Thursday, March 22, 2018

Warning: Post May Offend Some Readers

I'm not kidding. This is the post wherein I will likely hurt some feelings. I may even loose some of the readership I have left. I hope not, but there's something I'm tired of, so here we go.

In this country we have gone so far in our collective desire to not offend fringe groups that we (almost) de facto vilify any opposing views. I want to address two specific cases in point, where this intersects with gaming.

Point #1 - The Objectification/Exploitation of Women

There are some fairly vocal folks in this hobby, curiously enough, mostly men, who decry women in fantasy game art being displayed in provocative ways. I have read reviews where the reviewer wouldn't recommend an otherwise good product simply because there was a bare female midriff on page 132 and a glimpse of cleavage on page 243. Bared and oily skin is a traditional trope of much of the imagery associated with fantasy gaming. It isn't strictly necessary, look at Lord of the Rings. But sometimes it does add to the experience. There's a reason they tapped Arnold to play Conan and Sandal Bergman to play Valeria. It wouldn't have been the same with Mike and Molly.

A quick glance to the right will show you where my gaming head is most of the time (ADD not withstanding). There's plenty of cheesecake AND beefcake in C&C. I love all of it. It's funny to me that the same people that rail against the cheesecake don't seem to have a problem with the beefcake. They'll sometimes  comment about it, but will rarely, if ever, allow beefcake to factor into their review.

Here's a couple of examples from C&C that I like:

Finally, I want to say to anyone who is offended by the objectification of women in fantasy roleplay art: They're drawings and paintings. They are not real women. No one was objectified in the making of this post.

Point #2 - Traditional Values

I'm a Southern Conservative, in case that wasn't already obvious. I'm not a narrow-minded bigot, but I do have my opinions, views, and values. I was having another ADD dalliance with D&D5 recently, when I discovered this little nugget:

You don ’t need to be confined to binary notions of sex and gender. The elf god Corellon Larethian is often seen as androgynous or hermaphroditic, for example, and some elves in the multiverse are made in Corellon’s image. You could also play a female character who presents herself as a man, a man who feels trapped in a female body, or a bearded female dwarf who hates being mistaken for a male. Likewise, your character’s sexual orientation is for you to decide.

PHB pg 121

Firstly, I'm fairly certain that anybody with enough imagination to play D&D in the first place could figure this out. Even if they were a little unsure of things going in, by the time they get to page 121 in the character creation process, they should have a handle on the notion that they can imagine pretty much any character they want to.

It just pisses me off that we are nearly constantly exposed to the notion that these fringe groups (population-wise) get so much damn play in our society. "Call Bruce Jenner a hero" "Use whichever bathroom you want to" "Make me a cake or I'll sue." Of course, if you're more about traditional values, or even the concept of liberty that grants you the right to your own opinions, you're a narrow-minded bigot.

Why do these things get exclusive coverage anyway? Why are there no lines about settling down and starting a family the old-fashioned way? And that crap about Corellon Larethian is MADE UP. And, by the way, what kind of game are the designers expecting people to run where sexual orientation even matters?

Bottom line: Our youth are constantly exposed to "alternative lifestyles" without any counterpoint for traditional lifestyles. Bruce Jenner is not a hero. He's a guy that ingested large doses of estrogen and put on a dress. He didn't save a life or help found this country. This country was founded by men who weren't afraid to be men and do man shit. George Washington didn't have a sex change and Thomas Jefferson didn't have two mommies. If somebody wants to transgender or be gay, then go for it. Just don't vilify me when I don't want to assaulted with it morning, noon, and night.

Monday, January 8, 2018

An Old School Critical Hit Table

I have become rather enamored of Swords and Wizardry Continual Light. I've always had a soft spot for S&W, it being my first retro clone. Anyway, I totted up what I think (hope) is a suitable system for critical hits for SWCL, or any other suitably old school iteration of our favorite game.

If damage roll is a natural “6”, roll on critical hit table. If you have no damage bonus, roll d6. If damage bonus (from any/all sources) is +1, roll d8. If +2, roll d10, and if +3 or greater roll d12. If damage bonus is -1, roll d4. If -2, roll d3, and if -3, roll d2.

1    Gain initiative on THIS opponent next round.
2    This opponent is -1 “to-hit” vs you next round.
3    +1 damage from this attack.
4    +1 “to-hit” on this opponent next round.
5    Immediate free attack on this opponent.
6    Starting next round, opponent suffers 1 point of damage at beginning of round.
7    Opponent off balance, loses ability to act next round.
8    Add “to-hit” bonus total to damage from this attack.
9    Opponent prone. -2 AC and must spend next round getting up. Or crawling away.
10  Starting next round, opponent suffers 2 points of damage at beginning of round.
11  Roll additional damage die. If this roll is natural “6”, roll on Critical Table again. Damage                    modifiers do not apply to the additional damage die, nor to an additional roll on this table.
12 Brutal injury. Opponent suffers -1 to any stat of attacker's choice. This damage requires 6 months       to heal naturally. This can be reduced by 2 weeks per casting of Cure Wounds I of per use of               Healing Potion. It may be reduced by one month per casting of Cure Wounds II.

