1701 Pretty Expensive.

Honestly I don’t know if this is just my limited experience or a commonality, but no one is ever truly happy with whatever version of D&D exists at any given time. TYhey even alter the version they like best to suit their own tastes, which is fine. If you’re going to play as imaginary people the rules are only as important as you make them. The last Time I bought a set of D&D books they had just published… third edition? I’ll have to look it up. Yeah, I think that’s the one. Anyway, I remember people being really annoyed because it was really simplified in several ways in an attempt to, I assume, be more accessible to new players. The primary thing I remember old player disliking was the removal of THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class 0) which I could never grasp however hard people tried. The new version seemed much more straightforward to me, but at the same time the books kind of lacked some of the soul of the older ones. They had the gloss of whoever had bought the company. I think wizards of the coast, but I cant remember anymore. That said, I still liked the unity on some level to the artwork and general aesthetic. Basically I liked the old and the new for various reasons and that’s just fine. Of course after never really getting to make use of any of the books I didn’t buy anything else, and haven’t for all this time. It’s just one of those things I’m drawn to but have never been able to experience in any meaningful way. When 5th edition came out a friend sent me a pdf of the new books, which I may still have on file someplace, but at that time reading pdfs was still annoying as fuck. Now it would be a lot easier to load them in to something and just read them like a normal book. At that time I was pretty deep in whatever crisis was going on with the comic so I have very little recollection of the general fan reaction to the new changes. I just vaguely remember grumbling.

Ironically the discord server I started has its own little roleplaying group that was still going strong the last time I looked in on them.

Anyway whatever. I went on a podcast last night which you can listen to here. I don’t start until 20 minutes in and until then it’s all a bunch of admin that meant virtually nothing to me and likely won’t mean anything to you either unless you’re already a listener. The levels are also really quiet so you’ll have to turn your sound way up, so be careful if you wear headphones and it looks like another ad will start playing. Additionally, my voice always sounds higher than it actually is when I’m recorded, plus it sounds like I have a lisp for some reason. I can’t even begin to imagine what caused that. If you cut out my verbal ticks my actual speaking time is probably cut in half, but without structure I spend a lot of time sorting out my thoughts and stalling with likes, and you knows, which gets tedious. At any rate it’s there if you want to hear it. If the views so far are any indication no one does. XD

The main host is a guy I’ve kind of known for a really long time actually. We very briefly touch on where we met at one point and I had essentially forgotten about the old collective we mentioned until he brings it up. That was at least 7 years ago I would guess. maybe more. I rarely get to talk to anyone still in the game from back then so I rarely think about those times.

57 Comments

Dear god I hope she never leaves.

its cool that you are on a podcast. I’ll be sure to check it out.

Yeah.
A lot of people get the GURPS [rpg game stuff], aka the Generic Universal Roleplaying System[ TM ] books, + maybe add some of GURPS’ medieval knights/D+D rules-type books, + make their own Dungeons + Dragons-like, role – playing game.

I feel a little ashamed that I know that much, about role p-laying games.
[TRA speaks in an ironic tone]: “Lay-dies…! I am DOWN with the 20-sided dice, and the 10-sided dice! Yas! Yas!” XD

THAC0’s just like BAB, except to determine the AC you hit, you subtract your d20 roll from the number instead of adding it to the number. It’s maybe a little less intuitive, but I often find the math slightly faster and easier in the ranges D&D attack bonuses and the d20 results tend to work in.

But, yeah, all games are flawed, and every group’s looking for something a little different. So everyone houserules. I’m not really a fan of D&D, though I’ve played a lot of it – starting with the Moldvay edition lo these many moons ago – because it’s basically the RPG lowest common denominator. Even if you can’t find a group to play anything else, you can usually find a D&D group.

But even my favorite RPGs – Shadowrun 3E at the top of the list – I have pages of house rules when I GM. Stuff that’s broken in the standard rules, stuff that wasn’t broken in the standard rules, but got broken by later errata, stuff that’s just stupid or nonsensical as written, stuff that I know more about than the game designers and can’t deal with the ridiculous way they implemented it… (I’m an SCA heavy fighter; I run into a lot of that kind of stuff with RPGs. It’s one of the big reasons I’m not fond of D&D.)

