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Messages - nDervish

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Quote from: Brand55;1127518
the writing style is totally different from any of the previous Sine Nomine material I've read before.

Yes, I really enjoy the writing style in Wolves of God.  It's not entirely practical, and could be a hurdle for newcomers who aren't already familiar with RPGs, but it's still fun and extremely flavorful.

Quote from: Vidgrip;1127546
I'd love to see Crawford's take on a domain management system.

Pretty much every one of his games has a domain/faction system included in the core rules, with several different basic systems across them:
  • An Echo, Resounding is based primarily on control of cities and resource sites, and managing troops and ambassadors to handle the concerns of kingdoms.
  • Stars Without Number, Silent Legions, and the upcoming Worlds Without Number use a slightly more abstract system, but still have specific faction "assets" that you move around and bring into conflict with each other, but the outcomes tend to be based more on the characteristics of the faction as a whole rather than the specific assets involved, and it's scaled for factions which operate within a kingdom (or whatever size government-controlled area) rather than running the kingdom itself.
  • Other Dust, Spears of the Dawn, and Godbound use an even more abstract system which balances each faction's attributes against its troubles without ever addressing specific in-game entities such as how many troops a faction controls or how many temples are in its cities.  Godbound is substantially more abstract than the other two versions of this system.
  • Darkness Visible has a system designed for intelligence agencies which tracks what types of capabilities each agency has developed and allows agencies to disrupt or destroy those capabilities.  Particularly notable here is that each capability developed by the agency has defined effects on the PCs in play.  e.g., The higher the agency's Armory rating, the more gear PCs can requisition for assignments, higher Legitimacy allows the PC agents' crimes to be swept under the rug, or better Training facilities allow new characters to start with more skills and existing ones to develop their skills more easily.
  • Starvation Cheap isn't really domain management, but rather war management.  Each side has a certain number of troops, divided up into multiple units, which are then assigned to attack or defend various objectives.  Like Darkness Visible, PCs can get defined benefits from other units assigned to the same objective where their mission is taking place, such as calling in air/artillery strikes or support from infantry or armor units.
  • Suns of Gold doesn't do faction conflict itself (you would presumably use Stars Without Number for that), but it includes a system for founding and developing colonies on new worlds, which would also fall under the broader area of domain management play.
  • Finally, Wolves of God has what appears to be yet another new system, which tracks your domain solely in terms of how much land you hold, how much wealth is in your coffers, and what vassals you have/what monks and nuns you are supporting.  Conflict is focused on raiding your neighbors for lands or wealth, while staying within the constraints of how long you can keep your fyrd away from their lands.

Personally, I'd really like to see Crawford come up with an uber-system for faction/domain play which functions across all scales and can telescope into different levels on the org chart (so, e.g., the corner police station and the national government are both represented without either treating them as two completely separate, but allied, factions or essentially making it so that the police station can't act without taking up the full attention of the national government) but I highly doubt that will happen, since he's more into tailoring the faction rules for each game to that game's particular scope and concerns rather than doing something universal.

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Tribal Shamans!
« on: April 22, 2020, 06:58:20 am »
Quote from: PencilBoy99;1127436
Doesn't Mythras have a whole great spirit magic thing?

It hasn't come up yet in my Mythras game, so I haven't personally used it, but, yes, the Animism system (which shamans would use) tends to be spoken of very highly.  About the only complaint I've seen is that it's hard to understand, and the rules were rewritten in the RQ6 to Mythras transition, which improved that considerably.

Quote from: Pat;1127087
But that's a good observation about skill and assessment. I wrestled with something similar, a while back: Skill is also associated with surety. If you're an expert, you're not just better at assessing the difficulty of a task, you're also more likely to perform at your ability. Amateurs by contrast tend to be very swingy, able to perform brilliantly one day, and then awful the next. It doesn't make sense to just shift the bell curve of a dice roll up as skill increases; the range also narrows.

Now that you say that, I have a vague memory of reading about a skill system in which increased skill was represented by rolling a smaller die size and adding a larger constant to the roll.  So, e.g., a total beginner might roll 1d20, while an expert rolls 1d10+10 and a grandmaster rolls 1d4+16.  In this completely ex recto example, they would all have the potential of rolling a 20, but it's more likely as skill increases, and the more skilled are also guaranteed not to roll extremely low results.  Alas, I don't recall the name of the system which did this, or even whether it was an actual system or just a theoretical discussion.

