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Until I hear anything in the rules that say off-hands can get iteratives at all, I will run that they don't. A few reasons:
No multiarmed monster has a stat block that shows it's possible.
Six basic attacks plus three normal iteratives with the main hand weapon seems to be as high as you can go. Multiattack only applies to natural weapons, and neither that nor multiweapon fighting grants extra attacks with off-hand weapons anyway. Further, multiweapon fighting REPLACES two-weapon fighting for creatures with three or more hands, so no extra iteratives on off-hand weapons are possible, since ITWF etc requires TWF as prerequisite.
The major problem with Dark Sun is that it was very much a one story setting. This is the story detailed in the Prism Pentad series of novels. Eventually, they ran into the wall of No more stuff to say. Now, you certainly don't HAVE to play that story, but the setting materials have little other option for the successful group. The cutthroat politics of the setting mean that once someone gets powerful, they must either deal with the dragon kings etc, or be destroyed by them. Even the material dealing with the mind lords etc are expressions of the same story. It is the primary problem with the non-kitchen-sink setting. That said, there was material beyond it, such as the Dragon's Crown adventure.
Note also that it is a setting with a very high number of superstar characters, like Rikus, Neeva, and above the others Sadira. The setting books even specifically bring up that the PCs should not be able to destroy the BBEG, that task being reserved for the novel characters.
There was simply no way that WotC would publish anything that split their fan base after they took over TSR's books. The start of 3rd came with a number of policies that had already changed the situation:
No splitting the fanbase.
Whether these are true or not, and that truly is debatable, those were the reasons.
It also behooves us to remember that there is also another side to it. After ceasing publication of the other settings, WotC did not pursue the scorched earth method of fan relations by suing everyone who put out something D&D related. It used to be joked that TSR stood for They Sue Regularly. Instead, the various sites dedicated to the different settings have been generally allowed to keep on.
I understand. I really do.
Thing is, if I were in charge of FR publishing and wanted to really try to burn it to the ground, I would do this:
Nuke the setting from orbit. Based on a plotline that people spent three mega adventure books to prevent, just to show that I don't care about continuity. Make it a post-apocalyptic wasteland complete with mutants. Then, to eradicate every NPC around, make a 100 year time jump so they are dead. Restore it to pseudoomedieval fantasy. Redraw the map, wait, scratch that, keep the map EXACTLY the same, because nothing of significance happened in the last 100 years. Add in an extra continent with... stuff... that was very dragon themed but had no connection. Then publish a player's guide, a DM guide and an adventure that again had nothing to do with established facts of the setting. Followed by... nothing for years.
i.e. precisely what WotC did in 4th edition Realms.
Apparently they got over themselves at some point, because they restarted it with some stuff toward the end of 4th. This was decent, apparently, but I haven't read it.
5th edition did all they could to apologize about all this, without actually saying it. Everything is now back to where it was, mostly. Dates are kept extremely vague. It all screams "you can use this and ignore 4th", which is good.
I read the first six Salvatore books. I had to stop after that. Still, they were actually fun. I have never had to face a Driz'zt clone in a game.
An important thing that needs to be said: TSR published so many settings that were often successes among the fans. Planescape, Ravenloft, and Dark Sun are likely the most storied, but Spelljammer, Mystara, Council of Wyrms, and a number of minor ones like Jakandor, isle of War were also published. And this is not to mention the various sub-settings of the primary settings: Zakhara, The Hordelands, Maztica, Taladas etc. This was possible because there were a good number of people who bought everything they put out, vastly lower production values, and being their own business and being able to set their own targets.
Freehold's hate for FR seems to primarily hinge on the idea that since the other settings were slashed, and FR wasn't, it was the FR's fault they were. I guess I can see that reasoning, but it doesn't work. TSR published everything they could think of. Some of it was fantastic. Due to various poor decisions, they foundered, and when WotC took over, they made an analysis of what had been going wrong. They decided on two things: Splitting the fanbase (aka all these settings), and not getting enough feedback from the fans.
