Mike Knowles's page

23 posts (41 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


Alkuin wrote:


"None of us really knew anything about the murder except that we think was up at the tower...."

Well, let's start there, then. You take your crew around town in a couple of smaller groups. Just listen to people and watch. You'll be much better at blending in than I would be. See if you see anything odd or overhear anything. Don't engage anyone though - we don't want to get anyone hurt! Let's meet back here in two hours. I'll head up to the tower and see who I can talk to.

Once the kids are ready to go, I head towards the tower trying to catch the gaze of any militia folks. If I come across anyone with any authority...

Hello good sir, as a Knight of the holy Order of the Aster, I would like to offer my hand in helping you restore peace to this town. How may I be of service?

If I don't come across anyone high enough, I'll just keep going to the tower.

Alkuin wrote:


As you mention the danger involved the children all take on a wide eyed look of realization. When you finish Morris, the obvious leader of the gang, looks over his shoulder towards his counterparts who all nod in agreement. Turning back to you he say,

"'kay! Sounds good to us. 'ow you mind getting i'formation mister... What's your name?"

Whew! Maybe this won't turn out as horribly as I'm now imagining!

The best way to get information is to act like you belong. Having a little information already can really help with that. I know you all know a little about what's going on. I've been out of town for the last couple of weeks so have less knowledge of what's going on. If you go over what you know, I can take that to the town watch. They already know me and, as a Knight of Aster I'm going to be questioned less than, say, you would be. I'll use the information you give me to help ask better questions. When I get what information I can from them, I'll come back and we can compare notes and see what the best plan is from there.

I'll wait to make sure we're on the same page. Kids being who they are, aren't likely to be content with "wait here", so I'll add:

While I'm at the watch, you can split up into a couple of smaller groups and blend in with the people. By looking at you, I'm sure you're already good at that. Try to overhear conversations and see if anything suspicious comes up. Be careful though - don't do anything alone, and don't confront anyone. This is just covert reconnaissance. When I get back from the watch, and you get back from around town we should be able to put together a better picture of what we want to do to catch this person.

Alkuin wrote:

"Town Meeting in the center of town! Everyone to the market! The Lord Chinilvur requires everyone's presence!"

Seeing as that was where I was headed, I'll continue to the market. I assume it will take some time for people to assemble, so I'll still check on the seeds if there's a vendor and they're still open. While I'm talking to the vendor I want to be chatty with them (diplomacy check?) and see if these sorts of meetings are common.

I think since it's all somewhat experimental and "try out this PbP thing"-y, a smaller number may be a more useful start. 3 or so players I think would be great. 2 players seems a bit shy, but that's just me.

I have a pretty random schedule right now, so while I can check the site throughout a given day, the time I can check isn't reliable. Usually I can check it in the morning (between 6am-8am my time) but after that it's pretty much when I have a break between clients, then whenever I get home I could check it again (but I don't usually know when that will be until I'm on my way home, too).

Stefan - I have your email now, so if it were me I'd delete your post above which now only serves to tell other people your email.

I'll put together some more thoughts and get them your way.

I would, but my email of yours is several versions old and now bounces. Send me your new email and I can use this new fangled technology. Until then I'll stick with waving it around from the roof.

Here's the basics (no stats or such are rolled), conceptually:

A youngish paladin that was raised in a very religious family and a very sheltered home life. As I've aged, the church elders decided that local work for the church at home wasn't the best fit for me currently and that exploring the world and seeing what's out there would be the best way for me to see what faith really meant and to disover my true calling. Even if that calling was to return home to help the same local church, it would be from a much more careful consideration.

I see the character as young, idealistic, and somewhat nieve. Smart (if the rolls work out), but seeing the world, and solutions to problems, as a bit more black-and-white than may always be practical until he becomes more worldly.

At first, I'd see responses from this character coming across like the annoying "typical" paladins from old. The more this doesn't result in expected results, the more the character will have to grow into more "human" choices of actions.

