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)

We got to try out a game of Endless Fantasy Tactics with Alias, a day or two ago. It was pretty fun!

Alias' hand picking up a miniature, on top of a hand-drawn isometric 3d map that looks like it came from Final Fantasy Tactics. Various Warhammer 40,000 and Pathfinder miniatures are being used as proxies, and a lot of dice are being used as counters. To one side, there are print-out lists of each model's stats. To the other, there is a magnetic Pathfinder initiative tracking board, with magnets for each mini arranged in initiative order. It also has little red hearts and blue circles for each model's HP and MP.

Those unpainted models are totally beastmen, not XV8 Crisis battlesuits.

It's basically Final Fantasy Tactics: the minis game. Which means we had to draw an isometric map, and HP/MP counters for everyone. Oh, and it uses stat cards normally, so we printed out lists with our models' stats on them instead.

Technically you don't have to go to these lengths. They sell decks of cards for all of the models and items, plus a beginner set with a reconfigurable 3d board. But we wanted to start with the core rulebook, and we figured it wouldn't take that long to make our own play aids.

Turns out, it did ^^; partly because we had to learn how to do layout in Pages first. And then when we actually started playing, our large-sized models took a hit for each square they stand on, every time Alias' Lunarian bunnies AOE'd.

But the Lunarians are just so cute! As are gels, beastmen, and the dreaded Black Kiwi.

(The gels all want to be heroes, or something. It's awesome.)

Anyway, we'll probably be playing this more in the future. And here are some more pics of the play aids we created / used, behind the cut:

Read more... )

Did we mention that [personal profile] aliaspseudonym / [ profile] spinecrawlerrush has been visiting? ^^;;;

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)

Today I read a Q&A that went something like:

Q. Is it possible for one of my fantasy harpies to be transgender when they're an all-female species? Isn't that like a human who thinks he's an elf???

A. Of course it's possible, because gender isn't the same as physical sex. Write your own fluff to explain if it makes you feel better.

This is going to sound melodramatic, but the answer that my heart was aching to hear was "who are you to tell [PLAYER] what body their character would prefer?"

Yelling, swearing, angry depressive rant. )

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, I went out to GM the first session of the in-person Fate game we planned with the other players. Who are a guy we already knew, and his two friends.

(Content Note: Fictional pepper spray, and sibling abuse.)

The Premise

One of the characters was a mad scientist college student, one was his (doormat) assistant who took the same classes, and one was a Fighter-class fantasy adventurer who stumbled upon their "Time Fridge," when it teleported them to an alternate timeline.

Yes. Time Fridge.

(Name shamelessly stolen from the Faulty Logic webcomic.)

Cue Doctor Who theme )

All in all, it was a really fun experience and educational as well. ^^; I feel like I'm learning a lot about game design, which is now my Dream Career, by playing out these new games on the table. And seeing just how much they empower players, GMs, and creatives.

This is what I wanted, long ago, with the "Fursona Project" and "Fursona Code" and "Become Your Fursona" website. At their core, at the most basic level, I wanted people to be able to live as their personal characters, and have a common design vocabulary and resources to help express what they're like. I'm still learning the historical reasons why, but d20 and Pathfinder did not deliver on that.

From what I am seeing, Fate Core has delivered on that promise.

Now to see if we can kick off this online campaign properly.

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)

For an update on the state of the game that [personal profile] jewelfox is preparing, please see our next-latest-entry.

I don't have the energy to look up citations right now. But I feel like the history of tabletop games is largely the history of diverse, fannish groups adopting games that catch on because they are "good enough" for the time. And then watching as the next 30-40 years see the people who made these games get a lot of unearned power and capital, until they are dictating the shape of their hobbies to everyone else.

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)

We're still trying to do this Fate Core RP, but we're feeling like we're in a little over our head.

Insecure foxraptor is insecure )

tl;dr We're doing our best but we're afraid of messing up, and this is making us avoidant of working on RPG things.

