some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

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beermotor
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some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by beermotor »

DCC just begs to be tinkered with, which is probably one of my favorite things about the system. I've done a few different things in my various tabletop groups and online in the play by post thing (sorry I just don't have time to devote to that stuff anymore). Some thoughts:

1. I tried not playing with clerics, but I think it was not a success. Some might argue that clerics aren't canon or not Appendix N, but I've read the Bible and am rereading it along with reading the Qur'an this year (I read Shakespeare's plays, all of them, in 2014), and I think clerics have to be present in the game. The PROBLEM WITH CLERICS isn't clerics per se, but how they get played in games or used in "high fantasy" literature. We tend to conflate a cleric into a hegemonic church, more appropriate to the late middle ages than the early period. I think that's where the problem is. A better way, maybe, to look at clerics in DCC, is to treat them almost IDENTICALLY to wizards: a God is just a patron with an agenda for the cleric (who might be better played as a prophet). I mean, look, imagine if somebody really did lay hands on someone else and healed their wounds. This would be astounding, and terrifying, and awe inspiring... just like if somebody parted the sea, or turned sticks into snakes, or (in the case of wizards) conjured up a demon or lightning bolts from their fingertips. Jesus and Moses got mobbed by people, who were both for and against them. Muhammad (who performed no overt miracles, far as I've read so far) cobbled together a huge following, too, both for and against. There are other examples from eastern traditions, the wandering monk-teacher types, things like that. Let your Appendix N clerics be these, not crusader/templar things from the 13th-14th century.

2. I still don't like the way armor is portrayed in most RPGs, but the AC system might be the best way to do it. I am still fiddling trying to come up with an easy way to have armor absorb and protect from damage/hits, to make wearing no armor (Conan-style) more viable as a strategy, particularly as you progress, but it's not easy. And this is excruciatingly hard to do with DCC's critical hit/fumble system. It almost requires a total re-write. I'm not giving up just yet, but... I'm probably getting closer to it, heh.

3. I'm working on a weapon speed/initiative change proposal. The goal is to pull in a little bit of the (completely, totally unwieldy and unusable) matrix from Greyhawk Supplement I / AD&D, or at least the principle, and make initiative balanced a bit based on what kinds of gear you're using. Thus, thieves or others using small, light weapons ought to naturally be quicker than somebody swinging a heavy axe. Consequently, somebody swinging a heavy axe, if it hits, ought to be nasty. So there's a tradeoff. Also, the idea is to flesh out the weapon list a bit, to differentiate them somewhat and give a little bit more incentive for someone to choose to use, say, a shortbow versus a longbow, or a shortsword versus a longsword, or a pole-arm for any reason (I mean, have ANY of you EVER had a player in a tabletop game us a pole-arm? aside from a 0 level... be honest. And yet, these should be WAY more common than swords...).

4. I tried forcing my wizard player to sort of come up with his own magic spells, I thought this would give him more ownership in the character and be interesting, etc. But it wasn't particularly productive. Probably the best thing to do is to use the RAW spells, but somehow tweak them to the character -- either through the Patron (e.g., requiring particular components) or through a randomized table. Tables are always a fun option, of course.

That's it for now.

Also if anybody is in Atlanta and wants to run a game, I'd love to PLAY instead of run for a while. I can help run, too, but taking lead on running a game is too much of a time commitment for me with my work and family life right now.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by beermotor »

One other thing:

5. Alignment. This has always been a hard thing. There is a tendency among veteran gamers, especially I've noticed when playing DCC, towards "neutral" alignment. Well, really it's more an inclination towards self-preservation. It completely loses the heroic aspects of Appendix N, and which was really prominent in the biography of Gygax that I read, Empire of Imagination (GREAT read, btw; I really didn't have an appreciation for Gygax very much, but after reading that book I gained a lot of admiration for the guy). How in the world do you incentivize people to play lawful, and heroically? I know, I know, "you're no hero" but that's only great for a funnel. You can't have a campaign with funnel survivors who are a bunch of self-centered cockroaches who abandon everyone and everything when the troll appears. I've come to see the alignment spectrum as really less about the Law-Chaos continuum of Elric and more of a pure selfishness spectrum, with lawful people placing others interests above theirs, and chaotic people doing the complete opposite. A good example, I thought, was the recent Walking Dead episode where the wolf guy who had been captured and was injured was trying to escape with the lesbian doctor, a purely selfish act, and he even had this weird crazy psycho "i'm being completely reasonable and you know it" thing going on; I mean for me, this guy was a perfect chaotic, the consummate "murder-hobo" of RPG lore. But then when she's not able to make it up the ladder, he saves her from a walker, and then gets bitten, but stays with her after that. To me, this was almost a Raistlin-like transformation from chaotic to lawful, from completely selfish to maybe starting to redeem himself... right before he got capped by Carol, heh. Well, anyway, it's not easy to figure out, I guess. I guess all I'm saying is I still struggle to explain alignment to players, and struggle with how they play it after that.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by Raven_Crowking »

