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willmontgomery's page

Goblin Squad Member. 12 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


Good idea dropping that card into my AP subscription. Until now, I've always ignored the module line -- since I have little use for most short one-shot adventures -- but with the recent change, you have a new subscriber. And without that card in my AP subscription, I would not have known about the change (since I've always ignored the module line).

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
But in a game with far less reliance on permanent scalable magic items those shops would probably mostly sell potions, scrolls and one-shot magic items.

This is how my world works. In another thread, I said that I don't have shops, but I didn't know at the time how that would be construed. Local clerics and hedge wizards do fashion and sell one-shot and limited-use items.

Otherwise, I have experimented with items that "level up" aong with PCs, as a rudimentary way of simulating that the power is coming from the PCs (within existing game mechanics). I have also experimented -- with the help of Trailblazer -- with simply building the bonuses needed for balance directly into character advancement.

After reviewing alternatives, I think that PF is the best system available. I think that this is primarily because it represents the natural evolution of 3/3.5, which (I believe) initiated the Renaissance of RPGs. I believe that I can have everything I want by house-ruling PF.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
kmal2t wrote:
Aratrok wrote:
What mechanic do the NPCs use to make the items? What makes it so special that it's beyond the reach of PCs? Why?
lulz. because its magic and mysterious? Not everything has to be figured out like what are the physics of a meteor swarm spell..
More likely because it allows the GM to maintain control of the players' characters.

AD, again with all due respect, why would you say this? You're the OP (so in a sense you started this), and you do have something interesting to say, but still you're compelled to attribute what represents (in the context of this discussion) the basest possible motives to a very non-inflammatory, concise post from another party participating in your thread?

You have established that even people who at first seemed to disagree on the matter of "magic shoppes" may not be so far apart after all. But then you go on:

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
OK, so, apart from a few unique players, the reason people keep posting "I hate magic shop" comments in thread after thread is because they are against a "magic mart" system that almost never is used in any actual game but somehow the concept of it is so repulsive that any mention of "magic shop" causes a reflex regurgitation of emotional baggage so that everyone is aware of just how thoroughly they oppose the notion of using a system that pretty much never actually gets used at all.

I noticed this thread in the first place only because you quoted my exact words (from another thread) in your original post. And of course my other post was not at all what you describe there in this second quote. But now I find myself wondering, in all sincerity, if these posts (that I have singled out) reflect your true attitude, then in what way was this entire thread not a troll from the get-go? Or if they do _not_ reflect your true attitude, then...?

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
It's an arms race regardless Shallowsoul. As I have pointed out several times now, having magic items of an appropriate level for at least the "big six" is required to be competitive. Magic shops are just a way to acquire them. Since you need them anyway then if the player character can't purchase them then they are at the mercy of the GM arbitrarily distributing them through fiat or through forcing the PC to quest to attain them. So in the end it boils down to a question of who owns the player's character concept and build. The player or the GM. Frankly I don't care to beg my GM to please, please, please drop that +3 shocking longbow that my character needs so much. And in terms of verisimilitude there isn't much that makes me roll my eyes as much as the "amazing coincidence" that the party just happened to find that item the rogue has been whining about for the past three months of game time.

With all due respect -- and I realize that things have gotten a little heated here and there in this thread -- you are pretty much right about all of this, but I don't think that it's quite that simple. Yes, the items do need to be there, but I believe that you are overlooking at least one possibility for delivering them. Or maybe we just have a different standard for verisimilitude (which of course is a very uncertain foundation upon which to be constructing any argument relating to a fantasy RPG).

Fantasy literature is full of examples of cases where a given character can use a given item to accomplish something in chapter X + D (where D > 0) that he/she could not accomplish with that same item in chapter X. Sometimes there is even a scene in chapter X in which the character fails that exact task, just to raise the narrative stakes for the subsequent attempt in chapter X + D. In fact, the pre-cursor game for Pathfinder eventually published some rules for this, but of course the idea had been around before that. So I believe that there is another option (besides shoppes, or implausible drops, or forcing quests, or restricting character options): an item can develop along with the character.

Of course, I run a certain kind of game for a certain kind of player (40-year-olds who happen not to come from a gaming background that prizes optimizing their character builds). They get to develop their characters the way they want, and they do grow quite attached to certain items (which acquire an identity and a history of their own), and the whole evolving item thing makes sense for them because they've seen it / read it a dozen times. It's not exactly RAW, but all it really entails is that their favorite item gets incrementally better at a level-appropriate time, and I drop a correspondingly smaller amount of gold. A case could be made that it is simply a primitive form of altering the game system to shift the power focus from the item to the character, but doing so within the existing game mechanics.

