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Talakeal
2019-11-21, 09:26 PM
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?

Lord of Shadows
2019-11-21, 10:30 PM
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

zinycor
2019-11-21, 11:15 PM
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.

Willie the Duck
2019-11-21, 11:23 PM
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?

Reversefigure4
2019-11-21, 11:28 PM
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.

Talakeal
2019-11-22, 12:58 AM
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.



¿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.



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.


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.


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.



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.

Pelle
2019-11-22, 04:30 AM
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.

zinycor
2019-11-22, 07:11 AM
Are there other flaws that you would be willing to take?

Reversefigure4
2019-11-22, 07:39 AM
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).

MoiMagnus
2019-11-22, 08:01 AM
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.

Hunter Noventa
2019-11-22, 08:20 AM
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.

patchyman
2019-11-22, 08:54 AM
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.

The Glyphstone
2019-11-22, 10:14 AM
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.

Quizatzhaderac
2019-11-22, 12:24 PM
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.

Fable Wright
2019-11-22, 12:53 PM
You're playing a wandering ronin, and have neither survival skills for the open road nor the samurai's signature bowmanship? :smallconfused:

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.

Talakeal
2019-11-22, 01:34 PM
You're playing a wandering ronin, and have neither survival skills for the open road nor the samurai's signature bowmanship? :smallconfused:

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

zinycor
2019-11-22, 01:45 PM
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?

Lord of Shadows
2019-11-22, 02:29 PM
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.


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..

Thinker
2019-11-22, 04:27 PM
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?


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?



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?



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.



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.



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.



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/comments/dyvw7m/how_are_our_characters_connected_a_random_chart/



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.

Talakeal
2019-11-22, 08:40 PM
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.


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.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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.



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/comments/dyvw7m/how_are_our_characters_connected_a_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.


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.


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!

KatsOfLoathing
2019-11-22, 09:13 PM
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.

Fable Wright
2019-11-23, 01:30 AM
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.




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.

GloatingSwine
2019-11-23, 07:04 AM
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.

zinycor
2019-11-23, 08:10 AM
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.



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).

Thrawn4
2019-11-23, 09:06 AM
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.




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?).




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.




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.

Lord of Shadows
2019-11-23, 09:20 AM
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.


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.


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.

Jay R
2019-11-23, 09:33 AM
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.



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 [I]every single time, then the party will work.

If you don’t, then it will blow up.

Talakeal
2019-11-23, 10:57 AM
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.


Snip.

Most of the stuff is concerns rather than problems.


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".


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.

GloatingSwine
2019-11-23, 11:48 AM
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.

MrSandman
2019-11-23, 12:08 PM
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?



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.

Talakeal
2019-11-23, 12:18 PM
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?

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.

In brief:

You can perform a number of actions during each downtime session equal to your wisdom modifier, and this is factored into the value of wisdom compared to the other ability scores. My character has an extremely high wisdom score.

The flaw I have taken reduces the character's effective wisdom score for the purposes of number of actions taken during downtime.

By wanting to play a high wisdom-non crafter I am playing an inferior character to, say, a high strength non-crafter.

zinycor
2019-11-23, 12:45 PM
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 believe you are right, there are differences in philosophies at play here.

Personally I believe flaws should be more about role-playing disadvantages and facilitate character concepts.

In my experience the best flaws are things like addictions, vows, phobias, psychiatric illnesses, etc. Which are things that are significant for the character, while not being that damaging to the mechanics.

I agree with the others and Brian, having your character take a crafting flaw isn't cool unless you actually are a crafting character.

Friv
2019-11-23, 12:52 PM
In brief:

You can perform a number of actions during each downtime session equal to your wisdom modifier, and this is factored into the value of wisdom compared to the other ability scores. My character has an extremely high wisdom score.

The flaw I have taken reduces the character's effective wisdom score for the purposes of number of actions taken during downtime.

By wanting to play a high wisdom-non crafter I am playing an inferior character to, say, a high strength non-crafter.

This may be a bit off-topic, but as a general suggestion from playing other games with downtime actions: If you want the downtime minigame to be a big part of the game in this way, you should include ways for everyone to take part in downtime actions, not just crafters. Have downtime actions to gather information from townsfolk, or to make a new friend who might help you out, or to train for a fleeting advantage in the next dungeon, etc. If that happens, losing downtime actions is actually a viable flaw for any character, not just crafting characters.

Talakeal
2019-11-23, 12:54 PM
In my experience, the best flaws are things like addictions, vows, phobias, psychiatric illnesses, etc. Which are things that are significant for the character, while not being that damaging to the mechanics.

If they don't have any mechanical effects, how are they flaws at all though?


I agree with the others and Brian, having your character take a crafting flaw isn't cool unless you actually are a crafting character.

To me that logic is totally backwards; its like saying "You can't take a pacifist flaw unless you are playing a warrior," "You can't take blind unless you are playing a lookout," "You can't take lame unless you are playing a runner," or "You can't take mute unless you are playing an orator".

The purpose of these flaw is to limit the character's options and abilities, and they do, forcing the player to throw away resources on top of the flaw just makes them weird and inelegant.


This may be a bit off-topic, but as a general suggestion from playing other games with downtime actions: If you want the downtime minigame to be a big part of the game in this way, you should include ways for everyone to take part in downtime actions, not just crafters. Have downtime actions to gather information from townsfolk, or to make a new friend who might help you out, or to train for a fleeting advantage in the next dungeon, etc. If that happens, losing downtime actions is actually a viable flaw for any character, not just crafting characters.

This is absolutely the case for my system, although my particular character does not have any skills or abilities that will be consistently useful in such a situation.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-11-23, 01:00 PM
This is sort of a good example of why flaw systems that give you extra "build points" or whatever are dumb and don't work. They just turn into an exercise in trying to weasel taking problems that don't matter as much as the bonus you get from them. If you're anemic life doesn't spontaneously give you better hearing to compensate.

The good flaw systems reward you with some sort of metacurrency whenever your flaw inconveniences you in actual play.

MrSandman
2019-11-23, 01:08 PM
In brief:

You can perform a number of actions during each downtime session equal to your wisdom modifier, and this is factored into the value of wisdom compared to the other ability scores. My character has an extremely high wisdom score.

The flaw I have taken reduces the character's effective wisdom score for the purposes of number of actions taken during downtime.

By wanting to play a high wisdom-non crafter I am playing an inferior character to, say, a high strength non-crafter.

Okay, that sounds a lot different now, thanks for explaining.

Aren't there other downtime activities that you'd like to do? If so, then said flaw could actually limit your character in some way, and thus be justified.

zinycor
2019-11-23, 01:39 PM
If they don't have any mechanical effects, how are they flaws at all though?

I didn't say they shouldn't have any mechanical effect.



To me that logic is totally backwards; its like saying "You can't take a pacifist flaw unless you are playing a warrior," "You can't take blind unless you are playing a lookout," "You can't take lame unless you are playing a runner," or "You can't take mute unless you are playing an orator".

The purpose of these flaw is to limit the character's options and abilities, and they do, forcing the player to throw away resources on top of the flaw just makes them weird and inelegant.

Why is limiting character's options a purpose? In my opinion the purpose of flaws should be to help create memorable characters... I don't see anything memorable about a warrior who is slow at crafting.

Talakeal
2019-11-23, 01:55 PM
Why is limiting character's options a purpose? In my opinion the purpose of flaws should be to help create memorable characters... I don't see anything memorable about a warrior who is slow at crafting.

That is actually a decent point.

Let me rephrase it:

The purpose of having rules for flaws is to offset the mechanical disadvantages imposed by RPing a character with some sort of disadvantage.

I am playing a character who was raised as nobility and trained to fight at the exclusion of all else, with a team of servants to provide and maintain her equipment for her. I do not feel that it makes sense for such a character to have either the skills or the temperament to engage in manual labor.

Part of the value of the wisdom attribute represents patience and dedication, and as I have a very high wisdom score I am entitled to craft a lot of items, which I will never do. Thus I feel it is appropriate to provide some mechanical compensation for me choosing not to use a resource I am entitled to.


This is sort of a good example of why flaw systems that give you extra "build points" or whatever are dumb and don't work. They just turn into an exercise in trying to weasel taking problems that don't matter as much as the bonus you get from them. If you're anemic life doesn't spontaneously give you better hearing to compensate.

That's really an argument against point by system rather than against flaws. One could say the same thing about putting an 8 into Intelligence and a 16 into strength, in real life being dumber doesn't automatically make you stronger!

Its a trade off between verisimilitude and keeping the players on a "fair level", and I feel there is a spectrum rather than one right answer.


The good flaw systems reward you with some sort of meta-currency whenever your flaw inconveniences you in actual play.

That method has its advantageous and its disadvantageous.

For example, it seems weird to me that if I choose to attack Superman with kryptonite, I should have a tangible advantage in the fight. If he is getting some sort of meta-currency which he uses to defeat me anyway, the whole thing is kind of pointless and hurts verisimilitude.

zinycor
2019-11-23, 02:13 PM
That is actually a decent point.

Let me rephrase it:

The purpose of having rules for flaws is to offset the mechanical disadvantages imposed by RPing a character with some sort of disadvantage.

I am playing a character who was raised as nobility and trained to fight at the exclusion of all else, with a team of servants to provide and maintain her equipment for her. I do not feel that it makes sense for such a character to have either the skills or the temperament to engage in manual labor.

Part of the value of the wisdom attribute represents patience and dedication, and as I have a very high wisdom score I am entitled to craft a lot of items, which I will never do. Thus I feel it is appropriate to provide some mechanical compensation for me choosing not to use a resource I am entitled to.
So will you be playing this character as the sort of person who expects others to do chores for her? Cause that seems like a memorable character... But not really the sort of character that I believe your group would enjoy.

Talakeal
2019-11-23, 02:15 PM
So will you be playing this character as the sort of person who expects others to do chores for her? Cause that seems like a memorable character... But not really the sort of character that I believe your group would enjoy.

Mostly. Depends on the chore though.

I expect we will have a lot of undead servants to handle menial tasks for us.

zinycor
2019-11-23, 02:26 PM
Mostly. Depends on the chore though.

I expect we will have a lot of undead servants to handle menial tasks for us.

Wouldn't using the zombies bother Bob?

Kane0
2019-11-23, 04:39 PM
Here are my suggestions:

- Ditch alignment entirely, personality and world perspective always break it at some point. 5e has traits/bonds/flaws which is a bit basic but works well.

- Take a flaw that actually affects you. Not because of anything to do with your system, but because the DM told you to.

- Talk with your table on your party composition and motivation for teamwork. Your DM has already told you its up to you, so get it done.
If you dont want to be any sort of crafter and crafting is a big deal, that needs to be talked about with the others.

- i dont see how being a defender fighter should stop you from some social or ranged abilities

- dont worry about brian doing bobs bookwork or everyones wisdom and encounter design. Thats not your problem, that is between brian and bob. If he asks you for help, answer purely mechanical questions (because youre the designer) and direct him here or some other 3rd party for everything else (because the bias on all sides is incredibly strong).

- save any changes to your system for the end of the campaign, just collect notes. You arent the DM or the designer, you are the player and playtester

Quertus
2019-11-23, 04:56 PM
I'm glad to hear that you recognize the superiority of the Lawful Evil alignment. Welcome to the team.

Lawful Evil is all about supporting the team - and, in that vein, from what you've said, I do have a few concerns.

------
System concerns
------

Why, if you are creating your own system, did you keep alignment? It really only serves to obfuscate the larger problems, like having a personality, or creating a cohesive party.

Why did you create a system where "craft or be underpowered" is something you'd hear the designer say?

------
Party concerns
------

Your party needs a reason to work together. Heck, they need something to do. Maybe it's just "walk around, kill monsters, loot the dead, animate the corpses". But, whatever it is, you should probably figure out what is, and make sure everyone is onboard with it.

Brian wants party unity to be the players'concern. You planned exactly one way that you thought the party would work (Bob hires party), based not on facts about Bob's character.

Sarah's pixie will often be out of range of the party? Why? Because you think she'll get ganked while scouting? Or some other reason?

------
Player concerns
------

You haven't even started the game yet, and you've already instilled the GM with reason to believe that you will be a problem back-seat GM.

Bob wants to play a Necromancer, but offload the bookkeeping to Brian.

------
Suggestions
------

Bob can do the bookkeeping, or he can play something else. This is not negotiable (unless someone at the table enjoys that sort of thing, at which point, it is). This is a game, to have fun, not an opportunity to force drudgery on someone else. That said, Bob might think that he's doing Brian & the group a favor, letting Brian handle the undead in a more "narrative" fashion (which would be much faster). If that's the case, y'all should explicitly discuss it, and see if Brian is onboard.

The undead hoard does not shrink. Natural animals will usually instinctively avoid it; any stupid (or sick or desperate) enough to not do so will get eaten, and added to the hoard. The hoard will naturally grow over time if left unattended. This assumes that the Necromancer's limiting factor is bodies to animate, not mana / spell slots. Point this out - to yourself, at least - then be happy with the reduced bookkeeping of just leaving the undead hoards unmolested in the wilderness.

Everybody had different 1st choices for starting country (and choose those for their origins), but shared a 3rd choice (then their characters met there)? Is it reasonable to assume that the party will remain in this single 3rd country? This is something y'all should probably get on the same page about, if possible.

No one can craft? Great. Either don't play that minigame, or… nah, just don't play that minigame.

Find out from the GM (Brian) where on the sandbox / railroad / linear / player-driven / etc spectrum(s) he expects the game to be. Then talk with the other players to give your characters the necessary amount and type of connections to work with that framework. Which, mind you, can be as simple as "4 strangers meet in a tavern, and sit at the same table", to as complex as weaving interconnected backstories & prophecies.

Quertus
2019-11-23, 07:24 PM
So, it seems that there's a lot of talk about the concept of flaws.

Talakeal, I would recommend that, for the next version, you redesign your system with lots of different potential downtime activities, not just crafting, so that characters like yours can utilize the downtime with things that they actually would do, and remove these… problematic types of "flaws".

In other words, is the flaw fair? Maybe. But some people intuitively don't think so. The easiest answer, IMO, is to simply design the game such that the flaw is unfair, then remove the flaw.

What should flaws be? I don't have an answer to that. What do you want them to be? Maybe we can work from there to an implementation that actually achieves your intended purpose.

Talakeal
2019-11-23, 08:13 PM
Honestly, at this point I don't think I even want to play amymore. It actually sounds like all of the responsibility of DMing with none of the creativity.



Talakeal, I would recommend that, for the next version, you redesign your system with lots of different potential downtime activities, not just crafting, so that characters like yours can utilize the downtime with things that they actually would do, and remove these… problematic types of "flaws".


Care to throw out a few suggestions?

zinycor
2019-11-23, 08:33 PM
The purpose of having rules for flaws is to offset the mechanical disadvantages imposed by RPing a character with some sort of disadvantage.


The more I read this... the less I understand it...

NichG
2019-11-23, 08:41 PM
I think this is the wrong discussion to be having, with regards to the subject of the thread.

Since Talakeal is the designer, his view on what a flaw should do and what is valid is basically authoritative. However, from the point of view of how to prevent a gaming horror story, pushing this point at the table - correct or not from a philosophical game design perspective - is exactly what should not be done.

Brian may be wrong from the viewpoint of system intent, but has made a ruling. Debating it might gain a bit of power for Talakeal's character, but at the cost of increasing stress for Brian and likely for anyone else witnessing the debate. So if the goal is to stabilize the game, let it go. If that will create serious issues in the ability of your character to do what's expected, ask to move some of those Wisdom points to another stat.

zinycor
2019-11-23, 08:56 PM
I think this is the wrong discussion to be having, with regards to the subject of the thread.

Since Talakeal is the designer, his view on what a flaw should do and what is valid is basically authoritative. However, from the point of view of how to prevent a gaming horror story, pushing this point at the table - correct or not from a philosophical game design perspective - is exactly what should not be done.

Brian may be wrong from the viewpoint of system intent, but has made a ruling. Debating it might gain a bit of power for Talakeal's character, but at the cost of increasing stress for Brian and likely for anyone else witnessing the debate. So if the goal is to stabilize the game, let it go. If that will create serious issues in the ability of your character to do what's expected, ask to move some of those Wisdom points to another stat.

That's a very good point, So, Tal... Would you like to receive advice as a player, as the designer, or are you ok with getting both kinds of advice?

Quertus
2019-11-23, 09:04 PM
Honestly, at this point I don't think I even want to play amymore. It actually sounds like all of the responsibility of DMing with none of the creativity.

Engaging in a social activity does, indeed, involve a certain responsibility.


Care to throw out a few suggestions?

Oh, since you're interested, happily! But, IIRC, someone already did. Hmmm… found it:



This may be a bit off-topic, but as a general suggestion from playing other games with downtime actions: If you want the downtime minigame to be a big part of the game in this way, you should include ways for everyone to take part in downtime actions, not just crafters. Have downtime actions to gather information from townsfolk, or to make a new friend who might help you out, or to train for a fleeting advantage in the next dungeon, etc. If that happens, losing downtime actions is actually a viable flaw for any character, not just crafting characters.

So, gathering information, making (& maintaining?) relationships, training. On top of "crafting". What other things do my characters do in downtime? Hmmm… write books, perform experiments, PR, train others, spell research, monster/Pokemon breeding, run businesses, run cons, steal, meddle in politics, start rumors, squelch rumors, decipher maps, translate ancient texts, drink / use recreational drugs, party, go wenching, just hang out, get a job, beg, arrange marriages, tend to the sick and injured, public works, perform, boast, pray, murder hobos, hunt, gather, dig up corpses, animate corpses, trade, rest.

That sounds like a good list, pulled from 5 or 6 of my characters (from several systems, but mostly D&D). Let's start there.

Not all downtime activities are created equal. But I'm guessing you want a roughly balanced final product?

So, you've got "crafting". Which adds resources. Well, you can add "hunting", "gathering", "scavenging", "working", "begging", "scamming/cons", "theft" as additional resource-adding activities. They should be "different, but equal" if you want to maintain game balance.

Resources can be spent to buy (rent) soldiers to help clear dungeons in your game, right? Well, "befriend" could do the same thing, right? Another "different but equal" resource.

Put a price on permanent soldiers, and you've not only got another use for the "befriend" pool, you've made it easy to compare to the various "scavenge bodies" (for animation) techniques / "Pokemon breeding" / etc to the balance baseline. Heck, one could even argue that "wenching" builds up a pool of bastard children that one could "I never knew my father" "Luke, I am your father" go and collect for a similar pool.

It might be harder to balance a pure money value of fame, or good PR. And some of the other outcomes of actions are information, plot hooks, changing the political landscape, and improving (or reducing) the "value" of a town/area (morale, infrastructure, etc). Unless your system has handy price tags associated with those, it'll have to be a "make a guess, and wing it - tweak it in the next version" scenario.

Note that there's some overlap here: someone hunting inherently produces a corpse, for example, or someone performing can improve morale / affect politics, make money, and watch certain areas. Go synergy! Whereas other activities can have negative synergy, like how begging might reduce fame/PR, or how illegal activity would do so… if you get caught.

Balancing all these, with their various resources and chances of downsides, would produce a rich downtime system, wherein the inability to craft would not be such a significant disadvantage.

Quertus
2019-11-24, 06:34 AM
I think this is the wrong discussion to be having, with regards to the subject of the thread.

Since Talakeal is the designer, his view on what a flaw should do and what is valid is basically authoritative. However, from the point of view of how to prevent a gaming horror story, pushing this point at the table - correct or not from a philosophical game design perspective - is exactly what should not be done.

Brian may be wrong from the viewpoint of system intent, but has made a ruling. Debating it might gain a bit of power for Talakeal's character, but at the cost of increasing stress for Brian and likely for anyone else witnessing the debate. So if the goal is to stabilize the game, let it go. If that will create serious issues in the ability of your character to do what's expected, ask to move some of those Wisdom points to another stat.

This is… tricky.

Talakeal, which do you care about more: your system, or your gaming group?

Because the advice above is very wise.

And, even if you go along with the group (which you already failed to do correctly), and later change your system based on how they've abused it, you'll need to correctly play the social minigame to not come off badly.

The group is playtesting your baby. But have you sewn the seeds correctly? Is that the way that they view this? Or will you changing your system based on your experiences just be viewed as sour grapes?

Did you have the group give feedback on the system at the end of the game that you ran? Did you listen to and make changes based on their feedback? Or did you ignore their feedback, like when they said it was too hard, and you replied with "it was exactly as hard as I intended"?

If you want to prevent another horror story, these are the subtle differences in your actions that can make that happen.

(EDIT: for example, personally, my instincts would be to amend the system such that the GM is not entitled to make rulings contrary to the intent of the system. Granted, being me, that probably would have been in the rules to begin with - but I would likely include what happened (B. denying you a flaw) as an example of how not to use the system. Which almost certainly wouldn't go over well with your group.)

Talakeal
2019-11-24, 05:01 PM
And, even if you go along with the group (which you already failed to do correctly), and later change your system based on how they've abused it, you'll need to correctly play the social minigame to not come off badly.

Out of curiosity, what is the correct way?

Also, do keep in mind that I have been conducting playtests for a long time now.


Engaging in a social activity does, indeed, involve a certain responsibility.

Oh, since you're interested, happily! But, IIRC, someone already did. Hmmm… found it:




So, gathering information, making (& maintaining?) relationships, training. On top of "crafting". What other things do my characters do in downtime? Hmmm… write books, perform experiments, PR, train others, spell research, monster/Pokemon breeding, run businesses, run cons, steal, meddle in politics, start rumors, squelch rumors, decipher maps, translate ancient texts, drink / use recreational drugs, party, go wenching, just hang out, get a job, beg, arrange marriages, tend to the sick and injured, public works, perform, boast, pray, murder hobos, hunt, gather, dig up corpses, animate corpses, trade, rest.

That sounds like a good list, pulled from 5 or 6 of my characters (from several systems, but mostly D&D). Let's start there.

Not all downtime activities are created equal. But I'm guessing you want a roughly balanced final product?

So, you've got "crafting". Which adds resources. Well, you can add "hunting", "gathering", "scavenging", "working", "begging", "scamming/cons", "theft" as additional resource-adding activities. They should be "different, but equal" if you want to maintain game balance.

Resources can be spent to buy (rent) soldiers to help clear dungeons in your game, right? Well, "befriend" could do the same thing, right? Another "different but equal" resource.

Put a price on permanent soldiers, and you've not only got another use for the "befriend" pool, you've made it easy to compare to the various "scavenge bodies" (for animation) techniques / "Pokemon breeding" / etc to the balance baseline. Heck, one could even argue that "wenching" builds up a pool of bastard children that one could "I never knew my father" "Luke, I am your father" go and collect for a similar pool.

It might be harder to balance a pure money value of fame, or good PR. And some of the other outcomes of actions are information, plot hooks, changing the political landscape, and improving (or reducing) the "value" of a town/area (morale, infrastructure, etc). Unless your system has handy price tags associated with those, it'll have to be a "make a guess, and wing it - tweak it in the next version" scenario.

Note that there's some overlap here: someone hunting inherently produces a corpse, for example, or someone performing can improve morale / affect politics, make money, and watch certain areas. Go synergy! Whereas other activities can have negative synergy, like how begging might reduce fame/PR, or how illegal activity would do so… if you get caught.

Balancing all these, with their various resources and chances of downsides, would produce a rich downtime system, wherein the inability to craft would not be such a significant disadvantage.

The system already includes almost all of that except for the planning, the political stuff, and the "unskilled laborer" stuff.

I could see adding a planning mechanic, that might be cool. I'll think about it.
I am not sure if I want to put a political system into the game; but maybe.
The unskilled laborer stuff mostly happens off camera and is exactly the sort of thing I don't want rules for.

But the problem remains, there is absolutely nothing on that list that my character would have even the slightest bit of interest in doing.

The Glyphstone
2019-11-24, 05:05 PM
At that point, this sounds like a character problem. What does your character do when he's not busy adventuring, stare blankly at undecorated walls? RL ronin/samurai were famously expected to be cultured in addition to their warrior skills - writing poetry or painting, calligraphy, etc.

zinycor
2019-11-24, 05:27 PM
Out of curiosity, what is the correct way?

A game where people don't insult each other.

Talakeal
2019-11-24, 05:36 PM
Why, if you are creating your own system, did you keep alignment? It really only serves to obfuscate the larger problems, like having a personality, or creating a cohesive party.

I didn't keep alignment as such. There are no mechanical effects related to alignment, I don't actual use any of the D&D terms or definitions, and the section about it in the book is entirely in the section about creating a cohesive party.


Why did you create a system where "craft or be underpowered" is something you'd hear the designer say?

There are really two questions packed together here.

I put crafting in the game because it is a tremendously important archetype in fiction. Iron Man and Batman derive the majority of their power from designing their own gear, and many other heroes have a gadgeteer supplying them behind the scenes, James Bond's Q being probably the most famous example. I wanted to make a system that was in stark opposition to the modern D&D approach of "You are an adventurer first, and whatever skills you have outside of the dungeon are irrelevant," and make crafters, scholars, and diplomats of various sorts into valid character archetypes; and they are typically very popular in my previous playtests.

Ability scores are there to provide a base level of competence. and part of intelligence and wisdom are providing boosts to crafting. The system has built in flaws in it so that you can recoup some of the points you put into those ability scores if you have no interest in those areas, but a character who is denied those flaws is going to be underpowered. Its not really a default part of the system; its just this particular DMs ruling, like how a wizard would be underpowered in a D&D setting where writing has yet to be invented.

Now, the theoretical "optimal" party would likely have either a dedicated crafter or crafting skills spread amongst several characters just so they can hit all the bases, but its no more important than any other character archetype. The team is more than the sum of its parts and all that.


Your party needs a reason to work together. Heck, they need something to do. Maybe it's just "walk around, kill monsters, loot the dead, animate the corpses". But, whatever it is, you should probably figure out what is, and make sure everyone is onboard with it.

Yep.



Brian wants party unity to be the players' concern. You planned exactly one way that you thought the party would work (Bob hires party), based not on facts about Bob's character.

I asked the rest of the party about their character's long term goals. Dave and Sarah shrugged, Bob told me that his goal was to establish an empire of the undead. So I abandoned the character I wanted to play and instead made one that would work with Bob on both a practical and ethical level. It wasn't until after our characters were finished that he decided he was going to be an outcast street urchin.



Sarah's pixie will often be out of range of the party? Why? Because you think she'll get ganked while scouting? Or some other reason?

She plans on being flying and invisible 24/7. That means I won't be able to find her more often than not, let alone actually be able to get to her.



You haven't even started the game yet, and you've already instilled the GM with reason to believe that you will be a problem back-seat GM.

It seems pretty normal to argue your case when the DM rejects your character, or maybe its just my "bizarre world" experience.

Claiming that "I let my players do it" seems to be the natural counter to his claim that I was doing something in bad faith.



Bob wants to play a Necromancer, but offload the bookkeeping to Brian.

That is Brian's fear, yes.



The undead hoard does not shrink. Natural animals will usually instinctively avoid it; any stupid (or sick or desperate) enough to not do so will get eaten, and added to the hoard. The hoard will naturally grow over time if left unattended. This assumes that the Necromancer's limiting factor is bodies to animate, not mana / spell slots. Point this out - to yourself, at least - then be happy with the reduced bookkeeping of just leaving the undead hoards unmolested in the wilderness.

That is VERY setting specific. Most undead do not reproduce naturally, and those that do are not bound to a necromancer's will. Heck, most bound undead won't kill random animals unless explicitly ordered to, and doing so will likely draw more attention to them from local churches and crusaders.



No one can craft? Great. Either don't play that minigame, or… nah, just don't play that minigame.

Not a terrible idea. But that also means we do not have the capacity to maintain or repair our existing gear either.



Everybody had different 1st choices for starting country (and choose those for their origins), but shared a 3rd choice (then their characters met there)? Is it reasonable to assume that the party will remain in this single 3rd country? This is something y'all should probably get on the same page about, if possible.

Find out from the GM (Brian) where on the sandbox / railroad / linear / player-driven / etc spectrum(s) he expects the game to be. Then talk with the other players to give your characters the necessary amount and type of connections to work with that framework. Which, mind you, can be as simple as "4 strangers meet in a tavern, and sit at the same table", to as complex as weaving interconnected backstories & prophecies.

It is. Nobody but me seems interested in working out the answers to those questions.

At this point I actually kind of feel like I am back in school, where the teacher assigns a group project and I end up doing the whole thing myself because I don't want to fail and everyone else just bailed.


At that point, this sounds like a character problem. What does your character do when he's not busy adventuring, stare blankly at undecorated walls? RL ronin/samurai were famously expected to be cultured in addition to their warrior skills - writing poetry or painting, calligraphy, etc.

Alternating between training, meditation, and failing at house-keeping.

I might have put some points into artwork to represent calligraphy or the like, but I certainly would never sell my work, which means that would make my character even weaker.

I agree, it is a character problem, but it isn't my character problem as I have never had a problem with characters who don't have craft skills.

Also, having a flawed character is part of storytelling; you can't have a character arc if you start out without flaws. The idea that she was trained to fight and to lead armies but is currently in a position where she doesn't trust herself to do is the characters "tragic flaw" that will ultimately lead to her downfall.


A game where people don't insult each other.

Who insulted anyone?

zinycor
2019-11-24, 05:49 PM
Who insulted anyone?

From "Crafting, teamwork, retcons, and the DM's role" First page, Post numer 14:


I said he could make the choice, either we played it as was or we retconned his character from the scenario but would then not get a share of the treasure. Which resulted in a bunch of threats, bile, and name calling directed towards both me and the other player instead of a decision.

Emphasis mine

Talakeal
2019-11-24, 05:53 PM
From "Crafting, teamwork, retcons, and the DM's role" First page, Post numer 14:



Emphasis mine

Dude, why are you bringing up something that happened a year ago in another thread about another game?

What the heck does that have to do with the "correct way to create a character"?

zinycor
2019-11-24, 05:58 PM
Dude, why are you bringing up something that happened a year ago in another thread about another game?

What the heck does that have to do with the "correct way to create a character"?

Oh! so did your group fix the trust issues that caused that situation?

And you asked about the right way to play, not create a character.

For me, the correct way to create a character is to work with your whole table, on a session 0, where all players agree on the kind of game they want to play, then decide on a way your characters could know each other... Then create a character.

