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Intro [Streamlining D&D]

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Anonymous
August 22, 2005 4:02:52 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)

D&D has become so full of options and various stats for this that and
everything else, that it's becoming more like a job of accounting than
a game. Preparing NPCs takes far longer than previous editions, as well
as preparing characters. So many options becomes easily exploitable,
and specializes characters so much that every challenge becomes either
far too easy or ends in character deaths.

In the spirit of KISS* I'm going to make an effort to streamline
v3.5E of D&D.

The goals of Streamlining:
1) Reduce or Eliminate Prep Time
2) Reduce or Eliminate Exploits
3) Speed up in game play
4) Reduce or Eliminate Redundant or Unnecessary Complexity
5) Balance Characters against each other and monsters
6) Do all the above with minimal impact on 'fun' or increase
it.

My general philosophies on how to do this:

Strategic Choice is bad. Tactical Choice is good.

Srategic choices are those that have to be made outside of the game.
The more you have of these, the more prep time it adds. The more
strategic choice there is the more likely you are to end up with a
character who is so specialized as to be useless in all but one
situation where he is unstoppable.

Tactical choice is something you have to make in game like what action
you are taking. The more options you have of what to do (preferable up
to what you can imagine), the better.

Randomness is bad. The more randomness you have (i.e. dice) the longer
it takes to figure what happened as you add everything up.

Some of each of Strategic Choice and Randomness is required for fun,
and to differentiate each character action, etc. The quantity is the
question that needs to be answered. How much can be eliminated before
you remove the fun from it. Removing all Strategic Choice and
Randomness you would be playing a game like chess. Chess does have a
lot of tactical choices, and it is a good game which has been played
for centuries, but it lacks the imagination of an RPG. If you remove
all randomness from an RPG you end up with a game in which a particular
action in a particular setting by a particular character will always
either succeed or fail. The RPG becomes much like a game of chess.

Unnecessary Complexity is bad. Wherever you can reduce this you win.
The problem is deciding what's unnecessary.

With this in mind lets look at v3.5E D&D

More about : intro streamlining

Anonymous
August 22, 2005 7:38:10 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Christopher Adams wrote:
> Justisaur wrote:
> >
> > Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)
>
> I recommend that you put your [Streamlining D&D] tag in front of your post
> title - that way every post on the subject collects together in the thread
> display.
>

Unfortunately as many know here, many of the newsreaders don't handle
tags in front of the subject very well. Google strips them out for
instance.

- Justisaur
August 22, 2005 10:42:58 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On 22 Aug 2005 15:38:10 -0700, "Justisaur" <justisaur@gmail.com> dared
speak in front of ME:

>
>Christopher Adams wrote:
>> Justisaur wrote:
>> >
>> > Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)
>>
>> I recommend that you put your [Streamlining D&D] tag in front of your post
>> title - that way every post on the subject collects together in the thread
>> display.
>>
>
>Unfortunately as many know here, many of the newsreaders don't handle
>tags in front of the subject very well. Google strips them out for
>instance.

Google is not a proper newsreader. It's a web-interface to a usenet
archive.
--
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the conservative adopts them.
Samuel Clemens, "Notebook," 1935

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Anonymous
August 23, 2005 2:30:37 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Justisaur wrote:
>
> Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)

I recommend that you put your [Streamlining D&D] tag in front of your post
title - that way every post on the subject collects together in the thread
display.

--
Christopher Adams - Sydney, Australia
The geek with roots in Hell!
http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/mhacdebhandia/prestigec...
http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/mhacdebhandia/templatel...

Who do you blame when your kid is a - brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese - cat?
Blaming the kids is a lie and a - shame!
You know exactly who's - to - blame:
The mother and the father!
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 8:16:14 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Justisaur <justisaur@gmail.com> wrote:
> Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)
>
> D&D has become so full of options and various stats for this that and
> everything else, that it's becoming more like a job of accounting than
> a game. Preparing NPCs takes far longer than previous editions, as well
> as preparing characters. So many options becomes easily exploitable,
> and specializes characters so much that every challenge becomes either
> far too easy or ends in character deaths.
>
> In the spirit of KISS* I'm going to make an effort to streamline
> v3.5E of D&D.
>
> The goals of Streamlining:
> 1) Reduce or Eliminate Prep Time
> 2) Reduce or Eliminate Exploits
> 3) Speed up in game play
> 4) Reduce or Eliminate Redundant or Unnecessary Complexity
> 5) Balance Characters against each other and monsters
> 6) Do all the above with minimal impact on 'fun' or increase it.
>
> My general philosophies on how to do this:
>
> Strategic Choice is bad. Tactical Choice is good.
>
> Srategic choices are those that have to be made outside of the game.
> The more you have of these, the more prep time it adds. The more
> strategic choice there is the more likely you are to end up with a
> character who is so specialized as to be useless in all but one
> situation where he is unstoppable.
>
> Tactical choice is something you have to make in game like what action
> you are taking. The more options you have of what to do (preferable up
> to what you can imagine), the better.

Be aware that expanding your tactical choices, or choosing which
tactical choices to have available, is a strategic decision. It's
largely inescapable, but you can reduce the effect.

Surprisingly, this can be done -- in part -- by reducing flexibility in
character design. One of the simplest steps you can take is to disallow
multiclassing. It is much easier to understand how a class will behave
if it doesn't have to interact with others, even if there is great
flexibility within the class, as with using feats.

Bear in mind that this will lead to fairly archetypal characters, at
least mechanically. That's *probably* going to happen no matter what,
given your design goals, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

> Randomness is bad. The more randomness you have (i.e. dice) the longer
> it takes to figure what happened as you add everything up.

Very simple rule here: do not roll hit points. Give 100% at first
level, then a constant each level after that. Or to simplify, give 2,
4, 6, 8, or 10 hit points per level (for d4, d6, etc.); double this at
first level. Yes, it's quite rich, but it means that the guys who
*should* be tough *will* be tough, and the guys who should be fragile
*will* be relatively fragile.

So, if you have a Ftr12 (d10 HD), you know he's going to have 104 hit
points before considering Con bonus (d10 -> 8 hp, *13 levels because
it's doubled at first level). This is about 35 hit points higher than
average in a core game, so he shouldn't complain (10 + 11*5.5 =~ 70)

> [snip 'some strategy and randomness is needed']

I'd suggest reducing randomness to just during play, with constrained or
simplified strategy (as mentioned above -- archetypal characters, fixed
hit points per hit die, etc.)


Keith
--
Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
August 23, 2005 11:55:06 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On 22 Aug 2005 12:02:52 -0700, "Justisaur" <justisaur@gmail.com>
wrote:

>Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)
><snip>
> or ends in character deaths.

Surely you're joking. Who ever heard of D&D characters dying.

><snip>
>The more options you have of what to do (preferable up
>to what you can imagine), the better.

I think you're going against the spirit of the game here. The
D&D designers have created a game where characters are
specialised. Their aim in doing this may have been to create a
game where all the characters needed to work together to achieve
the goal. But that is the way the game has been made.

To a large extent, what you want to do has already been done
with other d20 systems. Maybe you should go for one of those
alternative systems; it will save you a lot of work.
August 23, 2005 11:55:07 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 07:55:06 GMT, Zeno <zeno@lastone.com> dared speak
in front of ME:

>On 22 Aug 2005 12:02:52 -0700, "Justisaur" <justisaur@gmail.com>
>wrote:
>
>>Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)
>><snip>
>> or ends in character deaths.
>
>Surely you're joking. Who ever heard of D&D characters dying.
>
>><snip>
>>The more options you have of what to do (preferable up
>>to what you can imagine), the better.
>
>I think you're going against the spirit of the game here.

So?


--
The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out
the conservative adopts them.
Samuel Clemens, "Notebook," 1935

--
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Anonymous
August 23, 2005 3:10:04 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Zeno wrote:
> On 22 Aug 2005 12:02:52 -0700, "Justisaur" <justisaur@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> >Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)
> ><snip>
> > or ends in character deaths.
>
> Surely you're joking. Who ever heard of D&D characters dying.
>
> ><snip>
> >The more options you have of what to do (preferable up
> >to what you can imagine), the better.
>
> I think you're going against the spirit of the game here. The
> D&D designers have created a game where characters are
> specialised. Their aim in doing this may have been to create a
> game where all the characters needed to work together to achieve
> the goal. But that is the way the game has been made.
>

That has to be part of the goal (I'll add it in, meant to but forgot).
As this is a game with multiple players where one of the goals is
teamwork as opposed to competition, you have to have the players and
therefore the characters compliment each other. As opposed to having a
Trippy fighter, a ranged fighter, a grapple fighter, etc, that aren't
any good when they get in situations they can't use thier
specialization, I want to see a fighter who is moderately good at all
of that, that way they can choose which they want to do in any
situation, and not instantly win in thier little specialty. But they
are still specialized at fighting in general, instead of ultra
specialized at one aspect of fighting.

> To a large extent, what you want to do has already been done
> with other d20 systems. Maybe you should go for one of those
> alternative systems; it will save you a lot of work.

I've been looking, and I haven't found anything that meets these goals.
I've looked at C&C, which is somewhat streamlined, but incorporates a
lot of old school AD&D stuff, and introduces new complications. My
goal is not to go back, but to go forward. I've also looked at OGL
Fantasy Lite, which is meant more for new players, and is very limited
in scope, only going to 4th lv, and they don't really make that much of
an effort toward streamlining, but there are some good ideas in it. If
you know of something else that does a good job of it, let me know,
I'll happily look into it.

- Justisaur
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 3:12:35 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Kevin Venzke wrote:
> Ideas:
>
> "Justisaur" <justisaur@gmail.com> wrote in message
> news:1124737372.871231.253610@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
> > Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)
>
> Get rid of specific armor/weapon stats except for magical bonuses.
> Just assume Fighters are wearing armor, and they get some kind of
> flat-rate damage reduction.
>

Might be a little too much abstraction, but i'll definately take it
into account.

> Probably use MP for magic and such...

MP?