beermotor wrote:2. I still don't like the way armor is portrayed in most RPGs, but the AC system might be the best way to do it. I am still fiddling trying to come up with an easy way to have armor absorb and protect from damage/hits, to make wearing no armor (Conan-style) more viable as a strategy, particularly as you progress, but it's not easy. And this is excruciatingly hard to do with DCC's critical hit/fumble system. It almost requires a total re-write. I'm not giving up just yet, but... I'm probably getting closer to it, heh.
Allow Mighty Deeds to boost AC equal to the roll, so that even a "1" gives a bonus. Only if you are wearing no armor.

Of course, Conan does wear armor when he can. Far more often than many people realize.
3. I'm working on a weapon speed/initiative change proposal. The goal is to pull in a little bit of the (completely, totally unwieldy and unusable) matrix from Greyhawk Supplement I / AD&D, or at least the principle, and make initiative balanced a bit based on what kinds of gear you're using. Thus, thieves or others using small, light weapons ought to naturally be quicker than somebody swinging a heavy axe. Consequently, somebody swinging a heavy axe, if it hits, ought to be nasty. So there's a tradeoff. Also, the idea is to flesh out the weapon list a bit, to differentiate them somewhat and give a little bit more incentive for someone to choose to use, say, a shortbow versus a longbow, or a shortsword versus a longsword, or a pole-arm for any reason (I mean, have ANY of you EVER had a player in a tabletop game us a pole-arm? aside from a 0 level... be honest. And yet, these should be WAY more common than swords...).
I have had my own PCs use various polearms in AD&D 1e.

I would also recommend encouraging that thief to use Luck to modify Initiative. Otherwise, you should consider the effects of reach as well as of weapon speed. The guy with the spear may strike before the guy with the dagger just because his reach is considerably better.
4. I tried forcing my wizard player to sort of come up with his own magic spells, I thought this would give him more ownership in the character and be interesting, etc. But it wasn't particularly productive. Probably the best thing to do is to use the RAW spells, but somehow tweak them to the character -- either through the Patron (e.g., requiring particular components) or through a randomized table. Tables are always a fun option, of course.
I have had players rename their spells based on Mercurial Magic and Manifestation.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by beermotor »

Raven_Crowking wrote:
beermotor wrote:2. I still don't like the way armor is portrayed in most RPGs, but the AC system might be the best way to do it. I am still fiddling trying to come up with an easy way to have armor absorb and protect from damage/hits, to make wearing no armor (Conan-style) more viable as a strategy, particularly as you progress, but it's not easy. And this is excruciatingly hard to do with DCC's critical hit/fumble system. It almost requires a total re-write. I'm not giving up just yet, but... I'm probably getting closer to it, heh.
Allow Mighty Deeds to boost AC equal to the roll, so that even a "1" gives a bonus. Only if you are wearing no armor.