Talakeal
2019-11-24, 06:12 PM
And you asked about the right way to play, not create a character.

How could I have already "failed to play correctly" when the game won't even start for another month?

zinycor
2019-11-24, 06:15 PM
How could I have already "failed to play correctly" when the game won't even start for another month?

Is this a new group of players? If so I apologize, I was sure you continued to play with the very same group you had been playing for the last year.

Talakeal
2019-11-24, 06:17 PM
Is this a new group of players? If so I apologize, I was sure you continued to play with the very same group you had been playing for the last year.

Yes, I am absolutely sure that Quertus meant that I had "failed to play correctly" by continuing to game with my friends rather than throwing them to the curb because we don't have a perfect relationship.

zinycor
2019-11-24, 06:21 PM
Yes, I am absolutely sure that Quertus meant that I had "failed to play correctly" by continuing to game with my friends rather than throwing them to the curb because we don't have a perfect relationship.

The color on that text is weird to me, since that seems like the obvious solution but you chose to say with sarcasm...

AdAstra
2019-11-24, 06:22 PM
Her's a build question. Wisdom is used for downtime activities, but what else is it useful for? I would assume spellcasting, but you're not a caster.

From an optimization perspective, if your character has no abilities that are in any way assisted by Wisdom other than saves, and you don't want abilities that take advantage of your Wisdom, then any negative effects on your character are entirely your doing, since you chose to have high Wisdom rather than say, Strength. I'm not sure why you feel you need to be compensated for taking what seems to be a suboptimal stat spread for your "build"...

...unless you specifically designed the game to allow you to make any given character type through a variety of stat spreads. In which case, if you want a high-Wisdom non-crafting fighter to be viable, you should probably have designed other ways for Wisdom to be useful to such a character.

Talakeal
2019-11-24, 06:29 PM
The color on that text is weird to me, since that seems like the obvious solution but you chose to say with sarcasm...

Its sarcastic because, while you might feel that way, I am fairly confident that is not what Quertus was saying, but I suppose we will have to wait for him to post again to be sure.


On a more general note, everyone has underlying issues with their relationships, and everyone has gotten into a fight or said something they shouldn't have to anyone they have ever spent a significant amount of time with. If I followed that "obvious solution", I am pretty sure I would have long since disowned my family, dropped out of school, quit my job, and given up on every hobby I ever had.


Her's a build question. Wisdom is used for downtime activities, but what else is it useful for? I would assume spellcasting, but you're not a caster.

From an optimization perspective, if your character has no abilities that are in any way assisted by Wisdom other than saves, and you don't want abilities that take advantage of your Wisdom, then any negative effects on your character are entirely your doing, since you chose to have high Wisdom rather than say, Strength. I'm not sure why you feel you need to be compensated for taking what seems to be a suboptimal stat spread for your "build"...

...unless you specifically designed the game to allow you to make any given character type through a variety of stat spreads. In which case, if you want a high-Wisdom non-crafting fighter to be viable, you should probably have designed other ways for Wisdom to be useful to such a character.

Every stat is useful for every character type.

The ability to play a character who is otherwise good in an area but has one deficit is exactly why flaws are in the game; so you can play a slow guy with a high dex, or a non-crafter with a high wisdom, or a blind guy with a high perception, or a one-armed man with a high strength, etc.

zinycor
2019-11-24, 07:07 PM
Its sarcastic because, while you might feel that way, I am fairly confident that is not what Quertus was saying, but I suppose we will have to wait for him to post again to be sure.


On a more general note, everyone has underlying issues with their relationships, and everyone has gotten into a fight or said something they shouldn't have to anyone they have ever spent a significant amount of time with. If I followed that "obvious solution", I am pretty sure I would have long since disowned my family, dropped out of school, quit my job, and given up on every hobby I ever had.

I disagree with this idea, There is merit on knowing when to end a toxic relationship. You don't have to continue to share time with people that don't respect you as a person.




Every stat is useful for every character type.

The ability to play a character who is otherwise good in an area but has one deficit is exactly why flaws are in the game; so you can play a slow guy with a high dex, or a non-crafter with a high wisdom, or a blind guy with a high perception, or a one-armed man with a high strength, etc.

How is Wisdom relevant for your character then

Talakeal
2019-11-24, 07:16 PM
How is Wisdom relevant for your character then

Allows me to resist magic and social influence, increases morale and pain threshold, and gives me a floating pool of "willpower points" which I can use to modify dice rolls.

zinycor
2019-11-24, 08:04 PM
Anyway, back to the main topic:

In regards to how your group met each other, this seems like a pretty standard pirate crew.

Bob is an urchin with big aspirations, therefore he joins a pirate crew.
Sarah, is a mischeaveous pixie, she joins the pirate crew to run from people who didn't enjoy her pranks and travel around the world.
Your character is a ronin with no practical abilities outside of combat, joining a life of crime seems only natural to hide from whatever clan may be hunting you.
Dave can be the captain.

Seems like a pretty standard group.

Excession
2019-11-24, 08:55 PM
Anyway, back to the main topic:

In regards to how your group met each other, this seems like a pretty standard pirate crew.

Bob is an urchin with big aspirations, therefore he joins a pirate crew.
Sarah, is a mischeaveous pixie, she joins the pirate crew to run from people who didn't enjoy her pranks and travel around the world.
Your character is a ronin with no practical abilities outside of combat, joining a life of crime seems only natural to hide from whatever clan may be hunting you.
Dave can be the captain.

Seems like a pretty standard group.

One lost boy whose friends don't grow old, a pixie, and a pirate. You're already a gritty reboot of a beloved classic, so you may as well lean into it ... how do you feel about humanoid crocodilians Talakeal? :smallbiggrin:
https://cdna.artstation.com/p/assets/images/images/004/790/404/large/muhammx-mahrozi-samurai-crocodile-low-jpg.jpg

zinycor
2019-11-24, 08:59 PM
One lost boy whose friends don't grow old, a pixie, and a pirate. You're already a gritty reboot of a beloved classic, so you may as well lean into it ... how do you feel about humanoid crocodilians Talakeal? :smallbiggrin:
https://cdna.artstation.com/p/assets/images/images/004/790/404/large/muhammx-mahrozi-samurai-crocodile-low-jpg.jpg

That's amazing!

AdAstra
2019-11-24, 11:31 PM
Its sarcastic because, while you might feel that way, I am fairly confident that is not what Quertus was saying, but I suppose we will have to wait for him to post again to be sure.


On a more general note, everyone has underlying issues with their relationships, and everyone has gotten into a fight or said something they shouldn't have to anyone they have ever spent a significant amount of time with. If I followed that "obvious solution", I am pretty sure I would have long since disowned my family, dropped out of school, quit my job, and given up on every hobby I ever had.



Every stat is useful for every character type.

The ability to play a character who is otherwise good in an area but has one deficit is exactly why flaws are in the game; so you can play a slow guy with a high dex, or a non-crafter with a high wisdom, or a blind guy with a high perception, or a one-armed man with a high strength, etc.

A question I forgot to ask before. Does crafting always require a specific skill to do? If so, it seems unnecessary to have both a build cost to craft, and a flaw that reduces your crafting speed. If you need skills to craft, and you don't have any crafting abilities to begin with, slow crafting is a no-brainer. Either you get extra build resources to do other things with, or you can use those points to get crafting abilities you wouldn't have at all otherwise.

I don't think using flaws is really appropriate for this. Compared to say, being blind, or having one eye, or an alcoholic, "slow crafting" doesn't seem like much of a hindrance from a storytelling perspective. It feels like a purely gameplay element, like "heals slowly" or "gets less damage when using axes". Rather than helping to make unique flawed character and not be hamstrung, this feels more like a minmaxer's tool. Plus "refuses to do manual labor" is far from an endearing character trait on the player side of things.

Nothing stops you from doing other things with your downtime, and also presumably, your other options aren't any worse than crafting. Your reduced crafting ability isn't really a meaningful hindrance if you can badger the other characters into making things for you, which could itself cause further inter-party friction. Item-crafting is something of a "party skill" due to items being transferable, so unless you've made it clear you won't ask other characters to make you things, you're not losing out on crafted items, other players are losing downtime making stuff for you.

That might be part of the concern for Brian. If you take the flaw, don't make anything yourself and expect other people to do the crafting for you, you're basically being rewarded with build resources for making other people do the work for you.

Therein might lie the key to convincing Brian if you're dead-set on doing that. Expand the scope of the flaw. Not only does your character refuse to craft, they're also too proud to accept items from other players without fair compensation. That way, you have assurance for Brian that you are actually putting yourself at a disadvantage. You'll always be behind a crafting character in terms of equipment without shelling out the cash, thus justifying your extra build resources.

Quertus
2019-11-24, 11:51 PM
Yes, I am absolutely sure that Quertus meant that I had "failed to play correctly" by continuing to game with my friends rather than throwing them to the curb because we don't have a perfect relationship.


Its sarcastic because, while you might feel that way, I am fairly confident that is not what Quertus was saying, but I suppose we will have to wait for him to post again to be sure.

If I've kept the context here, this was in reference to

It seems pretty normal to argue your case when the DM rejects your character, or maybe its just my "bizarre world" experience.

Claiming that "I let my players do it" seems to be the natural counter to his claim that I was doing something in bad faith.

Shrug. Your GM took it a particular way. Because they took it that way, you have already failed at this particular task.


On a more general note, everyone has underlying issues with their relationships, and everyone has gotten into a fight or said something they shouldn't have to anyone they have ever spent a significant amount of time with. If I followed that "obvious solution", I am pretty sure I would have long since disowned my family, dropped out of school, quit my job, and given up on every hobby I ever had.

There is wisdom here / a certain nobility in perseverance.


Out of curiosity, what is the correct way?

Lost the context…


Also, do keep in mind that I have been conducting playtests for a long time now.

That… doesn't answer how the players perceive the game.


The system already includes almost all of that except for the planning, the political stuff, and the "unskilled laborer" stuff.

But the problem remains, there is absolutely nothing on that list that my character would have even the slightest bit of interest in doing.

Great! So, what will your character be doing during downtime?

Alternating between training, meditation, and failing at house-keeping.

I might have put some points into artwork to represent calligraphy or the like, but I certainly would never sell my work, which means that would make my character even weaker.

Well, that sounds suboptimal. Unless, of course, spending your downtime actions on those activities is actually balanced in your system. So, do "training" and "failing" improve your character - and, in particular, improve your character at an equivalent rate to "crafting"? Why / why not?


I could see adding a planning mechanic, that might be cool. I'll think about it.

Eh, I, personally, am probably not a fan of most likely implementations, so don't add it on my account.


I am not sure if I want to put a political system into the game; but maybe.

… you've never had anyone engaged in politics in downtime?


The unskilled laborer stuff mostly happens off camera and is exactly the sort of thing I don't want rules for.

… what? It would seem like the things that happen off camera would be exactly the things you'd want to sum up with a simple roll/rule.

However, who said anything about "unskilled"?

Speaking of, what is your character skilled at? Sense Motive? So, maybe they get a job as… a counselor… and earn money equivalent to what someone with equal crafting would produce.


I didn't keep alignment as such. There are no mechanical effects related to alignment, I don't actual use any of the D&D terms or definitions, and the section about it in the book is entirely in the section about creating a cohesive party.

A section which your party… rolled into a blunt and smoked? :smallconfused:


There are really two questions packed together here.

I put crafting in the game because it is a tremendously important archetype in fiction. Iron Man and Batman derive the majority of their power from designing their own gear, and many other heroes have a gadgeteer supplying them behind the scenes, James Bond's Q being probably the most famous example. I wanted to make a system that was in stark opposition to the modern D&D approach of "You are an adventurer first, and whatever skills you have outside of the dungeon are irrelevant," and make crafters, scholars, and diplomats of various sorts into valid character archetypes; and they are typically very popular in my previous playtests.

Ability scores are there to provide a base level of competence. and part of intelligence and wisdom are providing boosts to crafting. The system has built in flaws in it so that you can recoup some of the points you put into those ability scores if you have no interest in those areas, but a character who is denied those flaws is going to be underpowered. Its not really a default part of the system; its just this particular DMs ruling, like how a wizard would be underpowered in a D&D setting where writing has yet to be invented.

So, if this were point-buy, and you could buy wisdom for 3 points each, or buy for 2 points each with the limitation, "does not apply to (number of) downtime (actions)", that would make sense, and I think most Playgrounders would accept that limitation.

However, when the Flash tries to buy his Dexterity with the limitation "does not apply to astral combat" or "does not apply when flying", it's likely to get shot down.

If Wisdom determines the number of downtime actions you get, and you've got a rich downtime system which allows you to do many things, then an optimizer who gets fewer actions to just one category will simply do the other things. If these downtime actions are balanced, then that won't impose too much of a problem (yes, sometimes, crafting really is the right answer, and they have to be slow, or take complex / suboptimal workarounds). However, when that's coupled with a skill system, and they haven't made any investment in bluff, a flaw that says, "you get fewer actions to run a con during downtime" doesn't sound like much of a limit.


Now, the theoretical "optimal" party would likely have either a dedicated crafter or crafting skills spread amongst several characters just so they can hit all the bases, but its no more important than any other character archetype. The team is more than the sum of its parts and all that.

Would an optimal party have a dedicated PR agent, a dedicated relationship manager, a dedicated rumormonger, a dedicated plot hook collector, a dedicated property manager, a dedicated financier? If not, why is crafting a more optimal use of downtime in your system?


That is VERY setting specific. Most undead do not reproduce naturally, and those that do are not bound to a necromancer's will. Heck, most bound undead won't kill random animals unless explicitly ordered to, and doing so will likely draw more attention to them from local churches and crusaders.

The undead hoard have standing orders to defend the hoard. A squirrel comes along, and triggers their orders - add one squirrel corpse. A hungry dog tries to gnaw on them - add one dog corpse. A sick brown fox dies, and gets lumped in with the lazy dog. The Necromancer checks on them, animates the dumb/sick/desperate creatures who chose to add themselves to the hoard.

That's what I meant when I said that the hoard grows by default.

Heck, the hoard could have a "deterioration rate", just like equipment apparently does if you're talking about "maintaining" it, and the Necromancer could use his downtime actions explicitly in a "grow the hoard" action. Their wisdom could represent their choice of where to park the hoard (elephant or dragon graveyards sound fairly optimal to me).

Fable Wright
2019-11-25, 12:07 AM
Anyway, back to the main topic:

In regards to how your group met each other, this seems like a pretty standard pirate crew.

Bob is an urchin with big aspirations, therefore he joins a pirate crew.
Sarah, is a mischeaveous pixie, she joins the pirate crew to run from people who didn't enjoy her pranks and travel around the world.
Your character is a ronin with no practical abilities outside of combat, joining a life of crime seems only natural to hide from whatever clan may be hunting you.
Dave can be the captain.

Seems like a pretty standard group.

Suggested this back on page one. Got this response.


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.

zinycor
2019-11-25, 12:22 AM
I am playing a character who was raised as nobility and trained to fight at the exclusion of all else, with a team of servants to provide and maintain her equipment for her. I do not feel that it makes sense for such a character to have either the skills or the temperament to engage in manual labor.

Part of the value of the wisdom attribute represents patience and dedication, and as I have a very high wisdom score I am entitled to craft a lot of items, which I will never do. Thus I feel it is appropriate to provide some mechanical compensation for me choosing not to use a resource I am entitled to.


How is Trained to fight to the exclusion of all else = high wisdom? I don't think the character you described would be particularly patient or dedicated.

As you have described your chracter, my best proxy for someone in the current time would be someone who was raised on the high class, and was pretty spoiled as child, this person grew out to be very good at sports, but one time everything went to **** and they lost all support from their family. Now, this person needs to come rise to the ocassion on their own, despite the fact that they don't have many practical abilities for the daily life.

Now, I believe this could be a very entertaining character to play... I just don't see the wisdom in there... And in regards to the downtime activities this character would take part on.... I would imagine they would spend their time at parties (being pretty immature) or working on whatever (Desperate for money).

In fact, If I were in your position I would play this character as someone very superficial, who values money, race, and social standing above all, while trying to ascend... Maybe eventually lerning a valuable lesson about hard work or what matters is what is inside or whatever...


Suggested this back on page one. Got this response.

I see... But neither you nor me said Dave's character would be a great captain... So I don't think Tal's response applies...

The Glyphstone
2019-11-25, 12:30 AM
In fact, the ogres terrible intelligence and charisma might be why the group is together. They are the only 'crew' willing to work for him, anyone else found a smarter/more charismatic leader.

Kaptin Keen
2019-11-25, 01:57 AM
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.

This is why I don't allow any sort of drawbacks in my games. Turns out, if you tell people 'you cannot take any drawback that doesn't actually come into play' - no one wants them.

So I just hand out bonus feats. Keeps everyone happy.

Lord of Shadows
2019-11-25, 02:02 AM
Just went back and re-read the thread... I had thought that some sort of effort had been put into pre-planning for this game, what is often called a Session 0 (https://geekandsundry.com/roleplaying-basics-the-importance-of-session-zero/). It seems that an effort was made, but that many issues still remain. Talakeal, you talk about how other players shrugged when asked about some things, and other things don't seem to have been discussed at all, often forcing you to have assumptions and expectations about how they are going to be handled. Chances are that the same applies to the other players and the DM as well. Since you say it is another month before this game starts, there may still be time to prevent many misunderstandings and problems in the party. You can even still do much of what makes up a "Session 0" before its too late. The rules system is chosen, and Characters are already created, but there are other issues that can be addressed. It doesn't have to be called a "Session 0" if that name would bother anyone. Call it a Planning Session, or a Strategy Session, or whatever. In fact let's just call it a Planning Session to make it as generic a name as possible.

Here are some of the issues you have brought up that a Planning Session could address:



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.

[..snip..]

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.



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.

[..snip..]

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.

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.

[..snip..]

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.


Now, the theoretical "optimal" party would likely have either a dedicated crafter or crafting skills spread amongst several characters just so they can hit all the bases, but its no more important than any other character archetype. The team is more than the sum of its parts and all that.

[..snip..]

I asked the rest of the party about their character's long term goals. Dave and Sarah shrugged, Bob told me that his goal was to establish an empire of the undead. So I abandoned the character I wanted to play and instead made one that would work with Bob on both a practical and ethical level. It wasn't until after our characters were finished that he decided he was going to be an outcast street urchin.



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.

[..snip..]

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.

[..snip..]

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.

[..snip..]

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.



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.


I expect we will have a lot of undead servants to handle menial tasks for us.



Honestly, at this point I don't think I even want to play anymore. It actually sounds like all of the responsibility of DMing with none of the creativity.


At this point I actually kind of feel like I am back in school, where the teacher assigns a group project and I end up doing the whole thing myself because I don't want to fail and everyone else just bailed.
If you agree this is a good idea, you should probably start by suggesting it to Brian and explain how it could make his DMing job easier. Tell him to Google "Session 0" or shoot him the link at the beginning of this post. Some things won't apply (i.e., the rules system has already been chosen) and some things will. The reason the gaming community developed the "Session 0" idea was to avoid game play getting bogged down by problems later. Players can often become disillusioned, and even irritated, by disagreements and disputes over things that could have been resolved before the game even started.

You know your table better than we do... I could speculate about what certain reactions to this might be, but if Brian gets on board then it is really up to him at that point and how hard he wants to push it. Point out the likely consequences of a player who refuses to participate... Sometimes that may be OK, but as toxic as your group is, well, just think about it.

Also, keep in mind that this doesn't mean having to change characters. Many, many good ideas have been presented in the thread describing how and why this motley crew came together. A Planning Session would allow you to discuss those with the other players and the DM, who might want to incorporate something into his campaign.

Good luck...

Pelle
2019-11-25, 03:27 AM
Also, having a flawed character is part of storytelling; you can't have a character arc if you start out without flaws. The idea that she was trained to fight and to lead armies but is currently in a position where she doesn't trust herself to do is the characters "tragic flaw" that will ultimately lead to her downfall.


So take the "Doesn't trust herself" flaw instead of the "Will not craft" flaw?

Onos
2019-11-25, 08:27 AM
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?

Alright, let's see if we can unpack this.

First of all, anywhere you're not using D&D stuff (like alignment) I'd strongly recommend marking this in some way, purely to stop people from picking at things which are irrelevant. Honestly something like "I'm playing a Lawful Evil(*) character with the Bad at Stabbing(*) flaw" would be fine.

While odd, all having the same highest ability isn't too big of a deal tbh. And in the same section "mechanical concerns" you've listed a lack of social skills - honestly if the bard is anything like a normal bard this should again be cool.

Bookkeeping for undead: unless there are any volunteers this is pretty straightforward. The necromancer deals with it. (That said, someone earlier in the thread raised the point that it may actually be to put DMs mind at ease. If that's the case that has to be explicitly voiced.) Likewise with the social consequences and maintenance, it's part and parcel of being lord of the grave. (Kind of setting dependant though, any Necrocracy for example would probably be chill with him.)

Alignment issues: honestly I think dealing with the specifics of your system would be better. "Loyal follower" and "Lawful Evil" could very easily be taken differently. I really don't mind (or use tbh) alignment at my table but even I would say there is a difference there. Unless it's going to have a big impact on the game I'd personally drop it altogether. Fair enough if you want to stick with it though, I get that alignment is a popular mechanic.

Personally I'm tentatively on your side with the flaws (would need to read the system fully to make a solid verdict but I agree with the semantics of your argument). But, it's not you or me running things, so you'll just need to put up with the ruling.

With regards to your character, you've mentioned that this was not your first choice and that your lack of Survival etc was also not your first choice. Honestly, if you're having major issues with this character, I'd suggest going back to what you had in mind before. Yeah it's not great but I'd rather use a character which will work at the table and save my super-awesome character for when it will get a chance to be used properly. Again, personal taste.

I'm getting major alarm bells from the sprite bard, like really major. Strongly suggesting a change of race to something a bit more standard.

As far as anything else goes, a proper session zero should sort you guys right out. In my experience it's not a great idea to have everyone make characters separately, and before the actual campaign has been decided to boot. Had some great times happen with a very dysfunctional party but generally more hassle than it's worth.

And my 2 pence why the party is together....well I really liked the idea someone had about the necromancer being a reincarnation of your previous master (honourable mention for "tricking" the ogre). Honestly though? You're a bunch of somewhat evil exiles and a fey. You happen to meet, discuss your respective lack of fortune (dumb ogre and naive kid spill the beans easy enough even if your samurai is too cagey), and the sprite is surprisingly down for whatever. Hey, fey are fickle, alright? Plus no reason you couldn't be out to corrupt the sprite, sprites also an exile from the feywild, the list goes on. At the point where you've made characters separately I don't see it as needing anything particularly iron-clad for a reason to adventure. DM could always throw the obligatory "prophetic dreams" or whatever if you guys really have to be tied together.

Best of luck Tal! Hoping for something slightly less horror-worthy from this campaign :smallbiggrin:

Thinker
2019-11-25, 11:58 AM
Sorry for the delayed response. I have been pretty busy lately. Some of this may have been resolved through additional commentary, but I haven't read through the entire rest of the thread.

Not really, no. But people who make glass-cannons tend to end up dead and pissed off.
Death is simultaneously a fantastic and painful mechanic. It represents the ultimate risk for the characters, the ultimate adventure failure-state. On the other hand, death in the middle of a dungeon or from a random encounter is disruptive and painful. Glass cannons are an extreme example of this risk-reward. If the GM is not willing to apply the risk, it ends up as all reward and an optimal way to play. A few ways to deal with it are to introduce alternative failure states, introduce death-cheating mechanics, and to have lesser objectives that can be failed. Alternative failure states would include things like getting knocked unconscious rather than killed in a fight; cost of resources; or addition of permanent disabilities. Death-cheating mechanics would be like a pool of fate points that can be spent to get out of death, but when it is used up the character is gone.

My favorite is to have lesser objectives, but it belongs in the "How to GM"" section, rather than the mechanics section. Essentially, have more than one objective for the mission. Not every fight should be to the death and escaped enemies may make another objective more difficult or impossible. Maybe the party doesn't have the resources to rescue the prisoners AND to seal away the ancient evil. There's a lot you can do to play with that.



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.
I thought that the way 3.5e handled alternative races was elegant. Create a level track. At level 1, the sprite gets to be small and have some spell-like ability. When the player takes level 2 as a sprite, it gets levitation, at level 3 it can have full-on flight, at level 4 it can have some bonus to stealth, and at level 5 full-on invisibility. The trade-off is that taking these levels don't advance the primary class for the character. Otherwise, why wouldn't everyone just play super-powerful races?




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.
I think a way to handle that is to utilize some sort of horde rule for the mass of undead. Stat it as one entity with each additional undead adding 1HD to the horde. Whenever the horde takes a hit, the HD reduces by 1. Give the horde special abilities based on the number of undead. Something like at 2 HD the horde increases its damage die by 1, at 5 HD, the horde is Large-Size, at 7 HD sentient enemies need to make a morale roll or else be at disadvantage for a round. Then, you would just need an attrition mechanic - maybe every night the necromancer needs to make a spellcraft check. Based on the level of success, some number of undead may collapse. You could also give the necromancer abilities for dealing with more potent undead like vampires, ghouls, and the like.



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.
In d20 Modern, an allegiance is simply what your character believes in the most. The GM should come up with a list of allegiances relevant to the current campaign, but common ones include things like Justice, Good, The FBI, The God of Dragons, etc. Mixing that with more modern gameplay, I would probably make it so that acting to promote an allegiance allows the character to roll with advantage and acting against your allegiance makes you roll with disadvantage and limit it to one per scene. You could expand that to have additional benefits for classes that are heavily affected by their allegiance like paladins, clerics, samurai, druids, etc.




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.
If they're all exiles in a strange land, maybe that is what binds them. They are all roughed up by local authorities, they all arrived on the same ship, or they were all arrested at the same time. You don't need a strong bond at first, but something to get them on the same page.




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.
From a perspective of realism, you're right. Why would a character who cannot sing on-key try to be an opera singer? Clearly, they wouldn't. But in real life, the would-be singer doesn't get to be better at hitting things because they're worse at singing. From a game perspective, if the flaw is largely irrelevant, then it is just free points or abilities. If the flaw is the only thing enabling the character to succeed, then maybe the character's choices need to be further examined or the mechanics need to be tuned a bit more.

Conceptually, I like flaws. They're a handy way to make characters feel more unique. Ideally, flaws affect gameplay in some way, rather than giving static bonuses. Things like never going first in combat, being extra-affected by poison, having a weakness to cake, using twice as much material when repairing weapons and armor, providing disadvantage in specific scenarios, forcing a morale roll in the face of specific creatures, and the like are good ways to use flaws.



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!

I will give it a look later. Like I said, I am very busy lately. Feel free to PM me if there is anything specific you are looking for feedback about.

Friv
2019-11-25, 12:45 PM
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.

The thing is, both of these things are situations in which they could have been able to do this. Would you consider okay for a fighter with Intelligence 18 to take a flaw that they can't cast evocation spells? Or even a flaw that says all their spells are much weaker? After all, they have high Intelligence, so they're mechanically suited to spellcasting, but also they can't cast spells. A flaw that weakens their spell-casting is meaningless.

This has sort of wandered off-topic, though; this is a thread about the party, not a thread about the game's design.

My on-topic belief is that this one is largely Brian's fault for not giving any kind of guidelines for the party or their composition. Party-construction is a pretty important step in a lot of games, especially if the GM doesn't already have a plan in mind.

Reversefigure4
2019-11-25, 05:26 PM
A Planning Session would allow you to discuss those with the other players and the DM, who might want to incorporate something into his campaign.

Session Zeros are wonderful, wonderful things... but they do require a certain amount of basic co-operation and trust between the players and the GM to work. This group seems to be lacking trust in any facet, actively don't co-operate, and communicate their wants and intentions to each other very poorly.

If the GM says "This campaign is centred around you being gritty undead hunters, wandering from superstitious village to village in a Transylvania-like country":
[LIST]
the players need to trust that the GM isn't going to yoink them out of that by starting there then getting shanghaied into being pirates - a "surprise twist" that completely wrecks their character concepts.
The GM needs to trust the players won't respond to that information by either: a)making a completely unsuitable character (a fey noble who lives in a castle in the Fairy Realms and is built for social politicking)
b) a godawfully min-maxed undead fighter who can do nothing other than fight undead and will roll through every challenge in the campaign.
c) combining the two, you get super necromancer who can do nothing other than control undead - min-maxed to wreck the campaign and totally against the point of it.


If the players have character concepts that don't mesh, everyone needs to be prepared to compromise - bounce ideas off each other until you come up with a party everyone, GM included, is relatively happy with. This doesn't work if nobody is prepared to compromise. It also fails if you can't trust people to live up to their word and show up with a completely different character for session 1 (Bob agrees to play the leader of a brigand group everybody is a member of... then shows up with an orphaned necromancer).

Players need to respect what the GM wants. If you're stranded on a desert island and the GM wants the game to be about scraping together improvised weapons by sharpening rocks, he bans Monks. For this particular campaign, they are both OP and don't fit the theme. It only works until the players complain bitterly about how they want to play a Monk because then it will be the strongest. If you don't want to play what the GM wants, then don't play - don't play and wreck it for everyone.

I think every mid-length campaign needs a Session Zero (I don't run campaigns without them, period), but I don't see Talakeal's group getting too far with it. It only works with groups who are prepared to somewhat work together and trust each other.

Lord of Shadows
2019-11-25, 07:27 PM
Session Zeros are wonderful, wonderful things... but they do require a certain amount of basic co-operation and trust between the players and the GM to work. This group seems to be lacking trust in any facet

I think every mid-length campaign needs a Session Zero (I don't run campaigns without them, period), but I don't see Talakeal's group getting too far with it. It only works with groups who are prepared to somewhat work together and trust each other.

Oh so very true...<sigh>

MrSandman
2019-11-26, 03:43 AM
The system already includes almost all of that except for the planning, the political stuff, and the "unskilled laborer" stuff.

I could see adding a planning mechanic, that might be cool. I'll think about it.
I am not sure if I want to put a political system into the game; but maybe.
The unskilled laborer stuff mostly happens off camera and is exactly the sort of thing I don't want rules for.

But the problem remains, there is absolutely nothing on that list that my character would have even the slightest bit of interest in doing.

