This town is clear! #Dnd #RPG #StormKingsThunder

Fortune and fate found a disparate group traveling on the High Road. By chance, they shared a common destination, the hunting post named Nightstone. Onward they went. A young Dragonborn, Donaar, the hope of his small village, outfitted with all the equipment a poor town could afford. The sage Squavite, abroad for the first time in search of new knowledge. The hardened Yisaan, an elf raised in mercenary camps with a rough view of the world. And the mysterious Netero, with his blue skin and hair, and quiet ways.

When they reached the town of Nightstone young Donaar and Squavite voiced their concerns that it should be so quiet and the drawbridge down and open to all. Yisaan and Netero, anxious to accomplish what they were here for chose not to acknowledge the others fears and walked into the village.

Only to discover a pair of large Worgs feasting on the scraps of a carcass in the square. The creatures charged. Yisaan ran for high ground, while Netero tried to stand his ground. A vicious bite from a Worg took Netero down. Donaar stepped up and valiantly fought the other to a stand still. While Squavite used his arcane powers to vanquish the last creature.

While Donaar tried to tend to Netero, Yisaan and Squavite began to explore the nearest building, a temple to Mielikki. In their exploration they came upon 2 goblins enjoying their time in the temple, looting all that was of value, and now making a racket with the church bell. Donaar was able to spy another pair of goblins making their way across the square, and shot one down with his crossbow.

Yisaan and Squavite were able to dispatch the 2 goblins in the temple, ending the racket of the church bell. Donaar moved Netero to the safety of the temple while the other goblin ran. And then retrieved the one he had wounded and brought him to the temple as well.

While exploring the temple and searching the goblins Yisaan and Squavite found numerous treasures that the goblins had looted. Yisaan, thinking that it was his by rights, pocketed one of the items. An argument ensued while the party caught their breath in the comparative safety of the temple building. However, the argument was cut short by the smell of smoke.

The goblins had surrounded the building and were hoping to smoke out the party with fire arrows. Yisaan, realizing that the only normal way out was guarded, chose to make his own exit by leaping through one of the church windows. Squavite attempted to follow, reaching the window ledge, only to knocked out when Donaar threw the captive goblin out the same window. Donaar eventually came out the same window.

With the rest of the party out of the Temple, Netero bided his time and waited for an opportunity to rush out and charge the goblins. Donaar provided that chance when he charged into the pack of goblins. Netero rushed from the church and took the goblins from behind. Not in time to prevent Donaar from being knocked to the ground, but before the goblins were able to rush the rest of the party.

With the felling of the last goblin, the party took stock. They had captured four of the horrid little creatures while killing ten others, as well as 2 Worgs. As they bandaged Donaar, a young woman came out of the building that was likely the town Inn. Giving her name of Kella, a recent arrival to the town. She described an attack by Cloud Giants, who took the fabled obsidian megalith that had given the town its name. She also said that she was expecting friends to arrive that day.

Continue reading “This town is clear! #Dnd #RPG #StormKingsThunder”

Pondering a modern dilemma #RPG #DND

Friday afternoon I got into it on Twitter with the AngryGM about online purchases versus going to your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS). It got pretty heated back and forth. I think mainly I was viewing it as an interesting discussion while he was focused on winning his point. That is not what is important. What is important is the discussion itself.

Here’s the thing. I am not a model ‘buy local’ consumer. I don’t buy books, I borrow them from the library. I don’t buy music, I borrow it. I prefer to get electronic copies of things I will be using a lot, like game books. And when I see an outstanding offer like the Pathfinder bundle I talked about a few weeks ago I go ahead and get it rather than buying the hardback copies of all those books, either online or from my FLGS. I know that I am not the model for buying things locally.

But that is not my point. If I want to learn about a game, especially a new one, I do go buy it at the Gamers Haven, my FLGS of choice. I know that if I want to just browse figures, supplies or other game books I can just pop into the store and check it all out. And I do make it a point to try to buy things from the store when I can. For example, one of my monthly treat purchases will be to get Curse of Strahd from the store next week.

