jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

I've been watching the "Heroes of Awesome" play D&D. In this episode, they're camping out in the forest and are being circled by wolves.

Click here if you can't see the speciesist title card.

In previous episodes, the players (a guy, a girl, and two women) completely lacked agency or the ability to advance the plot in any way, save by kissing up to or accepting missions from NPC authority figures. And rolling a d20 over and over again until their roll doesn't suck. In this episode, we're apparently finding out that wolves like to eat elven and human adventurers who are encircling a campfire.

As soon as they realized the threat they were facing, the Chaotic-Neutral-ish Rogue asked if she ought to climb a tree. Everyone was like "NO" even though this is, of course, the most sensible thing to do.

Also, just as a minor nitpick, literally everyone at the table forgot that Eladrin don't sleep, and are aware of their surroundings during "trance." Which became relevant when the people on night watch started rolling Perception.

Can the wolves possibly survive their encounter with heavily-armed adventurers?! Maybe we'll keep watching and let you all know. >_>; I have to say, though, these campaign videos are really making me appreciate Fate and Dungeon World.


We actually DMed an encounter with wolves, once, in D&D 4e, the same system these people are using. A Revenant (sapient zombie) player character woke up from death to find one chewing on her foot.

The wolves freaked out when the "carrion" fought back. Then she and another player character (who happened to show up just then) started dealing damage to them and doing flashy spellcasting-type stuff, and they bolted back into the woods.

No one was killed on either side (although one of the people involved was already dead).

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

So, lately I've taken to reading transcripts of the "FATAL & Friends" reviews on Something Awful, named after the legendary Worst RPG Ever. It's been very interesting to get a fresh perspective on games like Pathfinder, and see their flaws pointed out by an outsider.

(The Original D&D review was also very interesting. Did you know that the reason Pathfinder has so many spells like Cloudkill and Hallucinatory Terrain is because they were originally supposed to be used in a Warhammer style miniatures game, to delete blocks of infantry or to create or obscure terrain?)

Fate Core in person

I also recently had the experience of going out to GM a starting session of Fate Core in person, for a Pathfinder veteran and his friend who was new to RPGs but was very interested when I described Fate.

In hindsight, I think I did things all wrong for the planned Capsule Contingency RPG. >_>;;

How wrong, you ask? )

So, for [personal profile] redsixwing and [personal profile] sablin27 ...

What should we do for our planned game? Do you want to just start it right now, and then help us come up with things as we go? Because I think that we could do that, if there is an understanding that it isn't going to be perfect. ^^; We could alternately discuss some of the ideas we had for where the game's going to go, so we can find out what stories you're interested in exploring and maybe get some ideas and stuff.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

I've been kind of uncomfortable with Pathfinder and D&D both for different reasons, and started looking for another role-playing game that has the rules for free online and lets you write your own stuff for it.

So far I've found two that look promising: Dungeon World and 13th Age. You can find their respective SRDs, or free online rules documents, here and here.

Both are strongly inspired by Pathfinder and D&D, with stock fantasy adventuring tropes and more or less stock fantasy character options. But the authors went in two different directions with them ... especially with regard to how accessible their games are to newbies. Whether those newbs are players, or fan / professional authors.

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Back when the first editions of Dungeons and Dragons saw print, the writers had to explain to players from the 70's and 80's that this wasn't a game like Chutes and Ladders that you were trying to "win." In fact, the game could continue indefinitely, with a new adventure for your character in every session.

Having said that, players through the years have tried to achieve their own personal win states for whatever roleplaying game they were in. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for how to win most of the roleplaying games we have personal (or substantial second-hand) experience with!

(These suggestions are not completely serious, but they aren't completely UN-serious, either.)

Babylon 5: Level up enough times that a single PPG shot won't kill you.

Call of Cthulhu: Don't die or go insane this session.

D&D / AD&D 1.0: Figure out how the heck to play Dungeons and Dragons.

D&D / AD&D 2.0: Cause your DM to pull their hair out, burn all their RPG books, and join a convent. Alternately, if you're the DM: Kill all the players. Not the characters, the players.

D&D 3.0 / 3.5: Get to level 6, so you can finally go into a "prestige" class and play the character you wanted to.

D&D 4.0: Win or survive every combat encounter, until you best the final boss fight and beat the game at level 30.

D&D 5.0: Survive D&D 2.0 dungeons, using a D&D 4.0 character, until you acquire one magic item from the D&D 3.5 rulebooks. (This may take several years.)

D20 Modern: Get to level 4, so you can finally go into an "advanced" class and play the character you wanted to.

FATE Core: Insert your own win condition here (then invoke it as an Aspect during play).

Pathfinder: Convince the GM to let you play the character you want to play.