For me, I only recently really got into the role-playing scene. So I looked at the most recent D&D edition. From what I understand people who are upset with it because it either a) got rid of their favorite classes b) nerfed classes that in their opinion didn’t need nerfing or c) generally was more difficult to play than 4th ED because of changes to game mechanics. So then I looked into Pathfinder and Shadowrun. But one thing that always annoys me about Pathfinder and D&D type games is the way they handle the Ranger class. Because when I think “Ranger” I think “Aragorn son of Arathorn” or “Faramir son of Denethor”, aka Medieval low-fantasy guerilla fighters fighting bow and sword in accord, laying waste to enemy hordes with only their skill, wits, and survival skills, more at home in the wild than in a city. Not some dual-wielding elf with a pet pather (literally two thirds of the players who had Ranger characters I encountered). And some of the homebrew classes and races you find out there are both awesome and reasonably balanced.

Really? I thought 5e was supposed to be easier than 4e because they took out so much number crunching. 4e had a literal rulebook while 4e has some explanations in the player’s handbook and the advice of “just wing it”.

I should have expanded on reason c. It’s not that the rules are more difficult (as you say it’s quite the opposite) it’s that quite a few 4e players are upset that in game adventuring now is actually challenging (a common complaint about 4e from what I can tell is that it made player characters overpowered despite having a rule book you needed a lawyer too make heads or tales of).

You might wanna look at the switch hitter build in this guide. This is my favorite build for rangers in pathfinder because of the solid mix between range and great weapon fighting. As for 5e’s ranger, I love 5e out of all the dnd systems, but ranger needs an upgrade in this edition from what I hear.

Rangers are a bad joke in 5e’s PHB, to the point that players are better off making a Fighter with the fighting style of their choice and the Outlander background, but an Unearthed Arcana beefed them up to at least playability, with such changes as “you no longer have to give up your attacks for the turn to let your animal companion make a single attack.” For a LotR-style ranger I’d still probably go Fighter and petition the GM to let me take Nature as a skill despite it not being a class skill, but the revamped Ranger works fine, and is a very satisfyingly flavorful class.

I love the fuck out of Pathfinder as laid out in the core rulebooks. My favorite character is a chaotic good “easily irritated asshole who is good but not exactly nice and considers laws as suggestions” type Abberant sorcerer. Then I play him almost like a really bad fighter with a bunch of unarmed combat and acrobatics type feats so he can like ready up Shocking Grasp and then double-backflip off a wall and body-slam a gnoll and then also discharge 5D6 electric damage.

Then I get a raven familiar that speaks common and sasses everyone but sasses my character the most and then everyone in the party loves the sassy bird and I use the bird as a bit of a way to get the sorcerer to learn to be a bit nicer maybe so some character decelopment happens along the way.

Oh my god I just seriously typed all that…

Listened to the beginning of the podcast, and you sound fine. I’ll listen more later, but I think you share the same paranoia I do about how bad recordings of me sound. I assure you, from an outside standpoint, that your voice sounds good, and your mannerisms are within normal tolerances.

As someone who collects the D&D 3.0 and 3.5 books to use as a resource for writing, I love the books. I like reading the item sections, feats, monsters, and adventures. I especially love the Draconomicon, monster Manuals, books dedicated to items, and the books that are designed to go through an entire campaign for a group.

Sadly I don’t have neither the time nor the group these days to do a real RPG campaign, but my wife and I have played the crap out of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of The Runelords which I’ve found to be a reasonable substitute in 45-90 minute chunks (aka 1 scenario at the time, the complete game is ~35 scenarios in 7 adventures).

My first game of D&D proper was 3.5. I enjoyed it a lot, but by that point it was so bloated with supplementary material, I would have never have been able to construct the character I did without the help of many forums, and literally a DOZEN…. TOTALLY.LEGALLY.OBTAINED PDFs. I enjoyed the variety, but stuff was not balanced well, what with that sheer volume of available material. We had a new player join at one point who was a veteran of the D&D system, and they decided to roll-up an Artificer…which TOTALLY overshadowed my dragonfire adept in every capacity outside of scouting ability.