This argument/discussion we had last week happened because I saw a tweet from someone stating that they saw no reason to pay $50 for a book at the store when he could get the same thing for 10-15$ less online. And I responded, probably a little too harshly, that I hoped they would be happy trying to find other gamers or more supplies when their local store closed. And Angry called me out. He said he could get any supplies he needed or wanted online. And he could always find new gamers online. So why spend that extra money to the FLGS?

My biggest point was that most people learned about games and in some cases how to play games by going to the FLGS. And that the game companies were terrible about producing games that were easy to introduce on their own. That the FLGS served a necessary bridge there.

I granted that it made little economic sense to pay that extra money for that service. If you look at it purely in terms of economic value, the FLGS occupies a disappearing economic niche. But I don’t think that is the only role of that store. When I buy at that store I pay for the knowledge and expertise of the staff. I pay for the space where I have the option to play. I pay for the ability to browse around and look at a variety of products. I know there is an economic term for that added value, even if it escapes me at the moment.

Now maybe I am sympathetic because I have been frequenting the same couple of stores for close to 3 decades now, buying things from the same people over 2 stores. So I am vested in the success of those FLGS. But I still think that the staff at the store provides a value that makes my extra cost worth it.

Let me take a moment to discuss what I get when I go to my FLGS, which will help prove my point. And contrast with some experiences I had with my favorite local bookstore and record store. First, the store has what I want, or they can order it, this is not a big chain store that always carries the same inventory and anything else is hit or miss. I could say that for the book and record stores I frequented in my youth. Second, the staff is very knowledgeable about their products, able to describe a game, explain how it works, or even provide a demonstration. Not something you will ever get online or at a big chain. And the local record and book stores definitely had that for the most part. Third, the game store provides a space where people can play their games or watch others play in order to see them in action. Definitely not an experience you will get in a big chain. To some extent you could skim a book or hear part of a record in the bookstore but this is more something that is unique to the hobby. Now there is a growing trend online where companies will have recordings of people playing their games so you can see them in action; but obviously, you cannot play the game yourself.  Fourth, because there are like minded people playing your games there you can find people to play with; or post on a bulletin board where you can post a request for other players. No way to get that in a chain store. And yes there are online forums where you can locate gamers in your area so the online experience is not a total negative here.

What all that boils down is that if you are paying the markup (where there is one) to buy at your FLGS you are paying for 2 things you cannot get online. The staff knowledge, and a game space. Now the staff knowledge can be a toss up, not every staff has friendly people, or knowledgeable. And for various reasons, not every store will offer space. So those elements are not guaranteed at every FLGS. Which means that it makes perfect sense to take the approach that the FLGS is passe. And I understand that approach. But I think that is more a case to open an FLGS that makes your purchases worth it, rather than shut them out of the economic chain.

All that being said, I do have to point something out. The original Monster Manual, sold in 1978, was priced at $9.95 and was 112 page. If you calculated the straight inflationary value that $9.95 becomes $36.16 in current dollars. The latest Monster Manual for 5th E is $49.95 and at 350 pages is nearly triple in size. So you are paying $13.79 for more than double the content. Some might say that some of the content in the book is fluff, but there are at minimum stat blocks for over 400 different creatures, by comparison, there were 350 monsters in that first Monster manual. And one could easily argue that the quality of the new books is much, much higher. So in economic terms, you are getting a better deal with the new books than has been previously available. Paying that suggested retail value instead of an online discount does not mean that you are getting an inferior product.

Into the Tomb #RPG #DND

25083475090_cf60f4665e_z.jpg

Approaching the Obelisk that marked the entrance to the tomb Tyria and Kildrak both sensed that something was different. A little investigation indicated that some other people, humans, had been here recently. But the numbers and how long ago were impossible to determine.

In the entry room, they did notice that the first door was locked. And Tyria happened to notice that there was a string attached to the door on the other side, just catching it in a trick of the light that was visible on the other side of the door. Nisaven was able to burn the string away with a little arcane fire before the group quietly unlocked the door.