I'll also repeat my earlier reply's mention of EABA.  It's a d6-only system, in which skill levels go 1, 2, 1d+0, 1d+1, 1d+2, 2d+0, etc., but you only keep the best three dice for your roll, so, once your skill exceeds 4d+1, the range of likely results starts tightening up at the high end instead of going ever-upward.  (Why when it exceeds 4d+1 instead of 3d+2?  Because there's an option to forego rolling one die in exchange for making the constant addition a +2, which you pretty much always want to do.  So 4d+0 and 4d+1 would normally be rolled as 3d+2, and you would only start rolling four actual dice at 4d+2 and above.)

The system also has options which play with this mechanic to tweak the range of possible results in certain situations.  On one side, there's the "Larger Than Life" advantage (mainly intended for characters with some degree of superhuman ability) which allows you to keep the best four dice instead of the best three, thus raising the high end of your possible results, provided you have sufficient skill to get there in the first place.  On the other, skills can be bought at a discount if you declare them to be "Hobbies", but, when used in a real-world situation outside of the scope of hobby activities, you only keep two dice.  e.g., A black belt martial arts hobbyist wth a skill level of 4d+2 would always roll his full 4d+2 and would keep the best three dice in a tournament, but only keep the best two dice in a no-rules street fight.

Quote from: Anselyn;1127023
Matt Collville made an interesting point in one of his postings about the multiple roles that GMs take.  Sometimes an NPC can say something that they believe but is wrong but (mostly starting) players will accept it as it comes from the GMs mouth and the GM normally states truths about the world.

I've even seen experienced gamers throw this under the "GM must never lie to players" category.  It seems that the distinction between "GM lies to you and says you should spit in the king's face" and "GM truthfully tells you that an NPC said you should spit in the king's face" is too subtle for some to be comfortable with.

Quote from: Anselyn;1127023
The Dunning-Kruger effect is now quite well known. Another way to look at that is that the more you know about something the better you are at understanding the complexity or difficulty of a problem. The higher your Climb skill, the better you are at knowing the difficulty level of a climbing skill challenge.  Do you know any games that incorporate this idea?

EABA uses a (more or less) stat-plus-skill system, with Awareness as one of the base stats and no general "perception" skill.  Instead, for perception-type rolls, you roll Awareness plus the associated skill.  The usual example in the rulebooks is Awareness plus Firearms to spot hidden weapons, on the basis that someone skilled with guns will have a better feel for what to look for, where guns could be hidden, and so on.  Although it's not specifically mentioned in any rules I've seen, rolling Awareness plus Climbing to judge the difficulty of a climb seems appropriate in that context.

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / The Domain Game
« on: April 15, 2020, 09:43:00 am »
I am all about faction-level meta-games in the campaigns I run, and the domain game is a subset of faction games - a faction might be a domain, or it might be a cult, a guild, a family (noble or otherwise), etc.  Ideally, I try to get the players controlling one (or more) of the factions, regardless of whether they're running it in-character with their main PCs or if it means creating a set of secondary "leader characters" to direct a faction that their normal PCs are members of, but, even if it's something the players aren't interested in, I'll still run the faction game solo to generate larger-scale events in the campaign, which can, in turn, drive adventures for the PCs to partake in, whether as members of a faction advancing its interests (or defending those interests from antagonistic factions), or being asked by NPCs to do things in response to faction-level events, or as free agents identifying and seizing opportunities created by faction interactions.

In the past I've used an ACKS domain game for PCs settling a new colony (and don't believe the "domain level is end-game content" propaganda - these PCs were 3rd and 4th level and it worked fine), but I've more often used the faction mechanics from various Sine Nomine games, which are designed to be used in exactly this way, right down to including suggestions for how PC actions and faction actions interact, and a couple of the games (off the top of my head, Darkness Visible (spy agencies) and Starvation Cheap (mercenary/military units)) having an explicit structure of "first run a faction turn to decide what the players' faction is doing, then assign the PCs to one of the actions affecting their faction and determine that action's outcome by playing it out as an adventure in the next session".

Quote from: TimothyWestwind;1126596
Until I came online I presumed that having both GMs (for the world) and players (for their actions) rolling in the open was standard practice.

Why would a GM hide their rolls unless they occasionally lie about the results? What other purpose does it have. If you're going to use dice, do it in front of people and accept the results.

As I mentioned in post #43 on this thread, I had one group of players who pushed me to make all rolls and handle all mechanics in secret, without revealing any of the numerical results (even for rolls made on the players' behalf), so that they could focus more on in-character thought without being distracted by game mechanical details.

