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Topics - jhkim

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So I'm trying out starting up a D&D 5th ed game. I've played and run a few games using only the standard rules, and now I'm thinking of branching out with more house rules.

1) Something close to the DMG option for 8 hour short rest / 7 day long rest.

Ideally, I'd like resting to be more of a smooth transition rather than nothing at 6 days and fully recharged at 7. However, it seems complicated to get this to work under the current rules.

2) A variation of my older "death charm" idea, to address 1 hit point healing from being down.

I don't like the way that regardless of how much damage was done, a person pops back up with 1 point of healing. I understand that there is a game play reason for it, but it was jarring for me in practice. Instead, I replace "Healing Word" with "Wound Charm" - which is cast as a reaction, and instead of healing X points, it means that a single source of damage is ignored but the creature is stunned until its next action. Also, any healing ability can be used to create a "Wound Charm" instead of 3 or more hit points of healing. This will work on whatever the next source of damage is to them. In turn, hit point totals do go negative, and they go more negative the longer someone is down. Characters need more healing if they have taken more damage.

Wound charms should have a similar effect to having characters bounce up from being down, but with a different explanation. i.e. The character didn't really take that damage, rather than taking a bunch of damage and popping back up with 1 point of healing.

3) An option to restrict nova of spellcasters

I picture that a bunch of play in my campaign won't be restricted to having many combat encounters in a day or even in a week. I'd like play to sometimes stretch across months of travel or ordinary life. Going from zero to hero will take years rather than weeks. Given this, some encounters will be rare clashes in relatively safe places, like a fight in town or as part of a months-long voyage. Even with 7 days long rest, there will be times when the PCs aren't worried about being ambushed or attacked upcoming - so it would make sense to use all resources. So I am thinking about a restriction on spell slots in an encounter for clerics and wizards in particular.

In the longer term, I'm thinking about creating a variant of cleric and a variant of wizard that are both a little easier to play, and less long-rest restricted. They would be closer to the warlock class in balance (more abilities that are at-will or at most short rest), but with different flavor.

From tenbones' post #62 in the "Politically Incorrect Stuff in Your Gaming Worlds", there was this:

Quote from: tenbones;1057919
I've said for some time - an SJW RPG would be one of dystopian authoritarian nightmares. The fact that SJW's whether overtly or out of ignorance view the world's issues through a pathological post-modernist view point, where language and dialogue "create objective reality" - which is where the insane idea that "words are violence", makes it very difficult for them to understand the difference between being heroic and villainous.

Quote from: tenbones;1057919
In fantasy - Sauron was just trying to establish world order where everyone would be equal under his Administration. All those pesky white-patriarchal humans and elves were denying resources to those Humanoids of Color. Sauron embraces diversity in his forces to prove that diversity is strength - Orcs, Goblins, Trolls and Southrons all worked together to smash the Imperial Colonialists from Valinor. It's all relative! Heh

Huh. I'm running an upcoming game like the latter one. I'm curious what you'd think of it, but from this view it's the opposite of politically incorrect (hence the thread title).

It's called "Out from the Temple", and the convention description goes like:
For ages, the Temple of the Elements has been in near ruins, with the few poor souls trying to keep alive this once-great spiritual center. But now the temple is threatened by the gathering forces of evil lurking in nearby camps and strongholds. As adventurous new visitors to the temple, you are recruited to push back the encroaching evil.

This is a classic D&D game using 5th edition, but playing so-called monsters defending their underground homes and places of worship.

I thought of it as a twist on the usual mode of play. The PCs band together and interact socially in the dungeon, and then go out to an evil town and fight. It's not in Middle Earth or a typical D&D world, but instead one where the good / civilized races are the ones that are evil in standard D&D.

Some of the character descriptions for the premade characters I have are below:

Orc paladin
Your people, the orcs, have always lived simply and plainly. They work hard and shun the fancy trappings of other races. An orcish tool will never be as beautiful as drow handiwork, but it will do its job dependably. Orcs till the soil and make a living even in places that other races avoid as wastelands. The elves have their green forests, the dwarves the rich mountains, and the gnomes their fertile hills. Meanwhile, orcs make a simple living in among trackless jungle, treacherous crags, and barren rocky fields.
But you are different than most. You have seen the injustices too often against your people and others. When orcs prosper, then the evil races make war on them and take the fields they cleared and the wilderness they tamed. You are a holy warrior of Gruumsh, and cannot stand to see wrongs unpunished.
Goblin bard
The merry little goblins are often dismissed as frivolous jokers. The caverns rings with their songs - and they prize humor especially. "Where there's a wit, there's a way" goes the old goblin song. But there is more to them than that. Goblins also prize stories, and keep a rich oral tradition. They are also quick and sly. Sometimes they will play pranks on others, but they also sometimes give unseen help to those in need - like mending tools or shoes.
You are a storyteller and loremaster among your people. One of the oldest stories was of the great Temple of the Elements - a structure to many gods grouped by all the elements of the world. There was cooperation between all the civilized races, and its good influence spread wide across both the Underdark and the surface world. But armies of humans and other evil races massed to destroy the temple long ago, and it passed from memory. You have worked to gather others in your quest to find and help restore the temple.
Kobold sorcerer
The inscrutable kobolds are short of stature, but they try to live up to their draconic heritage with their industry and culture. Kobolds ceaselessly build great works honoring their heritage. Dragons are revered not just for their power, but for the variety of virtues they represent. The cool calm of white, the dark rumination of black, the clean purity of green, the sudden inspiration of blue, and the righteous fire of red. Kobolds are particularly known for their deep philosophy and cunning engineering.
You grew up in a family of spider silk weavers, creating beautiful tapestries of dragons and their wonders. So when your sorcerous talent arose as you neared adulthood, it was natural that you wanted to use it to honor draconic values. You had heard for ages of the Temple of the Elements, and set off to find it on your own.

I hadn't thought of this as "SJW" or "politically correct" - but maybe to some people it is. Feel free to post about any of your games that others might regard as politically correct, or commenting about this game and its category.

In a now-closed thread, Pundit brought up an effect in his DCC game.

Quote from: RPGPundit
And note that the LGBT kid who played in my DCC game was quite excited about getting a random mercurial effect where every time they cast magic missile it made their wizard change gender.

And of course, people have been talking about the Blessing of Corellon in Mordenkainen's Tome.

In D&D, there's the cursed Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity. I've never seen it in play, though.

I have seen an item from the comedy game Teenagers from Outer Space, the sex-change pistol - which reverses the gender of whoever you shoot it at. It was a fun comedic gimmick.

More broadly, a lot of shapeshifting has the potential to change gender. In another thread, I mentioned how I had a shapeshifting PC in an Amber Diceless game - where shapeshifting always requires that you have a demon form. He found women rather gross, and his demon form was a bat-winged succubus. I can recall a fair number of shapechanging cases where the character changed gender - I'd be curious about

Pundit - I'd be interested to hear more about this gender-changing effect. Was it written into the DCC rules? How did the other players react?

I'm also curious about what other gender-changing effects people have seen in games, and what they were like in play. Was it interesting? Were there any problems with it?

So as an adjunct to the thread Best NEW RPG post-2001?, what new games came out in 2017 that caught people's eye?

I'm curious in general - but in particular for the Indie RPG Awards.

So, inspired by another thread, what are some of people's favorite gay characters in games they played, or in game modules?

For me, I think my favorite was Quentin Q. Falstaff III, 008 - played by my friend Jim.  This was in a James Bond 007 campaign that I ran in the early 2000s - but it was set back in the 1980s.  Quentin was a huge, mustached, beef-eating, horse-riding English nobleman and secretly a spy for MI-6.  With his high profile as cover, he could travel the world and engage in secret work behind the scenes.  He was also thoroughly gay - an indulgence that society turned a blind eye to.  In the game, it came up mostly in select NPCs that he met up with. In keeping with the grand 1980s James Bond tradition, he met up with a comely Scotsman named Phil McCracken, or later a Russian expatriate named Ivan Moorcock. It was a lot of fun, and he added a lot to the game.

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Alternate Orcs?
« on: April 30, 2018, 11:15:09 pm »
There was some discussion of orcs in the recent thread, If you have fun killing orcs in your game, you're a racist murderer - but that is mostly about the politics.

I was interested in a thread about alternate visions of orcs in play. For example, in Shadowrun, orcs are mostly regular members of society - though they have many of the same stereotypes. In the Sovereign Stone system, orcs are reimagined as a proud seafaring race - along with some other reversals, like elves being mainly urban. It seemed a little forced to me, but I never played it. I did play a GURPS Fantasy campaign a few years ago in a homebrew world where orcs were integrated into society along with dwarves and humans - with elves and halflings being particularly strange. My PC was an orc - a scion of a rich orcish family of arms dealer, who had some magical talent in enhancing his arms that helped them sell better. There are also a few game offshoots where all PCs are orcs - but those are usually about playing straight to the stereotypes rather than changing what orcs are like. There are some variations, such as the insect-like lifecycle of Harnish orcs.

What other variations of orcs have people seen?  Did they work well?