The group quietly crept through the corridors, led by Kildrak. Until he came into the second entry room, only to find two human soldiers in strange armor standing guard behind a makeshift wooden barricade.

“What do we have here? A Stunt? begone Stunt, you and the pecks behind you, this is not your place.”

At the word of the insults Nisaven reacted immediately. Casting a fireball into the room, which flared into brightness. At the same time, Kildrak and Tyria had rushed into the room to punish the humans for their insults.

This damage was too much for the guards, both falling. Tyria followed by peering down the corridor behind the guards, followed by Nisaven and Alecto. Gromly joined Kildrak in examining the arms and armor of these strangely armored guards.

Which meant the 2 dwarves were the only ones in the room when the rest of the guards and the rogue Senetio emerged from their hidden guard room. Gromly and Kildrak stood to fight the guards. Only to have Nisaven pop back into the room and unleash his Wand of Fear. Which caused the soldiers, Senetio and Kildrak to all flee the room in different directions.

While this was happening Tyria had come upon the Priest Ripanus in the temple Sanctuary. The Priest reacted with anger at the presence of this little creature and flung insults. To which Tyria responded by leaping upon the altar and unleashing a fusillade of blows from her staff and feet. The Priest was stunned, called upon the power of his God, but it was too late.

Kildrak by this time had recovered from his fear but was unable to keep pace with Senetio as he fled, so he returned to the room. While Gromly held the door to the guards room, in case they recovered.

Having overcome the Priest, Tyria and Nisaven moved to investigate the Sanctuary. And opened the hidden door on the opposite side just as Gaius and Proculius were coming to investigate all of the explosions. 

Proculius employed a spell to freeze Tyria. And Gaius shoved her aside to find other foes. At this time, Kildrak had finally returned and moved to battle Gaius. A fierce fight then ensued. While Nisaven and Alecto tried to overcome the magics of Proculius. 

Eventually, Kildrak was able to overcome Gaius, and Tyria was able to rise and vanquish Proculius. While Gromly found and finished the remaining soldiers. Only Senetio was able to escape the party’s wrath. Having fled, stealing Nisaven’s war pony. Gromly assured the party that there was no way that a man with no supplies or winter clothing could survive long out in the elements. 

Continue reading “Into the Tomb #RPG #DND”

Across the tundra #DND #RPG

25083475090_cf60f4665e_z.jpg

“Kildrak Trahoun, you are now officially a member of the Hold Guard of Cold Rock Hold. With the privilege of wearing the armor and arms of the Hold Guard. And with the responsibility to come at those times the Hold is in danger and requires your assistance.”

With that pronouncement, Kildrak and his party finished their purchase of supplies and headed west into the frozen tundra of the Alto Desierto. It was the depths of winter when they left the comforts of the Dwarven Hold. The cold winds swept the desolate plains as they travelled along the slowly dwindling Serpent River.

Those winds soon brought a snow storm. And with the snow, they began to hear the howls of wolves in the air. A pack had picked up the party’s scent. With the winds and the storm that gradually built into the intensity of a terrible blizzard, it was not possible to determine what direction the wolves were coming from or how far they were. 

The group kept moving through the storm. The gnomes huddled up into the furs on the cart. And the dwarves helped lead the ponies through snow that at times was chest high. And the howls continued in the winds.

Eventually, the snow abated, and the group found a bend in the river, now more of a creek than a river, to make a camp. And it was there that the wolves found them.

The initial rush of wolves came from 2 directions, the smaller wolves leading the way. Nisaven tried to use his Wand of fear to repel one group, but the hunger of the wolves drove them on. Tyria dashed through the snow to knock down a wolf. Kildrak squared off to fight others. And Gromly called upon the powers of Moradin to bring forth fires that decimated those wolves coming from the other direction. But the wolves came on, larger Dire wolves now joining the fray.

