Clockwork Librarian

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Organized Play Member. 1,557 posts (10,840 including aliases). 3 reviews. 2 lists. No wishlists. 14 aliases.


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Remember when we didn't yet realize the internet was a mistake?

Good times.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
A lot of very unkind things. Hell of a time to revisit.

I'll say.


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Dead Gods next!

EDIT: Oop, there it is.


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I've got some of this badness.

The worst part is the complete inability to explain it to people. I'm not a hypochondriac, I'm really pretty pragmatic about pain and getting older. I try to deal with it.

But sometimes you're just in a bad spot, and it affects your attitude and capabilities. If you let on that's what's going on, your loved ones are usually all about "go to the doctor" and so on.

Then you go to the doctor, and they do tests that maybe you can afford if you're lucky but are always an inconvenience. They might put you on drugs that don't help, or make things worse.

I'm not saying all doctors suck, or that treatments don't work. I'm say a tragic number of people have to just live with it, either because they can't afford to deal with it or nobody can isolate the problem.

After years of this, you just kind of shrug and decide to live your life. Basically, at this point I'm just waiting for them to invent cyborg bodies so I can replace this crappy one.


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Zmar wrote:
Umm... wasn't the Torchbearer based on Burning Wheel and not a DW sister at all? More like distant cousin, or perhaps a similar looking guy living in next city? :)

Yes, but Burning Wheel HQ is officially distributing DW now.

So -- like step-sisters, I guess.


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kyrt-ryder wrote:

Can some of you old timers explain the appeal to dungeon delving?

I know personally speaking I infinitely prefer an open world motif.

At its core, the hobby is about being presented with a meaningful decision in a hypothetical situation.

Any plan for a series of meaningful decisions can benefit from a flowchart. The difference between open world games and more site-oriented games like dungeon crawls is one of depth and width.

A heavily improvised, no-tracks open world game is still a series of meaningful decisions. However, because GMs are mere mortals, you hit a point of diminishing returns where addition choices have less meaning, because there was no real thought put into the outcome. They can be interpreted and improvised, of course. But there is an element of impartiality and planning that is lost.

In the other direction, you have the dungeon (or encounter site, if you prefer). This is a GM plan where the variables are all tightly controlled enough that the consequences can really be explored in theory. A dungeon is a flowchart. Open worlds are flowcharts too, but they are so complex that they require more improvisation and it is less possibly to predict the meaning of outcomes.

In a dungeon (or similar planned encounter site), it becomes very easy for the GM to present choices at their most meaningful. The five senses are front and center, and when faced with a decision as elemental as "do I turn left or right", a waft of decaying flesh from the left or a the dulcet tones of an elf-maiden's song from the right become meaningful. It is a natural compromise between player agency and GM control -- make whatever choice you want in the scope this this environment. It's a fairly nature state of affairs.

Neither is superior. But if you want immersion and you don't want your GM to burn out, running around in a flow chart is actually a really good compromise. In a perfect world, GMs could promise the depth of consideration that comes from an encounter site with all the freedom that improvisation allows -- a truly consistent, meaningful sandbox.

But in lieu of that impossible dream, I'll continue to use both tools interchangeably as needed for the campaign.


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Codifying rules was a big part of old-school play as well -- again, it's just that the expectation of the rules was different, I think.

I really think that character vs. player emphasis is the delineator here, and that clears up a lot of the Rule 0 discussion.

Yes, codified rules favor player empowerment. And that was still true when the Cavalier Class galloped onto the scene. The evolution of rules, including player empowerment, has been a continuous process throughout the old and new schools.

It's the mindset of the players and the GM that makes the difference. I think there's no better example than Random Ability scores vs. Point buy being the default assumption. There's no question which method is more old-school, right?

And that's because the old school was about what the player could make of the hand they were dealt. Class selection was almost a part of the dungeon -- you have this Int, and this Str, what will you do with yourself?


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I feel like we're drifting away from old/new school and into "Rule 0" territory.

The confusion is understandable, so let me attempt to pin down what *I* think defines the old and the new schools:

Old school values the decisions made in play over the decisions made in character creation. It values the player's ingenuity in interacting with the environment over the character's abilities interacting with the environment. It values GM and player judgement over covering the rules for every situation (although it never hesitates to supplement the rules in that case).

