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Topics - Simlasa

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On our local FB group (predominantly focused on 5e), a fellow was claiming that it has become the norm that no PCs should fear death in any games.

I was not aware of that. I know there have always been groups that played that way... with the GM fudging rolls and making sure everyone kinda got what they wanted.
When I asked him why he thought that he really had no evidence to support it... it's just seemed to be what he liked and had experienced.Myself, I have tried to stay out of those groups... or dropped out when I found that's how they played.

Whenever the topic comes up online (in the places I frequent) there always seems to be a mix of preferences, no solid majority one way or another... though the 5e crowd seems to talk about what makes a 'good story' a lot.

Our local group has had a few people rage quit over the years when things didn't work out for their PCs (not just death)... one guy insisted he should get a 'save point'... but it's rare.

So what have y'all experienced? Is 'death free' (or just consequence free) the current trend? More than it used to be?
I can only speak of the folks who I've chosen to game with... and PC death is always on the table.

Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Non-Political NWoD Thread
« on: September 29, 2019, 12:38:09 AM »
Okay, let's try this out...
I'm NWoD curious... I've yet to play... and I've got questions.

NO RW POLITICS... keep it in your pants!
(Doc Sammy might as well stay away)

So, I've been reading through some of the NWoD books and hit upon Geist.
Geist seems like a cool idea, and rubs up against another current interest of mine, which is fantasy shamans.
But from what I've read, 1st edition Geist (2009) was laden with issues because it was a bit rushed and unformed... an RPG preemie as it were.
There was apparently a 'fix' in the form of some errata and a 1.1 edition in 2012... which still had a bit of a soft-skull.

So now there is 2nd edition Geist (2019), which folks seem to be liking.

It seems to be by White Wolf, not Onyx Path (I'm still unclear on all the permutations of the WoD games).

So my question is, if anyone here knows whether 2nd edition Geist is running on NWoD core rules (the blue book) which I think I like, or is it CoD using the rules presented in The God Machine... which I am NOT that fond of.
Like, depending on how much difference there is I might as well buy the newest one, avoid the troubles of the earlier editions... but if it's different base rules and a whole different slant (I know that Thresholds were changed to... something else that actually made more sense).

Can anyone clarify what '2nd edition' means in this case and for other NWoD titles, like Promethean?


Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Fantasy Paranoia
« on: December 28, 2016, 08:18:28 PM »
On the back of the Infinite Dungeon thread... and my resurgence of interest in Earthdawn of late... I was wondering what might already be out there that comes close to depicting something like Paranoia... but as fantasy rather than scifi.

For the new year I'm thinking of running a short campaign in one of Earthdawn's Kaers during the Scourge... hundreds of years spent hiding in fear in an underground city while Lovecraftian monsters rampage up top seems like it might be an interesting setup.
However, most of the official Earthdawn products focus on post-kaer society... or just coming out of them... and depictions of life in Kaers seem substantially nicer than I'd expect regarding the sort of stuff that might go on amongst a few thousand people locked up for centuries like that.
So I'm looking for darker inspirations... or any inspirations... games, books, comics, movies.

Thanks for any nice suggestions.

Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Games with SCIENCE!
« on: October 16, 2016, 09:49:44 PM »
So I'm watching a slew of mad scientist movies... Dr. Cyclops, The Atomic Brain, The Frozen Dead... and wondering what RPGs out there might have taken a shot at a big kitchen sink of gonzo terrestrial mad science like:

Secret Jungle Laboratories
Giant Monsters
Hot Rods
Tiki/Voodoo conflation
Mexican Wrestlers
Moreau-ish animal people (cat women!)
Brain Transplants
Rogue Aliens
Teleporter accidents
Invisible madmen
Telepathic brains/heads in jars
Death Rays
Masked Villains

Something kinda like Charles Burn's 'El Borbah' comics.
Not entirely pulp, not entirely Atomic Horror... not entirely teenage monster beach movies... but a happy smorgasbord of all of those and more.

