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Messages - Pat

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On a list of "most influential fantasy" a modern-day story about some of the characters from The Iliad counts, while the foundational work--read by a thousand times as many people as the modern story,  does not? Is The Iliad not fantasy?
If you're a librarian, do you file the Illiad under mythology, or fantasy?

Fantasy is a genre, not an adjective. It doesn't mean anything with fantastic elements, it means things associated with the fantasy genre.

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Re: Forgotten RPGs
« on: October 22, 2020, 11:08:36 PM »
I also have the FREELancers supplement, which is sort of Top Secret meets cybernetics and special powers. Let's just say it didn't age well.   
There's also a FREEAmerica supplement to the FREELancers supplement, which is purely setting and describes the US region by region. I picked up a copy just a couple years ago, and it's as odd and outdated as you'd expect for a history of a future that's now 20 years past. It says more about expectations and worries of the late-1980s than anything else.

Design, Development, and Gameplay / Re: Boss Mechanics in D&D and the OSR
« on: October 22, 2020, 10:42:16 PM »
That sounds like an unwieldy hodge-podge. Might be worth simplifying a bit.

I don't know anything about 5e, but old school D&D has some boss mechanics built in. You mentioned a bunch, but an awareness of their nature helps in creating suitable encounters, so here are a few specific comments. There's quite a bit of overlap with yours, but I thought it might be useful to give you my take on things I've either implemented or considered in the past.

Hit points. Giving lieutenants 6 hp/die, and bosses max hp is fairly standard, and makes it harder to one-shot them since max hp effectively doubles a creature's staying power. Another trick I've played with for rabble is to not bother with their hp. Instead, if an attack does more than their minimum hp based on their HD (e.g. 4+1 ogre = 5 hp), then make a morale check. If it fails, they're out of the fight. This is actually fairly realistic, because IRL most people go down with one hit, regardless of how badly they were actually hit. They might be injured, or even dying, but most will just be in shock, cowering, or fleeing. All it really means is they're out of the fight.

Saves. Gods save on 2+, heroes on 3+. Could make something similar for bosses. Still allows for save or dies, but makes them rare. A simple +5 to all saves would make a big difference, and scales with level. A reroll would be roughly equivalent.

Magic resistance. While it's true that it's a feature common to many high level monsters, old school D&D does insist on a naturalistic explanation -- it's a feature of a creature's type, not a feature of level or role in an adventure. Yes, you could just give it to bosses. But it's not a save, where a bonus can be passed off as just luck. Shrugging off a fireball with no damage at all is explicitly supernatural. You could justify it in a game as some kind of divine or unholy blessing, granted by a meddling god. But to sell that, you'd need interfering gods a la the Illiad, and it would help to emphasize the magical nature of the world itself, not just spells and powers. In other words, omens and destiny and all that shit. But it's worth hard consideration, because MR is a great mechanic for boss-types: It's basically a you-must-be-this-high level threshold that shakes off anything from a minor (low level) spellcaster, or an additional save on top of the save (even if there isn't a save) against more viable challenges.

Extra actions. I definitely agree the action economy is one of the hardest things to deal with in games. When you have a half dozen or more PCs against a single opponent, it tends to result in the single opponent being quickly overwhelmed, or in monsters so overpowered that PCs start dropping like flies. It's hard to find a happy medium, but the game has come up with a disparate set of mechanical solutions: High level fighters get multiple attacks. Dragons get kicks, tails, wing buffets, and so on. Beholders have pew pew pew. Spellcasters have contingencies and time stop. These solutions tend to be piecemeal and monster specific, but you could generalize the concept. But don't forget the most important action multiplier: Minions. A 7th level pirate captain might be surrounded by a couple score 0-level pirates, which flips the action economy in the other direction. Unlike some later editions like 3e which were scared of the idea, in old school games don't be afraid to mix levels or throw tons of low level creatures at the PCs. They can be a distraction, a challenge, or a chance for the PCs to show off by demonstrating how far they've come, but they prevent Lanchester's laws from being such a nuisance.

Lairs. Acererak has the Tomb of Horrors. A beholder can disintegrate a 3-dimensional maze of tunnels. Kobolds can have a nest of tunnels too small for anyone but the halflings and gnomes, and lace the larger passages with traps. A vampire has charmed slaves among the townsfolk. A dragon can have all of the above. The key here is information and using up precious resources. There's no explicit mechanic for it, and there doesn't need to be. It's just how you build scenarios and  run mastermind-type opponents.

Morale. This is a key feature of old school D&D, and one of its most important mechanics. It's why PCs are so special, and why even mindless undead like zombies and skeletons are so fearsome. If you use it all the time, it changes how the PCs approach encounters, because it's not about robotic extermination but about breaking them or driving them away. Giving a significant boost to morale, or even PC-level immunity, to lieutenants and bosses can really emphasize how different they are from the rest. Note this only works if you use morale for everything else.

