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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Welcome to my latest thread, a semi-continuation of the previous one, with the goal of preventing the new campaign into turning into another train-wreck. This time, from the other side of the screen!

    Brian is taking over GMing for the group. We are going to be play-testing my Heart of Darkness system, link in the signature, but it is similar enough to 5E or E6 D&D that any advice to one will likely apply to the other and I will be using D&D terminology for familiarity sake.

    So, we got together and created our characters:

    I am playing a LE human fighter. My build is focused around playing the "defender" roll and protecting my allies, has no out of combat skills to speak of except for sense motive. I am a dishonored ronin, last survivor of my clan, currently working as a mercenary and looking for a chance to be part of something larger.

    Bob is playing a N half-elf necromancer (although Bob's TN tends to be most people's CE). He is a 13 year old orphan who was chased away from his homeland for practicing dark magic and now lives on the street in a foreign land.

    Dave is playing a CN ogre pirate. He can sail a ship, pick a lock, and beat someone to death with his bare hands.

    Sarah is playing a CG pixie bard. She is focused on healing magic and scouting. She is a prankster, and plans to stay invisible or hidden as close to 24/7 as she can manage.



    Some mechanical concerns:

    Everyone in the party has the Iron Will feat and Wisdom as their highest score for some reason.
    We don't have anyone with crafting or wilderness skills, and very little in the way of ranged attacks or social skills.
    Bob has made his usual min-maxxed build and is playing an extreme glass cannon.
    Sarah's pixie is going to be similarly difficult for him to deal with, flying and hidden, but without the AC or HP to survive anything that does manage to hit her (and she will often be out of range for the rest of the party to help).

    Further, Brian is concerned with Bob amassing an ever increasing horde of undead and then forcing him to do all the book-keeping for him; and also being unwilling to accept any of the social consequences that come along with it or any sort of attrition mechanic for leaving his undead out in the wilderness and having them destroyed by wandering monsters or roaming paladins. This is probably the biggest issue.

    On a broader scope;

    Brian is concerned about our alignments, as they are all over the place. He singled me out in particular here as I am the only one who actually wrote Evil on their character sheet. I tried to explain that, imo, LE is the alignment least likely to cause conflicts as you can just go along with the group, but I don't know if he bought it. Also, Sarah's character having both a trickster personality and being the only good character in the party is likely to cause a lot of tension.

    Furthermore, we don't really have a reason to work together or a shared history. Brian gave us a document about the world, and asked us where we wanted to start. Everyone wanted to be from someplace different, so we compromised on setting the campaign in everybody's third choice location and everyone just had their character be an exile from the country they wanted to start in.

    I thought Bob could be the nucleus for the party, playing a sort of mad scientist character and hiring the rest of the group on as minions or something, but he is playing an homeless exile who is less than half the age of anyone else in the group, so that seems unlikely.



    And finally, I had a bit of a conflict with Brian during character creation. Basically, I took a character flaw that greatly reduces the amount of items you can craft, but also didn't take any crafting skills. I felt that they were a natural combination, but Brian felt that it was an exploitative loophole. I told him that I wasn't doing it in bad faith, and indeed had allowed Bob to do the same thing in a previous campaign, to which Brian told me that he was the DM now and wanted to know why my previous decisions should hold any weight on his rulings. I backed down, because I really don't want to be a backseat DM, but I really really don't want to play a crafter and my character is going to be severely under-powered as a result.


    So, anyone have any advice for me, Brian, or my fellow players on how to avoid the looming pitfalls before we actually start the campaign?
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Welcome to my latest thread, a semi-continuation of the previous one, with the goal of preventing the new campaign into turning into another train-wreck. This time, from the other side of the screen!

    Brian is taking over GMing for the group. We are going to be play-testing my Heart of Darkness system, link in the signature, but it is similar enough to 5E or E6 D&D that any advice to one will likely apply to the other and I will be using D&D terminology for familiarity sake.
    OK, off to a good start... Let's unpack this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    So, we got together and created our characters:

    I am playing a LE human fighter. My build is focused around playing the "defender" roll and protecting my allies, has no out of combat skills to speak of except for sense motive. I am a dishonored ronin, last survivor of my clan, currently working as a mercenary and looking for a chance to be part of something larger.

    Bob is playing a N half-elf necromancer (although Bob's TN tends to be most people's CE). He is a 13 year old orphan who was chased away from his homeland for practicing dark magic and now lives on the street in a foreign land.

    Dave is playing a CN ogre pirate. He can sail a ship, pick a lock, and beat someone to death with his bare hands.

    Sarah is playing a CG pixie bard. She is focused on healing magic and scouting. She is a prankster, and plans to stay invisible or hidden as close to 24/7 as she can manage.
    Hmmmm... As you might guess, Bob, Dave and Sarah might be compatible. Tossing anything Lawful into this mix is a train wreck looking for a place to happen. I can appreciate your wanting to play a certain type of character, but other than being a dishonored Ronin, is there anything about your character that requires Lawful? This might be a good time to make a rather plain vanilla chaotic or neutral fighter type that can just go with the flow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Some mechanical concerns:

    Everyone in the party has the Iron Will feat and Wisdom as their highest score for some reason.
    OK... not knowing your system I presume this means good Will saves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    We don't have anyone with crafting or wilderness skills, and very little in the way of ranged attacks or social skills.
    You could play a Ranger... I don't know about your rule system but recent versions of the rules have pretty much allowed Rangers to be any Alignment. And Ranger satisfies both the wilderness skills and ranged attacks (when configured properly). As far as Social Skills... I think this party's social skills are going to amount to (in the immortal words of Scottie from Star Trek) a fully charged Phaser Bank.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Bob has made his usual min-maxxed build and is playing an extreme glass cannon.

    Sarah's pixie is going to be similarly difficult for him to deal with, flying and hidden, but without the AC or HP to survive anything that does manage to hit her (and she will often be out of range for the rest of the party to help).
    Well.. glass cannons break, and low HP/low AC reminds me of AD&D Magic Users. Some started out at AC 10 with 1 HP. Some made it, some didn't. As long as she is OK with that, I'd hate to see her character get nuked in the first encounter (friendly fire or otherwise) and get disillusioned with the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Further, Brian is concerned with Bob amassing an ever increasing horde of undead and then forcing him to do all the book-keeping for him; and also being unwilling to accept any of the social consequences that come along with it or any sort of attrition mechanic for leaving his undead out in the wilderness and having them destroyed by wandering monsters or roaming paladins. This is probably the biggest issue.
    It is the player's responsibility at every table I have played to keep track of your own critters. The DM gets involved only if they think you are fudging the numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    On a broader scope;

