The world of Bolla was once a thriving Earth-like planet, with an advanced ysoki race creating a near utopia. However, a druidic botanist created a species of giant, sentient trees, called the greenspear, with an unknown byproduct of supernatural powers to influence sapients. The greatest of the greenspears, the Blade, orchestrated an intricate plot to destroy the ysoki so that a new plant-based order could take over. A great magical battle flung Bolla into a planar scism that indeed destroyed all the ysoki, but also left the planet underwater. The greenspears eventually adapted, creating the scattered continents of kelp-like plants. Since then, an aquatic variation of skittermanders have called the planet their home, creating underwater civilizations, sometimes on the ruins of the exstinct ysoki civilization. Ghostly ysoki, confused and hostile, attack the world’s new inhabitants, as do rifti left over from the mass planar fractures of long ago. In addition, the skittermanders worship a great underwater tree they call the Grove of One. Little do they know that this is the Blade, which continues to plot for a plant-based world that it controls. Luckily, an astrazoan group of scientists who study interstellar threats has arrived disguised as skittermanders. They hope to study the cause of Bolla’s downfall and prevent any such occurrence from happening again, on Bolla or otherwise.
I like the ramifications for the world, including if the PCs happen to fail. When I read the "What if Ileosa Wins" section of Curse of the Crimson Throne, I was suddenly inspired with all kinds of adventure ideas to deal with the heroes' failure. Of course, that's only for enterprising GMs who don't mind making up a new storyline. Different GMs read these APs for different reasons, not solely to run them. One reason is to gather ideas to create their own adventures and dealing with the failures of past heroes is aways an interesting launch for a different kind of adventure.
I have a player who is black and prefers to play characters who share her skin color and look. I think Paizo has done an admirable job of providing human characters of various skin tones as part of Golarion, but I wonder about other races. If someone wanted to play an elf (nondrow), a halfling, or a dwarf with a darker skin color, has there been precedent? We are, of course, going to do whatever we want, but I wonder if there is anything in the published works about nonhuman ancesteries with darker skin.
If this subject has come up before, feel free to point me toward the appropriate thread. Thanks for your time!
Andoran would be another prime location. They're in a very strong position right now, don't have much internal or external conflict, and the empowerment that individual citizens enjoy would create a generally happy atmosphere. Not that Andoran has no problems, but an isolated community could be very gentle and prosperous.
Thanks for your help!
I think I found my village. Bellis sounds perfect.
I'm starting up a campaign in Avistan that I would like to begin among a group of people who are innocent and naive, much like the hobbits of Hobbiton. So much of Golarion is made of hardened people who deal with harsh winters, monstrous invasions, wars, and corrupt empires. Where might be a good place that a "gentler" folk could exist?
I sent the email, as requested, and haven't heard back.
Hmmm...if I'm responding to the idea that tabletop rpg's are becoming a rich man's hobby, I would say no. Sure, if I bought everything I wanted, then I would have to declare bankruptcy, but that could be true of a lot of things. It's only a rich man's hobby if you make it one.
I don't exactly remember prices from 1993 and I can't speak for other games, but let's assume each rulebook for AD&D was $20.00. That's $60 plus tax.
The Pathfinder Core Rulebook is $31.49 on Amazon, and the Bestiary is $26.39, both brand new with free shipping. That's $57.88. Add tax since you live in California. I would argue that with that $57.88 you get more bang for your buck - there's more material offered in the Pathfinder books than the 2nd ed. of AD&D. Lastly, you and your players can pick up more options, monsters, treasures, etc. on the online srd and print them out.
You can pick up Pathfinder modules for $12 to $14 on Amazon as well, probably a little more than a typical 32-page module from 1993. However, Dungeon is no longer available. This has brought up the cost of getting well designed adventures. That wasn't the point you were making, but I do find getting adventures costs more due to the loss of this magazine.
Sure, there are RPG books that cost over $100, but these are luxuries. Not owning these books doesn't prevent you from a good game. I don't own a single book that cost me more that $50 and I feel I have more than a lifetime of roleplaying.
One of the things I find interesting about D&DNext as it stands is the ability to adjust and otherwise homebrew several aspects. Backgrounds, specialties, monsters, races, and perhaps even classes might be easy to invent.
I'm debating on running an AP or a homebrew campaign using the Golarion setting using D&DNext. Anyone else doing something like this?
I think this may be a bit off-topic, as this wasn't necessarily supposed to be a thread that considers the merits of bounded accuracy, just some of its potential challenges if incorporated into 4e. But I will describe what caused me to conclude why I want to try bounded accuracy in 4e.
