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1
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: Appreciating an old blogpost
« Last post by Validin on Today at 11:58:36 AM »
I was interested in Warhammer for a while, or tried to be, and that involved ignoring a lot of things about it. Eventually, I cut and left it, and this article really puts into words why - to me - it fails as a setting cosmologically, and why it doesn't present an engaging, authentic late medieval/early modern setting properly: the pitiful, insipid and sniveling post-modernist ultranihilism that pervades its themes throughout.

As for CoC, I don't get the idea that nothing you do matters. The majority of the Mythos don't care about humanity or have no idea we exist. It's the cultists who drag these entities into our reality and when you tommy gun those bastards, the world becomes a little safer and a little brighter.

I'm only vaguely familiar with Warhammer, but in CoC, the Mythos aren't from some alternate reality - they're an integral part of our own reality and history.

Still, I agree that PCs can make the world a little safer and a little brighter. I had a CoC PC for a while who became a devout Catholic, and was convinced that what was happening was the Biblical end of the world. He saw lots of horrible things, but he considered it all part of the Judgement which was testing everyone's faith. He was convinced that everyone was going to die - but that those who behaved virtuously in the face of the end would still go to heaven.

That said, this was definitely against the Lovecraftian ethos. I can see characterizing Lovecraft's nihilism as insipid -- but it isn't in any way post-modern.
I wouldn't say that's even completely against a Lovecraftian ethos. August Derleth was a Catholic and expanded on Lovecraft's concept of the Elder Gods, generally benevolent entities who oppose the Old Ones and Outer Gods, and in two or three of Lovecraft's stories, Christian faith has demonstrably supernatural effects. I think when it comes to Lovecraft or CoC it's a mistake to think it's a monolithic body of work that's completely consistent and self-contained, when in reality there's no actual Lovecraft "canon setting". His own work was collage of vaguely-at-best related stories that other authors then took and expanded on further, making dozens of different Lovecraft worlds that are often only loosely connected, if at all, and at times completely conflict. Lovecraft strongly encouraged all this in his lifetime, and despite his own materialistic views, he was very good friends with Derleth and helped him improve his fictionwriting ability. Doing a Lovecraft game lets you use any number of people's versions of his world, if you even use them at all and don't make up your own.
2
Loser Mindset: "Someone somewhere made a comment that expressed general truths and it made me feel uncomfortable. That's why I never pursued and achieved my goal."

Winner Mindset: "Fuck you Kyle Brink. I don't care if you or any of the other corporate CEOs at billion dollar corps hate White Men and want to see us ground into dust. I'm going to do my thing and kick your ass."

All the griping about systemic this and privilege that is just desperate cope of losers who never seriously tried to do what they claim their goal was.
3
Quote
Hasbro stock has 29% downside potential as it continues to dilute the brand value of Magic: The Gathering.
That's according to Bank of America, which reiterated its "Underperform" rating on the stock in a Tuesday note.
"Within its Wizards segment, Hasbro continues to destroy customer goodwill by trying to over-monetize its brands."

Hasbro continues to dilute the brand value of its popular Magic: The Gathering card game, according to a Tuesday note from Bank of America, which said that the company faces a steep decline in its share price if it continues to "destroy customer goodwill."

The bank reiterated its "Underperform" rating for Hasbro and its $42 price target, which represents potential downside of 29% from current levels. In November, BofA warned that Hasbro was "killing its golden goose" by over-monetizing Magic: The Gathering.

According to BofA, Hasbro continues to over-monetize the brands within its Wizards segment, which includes Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons.

"Within its Wizards segment, Hasbro continues to destroy customer goodwill by trying to over-monetize its brands," Bank of America said. The bank said that while it preannounced negative earnings, the stock is still not de-risked "given a host of outstanding issues."

Mainly, Hasbro is attempting to squeeze out as much profit as possible from its Wizards products in the short-term without any thought as to the long-term durability of its brands. And the over monetization is irking customers, according to BofA.

"We remain especially cautious on Hasbro's Wizards segment given its over-monetization of Magic. Wizards recently tried a similar tactic with D&D-proposing changes to its licensing agreement which led to substantial pushback from the community including calls to boycott the D&D movie," BofA explained.