Recharge. Potions, scrolls, wands with X charges, staves that can be broken for a retributive strike, items that can be used Y times a day and so on are the classic method. This allows a temporary boost of power, but is just a narrow part of the broader concept of resource management. A magic-user's spells serve a very similar purpose, or an archer's arrows. A high level fighter might have a single arrow of slaying, while at low levels there's a very big difference between an orc with 2 javelins, an an archer with a quiver of 20 arrows. Ammo matters.

AC. Armor also matters, and for NPCs and humanoids is a factor of wealth, or of who gets first dibs (the boss), not of creature type or level. Same with weapons.

Escalation. Don't treat encounters as hermetically sealed. One of the most famous 1e modules has the PCs arrive at the entrance to a dungeon filled with what is basically an army of related monsters, and then tells the DMs when exactly every other monster on the 1st level will arrive if there's a fight at the front door. This escalates the fight, and rewards PCs who don't act like bulls in a China shop. Like the lair, this doesn't require a mechanic, it should just be how you design dungeons. Have them reactive and dynamic, make them refill over time, and so on.

I've alluded to it several times, but if you really want the old school feel, a naturalistic explanation for everything is vital. Things like your version of the recharge or that legendary resistance power are antithetical to the idea (that may be why you're uncomfortable with the latter).

The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: 2020 Election Commentary
« on: October 19, 2020, 08:01:00 PM »
I know that many people do not like Michael Moore and sure he looks like the archetypal old fat racist white man and on the other hand his movie Planet of the Humans makes some interesting points regarding "Green" energy.
I despise Moore, but Planet of the Humans sounds interesting. I might have to give it a watch.

1,000 Nights and Le Mort d'Arthur are also bizarre, because if you include them, why not include Beowulf, as someone already mentioned? Or the Song of Roland, which is even more magical. Journey to the West? Even Dante's Inferno? And why stop in the Middle Ages? How about Ovid's Metamorphoses? The Illiad and Odyssey? The Mahabharata? The Kalevala? The Mabinogion? Or go all the way back to the dawn of writing, because the epic of Gilgamesh seems just as good a fit.

At what point do you draw a line and say this is where fantasy starts? If you go by standard convention, there shouldn't be anything earlier than the 19th century, because the modern genre of fantasy is generally considered to start with either Ruskin or MacDonald. So those two relics make it feel like the panelists don't even know how to define the genre.

I think Donaldson's Thomas Covenant is an obvious miss. When I think of top 100 fantasy novels of all time, a lot of that is influence, and the first two Thomas Covenant series were hugely impactful.
The Thomas Convenant series were popular, but I don't see them as particularly influential. The Land is a fairly genetic fantasyland and doesn't have the depth of someone like Tolkien, and Donaldson's writing isn't as poetic or clever as a Beagle or Zelazny. His strength is generally characterization and a willingness to feature a very difficult protagonist that doesn't even fit the standard anti-hero patterns. But I don't think that's been widely imitated. He also deconstructed some fantasy tropes, but that's common; I don't think Covenant is an inflection point.

What is so striking to me is the shift after Rothfuss. It was as if they said, "OK, now we need to represent diverse authors and ignore any books by white men. OK, let's throw in one...David Mitchell?"

I'm not banging the drum for the poor, neglected white male. I just wish we could come to a point where we actually judged the books on their own merits, rather than which intersectional boxes can be checked off.
I didn't notice any shift at Rothfuss, but his book is the 55th on the (chronological) list, and the most recent book I've read is American Gods (#51) -- and every other book I've read is in the first 30. Which means I'm familiar with roughly 2/3rds of the first 30 books on the list, but only 1 of the last 70.

You probably hit the nail on the head when it comes to tokenism, but it's remarkably unwoke in other areas. (McCaffrey alone would elicit cries of "problematic".) Melan also has a point about the list favoring fantasy for girls, though that's just one strain -- for instance, despite being written by a woman, the Earthsea books that made the cut are clearly aimed at boys.

Two of the panelists, NK Jemisin and Tomi Adeyemi, have three books each on the list. Imagine being a well-respected fantasy author and realizing that you have three books on a list at the exclusion of Lord Dunsany, RE Howard, Michael Moorcock, Stephen Donaldson, Patricia McKillip, etc. How could you sleep at night?
Adeyemi only has 2. Gaiman is the other panelist with 3 on the list, though he's somewhat more deserving (but not 3/100 deserving). And your list isn't full of obvious misses -- Donaldson is a better writer than many people give him credit for, but he's not a top 100 fantasy novels of all time better, for instance.

Flipping through, I've read 19/100, and 0 of the books on the list after American Gods. I don't think I've even heard of the vast majority.

It's a terrible list, but is this supposed to be some culture war-related outrage? Because it doesn't seem to fit. There's the Christian parable (Narnia), old school books that would be considered "problematic" (1001 Nights, Le Morte d'Arthur), the books that LeGuin had to recant because they weren't feminist enough, Robert Jordan's male eye, and even Anne "tentpost" McCaffery. It's extremely heavily weighed toward children's books, has a lot of popular books that are more notable for the number of volumes sold rather than the quality or the writing, and manages to include 1 to 3 books by every single author on the judging panel which I'm sure is a reflection of their timeless virtue not tasteless self-promotion.

