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A Thread For Random RPG Musings


tkdguy
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On 9/26/2020 at 7:51 PM, assault said:

I'm currently "contemplating" a Sword and Sorcery game, and I'm stuck on how magic works. More specifically, how magic works at a PC level.

 

My general thoughts are:

 

1. Everyone uses magic all the time. When you get up in the morning, you are likely to put on your amulets and/or say your prayers even before you put on pants (or whatever).

 

2. This magic has a real impact on life and society. It covers things like crop yields, maternal and infant mortality, whether or not a wound becomes infected, and a whole host of other things.

 

3. At the same time, its effects at the game system level are negligible, and can be ignored. Essentially they are either minimal, or cancel out. Example: in a fight, each side is likely to be blessed by a priest or similar, who will also lay curses on the other side. So each combatant will be at +1 to hit from the blessing, and -1 to hit from the other side's curses, giving a net effect of +0.

Rather than figure this out each time, it's easier simply to ignore the whole thing. Any slight advantage one side has can be treated as part of the luck of the dice.

 

4. Of course, there is magic that can't be treated this way, which brings us back to the original starting point.

 

5. On a strategic/diplomatic/political level, magic operates as something like an intelligence service. It gathers intelligence, influences minds and opinions, can carry out sabotage and assassinations, and mobilize proxy/ally forces. It can also be negated by the enemy's countermeasures.

The last reason is why conventional means to similar ends are typically used in parallel.

 

6. But how does the previous point scale down to the "tactical squad"/individual level? In part, I suppose, the roles listed above can be reflected in available spells...

 

7. Magic isn't artillery.

You're kinda describing Runequest, though, with a more down low style. You might look at the metric f-ton of free stuff for more ideas.

On 10/6/2020 at 4:17 PM, Ragitsu said:

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How do you find that groove between giving out too much treasure and being too stingy with the material (and, often, magical) wonders of the world? I always worry about this until the moment of truth.

I tend to give big eye popping gobs of treasure, then have taxes, bandits and relatives take it away. Sort of like the real world. Lol

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On 10/10/2020 at 10:00 PM, tkdguy said:

Has anyone ever played in an Arthurian campaign? I've never played Pendragon, but King Arthur and several of his knights were written up in Deities & Demigods/Legends & Lore book.

 

I have years ago and we had a great time.  We had all read the books such as Howard Pyle's Men of Iron and Mary Stewart’s trilogy (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment) as well as the classics about King Arthur and the Round Table.

 

And most importantly we saw the movies like MGM’s 1952 Ivanhoe, Universals 1952 The Black Shield of Falworth and the Warner Brothers 1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood.  They may not have been “realistic” and portrayed a cinematic Hollywood adventure take on it, but they were a lot of fun clicked right into roleplaying adventure. 

 

Great times.

 

We tried again in the early 2000’s and it was a disaster.  No one had even heard of the source material and of course reading is just not done today, especially “novels”.   Everyone was all about “da loot’in” and “da a’kill’in”. 

 

Oh, well I can remember the good times….

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1 hour ago, tkdguy said:

Someone on the OD&D forums mentioned that the Arthurian legends have fallen out of favor with the fantasy crowd. Sad, as Le Morte D'Arthur was one of my inspirations when I was growing up. The other two were Bulfinch's Mythology and The Silmarillion

 

Well I blame it on general lack of reading (and reading comprehension) plus the overwhelming contamination of RPG’s by computer gaming’s so called CRPG’s and their “cheat codes” and “walk throughs”. 

 

Game’dom is rife with “discussions” of how the purpose of a GM/DM is simply player fulfillment and to basically let them run wild with lots of don’ts.   As a DM/GM you can NEVER have the PC’s face capture or defeat.  You should never actually have a storyline or even imagine that the players stick to the game they agreed to play.  Basically GM/DMs are servant drudges for the munchkins of gaming and one I simply reject as idiocy.

 

It is really sad and a real blow to RPG’s. 

 

I only game with a small circle of players now and my demo/con games had really fallen off even before Covid.  I had planned to restart demo’s this year, but that kinda stalled….