However! We've kept to our schedule so far, and as of right now, we've contacted both [personal profile] redsixwing and [personal profile] sablin27 about the last details that need to be clarified on their character sheets. If we can get that sorted out, we are going to write the first public RP post this weekend.

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)

Check out these miniatures!

A photo of Companion Cube, Turret, and test subject miniatures made of low-quality plastic, as used in the Portal board game. Cardboard counters of GLaDOS, a blue portal, and a test chamber are also present.

Photo (c) Vox Media, used without permission.

You can see more photos and read the full writeup on Polygon. I'm just thinking of all the uses for Portal minis now:

  • Give one of our Shas'uis a portal gun

  • Make the companion cube an objective marker

  • Surprise RPG players by changing the "dungeon" into a test chamber

Just imagine teaching someone to play Fate, Dungeon World, or Pathfinder by throwing their character into the Enrichment Centre. ^^ Or using the slices of cake (not pictured above) as victory points in 40k or another game.

... did I mention I am apparently good at impersonating GLaDOS?

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, I spent much of today reading comments and forum posts by Warhammer 40,000 players, for some reason. (This doesn't only apply to them, though; it has a lot to do with Pathfinder and video games as well.)

40k players spend an awful lot of time complaining online, it feels like. But what's interesting to me is what they choose to complain about. Roughly half of the forum-goers I saw were complaining about the company that makes the Warhammer models; how Games Workshop's latest rulebook ruined their fun, invalidated their strategies, and obsoleted their favourite models.

Some of their stories are really sad. "40K" players invest dozens or hundreds of hours in their cherished pastime, sometimes in just a single model, and it shows. Far from looking for an excuse to complain, the most upset players seemed more like betrayed lovers, who had given and given and given and were rewarded with Games Workshop's scorn.

The other half ... were complaining about the first half.

Read more... )

I don't know where I'm going with this. It's late, and I'm tired and rambly.

I just feel like, the less inequality there is between players and game publishers -- and between the players and each other -- the less fighting and arguing there seems to be, and the more creative freedom there is.

I like the Tau model collection I'm building, but I feel more at home with game players and companies which treat me with respect.

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)

(Content note: Racism. Originally posted on Paizo's product page, under the title "Unfortunate Implications.")

I played this at tier 1-2. This review does not contain spoilers.

The meat of the scenario is a resource-management minigame, which affects a village's readiness for a siege and mass battle. Unfortunately, given the racial and ethnic makeup of the average party of Avistanian PCs versus Shokuro villagers, what it amounts to narratively is Mighty Whitey swooping in and saving the bowing and grateful brown natives.

Seriously, this isn't a case of "the PCs are special and the villagers just happen to be brown." Not only do they turn over complete control of the village to you, to the point where you decide how many people will work the fields versus shoring up the defences, but mechanically, one PC can do the work of five villagers ... even when that work is harvesting rice. In an agricultural village where that is their livelihood. I thought Profession wasn't usable untrained?

It was when I realized this that I said, flat-out, "this is really racist," and the GM was like "yes, it is."

I tried to explain away some of the implications by saying that my PC (a kitsune shrine maiden of the goddess of rice) was performing a harvest ritual or something, while our half-orc fighter could do the work of ten farmhands just because of how strong he was. But it just seemed really unfortunate that these people had no agency and were being reduced to playing pieces ... which was a theme I felt like I had seen in the other Dragon Empires adventures, where the whole continent was exoticised and existed only for "western" people to have an adventure in.

Finally, it may just be that we aced the resource management part. But the epic battle some reviewers liked felt more like shooting fish in a barrel, because this overwhelming force seemed to attack in such tiny waves. I get the impression they were going for something like Dynasty Warriors, and I'm wondering if our GM was just having trouble describing the action.

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)

Apologies for being away from Dreamwidth so much! We got put on a new medication that lowers your blood pressure, and it's made our limbs feel like lead and made us feel a lot weaker and tired-er. Worse, it was supposed to keep our PTSD nightmares from coming back but it hasn't ... so we're going to ask if we can be taken off of it.