Pathfinder Society: Buy enough Pathfinder stuff, and kiss up to enough Venture-Captains, to get the boon (and the books) that you need to start over from level 1 as the character you actually wanted to play to begin with.

Traveler: Don't die during character creation.

Special bonus for those who've been subject to it


* Although really, the only way to win is not to play.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Dungeons and Dragons (and its successor, Pathfinder) uses a mechanic called "alignment" to describe your character's morals. It consists of a Good / Evil axis and a Lawful / Chaotic axis, with the possibility of being "Neutral" on either or both.

A lot of people have discarded the alignment system, seeing it as neither a fun game mechanic nor a useful way of understanding people. We don't really like it as it's implemented in Pathfinder, but we feel like the Planescape campaign setting for D&D really showed what kind of potential it has both for storytelling and philosophy.

Planescape portrayed the Chaotic Neutral afterlife as a "Limbo" of swirling clouds of random matter, which change so often as to be essentially formless and static. It noted that there are "anarchs" who can reshape the landscape at a whim, but did not seem to think much of them.

We think that if someone were to make a game where you play as one, though, it'd look something like Microsoft's Project Spark ...

Click here if you can't see the video.

... either that, or the Internet.

Floating islands of games, stories, and content, connected by threads of imagination and lit by sparks of wonder. That's what we feel it'd be like, to live in a realm of pure creativity and personal expression.

We were always told that we'd get to create (and populate) worlds, in the Mormon afterlife. But that was always used as an excuse, to keep us from doing so here and now. We had to "endure to the end," first, and then somehow we'd go from a Lawful lifestyle of self-negation to an eternity of fulfillment. Either that, or we would be destroyed and replaced by someone who would be fulfilled as a Mormon.

I think our family of origin still wants that for us.

I think that's what all conservative religious people mean, when they talk about "loving the sinner but hating the sin."

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

After spending hours and hours and hours photographing the board, editing PDF character sheets, and writing up power lists on [community profile] nentir_vale, I can conclusively state the following:

D&D 4e was not meant to be played online, unless you have a D&D Insider subscription and use the online tools. Especially the virtual tabletop, which doesn't exist.

Pathfinder's much easier to GM online, partly because combat does not last all day or require a game board, and partly because all the stuff that you need you can link to directly online.

D&D 5e looks like it'll be closer to Pathfinder, but its "Basic D&D" rules are a gods-damned PDF, and are far from comprehensive.

If we ever get up the energy to do another online RPG campaign, it will probably be Pathfinder.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

That's the most commonly rendered version of Google's motto, which most people invoke ironically these days as they point out the latest evil thing Google did. But you can do a lot of evil stuff without ever seeing yourself as evil. And if you're measuring how good you are by how evil someone else is, you get to be one of those people who wants a cookie for not being as terrible as someone else.

I personally feel that if you are alive, then you deserve to be alive, by default and until proven otherwise. I believe that "kindness is goodness;" that you are a good person just for being the kind of person you are, and that if anyone says otherwise or tries to prevent you from being yourself then they are being unkind to you.

I believe that some people are damaged, disabled, marginalized, or ill. I believe they deserve to exist, and to participate fully in society. I think it is the responsibility of abled people to accommodate them. I believe in solidarity with these people, and in giving up privilege or inconveniencing myself in order to keep them from having to do without things that they need or that I take for granted. I believe this is best done not through individual acts, but as a society, so that the responsibility is spread out and so that they do not need to beg.

I believe that some people are dangerous, including (but not limited to) carnivores, narcissists, and white European Americans. I don't believe that being dangerous means that a person is evil or must be destroyed. I believe there are ways to coexist, that do not have to involve harming innocents. But I believe that the burden is on the most dangerous people to find those ways, not on their victims. And I sympathize with those who resist them.

I believe that Chaotic Neutral is the best D&D alignment, because I feel it encompasses (or can encompass) all of the above. I believe you don't have to be "good" to be kind to others and empathize with them. I believe that the concept of "good" is overrated, and is often used to cover for dangerous people's actions, or to condemn those who resist them as "evil."

If "good" exists objectively, it is willing self-sacrifice on behalf of another. I don't feel that it's needed in order to be kind to others, because I feel that most people are naturally kind (or at least not dangerous) so long as their needs are met. But I do feel that kindness -- both in the sense of being yourself, and respecting the rights of others to do the same -- is a prerequisite for the kind of self-sacrifice that is helpful.

Otherwise, you end up seeing self-sacrifice as good in and of itself. You don't trust people who don't give up enough of themselves for "the greater good." And you give your all for other people, who you then expect to do the same for others, until there's no kindness left in the universe because everyone's trying so hard to be "good."

Or at least, to appear good. Which is much easier.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

(With apologies to Wreck-it Ralph. Linked video contains spoilers.)