Additional Combat Notes

Magic weapons no longer add their bonus “to-hit”. Instead they add their bonus to the wielder's level. Depending on class and level, this may mean that the character is receiving no bonus “to-hit”. Damage bonus remains unaffected.

Potion of Heroism: +2 bonus to Armor Class and damage rolls for one hour. For purposes of “to-hit” bonuses, the character is considered two levels higher for the duration of the potion's effects.

By the way, I know that one of the knocks against critical hits is the ratio of monster attack rolls vs player attack rolls. I suggest not allowing any monster/opponent with 3 or fewer HD to roll on this table. Effectively that means that no low down goblin is going to kill your 7th level dwarf with one lucky roll. I've seen it happen and it was ugly.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Collapsing Column Conundrum

In this post I talked about a friend's game where we found ourselves in a room filled with granite columns falling all about us. I was contrasting one of the differences between D&D and Dungeon World. That difference being that in D&D getting "hit" by a column was a matter of losing hit points, while in the fiction-first world of DW, missing a roll to avoid a granite column would likely prove fatal.

I'm in a DW mood again and I found myself pondering this situation again. Even though I'm in a DW head, I think I've stumbled on a more satisfying way to handle this in D&D.

The real crux of problems like this in D&D is remembering that hit points are abstract constructs that represent many facets of a character's ultimate survivability (see this post). In this sense, hit point loss is a narrativist opportunity. Well, D&D isn't a narrativist game, so hmmm.

Here's my idea (finally): In the column room example my character was a fighter (natch, I usually play fighters), with somewhere around 70 hp. The room was quite large and filled with these falling columns. I think another way to handle this would be to say "In order to cross the room, you have to make 3 successful Dex checks (or saving throws, whatever). For every one you fail you take d10 damage."

I think that makes it more narrativist. It models an escalating situation, where every column that you don't "dodge" whittles away at your chances of getting to the other side of the room alive. You're getting more tired, more tensed up. Maybe you're dodging away from one, only to step in the way of another one. In any event, if you do make it to the other side alive, the damage from the failed checks represents the physical and emotional exhaustion of such a harrowing experience.

And if the DM wanted to be extra nasty, for each failed roll impose a -1 penalty to the next roll. That would really ramp up the tension.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

. . . and we're back

I've been nagged lately by an old idea: bringing a little more Chainmail into my D&D. As any of you who have survived my hiatuses (hiati?) know, this has been my Eleanor. I place the blame for its resurgence squarely with the esteemable Mr Simon Bull, of Delving Deeper fame. In the v5 beta of Book I, he has added "Fighting Capability" to the classes. Yet, the rules for using it won't be available until the Book II beta release.

In any event, I've been thinking about it again, and I wanted to "journal" my thoughts, as much for myself as anything else. As always, though, comment and discourse are welcome.

Use the basic 2d6 "to-hit" table from the Man-to-Man section of Chainmail. It is based solely on weapon v. armor. This is to be used with opponents (whether they be PCs or NPCs) of less than Heroic stature.

PCs will attack on this table according to their Fighting Capability (FC). Thus, a third level fighting-man would attack three times. Note that these are not to be spread among multiple foes. This does not represent individual swings of a weapon. Rather it represents the greater likelihood that a more capable combatant will force a decisive outcome. Thus, even though it might be more than one roll, it still represents a single attack.

Certain bonuses will accrue to the "to-hit" roll itself. In this case, the bonus will apply to only one such roll.

Magic weapons are an exception to this. Bonuses from magic weapons modify, for purposes of "to-hit" rolls ONLY, the wielder's hit dice, thus, by extension, the wielders FC. Damage bonuses,where they are indicated v. specific targets, are applied to all successful "to-hit" rolls.

Magic shields reduce an attacker's hit dice similarly, in turn reducing FC (this effectively results in magic shields "blocking" attacks). Magic armor adds its bonus to an attacker's "to-hit" roll. Note that this may make the wearer unassailable without the availability of "to-hit" bonuses. Hero/Superhero/Wizard FC will attack such magically armored foes in Heroic Combat.

Characters with FCs of Hero, Superhero, or Wizard are all capable of Heroic Combat. Any creature above 3 HD is beyond the capacities of a normal man (being 3 HD or less). Such foes are not attacked using the Weapon v. Armor matrix. The target number to hit these foes will be from the Fantasy Combat Table in Chainmail.

Ok, so those are my initial thoughts. Like I said, this is mainly me journaling where I am in this thought process at this time. Who knows where it will go from here.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

I'm Lazy, I'm Not Dead

Just when you thought all was safe in the blogosphere . . .

I'm back.