But it's also relevant to your point to mention that they only started asking for this after months of playing together where I did roll openly (for anything their characters would be aware of) and they could see that I always took the die rolls as they were, with no fudging or "I don't like the result - roll again", so they trusted me to not lie about the results even if they weren't able to observe the rolls directly.

Quote from: soltakss;1126635
Steppe Nomads drink Koumiss, which is fermented mare's milk. Again, not distilled, so a very weak alcoholic drink.

I think I'd be more inclined to attribute it being very weak to the limited amount of sugar in the milk.  You can easily get alcohol percentages into the teens with fermentation alone (most non-fortified wines are 12-14%) and, if you get a good modern champagne yeast and start out sweet enough, you can get close to 20%.  Once I tried making a mead using apple juice instead of water, plus champagne yeast, and my measurements said it came out at 21% (although I suspect I measured wrong) - it was very sweet, very potent, and it went down real easy.  Dangerous stuff.  I really should try to make another batch like that one of these days...

But I don't know how modern-day you need to be to have yeast strains with those levels of alcohol tolerance.

Quote from: Eirikrautha;1126617
On the down side, as a GM/DM, certain features of online play have shaped our games as well.  After using some free or module-based professional maps for combat encounters, the game has become less free-form.  Because there is so much extra work creating and setting up tokens, finding maps, etc., the games are more about the characters moving from set-piece to set-piece, rather than exploration or players doing whatever they want.  So online games really have created an incentive to railroad as a DM.  Likewise, players have become more visual focused.  Rather than asking what is in a room (and maybe finding a creative way to use it), they default to what is shown on the map.  Combat has become more "boardgamey" and less cinematic (or theater of the mind), and so some of the players have become more centered on tactical abilities for their characters rather than strategic abilities.  I'm trying to change this a little (using tools that let me draw maps on the fly and such), but I can definitely see the difference.

I've skewed towards pure TOTM ever since I was running a Savage Worlds session and it got bogged down in players trying to optimize where to stand so that their cone-AoE attacks could hit the most enemies.  When we switched to online gaming last month, I doubled-down on TOTM and decided not to even look at any kind of VTT (we're just doing straight google hangouts) because I expected the prep requirements for making maps, tokens, etc. on a VTT to encourage railroading the players from set-piece to set-piece.  Nice to see that my concerns were accurate, though unfortunate to hear that you've gotten (unwillingly) caught up in it yourself.

Quote from: Luca;1126672

The "dystopian nightmare" is what they're using in South Korea. There's an app there which will track if your position is coming close (within 100 meters) to the path of someone else who became a confirmed COVID case and warn you if this is the case.

Not just that, but it appears that carrying your phone at all times for tracking purposes is effectively (and perhaps literally) mandatory for anyone under specific quarantine rules, as they're also making use of bluetooth-enabled bracelets which will cause your phone to send an alert to the police if you go out without it:

"After deep consideration, the government has decided to put electronic wristbands on people who violate self-isolation rules, such as going outside without notice and not answering phone calls," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Saturday, according to Yonhap.

I'd call that a dystopian nightmare of at least 0.75 Orwell in magnitude in and of itself, even without taking any other South Korean measures into account.

Quote from: Luca;1126673
Italy's travel ban was put in place for people with direct flights from China, but guess what: you can start from China, travel to one or more intermediate destinations, then go to Italy!

While that's true, I don't think it completely negates jhkim's point.  Even though Italy's travel ban from China isn't entirely watertight, it's tighter than those in the rest of Europe, and yet Italy is still being hit harder than other European nations.  On the surface, at least, this seems to imply that a stricter travel ban does not improve outcomes.  (If you dig deeper, there may be explanations other than travel which prove to be more significant, but I haven't done that digging myself, so I can't say how accurate the surface interpretation actually is.)

Quote from: Zalman;1126494
So while I understand the reasons people seem to watch sports, I still can't for the life of me fathom anyone watching RPGs for similar reasons. To me, a much closer analogy would be people watching reality TV, for the sheer voyeurism and egoistic feelings of superiority not otherwise available to people with nothing better to do.

I've known a couple pro wrestling fans, who are in it for the storylines, the rivalries between the wrestlers, wondering what the next plot twist will be, and so on.  I've never been into sports myself, but I get the impression that there are sports fans who follow their teams for similar, albeit unscripted, reasons - just a day or two ago, a friend posted on facebook about how there's nothing like the feeling of being in the stadium when "your rivals" come onto the field, which is just that sort of involvement in the story around the sport.