If something like that works, I'll put together a sheet and wave it from my roof for you to check out.

Or email, if I can get a more current email.

I just wanted to pop my head in, wave, and say something creepy like "I'm watching you!"

Good to see you're still around Stefan, even if you're on the far right side of the globe. Summer after this we want to head over that way ourselves, but probably only for a month or so.

If you decide you want more people, and would lower yourselves to include me, I'd be interested. I could wave my character sheet at you from here and shout "let me tell you about my character!" We have a rooftop deck in our building, which hopefully will be tall enough for you to see from where you are.

Or maybe it would be better to email it.


Our campaign group is split into multiple parties of adventurers who all know each other to varying levels. We switch playing one group for another about every three months or so. This allows us to play varying levels of characters, and different characters more often.

When someone dies in a group and resurrection isn't available (see below), we generally promote up characters through the ranks, so the "new" character joins the lowest level group. Making lower level characters and creating personality for them has been much easier for us than trying to integrate a new 10th level person into the group.

After implementing this, the desire for resurrects actually dropped as people were more willing to make heroic sacrifices. These have varied from "I'll hold them off, you get out of here", to more simple non-death actions of "I need to stay back and help this community rebuild." Actions that the players felt their character would normally take, but the player wasn't willing to if it meant rebuilding a high level character. Now they just move around the characters they already have and like and add a new one in the low end. We've built a farily decent (I think) system for handling this in-game and in-story.

For lesser (?) deaths, we allow ressurections/raises within an hour of death, or within a day if gentle repose or other preservation has been made. Larger temples can use rituals to bring people back up to a week gone, but it's not a case of "quest for X and we'll do it". If you haven't already built up the relationships, forget it. All raises presume that the character's soul wants to return, and that their god sees a good reason for it. If their god has other plans for them (which becomes more likely the "bigger" the character is), there's less and less likelihood as well.

That said, we've used dead PC's as NPC's of sorts that returned as messengers and such from their particular gods and keep them partially involved.

As a voter, I'd love to know what the rules of the contest are/were in order to see which people stretched the rules. Keeping these rules viewable only to contestants until after the contest seems like an odd choice. How will we be able to see who creatively stretched the rules while staying within them?

Although in the "Almost there" thread, Erik says "...see you next year...". This may be a hint of what they already think about the contest this year, or Erik just being hopeful. Or nothing.

It's these final counts that are really starting to needle me. I was fine until the later part of this thread. Dang you all! Now I'll start compulsively start checking threads for more numbers as the count comes down.

(as if I haven't been checking more than is healthy anyway)

Like many here, I'm assuming my item is still in the running, though some of Erik's and Clark's recent comments are finally starting to stress me out.

Running with that assumption, I've been envisioning what this contest will look like as I work on the next submission. In doing that, I was wondering if there will be a separate message area where the contestants can chat amonst themselves if they desired, or if some way for them to contact each other would be possible. In my fantasy of how this contest would run, I'd see it as a friendly (though serious) challenge, and I know I wouldn't mind helping where I could on someone's entry if they wanted an extra set of eyes, along with appreciating the ability to do the same with my entry. Heck, I'd even love the option to toss ideas around with another contestant to see if it would improve both our entries. Doing that sort of brainstorming in the public space seems inappropriate at best.

I realize not everyone would want this sort of pre-exposure, but if there were a small number of us that did, would the allowance of that be possible without having to, say, post our email address to the main public board?

Fatespinner wrote:

*grumble grumble*

Why don't they just include one of those black baseball caps with the big yellow "!" on it with every copy of the 4e DMG? Then the DM can just put it on when the PCs interact with a quest-giver and the players will know that this NPC is going to give them a quest.

I so want a hat like that now. I may not make it out of our next session alive, but it'd be worth it just to put that hat on during a game.

ArchLich wrote:
Mike Knowles wrote:

Basically that the power levels of each level are dramatically different. I can't, say, involve a 2nd level character in with a 5th level party because the power level is already too different. Doing so would amost certainly cause the 2nd level person to die quickly in their first battle.