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13 minutes ago, Spence said:

 

Well I blame it on general lack of reading (and reading comprehension) plus the overwhelming contamination of RPG’s by computer gaming’s so called CRPG’s and their “cheat codes” and “walk throughs”. 

 

Game’dom is rife with “discussions” of how the purpose of a GM/DM is simply player fulfillment and to basically let them run wild with lots of don’ts.   As a DM/GM you can NEVER have the PC’s face capture or defeat.  You should never actually have a storyline or even imagine that the players stick to the game they agreed to play.  Basically GM/DMs are servant drudges for the munchkins of gaming and one I simply reject as idiocy.

 

It is really sad and a real blow to RPG’s. 

 

I only game with a small circle of players now and my demo/con games had really fallen off even before Covid.  I had planned to restart demo’s this year, but that kinda stalled….

 

I've had players like that. But as a friend and fellow GM said, that's not their call. Players seem to forget that the GM is supposed to have fun too. Letting the players run amok and tear the GM's hard work apart isn't fun for the GM.

 

I've taken a hard line with some people, reiterating that I as the GM have the final say, so don't wave the *bleep*ing rulebook at me. That's unfortunate, and I don't like having to do it, but sometimes it just can't be avoided.

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6 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

The number of times I have heard that one right here on this board is shocking. 

 

It's really a shocker when discussing supers. 

 

But I employ the trope in any genre as appropriate.  By appropriate I mean when it follows the story and serves a purpose in the story.  It's hard for heroes to stage a dramatic rescue or equally dramatic escape if the concept of capture is off the table.

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  • 5 months later...

Eventually I did get around to sorting out how I wanted to handle magic. It just needed me to design a completely different game... I just casually blurted out the magic system I wanted all along.

 

The end result is that magic is essentially irrelevant on a tactical level without preparation.

 

Funnily enough, my old mad idea of using Justice Inc to run a Pulp Fantasy game would work just fine with this. Basically, magic and JI Weird Talents are pretty close to the same thing.

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On 10/12/2020 at 2:43 AM, Ragitsu said:

One of my favorite DM/GM perks: I get to concoct completely off-the-wall names for my Non-Player Characters and the players have to say these names :yes:.

 

For a while all my characters had names that meant "b*st*rd" in some other (real world) language.

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On 10/19/2020 at 12:33 AM, tkdguy said:

Here's one way to handle fog of war.

 

 


     Wouldn’t it be easier to cover the page in post-it notes and move or remove them as the team moves through the dungeon?

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1 hour ago, Cancer said:

 

For a while all my characters had names that meant "b*st*rd" in some other (real world) language.

 

PCs (as you, the player) or NPCs (as you, the GM/DM)?

 

Anyhow, these days, I keep open an instance of Wordpad on this computer and fill it up with names as they come to me.

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11 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

In the generally pejorative sense, or specifically referring to legitimacy?

 

Both; English is not the only the language where the word has multiple meanings.  I also used words where b*st*rd was a free translation.  E.g., Kuni Bakayaro was a Legend of the Five Rings character.

 

10 hours ago, Ragitsu said:

 

PCs (as you, the player) or NPCs (as you, the GM/DM)?

 

Anyhow, these days, I keep open an instance of Wordpad on this computer and fill it up with names as they come to me.

 

Again, both.  Though more recently I have returned to an old practice, giving my GM NPCs names of real-life people in my own past (whom no one but me in the game knows or has heard of), and I use my memory's version of that person (augmented by game-world details, obviously) to interact with the PCs.

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3 hours ago, Cancer said:

Again, both.  Though more recently I have returned to an old practice, giving my GM NPCs names of real-life people in my own past (whom no one but me in the game knows or has heard of), and I use my memory's version of that person (augmented by game-world details, obviously) to interact with the PCs.

 

That works well if your pool of past associates are a diverse bunch. Most of the people I knew had bog standard surnames such as Clark or Steele, though a few - such as Clague or Shuspanov - stand out. I was once familiar with a girl that possessed the maiden name of "Fahnestock", which I still find to be quite interesting (in fact, I've tucked it away in my back pocket for a mildly geeky NPC).