New school values character creation as a part of the game's decisions. New school grants a considerably greater field of options to certain character types, making character creation a very important decision-making step. New school values *characters* solving problems and interacting with the environment, and strives to downplay the character's reliance on their player's intellect to overcome challenges. As a direct result of this, the rules do make an attempt to cover a larger number of cases, and in such a way that new situations can be easily generalized in the existing rules.

When I say a school "values" something, it doesn't mean there's a perfect execution, mind. Both schools use some elements of logic from the other school at times. It's about "values", quite literally-- what do practitioners of a given school seem to want.

I really do enjoy both styles, so how do you like these definitions?


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Irontruth wrote:
And where would a game that has expansive rules that don't require much adjudication, but has lots of empty/blank space in it's narrative map sit on your scale? Ie, a well defined mechanical game that does a good job of encouraging whimsy.

I'm not sure it's a spectrum, really. Let's stop and consider that the concept of old-vs-new-school is super vague, which is probably why half this thread is just posts attempting to pin it down in pithy slogans.

What requires adjudication is pretty subjective. To a lot of people, you just described OD&D. Other people feel that those games need constant adjudication. Hell, I've held both views at various times.

Because we're talking about schools of GMing, not games, I don't think it's even possible to pin a system to a certain school. You can run Pathfinder old-school, or OD&D in a new school fashion (just call for ton of ability score checks and canonize your modifiers-- you'll be new school in no time, no houserule necessary).

But just because it's vague doesn't mean these things don't exist, or aren't worth talking about. I think being partisan about it is a waste of time, but I don't mind considering it as a part of my studies to be a better GM.

Now, I do think that there are games that are taking an informed view of play style out there. You and I both mentioned Torchbearer upthread-- that's a good example of a very serious attempt to capture some old-school elements that got iterated out of the hobby-- especially the "describe to live" concept. It's a great example of going back to something that got "fixed" and finding a different solution.

That game rewards the players mechanically for interacting with the environment even though they can still solve most problems with a die roll. That's an interesting mechanic that was definitely inspired by the old-new school conversation. It's not the One True Game by any means, but it's an example of how this kind of talk can create a cool design space instead of mere partisan bickering.


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Stormfriend wrote:
World maps feel as though a wizard went off with a GPS unit and said 'that's all folks'. It's done, finished, closed. The world doesn't need to be infinite physically, but it needs to have infinite possibilities (so long as it all makes sense with what went before). You can't do that when every country has been defined and populated. Even as a GM I would find that limiting.

I'm constantly exhorting to my players and fellow GMs that, while we have a map, the map is not the territory.

The steppes of Barbaria may only take up a small portion of the map the players have, but guess what? In the game world, Barbaria is actually many times the size of their native Feudor. Its size on the map is a result of both politics and ignorance.

I have a framed copy of Pomponius Mela's Orbis Habitabilis that I show to my players. The linked image depicts Europe, Asia and Africa, 90 degrees counterclockwise from a modern map. The message is that maps can be wrong-- in fact, all maps are wrong-- but still useful.

To me, this sums up the Old School vs. New School quite well as a metaphor. The old school play demands that a certain intangible quality escapes the game rules. Players must rely on their own, imperfect vision of events. This necessarily creates a communication obstacle that can lead to disagreements, but it also grants a ton of flexibility and whimsy.

For all the right reasons, New School games try to create more and more accurate and efficient maps of the game space. Not just literal maps, but the "maps" of how given actions are executed, how you measure and interpret the entire game world. This reduces the communication problems, but sacrifices the whimsy.

People will have their individual preferences, but honestly these are just tools for getting the job done. As a poster said upthread, what you need at a convention with complete strangers is much different than what you need at the kitchen table with your closest friends. The GM's temperament is a "here be dragons". You would rather not have that on the map when you're just trying to get to the end of a session. That's why the new school has systematically treated this issue.

There is beauty and art in old maps, even though they may not serve as well in getting you where you're going. The lack of constraint and the emphasis on description and imagination in the old school definitely leads to communication problems -- like using an inaccurate map. But there's value in that process too.


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He did a great service to our hobby by putting the worst myths into a form so easily mocked.


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TOZ wrote:
My usual response to people quoting Matt Finch is to link this.

