Dr Lucky

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I've got a story I think is pretty good. One time long, long ago (1st Edition), the team of razorguys, street mage, a decker and a rigger were up to their necks in dreck thrown at them from one mega-corp after another. Not enough to kill them, but enough to have them running scared, low on ammo, and a bit banged up. Wondering why all their chips were being cashed in, the runners discovered through a little jaunt through the Matrix that their group was suspected of possessing some primo loot that the corps just had to have. They also discovered that the burn order came down shortly after a little unsolicited visit to the mainframe of Ares Macrotechnology. After a bit of soul-searching, they finally stripped down the decker's cyberdeck and discovered that the hot new AI that Renraku had cooked up had been hiding there at Ares and had jumped on-board the deck! This led to a white-knuckle round of negotiations, the runners trying to survive and get some sort of profit out of it all. Finally, the runners were cornered in an armored bus with the finest from all the Big Ten of megacorps all pointing live fire in their directions, when the AI jumped the deck, shut down most of the telecomm, the corp panzers on-site, and gave the runners a fighting chance to blast themselves out of certain death. The AI revealed itself to them a week later out of the blue, offering them a nice little bonus for having liberated it. Good times, chummer, good times.


"So let me get this straight. This thing is half-bear and half-owl. Let's call it a bowl (pronounced bowel)!" - spoken by an adventurer after his first triumphant encounter with an owlbear


"The ability to destroy a baby Sarlaac is insignificant next to the power of the Force!" - spoken by Lakhem Ch'tobosh, Quixotic Jedi


As much as well to you and yours! *raises a drink in a toast*


I enjoyed the Thieves' World, but I'd really have to trust a DM who'd run a game in Sanctuary. Even though Sanctuary seems like a typical setting for a D&D adventure, with wizards, warriors, thieves and gods and their servants, the atmosphere is so essential to anyone running it. Magic almost always has some sort of downside. Politics are lightning-fast and deadly. Life is cheap, and people don't come back from the dead. If you're playing in Sanctuary and it ends up feeling like, for instance, Greyhawk or Waterdeep (which I know have their own dangers, but each has a different feel for certain) something is dead wrong. With a DM I could trust, I'd salivate at the thought of playing in Thieves' World, by Ils!


I truly think that the way a DM deals with death should be somewhat campaign-specific. For instance, in my Mythic Earth campaign, my Norse PCs realize that if one of them dies in battle with a valkyrie watching, Odin's not going to be too interested in giving back that fallen warrior. He sets a demand: if I release this one soul, I take one other from the people you know and love. The shaman of the group has told the others in the group that it'd take an incredible amount for him to consider possibly losing his own family or his wife for them. If they die ingloriously, then it'll be Hel they'll have to deal with, and her rates are even steeper...though it is possible to go into her realm and get the soul back physically (MUCH harder than casting a simple spell).

Contrasting that campaign to my previous campaign (Heroes Reborn), the cleric of the group had access to raise dead and eventually ressurection and true ressurection. That changed my strategies considerably (in a fight with a foe who knew them, the cleric was Target #1 whenever possible, which led to such fun things as him being sat on by a dragon for an encounter to the prompt use of forcecages) but I still managed to make things challenging enough that though death seemed a bit more inconsequential, it still moved the players closer to a TPK (Total Party Kill, for the newcomers) and was treated seriously. In fact, it was rather liberating, as I could throw just a bit more than they could handle at them from time to time and knew the aftereffects of a mistake on my part need not be permanent.

But I think truly the real issue I have with death and ressurection in gaming goes hand-in-hand with the reality level of your world. For instance, anyone who assassinates a major figure in a ressurection-available world had best know how to trap the soul, or the effort will merely be a show of force rather than a permanent attack. That old coot who dies just after imparting a vital clue? Much more convenient to raise him back so he can fill you in on the rest of it. If it was important enough to drag his bleeding carcass across two counties just to whisper his last words into the ear of a party member to set the adventure, surely he'd come back to fill them in on the rest, right? Lastly, to take it to its most ridiculous conclusion, you may hear conversations like this one:

Sweaty Farmer: "Parson, come...well, whenever y'all can. Jethro done went and got himself run over by the horsecart again. We need ta get him raised before the harvest!"

Parson Simmons: "Oh, come now, this is the fifth raise dead I've cast on Jethro this month! If you weren't so devout to Mrph, god of Dirt, I'd have to charge you for it..."


How about Charlie Daniels Band' "Devil Went Down to Georgia"?


This adventure needs the DM to have a banjo music clip ready...