For myself, I like a lot of the concepts of D&DNext, but when my group tried playtesting it, we did not have a good experience. It could have been the circumstances or the given adventure wasn't really my group's style (although I liked it), but I eventually had to stop playing as at least one player was showing no interest in my three player group.
We've had a lot of success with 4e, a system I overall like although I have some challenges with it. So I thought, how difficult would it be to incorporate some of the ideas of Next into 4e?
Some of the ideas: bounded accuracy, playing without a grid, avoiding powers that require the subtly of grid positioning, avoiding immediate actions in powers and monsters, and allowing a power's flavor text to supersede the crunch text if the circumstance comes up.
I don't know how any of this will work, but I'm willing to give it a try. If it doesn't work, I can just as easily revert back to the ruleset as given. We'll see!
Steve Geddes wrote:
How will characters get better at things without the 1/2 level bonus? Back to assigning a number of skill points per level?
The short answer: feats. There is also the consideration of magic items that improve skills.
Right now, as far as skills, there is a hodgepodge of some things getting a higher DC the higher the PC's level or a set DC for specific challenges. Bound accuracy will allow me to keep the same DC's at all levels. With feats, the PC's can add +2 to a trained skill. Perhaps I'll allow the PC's to take that feat indefinitely. Perhaps, in addition, I could let them increase a skill by 2 every 5 levels or so.
I don't think that will be too hard. I think I can easily figure out a number for their attacks/defenses. Damage output will remain the same. My biggest concern is that the overall system isn't set up for bounded accuracy. There might be some unforeseen hiccups regarding the actual math and other items.
Perhaps this topic has been covered; if so, please point me in the right direction. If not, are there recommended books to read to get one in the "mood" of Carrion Crown. There are the obvious, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and H.P. Lovecraft, but anything else? I'm partial to 19th century, but any recommendations are fine.
Chris Mortika wrote:
I think it's more important to count choices rather than steps. Calculating touch AC doesn't take much time. Selecting feats does.
I agree. Some of those "steps" are so simplistic that they are not worth counting. For example, in 4e one calculates skills and then adds ten to Perception and Insight to get the passive numbers for those two skills. This takes all of 2 seconds and nothing at all if you are using the character builder. Yet Mearls counts them as two additional steps.
The things that take the most time and add the most complexity are choices: feats, powers or spells, skills, ability scores, equipment, and so on.
Plus, complexity with creating a 1st level character does not equate to complexity of the entire game system. If Mearls' overall point is that the game is more complex today, he needs to look at the entire system, not just beginning character creation.
I believe that, for better or for worse, the most complex system is 3e. It's also the one that seems to offer the most variety and options. One could make an argument for 4e's options and complexities, especially now, but because the game systems are quite different, it's hard to really make a comparison. They are complex in different ways and offer options in very different ways.
I see Mearls' overall point, but I think he's stretching a little to make his point, which I think weakens what he's trying to say.
Lately, I've been looking at some of the old school adventures of 1st and 2nd edition. Adventures like Temple of Elemental Evil, Tomb of Horrors, Undermountain, even Dragons of Despair. By modern day standards, these adventures have several flaws, but I remember them fondly. This got me thinking of more modern games I've played and if any of them have captured that feeling of fondness. For me, only Shacked City has recaptured that nostalgic feel, but that could be because I haven't played it in a few years.
I haven't had that fond feeling in a while. It's something I'd like to recapture. However, I have to admit to myself that I'm remembering the good stuff a lot more than the bad stuff: the epic moments, the times we laughed at something silly, and so on, rather than the rules arguments or really boring gaming sessions that went nowhere.
This got me thinking...how much of my gaming tastes are tainted by my one-sided memory of old school D&D? What exactly is that old school appeal and why is it appealing? Were the "good ol' days" as good as I remember them? Do some of us slightly older players play to recapture our youth?
I guess these questions are another way of asking: what makes gaming fun and why do we continue to do it? I would argue that it has little to do with slick game systems or even logical story lines or plausible encounters. It has to do with the social aspect of pretending to be in unlikely situations. Sometimes those situations are absurd, and therefore fun and memorable. Sometimes those situations only happen because of their rarity - like an epic moment that just happened to come together perfectly. In other words, sometimes we have to trudge through those boring sessions and silly encounters and game mechanics to get to those gem moments that become lasting memories.