- Justisaur
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 6:36:36 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Bradd W. Szonye wrote:
> Jeff Heikkinen <no.way@jose.org> wrote:
> > And perhaps most importantly for some GMs, DON'T WORRY ABOUT HOW YOUR
> > NPCS SPEND EVERY LAST SKILL POINT! I can't remember how many times
> > I've seen DMs bitch about the "need" to do this, rightly pointing out
> > that it's really time-consuming. It's also totally unnecessary!
>
> Heh. I'm the obsessive-compulsive sort of DM who feels the need to make
> classed foes PC-legal, yet even I skimp when it comes to skills.
> Sticking to single-classed NPCs helps a lot, multiclassing only when you
> want to feature a particular prestige class. Generally, I count skill
> points per level and just pick that many maxed-out skills. For example,
> a human fighter with 10 Int gets three maxed-out skills. (Our group uses
> the retroactive-skill-points-for-Int-increases house rule, so I don't
> have to worry about calculating the correct number of skills at each
> level.)
>
> > Take into consideration *whether* he is likely to have a lot of points
> > in noncombat skills, but you don't have to puzzle out exactly how.
>
> Good idea. Spend them DIP-style.
>
> For /really/ quick mooks, here's a quick estimation tool: Assume that
> all attack rolls are +1 per CR, all saves are +1/2 per CR, AC is
> 15 + 1/2 per CR, hp are 5 per CR, and skills are negligible. It's
> probably way off at very low and very high levels, but it should be
> close enough for an improvised mid-level fight.
>
> My own biggest time sinks are spells and gear. I still haven't found
> good shortcuts to either. Working from high-level spells down should
> help a bit, but there's still a lot of work there (especially if you
> want to learn how all the spells actually work before game-time or what
> tactics are appropriate). Here's something that might work: Use high-
> level (CR > APL) spellcasters sparingly, as "bosses" worthy of the extra
> prepwork. Save the write-up, and use it a few levels as standard stats
> for a "mook" (CR < APL) spellcaster. That way, bosses are special --
> their spell lists are unique, at the time -- but mooks are easy to write
> up. Supplement the ex-bosses with published NPCs for more variety in
> your mooks.
>

It's all time sinks. 3.0 I used Tome & Blood web suppliment for
wizards spell books, still had to choose the spells prepared though,
usually I'd just choose whatever (aka sorcerer) at time of casting.

James Buck's 3.5 NPC generator gets you spell lists for wizards now
too. And feats & skills, that takes care of a large bit of it. Still
no equipment though. That does take a long time, as you have to go
through and adjust all the stats affected. I'm not sure how optomized
the feats & skills are, but it looks like it's not entirely random.
That actually takes care of all the issues I wanted to address for the
difficulty of making NPCs.

Trying to take the wind out of my sails?

> I suppose the same technique could work for gear: Make custom gear lists
> for bosses, use recycled lists and stock characters for mooks. The only
> trouble I see here is that seeing the same gear lists over and over is
> pretty noticeable to the players. Perhaps it'd be a good idea to use a
> stock list for about 50-75% of each gear list, supplemented with random
> treasure rolls or custom picks.

Yeah I use the DMG tables with the NPC Gear there usually, but it's
very noticable "Another +1 Cloak of Resistance?!?!" I prefered 3.0's
NPC gear list as they actually had the potions and other expendables
which 3.5's doesn't anymore. Really P.O.es me. I swear they are
trying to make it harder for DMs. They are out to get us. You could
go through the standard items with like a d6 or something, and every
time you roll a 1 change it to something else.

It's very very time consuming just to make a list up, I did it in 3.0
for the NPC classes (on my web page) it took me weeks, and it still
needed fixes. I started on it in 3.5 but never had the time or
inclination to finish it

One thing I've tried in the past was roll random items, up to gear
value, tossing anything they can't use, when you roll an item over the
rest of thier avilable gear value you toss it and stop rolling. It's
reasonably quick compared to agonizing over what they should get, but
gets some odd results.

You could combine the DMG tables, and add expendables only through
random rolls. That might work o.k.

- Justisaur
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 7:47:39 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Ideas:

"Justisaur" <justisaur@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1124737372.871231.253610@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
> Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)

Get rid of specific armor/weapon stats except for magical bonuses.
Just assume Fighters are wearing armor, and they get some kind of
flat-rate damage reduction.

Don't keep track of where characters and opponents are standing.
If you hit someone with a ranged attack, you can't be the target
of a melee/touch attack until your next turn.

A Thief/Rogue could be harder to hit. If an attempted melee
attack against him misses, the Thief gets a free attack. I'm not
sure what to do about backstabbing or sneak attacks, though.

Probably use MP for magic and such...
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 8:19:38 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Justisaur wrote:
> In the spirit of KISS* I'm going to make an effort to streamline
> v3.5E of D&D.

Here are some tips from a DM's point of view. Many of the options and
expansions are intended for players: In my experience, they offer
novelty and increased differentiation between characters. Therefore, my
basic approach is to limit complexity for the DM while leaving things as
open as possible for players.

> The goals of Streamlining:
> 1) Reduce or Eliminate Prep Time

I have three major recommendations here: Rely on "stock" material as
much as possible, limit the number of sources you reference during prep,
and don't sweat the details.

Good sources for stock material: Monster manuals are an obvious source,
but they tend to focus more on basic creature types. For leveled NPCs
and unusual creatures, look to published adventures or D&D minis (which
include D&D stat cards for every mini). For maps, published adventures
are a good source -- often, the map is more useful than the complete
adventure.

Limiting sources (or knowing your library very well) is important, or
you'll waste any time you save by browings through too many books. I
recommend limiting yourself to the core rulebooks and one or two "theme"
books at any given time. For example, if you're creating a psionic NPC,
stick to the core books and XPsiHB; you don't really need to scour your
whole collection creating an optimal character. For monsters, I heartily
recommend keeping a D&D minis collection and using that as your "core
book" for monsters and NPCs.

Finally, don't sweat the details. Don't worry about mistakes in the
published stats (unless they're egregious). If you have an otherwise-
good published adventure that's a couple levels too low for your PCs,
don't worry about it; just pump up the "boss" encounters a couple levels
and let them mow through the rest as-is. When filling out an NPC's spell
list, focus on the highest-level spells (i.e., the combat-appropriate
spells) and ignore the low-level stuff if you run low on time. Don't
roll hit points or stats for every creature; use averages for almost
everything.

> 2) Reduce or Eliminate Exploits

Just two simple steps will eliminate almost all "exploits" in the game:
First, religiously follow the encounter-difficulty guidelines on page 49
of the DMG. Second, build most of those encounters from groups of
relatively weak foes.

How does this eliminate exploits? The base game is designed such that
any given encounter is pretty easy, on its own, and any single creature
is even easier. It's only after a string of four or five encounters that
the game starts getting difficult: blasters run out of attacks, healers
run out of cures, and lucky rolls start wearing down the tankers.

If you focus mainly on difficult encounters, especially encounters with
lone foes, PCs with strong "alpha strike" or defensive abilities will
dominate the game. All that matters is whether you can soak up a couple
rounds of attacks, long enough to dish out a ton of damage or hit with
an "I win" ability (death spell, time stop, Sudden Stunning, &c).
Anybody who isn't heavily optimized for damage, defense, or both gets
left out in the cold.

On the other hand, if you use stock difficulty levels, spread out over
many foes, the balance changes to favor more character types. Extended
series of encounters favor healers and buffers more. More attacks means
more natural 1s and 20s to chip away at the tankers' nigh-impenetrable
defenses. More foes and more encounters means that you can't win the
adventure with a couple of strong alpha strikes; blasters must learn to
conserve ammo or rely on physical attacks to fill in the gaps. (And
because foes are individually weaker, blasters can reasonably hope to
hit with their physical attacks, especially with the help of buffers
like bards and clerics.)

The recent thread on Sudden Stunning discusses how out-of-control a
social rogue can get with the ability, but the ability is only an
"exploit" in certain contexts. It's not very good at all against a horde
of orcs, trolls, vampires, dragons, balors -- all of which are
reasonable "mook" encounters, depending on the PCs' levels.

> 3) Speed up in game play

I've written many articles on this subject, so I'll just summarize here:
Know your stuff, and discourage distractions. In the context of this
article, the best way to "know your stuff" is to limit its scope and to
take notes on what you do use. Also, when you tackle something new in
play, open the rulebook and walk through everything step by step. It'll
take a little longer the first time, but you'll teach the rule to
everyone, which reduces confusion when it comes up again.

> 4) Reduce or Eliminate Redundant or Unnecessary Complexity

Limiting scope also helps here. Players have the advantage of using the
same, small set of rules all the time. Do the same thing as a DM! Don't
try to keep dozens of rulebooks in your head all at once. Instead, pick
out a few appropriate sourcebooks for your adventure, and know the
relevant material.

> 5) Balance Characters against each other and monsters

Mainly, see the guidelines for encounter balance above. Once you've done
that, the main problem you're likely to run into is a tendency to take
too many rest breaks (to recover daily resources) or town breaks (to
recover long-term resources). That's a big topic all by itself, but here
are some rough guidelines: Make at least some parts of your adventures
time-sensitive. Many adventures feature the illusion of time pressure;
make it real, at least some of the time. Restock or rearrange foes to
represent reinforcements and strategic planning. Have the major enemies
flee to a secondary base once the primary base is breached. Kill off
prisoners or hostages that could've been rescued with a more timely
rescue. In general, reward the players for pressing on, and punish them
for taking long breaks. Make it worth their while to keep scouts or
guards at the adventure site, instead of returning to base (whether on
foot or by teleporting). Most importantly, don't be heavy-handed about
it: Ideally, speed should make a difference, but you don't want to
condition them so strongly that they press on suicidally.

> 6) Do all the above with minimal impact on 'fun' or increase it.

Fun is subjective, and players come to the game for many different
reasons, but there are a few common "fun" elements.

Novelty: Most players like new material, new characters, new foes.
Exploration and discovery are a big part of the game. To keep the game
fresh, incorporate new stuff when you can. Above, I recommend sticking
to the core books plus one or two theme books. Whenever possible, try to
use a new book as your "theme" book. If you just bought "Lords of
Madness," feature aberrations in your next adventure. If your copy of
"Frostburn" has been collecting dust, dig it out and plan for a wintry
adventure.

Showing off: Players like to use their characters' cool abilities. Let
them flex their powers. This should follow naturally from the encounter-
design guidelines. Even "suboptimal" character options get a chance to
shine when there are enough foes. Likewise:

Metagaming: Many players enjoy the meta-game elements of RPGs,
especially the "game" of scouring the rulebooks for cool prestige
classes, feats, etc. With good adventure design, you can give players
free rein to do this, since you don't need to worry so much about
exploits. D&D's resource-based design isn't for everyone, but it greatly
mitigates this sort of balance problem.

> My general philosophies on how to do this:
> Strategic Choice is bad. Tactical Choice is good.

I'd turn that around the other way. Tactical choice is rewarding, but it
does slow down the game during play. Also, good strategic choices --
limiting the scope of your materials, having a strong theme -- can
reduce the amount of prep-work and the amount of in-game decisionmaking
for the DM. Finally, for some players (see "metagaming" above), the
strategic elements of character design are the most fun part of the
game.