Vicious hand to hand combat now ensued as Kildrak began to slaughter the wolves with his hammer and shield. Nisaven continued to unleash the power of his spells. And Tyria, now hastened by the powers of Alecto, was a whirling ball of destruction.But the wolves came on, as the Winter Wolves, leaders of the Pack made their appearance.

After yet another brutal round of battle, the Winter Wolves realized that this was not a fight they would win, and there must be easier prey. They turned and fled. Leaving the rest of their pack upon the ground. And the party was able to pass the rest of the night in peace and recover before continuing their journey west.

Continue reading “Across the tundra #DND #RPG”

Having a Eureka moment today #RPG #DND

I sat down at lunch today and began reading a new book. Well, technically it was a selection from a book, with the option to buy the whole book. As I read I began to notice it, a different approach to the book, or a different view of the book. Then it hit me. All this running of games and the pursuit of getting better at running games has had an effect on how I do one of my favorite things: read.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love to read. Reading still gives me same pleasure. That is not what has changed. I don’t think that will ever change. That is one of those things that makes me who I am. I imagine that there are still people from elementary school who think of me as the kid who sat and read books during recess instead of running around playing games.

What has changed, or at least, has increased in prominence, is that when I read a book, especially one I have not read before or it has been a long time since I read, is that I find myself thinking if I could incorporate what I am reading into a game. Questions spring to mind like, could I put this location into my setting? What class would that character be? I look for details that indicate how the author has settled the question of where magic belongs in the setting. How would I run the setting?

Even more significantly is that I realized today I am looking at the structure of the book differently, comparing it to running a game. If you think about how you run your games, breaking them down into encounters, and the kind of scientific approach that AngryGM takes, you could do the same thing to a book. Each chapter is an encounter, or a series of encounters, that brings them to the next location.

Thinking this through, breaking it down like this, changes a lot of things. It gives me a fresh perspective on how I plan my games. It also changes how I read a book because I start to look for the breaks in the action because that provides an idea how an encounter was built in that book.

As I sit here writing this and thinking it over I realize what a eureka moment it is for me. It changes how I read fiction books. It really changes how I look at my campaigns and encounters. Because now when I plan my games I will look at each planned encounter and think, would this be a satisfying chapter or section (because some writers write short encounters that string together into a coherent chapter while others just write short chapters.)

I would be the first to admit that a lot of the games I ran in previous years were either monster(s) of the week flavor or everything strung together into one incoherent chapter. With this moment, I would hope that I can do much better. That I can apply this eureka moment to my game planning.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about things I can do to get better, and how I would know that I got better. If I can apply this lesson successfully I would consider this a level up moment in my career as a GM. I am now officially extra excited for the game tomorrow and trying to apply this thinking to the session.

 

Finding that correct mix #RPG #DND

Let’s be real honest here. Playing role playing games is effectively make believe for older people, be they kids or adults. Players and the GM are asked to pretend to be something they are not, react to things that are not happening, and use skills and powers they do not have. That is the appeal for a lot of people, it is fun to get that escape.

There are as many different approaches to  games as there are fictional book genres. You have the hard science fiction. The more rollicking Space Opera, and Space fantasy. There are spy novels, murder mysteries, romance novels (yes I imagine there are role players out there who run games like a romance novel.) Historical fantasy, high fantasy, gritty low fantasy. You name the fictional genre and there is a game system out there for you.

Our Denver game is high fantasy mixed with horror. There is magic everywhere, in everything. And the big bad guys are trying to claim the world in the name of undead. And we as players embrace that. We have a Priest of Thor who is doing all that he can to embody Thor. A gnome sorcerer who has assembled a menagerie of creatures as pets. It is a fun mix, as the GM loves the challenge of us accumulating a massive collection of terribly powerful magic items, and yet somehow is always able to scare us with every battle.

The first game I ran with the boys I tried that. It was Monty Haul. I really didn’t set any limits on what they could accumulate. And they had fun with it. But I discovered that was not really my cup of tea. I didn’t much enjoy playing the arms race. I had a story I wanted to tell, and it involved continually challenging them, and that became difficult and boring.