This means that villians and other people (even town guards) have to level just to make things challenging as the party progresses.

Well then again you are talking about 2 1/2 times more levels.

Compare a 4th level character to a 10th? 6th to 15th? Not great examples but kind of the concept I was going for (I hope). If 2 = 5 I would be very confused.

Oh and the person playing the 2 level character should die if the acted as if they were 5 level.

I don't know that you missed the point, but I think we're looking at things differently.

I don't want a system where 2nd level and 5th level are so remarkably different in power level. They're far more than 2.5 times in power, even though that's all they are in level. I mainly want a smoother progression.

For instance, a small town that the party encounters has a problem of an 8th level rogue wandering around and asks the party for help. Because it's an 8th level rogue and party, certain other things in the town have to scale up so there's even a challenge. If the guards are all 1st and 2nd level, they may as well not even exist. Instead, the guards have to be scaled up to 4-6th level to matter at all. If they're that level, what the heck are they doing in a small town? If they stay 1st level, the party will see them as nothing but a problem and people to protect instead of people to ask for help. I like an environment where the party is always working with people around them and there's no way an 8th level party will want to work with even a 3rd level person since one attack on the 8th level group will slaughter the lower level with nothing they can do about it.

If the progression were slower, or the power differential were less, then I wouldn't have to level every single NPC that the party encounters who they may want help from.

It mainly comes down to how the story and setting feels, and while I want the party to be heroic, if they are more powerful than everyone by orders of magnitude it diminishes how stories can be told, in my opinion.

Yes, a 2 vs 5 battle should have predictable results, but I would like it to last more than a round. And maybe with really creative tactics (and luck) I think a 2nd level party should be able to survive, if maybe not win.

Joey Virtue wrote:

What do you mean by Level Treadmilling?

Basically that the power levels of each level are dramatically different. I can't, say, involve a 2nd level character in with a 5th level party because the power level is already too different. Doing so would amost certainly cause the 2nd level person to die quickly in their first battle.

This means that villians and other people (even town guards) have to level just to make things challenging as the party progresses.

Joey Virtue wrote:

Economy? how is that the game mechanic and not the setting you are playing in?

While it's not a game-mechanic problem, it is a game-system problem. The way D&D's economy works is strange, and players end up richer than kings pretty early in their careers. There isn't a functional economy designed, and what little economy is there is easily broken by PC actions. It's definately not a 3.5 problem and has existed in all of D&D. To see that it may be addressed in 4e is something that excites us.

Joey Virtue wrote:

Spell System there are alot of optional rules for differnt spell systems. What are your problems with spell systems?

True, lots of optional rules and other systems entirely. Still, we'd like a system where the default system was good, something which was getting us to look at non-D&D systems in the first place. The problem we have with the D&D spell system boils down to:

Memorizing: The party is effective until the wizard is out of spells. Then the party has to rest unless it's willing to take on much higher risk. But they've only been awake for an hour before they ran out of spells, so now they sit on their thumbs for the rest of the day.

Spell levels/selection: 3rd level fireball is broken/overpowered. There's little incentive to take interesting/utility spells over offensive spells, even for a role-playing (non-hack/slash) heavy campaign.

Joey Virtue wrote:

Reliance on magic items, you can survive and do well with small amounts of magic items (multiple Ravenloft campaigns have shown me that) but our game group thinks all the great magic items is a great part of the game

At 10th level, for instance, if the fighter isn't decked out in some magic he'll be practically useless compared to a wizard of equal level. The caster's spells level up as they level and can avoid some of the magic item problems, but melee types don't get that benefit, and the casters are already overpowering the melee types at the mid-levels. The system/setting assumes that melee types will be gaining magic gear as they level just to stay competitive with the casters. As one of our players puts it "you are your gear", which is true for many characters, unfortunately (in my opinion).

We tried something where all items were charged/temporary as a way to lessen the reliance of permanent items and cause people to swap out their items but the maintenance of it was more than the fun it may have added.