On Finch v. Alexander I am tempted to plug Torchbearer as a game the enshrines GM fiat in exactly the manner described by Finch, but retains the niceties of a mechanized skill system.

They do it by making interaction a commodity. A certain level of thoughtful interaction -- as long as it makes sense -- will spare you from making a roll. And in Torchbearer, not making a roll can be a very good thing, since rolls drive the clock for hunger and light.

It's interesting here, because in a lot of ways it proves (for me) in practice that both Finch and Alexander's premises are flawed, although their discussions both contain a great many truths.

At the end of the day, GMing is an act of performance. Rules and consistency are like stagecraft-- they help with suspension of disbelief, and keep the audience (and the actors) in the scene. But if the performance is sufficiently honed, and the performers are all working together, you can do it all in black turtlenecks on an empty stage and pull it off.

A purified form of Finch's thesis would involve no rules whatsoever. And this CAN be done. Because this can be done, his thesis is essentially correct.

But consistency (and stagecraft) are an art unto themselves, and when properly executed can elevate the experience. I think that Alexander is merely saying, don't just throw out 40 years of development without looking at why it was there. That's quite correct, in my view.

But there's a dark side to his end of this, too. In continuing with my stagecraft metaphor, it's the equivalent of a Michael Bay film -- all sets, effects and stagecraft with no performance to speak of. Some audience can tune into a performance of mere explosions and enjoy themselves, but others will wake as though from a nightmare, wondering, what's going on? Why should I care?

I think we've all played in that session too.

At the end of the day, I recommend GMs be mindful that their principle task is to present information in an entertaining way; enough information for the players to make a meaningful choice at each interval. You can and should maintain a decent, consistent rules apparatus in service to that goal.

The difference between a great Old School GM and and great New School GM, in practice, is virtually invisible.


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wifantasywriter wrote:
For those who have run sessions, would you say that you detail out all of the obstacles and twists ahead of time? Or do you wing it a bit at times to add to some of the uncertainty of things?

Mouse Guard has a prescribed method. Pick four events for your GM turn: Mice, Animals, Nature, and Weather.

Pick any two of these to be your default obstacles. Hold the other two in reserve for twists.

This is the advice from the first edition, I don't know if it made it into the second.

Now, there's nothing saying you can't use more than four, or double up on Animals, for example. But following this format should provide you with a very well-rounded GM turn. A little short, maybe, but exciting.

My preferred method, however, is not to specify any Obs before the game, and just factor them as I go. The MG skills section (and GM screen) is awesome for that. You're best off just creating a really vivid, detailed scenario. The numbers will usually take care of themselves.

wifantasywriter wrote:


I'm trying to wrap my brain, too, around combat. Actual combat. I'll summarize how I think it goes:

1. Determine disposition (is this for the party or each member?)
2. Patrol Leader (PL) picks actions for each patrol member (PM)
3. GM and PM #1 go; resolve
4. GM and other PM's take actions; resolve
5. Repeat 2-4 until one or more parties reach 0 disposition

I think I have that right, but I want to make sure before I get into a game and have to try to wrap my brain around it in the moment.

This is basically correct, yes.

Try and scrub with word "combat" out of your mind. In MG they are Conflicts. Some may be fights, but not all. And the resolution system is wide open, so relying on a traditional RPG structure, even by analogy, is likely to mess you up.

Why make the distinction? Because in an RPG combat system, the mechanics don't really tell you when the fight is over. If the characters are defending the tower from an onslaught, do they only succeed when they kill to the last man? Or do they succeed when they defeat enough to drive the rest off in fear?

This system is very much about the narrative value of victory, rather than the actual measurement of each warrior's endurance in the battle (and there is NOTHING wrong with that, BTW. Just different games.)

So, if there's a step missing here, it's step 6: Compromise.

Everything you do narratively in the fight will be working with the objectives in the scene. Depending on the level of compromise and the scene elements, characters may be injured or even killed-- or they may simply be carried off by a bird of prey and dropped far away from the party.

I would also add in step 2.5 -- Declare weapons. Even for Animals. Especially for animals. For both the players and the GM, the choice of weapon is your strongest clue into which actions might be played, and so it is necessary to keep the ADFM Conflict system from becoming totally arbitrary. For example, if you're fighting against three mice, and the weapon declaration phase goes:

Mouse 1 - Axe
Mouse 2 - Knife
Mouse 3 - Shield

What can you infer from that? How will you then play your actions? Weapons and the ratio of remaining disposition are the basis for all strategy in Mouse Guard (and Torchbearer).