With my new campaign, I did two things. One, I went back to D&D 5E, instead of Pathfinder. Because 5E intentionally created a system without rules for creating magic items. With the goal of to creating settings where magic items were uncommon. It is still possible to run heavy magic, but not as easy. Two, I designed a setting where magic items (and even heavy armor) are simply hard to come by. I wanted the boys to get excited by the seemingly mundane; a suit of heavy armor, a magical potion or scroll, a cache of expensive trade goods instead of jewelry.

So, now I have this world where I have carefully reasoned out why things work a certain way. No one has suits of heavy armor because of a scarcity of refined materials out on the frontier plus the tactics of the military have advanced past the days of heavy knights. And there are a number of things like that out there. This is not a setting where magic is commonplace.

The downside is that if you place too much emphasis on logical reasons for these things, and the fact that it is a low magic setting, you can set yourself a trap. Because if the players get used to things making logical sense, when you do spring magic on them they will argue with you. And you get questions like how can that dragon just fly away? It can because it is a magical dragon, suspend your disbelief. That mix is hard to navigate. But it is what I am trying to adhere to in my campaign setting.

The upside will be that when they do get magic items they will treasure them. And when they do perform magic or see magic performed it will be a much bigger deal. And I think that with everything that characters get in D&D 5E as far as abilities and powers that magic items are not as necessary. Right up until I unleash creatures that need magic to hit…

Time to evaluate some more tools #DND #RPG

If I had to name the thing that intrigues me the most about role-playing games in recent years it would be technology and tools. I remember when I was young having a vision of a table where the players could all have a station where they could see up to date character information on a screen, send notes to each other electronically, and the GM could direct everything in the same fashion. And today that is certainly possible. But not all of that is really all that much fun or practical. But what is out there are a wealth of tools. And I recently decided to look at what tools I am using and maybe update or refresh what I use.

For example, every good game has maps. I am not what you would call an artist. Much of what I create for maps is pretty basic. And I have gone back and forth on what I use to make my maps. I have created some with Paint on the computer. I have created some by hand with pencils and paper. And I will admit that I was still not real happy with either one. But the boys campaign has reached the point where they do need a map. Or, at least, I need one to keep track of where they are and where they have been. I had created one by hand, using pencils and graph paper:

Alto Desierto (1).jpeg

Pretty primitive, right? And I am always the first to admit my handwriting (or scrawl) is awful. But I wanted to give them some idea of where they were and what their goal was. Yesterday I realized that I could scan that picture, and then attack it with Paint. Which I did and I am happier about what I can now show them.

Alto Desierto

It is still not spectacular, but it does a far better job of communicating where they are, and the differences in the terrain. The thing is, many years ago, when I was creating a whole massive world, drawn on big pieces of poster board, none of these tools were even there. And that makes a difference in my game.

I mentioned on Friday that I was going to try to convert my notes to Evernote. And I did a lot of that on Friday. I have not tried to run a game using it yet, but I do think that it will be a little easier. This is not so much about tools I didn’t have, as about using different tools. I have had the option to type out my notes for quite some time, just haven’t made an effort to do so until now. But I can already see it being much easier for me, which is the point of using tools.

Last, I love my Character Sheet app I use: Fight Club by Lion’s Den. It really does pretty much everything I could ask for in an App. And I use the companion GM Aid from the same company, and that has been awful handy as well. All of this being a far cry from the days of chewing through reams of paper. But I have seen a lot of recommendations for Hero Lab. And I am thinking that I might have to take the plunge and try that for a change. It is more of an investment. But it does support multiple platforms and games, which would make it easier for me to have the same format for multiple games.

I am not going the full on and use one of the online platforms yet. Although I can see the appeal for the right group of using those. But my groups are not ready for that yet. The Denver game is too full of grumpy older guys to go full on electronic. And the boys are too immature, would probably end up playing games instead of focusing on our game. That is an option for another time.

As you can see I am still adapting, bridging the gap between pen & paper versus electronics. I can see how I would go full electronic at some point very easily. I think it would be a lot of fun to play that way. I am definitely enjoying the versatility of what is out there and embracing the new when it makes sense.