I think the thing to remember with this AP is that what we see as we buy it and read through it is a change from the sanitized politically-correct adventures many of us are used to. The sad thing is, the "monsters" the characters kill are only guilty in many of those games of attacking first (sometimes), or being of a race generally regarded as an "evil race". What the RotRL AP does is makes evil truly evil; irredeemable, unconscionable, and nasty. The PCs are in no moral quandry when the Bad Guy shows up or they track her down. The evil must be destroyed, a fine outrage at the gruesomeness and depravity of the villains is cultivated, and the PCs are avenging do-gooders, not morally-ambiguous vigilantes. You can really say they go too far only in what the DM, as the filter through which all content is revealed, allows.

As far as nudity, I still remember as a teenager all the players wanting to have Loviatar as their patron goddess (if you don't know why, snag a copy of the old Deities and Demigods book). There's always been questionable content in D&D, from a bared breast on the harpy's picture to a half-clothed Bast. It's all just a matter of controlling the content.


The only thing that makes me sad about the new Pathfinder is that Paizo has to keep reinventing the wheel by building an entirely new game world and wasting so much space fleshing out a new world. If only they had a setting that was already in existence, as they were able to do with the Dungeon and Dragon magazines, there'd be a lot more substance for the gaming material. I give them a ton of credit for relegating much of that background to the Player's Guide, however. The adventure looks like it'll be a lot of fun to run, the art is beautiful, and the whole thing is well-worth the value for a person who just wants to pick up an adventure and run with it. I hope the next one is worthy of it; I have no doubt it will be.


Just got my copy yesterday. It's a nice-looking piece of work, I hope you get yours soon.


*reads through my copy* Yeah, you'll want this one, it's a good one...very nice work Paizo!


I suspect Eberron is going to be their baby for the next year. From the read I get from the vibes of the whole thing, they're working hard to cleanse their properties of all traces of influence from people they don't work with anymore, most notably Gary Gygax and his world of Greyhawk, but now also including Monte Cooke. Eberron is their first big post-TSR property, and when it outgrows itself to expansion, they'll possibly work on a new one. I think it bears watching the independent game designers for new worlds first, personally.


Actually, Dragon had gained and lost beloved other comic series before (ah, Yamara) through combinations of politics, stupidity, and natural causes. Anyone contemplating Pathfinder has to realize that it is not going to resemble a magazine at all.


You can always crib from the actual myth-sources themselves like D&D does, like Heaven and Hell, or as my Mythic Viking campaign goes, borrow from other mythologies like the Norse realms of the Yggdrassil (Niffelheim, Muspelheim, etc.). Forget the Astral, you can literally walk from one plane to the next (though you may need the right magic or rainbow bridge). And that deep, deep cave? Better know how to get back, because it could lead you to Hel's realm...


who was allergic to licorice


One thing to contemplate, dear readers, is the possibility that WotC may be in the opening phases of downsizing and possibly unloading more intellectual properties to outside concerns. Remember when they allowed the Ravenloft IP to be shipped out, and the excellent materials that came out of it without relying on the WotC Official braintrust and creative team? We had lots of handbooks inside of a year or two, each adding to the world. Think of all the gaming mags that have died out or transformed beyond recognition that could now see a flood of new content or submissions now that Dragon will be gone. Who knows, it could be a real renaissance.

I wasn't always happy with some of the directions Dragon had gone (though I enjoyed the Age of Worms Adventure Path from Dungeon, and I think Pathfinder will do well on the AP theme, I make my own campaign material, so I'm not a big follower of Dungeon). Perhaps this will allow the new "electronic forum" to expand beyond the narrow vision of a few editors and appeal to a larger body of readers. Damn, but I'll miss Dragon, but I am hopeful for something better to come out of it, in the same way 3rd Edition was so far superior to 2nd (IMHO).


I'd also not recommend overlooking the more obvious reasons for playing cross-gender, rather than hunting for psychological twists and yearnings. Some men (myself included!) play female characters to exploit the biases others hold for females, based on sex-based stereotypes (women are weaker, not as threatening, and should be protected/pampered more). Even with today's modern view of the sex roles, this holds true, and moreso in a gaming environment. By playing a female character, I have gotten anonymous donations of wealth and items in Online RP games, just because men liked "my look". I don't even troll for such gifts (usually), but the subculture is there. Besides, what better way to completely bypass well-thought-out defenses than with a "harmless" female's seductive wiles against a manly foe? It's almost cheating! (Oh, and the large-breast-is-a-guy-playing-her principle? Totally true! I've found that real female players believe much more readily my female persona if I tone the bust size down in the few games that allow such alterations.)