Perhaps, but it could also indicate another iteration of 4e. The Gamma World game is based on 4e rules. Essentials was a kind of new presentation of 4e. The now delayed or canceled Ravenloft RPG was going to be based on 4e. Perhaps such questions are helping Mearls decide if a new game is needed or just a new way of presenting 4e, like a kind of Basic version of the game or alternatively, new complexities of options. Or maybe they will plan on presenting new RPGs with the 4e skeleton, like Gamma World, but want some indication on how detailed it ought to be.
To me, it feels they are throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall, such as Fortune Cards, online play, and other RPGs, to see what sticks. This may all culminate in another edition of the game, but so far I haven't seen enough to prove it.
I'm an avid 4e player. I enjoy the system. But I think WotC has made several wrong steps as far as presenting 4e, and it shows. I may not have the statistics for sales, but one doesn't cancel several major releases if everything is going well. With the exception of the upcoming new online tools, both the online output (i.e. the "magazines") and the product release schedule feel dismal at best.
I do marketing for a small business. There were often times I'd watch WotC make a product or marketing decision that immediately put my red flags up, but I figured that WotC had information or expertise that I was simply lacking. Perhaps, however, they didn't.
The most telling is that the designers had to so often explain themselves. From their first major overhauls to vast parts of the game system to their recent confusing integration of an "Essentials" product line, they seemed to ignore the most important marketing rule: The simplest message is the most effective. It's not a good sign when you have to explain yourself in more than a few brief explanations. When 4e players such as myself don't understand how Essentials falls into 4e products and several columns are dedicated to explaining it, then it's most likely doomed to fail.
The result seems to be a scattered customer base. That Pathfinder is even considered competition for a brand like D&D would have seemed impossible just a few short years ago, but much indicates that Pathfinder is holding its own against the "world's most popular roleplaying game."
If WotC wants to recoup, the company has its work cut out for it. I don't know if 5e is the answer, and I'm not sure WotC knows whether 5e is the answer either. My guess is that they are in a phase of gathering as much information as possible before they attempt to strategize a plan. I don't think that recent behaviors indicate a 5e...I don't think they'd be focusing on their online tools so much if that were the case. I think it indicates that WoTC is asking themselves "WTF just happened and what do we do now?"
I think Mike's "steps" chart is wonky and somewhat arbritary. Where's the "Calculate weapon speed" for 2e? Why are Perception and Insight calaculations listed as separate from calculating skill totals in 4e since you'd probably do that during the calculate skills step? (To get +2 over 3rd??)
Agreed. Including passive scores as two "steps" in character creations seems a bit silly. I see his overall point, but some of it does seem arbitrary as you say.
Jim Cirillo wrote:
I'd love to see a mother-of-all dungeon crawls AP with various factions to work with/against, various quests within the large scope of the crawl, fantastic locations within 30' x 30' rooms, that sort of thing.
+1. Between Carrion Crown and Jade Regent, they're pretty much doing every future AP that I had desired up to this point. It seems like the next one should be a massive dungeon in the old-school style of the Temple of Elemental Evil or Undermountain.
With no magic involved, a 20th level 4E wizard could swim across a river that at 1st level he would drown in.
Yes, sort of, although I do think 4e encourages you to develop the flavor of an encounter regardless of the mechanics involved. So it depends on the DM's style. A DM could rule that as people advance in level they become more and more superhero like. Another DM could rule (although this is a little outside the official rules) that the difficulty of swimming across the river scales based on level (in other words, the DC is higher for that 20th level Wizard than a 1st level Wizard). Alternatively, the DM could rule that a wizard at 20th level can magically walk on water - thus the swim check reflects that idea. In other words, the mechanics are a skeleton that a DM and players can flavor how they desire. Getting across the river could be magic, mundane, or whatever.
An example of this in a game I DMed is when one of the players, a cleric, had an ungodly high Intimidate result. I described the scene as one in which the cleric's own god made an kind of divine visit to put the fear of divine retribution into the target. Thus the target gave up information that he normally wouldn't have under regular circumstances or torture. I believe that 4e encourages the players to think of their powers and skills in this kind of imaginative manner.
You are correct here. Thus, a paragon Wizard has the athletic ability of a trained athlete ten levels lower.
Items, according to Essentials, that do scale based on character level are:
Knowledge checks (History, Dungeoneering, Religion, etc)
As well, a host of "improvised checks" are given as examples based on Easy, Moderate, and Hard. For example, building a shelter against harsh weather is considered a Moderate DC regardless of level.
Several things depend on the target's abilities. For example, understanding a magic trap, Stealthing past someone's perception, understanding a monster, and so on all depend on the other creature's or item's defenses, DC's, or levels.