(We also experimented with switching from coffee to tea for a little while, and that basically put us out like a tranquilizer.)

Besides that ... when we announced our intentions to set programming aside earlier, we felt really depressed afterwards. Same with when we talked about switching from D&D 4e to Pathfinder. These are things that we really like and care about, and the fact that we're having problems with them doesn't mean that we have to quit working on them.

We're going to experiment with ways to make 4e work better online. Also, we've been taking more programming classes. We don't have much to show for them yet, but everything we learn is exciting, when we're able to set aside the time and the energy to continue learning.

Sometimes we miss writing stories. Right now gaming is scratching that itch for us, especially tabletop gaming and the amount of creativity that goes into that. But every now and then, we feel like something precious has been lost, when we think about the stories we used to tell and the way we used to do so.

I don't think we can ever recapture the way that things were, but maybe telling stories can continue to be a part of our life going forward.

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)

Thinking about my attempts at roleplaying online, and the work that I've had to do for them, and whether or not I enjoyed that work.

With D&D 4e

  • Basic rule explanation: NONE

The basic rules are online, in a free PDF. Its explanation is very concise. In about 10 pages it goes over which dice you roll for what, and all the rules you need to know for combat and movement. Another few pages explain skills in detail. The rest of it is DM advice or premade characters.

  • Character creation: A LOT

4e characters are basically "plug and play." There's an enormous array of options, but very few of them are actually bad, and the newer Essentials classes especially make things easier by giving more comprehensive packages of abilities.

The problem? Almost none of the character creation material, except for the "Class Compendium" remakes, is available online for free. The rest of it is scattered through sourcebooks and Dragon Magazine articles, none of which it is easy to link to. Most people seem to use the Character Builder online, and/or the D&D Compendium ... both of which require a paid subscription. Without those online tools, you're screwed, unless you want to a) email PDFs to your friends and b) write up your own power cards.

This last part took us an enormous amount of effort to do in [community profile] nentir_vale, even compared to what it would have cost to write up the power cards in person. Theoretically, though, once this part is done I don't have to redo it; I can just copy the templates I've already made to introduce new powers.

  • Game preparation: A FAIR BIT

D&D 4e rules make it easy to put together an ostensibly "balanced" encounter, meaning one that won't murder the player characters. I'm personally not used to having to balance tactical wargame considerations on the one hand, though, and roleplaying concerns on the other. Like, the D&D Encounters games I went to were basically half listening to the DM exposit, and half killing mindless foes that won't back down.

I feel like I have pulled it off fairly well before. The encounter I'm most proud of featured a pair of wolves as antagonists, and I tried to roleplay them as actual people instead of as mindless combatants. They were surprised at the carrion (a revenant PC) that fought back, and extremely wary when another player character showed up. The PCs, in turn, didn't see their goal as "inflict enough damage to reduce them to 0 HP," but were trying to drive the wolves off.

After another encounter went poorly, though, to the point where one of my players left soon afterwards, I lost most of my confidence in my ability to create interesting 4e encounters.

  • Running the game: A FAIR BIT

My workflow for running a 4e game consists of setting up the map and its tokens, then taking pictures which my phone automatically uploads to OneDrive, where I can rotate and share them with minimal effort. The circular cardboard tokens included in the post-Essentials D&D 4e boxed sets work very well for this, because you can see them most clearly from directly above, whereas if I were using miniatures I'd have to balance making them look good with making the map itself legible.

When there are questions and time-consuming discussions, they tend to be around players not knowing which of their powers to use in a given situation. I've tried to mitigate this by writing little "strategy guides" for each of my players, and I also try to allow players to do things not explicitly spelled out in their powers; those aren't the only options they have, just the ones which are always available.