    Brian is concerned about our alignments, as they are all over the place. He singled me out in particular here as I am the only one who actually wrote Evil on their character sheet. I tried to explain that, imo, LE is the alignment least likely to cause conflicts as you can just go along with the group, but I don't know if he bought it. Also, Sarah's character having both a trickster personality and being the only good character in the party is likely to cause a lot of tension.
    As I said above, this could become a real problem, and actually the Lawful more than the Evil. The evil probably conflicts only with the Pixie, but the Lawful is opposite everyone. Of course, it all depends on how strict Brian is going to be with characters following their alignments. At some tables it doesn't really matter; at others it can be a real... well... killer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Furthermore, we don't really have a reason to work together or a shared history. Brian gave us a document about the world, and asked us where we wanted to start. Everyone wanted to be from someplace different, so we compromised on setting the campaign in everybody's third choice location and everyone just had their character be an exile from the country they wanted to start in.
    That's fine. Whether it's fate, chance, or dumb luck, you are now all in the same boat, as the Ogre would say.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I thought Bob could be the nucleus for the party, playing a sort of mad scientist character and hiring the rest of the group on as minions or something, but he is playing an homeless exile who is less than half the age of anyone else in the group, so that seems unlikely.
    Yes, unlikely. And as a 13 year old, everyone else may get the idea that they can order him around. Yet another possible problem... Especially because of who it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    And finally, I had a bit of a conflict with Brian during character creation. Basically, I took a character flaw that greatly reduces the amount of items you can craft, but also didn't take any crafting skills. I felt that they were a natural combination, but Brian felt that it was an exploitative loophole. I told him that I wasn't doing it in bad faith, and indeed had allowed Bob to do the same thing in a previous campaign, to which Brian told me that he was the DM now and wanted to know why my previous decisions should hold any weight on his rulings. I backed down, because I really don't want to be a backseat DM, but I really really don't want to play a crafter and my character is going to be severely under-powered as a result.
    The only way to see what effect it has on a game is to test it. If Brian doesn't want to do that, I'd recommend going for something else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    So, anyone have any advice for me, Brian, or my fellow players on how to avoid the looming pitfalls before we actually start the campaign?
    Ok... Something you need to decide early on in this quest is: do you want to play a character that - while it may be the crowing achievement of your life's work - may cause (and already has caused) some difficulties... or can you play a simpler, more vanilla/mundane character that will gain you some player-time and maybe be a bit less problematic?

    My 2 cents...hope this helps.
    Last edited by Lord of Shadows; 2019-11-21 at 10:42 PM.
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    As for Brian

    What are the Brian's goals?

    - Is he attempting to create an immersive experience, with a lot of roleplaying and a great story to explore? If so, I would advise him to look for another group, clearly this group isn't abe to cooperate enough in order to achieve this.
    - Is he looking for a gamey experience, where the focus is creating challenge that the players need to use their smarts and resources in order to succeed? Bit more manageable, but Bob has proven to be a problem in regrds to dificulty, Tell him that is his responsability to keep track of his zombies or better play a less resources focused character, and everything hould be fine.
    -Is he looking for an excuse to chat and have a laugh with his group of friends? If so, don't stress over the resources that Bob may or may not have, just focus on making funny voice and make sure to describe things in a way that makes the PCs look cool and have beer at hand.

    For Talak

    ¿Why are you playing Lawful Evil? That's asking for problems... You ould be better of playing a CN character in order to mix better with the table. Anyway, just try to have a good time, and if you want to take this opportunity to improve as a GM, then you should try and read everyone's emotions at the table, focus more on making sure everyone is having a good time.

    Also, Brian was right, your rulings matter not in his game.
    Last edited by zinycor; 2019-11-21 at 11:31 PM.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    We don't have anyone with crafting or wilderness skills, and very little in the way of ranged attacks or social skills.
    This, along with that the combat types are non-ranged glass canons (and thus will probably eventually get creamed if the game is a lo of fighting) makes the biggest concern this: what can you guys actually spend a lot of time doing as an adventure? Fighting seems out. Wilderness hexcrawl is a no. Setting up a crafters shop (and the adventures that can come from that) sounds like a no. I guess you could do thieving hijinks, but you'd need a face to get the jobs to begin with. Do you have any ideas?

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    And finally, I had a bit of a conflict with Brian during character creation. Basically, I took a character flaw that greatly reduces the amount of items you can craft, but also didn't take any crafting skills. I felt that they were a natural combination, but Brian felt that it was an exploitative loophole. I told him that I wasn't doing it in bad faith, and indeed had allowed Bob to do the same thing in a previous campaign, to which Brian told me that he was the DM now and wanted to know why my previous decisions should hold any weight on his rulings. I backed down, because I really don't want to be a backseat DM, but I really really don't want to play a crafter and my character is going to be severely under-powered as a result.
    How about don't take flaws that aren't making your character flawed? It's a 'natural combination' in that it doesn't penalize you in any way, and presumably gives you some sort of benefit (feats, etc) in exchange for giving up nothing (since you aren't planning on crafting anyway). It's like taking a flaw that prevents your non-spellcasting fighter from casting 2nd level spells - something he can't do anyway.

    Most Flaw systems have in them some variant of the phrase "Flaws that aren't flaws don't count". A flaw must have a meaningful effect on the character. Anything else is exploiting loopholes - and if you're playtesting the system, it's worth putting such a rule in. If the system relies on PCs taking every meaningless flaw they can or becoming "severely underpowered", your Flaw system needs rebalancing. This is exactly the kind of exploit you're playtesting to eliminate!

    Also, if the GM asks you specifically not to do something, not doing it is a good way to have a smooth play experience.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    This, along with that the combat types are non-ranged glass canons (and thus will probably eventually get creamed if the game is a lo of fighting) makes the biggest concern this: what can you guys actually spend a lot of time doing as an adventure? Fighting seems out. Wilderness hexcrawl is a no. Setting up a crafters shop (and the adventures that can come from that) sounds like a no. I guess you could do thieving hijinks, but you'd need a face to get the jobs to begin with. Do you have any ideas?
    That's a very good question.

    I do not.

    Quote Originally Posted by zinycor View Post
    ¿Why are you playing Lawful Evil? That's asking for problems... You ould be better of playing a CN character in order to mix better with the table.
    Because LE tend to be team players and go along with the group. Good characters tend to object when their team mates do horrible evil things, and chaotic characters tend to think for themselves and have their own goals and methods to pursue.


    Quote Originally Posted by zinycor View Post
    Also, Brian was right, your rulings matter not in his game.
    Of course they don't. The problem is that I am trying very hard not to backseat DM, which is resulting in me having to choose between playing an underpowered character or a character I don't want to play; normally I would present my case and try and argue logically.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of Shadows View Post
    Ok... Something you need to decide early on in this quest is: do you want to play a character that - while it may be the crowing achievement of your life's work - may cause (and already has caused) some difficulties... or can you play a simpler, more vanilla/mundane character that will gain you some player-time and maybe be a bit less problematic?

    My 2 cents...hope this helps.
    I'm really not sure if you can get any more mundane than a sword and board human fighter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reversefigure4 View Post
    How about don't take flaws that aren't making your character flawed? It's a 'natural combination' in that it doesn't penalize you in any way, and presumably gives you some sort of benefit (feats, etc) in exchange for giving up nothing (since you aren't planning on crafting anyway). It's like taking a flaw that prevents your non-spellcasting fighter from casting 2nd level spells - something he can't do anyway.

    Most Flaw systems have in them some variant of the phrase "Flaws that aren't flaws don't count". A flaw must have a meaningful effect on the character. Anything else is exploiting loopholes - and if you're playtesting the system, it's worth putting such a rule in. If the system relies on PCs taking every meaningless flaw they can or becoming "severely underpowered", your Flaw system needs rebalancing. This is exactly the kind of exploit you're playtesting to eliminate!.
    The system does have a rule against taking flaws that don't count, that's why he is banning in.