I find women play male characters, in the main, to be taken seriously. While the attention payed to female characters can be nice, it also generally comes with a price tag of a disbelief in one's ability; even if it is a slight difference, it can be a tangible one. Taking a look at two 20th-level mages, for instance, male and female, most people subconsciously will attack the male first. That male will also get picked an eyelash's width faster for a group to go adventuring. Also, women enjoy camaraderie that can be more restrained if the group isn't "all-guys".

Sadly, in role-playing a lot of cross-gender gaming only comes to a caricature of the gender role portrayed. Men can get hung up on their character's "that time of the month" to act completely crazy and irrational, and women who play men can be exaggeratedly oafish and overly stereotyped. There is nothing wrong with cross-gender roleplaying, but it shouldn't get in the way of the gaming itself.


Sheesh. I just wish I had the money for the Dwarven Forge sets. I ended up going with the cheaper (in all senses of the word) Mageknight 3-D Dungeon. Ugh. Good thing I have my trusty battlemats!


Remember one thing that always applies to a game: the DM's word is final. If he wants to distort the play balance of the game, that's his perogative, just as it's the player's perogative to tell him why he shouldn't. House rules always have been a by-product of gaming in general, and D&D specifically, since it was first created. However, if he's just ignorant of how a rule works, it should be easy enough to correct.

"Munchkin" player characters can happen to the best of DMs. They can cause distraction and frustration. It's important for a DM to have a good dialogue with his players to maintain the balance of his campaign, or it may spiral into a long pit of abuse and counterabuse.


Does no one love the joy of rolling up a new character, feeling the dice rolling in your palm, the electric timgle of possibilities before you? The different karmic rituals to give yourself the best chance of rolling up the next Elminster, or Drizzt, or Conan? None of those characters were made using a point-based system, I assure you.

There are plenty of advantages to using the point-buy system. Everyone starts out on an even playing field, they get the stats exactly where they want them, and people who don't min/max usually end up with nice, above-average and well-rounded characters. And it's true that a character's memorability should lie more in their deeds than with their stats. It also allows a DM yet more tailoring ability. If you're going to run an extremely high amount of combat, you may wish to let your characters have more points for survivability.

But there's a special kind of tingle when you look down at your dice and see those sixes. When your non-gaming friend walks by and says, "Wow, that's a nice Yahtzee score...", and you begin spinning the possibilites in your head, imagining this new character in epic levels, with a stat that ranks with some of the most popular characters in D&D history...well, that's the reason I always let 'em roll. I watch each roll for honesty's sake, and occasionally show mercy for extremely poorly-rolled characters. But I know I have fond memories of my best-rolled characters that went on to great things in their respective campaigns.


I think one thing that few people remember is that those nice DEX bonuses melt away when a character is caught flat-footed or is stricken from behind. The fact is, the armor makes you a tank, able to deflect even blows you can't see or otherwise react to. Obviously, there will be situations where a character will want lighter armor (natural cave-style dungeons where lots of wriggling and maneuvering come to mind first), but on a battlefield where you can expect open space and a reasonable chance to be surrounded or surprised, heavy armor is the way to go, especially for characters with poor reaction skills.

Most smart fighter-types will have an armor that fits the situation at hand, just as they all carry multiple weapons to deal with a variety of foes (or they end up with the frustrations of fighting skeletons with piercing weapons, etc.) It just makes sense...and lacking sense, most people who constantly get into fights want to put as much hard metal between themselves and a potentially-fatal blow as possible.


The best class to pick at level one is hands down the rogue. You can cheat and get back any other class feature...you cannot get skill points back that you missed. As long as you can survive first level with the meager hit points you start with, you'll never miss them afterwards. Second level, if you're min/maxxing, goes to the fighter for all the free feats, including all the proficiencies you could ever want and more hit points. The fresh kicker to the Fortitude saving throw isn't a bad thing either. After that groundwork is laid, you can pick and choose where you will. Choosing the right race can allow you to choose any third class and do just fine as a level 1 rogue/level 1 fighter/ any level whatzis with no experience penalty. You'll be able to wear any armor, shield, or most weapons, have all the entry level skills of the rogue, which at the very least fleshes out your character in several ways you might not otherwise afford the skills in (everyone feels the urge to sneak from time to time, admit it). At just the small penalty of two levels, it's almost a no-brainer for power-gamers, in my humble opinion.