And I can easily see fans of gaming podcasts/video series being into it for the same reasons.  They want to follow their favorite character (or party), see how the conflicts with the Bad Guy Of The Week turn out, discover the latest plot twists, and so on.  I'm not sure whether you'd consider that to be a fourth motivation or to fall under your "The Fan" category, but, either way, I suspect that's the main reason that people follow Critical Role, APs, etc.

Quote from: RPGPundit;1126504
In my Dark Albion campaigns, players would always have two characters, but they'd only play one each session.

Quote from: Greentongue;1126512
Is that because of the death rate or for different adventure requirements?

I tend to encourage players to have multiple characters and switch off between them, too.

For me, it's not so much "death rate" per se, but I generally have very-little-to-no magical healing in my games, so badly-injured characters may be out of action for weeks or months as they recuperate.

Also, I like players having the ability to swap characters in and out to fit the task at hand.  If you're going to be infiltrating a monastery to steal a holy artifact, then not only will it be more useful to bring your thief instead of having your heavy armor paladin clanking all over the place, it also avoids having to come up with a thin rationalization for why the paladin would participate in robbing a church in the first place.

Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1126159
I also remember what gary gygaxes response to the question was:

Take in the kids and educate them how to live well and kill their parents.

The Gygax quote I was thinking of in this thread was more along the lines of "Orcs can be converted to become Lawful.  And then you should slit their throats before their Chaotic nature has a chance to reassert itself, so that they'll still be Lawful when they die."

Quote from: Spinachcat;1126204
What is a vore fetish?

"Vore" as in "carnivore".  A fetish for imagining that you're being eaten alive, frequently involving gigantic women who are large enough to pop your entire body into their mouth like an M&M and swallow you whole.

As is already evident from the thread thus far, Sine Nomine has faction systems in most of its products, and they generally tend to be pretty good.  Given your specific interest in tracking what resources each faction has and where they're located, I think I'd recommend either Stars Without Number (general sci-fi) or Silent Legions (not-Cthulhu investigations), as the systems in these two products (which are essentially identical) are based in factions establishing bases of influence in various locations, producing assets at those bases, and moving them around to other locations where they can enter into conflicts with other factions' assets.

Darkness Visible was also mentioned, which is also likely worth looking at because its primary focus is on modeling intelligence agencies in conflict with each other, but it doesn't bother with localizing assets to any significant degree.  It's good with managing what assets the agency has and their in-game effects for the PCs (e.g., if the agency has extensive armory assets, then the PCs can be issued more equipment for their missions), but it generally assumes that, as long as the PCs are in a location with an agency presence, then all of the agency's assets will be available to them.  It may still work for you, though, because it (like all the Sine Nomine faction systems) sets up a pretty tight action economy for factions (usually "NPC factions get one action per month; PC factions get two") which would limit how often the enemy agency could act against the PCs (or the PCs' agency).

Quote from: Godspar Games;1125293
The way I see it, everything is grist for the mill. But I totally respect avoiding the topic entirely.

I agree that everything is grist for the mill, but I prefer to let the mill grind it into unrecognizability and mix all the things together before using them.  So, while it's certainly likely that something (directly or indirectly) covid-inspired will make it into one of my games someday, it won't happen until months or years from now and it will not be wearing a flashing neon "Hey!  Look!  I'm the coronavirus!" sign.  It might look like I'm avoiding the topic entirely, but the truth is more just that I prefer my gaming world to be distinct from the real world.  (I don't do holiday-themed games either, or at least not based on the real-world date.  If I'm running a modern-day campaign, then Christmas will happen in-game, but it will happen when the in-game calendar says December 25, not when the real-world calendar does.)

Quote from: Koltar;1125316
No one can have 'game sessions' like normal because of social distancing and shelter in place protocols.

Although it's not my preference, a lot of people play RPGs mainly or exclusively online these days.  I would expect those games to continue on as normal with little or no effect from social distancing measures.

Quote from: Snark Knight;1125266
Correct me if I've misread, but in this situation is it a 1-on-1 affair with a single Player and the GM? In my experience, because these types of games tend to be so focused on the lone player, they'll involve a small party of 'GMPCs' (gulp) rather than having the Player take on multiple characters at once.

If that's the situation, then you also have the option of the player playing a single character, but buffing that character up to the point that they're able to function as a full party all by themselves.  This seems to be something that Kevin Crawford of Sine Nomine Games has specialized in, with just the rules for doing this in old-school D&D in Black Streams: Solo Heroes, those same rules with a setting and stripped-down D&D-like system attached in Scarlet Heroes, and a still-higher-powered version in Godbound.

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