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I've been advocating this for years now, and I still do. Adventure Paths and VTTs are a natural pairing, and there is no better VTT right now than Roll20.

Just last week I cancelled a session of Legacy of Fire due to a lack of prep time. I have certain standards when it comes to executing an adventure path in VTT, and it takes time to set up. That is something I would gladly pay to have done for me in advance.


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SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:
Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
Those folks need to breathe deep and think of the rule as thematic, not an attempt to simulate reality.

I don't like the thematics, either.

But I'm prepared to play in a universe that has alignment. I just really, really hate not being able to opt-out. It feels like press-ganging: you've done these things so you have to be on this side regardless of how you actually feel about it.

It is an election year, isn't it?


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Alignment is the only rule in the game dedicated to characterization. It's a true "role play" rule in its intent. I can look at a character's class, spells and feat selection to get an idea of what they are capable of. I can look at a character's alignment to get a sense of how they will behave. That is useful information for everyone, GM and Players.

Some may chafe under it if they believe it is a restriction, and especially if their GM has a narrow, adversarial approach to "enforcing" alignment, or the player is being willfully obtuse. In that case, I argue bad faith is what breaks the system. But generally speaking, it's perfectly appropriate for a game with literal angels and devils in it to have an objective ruling on morality.

Some players get confused and imagine that an RPG is some great venue for reviving a long-settled philosophical taxonomy. Those folks need to breathe deep and think of the rule as thematic, not an attempt to simulate reality.

Obviously, if you're playing in a campaign where morality is *ahem* beyond good and evil, then yes, you'll need to change alignment or ditch it altogether. But in my opinion, removing alignment from D&D-derived games doesn't really leave you with a ruleset that's perfect for nuance and moral complexity, so what's the point?

This is a game where 90% of plots revolve around Manichean confrontations between good guys and dastardly villains, where almost every problem is solved with (supernatural) violence. I've seen the removal of binary good and evil actually cause more moral problems than it solves.

Generally, I feel like it's a great rule that gets a bad rap from misapplication.


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Honestly, it sounds like the best result will come from lowering your own standards. This is a classic GM problem.

RPGs have much more in common with birthday parties than with authorial media like films and novels.

If the players you've gathered are not likely to have fun while being serious at any other time, don't expect them to have fun being serious in your game.

It's like going to a birthday party with a black tie dress code and schedule that you expect the participants to conform to. Some crowds might be OK with it. It sounds like your people are not of that ilk. Placed in that situation, they're going to try to make the best of it, and have fun despite all the stuffy rules. That's what's going on in your game.

Once you've embraced their style, you can still push things in the direction of "cool." Remember, GMing is a performance art, and part of performing is conforming to the audience's expectations. There's give and take.

It sounds like you've already achieved some flexibility, letting them take unconventional approaches. The next step lies with you. You have to revise your expectations in order to be satisfied with the result.


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I think Rise of the Runelords did a pretty good job with high level, FWIW.

In my opinion, Pathfinder's end-game levels are really 15th-16th. That leaves room for the last few levels to serves as challenges for the PCs, probably with a 20th level super-villain at the end of the campaign. I might pop the PCs up to 17th for a session or two, just long enough for the climax.

Pathfinder/3.5 becomes an entirely different game, narratively, after around 12th level. The GM can actually stop planning for potential solutions and actually present the party with seemingly impossible problems and over-the-top defenses.

The GM has to completely throw out the low-level adventure structure and begin requiring the heroes to do things that literally only they can do, like fly across continents overnight.

If the PCs try to change the economy, I hit that with the same cudgel that I handle economic game commentary at any level: with an arched brow, I remind them that even economists in real life have no ability to reliably control such things, and disaster or a total anti-climax could result. The game's economy makes no sense. That would be a waste of everyone's time, and even if this were desirable no game could model it. Go kill some monsters instead.

But really, most of the spells have pretty reasonable restrictions baked in. I mostly manage economic concerns by putting demographic numbers out there. I considerably limit the number of NPCs that are higher than 10th level (heck 7th). If the players want to put their powers to use as some kind of magic bus driver or telephone operator, so be it. I'll just viciously mock them until they decide to do something cool instead. If what they're doing has a place in the action, (feeding an army, for example) then I embrace it. They're the Justice League at this point, not the X-Men anymore.