Also, let’s hope these reprint wind up getting together in the middle of the campaign…in even MY limited experience, that can wind up going poorly for everyone in a variety of ways :V

Yeah, that’s exactly 3.5’s problem. I love the system, but the sheer bloat means near-inaccessibility for some. I like how much room it leaves to customize a character’s mechanics to match their concept, but the only balance in it is what’s imposed by a group who agree to stick to a general power level.

Your best bet is to have a DM who knows the system well enough to help the new players and have a set list of books the group can pull from (using everything is a dangerous way to play). And fellow players who are there to have fun, not “win”.

When it comes to D+D the animated series universe gets all my love.

Recently I was able to get involved in a quest from the Animated Series on Skype. We played Beneath the Blade of Sword Mountain, the episode from the D+D box set that would have been the episode before ‘The Dragons Graveyard’ in the series proper.

I’ve even asked IDW (who does the current D+D comic) at Botcon (the former Official Transformers Convention before it was/will be replaced by Hascon later this year) if they could do an animated series comic, but they said getting the rights for it are a nightmare.

I have played a lot of games and my thoughts on them.

AD&D Thac0 Is the bane of everything. Otherwise the system is fine.

D&D 3.0 Unbalanced but overly serviceable

D&D 3.5 Was great for a while but became too bloated and unwieldy. I at one point ran a game where a person told me they did this thing that did a ridiculous amount of damage for their level because of this rule in that book and I was like sure okay. Whatever.

D&D 4.0 Basically World of Warcraft in pen and paper form. It was a mess and the whole game was horribly unbalanced. I know people who like it but I kind of judge them for it.

D&D 5.0 Heavy on story light on rules. Which is great. Only real problem I have with the game is that Magic Items kind of break it. As a DM you have to be super stingy with them for worry that a single item will ruin all of your plans. Fun to run at lower levels but I don’t like it at high levels at all.

Pathfinder is basically what worked in d&d 3.0 and 3.5 and they took a lot of the unwieldy stuff and changed it. I like to call it 3.75. My personal favorite game to run.

I can attest to the magic items thing for 5e. I am a fan of giving my players all sorts of magic items because that always seemed like the point of the game, but as a result they are fighting at least a level above their recommended danger level all of the time. 4e could handle magic items much better it felt like.

Well, 5e had some conceptual changes. Magic items are a little rarer than in 3.X (I don’t have any experience playing 4th so I can’t speak for it) and can’t be purchased; they’re supposed to feel rare and special.

4e was a fine d20-based fantasy role-playing system. Just don’t call it “D&D”.

Th fact that 3.5 exists tells you how unworkable 3.0 was.

Never had any problem with 3.0.
Although I would be using 3.5 or Pathfinder if I could afford the damn books.

4e was pretty easy to cheese too. The last time I played, the gm kinda hot mad cause we beat a boss monster well above our ecl(he was trying to scare us away from an area and forgot to account that most of us were roleplayers first and gamers second and set us against something that resonated with half the parties backstory), and came out the other side looking pretty. I like talking about that campaign cause I played a monk/wizard hybrid, which was broken on its own, cause I could glide through a room without incoming attacks of opportunity, hit everything at least once, then turn around and zap everyone standing right there. After that we started fighting dragons and bigger things cause several of our characters basically had triggered actions and could trip enemies, turning bosses into sitting ducks.

3.5/Pathfinder is bad in its own way. As mentioned above, there is a ridiculous amount of bloat, though that can be somewhat mitigated by the gm saying players can only use certain books. There was also the problem of some splat books introducing entirely new stats. That being said, one of my favorite times as a gm was taking a dozen players, letting them use every book I could get my hands on to build characters (and two Homebrew classes for…variety), then laughing as they do stuff like accidentally telekinetically fling a mace into a goblin’s face when they were aiming at a dragon that another party member decided would make a suitable mount, breaking a leg trying to open a treasure chest after it was discovered no one has trained lockpick, and a gunmage turning his flintlock into a flashlight during a fight.

D&D Next, or fifth edition, is the first one that – on balance – really does satisfy me. When I was young I went from system to system, and was always disappointed. These days I know I like this version of D&D, and Star Wars: Edge of Empire… and they’re sound. They’ll remain sound.

I just finished listening to the whole podcast minus the first 20 Minutes and it was awesome. It is like a summary of the blog over the years XD. In a good way.
I advice everybody to listen to it.