I used to get Lawful Good on D&D alignment quizzes, because I only picked the "right" answers. Later, and for most of the last ten years, I answered honestly and got Neutral Good ... because I didn't want to rock the boat, but I still went out of my way to help people.

I still do, sometimes. But the most recent alignment quiz I took pegged me as Chaotic Neutral, and the more I think about it the more I think it fits.

I think the tipping point, for me, was seeing how corporations like Mozilla -- which I thought were purely benevolent -- were really more concerned with ensuring their own survival. And while a lot of Free Software volunteers do so out of the goodness of their hearts, after being thrown away by GNOME I saw how others like me were being manipulated thanks to their desires to do good.

Read more... )


The more I realize how little I know, and how messed-up my programming is thanks to my upbringing, the less confident I am that it's even possible to be a "good" person in the conventional sense. Not without massive conflicts of interest, and potential for abuse / exploitation.

Instead, I'm trying to be a kind person. Both in the sense that I want to treat others as people, and in the sense that [personal profile] aliaspseudonym referred to in its Xenotheism essay. Where "kindness is goodness," because the most genuinely good thing any person can do is to just be the kind of person they are.

If you don't believe that, then you can't really help anyone anyway.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

This is a feat for the Pathfinder roleplaying game, inspired by the Ritual Casting feat from D&D 4e. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license and uses Open Gaming Content from the Pathfinder Reference Document. A D&D 3e / 3.5e conversion is also available.

Ritual Casting

You are trained in the use of rituals, which are versions of common spells that can be cast at-will, provided you have enough time and expensive reagents.

Prerequisites: 1 skill rank in Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (nature), Knowledge (religion), Heal, or Perform (any).

Benefit: You obtain a basic ritual book (which has the same weight and game statistics as a common spellbook), which has two 1st-level rituals scribed in it.

You know how to inscribe new rituals into your ritual book, and how to cast rituals from it.

Scribing new rituals

A ritual may be inscribed into a ritual book from any spellbook or scroll, provided it does not deal Hit Point damage. To do so, use the same rules and skill check DCs for adding Wizard spells to your spellbook, but substitute one of your ritual casting skills for the Spellcraft checks as follows:

Spell ListRequired Skill
BardPerform (any)
ClericKnowledge (religion)
DruidKnowledge (nature)
Sorcerer / WizardKnowledge (arcana)

Spells which cure Hit Point damage are an exception. Use a Heal skill check for them instead.

Spells from spell lists other than those listed above cannot be cast as rituals.

Casting rituals

At any time, you may roll a skill check as appropriate for the ritual (see "Scribing new rituals," above) to cast a ritual from either your ritual book or a scroll containing a spell which could be inscribed into one. If cast from a scroll, the act of ritual casting erases the text, just as casting a spell from it does.

The DC for casting a ritual is equal to 20 + caster level if cast from a scroll, or 15 + caster level if cast from your ritual book. (You may choose what caster level to use if you are casting it from your ritual book, up to a maximum of the number of ranks you have in the required skill.) To cast rituals from a scroll or from someone else's ritual book, roll a skill check as appropriate for the ritual to decipher it first, as with Wizard spells.

If you are casting the ritual version of a spell which would normally require expensive material or focus components, you must have those components on hand when casting it from a ritual book.

Casting a spell as a ritual takes considerably longer than casting spells normally does:

1 standard action1 minute
1 full round10 minutes
1 minute1 hour
10 minutes1 hour
1 hour1 hour

Spells with other casting times, such as a free or immediate action, cannot be cast as rituals.

If you fail the skill check required to cast a ritual, you do not cast that ritual, and any consumable items required to cast it (including the scroll if you are casting from one) are lost.

To cast a ritual, you must have the required reagents on hand. These cost as much as the material components required to scribe a scroll of that spell, and take on a form appropriate to the skill required to cast the ritual:

Required skillReagent Type
HealEither rare herbs or incense
Knowledge (arcana)Arcane dust
Knowledge (nature)Rare herbs
Knowledge (religion)Incense
Perform (any)Arcane dust

You may also use residuum, which is a form of distilled magical essence obtained by disenchanting a magic item. To disenchant an item, a character with the appropriate item creation feat and a caster level equal to the item's must spend as long as it would take to create that item (maximum 8 hours). The amount of residuum obtained by disenchanting a magic item is equal in value to the gold piece cost required to create that item. Artifacts cannot be disenchanted.

Reagents other than residuum can be purchased at temples, magic item shops, specialty shops catering to adventurers, and from druids or rangers who are open to dealing with outsiders. A character may also roll Spellcraft or Survival to gather reagents, with one check representing one day's work and providing an amount equal to the gold piece value that would be added to an item with that Craft check result. The DM / GM may rule that you cannot roll this check if you don't have access to an appropriate node of magic or source of raw materials.