    I didn't want to play a crafter, so I took a flaw that prohibits me from crafting, and then didn't purchase any crafting skills as a result. Unless you are saying the purpose of flaws is to punish the player by forcing them to play a character type they don't want to play, I don't see how that isn't a flaw as the character would be stronger

    A more appropriate analogy would be a second level fighter taking a flaw that prohibited them from ever using ranged weapons, and then getting mad at them for not taking weapon specialization: Longbow.


    Quote Originally Posted by Reversefigure4 View Post
    Also, if the GM asks you specifically not to do something, not doing it is a good way to have a smooth play experience.
    Obviously. Hence why I said I backed down.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2019-11-22 at 01:02 AM.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I didn't want to play a crafter, so I took a flaw that prohibits me from crafting, and then didn't purchase any crafting skills as a result. Unless you are saying the purpose of flaws is to punish the player by forcing them to play a character type they don't want to play, I don't see how that isn't a flaw as the character would be stronger
    Sounds like a flawed Flaw system. Flaws shouldn't give you benefits for not taking optional things that very few characters want in the first place. That just makes it a gimmie for all characters who don't want crafting, and a big opportunity cost tax for those who want to craft.

    A fighter not being able to do ranged attacks is a much worse thing to give up, however. That's something universal that all characters would want to be able to do.

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Are there other flaws that you would be willing to take?
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I didn't want to play a crafter, so I took a flaw that prohibits me from crafting, and then didn't purchase any crafting skills as a result. Unless you are saying the purpose of flaws is to punish the player by forcing them to play a character type they don't want to play, I don't see how that isn't a flaw as the character would be stronger.
    I don't understand your point. You have your sequence the wrong way around. You didn't choose the flaw because you wanted to play a crafter, then decided not to purchase any crafting skills because of the flaw. You chose not to purchase any crafting skills, then took a flaw that gave you free points for not doing so. A flaw that prohibits you from crafting isn't penalizing you in any way if you aren't a crafter.

    If the "Clumsy Fingers" flaw prohibits you from crafting, that won't matter to the 9 out of 10 character who aren't crafting anyway, so they might as well all take the flaw. If the "Clumsy Feet" flaw says that your character takes a -3 on all Reflex saves, that equally penalises all character types (because presumably they all want to or will need to make Reflex saves, whenas Mr No-Crafter isn't going to craft whether he has the flaw or not).
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Because LE tend to be team players and go along with the group. Good characters tend to object when their team mates do horrible evil things, and chaotic characters tend to think for themselves and have their own goals and methods to pursue.
    On the other hand, Lawful characters expects others to stand by their own standards, while Chaotic characters tolerate other peoples having other mindsets.

    Peoples tend to confuse the Lawful alignment with being loyal. Chaotic characters can be as loyal as Lawful ones, if not more: a Chaotic character will probably find himself more bound to its teammate when the situation degenerate (because of their friendship) than a Lawful character that consider that once the "group" is no longer a cohesive entity, he has no reason to remain with them. Especially a LE character, whose goal is to find a cohesive entity to live in, and will probably take the first opportunity to join a legion/guard/bandit group/... rather than a barely functional team of adventurer, which only has "team" in the name and not in the spirit.

    Talking about cohesion of the team. If you want to play a Lawful (and loyal) character in this team, it would really make things easier if you start with an existing relationship with one character. So something like "actually, I'm the legal tutor of the 13yo necromancer" or "I've been on the sea for 5 years with the pirate, where we learnt to work together, know each-other, and trust each-others".

    The group will not exists as a group at the beginning (and honestly, it would not surprise me if there was some early death), so you need to form a core of the group by choosing someone you will "follow", so that the other characters can position themselves compared to this core.

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    To me there's nothing about your character that says he has to be Evil. If anything you describe a Lawful Neutral character when you talk about going along with potentially evil hijinks, but not seeming to care either way. To me, lawful Neutral says you have some manner of internal code that you try to follow.

    But at the same time, you seem to be using alignment as prescriptive, rather than descriptive. Your characters actions should inform their alignment, not the other way around.
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Of course they don't. The problem is that I am trying very hard not to backseat DM, which is resulting in me having to choose between playing an underpowered character or a character I don't want to play; normally I would present my case and try and argue logically.
    Since you are the designer of the system, any rule comments you make are likely to be considered back seat DMing, even more than simply having been the most recent DM.

    My recommendation is to be resigned to not challenge any ruling made by Brian. If you can’t do that, I strongly suspect that you will not enjoy the game.

    From a headspace perspective, tell yourself that you are not playing Heart of Darkness, you are playing Brian’s homebrew, inspired by Heart of Darkness.

    Also tell yourself that Brian’s version is a good place to evaluate his proposed changes to the rules: sure you probably won’t implement many of them, but a few might be worth stealing.

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    If you don't want to be a backseat DM...why are you here? It doesnt sound like Brian asked you to poll a group of random and highly opinionated strangers for solutions to his problems, so if you actually take anything from here and try to bring it to him, you'll just be making the problem worse.

    Even if it's just for your character - the previous 2+ threads have shown in exquisite detail that the suggestions and opinions of the forum hivemind are severely orthogonal to your own, and so you are somewhere between unlikely and impossible to agree with them this time either.

    I'm just not sure what you expect to get from this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Because LE tend to be team players and go along with the group.
    Do lawful characters object when the party reneges on their contracts, steals, or never follows a plan? I have my opinion, but that totally doesn't matter. Your DM has their expectations, which if they differ from yours, you'll want to make sure you understand each other. Also some people seem to see D&D "evil" differently; I suspect you're going for a "rational self interest" evil and not a "Eating babies" evil.
    Unless you are saying the purpose of flaws is to punish the player by forcing them to play a character type they don't want to play,
    Sort of, yes. just that I see the order as the other way around.

    The player picks a character trait they want for RP reasons; let's say he's chivalrous and would never hit a woman. From a game-play perspective, this is a disadvantage; they're eventually going to have to fight some legitimately threatening women. To avoid punishing the player for their RP choice, they get something to compensate.

    If the player decides that this is a stupid trait and that their character would attack women under the exact same circumstances as men, they are completely free to not take that (or any ) flaw.

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    You're playing a wandering ronin, and have neither survival skills for the open road nor the samurai's signature bowmanship?

    That said, I think the party could work. Dave's the captain, and hired you as a bodyguard. Bob's a stowaway that the morally dubious party realizes could be a huge asset... if they can deal with her fickle sophomore temper tantrums. Sarah is a fey hoping to trick these ne'erdowells into becoming better people. Could work out decently.
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    You're playing a wandering ronin, and have neither survival skills for the open road nor the samurai's signature bowmanship?

    That said, I think the party could work. Dave's the captain, and hired you as a bodyguard. Bob's a stowaway that the morally dubious party realizes could be a huge asset... if they can deal with her fickle sophomore temper tantrums. Sarah is a fey hoping to trick these ne'erdowells into becoming better people. Could work out decently.
    I originally wanted to take riding, marksmanship, and survival, but I just didn't have enough points as I had to cover for other people's lack of necessary skills by putting points into intimidation, sense motive, and search instead. It was a tough choice.

    As for that specific example, Dave's character is a typical ogre, totally lacking in intelligence, charisma, or the skills that require them. I could easily see him as a crew-member or enforcer, but not a captain.