> Randomness is bad. The more randomness you have (i.e. dice) the
> longer it takes to figure what happened as you add everything up.

Yes, I'd recommend limiting randomness during DM prepwork, but I don't
think you can change in-game dicing much without changing the feel of
the game. Just make sure that you have a couple players who are good at
counting fistfuls of d6! Either that, or agree to use something like
HERO's "standard effect rule" (using average results for big dice
effects), but only if there's really a consensus to do so.

Personally, I find that attack rolls slow down the game more than spell
damage does, especially once you get into double-digit modifiers,
concealment rolls, and other complications. I haven't worked out a good
solution to that yet. I do recommend against rolling all of the attacks
in a full attack at once; while it saves a little time in some
situations, it causes more trouble than it's worth in others.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 9:11:36 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Justisaur wrote:
> Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)
<snips>

> Strategic Choice is bad. Tactical Choice is good.

Eliminating Wizards, changing out Cleric for Favoured Soul,
allowing spontanious Druids with very few spells per level?

> Randomness is bad. The more randomness you have (i.e. dice) the longer
> it takes to figure what happened as you add everything up.

Fireball: 1d6 + 3/level (max +30); same average at 7th.
DBFireball: 2d6 + 3/level (max +60); same average at 14th.

--
tussock

Aspie at work, sorry in advance.
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 9:11:37 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

tussock <scrub@clear.net.nz> wrote:
> Justisaur wrote:
>> Streamlining v3.5E D&D (d20)
><snips>
>
>> Strategic Choice is bad. Tactical Choice is good.
>
> Eliminating Wizards, changing out Cleric for Favoured Soul,
> allowing spontanious Druids with very few spells per level?
>
>> Randomness is bad. The more randomness you have (i.e. dice) the longer
>> it takes to figure what happened as you add everything up.
>
> Fireball: 1d6 + 3/level (max +30); same average at 7th.
> DBFireball: 2d6 + 3/level (max +60); same average at 14th.

Statistically similar behavior at higher levels -- once you reach a
certain number of d6, the odds of being more than 7 away from the mean
is pretty low.

Actually *slightly* lower damage at the end end, since you're losing 0.5
points per die rolled, but you'd adding 3 or 7 at the low end...
close enough (at 20th level you do 2d6+60 == 67; mean is normally 70).


Keith
--
Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 9:30:44 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 04:16:14 GMT, Keith Davies
<keith.davies@kjdavies.org> carved upon a tablet of ether:

> Very simple rule here: do not roll hit points. Give 100% at first
> level, then a constant each level after that. Or to simplify, give 2,
> 4, 6, 8, or 10 hit points per level (for d4, d6, etc.); double this at
> first level. Yes, it's quite rich, but it means that the guys who
> *should* be tough *will* be tough, and the guys who should be fragile
> *will* be relatively fragile.

My rules is: max at 1st level, half, rounded up, thereafter.

--
Rupert Boleyn <rboleyn@paradise.net.nz>
"Just because the truth will set you free doesn't mean the truth itself
should be free."
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 9:30:45 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Rupert Boleyn <rboleyn@paradise.net.nz> wrote:
> On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 04:16:14 GMT, Keith Davies
><keith.davies@kjdavies.org> carved upon a tablet of ether:
>
>> Very simple rule here: do not roll hit points. Give 100% at first
>> level, then a constant each level after that. Or to simplify, give 2,
>> 4, 6, 8, or 10 hit points per level (for d4, d6, etc.); double this at
>> first level. Yes, it's quite rich, but it means that the guys who
>> *should* be tough *will* be tough, and the guys who should be fragile
>> *will* be relatively fragile.
>
> My rules is: max at 1st level, half, rounded up, thereafter.

That gives a slightly greater benefit to the small-HD crowd (2.5 -> 3 is
a 20% improvement; 5.5->6 is a 9% improvement).

It's what I would use in a core or close-to-core game. 2,4,6,8,10 is
probably simpler to remember and apply for a streamlined game... and as
I say, it means the guys you expect to be tougher *will* be tougher.
With your suggestion, you don't get 'twice as tough' as a d4 until you
hit d10.

This completely ignores the effects of Constitution on hit points, of
course, but since I rarely if ever see a <10 Con, it's probably safe to
say that high Constitution *also* favors the small-HD characters. It's
probably reasonable to expect that the big-HD crowd will have higher
Constitution scores than the small-HD characters, but this isn't a
given.


Keith
--
Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
Anonymous
August 23, 2005 11:35:00 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

One of the voices in my head - or was it Bradd W. Szonye? - just said...
> Finally, don't sweat the details. Don't worry about mistakes in the
> published stats (unless they're egregious). If you have an otherwise-
> good published adventure that's a couple levels too low for your PCs,
> don't worry about it; just pump up the "boss" encounters a couple levels
> and let them mow through the rest as-is. When filling out an NPC's spell
> list, focus on the highest-level spells (i.e., the combat-appropriate
> spells) and ignore the low-level stuff if you run low on time. Don't
> roll hit points or stats for every creature; use averages for almost
> everything.

And perhaps most importantly for some GMs, DON'T WORRY ABOUT HOW YOUR
NPCS SPEND EVERY LAST SKILL POINT! I can't remember how many times I've
seen DMs bitch about the "need" to do this, rightly pointing out that
it's really time-consuming. It's also totally unnecessary!

Most NPCs are around for an encounter or two. Personally I figure out -
sometimes ahead of time, sometimes on the fly - what skills they're
likely to need for that encounter and put them in one of three broad
categories - maxed out or nearly so, likely to have a few ranks, or
probably having no ranks. It's pretty easy to figure out a modifier for
each case. Take into consideration *whether* he is likely to have a lot
of points in noncombat skills, but you don't have to puzzle out exactly
how. One quick check to make sure you haven't accidentally given them
too many ranks overall, and you're done. Takes a minute or two, tops. If
something I didn't anticipate comes up, I do the same thing during the
session; you should have a rough idea how many "floating" skill points
the NPC has left.
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 12:12:32 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Jeff Heikkinen <no.way@jose.org> wrote:
> And perhaps most importantly for some GMs, DON'T WORRY ABOUT HOW YOUR
> NPCS SPEND EVERY LAST SKILL POINT! I can't remember how many times
> I've seen DMs bitch about the "need" to do this, rightly pointing out
> that it's really time-consuming. It's also totally unnecessary!

Heh. I'm the obsessive-compulsive sort of DM who feels the need to make
classed foes PC-legal, yet even I skimp when it comes to skills.
Sticking to single-classed NPCs helps a lot, multiclassing only when you
want to feature a particular prestige class. Generally, I count skill
points per level and just pick that many maxed-out skills. For example,
a human fighter with 10 Int gets three maxed-out skills. (Our group uses
the retroactive-skill-points-for-Int-increases house rule, so I don't
have to worry about calculating the correct number of skills at each
level.)

> Take into consideration *whether* he is likely to have a lot of points
> in noncombat skills, but you don't have to puzzle out exactly how.

Good idea. Spend them DIP-style.

For /really/ quick mooks, here's a quick estimation tool: Assume that
all attack rolls are +1 per CR, all saves are +1/2 per CR, AC is
15 + 1/2 per CR, hp are 5 per CR, and skills are negligible. It's
probably way off at very low and very high levels, but it should be
close enough for an improvised mid-level fight.

My own biggest time sinks are spells and gear. I still haven't found
good shortcuts to either. Working from high-level spells down should
help a bit, but there's still a lot of work there (especially if you
want to learn how all the spells actually work before game-time or what
tactics are appropriate). Here's something that might work: Use high-
level (CR > APL) spellcasters sparingly, as "bosses" worthy of the extra
prepwork. Save the write-up, and use it a few levels as standard stats
for a "mook" (CR < APL) spellcaster. That way, bosses are special --
their spell lists are unique, at the time -- but mooks are easy to write
up. Supplement the ex-bosses with published NPCs for more variety in
your mooks.

I suppose the same technique could work for gear: Make custom gear lists
for bosses, use recycled lists and stock characters for mooks. The only
trouble I see here is that seeing the same gear lists over and over is
pretty noticeable to the players. Perhaps it'd be a good idea to use a
stock list for about 50-75% of each gear list, supplemented with random
treasure rolls or custom picks.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 12:47:58 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

"Justisaur" <justisaur@gmail.com> wrote in message
>> Get rid of specific armor/weapon stats except for magical bonuses.
>> Just assume Fighters are wearing armor, and they get some kind of
>> flat-rate damage reduction.
>
> Might be a little too much abstraction, but i'll definately take it
> into account.

Don't feel obligated. The question I'm asking myself is, what's the bare
minimum a role-playing game would have to supply in order to permit
combat? And then, how do you differentiate classes? Why would someone
ever choose to play a thief? Etc.

>> Probably use MP for magic and such...
>
> MP?

Er, magic points.

Kevin
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 2:58:15 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Justisaur wrote:
> It's all time sinks. 3.0 I used Tome & Blood web suppliment for
> wizards spell books, still had to choose the spells prepared though,
> usually I'd just choose whatever (aka sorcerer) at time of casting.

Yes, sorcerers and psions are a bit easier to prep than wizards: Fewer
spells known, no need to worry about listing /everything/ in a spellbook
for PC loot, no separate spell-prep step.

> Yeah I use the DMG tables with the NPC Gear there usually, but it's
> very noticable "Another +1 Cloak of Resistance?!?!" I prefered 3.0's
> NPC gear list as they actually had the potions and other expendables
> which 3.5's doesn't anymore ....

While the old list did save on prep time, it exacerbated the "another +1
cloak?!" problem, unless you varied the miscellaneous items -- which
throws out the savings in prep time.

Mixing standard lists with random treasure rolls, as you suggest, is a
decent idea. I often replace a few items from the pregen lists like
that, and it might be a good idea to use random rolls for all the
unspecified extras in the new NPC gear tables.

I've long toyed with a couple of ideas for managing spell lists;
something similar might work for gear. The first idea is to break the
big list into sublists; for example, all of the "cloud" spells, all
spells with a fire descriptor, all "everyone takes this" spells, and so
on. When creating a spellbook, you pick a whole sublist at a time. For
example, a 7th-level wizard might know all of the cloud spells and fire
spells (up to 4th level), plus all of the "common" spells like /haste/
and /dimension door./ That should cover most of his available spells
known; fill in the rest with utility spells.

The other idea is to group spells by use, rather than by theme. Wizards
know about four spells of each level, so group spells into four main
categories (damage, buff/debuff/cure, crowd control, travel/utility),
and choose one spell of each category for each level. That should
simplify decisionmaking, albeit not as much as the themed categories
above.