Really? A noble who wouldn't do relationship maintenance? Or gathering information (from other nobles, obviously)? 😕

Quizatzhaderac
2019-11-26, 12:40 PM
I agree, the character concept sounds like it should have useful skills (although it's another question if the system supports those).

A solider should be able to maintain their gear; a grunt absolutely needs to but an officers might benefit from knowing how.
War is 90% logistic;: an officer's main job is to get their soldiers to the battle on time, equipped, and healthy.
Feudal warriors aren't loyal to a nation state; if the commander doesn't inspire loyalty there is no loyalty.
Peasants grow crops. Nobles grow peasants. The power of a noble comes from their ability to grow/control/use people.

Regarding the character concept, if I may make a suggestion:

The character is a person who never asked "where should I go?" because they were always worried about "how do I get there?". And that she does in fact posses many leadership skills while missing the essential leadership characteristic of having a direction/goal. She always had a clear picture of what her life would be like (commander, lord, et cetra) but fate has unexpectedly cut that off from her.

She really has no idea what she wants to do now. She has many clear ideas what she doesn't want to do (mere farmhand, mere homemaker, mere et cetra), which is a huge personal problem as basically everything is unacceptable or unrealistic. Enter the party of misfits: wherever they're going, at least it's not "mere".

Idea for the start
Ontological mystery. Characters wake up in a field with their recent memories wiped. Characters find out they are geased and pointed at a target. BBEG's plan was to use transients that look like a stereotypical evil party do the deed and take the fall.

How that proceeds is matter of taste/player action/ system/ setting. Maybe they clear their names and kill the BBEG right away. Maybe they flee both the authorities and the BBEG. Maybe the BBEG keeps a hold of them and they spend their time trying to weasel out of doing his/her bidding.

Whatever the case, you've brought the characters together, forced them to work towards a goal, and left them in a situation where they don't have anything but each other.
It seems pretty normal to argue your case when the DM rejects your character, or maybe its just my "bizarre world" experience.

Claiming that "I let my players do it" seems to be the natural counter to his claim that I was doing something in bad faith.I think the idea is that (as system designer) there is a much lower than normal bar for backseat DMing. Remember that you're not just politely stating your opinion/point of view you're exhaustively citing the game designer's intentions.

Also depending on your test goals, you may want to avoid even implying your intentions/ how you think the system works. If people read your text and interpret it as X, when you intended Y, play testing will show you those sorts of things. The more passive and detached you can be, the more of those things you can see.

kyoryu
2019-11-26, 01:03 PM
Session Zeros are wonderful, wonderful things... but they do require a certain amount of basic co-operation and trust between the players and the GM to work. This group seems to be lacking trust in any facet, actively don't co-operate, and communicate their wants and intentions to each other very poorly.

If the GM says "This campaign is centred around you being gritty undead hunters, wandering from superstitious village to village in a Transylvania-like country":

If you have two possible problems:

1) Players showing up with a mismatched set of characters that don't work together because of not knowing what the game is
2) Players knowing what the game is about and explicitly subverting that in some way

I'd rather deal with problem #2. I don't think it's a good argument for "don't tell players what the game is about" because then what you're basically saying is:

1) I don't trust the players
2) I don't trust the players so much that I can't even deal with conflict with them in a reasonably healthy way
3) The chance of the players miraculously creating characters that work together is higher than the chance of them not sabotaging the game in some way.

I mean, really, it's just better to give the thumbnail, and if people do inappropriate things, talk like adults. If you're going to have conflict, then have it, but it's better to be up front about it than passive-aggressively trying to manipulate the situation around toxic personalities.

I mean I get that we're talking about gamers and all....

Quertus
2019-11-26, 04:28 PM
Also depending on your test goals, you may want to avoid even implying your intentions/ how you think the system works. If people read your text and interpret it as X, when you intended Y, play testing will show you those sorts of things. The more passive and detached you can be, the more of those things you can see.

I just wanted to emphasize the correctness of this bit. The less attached you are to forcing your PoV on the game, the better equipped you are to see others' PoV.

GrayDeath
2019-11-26, 05:00 PM
Given the very ... shall we say uncoordinated seeming group, did Brian actually give a theme/Game direction for you guys prior to you building your characters?
If so, what was it?

Regarding the other stuff, a lot of good posts already, I just want to add: Bob switched to being a pennyless kid after all the others had built their characters? If so, why didnt anybody say anything?
If he only told you then, given his prior way of palying, your fault for not aski8ng what exactly he played.
As it generally seems very, see above, uncommunicative given you are all starting a new game.

Still, you have a month to redo a lot of your at the moment pretty... wild mix of concepts, no?

Duff
2019-11-27, 08:29 PM
It looks like your group would benefit from having a formal "Session 0" at the start of each campaign where you can "spitball" about character ideas. Let the GM and other players hear the sort of ideas you have around characters.

So if the GM is planning a lot of cross country trekking, they can jump in when no-one has any related skills with some suggestion. As a group you can discuss whether 2 glass cannons is how you want to play. It allows the GM to say - "Necromancer, do you want to do that much bookwork? If not, try a different concept"
It would allow the character relationship conversations to happen at the same time as the numbers happening.

I would say the whole "Everybody bring a character" approach works better if the GM has a plan to railroad the characters to the starting point. If the open words of the campaign are "You're in the market when [x happens]" or "You have felt compelled to come to this point. When you get here..." then there's your party cohesion. If you're a group who has to choose to work together for the campaign to happen, then it's a lot easier to make characters who will choose to work together if they are made with lots of cross talk

Talakeal
2019-11-28, 10:05 PM
Sorry for the late response, holiday travels.


This is why I don't allow any sort of drawbacks in my games. Turns out, if you tell people 'you cannot take any drawback that doesn't actually come into play' - no one wants them.

So I just hand out bonus feats. Keeps everyone happy.

That has not been my experience. Well, I take that back, I did have one guy say that once, but he isn't part of my group anymore.


In fact, the ogres terrible intelligence and charisma might be why the group is together. They are the only 'crew' willing to work for him, anyone else found a smarter/more charismatic leader.

Maybe. And if the rest of the group goes that way, so be it, but I really don't want to play a pirate campaign in or out of character, and I think both Bob and I are a little too goal oriented to put up with an incompetent captain for long.


So take the "Doesn't trust herself" flaw instead of the "Will not craft" flaw?

That is a personality flaw, not a mechanical one.

Also, I am still stuck with the unused downtime actions that are really going to bug me and tempt me to do something passive aggressive at the end of every session.


Alright, let's see if we can unpack this.

First of all, anywhere you're not using D&D stuff (like alignment) I'd strongly recommend marking this in some way, purely to stop people from picking at things which are irrelevant. Honestly something like "I'm playing a Lawful Evil(*) character with the Bad at Stabbing(*) flaw" would be fine.

Good idea!



With regards to your character, you've mentioned that this was not your first choice and that your lack of Survival etc was also not your first choice. Honestly, if you're having major issues with this character, I'd suggest going back to what you had in mind before. Yeah it's not great but I'd rather use a character which will work at the table and save my super-awesome character for when it will get a chance to be used properly. Again, personal taste.

My original character concept wouldn't be any better, and it would be totally superfluous. I wanted to play an alchemist really bad, but Sarah really wanted to play a healer and Bob really wanted to play a mad scientist, and I wouldn't enjoy being in direct competition with them. And, without a strong tank, they will both die, and when Bob dies his undead will eat the rest of the party, including me.


I'm getting major alarm bells from the sprite bard, like really major. Strongly suggesting a change of race to something a bit more standard.

Same.



As far as anything else goes, a proper session zero should sort you guys right out. In my experience it's not a great idea to have everyone make characters separately, and before the actual campaign has been decided to boot. Had some great times happen with a very dysfunctional party but generally more hassle than it's worth.

We had a session zero. Its just that people were too headstrong during it.



Death is simultaneously a fantastic and painful mechanic. It represents the ultimate risk for the characters, the ultimate adventure failure-state. On the other hand, death in the middle of a dungeon or from a random encounter is disruptive and painful. Glass cannons are an extreme example of this risk-reward. If the GM is not willing to apply the risk, it ends up as all reward and an optimal way to play. A few ways to deal with it are to introduce alternative failure states, introduce death-cheating mechanics, and to have lesser objectives that can be failed. Alternative failure states would include things like getting knocked unconscious rather than killed in a fight; cost of resources; or addition of permanent disabilities. Death-cheating mechanics would be like a pool of fate points that can be spent to get out of death, but when it is used up the character is gone.

My favorite is to have lesser objectives, but it belongs in the "How to GM"" section, rather than the mechanics section. Essentially, have more than one objective for the mission. Not every fight should be to the death and escaped enemies may make another objective more difficult or impossible. Maybe the party doesn't have the resources to rescue the prisoners AND to seal away the ancient evil. There's a lot you can do to play with that.

Agreed. Still doesn't change the fact that he made a character who will die if someone so much as sneezes on him from a tactical perspective.



I thought that the way 3.5e handled alternative races was elegant. Create a level track. At level 1, the sprite gets to be small and have some spell-like ability. When the player takes level 2 as a sprite, it gets levitation, at level 3 it can have full-on flight, at level 4 it can have some bonus to stealth, and at level 5 full-on invisibility. The trade-off is that taking these levels don't advance the primary class for the character. Otherwise, why wouldn't everyone just play super-powerful races?

I didn't mind Savage Species progression.

Fairies aren't actually any more powerful than any other race, its just that the combination or flight + invisibility seems like it will create problems with party cohesion.



I think a way to handle that is to utilize some sort of horde rule for the mass of undead. Stat it as one entity with each additional undead adding 1HD to the horde. Whenever the horde takes a hit, the HD reduces by 1. Give the horde special abilities based on the number of undead. Something like at 2 HD the horde increases its damage die by 1, at 5 HD, the horde is Large-Size, at 7 HD sentient enemies need to make a morale roll or else be at disadvantage for a round. Then, you would just need an attrition mechanic - maybe every night the necromancer needs to make a spell-craft check. Based on the level of success, some number of undead may collapse. You could also give the necromancer abilities for dealing with more potent undead like vampires, ghouls, and the like.

House rules like that would be up to the DM. I'll pass it on.

I assume Bob will want to animate unique monsters we kill to employ their special abilities rather than simply adding to a horde though.



In d20 Modern, an allegiance is simply what your character believes in the most. The GM should come up with a list of allegiances relevant to the current campaign, but common ones include things like Justice, Good, The FBI, The God of Dragons, etc. Mixing that with more modern gameplay, I would probably make it so that acting to promote an allegiance allows the character to roll with advantage and acting against your allegiance makes you roll with disadvantage and limit it to one per scene. You could expand that to have additional benefits for classes that are heavily affected by their allegiance like paladins, clerics, samurai, druids, etc.

I do have something very similar in my system. I don't think the DM is far enough along in world-building for us to pick an allegiance yet though.



If they're all exiles in a strange land, maybe that is what binds them. They are all roughed up by local authorities, they all arrived on the same ship, or they were all arrested at the same time. You don't need a strong bond at first, but something to get them on the same page.

It works. But why would we stay together?


From a perspective of realism, you're right. Why would a character who cannot sing on-key try to be an opera singer? Clearly, they wouldn't. But in real life, the would-be singer doesn't get to be better at hitting things because they're worse at singing. From a game perspective, if the flaw is largely irrelevant, then it is just free points or abilities. If the flaw is the only thing enabling the character to succeed, then maybe the character's choices need to be further examined or the mechanics need to be tuned a bit more.

Conceptually, I like flaws. They're a handy way to make characters feel more unique. Ideally, flaws affect gameplay in some way, rather than giving static bonuses. Things like never going first in combat, being extra-affected by poison, having a weakness to cake, using twice as much material when repairing weapons and armor, providing disadvantage in specific scenarios, forcing a morale roll in the face of specific creatures, and the like are good ways to use flaws.

Agreed.

The friction is in the specific, not the general.


This has sort of wandered off-topic, though; this is a thread about the party, not a thread about the game's design.

My on-topic belief is that this one is largely Brian's fault for not giving any kind of guidelines for the party or their composition. Party-construction is a pretty important step in a lot of games, especially if the GM doesn't already have a plan in mind.

Brian very clearly told us that getting the party together and coming up with a motivation to stay together was our responsibility, not his. Good or bad, that's what it is.


Really? A noble who wouldn't do relationship maintenance? Or gathering information (from other nobles, obviously)? ��

I am an ex-noble. I have no living kin and am half the world away from my family's lands.

The character also has horrible survivor's guilt and is actively avoiding any positions of power.





I agree, the character concept sounds like it should have useful skills (although it's another question if the system supports those).

A solider should be able to maintain their gear; a grunt absolutely needs to but an officers might benefit from knowing how.
War is 90% logistic;: an officer's main job is to get their soldiers to the battle on time, equipped, and healthy.
Feudal warriors aren't loyal to a nation state; if the commander doesn't inspire loyalty there is no loyalty.
Peasants grow crops. Nobles grow peasants. The power of a noble comes from their ability to grow/control/use people.

Maintain, sure. But learning how to actually repair or craft gear seems kind of wasteful when you can just hire an expert metalworker.

My character likely would have been a very bad leader if things had ever gotten to that point; she actively scorned social abilities in favor of martial ones.




The character is a person who never asked "where should I go?" because they were always worried about "how do I get there?". And that she does in fact posses many leadership skills while missing the essential leadership characteristic of having a direction/goal. She always had a clear picture of what her life would be like (commander, lord, et cetra) but fate has unexpectedly cut that off from her.

She really has no idea what she wants to do now. She has many clear ideas what she doesn't want to do (mere farmhand, mere homemaker, mere et cetra), which is a huge personal problem as basically everything is unacceptable or unrealistic. Enter the party of misfits: wherever they're going, at least it's not "mere".

That was absolutely the idea. The problem is, nobody else in the party has a direction in mind either.



Idea for the start
Ontological mystery. Characters wake up in a field with their recent memories wiped. Characters find out they are geased and pointed at a target. BBEG's plan was to use transients that look like a stereotypical evil party do the deed and take the fall.

Remember, everyone in the party took Iron Will* and maximum wisdom; starting such a group off under mind-control is sure to piss somebody off.



Also depending on your test goals, you may want to avoid even implying your intentions/ how you think the system works. If people read your text and interpret it as X, when you intended Y, play testing will show you those sorts of things. The more passive and detached you can be, the more of those things you can see.

Agreed. Its hard.


Given the very ... shall we say uncoordinated seeming group, did Brian actually give a theme/Game direction for you guys prior to you building your characters?
If so, what was it?

No. He told us it was up to us.



Regarding the other stuff, a lot of good posts already, I just want to add: Bob switched to being a pennyless kid after all the others had built their characters? If so, why didnt anybody say anything?
If he only told you then, given his prior way of palying, your fault for not aski8ng what exactly he played.
As it generally seems very, see above, uncommunicative given you are all starting a new game.

He decided on it mid-session zero. I absolutely told him it would make it really difficult at the time, he shrugged and did it anyway.


It looks like your group would benefit from having a formal "Session 0" at the start of each campaign where you can "spitball" about character ideas. Let the GM and other players hear the sort of ideas you have around characters.

So if the GM is planning a lot of cross country trekking, they can jump in when no-one has any related skills with some suggestion. As a group you can discuss whether 2 glass cannons is how you want to play. It allows the GM to say - "Necromancer, do you want to do that much bookwork? If not, try a different concept"
It would allow the character relationship conversations to happen at the same time as the numbers happening.

I would say the whole "Everybody bring a character" approach works better if the GM has a plan to railroad the characters to the starting point. If the open words of the campaign are "You're in the market when [x happens]" or "You have felt compelled to come to this point. When you get here..." then there's your party cohesion. If you're a group who has to choose to work together for the campaign to happen, then it's a lot easier to make characters who will choose to work together if they are made with lots of cross talk

We absolutely had a session zero. I think the DM was trying to be hands off and let us come up with a direction before he started working on adventures or anything.


The thing is, both of these things are situations in which they could have been able to do this. Would you consider okay for a fighter with Intelligence 18 to take a flaw that they can't cast evocation spells? Or even a flaw that says all their spells are much weaker? After all, they have high Intelligence, so they're mechanically suited to spellcasting, but also they can't cast spells. A flaw that weakens their spell-casting is meaningless.

Evocation specifically, no.

But I absolutely think the game would be improved by compensating high intelligence fighters in some manner, as they flat out get less out of it than a caster would, and come out with an overall weaker character than your standard meat-head fighter.



How is Trained to fight to the exclusion of all else = high wisdom? I don't think the character you described would be particularly patient or dedicated.

As you have described your character, my best proxy for someone in the current time would be someone who was raised on the high class, and was pretty spoiled as child, this person grew out to be very good at sports, but one time everything went to **** and they lost all support from their family. Now, this person needs to come rise to the occasion on their own, despite the fact that they don't have many practical abilities for the daily life.

Now, I believe this could be a very entertaining character to play... I just don't see the wisdom in there... And in regards to the downtime activities this character would take part on.... I would imagine they would spend their time at parties (being pretty immature) or working on whatever (Desperate for money).

In fact, If I were in your position I would play this character as someone very superficial, who values money, race, and social standing above all, while trying to ascend... Maybe eventually learning a valuable lesson about hard work or what matters is what is inside or whatever.

That is a fine character, but it isn't the one I made.

Basically, my character is extremely focused and single-minded. She considered hobbies and socializing to be wastes of time. Think more of a Miko type to use an OoTS analogy.


I see... But neither you nor me said Dave's character would be a great captain... So I don't think Tal's response applies...

As I said, Bob and I are both very goal oriented; I can't see us putting up with an incompetent captain for very long.


Well, that sounds suboptimal. Unless, of course, spending your downtime actions on those activities is actually balanced in your system. So, do "training" and "failing" improve your character - and, in particular, improve your character at an equivalent rate to "crafting"? Why / why not?

Flaws give more character points, and I spent them to take additional martial techniques to protect my party. So yes, spending all of your time training instead of crafting has an effect in both fluff and crunch.


... you've never had anyone engaged in politics in downtime?

Not mechanically, no.



… what? It would seem like the things that happen off camera would be exactly the things you'd want to sum up with a simple roll/rule.

However, who said anything about "unskilled"?

I do not want mechanics for the player's "day-job." I want that to be something players should be free to come up with as they want rather than gamifying it into something that can be min-maxxed or won.



A section which your party… rolled into a blunt and smoked? :smallconfused:

Metaphorically, yes.

Although one of our X-players might have done so literally at some point...



So, if this were point-buy, and you could buy wisdom for 3 points each, or buy for 2 points each with the limitation, "does not apply to (number of) downtime (actions)", that would make sense, and I think most Playgrounders would accept that limitation.

Terminology aside, yes, that is exactly how the system is supposed to work.



If Wisdom determines the number of downtime actions you get, and you've got a rich downtime system which allows you to do many things, then an optimizer who gets fewer actions to just one category will simply do the other things. If these downtime actions are balanced, then that won't impose too much of a problem (yes, sometimes, crafting really is the right answer, and they have to be slow, or take complex / suboptimal workarounds). However, when that's coupled with a skill system, and they haven't made any investment in bluff, a flaw that says, "you get fewer actions to run a con during downtime" doesn't sound like much of a limit.

Not all skills are equal in that regard. Skills that have a lot of active use during the adventure tend to be less useful during down-time and vice versa, they create a sort of balance.

For example, your earlier idea about allowing my character to make money equivalent to a crafter by using sense-motive is really unfair to actual crafters. (As an example, I always felt 3.5 tumbling was a BS skill because it was both one of the most useful combat skills AND did everything perform did, but was still budgeted the same as perform).



Would an optimal party have a dedicated PR agent, a dedicated relationship manager, a dedicated rumormonger, a dedicated plot hook collector, a dedicated property manager, a dedicated financier? If not, why is crafting a more optimal use of downtime in your system?

Ummm, no? Those aren't character archetypes in the game with mechanical representation. Class balance is good, that doesn't mean you need to invent a bunch of classes that aren't in the game.



The undead hoard have standing orders to defend the hoard. A squirrel comes along, and triggers their orders - add one squirrel corpse. A hungry dog tries to gnaw on them - add one dog corpse. A sick brown fox dies, and gets lumped in with the lazy dog. The Necromancer checks on them, animates the dumb/sick/desperate creatures who chose to add themselves to the hoard.

That's what I meant when I said that the hoard grows by default.

Heck, the hoard could have a "deterioration rate", just like equipment apparently does if you're talking about "maintaining" it, and the Necromancer could use his downtime actions explicitly in a "grow the hoard" action. Their wisdom could represent their choice of where to park the hoard (elephant or dragon graveyards sound fairly optimal to me).

I don't think the limit is sheer number of corpses, but rather spell slots and reagents. Honestly, if I were interested in animating small animals I would probably just bribe the local dog-catcher, its a heck of a lot easier and a lot less likely to draw attention from wandering paladins.

zinycor
2019-11-28, 10:24 PM
That is a fine character, but it isn't the one I made.

Basically, my character is extremely focused and single-minded. She considered hobbies and socializing to be wastes of time. Think more of a Miko type to use an OoTS analogy.

And Single minded and extremely focused equals wisdom? I don't see it...




As I said, Bob and I are both very goal oriented; I can't see us putting up with an incompetent captain for very long.
Aren't you all friends? that's the reason to keep on going even with an incompetent captain... Is that not enough? If not, then look at it this way, Bob's character is a beggar, your character is a fugitive, You both can't get any better than this disfunctional crew to accept you.

Talakeal
2019-11-29, 12:34 AM
And Single minded and extremely focused equals wisdom? I don't see it...

I would say that focus, determination, and willpower are all aspects of wisdom. Not the whole of it mind you, but a significant portion of it.


Aren't you all friends? that's the reason to keep on going even with an incompetent captain... Is that not enough? If not, then look at it this way, Bob's character is a beggar, your character is a fugitive, You both can't get any better than this dysfunctional crew to accept you.

No, we aren't friends. That's the problem. At this point we are all strangers with no reason to work together, and as everyone in the group is Evil and / or chaotic and suffering from numerous psychological disorders I don't think trust and loyalty are going to be high on anyone's list of motivations, at least at the start.

My character has no criminal history, nor any reason to become a common criminal. I guess I could see circumstances forcing me down that path, but that would take a lot of input / buy in from the DM. Currently I would rather (both in and out of character) rather work as a dockhand than a pirate.

Excession
2019-11-29, 03:38 AM
Currently I would rather (both in and out of character) rather work as a dockhand than a pirate.

Them your character does that.

For your new character choose someone that can work with the rest of the group. As I said before, either be the best player you can be, or leave the game politely.

zinycor
2019-11-29, 06:06 AM
No, we aren't friends. That's the problem. At this point we are all strangers with no reason to work together, and as everyone in the group is Evil and / or chaotic and suffering from numerous psychological disorders I don't think trust and loyalty are going to be high on anyone's list of motivations, at least at the start.

My character has no criminal history, nor any reason to become a common criminal. I guess I could see circumstances forcing me down that path, but that would take a lot of input / buy in from the DM. Currently I would rather (both in and out of character) rather work as a dockhand than a pirate.

No reason to become a common criminal?



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.




I am playing a character who was raised as nobility and trained to fight at the exclusion of all else, with a team of servants to provide and maintain her equipment for her. I do not feel that it makes sense for such a character to have either the skills or the temperament to engage in manual labor.


Your character is a fugitive, who doesn't have either the skills or the temperament for manual labor. As I see it, becoming a common criminal is a great option for it.

And, the game hasn't even started, why would you not be able to bend your character concept in order to fit in the party?

Besides, what is the problem with being a pirate?

Jay R
2019-11-29, 10:05 AM
Play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings. Otherwise, the game will become dysfunctional, and you are headed for a horror story.

This advice isn't particularly aimed at one person. For any player, at any table, play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings.

zinycor
2019-11-29, 10:23 AM
Play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings. Otherwise, the game will become dysfunctional, and you are headed for a horror story.

This advice isn't particularly aimed at one person. For any player, at any table, play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings.

Very good advice.

Tajerio
2019-11-29, 10:26 AM
Them your character does that.

For your new character choose someone that can work with the rest of the group. As I said before, either be the best player you can be, or leave the game politely.


Play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings. Otherwise, the game will become dysfunctional, and you are headed for a horror story.

This advice isn't particularly aimed at one person. For any player, at any table, play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings.

Agreed emphatically. The game is fundamentally cooperative. Playing characters who won't cooperate requires explicit buy-in from everybody else in order to work, and even then is only really a good idea with an experienced DM and a group of players who trust each other. As far as I can tell, you have none of those things. So you're likely best served by tweaking your character to be one who can cooperate with this group, or making a new character who can.

patchyman
2019-11-29, 12:23 PM
Agreed emphatically. The game is fundamentally cooperative. Playing characters who won't cooperate requires explicit buy-in from everybody else in order to work, and even then is only really a good idea with an experienced DM and a group of players who trust each other. As far as I can tell, you have none of those things. So you're likely best served by tweaking your character to be one who can cooperate with this group, or making a new character who can.

I would add “and recognize there are things you cannot change”. Talakeal could do everything right, be a supportive and cooperative player, and the game could still fall apart if the other players are paranoid and argumentative.

It seems to me that the campaign is off to a poor start if before the first session, the players are already having trouble making a team that can work together.

GrayDeath
2019-11-29, 01:08 PM
It seems to me that the campaign is off to a poor start if before the first session, the players are already having trouble making a team that can work together.

That implies they actually are TRYING to do that, of which I am not convinced.
SO maybe they are succeeding at building 4 independant Character concepts with cool backstories/Mechanics? ^^


Edit:
More serious:
Not even Talakaels Character seems a great Teamplayer if seen on its own.
Did someone mention in session 0 that you were actually building a TEAM and not 4 Characters?(I mean obviously the DM said "how you get together mis your problem" to get free of the hassle, but that is almost always a shot in the foot unless the players are both experienced and work well together...so yeah...^^).

Not to say an adventure of "How we all got here and why" cant be fun, but it does not seem the pöan either....

Lord of Shadows
2019-11-29, 01:11 PM
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?


We had a session zero. Its just that people were too headstrong during it.
...
It works. But why would we stay together?
...
Brian very clearly told us that getting the party together and coming up with a motivation to stay together was our responsibility, not his. Good or bad, that's what it is.
...
The problem is, nobody else in the party has a direction in mind either.
...
He decided on it mid-session zero. I absolutely told him it would make it really difficult at the time, he shrugged and did it anyway.
...
We absolutely had a session zero. I think the DM was trying to be hands off and let us come up with a direction before he started working on adventures or anything.



There are no mechanical effects related to alignment, I don't actual use any of the D&D terms or definitions, and the section about it in the book is entirely in the section about creating a cohesive party.
...
I asked the rest of the party about their character's long term goals. Dave and Sarah shrugged, Bob told me that his goal was to establish an empire of the undead... It wasn't until after our characters were finished that he (Bob) decided he was going to be an outcast street urchin.

I could not find a section in the Heart of Darkness book specific to creating a cohesive party, but the following passages did pop out at me:

All of the player characters need to be able to work together and with the Game Master. They need to be compatible with one another and must have a compelling reason to work together; a common goal or allegiance, a shared history, or some similar bond. Although a small amount of tension between the characters will spice up the story, out and out conflict can ruin the game, especially if the characters actually come to blows or refuse to work together on a regular basis. Likewise, the characters must have a reason to agree with and care about the missions that the Game Master wishes to put before them. - Heart of Darkness Public Playtest Version, Fall 2019, Pg 106, "Playing the Game"

If the characters do not have any reason to stay together, it is effectively the end of the game. - Heart of Darkness Public Playtest Version, Fall 2019, Pg 517, "Team Composition"

Have Brian, Bob, Sarah, or Dave actually read the Heart of Darkness book? Have any of them read the "section in the book about creating a cohesive party"? Maybe you could make copies of the relevant passages for them (or e-mail it).

I do have one suggestion specifically regarding character creation and party cohesion.. Move the relevant text from pg 517 and merge it with the text on pg 106. Pg 517 is awfully deep into the book, and some readers may be in skimming mode or will have given up by then. It all could probably be moved to even earlier in the book. With the experiences you have had, I am surprised it's not at the very beginning.

You absolutely need to consider revisiting a Session Zero, you never finished the first one. You can use the above passages as justification...

MrSandman
2019-11-29, 03:31 PM
I am an ex-noble. I have no living kin and am half the world away from my family's lands.

Hardly a unique thing. There have been plenty of nobles throughout history who have lost about everything, had to flee to exile and still managed to create and use a network of contacts. Some even came many many years later to reclaim what had been theirs.



The character also has horrible survivor's guilt and is actively avoiding any positions of power.

Wouldn't avoiding positions of power include avoid having a host of servants and so learn to do things by herself?



Maintain, sure. But learning how to actually repair or craft gear seems kind of wasteful when you can just hire an expert metalworker.


Unless for some reason you want to stay low. Usually when you hire someone to make or repair nice weapons and armour you increase your chances of getting noticed.

But why are you playing a high wisdom character then? I assume you get to benefit from it in some way. But if I felt that my character was crippled due to not wanting to do any downtime activities, I would either review my character concept and see how I can tweak it to allow for some downtime or take points off wisdom and put them somewhere more useful.

Quertus
2019-11-29, 03:57 PM
@Talakeal - OK, you don't want skills to have balanced downtime impact. Instead, you want downtime / uptime use be balanced. My mistake.

The thing is, if I'm a master craftsman, who built the walls of force around every castle, the infinity gauntlet, and that small moon, I think that, realistically, I ought to be able to translate that into something outside of downtime.

-----

You don't want "jobs" to be mechanical / subject to optimization? Yet isn't "crafter" the clearly optimal choice in your current system? Aren't you kinda upset, feeling that you've "failed at character creation" by taking someone with high wisdom, yet not taking crafting skills - so much so, that you feel you ought to get "rewarded" for having done so? Wouldn't your character - sans flaw (and pursuant benefits) - be more optimal if you had a crafting skill? Isn't just how optimal crafting is why "cannot craft" is a valid flaw?

-----

Personally, I think that your character could just as easily be described as "low wisdom" as they could as "high wisdom". Usually, I equate wisdom with a "broad view", not the narrow view and single-mindedness your character holds. Shrug.

-----

Bob said it was on y'all to make a working party. You don't have that yet. Therefore, you haven't completed session 0 yet.

Get to it!

