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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    I have some BAD NEWS for you about the role of GMs in the vast majority of RPG systems.

    They are one person in the game, who MAKES STUFF UP for the other players to deal with.
    Again, there is a very obvious difference between "the DM makes up something and you resolve it with actions derived from the rules" and "the DM makes up something and also how you resolve it".

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    For a wizard it is only an opportunity cost of a spellslot that day and an insignificant amount of money. A wizard who learns knock and invisibility has not to give up anything for it.
    He also doesn't get anything for it. There are no points awarded for the spells in your spellbook. Once he prepares them, he's giving up a glitterdust or color spray, which is an enormously larger cost than the Rogue is paying for his ability on a per-use basis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So... What advantage(s) to balanced by level over balanced by XP did you see?
    I'm not sure what you mean.

    In the general case, you get the advantage of having a vastly more elegant way of comparing character power. Also, I think you're dramatically overstating the advantages of separate level up points. First, from a simple logistical point of view, leveling up your character is generally a "pause the session" event even if it's just one person doing it, so it behooves you to do level ups in parallel to as large a degree as possible. Second, I think giving some people new toys while others don't get them is unlikely to cause the dynamic you want.

    For helping out noobs specifically, I think an explicit handicap isn't a good paradigm regardless of how you implement it. Telling people "you suck, here are free points" is going to offend some people, so your mechanism needs to be (to some degree) implicit. Relative skill gaps are also going to change over the course of a game, so your mechanism needs to be dynamic. Giving DMs better tools to design encounters to highlight one character or another's abilities is just a better paradigm for helping out new players, and it generalizes more.

    First: elegance.
    I don't think it's more elegant. To put it in CS terms, "separate XP tables" is O(n) lookups for determining balance, while "single XP table" is O(1). I know which one looks more elegant to me.

    Second: where do you tie skill points, feats, stat boosts, etc?
    You could just give bonus stuff as needed. Honestly though, I think the case for giving different classes different numbers of feats is even worse than the case for giving them different XP curves. Everyone picks off the same list of feats.

    Third (partially contingent upon the 2nd): I can see this system producing a lot of unintended cross-class early entry BS.
    Going to 4e style Paragon Paths fixes that problem, and is just a better paradigm in general.

    Fourth (related to 1st): how the **** do you build a gestalt in such a system?
    I don't see how this is a problem at all. How is it harder to combine "a +1 BAB bonus and an additional +1 class bonus" than "10 levels when the other class has 6"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    What if each class, had it's own...class....of useful abilities, and we didn't have one class that could mimic all of those abilities with the wave of a hand?
    I didn't realize there was a Wizard spell called "all Druid abilities". Could you point that out for me?

    Fighters and wizards are not equivalent....that's the problem. They shouldn't be.
    Again, no one is saying "equivalent". What people are saying is "balanced". Clerics and Wizards are balanced. Clerics and Wizards are not the same. Warblades and Binders are balanced. Warblades and Binders are not the same. Knights and Scouts are balanced. Knights and Scouts are not the same.

    And if having each class with it's own XP table is so horrifying, then we either A) don't have 500 new classes introduced with each splat and don't release so many spats, or B) have these new classes function as "kits" that use the XP table of their base class.
    No, we do the smart thing and we have one XP table. Because that is literally infinity times better than your terrible solution and the only "cost" is that now we can look at one number on someone's character sheet to know how powerful they are supposed to be. There is no reason to do things the way you want to do them except that it lets you have an imbalance between equal level classes, but you don't want to do that because that is stupid.

    We already have a power imbalance, just with the core rules. If you keep adding new classes willy-nilly, your just making the problem worse.
    Then we should fix that imbalance, because people want lots of classes. People want Binders and Warlocks and Beguilers and Totemists. If your system can't deliver that, or can only deliver that as reskins to your core classes, it has failed. Point blank.

    That's not even close to the example. It was "power here for a handicap over here". Think of it in point buy system terms: A take a -1 flaw, and in exchange, I get an extra 1 point to spend elsewhere. Your example would be: I gain an extra point for a flaw, and get a bonus point for 'reasons'.
    That is exactly the example. You pick your race at 1st level. You therefore accrue its advantages from the start of the game (a point in time that might reasonably be called "now") and the cost you incur is paid when you reach max level (a point in time that is presumably "later"). Thus you have one character being overpowered at low levels (when they pay nothing for racial bonuses) and a different character being overpowered at high levels (when they get to advance and the other one doesn't). Setting aside the fact that such a design is inherently unfun (being overpowered sometimes and underpowered other times rarely balances out), it means that any game that doesn't start from 1st and run to 10th is inherently broken.

    So yeah, racial level limits aren't a good idea.They're super obviously not a good idea, and once people got better at game design they stopped including them. Anyone who advocates for them now doesn't understand enough about how game design works to contribute to a conversation.

    What you describe is more wanting to know which class is more powerful than the others, rather than wanting to know how the rules work.
    Wow, if only we had a word for "the thing that determines how powerful classes are". It should probably determine other stuff too, like how to resolve checks or how monsters work or things like that. Maybe it could include all the stuff you need to make rulings about the game. We could call it "the rules".

    If you can balance two sponges when both are wet, you can balance them when one is wet and one is bone dry. Gotcha.
    How is that even remotely what I said? Let's try this again:

    If you know which abilities you need to make a 10k XP Wizard balanced with a 10k XP Fighter, you can just give those ability sets to 10th level characters instead of adding the indirection layer of XP.