    Also, a first level character is a bit weak for someone who has been adventuring for years; I learned that the hard way the last time I tried to PC.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quizatzhaderac View Post
    Do lawful characters object when the party reneges on their contracts, steals, or never follows a plan? I have my opinion, but that totally doesn't matter. Your DM has their expectations, which if they differ from yours, you'll want to make sure you understand each other. Also some people seem to see D&D "evil" differently; I suspect you're going for a "rational self interest" evil and not a "Eating babies" evil.
    I don't care if the party steals or reneges on their contracts; although I won't do either. A party that never follows a play is just terrible in character and out.

    Not really rational or self interested, no. More of a not caring what happens to the "out group" as long as it keeps my "in group" safe.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    If you don't want to be a backseat DM...why are you here? It doesnt sound like Brian asked you to poll a group of random and highly opinionated strangers for solutions to his problems, so if you actually take anything from here and try to bring it to him, you'll just be making the problem worse.

    Even if it's just for your character - the previous 2+ threads have shown in exquisite detail that the suggestions and opinions of the forum hivemind are severely orthogonal to your own, and so you are somewhere between unlikely and impossible to agree with them this time either.

    I'm just not sure what you expect to get from this.
    Brian said it is the players job to come up with a working party, not his, and so I am mostly looking for advice on that front.

    He did ask me for advice on dealing with a PC necromancer though, something which hasn't really been touched on in this thread yet.

    I don't really think there is a forum "hive mind" for me to agree or disagree with, and advice seems pretty split. Its just that what I feel is good advice often gets a response of "I agree, thank you." or "Good idea, I'll try that", while advice that I disagree with (or more often someone giving me grief for something I don't think I actually did) is likely to result in a 500 post debate that drowns out the positive interactions.

    Quote Originally Posted by patchyman View Post
    Since you are the designer of the system, any rule comments you make are likely to be considered back seat DMing, even more than simply having been the most recent DM.

    My recommendation is to be resigned to not challenge any ruling made by Brian. If you can’t do that, I strongly suspect that you will not enjoy the game.

    From a headspace perspective, tell yourself that you are not playing Heart of Darkness, you are playing Brian’s homebrew, inspired by Heart of Darkness.

    Also tell yourself that Brian’s version is a good place to evaluate his proposed changes to the rules: sure you probably won’t implement many of them, but a few might be worth stealing.
    I am told that being able to keep your mouth shut is a very important part of playtesting, as what people do wrong often tells you more about the game than what people do right. Its hard though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hunter Noventa View Post
    To me there's nothing about your character that says he has to be Evil. If anything you describe a Lawful Neutral character when you talk about going along with potentially evil hijinks, but not seeming to care either way. To me, lawful Neutral says you have some manner of internal code that you try to follow.

    But at the same time, you seem to be using alignment as prescriptive, rather than descriptive. Your characters actions should inform their alignment, not the other way around.
    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    On the other hand, Lawful characters expects others to stand by their own standards, while Chaotic characters tolerate other peoples having other mindsets.

    Peoples tend to confuse the Lawful alignment with being loyal. Chaotic characters can be as loyal as Lawful ones, if not more: a Chaotic character will probably find himself more bound to its teammate when the situation degenerate (because of their friendship) than a Lawful character that consider that once the "group" is no longer a cohesive entity, he has no reason to remain with them. Especially a LE character, whose goal is to find a cohesive entity to live in, and will probably take the first opportunity to join a legion/guard/bandit group/... rather than a barely functional team of adventurer, which only has "team" in the name and not in the spirit.

    Talking about cohesion of the team. If you want to play a Lawful (and loyal) character in this team, it would really make things easier if you start with an existing relationship with one character. So something like "actually, I'm the legal tutor of the 13yo necromancer" or "I've been on the sea for 5 years with the pirate, where we learnt to work together, know each-other, and trust each-others".

    The group will not exists as a group at the beginning (and honestly, it would not surprise me if there was some early death), so you need to form a core of the group by choosing someone you will "follow", so that the other characters can position themselves compared to this core.

    Bob said his ultimate goal was to establish a kingdom of undeath and try and take over the world with it, so I designed my character accordingly, as I can't really see a LN character going along with that.

    Then I discovered he was playing a penniless street urchin.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reversefigure4 View Post
    I don't understand your point. You have your sequence the wrong way around. You didn't choose the flaw because you wanted to play a crafter, then decided not to purchase any crafting skills because of the flaw. You chose not to purchase any crafting skills, then took a flaw that gave you free points for not doing so. A flaw that prohibits you from crafting isn't penalizing you in any way if you aren't a crafter.
    Did you misread or mistype something? Because it really sounds like we are saying the same thing here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    Sounds like a flawed Flaw system. Flaws shouldn't give you benefits for not taking optional things that very few characters want in the first place. That just makes it a gimmie for all characters who don't want crafting, and a big opportunity cost tax for those who want to craft.

    A fighter not being able to do ranged attacks is a much worse thing to give up, however. That's something universal that all characters would want to be able to do.
    The system has a robust downtime minigame, and the default assumes characters will craft (or perform similar downtime activities such as gambling, training followers, or performing research), and the theoretical "optimal" party will split the crafting skills evenly between its members, having one guy by the tinker, one guy be the metal worker, one guy be the alchemist, etc.

    The number of actions you can perform during downtime is determined by your wisdom score and is calculated into its value. In my case I am playing a character with an extremely high wisdom score, but with no interest in any of the downside activities, and thus I am paying for abilities I will never use, and, imo, the DM essentially wants me to throw good money after bad.
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The system has a robust downtime minigame, and the default assumes characters will craft (or perform similar downtime activities such as gambling, training followers, or performing research), and the theoretical "optimal" party will split the crafting skills evenly between its members, having one guy by the tinker, one guy be the metal worker, one guy be the alchemist, etc.

    The number of actions you can perform during downtime is determined by your wisdom score and is calculated into its value. In my case I am playing a character with an extremely high wisdom score, but with no interest in any of the downside activities, and thus I am paying for abilities I will never use, and, imo, the DM essentially wants me to throw good money after bad.
    So, you have a "robust" (your words, not mine) downtime minigame, but you (the designer of such game) will be playing a charater with absolutely no interest in such systems.... That's weird, since you recognize that tis is a thing where all the players are expected to participate, and you actively, in your already dysfunctional table, choose to ignore a central mechanic in the game....

    That doesn't seem like a good idea... Are you forced into picking a Flaw? Can you pick something that isn't so debilitating? like an addiction, a phobia, or a vow?
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    I think the party could work. Dave's the captain, and hired you as a bodyguard. Bob's a stowaway that the morally dubious party realizes could be a huge asset... if they can deal with her fickle sophomore temper tantrums. Sarah is a fey hoping to trick these ne'erdowells into becoming better people. Could work out decently.
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    As for that specific example, Dave's character is a typical ogre, totally lacking in intelligence, charisma, or the skills that require them. I could easily see him as a crew-member or enforcer, but not a captain.
    How about this... Dave's character did hire you as a bodyguard at some point, except he did it only after you talked him into it. But in reality you are manipulative and are using the Ogre as a bodyguard, and have him convinced that your character is guarding him. Maybe you even call him Captain, or some title of authority. Machiavellian, manipulative, diabolic... lawful evil. The Ogre is a tool in your toolbox. Of course, if the Ogre ever cyphered this out, there might be consequences.