I don't think either of those approaches will work perfectly for gear,
although you could standardize quite a bit (e.g., characters of this
level will have a +X primary weapon and +X resistance bonus, a +Y suit
of armor or bracers, a +Z stat bonus, etc.). Leave a bit of
discretionary gear value for themed lists or random items.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 3:18:50 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Bradd W. Szonye <bradd+news@szonye.com> wrote:
> Jeff Heikkinen <no.way@jose.org> wrote:
>> And perhaps most importantly for some GMs, DON'T WORRY ABOUT HOW YOUR
>> NPCS SPEND EVERY LAST SKILL POINT! I can't remember how many times
>> I've seen DMs bitch about the "need" to do this, rightly pointing out
>> that it's really time-consuming. It's also totally unnecessary!
>
> Heh. I'm the obsessive-compulsive sort of DM who feels the need to make
> classed foes PC-legal, yet even I skimp when it comes to skills.
> Sticking to single-classed NPCs helps a lot, multiclassing only when you
> want to feature a particular prestige class. Generally, I count skill
> points per level and just pick that many maxed-out skills. For example,
> a human fighter with 10 Int gets three maxed-out skills. (Our group uses
> the retroactive-skill-points-for-Int-increases house rule, so I don't
> have to worry about calculating the correct number of skills at each
> level.)

Keeps it dead easy, yep. That's part of the reason I moved away from
"Int bumps aren't retroactive".

>> Take into consideration *whether* he is likely to have a lot of points
>> in noncombat skills, but you don't have to puzzle out exactly how.
>
> Good idea. Spend them DIP-style.
>
> For /really/ quick mooks, here's a quick estimation tool: Assume that
> all attack rolls are +1 per CR, all saves are +1/2 per CR, AC is
> 15 + 1/2 per CR, hp are 5 per CR, and skills are negligible. It's
> probably way off at very low and very high levels, but it should be
> close enough for an improvised mid-level fight.
>
> My own biggest time sinks are spells and gear. I still haven't found
> good shortcuts to either. Working from high-level spells down should
> help a bit, but there's still a lot of work there (especially if you
> want to learn how all the spells actually work before game-time or what
> tactics are appropriate). Here's something that might work: Use high-
> level (CR > APL) spellcasters sparingly, as "bosses" worthy of the extra
> prepwork. Save the write-up, and use it a few levels as standard stats
> for a "mook" (CR < APL) spellcaster. That way, bosses are special --
> their spell lists are unique, at the time -- but mooks are easy to write
> up. Supplement the ex-bosses with published NPCs for more variety in
> your mooks.

I've got a couple of approaches:

1. mook wizards generally have only small selection of spells and slots;
just do up what they have prepared. Ignore their spellbooks for now,
but be prepared to give them some scrolls -- count as gear, don't
worry about whether they were written by the wizard or not.

2. mid-level bosses (the ones at the end of the adventure that you don't
expect to survive, or lieutenants that get trampled on the way to the
big boss): do up say, the top two or three levels in detail, plus any
unusual spells you want to be sure they have. Players get annoyed
when the enemy is able to perfectly counter whatever they do with
obscure and unlikely spells... but aren't particularly bothered if
the Wiz9 pumps out a couple of /magic missile/ spells or the like.

This coarsely simulates the fact that the wizard is probably smarter
than you are and better at anticipating what's going to happen.
Remember that if it's a balanced encounter, the wizard is likely to
be around for only a few rounds -- he dies, escapes, or there's a
parley... but in any case, the fight is *short*. He's probably going
to use his higher-level spells unless there's an obvious and good
application of a lower-level spell, so you're *fairly* unlikely to
use more than a handful of spells prepared *anyway*.

3. high-level bosses should probably be planned in a little more detail,
since you're likely to reuse them -- they should be able to fight to
a draw, escape, etc., and you should probably expect them to last a
while during a fight. Prepare another level or two of spells
perhaps, but otherwise don't worry about it.

4. *the* boss: prepare in detail, but you can probably put it off quite
a bit. You probably don't expect the PCs to meet -- or at least,
fight -- him for a *long* time, so you've got lots of time to
prepare. Work out strategy and tactics for when it does happen; he's
probably got lots of contingency plans and the like. See Justisaur's
lich for an example. Look for 'Rogues Gallery', it's probably still
in your news spool if you've got a decent news feed. If you can't
find it, I'll dig up the message-id.


In any case, you need: *short* spell list, not all prepared spells, and
a battle plan. You don't need the full prepare spell list, and you
don't need the spellbook. If the party *does* manage to capture the
spellbook, it'll take some time for them to actually examine it in
detail, if they do (spellbooks are often hazardous to unauthorized
readers, IMC at least), so you can put off actually preparing the entire
thing until and unless it's needed.

> I suppose the same technique could work for gear: Make custom gear lists
> for bosses, use recycled lists and stock characters for mooks. The only
> trouble I see here is that seeing the same gear lists over and over is
> pretty noticeable to the players. Perhaps it'd be a good idea to use a
> stock list for about 50-75% of each gear list, supplemented with random
> treasure rolls or custom picks.

That's what the quick NPCs in the DMG do -- same gear list, by class and
level.

I like your approach better, though. I wouldn't do it by class, though,
but by role. You might have a tank list (used mostly by fighters and
paladins), an archer list (fighter, ranger, maybe rogue), skirmisher
(barbarian, ranger, maybe rogue), and so on. It's not unreasonable to
find all members of a group, if they're doing much the same thing, being
equipped the same. Defeating *yet another* orc patrol and finding
they've all got greataxes, studded leather armor, and a handful of coins
each (you don't really want the rations, trust me) isn't unreasonable.
Remember that most 'personal items' are of no interest to PCs.

An archer-type will almost always have: the best bow he can buy, light
armor (mithril chain is popular), and a backup weapon. As he levels
he will upgrade is bow as much as possible, probably buy some special
arrows (either weapon qualities his bow doesn't have -- get a +5 bow and
arrows of flaming, brilliant energy, seeking, etc. cheaper than trying
to get everything in the bow -- or special materials). He may also
pursue better AC through things like amulet of natural armor, rings of
protection, bracers of armor (when he's got a decent chunk of change to
spend). Dex buff almost certainly, strength buff perhaps (to use more
powerful bows).

IOW, I think for many character types/roles, the gear list *will* be
pretty consistent. I'd suggest identifying what 'everyone *will* have',
then have some variation within that. For instance, "any 'archer 12'
will have a +4[2] composite longbow (Str matching his)". After that,
have some kits for variation -- one guy has some special material
arrows, another guy has some +1+quality arrows, a third guy has a Dex
buff, another has a Str buff -- all are 'archer-type goodies', but
there's variety there. Then, consider having some assorted other stuff,
randomly generated. You can generate it ahead of time and perhaps apply
it ("he's got a ring of protection +2? Put it on!"), or assume it'll
have no combat effect and generate when needed (when they loot the
bodies if the archers didn't escape), substituting or rerolling when
something that might have made a difference comes up, or ignoring its
possible effect. The archer didn't *know* the ring would have given him
a deflection bonus, so wasn't wearing it. Or was, but +2 AC just didn't
matter when the shitstorm landed on him.

I've considered drawing up some such lists, but never really gotten
around to it. I think they'd speed up prep no end, though.


[1] I don't like how a magic bow imparts everything to the ammunition.
I'd recommend changing it so that the enhancement bonus is not
imparted to the arrow. It still gets a bonus to hit, but is not
considered magic (for purposes of DR) unless it is enchanted itself.

They no longer stack the bonuses to hit, that's good, but I think if
you fire a mundane arrow from a magic bow, the arrow should still be
mundane when it hits. It might be on fire or carry some additional
effect, but it's not magic *itself*.

(Actually, if there is a weapon quality imparted -- rather than an
enhancement bonus -- it might be worth having it change to 'magic'.
IMC, though, it'd be '+0 flaming', which has no effect on DR/magic
-- I reduce DR by 5 for each +1 of the weapon, rather than have it
binary. I've posted my DR rules before.)

[2] decent chance of better, actually, but go with +4 enhancement and
maybe +1 or +2 more of qualities.


Keith
--
Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 3:33:31 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Bradd wrote:
>> Just two simple steps will eliminate almost all "exploits" in the game:
>> First, religiously follow the encounter-difficulty guidelines on page 49
>> of the DMG. Second, build most of those encounters from groups of
>> relatively weak foes.

Rupert Boleyn wrote:
> The problem here is that this requires large numbers for the tougher
> encounters, which means more tracking for the GM, and a longer fight
> for the XP than one with fewer thougher monsters.

Hm, I haven't had that problem, although I generally use simple mooks in
larger fights. Also, our group handles combat pretty smoothly, so it's
not a big deal to break into a small or weak fight.

> My rule of thumb has become "no encounters with EL < [average party
> level], and no encounters with more than the party size in monsters".
> I make exceptions for set-piece encounters, and for the odd 'comedy'
> piece (the lone goblin highwayman, etc.), but I try to stick to the
> rule otherwise. I got sick of low-EL encounters that took ages (in
> part because players were spending too long getting fancy with thier
> tactics, but mainly simply because of the admin for lots of
> combatants) for little reward.

For the low-EL encounters, I recommend using either traps or smaller
versions of your hard encounters. Barring player nonsense or excessive
combat overhead, you should be able to dispatch either of those quickly.

Also, a low-EL encounter can easily turn into a much larger, running
fight -- broken morale can lure PCs into nearby foes, and raised alarms
can bring the neighbors running. If the players get the hint, they may
learn to take out small groups quickly instead of planning it to death.

> Also, by using fewer monsters you can take more time for each, which
> means you can use the more interesting monsters that have neat special
> abilities, whereas if there are lots of monsters to manage you don't
> really have the time to use those monsters to their fullest.

Heh. I tend to misplay the more "interesting" monsters anyway, even when
run them solo and plan ahead. I'm happy if I can remember to use just
one or two unusual abilities. Anyway, if this is a concern, then use a
mix of solo and group encounters, with simple mooks in the big groups.

Anyway, I'd recommend using at least some encounters with lots of weak
foes, or you're short-changing the Great Cleavers and the AOE blasters.
Also, large-unit tactics are interesting in themselves, if you can
handle the organization and bookkeeping required (and if I can do that,
anyone can!).

>> Personally, I find that attack rolls slow down the game more than
>> spell damage does, especially once you get into double-digit
>> modifiers, concealment rolls, and other complications. I haven't
>> worked out a good solution to that yet. I do recommend against
>> rolling all of the attacks in a full attack at once; while it saves a
>> little time in some situations, it causes more trouble than it's
>> worth in others.