Hasbro wanted to change its 20-year-old open game license for Dungeons & Dragons in a bid to boost revenue ahead of an upcoming movie release based on the game.

The specific changes would have required independent publishers and content creators to report financial data directly to Hasbro and pay significant fees if they generated a certain threshold of revenue.

Hasbro has since dropped its proposed changes to Dungeons & Dragons after receiving a strong amount of backlash from customers, with nearly 70,000 D&D fans signing a petition protesting the proposed licensing change.

The snafu by Hasbro validates BofA's view that management at the toy company remains willing to risk customer loyalty for short-term profit.

"We've spoken with several players, collectors, distributors and local games stores and have become aware of growing frustration. The primary concern is that Hasbro has been overproducing Magic cards which has propped up Hasbro's recent [earnings] results but is destroying the long-term value of the brand," Bank of America analyst Jason Haas wrote in November.

The oversupply of Magic cards means "card prices are falling, game stores are losing money, collectors are liquidating, and large retailers are cutting orders," Bank of America explained.

The bank names "weak fan engagement with Hasbro's brands" and "fading appetite for Magic releases" as key downside risks for the stock.

I was able to view the above without paying. I think they have a free article limit per month.
4
Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Re: D&D 3.5 fans?
« Last post by Aglondir on Today at 11:30:56 AM »
What's wrong with 3.x skills? Yeah, there were a few hiccups at first:

Use Rope
Hide + Move Silent
Balance + Tumble
Listen + Spot

But those were fixed in later games, like Pathfinder or True 20.

I'll use one example that's easier to explain, but with a note that if you start to dig, you'll find this same kind of problem in almost every 3E/3.5 skill.

Listen + Spot is supposed to fix a real problem.  The problem is that a single Perception skill is way too valuable compared to other skills.  You can get around that somewhat by rarely calling for skill checks (i.e. player skill matters when they say they look somewhere), though that is swimming upstream against what the rest of the system is pushing.  You can try to buff out the rough edges with class skills, fiddly ranks, etc. to force people to take something else.  Sound familiar? 

Just because the initial 3E fix was worse than the problem in some ways, that doesn't remove the problem that was there.  The 3.5 solution is half correct.  It removes a "cure" that is worse than the disease.  Then it kind of scrapes by ignoring the real issue, hoping no one notices with the zillion fiddly changes throughout.

To actually fix the problem, you have to do what Vision Storm said in the post below yours.  Which is hard, thoughtful design work, with payoffs that aren't obvious until you've done most of it.  Oh, and doing it will almost assuredly send a herd of sacred cows trampling over a garden, through a house, and ripping up a vineyard before they finally plummet over a ravine where the survivors drown in a raging torrent. :D

Thus the conclusion that some of us have come to that there are really only two reasonable courses of action, given that in the "hard, thoughtful design work" area, WotC seems to be rather limited, and to running off the people that tried:  Ignore the warts and enjoy it for what it is.  Or if that isn't possible any longer, give it up as a lost cause.

I'm not trying to convince so much as explain.  When some of us say that 3E/3.5 isn't fixable, we don't mean there's no conceivable route to fix it.  We mean practically, it won't happen, and if it did, many of its current fans wouldn't recognize it.  Note that 4E and 5E both tangled with some of the hard core issues in 3E/3.5, with some success.  They both also handled some hard core issues by writing them effectively out of the game entirely, to more or less success depending on who you ask, and their preferences. 

I don't have the slightest doubt in my mind that both Chris's suggestion for using non-core classes or Tenbones's suggest to get Fantasy Craft are great options, if they happen to appeal.  That is, I'm fairly certain, despite having never even read either, that they are both more coherent than 3E/3.5 as a system at the table.  They are also going to be a bit more narrow in appeal, as any well-designed fix will be.

I guess it depends on the specific instance of 3.x.

D&D 3.5: Search, Listen, Spot
D20 Modern: Search, Listen, Spot
Spycraft: Search, Listen, Spot
FantasyCraft:Search, Listen, Spot

True 20: Search and Notice (This is the ideal arrangement for me.)
Mutants and Masterminds 2E: Search and Notice

Pathfinder: Perception
SW Saga: Perception
Mutants and Masterminds 3E: Perception

I've arranged the games (roughly) chronologically. The idea of a unified Perception started around 2007, and persists to this day, but I don't think it's fair to say that is a universal 3.x problem. There's too much variation in the sample set. I do think it's on target to say it's a problem for 5E, however.