------

You and Bob are "goal-oriented"? So am I. My goal, in your shoes, would be to have fun playing an RPG, help others have fun in the RPG, and to try to understand / break the curse of Bizarro World. And probably try to generally improve the group dynamic. And a few more goals, including optimize the data gained by play testing your baby.

Point is, the goal of an enjoyable RPG may be facilitated by you running a character who is herself not goal oriented.

Regardless, for any character trait your PC has, if you know that it is disadvantageous the current game, you need to justify (to yourself, at least) why you are bringing this suboptimal character, or bring someone else.

-----

How does Flight + Invisibility create problems with "party cohesion"?

-----

Does spending your downtime actions "training" in any way benefit your character?

-----

I differentiate "class" and "role". My class is Fighter; my role is diplomat & PR agent.

-----

I was suggesting abstracting a "grow the horde" roll. Maybe interspersed with "craft reagents" rolls.[/QUOTE]


Play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings. Otherwise, the game will become dysfunctional, and you are headed for a horror story.

This advice isn't particularly aimed at one person. For any player, at any table, play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings.


Very good advice.

Mostly strongly agree. Being me, I have to include caveats against GMs who "make rulings" on things that there already are rules for.

I've already made my ruling: GMs who "make rulings" rather than give players the opportunity to quote the rules first are idiots. :smallwink:

That said, different tables have different ideas about rules, rulings, and rules lawyering. Any player+ (including the GM) who is unwilling to discuss with and adapt to the table is wrong.

Otherwise, I agree, that's some really good, general advice.

zinycor
2019-11-29, 06:09 PM
You and Bob are "goal-oriented"? So am I. My goal, in your shoes, would be to have fun playing an RPG, help others have fun in the RPG, and to try to understand / break the curse of Bizarro World. And probably try to generally improve the group dynamic. And a few more goals, including optimize the data gained by play testing your baby.

Point is, the goal of an enjoyable RPG may be facilitated by you running a character who is herself not goal oriented.

Regardless, for any character trait your PC has, if you know that it is disadvantageous the current game, you need to justify (to yourself, at least) why you are bringing this suboptimal character, or bring someone else.


I believe that Talakeal meant to say that his character and Bob's character are goal oriented


As I said, Bob and I are both very goal oriented; I can't see us putting up with an incompetent captain for very long.




Aren't you all friends? that's the reason to keep on going even with an incompetent captain... Is that not enough? If not, then look at it this way, Bob's character is a beggar, your character is a fugitive, You both can't get any better than this disfunctional crew to accept you.

No, we aren't friends. That's the problem. At this point we are all strangers with no reason to work together, and as everyone in the group is Evil and / or chaotic and suffering from numerous psychological disorders I don't think trust and loyalty are going to be high on anyone's list of motivations, at least at the start.

My character has no criminal history, nor any reason to become a common criminal. I guess I could see circumstances forcing me down that path, but that would take a lot of input / buy in from the DM. Currently I would rather (both in and out of character) rather work as a dockhand than a pirate.

ko_sct
2019-11-29, 09:18 PM
For the team staying together part, I suggest talking to your group and either adjusting the characters or simply agreeing as a group that everyone will stay together for their own in-charater reasons.

The ogre (or the fey) could take a liking to the orphan. Finding the dancing dead men to be absolutly hilarious.
The fey could want to protect the orphan, finding it's story a tragic, or it's reaction to pranks enjoyable. Or simply liking it's magical power.
The necromancer could absolutly use some protection from the ogre and you. As well as simply seeking friends or going along with what you guys are telling them.
Your character can see how usefull this strange group is in the short and long term (The physical prowess of the ogre, the unparalled scouting abilities of the fey, the potentially world-conquering powers of the young necromant...). That and simply strenght in number.

You should simply all agree to it and suggest starting the game a few weeks after you first all met for the first time. If the DM want to roleplay the first encounter, you all agree to metagame sligthly to make sure that you all end up forming the party.


On the question of the flaw.... well......... I think the DM is right here, several others have expressed their agreement and not to be an ass and quote your words back at you but...


Irrelevant Flaws:
If the Game Master believes that a flaw will almost never come up or provides no real disadvantage to a given character, they can declare it to be worth no character points. The character can, however, still take on such a flaw to pay for an equally useless merit. The Game Master might need to look at the team as a whole to decide whether a flaw will be relevant; for example ineptitude in medicine is no big deal if your doctor teammate will treat your wounds, but if the entire group is inept in medicine it is a serious drawback indeed.

Your character has no crafting skills and wont be doing any crafting. As such, a flaw reducing it's crafting speed isn't a relevant one and isn't worth points.

Talakeal
2019-11-30, 01:21 AM
I think some people are getting an incomplete impression of how are session zero went. To paraphrase, it was something like this:

Bob: I want to play a mad scientist necromancer with the goal of establishing an undead empire.
Sarah: I want to play a fairy healer.
Dave: I want to play an ogre rogue.
Me: Well, I really wanted to play an alchemist, but it looks like that will step on the toes of both Bob and Sarah, and since everyone is super squishy I will play a tank instead. I'll give me character a very lawful bent and a tragic / disturbed backstory so they will be cool with helping establish an undead empire.

Then we started making characters and Dave decided his character was a pirate rather than a rogue, Sarah decided she wanted to play a sprite trickster instead of a fairy, and Bob decided to play a 13 year old orphaned outcast street urchin. I informed all of them that these changes would make it really hard to form a cohesive party, and was ignored.



Them your character does that.

For your new character choose someone that can work with the rest of the group. As I said before, either be the best player you can be, or leave the game politely.

Three questions:

One; why is it a binary choice? Aren't there a host of options between "pirate" and "unskilled laborer"?

Two; why is allowing one player to dictate everyone else's character a good thing?

Three; isn't that a huge nirvana fallacy? Nobody will ever be the best player they can be, and telling them to leave as a result will just end up filling the gaming pool with jerks and force considerate people to miss out on otherwise fun but imperfect games.


Your character is a fugitive, who doesn't have either the skills or the temperament for manual labor. As I see it, becoming a common criminal is a great option for it.

And, the game hasn't even started, why would you not be able to bend your character concept in order to fit in the party?

Besides, what is the problem with being a pirate?

I know English isn't your first language, but my character isn't a fugitive in any ordinary usage of the word; she has committed no crimes, is not on the run from anything, and not in hiding. I suppose if I returned to my homeland and announced my intent to claim my birthright I could be in trouble, but other than that...

I can bend my character concept to fit the party. Nobody in the game (least of all the DM) is actually interested in running a pirate game.

I personally do not enjoy playing "thug" type characters. I can do chaotic good or lawful evil, but "chaotic evil" just seems petty, mean, and pointless, and just doesn't hold my interest. The only way I would want to do a pirate game is if we are doing something like Pirates of the Caribbean which doesn't actually involve any piracy and is really just a treasure hunt featuring pirates in name only.


Play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings. Otherwise, the game will become dysfunctional, and you are headed for a horror story.

This advice isn't particularly aimed at one person. For any player, at any table, play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings.

There is a difference between "accept" and "follow unquestionably". DMs are human and they make mistakes as well, and you can just as easily ruin a game by not letting the DM know when they are making it unpleasant for others.


, it is effectively the end of the game.[/I] - Heart of Darkness Public Playtest Version, Fall 2019, Pg 517, "Team Composition"

Have Brian, Bob, Sarah, or Dave actually read the Heart of Darkness book? Have any of them read the "section in the book about creating a cohesive party"? Maybe you could make copies of the relevant passages for them (or e-mail it).

Brian yes. Bob has read the crunchy parts only. Dave and Sarah no.

But they idea of making a cohesive party was explained to them, and honestly should be pretty self evident.


Hardly a unique thing. There have been plenty of nobles throughout history who have lost about everything, had to flee to exile and still managed to create and use a network of contacts. Some even came many many years later to reclaim what had been theirs.

But those are probably people who wanted to be in power. Also, probably not people who dumped their charisma.



Wouldn't avoiding positions of power include avoid having a host of servants and so learn to do things by herself?

Yes, absolutely.

But she does not have the training, inclination, or natural aptitude to become a skilled craftsman.

Why would she start a (hypothetical example) apprenticeship as a blacksmith when she has a family to support instead of using her existing skills to, say, become a bodyguard, mercenary, or even a bouncer.



Unless for some reason you want to stay low. Usually when you hire someone to make or repair nice weapons and armour you increase your chances of getting noticed.

Why would the nobility want to stay low?



But why are you playing a high wisdom character then? I assume you get to benefit from it in some way. But if I felt that my character was crippled due to not wanting to do any downtime activities, I would either review my character concept and see how I can tweak it to allow for some downtime or take points off wisdom and put them somewhere more useful.

It isn't "crippled" per se, just weaker than it would otherwise be in a party where I am going to need to optimize my butt off to keep everyone else alive.

I could tweak the character to get more out of it, but doing so would actually feel exploitive and munchkiny.


The thing is, if I'm a master craftsman, who built the walls of force around every castle, the infinity gauntlet, and that small moon, I think that, realistically, I ought to be able to translate that into something outside of downtime.



Sure. There are things craftsmen could do during uptime, just not as much.



You don't want "jobs" to be mechanical / subject to optimization? Yet isn't "crafter" the clearly optimal choice in your current system? Aren't you kinda upset, feeling that you've "failed at character creation" by taking someone with high wisdom, yet not taking crafting skills - so much so, that you feel you ought to get "rewarded" for having done so? Wouldn't your character - sans flaw (and pursuant benefits) - be more optimal if you had a crafting skill? Isn't just how optimal crafting is why "cannot craft" is a valid flaw?

Yes. Point?



Personally, I think that your character could just as easily be described as "low wisdom" as they could as "high wisdom". Usually, I equate wisdom with a "broad view", not the narrow view and single-mindedness your character holds. Shrug.

This line of conversation is becoming increasingly semantic and off topic, but out of curiosity, take the following character:

They are a monk. Of all who train at their monastery, they are the most dedicated and determined. They train from sun rise to sunset, ignoring exhaustion, and breaking boards well beyond the point where their hands are bloody. They spend all of their free time reading the teachings of the masters and meditating upon their lessons.

How would you stat this character in 3.X? Or is it a character that the system simply cannot (or should not) be able to make?



You and Bob are "goal-oriented"? So am I. My goal, in your shoes, would be to have fun playing an RPG, help others have fun in the RPG, and to try to understand / break the curse of Bizarro World. And probably try to generally improve the group dynamic. And a few more goals, including optimize the data gained by play testing your baby.

Point is, the goal of an enjoyable RPG may be facilitated by you running a character who is herself not goal oriented.

So, you are saying that I should have fun by doing something that I don't find fun? That's very philosophical of you.



Regardless, for any character trait your PC has, if you know that it is disadvantageous the current game, you need to justify (to yourself, at least) why you are bringing this suboptimal character, or bring someone else.

Because the DM demanded it. Done.



How does Flight + Invisibility create problems with "party cohesion"?

We don't know where she is. We can't target her. We can't reach her. I can't get to her to help her or protect her if she gets in trouble.



Does spending your downtime actions "training" in any way benefit your character?

In a normal game I would get additional martial techniques to represent the extra time spent training.





I was suggesting abstracting a "grow the horde" roll. Maybe interspersed with "craft reagents" rolls.


I believe that Talakeal meant to say that his character and Bob's character are goal oriented


For the team staying together part, I suggest talking to your group and either adjusting the characters or simply agreeing as a group that everyone will stay together for their own in-character reasons.

The ogre (or the fey) could take a liking to the orphan. Finding the dancing dead men to be absolutely hilarious.
The fey could want to protect the orphan, finding it's story a tragic, or it's reaction to pranks enjoyable. Or simply liking it's magical power.
The necromancer could absolutely use some protection from the ogre and you. As well as simply seeking friends or going along with what you guys are telling them.
Your character can see how useful this strange group is in the short and long term (The physical prowess of the ogre, the unparalled scouting abilities of the fey, the potentially world-conquering powers of the young necromancer...). That and simply strength in number.

If I were to play a manipulative character, that would invariably lead to conflict. They are explicitly not "safe" or "well-behaved", and I can't imagine such a character wouldn't dispose of them as soon as they became a liability, which I imagine would happen very soon.



On the question of the flaw.... well......... I think the DM is right here, several others have expressed their agreement and not to be an ass and quote your words back at you but...

Your character has no crafting skills and wont be doing any crafting. As such, a flaw reducing it's crafting speed isn't a relevant one and isn't worth points.

I am not saying that a pointless flaw should be worth points.

I am saying that a character with a high willpower is entitled to a ton of crafting actions, and that not being able to use them IS a disadvantage.

Requiring a character to then invest in crafting skills on top of that is just forcing the player to throw good money after bad, and results in a less powerful character. Now, if I truly wanted to game the system, I would just invest points in craft: giving the DM the slip, and then take the flaw anyway, but I don't, I am just trying to play to the normal balance point.

NichG
2019-11-30, 04:45 AM
This line of conversation is becoming increasingly semantic and off topic, but out of curiosity, take the following character:

They are a monk. Of all who train at their monastery, they are the most dedicated and determined. They train from sun rise to sunset, ignoring exhaustion, and breaking boards well beyond the point where their hands are bloody. They spend all of their free time reading the teachings of the masters and meditating upon their lessons.

How would you stat this character in 3.X? Or is it a character that the system simply cannot (or should not) be able to make?


In 3.5, this would be high Constitution, which is the stat corresponding to the Concentration skill.

Fable Wright
2019-11-30, 04:46 AM
I think some people are getting an incomplete impression of how are session zero went. To paraphrase, it was something like this:

Bob: I want to play a mad scientist necromancer with the goal of establishing an undead empire.
Sarah: I want to play a fairy healer.
Dave: I want to play an ogre rogue.
Me: Well, I really wanted to play an alchemist, but it looks like that will step on the toes of both Bob and Sarah, and since everyone is super squishy I will play a tank instead. I'll give me character a very lawful bent and a tragic / disturbed backstory so they will be cool with helping establish an undead empire.

Then we started making characters and Dave decided his character was a pirate rather than a rogue, Sarah decided she wanted to play a sprite trickster instead of a fairy, and Bob decided to play a 13 year old orphaned outcast street urchin. I informed all of them that these changes would make it really hard to form a cohesive party, and was ignored.

Neat. So... now you have an infinite horde of tanks, courtesy Bob, and an ogre tank, courtesy Dave. Looks like the healing and buffing roles of an alchemist are wide open, and you can respec into a party leader type hiring this ragtag bunch of misfits.

alfredspence
2019-11-30, 06:46 AM
Play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings. Otherwise, the game will become dysfunctional, and you are headed for a horror story.

This advice isn't particularly aimed at one person. For any player, at any table, play a character who will do what the party is doing, and be a player who will accept the DM's rulings.

Like+++!
Good advice.

AMFV
2019-11-30, 08:25 AM
Then we started making characters and Dave decided his character was a pirate rather than a rogue, Sarah decided she wanted to play a sprite trickster instead of a fairy, and Bob decided to play a 13 year old orphaned outcast street urchin. I informed all of them that these changes would make it really hard to form a cohesive party, and was ignored.

That's exactly what is SUPPOSED to happen at a session zero, you hash out and figure out what your character concepts are. You aren't bound to something you initially come up with, it's not like you're chiseling your first idea into stone. I'll tell you that my D&D campaigns would be much worse if I was forced to always go with the first idea that had popped into my head.

Thing is when everybody else was creating different things your job was to figure out a way to alter your character concept so that they'd fit into the party, you had your first concept, got p-ed off and then refused to budge, that's the start of the horror story. You have to be flexible to some degree. I mean you could definitely have kept most of your concept with some slight alterations.



Three questions:

One; why is it a binary choice? Aren't there a host of options between "pirate" and "unskilled laborer"?

Depends, if you're playing a game where you all play teamsters, then not really. If you're playing a game where you all play as pirates, not really. Basically anything that isn't a pirate or a dockhand (in the other example) and has no reason to hang around with them is the same as playing something that is completely antithetical to them. I mean there are other options for the pirate (or dockhand) for the pirates you could play as a stowaway, some kind of mercenary whose working with the pirates, a captive who later winds up with the same interests as the pirates. There are a lot of options here, but you have to pick one that works at all. That's on you. If they're playing pirates and you make a dockhand, then that dockhand better have a reason to turn pirate or you're screwing the game up.



Two; why is allowing one player to dictate everyone else's character a good thing?

The thing is that one player made a character that would be interesting for a campaign with all kinds of useful threads. You made one that might be, but it wound up not working with any character concepts. If it's just one person that isn't fitting with the group, that person should alter.



Three; isn't that a huge nirvana fallacy? Nobody will ever be the best player they can be, and telling them to leave as a result will just end up filling the gaming pool with jerks and force considerate people to miss out on otherwise fun but imperfect games.

No, the point was that if you aren't willing to adapt to the group and show basic courtesy to what they want you should leave and find a group that's more to your tastes. It's the exact opposite of what you're suggesting. If you're playing with a group, then you should subsume some degree of your own wants to work with that group.



I know English isn't your first language, but my character isn't a fugitive in any ordinary usage of the word; she has committed no crimes, is not on the run from anything, and not in hiding. I suppose if I returned to my homeland and announced my intent to claim my birthright I could be in trouble, but other than that...

She's a person whose primary source of income is gone and they have no training at all in anything else, that's pretty common for criminals, whether they are actually fugitives or not. And especially if they have training that would work well for combat.



I personally do not enjoy playing "thug" type characters. I can do chaotic good or lawful evil, but "chaotic evil" just seems petty, mean, and pointless, and just doesn't hold my interest. The only way I would want to do a pirate game is if we are doing something like Pirates of the Caribbean which doesn't actually involve any piracy and is really just a treasure hunt featuring pirates in name only.

Being a pirate doesn't mean that you are inherently CE. Hell, most actual pirates where Privateers and were working for a country against another country, you could even have an LG pirate in that framework. Actual piracy involved theft of goods, that's not necessarily chaotic or evil, depending on where you're coming from. Murder was more optional, you don't want the people on the other boat to fight, you want them to surrender and give up their goods so you don't have the possibility of getting killed.

Quertus
2019-11-30, 08:54 AM
Talakeal, as I use the words, "party cohesion" is more "the group gets along, has shared goals, doesn't try to kill one another".

If the Pixie bleeds out because the party cannot find them, then the problem solved itself; otherwise, IME, it's not really a problem. I say don't worry about it - you've got bigger issues to solve.

-----

Your group failed at session 0. But, as has been pointed out, you could make "the character you wanted", switching to an alchemist healer, creating both a seemingly more tactically cohesive unit, and giving the party a reason to work together in the process.

-----

Taking a crafting skill is the optimal way to "win at downtime" in your system. So, while you're rebuilding your character anyway, take a crafting skill, call it a day.

Also, consider whether you want your game to say "take a Craft skill or be suboptimal".

-----

You cannot enjoy playing characters who are not goal-oriented?

OK, ask the GM to give your new alchemist a goal that is conducive to this party working with you in your session 0 continuation.

-----

The GM did not mandate that you had to waste your downtime actions. The GM did not mandate that you had to have no reason to work with the party in various ways. Granted, apparently the "pirates" idea wouldn't be fun for the players, so that particular path may be a moot point.

zinycor
2019-11-30, 09:55 AM
As others have said, now you have the chance to play the crafter character that you originally wanted, and it would fit the party better.

I don't get how a dishonored ronin, last survivor of his clan isn't a fugitive... Do you mind to clarify? I assumed that your character's clan was exterminated by a rival clan, and you were hiding from them... But I guess the circumstances could be different.

Now, in regards to party cohesion, I would just ask any of the players: "hey, how do you think we know each other?" And go from there.

Btw, it might be that English is my second language, but you seem to be too defensive in your posts, even though people on the thread are just trying to help you.

MrSandman
2019-11-30, 10:25 AM
Why would she start a (hypothetical example) apprenticeship as a blacksmith when she has a family to support instead of using her existing skills to, say, become a bodyguard, mercenary, or even a bouncer.

. . .

It isn't "crippled" per se, just weaker than it would otherwise be in a party where I am going to need to optimize my butt off to keep everyone else alive.

I could tweak the character to get more out of it, but doing so would actually feel exploitive and munchkiny.


I don't suppose you could take something like Profession: Bodyguard to use for your downtime activities?

ko_sct
2019-11-30, 11:21 AM
...
If I were to play a manipulative character, that would invariably lead to conflict. They are explicitly not "safe" or "well-behaved", and I can't imagine such a character wouldn't dispose of them as soon as they became a liability, which I imagine would happen very soon.


But a character isn't manipulative just because they seek strength in number. The game hasn't started yet, you could add to your backstory that a few week before meeting the other player your character almost died in an ambush against weaklings because they had an overwhelming number advantage and now she is all in for joining a group of misfit.

Then she doesn't want to be alone against the world again and choose to stick to this group even if they are a bit (or a lot) dysfunctional.


The game hasn't started yet. Overall the group would benefit from re-doing a session 0, deciding a common concept and making an already formed party where everyone know each other. Failing that we cannot address directly the other player to give them advice and from the other threads you've made it seems like telling them to rework their character wont give a positive outcome. So we are left with giving you advice on how to make your character better fit the group.
From a mechanical perspective, why not keep the same character and lower the wisdom, put in more dex and make some kind of archer ? Not everyone is high wis, you don't waste your crafting potential, the team has better ranged attacks.
Or go with your initial alchemist idea and the team has a crafter. You can give that character a ranged attack if you so desire.


The initial party creation and formation is, in my opinion, an iterative process. You've went through one and a half iteration and then stopped. It's going to take a bit more if you want to have a nice, cohesive group that work well together on both an rp and mechanical level. If you don't want to be the one to change your character, then you can simply tweak a bit her personality so that she'll work with the group and call it a day. Something like :

Character is highly loyal to her allies.
She has no allies right now (whole clan is dead).
Is happy/Eager to join this ragtag group.
Highly loyal to the members of this group that she now consider her allies.

Talakeal
2019-11-30, 12:35 PM
That's exactly what is SUPPOSED to happen at a session zero, you hash out and figure out what your character concepts are. You aren't bound to something you initially come up with, it's not like you're chiseling your first idea into stone. I'll tell you that my D&D campaigns would be much worse if I was forced to always go with the first idea that had popped into my head.

Thing is when everybody else was creating different things your job was to figure out a way to alter your character concept so that they'd fit into the party, you had your first concept, got p-ed off and then refused to budge, that's the start of the horror story. You have to be flexible to some degree. I mean you could definitely have kept most of your concept with some slight alterations.

What are you talking about? I completely scrapped my first character and made a new one which would fit in with the sort of characters they pitched to me.

The only thing I am "P-ed off" about is that everyone made completely disparate characters with no reason to ever work together and then telling me it is my responsibility to come up with a reason why they would, including the DM.



Depends, if you're playing a game where you all play teamsters, then not really. If you're playing a game where you all play as pirates, not really. Basically anything that isn't a pirate or a dockhand (in the other example) and has no reason to hang around with them is the same as playing something that is completely antithetical to them. I mean there are other options for the pirate (or dockhand) for the pirates you could play as a stowaway, some kind of mercenary whose working with the pirates, a captive who later winds up with the same interests as the pirates. There are a lot of options here, but you have to pick one that works at all. That's on you. If they're playing pirates and you make a dockhand, then that dockhand better have a reason to turn pirate or you're screwing the game up.

But it isn't "everyone". One person decided they wanted to play a pirate after everyone else had already built their characters. And again, the DM absolutely hates pirates for some reason.



The thing is that one player made a character that would be interesting for a campaign with all kinds of useful threads. You made one that might be, but it wound up not working with any character concepts. If it's just one person that isn't fitting with the group, that person should alter.

Agreed. But again, that isn't what happened. I made a character that had a reason to work with everyone, and then everyone introduced a character trait that would make them unable to work with any of the other party members.


Talakeal, as I use the words, "party cohesion" is more "the group gets along, has shared goals, doesn't try to kill one another".

If the Pixie bleeds out because the party cannot find them, then the problem solved itself; otherwise, IME, it's not really a problem. I say don't worry about it - you've got bigger issues to solve.

-----

Your group failed at session 0. But, as has been pointed out, you could make "the character you wanted", switching to an alchemist healer, creating both a seemingly more tactically cohesive unit, and giving the party a reason to work together in the process.

-----

Taking a crafting skill is the optimal way to "win at downtime" in your system. So, while you're rebuilding your character anyway, take a crafting skill, call it a day.

Also, consider whether you want your game to say "take a Craft skill or be suboptimal".

-----

You cannot enjoy playing characters who are not goal-oriented?

OK, ask the GM to give your new alchemist a goal that is conducive to this party working with you in your session 0 continuation.

-----

The GM did not mandate that you had to waste your downtime actions. The GM did not mandate that you had to have no reason to work with the party in various ways. Granted, apparently the "pirates" idea wouldn't be fun for the players, so that particular path may be a moot point.


As others have said, now you have the chance to play the crafter character that you originally wanted, and it would fit the party better.

How so? Mechanically, the character is totally redundant and we are all going to die without anyone who can take a hit or hold the monsters' attention, and narratively we still have completely disparate goals and alignments. Although I suppose the redundancy does give us common ground to bond over.



I don't get how a dishonored ronin, last survivor of his clan isn't a fugitive... Do you mind to clarify? I assumed that your character's clan was exterminated by a rival clan, and you were hiding from them... But I guess the circumstances could be different.

I don't have all the details yet because the DM hasn't finished world-building. Essentially I am the young heir to the noble warrior family of a region on the far side of the world who had grown up primarily in a monastery and was currently having an affair with one of her servants. The fiefdom was under attack by a horde of foreign raiders and she was fighting them on the front lines. There was a famine followed by a harsh winter, and the leadership made the tough decision of feeding the army rather than the peasants as the invaders would kill (or atleast rob) the peasants anyway if the army fell, but this triggered a revolution and the commoners overthrew the nobility. My character was oath bound to fight to the death in defense of these lands, against both the rebels and the invaders, but it would have been a hopeless battle, and though she really wanted to die she, she couldn't do that to her lover, so instead the two of them simply left to start a new life in distant lands.

At least, that's what I have so far, its still a work in progress.

So really more of a refugee than a fugitive.


Btw, it might be that English is my second language, but you seem to be too defensive in your posts, even though people on the thread are just trying to help you.

I didn't mean it as an insult, and I am sorry if I offended you.


I don't suppose you could take something like Profession: Bodyguard to use for your downtime activities?

No. There are no mechanical effects for "day-jobs" or "living expenses" because I don't want to turn the characters lifestyle into a game that can be one or lost and thereby stifle creativity.

I can still make untrained crafting roles, so its not completely useless, but that still goes against my character concept and will make the game less fun for me.


The initial party creation and formation is, in my opinion, an iterative process. You've went through one and a half iteration and then stopped. It's going to take a bit more if you want to have a nice, cohesive group that work well together on both an rp and mechanical level. If you don't want to be the one to change your character, then you can simply tweak a bit her personality so that she'll work with the group and call it a day. Something like :

Character is highly loyal to her allies.
She has no allies right now (whole clan is dead).
Is happy/Eager to join this ragtag group.
Highly loyal to the members of this group that she now consider her allies.


That is exactly the character I did make.

zinycor
2019-11-30, 02:14 PM
I don't believe that your character is looking forward to join a ragtag group, since you have shown that your character wouldn't follow a stupid ogre as a captain.

And isn't the ogre tanky enough already?

patchyman
2019-11-30, 02:30 PM
That's exactly what is SUPPOSED to happen at a session zero, you hash out and figure out what your character concepts are. You aren't bound to something you initially come up with, it's not like you're chiseling your first idea into stone. I'll tell you that my D&D campaigns would be much worse if I was forced to always go with the first idea that had popped into my head.

Thing is when everybody else was creating different things your job was to figure out a way to alter your character concept so that they'd fit into the party, you had your first concept, got p-ed off and then refused to budge, that's the start of the horror story. You have to be flexible to some degree. I mean you could definitely have kept most of your concept with some slight alterations.

The “you” there should refer not just to Talakeal, but to every member of the group. The fact that the other members of the party don’t seem to care about characters that can work together, suggests that this group will be as dysfunctional as the others.

Talakeal
2019-11-30, 02:30 PM
I don't believe that your character is looking forward to join a ragtag group, since you have shown that your character wouldn't follow a stupid ogre as a captain.

Why does ragtag mean incompetent?


And isn't the ogre tanky enough already?

Not at all. He has a fair number of HP, but is really easy to hit and has no means to make the enemies focus on him.

zinycor
2019-11-30, 02:44 PM
Why does ragtag mean incompetent?
It doesn't have to, it just can mean that, and it happens to be the case that it is.

AMFV
2019-11-30, 02:45 PM
The “you” there should refer not just to Talakeal, but to every member of the group. The fact that the other members of the party don’t seem to care about characters that can work together, suggests that this group will be as dysfunctional as the others.

Well Talakeal much as they would like to, cannot alter the behavior of others, only their own. And people have suggested the only things that might work: Changing their character to fit the now more absurd party, and walking away from the game.

Arbane
2019-11-30, 02:59 PM
This is why I don't allow any sort of drawbacks in my games. Turns out, if you tell people 'you cannot take any drawback that doesn't actually come into play' - no one wants them.

So I just hand out bonus feats. Keeps everyone happy.

I like the way some recent games do it - you PAY to have a disadvantage, but whenever it comes up in play, you get XP/luck points/a cookie.

Talakeal
2019-11-30, 03:05 PM
Well Talakeal much as they would like to, cannot alter the behavior of others, only their own. And people have suggested the only things that might work: Changing their character to fit the now more absurd party, and walking away from the game.


It doesn't have to, it just can mean that, and it happens to be the case that it is.

Which is why I am so frustrated.

Everyone else has made such a dysfunctional character that my only choices are to play a character I don't want to play in a game I don't want to play in, or leave. Basically, the campaign is already a train-wreck no matter what happens.

zinycor
2019-11-30, 03:14 PM
Which is why I am so frustrated.

Everyone else has made such a dysfunctional character that my only choices are to play a character I don't want to play in a game I don't want to play in, or leave. Basically, the campaign is already a train-wreck no matter what happens.

nah, you just have too high expectations, just play a nora character, with no particular flaw, and focus on having a good time, make it so people are comfortable at the table. Joke around, kill some bad guys whatever...