For boss fights, embrace henchmen. Strong ones. Credible threats who can actually run interference. Dragons work pretty well. The fact is, you'll never force players to enter a fight at a disadvantage if they have literally any other option. You shouldn't, it's stupid. It's a made up trope that inexperienced GMs think is the standard for some reason. Think about it: are you ever going to enter a life and death situation when you are less than completely prepared? That's what you're asking your players to do. And if they take every measure to ensure that never happens, that's called role-playing. If you're expecting them to plod onward despite attrition then you're asking them not to role-play.

With respect to BBEGs, in a world where valuable intelligence on your opponent can be plucked from the air, reputation management becomes weaponized. A truly classy villain will operate in such a way that the heroes never know WHO to scry on. Every time they think they've got the guy, it should be a patsy. Nobody knows the villain's real name, or what he looks like. It makes scry-n-die obsolete (not that it works all that great anyway.)

Another bit of advice: don't start players at high level. It's totally not worth it. Organically grown high level PCs are much easier to predict and nourish with appropriate challenges. High level PCs out of a can are a nightmare for all involved. Screw that.


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Here you go:

66-84: GM's selection.

Fixed!

No seriously, good catch, though. It's not exactly a critical flaw, just an omission I'm sure they can correct in a later printing and the PRD.

It's a huge book, and somewhat more detail-driven than most, which makes it very challenging from a publishing standpoint, I suspect.


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JosueV wrote:

This is awesome! Wow, Kirth Gersen and Metal Sonic have made me realize that if I'm going to be using house rules so much I really need to make the time to put them all down on a document for my players to read at their leisure.

The showing up on time rules are something I never thought of either, but would be of great benefit, as I have a couple that always show up about 15-20 minutes late each week we play... lol.

Protips for House ruling:

Keep a centralized doc that players can comment on. I use Google Drive.

Get players to opt in on every rule change. Listen to their feedback.

For every house rule, include a clear statement of the perceived problem, and explain how the rule will address that problem. I cannot stress this enough. You will often find your new rule idea is addressing "and also..." problems. This severely compromises the stability of the game, so you need committed players to handle it.

Audit your rules regularly. Eliminate rules that aren't working or simply aren't being used. Put them in a graveyard document somewhere so they don't clutter up your business.

House rules exist in addition to the already immense rulebook. Never forget that you are making your players remember even more with every ruling.

Too many house rules and you may be better off writing a new game. That's fine, but you need to commit to it, like Kirth. :) Don't hide behind the discrepancies of a huge rulebook with a huge houserule doc.

Watch out for the "footprint" of your rules in the game! Some rules will expose blind spots in your understanding of the rules... I can't tell you how many damage penalty rules I've seen that fail to penalize spellcasters but go on and on about to-hit penalties while injured.

Again, state the perceived problem! Avoid creating rules to "fix" things that weren't broken. Pathfinder is profoundly unrealistic, so if you ever find yourself penning a rule to enhance "realism" you are wasting your own time, and that of your players. Only house rule to enhance gameplay.

You can only perceive gameplay problems by playing the game! If something looks wrong while you're simply reading the rules, go ahead and try it out first before changing it. Maybe it's that way for a good reason.

Yup, those are my coffee-fueled house rule thoughts. Enjoy!


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Glord Funkelhand wrote:
Having a decision tree and enable / disable parts of the document part on conditions met is pretty simple.

Oh, man, I just LOL'd.

Glord Funkelhand, you've got some good ideas, but the words "decision tree" and "simple" are not allowed in the same sentence.


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I think Paizo should team up with Roll20.


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One has to wonder if this isn't a prank targeting Paizo specifically. Maybe a bitter former poster or something. It's hard to imagine anything else being worth this level of personal effort.


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Legacy of Fire doesn't deliver particular accuracy when it comes to the 1001 Nights feel.

It does the Ray Harryhausen Adventure film perfectly though.

Wes spells this out pretty literally in the forward for the Impossible Eye.