    The other party members, if they ever figure this out, may or may not care to various degrees. The Necromancer probably looks at both of you as just undead in waiting. The Fey could be a problem, as free will is sometimes important to CG's. But, then, he IS an Ogre..
    Last edited by Lord of Shadows; 2019-11-22 at 02:32 PM.
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    Some mechanical concerns:

    Everyone in the party has the Iron Will feat and Wisdom as their highest score for some reason.
    Why is this a concern?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    We don't have anyone with crafting or wilderness skills, and very little in the way of ranged attacks or social skills.
    Are these core features of your system? Has the GM indicated that you will be in the wilderness often or need to make things often?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Bob has made his usual min-maxxed build and is playing an extreme glass cannon.
    Is one of your design goals for your system to reduce the possibility of min-maxing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Sarah's pixie is going to be similarly difficult for him to deal with, flying and hidden, but without the AC or HP to survive anything that does manage to hit her (and she will often be out of range for the rest of the party to help).
    Is combat your game's primary challenge? Admittedly, flight also makes traps and the like more difficult to deal with. I would be tempted to drop this as a playable race.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Further, Brian is concerned with Bob amassing an ever increasing horde of undead and then forcing him to do all the book-keeping for him; and also being unwilling to accept any of the social consequences that come along with it or any sort of attrition mechanic for leaving his undead out in the wilderness and having them destroyed by wandering monsters or roaming paladins. This is probably the biggest issue.
    So, don't allow him to amass an ever-increasing horde of undead. Put a hard-cap on it and indicate in the rules that there are social consequences to managing an army of undead. Does your game include very many rules about cohorts, minions, etc.? What do they do outside of combat? If you're expecting the party to have a retinue or crew anyway, this could be a positive outcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    On a broader scope;

    Brian is concerned about our alignments, as they are all over the place. He singled me out in particular here as I am the only one who actually wrote Evil on their character sheet. I tried to explain that, imo, LE is the alignment least likely to cause conflicts as you can just go along with the group, but I don't know if he bought it. Also, Sarah's character having both a trickster personality and being the only good character in the party is likely to cause a lot of tension.
    I'm not sure what value you get by keeping alignment from DnD if you're making your own system. People, like Brian, regard it as too much of a straight-jacket. You might be better off cribbing Allegiances from d20 Modern and come up with a list of relevant allegiances for your system/world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Furthermore, we don't really have a reason to work together or a shared history. Brian gave us a document about the world, and asked us where we wanted to start. Everyone wanted to be from someplace different, so we compromised on setting the campaign in everybody's third choice location and everyone just had their character be an exile from the country they wanted to start in.
    I love player bonds. Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) games, like Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, etc., encourage the use of bonds that explain why your party members are together. Sarah is my cousin, Bob owes me money, etc. In PbTA games, they have a mechanical benefit of being added to assist or interfere with the other character's roll. I also recently came across this list of d100 bonds that you could probably use: https://www.reddit.com/r/rpg/comment..._random_chart/

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    And finally, I had a bit of a conflict with Brian during character creation. Basically, I took a character flaw that greatly reduces the amount of items you can craft, but also didn't take any crafting skills. I felt that they were a natural combination, but Brian felt that it was an exploitative loophole. I told him that I wasn't doing it in bad faith, and indeed had allowed Bob to do the same thing in a previous campaign, to which Brian told me that he was the DM now and wanted to know why my previous decisions should hold any weight on his rulings. I backed down, because I really don't want to be a backseat DM, but I really really don't want to play a crafter and my character is going to be severely under-powered as a result.
    Your opinion should have weight as the game designer, but you also singled out Bob as a min-maxxer. I would likely tie flaws to actually reducing a character's effectiveness in an area as well. You could even bake that in as a requirement of the flaw. Something like Requirements: Any crafting skill.


    I enjoy discussions of game design and mechanics. I think that you should be iterating your own system to improve balance if that is an area of concern for you.

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of Shadows View Post
    How about this... Dave's character did hire you as a bodyguard at some point, except he did it only after you talked him into it. But in reality you are manipulative and are using the Ogre as a bodyguard, and have him convinced that your character is guarding him. Maybe you even call him Captain, or some title of authority. Machiavellian, manipulative, diabolic... lawful evil. The Ogre is a tool in your toolbox. Of course, if the Ogre ever cyphered this out, there might be consequences.

    The other party members, if they ever figure this out, may or may not care to various degrees. The Necromancer probably looks at both of you as just undead in waiting. The Fey could be a problem, as free will is sometimes important to CG's. But, then, he IS an Ogre..
    The thing is, I designed my character as a follower rather than a schemer. I was really hoping Bob would take care of the scheming for he could play Palpatine to my Vader.

    Quote Originally Posted by zinycor View Post
    So, you have a "robust" (your words, not mine) downtime minigame, but you (the designer of such game) will be playing a charater with absolutely no interest in such systems.... That's weird, since you recognize that tis is a thing where all the players are expected to participate, and you actively, in your already dysfunctional table, choose to ignore a central mechanic in the game....

    That doesn't seem like a good idea... Are you forced into picking a Flaw? Can you pick something that isn't so debilitating? like an addiction, a phobia, or a vow?
    Not every character interacts with ever subsystem. I am fine not interacting with crafting, just like the necromancer won't be interacting with fighting styles and combat maneuvers.

    No, I am not forced into taking a flaw; its just that without it I am paying for crafting abilities that I will never use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    Why is this a concern?
    It isn't really, it just makes everyone kind of "samey" and makes certain encounters rather binary; enemies who rely on will saves will be all but unusable against the party, and we are at a disadvantage against those who don't for spending so many of our build resources on it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    Are these core features of your system? Has the GM indicated that you will be in the wilderness often or need to make things often?
    Crafting and wilderness exploration are both very common things that come up in adventures, yes. Whether this particular campaign will involve them, I don't know.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    Is one of your design goals for your system to reduce the possibility of min-maxing?
    Not really, no. But people who make glass-cannons tend to end up dead and pissed off.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    Is combat your game's primary challenge? Admittedly, flight also makes traps and the like more difficult to deal with. I would be tempted to drop this as a playable race.
    It isn't really the game's primary challenge per se, but the current group does tend to like high action games, so I would say yes.

    The game doesn't have PC races per se, humans are the only default race and everything else is available as a DM option. I actually advocated for her to play a pixie because I thought it was cool for RP, but it turned out she just wanted flight and then chose to be a sprite instead for the invisibility.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    So, don't allow him to amass an ever-increasing horde of undead. Put a hard-cap on it and indicate in the rules that there are social consequences to managing an army of undead. Does your game include very many rules about cohorts, minions, etc.? What do they do outside of combat? If you're expecting the party to have a retinue or crew anyway, this could be a positive outcome.
    The system doesn't have a hard cap, although spell slots are a lot more limited than they are in D&D. The biggest issue is that undead don't heal naturally and will be worn down over time, but the DM doesn't want to handle that level of bookkeeping and doesn't trust Bob to.

    I don't think the retinue is a problem OOC, but I am pretty sure Brian is afraid Bob will insist on bringing a shambling horde of zombies into every combat with him.