> I have on-going problems with this. It leads to lots of problems when
> the foe falls half-way through the attack sequence. Rolling the attack
> roll and the damage together should be fine, though.

Yep, that's the problem I was talking about. We used to have a TWF rogue
who always rolls his many attacks at once, even on a sneak attack.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 3:45:41 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Keith Davies wrote:
> IOW, I think for many character types/roles, the gear list *will* be
> pretty consistent .... After that, have some kits for variation ....
> Then, consider having some assorted other stuff, randomly generated.
>
> I've considered drawing up some such lists, but never really gotten
> around to it. I think they'd speed up prep no end, though.

That's the rub, isn't it? Actually getting the meta-prepwork done. I
agree that basic kit + optional kit + random goodies is the right way to
do it for maximum simplicity without sacrificing novelty, but I just
never get around to writing up the kits!
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 4:01:36 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Justisaur <justisaur@gmail.com> wrote:
> That has to be part of the goal (I'll add it in, meant to but forgot).
> As this is a game with multiple players where one of the goals is
> teamwork as opposed to competition, you have to have the players and
> therefore the characters compliment each other. As opposed to having
> a Trippy fighter, a ranged fighter, a grapple fighter, etc, that
> aren't any good when they get in situations they can't use thier
> specialization, I want to see a fighter who is moderately good at all
> of that, that way they can choose which they want to do in any
> situation, and not instantly win in thier little specialty.

First, I don't see "ranged fighter" as a particularly narrow specialty.
Second, both "archer" and "grappler" are archetypal roles. Finally, many
players /want/ a little specialty where they always win. Indeed, it's an
important game-balance goal in many systems (arguably, in stock D&D).
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 5:27:43 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 10:21:58 +1200, Rupert Boleyn
<rboleyn@paradise.net.nz> wrote:

>My rule of thumb has become "no encounters with EL < [average party
>level], and no encounters with more than the party size in monsters".
>I make exceptions for set-piece encounters, and for the odd 'comedy'
>piece (the lone goblin highwayman, etc.), but I try to stick to the
>rule otherwise.

As a player, this would bug the hell out of me. It would make me feel
like my PC was a wimp, a mook, with the NPCs/monsters being the stars
of the show. I hate that.

When I play, I want to be the big tough adventurer for whom being
outnumbered by two or three to one just makes it an even fight. Your
rule will make me (my character) feel like I'm less powerful than I
really am. Which will make me greedy for power-ups to correct this
perceived problem. Which will produce an unhealthy dynamic in the
game.

If you have problems with players putting too much tactical planning
into ordinary encounters, then maybe: (a) you aren't giving them
enough combats, so they are milking each one for as much tactical fun
as possible, and/or (b) they see your encounters as being much tougher
than you do, so that they feel they *have* to go ultra-tactical just
to survive.

--
Erol K. Bayburt
ErolB1@aol.com
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 10:48:37 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Rupert Boleyn wrote:
>> My rule of thumb has become "no encounters with EL < [average party
>> level], and no encounters with more than the party size in monsters".
>> I make exceptions for set-piece encounters, and for the odd 'comedy'
>> piece (the lone goblin highwayman, etc.), but I try to stick to the
>> rule otherwise.

Erol K Bayburt wrote:
> As a player, this would bug the hell out of me. It would make me feel
> like my PC was a wimp, a mook, with the NPCs/monsters being the stars
> of the show. I hate that.

Why would you feel that way? A foe doesn't equal the power of a standard
party of four until EL = APL + 5, at least. By eliminating EL < APL
encounters, he's only removing the serious cakewalks, the foes who stand
absolutely no chance. Unless you're a "party of one," an EL = APL
encounter is still pretty damn easy. They only get challenging after
fighting a few in a row (which is what the game recommends).

> When I play, I want to be the big tough adventurer for whom being
> outnumbered by two or three to one just makes it an even fight.

That depends entirely on the quality of the foe. In my experience,
players find it pretty glamorous even when they outnumber the foe -- if
it's a dragon, an archfiend, etc.

Perhaps you've misunderstood the EL system?
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 12:00:48 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 06:48:37 GMT, "Bradd W. Szonye"
<bradd+news@szonye.com> wrote:

>Rupert Boleyn wrote:
>>> My rule of thumb has become "no encounters with EL < [average party
>>> level], and no encounters with more than the party size in monsters".
>>> I make exceptions for set-piece encounters, and for the odd 'comedy'
>>> piece (the lone goblin highwayman, etc.), but I try to stick to the
>>> rule otherwise.
>
>Erol K Bayburt wrote:
>> As a player, this would bug the hell out of me. It would make me feel
>> like my PC was a wimp, a mook, with the NPCs/monsters being the stars
>> of the show. I hate that.
>
>Why would you feel that way? A foe doesn't equal the power of a standard
>party of four until EL = APL + 5, at least.

Nit. I thought it was EL = APL +4 ? As in a party of 4 fighting its
mirror image was an EL+4 encounter?

>By eliminating EL < APL
>encounters, he's only removing the serious cakewalks, the foes who stand
>absolutely no chance. Unless you're a "party of one," an EL = APL
>encounter is still pretty damn easy. They only get challenging after
>fighting a few in a row (which is what the game recommends).

I wouldn't consider an encounter that's expected to cost 20% resources
to be all *that* easy. It's just enough to feel like a real fight
(which I know is the point).

But if that's the easiest encounter normally found, it gives players -
or at least me - a sense that the party is, not at the bottom of the
food chain but within a stones throw of it. A lot closer to the bottom
than to the top.

If there were plenty of encounters with more monsters than PCs then a
diet of "EL is always APL or higher" might not be so bad. But the
combination of "we're the largest group out there; some are as large
as us, but none larger" and "we're within a step or two of the bottom,
powerwise" is deadly to player morale, IME.

>
>> When I play, I want to be the big tough adventurer for whom being
>> outnumbered by two or three to one just makes it an even fight.
>
>That depends entirely on the quality of the foe. In my experience,
>players find it pretty glamorous even when they outnumber the foe -- if
>it's a dragon, an archfiend, etc.

If the encounter is a big-shot foe, it can feel pretty glamorous
*despite* the party outnumbering it. But a steady diet of such
encounters makes this wear thin.

>
>Perhaps you've misunderstood the EL system?

Could be, but I don't think that's it. I think it's more a matter of
my having a different intrepretation of what a given EL "means" in non
game terms. A half-full vs half-empty glass sort of thing.



--
Erol K. Bayburt
ErolB1@aol.com
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 2:01:17 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Erol K. Bayburt wrote:
> On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 06:48:37 GMT, "Bradd W. Szonye"
> <bradd+news@szonye.com> wrote:
>
> >Rupert Boleyn wrote:
> >>> My rule of thumb has become "no encounters with EL < [average party
> >>> level], and no encounters with more than the party size in monsters".
> >>> I make exceptions for set-piece encounters, and for the odd 'comedy'
> >>> piece (the lone goblin highwayman, etc.), but I try to stick to the
> >>> rule otherwise.
> >
> >Erol K Bayburt wrote:
> >> As a player, this would bug the hell out of me. It would make me feel
> >> like my PC was a wimp, a mook, with the NPCs/monsters being the stars
> >> of the show. I hate that.
> >
> >Why would you feel that way? A foe doesn't equal the power of a standard
> >party of four until EL = APL + 5, at least.
>
> Nit. I thought it was EL = APL +4 ? As in a party of 4 fighting its
> mirror image was an EL+4 encounter?
>

It sort of is, and sort of isn't. EL = APL +4 would be fighting a
party of NPCs of the same level, which normally have worse stats
(unless you are using 25 point buy) and much poorer equipment (except
at 1st lv). EL = APL +5 would be closer to 2 groups of PCs fighting
each other, and may actually be closer to EL = APL +6 due to equipment
differences.

- Justisaur
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 2:27:40 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 20:12:32 GMT, "Bradd W. Szonye"
<bradd+news@szonye.com> carved upon a tablet of ether:

> My own biggest time sinks are spells and gear. I still haven't found
> good shortcuts to either. Working from high-level spells down should
> help a bit, but there's still a lot of work there (especially if you
> want to learn how all the spells actually work before game-time or what
> tactics are appropriate). Here's something that might work: Use high-
> level (CR > APL) spellcasters sparingly, as "bosses" worthy of the extra
> prepwork. Save the write-up, and use it a few levels as standard stats
> for a "mook" (CR < APL) spellcaster. That way, bosses are special --
> their spell lists are unique, at the time -- but mooks are easy to write
> up. Supplement the ex-bosses with published NPCs for more variety in
> your mooks.

My shortcut for arcanists is: use sorcerers. If I'm really pushed for
time I don't write out all their spell slots, but pen them in as they
use them. The trick is to be reasonable about not having the perfect
spell for the situation unless it's consistent with other factors.

> I suppose the same technique could work for gear: Make custom gear lists
> for bosses, use recycled lists and stock characters for mooks. The only
> trouble I see here is that seeing the same gear lists over and over is
> pretty noticeable to the players. Perhaps it'd be a good idea to use a
> stock list for about 50-75% of each gear list, supplemented with random
> treasure rolls or custom picks.

I cheated on this last campaign - I equipped the main enemy with an
army, and had standardised issue equipment for almost everyone in the
army. That way it was entirely reasonable for ten orcish archers to
have something like: 10x CLB (MW, mighty Str18), 10x chainshirt, 10x
battleaxe, 10x... +10d20GP.

--
Rupert Boleyn <rboleyn@paradise.net.nz>
"Just because the truth will set you free doesn't mean the truth itself
should be free."
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 4:22:26 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 23:33:31 GMT, "Bradd W. Szonye"
<bradd+news@szonye.com> carved upon a tablet of ether:

> Anyway, I'd recommend using at least some encounters with lots of weak
> foes, or you're short-changing the Great Cleavers and the AOE blasters.

We had neither in the last campaign, which may have had a lot to do
with why massed foes took so long to play out. The main thing, I
think, is to avoid low-EL encounters unless they'll be over really
quickly.

> Yep, that's the problem I was talking about. We used to have a TWF rogue
> who always rolls his many attacks at once, even on a sneak attack.

Ick.

--
Rupert Boleyn <rboleyn@paradise.net.nz>
"Just because the truth will set you free doesn't mean the truth itself
should be free."
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 4:27:44 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 22:58:15 GMT, "Bradd W. Szonye"
<bradd+news@szonye.com> carved upon a tablet of ether:

> While the old list did save on prep time, it exacerbated the "another +1
> cloak?!" problem, unless you varied the miscellaneous items -- which
> throws out the savings in prep time.