Your group isn't suited for deep roleplaying, but since you have said they are your friends, treat it as such, just hang out while rping in the mean time.

AMFV
2019-11-30, 03:29 PM
Which is why I am so frustrated.

Everyone else has made such a dysfunctional character that my only choices are to play a character I don't want to play in a game I don't want to play in, or leave. Basically, the campaign is already a train-wreck no matter what happens.

For you? Probably. I will say that not being overly attached to a character concept or when I'm trying characters I originally wasn't super into is probably when I've had the most fun.

Jay R
2019-11-30, 04:15 PM
There is a difference between "accept" and "follow unquestionably".

Yes, there is, and I wrote the one I meant.

Your problem here isn’t that you refuse to follow unquestionably the DM’s ruling. It’s that after questioning it and hearing the DM’s reasonable judgment call, you are refusing to accept it. You just spent a lot of time arguing about it with people online who can’t even affect the game.

The ruling that a flaw that can’t affect you isn’t worth anything is a reasonable approach. Your preferred ruling would also be a reasonable approach. But the DM went the other direction.

That happens all the time in games. *NO* DM always rules the way the player wants.


DMs are human and they make mistakes as well, and you can just as easily ruin a game by not letting the DM know when they are making it unpleasant for others.

True. But:

A. This ruling is fair and reasonable, and is simply not a big enough deal to ruin the game.

B. You can also ruin a game by accusing a DM of unfairness when he’s being reasonable. That’s what this one sounds like.

C. You can also ruin a game by thinking that a single ruling against you has made the game unpleasant. In many of your stories, the thing that upsets you is something you could choose to just move past. There will always be rulings that you disagree with. ALWAYS. If you can’t accept that and have fun anyway, then you will continue to play into gaming horror stories.

D. I’m not advising the DM right now. I’m advising the player who asked how to prevent a gaming horror story, specifically as a PC edition.

My best advice, as somebody who doesn’t get that kind of drama in his games, is this: Play the kind of character who will do what the party is doing, and be the kind of player who accepts (sometimes after discussion) the DM’s ruling.

Based on my 4 decades of experience, that is the best way to prevent a gaming horror story: PC edition.

Kane0
2019-11-30, 04:55 PM
Which is why I am so frustrated.

Everyone else has made such a dysfunctional character that my only choices are to play a character I don't want to play in a game I don't want to play in, or leave. Basically, the campaign is already a train-wreck no matter what happens.

Umm, no mate. You can play whatever you want, just like them. It’s not your job to make a balanced party nor manage an unbalanced one. Play whatever you’re going to enjoy (without actively ruining other people’s fun).

You’re DM view is kicking in again.

zinycor
2019-11-30, 05:32 PM
I believe you could have lots of fun if you adjust your expectations.

For example: Me and my friends about once a year get together to watch terrible movies, these movies are either boring and/or very weird... But I don't care, because I get to do that with my friends...

I believe you could approach gaming with Brian and the others the same way, focus on the social aspects, the game is secondary.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-01, 11:34 AM
Everyone else has made such a dysfunctional character that my only choices are to play a character I don't want to play in a game I don't want to play in, or leave. Basically, the campaign is already a train-wreck no matter what happens.

Since your Session Zero was so dysfunctional, and is not likely to be revisited, your choices are:

1) Play a character that you don't really want to but that fits in with the others, and enjoy the game regardless of what happens.

2) Play a character that you want to but that may not fit in with the others, and enjoy the game regardless of what happens.

3) Don't play with this group.

Only you can make that decision. All of us here can only offer the best advice we can come up with, but we aren't sitting at your gaming table across from Bob, Dave, Sarah and Brian.

zinycor
2019-12-01, 12:15 PM
Since you see your character as a refugee, maybe Dave helped you get out of your country and that turned into a friendship?

Mr Beer
2019-12-01, 05:51 PM
A game like this, I would tend to make a straight-up brawler of some kind and lead the charge into battle a lot. It's not my job to create a balanced party or magic cohesion into place if no-one else gives a crap about it. I'm also not going to spend even 20 minutes angsting about my backstory and motivations if I think the game is going to be a trainwreck anyway. I'm going to turn down my expectations and have fun with an easily built, highly expendable character.

zinycor
2019-12-01, 07:44 PM
A game like this, I would tend to make a straight-up brawler of some kind and lead the charge into battle a lot. It's not my job to create a balanced party or magic cohesion into place if no-one else gives a crap about it. I'm also not going to spend even 20 minutes angsting about my backstory and motivations if I think the game is going to be a trainwreck anyway. I'm going to turn down my expectations and have fun with an easily built, highly expendable character.

Same here!

Talakeal
2019-12-02, 10:45 AM
Well, you guys convinced me. I think the pirate idea is probably the way to go for this campaign, and I was able to tweak my character accordingly.

Of course, nothing came of it, as I tried, and failed, to convince Brian to let us play pirates. It was a hard no sell for him, both because he hates pirates on principle and because he thinks the game would be too combat heavy to keep his interest and because it would be too hard to come up with an overarching story when the players have so much agency.

Also, I got an interesting quote from him: "I don't have the same skill that you do for precise balance; I will never be able to reliably make sure the players win every fight but still feel like abject failures at everything they do like you can."



A game like this, I would tend to make a straight-up brawler of some kind and lead the charge into battle a lot. It's not my job to create a balanced party or magic cohesion into place if no-one else gives a crap about it. I'm also not going to spend even 20 minutes angsting about my backstory and motivations if I think the game is going to be a train-wreck anyway. I'm going to turn down my expectations and have fun with an easily built, highly expendable character.

Its not like character creation is a chore for me, so I don't really care about how fast and easy to play something is.

Besides, there is always the remote chance that the game doesn't self destruct, so I might as well be prepared!


Umm, no mate. You can play whatever you want, just like them. It’s not your job to make a balanced party nor manage an unbalanced one. Play whatever you’re going to enjoy (without actively ruining other people’s fun).

You’re DM view is kicking in again.

A lot of the advice in this thread boils down to telling me I need to change my expectations and character concept until I have something that can hold the rest of the party together.

Although I think it is mostly practical advice (you can't change other people, only yourself) than a sort of moral imperative.

zinycor
2019-12-02, 11:01 AM
Did Brian offer any alternative as to how the group would know each other?

Personally I disagree with Brian's view, since a pirate game would most likely be more about exploration than combat, but if that's Brian's view, you should ask him what sort of group would he like.

Quertus
2019-12-02, 01:39 PM
Also, I got an interesting quote from him: "I don't have the same skill that you do for precise balance; I will never be able to reliably make sure the players win every fight but still feel like abject failures at everything they do like you can."

You know, I was going to comment on a lot more, like how "pirates" can mean different things to different people, or how "captain Ogre" doesn't necessitate a pirate game, or how while "you cannot change other people, only yourself" is true, the best games IME come when you (I) successfully convince everyone to change their behavior (particularly when you're starting with a dysfunctional table).

But then I read this bit, and decided it should take priority.

Now, much like you shouldn't have gone to the GM and asked for something you know he hates (I believe I advocated going to him for some starting quest to bind your group together?), this will require you using / utilizing "do nothing" skills. It would, IMO, be potentially educational for you to just keep your eyes open, and your mouth shut, for at least 5 sessions, to look at any differences in how the GM's content is received, and how the GM's content differers from yours, in this regard.

Then, at some appropriate point, at least 5 sessions in, and maybe not on game night¹, if you think you've learned something, ask the others to confirm your observations. If you haven't… actually, I'd probably just ask the GM for examples, repeat.

¹ "when to bring things up" could be a thread all its own.

kyoryu
2019-12-02, 02:21 PM
Well, you guys convinced me. I think the pirate idea is probably the way to go for this campaign, and I was able to tweak my character accordingly.

Of course, nothing came of it, as I tried, and failed, to convince Brian to let us play pirates. It was a hard no sell for him, both because he hates pirates on principle and because he thinks the game would be too combat heavy to keep his interest and because it would be too hard to come up with an overarching story when the players have so much agency.

"Okay, so, your concern is too much combat? How do you see a pirate game going? How could you see a pirate game going that would be interesting to you?" Bonus points if you can point out examples of pirate-based media that do NOT involve nothing but combat.

"So, your concern is plot? Do you consider plot to mean forcing players down particular paths, or dealing with particular problems? If you really want a specific plot, can you at least give us the movie-trailer level synopsis of it so that we can make characters appropriate to it?" Also give him examples (from past games, if necessary) of situations where "plot" and "freedom" worked together. Note that for this to work, the players will still need the synopsis, as "yes, we agree this is what the game is about, and agree that our characters will be interested in and pursue this" is pretty much required.


Also, I got an interesting quote from him: "I don't have the same skill that you do for precise balance; I will never be able to reliably make sure the players win every fight but still feel like abject failures at everything they do like you can."

Interesting. I'd say that:

1) the PCs should just smoosh things once in a while. These should be things that are reasonbly smooshable based on the PCs perceived power levels.
2) the PCs should have tense fights a lot of time. These should be things that, going in, the PCs should go "whoa, this is going to be tough," either by numbers or just fearsomeness.
3) the PCs should get smooshed or nearly so once in a while. This should happen from things that are fairly obviously fearsome and should be able to smoosh the PCs.


A lot of the advice in this thread boils down to telling me I need to change my expectations and character concept until I have something that can hold the rest of the party together.

Although I think it is mostly practical advice (you can't change other people, only yourself) than a sort of moral imperative.

Or set your expectations for involvement. "I don't see how this is going to work. I want to play with you guys, but really, we need some kind of cohesive idea of what the game is if this isn't going to self-destruct."

Or on a more positive, proactive front "hey, I don't see how this game is going to work with these characters. Can you give me an idea of how you expect a random session to go? Because if we do X, I see character A not wanting to do it, and if we do Y, I see character B in the same situation."

Or even, "yeah, I know we're playing a game, but what is the game about? I don't want a full plot synopsis, but something like a movie trailer would be awesome, so we can make sure that we all make characters that fit in with the idea and will work with it and each other."

Kane0
2019-12-02, 04:26 PM
If you're familiar with Darths & Droids, try to be more like Jim than Pete.

Which is to say, take a step back. There is no optimal path for you to take other than walking away, but you've established that won't be happening so disengage your tendency to analyse and control. Go with the flow, let everyone else take the lead and try to enjoy the stupid antics that ensue.

MitschuGames
2019-12-02, 05:06 PM
{Scrubbed}

A Flaw is a disadvantage, something that hinders or limits your character in some fashion. It is not an extension of an existing character trait you've already gotten rewarded for (extra metagame actions for other tasks since you aren't crafting, and didn't have to put any points into crafting, freeing those up for other skills), to double-dip extra points out of.

{Scrubbed} "My character already will never do X, they're not built for it. So I'm going to take this extra penalty to Xing to get a bonus to Y." A pacifist picking the "can't wield swords" flaw, a mute taking the "can't speak Common" flaw, a non-crafter taking "really bad at crafting", all are in the same school of abusing the system to squeeze a few extra points out of a concept your character already has going for them.

Since it's your own system, {Scrubbed} - you know the rules so well that you know how to bend them, and expect an untested GM running your system to just roll with it and accept that it's "balanced" because you so decree, while also claiming that you aren't a backseat GM. Player-GM trust is the most important thing in a campaign, and you're {Scrubbed} putting him in a spot where he can't trust your intentions and knows that you'll try to {Scrubbed} manipulate a system you know better than him, whereever possible.

If I were in his position, I'd just shrug and say "Okay guys, quick changeup, I'm dropping the homebrew system and bringing out the D&D rulebooks, which actually have clearly defined expectations for what character builds and optimizations are allowed."

Now, as for a suggestion: as you've described your character as someone who doesn't do work like the little people, and in the spirit of compromise, I suggest a new Flaw to take over your Slow Crafter.

Lazy: This character does not engage in downtime metagames at all, unless compelled to do so by others (the "attacker" rolls their will against hers) or bit by sudden motivation or important need (self check against will, DC ~15 with circumstances penalties / bonuses as apply.) Whether at camp in the wilds, at the tavern in town, or resting in a nook in the sprawling maze you find yourself trapped in, they will not lift a finger to help the party with 'demeaning' tasks. If firewood needs collecting, weapons need sharpening, or even someone has to go talk to the noble lord about payment, they will always insist it is someone else's turn to do so, or that they have something more important to attend to, and go back to their malingering (such as sleeping, training, or poorly cleaning house.) If forced or compelled to take downtime action, will accomplish the bare minimum possible and take as much time as they can. Treat this as if they had always rolled a 1 on both checks, plus any skill modifiers. If successful on a self-motivation check, the task proceeds using their normal checks. Despite this drawback, they are still surprisingly reliable in other ways.

You give up an important part of the game, and get points to put into other stuff as a result. Speak with your GM about how many is fair for giving up an entire aspect of the game, not just a part you never intended to use in the first place. I think he'll probably give you a few more than originally planned.

Having a high Wisdom means that you are less likely to be forced into doing things (since party members will have to overcome your high will save to force you to get up and get to work), but also that you are fairly uniquely capable of using that same Will to occasionally "snapouttafunk!" and accomplish an important task when the plot demands.

This does not affect you in other aspects of the game, except for roleplay value or flavor. (You won't falter at killing enemies with the team, but somebody else has to rummage through the bodies afterwards looking for trinkets, while you "supervise" to make sure you aren't getting ripped off of your share of the loot. You won't walk away mid-sidequest offer because you got suddenly bored and stopped caring, but unless you accept on the spot, that "I'll check back in with you on that when I'm not so busy" never happens (since it would be a metagame followup between campaigns), unless somebody else anticipates it and either rouses you to the task or goes in your stead.)

zinycor
2019-12-02, 05:29 PM
Talakeal doesn't like role-playing flaws, he likes mechanical flaws.

Quizatzhaderac
2019-12-02, 05:45 PM
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'm thinking maybe you want more than two categories. I'd suggest four:

1) Standard races (Humans only in your system): The DM is strongly encouraged to include and players can pretty much assume they're an option.
2) Setting races: Limited by the setting, but identified by the system as working as player races.
3) Unorthodox races: Description creates player expectation that these races aren't usually allowed. These tend to create some problems that a DM would have to work around. Maybe provide the DM some hints are where they may/might not work.
4) Not supported: Marked by total omission as playable races. Creates huge problems that require major playstyle /system changes to work around. If the DM wants his as a PCs they need t take responsibility for integrating it into the system.


Maintain, sure. But learning how to actually repair or craft gear seems kind of wasteful when you can just hire an expert metalworker.

My character likely would have been a very bad leader if things had ever gotten to that point; she actively scorned social abilities in favor of martial ones.This is pretty tangential, so feel free to just ignore it.

So here's the thing: "martial abilities" don't just mean personal fighting abilities. In a war a grunt is going to spend more time digging ditches/building battlements than fighting and an army won't function unless most of it's fighting force does other useful things. Especially in a pre-modern army where supply lines might not be a thing. Romantizations of war gloss over this, but your system actually has a specific focus on this.

Think about it this way: You're a noble and you're telling your retainers how to train their children (you future army). You need to train a bunch of people who to fight and a bunch of people to do all of the non-combat martial arts. Won't it make sense to have people that can craft and fight? (including other combinations like fight and build, fight and valet, fight and haul stuff, fight and cook, et cetra) Training 40 hours a week versus 10 doesn't make you four times the warrior in real life, and it doesn't sound like never doing other work helps one be a good warrior in your system either.

Talakeal
2019-12-02, 06:10 PM
If I were in his position, I'd just shrug and say "Okay guys, quick changeup, I'm dropping the homebrew system and bringing out the D&D rulebooks, which actually have clearly defined expectations for what character builds and optimizations are allowed."

I really hope you aren't talking about 3E. :smallbiggrin:


Talakeal doesn't like role-playing flaws, he likes mechanical flaws.

When did I say that?

As a game designer I think every flaw should be both mechanical and role-playing, but as a player I aways take tons of flaws without any mechanical effect.


So here's the thing: "martial abilities" don't just mean personal fighting abilities. In a war a grunt is going to spend more time digging ditches/building battlements than fighting and an army won't function unless most of it's fighting force does other useful things. Especially in a pre-modern army where supply lines might not be a thing. Romantizations of war gloss over this, but your system actually has a specific focus on this.

Think about it this way: You're a noble and you're telling your retainers how to train their children (you future army). You need to train a bunch of people who to fight and a bunch of people to do all of the non-combat martial arts. Won't it make sense to have people that can craft and fight? (including other combinations like fight and build, fight and valet, fight and haul stuff, fight and cook, et cetra) Training 40 hours a week versus 10 doesn't make you four times the warrior in real life, and it doesn't sound like never doing other work helps one be a good warrior in your system either.

Maybe. It really depends on a lot of factors.

zinycor
2019-12-02, 06:19 PM
When did I say that?

As a game designer I think every flaw should be both mechanical and role-playing, but as a player I aways take tons of flaws without any mechanical effect.
Here you said so

If they don't have any mechanical effects, how are they flaws at all though?
.

Talakeal
2019-12-02, 07:12 PM
Here you said so

Let me clarify what I meant:

Flaws with mechanical benefits should likewise have mechanical disadvantages and vice versa.

Alhallor
2019-12-03, 09:22 AM
Okay I reread the thread I just want to add some stuff.

Flaws: This pops out through the thread every know and then and me not having read the Heart of Darkness system makes it quite hard to really judge the flaw-system in it's interity, but I still want to give some of my thoughts here.

I have played different system with different flaw system before. As an example the old world of Darkness rulebooks list some flaws who are really really, all of the time and perhaps once in a blue moon a kind of advantage (because some flaws can also be advantages and vice versa regarding the circumstances.) They feel bad in every situation, like one where you go besides a mirror a strange amalgamation that you not only can see but HEAR whispers strange things to you to startle you (that can pop up every so often, but giving it in the hand of the GM when to use it and world of Darkness in general being more of a storytelling game than a TTRPG, these kind of flaws feel like they work surprisingly well.)

In contrast I have played a system where I feel I need to take the maximum number of flaws available that effect my character at least as possible to make a character that I feel can at least do something (and not even that really competently.)

What do you want out of flaws? Has you presented the flaw-system to more people? What do they think about that? Like the other players on the table, what kind of flaws did they take? If any at all?

Regarding letting loose and just having fun (I read it but can't find the quote right know):

I can do that, some other people I know don't have a problem doing that, even when they prefer roleplaying and serious play way more. But I also know enough people that can't really just cut loose and roll dice to have fun because it's just not their idea of fun. Something needs to happen here and because a second session zero seems to be out, how about some ideas. (these may be not helpful at all, it's just something that springs to my mind and be an acceptable solution too me.)

1. Change the system to one the current GM (Brian? I think it was Brian...) Knows better than your system. I guess you want to be a player to see how he would GM to know what he actually enyojs because I really think you consciously or unconsciously GM situations and encounters that you would enjoy.

2. Try to cut losse and enjoy the game. Perhaps it's not impossible for you. Perhaps two to three sessions, or as much as you can survive. I can have fun with a mechanically inferior character doing stuff, but not when everyone and everything reminds me all the time that I'm mechanically inferior. I also enjoy doing dumb things with characters that fit the character concept but only if the other players can laugh with me and not if they remind me all the time that what I was doing is stupid.

3. If they are your friends try to contact them outside your playing time and brainstorm a bit. That doesn't mean you have to Co-GM. More like that you could talk to the fairy player about your concerns about the fairy and ask her if she saw the problem you see too and even if not, ask how you could still reach her at an emergency. Ask the ogre player how he want's to protect the other characters (because he wants to be some kind of leader and that seems to be a leader thing to do.)

4. If still possible ask the current GM how the characters could come together, he doesn't have to do all the work, but perhaps there is still something that springs to his mind and he somehow still can weave all of you together.

Regarding this: Also, I got an interesting quote from him: "I don't have the same skill that you do for precise balance; I will never be able to reliably make sure the players win every fight but still feel like abject failures at everything they do like you can."

How did you feel when he told that to you? To me it sounds like a pretty bad insult just reading it but I wasn't there so I obviously didn't get the tone.

Talakeal
2019-12-03, 03:57 PM
Okay I reread the thread I just want to add some stuff.

Flaws: This pops out through the thread every know and then and me not having read the Heart of Darkness system makes it quite hard to really judge the flaw-system in it's interity, but I still want to give some of my thoughts here.

I have played different system with different flaw system before. As an example the old world of Darkness rulebooks list some flaws who are really really, all of the time and perhaps once in a blue moon a kind of advantage (because some flaws can also be advantages and vice versa regarding the circumstances.) They feel bad in every situation, like one where you go besides a mirror a strange amalgamation that you not only can see but HEAR whispers strange things to you to startle you (that can pop up every so often, but giving it in the hand of the GM when to use it and world of Darkness in general being more of a storytelling game than a TTRPG, these kind of flaws feel like they work surprisingly well.)

In contrast I have played a system where I feel I need to take the maximum number of flaws available that effect my character at least as possible to make a character that I feel can at least do something (and not even that really competently.)

What do you want out of flaws? Has you presented the flaw-system to more people? What do they think about that? Like the other players on the table, what kind of flaws did they take? If any at all?


Generally, people take 1-4 flaws, mostly for role-playing reasons. Some people take none, and occasionally you get someone who takes a ton of them; although I have never actually had someone who did that stick around for very long. Not sure why.

They aren't necessary to make an effective character, but the merits and flaws system is kind of required to make an "against the grain" sort of character like a deadly knife fighter with a low strength or my aforementioned strong willed non-crafter.



1. Change the system to one the current GM (Brian? I think it was Brian...) Knows better than your system. I guess you want to be a player to see how he would GM to know what he actually enjoys because I really think you consciously or unconsciously GM situations and encounters that you would enjoy.

I don't think that game exists. Maybe we could go back to oWoD Mage or AD&D, but our group has played mostly home-brew for the last 15 years or so.

I hadn't though about that latter, but that is a good idea.



3. If they are your friends try to contact them outside your playing time and brainstorm a bit. That doesn't mean you have to Co-GM. More like that you could talk to the fairy player about your concerns about the fairy and ask her if she saw the problem you see too and even if not, ask how you could still reach her at an emergency. Ask the ogre player how he want's to protect the other characters (because he wants to be some kind of leader and that seems to be a leader thing to do.)

I never got any sort of leader vibe from him, that idea came out of this thread. He wants to play a stereotypical dumb brute, to the point where the DM is concerned that his character is just going to be a walking joke.



4. If still possible ask the current GM how the characters could come together, he doesn't have to do all the work, but perhaps there is still something that springs to his mind and he somehow still can weave all of you together.

Would be nice, but he doesn't want. AFAICT he has a fairly linear plot in mind, but won't give up any idea what it is.



Regarding this: Also, I got an interesting quote from him: "I don't have the same skill that you do for precise balance; I will never be able to reliably make sure the players win every fight but still feel like abject failures at everything they do like you can."

How did you feel when he told that to you? To me it sounds like a pretty bad insult just reading it but I wasn't there so I obviously didn't get the tone.

Seems that way.

Talking to him more, he was really upset with how the last game played out. Basically, he feels that he is in an environment where everyone else is simply playing very selfishly, and he is the only one who actually cares if the group as a whole actually succeeds or not, and that this means he is being taken advantage of, and that I am not doing anything to stop it.

Duff
2019-12-03, 05:03 PM
Have you guys considered playing something like descent?
It looks like it would solve a bunch of your group's issues...
No more "Unfair, the GM's out to get us" because the overlord unequivocally is
The party have a reason to adventure together. You don't need to explain it




https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descent:_Journeys_in_the_Dark

Kane0
2019-12-03, 06:01 PM
I never got any sort of leader vibe from him, that idea came out of this thread. He wants to play a stereotypical dumb brute, to the point where the DM is concerned that his character is just going to be a walking joke.


Like Slap Happy Jack?

Duff
2019-12-03, 07:09 PM
Huge Snip - the DM is concerned that his character is just going to be a walking joke. more snip.

In some ways, this sentence hilights a big part of the issue. The GM needs to either give stronger direction about the characters to be created or be willing to roll with what the players come up with

zinycor
2019-12-03, 08:01 PM
I never got any sort of leader vibe from him, that idea came out of this thread. He wants to play a stereotypical dumb brute, to the point where the DM is concerned that his character is just going to be a walking joke.


How is a walking joke a problem? Those are the easiest people to GM for... I feel like your group was too affected by White wolf games if "funny characters" = "problem characters".

Talakeal
2019-12-03, 09:18 PM
How is a walking joke a problem? Those are the easiest people to GM for... I feel like your group was too affected by White wolf games if "funny characters" = "problem characters".

I have never actually seen a player who can pull off "funny", normally they try and end up just being annoying.

I am curious about how such a character is easy to DM for though.

zinycor
2019-12-03, 10:01 PM
I have never actually seen a player who can pull off "funny", normally they try and end up just being annoying.

I am curious about how such a character is easy to DM for though.

never seen a funny player? You really need to find yourself a new group...

And that sort of characters are easy to Gm for because essentially all you have to give them is funny situations to act on. For a dumb brute, have people be amazed at their power, present to them ridiculously complex math and logic problems that can be solved by just ounching them. have people mock them and then get absolutely destroyed by them, and all the stupid shenanigans they find themselves with the party.

Not to forget, dumb characters don't step on the toes of intelligent or skilled characters, they allow the other players to shine quite easily.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-03, 10:11 PM
I have never actually seen a player who can pull off "funny", normally they try and end up just being annoying.

I am curious about how such a character is easy to DM for though.

I DM'd for our group in a campaign where one player was an Ogre Fighter. Typical brute, Low Int/High Str. Yes, the character was funny at times, but when the dark matter hit the rotating fan, omigosh was he a wrecking ball. I had to adjust a few things on the fly, but overall it was an amazing series of adventures. Of course, the rest of the party wasn't a Pixie Bard, a street urchin Necromancer, and an uppity Ronin fighter-type. Still, I think one was a Sylph or something. It might work.

NichG
2019-12-03, 10:36 PM
For what it's worth, on designing flaws into a system:

What I do for flaws now is to tie together a specific disadvantage and advantage, rather than make flaws give general build resources. The disadvantages are designed for the purpose of creating interesting opportunities for emergent plot, or to change up gameplay assumptions, and the corresponding advantages also tend to be aimed at changing the way the character plays.

So e.g.:

'You have a chance to warp spells targeting you; 25% of spells that include you in their effect are warped in this fashion, having their effect replaced with a random one from this list. You are not affected by spells that you warp, and if you were the sole target then it jumps to a random target within the spell's range instead. '

'Unlike most entities, you were born without a soul, and instead cobble one together from the fringes of those around you in order to function. As a result, you are slippery to effects that try to bind to your nature, shedding them subtly onto those you use for camoflauge: curses, geases, magical ritual effects, permanent magic (such as stat bonuses from Wish), magical contracts, spiritual corruption, etc all slip off onto those around you instead. However, you tend to take on characteristics of strong souls near you - hanging out with a demon tends to make you detect as a demon, interact with spells as a demon, even makes you behave more demonically. If you are isolated from all other forms of macroscopic life by a distance of at least 500ft, you go into a torpor.'

zinycor
2019-12-03, 10:55 PM
I must say, I love dumb characters.

They are easy and fun to roleplay, since it allows you to play a character you and your friends can always make fun of, and coing up with those situations is always a blast.

They suit any setting, no matter if it is the future, the present, or a medieval fantasy... a dumb character that hits things good always fits and will be a blast to play.

They have an actual flaw, which comes into play all the time, and makes them memorable (Unlike an emo backstory and a flaw that willl never come into play)

And as I said before, they allow others to shine. The dumb character is always a team player, since it will always need a party, since it can't smash every problem around him.

Talakeal
2019-12-04, 08:11 AM
I DM'd for our group in a campaign where one player was an Ogre Fighter. Typical brute, Low Int/High Str. Yes, the character was funny at times, but when the dark matter hit the rotating fan, omigosh was he a wrecking ball. I had to adjust a few things on the fly, but overall it was an amazing series of adventures. Of course, the rest of the party wasn't a Pixie Bard, a street urchin Necromancer, and an uppity Ronin fighter-type. Still, I think one was a Sylph or something. It might work.

Hopefully we can pull off the same.


never seen a funny player? You really need to find yourself a new group...

I have played with at least half a dozen groups over the years, never seen anyone play a character who was legitimately funny or play a joke character as anything but a troll or attention whore.

I have played with a few legitimately funny people at one shot con games, but I don't know how long they would have stayed funny in a long term game where people are invested in the plot or their character's success.


I feel like your group was too affected by White wolf games if "funny characters" = "problem characters".

You are right there, although maybe not in the way you intended. White Wolf games tend to have character archetypes (malkavians, pookha, ragabash, etc.) that attract the "funny" problem players like moths to a flame.


Like Slap Happy Jack?

Hopefully.



Not to forget, dumb characters don't step on the toes of intelligent or skilled characters, they allow the other players to shine quite easily.

Dumb characters, no. But people who think they are being funny tend to troll the rest of the group, for example alerting enemies with their antics during a stealth attempt or hurling insults and childish names during a tense negotiation.

zinycor
2019-12-04, 09:19 AM
Dumb characters, no. But people who think they are being funny tend to troll the rest of the group, for example alerting enemies with their antics during a stealth attempt or hurling insults and childish names during a tense negotiation.

You are confusing funny people with immature people...

kyoryu
2019-12-04, 09:29 AM
There’s a difference between a funny player, and someone attempting to run a funny character.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-12-04, 11:11 AM
I tend to agree that people trying to make a funny character usually ends up as grating. Which is a totally different thing from a funny player. A funny player can make great comedic moments with whatever character they're playing.

Quizatzhaderac
2019-12-04, 12:20 PM
Also, I kind of suspect Talakeal is talking about characters were the player thinks will be funny, but don't actually have a premise that lasts very long. Funny like Haley's cousin (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0136.html), not funny like the main cast.

Talakeal
2019-12-04, 12:26 PM
I must say, I love dumb characters.

They are easy and fun to role-play, since it allows you to play a character you and your friends can always make fun of, and coing up with those situations is always a blast.

They suit any setting, no matter if it is the future, the present, or a medieval fantasy... a dumb character that hits things good always fits and will be a blast to play.

They have an actual flaw, which comes into play all the time, and makes them memorable (Unlike an emo backstory and a flaw that will never come into play)

And as I said before, they allow others to shine. The dumb character is always a team player, since it will always need a party, since it can't smash every problem around him.