In Pathfinder

  • Basic rule explanation: A FAIR BIT

The online Pathfinder Reference Document does an extremely poor job of explaining to new players how to play the game. Which makes sense, I guess, from the perspective of people trying to sell a product, but the Core Rulebook is basically a printout of its section of the PRD.

The only Pathfinder RPG product explicitly aimed at beginners is the Beginner Box set, and it's a) not available for free online, and b) verbose and poorly laid out. So it's not really an option here.

On the plus side, the basic Pathfinder rules are simple. On the down side, they have a lot of edge cases and confusing inconsistencies. I will never forget the look on the face of the girl across the table, when she was told that she doesn't roll to attack with her Sorcerer's spell; her target rolls to dodge it. Which is the opposite of how it works for people who attack using physical weapons, and for everyone in 4e.

  • Character creation: A FAIR BIT

All the Pathfinder rules and options are available online for me to link to. I don't have to write up power cards or anything. The downside is that a lot of the options suck, and are basically "traps" for those who don't know any better.

Just this Friday, the guy next to me playing a Druid in Pathfinder Society got all excited when he realized he could convert any of his prepared spells into a Summon Nature's Ally spell. Then he found out it'd take his entire turn to cast, and the snake that he summoned would last only one round.

  • Game preparation: A LOT

The biggest challenge, in preparing to GM Pathfinder, is making encounters that will challenge but not kill the player characters. Its "Challenge Rating" system doesn't do a whole lot to help, because there are special rules and edge cases that can make it basically impossible for the PCs to defeat a particular foe, and unlucky die rolls can screw PCs over a lot worse than in D&D 4e.

Pathfinder GMs have to do a lot of non-obvious things to get around this. For instance, the designers of the adventure we played this last Friday had to give us a way to beat the boss demon's Damage Reduction. Also, since Pathfinder lacks a Skill Challenge mechanic, several parts of the adventure just consisted of "you spend X hours doing " and then seeing a result, instead of the players collaborating around the table and finding ways to use their skills to solve noncombat problems.

  • Running a game: A FAIR BIT

Not using a map, for online play, in some ways reduces the amount of work needed. Since Pathfinder also relies a lot on positioning, though, I've often ended up having to redescribe the setting each time a player's turn comes up, or having to correct someone about who was where.

Beyond that, the simple fact that the PCs are fragile means I have to be much more careful about how I approach them. In some ways I find this fun; there's a temptation, in DMing 4e, to throw lots of tough mobs at the players just because they can handle it. Whereas in Pathfinder everyone's much more inclined to resolve encounters through roleplay, instead of trusting their fate to the dice.

The winner?

I honestly don't know. I think I like 4e much better, and enjoy the work it requires more. I'm just not feeling confident about my ability to DM it right now.

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)

Without a permission slip, I mean boon. Source.

The good news? Now I don't have to worry about scrounging another boon if my character dies. Kitsune all the way!

The bad news? I traded away my get-out-of-death-free boon for nothing. :(

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)

Step 1. Pick up a copy of the Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Moon, at your friendly local games store. It, another softcover Player Companion, and the contents of the Beginner Box are the only Pathfinder books that you own.

Step 2. Discover the Lunar mystery for Oracles. Decide that it looks neat. However, it’s for a class that your books don’t cover, and it grants a lot of weird spells.

Step 3. Discover the following paragraph right at the start of the book:


This Pathfinder Player Companion refers to several other Pathfinder Roleplaying Game products and uses the following abbreviations. These books are not required to make use of this Player Companion. Readers interested in references to Pathfinder RPG hardcovers can find the complete rules from these books available for free at

Step 4. Go online and get the rules you need to play your character. Show up at the Pathfinder event your friend told you about, at your local games store, with a Lunar Oracle.

Step 5. Confess that you’d much rather be playing a Kitsune.