It’s been ages since I was in a position where I could play a real game, but for a year I was running an extremely homebrewed Pathfinder-slash-DragonQuest game with some of my EFL students. Because of various language barrier issues to long explanations of the mechanics, I ended up simplifying a ton of stuff and praying that certain things never came up. Had to ad-lib a ton of stuff, too.

We started with the Young Character rules, where everyone was just a kid, first proving themselves capable enough to safely leave the village (by surviving a series of combat trials versus tamed monsters) and then traveling to the far-off Temple of Dharma to choose their real jobs. Along the way, the initial trio met up with a sister-novitiate (who actually wanted to become a kung-fu girl), a street urchin, and a little blue slime who’d managed to bust out of the last combat trial on a very lucky 20.

One of the more memorable moments was when I had the kids brainstorm possible job options once they got to the Temple, and the little wags decided to put “toilet cleaner” on the list. I held them to that, and the street urchin ended up in a Mario outfit rather than becoming the Rogue he was intended to be. By the time we had to end the game (end of school year; change of address), the now-Senior Toilet Cleaner was effectively a Hydrokineticist. Fun fun.

More recently, I’ve been publishing a serial novel on Amazon Kindle based on an unnamed (but again quite homebrewed) gaming system. Basically, it’s what I imagine would happen if my niece asked me to run a game for her and her friends, and they all decided they’d like to be princesses, have picnics instead of hunt bandits, and otherwise have fun at the expense of whatever the GM had planned (he ends up throwing out the main plot early on, to actively conspire with the girls).

Look for (or click my name):
Princesses of the Pizza Parlor, episode 1 “Princesses Don’t Do Summer School” and episode 2 “Princesses Are Never Lost (Everything Else Is Simply Misplaced)”

I was really hoping for star trek references on page 1701

Possible error in the last panel. I’m assuming you meant her to say “you’ve got me now”. Instead of what’s written which is “You’ve me now”.

You have me now is what she’s saying. It’s an outdated colloquialism.

The copy-editor in me needs to say that if you make the “you have” into a contraction, colloquially you need to put in the “got.” You can leave it out if you keep the “you have,” as two words.

Ya know, just sayin’

Fine, I’ll take time out of my day to change this because you widdle babies can’t cope.

I really liked the original line, for what it’s worth.

In a future event, Rulette could take a line from Mr.T, and say: “I’ve got your pretty + expensive, [ Right Here! ] :D

It may make me sound a bit schizophrenic, but you are the creator, after all. Do what seems right to you and don’t be afraid to stick to your guns.

All us Grammar Nazis may offer our “help” from time to time, but ultimately it’s your face on the Gravitar, not ours. Take our advice — or not — as you deem fit. And, as always, don’t be afraid to tell us where to stick it when needed. :()

Rules? Schmules!

Total improvisation.

Example, starting with character generation.

Me: Who are you?
Player: I’m a lemon-yellow rock. And I’m friends with the whales.

Proceed to improvise with a lot of fun.

I’ll bet you play dice-less, too.

Dice are those funny little things shaped like pyramids, cubes and stuff, with numbers on each of the flat parts. Real role-gamers use them — along with their imaginations — to help keep things more grounded. To us, it’s too easy for pure imagination to get out of control.

Plus there’s always that visceral need to handle something solid.

There are role-players, then roll-players.

For example, the DM has a trap that the thief has detected.

Role-players use more improvisation, less focused on the rules. Mostly because the group dynamic is less about dying due to a bad dice roll and more about dynamic details. In the above example, a role-player will tell the DM that they “look for a switch or a specific tumbler or something that might give my thief a better chance of deactivating the trap. I am posed to leap away if it goes badly.” They roll or play a card or whatever (or the DM does) and they verbally draw a picture using the outcome (trap is sprung, huge damage roll, thief lies on the floor, bleeding out, if only someone might have a bandage or magic to patch him up wink wink).

Roll-players are usually more about the rules, less focused on the details. For example, when trying to disarm the trap of the previous example, they say, “I’m disarming the trap, my bonus is +3 and I’m taking 10 because I’m taking my time.” They roll, and the dice are the end-all of the situation (trap is sprung, huge damage roll, thief dead).