Our group got very close to leaving D&D last summer due to problems we kept running into in 3.5, and some problems that are embedded into the D&D system. Level treadmilling, economy, spell system, and reliance on magic items are all cited as big problems by our group.

Most (all) of those aren't really issues with 3.5 and were in previous versions as well but there simply are some types of stories you can't tell with the framework that is the current D&D.

When 4e came out and a few details were mentioned, our list of problems were largely addressed as at least things to be looked at. It's really caused us to stick with D&D for now and see what 4e looks like once it's out and give it a fair shake. If they can fix even a percentage of what's wrong, in our opinion, with D&D (note: I'm saying D&D, not 3.5) then we're all sorts of thrilled. I'm not nostalgic at all for the older editions and have seen a gradual progression to a better, smoother game.

As far as I'm concerned, D&D isn't that expensive a hobby as that sort of thing goes. Buy the books and then you're set for a few years. Heck, if I spent $100 a year in hardbacks on D&D it'd be less than other hobbies, and I'm no where near that average. My biggest D&D expenses right now are Paizo subscriptions. Others may simply buy more than I do, or have a different level for what a hobby should cost.

I don't really see why there's so much hatred for 4e already. It's not as if any details are even out except for a sketch of "these are things we want to change". I'd be interested to go back to pre-3.0 days and pre-3.5 days and look at forums to see how much people were going to hate the new system before it came out - I seem to remember an awful lot but in the end it turned out OK. 4e could do the same if given a chance.

Well, I guess I'm still possibly in, then. Go me!

Comfortably less than 200 words & SRD stuff only. I stressed for a while about a missing comma I found after I submitted (dang coordinate / non-coordinate adjectives) but I'm assuming that shouldn't ding me horribly. Now I can just stress about whether the item is good enough.

I loved the first movie, but the second (trying hard not to spoil) used a plot device that made me ultimately dislike both movies. Movies that use things like the chalk just simply seem like bad (read: lazy) plotting and writing to me.

I was interested in the books, but haven't read them. If the chalk isn't in them, maybe I'll still give them a shot.

Clark -

Thanks for the insightful comments about the judging process. From the outside, there's just waiting to do right now. It's interesting to get at least a small glimpse into what you three are now having to do for all of those many entries. Good luck!

Frankly, I can't imagine any product of value being easy to make without at least a chance to play-test it. While my entry is "mine", there's the hand of almost 15 people in the entry in various aspects. This will be true of any of the future entries as well from play-testing to simply reading it for clarity. When it came down to it, though, all final decisions rested with me and I claim the entry as my own, and everyone who helped recognize that.

If this isn't allowed, I'd be far less inclined to participate since the only way I can feel good about a creation I made is to run it by other smart people. I can't imagine "design in the dark" was intended by the contest.

A true "team entry" would be really complicated to adjudicate once a final winner was selected, especially with money (however small) involved.

By all the people here who have posted their "submitted" message that'd add up to quite a few entries, not to mention everyone who didn't/hasn't.

I finally got my entry passed by my game group for play-test this last session and re-edited so entered today. Since we play on Sundays it'll make future play testing more complicated with the entries due on Mondays. We still haven't figured out if we're going to reschedule the game or do a secondary play-test-only session. I suppose we have a few weeks to figure that out while I stress in the meantime.

Since our gaming group is fairly atypical of more gamers I know, it'll be interesting to compare what "we" think are good/useful items versus the items that win. I'm sure they'll be close, but I'm sure there'll be at least a surprise or two.

I looked at those too, and from what the SRD says, psionic items are Universal Items and not Wondrous Items. I'd love to hear what the official folks say.

That said, I imagine that an item that had both psionic powers & arcane powers combined would qualify as both a universal item & and a wondrous item, so would seem to fit the bill. One of my early draft items was an item like this, but it died when I took it to my rules lawyer for review. Dang rules lawyers knowing everything. Still, I'm glad to have him around.