I liked playing my rich arms merchant and his orcish family. His orc family played well as the sort of crass, partly criminal arms merchants of the city. It was playing against type to have an orc who is a rich merchant - but still connected to the original vision of orcs as a warlike proletariat. I haven't played that much Shadowrun, but I've seen some orc characters there who similarly went partly against type but were still interesting. To my mind, they still seem like orcs - but that is a matter of opinion, of course. Thoughts?

The RPGPundit's Own Forum / The State of Free Speech
« on: March 21, 2018, 04:09:11 pm »
I thought I'd bring up a free speech issue that bugged me in the news recently - the case where a man in the UK was convicted of a hate crime for posting a YouTube video.

To my mind, it's pretty blatantly obvious that this is an abuse of the term "hate crime".  A hate crime should be a distinction added to a crime, to indicate that it was motivated by hate. But uploading a video to YouTube isn't a crime (or at least shouldn't be). We have stronger free speech protections in the U.S., and I think the ACLU would be all over this here.

Pundit - does it interest you?

So what were the best new games released in 2016, for you?

(Asking for last-minute expansion of the Indie RPG Awards.)

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / How much PCs know
« on: February 10, 2017, 02:41:30 pm »
I'm not sure that I've brought this up here before. For the past several years, I've aspired to a rule of thumb in my campaigns - that the PCs should usually know more about what's going on than anyone else. That doesn't mean they know everything - they still have to investigate hard to discover things - but they don't have to deal with all-knowing NPCs. If there is a villain, the villain doesn't know everything about them and everything else. The villain is usually concerned and in the dark about their actions as much as they are concerned about his actions.

1) Rather than looking for reasons to hide information, as I design an adventure, I'm looking for reasons to give more information up-front.

2) If people want the PCs help, the standard is that they tell them everything.

3) I encourage or arrange for the PCs to have superior intelligence-gathering resources than the people around. That will sometimes just be a part of the premise, or it could be in magic items that they find, or contacts they have, etc.

The point is to try to get games to be more about the PCs making informed decisions, rather than wandering blindly or being lead around by the nose. I often don't live up to this - and PCs do end up wandering around uninformed, but I'll realize I'm doing that and try to change things. Partly, also, this is reacting to a tendency I have (along with many GMs) for NPCs to know everything that I do. It can be hard to role-play NPCs being ignorant, so it's something I try to do more often.

Does anyone else struggle with this, or something similar?

Help Desk / How banning for racism is handled
« on: January 23, 2017, 02:44:56 pm »
This regards the recent banning of 5 Stone Games, which as I understand it was for his expressing racist beliefs that South African blacks have lower IQ (among other things) - and also applies to the recent question over homophobia.

I would suggest that if people can be banned for this, then

(1) It should be an official position with a sticky on Pundit's Forum that people can be banned for expressing racist and/or homophobic beliefs; and
(2) Posters should be warned and given a chance to correct their behavior if they violate the rule.

This is just a suggestion, but I think it would be more in keeping with the standards of the site.

I can understand banning deliberate trolling - but that is a subjective judgement. While he wasn't the most insightful poster or anything, 5 Stone Games did post regularly about gaming - and it is at least plausible that his statements were genuine beliefs rather than trolling. As far as I saw, he wasn't particularly disruptive and didn't violate moderator warnings.

The RPGPundit's Own Forum / "Punishment Play" in Old-Style RPGs
« on: December 22, 2016, 05:08:20 pm »
So sometimes I seem to be arguing against old-school on here, but there is the flip side that - where I'm arguing with new-school and/or story gamers in favor of traditional games. For example, here was the start of a recent article about new-school and old-school games:

There’s two schools of thought when it comes to playing games with our imagination: The old school and the new school. In the olden days, the days of thousands of sourcebooks and mechanics and tables for every action, the philosophy of how to run a collaborative storytelling game, like a LARP or a tabletop RPG, was an antagonistic one. The idea was always that the players would be working against those who were running the game. The players would do their best to break the game in any way possible to hoard personal power, and the GMs and Storytellers would do their absolute best to find ways to punish the players and torture their characters. This is the school of thought of many of today’s roleplayers, and its one they cling to very dearly, because it’s the world they grew up in.

It is also, of course, bullshit.

This mentality led, for years, to a style of play that was not only unwelcoming, but actively excluding to new players. As the DMs of the world looked as hard as they could for ways to punish their players’ ideas, the players would pass this toxic mentality on to anyone new who dared to sit at their table. You didn’t understand a rule? Didn’t read the background of your race carefully enough? Welp, now I’m going to take something away from you because I can. It’s an alpha geek, hyper masculine style of play that was the only style of play for a long time.