I never had a problem with that - +1 cloaks of resistance, like +1
weapons and armour are pretty basic stuff that's high on any sane
adventurer's list of things to get.

--
Rupert Boleyn <rboleyn@paradise.net.nz>
"Just because the truth will set you free doesn't mean the truth itself
should be free."
Anonymous
August 24, 2005 11:22:30 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Bradd W. Szonye <bradd+news@szonye.com> wrote:
> Justisaur wrote:
>> It's all time sinks. 3.0 I used Tome & Blood web suppliment for
>> wizards spell books, still had to choose the spells prepared though,
>> usually I'd just choose whatever (aka sorcerer) at time of casting.
>
> Yes, sorcerers and psions are a bit easier to prep than wizards: Fewer
> spells known, no need to worry about listing /everything/ in a spellbook
> for PC loot, no separate spell-prep step.
>
>> Yeah I use the DMG tables with the NPC Gear there usually, but it's
>> very noticable "Another +1 Cloak of Resistance?!?!" I prefered 3.0's
>> NPC gear list as they actually had the potions and other expendables
>> which 3.5's doesn't anymore ....
>
> While the old list did save on prep time, it exacerbated the "another +1
> cloak?!" problem, unless you varied the miscellaneous items -- which
> throws out the savings in prep time.
>
> Mixing standard lists with random treasure rolls, as you suggest, is a
> decent idea. I often replace a few items from the pregen lists like
> that, and it might be a good idea to use random rolls for all the
> unspecified extras in the new NPC gear tables.

Consider having standard kits by level, but each kit is probably less
than full value for the level. For each kit include not only the items
in the kit, but the total value and the effects on the character.

This would work really well on index cards, I think (for storage
purposes):


-----------------------------------------
Archer 5-7
7,000

+1 Str bow +3, dex gloves +2


Dex +2, Dodge +1, Attack +2/+4
[gloves]
-----------------------------------------
Light 5-7
3,000

+1 leather armor, +1 short sword


Armor +2, Attack +1/+1
[armor]
-----------------------------------------
Tank 5-7
6,500

+1 full plate, +1 lg steel shield,
+1 bastard sword


Armor +9, Shield +3
[armor, shield]
-----------------------------------------
Healer 5-7
1,800

wand CLW(50), 3 potions CModW,
healer's kit(3*10)

+2 Heal checks
-----------------------------------------

(all kit values estimated; I'd look them up or work them out accurately
'for real')


The nice thing about doing it like this is that you can build the kits
up over time. As you create new characters, make a note of the groups
of gear the characters carry and create new kits. I suspect it adds
maybe a couple of minutes to each new significant character, but can
save a huge amount of time later.

Just select the kits, watch for contradictions and conflicts (shield and
two-handed weapon, two armor bonuses, two suits of armor, etc.). This
is made a little easier by marking both the types of bonuses granted
(makes determining stacking easier) and the body slots used.


I've considered something similar for feats. Define a set of feats and
the order they should be taken in, for the various character types.
Mark the level-based prereqs with each feat (BAB +8, Ftr4, Hide 8+).
Then when you build the character, select feats from the relevant cards.
Your Ftr7 archer will have most of the archery feats easily, your Rog7
archer will taken longer, and your Rgr7 archer will get most of them as
class abilities anyway (assuming he doesn't do the TWF thing).

> I've long toyed with a couple of ideas for managing spell lists;
> something similar might work for gear. The first idea is to break the
> big list into sublists; for example, all of the "cloud" spells, all
> spells with a fire descriptor, all "everyone takes this" spells, and so
> on. When creating a spellbook, you pick a whole sublist at a time. For
> example, a 7th-level wizard might know all of the cloud spells and fire
> spells (up to 4th level), plus all of the "common" spells like /haste/
> and /dimension door./ That should cover most of his available spells
> known; fill in the rest with utility spells.

This is part of why I designed my magic system the way I have. It
groups similar magics, so I can tell pretty easily what he knows.

A Caster9 has a spellcaster level of 9 and can have 12 ranks in class
skills. If he has the Tradition(Albry), and Spell Path(Healing) feats,
for a quick character I can assume he's got Healing 12, Plant 6, and
Strength 6. This means he knows Healing spells up to 6th level and
Plant and Strength spells up to level 3 (yes, you can know spells you
can't cast; this is very useful for spell completion items, which you
can use safely if your caster level is higher than that of the item, or
you have that many ranks in the spell path).

In any case, I know that he almost certainly knows the first 6 spells of
the Healing path (plus some variations), I know he knows the first three
spells of each of the Plant and Strength paths.

(... and if I knew offhand all the spells on those paths were, I'd be
set.)

> The other idea is to group spells by use, rather than by theme. Wizards
> know about four spells of each level, so group spells into four main
> categories (damage, buff/debuff/cure, crowd control, travel/utility),
> and choose one spell of each category for each level. That should
> simplify decisionmaking, albeit not as much as the themed categories
> above.

I like the themed approach better. It's also more flavorful.

You could try to combine them, though. Have each theme provide, say,
two spells at each level, and try to have them be of different
categories. So, your fire make almost certainly has a blastem at each
level, and one spell of each level chosen from one of the other groups
(probably crowd control or travel... though if you're willing to have
the magic type flavor the spell, /dispel magic/ might 'burn the spell').

> I don't think either of those approaches will work perfectly for gear,
> although you could standardize quite a bit (e.g., characters of this
> level will have a +X primary weapon and +X resistance bonus, a +Y suit
> of armor or bracers, a +Z stat bonus, etc.). Leave a bit of
> discretionary gear value for themed lists or random items.

The kits/cards I mentioned above can do something like this, I think.
Because enhancement bonus costs tend to quickly outstrip the value of
the base item, it may be safe to ignore 'details'

-----------------------------------------
Ftr 5-7
13,000

+2 weapon, +1 armor, +2 buff
-----------------------------------------

(value seems high; I haven't checked DMG for expected gear values)

Unfortunately, you still have to work out what these things do -- the
total armor bonus depends on the type of armor, the buff is probably
physical, but could be Str, Dex or Con (each of which has different
effects)... I don't know how much you'd actually save this way.


Keith
--
Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 1:57:43 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Erol K. Bayburt wrote:
>
> I wouldn't consider an encounter that's expected to cost 20% resources
> to be all *that* easy. It's just enough to feel like a real fight
> (which I know is the point).
>
> But if that's the easiest encounter normally found, it gives players -
> or at least me - a sense that the party is, not at the bottom of the
> food chain but within a stones throw of it. A lot closer to the bottom
> than to the top.

Don't you think that's a little childish? I mean, obviously you can't argue with
feelings about what you want to get from the game, and maybe I just don't
understand the attitude since I never identify with my characters. Still, it
seems to me that "heroes" are the people who survive against the odds - and
always fighting tough opponents, and surviving, would seem more like what a hero
does than slaughtering bands of mooks half the time.

--
Christopher Adams - Sydney, Australia
The geek with roots in Hell!
http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/mhacdebhandia/prestigec...
http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/mhacdebhandia/templatel...

Who do you blame when your kid is a - brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese - cat?
Blaming the kids is a lie and a - shame!
You know exactly who's - to - blame:
The mother and the father!
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 1:57:44 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 21:57:43 GMT, "Christopher Adams"
<mhacdebhandia@yahoo.invalid> wrote:

>Erol K. Bayburt wrote:
>>
>> I wouldn't consider an encounter that's expected to cost 20% resources
>> to be all *that* easy. It's just enough to feel like a real fight
>> (which I know is the point).
>>
>> But if that's the easiest encounter normally found, it gives players -
>> or at least me - a sense that the party is, not at the bottom of the
>> food chain but within a stones throw of it. A lot closer to the bottom
>> than to the top.
>
>Don't you think that's a little childish? I mean, obviously you can't argue with
>feelings about what you want to get from the game, and maybe I just don't
>understand the attitude since I never identify with my characters.

Well, we're even, then: I have trouble understanding the attitude of
players who don't identify with their characters. If you don't
identify with your characters, then why *do* you play?

(And to answer your question: No, I don't think my attitude is a
little childish - I think it's a lot child*like* and that's a feature,
not a bug.)

>Still, it
>seems to me that "heroes" are the people who survive against the odds - and
>always fighting tough opponents, and surviving, would seem more like what a hero
>does than slaughtering bands of mooks half the time.

This definition of "heroes" is a pet peeve of mine. I don't agree with
it, but because it is so damn common I avoid the term when I describe
the sort of character I want to play.

Anyway, consistently playing a "hero" by your definition, the common
definition, isn't really possible. If the odds are really against your
character he'll loose and die most of the time - which means he isn't
a hero since he fails to overcome those odds. And if he does regularly
overcome the odds, the odds can't really have been against him - which
means that his "heroism" is really a fraud.

So no, I'm not interested in playing a hero. I'm interesting in
playing a character who is larger-than-life, who is able to kick ass
and take names, who is Just That Damn Good, who can do things that I
cannot, ought not, or dare not do in real life. My character may well
be a do-gooder, or even the sort of fellow who gets admired even by
his enemies.

But he's not a "hero" - he doesn't "beat the odds."

--
Erol K. Bayburt
ErolB1@aol.com
August 25, 2005 1:57:44 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 21:57:43 GMT, "Christopher Adams"
<mhacdebhandia@yahoo.invalid> dared speak in front of ME:

>Erol K. Bayburt wrote:
>>
>> I wouldn't consider an encounter that's expected to cost 20% resources
>> to be all *that* easy. It's just enough to feel like a real fight
>> (which I know is the point).
>>
>> But if that's the easiest encounter normally found, it gives players -
>> or at least me - a sense that the party is, not at the bottom of the
>> food chain but within a stones throw of it. A lot closer to the bottom
>> than to the top.
>
>Don't you think that's a little childish? I mean, obviously you can't argue with
>feelings about what you want to get from the game, and maybe I just don't
>understand the attitude since I never identify with my characters. Still, it
>seems to me that "heroes" are the people who survive against the odds - and
>always fighting tough opponents, and surviving, would seem more like what a hero
>does than slaughtering bands of mooks half the time.