Sometimes. I have also seen people get really upset and angry at other players for making fun of their stupid character or using their stupidity as an excuse to make trouble every time they get bored for not being able to contribute, for example simply attacking a potential ally because they get impatient listening to the other characters talk.


They have an actual flaw, which comes into play all the time, and makes them memorable (Unlike an emo backstory and a flaw that will never come into play)

A low intelligence score is not necessarily something that always comes into play, plenty of people put a low score into intelligence and then just play the character normally.

Numerical flaws rarely "come up" as a dramatic element, but they influence a whole host of dice rolls. For example, the lack of crafting actions discussed up thread will affect the game every time I attack or am attacked as I won't have the high quality gear that a crafter would, and every time I use one of the combat maneuvers I bought with it.

Likewise, backstory doesn't affect the game directly (hence the "back" part), but it does serve to give the DM plot hooks and also informs how you play your character. Although, I have to say that the latter isn't a hard rule as people react to different things in different ways, for example Batman, Iron Man, Green Arrow, and Iron Fist all have essentially the same tragic backstory, but all of them have drastically different personalities.



You are confusing funny people with immature people...

I am not sure how we got from discussing joke characters to funny players.

In this particular case Dave is not an especially funny person, although he does have a tendency to troll people on occasion.


For what it's worth, on designing flaws into a system:

What I do for flaws now is to tie together a specific disadvantage and advantage, rather than make flaws give general build resources. The disadvantages are designed for the purpose of creating interesting opportunities for emergent plot, or to change up gameplay assumptions, and the corresponding advantages also tend to be aimed at changing the way the character plays.

So e.g.:

'You have a chance to warp spells targeting you; 25% of spells that include you in their effect are warped in this fashion, having their effect replaced with a random one from this list. You are not affected by spells that you warp, and if you were the sole target then it jumps to a random target within the spell's range instead. '

'Unlike most entities, you were born without a soul, and instead cobble one together from the fringes of those around you in order to function. As a result, you are slippery to effects that try to bind to your nature, shedding them subtly onto those you use for camoflauge: curses, geases, magical ritual effects, permanent magic (such as stat bonuses from Wish), magical contracts, spiritual corruption, etc all slip off onto those around you instead. However, you tend to take on characteristics of strong souls near you - hanging out with a demon tends to make you detect as a demon, interact with spells as a demon, even makes you behave more demonically. If you are isolated from all other forms of macroscopic life by a distance of at least 500ft, you go into a torpor.'

My system has three types of traits, Merits, Flaws, and Quirks.

The quirks are much like you describe.

The merits are mostly like D&D feats, but a few of them as superior traits that drastically alter play and can only be taken at character creation like huge size or mutations.

Flaws mostly allow you to trade in default abilities for character points at a greatly reduced rate and allow you to play against type; for example the high wisdom non-crafter in the initial post or a deadly swordsman without a massive strength score. There are also superior flaws that drastically alter player and can only be taken at character creation such as blindness or missing limbs.

zinycor
2019-12-04, 01:08 PM
I am not sure how we got from discussing joke characters to funny players.
You said:


Dumb characters, no. But people who think they are being funny tend to troll the rest of the group, for example alerting enemies with their antics during a stealth attempt or hurling insults and childish names during a tense negotiation.

which isn't a problem with the character they might be playing, but a player problem.



Sometimes. I have also seen people get really upset and angry at other players for making fun of their stupid character or using their stupidity as an excuse to make trouble every time they get bored for not being able to contribute, for example simply attacking a potential ally because they get impatient listening to the other characters talk.
again, a player problem, not a character problem.



A low intelligence score is not necessarily something that always comes into play, plenty of people put a low score into intelligence and then just play the character normally.

Then, they aren't a joke character, and Brian shouldn't have any problem GMing for them.


Numerical flaws rarely "come up" as a dramatic element, but they influence a whole host of dice rolls. For example, the lack of crafting actions discussed up thread will affect the game every time I attack or am attacked as I won't have the high quality gear that a crafter would, and every time I use one of the combat maneuvers I bought with it.

If so, how does that relate to this other quote from yours:



Maintain, sure. But learning how to actually repair or craft gear seems kind of wasteful when you can just hire an expert metalworker.

My character likely would have been a very bad leader if things had ever gotten to that point; she actively scorned social abilities in favor of martial ones.

...

Likewise, backstory doesn't affect the game directly (hence the "back" part), but it does serve to give the DM plot hooks and also informs how you play your character. Although, I have to say that the latter isn't a hard rule as people react to different things in different ways, for example Batman, Iron Man, Green Arrow, and Iron Fist all have essentially the same tragic backstory, but all of them have drastically different personalities.

Nothing against bakctories, just criticizing yours in particular for being too emo.



In this particular case Dave is not an especially funny person, although he does have a tendency to troll people on occasion.
Again, a player prblem.


In the end, the problem continues to be that you continue to play with people you don't enjoy playing with. The reason that conversations turn from "funny characters" to "funny players" is because in order to be funny is needed to entertain the other players (And GM) at the table, which your players seem to fail at.

Talakeal
2019-12-04, 03:15 PM
If so, how does that relate to this other quote from yours:

Game mechanics =/= backstory.

A rich noble has money by birth, so they need to manage their time. Training to do something you can hire someone else to do is a waste of time.

Mechanically, all characters are going to be more or less equal, and a rich character is going to have to spend build points on resources, crafting, or combat skills while training time is more or less hand-waived.


Nothing against backstories, just criticizing yours in particular for being too emo..

Yes, I was aware of that.

I was trying to take the highroad and discuss the general literary concept of tragic backstories rather than getting defensive.

As for the specific case, I didn't think a bright and happy childhood was a good lead in for someone who wants to assist a deranged necromancer in creating a kingdom of the living dead and trying to take over the world with it.

zinycor
2019-12-04, 04:05 PM
In regards to your backstory, it seems to me that ronin isn't the best way to describe your character (since it seems to indicate a japanese subtext) and your backstory is closer to the french revolution or the russian revolution.

Anyway, the actions of your parents seem too justified, have them be more assholish, that way your character won't be as tragic and could still get a chance to redeem himself from the sins of their father or fall into their same mistake.

NichG
2019-12-04, 05:01 PM
Flaws mostly allow you to trade in default abilities for character points at a greatly reduced rate and allow you to play against type; for example the high wisdom non-crafter in the initial post or a deadly swordsman without a massive strength score. There are also superior flaws that drastically alter player and can only be taken at character creation such as blindness or missing limbs.

The thing is, someone who is playing to type can also take advantage of that kind of flaw to gain extra build points. Imagine you made your character with high strength and dumpstatted wisdom, and took the 'cannot craft' flaw - if anything, it would be an even better synergy.

So I think the idea of flaws letting players get something back in build resources for making suboptimal build choices simply doesn't work in practice. If the GM thinks that it's supposed to work, they're going to get baited into quibbling with players about whether the flaw is 'harmful enough', which leads to the even worse game design pattern where you get an in character bonus only if it's paid for by out of character suffering. E.g. you have to 'prove' through displaying stress over situations your flaw gets you into that its having an effect. That also tends to be a problem with 'get a reward when your flaw comes up' designs.

Whereas if you approach things from the point of view that these are just build options that happen to have aspects which are not strictly positive (e.g. you're not intending them as a way to incentivize things that would normally not be played), then if a player manages to layer things in a way which is to their advantage, you can consider it no different than someone realizing that Power Attack is a better feat for a warrior than Skill Focus(Disable Device) - e.g. you make things which can lean into the assumption that players will pick options that make sense to them, rather than things which need the GM to have them push back against it.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-04, 05:03 PM
As for the specific case, I didn't think a bright and happy childhood was a good lead in for someone who wants to assist a deranged necromancer in creating a kingdom of the living dead and trying to take over the world with it.


Anyway, the actions of your parents seem too justified, have them be more assholish, that way your character won't be as tragic and could still get a chance to redeem himself from the sins of their father or fall into their same mistake.

Perhaps the (insulated) childhood was more or less normal, and the character didn't start to realize something was wrong until the peasants revolted. Then the rumors reached the character's ears of the awful, terrible things their family was accused of. As the world collapsed around them, the character fled, nowhere in particular or for any particular reason, just to get away from the madness and horror. The character is still in a kind of shock, and hasn't really come to terms with their dark past.

Talakeal
2019-12-04, 05:26 PM
Well, talked to Bob. He has also put his foot down and said no to the pirate game.

Although Brian has said that he doesn't mind us playing a group of evil characters with our own ship and include an ogre pirate in our crew, just as long as we don't actually call ourselves pirates.


The thing is, someone who is playing to type can also take advantage of that kind of flaw to gain extra build points. Imagine you made your character with high strength and dumpstatted wisdom, and took the 'cannot craft' flaw - if anything, it would be an even better synergy.

They would get fewer points for it. Basically, it refunds 1/8th the cost of the points you put into Wisdom.


So I think the idea of flaws letting players get something back in build resources for making suboptimal build choices simply doesn't work in practice. If the GM thinks that it's supposed to work, they're going to get baited into quibbling with players about whether the flaw is 'harmful enough', which leads to the even worse game design pattern where you get an in character bonus only if it's paid for by out of character suffering. E.g. you have to 'prove' through displaying stress over situations your flaw gets you into that its having an effect. That also tends to be a problem with 'get a reward when your flaw comes up' designs.

I agree.

Generally, I don't sweat it when I DM and trust my players to make the characters they want to play, and it has never really been a problem.

Obviously, Brian disagrees.


In regards to your backstory, it seems to me that ronin isn't the best way to describe your character (since it seems to indicate a Japanese subtext) and your backstory is closer to the french revolution or the russian revolution.

Anyway, the actions of your parents seem too justified, have them be more assholish, that way your character won't be as tragic and could still get a chance to redeem himself from the sins of their father or fall into their same mistake.

The ronin part comes from failing my oath to the emperor, fleeing my lands rather than dying to defend them or committing suicide to atone for failure.

The thing is, if the character doesn't have an innate distrust of the peasants, she doesn't have a reason to want to replace them with the undead, and if she still has her own honor, she wouldn't be so eager to pledge herself to an obviously tainted master.

Excession
2019-12-04, 08:32 PM
The thing is, if the character doesn't have an innate distrust of the peasants, she doesn't have a reason to want to replace them with the undead, and if she still has her own honor, she wouldn't be so eager to pledge herself to an obviously tainted master.

I may have skimmed a few posts, but I get an impression something like this:

"Multiple generations of my family have served, fought, and died for this Kingdom, and this is how the people behave? How dare they!? Ungrateful, murderous, stupid, filthy peasants, the lot of them. They'll pay for this, no matter what. I will restore glory to my Kingdom."

That's a solid lawful evil motivation to me. The peasants violated the rule of law, so they must face justice, and when undeath is the means to do it you've arrived at evil. And if the Emporer won't go along with this plan then he can be replaced as well. There's no reason the swear fealty to the necromancer or anything, he's just another person (and quite possibly still a filthy peasant) that you can use to restore your kingdom's glory. You just need to keep him and his silly little friends happy.

I think I would go with more Charisma and some social skills though, both to give you something to do outside combat and to give a better chance to actually achieve her goal.


...just as long as we don't actually call ourselves pirates.

Well that's fair. Openly calling yourself a pirate is a great way to end up getting executed for piracy. Maybe keep the sea shanties to a minimum as well :smallwink:

Mr Beer
2019-12-04, 11:03 PM
I have played with at least half a dozen groups over the years, never seen anyone play a character who was legitimately funny or play a joke character as anything but a troll or attention whore.

I have played with a few legitimately funny people at one shot con games, but I don't know how long they would have stayed funny in a long term game where people are invested in the plot or their character's success.

Dumb characters, no. But people who think they are being funny tend to troll the rest of the group, for example alerting enemies with their antics during a stealth attempt or hurling insults and childish names during a tense negotiation.

That sounds miserable, my group gets together and we crack each other up for 6 hours or so while still behaving as a cohesive, goal oriented party. Really you should try playing with fun people.

Talakeal
2019-12-05, 08:09 AM
That sounds miserable, my group gets together and we crack each other up for 6 hours or so while still behaving as a cohesive, goal oriented party. Really you should try playing with fun people.

Very few people actually try and make joke characters though.

Do note that we make jokes and laugh, both in and out of character, its just that if someone actually makes that the focus of their character it usually turns out a lot less funny and more annoying than they thought it would be.


I may have skimmed a few posts, but I get an impression something like this:

"Multiple generations of my family have served, fought, and died for this Kingdom, and this is how the people behave? How dare they!? Ungrateful, murderous, stupid, filthy peasants, the lot of them. They'll pay for this, no matter what. I will restore glory to my Kingdom."

That's a solid lawful evil motivation to me. The peasants violated the rule of law, so they must face justice, and when undeath is the means to do it you've arrived at evil. And if the Emporer won't go along with this plan then he can be replaced as well. There's no reason the swear fealty to the necromancer or anything, he's just another person (and quite possibly still a filthy peasant) that you can use to restore your kingdom's glory. You just need to keep him and his silly little friends happy.

I think I would go with more Charisma and some social skills though, both to give you something to do outside combat and to give a better chance to actually achieve her goal.

Mostly. Although its less anger and arrogance and more cynicism and losing faith in the whole system.

The whole purpose of the character is to give me a reason to work together with the necromancer and help him build his empire, probably should avoid looking for reasons to distrust or disrespect him. Besides, I am sure enough will come up in play on their own :P




Also, I kind of suspect Talakeal is talking about characters were the player thinks will be funny, but don't actually have a premise that lasts very long. Funny like Haley's cousin (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0136.html), not funny like the main cast.

Mostly, yes. Although early Elan and Belkar would probably fall into that category as well.

zinycor
2019-12-05, 05:33 PM
Personally I don't get it. A player who wants to troll the table (via killing NPCs for no reason, stealing from the party, etc) will do so regardless of whatever character they are playing.

The idea that a dumb character is a problem character is baffling to me.


Well, talked to Bob. He has also put his foot down and said no to the pirate game.


Did Bob offer any other alternatives as to how the party would know each other?

Talakeal
2019-12-06, 11:11 AM
Personally I don't get it. A player who wants to troll the table (via killing NPCs for no reason, stealing from the party, etc) will do so regardless of whatever character they are playing.

In my experience people tend to act worse if they have an excuse. The whole "Its just what my character would do," becomes a stereotype because its an easy way to justify your problematic behavior to both yourself and the rest of the group.

I know I personally can be a bit of a problem player because I prioritize fidelity to my character concept above the rest of the groups enjoyment, which is why I am trying so hard to make a character that will fit in with the rest of the group, so that I can do both at once.


The idea that a dumb character is a problem character is baffling to me.

Its not "dumb" characters, its that the DM doesn't think he is going to take the characters seriously and just play it as a joke, which can be a problem if the other players aren't looking to do a comedy campaign.




Did Bob offer any other alternatives as to how the party would know each other?

No. Bob doesn't believe in backgrounds and wants everyone to start in media res with no explanation as to how they got there.

zinycor
2019-12-06, 11:29 AM
No. Bob doesn't believe in backgrounds and wants everyone to start in media res with no explanation as to how they got there.

That's a very good suggestion, what does Brian think about it?

Talakeal
2019-12-06, 11:43 AM
That's a very good suggestion, what does Brian think about it?

Absolutely forbid it.

It also doesn't solve my conundrum, as I would still need to come up with a backstory and motivation for me to play my character even if it wasn't announced to the rest of the group.

zinycor
2019-12-06, 11:50 AM
Absolutely forbid it.

It also doesn't solve my conundrum, as I would still need to come up with a backstory and motivation for me to play my character even if it wasn't announced to the rest of the group.
Ok, another idea.

After leaving your country, without practical abilities to survive you and your significant other went through some hard times, your significant other taking the role of keeping the house afloat.

After some time you met with other people down on their luck, an urchin necromancer and a pirate ogre, with them your character forged a friendship and is now looking to gain money to maintain their new family.

Quertus
2019-12-06, 04:39 PM
Ok, another idea.

After leaving your country, without practical abilities to survive you and your significant other went through some hard times, your significant other taking the role of keeping the house afloat.

After some time you met with other people down on their luck, an urchin necromancer and a pirate ogre, with them your character forged a friendship and is now looking to gain money to maintain their new family.

… where does the Pixie fit in? Is she(?) supposed to be his SO?

zinycor
2019-12-06, 04:45 PM
… where does the Pixie fit in? Is she(?) supposed to be his SO?

Actually I forgot about the Pixie... Maybe? although tal's group doesn't seem like it could handle PCs being a couple.

To be honest, pixies are so chaotic and weird that I have a hard time getting a motivation for one other than "She feels like joining"

Talakeal
2019-12-06, 04:59 PM
Actually I forgot about the Pixie... Maybe? although tal's group doesn't seem like it could handle PCs being a couple.

To be honest, pixies are so chaotic and weird that I have a hard time getting a motivation for one other than "She feels like joining"

Yeah, the pixie is probably the easiest to give motivation to as they are so chaotic and alien. Now, keeping her in the party's good graces is going to be really tough with her personality and alignment, as well keeping her alive with her flight and invisibility.

Besides, Sarah and Dave are a couple irl, so their characters are almost guaranteed to work well together.

zinycor
2019-12-06, 05:02 PM
Yeah, the pixie is probably the easiest to give motivation to as they are so chaotic and alien. Now, keeping her in the party's good graces is going to be really tough with her personality and alignment, as well keeping her alive with her flight and invisibility.

Besides, Sarah and Dave are a couple irl, so their characters are almost guaranteed to work well together.

Done then. She joins your group because f her own reasons, and you are all friends.

Talakeal
2019-12-06, 05:18 PM
Done then. She joins your group because f her own reasons, and you are all friends.

Again, the DM has forbidden us from simply declaring that we are all friends without legitimate reasons to work together and, more importantly, stay together if it becomes inconvenient to do so.

I think he has seen to many groups break apart after a single dispute and wants to make sure that we have character bonds that can actually stand up to adversity.

zinycor
2019-12-06, 06:37 PM
Again, the DM has forbidden us from simply declaring that we are all friends without legitimate reasons to work together and, more importantly, stay together if it becomes inconvenient to do so.

I think he has seen to many groups break apart after a single dispute and wants to make sure that we have character bonds that can actually stand up to adversity.

She was chosen by a sage in her hometown to help your group because of some weird prophecy??

Seriously, Brian should tell you what is it that associates you if he is going to demand a reason for you to associatte (Specially if he thinks things like pirates are unnacceptable)

Arbane
2019-12-06, 06:38 PM
Sarah, Dave, Brian, and Bob?

This is a deliberate Knights of the Dinner Table reference and I missed where you said that, right?

Talakeal
2019-12-06, 07:04 PM
Sarah, Dave, Brian, and Bob?

This is a deliberate Knights of the Dinner Table reference and I missed where you said that, right?

Yes.

I explained it in my previous thread, basically our high school group started referring to one another by KoDT nicknames because of how much each of us resembled one of the characters from that comic, and it continues to this day, even if the original Dave and Sarah have left the group. It makes for a convenient shorthand for forum threads without using real names.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-06, 07:39 PM
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.


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.


Again, the DM has forbidden us from simply declaring that we are all friends without legitimate reasons to work together and, more importantly, stay together if it becomes inconvenient to do so.

I think he has seen to many groups break apart after a single dispute and wants to make sure that we have character bonds that can actually stand up to adversity.


My on-topic belief is that this one is largely Brian's fault for not giving any kind of guidelines for the party or their composition. Party-construction is a pretty important step in a lot of games, especially if the GM doesn't already have a plan in mind.


Brian very clearly told us that getting the party together and coming up with a motivation to stay together was our responsibility, not his. Good or bad, that's what it is.

We absolutely had a session zero. I think the DM was trying to be hands off and let us come up with a direction before he started working on adventures or anything.


Well, you guys convinced me. I think the pirate idea is probably the way to go for this campaign, and I was able to tweak my character accordingly.

Of course, nothing came of it, as I tried, and failed, to convince Brian to let us play pirates. It was a hard no sell for him, both because he hates pirates on principle and because he thinks the game would be too combat heavy to keep his interest and because it would be too hard to come up with an overarching story when the players have so much agency.

Also, I got an interesting quote from him: "I don't have the same skill that you do for precise balance; I will never be able to reliably make sure the players win every fight but still feel like abject failures at everything they do like you can."


Well, talked to Bob. He has also put his foot down and said no to the pirate game.

Although Brian has said that he doesn't mind us playing a group of evil characters with our own ship and include an ogre pirate in our crew, just as long as we don't actually call ourselves pirates.

.....

Generally, I don't sweat it when I DM and trust my players to make the characters they want to play, and it has never really been a problem.

Obviously, Brian disagrees.


Again, the DM has forbidden us from simply declaring that we are all friends without legitimate reasons to work together and, more importantly, stay together if it becomes inconvenient to do so.

I think he has seen to many groups break apart after a single dispute and wants to make sure that we have character bonds that can actually stand up to adversity.


She was chosen by a sage in her hometown to help your group because of some weird prophecy??

Seriously, Brian should tell you what is it that associates you if he is going to demand a reason for you to associatte (Specially if he thinks things like pirates are unnacceptable)

Seems like you may have a DM problem... He demands that the party come up with a reason to be together, and then refuses to allow the reasons the party comes up with.

He also seems to have some Rookie DM issues..

For example, as far as a "Pirate" campaign being too "combat heavy," that is on him more than it is on the characters. Sure, murder-hobos can spend every session killing everything in sight, but as DM you can bring it artificially to an end by saying there is nothing left to kill, or whatever. Or you then them go Leeeroy Jenkins and everyone is rolling up new characters. Whatever.

It is up to him to set the table where your party will be sitting down to dinner. He should have had some idea in Session Zero what the general ideas were for his campaign so that the party could be made with that as a consideration.

Quertus
2019-12-07, 07:35 AM
Now, keeping her in the party's good graces is going to be really tough with her personality and alignment, as well keeping her alive with her flight and invisibility.

If you needed more evidence of Bizarro World, "your flight and invisibility are a liability your survival" certainly qualifies.


Again, the DM has forbidden us from simply declaring that we are all friends without legitimate reasons to work together and, more importantly, stay together if it becomes inconvenient to do so.

I think he has seen to many groups break apart after a single dispute and wants to make sure that we have character bonds that can actually stand up to adversity.


Seriously, Brian should tell you what is it that associates you if he is going to demand a reason for you to associatte (Specially if he thinks things like pirates are unnacceptable)


Seems like you may have a DM problem... He demands that the party come up with a reason to be together, and then refuses to allow the reasons the party comes up with.

Eh, I'm on Brian's side on this one.

Think about it. You're running the game for a group of idiots who, last campaign, actively came to blows in character (and nearly out of character, as well).

They clearly need to learn what "cooperative" means. Until they do, and build a party that shows that, you simply refuse to run the game for them.

So, you tell them that it's their job to handle this.

If you created their reason to be together, if it feel apart, they could (and probably would) simply blame you. "It's your fault for making us all family - families fight, and patricide (etc) is a real thing"; "It's your fault for making us all an adventuring company - stabbing your co-workers in the back to get ahead is a real thing", etc.

Having gamed with idiots just like this in the past, IME, the answer is to give them ownership over their failure, until they learn how to succeed.

Also, I think Brian has only disallowed one motivation - one which Talakeal knew ahead of time that he wouldn't accept. So, unless he's got a large and unreasonable list of things he's known to not accept, I'm still backing Brian's play.

King of Nowhere
2019-12-07, 09:31 AM
Dumb characters, no. But people who think they are being funny tend to troll the rest of the group, for example alerting enemies with their antics during a stealth attempt or hurling insults and childish names during a tense negotiation.

huh....
how old are your players again?

because that seems like something my 8th grader students would do. and not even most of them, only the dumbest ones.



Eh, I'm on Brian's side on this one.

Think about it. You're running the game for a group of idiots who, last campaign, actively came to blows in character (and nearly out of character, as well).

They clearly need to learn what "cooperative" means. Until they do, and build a party that shows that, you simply refuse to run the game for them.

So, you tell them that it's their job to handle this.


+1 on this.
it's what you should have done yourself when you started DMing for those guys and it became clear they were immature.
if they learn, you'll have done them a favor. if they don't, you'll have done yourself a favor.

Talakeal
2019-12-07, 11:02 AM
huh....
how old are your players again?

because that seems like something my 8th grader students would do. and not even most of them, only the dumbest ones.

Currently mid 30s. I have played with people 10-60 over my lifetime, and while "comedy" players are pretty rare, they don't seem confined to any one age bracket.

I remember back in the old days "The Loony" was considered one of the four main types of players (the others being Munckin, RPer, and Hack and Slasher), so it wasn't really something confined to Bizarro World.

For example: https://www.firedrake.org/roger/rpg/munchkin.html


Seems like you may have a DM problem... He demands that the party come up with a reason to be together, and then refuses to allow the reasons the party comes up with.

He also seems to have some Rookie DM issues..

For example, as far as a "Pirate" campaign being too "combat heavy," that is on him more than it is on the characters. Sure, murder-hobos can spend every session killing everything in sight, but as DM you can bring it artificially to an end by saying there is nothing left to kill, or whatever. Or you then them go Leeeroy Jenkins and everyone is rolling up new characters. Whatever.

It is up to him to set the table where your party will be sitting down to dinner. He should have had some idea in Session Zero what the general ideas were for his campaign so that the party could be made with that as a consideration.

Yes, he is a rookie DM, and he is doing a lot of the things that rookie DMs do.

But, given what he has seen, I can't fault him for being overly cautious.


If you needed more evidence of Bizarro World, "your flight and invisibility are a liability your survival" certainly qualifies.

https://www.schlockmercenary.com/2011-05-28

She has no armor and no HP. If we can't find her or can't reach her, we can't help her if she gets in trouble.

Talakeal
2019-12-09, 08:48 AM
Update:

Had a session 0.5 this weekend.

Still not quite sure why people are objecting to the pirate campaign, as everything they bring up just sounds like a normal campaign, especially with evil characters, but we did come up with something of a compromise.

I reworked my character as a lightly armored dodge tank, raised my charisma, and took skills in riding, cartography, and calligraphy.

We decided on the following backstory:

I had commandeered a ship to leave flee my homeland and was posing as the captain. The necromancer stowed away on the ship to hide from an angry mob when we stopped to resupply in his homeland.

At some point in the past, the fairy convinced the ogre that she was his parrot and has been guiding him for protection, amusement, and her own inscrutable ends.

Our ship was attacked by the ogre’s pirate crew, and they looted the cargo, killed the crew. They decided my character was more trouble than she was worth and simply damaged the ship and left.

They decided to maroon the ogre at the same tine, as they were tired of his general buffoonery and his tendency to empty out the ships hold when he got hungry.

So, we are alone on the high seas with a damaged ship and no ability to sail it, when the necromancer emerges from hiding and animates the dead sailors as zombies, not great but maybe enough to get us into port.

So, the four of us are alone in the middle of the ocean on a damaged ship with no supplies, but we have enough skills that if we work together we just might survive.

Its not a great loyalty builder, but Brian says he can work with that, and it gives us enough of a bond that we won’t just betray one another.

zinycor
2019-12-09, 08:56 AM
Just don't betray each other and everything should be alright

StevenHay
2019-12-09, 11:53 AM
Update:

Had a session 0.5 this weekend.

Still not quite sure why people are objecting to the pirate campaign, as everything they bring up just sounds like a normal campaign, especially with evil characters, but we did come up with something of a compromise.

I reworked my character as a lightly armored dodge tank, raised my charisma, and took skills in riding, cartography, and calligraphy.

We decided on the following backstory:

I had commandeered a ship to leave flee my homeland and was posing as the captain. The necromancer stowed away on the ship to hide from an angry mob when we stopped to resupply in his homeland.

At some point in the past, the fairy convinced the ogre that she was his parrot and has been guiding him for protection, amusement, and her own inscrutable ends.

Our ship was attacked by the ogre’s pirate crew, and they looted the cargo, killed the crew. They decided my character was more trouble than she was worth and simply damaged the ship and left.

They decided to shanghai the ogre at the same tine, as they were tired of his general buffoonery and his tendency to empty out the ships hold when he got hungry.

So, we are alone on the high seas with a damaged ship and no ability to sail it, when the necromancer emerges from hiding and animates the dead sailors as zombies, not great but maybe enough to get us into port.

So, the four of us are alone in the middle of the ocean on a damaged ship with no supplies, but we have enough skills that if we work together we just might survive.

Its not a great loyalty builder, but Brian says he can work with that, and it gives us enough of a bond that we won’t just betray one another.

Very good update, i like!

Quertus
2019-12-09, 01:11 PM
https://www.schlockmercenary.com/2011-05-28

She has no armor and no HP. If we can't find her or can't reach her, we can't help her if she gets in trouble.

So, her lack of armor and HP are a weakness.

Her tendency to separate from the party is an issue.

Y'all's inability to find / get to (?) her is problematic.

Her flight and invisibility are assets.

Which of the problems would you like to try to address?

Talakeal
2019-12-09, 02:17 PM
So, her lack of armor and HP are a weakness.

Her tendency to separate from the party is an issue.

Y'all's inability to find / get to (?) her is problematic.

Her flight and invisibility are assets.

Which of the problems would you like to try to address?

A fast car is an asset, driving at 200 miles an hour down the freeway is a problem.

I can’t fly, and I can’t make the spot check to locate her. She plans on being flying and invisible all the time. If we meet an enemy who can fly and / or make the spot check to locate her, she is dead meat and I can’t do anything sbout it. Lack of armor and HP are just the icing on the cake.

zinycor
2019-12-09, 02:59 PM
A fast car is an asset, driving at 200 miles an hour down the freeway is a problem.

I can’t fly, and I can’t make the spot check to locate her. She plans on being flying and invisible all the time. If we meet an enemy who can fly and / or make the spot check to locate her, she is dead meat and I can’t do anything sbout it. Lack of armor and HP are just the icing on the cake.

Aren't you the developer of this game? Why do you have the option for players to play such characters?

Talakeal
2019-12-09, 05:25 PM
Aren't you the developer of this game? Why do you have the option for players to play such characters?

I try not to stifle player freedom or creativity.

It isn’t really a bad character per se, just lacking in party synergy.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-09, 06:27 PM
I reworked my character as a lightly armored dodge tank, raised my charisma, and took skills in riding, cartography, and calligraphy.