Of course, Conan does wear armor when he can. Far more often than many people realize.
True enough. But modeling it in system is tough. I feel like it ought to make logical sense. THAC0 never made any real sense, it's just an arbitrary rule set; d20 improved that a bit but it's still a little clunky. The basic question is WHAT IS ARMOR, and the systems mostly all answer IT IS A DIFFICULTY NUMBER TO HIT YOUR TARGET. I'm just not crazy about that answer.
Raven_Crowking wrote:
beermotor wrote:3. I'm working on a weapon speed/initiative change proposal. The goal is to pull in a little bit of the (completely, totally unwieldy and unusable) matrix from Greyhawk Supplement I / AD&D, or at least the principle, and make initiative balanced a bit based on what kinds of gear you're using. Thus, thieves or others using small, light weapons ought to naturally be quicker than somebody swinging a heavy axe. Consequently, somebody swinging a heavy axe, if it hits, ought to be nasty. So there's a tradeoff. Also, the idea is to flesh out the weapon list a bit, to differentiate them somewhat and give a little bit more incentive for someone to choose to use, say, a shortbow versus a longbow, or a shortsword versus a longsword, or a pole-arm for any reason (I mean, have ANY of you EVER had a player in a tabletop game us a pole-arm? aside from a 0 level... be honest. And yet, these should be WAY more common than swords...).
I have had my own PCs use various polearms in AD&D 1e.
You lie. LIAR LIAR LIAR I demand proof of this. :shock:
Raven_Crowking wrote:
beermotor wrote:4. I tried forcing my wizard player to sort of come up with his own magic spells, I thought this would give him more ownership in the character and be interesting, etc. But it wasn't particularly productive. Probably the best thing to do is to use the RAW spells, but somehow tweak them to the character -- either through the Patron (e.g., requiring particular components) or through a randomized table. Tables are always a fun option, of course.
I have had players rename their spells based on Mercurial Magic and Manifestation.
That is a great idea that I had not thought of. I shall yoink it. :mrgreen:
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by ForrestAguirre »

Not to skew everything off topic, but I have run characters with polearms and really enjoyed it. The key is having a DM that allows you to attack over the shoulder of the front rank (presuming your character is tall enough and the person in front of her is short enough). Weapon speed, in that case, isn't much of an issue unless you are flanked (which doesn't happen in a confined corridor, but can be tricky as heck on open ground).

Just thought I'd share that. :)
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by Raven_Crowking »

ForrestAguirre wrote:Not to skew everything off topic, but I have run characters with polearms and really enjoyed it. The key is having a DM that allows you to attack over the shoulder of the front rank (presuming your character is tall enough and the person in front of her is short enough). Weapon speed, in that case, isn't much of an issue unless you are flanked (which doesn't happen in a confined corridor, but can be tricky as heck on open ground).

Just thought I'd share that. :)
Indeed, the 1e books rather supported that style of combat.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by mythfish »

Re: clerics

It's not listed in Appendix N as one of the influences, but I'm *certain* one of the main influences for the AD&D cleric is Archbishop Turpin from the Song of Roland. At the very least, that's where the "clerics only use blunt weapons" thing seems to come from.

Edit to clarify: Which is why, as the OP says, "We tend to conflate a cleric into a hegemonic church, more appropriate to the late middle ages than the early period." But I like your take on it better.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by beermotor »

mythfish wrote:Re: clerics

It's not listed in Appendix N as one of the influences, but I'm *certain* one of the main influences for the AD&D cleric is Archbishop Turpin from the Song of Roland. At the very least, that's where the "clerics only use blunt weapons" thing seems to come from.

Edit to clarify: Which is why, as the OP says, "We tend to conflate a cleric into a hegemonic church, more appropriate to the late middle ages than the early period." But I like your take on it better.
Yeah it seems to me that DCC clerics need an injection of what makes Wizards so cool in this system. I think I cribbed the idea of Gods as Patrons from Raven_Crowking, although I think he meant it in a slightly different sense.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by GnomeBoy »

beermotor! Nice to see you around again... :mrgreen: Long time, no see.

ON weapon speeds, and all that.... I think that must be why early on all weapons did the same 1d6 damage... you might hit multiple times in the round for small cuts with a dagger, but once with an axe for a more serious blow that roughly equated to the many strikes of the smaller weapon.

I must say, my leanings on combat have been drifting to greater and greater abstraction lately.

I played in a game at a Con this month, where combat was opposed attack rolls (unless you were all-out avoiding the fight). The better attack roll did damage to the lesser. Combat moved very fast -- we had PCs and some attendants (10 'good guys' in all) swamped by 100 foes... It was mere minutes to resolve that fight, but was still tense and interesting. It's an idea I'd like to explore in other games. I get bored with the 1-to-1 ratio of attack rolls and hits and misses. But then, I always have a need to shake things up from time to time...

I don't know if any of that is helpful to the discussion, but there it is. 8)
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by beermotor »

Hey man, good to see you, too.

I used damage-dice-by-class once in an OD&D game I ran. It got boring because you lose the flavor text of gear. I think that's the same problem with abstracting all weapons out to d6. The roots of D&D--in the tactical wargame simulation--have a totally different objective from the character-driven RPG that we have nowadays. Wargames are designed to quickly simulate larger scales and old historic stuff, etc. A high level of abstraction there is pretty much required, or else it bogs down fast. I think if you were to have a very big battle in DCC, you'd need to adopt some abstractions to keep the action flowing, too--or else a wizard with a very large fireball, heh. But in general, one of the things that's appealing about DCC (to me anyway) is the use of variable dice. And I'm thinking what I'd like to do is use them a bit more, not less. But if it's done in a logical way, your brain can latch onto that and it'll make intuitive sense.

