Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Watching the progress of D&D..

I'm not a 4E fan, but I am a D&D fan. It was my first love blah blah, and for many reasons the hobby can't afford for it to fail.

A healthy D&D is a healthy roleplaying industry.

EN World has a good page of the latest 'what we know' news.  Check it out at

Can they do the impossible? 'Cause at the moment it's looking like it's going to need a Miracle to deliver all the design goals, and we all know there aren't that many Clerics that can, or will, knock that spell out on demand..

Interesting times.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why 4E = Fail

There are loads of opinions.

For me it can summarised in one statement - "They included Agro Management"
Anyone who plays MMOs will know what Agro, or Threat is.  For the uninitiated/people with lives, it's a very simple (in principle) mechnanism in a computer MMO which controls which person a MOB (that's a critter/monster/bad guy) attacks.  There's no intelligence behind it but the appearance is that there is.

Simply put - The MOB attacks the person it 'hates' the most.

Or to but it another way, it will attack whoever 'threatens' or 'aggrevates' it the most. So if you do alot of damage will attack you unless someone else does more for example. This is really only noticeable in group play of course.  Computer RPGs will has classes specifically designed to create a lot of threat to ensure that the MOBs attack them; leaving the rest of the party free to do their thang. Agro managment is a defining part of MMO gameplay and understanding it forms the basis of every fight in the game. 

In a pen and paper RPG (like D&D) the DM controls what or who the monsters attack.  It's a defining principle of those games (and the opposite of MMOs) and a part of what makes them as special as they are. Like the fact you, as a player character, can try to whatever you want - it's up to the DM with the help of the rules that decide the result.  That's why roleplaying is better than a board game in many respects; that sandbox approach, limited only your imagination.  The bottom line is that you don't need to introduce agro management mechnics to the game, and you shouldn't. Real life isn't constrained by such basic things and never should a monster in a game.  If a particular goblin really hates elves (because elves killed his family etc etc), then why should he be forced to attack some random Paladin when there's a horrible elf over there pewing pewing him?

But they did in 4E. Why?  I don't know, but the fact that they did in the first place shows that the designers had lost touch with what makes a P'n'P RPG different from a Computer RPG/MMO.  The mindset rippled down throughout the entire ruleset and is a perfect example of why 4E fails as a roleplaying game. The Agro mechanic was not absolute; they didn't screw it up that badly, but it was it was enough to make combat more forced, and less believable as a story telling element.  That hurts a roleplaying game, and in 4E - killed it.

Note, I'm not saying it's not a good game. It IS a good game, but it's not a good roleplaying game, and that's why it failed.

When did Monsters become MOBs?

Or conditions become 'buff's?

I've been P'n'P roleplaying for decades but it's only recently that I've noticed that we've started to refer to monsters as mobs (which I thought was game from MMOs e.g World of Warcraft).  Also my wife noticed that we were also calling spells like 'Haste' buffing spells! That seems to have happened as well.

I'm not sure when it started in our games, and I'm not against it, but it's interesting how the lexicon has gone full circle from P'n'P > MMO > P'n'P.

Don't get me started on the game play! (4E anyone?)

Cthulhu Rises

I'm a Lovecraft fan. Have been for decades. I've run Call of Cthulhu rpg for 20 years and love it.

Currently though my focus is Pathfinder RPG and it's interesting just how clear Jacobs and co are on assuring that the Mythos is alive and well in their 'universe' (which they have confirmed in the Secrets of Pathfinder Adventures session at PaizoCon 2011 as actually our universe - in that you could space travel from Golarion to Earth). BTW if you've not listened to it check out the D20 Radio Pathfinder Chronicles. You want the Seminar Special part 2 - you can download it directly or get it via iTunes.

Cthulhu does get everywhere doesn't he?  Sanity defying when you consider he's supposed to be stuck in R'lyeh!

There's a part of me that says 'cool' and a somewhat smaller part that goes 'hmmmm ok...' about the integration.  I think for it to work the GM and players need to accept it and understand why it works (same universe), otherwise it just comes across as cheesy (like finding Elminster wandering around your Shadowrun campaign just because the GM is a Realms fan!).  There needs to be appropriate context for me, there's no point just have Mythos monsters just because they are 'cool'; for a world to work it needs to go beyond that for me.

I've not run Part 4 of Carrion Crown yet (heck, I'm still on part 6 of Council fo Thieves and have Kingmaker to go through first!), so I will see how it lands with my players.

I like it HPL in Pathfinder in principle, but I'm cautious...

Monday, February 27, 2012

D&D 5E

Apparently Wizards of the Coast are going to give up on 4E (embarrassed much?) and start working on 5E

I want to say I don't care, but I do. A lot.

No seriously

Firstly you should know that I'm not a fan of 4E. Not. One. Bit.  DMed it, didn't like it. Gave up.
This is from someone whose been playing AD&D/D&D since the early to mid-eighties.

4E made me move to Pathfinder - like a lot of people I suspect, and I've no plans to move back to 5E (PFRPG is great and the strength of the Adventure Path products are a great part of that).

So, why do I care about 5E?  Because D&D needs to be a success in some form for the health of the roleplaying industry.  Without D&D in a good place, I think that the smaller publishers, and even some of the larger ones with suffer and possibly die off.  I don't want that.

So bring on 5E.  Make it work and make it popular. Sure, I'll buy it (I have all the others, so it would be rude not to), but it's not likely I'll play it. I'm a Pathfinder convert now.

Just don't make it like WOW again please...

Why the Title?

I hate coming up with names for things like blogs.  It's a bloody nightmare.

It has to be relevant (apparently)

It has to stand out (apparently)

It has to-

Well you get the picture.

'Loot The Corpses' Doesn't matter what our alignment is (would you like a Paladin with that sir?) we still jump in and rape the corpses of anything we can get 1/2 gp value for in our nearest NPC pawnbrokers.

Well...all those masterwork rapiers add up right!?

Still.. In my next game I might through in a NPC party stripping a load of dead bodies, covered in gore, just to remind my players what it really means to gather all the parts for the +1 Chainmail..

So 'Loot The Corpses' then.  It's unsavoury, but it's something that is probably worth doing then.

Bit like this blog I guess! ;)

So whose going to be the Cleric...?

Anyone? Anyone?!

That's how most of my games start, so it seems appropriate for my first post.

Why is it that no one wants to play a Cleric anyway?  That's how it always seemed to be to me, since I first started on AD&D in the mid-eighties.  Cleric was basically the healing-bitch right?  Doesn't matter how you played it, the expectation was that you would be there with the Cure Light Wounds to pick up the pieces after the fighter 'accidentally hit that troll'.

Pathfinder (my current game of choice) makes it better for the lowly walking WOCLA, with Channel Energy, and I have to say that the healing out put now is MASSIVE.  BOOM! Everyone get back 30hp. Nice!

Still, being the Cleric still seems (for my group at least) to be a necessary evil (ooooh the irony!).