Converting to D&D 3e / 3.5e

Increase the number of skill ranks required to take the feat from 1 to 4, and reduce the maximum caster level when casting rituals from a ritual book from "equal to your number of skill ranks" to "equal to your number of skill ranks -3."

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

An adaptation of the Vile Scholar theme from the Book of Vile Darkness, with inspiration for powers and abilities taken from a variety of other existing themes.

Called of Cthulhu

"Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!"

There are things mortals were not meant to know. And you dream about them every night! Because a funny-looking green guy with an octopus for a head keeps showing up in your dreams and telling you them, in a language that sounds like the slapping of cold, briny tentacles.

Maybe he tells you to go to a sunken city, filled with the chants of fish-people and cultists. Maybe he says humanoids are delicious, and you really should find out yourself. Who knows! The people you tell about your dreams tend to go mad, and not in the fun way, either.

Starting Feature

The language and mindset of squamous, otherworldly horrors no longer seem otherworldly or horrifying to you. And when you describe your dreams to other people, it does unpleasant things to their minds and bodies.

Benefit: You are fluent in Deep Speech. In addition, you gain a +2 bonus to Dungeoneering checks, and to Bluff checks, Diplomacy checks, and Intimidate checks made while interacting with Aberrant creatures. You also gain the call of Cthulhu power.

Call of Cthulhu -- Called of Cthulhu Attack

The nightmares brought to mind by your utterings drive your opponent into a screaming, panicked frenzy.
Encounter * Fear, Implement, Shadow
Standard Action
Ranged 5
Target: One creature that can hear you
Attack: Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma vs. Fortitude, Reflex, and Will. You make a single attack roll and use it against each defense.
Hit (Fortitude): The target falls prone.
Hit (Reflex): You push the target up to its speed.
Hit (Will): The target grants combat advantage until the end of your next turn.

Additional Features

Level 5 Feature

Your memories of the sunken city make underground ruins seem safe and cozy to you. Slimy Underdark dwellers show up in your dreams often, and you know their names as well as their powers.

Benefit: When you make a Dungeoneering check, you can roll twice and use either result.

Level 10 Feature

Most people would have nervous breakdowns if they were to suddenly sprout tentacles. Fortunately, yours are helpful and friendly, and they go away when you don't need them.

Benefit: Once per round, you can retrieve or store an item as a free action instead of a minor action. You can also use one of your tentacles to hold an item (like a lantern), to open doors, or to do things that don't require fine manipulation, but you cannot make attacks or roll skill checks using it.

Optional Powers

Level 2 Utility Power

If you want to visit that sunken city from your dreams, it might help to bring your friends along ... and to be able to breathe underwater. Fortunately, you've got that covered. Just make sure to tell them first, or they might be caught by surprise!

Deep One Transformation -- Called of Cthulhu Utility 2

Your skin becomes slimy and scaly, and cold, pulsating gill slits appear on your neck. Everyone nearby is affected as well, and the unprepared are REALLY affected.
Daily * Shadow, Implement, Stance
Minor Action
Close burst 1
Target: Every creature in the burst
Attack: Highest mental ability score vs. Fortitude
Hit: 1d6 + Highest mental ability modifier damage, and the target takes ongoing 5 damage as long as it's not underwater (save ends).
Special: Allies in the burst do not take damage from this power. Instead, they assume the deep one stance. Until the stance ends, they can breathe underwater and have cold resist 5, but are unable to breathe air. You may choose to assume this stance as well.

Level 6 Utility Power

You understand the geometry of madness well enough to plunge into the depths of your dreams, and interact with the nightmares therein. Sometimes they tell you something useful, but other times their answers leave you shaken, and you wake up in a cold sweat.

Dreams of Madness - Called of Cthulhu Utility 6

You ask questions of one of your nightmares, and hope that you can withstand the answers.
Daily * Shadow
Standard Action
Requirement: You must use this power during an extended rest.
Effect: You may ask up to three questions of Cthulhu or another Far Realm aberration. For each question, make a check with a bonus of 5 + one-half your level + your highest ability modifier, against a DC your DM secretly sets.
On a successful check, the nightmare gives a useful (or at least harmless) answer, which you remember when you wake up. If the check fails, you instead lose a healing surge, which is deducted from your total when you wake up the next day.

Level 10 Utility Power

The tentacles you sprout are friendly to you and your allies, but they don't care for your enemies much at all.

Squamous Tentacle -- Called of Cthulhu Utility 10

You know how to fight with your cephalopod appendages just as well as with your bony limbs.
Encounter * Shadow
Minor Action
Effect: Until the end of your next turn, your reach increases by 1, and you gain a +2 power bonus to melee damage rolls.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~


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