    If a wizard can one shot a dragon from range, and a fighter has to whittle it down with his sword, they are balanced. Gotcha.
    It means that you should give the Fighter abilities that are as good as what the Wizard is doing. Or take away abilities from the Wizard until he's as bad as what the Fighter is doing. Or a mixture of the two.

    To get a +20 bonus, the usual method is to "take 20"...take 20 minutes (basically) to do something that a wizard does with a wave of his hand.....
    Or, you know, having bonuses. Like from skill ranks or abilities.

    Nobody is really blaming the casters...we are blaming the imbalanced rules that give casters their own nice things, as well as the nice things that the other classes have.
    Except your solution is, as far as you seem to be willing to explain it, "casters have to get nice things because then we can have separate XP tables, something I consider to be a terminal goal in game design."
    Last edited by Cosi; 2017-12-07 at 03:44 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #842
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Going to "At will" for spells would get rid of ressource management for spell slots. Which would then allow to get rid of casters ability to go Nova by shifting ressources from one encounter to another. Casters would always cast as best as they could and the overall power of spells could be toned down accordingly.

    It is a direction one could take, but i am not really convinced.
    Even with spell slots, it doesn't really make sense that spells have an auto-scaling component to them (and sticking with the old Vance stories, "multi-function" or "unspecified" spells should be more than atypical - instead of "Summon Monster III", the should be a specific "Summon Joe the Dretch", and so on). The PF kineticist is interesting in this regard, due to the "gather power" and "store power" class feature.

  3. - Top - End - #843
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    He also doesn't get anything for it. There are no points awarded for the spells in your spellbook.
    If that is your only problem, that is easy to fix. Like "the wizard gets level*4 spell levels he can have in his spellbook to prepare from". Then spells like knock would have a relevant cost to have. And wizards would have actually different abilities from each other.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    ....people want lots of classes. People want Binders and Warlocks and Beguilers and Totemists...
    .
    Oh man. With all the "splat" so they're so many classes so one may have a custom character, why not just go for a full bore point buy character creation like GURPS or HERO?

    What I'd like is a simple (because frankly if the rules aren't based on ones I already learned in the 1980's they need to be real easy to learn if I'm going to bother) system for creating characters like Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

    In D&D terms Fafhrd is an expert swordsmen (said to be better than d'Artagnan,*Lord Brandoch Daha,*Conan the Barbarian, and*Scar Gordon) using a large sword ("Graywand") so Fighter.

    Outdoor survival skills, so Ranger.

    Is often a thief, so Rogue.

    The Gray Mouser is also an expert swordsmen, using a rapier named Scalpel and a dirk named Cat's Claw, so Fighter.

    Even more of a thief than Fafhrd, so Rogue.

    And has cast a few (but not many) spells, so a bit of a Wizard (but not a full one).

    I'm sure others want to be able to have characters that do different types of magic, such as those used by Alodar in Lyndon Hardy's Master of the Five Magics (but personally I don't desire to play any kind of "Archmage".

    Since I find GURPS and HERO (and Pathfinder) far too complex, I don't think I'll have much luck, as if it's not based on the '70's D&D or RuneQuest rules I already know, I have a hard time learning any new systems, but I'm still curious.
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  5. - Top - End - #845
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    .
    Oh man. With all the "splat" so they're so many classes so one may have a custom character, why not just go for a full bore point buy character creation like GURPS or HERO?

    What I'd like is a simple (because frankly if the rules aren't based on ones I already learned in the 1980's they need to be real easy to learn if I'm going to bother) system for creating characters like Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

    In D&D terms Fafhrd is an expert swordsmen (said to be better than d'Artagnan,*Lord Brandoch Daha,*Conan the Barbarian, and*Scar Gordon) using a large sword ("Graywand") so Fighter.

    Outdoor survival skills, so Ranger.

    Is often a thief, so Rogue.

    The Gray Mouser is also an expert swordsmen, using a rapier named Scalpel and a dirk named Cat's Claw, so Fighter.

    Even more of a thief than Fafhrd, so Rogue.

    And has cast a few (but not many) spells, so a bit of a Wizard (but not a full one).

    I'm sure others want to be able to have characters that do different types of magic, such as those used by Alodar in Lyndon Hardy's Master of the Five Magics (but personally I don't desire to play any kind of "Archmage".

    Since I find GURPS and HERO (and Pathfinder) far too complex, I don't think I'll have much luck, as if it's not based on the '70's D&D or RuneQuest rules I already know, I have a hard time learning any new systems, but I'm still curious.
    If you were to stat them up in Pathfinder Fafhrd would be a Slayer and Gray Mouser would probably only need to be a Rogue. The many classes means it's very easy to make a character without needing to worry mixing classes together.

    As for why use it over point-buy, I often find point-buy systems try to have balance by having every over specialise to an insane degree and there isn't really any balance beyond "try to be a nice GM". While a class system will have everyone incrementally grow specific stats so they "should" be around the same power.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    You know, its funny, this topic has been kicking around this board for years now, with at least one thread about it on the main page at any given time, and we still haven't really gotten around to solutions.