    The bigger issue, I think, is social consequences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    I'm not sure what value you get by keeping alignment from DnD if you're making your own system. People, like Brian, regard it as too much of a straight-jacket. You might be better off cribbing Allegiances from d20 Modern and come up with a list of relevant allegiances for your system/world.
    I am not actually cribbing alignment from D&D; as I said I am using D&D terminology to avoid needing to provide constant definitions every post. My actual listed alignment is "Pragmatic Follower."

    I am not sure exactly how allegiances work in d20 modern (please feel free to share), but my system does have an allegiance system; the problem is everyone is playing some form of exile from our homeland and we don't really know anything about the place where the campaign is taking place or its politics.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    I love player bonds. Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) games, like Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, etc., encourage the use of bonds that explain why your party members are together. Sarah is my cousin, Bob owes me money, etc. In PbTA games, they have a mechanical benefit of being added to assist or interfere with the other character's roll. I also recently came across this list of d100 bonds that you could probably use: https://www.reddit.com/r/rpg/comment..._random_chart/
    I am really wary of such things; have been ever since trying to play Spirit of the Century. I will give it a look though.

    Edit: Yeah, our characters are all different species, drastically different ages, and from different continents. 90% of the things on that particular table just flat out wouldn't make sense even if we wanted to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    Your opinion should have weight as the game designer, but you also singled out Bob as a min-maxxer. I would likely tie flaws to actually reducing a character's effectiveness in an area as well. You could even bake that in as a requirement of the flaw. Something like Requirements: Any crafting skill.
    I don't see how forcing the players to chase good money after bad should be necessary.

    If a fighter chooses a flaw that doesn't let them make ranged attacks, that should already be a big enough disadvantage without also requiring them to take weapon focus: longbow, if a specialist mage chooses to ban evocation, I don't see why you should require them to select magic missile as one of their starting spells, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    I enjoy discussions of game design and mechanics. I think that you should be iterating your own system to improve balance if that is an area of concern for you.
    I absolutely am.

    I have the link to my current playtest rulebook on my signature, if you would like to give it a look I love discussing any feedback you might have!
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2019-11-22 at 08:47 PM.
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Now, I'm not super well versed in IRL gaming: I've only ever played with one group, and we've all been friends for years, so making sure the group is cohesive and cooperating has never been a huge hurdle, and even if there were arguments, we're close enough as friends to resolve them without any lingering problems.

    That disclaimer out of the way... this party looks like one that was badly in need of a Session 0, or at the very least one that was a lot more productive than however yours turned out, Talakeal. Some kind of meeting where you discussed the kinds of characters you wanted to play, how they'd work together, and what the tone of the campaign to come would feel like.

    Everything about the way this party is structured suggests to me that there was not a lot of communication between players during the creation phase. As you've mentioned, alignments are all over the place, and it seems there are significant portions of the adventuring macrogame that this party has little-to-no capacity to meaningfully interact with. Going off of the thread discussion so far, it doesn't seem like you and your fellow PCs came to much of a consensus of what you want the campaign to actually be about, nor your collective approach. You've got a wily trickster, a dumb-muscle Ogre, a Dragon looking for his BBEG (you), and a budding necromancer who will either end up the overarching villain of the setting or get the entire team lynched by paladins two sessions in. I think others have covered in reasonable detail about how none of these characters line up well in terms of motivation or the tone of campaign they'd be best suited for.

    So... I guess my suggestion is to try and talk to your fellow players, and ask them the same questions you're posing to the Playground. How does this team actually behave in play? What do your fellow players want out of the game? Just talking about this could go a ways towards promoting positive changes from yourself or others.
    Last edited by KatsOfLoathing; 2019-11-22 at 09:14 PM.

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I originally wanted to take riding, marksmanship, and survival, but I just didn't have enough points as I had to cover for other people's lack of necessary skills by putting points into intimidation, sense motive, and search instead. It was a tough choice.

    As for that specific example, Dave's character is a typical ogre, totally lacking in intelligence, charisma, or the skills that require them. I could easily see him as a crew-member or enforcer, but not a captain.

    Also, a first level character is a bit weak for someone who has been adventuring for years; I learned that the hard way the last time I tried to PC.
    Right. So.

    Ogre can't be the party leader. Zero people skills, no idea if he wants the part.
    Pixie can't be the party leader. No reason to command necromancers and ne'erdowells.
    Brings it down to you and Bob. You designed your character to work for Bob, but you've got a lack of reason to work for a penniless street urchin.

    So it's time to find a reason why you'd be the bodyguard/executioner of a fledgeling wannabe Lord of Darkness and play the kingmaker of party dynamics.

    Perhaps you...
    • Saw some unnamed tragedy that this power unleashed, and realized that you could get in at the very, VERY ground level.
    • Are under geas or curse from some source to pledge your loyalty to street trash, and you decided that this one might actually turn into something.
    • One of your former masters had this power, and Bob's PC is young enough (and the lord's death long enough ago) that you think Bob's PC could be the reincarnation. Loyalty beyond death, and all that.
    • Prophecy is as prophecy does; you saw yourself becoming wildly successful under this person, and were surprised and disappointed when you found out that they were less than nothing at the start.


    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    He did ask me for advice on dealing with a PC necromancer though, something which hasn't really been touched on in this thread yet.
    Let's touch on it, then. Bookkeeping issue: Either represent the undead like you represent hirelings (I think you had rules for those?) since that seemed to work out OK last time, or just do the bookkeeping yourself as a fair and neutral third party.

    Social issue: Most towns are going to look down on the walking dead, obviously. There's a couple solutions. You can disguise the undead as something else, if anyone has ranks in disguise. No? OK. Option 2: Underworld. Whether it's a network of thieves, a network of Igors, a network of bandits, or whathaveyou, there's some group that's skilled at shuffling a lot of people in and out of places unseen. Talk with the DM about this. Your PCs stay at the bandit camp/underground thieves' hall/furnished cave that the Igor set up for you, and hirelings do the various town things of restocking and so forth for you. Cuts down on NPCs he has to run, let me tell you. You wait for the jobs to come in, and you go forth and go to work.

    You'd essentially be the sponsored murderhobos. And if that's what the DM preps for, that can be an engaging setting.

    Eventually, after all the undead die out and you can visit polite society again, you might get to try out new things like a good bath, casual shopping, and bar crawls. It's probably not common, but the DM can turn that into a fun event.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I don't see how forcing the players to chase good money after bad should be necessary.

    If a fighter chooses a flaw that doesn't let them make ranged attacks, that should already be a big enough disadvantage without also requiring them to take weapon focus: longbow, if a specialist mage chooses to ban evocation, I don't see why you should require them to select magic missile as one of their starting spells, etc.
    To have weight, flaws should restrict the character from doing something they do want to do.

    If you were never going to do the thing the flaw restricts you from doing anyway it won't do anything in the game.

    If you get additional power for taking that flaw, the power is just free and everyone who wasn't going to do that thing should take it, and you should also take all the other flaws that stop you doing things you weren't going to do anyway.

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Not every character interacts with ever subsystem. I am fine not interacting with crafting, just like the necromancer won't be interacting with fighting styles and combat maneuvers.

    No, I am not forced into taking a flaw; its just that without it I am paying for crafting abilities that I will never use.
    Didn't Brian forbid you from taking that flaw? Are there any other flaws that you would consider taking?