The speed matrix thing that's in Greyhawk Supplement I and AD&D might be an attempt at realism, but it's anything but logically intuitive or memorable.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

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I don't think Clerics being mobbed like that makes sense. It happens in real life because none of that ever happens and it's a miracle because it's so rare. But in DCC and D&D and other fantasy, magic and the supernatural are as common as a house cat. Why would anyone be so blown away? It wouldn't be something they think is impossible.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

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mAc Chaos wrote:But in DCC and D&D and other fantasy, magic and the supernatural are as common as a house cat. Why would anyone be so blown away? It wouldn't be something they think is impossible.
This is an assumption. It can be cast aside and other things allowed in...

My personal approach is that that stuff is really rare in nearly everyone's life. You don't have a neighbor who's a wizard. There is no hot-and-cold running magic. The supernatural is believed but not observed (but rarely; like UFO sightings within the modern population).

You likely live within a small community and have probably never been beyond 10 miles from home, which is a huge trip you've rarely undertaken. And in the spaces in-between all the freaky stuff exists. When you meet it, your blood drains into your feet and you have no idea what to do and couldn't do it if you wanted to...

It's the really rare folks that can stand up to it, but often at the cost of their life. It's even rarer folks that survive and thrive on that stuff...

In short, the assumptions of the modern world (knowledge of distant places and peoples, the ability to travel, non-face-to-face communication) don't apply. Which is how our world was, once upon a time.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

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mAc Chaos wrote:I don't think Clerics being mobbed like that makes sense. It happens in real life because none of that ever happens and it's a miracle because it's so rare. But in DCC and D&D and other fantasy, magic and the supernatural are as common as a house cat. Why would anyone be so blown away? It wouldn't be something they think is impossible.
This totally depends on your point of view / frame of reference. With respect to the players, maybe this is true. But with respect to "the general populace" this is most definitely not true, per the RAW.

One of the things about DCC that's attractive is how dangerous magic can be. Now project that onto the populace. I mean, to shift it into a modern day example, would you want some mad scientist building a fusion reactor in his garage next door to you? And, while I don't think he performed any miracles, David Koresh and company got squashed by the powers-that-be for being, allegedly, dangerous. There are many examples.

I dare say nobody playing DCC is a particular fan of "high fantasy" so I guess I'm preaching to the choir a bit much. But, anyway.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by Raven_Crowking »

beermotor wrote:
mAc Chaos wrote:I don't think Clerics being mobbed like that makes sense. It happens in real life because none of that ever happens and it's a miracle because it's so rare. But in DCC and D&D and other fantasy, magic and the supernatural are as common as a house cat. Why would anyone be so blown away? It wouldn't be something they think is impossible.
I mean, to shift it into a modern day example, would you want some mad scientist building a fusion reactor in his garage next door to you?
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SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
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Re: some things I think I maybe have learned (I think)

Post by Varkias »

I think one way to make clerics more interesting is to customize the Turn ability per deity followed: The cleric turns creatures that the god they follow has a direct link to, whether sympathetic or antagonistic.

So, for example, your cleric of the sky god can turn winged natural animals, coatls (his rainbow messengers), and air elementals [they all don't want to fight you - you're their friend!], as well as underground dwellers (they hate the cursed endless sky that goes on forever!), (perhaps unexpectedly) bulls (symbolic animal of her nemesis deity), and earth elementals [they all fear your connection to their deific enemy].

Meanwhile, the moon goddess turns natural nocturnal creatures, lycanthropes, lunatics, rabbits, dream creatures, those born under a particular zodiac sign (like Cancerians), and (for that real old-fashioned religion feel) menstruating females. (If you're going to use that last one, be sure some other deities also hold sway over men and/or women under other culturally appropriate significant circumstances - bald, bearded, endebted, unfaithful, oath breakers, blind, lame, money lenders, hunters, redheaded, non-brown-eyed, etc. etc.)

Also, if you're using a preexisting pantheon with a lot of background material, you can do things like clerics of Correllon Larethian turning orcs and drow.
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