    We have pretty much determined that CMD exists in 3.X D&D (the jury is still out on most other games), but we are still arguing about whether it would be best to:

    A: Leave the imbalance where it is
    B: Bring martials up to the caster's level
    C: Bring casters down to the martial's level
    or D: Meet someplace in the middle

    I wonder if we will ever get past the hurdle and into the real work of actually figuring out how such a thing would be done.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I said that action economy matters in combat (at least below a certain level of optimization where you can freely manipulate time); its outside of combat where it is really hard to make action economy matter and doing so repeatedly becomes increasingly contrived.
    Can one of you guys craft us some replacement potions? I'm busy researching why my spoo has too much fleem.

    Action economy is a thing outside of combat, too. Hence my oft-used words, "and, while he's doing that, what are you doing?".

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Also, if I wanted to serve no purpose in the party besides another warm body who provides combat support I could just play a muggle as is.
    Absolutely agree. So, what do you want?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This isn't about other people, this is about me.

    Maybe I am a "toxic person," but personally if I don't contribute anything to the group I would rather not be there, and if I can solve a problem on my own I would prefer to work on my own. This is both in and out of character.

    I also feel that forcing everyone to participate whether or not they are needed just so everyone can pretend they contributed is very patronizing.
    ... I'm not sure where to go here. Let's poke at the edges for a bit.

    So, if a barn needs raising, because you (presumably) have no unique skills to lend to the effort, and "anyone could do it", you are disinterested in lending a hand? What if it's your barn? What if the barn is on fire?

    As to that last bit about "pretending to contribute", well, sadly, there are very few cooperative board games. I'm only familiar with two: Arkham Horror and... I forget the name of the other one. In both cases, the playing pieces are very similar, but each have their own specialty. In both cases, there are plenty of things that need to be done in the game, and anyone could theoretically do any of them, with slightly to vastly different odds of success. Teamwork is huge in such games. Getting everyone to work towards the common goal, each tackling a piece of the work, without there being any definitive, hard-coded "this person's job". That's the kind of feel I'm aiming for in an RPG (give or take characters having stronger emotional attachment to particular tasks).

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I think you are confused. Forcing everyone to play the same character type (in this case a "jack of all trades) would be balanced, but balance does not mean forcing everyone to play the same character. Different but equal is definitely a thing.
    Fine, but people seem to have difficulty distinguishing their characters in a way that doesn't a) kill game balance, and/or b) lead to "this is a job for Aquaman" / Shadowrun style niche protection & thumb twiddling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    No. I do not agree that every character needs to be able to solve every, or even most, problems to be viable.

    ... given time and ingenuity enough I fully believe that a mundane character can meaningfully contribute to just about any traditional fantasy problem.
    Hold on. I'm confused. Here's what I'm reading:

    * currently, mundane characters can contribute just fine to nearly any scenario (given time and ingenuity)
    * "ingenuity" is a player skill, so muggles may be "hard mode", limited to more advanced players
    * "time" is not something one normally has in combat, so muggles are more balanced with Wizards outside of combat.
    * you don't care about "contributing", you only care about things you can solo.
    * therefore muggles currently being balanced insofar as being able to contribute is meaningless to you.
    * therefore, you want... ???

    I'm struggling to fill in that last blank with something other than "hard niche protection".

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Going to "At will" for spells would get rid of ressource management for spell slots. Which would then allow to get rid of casters ability to go Nova by shifting ressources from one encounter to another. Casters would always cast as best as they could and the overall power of spells could be toned down accordingly.

    It is a direction one could take, but i am not really convinced.
    Or Fighters could be buffed. Or both.

    But of what are you not convinced? That removing a variable (the length of the work day, and it's effects on character effectiveness) from the equation would make balancing the equation easier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    If that is your only problem, that is easy to fix. Like "the wizard gets level*4 spell levels he can have in his spellbook to prepare from". Then spells like knock would have a relevant cost to have. And wizards would have actually different abilities from each other.
    You know, I never had a character back in 2e D&D meet two Wizards who played the same.

    Of course, I'm not sure if I've had a character in 3e meet two Wizards (of even remotely similar level)...
    Last edited by Quertus; 2017-12-07 at 07:08 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #848
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    You know, its funny, this topic has been kicking around this board for years now, with at least one thread about it on the main page at any given time, and we still haven't really gotten around to solutions.

    We have pretty much determined that CMD exists in 3.X D&D (the jury is still out on most other games), but we are still arguing about whether it would be best to:

    A: Leave the imbalance where it is
    B: Bring martials up to the caster's level
    C: Bring casters down to the martial's level
    or D: Meet someplace in the middle

    I wonder if we will ever get past the hurdle and into the real work of actually figuring out how such a thing would be done.
    I think I've laid out in detail a few times that the answer comes down to what kind of game you want to play and what kind of setting you want the characters to encounter and so on.

    There is no one right answer, but a lot of the strife seems to come from the insistence that there is a single correct answer.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Fine, but people seem to have difficulty distinguishing their characters in a way that doesn't a) kill game balance, and/or b) lead to "this is a job for Aquaman" / Shadowrun style niche protection & thumb twiddling.
    That is not a problem I have ever encountered.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Hold on. I'm confused. Here's what I'm reading:

    * currently, mundane characters can contribute just fine to nearly any scenario (given time and ingenuity)
    * "ingenuity" is a player skill, so muggles may be "hard mode", limited to more advanced players
    * "time" is not something one normally has in combat, so muggles are more balanced with Wizards outside of combat.
    * you don't care about "contributing", you only care about things you can solo.
    * therefore muggles currently being balanced insofar as being able to contribute is meaningless to you.
    * therefore, you want... ???