Here's the True 20 skill array. I don't see any glaring problems here. I'd delete Concentration, and Escape Artist never seemed to be useful in our games, but other than that it's pretty solid.

Acrobatics
Bluff
Climb
Computers
Concentration
Craft*
Diplomacy
Disable Device
Disguise
Drive
Escape Artist
Gather Information
Handle Animal
Intimidate
Jump
Knowledge*
Language
Medicine
Notice
Perform*
Pilot
Ride
Search
Sense Motive
Sleight of Hand
Stealth
Survival
Swim



5
Well, Kyle Brink, WOTC's Executive Producer thinks that WOTC needs to get rid of white guys as fast as possible.  I am starting to think we need a category beyond Red. :P
"They've gone to plaid!"

Sorry-not-sorry :D
6
News and Adverts / Playtesters Wanted
« Last post by WillInNewHaven on Today at 11:15:24 AM »
Looking for Dr. Smith
An adventure in the Pulp Solar System for three to five characters
Demos Station and Phobos station are in something of an uproar. Dr. Winslow Smith has vanished in the Asteroid Belt. He and his bride left the Phobos Base three months ago and was last heard from by radio six days ago. His work on Venusian microorganisms has saved many lives among both Venusian species and his recent work on Martian diseases looked promising.
Anyone player interested in playtesting The Pulp Solar System on Facebook video messenger let me know and we will try for a consensus as to date and time. Premade characters will be available but I will help players create their own characters if they wish.   
Participants will get complimentary copies of setting book (when it is finished) and the core rules for Glory Road Roleplay, which is the system used in the setting.
Available character peoples: Venusian Sky Folk, Venus Dragons, Loonies (mutated humans) Selenites (somewhat less mutated humans) Earth-normal human, High Martians. Most of the characters have just finished a shake-down cruise on the small drive-capable patrol ship “Dog Soldier,” owned by Phobos Station and they are assigned to search a sector of the Belt 7 hours away
The characters will be the pilot/captain, a Drive officer. The Observer, relief pilot, a Drive Officer. An Engeneer, a Drive Officer, wo gunners, Junior Drive Officers. An Intern, does all the work.
Premade character sheets will be available but any player can contact me and we can work up a character for them.

7
You need to build a time machine that can go back at least 50 years to find the systemic -isms in society that your brain fever-dreams still exist.

Your godless-religion looks at gaps naturally formed from demographics and natural group preferences, and through it's twisted kaleidoscope it can only see oppression and -isms.

For example, men way overrepresented in tech? Well men and women are interchangeable, so men must be keeping women out! All the money and effort you threw at getting women in to tech, and it's barely moved the needle?  Let's start artificially blocking men and only accepting women, even if the men have better scores or skills. For the sacred tenet of equity must be honored!

Eh, no, in the 21st century we still had, for example, senior professors of computer science who would tell young female students that *because they were women* they weren't well suited for a career in tech.

That's 15-20 years, not 50, and I have little reason to believe it's reversed since I left academia.

It's a tangent to this thread, but there's pretty good data showing that young 20-year-old guys can *completely unintentionally* drive young 20-year-old women out of the career, and that changing how we teach introductory computer science and even doing some sex-segregated classes can radically improve the young womens' success & mastery.

... I wouldn't be surprised if the same sort of thing happens at our RPG tables: the dumb extremes of "male culture" can be pretty obnoxious. I believe I've lost players of colour over cultural issues; it's been years since I lost any female players, and not clear what drove them off then.

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence or, to put it another way, that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence too, or in old timey internet slang: Pics or it didn't happen.
8
I don't think there is any such a thing as niche protection. There's niche specialization.

Niches can't be "protected" by a system because niches are not fixed or preset things. They're things that emerge from a particular group dynamic. The same character might serve a different niche if transplanted into a different party. In Idiocracy, Joe goes from being the most average man in the world in the present to the most intelligent man in the world in the future.