Congratulations on being introduced to TB. Personally, I have no interest in that as an alternative game system, but as a mathematical deconstruction of the game -- to facilitate house-ruling that won't break game balance, given that I don't have access to a team of play-testers -- it is priceless. For example, I spend an inordinate amount of my time customizing monsters. TB doesn't have much material on that, but it does include references to absurdly detailed deconstructions of what contributes to CR. Not that those deconstructions are necessarily perfect, but they do provide detailed guidelines, especially if one accepts a key premise that does appear in TB: the numbers have somewhat more play built into them than one might fear. So even if the CR deconstructions are incorrect in a way that suffers from a consistent mathematical bias (either too strong or too weak), I probably won't imbalance my game too much by using them (as long as I apply my changes judiciously).

BillyGoat wrote:

I've never met a situation that wasn't improved by letting the players feel like they're in control.

Random loot is not in their control. Shopping for items looks like it is in their control, and usually is at least partially there. This makes my players happy.

I find that things are better when the players (willingly) surrender some of that desire for control. It makes the ride more fun for them. But (in my case) it's not random, either.

BillyGoat wrote:

I don't think it's possible for the items to be mysterious or wonderful to the players, since they're stated in fine detail in Ultimate Equipment (or whatever resources you use). There's no way to keep the mystery, except the mystery of "am I going to get something useful, or condensed money?"

Don't get me wrong, my players & I love looting the dragon hoard. It's better odds than the casino. But, to suggest that this introduces any useful mystery seems a bit far-fetched unless you custom-make every item or disregard the wealth-by-level chart.

Items need not be referred to by the name that appears in the published source, and the players don't necessarily spend time reading every source trying to figure out what stuff is. Remember, this isn't something that I do _to_ players, it's something that I do _with_ them.

I don't custom-make every item, but I do select every item, and I scrupulously follow the wealth-by-level (because otherwise I wouldn't know how much to give). There are so many story possibilities in the area of found treasure...

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
will, everything you say is within the purview of the GM simply by creating custom magic items that do things you can't find in a catalog. I do that all the time.

As do I (see below).

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
But let's pretend that you are right and that being in possession of something necessarily, by "human nature" automatically means that thing stops being special.

You don't have to take my word for it, but that is what studies of human psychology find. It's very nice for you that you are an exception. Apparently I am not.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Well, that applies to your "rare and wondrous" magic items just as much. After a time your players will grow used to them and they will no longer be special no matter how they obtained them.

Of course, except that they get the fun of finding out what they do... but more importantly the "special" items themselves evolve along with the PCs... so they never become entirely familiar.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
And finally, this idea that you are appealing to the PLAYERS instead of the player CHARACTERS is interesting. I suppose that I definitely had more of a sense of wonder about this game, oh, 30 years ago when I first started playing. Now that I've had campaigns where we've saved the universe multiple times, using all sorts of the most bizarre and wondrous MacGuffins, I don't think you're going to be able to engender that feeling in ME with your rare and valuable +3 sword, no matter how difficult you make it for my character to get one. In fact, you might have exactly the opposite effect.

So perhaps familiarity _does_ "breed contempt", even in your case? More importantly, I don't where "no matter how difficult you make it for my character to get one" came from. Nothing I said was about making it difficult for PCs to get items. They just don't come from shoppes.

I first played back in 1979 or thereabouts (as I recall). The only reason I still retain an interest is that the _story_ can always be new.

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I think that you are missing two important points:

1) Human psychology makes it inevitable that anything that becomes familiar stops being "special". I think a Ferrari would be pretty special. If I bought one, though, I would start to take it for granted, not because I am a take-it-for-granted type, but because I am human. Plus I would become annoyed when it broke down.

And much more importantly (for what I think you're getting at):

2) I think you are failing to distinguish between "special to the PCs" (who aren't real) and "special to the players" (who are). The imaginary feelings of imaginary people who find a fancy sword are not the reason that I don't believe in magic shoppes. Rather, it is the actual feelings of actual people in the room with me.

Fear/horror is the same way. As a GM, I can threaten the PCs with all kinds of terrifying adversaries -- they might even fail their saves against fear -- but the players might very well just carry on with the encounter. But if I can elicit an emotional response from the _players_, then I am accomplishing something as a storyteller (or a participant in the group storytelling).

To accomplish this with treasure, the item needs to be mysterious and wonderful _to the players_. If the players pick it out from a book, then it's just part of their character build (how they chose to spend their "gold piece points", as opposed to their "skill points" or their "feat points" or their "class level-up points"). Character building can be fun too, but players already have a lot of kinds of "points" to spend on their character builds. I reserve encounters and the corresponding treasure for the unexpected.