    I'm struggling to fill in that last blank with something other than "hard niche protection".
    A game where there is no hard niche protection but people can have varying degrees of difficulty with different tasks, where the best strategy is to have a variety of characters whose abilities complement each other rather than one or two classes who make everyone else irrelevant.

    Fortunately for me virtually every RPG that is not 3.X D&D already meets these criteria, which is why I am baffled when I see people on this forum insist that it is impossible and 3.X fundamentally cannot be fixed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So, if a barn needs raising, because you (presumably) have no unique skills to lend to the effort, and "anyone could do it", you are disinterested in lending a hand? What if it's your barn? What if the barn is on fire?
    This is a problem that requires multiple people. Therefor I cannot do it on my own because I only one man. Very few scenarios in RPGs work like this, a wizard could easily solo it, and a handful of unskilled hirelings would be better suited to helping with it than heroic PCs.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    You know, its funny, this topic has been kicking around this board for years now, with at least one thread about it on the main page at any given time, and we still haven't really gotten around to solutions.

    We have pretty much determined that CMD exists in 3.X D&D (the jury is still out on most other games), but we are still arguing about whether it would be best to:

    A: Leave the imbalance where it is
    B: Bring martials up to the caster's level
    C: Bring casters down to the martial's level
    or D: Meet someplace in the middle

    I wonder if we will ever get past the hurdle and into the real work of actually figuring out how such a thing would be done.
    Not a chance. You try to gimp wizards, and a portion of the fanbase screams bloody murder. You try to give fighters nice thing, a portion of the fanbase starts screaming about realism. You leave it unbalanced, and people like me complain incessantly.
    This is a problem with no solution that can possibly please everyone.
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    A: Leave the imbalance where it is
    B: Bring martials up to the caster's level
    C: Bring casters down to the martial's level
    or D: Meet someplace in the middle
    Basically, people need to figureout what they want each tier of levels to actually represent. As current, I see the issue as "over time the game slowly changes what type of adventures take place, but most martials never leave the low-level style of adventuring".

    4e devs handled this by having every class scale as it increases in level; at low-levels you're pulp-y heroes, by twelfth level your basically a superhero regardless of class, once you're past 20th level everyone is basically (or literally) a demigod.

    While 5e decided they'd wanted what 3.5e had as it's 3-6th level playstyle as the entire feel of the game, so they restrained things so that it's harder to pull out from that scope.

    Exalted starts at the demigod tier, and never leaves it. Nobilis starts at the deity tier and never leaves it. Chuubo's marvelous wish-granting engine can start at the scale of "okay lets go into the city and look at stuff in shops" and end at Nobilis-scale stuff. Mutants and Masterminds has Power-Level as a completely separate thing from how many points you have to build your characters or advance, so you can have things like batman who have tonnes and tonnes of points but he still might be a street-level superhero because of his lack of powers.
    Last edited by Milo v3; 2017-12-07 at 08:32 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    You know, its funny, this topic has been kicking around this board for years now, with at least one thread about it on the main page at any given time, and we still haven't really gotten around to solutions.

    We have pretty much determined that CMD exists in 3.X D&D (the jury is still out on most other games), but we are still arguing about whether it would be best to:

    A: Leave the imbalance where it is
    B: Bring martials up to the caster's level
    C: Bring casters down to the martial's level
    or D: Meet someplace in the middle

    I wonder if we will ever get past the hurdle and into the real work of actually figuring out how such a thing would be done.

    For me there is no imbalance as I almost never play D&D. Other systems have solved the issue multiple times. So I must conclude that people dont want this solved or maybe it's a legacy issue.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    For me there is no imbalance as I almost never play D&D. Other systems have solved the issue multiple times. So I must conclude that people dont want this solved or maybe it's a legacy issue.
    Same here.

    I keep getting drawn into the debate when someone insists that the problem can't be solved and that all other games are inconsistent / irrational for claiming to have done so.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I think I've laid out in detail a few times that the answer comes down to what kind of game you want to play and what kind of setting you want the characters to encounter and so on.
    I think you have, in fact some variant of that, presented by somebody, has been the conclusion of every one of these threads I can remember (although I haven't been keeping track). Its not a new conclusion, in fact I would argue the fact how you design a game being dependant on the game you want to make is pretty universal accepted. I think more importantly, the issue is no one can agree about what kind of game D&D is supposed to be.

    Also another vote for "I enjoy games that have solved the problem."

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Also another vote for "I enjoy games that have solved the problem."
    Yeah given that I like, own Fate and such, I'm just gonna jump on this bandwagon while hypocritically continuing to play my hobgoblin artificer in Eberron using PF on this very forum.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I think you have, in fact some variant of that, presented by somebody, has been the conclusion of every one of these threads I can remember (although I haven't been keeping track). Its not a new conclusion, in fact I would argue the fact how you design a game being dependant on the game you want to make is pretty universal accepted. I think more importantly, the issue is no one can agree about what kind of game D&D is supposed to be.

    Also another vote for "I enjoy games that have solved the problem."
    That's also a good point. Most everyone started on D&D and is nostalgic about it, and people are trying to argue that their way is the one true soul of D&D and everything else is a bad imposter.

    For me the essence of D&D will always be what it felt like to play 2E AD&D and read the original two Dragon Lance trilogies in Middle School.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    You know, its funny, this topic has been kicking around this board for years now, with at least one thread about it on the main page at any given time, and we still haven't really gotten around to solutions.

