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Markdoc last won the day on July 19 2018

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  1. Hi Mark

    Just checking if you are still alive. I think I am but that has yet to be confirmed by a second opinion.


    Planning on yet another Sengoku game - this time using Savage Worlds.




  2. Oh come now, I have always been the meekest and mildest of men Anyway, nice to see all the comments - Old Man contacted me and mentioned this thread, so I thought I would post. I wasn't actually banned back in the day, but Simon did give me a warning about making rude comments in a political thread during the last US presidential elections. I didn't think the comment was terribly out of line, to be honest, but these are Simon's boards, and I appreciated the effort he goes to in maintaining them, so rather than giving offence I said I'd bow out during the elections and come back when things were quieter. That was actually the plan buuut ... you know how these things go. By the time the election was over, I had a new job in a new country, and I was busy with all kinds of stuff (work, and being a tourist, mostly). Then there came another international move, and then we bought an old house that we are doing up, and I was active on other sites .... basically, I kept meaning to drop in, but never got around to it. I'm still gaming regularly and carrying on much as before: hope everything is cool with you guys. cheers, Mark
  3. A couple of points. One of the nice things about Hero is it's not either/or. A character with "Archeology 15-" can exist in the same game as a character with "Mediterranean History, 12-, Etruscan Archeology 12-, Bronze Age Cultures 11-". The first is a knowledgeable generalist, the second a specialist. What type you play depends on the game, your group, their playstyle, and your preferences. Secondly, while as GM, I would be happy with either presentation, I have long used "Professional Skill Modifiers" that function the same way as "Linguist" or "Jack of all trades". They give a -1 to the purchase cost for related skills (basically, it is kind of the "Unified power limitation for skills". That's there so that the skill monkeys who want lots of skills don't get spanked so hard by the cost. Additionally, I have put together for quick games cheap packages with a list of skills and (occasionally) talents and just say "If you want to be an X, just pick 10 points from this list". None of these suggestions to changing skill use are restrictive: a player who wants can design more precisely, but a limited range of choices can be a very good starting point for a new player. cheers, Mark
  4. If they have pay per view AND it's legal to purchase convention delegate votes they could have a ticker running allowing people to bid in on a vote by SMS for their favoured candidate. You know, the more I think about it, that's a perfect match for today's GOP. Decide the candidate by direct purchase! Let the market decide! cheers, Mark
  5. I think you mean, "What about when this becomes a sexbot"? I'm not seeing any tasks for "sexy-looking robot" that are ahead of that in the development process. regards, Mark
  6. In fact, if we loop back to what we were saying earlier about "presentation" these two viewpoints are entirely compatible. Hero system has a basic skill list - but nothing says you need to use any or all of those skills in your game (and in fact in many heroic level games, certain skills are - by default - off the table, because they don't fit the genre). All of these skills are built off the basic mechanism: buy 8- for 1 point, 11- for 2 points, or 9+CHA/5 for 3 points. (Personally, I would like to tweak those numbers, but that's another issue). which you can use to define any skill as broadly or narrowly as you like. There is also the weapon/vehicle FAM rules, and I agree with Vondy that they are an anomaly that adds about zero utility to the game. As it stands, you can spend 20 points on being a superb driver, and not know how to drive a vehicle. So it's entirely possible for a fan publication (or for that matter an official Hero publication) to both be entirely compatible with the core rules, and use a short thematic-based skill list. In my "quick-play" Fantasy Hero mod. I simply let the players choose a 10 point skill package representing their background and called it good: that worked just fine. In the same vein, a GM (or module writer) can say "Here's how we are going to handle skills" and as long as the core mechanism is respected, the outcome will still be entirely Hero-compatible. cheers, Mark Edit: Vondy said basically about the same thing.