As a GM, everything I do is for the entertainment of the (real, human) players. The PCs are just part of the medium. If there's no story, we might as well be playing an arcade-style game (killing time, simply running up a score).

So in my world, _everything_ is part of the story, even if the players -- not to mention the PCs -- don't always notice. This has obvious implications (e.g., there are no "magic shops" to speak of, because the special stuff wouldn't be special if PCs could just order it from a catalog), but also less obvious implications (e.g., the reward structure for any given adventure is tailored to contribute to the mood of that adventure). As a GM it is incumbent on me to monitor the players' advancement (including gear acquisition), but the players don't have to see how the sausage is being made. Sometimes the reward is dictated to the PCs, sometimes it is negotiated, sometimes it is whatever they happen to find. Sometimes the salvage belongs to the PCs, and sometimes they are told ahead of them that it will _not_ belong to them (offered a bounty or a salary instead), and sometimes they are surprised when someone demands that they hand it over. Sometimes there appears to be no reward at all. Sometimes someone even demands that the PCs pay for damages that may have occurred.

[None of this causes game imbalance, as long as any deficit is made up in a timely fashion, or perhaps there only (for the moment) _seems_ to be a deficit. When there's no catalog of special items that can exist, even the players don't always know the value of what they have found.]

Anyway, it's a game, so no one leaves the table weeping in disappointment, but if there aren't highs and lows, then it's a boring story. And the "treasure" is definitely part of the story. There are all kinds of techniques for using rewards and penalties -- actual and threatened, delivered and withheld -- to deepen the story (not to mention indulging in some foreshadowing or irony).

Bringing this around to the topic, I have two answers to the original question:
1) seizing the assets of defeated adversaries and salvaging long-forgotten artifacts are frequently thematically appropriate story choices in a fantasy adventure setting, or
2) if all the game provides is "stealing from the Dead", then that bespeaks a certain lack of imagination on the part of the GM.

The FGG website offers RA supplements for sale. It says that quantities are limited, but I suppose that must refer to the print editions of those supplements. Anyway, I have the new RA (in pdf for now -- I am awaiting the hardcover). I have the impression that the supplementary material is already included in the file that I have, and that the supplements are being sold separately only for people who don't have the new RA.

Is this correct?

This might be obvious to someone involved with the Kickstarter -- either from FGG or as a backer -- but I didn't find out about the KS in time, so I am trying to catch up.

I don't really read for adventure or excitement anymore. Instead, I read for character, theme, ...

It's tough to read in the fantasy genre if one is too averse to reading about violence of various kinds.

There are superficial ways in which my upcoming recommendation may appear not to fit the original poster's criteria. Saying anything more risks detracting from the emotional impact of the story.

With that said, I recommend: The Deed of Paksenarrion

Best fantasy I've ever read? No.

Best novel sequence I've ever read, from among those that happen to fall into the fantasy genre? Certainly a contender. And -- relevant to the OP's request -- written by a woman about a female hero (not just a female protagonist).

I really, really do not recommend The Legacy of Gird.

4th Dimension Games wrote:

Fun you should mention this. I might have exactly what you are looking for. You should check out our product Skill Encounter: Non-Combat Challenges on sale at Paizo.

Dude, you typo-ed the title right there on the front cover! And again -- in a different way -- on the first page (above the table of contents). This product -- available only in electronic form -- has been out for nearly two years, and you're continuing to sell it, but yet you haven't bothered to fix even these typos. Shame on you! I'll never buy anything else from "4th Dimension". That's just sloppy and lazy, and I won't support such shoddy work with my hard-earned money.

No, this is not a joke; I'm actually rather taken aback at the obvious lack of care and ongoing commitment with this product. Paizo should discontinue selling it until it stops being an embarrassment to them.

I'll spare you the fine details of my particular circumstance, and get directly to the key questions:

1) Will it be possible to find out what Dungeon back issues will be available under the back issues transition option without actually committing to that option?

2) Will it be possible to select Dungeon back issues on the morning (Eastern time) of September 1? I will be going overseas that day, and am wondering if I am doomed to picking over the dregs after I return.

3) Will PDF versions of Dungeon back issues be valid selections under the back issues option? If so, then the answers to the first two questions really do not matter very much. Tangible copies would be nicer, but the content is the important thing. Note that I am supposing here that, if PDF versions will be valid selections, then all such issues will be available under the transition, because scarcity would not be a consideration. If (for some reason) this is not the case, then the answers to the first two questions regain their significance (to me).

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