Slaughtering bands of mooks reminds the players that they *are* tough,
which makes the struggle against the tougher opponents even more
poignant.
--
The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out
the conservative adopts them.
Samuel Clemens, "Notebook," 1935

--
Posted via NewsDemon.com - Premium Uncensored Newsgroup Service
------->>>>>>http://www.NewsDemon.com&lt;<<<<<------
Unlimited Access, Anonymous Accounts, Uncensored Broadband Access
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 3:26:04 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 01:27:43 -0500, Erol K. Bayburt
<ErolB1@comcast.net> carved upon a tablet of ether:

> If you have problems with players putting too much tactical planning
> into ordinary encounters, then maybe: (a) you aren't giving them
> enough combats, so they are milking each one for as much tactical fun
> as possible, and/or (b) they see your encounters as being much tougher
> than you do, so that they feel they *have* to go ultra-tactical just
> to survive.

The number of combats tended to be limited by the time taken to
resolve them, not the availability of fights.

As for them being ultra-tactical - if that's their ultra-tactical my
brain's going to rust from lack of use.

--
Rupert Boleyn <rboleyn@paradise.net.nz>
"Just because the truth will set you free doesn't mean the truth itself
should be free."
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 3:35:44 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Erol K Bayburt <ErolB1@comcast.net> wrote:
> Well, we're even, then: I have trouble understanding the attitude of
> players who don't identify with their characters. If you don't
> identify with your characters, then why *do* you play?

For the same reasons as everyone else: role-playing, exploration,
discovery, tactical challenge, socializing, etc.

Note that you needn't identify with a character to role-play it. Not
everyone's a Method actor.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 3:47:57 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Bradd wrote:
>> A foe doesn't equal the power of a standard party of four until
>> EL = APL + 5, at least.

Erol K Bayburt <ErolB1@comcast.net> wrote:
> Nit. I thought it was EL = APL +4 ? As in a party of 4 fighting its
> mirror image was an EL+4 encounter?

Justisaur covered this well.

>> By eliminating EL < APL encounters, he's only removing the serious
>> cakewalks, the foes who stand absolutely no chance. Unless you're a
>> "party of one," an EL = APL encounter is still pretty damn easy. They
>> only get challenging after fighting a few in a row (which is what the
>> game recommends).

> I wouldn't consider an encounter that's expected to cost 20% resources
> to be all *that* easy. It's just enough to feel like a real fight
> (which I know is the point).

EL = APL fights usually seem very easy in my experience, at least when
you're fresh. Typically, that 20% of resources means a couple buff
spells, a couple of attack spells, and a few hit points healed after the
battle -- nothing serious. It's only after two or three of these, when
the damage starts adding up and the cures start running out, that it
seems challenging.

> But if that's the easiest encounter normally found, it gives players -
> or at least me - a sense that the party is, not at the bottom of the
> food chain but within a stones throw of it.

Seriously, I don't know how you'd get that impression, unless you don't
have much experience actually playing in EL = APL fights. They're
equivalent to outgunning your foes four to one. Challenge-wise, it's
trivial; EL = APL is only meaningful from a resource-management point of
view.

>> Perhaps you've misunderstood the EL system?

> Could be, but I don't think that's it. I think it's more a matter of
> my having a different intrepretation of what a given EL "means" in non
> game terms. A half-full vs half-empty glass sort of thing.

In non-game terms, EL = APL means having a four-to-one advantage. I
don't see how you can view that as being "at the bottom of the barrel."
Obviously, the foes are not only weaker, but almost trivially weak.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 6:19:53 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Christopher Adams <mhacdebhandia@yahoo.invalid> wrote:
> Erol K. Bayburt wrote:
>>
>> I wouldn't consider an encounter that's expected to cost 20% resources
>> to be all *that* easy. It's just enough to feel like a real fight
>> (which I know is the point).
>>
>> But if that's the easiest encounter normally found, it gives players -
>> or at least me - a sense that the party is, not at the bottom of the
>> food chain but within a stones throw of it. A lot closer to the bottom
>> than to the top.
>
> Don't you think that's a little childish? I mean, obviously you can't
> argue with feelings about what you want to get from the game, and
> maybe I just don't understand the attitude since I never identify with
> my characters. Still, it seems to me that "heroes" are the people who
> survive against the odds - and always fighting tough opponents, and
> surviving, would seem more like what a hero does than slaughtering
> bands of mooks half the time.

Indeed. Encounters where EL=APL just aren't that hard, unless you start
to overextend. Or Something Goes Horribly Wrong, but those cases are
pretty easy to spot.

Encounters *easier* than that are, from a play perspective, largely a
waste of time. I'll periodically include one just to show how far the
party's come -- this works best when it's close to exactly the same
encounter that gave them trouble earlier.

Apart from that, I mostly gloss over the trivial ones. The PCs don't
get XP for them, but don't lose any hit points, ammunition, spells, or
anything. I once summed up a trip across the Northlands ('uninhabited'
terrain north of the Empire, in reality full of minor dragons and an orc
army that was rampaging its way west... right across the same ground the
PCs were crossing) as "you spend the next month traveling to $nextsite,
obliterating or dodging orc patrols as needed". We could have played it
out, but the typical and expected -- 'realistic', if you will --
encounters just wouldn't have been sufficient challenge.

In short, it's probably pretty safe to assume that *other* things happen
and there are other encounters, but you only bother playing out the
'interesting' ones.


Keith
--
Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 12:48:43 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Erol K. Bayburt wrote:
>
> Well, we're even, then: I have trouble understanding the attitude of
> players who don't identify with their characters. If you don't
> identify with your characters, then why *do* you play?

Now, that is a good question, and I think about it a lot.

First and foremost, I find the *game* enjoyable, on the same level you might
find playing "Axis and Allies" enjoyable. I mean, it's a really good game, with
a level of detail that rewards mastery of the system without mandating it.

Second, I enjoy the story that arises from my character's interaction with the
other PCs and with the setting - both the NPCs in it and the societies and
phenomena that my characters encounter. I like finding out whether or not the
character I've created is capable of achieving their goals, and how they'll cope
with the obstacles thrown in their way.

I guess that, in a way, the "roleplaying" side of the experience (as distinct
from the "game" side) is a game of sorts for me, too. It's just that this is a
game where I set the rules: I determine who my characters are, what they like
and dislike, their values and beliefs. I then play through their lives, seeing
what happens to them and making choices on their behalf the same way I do about
the game-challenges they encounter. I stick to the "rules" - my concept of the
character's personality and goals - and see how well they do in their lives,
enjoying the story that comes up in the process.

I often liken the way I roleplay to acting like a representative of someone
who's absent, but whom I know well enough - and better than anyone else at the
table - to speak for. You know, like when someone asks you what your best friend
would think, knowing that you're the only person who can reasonably answer for
them. It doesn't mean that I pretend to be them, or try to think like they do;
it's just that (having created them) I know exactly what they're like in most
respects, and where I *don't*, when they encounter something I haven't thought
of them having to encounter, I can extrapolate from everything else I know about
them.

Since I don't identify with my characters, I'm not invested in their success -
Hell, I'm not even invested in them being likable or admirable! I'm as happy
playing a blackhearted cunt of a villain as I am a truly noble and worthy hero,
because what matters to me isn't whether or not they succeed in their goals but
what happens to them in the attempt. As long as the story holds my attention,
I'm happy, even if that means failure and pain for the character.

> This definition of "heroes" is a pet peeve of mine. I don't agree
> with it, but because it is so damn common I avoid the term
> when I describe the sort of character I want to play.
>
> Anyway, consistently playing a "hero" by your definition, the
> common definition, isn't really possible. If the odds are really
> against your character he'll loose and die most of the time -
> which means he isn't a hero since he fails to overcome those
> odds. And if he does regularly overcome the odds, the odds
> can't really have been against him - which means that his
> "heroism" is really a fraud.

Well, I would say that heroism lies not in *success* in the face of difficult
odds, but in knowing the odds are stacked against you and *trying* anyway.

> So no, I'm not interested in playing a hero. I'm interesting in
> playing a character who is larger-than-life, who is able to kick
> ass and take names, who is Just That Damn Good, who can
> do things that I cannot, ought not, or dare not do in real life.

I agree with you that this proceeds from a childlike ability to take pleasure in
wish-fulfilment adventures and easy success - and hey, if that's what you enjoy,
you should do it! I would no more want to stop you from doing what you enjoy
than I would want to stop people from reading Tolkien, as little as I might care
for it myself.

I guess I originally posted because it seemed to me that you were saying that
games where every fight is meaningful and tough to win were bad games. I just
think there's more than one way to play this game, and felt like you were
implicitly negating that idea.

--
Christopher Adams - Sydney, Australia
The geek with roots in Hell!
http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/mhacdebhandia/prestigec...
http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/mhacdebhandia/templatel...

Who do you blame when your kid is a - brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese - cat?
Blaming the kids is a lie and a - shame!
You know exactly who's - to - blame:
The mother and the father!
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 12:48:44 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Thu, 25 Aug 2005 08:48:43 GMT, "Christopher Adams"
<mhacdebhandia@yahoo.invalid> wrote:


>I guess I originally posted because it seemed to me that you were saying that
>games where every fight is meaningful and tough to win were bad games. I just
>think there's more than one way to play this game, and felt like you were
>implicitly negating that idea.

I tried to avoid making universal claims about it, just that a game
where "every fight is meaningful and tough to win" whould have
problems *for me* and for a number of other players I know of.

It's something that got discussed from time to time in
rec.games.frp.advocacy, back before that group died. A couple of the
potential problems with "every fight is tough" are:

1. A GMing bias; GMs tend to favor this more than players do, since
the really easy fights can be a lot of fun for the players, but seldom
much fun for the GMs.

2. Glossing over, or worse ignoring, the trivial-easy encounters gives
players a skewed view of how dangerous the world is & how tough the
denizens are. (Example: A party set sail on a ship, and after four
encounters concluded: "We're turning back. Obviously there's a
powerful, unknown enemy gunning for us, and we have to hunt him down
before we can do anything else." In response, the GM went "huh?" It
turned out that the GM was only giving the party the tough &
meaningful fights, ignoring all the easy stuff, and the players drew a
completely reasonable, and completely wrong, conclusion from the data
they were given.)

Now for some game groups these things aren't problems, or aren't
serious problems: Some players find the trivial-easy (EL < APL, or
equivalent) encounters to be un-fun and boring, and are glad to skip
them. But as I said at the beginning, that's something that would bug
the hell out of me.

--
Erol K. Bayburt
ErolB1@aol.com
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 2:07:15 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Bradd W. Szonye wrote:
> Erol K Bayburt <ErolB1@comcast.net> wrote:
> > I tried to avoid making universal claims about it, just that a game
> > where "every fight is meaningful and tough to win" whould have
> > problems *for me* and for a number of other players I know of.
>
> That's understandable, and I've personally gotten frustrated with games
> like the one you described in your article. Also, while I personally
> think it's a good idea to include a good portion of EL<APL encounters --
> see my article "Easy Encounters" for details -- I think EL=APL
> encounters are easy enough to address the particular problem you've
> described.