I think a lot of it is really an art depending on the DM. For example, I would rule as a DM that basic survival in the wilderness is a given for epic level characters. However, surviving on a particular Astral plane may depend on the DC level. I think no matter what, DCs depend on the DM's common sense and style of play.
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
You both bring up good points in my mind, as I've struggled with these same questions in regards to the skill progression and DC progression.
I have found how this is addressed in the Essentials Rules Compendium to be rather helpful. It notes that some things are static, some things are based on opponent's level or DC roles, and some things depend on character level. I agree with ProfessorCirno that a paragon level group should not be hampered by a wall. But I also agree with Jeremy that just because someone has achieved a certain level, they shouldn't gain extra ability with jumping over chasms when they are studious, not very athletic wizards.
The Essential rules makes it more of an art. You as the DM and adjudicator should set the DC for what makes sense, using both the static and adjusted DC levels given in the rules compendium as guidelines. I like the idea of a static DC for, say, breaking down a door. By 15th level, doors shouldn't really be an issue anymore. By epic level, when a person is fighting exarchs and gods, even a wizard should be able to bend bars open. You can flavor text it to anything - perhaps the wizard is magically amplified to bend those bars. Regardless of how you flavor text it, if you are almost a deity, a common jail cell shouldn't be a problem for you regardless of your class.
At the same time, some things should always be difficult regardless of level. And a DM can always determine what he considers to be "Easy," "Moderate," or "Hard" depending on the characters. For example, influencing a crowd to take certain actions might be "Moderate" at the Heroic level, but "Easy" at the Paragon level.
It is an art, but I think once one gets the hang of it, it works pretty well.
So I received my copy of the Rules Compendium. It was everything I basically expected. It made me start to think again about this idea of whether Essentials is basically 4.5 in disguise.
Well, yes and no. It clearly is an advancement of the game, no doubt about it. There have been so many changes and tweaks to this and that rule over the last couple years that some things are definitely changed (for the better in my opinion). However, these changes are in the details or in addition to previously established rules. For example, the Teleport rules are now described to include forced teleport of targets, rather than just teleporting oneself. This is not really a game changer, but it is a change.
There really is nothing in the book that makes me feel like it's a different game than the one I've been playing over the last couple years. Also, the majority of the book is basically the same information as my past books. I almost wondered it if was worth the purchase, but then I had to remind myself that I did need a more up-to-date rulebook for the table.
I didn't purchase but I did look over Heroes of the Forgotten Land. This book does feel a bit like a different game. Characters receive benefits and powers in a different way now that makes it feel like something different. However, I can see how these characters are still compatible and can be played along side other characters from past books. I don't know how this affects power creep as I have not played the characters or studied them in detail. Nor am I sure how these Essentials characters work with multiclassing or hybriding.
At this point, if someone were to say to me that this is 4.5, I wouldn't necessarily disagree because, if compared to the PHBI and DMGI, there are a good deal of alterations, most of which have already been seen in one form or another. However, I wouldn't necessarily agree either, as I don't think the changes are quite as comprehensive. Regardless, I think they've done a really good job (and you can tell they worked at it) with making the transition to Essentials as painless as possible, without making past books obsolete.
All in all, I think Essentials is a step in the right direction.
A lot of well reasoned stuff.
I think you make some interesting points, but at the same time, I think you are reading a lot into the article. I did manage to read the entire interview and it definitely has a different feel. It seems to be the interviewer who wants to steer the conversation toward disgruntled roleplayers and an attempt to bring back the game to an old school feel. For example, the interviewer brings up the idea of "old school" feel in the first place, saying that Mearls often writes adventures based on classics and that he likes to blog about old schools stuff. The question then was brought up how Mearls' love of old school might influence the Essentials line. This naturally steered Mearls to talk about such things, but I don't think Mearls was specifically talking about old school stuff as a selling point to bring back old gamers.
I do agree that the overall feel of 4e hasn't been one of overwhelming success in the way that 3e seemed to have been. There's no hoopla about it. 4e didn't seem to "revive" the game like 3e did. There have been a lot of personnel changes. However, I'm not sure what we can read into that. Isn't Bill Slavicsek the top guy in charge of roleplaying design and development? He's definitely still around. In truth, we have no idea why Andy Collins was dismissed.
What the Essentials line feels like to me is that the WotC team has learned a lot over the last couple years. They've probably had some mistakes and successes, a lot of feedback from both lovers and haters of 4e, and things that they've come to notice about their own game. The Essentials line seems like an attempt to incorporate that learning and provide entry points. I wish I could find a quote, but I do remember the 4e team saying that they planned in the second year of 4e to put out products to bring in new players. I don't know if they had the Essentials line specifically in mind.
