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  1. In the Norse myths, giants are portrayed as elemental beings of chaos and change. The Norse gods themselves are a representation of order, kind of forcing themselves onto the universe. There's not a lot of "rampaging giants" in Midgard, it is mostly gods seeking out trouble with the giants. Taking items of power, looking for a fight. In fact, on numerous occasions, the powers of the giants are a match for the gods. Taking the previous idea of a race in decline, humans would represent that same ordering force as the gods in the sagas. And yeah, the giants might very well be hell bent on tearing down that order (in general) due to that slow advance. But, being chaotic beings by nature, they don't really play nice in groups. Which is a societal weakness that might be contributing to their decline. You might find them in places that are strong in elemental energies. Places not so hospitable to (human) life. Tops of mountains, the desert, maybe even some parts of the inland sea you mentioned. It could be they lose some power when ranging too far from those places because humans have supplanted them in places of power elsewhere. The chaotic elemental energies were "tamed" by humans, as it were. Just some rambly thoughts way too early in the morning when I can't get back to sleep.
  2. First an observation. There are many players that do not enjoy failing at something that is supposed to be their characters schtick. When shooting a fireball at an enemy, they want to know that they can rely on that ability, and wouldn't even take RSR if it wasn't required by the game rules. To them, failing that roll is "Not Fun". This same thing happens with people who don't want to miss in combat. To that player, missing in combat makes the game "Not Fun". There is nothing necessarily wrong with this mindset. It is simply a different way to play. I posit, that if this is an issue in your game, then you might need to sit down with the players and have a discussion about tone, genre conventions, and what everyone expects out of the game. Now, that being said, there are a couple things you can do system-wise to reinforce this. You could enforce all, some or none of these suggestions as fits your particular magic build. I will echo from above, enforce your Skill Maxima. If the player wants to run the skill up, well, that's how they want to play. Remove RSR as a limitation (a -0 mandatory limitation). It is just "how magic works" and there is no expectation of getting points back. Set magic ranks that ramp up the skill cost more aggressively as the AP goes up. AP 1-20 gets -1/20, 21-40 gets -1/10, 41-50 -1/5, etc. If you want to tax the mage a little more, make them pay for access to each rank. And probably more options. This is getting kinda long.
  3. Yeah, even a Mage game with the dominant paradigm suffered from Paradox. They did well in that regard.
  4. I dare say, D&D at this stage is trying to emulate itself!
  5. Perhaps brevity worked against me. It would be more accurate to say "objective balance is a myth". Each play group (or GM) will pick the system that matches best with the play goal they are looking for. There are obviously a ton of people that find the setup and genre assumptions inherent in D&D to be to their liking. I pick the system I run my games in based on the goal of the game (and the comfort level of my players, who are incredibly patient with me and phenomenal roleplayers). Each system is balanced differently and does things with different assumptions. To get back towards the character concept issue, I typically pitch my game to the players, usually with a system or two in mind, and we figure out how they want to play it. Basic character conception. Then we use the system that best emulates our desired ends. Usually one of the systems I had in mind, but I've been surprised on occasion. It has never been D&D 5e, but it has been 4e, oddly enough. Agreed on the concepts 5e (any "e") fails on is more complex magic users. Never been a huge fan of "vancian" magic.
  6. I concede the LotR argument. I meant simply to illustrate that such a construct could be viable, and you confirmed one potential means of doing it. Even Hero taken straight up doesn't really lay down a hard and fast attempt at balance and doesn't do the best indicating that it is something the players need to work out (GM being a player as well). LotR is like playing with all the lethality options running. Good, till you mess up, then the character gets their name in the dead book. It does make sense given the nature of combat/war, particularly in the age of swords. In the middle of a battlefield taking a hit to an arm could likely mean your death. Plus the whole story as allegory makes that perspective take on a little more meaning.