I've had characters killed by EL=APL monsters before - only one time I
can be sure of, I wasn't really tracking it before. In my last campain
the ranger got killed by a su-monster (psi-handbook web enhancement).
Damn thing nearly killed the entire party, Half the party unconcious
the other half barely a point or two up by the time they beat it. They
were level 5, it was CR 5.

- Justisaur
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 7:41:53 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 23:47:57 GMT, "Bradd W. Szonye"
<bradd+news@szonye.com> carved upon a tablet of ether:

> EL = APL fights usually seem very easy in my experience, at least when
> you're fresh. Typically, that 20% of resources means a couple buff
> spells, a couple of attack spells, and a few hit points healed after the
> battle -- nothing serious. It's only after two or three of these, when
> the damage starts adding up and the cures start running out, that it
> seems challenging.

I've found, aside from the CRs being much more debatable, and dodgy in
the face of odd party composition, at higher levels they are either so
easy you wonder if the monster was worth any XP at all, or so resource
intensive you start wondering if the GM wasn't using an EL>APL
encounter to drain you.

--
Rupert Boleyn <rboleyn@paradise.net.nz>
"Just because the truth will set you free doesn't mean the truth itself
should be free."
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 8:56:43 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Keith Davies wrote:
> Indeed. Encounters where EL=APL just aren't that hard, unless you
> start to overextend. Or Something Goes Horribly Wrong, but those
> cases are pretty easy to spot.
>
> Encounters *easier* than that are, from a play perspective, largely a
> waste of time. I'll periodically include one just to show how far the
> party's come -- this works best when it's close to exactly the same
> encounter that gave them trouble earlier.

Even though a straightforward EL<APL encounter has little effect on the
game -- they are easy to survive and consume very few resources -- they
are important to player morale. That alone justifies the occasional
cakewalk, in my opinion. I agree with Erol that a lack of easy fights
induces frustration or hopelessness in some players; I'm one of those
players.

There's more to encounter difficulty than just EL, however. DMG Table
3-2: Encounter Difficulty lists one "special" difficulty level:

10% Easy EL<APL
20% Easy if handled properly Special
50% Challenging EL=APL
15% Very difficult EL=APL+1 to EL=APL+4
5% Overpowering EL=APL+5 or more

The "easy if handled property" category has always bothered me. The DMG
describes it as an encounter with some kind of "trick," that becomes
easy with a bit of problem solving. However, in my experience, even a
trick won't make an EL<APL very difficult, and anything harder doesn't
really become "easy," even if you beat the trick. I think I've finally
figured out what this category is for.

I've always believed that the original Adventure Path series is a great
tutorial for DMs and players both, as Kerry noted earlier in the thread:
It teaches good adventure design and encourages players to use a variety
of strategies. I'm recently modified "The Forge of Fury" to suit a 5th-
level party, so I paid close attention to the adventure's original ELs.
I noticed that the adventure has a lot of EL<APL encounters, and most of
them do feature some kind of trick. There are traps, lookouts, and foes
behind murder holes or bridges. In all of these cases, the immediate
threat to PCs is still pretty low, but they may suffer greater
consequences than normal for an EL<APL encounter.

Traps eat into the party's supply of rescue and recovery magic --
feather falling, levitation, curing, disease removal, etc. Even
ineffective traps can slow PCs as they start searching likely trap
sites. Lookouts represent a greater threat than their EL, since they can
bring tougher foes to the fight or raise overall security levels. Guard
encounters offer a good spotlight opportunity for PC sneaks. Also, PCs
may burn more buffs and ranged resources than usual to take out the
lookouts quickly. That's especially true for foes behind fortifications,
where mere sneaking may not be an option.

Altogether, these show three major uses for EL<APL encounters: as
morale-boosting cakewalks, as opportunities for PCs to use special
abilities (e.g., trapfinding, stealth, negotiation), and as non-lethal
resource sinks. They present no real immediate threat, but they can
influence the PCs' long-term chances. With that in mind, here's a
different view of Table 3-2:

Rate Encounter Immediate Long-term
10% EL<APL Easy Easy
20% EL<APL + trick Easy Easy to very difficult
50% EL=APL Easy Challenging
15% EL=APL+1 to APL+4 Challenging Very difficult
5% EL=APL+5 or more Very difficult Overpowering

The "immediate" column shows the likelihood of winning the encounter in
isolation. The "long-term" column shows the likelihood of winning when
the PCs are low on resources, and more generally the encounter's
contribution to overall adventure difficulty. In my experience, player
and DM perceptions tend to match the "immediate" column. This often
leads to imbalanced adventure design: The DM cranks up the difficulty,
and the players rely on big alpha strikes and frequent rest breaks. That
exaggerates any intraparty imbalances, makes it harder to use skills and
support abilities, and even creates treasure shortages (because of
quirks in the wealth system). In the long run, I find that it causes
frustration, even among players who prefer a strong challenge.

Instead, I recommend following the DMG guidelines. Rely less on high-EL
encounters and more on tricks and tactics to create challenges. Even
though tricks are individually pretty easy, they encourage players to
use a wider variety of abilities, and they often force extra resource
expenditure, which makes other encounters more difficult. Good enemy
tactics are also important; while DMs vary greatly in tactical ability,
even basic tactics like concentrating attacks can make a big difference.
The DMG notes that a "challenging" (EL=APL) encounter should "seriously
threaten at least one member of the group in some way." Yes, EL=APL
encounters are easy, but they fit that description if your villains
figure out who's most vulnerable to their attacks and then gang up on
that one PC. (Just try to make sure that it's not always the same PC!)
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 8:59:58 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Erol K Bayburt <ErolB1@comcast.net> wrote:
> I tried to avoid making universal claims about it, just that a game
> where "every fight is meaningful and tough to win" whould have
> problems *for me* and for a number of other players I know of.

That's understandable, and I've personally gotten frustrated with games
like the one you described in your article. Also, while I personally
think it's a good idea to include a good portion of EL<APL encounters --
see my article "Easy Encounters" for details -- I think EL=APL
encounters are easy enough to address the particular problem you've
described.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 9:31:43 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Bradd wrote:
>> That's understandable, and I've personally gotten frustrated with games
>> like the one you described in your article. Also, while I personally
>> think it's a good idea to include a good portion of EL<APL encounters --
>> see my article "Easy Encounters" for details -- I think EL=APL
>> encounters are easy enough to address the particular problem you've
>> described.

Justisaur wrote:
> I've had characters killed by EL=APL monsters before - only one time I
> can be sure of, I wasn't really tracking it before.

Sure, that can happen. As Rupert notes, it's especially common at high
levels, where the game tends to a "rock-paper-scissors" effect.
Depending on how your specialties and weaknesses match up to the foes,
an EL=APL encounter can be a killer or a cakewalk. It's also pretty
common at very low levels, where randomness can vary encounter
difficulty quite a lot.

I suspect that if you used nothing but EL=APL encounters, you'd still
have a pretty wide variety of perceived difficulty, just from
randomness, RPS effects, and inaccurate CRs.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 25, 2005 10:44:40 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Thu, 25 Aug 2005 16:59:58 GMT, "Bradd W. Szonye"
<bradd+news@szonye.com> wrote:

>Erol K Bayburt <ErolB1@comcast.net> wrote:
>> I tried to avoid making universal claims about it, just that a game
>> where "every fight is meaningful and tough to win" whould have
>> problems *for me* and for a number of other players I know of.
>
>That's understandable, and I've personally gotten frustrated with games
>like the one you described in your article. Also, while I personally
>think it's a good idea to include a good portion of EL<APL encounters --
>see my article "Easy Encounters" for details -- I think EL=APL
>encounters are easy enough to address the particular problem you've
>described.

Possibly. I'd have to say that #of opponents>#in party is more
important than EL<APL for improving my moral. Also the size of the
opponents: Handily defeating a half-dozen bugbears is better than
defeating the same number of kobolds pumped up to the same CR.

Its the combination of EL>=APL and #oppononents<=#in party that would
really get to me.

OTOH, some players are more sensitive than others to what you call the
"long term" challenge of an encounter. I suspect that I may be one of
the more sensitive ones, and that may be why I see EL=APL encounters
as being more challenging than most players or GMs seem to.

("Easy Encounters" is a great article, by the way. Thanks for writing
it.)


--
Erol K. Bayburt
ErolB1@aol.com
Anonymous
August 26, 2005 5:26:02 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Erol K Bayburt <ErolB1@comcast.net> wrote:
> ("Easy Encounters" is a great article, by the way. Thanks for writing it.)

Thanks!
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.szonye.com/bradd
Anonymous
August 26, 2005 2:20:41 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Rupert Boleyn wrote:
> On Thu, 25 Aug 2005 17:31:43 GMT, "Bradd W. Szonye"
> <bradd+news@szonye.com> carved upon a tablet of ether:
>
> > I suspect that if you used nothing but EL=APL encounters, you'd still
> > have a pretty wide variety of perceived difficulty, just from
> > randomness, RPS effects, and inaccurate CRs.
>
> Once you're at high levels this can easily happen, simply by running
> across things with save-or-die effects. Beholders aren't terribly high
> CR, and that seems correct, but if things go badly (ie they cop the
> arcanist with their disintegrate ray) they can really work over a
> party.
>

Yep, had just that problem with a beholder. It finger of deathed the
party wizard. Real bitch since they didn't have access to magics
required to bring back somone killed by death magic. He had to make a
new character. Sad too, the new character was another wizard, but she
just didn't have the cool personality and history of the first. I wish
I'd tossed in a scroll of True Res in the treasure, but didn't think of
it at the time. It might have seemed a bit contrived though. I'm
firmly a read 'em as they lie DM, and my players appreciate that kind
of game, but once in awhile I'm sorely tempted to do something like
that.

- Justisaur
Anonymous
August 26, 2005 3:51:34 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Thu, 25 Aug 2005 17:31:43 GMT, "Bradd W. Szonye"
<bradd+news@szonye.com> carved upon a tablet of ether:

> I suspect that if you used nothing but EL=APL encounters, you'd still
> have a pretty wide variety of perceived difficulty, just from
> randomness, RPS effects, and inaccurate CRs.

Once you're at high levels this can easily happen, simply by running
across things with save-or-die effects. Beholders aren't terribly high
CR, and that seems correct, but if things go badly (ie they cop the
arcanist with their disintegrate ray) they can really work over a
party.

--
Rupert Boleyn <rboleyn@paradise.net.nz>
"Just because the truth will set you free doesn't mean the truth itself
should be free."
!