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On 4/1/2021 at 1:28 PM, Ragitsu said:

 

That works well if your pool of past associates are a diverse bunch. Most of the people I knew had bog standard surnames such as Clark or Steele, though a few - such as Clague or Shuspanov - stand out. I was once familiar with a girl that possessed the maiden name of "Fahnestock", which I still find to be quite interesting (in fact, I've tucked it away in my back pocket for a mildly geeky NPC).

 

Yeah, and it works better if you're approaching 65 years old and moved a lot during the first half of that, which definitely augmented the pool in my case.

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The alternative is that the more points drained, the longer it takes to get them back.  The last one recovered takes a day; the next-to-last one recovered takes 5 days?  Then 10 days for the 3rd from last one?  So if you get really drained, you could be weeks in recovery.

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4 hours ago, Cancer said:

The alternative is that the more points drained, the longer it takes to get them back.  The last one recovered takes a day; the next-to-last one recovered takes 5 days?  Then 10 days for the 3rd from last one?  So if you get really drained, you could be weeks in recovery.

 

Nice idea! May I quote you on that one?

 

Another alternative would be draining a random ability. So you can lose INT with the first hit, and CHA with the next. Make the drain permanent if you want to be mean about it. But if the loss is permanent, the players will likely consider the level drain the lesser of two evils.

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By all means quote me (or take ideas unattributed).  Just be aware that these aren't really game-tested or fully thought through.

 

I think the mechanics of loss and recovery are choices that go with your campaign tone, rules set, and story arc.  I tend to prefer an escalating recovery time mechanic especially in a campaign where game-world date matters (i.e., that events are driven by the GM story arc, not by PC actions, at least for early-stage character development).  Having a character lose a season after getting chewed up badly by a wraith could well be an appropriate thing, if that's the only way the menace of Bluudpuul Swamp is going to be neutralized, even though such an outcome does mean that character is hors de combat during the Siege of Port Starboard.  That sort of thing also can be used as a GM plot device, pushing PCs into the position of having to step up and deal with opposition they don't feel they can handle because they're the best figures left after costly victories.  If you have players who like to think on multiple levels (e.g., all of personal technique in single combat, AND battlefield operational tactics, AND theatre-wide resource allocation and deployment strategy) this is a way to engage those multiple levels of thinking.

 

An alternative to escalating recovery times from a single fight is that recovery time increases with repeated affliction of the same type of wound.  This is sort a "lingering evil" idea for some kinds of monsters.  In this style, then the first time the wight bites you, you get over it quickly with the innocence of untainted youth.  But weeks, months, or years later, the next such recovery takes longer because you can never really undo the old corruption.  This provides a game-world reason why novice heroes get pushed out to fight the undead (or whatever does this sort of thing): the experienced ones have had to recover before and know that if they get wounded again the recovery would take a long time.

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I've developed a few preferences with regards to miniatures and terrain over the years.

 

Miniatures: I used to be more enthusiastic about painting miniatures. I prefer metal miniatures, but I'm okay with plastic. I hate resin with a passion; they are so difficult to paint without a spray primer (which I avoid because of environmental issues). Pre-painted miniatures are a good choice, since my eyesight has gotten worse over the years.

 

Bases: I've never liked the slotta bases GW introduced, but I had to put up with them since there were miniatures I wanted. I much prefer integral bases, which I just paint green and leave it at that (I'm old school). I don't enjoy basing, so I avoid that. I now prefer clear bases, which I usually order from Litko. They're great for rebasing Heroclix miniatures. People either love or hate clear bases it seems; I'm in the first camp. I also prefer thinner bases, as I don't like the miniatures hovering over the ground.

 

Terrain: I use a mix of 2D and 3D terrain, depending on my needs. I've bought a few pieces and crafted others. For some reason I don't like mixing materials (other than glue and paint) when I build terrain. So I build everything in cardboard or foam, but so far I haven't built anything mixing both materials.

Battle Maps: I'm okay with grids, but lately I've been looking at gridless options. 

 

I once ran a game that uses a gridless map, miniatures with clear bases, and 3D terrain. That's my preferred combination at this time.

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