Any games coming close to that?

Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Do you use voices?
« on: September 07, 2016, 01:04:14 PM »
Mr. Desborough put up this interesting bit of video regarding GM's using their voice in different ways.
Some of it is stuff I already try to do as Player or GM... but for the most part very few people I've played with have done anything different with their voice. I've even had some mock me for doing it.

It seems like it has a lot of potential for setting atmosphere, and as a Player, doing stuff like accents or keeping a certain tone really helps me stay in character, rather than just playing myself.
How common/uncommon is it for people to use their voice in these ways?

Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Vimanakatha?
« on: July 02, 2016, 11:20:28 PM »
Vimanakatha was supposed to be an alternate setting for Apotheosis Drive X (Fate). Proposed as a mecha game based in Indian mythology.
Does anyone know if that ever came out? Apotheosis did but doesn't seem to have any alternate settings in its corebook.
It was being written by Geoffrey McVey as part of the Apotheosis Drive X kickstarter... but I find no evidence online that it was ever finished/published/sold (though the kickstarter made the goals that included it).

I'm not a fan of Fate so don't usually delve into those circles, but it sounded like such a cool setting to mine ideas from.

Other Games / Starting Skyrim
« on: June 01, 2016, 10:08:19 AM »
I've never played Skyrim but now I'm thinking I'll give it a go on my PC over the summer.
Thing is I'm not quite sure of how best to do it... there seem to be different editions and a host of mods for it... from what little I've read it seems like the game was pretty buggy and was dropped before a lot of those were addressed, but that fan mods go a long ways toward fixing it.
So which edition would I want and is there a recommended set of mods to get the basic game running fairly smooth?

Media & Inspiration / Kindred: The Embraced
« on: May 22, 2016, 01:30:56 AM »
Not being a rabid fan of the WoD or vampires I gave this show a miss when it first came out. But I recently watched my way through most of True Blood and that got me wondering what Kindred was like.
And WOW! 20 years later and this stuff is kind of a trip. Who knows what I would have thought of it back in its day but at this moment I'm really enjoying it a lot!

I'm not sure if TV shows have recognized styles the way films do but this one certainly vibes with a certain sort of other low budget show I've seen, starting with Peter Gunn.
The thing about Peter Gunn, besides the famous theme song, is that in its earlier seasons it seemed to take place in a dream-like world of constant nighttime. There were hardly ever any extras, no cars on the streets, no pedestrians. The world seemed to only exist for the immediate scene... you could almost see the sets rolling up behind the characters as they moved along. The whole effect came off as artificial and dreamy. I'm guessing that was all due to a miniscule budget, especially since, as the show went on into further seasons it seemed to expand and become more ordinary in its attempts at creating some sense of taking place in an actual place rather than some dreamy noir shadowland.
Still, it never aimed for anything like the verisimilitude of a show like Naked City, which also started airing in '58.
Forever Knight, another show about vampires and cops, had some of the same atmosphere. Probably for the same reasons.

So Kindred is solidly in that heritage. Low budget and not even trying to convince the audience it exists in the real world... except for shoving the Golden Gate Bridge into as many scenes as it can.
The dialogue is... surreal isn't the word... it's closer to parody, without any intent of humor. I'm pretty sure most critics would call it 'bad' and I've got no reason to think that the effect I'm enjoying so much was intentional, but the acting and the lines hit me on the same level as a lot of things that ARE intentionally removed from the usual concerns of... well, seeming to be anything like how people actually speak. Some of Guy Maddin's films jump to mind here.
Some David Mamet stuff hits me in the same place... he doesn't fill in the blanks beyond what's of core importance. Details are left vague and there's little concern for plausibility beyond the immediate characters.

Anyway, I'm curious how the fans of the WoD took this show when it was originally on. Only lasting 8 episodes suggests a lot of viewers stayed away, same as me, and what I'm getting out of it now is probably nothing to do with its intentions... making it accidental art, maybe?

Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Half-Orcs
« on: January 21, 2015, 04:45:57 PM »
I saw someone on G+ asking for a half-orc write-up for DCC.
This got me thinking about why someone might want to play a half-orc... but I didn't come up with much.

Since the guy asking was looking for unseen/unofficial rules (and looking to make up his own if he didn't find any) I can't assume it's just because of some precious rules/mechanics bonus.
It seems to me that if you wanted to run a strong/brutal character you could go with a plain old fighter and play him as a barbarian.
Or, if you like orcs go for a purebred/vatbred one... with all the social pariah baggage that might come with it.
Why half-orc? They're still visually non-human so likely to suffer prejudice... likely from both purebreed races. Is there some widespread concept of half-orcs I'm not tuned into?
Is it because playing a straight orc would just lead to too much trouble?

I don't get it, any thoughts?

Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / River of Heaven is out!
« on: December 23, 2014, 01:01:56 PM »
New D100 scifi rules/setting for Openquest/BRP:

I'm not likely to use the setting as is but it sounds generic enough to pull from... wormholes, nanotech, various factions trying to steer, mystery and menace.

Nice to have new scifi toys for BRP.

Anyone else excited about this?

Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / 5e without a skill list?
« on: September 07, 2014, 03:15:50 AM »
It's not particularly rational but one thing, besides feats and multi-classing, that has always bugged me about latter-day versions of D&D is Skills.
I love BRP, GURPS, Traveller... but if I'm going to play a Class/Level game I'd prefer it to stick with those (IMO) implicit limitations... no multi-classing and no skill lists to get around those narrow mechanical definitions.
None of the various OSR games I love have them... and I feel like they are the one thing blocking my enthusiasm for Core/Basic 5e (besides the fast healing that looks to be an easy fix).

5e's Proficiencies idea doesn't bother me... but I'd rather use it like DCC's 'trained/untrained' roles. I'd like something where the Basic Stats, Class and Background establish a general sense of what the PC oughtta be capable of. If the Player can convincingly reference those past/present elements when attempting something he'd get to apply the Proficiency bonus.
I'd say he also should be able to reference past sessions to pull such capabilities from ("Remember last month when we were doing all that mountain climbing and I didn't fall to my death? Can I use my Proficiency for climbing stuff now?).

It would save a bit of real-estate on the character sheet. Stop any future Skills bloat in its tracks... and annoy me just that little bit less... to the point where I think I'd be a LOT more inclined to run Basic 5e.
Is there some huge elephant in the rules I'm ignoring that would make that a horrible idea? It seems like 5e is just a step away from dropping the skill list already.

Like I said, it's not a particularly rational concern... but it irks me.

Hmmm... I think our GM may have bitten off more than he can chew...

Early on I was having a great time. It was Pathfinder but we were playing low level Sandbox... lots of danger and PC death and wacky fun. 3 Players at lvl 1-3.

But lately the group has grown and now there's 8 of us AND things aren't so low level anymore (group average is around 7ish) AND we've gone MYTHIC. Combats are real slogs now... lots more discussion of how powers stack and who can do what when and for how long. The rules lawyer and charop guy are questioning a lot more decisions... holding the GM to RAW.

So, tonight the GM's laptop went south... the laptop he runs Pathfinders' app on.
I'm thinking, "So what, let's play!"
Nope, the GM spent the next couple hours trying to figure out the problem (no luck) while we talked amongst ourselves.
Really? Pathfinder can't be run without the computer? All the books are right there on the shelf beside us!
In retrospect it seems weird/ridiculous... but at the time everyone was patient.

Eventually we played some card game, then broke up early.

Now, it seems to me the GM has been stalling during the past couple games. I kind of recognized some stuff I used to do when I wasn't prepared to game.
I sense that he has been running on-the-fly up till now, no real preparation... but with so many people, and so many more moving mechanical parts involved in the game now... he can't really pull it off anymore.
The guy did so well with a smaller group at lower levels. He'd be great with some OSR game like S&W.
It seems like he's overextended himself... or something.
I know I wouldn't want to run PF... certainly not at this level for this many people.