My initial response to this was,

Quote from: jhkim
As a long-time role-player, I utterly disagree with the article's premise, and find it pretty insulting. First of all, alpha-geek hyper-masculine play has never been the only option. My friend Janyce has been running her ongoing Call of Cthulhu campaign since the game came out in 1981. At that time, I was 11 and collaborated in my elementary-school D&D games, and went on to Champions, Ars Magica, Theatrix, and many others. There have always been a variety of games, with a lot of different ways to compete and cooperate.

Moreover, there have always been many more choices than just two within the range of styles. Back in 1980, Glenn Blacow wrote about the divide of RPGs in powergaming, role-playing, wargaming, and story telling. Even within that, there is a huge range of possibilities.

I also think there's nothing inherently toxic with competitive and/or masculine play, which is another point to make. And to be fair, the author has mostly retracted the original article after discussion, and is coming around.

So while I disagree with Pundit on a lot of things, there is a subset of story gamers who attack old-school and/or traditional play, and I'm opposed to them as well.

So, in the D&D campaign I've been running, I've been pondering what exactly the *characters* think about advancement.  i.e. Would the characters say things to each other like "We'll come back here after I advance and get a Passwall spell." ? Mostly, my players talk about it out of character - but sometimes there are questions like what the characters long-term plans are. It seems nebulous in my games.

Obviously, it is out of character to talk about experience points or hit points - but characters might have the expectation that they will get linearly better as they adventure more, or even specifically that they will get higher levels spell, more able to take damage, and so forth. Especially, if XP result from getting gold and/or defeating challenges, do the characters know that?

If they *don't* understand in-character about advancement, then are the characters surprised by how much they're advancing? i.e. Do the characters think "Huh?! It's weird how we're getting more and more powerful. What's up with that?"

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Uniformity of monsters
« on: September 30, 2016, 02:40:37 am »
This question was inspired partly by "Stock creatures or unique ones".

As I'm GMing 5e D&D (not my usual system), I'm using a lot of monsters, and I've been struck again by the uniformity of monsters when using official rules. Dragons vary a bunch, and humans/demi-humans vary a bunch. However, other creatures have very fixed stats. Two white dragons might be very different, but all beholders are the same. There aren't big beholders vs. small beholders, or old vs. young, etc. Partly for simplicity, I've been using the rules as written rather than making up new stats for existing monsters - but I've been thinking about changing more.

The question is, should this be changed - and if so, how and how much to vary things?

Sub-questions in this include:  Is this purely an artifact, or is it a part of the world? i.e. Do people know that halflings vary a bunch, but kobolds are mostly the same? Or is it a simplification for game purposes, like positioning rules and five-foot squares?

Some issues include:

1) It's a huge bookkeeping headache if I need individualized stats for a lot of monsters. And if I only do it for a few, though, am I really gaining anything?

2) To some degree, players have expectations based on the rules and background. One problem I often have is that players are caught by surprise by things that their characters would expect - having lived in the world for all their lives. Even if they've never met a kobold, they'll have heard stories from family and other adventurers - and they should have some idea if kobolds are as individual as humans, or more standardized.

Just some stuff I'm pondering, and I don't recall seeing discussion of it recently.

So a middle school student was asking me for advice about starting a D&D club at her middle school. She is concerned about drumming up interest.

I was going to suggest doing a one-shot event with nice minis and map that jumps into action quickly to drum up interest. Having played through the Lost Mine of Phandelver, I don't think it works that well as a catchy introduction. It seems designed to start slow - presumably for people who are already committed to an extended adventure, and teaches basics as it goes. The "Goblin Arrows" introduction just doesn't seem like it would be catchy to middle schoolers not yet sold on D&D. I think I'll suggest using dungeon tiles and prepainted plastic minis, and have a scenario that can play out on the map, but still has a significant story to it (i.e. there are locations and points of interest on the map that matter to the characters).

I'm thinking about throwing together some intro scenario together for her, and I'm curious if anyone has experience with this.

News and Adverts / Indie RPG Awards deadline
« on: May 26, 2016, 02:07:31 am »
We're coming up on the end of May, which is the deadline for registering games for the Indie RPG Awards.

I'd encourage people to submit their favorite games released in 2015 for consideration, via the "Register" tab on the website.

The Indie RPG Awards are peer-voted awards. Anyone who is an active tabletop RPG designer is eligible to vote. This lets less well-known or popular games get a little more recognition, especially if other designers recognize it as an outstanding game. Winners have often been story games, but OSR and other traditional games also get recognition as well.

There will be a few days to a week delay for submissions going up.

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