Step 6. Find out that Kitsune do in fact exist, and are in fact a legit choice for Pathfinder Society. However, you need to have a “boon,” which is essentially a signed permission slip from your parents, I mean the Venture-Captains, saying you’re allowed to play a fox instead of a crow. The only ways to get these are to go to a convention in another state, which you wouldn’t be able to afford unless you sold your own body parts, or to go to a certain thread on the Paizo forums to trade a different boon for the Kitsune one.

Step 7. Remember that you have an honest-to-Daikitsu signed “get out of death free” boon because you participated in the Beginner Box Bash a few years ago.

Step 8. Offer it up for trade, and get a response surprisingly quick.

Step 9. Receive, via US mail, a sheet of paper that looks suspiciously like a photocopy or computer printout, which contains the following sentence:

This Chronicle sheet must be the first Chronicle sheet for the given character, and you must bring a copy of one of the above-listed rulesbooks [the Advanced Race Guide or the Dragon Empires Gazetteer] to all sessions in which you play this character as if access to this race selection were granted by the Additional Resources list.

Step 10. Ask yourself, “WTF is the Additional Resources list?”

Step 11. Oh.

Step 12. Read the following sentence from that link:

In order to utilize content from an Additional Resource, a player must have a physical copy of the Additional Resource in question, a name-watermarked Paizo PDF of it, or a printout of the relevant pages from it, as well as a copy of the current version of the Additional Resources list.

Step 13. Track down all the books that you need to duplicate the content relevant to your character from the Pathfinder Reference Document, which is an official resource published by Paizo itself and explicitly endorsed by a prominent paragraph on page 1 of Blood of the Moon, which says that those books are not required to use it.

Breakdown of expenses:

  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook. Rules for creating and playing a character. Not required; your GM is assumed to own a copy.

  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary. Game stats for the animal companion one of your revelations grants, and for creatures that your spells can summon. Not required; your GM is assumed to own a copy.

  • Advanced Player’s Guide. Game stats for playing an Oracle, and for three of the spells in the Lunar mystery’s list. $40 for a new hardcover, $30 non-mint, $10 for PDF.

  • Advanced Race Guide. Game stats for playing a Kitsune, along with the awesome Magical Tail feat. $40 for a new hardcover, $30 non-mint, $10 for PDF.

  • Ultimate Magic. Game stats for four of the spells on the Lunar mystery’s list, the first of which you obtain at level 2 after three sessions of play. $40 for a new hardcover, $30 non-mint, $10 for PDF.

  • Ultimate Combat. Game stats for one of the spells on the Lunar mystery’s list. $40 for a new hardcover, $30 non-mint, $10 for PDF.

Step 14. Realize that you have to pay a minimum of $40 to play a character you like, using rules that you bought and paid for and contained a large notice from Paizo itself telling you where to fill in the blanks. These PDFs would contain a prominent watermark with your email address, which is not information you want to disclose to men that you're casually acquainted with. Adding insult to injury, the PDFs themselves would be basically worthless for tableside reference, because it’d take much longer to look up rules text in them compared to in the PRD, on your phone. Even though that is the stated reason why you have to bring them on the Additional Resources page:

[…] we cannot assume that every Game Master will have the products listed below. As such, it's up to players to bring these items in order to familiarize their Game Masters with the rules.

Step 15. Realize that if your Kitsune character ever dies, you’re going to have to go back and repeat the whole process of finding another boon, if you want those $40 worth of PDFs that you don’t want to buy to do you any good.

Step 16. Go on the messageboards, to see if there’s any sign of the PRD being added as a legit “additional resource.”

Step 17. Find a ton of people like (and like-ing) this guy, who condescend to people who asked about it, dictate their own priorities to them, blame Paizo’s mixed messaging on them, ignore the fact that Paizo’s policies burden some players a lot more than others, and in general infantilize and insult them even more than Paizo already does by requiring things like signed permission slips.

Step 18. Give up and play other games instead, using books that you bought at the local games store that welcomes you and treats you like a person, instead of PDFs that you bought online from a company that doesn’t.