We decided on the following backstory:

I had commandeered a ship to leave flee my homeland and was posing as the captain.

The necromancer stowed away on the ship to hide from an angry mob when we stopped to resupply in his homeland.

At some point in the past, the fairy convinced the ogre that she was his parrot and has been guiding him for protection, amusement, and her own inscrutable ends.

Our ship was attacked by the ogre’s pirate crew, and they looted the cargo [and] killed the crew. They decided my character was more trouble than she was worth and simply damaged the ship and left.

They decided to shanghai the ogre at the same tine, as they were tired of his general buffoonery and his tendency to empty out the ships hold when he got hungry.

So, we are alone on the high seas with a damaged ship and no ability to sail it, when the necromancer emerges from hiding and animates the dead sailors as zombies, not great but maybe enough to get us into port.

So, the four of us are alone in the middle of the ocean on a damaged ship with no supplies, but we have enough skills that if we work together we just might survive.

Its not a great loyalty builder, but Brian says he can work with that, and it gives us enough of a bond that we won’t just betray one another.

I think you mean "maroon" the Ogre, shanghai would mean they took him...

And the necromancer could have taken the fancy tank to his "secret hiding spot," to explain their survival.

But, overall, that is a positive outcome. The necromancer can animate a ship's crew, the Ogre can help out on the ship, the charismatic tank with the fancy handwriting can navigate the ship, and - perhaps best of all - the fairy can go on scouting missions looking for supplies/ports of call.

Talakeal
2019-12-09, 08:24 PM
I think you mean "maroon" the Ogre, shanghai would mean they took him.

Good catch! Fixed.

Excession
2019-12-09, 09:10 PM
I can’t fly, and I can’t make the spot check to locate her. She plans on being flying and invisible all the time. If we meet an enemy who can fly and / or make the spot check to locate her, she is dead meat and I can’t do anything sbout it. Lack of armor and HP are just the icing on the cake.

In character, that's the fairy's problem. Your character's long term goals don't require a pixie, and as you said, there's nothing she can do, so why worry about it? Out of character, just mention to whoever is playing the fairy that your character can't defend them if they're invisible and distant. Don't make a big thing out of it, because so long as they know then it's not your problem. You should still have a backup source of healing, but hey, potions always work.

Needing a spot check to locate your own party members seems weird though. I would recommend removing that from your system in the future. Forget realism, it's annoying to need to metagame in order to know where an ally is.

GrayDeath
2019-12-10, 08:29 AM
Needing a spot check to locate your own party members seems weird though. I would recommend removing that from your system in the future. Forget realism, it's annoying to need to metagame in order to know where an ally is.

But not unheard of.

In our longest running 3.5 Game of the last....5 years or so, we all have stealth mods of at least +33, while our best perception basis was +21. So unless we plan ahead well (which by now, we do^^) its pretty easy to think oneself alone, just to have the petal land on your shoulder, or the DarkW arforged to drop his HIPS and say are we gonna do something, or not?" ^^

Talakeal
2019-12-10, 08:53 AM
In character, that's the fairy's problem. Your character's long term goals don't require a pixie, and as you said, there's nothing she can do, so why worry about it? Out of character, just mention to whoever is playing the fairy that your character can't defend them if they're invisible and distant. Don't make a big thing out of it, because so long as they know then it's not your problem. You should still have a backup source of healing, but hey, potions always work.

Needing a spot check to locate your own party members seems weird though. I would recommend removing that from your system in the future. Forget realism, it's annoying to need to metagame in order to know where an ally is.

That seems reasonable.

How do other fames handle it? I legitimately can’t remember if D&D (or other RPGs) allows allies to ignore hiding / invisibility.

It seems kind of weird from a verisimilitude perspective that allies could always keep track of someone who is darting around invisible in combat, but from an ease of play perspective I see where you are coming from.

I will give the stealth rules a lookover.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-10, 09:36 AM
How do other fames handle it? I legitimately can’t remember if D&D (or other RPGs) allows allies to ignore hiding / invisibility.

It seems kind of weird from a verisimilitude perspective that allies could always keep track of someone who is darting around invisible in combat, but from an ease of play perspective I see where you are coming from.

It's a house rule here, but if a group has been adventuring together for a while (and certainly if they have been together from 1st level all the way to the point of having invisibility available most of the time), I give party members a bonus on their Spot/Perception check to locate an invisible ally. This is based on the presumption that a party that has been together a while has a general idea of each other's tactics, and those tactics don't change a whole lot by being invisible.

If I have also been DMing (or playing in) the same group I should be able to evaluate whether an invisible ally is using expected tactics, or is doing something completely different. Which does happen... Being invisible is like a shiny new toy, some PC's just can't help taking off and running with it. Pointing out that the healer can't save their ass if they can't be found usually brings them back to reality. Er, fantasy.

NichG
2019-12-10, 09:59 AM
That seems reasonable.

How do other fames handle it? I legitimately can’t remember if D&D (or other RPGs) allows allies to ignore hiding / invisibility.

It seems kind of weird from a verisimilitude perspective that allies could always keep track of someone who is darting around invisible in combat, but from an ease of play perspective I see where you are coming from.

I will give the stealth rules a lookover.

It's not explicitly in the rules this way, but D&D 3.5's perception rules lead to pretty strange results if you require a Spot check in cases where the thing you're checking against isn't actually trying to hide from you (such as not being able to see the sun due to distance penalties, etc). So one could conclude that an ally who is hiding, especially one who is using skill to do it, is specifically trying to hide from e.g. 'characters over in that direction' and need not also be hidden from their own party. This would get a bit more fraught in cases where the major contribution to stealth is from a passive effect, or from cases where e.g. allies and enemies are pretty thoroughly mixed together. But that kind of thing isn't really the level of granularity that the rules tend to be written for.

There's something in Spot about 'some things are just inherently difficult to see, and therefore call for a spot check'. One example is an inanimate invisible object in the nearby environment. So that's pretty clear cut for e.g. the case of a unconscious pixie.

So based on that I would tend to rule that if someone hiding wanted to specifically make sure a particular ally was able to keep eyes on them, that's something they could just say that they do as part of their action (would entail some kind of signalling, but I wouldn't want to nitpick that and assign small penalties to their Hide on the basis of it). Whereas for something passively difficult to see, I would generally say that a check is called for, but that check would only be against those passive factors and wouldn't have the d20 roll or the skill modifier included. So being aware that their invisible party member is still nearby would be a DC 20 Spot check in 3.5 and locating their precise position would be DC 40. Since the party member wouldn't be actively hiding, that actually means that size modifiers wouldn't apply (because of the way it's set up, those apply to Hide checks when someone actively hides, not to Spot checks to see something passively difficult to see).

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-10, 10:21 AM
It's not explicitly in the rules this way, but D&D 3.5's perception rules lead to pretty strange results if you require a Spot check in cases where the thing you're checking against isn't actually trying to hide from you (such as not being able to see the sun due to distance penalties, etc). So one could conclude that an ally who is hiding, especially one who is using skill to do it, is specifically trying to hide from e.g. 'characters over in that direction' and need not also be hidden from their own party. This would get a bit more fraught in cases where the major contribution to stealth is from a passive effect, or from cases where e.g. allies and enemies are pretty thoroughly mixed together. But that kind of thing isn't really the level of granularity that the rules tend to be written for.

There's something in Spot about 'some things are just inherently difficult to see, and therefore call for a spot check'. One example is an inanimate invisible object in the nearby environment. So that's pretty clear cut for e.g. the case of a unconscious pixie.

So based on that I would tend to rule that if someone hiding wanted to specifically make sure a particular ally was able to keep eyes on them, that's something they could just say that they do as part of their action (would entail some kind of signalling, but I wouldn't want to nitpick that and assign small penalties to their Hide on the basis of it). Whereas for something passively difficult to see, I would generally say that a check is called for, but that check would only be against those passive factors and wouldn't have the d20 roll or the skill modifier included. So being aware that their invisible party member is still nearby would be a DC 20 Spot check in 3.5 and locating their precise position would be DC 40. Since the party member wouldn't be actively hiding, that actually means that size modifiers wouldn't apply (because of the way it's set up, those apply to Hide checks when someone actively hides, not to Spot checks to see something passively difficult to see).

Kind of the same thing here for Hiding/Stealth, which we treat as different than Invisible. Invisible applies to viewers in all directions, while someone who is Hiding from enemies or being Stealthy could still be seen by allies unless circumstances prevent it. Also, if the Hide/Stealth DC is being boosted by magic, that magic doesn't separate friend from foe and the bonus applies to allies as well as enemies. This leads to allies and enemies having different DC's (normal for enemies, just the bonus for allies, whose Spot/Perception ranks usually exceed most bonuses anyway) to see who is Hidden/Stealthy.

Excession
2019-12-12, 04:41 PM
https://www.schlockmercenary.com/2011-05-28

She has no armor and no HP. If we can't find her or can't reach her, we can't help her if she gets in trouble.

The skeet thing only really applies in systems where cover matters. If you're close enough to D&D that half cover gives a paltry -2 to ranged attack rolls then it doesn't matter much at all. Being permanently out of range of melee enemies is much better in D&D-like systems.

In 4e at least, attacking targets you can't see is a -5 to melee and ranged the attack rolls. That's after you manage to detect the target with perception. If the enemy is at the point of "there might be an invisible pixie in the room" that pixie is going to be just fine. AoE's are more of a problem, but for those it's mostly saves that matter and not AC. Different vision modes are another weakness, but the most common I think is tremor-sense and that is negated by flight. So in most D&D systems flight plus invisibility really does replace the need for AC and HP, and maybe the player assumes it will here as well.

Talakeal
2019-12-13, 10:21 AM
The skeet thing only really applies in systems where cover matters. If you're close enough to D&D that half cover gives a paltry -2 to ranged attack rolls then it doesn't matter much at all. Being permanently out of range of melee enemies is much better in D&D-like systems.

In 4e at least, attacking targets you can't see is a -5 to melee and ranged the attack rolls. That's after you manage to detect the target with perception. If the enemy is at the point of "there might be an invisible pixie in the room" that pixie is going to be just fine. AoE's are more of a problem, but for those it's mostly saves that matter and not AC. Different vision modes are another weakness, but the most common I think is tremor-sense and that is negated by flight. So in most D&D systems flight plus invisibility really does replace the need for AC and HP, and maybe the player assumes it will here as well.

The math is a bit different in my system, closer to 3.5 where cover averages -4. As a "tank fighter" I also have an ability which allows me to protect an ally, giving them +2 AC and allowing me to make an AoO anytime anyone targets them, but to do it I have to be able to both see and reach them. Although I will probably be using that on the necromancer most of the time anyway.

Again, the character isn't terrible, its just against something that can hit a flyer and detect a hidden character we have absolutely no way to help her.

She has never played D&D before, so I don't think she is resting on D&D knowledge.

Yeah, AOEs are actually a big weakness of our entire party.

zinycor
2019-12-13, 11:16 AM
The math is a bit different in my system, closer to 3.5 where cover averages -4. As a "tank fighter" I also have an ability which allows me to protect an ally, giving them +2 AC and allowing me to make an AoO anytime anyone targets them, but to do it I have to be able to both see and reach them. Although I will probably be using that on the necromancer most of the time anyway.

Again, the character isn't terrible, its just against something that can hit a flyer and detect a hidden character we have absolutely no way to help her.

She has never played D&D before, so I don't think she is resting on D&D knowledge.

Yeah, AOEs are actually a big weakness of our entire party.

I would't worry too much about mechanics and party synergy. Focus on role-playing your character, making fun comments, interact with the other players, be a team player and everything should be alright.

Talakeal
2019-12-13, 12:16 PM
I would't worry too much about mechanics and party synergy. Focus on role-playing your character, making fun comments, interact with the other players, be a team player and everything should be alright.

Even though the rest of the group are all hack and slash players who are extremely focused on winning?

zinycor
2019-12-13, 01:15 PM
Even though the rest of the group are all hack and slash players who are extremely focused on winning?

Yes.

You cannot control them, manage YOUR expectations.

besides, until the game starts you won't know for certain what will be the main problems the party will face, once you do, you may adjust your build accordingly. But in the end, even that is secondary to just having a good time.

Again. Focus on having a good time. Enjoy each others company.

Talakeal
2019-12-13, 02:20 PM
Yes.

You cannot control them, manage YOUR expectations.

besides, until the game starts you won't know for certain what will be the main problems the party will face, once you do, you may adjust your build accordingly. But in the end, even that is secondary to just having a good time.

Again. Focus on having a good time. Enjoy each others company.


How is focusing on my enjoyment being a good team-player?


As I said, the rest of the group gets really upset when they lose, which means that if I don't cover for their mechanical shortcomings, nobody will have a good time.

zinycor
2019-12-13, 02:45 PM
How is focusing on my enjoyment being a good team-player?


As I said, the rest of the group gets really upset when they lose, which means that if I don't cover for their mechanical shortcomings, nobody will have a good time.

Ok then... Is there an option you can pick for your character, that would make your group less vulnerable to AOE? If not, then don't worry about it, if it becomes a problem, come to a solution to it with the other players. As I said before, maybe won't even be so much of a problem, maybe it will be common place. No way of knowing.

What I can tell you is this, you shouldn't waste time trying to come up with the perfect strategy, unless your whole group is into that. If not, on the mechanical side of things, worry about you having a character that is functional and entertaining to you.

But the problems at your table aren't mechanical, are social, therefore I advice you to focus on the people playing with you, and making yours and theirs experience as comfy and entertaining as posible. IME this is achieved by having a positive atittude, playing with the team and treating the game as a game and your friends as friends.

Friv
2019-12-13, 04:50 PM
How is focusing on my enjoyment being a good team-player?


As I said, the rest of the group gets really upset when they lose, which means that if I don't cover for their mechanical shortcomings, nobody will have a good time.

I'm going to be honest. I think that this is the crux of the matter, in several ways.

It's not your responsibility to be the only person working to make sure everyone else has a good time. You are not Atlas, and you can't hold up the world. If you try, you are going to be crushed, and then everyone will complain at you.

My suggestion - my strongest suggestion, and the one that I really think you need to consider - is that if someone in this group does not ask for your help, you should not go out of your way to give it.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't try to build a character who fits into the group, or that you should sabotage the game, or anything like that. But you need to focus on your own enjoyment, and your own responsibilities, which are:

1. Being a good player
2. Having fun

Don't worry about anyone else's motivations. Don't worry about being the one setting the strategy or the optimization, unless they specifically ask you to change your strategy or build. Take a step back. Let slip the reins.

Reversefigure4
2019-12-14, 03:45 PM
It's also likely with a different GM there may be less focus on all the encounters being extremely challenging, which takes care of the "players don't like high challenges" without you having to alter your character in any way.

Talakeal
2019-12-14, 04:01 PM
It's also likely with a different GM there may be less focus on all the encounters being extremely challenging, which takes care of the "players don't like high challenges" without you having to alter your character in any way.

Keep in mind, the forums definition of "extremely challenging" is a fight where there is even a 1% chance of defeat or player death.

Honestly, while Bob might like mindless MMO style grinding, I am going to be bored out of my mind if the campaign doesn't meet that definition of extremely challenging.

zinycor
2019-12-14, 04:18 PM
Keep in mind, the forums definition of "extremely challenging" is a fight where there is even a 1% chance of defeat or player death.

Honestly, while Bob might like mindless MMO style grinding, I am going to be bored out of my mind if the campaign doesn't meet that definition of extremely challenging.

Or you could focus on sharing times with your friends and roleplaying. Again, the reasons am being so repetitve here is because you are most likely to find that Brian will not have the same aptitude as you at building encounters right. This due to you being a long time Gm AND designer of the game.

Again, adjust your expectations, find joy on the social aspects of the game, on the story and lore that Brian has there to show.

OR, find a group that suits your gaming needs better.

Tajerio
2019-12-14, 04:55 PM
Keep in mind, the forums definition of "extremely challenging" is a fight where there is even a 1% chance of defeat or player death.

Honestly, while Bob might like mindless MMO style grinding, I am going to be bored out of my mind if the campaign doesn't meet that definition of extremely challenging.

That's a wild exaggeration. First, I don't think any of us knows what the forum consensus on the point is, nor is it even clear there would be a consensus, as your previous threads suggest. Second, if there were such a consensus on the meaning of "extremely challenging" I doubt that "1% chance of defeat or player death" would be the benchmark on which it settled. For instance, I don't think I run an especially challenging game, but almost every fight I run has a decent chance of killing at least one PC.

Of course, I also sympathize with your distaste for Bob's power fantasy gaming style. But his style isn't gonna change, and you don't have the right to try to make him change, so the conflict there is inevitable. No game will properly please both of you.

Talakeal
2019-12-14, 05:43 PM
That's a wild exaggeration. First, I don't think any of us knows what the forum consensus on the point is, nor is it even clear there would be a consensus, as your previous threads suggest. Second, if there were such a consensus on the meaning of "extremely challenging" I doubt that "1% chance of defeat or player death" would be the benchmark on which it settled. For instance, I don't think I run an especially challenging game, but almost every fight I run has a decent chance of killing at least one PC.

Of course its an exaggeration; I have no idea what the "consensus" is, but it certainly seems to me that the majority of posters agree that I run a very hard game, and even when I back it up with actual data they still say that my rate of ~1% chance per fight of a serious setback (and significantly less than 1% of an actual TPK) is indeed a very hard game.

For example, not how the post I was replying to took it as a given that I "focus on making all encounters extremely challenging".


Or you could focus on sharing times with your friends and roleplaying. Again, the reasons am being so repetitve here is because you are most likely to find that Brian will not have the same aptitude as you at building encounters right. This due to you being a long time Gm AND designer of the game.

Again, adjust your expectations, find joy on the social aspects of the game, on the story and lore that Brian has there to show.

OR, find a group that suits your gaming needs better.

I am sure he won't have as tight a balance point; but I expect that to mean we will have as many too hard encounters as too easy encounters rather than the game turning into a mindless grind like Bob wants.

I love the RPing, story, and lore aspects of the game, significantly more than combat or problem solving, but the rest of the group does not, so I expect we will be spending the majority of our time fighting.

If I enjoyed the social aspects of the game, I can't imagine I would still be gaming; its a lot easier, cheaper, and more rewarding to simply hang out at clubs and whatnot if what you are looking for is social interaction.

zinycor
2019-12-14, 06:24 PM
If I enjoyed the social aspects of the game, I can't imagine I would still be gaming; its a lot easier, cheaper, and more rewarding to simply hang out at clubs and whatnot if what you are looking for is social interaction.

1: it wouldn't be cheaper.
2: Then leave, this group won't satisfy your needs. You already know this.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-15, 01:24 AM
Even though the rest of the group are all hack and slash players who are extremely focused on winning?


As I said, the rest of the group gets really upset when they lose, which means that if I don't cover for their mechanical shortcomings, nobody will have a good time.

OMG, tabletop RPG games are NOT WIN OR LOSE situations. I hate it when newbies ask (and they always do), "But how do you win?" You are not playing with newbies (although the above quotes make me wonder), and if that is what they are bringing to the table that is their problem, not yours. Either sit at this table and play like you normally would, or don't. Those are YOUR choices. If you are going to stress out and not have any FUN, then guess which option is best.

Thought you had this sorted out, marooned on a ship at sea and all that... It was starting to sound interesting. Maybe you should wait until the actual first session of actual adventuring and see what actually happens. (My money is on a TPK, although there is always hope)

Koo Rehtorb
2019-12-15, 01:51 AM
RPGs can absolutely have win or lose states. The difference is they're self defined and shifting instead of being a fixed end state by game design. If you as a party say "We're going to kill the Dread Lich Queen of Eastbay" then you win (in the moment) by killing her, and you lose by failing to kill her. And then maybe the game ends, or maybe you define yourselves a new goal to win or lose at.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-15, 02:03 AM
RPGs can absolutely have win or lose states. The difference is they're self defined and shifting instead of being a fixed end state by game design. If you as a party say "We're going to kill the Dread Lich Queen of Eastbay" then you win (in the moment) by killing her, and you lose by failing to kill her. And then maybe the game ends, or maybe you define yourselves a new goal to win or lose at.

True, individual conflicts within a campaign can be win or lose, but if you use that as the concept of the whole game you are missing out on a lot. Computer RPGs, sure. Computers make great bean counters. Real people interacting socially, not so much. We'll have to see what he says, but I think Talakeal's comrades keep score on every encounter and tally up the "wins" and "losses" as they go.

Quertus
2019-12-15, 06:12 AM
For example, not how the post I was replying to took it as a given that I "focus on making all encounters extremely challenging".

But, by your and your players' own words, aren't you?

You make sure your planned encounter day has an estimated 80% resource drain, and claim to be really good at hitting approximately that mark, and respond to others that that's your intended difficulty when they complain that things are too hard.

You take advice to players to be well rounded, and able to handle various types of encounters, and apply it to your fairytale Ogre.

The new GM says that he lacks your skill at making sure that the PCs feel powerless.

I'm struggling to imagine better evidence that that is exactly what you do, whether you realize it or not.

I imagine that, if the new GM has the skills to create the game he wants / intends, then he will not be feeding the Challenge aesthetic the same way you would.

Talakeal
2019-12-15, 01:21 PM
OMG, tabletop RPG games are NOT WIN OR LOSE situations. I hate it when newbies ask (and they always do), "But how do you win?" You are not playing with newbies (although the above quotes make me wonder), and if that is what they are bringing to the table that is their problem, not yours.

Ok, correction: the players get mad when their character's lose. Better?


Either sit at this table and play like you normally would, or don't. Those are YOUR choices. If you are going to stress out and not have any FUN, then guess which option is best.

Thought you had this sorted out, marooned on a ship at sea and all that... It was starting to sound interesting. Maybe you should wait until the actual first session of actual adventuring and see what actually happens. (My money is on a TPK, although there is always hope)


Or you could focus on sharing times with your friends and roleplaying. Again, the reasons am being so repetitive here is because you are most likely to find that Brian will not have the same aptitude as you at building encounters right. This due to you being a long time Gm AND designer of the game.

Again, adjust your expectations, find joy on the social aspects of the game, on the story and lore that Brian has there to show.

OR, find a group that suits your gaming needs better.

I am not sure why having mechanical concerns and looking for ways to alleviate them before they become issues means that I should give up on the campaign entirely before it begins or that I have decided I won't have fun.

I enjoy RPGs. I enjoy RP, I enjoy combat, I enjoy lore, I enjoy exploration, I enjoy story, I enjoy collecting miniatures and rolling dice. The only thing I really don't enjoy is abstract puzzles and mysteries.

I will have fun with the game, no matter how bad it is.

The only thing I don't enjoy is constant OOC abuse and criticism. The game overall is still fun, but the constant abuse really wears me down. In my most recent group it involved the players constantly bitching at the DM because, afaict the entire game wasn't focused around their character and their individual desires.

Thinking back, even in the best game I have ever been a part of, the DM threatened to quit running several times because the players wouldn't stop nagging him over rulings they didn't agree with, and even in the worst game I was ever a part of the game itself was still fun, I just couldn't take the DM constantly criticizing, lying, bragging, and verbally abusing his players and left.


But, by your and your players' own words, aren't you?

You make sure your planned encounter day has an estimated 80% resource drain, and claim to be really good at hitting approximately that mark, and respond to others that that's your intended difficulty when they complain that things are too hard.

You take advice to players to be well rounded, and able to handle various types of encounters, and apply it to your fairytale Ogre.

The new GM says that he lacks your skill at making sure that the PCs feel powerless.

I'm struggling to imagine better evidence that that is exactly what you do, whether you realize it or not.

I imagine that, if the new GM has the skills to create the game he wants / intends, then he will not be feeding the Challenge aesthetic the same way you would.

As I said, my players A: whine about everything and B: are obsessed with money for money's sake.


For example, in the last session they encountered a group of standard ghouls that were significantly lower level than them, a true speed bump encounter where the PCs didn't consume any resources and only suffered single digit HP loss. They still spent longer complaining about starting the fight surrounded than they actually spent fighting. They also refused to turn over an artifact to their mentor which was the entire purpose of their quest because of a technicality in the wording of their bargain*, and then got mad at me and said I was acting like a petulant 2 year old for having the NPC refuse to help the PCs again in the future.


Likewise, they consider it a failure if they don't increase their wealth as a percentage of WBL every mission. So, for example, say average WBL for a 10th level party is 100k gold, and they have 120k gold, they are at 120%. Then, in the next dungeon they level up to level 11, and they find 17k gold while doing so, but expected WBL for a level 11 part is 140k gold and they are now at 115% of WBL, they will consider the mission a failure even thought they had a net increase of 17K and are still 15% ahead of the curve.


In the specific case of the so called "fairytale ogre" it has nothing to do with advice for players, not sure where you are getting that. It is the idea that a high level boss monster needs a way to deal with flying PCs. Go read any MM review thread, and you will see that listed over and over again as a failure of design, not taking common level appropriate PC abilities into account. Literally this week I was reading a review of the Elder Evils book on RPG.net that was talking about how poorly designed the Atropus adventure was as it had multiple encounters with Famine Spirits which are CR 19 enemies that can do nothing but sit there and stare blankly if the PCs cast a single fly spell before the battle. And really, who is that fun for? If the climactic fight of the adventure boils down to the four players and the DM doing nothing but watching the sorcerer roll damage for half and hour?

Also, you are cutting off the first half of the quote: He said that he lacks my gift for having the PCs win every battle and yet still feel like abject failures at everything they do. And I don't think he was referring to combat difficulty, but rather his tendency to attack, alienate, or get his allies killed time after time, which is more of an RP thing; see the thing about the mentor and the artifact above.

*: Basically, in exchange for the NPCs protection, they agreed to journey to a dungeon and bring him what they found there. They cleared the dungeon and got a cursed artifact that they couldn't use, but because the artifact wasn't in the dungeonat the time when the deal was signed and had been moved their later they refused to hand it over.

zinycor
2019-12-15, 02:10 PM
The only thing I don't enjoy is constant OOC abuse and criticism. The game overall is still fun, but the constant abuse really wears me down. In my most recent group it involved the players constantly bitching at the DM because, afaict the entire game wasn't focused around their character and their individual desires.

Thinking back, even in the best game I have ever been a part of, the DM threatened to quit running several times because the players wouldn't stop nagging him over rulings they didn't agree with, and even in the worst game I was ever a part of the game itself was still fun, I just couldn't take the DM constantly criticizing, lying, bragging, and verbally abusing his players and left.


ok.... So constant abuse and criticism isn't the same as friendship. Just so you know. Btw, I believed that you had already gone past these problems, for over a year ago.

Talakeal
2019-12-15, 02:27 PM
ok.... So constant abuse and criticism isn't the same as friendship. Just so you know.

You keep assuming I game with friends. I don't. Except for Brian, I wouldn't consider anyone I have gamed with in the last ten years or so to actually be a friend, although Bob has drifted into and out of that category several times.

Also, it applies to other people as well, not just me. Bitching at the DM until he wants to quit (or occasionally the opposite) seems to be a constant in every group I have been in regardless of how otherwise well adjusted the players were.


Btw, I believed that you had already gone past these problems, for over a year ago.

I don't know what this means.

Quertus
2019-12-15, 02:41 PM
In the specific case of the so called "fairytale ogre" it has nothing to do with advice for players, not sure where you are getting that. It is the idea that a high level boss monster needs a way to deal with flying PCs. Go read any MM review thread, and you will see that listed over and over again as a failure of design, not taking common level appropriate PC abilities into account. Literally this week I was reading a review of the Elder Evils book on RPG.net that was talking about how poorly designed the Atropus adventure was as it had multiple encounters with Famine Spirits which are CR 19 enemies that can do nothing but sit there and stare blankly if the PCs cast a single fly spell before the battle. And really, who is that fun for? If the climactic fight of the adventure boils down to the four players and the DM doing nothing but watching the sorcerer roll damage for half and hour?

Also, you are cutting off the first half of the quote: He said that he lacks my gift for having the PCs win every battle and yet still feel like abject failures at everything they do. And I don't think he was referring to combat difficulty, but rather his tendency to attack, alienate, or get his allies killed time after time, which is more of an RP thing; see the thing about the mentor and the artifact above.

*: Basically, in exchange for the NPCs protection, they agreed to journey to a dungeon and bring him what they found there. They cleared the dungeon and got a cursed artifact that they couldn't use, but because the artifact wasn't in the dungeonat the time when the deal was signed and had been moved their later they refused to hand it over.

1) apologies for misunderstanding and misrepresenting the "Ogre" - I was only familiar with that advice for PCs, not for monster design. Huh. Well, as I've said, I wouldn't have had a problem with most of your encounters (I love it when a GM develops custom monsters!), but I guess that's one more reason I'll have to question your players'… compatibility with sanity.

2) you know your friend better than I do. So maybe that is what he meant.

3) lol. Go rules lawyers!

zinycor
2019-12-15, 02:44 PM
You keep assuming I game with friends. I don't. Except for Brian, I wouldn't consider anyone I have gamed with in the last ten years or so to actually be a friend, although Bob has drifted into and out of that category several times.

Also, it applies to other people as well, not just me. Bitching at the DM until he wants to quit (or occasionally the opposite) seems to be a constant in every group I have been in regardless of how otherwise well adjusted the players were.


I was led to believe that you were friends.


Yes, I am absolutely sure that Quertus meant that I had "failed to play correctly" by continuing to game with my friends rather than throwing them to the curb because we don't have a perfect relationship.

If they aren't your friends, that's the more reason to leave.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-15, 09:48 PM
Ok, correction: the players get mad when their character's lose. Better?

Hmmmm... Ok. Not necessarily better but more understandable.


You keep assuming I game with friends. I don't. Except for Brian, I wouldn't consider anyone I have gamed with in the last ten years or so to actually be a friend, although Bob has drifted into and out of that category several times.

Also, it applies to other people as well, not just me. Bitching at the DM until he wants to quit (or occasionally the opposite) seems to be a constant in every group I have been in regardless of how otherwise well adjusted the players were.

In the spirit of the season, here's this:

(To the tune of The Christmas Song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwacxSnc4tI))

Faeries roasting in an open fire,
Ogres cut up into bits,
Necros lost to a fate most dire,
Hope the Pirate can avoid those crits.

Everyone knows a Pirate and his crew,
Help to make the dungeon tough.
Tiny PCs with their swords all askew
Will find it hard to survive sure enough.

