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Showing posts from May, 2014

D&D 5e: More News is Bad News (for 3rd Party Publishers)

Mike Mearls released another tidbit on D&D 5e, this time supposedly answering some questions on D&D 5e.  Let me summarize some major points:

Basic D&D 5e won't be suitable for a basis for sharing material (adventures, etc).DMG will be the book that explains the rules and how to generate your own stuff.The licensing looks like it won't be addressed until 2015. The comments on this announcement are worth a read, but basically can be summed up in a few short categories:  big fans saying hi, I hate/love GSL/OGL, I trust/don't trust WotC to get it right.  Clearly Pathfinder has been screwing with WotC's business model and the fans now have different expectations that before.
It is good to know that the expectation that Basic D&D 5e won't be suitable for creating stuff and distributing it.  It eliminates any false sense of hope that basic D&D 5e would be a basis for an SRD.  It is hopefully good news that the DMG will address how to make your own stuff…

Free Basic D&D: What this Solves and the Problems it Creates So Far

Even though I invest heavily in my gaming hobby, I still fundamentally think free is good in gaming.  I've written multiple times before about the advantages that free systems, like Pathfinder, have over pay-only systems like Shadowrun.  Free brings in players.  Free enriches the community.  Free expands my options.  Unfortunately what Mike Mearls announced with free basic D&D is only half free, so far.  This is an announcement of free "as in beer", not free as in artistic freedom.  We still don't know what licensing will be put out for D&D, either free basic on non-free D&D.  Since 3rd party publishers are really the heart and soul of the community, this is a big missing piece.  That being said, let's take a look as the free "as in beer" side of things.

Basic appears to be a subset of the rules required to run the main races (dwarf, elf, halfling, human) through the main classes (fighter, wizard, rogue, cleric) to level 20.  Sounds good.  J…

Friday Night Pathfinder Horror: Stone Giants

The party had the unfortunate luck of running into two large stone earth elementals this week.  Bengrim, the dwarven stonelord tried to make peace with the elementals.  Unfortunately, it appeared they were tasked with guarding the area and would not give the party passage.  The party knew there was no other way out of the area, so they engaged the elementals.

The mechanical pony, Gallop, rushed into battle.  One of the elementals slammed the pony twice hard, and it was crushed, never to move again.  Krull and Kilrax moved up to engage, as well, but the fists of the elementals was too much for them, and they too were killed.

At this point, the party began to panic, realizing that the elementals were too much for them.  They decided the best option was to rush around the elementals and make a run for it.  With a just few bumps and scrapes, it went well, until the elementals turned on the party and gave chase.  After only a few seconds, Camden was caught by the elementals and also crushe…

On "Punishment" of Overpowered Characters

I keep an eye on subreddits for pathfinder and rpg and this question always comes up:  how do I punish the player who has an overpowered or min-maxed character?The first problem with this question is that it indicates a lack of communication.  A GM needs to set the expectation for their players.  If a player thinks they can min-max and the GM doesn't want them too, the GM hasn't set the expectation properly.The second problem is that the rules are an implied contract between the GM and the player for what is allowed and not allowed.  You can't agree on a rule set and then say don't min-max, because you just changed the rules.I opt for the following strategies when I run into balance issues between characters:1.  Use plot points to restore balance.  It is very easy to make sure an overpowered character has bad luck.  Mistaken identity, being captured, being targeted are all places where luck plays a part and the GM can control that.  This doesn't apply to mechanics,…

Brainstorm: Krohnus the Crater Planet

There exists a world, ravaged by constant bombardment of radiation such that the surface has become a living hell.  No vegtation seems to survive there; life is barren, hot, unkind in every way.  However, deep in the depths of the planet's layers lay a crater, many miles deep and many miles wide.  The radiation passes over the crater, leaving the inside untouched by death.  Within this crater, all normal life on the planet survives.  Outside of this crater, well, the things that live there are things like outsiders, demons, devils, and other toughened species.

The crater itself is divided into large oval bands of layers, each band miles wide and supporting a specific ecosystem.  Various humanoid races are scattered through the vegetated layers in cities, tribes, and villages.  All the diversity of what once was perhaps a living, flourishing planet, now exists in these layers of the crater.

Deep within the crater is a radiation zone around the original meteor that created the crate…

Rules of Rolling

It is interesting how one of the mundane mechanics of role playing games has, in fact, became one of the bigger obsessions and superstitions associated with RPGs.  Go to any game table, anywhere, and you will find people with way too many dice and way too many superstitions about dice rolling.

Because of this, the rules of rolling are an important aspect of the game.  How does a player know when to roll?  How does that roll get counted when players are always rolling random dice at the table?  How does the GM prevent cheating?  How does the GM manage expectations to know if a roll is going to count?

Since a roll of the dice can make all the difference between a TPK and a victory, it is important to consider the rules for rolling.  A good example of one set of rules is Ronald's Rules of Rolling.  Ronald's Rules are good -- clear, concise, and definitive.

Ronald's Rules are just a bit strict for me.  In my typical Pathfinder games, I don't really want to spend a lot of t…

The Out-of-Game Mechanic

Getting together a group of players to play an RPG for most people is only something that happens intermittently, following the intersection of the schedules of everyone involved to enjoy the hobby.  However, for many people in the hobby, this few hours a week set aside for gaming just isn't enough.  They need or want something they can do when they have time outside the game, an introvert's task away from the extrovert's domain at the table.  Today we're going to discuss that aspect of the game -- the out-of-game mechanic.

For GMs, finding something to do outside of game is always easy to do.  Whether prepping for an upcoming game, reading new rule books, getting ideas from modules or novels, or even building and painting miniatures and terrain, there is always something to be done.  In many ways, I think this is what draws players into becoming GMs -- they find they want to spend time outside the game on the hobby, and this oftentimes manifests as spending time world…

Friday Night Pathfinder Horror: Fresh Blood

So we had three new players this week, in addition to Sarah playing a new character.  The two other remaining regular players were out, which provides an opportunity to focus Dooley on new characters.  So here is the cast:

Player D:
Krull, a half-orc barbarianTabbris, a human druid
Player C:
Camden, a dwarf monkJack, a human sorcerer
Player S:
Bensen, a human wizardJerico, a human fighter / monk
Gallop, a steelheart pony rogue from Ponyfinder The 6 humanoids all started outside the orc city on the road to the caravan camp or in the camp.  An earthquake hit which sent the 6 tumbling into breaks in the ground.  After a substantial fall, tumbling down the opening, they found themselves below ground in the dark, battered.
The cavern contained a few weapons and an odd blue metal pony automaton.  Getting closer to the pony seemed to activate it.  Finally, one of the party touched the pony and it came to like.

Looking farther into the cavern, the group discovered a gug, a terrible multi…