As a big fan of Harryhausen, I have to say I'm glad. His preposterous version of Arabian/Oriental mythology is a much better fit for the game. There are some sexist and racist overtones in the source material that would be really intrusive, I much prefer the high adventure, saturday-morning-cartoon treatment.

For anyone seriously considering a run on LoF, I recommend watching all of the Harryhausen Sinbad films, plus Jason and the Argonauts and hell Clash of the Titans. The more you and your players enjoy those films, the more you'll get out of Legacy of Fire.

Still my favorite adventure path.

However, The Jackal's Price notably botches the promise of Katapesh. I recommend a rewrite of that one.

Spoiler:
Just have the Pactmasters come after the scroll and make that the focus.


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Watch this entire video.

I promise it is worth your time.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
It seems like you're coming from a paradigm of "roleplay is what happens between rolls". I understand that, because that's sort of how I play Pathfinder as well.
Yeah, I think I'm getting that. I actually see Pathfinder's combat as a time to roleplay, too, but that may be my play-by-post experience talking. What sticks out to me is that in Mouse Guard, it's almost the reverse—roleplay is what happens when you're rolling, and therefore, when you aren't rolling, you probably aren't roleplaying.

It's more like rolls in Mouse Guard represent dramatic tension, so any time you're roleplaying a good story there will be rolls. Like I said, there's nothing preventing players from sitting in a tavern and speaking in character. Some people love that, and they can do it an any game, because the mechanics need not support it.

My mind keeps returning to the social skill analogy from yesterday's post, maybe because it seems to be a hot topic elsewhere on the boards.

MG / BW / TB doesn't simulate an objective reality, it simulates a story. There's never really a roll so objective that it doesn't involve your character's personality somehow.

Pathfinder is very rigidly quantified. 5 feet is 5 feet, and how high you can jump in feet if determined by your jump skill. This logic extends to every part of the game; there's a simulation, and your actions are either adjudicated by the mechanics or they are not. (I feel the need to remind people that I quite like Pathfinder for what it is.)

"Roleplay" is almost entirely left to player preference, with very few rules directly interacting with characterization. Even when the rules *do* interact (alignment, and most people's handling of the social skills) they tend to be very descriptive rather than proscriptive.

Traits in Mouse Guard are proscriptive. Your first duty is to portray your character accurately, whether or not that results in success. Imagine if – in Pathfinder – you could only level up by portraying your alignment convincingly.


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wraithstrike wrote:
Running high levels games if you are not used to it is very difficult. That is why I suggest working your way up to it instead of trying to start at 20.

It's difficult even if you are used to it.


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Spook205 wrote:

If Book 1, Act 1, Scene 1 the guy runs off and leaves the rest of the party behind, he's put himself out. Ok, you get to go and help the Eastern Roman Empire, but we're all still here.

If he talks the party into it, and you have a hundred dollars plus worth of APs, the problem's more on you (and I have been there. I grabbed the Undermountain boxed set back when I was a kid and didn't have a lot of dosh, just for the party to get involved in politics in Skullport and then wanting to go and found a trade agency). They want to go do the other thing.

Then they can learn to deal with GM burnout and years of aborted campaigns.

There are lots of ways to be a bad player, and this is one of them. If you can't play your character while helping keep the game on track, you aren't really playing the game very well. Having a whole group of bad players doesn't diminish this fact.


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What amazes me about the historical accuracy issue goes beyond the failure to grasp that the game takes place in a fantasy world --

It's that even if you accept the premise that the game must be "historically accurate", the specific transgressions cited are almost always wrong. For example:

1) Inaccurate black powder weapons (the default in Pathfinder) are a LOT older in earth history than most people account for when citing historical accuracy. If you claim that the game is "high medieval" by default, then there are actually PRIMITIVE ROCKET LAUNCHERS in use in Asia at that time. They may claim the euro-centric defense, but there's virtually no standing that the default Pathfinder scenario is European.

2) Arguments toward limited race in even European history are even more inaccurate. People seem to forget that the theatre of ancient european history (specifically the mediterranean) certainly accounted for people of color, sometimes dominant.

You also hear these things about fantasy novels, TV shows etc. It shows a huge lack of imagination, and reveals a lot of biases belonging to the claimant.

The OP has it right, this argument is almost always one proffered by individuals trying to support their own aesthetic biases which are bolstered by their privileged status in society.