 

Where does it all come from? #RPG #DnD

The Angry GM published a fascinating article today about inspiration. He made a good point in it about how the real key to inspiration for creatives is keeping your mind open, and not constantly analyzing content and trying to find flaws. Which is crucial to me. People are often amazed when I tell them I like certain things, like the Star Wars prequels. And I think that one of the reasons I like so many of these things is because of that idea of keeping an open mind, and just enjoying the show.

The other point that is not mentioned in the article is allowing a lot of input. I read fantasy fiction, science fantasy. Lately, I have even been picking up and reading some comic books if I can get them in a consolidated form. This week I put some of the official 5E published adventures on hold at the library, just to read through them, not because I intend to run them. Yesterday I was reading through the spell lists section of the Players Handbook, just to get some ideas, and be sure I understood them.

I watch a lot of TV shows. I have my comic book hero TV shows: Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Agent Carter, Agents of Shield, Supergirl. I have other TV shows like Vikings, Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, that I watch out of interest and also for creative ideas. All of these give me ideas in one form or another while also providing entertainment.

One thing that Angry did not mention was his video games. He is not shy in his writing about admitting that he mines his favorite video games for ideas, plot structure, adventure design. If I played video games I would be all over that, but I am just late to game there. But he plays them with the same approach, keeping an open mind.

I know that I have gone on before about my many sources of inspiration. And this seems like I am just repeating that. Which I am, but with the goal of pointing out that I embrace all of this input without analyzing it too deeply because I know that it is all input. Input that I can then turn around and turn into inspiration for my games.

The only negative to all of this is that I often get side tracked. I read something, or watch something, and think that would be a cool thing to introduce. And it really does not fit at all. Like watching Pirates of the Caribean the other day, thinking how cool it would be to run a sea encounter. And then realizing that there is no ocean anywhere close to where I have the campaign. I do have to watch that. Try writing out my ideas first, see if they fit into the overall campaign before I actually insert them.

As an aside, I am trying out new tools for keeping track of all this. I have some iCloud Notes, which clutters up that tool that we use around the home. I was keeping docs in Google Docs, but did not like the iOS interface for that. I have been using Pages recently, which is good for long form writing. But not so good if I just want to jot down an idea. Because with all of this inspiration, and ideas running around my head, it would be smart to have some place to keep those ideas. So I am going back to using Evernote for a time, just because it might work better for this sort of thing. We will see.

Handling one of THE big issues, role playing style #RPG #DnD

If you follow me on my personal blog you will know that I make no secret of my own atheism. And my kids are getting raised in a similar fashion, not intentionally, it is just how it is working out. And for better or worse, like attracts like so my sons friends that are in the game are not from heavy church going families (which is why we can run games on Sundays for one thing.) That is a personal introduction into what I think is a very interesting subject: role playing and religions.

By the time I first started playing D&D I was pretty well versed in ancient mythology. I still own my well thumbed copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. And I had exhausted the library of books on Norse mythology. So when I started role playing I had those ideas in my head. But not any real idea how things like a Cleric would interact. Than I got this book:

Deities_&_Demigods_(front_cover,_first_edition).jpg
I still own the 1st Ed.

The Deities & Demigods book did three things. First, it helped me think of Clerics as something beyond some stereotypical Crusader type. Second, it introduced me to a number of mythologies that I was not aware of before, and was very educational. Third, because I got the first edition I learned about Elric, and the Michael Moorcock books. And that really got me thinking about worlds outside of Earth and Middle Earth. And even more interesting it got me thinking about Gods who would interact with characters. I know that is common in the Ancient Earth mythologies but it was not the same.

Which meant that I began thinking of how I would play a Cleric differently now. And looked at characters in books differently as well. Perhaps the next most influential fictional character for me along these lines is Tempus Thales from the Thieves World books. Because as my friend remarked Tempus assumes the Avatar of his God, Vashanka, on earth. That really ups the ante from being just a Priest or Cleric. And introduces a whole different level of power and possibilities.