  7. That's fair. Everything I heard about Awakening made me avoid acquiring anything from it, even the fluff. I've heard Mage 20th was the best of both worlds, but that was the only day I missed when WW gave away a pdf a day for a week. Damn my luck. I guess that means I would tend to prefer/run a hidden world style urban fantasy. With the exception of a monster of the week style game. Love Supernatural, don't know that I would want to play in it.
  8. Well, there's a couple of things that I feel need some adressing. First, as gamers, there's a tendancy to search for that idea of "game balance". But it's kind of a myth. In a class-based system, there will always be unbalancing class structure. In a points-based system, who's to say that a skill is worth Xd6 damage? Ultimately, we choose a system that reflects the personal goal that we are looking for. Secondly, since balance is a myth, we must accept that there will be unbalance and allow choices by players that serve the fiction. The party in LotR is totally viable. If the hobbit players choose to start the game with 8 levels in Peasant (to match the 8 levels of Ranger, or Fighter of the other characters) because they want to play the story arc of that development, why stop them? The players going in should know that there is a good chance the characters will die. If given the framework of the adventure the players should know what their choices mean. The much maligned Rifts is a system that accepts this lack of balance and designs classes based on what they conceptually do, not some idea of balance. The players and GM decide what to allow or not based on the needs of the fiction they are trying to create. Third, (and last, cause this is getting long) a lot of the strife with character concept is the failure to conceive at appropriate scale. Level using systems inherently imply a nobody to somebody progression. If the players want to play at a higher scale, then starting level should be higher. That failure to scale appropriately is where a lot of failure to meet concept comes from. I have more to say, but I'll let that stand for a bit.
  9. I've alway been a big fan of the Mage: the Ascension setting. The push and pull on the fight for consensus. The gray of the right and wrong of belief. It's ripe with built in conflict. But the Storyteller system itself, not the biggest fan. I've played around with a Fate based conversion, but it ends up looking very similar to Dresden Files magic. I guess this was kind of my impetus towards running my all-mage Hero game (in which I used the Fate/Dresden world building methods with the group in session 0).
  10. I'm of a mind to agree with the suggestions replacing Wealth with Agriculture or Nature. The "sky" deity is a long enduring mythological archetype and having an earth based deity to balance it out is equally as common. If I were going religion as a theme, I would just delete the last chaos deity entirely and make a show of there being a missing deity. When the players make that connection (after throwing a truck load of clue-by-fours at them) and ask about it, I would smile and say "Huh, interesting, I wonder why that is." When they damn well know I planned it all out. Then I would let the players do my work for me and figure out what deity it was over the course of the game. Maybe trying to stop someone from unleashing a locked away deity or some such. There is also a book of petty gods out there. I think it's on drivethru free or pwyw. Just my thoughts.
  11. I love making my own maps as well. I'm hitting that "little time to make stuff" phase again, so I'm borrowing a lot. I hope you have fun and enjoy yourself!
  12. In a frontier type setting, you actually wouldn't be likely to find much in the way of walls/fortifications surrounding a village. Building that kind of wall with such a small population would be incredibly time and resource heavy. Every bit of time you spend on that is time not spent improving your own lands and home. What's more likely is the town scattered around a fort on a nearby hill, with the populace retreating to the fort when the alarm sounds. The advantage of this for your case would be using those undefended village maps and then grabbing a separate fort map that is "nearby". Pre-existing maps and a logical reason for it to be that way.
  13. I agree with this. If it isn't really expected to impact play, there's no need to even pay points for it, let alone write it up. If the fief is where you go when you unwind after an adventure and gear up for the next and move on, why bother with more than naming it, say it's home, and leave it at that? As fans of the system, we tend to think in terms of "how do I write this up in the rules", when the reality is, sometimes you don't.
  14. This comes back to an EGO roll type situation. But it's brilliantly simple.
  15. Yeah, I wouldn't want to make it too complicated either. I love the chart and all the math that went into it though. I think I would be inclined to add a roll of 3 gives 1/2 END cost (cause players love that moment of awesome), chuck the limitation, and say "this is just an effect of how magic operates in this world".
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