    We have pretty much determined that CMD exists in 3.X D&D (the jury is still out on most other games), but we are still arguing about whether it would be best to:

    A: Leave the imbalance where it is
    B: Bring martials up to the caster's level
    C: Bring casters down to the martial's level
    or D: Meet someplace in the middle

    I wonder if we will ever get past the hurdle and into the real work of actually figuring out how such a thing would be done.
    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    For me there is no imbalance as I almost never play D&D. Other systems have solved the issue multiple times. So I must conclude that people dont want this solved or maybe it's a legacy issue.
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Same here.

    I keep getting drawn into the debate when someone insists that the problem can't be solved and that all other games are inconsistent / irrational for claiming to have done so.
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I think I've laid out in detail a few times that the answer comes down to what kind of game you want to play and what kind of setting you want the characters to encounter and so on.

    There is no one right answer, but a lot of the strife seems to come from the insistence that there is a single correct answer.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I think you have, in fact some variant of that, presented by somebody, has been the conclusion of every one of these threads I can remember (although I haven't been keeping track). Its not a new conclusion, in fact I would argue the fact how you design a game being dependant on the game you want to make is pretty universal accepted. I think more importantly, the issue is no one can agree about what kind of game D&D is supposed to be.

    Also another vote for "I enjoy games that have solved the problem."
    That's kinda my vote too; but specific to the game that's at the core of this repeated conversation, I think as noted by others it comes down to a legacy issue, some people not wanting a solution (for whatever reason), and many people not agreeing on what D&D is supposed to be. Of course, part of the cause of the problem in the first place is D&D trying to be the everything-fantasy-RPG to everyone all at the same time.

    Similar to Talakeal, what draws me into these conversations is the mistaken notion that the problem can't be solved, because some of us keep laying out a multitude of options for how to deal with it. The canard that keeps really irking me is that mistaken claim that this is somehow not largely a problem of D&D-like systems, and that other systems (and settings) also have these ridiculous balance issues whether people realize it or not. See also, "Point-buy is even more imbalanced and broken than D&D".




    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That's also a good point. Most everyone started on D&D and is nostalgic about it, and people are trying to argue that their way is the one true soul of D&D and everything else is a bad imposter.

    For me the essence of D&D will always be what it felt like to play 2E AD&D and read the original two Dragon Lance trilogies in Middle School.
    For me, D&D will always be that game that everyone wanted to play instead of WEG d6 Star Wars, back in my early gaming days... that game that conflated dodging and armor... that game that though it took a minute to swing a sword one time... that game I started looking to find better alternatives to almost immediately.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    A game where there is no hard niche protection but people can have varying degrees of difficulty with different tasks, where the best strategy is to have a variety of characters whose abilities complement each other rather than one or two classes who make everyone else irrelevant.

    Fortunately for me virtually every RPG that is not 3.X D&D already meets these criteria, which is why I am baffled when I see people on this forum insist that it is impossible and 3.X fundamentally cannot be fixed.
    Barring certain shenanigans, 3e doesn't suffer from this as much as you make it sound, as limited spell slots is a thing. The optimal strategy for the Wizard is to leave the locks to the Rogue (if the party has one), because the Rogue can pick locks all day long without expending resources. The optimal strategy for the Wizard is to not throw summon spells, and leave the fighting to the Fighter (OK, really, the Rogue again, but don't tell the Fighter), because they can fight all day long without expending resources.

    But it's best for the Wizard to know these spells, and be ready to use them (in scroll form, perhaps) should the Muggles be incapacitated, find themselves out of their depth, or consider the task a suicide mission.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This is a problem that requires multiple people. Therefor I cannot do it on my own because I only one man. Very few scenarios in RPGs work like this, a wizard could easily solo it, and a handful of unskilled hirelings would be better suited to helping with it than heroic PCs.
    Hmmm... if the module says it's for 4 level X PCs, and a single level X Wizard can solo it (without shenanigans), then clearly the module is broken.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    You know, its funny, this topic has been kicking around this board for years now, with at least one thread about it on the main page at any given time, and we still haven't really gotten around to solutions.

    We have pretty much determined that CMD exists in 3.X D&D (the jury is still out on most other games), but we are still arguing about whether it would be best to:

    A: Leave the imbalance where it is
    B: Bring martials up to the caster's level
    C: Bring casters down to the martial's level
    or D: Meet someplace in the middle

    I wonder if we will ever get past the hurdle and into the real work of actually figuring out how such a thing would be done.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I think you have, in fact some variant of that, presented by somebody, has been the conclusion of every one of these threads I can remember (although I haven't been keeping track). Its not a new conclusion, in fact I would argue the fact how you design a game being dependant on the game you want to make is pretty universal accepted. I think more importantly, the issue is no one can agree about what kind of game D&D is supposed to be.

    Also another vote for "I enjoy games that have solved the problem."
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    That's kinda my vote too; but specific to the game that's at the core of this repeated conversation, I think as noted by others it comes down to a legacy issue, some people not wanting a solution (for whatever reason), and many people not agreeing on what D&D is supposed to be. Of course, part of the cause of the problem in the first place is D&D trying to be the everything-fantasy-RPG to everyone all at the same time.
    D&D (especially 3e) allows you to play at multiple power levels, thus succeeding fairly well at "being everything to everyone". The game is what your group makes of it. This, to me, is a feature*, not a bug. So, yes, I'm a fan of leaving the imbalance, no matter how many times the Łbercharger upstages my tactically inept academia mage.