So by now I really get the idea of how this system works. Of a Cleric following certain restrictions because that is how his God teaches. And then being able to turn around and perform certain things on behalf of his God. Understanding that makes the role playing of a Cleric in games like D&D and Pathfinder a lot of fun.

But here’s the thing. In a group of experienced gamers like my Denver game running that kind of character is easy. But in running a game with the boys, they just do not have that understanding and background. All they know is that a Cleric casts different spells, can heal, and gets to wear armor. So the role playing aspect of being a Priest is kind of lost on them. Which is kind of sad. Because one of the things we have a lot fun with in our Denver game is the fact that we have 2 Clerics and a Paladin, all following different Gods, and therefore getting into contests about whose God can do what.

And one of the harder parts of using a home brew campaign is that you have to create a new pantheon. But, since none of the boys is playing a Cleric I didn’t really have to create one. Now Danny is playing a Dwarf Priest, but I can give him the name of a Dwarf God, and he is good. So it is very different running a game with new teenagers instead of experienced players when the question of religion comes up.

I did take some time to create names for all the 5E Clerical domains when I first began to put together the campaign. But since none of them have even come up I can just bag that. Instead the approach I will use from here out is a dualistic pantheon: Good God, Bad God. And if a Cleric takes up a certain domain it is more a question of how a religious order teaches, like the different Catholic Religious Orders. From a game mechanics perspective it will have no impact. But from a story perspective it makes things much easier. So that’s how I tackle on of THE big issues in my campaigns.

 

Preferring one does not mean dislike of the other #DnD #Pathfinder #RPG

Thinking about my Denver game of Pathfinder this weekend. Thinking about my character, what could I do to make him better, and things like that. And it occurs to me that one of the issues I have with Pathfinder is the escalation of target numbers. And what I prefer about 5th Edition. But just because I like the solution in one game does not mean I don’t like the other. It is a matter of preferences.

Here’s the thing about Pathfinder. After a certain level the target numbers get kind of crazy. Let’s say that an Easy task has a target number of 10, a Hard is 15, Difficult is 20 etc. Now those numbers make sense below a certain level. But currently my character is 10th level, and between skill points, ability modifiers, and magic items my most used skills are sitting at a base level of 16, which means he makes Hard stuff look Easy, Difficult is really only moderate etc. So what does the GM do in that situation? They either say that the players can perform pretty much every task he sets in their way with ease. Or they adjust the modifiers along with the players skill levels, but the draw back is that someone without that skill now has no chance of being able to get lucky. Which means that people are forced to specialize in skills, and then everyone in the party has to stay alive in order to address any difficulty, there is no room for a generalist. Which means that at any given point more than half of the party becomes on lookers instead of participants, and that is no fun.

The D&D 5E solution to this was to simplify things, and get away from the gradual escalation of skills. So that even the untrained characters have some chance at any given test. Which makes things easier for the GM, because they do not have to constantly adjust the difficulty levels.

But, and this is funny, you can do so much more with the Skills and Feats in Pathfinder than you can in D&D 5E. In that sense I prefer Pathfinder, as someone who spent a large number of years playing skill based systems like GURPS, Shadowrun and Savage Worlds I like Skill systems. Even though our GM doesn’t necessarily give us much chance to do so I like the idea that if we ran into a situation where we needed X skill that my character could step up.

See, I think that you either keep skills general like 5E, with a set target number. Or you go whole hog and have everything become a skill based system like a GURPS. Pathfinder is kind of an odd middle ground. But I could easily see how you could run a game with the system that played up the skills far more than we do.

You could easily see this as a critique of Pathfinder. And I certainly see that. But Pathfinder is a far more complex system than 5E. There is so much more that you can do with the system. It certainly is easier to adjust the monsters. And I really like the concepts behind magic item construction (of course there effectively are no rules for that in 5E.) So it is not a question of one being worse than the other, they are just different. It is just that certain solutions to problems work better for me in one system than another.