The funny thing is, if the person is informed enough to make their aesthetic case without recourse to the fallacy, then there's little fault to be found in that. If you want to tell a story about Viking culture, and you know a good bit about vikings and you don't want to include an Arab in the setting -- not because it couldn't happen but because the 13th Warrior and a clash of cultures is NOT the story you want to tell -- well, that is a lot more respectable in my opinion.

I suppose that's my advice to people: if you're ever tempted to resort to "historical accuracy" for any argument involving fiction, don't. Find another way around.


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It occurs to me that impartiality and the ability to manage metagame knowledge are two of the most important skills a GM can have.

That's the trouble with GMPCs, I think. If you're still working on these skills, running a GMPC will cast that into stark relief.

If you've mastered these skills, as I believe ToZ has from his anecdotal description, then people won't really notice or care, and they might even enjoy having the GMPC around.


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I've historically fought to keep the term "GMPC" reserved for "GMs who are trying to get the player experience out of a game they are GMing."

This makes sense, because the abbreviation itself stands for "Game Master's Player Character."

I think this is different from an allied NPC, the type who exists to serve a plot function or to shore up a hole in the party makeup.

The difference, to me, is the GM's intention. Do they simply intend to create another character in the fiction of the campaign? Then that's an NPC, even if they run with the party for a long time, because the GM is not "being a player."

Are they trying to get a thrill out of overcoming challenges, solving problems, growing in experience and reputation? Are they running the character simply because they wanted to play, but nobody would GM (or GM the way they wanted)? That's a GMPC: A GM's Player Character.

And the problem here is that very few people are capable of running a proper game while sincerely playing in it at the same time. Take a moment to consider what goes into being a player; what makes a player and a GM different. The GM must necessarily be impartial, and the GM must have privileged information about the setting that undermines the accomplishment of overcoming obstacle.

Some people are better at coping with this paradox than others. Most of the GMPC horror stories one hears are the result of a person who doesn't even perceive the paradox; they think that they can imagine a challenge and then defeat it, and that their privileged status doesn't in any way sully the victory.

One thing that seems very clear to me as an experienced GM: every ounce of effort that a GM spends on challenging their GMPC in order to enjoy having a character in the game is effort that would be better spent on the true PCs. The best way to serve the game is to think of all NPCs as NPCs regardless of their role in the campaign, and if you really crave the player experience, BE A PLAYER in another GM's game. Your campaign will be better, and the player experience will be better for you.

In the end, they're just terms, so people will use them the way that they want. But I think it is the most helpful to discussions of technique if we reserve "GMPC" for GMs who are trying to be players, and "NPC ally" for the many valid uses in service of the campaign.


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Really, really well. Thanks for asking!

I'm on her health insurance now (she's always had a better job than me) so I can freelance instead of schilling for corporations.

As a result, my blood pressure is down, I've lost nearly ten pounds, and I'm feeling better than I have in years!


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Rynjin wrote:

Man, can you IMAGINE how much people would b**$@ if the media were sent off too?

You already have people spinning conspiracy theories about how the curfew only exists to shut down protests. Throw some jet fuel on that fire with "Oh my god! The government is censoring the media! Let me quote some passages from 1984 in horror!"

Thus far, the media has done an excellent job of staying so far away from reality that there's been no need to push them out.

They're much more concerned with celebrating themselves and having painfully short, sheltered memories.

Also, this is a drive by post, so don't bother getting upset by it.


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Airball


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Ravingdork wrote:
Melvin the Mediocre wrote:
Carteeg_Struve wrote:
Looking at this thread title, I was expecting to see stuff like "Summon Self". :)
Locate Terrain
"Halt Dead" :D

Quickfall


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Purely my opinion: if there are significant gaps in our understanding of the deceased's culture that can only be reasonably answered by inspecting the remains/burial site: that's probably archaeology.

If there are less intrusive means of answering the same questions easily available, best not to exhume.


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Well, if Earth history is any indication, it's only a matter of time before their cosmopolitan society is bushwhacked by a horde of zealous murderers who share a single religion, who may live at virtually any distance from the land in question.

It turns out that peaceful co-existence is poor preparation for a massive, hostile, entitled, fanatic invading force.


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Krensky wrote:

It's French for a grumbler. It was also the term used for a veteran grenadier of Napoleon's Imperial Guard whose service and loyalty had earned him the right to complain (grumble), even to the Emperor himself.