    BTW, I think that flaw isn't well designed, Brian is right to ban you from taking it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    He did ask me for advice on dealing with a PC necromancer though, something which hasn't really been touched on in this thread yet.
    As a fellow player: What about you offering yourself to make the bookkeeping needed?

    As the game designer: Consider reducing the bookkeeping needed for Necromancers, also consider if a Necromancer is even appropiate for a player subclass, many problems come from them, mechanicaly (Bookkeeping and multiple turns in combat) and RPwise (Being an onviously evil thing).
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  25. - Top - End - #25
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    It isn't really, it just makes everyone kind of "samey" and makes certain encounters rather binary; enemies who rely on will saves will be all but unusable against the party, and we are at a disadvantage against those who don't for spending so many of our build resources on it.
    You make it sound like a bad thing...?
    So the group has an area of expertise, which means people are likely to approach them and offer plot hooks.
    At the same time, the group has a weakness, so the DM can reign them in easily if things could get out of control. Additionally, everytime you encounter this type of enemy, your group knows they have to be careful.
    Sounds like a win-win to me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Crafting and wilderness exploration are both very common things that come up in adventures, yes. Whether this particular campaign will involve them, I don't know.
    They are "common things" in general, but maybe not specifically in this campaign. Crafting involves a lot of bookkeeping, and you already mentioned that your DM does not like this.
    Also, having a certain lack of skills offers great opportunities for roleplay ("I hate the woods") and new plothooks (where can we find a trustworthy guide?).


    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The system doesn't have a hard cap, although spell slots are a lot more limited than they are in D&D. The biggest issue is that undead don't heal naturally and will be worn down over time, but the DM doesn't want to handle that level of bookkeeping and doesn't trust Bob to.
    I don't think the retinue is a problem OOC, but I am pretty sure Brian is afraid Bob will insist on bringing a shambling horde of zombies into every combat with him.
    The bigger issue, I think, is social consequences.
    Skip the bookkeeping. Use your common sense and balancing skills to ballpark this. So you have like X spell slots for upholding your undead army? That's an average of Y undeads with an average of Z stats (no pun intended, but I will take it). Slab an additional bonus or malus on it for special circumstances, and done.
    Why is the shambling horde a problem? Because of the time it takes in combat? Just use some mob rules. Every undead adds +1 or whatever to the mob, which is handled like one character. Done.
    Social consequences are pretty much hardcoded into the setting, just like murder. Killing someone doesn't help you to make friends, same for having an undead army. Done.


    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I don't see how forcing the players to chase good money after bad should be necessary.

    If a fighter chooses a flaw that doesn't let them make ranged attacks, that should already be a big enough disadvantage without also requiring them to take weapon focus: longbow, if a specialist mage chooses to ban evocation, I don't see why you should require them to select magic missile as one of their starting spells, etc.
    You are perfectly right in that it makes sense that somebody who is bad at something wouldn't train this skill.
    However... from a balancing point of view, the trade might be to uneven. A flaw should hinder the character in a way that equals the net gains. You mentioned that you need this flaw in order to turn your character from underpowered into rather useful. Which seems to be a lot for one flaw. The question is, how much this flaw hinders you. If you did not intend to use the crafting skill anyway, this is not balanced. Now, it would be different if crafting was actually a huge thing in your system (for example because it is the only way to get health potions or earn decent money). But in most settings crafting is entirely optional, and in these cases your flaw would be completely unbalanced. I don't know your system, so I can't comment on it specifically.


    Some additions:
    Giving up your character concept (sense motive instead of survival and so on) sounds like a really bad idea to me, because now you have a character that you don't want to play as much as the one you wanted, all for the obscure idea of having a "well-rounded party" – which is a very old-fashioned concept that should be abandoned.

    Just remind the other players that you as players should keep in mind that this is a group game, so they should make up some reasons why they can tolerate each other. (Yes, I know your history, but this is still important... and I refuse to comment on these past issues any more).

    Many of the things you criticized or questioned are excellent learning opportunities in regard to system balance.
    What can change the nature of a man?

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The thing is, I designed my character as a follower rather than a schemer. I was really hoping Bob would take care of the scheming for he could play Palpatine to my Vader.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    Ogre can't be the party leader. Zero people skills, no idea if he wants the part.
    Pixie can't be the party leader. No reason to command necromancers and ne'erdowells.
    Brings it down to you and Bob. You designed your character to work for Bob, but you've got a lack of reason to work for a penniless street urchin.

    So it's time to find a reason why you'd be the bodyguard/executioner of a fledgeling wannabe Lord of Darkness and play the kingmaker of party dynamics.

    Perhaps you...
    • Saw some unnamed tragedy that this power unleashed, and realized that you could get in at the very, VERY ground level.
    • Are under geas or curse from some source to pledge your loyalty to street trash, and you decided that this one might actually turn into something.
    • One of your former masters had this power, and Bob's PC is young enough (and the lord's death long enough ago) that you think Bob's PC could be the reincarnation. Loyalty beyond death, and all that.
    • Prophecy is as prophecy does; you saw yourself becoming wildly successful under this person, and were surprised and disappointed when you found out that they were less than nothing at the start.
    Perhaps for some reason you have chosen to be the Guardian/Bodyguard/Regent for this young Dark Lord, and this is your way of "following" him. Optional on whether the Necromancer knows it or not. If it's not out in the open, he may suspect something at some point. This could also slot into any of the above ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    Let's touch on it, then. Bookkeeping issue: Either represent the undead like you represent hirelings (I think you had rules for those?) since that seemed to work out OK last time, or just do the bookkeeping yourself as a fair and neutral third party.

    Social issue: Most towns are going to look down on the walking dead, obviously. There's a couple solutions. You can disguise the undead as something else, if anyone has ranks in disguise. No? OK. Option 2: Underworld. Whether it's a network of thieves, a network of Igors, a network of bandits, or whathaveyou, there's some group that's skilled at shuffling a lot of people in and out of places unseen. Talk with the DM about this. Your PCs stay at the bandit camp/underground thieves' hall/furnished cave that the Igor set up for you, and hirelings do the various town things of restocking and so forth for you. Cuts down on NPCs he has to run, let me tell you. You wait for the jobs to come in, and you go forth and go to work.
    Our group had a Necromancer once who had an army. There were several times when he had to park them in the wilderness outside the city before entering. I only recall once when we returned that they had been wiped out. Bob's mileage may vary..

    Am I understanding that your system's rules have no cap on the number of undead that Bob's character can have? Perhaps Brian could house rule a cap like 3.x/PF/etc have just to keep a handle on things. Also as posted elsewhere, as Bob's Army grows in size he is likely to occupy the most game time with all the extra turns/actions.
    "Save your tears, my fetid friends, the dead have Wept enough!"
    The Tears of Blood Campaign Setting Updated 15 Dec 2019
    From the Tears of Blood GiTP Forums 2004-09: "20 million dead. Whatcha gonna do with 20 million dead? You can’t bury ‘em, no time or energy to dig the graves. You could chuck ‘em somewhere out of the way. Or you could burn ‘em. But, but what if those things angered someone, or put a bad curse on 'em? Maybe gettin’ rid of ‘em is better. Just a thought. Hey, you could help us!"