Once a niche is discovered, if the game then allows you to develop and advance your character according to that niche, then you have niche specialization. When presented with the options of lead, follow, or get out of the way, Joe's new niche in the future caused him to grow from someone who gets out of the way to someone who leads.

This distinction in terms is important. If you think niches are something that can be protected, it's only natural to think then a class-based game is the one that does that. But if you understand that it can only be specialized in, then it's the skill-based game that are more supportive of niches.

As a demonstration of the point, an actual experience myself and a lot of gamers had was, back in the day, if you were playing a fighter, you were the best at fighting. But then along comes barbarian and cavalier, and then it kind of felt fighters were overshadowed. That you had fighter as a class was completely incapable of protecting your niche. Because when you got transported to a world with a different set of character types, your niche changed.


There's this ever-present thing sometimes called "comparative advantage." You could have Joe the Fighter and Fred the Fighter. And Fred's player is a min-maxer and figured out a way to make Fred better than Joe at melee attacks, better than Joe at ranged fighting, and be tougher than Joe to boot. Sounds like a lot of trampling on toes.

Until you get into an actual play.

Joe, it turns out, has a comparative advantage as the party's archer. Why? If Fred is better? And it's because Fred's toughness becomes of less value when he's not up front blocking. The cost of giving up that value is a lot higher for Fred than it is for Joe. Joe doesn't lose that much value because he doesn't have a crazy high toughness. So the opportunity cost for Joe is lower to take up the role of ranged fighter. Fred just can't be in two places at once.

Now once play begins, Fred's player continues to min max as his character advances. "Hey, If I'm not going to be firing my bow anyway, why waste slots specializing in it? I should just put everything into melee." Meanwhile, Joe does the opposite and does specialize in ranged fighting since that's what Joe does. Before long Joe is actually better than Fred at ranged combat in an absolute sense. When they divy up loot, Fred takes the magic sword while Joe takes the magic bow. Fred raises Strength while Joe raises Dex.

Even class-based games are totally capable of supporting niche specialization. It's just skill-based games usually let you specialize a lot quicker. Which is not necessarily good or bad. Maybe it should be a struggle to adapt to a new niche.


9
Please ask it if it likes 'please' and 'thank you'.  I'm curious as to what it would say.   
10
You need to build a time machine that can go back at least 50 years to find the systemic -isms in society that your brain fever-dreams still exist.

Your godless-religion looks at gaps naturally formed from demographics and natural group preferences, and through it's twisted kaleidoscope it can only see oppression and -isms.

For example, men way overrepresented in tech? Well men and women are interchangeable, so men must be keeping women out! All the money and effort you threw at getting women in to tech, and it's barely moved the needle?  Let's start artificially blocking men and only accepting women, even if the men have better scores or skills. For the sacred tenet of equity must be honored!

Eh, no, in the 21st century we still had, for example, senior professors of computer science who would tell young female students that *because they were women* they weren't well suited for a career in tech.

That's 15-20 years, not 50, and I have little reason to believe it's reversed since I left academia.

It's a tangent to this thread, but there's pretty good data showing that young 20-year-old guys can *completely unintentionally* drive young 20-year-old women out of the career, and that changing how we teach introductory computer science and even doing some sex-segregated classes can radically improve the young womens' success & mastery.

... I wouldn't be surprised if the same sort of thing happens at our RPG tables: the dumb extremes of "male culture" can be pretty obnoxious. I believe I've lost players of colour over cultural issues; it's been years since I lost any female players, and not clear what drove them off then.

Women are subject oriented and Men are object oriented.  You can't force women to code when the majority of them would rather interact directly with human beings than a computer terminal all day.  Go to the Nordics where they have the highest level of freedom and people who think like you who push women to go into coding - guess what women choose the medical and legal professions over programming because they like working with human beings and men choose engineering because they like working with objects.  You can't change someones genetic predilection for what they find enjoyable.  Its why you are seeing a massive increase in the US in medical schools where women outnumber men.  Women in the past chose computer science because it was a new field and they were able to make inroads because the field wasn't blocked to them like many jobs were in the 1940's especially during war time when they could not be blocked for the war effort.  Today you see a low number of women in computer science related fields because to most women, but not all, its not an enjoyable field.  Interacting with a human being to most women is significantly more enjoyable.
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