And so we offer you this simple phrase
To PCs level one to ninety-two
Though it’s been said many times,
Many ways: "How screwed are you?"

Friv
2019-12-16, 12:11 PM
Also, it applies to other people as well, not just me. Bitching at the DM until he wants to quit (or occasionally the opposite) seems to be a constant in every group I have been in regardless of how otherwise well adjusted the players were.

I'm going to be honest, this is a pretty big red flag.

My experience in tabletop groups is that bitching at the DM is quite rare, and when a player does it, they get a reputation for being That Guy pretty fast. I've only once been in a group in which it was fairly constant, and that group was (a) made up mainly of high schoolers and (b) ended after a few months when the dynamic didn't change.

If your games are routinely having that degree of social abuse, you need to consider two possibilities:

1. Your groups are so abusive that they've driven away every gamer who isn't willing to put up with that level of abuse. From some comments that you've made in the past about some people not sticking around, I suspect that this is the case.

2. You've internalized these abuses to the point that you are also driving away gamers who might be better by not trusting them, which would not surprise me.

I know that you're convinced that it's worth putting up with psychological torture to be part of a gaming group, but you need to find a better group if gaming is this important to you. Look for Discord games. Figure out where people are doing sign-ups in your area. Recruit your actual friends to play a roleplaying game, and give them the trust that your current group doesn't deserve. Break the cycle.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-12-16, 12:42 PM
Also, it applies to other people as well, not just me. Bitching at the DM until he wants to quit (or occasionally the opposite) seems to be a constant in every group I have been in regardless of how otherwise well adjusted the players were.

This comes off as insane, just FYI. Even the worst people I've played with, and I've played with a lot of people, wouldn't fall under this category. Even people I've sworn to never play with again aren't as bad as this.

King of Nowhere
2019-12-16, 02:16 PM
I'm going to be honest, this is a pretty big red flag.

My experience in tabletop groups is that bitching at the DM is quite rare, and when a player does it, they get a reputation for being That Guy pretty fast. I've only once been in a group in which it was fairly constant, and that group was (a) made up mainly of high schoolers and (b) ended after a few months when the dynamic didn't change.

If your games are routinely having that degree of social abuse, you need to consider two possibilities:

1. Your groups are so abusive that they've driven away every gamer who isn't willing to put up with that level of abuse. From some comments that you've made in the past about some people not sticking around, I suspect that this is the case.

2. You've internalized these abuses to the point that you are also driving away gamers who might be better by not trusting them, which would not surprise me.

I know that you're convinced that it's worth putting up with psychological torture to be part of a gaming group, but you need to find a better group if gaming is this important to you. Look for Discord games. Figure out where people are doing sign-ups in your area. Recruit your actual friends to play a roleplaying game, and give them the trust that your current group doesn't deserve. Break the cycle.
+1 on all that count. it's astounding that you would consider bitching at the dm to be normal behavior.

tal, ever since i started reading your stories, you remind me of a friend i had. he had few friends, and one of his friends turned bad and went into drug trafficking, and this guy refused to give up on him and tried to put up with whatever his former "friend" was up to. eventually, he lost all of his real friends, and only had this guy who kept taking advantage of him. he was a good guy, but he gradually became much darker. I lost contact with him some 3 years ago and have no idea what happened to him. last i knew, he seemed to have lost any real connection to people and cared only about money - for the sake of showing off with his coworkers.
i am concerned that your party is putting you on a similar path.

Talakeal
2019-12-16, 02:36 PM
Out of curiosity, what is this a red-flag for?

Keep in mind, these are multiple groups with many years and hundreds of miles between them that don’t share any players (except myself obviously), and I am typically not the one either doing ir receiving the bitching.

Tajerio
2019-12-16, 03:51 PM
Out of curiosity, what is this a red-flag for?

Keep in mind, these are multiple groups with many years and hundreds of miles between them that don’t share any players (except myself obviously), and I am typically not the one either doing ir receiving the bitching.

Well, it doesn't tell us much we don't know. We know you believe bad gaming is better than no gaming, so you're likely to stick around in groups that behave this terribly--which most posters here wouldn't. We also know that you're a bit of a doormat when it comes to taking this kind of abuse from your players, given the things you've said about Brian and Bob in other threads.

The new thing we know is that you've evidently been a serial enabler of this kind of behavior, because apparently across multiple groups, you've hung around and played with people who think nothing of verbally harassing the DM. By not leaving, and presumably not confronting people about it either, you've signalled you're OK with that kind of behavior, rather than making jerks pay the rightful price for being jerks--social isolation. Really you should have abandoned every group in which people act like that, in order to reduce the chances that those people get to game with other humans in person, since they clearly aren't equal to the task of behaving decently.

zinycor
2019-12-16, 03:58 PM
Out of curiosity, what is this a red-flag for?


That you are going from toxic relationship, to toxic relationship in your gaming activities (When gaming should be expected to be a stress reliever) and you seem to think that is to be expected and normal.

And let me be clear: It's not normal, healthy, brave or intended. You shouldn't be a part of a group where there is constant abuse. The moment those situations present themselves is your duty to yourself to address this situation as something you aren't willing to tolerate, and in case the situation continues, leave the group.

Talakeal
2019-12-16, 04:46 PM
That you are going from toxic relationship, to toxic relationship in your gaming activities (When gaming should be expected to be a stress reliever) and you seem to think that is to be expected and normal.

And let me be clear: It's not normal, healthy, brave or intended. You shouldn't be a part of a group where there is constant abuse. The moment those situations present themselves is your duty to yourself to address this situation as something you aren't willing to tolerate, and in case the situation continues, leave the group.


Well, it doesn't tell us much we don't know. We know you believe bad gaming is better than no gaming, so you're likely to stick around in groups that behave this terribly--which most posters here wouldn't. We also know that you're a bit of a doormat when it comes to taking this kind of abuse from your players, given the things you've said about Brian and Bob in other threads.

The new thing we know is that you've evidently been a serial enabler of this kind of behavior, because apparently across multiple groups, you've hung around and played with people who think nothing of verbally harassing the DM. By not leaving, and presumably not confronting people about it either, you've signaled you're OK with that kind of behavior, rather than making jerks pay the rightful price for being jerks--social isolation. Really you should have abandoned every group in which people act like that, in order to reduce the chances that those people get to game with other humans in person, since they clearly aren't equal to the task of behaving decently.

Hold on a second here.

It sounds like you guys are saying that it is not only appropriate, but mandatory, that if I am to be part of a social group, I am to start policing other people's behaviors towards one another? Is that right?

zinycor
2019-12-16, 04:59 PM
Hold on a second here.

It sounds like you guys are saying that it is not only appropriate, but mandatory, that if I am to be part of a social group, I am to start policing other people's behaviors towards one another? Is that right?

You are free to interpret it that way. However that isn't what I said.

What I can tell you is this. It is not your duty to tell anyone what to do, or what not, unless those things bother you, specially if you are in a situation where abuse is at stake. In such a situation, being a victim, witness or abuser, then you should make everyone else know that there is a situation of abuse going on. If after this, the situation of abuse were to continue, you should probably leave and offer to lend help to the party that has been abused, in whatever ways you are capable to.

Is that policing? I leave that to you.

Lord of Shadows
2019-12-16, 05:27 PM
It sounds like you guys are saying that it is not only appropriate, but mandatory, that if I am to be part of a social group, I am to start policing other people's behaviors towards one another? Is that right?

It's not policing.. it's taking a stand against being bullied and abused. You are the one sitting across the table from these people, not us.

Talakeal
2019-12-16, 05:47 PM
It's not policing.. it's taking a stand against being bullied and abused. You are the one sitting across the table from these people, not us.

But in this situation I am not the one being “bullied and abused”, I am joining a preexisting gaming group where one or more of the other players, who aren’t me, frequently bitch at the preexisting GM, who also isn’t me.

kyoryu
2019-12-16, 05:53 PM
A lot depends on the nature, frequency, and specifics of the "bitching".

Friv
2019-12-16, 06:51 PM
Hold on a second here.

It sounds like you guys are saying that it is not only appropriate, but mandatory, that if I am to be part of a social group, I am to start policing other people's behaviors towards one another? Is that right?

As with almost everything in the world, this is not a yes/no. It is, rather, a spectrum, based on the degree of the 'bitching' taking place, the frequency, the severity, whether you are friends with anyone involved, and whether you are physically safe.

As a rough guideline, If I am in a group, and a member of the group is actively harassing another member of the group, I will absolutely step in. I will, as a rule, do so lightly, unless the harassment is egregious enough to require a harsh response. If it's particularly light, but also consistent, I will probably start by bringing it up gently after a session. If it's particularly harsh, but also hasn't happened before, it will probably draw some variation on "WTF, dude?"

Preferably, I will find a chance later to talk to the person being harassed alone, to let them know that (a) that stuff is not okay, and that (b) I have their back if they need to talk about it with the person doing it. Doubly so if the harasser seems to think that this kind of abuse is business as usual, because ideally they aren't aware of how it's coming across.

If that doesn't work, or if the harasser turns their attention to me, I will walk, and I will issue an invitation to anyone present who wasn't the harasser or helping the harasser to join me for a different game later. I probably won't directly say, "leave that game and join my game instead", but I will make it clear that I'd like to play with the people I like.

In all cases - if a social group gets too aggressive about policing each others' behaviors, it usually dissolves, and if one person in a social group gets too aggressive in policing behaviour they usually wind up getting turfed. But if no one in a social does any policing of each others' behaviors, it gets extremely easy for abusive people to enter the group and start bullying people who can't stand up for themselves, and it also gets very easy for people to not get challenged for bad behaviour, causing that behaviour to worsen. Then, over time, everyone leaves the group except for the abusers and those people who can't stand up to abuse.

These are both very bad failure states.

Generally speaking, some basic policing of each others' behaviour towards others is pretty standard. I can't give you specific advice about how far you should step in, but I can say that if you think that the experiences you've been relating to us are anything like common, let alone standard, there's something screwy going on.

King of Nowhere
2019-12-16, 09:37 PM
It's not policing.. it's taking a stand against being bullied and abused.

this distinction can be purely a matter of semantics.
and yes, we all should be policing the behaviour of people around us, as far as respect and healty relationships go. because there is no one else to.
we either take care of jerks ourselves, or we give them free rein.
and because we can't really avoid policing. if we don't do it, we are implicitly saying that everything is fine, that there is nothing wrong. which is equally a stance.


But in this situation I am not the one being “bullied and abused”, I am joining a preexisting gaming group where one or more of the other players, who aren’t me, frequently bitch at the preexisting GM, who also isn’t me.
as a teacher, i've seen a lot of lectures on bullism, and there is one thing they all agreed. standing aside is complicity.
doesn't matter that it's not happening to you. if you say nothing, do nothing, then the bully understands that he's ok doing that, and the victim understands that he'll get no help from others. next time, when it happens to you, others will stand aside and just look, relieved that this time it's not happening to them.

Reversefigure4
2019-12-17, 12:32 AM
A lot depends on the nature, frequency, and specifics of the "bitching".

Bingo.

As Talakeal routinely leaves out information and later clarification radically alters the situation, "constantly bitching at the GM" could mean anything on a spectrum of "Every session, the players steal from the GMs wallet if they don't get enough Xp" to "Joe argued for two minutes with the GM over whether or not Shield could be made into a potion or not, then 6 months later this was referenced at a party".

Talakeal, if at -every- session the players tell the GM he is crap, and bring it up in every social interaction, and the GM -constantly-wants to quit but forces himself to go on, and this has -routinely- occured in everyone one of the five or six different groups you've played with with completely different players, there's something badly wrong with either how you perceive the situation, how you acquire groups, or what you bring to the table that makes every group you are in toxic.

That's not remotely normal, particularly across multiple groups. You don't have to take my word for it. Look at some of the publicly available play by post games. Listen to Actual Play Podcasts of other people's games being played. Go to a random Adventurer's League or RPGA game at a game store, or go play a one-off game at a convention. Plenty of easily accessible ways to see that routine abuse does not need to be a part of gaming.

Talakeal
2019-12-17, 08:16 AM
Bingo.

As Talakeal routinely leaves out information and later clarification radically alters the situation, "constantly bitching at the GM" could mean anything on a spectrum of "Every session, the players steal from the GMs wallet if they don't get enough Xp" to "Joe argued for two minutes with the GM over whether or not Shield could be made into a potion or not, then 6 months later this was referenced at a party".

Talakeal, if at -every- session the players tell the GM he is crap, and bring it up in every social interaction, and the GM -constantly-wants to quit but forces himself to go on, and this has -routinely- occured in everyone one of the five or six different groups you've played with with completely different players, there's something badly wrong with either how you perceive the situation, how you acquire groups, or what you bring to the table that makes every group you are in toxic.

That's not remotely normal, particularly across multiple groups. You don't have to take my word for it. Look at some of the publicly available play by post games. Listen to Actual Play Podcasts of other people's games being played. Go to a random Adventurer's League or RPGA game at a game store, or go play a one-off game at a convention. Plenty of easily accessible ways to see that routine abuse does not need to be a part of gaming.

My current group is the only one where it is more or less constant.

But, I have never been part of a group where we didn't have multiple instances, usually several months apart, where one or more players wouldn't stop arguing / complaining to the point where the DM legitimately considered ending the game.

But, then again, it is a pretty small sample size as I have only been in a handful of long-term groups that weren't formed by me and / or my friends; a couple of school clubs and a couple from flyers in gaming stores.

APs do seem to be a lot better, but I assumed that was because people are always being on their best behavior because they know they are being watched and recorded. I have never played in an RPGA game, but the horror stories I have heard don't seem to dissuade me of that notion; I have heard lots of stories about people reporting DMs for making rulings or changes they disagreed with, for example the episode of Counter Monkey where he got a warning for swapping out an NPC wizards spell's memorized or the threads on this forum about the guy who gave the T-rex in Tomb of Annihilation ghost step or the guy who ruled that water granted cover.

zinycor
2019-12-18, 08:59 AM
The more I think about it, the less reason there is to continue with your group.

I could understand playing a very flawed game, given that I was friends with the people at the table.

I could understand playing a game with people I didn't know outside of the game, given that they had the right attitude, and the game was good.

But a game where there is abuse, where the players don't trust in each other, and whoever is GMing is constantly suffering? I don't get why you stay there.

patchyman
2019-12-18, 12:24 PM
The more I think about it, the less reason there is to continue with your group.

I could understand playing a very flawed game, given that I was friends with the people at the table.

I could understand playing a game with people I didn't know outside of the game, given that they had the right attitude, and the game was good.

But a game where there is abuse, where the players don't trust in each other, and whoever is GMing is constantly suffering? I don't get why you stay there.

(Extremely tongue in cheek and also a quote from Malcolm in the Middle)

Role-playing groups seek out a common enemy. If it wasn’t us, they’d all team up against someone else. Probably a minority.

Keledrath
2019-12-24, 01:53 PM
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.

So, the way you phrased this makes me wonder: if you do not take this flaw, are you required to put points into crafting? Are you forced to "[pay] for crafting abilities that I will never use"? Because if it does, then it sounds like the "drawback" of the flaw is actually a positive since it is saving you from having to spend points on something you don't want to have, and then you also get an additional reward out of it

The Glyphstone
2019-12-24, 03:24 PM
So, the way you phrased this makes me wonder: if you do not take this flaw, are you required to put points into crafting? Are you forced to "[pay] for crafting abilities that I will never use"? Because if it does, then it sounds like the "drawback" of the flaw is actually a positive since it is saving you from having to spend points on something you don't want to have, and then you also get an additional reward out of it

If I parsed it right, the 'abilities' is simply that a higher Wisdom-equivalent stat grants more downtime actions, which are opportunities to craft. Since there is nothing else to do in downtime except craft, Takaleal considers any downtime actions not used to be wasted, even though their character lacks any mechanical ability to craft in the first place.

Azuresun
2019-12-24, 04:36 PM
My current group is the only one where it is more or less constant.

But, I have never been part of a group where we didn't have multiple instances, usually several months apart, where one or more players wouldn't stop arguing / complaining to the point where the DM legitimately considered ending the game.

But, then again, it is a pretty small sample size as I have only been in a handful of long-term groups that weren't formed by me and / or my friends; a couple of school clubs and a couple from flyers in gaming stores.

I'll just plus-one what everyone else is telling you. It's not normal, and it's not acceptable.

Yes, a lot of people have stories about dysfunctional groups or games (I could tell you stories of a Mage: The Ascension game I ran which went so badly it effectively destroyed a gaming group) but for most of us, those stories stand out because they're unusual, or something that taught us better. In my case, dealing with a manipulative jerk of a player helped me be more assertive and to be less scared about laying out what I wanted from games from page one. My own horror story certainly wouldn't mean that was the standard for every game I've ever been in--the truly dysfunctional groups I've ever been in, including many, many Play-by-Posts would be 5% of the total at the most.

Talakeal
2020-01-13, 10:36 AM
Well, the big day has come and gone.

The game happened and it went... fine.

Brian actually managed to balance the mission even tighter than I do, and it was really looking bleak at the end there, but we barely managed to pull through, so fears about him running the game too easy didn't pan out.

There were a couple of rules calls I didn't agree with, but I managed to bite my tongue and not say anything. There were a few times when one of the players asked a question (not to anyone in particular) and Brian and I both answered them and gave conflicting responses. I did my best to defer to Brian, but I am not sure how to handle that in the future.

We were joined by a fifth player, he was new to the game and I am not sure if he will be back.


Session report:

Characters:

Sarah Blackwell (me), Human defensive swashbuckler and former monk / samurai.
Ordieth, half elf necromancer and child outcast.
Scraps, Ogre pirate and gourmand
Tiana, pixie priest, healer, and trickster
Fritz, idealistic human generalist mage

The game starts with us on the high seas, our crew dead and our hold plundered by pirates. The ship was damaged in the attack and soon a storm starts are the ship, damaged in the attack, begins taking on water. I tell Scraps, a pirate who was "accidentally" left behind by our attackers, that if he wants to survive he can take our former Boson's job and try and steer us into port and then go below ducks to man the pumps. Tiana flies into the sails and works with the ropes, Fritz, one of our only surviving passengers, uses subtle magic to hold the ship together. Ordieth them comes out of hiding, raises the half dozen pirates who died in the attack as mindless zombies, and orders them to crew the ship, and with their help we are able to hold the ship together to make port in a small harbor on the nearby island of Conixo; neutral ground with no real culture and only notable as being the place where the great nations meet to sign treaties.

(OOC: This was a long skill challenge. It was fairly poorly designed, as there was a penalty for failure and as new characters we don't have great scores, which meant that it was long, frustrating, and used up a disproportionate amount of our party resources. Still, it wasn't terrible, and was fine for a first time DM, and I did my best to keep Bob from bitching).

Frtiz and I find an inn while the others stay with the boat. There are rooms, but no decent food, and the inn keeper apologizes and tells us that both the crops and the fish have failed and the town is starving, and that the local druid, whom they would normally consult about such things, has gone missing.

In the early morning when the storm has cleared I assess the boat, and find that it will take several months, and likely more money than we have and more supplies / labor than can be found in the town, to fix it, and that nobody can afford to buy the ship (or even salvage it for parts) for anywhere close to what it is worth, and we wouldn't be able to supply it for an ocean voyage anyway.

Finding that Ordieth, Scraps, and Tiana are still with the boat, and apparently planning to make off with it, I explain the situation and offer them all positions on the ship and an equal share of the loot. They refuse, telling me that they can simply take what they want as I have no authority over them. I try and gauge what they actually want out of the situation, Scraps seems motivated by greed and Ordieth by a desire for respect, and try and negotiate and explain to them that we all need one another.

(And here we get the problem of an evil party. Nobody actually wants to form the party, even when it is in our mutual best interest to work together. We kept the argument in character, but after about an hour of this I saw we were boring / frustrating people, and I kind of broke character and said we should table the argument for later... or just hand-waive it.)

We see the townsfolk getting a posse together to find the missing druid, and Fritz suggests that we find him for them. Ordieth and Scraps are reluctant, but we explain that they will be rewarded with the town's people's respect and with food respectively.

We journey to the druid's hut, and find an orcish slaver squatting in it. He claims it was abandoned when he found it, and I tell him he is free to go, but he decides to pick a fight. I trip him and push him into the fire, and he moves to call his riding drake over to him, but scraps grabs him by the throat so he can't speak and chokes the life out of him. In the battle, his hunter ally takes a shot at Ordieth, but then when the orc dies decides to flee. We free the slaves and they take the drake with them. We offer them a position with our crew, but they instead decide to return to the circus they originally came from. We search the house and find a good bit of treasure, mostly herbs and potions, but no sign of the druid. There is a journal which predicts the unseasonable storm our ship was caught it and talks about how the forest spirits are misbehaving, but there is no sign of the druid.

Fritz is able to see that some of the trees appear to be bleeding to those with second sight, and we follow the trail of bleeding trees deeper into the woods. We are ambushed by a swarm of dog-sized spiders, and we drive them off, but not before their poison does a number on us.

(Remember how I said it was weird that everyone was focusing solely on will-saves? Well, yeah, this is why that's a bad idea. Low fort saves across the board meant that poison really kicked our asses.)

We eventually find a corrupted totem that is drawing all of the local animal spirits into it. When we move to interfere with it, it manifests a guardian, a composite animal made from all the spirits of the forest. It has the size of a moose, the strength of a bear, the shell of a turtle, the ferocity of a cougar, the speed of a deer, the senses of a wolf, and the leaping ability of a rabbit. We send the zombies after it, but it simply leaps away before it can be surrounded, and when half the zombies are killed Ordieth calls them off. Scraps and I approach it alone, and we make several attempts to trap it, Fritz creates a force field above it, Ordieth freezes the ground below it, and Scraps tries alternating tripping it and climbing onto its back, but the creature is simply too agile for any of these schemes to work. I do my best to keep its attention while Scraps flanks it. Eventually I go down, and Tiana uses the last of her magic to keep Scraps standing long enough for him to slay the beast by driving a sharpened anchor through its carapace.

(This was a frustrating fight. An enemy that is both super tough and super mobile isn't fun. But, I wanted a higher difficulty, so I suppose I can't complain.)

When the beast it killed, the totem is destroyed and a wave of unholy energy rolls out over the land. It is made of wicker and bones, and we return it to town.

We limp back to town, all of the caster's totally out of spells and both of the melee at negative HP.

The town's barber / surgeon is able to identify the bones as belonging to the druid based on a broken rib that was the result of a kick from a horse in his youth. We have no leads as to who killed the druid or created the totem, but with its destruction the spirits of nature are freed and fertility is returning to the region.

I visit the alchemist and by several potions of anti-venom, healing, and invisibility to undead. I also visit a naturalist and talk about starting a colony of scavenging crabs in our bilge, we have a lot of rotting bodies and I foresee a need for a lot of skeletons in the future.



So, that was the session. Not perfect, but perfectly adequate for a first outing, and if every session goes this well it will be a fine campaign and a nice break from GMing for me.

Any thoughts, questions, or suggestions?

Hellpyre
2020-01-13, 11:48 AM
Was your problem with starting on the skill challenge that it was mandatory, that the DC was too high, or that it had penalties for failure? You only address the last in your post, but a skill challenge with no consequence for failure sounds like a waste of everyone's time.

Talakeal
2020-01-13, 11:51 AM
Was your problem with starting on the skill challenge that it was mandatory, that the DC was too high, or that it had penalties for failure? You only address the last in your post, but a skill challenge with no consequence for failure sounds like a waste of everyone's time.

Basically, it just went back and forth and ate up a lot of time.

There were consequences for failure, althiugh we weren’t clear about what they were at the time.

GrayDeath
2020-01-13, 03:32 PM
Sounds very much in World logical to me.

You are alone on a ship on the ocean.

Since none of youc an fly or transform itno fish or whatever, this is the only way, and failing always should have consequences.

But overall it seems to me that for a first time DM, this is looking very good.

Good luck to you all that it stays that way!

Quertus
2020-01-13, 06:39 PM
I did my best to defer to Brian, but I am not sure how to handle that in the future.

Ask Brian. I'll suggest the counterpart to a "swear jar", that you drop a quarter into every time you do it; when it's full, you buy the group pizza.


Tiana, pixie priest, healer, and trickster

I hadn't caught that your healer is also your frailest member.


Fritz, one of our only surviving passengers, uses subtle magic to hold the ship together.

Why subtle? Was he hiding his talents? If so, is he still doing so?


(OOC: This was a long skill challenge. It was fairly poorly designed, as there was a penalty for failure and as new characters we don't have great scores, which meant that it was long, frustrating, and used up a disproportionate amount of our party resources. Still, it wasn't terrible, and was fine for a first time DM, and I did my best to keep Bob from bitching).

You didn't like it. What about the rest of the table?


(And here we get the problem of an evil party. Nobody actually wants to form the party, even when it is in our mutual best interest to work together. We kept the argument in character, but after about an hour of this I saw we were boring / frustrating people, and I kind of broke character and said we should table the argument for later... or just hand-waive it.)

I don't need to say it, right?


We offer them a position with our crew,

We? Or you? Has the group taken on your mantra?


talks about how the forest spirits are misbehaving, but there is no sign of the druid.


We eventually find a corrupted totem that is drawing all of the local animal spirits into it.


It is made of wicker and bones,


The town's barber / surgeon is able to identify the bones as belonging to the druid


the spirits of nature are freed and fertility is returning to the region.

Um, continuity?

So, have crops only been failing since the Druid disappeared? If so, in what way were the spirits misbehaving beforehand? Crazy questions: do forest spirits naturally misbehave, and could the misbehaving forest spirits have made the corrupt totem themselves? Assuming the answer to both is "no", then why would whatever caused the spirits to misbehave in the first place have allowed them to return to normal so easily?


(This was a frustrating fight. An enemy that is both super tough and super mobile isn't fun. But, I wanted a higher difficulty, so I suppose I can't complain.)

Describe what "hard, but not frustrating" would look like, to you.


I visit the alchemist and by several potions of anti-venom, healing, and invisibility to undead. I also visit a naturalist and talk about starting a colony of scavenging crabs in our bilge, we have a lot of rotting bodies and I foresee a need for a lot of skeletons in the future.

So, did you get to make use of your downtime action advantage?

zinycor
2020-01-13, 07:33 PM
Seems like the game went quite well, Did you enjoy the experience? Did the other players seem to have fun in the end?

Talakeal
2020-01-14, 08:12 AM
Sounds very much in World logical to me.

You are alone on a ship on the ocean.

Since none of youc an fly or transform itno fish or whatever, this is the only way, and failing always should have consequences.

But overall it seems to me that for a first time DM, this is looking very good.

Good luck to you all that it stays that way!

Its not that the situation is bad; its just that the way the mechanics worked meant that it dragged on.

Basically, the ship had a condition track, every success moved it up one step, every failure moved it down one step, and it had to get ten points in either direction for the challenge to succeed / fail. And since we all had right around a 50% chance to succeed on any given skill test, we basically spent an hour just going back and forth around the middle.



Ask Brian. I'll suggest the counterpart to a "swear jar", that you drop a quarter into every time you do it; when it's full, you buy the group pizza.

Do I put a quarter in every time I answer a question at all or just every time I give a different answer than Brian?


I hadn't caught that your healer is also your frailest member.

Actually the necromancer is our frailest member, its just that he usually has either me or an undead protector to guard him.



You didn't like it. What about the rest of the table?

I didn't say I didn't like it, I said that it wasn't well designed and dragged on far too long as a result. For example, every failed roll took away a success, and since my character didn't have a 50% or better chance of succeeding at any of the skills that were required, the party would literally have been better off if I wasn't there.

Bob bitched about it, but then again Bob bitches about most things, so no surprise there.



We? Or you? Has the group taken on your mantra?

Mantra?

That's kind of a weird question though, and something I hadn't thought about. In this particular case I suppose it means I, as I am the one with the highest charisma and therefore do most of the negotiations with NPCs, but I haven't really thought about referring to the group as "we" before; it seems pretty common both in telling stories and at the table; for example one player will announce "we go back to the inn" and if none of the other players object it is assumed the party as a whole goes along with the plan.





Um, continuity?

So, have crops only been failing since the Druid disappeared? If so, in what way were the spirits misbehaving beforehand? Crazy questions: do forest spirits naturally misbehave, and could the misbehaving forest spirits have made the corrupt totem themselves? Assuming the answer to both is "no", then why would whatever caused the spirits to misbehave in the first place have allowed them to return to normal so easily?



That is strange, but I don't think its a plot hole. There is clearly more going on here than we have seen, for example we have no clue who actually killed the druid and created the totem, I assume we will investigate further next session.



So, did you get to make use of your downtime action advantage?

No. I dropped my character's wisdom and raised my charisma instead.

Edit: Forgot to respond to one question; in my system wizard's can save a spell slot by making an effect appear to come about through natural means, similar to coincidental magic in M:tA. It is a tactic used heavily by starting characters who don't have the spell slots to spare, or the strength to fight off an angry mob if someone takes offense at their magic.

Pelle
2020-01-14, 11:00 AM
Sounds like it went well, and you seem a little overly critical here.



I didn't say I didn't like it, I said that it wasn't well designed and dragged on far too long as a result. For example, every failed roll took away a success, and since my character didn't have a 50% or better chance of succeeding at any of the skills that were required, the party would literally have been better off if I wasn't there.

Bob bitched about it, but then again Bob bitches about most things, so no surprise there.


And what did Brian think, did he also realize it wasn't working properly? As long as he tries to imrove, I think you should cut him some slack, even though everything isn't perfect now.

I would be more worried about your fellow party members, and their seemingly lack of buy-in to a group game...

Talakeal
2020-01-14, 11:48 AM
Sounds like it went well, and you seem a little overly critical here.

And what did Brian think, did he also realize it wasn't working properly? As long as he tries to imrove, I think you should cut him some slack, even though everything isn't perfect now.

I would be more worried about your fellow party members, and their seemingly lack of buy-in to a group game...

Absolutely agree with everything here.

I am intentionally being critical so we have something to talk about. As I said above, I enjoyed the game and would be happy with the campaign if every session goes as well, although I will probably get pretty frustrated if I have to spend an hour every session watching a condition track bounce back and forth for an hour and then spending another hour trying to talk the other players into going along with the adventure.

Brian made the sailing mini-game on the drive over and admits he didn't think it through, so that's perfectly understandable.