So, 7ish months is quite a spell. Of course, there's been work. Lots and lots of work. But, once I fell out of the habit of sharing these scattered thoughts, I fell hard. I still have the random thoughts (12 hours a day driving leaves one with a lot of time to think), I just became lazy about posting them. Also, they have been wildly random, even for me. I'll hit upon what I think is a real gem of an idea for a post, then when the weekend gets here and I have time to knock it out, it's gone. Or the interest in it is gone. Or whatever.

Well, let's just dive right in from here, shall we?

I'm on a Dungeon World kick of late. Actually, I'm on a (Whatever) World kick. I bought the pdf for Uncharted Worlds and I'm printing that this weekend. I almost pulled the trigger on that when it was a kickstarter, but I didn't. I haven't backed a kickstarter yet, but I really want to be like the cool kids and do it. Unfortunately, I'm like that virgin that tries to feel better about being a virgin by reciting the mantra "I'm waiting for the right one".  I digress.

I also snagged the Bundle of Holding with all the Dungeon World goodness. I printed Perilous Wilds yesterday. It looks fully awesome on the flip-through. There were some other good looking pdfs in that bundle, too. Grim World looks quite promising, but it is a dual use book and includes the necessaries to use it for Fate. I don't piss ink, so things like that slow down my acquisition cycle.

Speaking of ink. I haven't read Uncharted Worlds yet, but I can make a comment about the physical product. It includes several versions of the pdf, one of which is "Low Impact". I assumed this meant low impact on ink. Maybe it does, but looking through the pdf, I don't see it. There are a lot of pieces of art (which I really like the art, by the way) that would consume enough ink to print at least 5 pages of rules, no exaggeration. I've opened both the "regular" file and the low impact side-by-side, and I can't see a difference that would result in ink savings. By the way, the interior is all black and white. The art has a real 1980's Star Frontiers or Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society vibe. In other words, it totally rocks. Also, and don't quote me on this, but I think UW is based off Apocalypse World, rather than Dungeon World, for what it's worth.

So, there you have it. I'm back. No promises on how regularly, but I'm back. I must say, I missed it. Odd, I know, but there it is.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Alignment Language

I've been reading B/X these last couple of weeks. It came out when I was out of the gaming loop for a year, so I had never played or read it when it was new. In all likelihood, I wouldn't have read it had I known about its release. I was "advanced" by that time.

I've been reading a "Let's Read" thread from 2013 in conjunction with my own reading. I have noticed several really cool points in my own reading, and had others brought to my attention in the LR thread. Today in my reading of the thread, they've reached the topic of alignment languages.

I like them. Period. They aren't conversational languages, though. They exist to portray concepts central to the tenets of their respective alignments. These concepts may very well be translated into Common or any other language, but the full weight of the underpinnings of the concept only come through when spoken in the proper tongue.

Thus, without further ado, I give you my interpretation of an alignment tongue in action:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Quick Thoughts About Primes

This will be brief. It is just my thoughts on the main knocks I see about Primes and the SIEGE engine.


There are quite a few comments about Primes being a base target of 12, and non-Primes being base 18. It seems that many folks are more comfortable setting the base difficulty flat and then modifying it if a Prime comes into play. Some players seem to dislike saying, "The lock is heavily rusted and difficult to open. Its difficulty is +4, so if your DEX is Prime, you need a 16." They are more comfortable with saying, "The lock is heavily rusted and difficult to open. Target number is 15 + 4, for 19. Add +5 to your roll if DEX is Prime."

I may not be saying that exactly right, but that's the spirit of the thing. I can see both sides, but I don't really think either way is a ball-breaker. I can see the second way being a bit more intuitive, but it's a near thing and I think the first way (which is RAW) has certain situational advantages.

SIEGE Engine

I was basically ambivalent about the first point. I mentioned it because it is something I've seen a good bit and I wouldn't want it to seem like a big deal. This second point, though, it riles me up.

Some forum posts and reviewers like to whine about the following:

"Your cleric rolled a 19 Dexterity check to sneak by a guard, but the rogue's stealth roll of 15 is somehow better because… well, he's a rogue."

This is patently absurd, and is carefully worded to support the "point" that Primes don't work. What this example fails to effectively communicate is that the author is referring to the roll itself. Of course, a 19 is a better roll than a 15. Things don't stop with the raw roll of the die, though. The thief had a base difficulty of 12, since DEX is Prime for rogues, plus he adds his level to the roll. So, he beat his target by 3, not counting level bonus. The cleric, on the other hand, had a base difficulty of 18 (non-prime, presumably), with no level bonus. So, yes, the thief achieved a better Sneak check result than the cleric. Which should be expected.

I don't mind well-reasoned, constructive criticism. I don't like it when someone picks something apart, then presents the pieces in a certain light, just to support their dislike of something. If you don't like it, then don't like it. Move along. But, don't ruin for the next guy with such carefully crafted "criticism".