For what it's worth, at Amazon the red box is currently the top selling RPG product. If you dismiss the obvious 4e haters in the various comments and reviews, a lot of the feedback from people who haven't played the game in years or at all is positive. Some have found success using it and bringing in new players. This is all anecdotal, of course, but seems to be some sign of success, at least for this Starter set.
Not to get off topic, but another trend I've noticed for WotC is the decline in DM references (such as Open Graves) and the desire to design complete games and RPGs. These games incorporate the basic 4e system but are complete in themselves. Examples include the board games, Gamma World, and the Ravenloft RPG. Perhaps they feel they have succeeded with their game system, but need to take a step back on supplements. Don't know.
Sorry I haven't posted in a while.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to be able to continue this pbp. I'm having a lot of personal challenges at the moment and I don't think I'll be able to commit to a post every day. While I was sick, I was able to reflect on this and came to this conclusion. I thank you for your patience.
I apologize and realize this is a disappointment for some of you. I hate to leave things hanging like this. If there are any questions that you are curious about concerning this or that in the storyline, feel free to ask me.
For those of you whose pbp this is the first, please do try it again. There are other pbp's that have lasted over a year with some very committed DMs.
Happy gaming everyone, and I apologize again about cutting this campaign short.
The initial comment I replied to was that DDI had set the standard. WoTC's failure to provide the tools they promised is part of what DDI is, like it or not. I consider that some pretty low standards.
Does that mean every time Paizo doesn't get a product out on time, that lessens the worthiness of the product? I mean, they promised the product earlier but didn't deliver, so...
I do think there is a difference between the product itself and business practices. WotC might not have good business practices, but the DDI is stellar compared to any other online RPG tools for tabletops, at least in my mind.
For the amount they charge for DDI, it had better be. That's the issue with non-delivery of what they promised. Over $100 a year for character building software every year and you still have to buy all the game material if you want to use it.
I'm not sure where you're getting your information.
With $70/year, you get an incredible amount of online content and software: Dungeon, Dragon, the Compendium, the Character Builder, and the Monster Builder. The Compendium and builders have every character option and monster build from every publication, including the magazines and RPGA adventures. You get regular monthly updates that add every rule, option, or build from every publication. Nor do I need to buy "all" the game material to use it. With just the PHB, the DMG, and DDI, I could play the game indefinitely with every option out there. I can also share the DDI with my players, thus giving them every character option out there (or at least every option published by WotC).
It actually is a pretty sweet deal...for me.
Nor have they promised you more than what you're getting with your purchase. The "promise" of online play on a virtual table was part of their early branding campaign, but they've never deceived you into thinking that you were getting the virtual table while you were purchasing your subscription. They've always listed out very clearly what you are paying for.
Matthew Koelbl wrote:
The main reason this discussion has been more involved is that a more objective claim was made - that the changes were comparable to the transition to 3.5. And that is the argument I've been objecting to, since when I put the two alongside each other, the changes in 3.5 seem far more fundamental, extensive, and far-reaching than all the changes in 4E thus far. Which is why I'll continue to hold that the "4.5" moniker doesn't really fit.
+1. I agree that the type of change seen thus far isn't as significant.
The only change I've seen so far that really makes a considerable changes is how magic items are distributed. Having read the magic item rarity article today, I now agree with bugleyman that this is a more far reaching kind of change than I originally thought. How often one receives certain kinds of magic items and how often they may be used changes fundamentally how magic items work in the game. This makes me wonder how magic items from previous publications fit into this system. This makes me feel I have to tweak previous 4e characters by changing how many and what kind of magic items they have. This kind of change makes me think of 3.5.
Other things, such as minor changes to flying rules or stealth rules, don't really make me think of 3.5.
If they had similar kinds of changes, like the changes made to magic items, in other systems in 4e, then, yes, I would consider this to be a 4.5 and probably be upset. So far, it doesn't feel significant enough, but the magic item changes do make me wary.
While I agree what WotC did manage to deliver should be judged on its own merits, they said they were going to do much more, which they then screwed up. People aren't unreasonable to be disappointed by that.
However, that's more a reflection on the company than the product. When people say that DDI is a failure, I strongly disagree as they've produced the best character and monster building software I've ever seen. These products are a high standard. The fact that they promised so much more really only shows bad business practices. Their marketing and business practices are not a good standard to follow, at least from my perspective. I think the disconnect I have with people who criticize the DDI is that their criticism has more to do with the failure to produce what was promised, rather than the actual product that has been produced. The product is stellar; the inability to fulfill promises is just bad business.