When 3rd edition was published, FR wasn't even the default setting for the game. It then took them a good while to put out the FRCS for 3rd (a very good book). The other settings were gone already. If you want to blame anything for their loss, blame the publishing policy of huge, lavish books with gigantic production values. That rather makes niche products impossible.
Wizards and Rogues and Warriors and Priests of the Realms are very good books, yes.
I suppose what I am selling is that the Realms is a big enough setting to encompass many different visions of what a FR game should be like. With FR, you can, and have to, focus on what you like. If you don't like the powerful NPCs, ignore them. Be careful about novels. Understand that the novel is about a vision that may not fit yours.
Oh, and I have expounded at great length on why 4th edition Realms needs to die in a fire.
Way to read only what you want to see, Freehold.
Greenwood is not a great writer. I said as much. However, you were aware that he was frustrated because TSR and later WotC pushed for him to write more Elminster novels? And it isn't as if all his books are terrible.
As for low-magic, did you read the gray box? It is not as far-fetched as you think. Sure, tons and tons and tons of magic has been added by scads of people, but that doesn't mean it has to be done that way if you don't want to.
You're a smart guy. Challenge yourself. See if you could do something worthwhile with it instead of chanting that it's just bad. Stuff you might want to take a look at: The gray box, Forgotten Realms Adventures, volo's Guide to the Sword Coast, Power of Faerun, and Faiths and Avatars should give you a good starting point. As for Novels, I would suggest you dig up a copy of Realms of Infamy, which has a pretty rough perspective of the Realms.
The FR is a frequently very misunderstood setting. It started in the sixties as Ed Greenwood's fantasy setting for his own stories. It was later adapted to AD&D when the alternatives were Greyhawk (but with Gygax in the cold, that wasn't happening) and Dragonlance (which was a bit too tight in theme). TSR bought the rights to the setting from Ed, based on a number of early articles in Dragon Magazine. With that done, TSR reshaped it heavily, starting from the very beginning, the gray box.
What Ed's original campaign (which is apparently still running) looks like has been shown in a variety of sources: The site Candlekeep and the Ed Greenwood's Realms book, mostly. Suffice it to say that it's a far more low-magic setting, built for roleplaying and extensive lore. It would read much more like a soap opera, to my understanding. It is a setting where adults have played for decades, and much of the results had to be sanitized for the published Realms. It has villains as credible threats, and not the Keystone Kops version of the Zhentarim. Also of note: The original campaign is focused on the Heartlands, Western and Eastern, which is the area the grey box explores.
Now, it had to change when published. Remember that the project was started in the days of the Satanic Panic, Baatezu and Tanar'ri, etc. Much of what is commonly criticized about the Realms stems from this period: The removal of all assassins is the classic example. TSR had a policy much like the comics code, which guaranteed self-censorship: Helpless people could not be shown to be destroyed, nor could villains be successful. You can find this policy online somewhere. The consequences were profound, and resulted in exactly the common criticisms of meaningless villains. However, the writers were not all slaves to this, and if you read the earlier materials, you will find that there is much darkness between the lines. Simply put, the Realms is a very dangerous setting, where threats exist everywhere, adventurers tend to die in short order, and all the powerful NPCs described can really do is secure a minor area that can then act as a safe harbour. Of course, with all the villains spending their time doing slapstick, TSR focused on detailing good NPCs, exaggerating what was actually there. As an example, several of the Seven Sisters were just female characters that TSR decided to make Chosen of Mystra (which itself wasn't a term in the early Realms).
Another factor in this is the novels. According to the original deal, Ed gets the Realms back unless he gets a novel published every year (I think). I suppose it's a problem to have guaranteed publication for anyone, leading to some real stinkers (like Elminster in Hell) but what is interesting is that his novels are different in tone to other FR novels, much more reflective of his home campaign, more adult in theme, and more focused on the lore and characters. Of course, other authors wrote a LOT of FR novels, and shaped the thing thoroughly. Among other things, the Realms-Shaking Event of the week syndrome comes from this. The misadventures of the multitude of gods of various subsettings is another.