    If it is ever the case that they make an edition of D&D where Wizards are actually guaranteed to all the time always be better than muggles, then I'll be upset. Until then, I'm reasonably happy with the potential range of capabilities present in all classes (albeit not so much with the obfuscation and deceptive trap options).

    * the notion of making hard balance, and having your variety by playing a module intended for level X with characters of level X+-Y is starting to grow on me, but I still see too many ways for it to fail for me to be comfortable with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    what draws me into these conversations is the mistaken notion that the problem can't be solved, because some of us keep laying out a multitude of options for how to deal with it. The canard that keeps really irking me is that mistaken claim that this is somehow not largely a problem of D&D-like systems, and that other systems (and settings) also have these ridiculous balance issues whether people realize it or not. See also, "Point-buy is even more imbalanced and broken than D&D".
    ... I have yet to play a point buy system that wasn't more broken in play than D&D. But, then again, I lack the same level of system mastery in other systems as I have in D&D, so it may just be that I autocorrect better in D&D than in other systems.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    You know, its funny, this topic has been kicking around this board for years now, with at least one thread about it on the main page at any given time, and we still haven't really gotten around to solutions.

    We have pretty much determined that CMD exists in 3.X D&D (the jury is still out on most other games), but we are still arguing about whether it would be best to:

    A: Leave the imbalance where it is
    B: Bring martials up to the caster's level
    C: Bring casters down to the martial's level
    or D: Meet someplace in the middle

    I wonder if we will ever get past the hurdle and into the real work of actually figuring out how such a thing would be done.
    We could always do E: all of the above.
    Why not build an optional system where the gm can choose what setting to turn on?
    Hell, I could even have it make sense. 4 seasons, 4 gods. The god of magic rules over a season(magic =power), the god of power rules another(Both=power), the god of battle rules another (Martial =power) and the god of serenity(neither =power)

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    D&D (especially 3e) allows you to play at multiple power levels, thus succeeding fairly well at "being everything to everyone". The game is what your group makes of it.
    I can't help but feel a little bit sad that your definition of "everything" is small enough that it can be covered by different levels of D&D play.

    Let us ignore the Eclipse Phases, the ShadowRuns and the Uncharted World systems that cover types of content that D&D simply does not have. Let us ignore the social and crafting system which in my experience have basically been free form. Then yes, D&D is everything in that you can struggle to survive at low levels or tear through things at high levels.

    I am simplifying the issue but I think it the point is the same.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    I keep getting drawn into the debate when someone insists that the problem can't be solved and that all other games are inconsistent / irrational for claiming to have done so.
    Well, I have always pointed out the easy solution is: A Powerful, In control DM.

    Just take the typical problem of a jerk player ''just using(abusing) the rules'' to inflate their ego and ruin others peoples fun:

    DM:"Up ahead is a locked metal door..."

    Jerk Player: "Zimdum the Wizard just uses his Open Anything spell, so what is in the room?''

    DM, bows, "Yes, great player, your character opens the door as per the rules. All hail the rules."

    Everyone: ''All hail the rules"

    Poor Player: "Raskin the Sneaky just sits in the corner and watches...I guess."

    But watch when you add a Good DM:

    DM:"Up ahead is a locked metal door..."

    Jerk Player: "Zimdum the Wizard just uses his Open Anything spell-----''

    DM:"Nothing happens and the door stays locked."

    Jerk Player: "What?"

    Other Player: "Oh, Raskin the Sneaky moves forward to make an open locks roll to open the door!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That's also a good point. Most everyone started on D&D and is nostalgic about it, and people are trying to argue that their way is the one true soul of D&D and everything else is a bad imposter.

    For me the essence of D&D will always be what it felt like to play 2E AD&D and read the original two Dragon Lance trilogies in Middle School.
    This is something that other people don't seem to get: D&D ''was'' a ''way'' because you, the player, made it that way. And you can still do that today.

    Some how people got the idea that ''if page 77 says X, we must do X all ways or it is not D&D''. And that is just the start of the problems.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Well, I have always pointed out the easy solution is: A Powerful, In control DM.

    Just take the typical problem of a jerk player ''just using(abusing) the rules'' to inflate their ego and ruin others peoples fun:
    *Horrible horrible example*
    ... that sounds like a giant jerk move. Why didn't the jerk-GM just say "Don't take the knock spell because I don't like how it messes with other classes" rather than have players waste class features?

    And it's really really getting boring with you constantly portraying people who argue against you as if they're worshippers of the rules rather than just people who disagree with you.... Also... "Using x spell to do it's one and only purpose entirely as intended" != abusing rules or ruining peoples fun. What you described wasn't even a jerk player...
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    You know, its funny, this topic has been kicking around this board for years now, with at least one thread about it on the main page at any given time, and we still haven't really gotten around to solutions.

    We have pretty much determined that CMD exists in 3.X D&D (the jury is still out on most other games), but we are still arguing about whether it would be best to:

    A: Leave the imbalance where it is
    B: Bring martials up to the caster's level
    C: Bring casters down to the martial's level
    or D: Meet someplace in the middle

    I wonder if we will ever get past the hurdle and into the real work of actually figuring out how such a thing would be done.
    *Spoiler alert*

    NOPE! But at the same time yes, kinda, it's been done a few times. Some progress gets made and then things get sucked back into the vacuum of the debate. The key is to just ignore the people sidetracking the conversation. Best to go with a definitive statement in the opening post then try and keep things on track. Say something like "Yep, I know that there is another way of doing this however this is the way that I'm looking at addressing it now." But that's just the observation of a long time lurker.

