economic value of the third-party ecosystem to WoTC is small, it is important to them in capturing mindshare and building a community around their products. I would argue that the rise of Paizo has been at least in part due to the effort that they have invested in building a strong community of third-party publishers around Pathfinder - this has helped to build a buzz around their own products and to demonstrate their respect for the broader hobby.

Cheliax

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The 8th Dwarf wrote:
Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
@Thanks 8th. Nice day today on the Cumberland Plain, if a bit windy.

The Cumberland Plain is a big place... Campbelltown to Hornsby and into Canada Bay...

I haven't been outside since I got to work but it was nice this morning...

Well, I'm in Parramatta at the moment and it's not that windy here :)

I've decided that any game that requires me to break out a spreadsheet or a calculator just to generate a character is probably too complex for my tastes.

I love Golarion as one of the finest RPG worlds ever devised and I respect the work of certain third-party publishers, but I'm increasingly alienated from the Pathfinder RPG system itself. I look forward to reading each new Paizo release, but I'm not sure that I ever look forward to running them as a GM. With young children and a shrinking amount of free time, the amount of prep time required to run a Pathfinder session well is a burden. Although I'd love to use a different rule system, finding gaming groups prepared to play anything else is becoming harder and harder as the size of the RPG community shrinks.

With the benefit of hindsight, I think that the decision to maintain backward compatibility with 3.5 was a mistake. I understand why Paizo made that decision from a business perspective, but it meant that their efforts to streamline the rules went didn't go far enough. The areas where Paizo did make changes are definite improvements over 3.5, but too many of the underlying issues weren't addressed because of concerns about breaking backwards compatibility.

On the bright side, these days I'm increasingly getting into the various d100 systems descended from Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying - Call of Cthulhu, Runequest 6, Legend, OpenQuest, Renaissance, and the current edition of BRP itself. All of these games seem to hit the right balance between detail and ease of play for my tastes. Plus they work great for classic pulp fantasy action. It's just hard to find people who want to play them...

Cheliax

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DaveMage wrote:

My initial reaction was: I thought Munchkin was by Steve Jackson Games....

Seriously, though, I need to read the GM section before I draw a final conclusion as 20 pages in, I'm thinking Mythic is a bit too over the top.

Just glancing over the final rules and my impression is that Mythic isn't something that you do lightly. It looks like fun in its own way, but you REALLY don't want to mix it in with your normal game or there will be tears all around. I'm also worried about the amount of additional preparation required to run a Mythic game.

Still...it looks like a more solid effort than the Epic Level Handbook for 3.5.

Cheliax

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Intellectual property law is a language unto itself....

Cheliax

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Lords of Light, look at the size of those spiders. Ariel! Ookla! To the horses!

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

You know, this is the sort of thread that convinces the general public that roleplayers are crazy.

Does it say something about me that I am fascinated by these kinds of topics?

Cheliax

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I find that the following two quotes from the first edition DMG still inform my attitudes towards fudging. On the one hand, Gygax advises the GM that it is OK to fudge under certain circumstances:

Gary Gygax wrote:
You do have every right to overrule the dice at any time if there is a particular course of events that you would like to have occur. In making such a decision you should never seriously harm the party or a non-player character with your actions. "ALWAYS GIVE A MONSTER AN EVEN BREAK!"

Buit on the other hand, Gygax provides some fairly stern guidance about the wisdom of fudging to save the characters from certain death:

Gary Gygax wrote:
Now and then a player will die through no fault of his own. He or she will have done everything correctly, taken every reasonable precaution, but still the freakish roll of the dice will kill the character. In the long run you should let such things pass as the players will kill more than one opponent with their own freakish rolls at some later time. Yet you do have the right to arbitrate the situation. You can rule that the player, instead of dying, is knocked unconscious, loses a limb, is blinded in one eye or invoke any reasonably severe penalty that still takes into account what the monster has done. It is very demoralizing to the players to lose a cared-for-player character when they have played well. When they have done something stupid or have not taken precautions, then let the dice fall where they may! Again, if you have available ample means of raising characters from the dead, even death is not too severe; remember, however, the constitution- based limit to resurrections. Yet one die roll that you should NEVER tamper with is the SYSTEM SHOCK ROLL to be raised from the dead. If a character fails that roll, which he or she should make him or herself, he or she is FOREVER DEAD. There MUST be some final death or immortality will take over and again the game will become boring because the player characters will have 9+ lives each!

Gygax also makes an interesting comment in his afterword to the module Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth that might be relevant to this discussion:

Gary Gygax wrote:
Players will not improve if the DM pampers rather than challenges them. If your players perform badly, do not allow their characters to increase in experience level...Allowing foolish and ignorant players to advance their characters to high levels reflects badly upon the game and even more so upon the Dungeon Master who allowed such a travesty to occur. In effect, it is the excellence of the DM which is judged when the caliber of play by any group is discussed. Keep yours high!