If you want to make a Realms campaign, make the gods a bit more distant. That is easy. It is just as easy to ignore the POWERFUL NPCS OMGOMG. Just either remove them (but put some thought into what makes Zhentil Keep not invade the Dalelands, and who keeps the Silver Marches together), or do what I always did: Make sure the heroes have no easy way to get to talk to them. If you DO want to use them, say, Elminster, play him as he was originally envisioned: A manipulative and very powerful wizard put into place to be just as much of a problem to the heroes as support. The Return of the Archwizards trilogy played him this way: As a virtually unbeatable obstacle to the main character who he had to distract and avoid. Again and again, the Chosen of Mystra are described as only vaguely mentally stable - certainly not people the heroes can count on getting to do what they want. Nor do they simply pop in to fix things (other than in novels), they risk too much by doing so and prefer oh so much to send a few expendable adventurers in the right direction. They are callous when they have to be.
Next, up the general level of danger. The setting is full of horrible threats. Monsters, servants of evil gods, power-hungry wizards, villainous organizations with virtually unlimited resources abound. Add in rival adventurers, mercenaries, bandits, conflicts with legitimate authorities, dangerous tombs and abandoned holds, vicious politics, and your heroes should have enough to do.
I have played many campaigns in the Realms. I find the standard criticisms against the setting rather shallow. Using it is a matter of ignoring what you don't like, which is necessary anyway, since there is far too much written to use at once. Make it a setting where the role of adventurer means something. Try your best to make it live and breathe.
Just like any other setting, I'd say.
Another thing: I sincerely do not believe banning politics will have the effect people hope. What draws people to participate deeply in a community is that they feel welcome as they are in that community. That they can gather around all sorts of topics that are important to them in that group. See Deep 6 FaWTL for an example. For better or worse, the current world situation makes all our lives political, and finding people you like to discuss them with is a huge plus. My guess is, overall posting will merely go down. I may be wrong.
I find it a very sad thing that politics will now not be discussed on these boards. I can understand the problems with having those discussions, but let's be honest, compared to the rules questions sections, they were a balmy breeze. Still, it is difficult to go through the discussions in my head without seeing precisely the echo chamber described above. Go American-style leftist, or go home, to put it frankly. As a Swede, it is a daunting prospect to learn all the words that nobody is supposed to say. As an old school liberal, I consider it better to know that someone despises you because they tell you, than not to know because those particular words are forbidden. With all due respect to those theories of language-shaping-thoughts and all that, those people aren't going to stop thinking what they think because they get called racists. It doesn't work like that. What works is giving them an alternative, something better to believe in, listening to their concerns, respectfully showing them your position, and, critically, letting them save face when they do try to change.
I am not saying sequels are always bad. Absolutely not. What I am saying is that an industry that focuses only on selling repeat performances and guarding that is unhealthy. Sure, one or two new games make it into the mix, but the huge money gets dumped into sequels. The worst part is that this further solidifies the genre stranglehold we know so well, shutting down possibilities of creative games. There is more, of course, like the "give is over 90% or kiss any review copies in the future goodbye" school of games journalism that gave 100% to the latest round of Sim City, and the despicable maneuverings that gave us Aliens: Colonial Marines.
I do try to keep an open mind, but it's difficult.
I started playing in another era. Single-person projects could be smash hits. Graphics were primitive, so gameplay had to compensate. Most of it was still drek, of course, but some was excellent. And now games cost a hundred million dollars and require a thousand people in three or more companies to make. Which means sequels and remakes are what the companies go for. Which means the brand, not the game, is paramount. Which means we pay top dollars for the marketing, not the game.
It is deeply unhealthy. And E3 is the yearly showcase of exactly what is wrong with the computer game industry.
What would impress me is seeing something more and different from games that were originally released in the 90s. Meh. I have been playing computer games for too long to be impressed often, but E3 does tend toward the extremely predictable. Hopefully a few of those games are really good.
For nostalgia reasons, I would love to see BG&E2, I just don't believe it will a) come out, and b) be well done if it does. Some things are difficult to match.
You said it yourself: The politicians decided your example bill wouldn't pass. A spectacular example of regulation, not capitalism, in action.
Capitalism has faults. Blame it for those.
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