    So far probably the most productive result of the debate is Grod's Law. Which is one of those obvious things which you constantly get tempted to break when designing. I actually put it up on my wall near my GM workstation.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    D&D (especially 3e) allows you to play at multiple power levels, thus succeeding fairly well at "being everything to everyone". The game is what your group makes of it. This, to me, is a feature*, not a bug.
    D&D doesn't allow play at multiple power levels -- as-written it presumes and inherently entails play across a wide extent of power levels, from zero to demigod. In order to play long term at a particular power level, the progression rules have to be ignored or modified.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So, yes, I'm a fan of leaving the imbalance, no matter how many times the Łbercharger upstages my tactically inept academia mage.
    Your "tactically inept academia mage" is an anomaly -- it's a deliberate avoidance of what's otherwise going to happen simply by the rules of the game, and doesn't represent what happens without that deliberate effort.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    If it is ever the case that they make an edition of D&D where Wizards are actually guaranteed to all the time always be better than muggles, then I'll be upset. Until then, I'm reasonably happy with the potential range of capabilities present in all classes (albeit not so much with the obfuscation and deceptive trap options).
    At least in 3.x and the like, it takes deliberate effort to not have wizards outstrip "muggles" by mid-levels.

    The very use of the word "muggles" here is pretty telling in a way you might not intend, actually.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    ... I have yet to play a point buy system that wasn't more broken in play than D&D. But, then again, I lack the same level of system mastery in other systems as I have in D&D, so it may just be that I autocorrect better in D&D than in other systems.
    HERO, 4th or 5th edition. Far less broken in-play than any edition of D&D, or d20 game, that I ever played.

    With a system like HERO, once you set the power level, that's typically the general area you're at (you rarely get zero to superhero, unless it's blatantly deliberate), and that's what you have to balance. With D&D, what's balanced at level X is often not balanced at level X+5 or level X-5, which are also fundamentally different levels of power.

    Also, there's a fundamental difference in how the overall communities approach the games. "Can I?" and "Should I?" are two very different questions, and it's my experience that the overall D&D community approaches character building from a "Can I?" perspective, and the overall HERO community approaches character building from a "Should I?" perspective. Look at the D&D-specific sections of these forums, and how many character-build threads are fundamentally about what is the most powerful combination of elements possible. If one were to compare that with the HERO forums when I was active there, most of the questions were framed as "Here's this character I want to play, how do I make this work in a game with the following premise and the following guidelines (CP total, damage and defense limits, etc)?"

    IME, D&D players tend to look at the rules as the limits of what they can do, to be pushed as hard as they can be pushed -- while HERO players tend to look at the rules as a toolkit for building the character they want to play within the context of the campaign and setting.


    E: please don't be offended if you are a counter-example to the trends I have long observed, I am not discounting your existence.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo v3 View Post
    ... that sounds like a giant jerk move. Why didn't the jerk-GM just say "Don't take the knock spell because I don't like how it messes with other classes" rather than have players waste class features?

    And it's really really getting boring with you constantly portraying people who argue against you as if they're worshippers of the rules rather than just people who disagree with you.... Also... "Using x spell to do it's one and only purpose entirely as intended" != abusing rules or ruining peoples fun. What you described wasn't even a jerk player...
    Oh, the knock spell worked, but everyone knows about the knock spell, so anti-knock magics and tech would exist. To think a second level spell will get you into any door is... stupid.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    Oh, the knock spell worked, but everyone knows about the knock spell, so anti-knock magics and tech would exist. To think a second level spell will get you into any door is... stupid.
    Knock vs anti-Knock... welcome to the low-level version of spell-vs-counterspell chess.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Hmmm... if the module says it's for 4 level X PCs, and a single level X Wizard can solo it (without shenanigans), then clearly the module is broken.
    Again, it sounds like you are getting the logic completely backwards. You really think the module is broken because it doesn't go out of its way to either explain on the box that some classes are much stronger than us or the module is not written in such a way that it somehow nerfs all the strong classes and buffs the weak ones?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    ... I have yet to play a point buy system that wasn't more broken in play than D&D. But, then again, I lack the same level of system mastery in other systems as I have in D&D, so it may just be that I autocorrect better in D&D than in other systems.
    My experience is pretty much the opposite, I have yet to see a point buy system that was as broken as 3.X. And those things that are broken in point buy systems are usually the result of a concentrated effort to break the game (like those passive galaxy destroying builds above) while 3.X is broken right out of the gate.

    The Angry GM had an interesting article on this recently, basically his point was that you are never going to fully foolproof a game, but you only really need to worry about the stuff that comes up in ordinary play. His rule of thumb is to count the number of "If, and then..."s in the exploit in question, the higher it gets the less you need to worry about it because it is probably a weird edge case or someone deliberately trying to monkey with the rules, both of which are better solved with an OOC discussion about player behavior than a flaw in the rule set.