  7. A simpler route, which I OK'ed as GM, was to simply use END as written, so that reduced END affected your loss of LTE. My wife's character bought reduced END on her running to get a Conan/Aragorn type who could jog trot all day. While it came up rarely, it was a pleasure for her when it did. I didn't find this to be unbalancing, since in combat situations, it functions like regular reduced END and LTE pops up rarely in most sessions. Cheers, Mark
  8. This is an interesting approach (and is probably good enough for most use) but it shows how hard it is to get a good fit. I agree that an average person should be able to manage more than 2 hours without collapsing But the proposed fix means that Joan the Elder can just about qualify for US Marine Recon: they have to cover 8 miles with a 23 kg pack. She'd be a bit slower than the pace they would like (4 MPH), but she can do 18 miles with that load - which is more than double the distance demanded of potential recruits - and probably about 72x as much as a fit elderly person could reasonably be expected to manage. The problem here is highlighted in the first quoted paragraph. For a normal, being exhausted after two hours brisk walking is clearly too low - but drop the speed just a touch and now they can go all day. A normal who buys up their REC by 1 (for a whole 2 points) could now do that Marine Recon. qualifying run I mentioned, having the stamina to meet both the weight requirement and the speed requirement. 2 points is not a big investment to meet that standard. So the problem is that there is a very fine tipping point in the rules between "too harsh" and "Not harsh enough". For me, the LTE rules on movement + encumbrance work OK, since PCs are almost inevitably superior to normals anyway, and you can reconcile the first example above by simply noting that a normal carrying a load can avoid the LTE penalties by moving a bit slower (which they would anyway) or interspersing periods of brisk walking and slower walking, meaning they can still average near 3 MPH without tiring. I recognise that's not a perfect solution, just a 'good enough' approximation for me. The fact that even for heroic types it can get harsh at the higher end of speed and encumbrance is a feature, rather than a bug, for me. If we wanted a better approximation I would look less at speed, and more at encumbrance - carrying heavy loads really does slow people down and the heavier the load is, the more drastic the effect. To use the example of Jane Heroic above, she's carrying 48 kg (108 lbs for you USA'ians). That's about 25% more than British paratroopers and Royal Marines carried on their famous Falklands Yomp, and she's moving about 50% faster than they did. In operation Resolute Strike in Afghanistan, the US paratroopers carried loads nearly as heavy as Jane's (when you include their weapons and armour) - but some of them had to be medivac'ed due to exhaustion and collapse even during the first day, and movement had to restricted to only a few miles at a time to avoid soldiers collapsing. The failure of Resolute Strike to meet all its objectives was squarely placed on the fact that the paratroopers were expected to move carrying weights that sometimes exceeded 100 lbs ... and they could not sustain that (there's both a DoD report and a book (Making the Soldier Decisive on Future Battlefields) that covers this in detail). So the suggested figures put her out at the very extreme end (or actually a fair bit beyond) what real humans are capable of (though that might not matter for more cinematic heroes). What is striking is that the British paras could move for several days - albeit at a pace of about 3 kph (1.8 MPH) with 36 kg (80 lb) packs, while the US paras (who I don't doubt are every bit as fit and motivated) were slowed to a crawl by 45 kg (100 lbs). Part of that is certainly temperature (it was lot hotter in Afghanistan) but you can find other examples as well - as you approach your lifting capacity, in real life your ability to move drops off dramatically. I haven't run the numbers, but you could perhaps add a penalty for higher percentage encumbrance - =1 at 25-49%, +2 at 50-74 and +3 at 75%+. cheers, Mark
  9. I was thinking more of the fact that most of the levy were buried without armour, though the fact that fragments of iron rings were found with the skeletons suggested that some of them were wearing armor when killed. So the fact that it isn't in the mass graves doesn't mean that it wasn't used. cheers, Mark
  10. Funny, I was thinking about the mass of unarmoured dead at Visby, when I was writing my earlier post, but because I was in hurry didn't note it cheers, Mark
  11. Yeah, it's one reason I said Monte Cook games was a better comparison than FFG. I chose Green Ronin because of M&M obviously. Both make the point - which is that neither Superheroes nor generic rules are an apparent hindrance to sales. cheers, Mark