I'm not even sure why I'm bringing it up here... it's not like I've got a question. At this point I'm just going to watch and see what happens... put in my 2 cents where I see an opening.
I've been lobbying to try D&D 5 but I think if I bring it up one more time I'll be in bitch territory and no one else seems to have any interest (not that I've got that much interest myself... but it's gotta be easier to run and faster than PF).

Anyone else got stories of seemingly decent GM's hitting a wall this way... due to Players, rules or whatever?

I might be getting too fancy with this...

I recently watched the movie Oculus. It's about a strange mirror that consumes the life force around it AND creates a zone of enigma to protect itself and trap its prey. A great idea for a monster.
It's similar to movies like Jacob's Ladder, 1408, Uzumaki and Stalker in that the protagonists spend most of the tale not being able to trust their senses... and most of their actions are thwarted or invalidated somehow.
It's a pretty common setup in horror/fantasy/scifi media... to have the characters trapped in a mirage/dream/nightmare/alien projection.

The thing is, I'm not sure how to pull such a thing off in-game and not have it come off as a total railroad, really annoying or both.
Such a thing seems like a great way to represent the strangeness surrounding some Lovecraftian entity (I have a pet theory that the mirror in Oculus is an avatar of Yog Sothoth)... and inflicting it on one PC for a brief span of time usually goes fine... but putting the whole group into such a space, for an extended period (an entire session?)... even with plenty of clues of how to escape... I dunno... it involves giving them false/misleading information and taking away huge gobs of their agency.
In the past I've only tried it for short flashes.
I end up thinking that a setup like Oculus, 1408, Stalker, etc. won't really work in an RPG very well... that being that confused, alienated, topsy turvy... over the rainbow and through the looking glass... is just going to annoy Players rather than intrigue or scare them.
I could give them lots of chances to break free of the mental affects of the thing... at least for short durations before they're sucked back in to its mirage... but that seems, insufficient/lame... too much dice rolling.

Any thoughts on this stuff? How do you run zones of enigma and/or dreams in games? Or do you avoid them altogether?

On another forum someone mentioned the concept of E6 for D20... making 6th level the highest a PC can go (though still gaining Feats).
I'd never heard of that, in regards to D20, and I'm curious if there's many people who would embrace that sort of thing?
The loony power progression of higher levels is something that always turned me off in the old days... and this shorter arc of progression would appeal to me... but I'd be surprised if many folks who were into 3.5 or Pathfinder would want to stop at 6.

Is this a common knowledge thing I've missed or some bizarro niche that i just think sounds good (again)?

Pen & Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Our 'killer GM'
« on: February 06, 2014, 02:30:33 AM »
At tonight's Pathfinder game our GM got called away for a lengthy phone call and we players got to talking...
One guy started telling us newer players, in hushed tones, how our GM is a 'quintessential killer GM'... 'no matter what you try he'll find a way to screw you with it'.
This player happens to be the whiniest player at the table... the one most likely to use OOC knowledge or throw a rules lawyerish tantrum. He's the most into 'optimization' and got on my case for not using charisma as a 'dump stat' and for taking the 'wrong' skills.

His complaints about the GM just haven't been my experience so far... not at all... and I said as much. I might describe him as 'deadly but fair'... meaning that if we do dumb things there WILL be consequences... but really, I don't have the mindset that the GM is our adversary and the sessions I've been at haven't played that way.
He told us at the start that it's a sandbox and that not everything is balanced to our power level. The dangerous stuff is out there, so beware. Fine by me!
We've had a few TPKs and I've laughed about it, but I've played with a really bad GM or two and this guy is NOT one of them. If anything I think he's one of the better GMs I've played under in quite a while. (I also get the impression that the other players and I have very different ideas about what 'sandbox' implies).

The whole episode just reinforced my thinking that a lot of these stories of 'killer GMs' are just whiny bullshit from players who can't stand being told 'No!'

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