Neither way is more preferable than the other. Both are equally enjoyable, depending on how the group likes to resolve problems.

Now, LARPing … I’m not sure how I feel about people who dress the part in a basement or secluded area. Ren faires and large mock combats are one thing, but five guys dressed in chain mail in their mom’s garden to play D&D seems a liiiiittle too weird for me.

I don’t have an favorite, and I understand the reason some people “homebrew” various RP systems.

Everything nowadays is home-brewed to some degree. I barely know anyone who plays Fallout games without at least ONE mod (usually around three or more). Same with tabletop – some gamers use mods or home-brewed rules tacked on to the core rules because they have a preference for play. I have yet to find a set of rules that survives everyone untouched. Most people pick a setting over a ruleset – like I know a guy who plays in a Shadowrun setting using the OGL D20 rules (common to 3.5 D&D). And a guy who uses rules from Eclipse Phase to run a Traveler setting campaign. It’s always put to a vote by the DM (or storyteller or whatever the fuck name you give the DM) to see what the players like doing.

TL;DR – if the DM is good, they home-brew the rules to match their player base.

I’ve played straight games in 1.0, 2.0, and 3.5, running games for a shop. Having the book be the authority takes the reins from me a bit, and I don’t prefer it, but it does let me slap down rules-lawyers because, fuck it, I’m better at it than they are.

I also use CP2020’s books mostly to the letter (only homebrew when the manuals literally don’t account for shit… like a player building armor out of those “Merc Service Rescue” break-cards (Snap in half, and mercs show up and save your ass… made into armor. Expensive, but yeah, I let it work)).

But what makes a good Shop-GM and what makes a good DM are two different skillsets, and I say that having developed both. Very few things work the same way between groups. In a shop, there’s more control/static functions for the DM because the playerbase is constantly changing, even maybe a dozen times in the same fight/session. Having static rules is a must, especially for unfamiliar players.

Went through the podcast. Er, your part of it. Not terribly clear on how Trump came out, I’ll be honest. Wasn’t very clear what you meant either.

Might just be me, I do get tired of politics coming up in unrelated things. I’ve gotten overly touchy about it with how many ridiculous places it comes up in. I don’t mind arguing politics, just not in a place that’s not at all political, ya know?

I gotta say… If somebody sent me to the ER, by being a moron in some fashion… I would not want to become their friends. I did get stitches because of an EXISTING friend, but that was half my fault. I wouldn’t go out of my way to hang out with someone that had caused me bodily harm, even more so if they did it unintentionally.

If I was not terribly broke, I’d go to a convention to say Hi. I’d not really have much ELSE to say, but I’d at least say Hi.

Betraying my age, but I started with the box set…you know, basic D&D. It was a good intro but needed work, thus AD&D came about. I have to say that, having played up through 3.5, my favorite system was 1.0. I’ve heard players whine about THACO, but in my humble opinion, if you can’t do enough basic math to figure it out, you should spend more time in Remedial Math than roleplaying.

What most players forget, as far as I can tell, is the rules were *intended* for homebrew. When the DMG flat out states that the DM is supposed to make judgment calls and that the rules are only guidelines to be interpreted by the DM…that’s pretty much Gary Gygax and TSR saying, “Dudes and dudettes, just roll some dice and have some fun, okay?”

The problem I’ve noticed, and that got me away from playing, is very few people wanted to spend any time learning. They wanted the answers and the loot *now*, and the monster to be dead in one hit. I loved when a rules-lawyer would state triumphantly that s/he was doing this because s/he knew *that* and had *this* skill and blah-blah-blah…and I’d get to tell them it didn’t work. “Why?!?” they’d cry. “You don’t know, do you?” I would reply. Later, I’d explain that as a 1st lvl Dwarven Paladin from the Mountain Hold of Crydee, he had zero chance of recognizing stonework from the 3rd Jennian Dynasty, since Jenni was an island nation halfway around the world. “Why *can’t* I play a half-naga/half giant?” “Um…the same reason you can’t have a dog-snake in this world. The two species can’t cross-breed.” “But…magic!” “Isn’t going to fit a giant’s willy into a naga’s vagoo.”