    In my opinion most class based games offer balance and simplicity compared to a point buy games freedom and flexibility. The problem is that 3.X kind of failed on both counts so it is a sort of worst of both worlds hybrid. Also, with the way multi-classing and prestige classing are set up in many ways 3.X is a point buy system as much as a class based system, just a really weird clunky one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Barring certain shenanigans, 3e doesn't suffer from this as much as you make it sound, as limited spell slots is a thing. The optimal strategy for the Wizard is to leave the locks to the Rogue (if the party has one), because the Rogue can pick locks all day long without expending resources. The optimal strategy for the Wizard is to not throw summon spells, and leave the fighting to the Fighter (OK, really, the Rogue again, but don't tell the Fighter), because they can fight all day long without expending resources.
    In theory yes, which is why I have been arguing that balance in 3.X isn't really as bad as it is cracked up to be. The problems as I see it are:

    1: Spells per day isn't really a limitation. Most of the time there is no reason why you can't just rest after every spell and it is the optimal strategy to do so. It is very hard to keep constant time pressure on the party without frustrating everyone, breaking verisimilitude, or causing a TPK and most DM's I know don't even try anymore. Even if the DM does try and enforce wandering monsters or what not to break up a rest, there are plenty of spells which allow the players to rest outside of normal time and space without having to risk it.

    2: 3.X is super stingy with mundane abilities. Feats, ability scores, and saving throws are pretty hard to come by compared to other editions, and the skill system is just a mess, too few skill points, class skill lists are too small, there are too many skills (meaning they could combine a lot of them into one skill), and cross class skills are overly penalized. Casters suffer with this as well, but they have magical alternatives to most every mundane ability and don't really have to worry about it.

    3: Once you get to a certain point casters no longer have limitations no matter how you play. In my experience the ability to cast Gate and Shape-change are the big ones, at that point you can simply ignore any limits and use any ability in the game as often as you like.

    You can break the game further using questionable exploits like altering time flow with Genesis, using SLA wishes to create arbitrarily powerful magic items, conjured up Ice Assassins of deities, or go the pun-pun route and dig into manipulate form, but these are really just icing on the cake. Also, muggles can do them to with access to the right magic items, so they aren't really an issue with CMD or with base play IMO.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    ...D&D ''was'' a ''way'' because you, the player, made it that way. And you can still do that today.

    Some how people got the idea that ''if page 77 says X, we must do X all ways or it is not D&D''. And that is just the start of the problems.
    .
    As I'm sure your aware Darth, the DM (and really the whole table) make the rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    ...Dungeons and Dragons, The Underground and Wilderness Adventures, p. 36: "... everything herein is fantastic, and the best way is to decide how you would like it to be, and then make it that way."

    AD&D 1e, DMG, p. 9: "The game is the thing, and certain rules can be distorted or disregarded altogether in favor of play."

    AD&D 2E, DMG, p. 3: "At conventions, in letters, and over the phone, I'm often asked for the instant answer to a fine point of the game rules. More often than not, I come back with a question -- what do you feel is right? And the people asking the question discover that not only can they create an answer, but that their answer is as good as anyone else's. The rules are only guidelines."

    D&D 3.5 DMG, p. 6: "Good players will always realize that you have ultimate authority over the game mechanics, even superseding something in a rulebook."

    Overriding a rule for good reason isnít cheating. Itís part of the overall rules.

    [In fact, you could make an amusing case that demanding that the DM never make a ruling that violates a published rule is cheating - since the published rules say that she can.]...

    D&D 5e DMG, p. 263:: "As the Dungeon Master, You aren't limited by the rules in the Player's Handbook, the guidelines in this book, or the selection of monsters in the Monster Manual


    I'd describe most RPG's I've played as:
    1) GM describes a scene.
    2) Player says an action that their PC attempts.
    3) GM decides if the PC has no chance of success, no chance of failure, or a partial chance of success.
    4) If a partial chance of success, GM makes up on the spot a percentage chance of success.
    5) Player rolls dice. .
    6) If the player rolls under (or over) the made up number their PC succeeds in attempting the task, if over (or under) the PC fails.
    7) GM narrates the immediate consequences until it's time to again ask, "what do you do".
    8) Repeat.

    In general if the "system" let's me play:

    Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Robin Hood, the Seven Samurai, and Sinbad?: Yes!

    Avengers, James Bond, and the X-Men?: Eh nah.

    But I think that's just me.
    Grim specter of noogie hangs like shroud over us all


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    You're an NPC stat block."I remember when your race was your class you damned whippersnappers"
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    ...2d8HPos: the whole world is my lawn and I set it on fire!

  29. - Top - End - #869
    Troll in the Playground
     
    lesser_minion's Avatar

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    Oh, the knock spell worked, but everyone knows about the knock spell, so anti-knock magics and tech would exist. To think a second level spell will get you into any door is... stupid.
    If a single spell can't do something, why should a single skill check be able to do it?
    Thanks to Serpentine for the half-elf sorceress avatar.

  30. - Top - End - #870
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    Arbane's Avatar

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    May 2010

    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    Oh, the knock spell worked, but everyone knows about the knock spell, so anti-knock magics and tech would exist. To think a second level spell will get you into any door is... stupid.
    What anti-knock magic exists in D&D that doesn't also stop lockpicking?

    (And Lesser_minion beat me to it.)
    Last edited by Arbane; 2017-12-08 at 06:19 PM.
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
    Protip: DnD is an incredibly social game played by some of the most socially inept people on the planet - Lev
    I read this somewhere and I stick to it: "I would rather play a bad system with my friends than a great system with nobody". - Trevlac
    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    That said, trolling is entirely counterproductive (yes, even when it's hilarious).

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