Based on these quotes, I summarize the intentions of the game's original designer like this:


  • The GM has the right to fudge the dice on occasion, but it is not something that should be done lightly.
  • The GM should never fudge the dice in a way that causes direct harm to PCs. (For example, fudging random treasure is probably OK, but fudging PC saving throws is probably not)
  • The GM should always be fair to the monsters as well as the PCs. If you are going to fudge in favour of the PCs every now and then you should do the same for their opponents to ensure that you are being impartial.
  • Most of the time, the GM should accept the results of the dice - even if they result in the death of PCs. Adventurers kill plenty of monsters with lucky dice rolls during their careers.
  • Remember that the game includes a number of ways to reverse the effects of death, so don't be afraid to kill PCs off if that's how the dice fall.
  • NEVER fudge the dice to rescue characters who have done something stupid or neglected to take basic precautions.
  • It is acceptable to occasionally save a character from accidental death due to a run of freakishly bad rolls, but the GM should inflict some alternative penalty upon the PC to reflect the will of the dice. This penalty should be quite severe.
  • At the same time, remember that the possibility of final death keeps the game exciting. There must always be the chance that characters will be permanently lost or the game will quickly become stale and boring.
  • If you always rescue the characters from the consequences of their choices, they will get lazy and come to depend upon GM fudging in their favour.
  • GMs who fudge too much deserve ridicule because they are not providing an appropriate challenge for the players (Note the distinction that Gygax introduces between challenging the players and challenging their characters).

Call me an old-school GM, but I find this to be a balanced set of guidelines.

Feel free to discuss :)

EDIT: I would also draw attention to the following quote from Gygax's book Role Playing Mastery:

I would also quote from Gygax's book "Role-Playing Mastery":

Gary Gygax wrote:
There are times when the GM will bend or break the rules of the game system in order to allow his players to maintain their characters. Just as he sometimes metes out punishments for infractions, the GM at other times intervenes benevolently, spreading his aegis over the PCs to save them from probabilities gone awry....If the party is in danger of extermination through no direct fault of its own AND because a string of unlikely occurances have all somehow come to pass, then it is time for the GM to step in and set things back on the right track, or at least keep them from getting any worse.!

I find it interesting that Gygax emphasizes again the importance of being even-handed - if you are going to help pou the players every now and then, you shouldn't hesitate to punish them harshly if they do something stupid. He clearly sees the two ideas as being closely related...

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Not only did early editions of the game assume that the distribution of attributes amongst the general population followed a bell curve, they assumed that player characters WERE typical members of the population who achieved greatness through their deeds - rather than starting out with the advantages conferred by atypical attribute scores. There was also an assumption that certain character classes were far more difficult to gain entry to and their incidence amongst the population was much lower.

Neither approach is inherently better than the other, but they do reflect very different assumptions about the kinds of fantasy tropes that the game is intended to simulate. Early fantasy RPGs draw much of their inspiration from Sword & Sorcery fiction where the heroes are more human in scale than they tend to be in High Fantasy. Their ambitions often revolve around getting rich or having interesting experiences rather than saving the world.

However, later editions of D&D have tended to draw more inspiration from high fantasy novels where the characters tend to start out as "special snowflakes" - the lost heirs of important bloodlines or the inheritors of important artifacts. It's easy to point to the release of the original Dragonlance modules as an important turning point in this trend, but I would argue that TSR was merely responding to broader market conditions when they embraced that style of fantasy - this was the period when authors such as David Eddings and Terry Brooks were at the height of their popularity.

By the end of the 2E Era, the RPG industry had embraced the idea that an interesting character concept required an interesting backstory - the idea that your PC might start out as some peasant schmuck was becoming anathema. Things such as character kits (remember those?) encouraged the shift in expectations and fed into the design assumptions for 3E.

In addition, the mechanical complexity of character generation for 3e meant that people were investing a lot of time in creating their PCs. If Pustule the Fighter (CHA 5!) wasn't made of sturdier stuff than a typical peasant, he might not even make it to second level - and that would mean that an hour or two had been wasted. So there was another pressure dictating that PCs should be above-average in at least some areas. Ironically, both Pathfinder and D&D have reduced the need for exceptional stats at 1st level by beefing up low-level characters slightly to improve their survivability.

To me, one of the most interesting relics of how far the game has drifted from it's sword & sorcery roots is a little-known table from one of the early Greyhawk products that spells out the expected distribution of the various classes amongst adventurers (fighter types 50%; thief types 24%; cleric types 15%; magic-user types 10%; and others 1%). This seems distribution reflects the assumptions of swords and sorcery fiction very well - where protagonists tend to be warriors or rogues and arcane spellcasters are quite rare. It doesn't reflect the assumptions of high fantasy, where the protagonists often possess some kind of arcane magic talent that gives them an edge against the Dark Lord. A world where barbarians and assassins are more common than wizards or clerics speaks to a very different set of assumptions than modern RPGs such as Pathfinder do.

These days GURPS and Runequest are better at enforcing the bell-curve than just about any game derived from D&D

Cheliax

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Hama wrote:
Hmmm....as much as i hate Bill's work and his destruction of whatever he gets his hands on, i am sad that a man lost a job. Hope that Paizo doesn't take him in though.

Bill Slavicsek did some fantastic work for the old d6 Star Wars RPG from West End Games back in the day. He also worked on the Dark Sun campaign setting for TSR and did some good work for WoTC in the early days of 3E - including large chunks of the d20 Modern product line. Although I don't like the direction that D&D has taken with 4E, I respect a lot of Bill's past work and wish him all the best for the future.


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