I’m of the opinion that if the DM is willing to spend the time making sure his/her world makes sense, the players shouldn’t have much problem with homebrew. The DM, by the same token, has to make sure the rules *make* sense, and aren’t based off which player bought the pizza or s/he wants to see naked.

I’ve thought about getting back into it; I’ve heard good things about Pathfinder, so I might look into it. Some of my fondest memories are of weekends spent around the gaming table with dice, friends, and laughter.

Rulette is ruling the floor, isn´t she? She´s witty as hell.

To roleplaying games, I like Edge of the Empire, pretty fun and fast to play. I phased out all of the versions of D&D already. Mind you, I played Rolemaster in their heyday, sooo…

I broke 3.5 so horribly hard, and Pathfinder didn’t fix the fundamental flaws inherent within the system. It couldn’t, not if it wanted to use the same chassis, because it was the chassis itself which was flawed.

The problem I had with 3/3.5/3.p from 2e and previous eras was the class imbalance, or rather, how the system dealt with the class imbalance.

In 2e and prior, every class had a different xp chart. Fighters went up the fastest, casters went up the slowest. So you ended up with a party in which you had a level 10 fighter hanging out with level 6 wizards.

In 3rd ed, they chucked that out the window, and built the entire experience system on the foundation that every class is created equal and thus all level the same rate, which means they could make level-based calculations to do other things, like Level Adjustment and Challenge Rating. Unfortunately, that only made the already strong casters even stronger, which is where we get Linear Fighter, Quadratic Wizard from.

Furthermore, the key to truly breaking the game comes in two forms: Breaking the action economy, or employing lose conditions.

In 3.5 and 3.P, most lose conditions are applied with saving throws, so the goal there is to crank up your DC’s to the point where no one can reasonably make their saving throw save on a natural 20. Most players consider a 5% failure rate for a 95% chance of an ended encounter to be acceptable. And this was fairly trivial to accomplish simply through stat-stacking your casting stat without employing the dozens of other methods of doing so.

Therefore, spells like Grease, Stinking Cloud, and Slow were considered key ‘save or lose’ spells. Grease, because it was a Reflex save, and required balance checks which inherently denied you dex bonus to AC unless you had 5+ ranks in a skill that no creature ever had by the core rules, which means they got eaten alive by the rogue’s sneak attacks. Stinking Cloud was a Con save or Nauseated, which is ‘take no actions’, and thus can be seen as a lose condition because if you cannot take actions and your opponent can, you aren’t going to live very long. Slow was a Will save or Lose, or at least have so few actions available that you are eventually going to lose due to action economy imbalance. The reason I mention specifically these three spells is that each one triggers a different save, so if you had all three, then you could target an opponent’s lowest save in any potential situation.

Spells like Haste were also seen as highly powerful because it broke the action economy in your favor. Every attack your beat-stick did with Haste basically counted up to more damage you did, which almost invariably is going to be higher than the damage you would have done with a Fireball or Lightning Bolt or similar blasting direct damage type spell.

But those of us on the old 623 and CharOp boards were not most players. We went beyond that. We discovered ways of getting several turns worth of actions in a single turn. Created recursive loops of Spell Matrix through metamagic shenanigans for arbitrarily high numbers of spells being cast in a given turn.

5e has fixed at least part of that. It nerfed casters and boosted melee. More specifically, it nerfed the ways a player can break the action economy, and it significantly nerfed the ability to stack DC’s to the point of non-viability. If anything, it went the other direction, and now save-or-lose spells are nigh-worthless because they are never going to land on anything due to how DC’s scale slower than saving throws. And there are too many ways to gain advantage on saving throws, with relatively few ways to inflict disadvantage. In other words, it’s the defender’s contest to lose, and he typically won’t. Which makes save or lose type spells completely worthless.

On the note of homebrew, I’ve recently created a race of bipedal beetles for D&D based on the frog-legged leaf beetle from Malaysia. I named them Etägárak.
They’re between 1’6″ to 2′. Coloration varies. Coming in solid metallic hues of green, blue, burgandy, orange, or purple. While other individuals may have two or even (but more rarely) three of these colors. Despite their size, they’re physically as strong as strong humans due to their being arthropods. Males are shorter than females and have blunter abdomens.

Racial features:

flight
wall crawling.
high passive perception
susceptible to cold (takes an extra D4 for cold damage)

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