  12. Not really - there are a few deceased games that looked slick but didn't promote themselves and there are plenty of indiegames that actively promote themselves but don't look slick. FATE, for example has similar design style to 6E Hero system (heck they even both have the whole gorillas and biplanes thing going) which is good enough, but not slick. Presentation and proselytising are both aspects of getting people to want a thing, but they are different ways or, perhaps more accurately, different stages of the process. cheers, Mark
  13. That's all true ... which is why the warriors at Tollenses were shooting flint arrows at each other, while their contemporaries in Assyria or Mycenae* were wearing heavy armour, building seige weapons and shooting bronze-tipped arrows at each other. By that stage - around 1200 BC - there were already armies with large numbers of armoured troops in the mediterranean era. They weren't - as far as we can tell - the bulk of the army, but neither were they rare, or all nobility, apparently numbering in the hundreds if not thousands in the Assyrian armies that were destroying the Hittite empire around the time this battle happened. Edit: this should not be taken to mean that none of the warriors at Tollenses werewearing metal armour - bronze armours are found in burials of the Urnfield culture, which stretched across central Europe at this time. It's just that this far north, armour was probably much rarer than in the mediterranean cultures. Such valuable armour is unlikely to have been left on the battlefield. cheers, Mark *This is a reconstruction of the so-called Dendra armour, known to us from one complete set, several parts for other sets and some illustrations - all dating from 1-2 centuries before the battle at Tollenses. You can read some notes and se ethe photos done by some reconstructors here. I'd take much of what they write with a grain of salt, since a lot of it is speculation, but the armours depicted are all based on real remains.
  14. I think that what Tasha meant is that if you are not a major player, you won't see the kind of funding that TSR had in the old days, though to be honest, even that is underestimating the real market considerably. To put it in perspective, TSR back in 1996 - the year of peak sales - had fewer than 100 full time employees (not all on RPGs, though), compared to Pathfinder today, which has a bit over 40. Add in the more than 300 WoTC guys (again not all, nor mostly, on RPGs, but still) and their version of D&D, and there seem to be about the same number or more people employed full time on D&D at big gaming companies than there were in the old days. So there are decent-sized companies with full time employees putting out regular product .... for D&D. Plus ça change .. Given the diversity of the market (and what we can see of sales figures) D&D is still the 800lb gorilla, but its sales actually appear to be a significantly smaller % share of the market than they were in the mid 90's, even though they now appear to be larger in nominal dollar terms. We are really just guessing when it comes to market share, but for the sake of understanding this, it's not terribly relevant if the rest of the market is 30% or (my guess) 50%. Because what has really changed is the number of people in that space. When I started gaming in the early 80's there were - literally - fewer than a dozen gaming companies publishing material. By the mid-90's, that had grown many-fold. Exactly how many, I don't know, but Steve Jackson estimated more than 50. But I just did a quick google search and stopped counting RPG publishing companies after 300 ... Lucius is right - everybody and his brother's dog is in the vineyard, publishing RPGs, these days. To thrive in this space, a company has to be able to offer something that people really want to buy, because one thing is unmistakably clear, which is that the market is far more competitive than it used to be. But you know what? In this space, there are 'not D&D' companies that are thriving, so it can be done. To take a random example off the top of my head, Fantasy Flight Games has (according to their company profile) between 50 and 200 employees and booked 41 million USD in sales in 2014 (that's the last year of sales before they were acquired). They do more than RPGs, but they have a regular release schedule for their RPG line over recent and coming months (and they produce gorgeous books ... drool). So ... there are actually also companies with full time jobs putting out regular releases in the 'not D&D' space as well. As an aside, that's why I don't buy the "shrinking market" argument: once you actually start looking at the individual players who are successful you realise how much product they are moving and how much money they are making. It's a lot ... If all that's true - and it really does seem to be, because otherwise the numbers are impossible to explain - then there is clearly space for companies to thrive in today's RPG market. So, I ask again - why not Hero? I asked three times, and didn't get an answer, so