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    I see two potential pitfalls. Here are my recommendations to avoid them.

    1. Accept the DM’s reasonable rulings every time.

    A flaw that doesn’t limit you is not worth any points. Flaws give extra points because they are trading one ability for another. This is a reasonable ruling. Accept it, even if you would rule differently.

    And other rulings will come up. Accept them, and encourage others to accept them.

    A reasonable DM that everyone trusts is far more important than getting more rulings to go this way.

    [If Brian had asked for my advice, I’d be talking about trying to make sure every ruling is fair and reasonable. But he hasn’t asked me.]

    2. There is no inherent party loyalty built into the characters. So it has to come from the players.

    If every players commits to supporting the party, then you will work together.

    But this means actually supporting the party for real.

    No”But my character would leave him behind”.
    No “Stealing from them is just a prank”.
    No clever word games to pretend hurting the party is OK this one time.

    It doesn’t matter whether anybody “”bought” your alignment explanation. What matters is that you (and everybody else) actively support the party constantly.

    If you all support the party every single time, then the party will work.

    If you don’t, then it will blow up.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by GloatingSwine View Post
    To have weight, flaws should restrict the character from doing something they do want to do.

    If you were never going to do the thing the flaw restricts you from doing anyway it won't do anything in the game.

    If you get additional power for taking that flaw, the power is just free and everyone who wasn't going to do that thing should take it, and you should also take all the other flaws that stop you doing things you weren't going to do anyway.
    I suppose its a difference of philosophy then. I think flaws should make the character mechanically less effective, either by taking away options or reducing their effectiveness.

    I do not think that they should be for punishing the player.

    For example, you should take the blind flaw if you want to play a blind sword-master archetype, you should take the lame flaw if you want to play professor X, and you should be compensated for the mechanical disadvantage.

    In my case taking a crafting skill would be the optimal choice for the character, but I do not want to play a crafter so, imo, I should be compensated for it, just like the above example of a fighter who takes an oath to never use ranged weapons should be mechanically compensated for the inability to use a bow when faced with a flying enemy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrawn4 View Post
    Snip.
    Most of the stuff is concerns rather than problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrawn4 View Post
    Skip the bookkeeping. Use your common sense and balancing skills to ballpark this. So you have like X spell slots for upholding your undead army? That's an average of Y undeads with an average of Z stats (no pun intended, but I will take it). Slab an additional bonus or malus on it for special circumstances, and done.
    Why is the shambling horde a problem? Because of the time it takes in combat? Just use some mob rules. Every undead adds +1 or whatever to the mob, which is handled like one character. Done.
    Social consequences are pretty much hardcoded into the setting, just like murder. Killing someone doesn't help you to make friends, same for having an undead army. Done.
    I assume he doesn't want to enter a situation where the party is totally irrelevant to the game, and its just the three of us watching Bob takes turns for 900 undead minions.

    Likewise, I don't think he wants to play out us massacring random townsfolk to make a larger zombie horde, which is going to be the inevitable outcome of any "consequences".

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrawn4 View Post
    You are perfectly right in that it makes sense that somebody who is bad at something wouldn't train this skill.
    However... from a balancing point of view, the trade might be to uneven. A flaw should hinder the character in a way that equals the net gains. You mentioned that you need this flaw in order to turn your character from underpowered into rather useful. Which seems to be a lot for one flaw. The question is, how much this flaw hinders you. If you did not intend to use the crafting skill anyway, this is not balanced. Now, it would be different if crafting was actually a huge thing in your system (for example because it is the only way to get health potions or earn decent money). But in most settings crafting is entirely optional, and in these cases your flaw would be completely unbalanced. I don't know your system, so I can't comment on it specifically.
    Its not really that big a deal power wise. It does make my character weaker, but its not going to break the game; although I am going to have to squeeze every ounce of optimization out of my character to keep the rest of the party alive with their builds.

    Its really more about the temptation making me uncomfortable at the table; I have the option to the craft stuff at the end of every mission, but I really don't want to, but its just free money sitting there not being taken. I hate the dissonance of having my RP side and my optimizer side constantly at war with one another.

    Downtime activities typically provide about half as many resources as adventuring does, so my character would have, on average, 2/3 WBL.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2019-11-23 at 11:07 AM.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I suppose its a difference of philosophy then. I think flaws should make the character mechanically less effective, either by taking away options or reducing their effectiveness.

    I do not think that they should be for punishing the player.

    For example, you should take the blind flaw if you want to play a blind sword-master archetype, you should take the lame flaw if you want to play professor X, and you should be compensated for the mechanical disadvantage.

    In my case taking a crafting skill would be the optimal choice for the character, but I do not want to play a crafter so, imo, I should be compensated for it, just like the above example of a fighter who takes an oath to never use ranged weapons should be mechanically compensated for the inability to use a bow when faced with a flying enemy.
    I think what people are sticking on is that you appear to be double-dipping on the same mechanic to score two advantages for one disadvantage.

    You say you're disadvantaged by not taking a crafting skill, but presumably you're getting another skill instead, that's the mechanical payoff for not taking the crafting skill, whatever you chose instead.

    Then you're taking a flaw that only makes sense if you can craft things, on top of not taking the crafting skill, and getting another mechanical advantage for limiting your ability to do a thing you couldn't do in the first place.

    It's not like Professor X taking the "lame" feat. It's like Professor X taking the "can't tapdance" feat on top of being lame and expecting to get paid twice.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: How to prevent one of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories: PC Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I am fine not interacting with crafting, just like the necromancer won't be interacting with fighting styles and combat maneuvers.

    No, I am not forced into taking a flaw; its just that without it I am paying for crafting abilities that I will never use.
    O.o

    Why are you paying for abilities that you will never use? Can't you just not take any crafting abilities if you don't want to?


    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I don't see how forcing the players to chase good money after bad should be necessary.

    If a fighter chooses a flaw that doesn't let them make ranged attacks, that should already be a big enough disadvantage without also requiring them to take weapon focus: longbow, if a specialist mage chooses to ban evocation, I don't see why you should require them to select magic missile as one of their starting spells, etc.
    There is a difference between a flaw that removes or hinders something that is part of your character and gives some compensation for it and a flaw that removes or hinders something that was never part of your character and gives some compensation for it.

    In the first case, your character is (hopefully) equally powerful with and without the flaw. In the second case, your character is more powerful with the flaw than without. Most flaw systems try to achieve the first result. If yours doesn't, you should let Brian know.

    A specialist wizard that bans evocation shouldn't be forced to take magic missile. Something from their class has been taken away and they get more spell slots to compensate. It's a trade-off.

    What you wanted to do sounds a lot more like a wizard who takes a flaw that prevents him from ever wearing heavy armour in a system where wizards don't wear any kind of armour anyway. In other words: a freebie.

    There is a difference between
    a) Okay, I don't want to use evocation spells, so I am going to take an option that completely removes that feature from my class, thus making it less versatile, and I'll get more spell slots in exchange; and
    b) Okay, my wizard can't wear armour anyway, so I am going to take this option that makes my character unable to wear armour and gives me goodies in exchange.

    Now, I suspect that what you want to do doesn't quite fit in the model of taking a freebie, because you said that you're paying for crafting abilities. So I imagine that something else must be going on. But this is what it sounds like from my side of the screen.

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