The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: President Trump has Covid19
« on: October 15, 2020, 02:34:27 PM »
Call me a gold bug if you wish but the only way I see out of this is ditching fiat and going back to some sort of asset backed.  Doesn't have to be gold or silver but those are traditional.  It'd mean smaller growth but at least it's not pixie farts.
There's nothing wrong with gold, there's a reason it's been the currency of choice for most of the history of the world.

But all we really need is something that would prevent the government from fiddling with the monetary supply. Because that's how governments tax people without their consent (no legislation needed), it's what has allowed the government to fund even more by borrowing obscene amounts at obscenely low interest rates, it's a wealth transfer from the poor to the rich and led to the stagnation of wages since the 1970s and the booming stock market over the same period, and it's also the cause of the boom and bust cycles.

A cryptocurrency would work just fine. Anything that makes it impossible for the government to print more buxs.

The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: President Trump has Covid19
« on: October 15, 2020, 07:32:01 AM »
Of the three numbers, it's closer to $250 trillion. That's a bit higher than the US fiscal gap, which is the real debt, because it includes future commitments. Governments toss people in jail for not putting what they've promised to pay on their balance sheets, but ignore it when it comes to themselves. And in that regard, the US is much worse off than other major economies.

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Re: Forgotten RPGs
« on: October 14, 2020, 06:30:28 PM »
Agent 13 is one I have. I think I read two of the novels. It seemed like there were more, but they were already obscure even 25 years ago.
I liked the Agent 13 novels, they were good basic pulp stories. Whatever else was going on, Frank Dille was a decent writer.

The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: President Trump has Covid19
« on: October 14, 2020, 01:51:02 PM »
Trump and Warren Buffet have pretty much negated concerns about the laughable national debt. We're never paying it back and since the Treasury can print money, we could literally print a pile of $1 Billion dollar bills and throw them around like funny money. Or the USA goes bankrupt which certainly would happen if (or when) we balkanize.
If we start printing $1 trillion dollar coins (the actual proposal), then the dollar is going to quickly lose its reserve status. And the debt is going to become a problem if interest rates ever rise. The US is in a trap.

I am also wondering what the Telemundo polls really means in voter reality regarding the Latino voters when 67% said Trump won his debate and 74% said Pence won his debate.
One of the weirdest things about the current politics is the continued affiliation of black and latino voters with the blue tribe. There was a poll recently that looked at Democratic voters, and basically said they all look alike across most demographic groups -- except for black voters, who are far more conservative and traditional, and agree with the rest of the party on almost nothing.

Blacks have been a weird fit for the Democratic party since the 1920s, when the blacks shifted en masse from the Republican party, who gave them freedom and supported their political activity (all pre-New Deal black elected officials were Republican), and defected to the party of the KKK and institutionalized racism in return for the promise of some scraps. Which they apparently really needed, because they jumped despite all the policies FDR put in place that excluded blacks from most of the New Deal.

Same is true with latinos, who tend to be macho, catholic, and believe in traditional families and gender roles. They're both natural fits with the red tribe, and not even the libertarian wing of the red tribe -- they're much closer to traditional conservatives. The recent hyper-focus of the blue tribe on gender, intersectionalism, abortion, and all the things they hate and want to have nothing to do with must be causing some strains or fractures, but I haven't seen much sign of it in the news. Even the black shift toward Trump has been tiny, so far.  The question is whether they'll keep on holding on, and only slowly bleed voters to the red tribe, or whether it will become a torrent.

Media and Inspiration / Re: Wonder Woman 84 Trailer
« on: October 13, 2020, 07:24:00 PM »
2: I am surprised we did not see an attempt to revive drive ins.
That's been happening. Farms, museums, kiddy attractions, and other entertainment venues have been doing drive-in movies. It's improvised modifications of existing facilities, and event-driven, aimed at drawing in crowds when social distancing and limited capacity makes indoor events less viable (and less profitable), rather than new stand-alone drive-ins. But that makes sense, because the lockdowns are supposed but to end at some point, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to make a big capital investment in something that will fade away in a few months. I can't vouch for how widespread it it, but I've seen it in multiple parts of the country.

The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: President Trump has Covid19
« on: October 08, 2020, 05:09:54 PM »
I'd say a bigger problem is the zeitgeist. When there's a problem, whether a novel disease, an economic downturn, or any of the social justice issues, how many people think it's the government's job to fix it? Almost all of them. And while it's stronger on the left, no politicians on the right have seriously tried to shrink the federal octopus. We're more than a century into the growth of central government power, so it's the default mode of thinking.

It's also the source of many of our problems. The solution to an increasingly polarized society isn't to increase the power and control of the majority over everyone else. It's to decentralize, to stop trying to solve every problem at the federal level, and to let states and local municipalities decide what's best for them.

The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: 2020 Election Commentary
« on: October 08, 2020, 10:30:06 AM »
Clap louder for Tinkerbell,. Pat!!
You're a fucking idiot.

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