From that it was adopted by the American wargaming community to refer to people who were part of the hobby before the (if memory serves) 1970s when the hobby saw a large influx of new players. They adopted it due to the implied Old Guard meaning.

The term has since mutated to refer to those people who prefer older versions of wargames and role playing games (since our hobby grew out of theirs). It can be a pejorative, a complement, or neutral depending on who's using it and who they're using it about. However the grumbling aspect of the original term has more currency now than the veteran soldier part.

It's an old term. You wouldn't understand, you haven't been around long enough to remember those days.


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Hey, Paizo peeps!

I got married.


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Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
What might be the proper serving temperature for English beers, specifically Wychwood's Wychcraft and Hobgoblin?

Kelsey, you've come a long way in this thread. *sniff*

If there's not a temp recommended on the bottle, I recommend simple refrigeration.

I'm a weirdo and I like most good beers at room temperature. Cold conceals flaws in the flavor, and if it's good you don't need that so much. But even my beersnob friends think that's weird.

In general, casked ales aren't refrigerated, because they're out of a cask. I think that's where the reputation of English beer being served at room temp comes from.


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James Jacobs wrote:
I've not yet translated the third into one yet, because I don't think management will let me kill off Irori with a transplanar supernatural immense faith parasite monster that siphons belief and digests it into anti-belief and then shoots it across the planes to kill a god.

Um. That sounds awesome?


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Xexyz wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
People dislike it when GMs ban their favourite things. That's not anti-GM, unless you believe that GMs are beyond all criticism.

It's anti-GM when people tell the GM they're wrong for doing it or demand justifications for making the decision. Especially when those people aren't actually players in that game.

I'm a GM and I disagree with that statement.


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Renegade Paladin wrote:
IceniQueen wrote:

Don't hate me... To me this is the WORST book out so far. I got mine and find this book great if you are a new player, or you want to Min/Max your character so bad it is not funny.

I am seeing more and more of Pathfinder becoming a Min/Maxer system. I see it in PFS, I see it in regular play. This book offers nothing to a player of more than 5 year.

If your new to Pen and Pager RPG, then this book might be for you, that is if you want to make a character that is so bad arse they can kill a dragon at 5th level. If you want to play a good realiastic flawed character that is far more fun to RP... then avoid this book.

But do not take advice from a gamer of 30+ years, unless you want good advice

Given how phenomenally bad Paizo's design team seems to be at building min/maxed or even effective characters (to judge from the NPCs present in every AP, module, the NPC Codex, or the Pathfinder Society pregens), I'll be genuinely surprised if this is actually true.

PS: "Take power attack" doesn't count as min/maxing; that's basic competency.

These two comments, taken together, lead me to believe the book is precisely where it needs to be.


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It's not treason.

It's a foolish move that backfired, and it may have been "illegal" but nobody would ever enforce it, even to undermine their political opponents.

The fact that it can simply discussed as illegal in addition to a breach of protocol is enough for the President to win this round, and that's all the punishment required for this transgression.

But, political theater demands that partisans of one side or another get to retain their pipe dreams of legal action against their opponents. Many republicans openly fantasize about impeachment on flimsier legal ground than this.

Let the dems enjoy the farce.


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I feel like Pathfinder is actually a 16 level game.

Lots of people like to think about capstones and high level play, but in my experience a party of 17-20th level characters is just ponderous, difficult, and unpredictable.

However, characters of levels 17-20, capstones and all, make excellent NPCs to challenge PCs in the last "playable" levels.

I give my full casters the dignity of acquiring 9th level spells and using them for the last few sessions. Then they defeat a level 20 boss, and we call it done.

Your mileage may vary, but sticking to this method does have the benefit of including everything iconic about the campaign in the game, without dealing with most high-level play issues.


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You know, against certain backdrops, her cloak reads as white and gold.


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Any chance we'll see that nightmare bear with the "stalked snout" in a Bestiary? How about as a unique one-off monster in a module?


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ROPE.


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Yes, but even its status as a "recommendation" has the power to completely derail the lives of people who have done nothing "wrong" other than defy that recommendation.

And I'm talking about millions of people throughout history, who have been completely ruined, not by the law or enforcement of it, but social pressures alone.

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