here's my guess If we look at a publisher that is not games + RPGs, but are focused on RPGs, like Green Ronin or Monte Cook Games, you get a more direct comparison to Hero. Both started as single person companies: now Green Ronin has 12 employees, Monte Cook has 8. Both are apparently doing well, with comments about increasing sales - both appear intermittently on IcV2's top 5 sales, which tracks the sales of physical product via shops, confirming the sales talk from the companies. These companies (and they are not unique) are yet more counter-arguments to the 'shrinking market' shtick: there were damn few gaming companies other than TSR and WoTC employing more than a 2-3 people 20 years ago. Now there are quite a lot. So let's look at what they have in common. First off, slick production. Their websites look good, their product looks good. I don't care for their gaming systems, but I kind of want to buy their stuff anyway, for the same reasons I buy art books. Second, multiple products. This allows them (I believe) a broader customer base and a staggered release schedule for different products (which means a continuous revenue stream). I'm pretty sure the same people are not playing "No Thank You, Evil!" and The Strange. There is probably a fine line between too many products and not enough, but they seem to be straddling it comfortably. Third, they actively market their games and themselves, both with physical product and online. Fourth, both lay heavy focus on their gaming worlds, not their gaming system. Nobody bought Numenera because they desperately wanted a game with a dice pool mechanic, or Dragon Age because they wanted another SAGA-system style game. No, they bough the books (in large quantities for the latter) because they wanted to play in those game worlds. Thereafter they diverge - Monte Cook has their own lines and concentrates on that, apart from some side work for D&D. Green Ronin has a number of well-known licenced brands (which appear to be among their best sellers) as well as their own lines. That suggests that there is not just one way to be successful. Now there's one thing about the gaming market which has always been an issue (other markets, like software, have the same problem) which is that you are selling a non-consumable product. Once the customer has bought your product they don't need to buy it again. Your only revenue stream is either upgrades (new editions) or add-ons (modules, adventures, figures, etc). You can see this effect in sales figures. When Green Ronin brought out the M&M RPG, for example, it swiftly pushed up into the top 5 by sales ... but then disappeared (remember these are only sales through brick and mortar gaming stores - online sales are still apparently OK) once the people who wanted the game had actually bought it. You can see this effect with almost all the games, where new editions provoke a spike in sales, which then subside. Why do I bring this up? Because Hero games has one product: the Hero rules system, and produces relatively few add-ons (Genre books, modules). That, just by itself, puts them into a difficult place. Add to that the problem I mentioned before: that the rules are presented in a form that is not accessible to starting GMs and players, plus the fact that visually the books just don't compare to those from the more successful companies (thus giving the noobie GM even less reason to even pick it up and open it. Last of all, there is no compelling setting to encourage people to even try. Almost all of the people I know who play Hero system were introduced to somebody who was already playing it - there is no easy entry path. To take one example, I really liked the concept of Tuala Morn. I'm a sucker for larger than life Celtic heroes (Just thinking about it, I feel like I'd like to run that kind of game, now). But in terms of production values, it was - honestly? - pretty horrible. You had to actually want the book in advance to pick it up and buy it (Note: I bought it anyway). In terms of content it was a good, solid Celtic legend-based RPG setting, though I have to admit I was hoping for something more epic. I felt like I wanted this and I got this. Not terrible, by any definition. Just not something that said from the first page "Oh god, I want to play this" Without an easy entry path and the visceral pull of "You want to play this game" from the outset, the current situation does not surprise me - in fact, it seems more or less inevitable. Buuut ... there is a patch of light, The fact that Hero games is still here and we are discussing this at all is, to my mind because the game system itself is incredibly robust - probably the best simulationist rule set we have. So I think there *is* a bigger market for it ... if it were marketed and packaged to make entry to the system easier. I am pretty sure that presenting it in the same style as it's been the last decade or so is not going to change anything. cheers, Mark
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