This is only a partly fictionalized account. I already knew about Kitsune and the Additional Resources list going in. What I didn’t know was that there’s a boon trading thread (i.e. that I had any hope of playing a Kitsune ever), and that newer Pathfinder Player Companions were explicitly telling people to go to the PRD to fill in the blanks, instead of burying the reference in legal text like they used to. So I tried to imagine what it would be like, for a newb to go into it this way.

Also, I’m still playing in Pathfinder Society, and buying Pathfinder Player Companions that I think are cool and want to use for my character (like the Animal Archive), instead of selling my Pathfinder stuff on eBay.


Because my PFS GM lets me use the PRD.

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)

Incoherent rambling here, sorry about that. But as shiny as technology is, I'm not sure I really want to make a career of it anymore. Whether in writing about it or for it.

Partly because the opportunities are so limited. Not opportunities to be paid to write code (albeit in a probably-misogynist environment), but opportunities to be paid to write interesting code ... which, for me, is code to tell stories. Dozens of people work on AAA games, but only a handful get to use them to tell stories, subject to market pressures.

Even at best, in the "indie game" scene, you still spend a lot more time writing code and drawing animations than you do actually telling a story.

I personally think that the optimum feedback loop, for me, is writing the "code" for a tabletop roleplaying game, which is meant to be "compiled" by players and storytellers. I don't have to provide the art assets. I don't have to explicitly build in options for people's characters -- or if I like, I can do nothing but write options for characters. And I think part of the reason that it's more rewarding is because the debugging cycles are so long, so I have a long time to anticipate how people will react to something.

I still want to tell fiction stories ... and I still want to write a few games and apps. But the ones that I want to make, right now, are aids in GMing a game, or automations of "life sim" aspects of roleplaying games like Pathfinder that most people don't want to play at the table with five other people. Procedural stuff, like Ultimate Campaign's hexmap exploration system, or the Babylon 5 RPG's space trading system, that work best when one person's imagination fills in blanks around a series of random prompts.

I'm not sure I need to learn "programming" to be able to make those. There are things like Project Siena and the Windows App Studio that basically let you write stuff in Excel macros, or automatically generate code. The kinds of things no self-respecting developer would use to make The Next Big Thing, but that let domain experts create basic apps for their own field without special training.

I'm not sure when or if I'll do something like that, but I'm feeling depressed right now realizing software development as a career does not appeal to me. And that I'm old enough I should already have a career but don't, even though I used to. I'm trying to tell a new story, and give myself something to look forward to.

Maybe I should have been selling ebooks all this time, like people have been telling me for ten years or so now.

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 weekend was not fun, to the point where our laptop's hard drive failing last night is perhaps the least stressful thing that happened.

Fortunately, [personal profile] burning_ground just happened to have a spare laptop-sized hard drive in the same capacity laying around. >_>b And we haven't lost any data so far, that we know of, although we're frantically backing stuff up at the moment. Aaand we're going to see our psychiatrist today, and hopefully get drugged up to the gills to prevent this from happening again. The bad responses to triggers, I mean, not hard drive failure.

Also we just started playing in Pathfinder Society, since a friend offered us a ride back from the store, and while Kitsune characters are restricted to people with a signed permission slip (seriously wtf) we've arranged to trade with someone online to get one, and are going to be playing a Totally Not Korean "Kitsune" Lunar Oracle who may or may not like the taste of humanoid liver.

Also Kobo just launched their Windows Phone app. *glee*

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)

So the session of D&D Encounters (the official organized play programme) that we attended this evening went pretty well! We played Skye, an Eladrin Mage, inspired by this artwork.

Mini Ari by ErraticRhapsody on deviantART

Skye carried a staff, and wore a fluffy white winter robe over a pink dress, but had a similar "elf mage girl" thing going on. (We'd probably also give her earmuffs.)

What it's like when [personal profile] jewelfox plays 4e

We're glad we decided to play an Eladrin at the last second. Because we were going into a building where a local official was being held hostage, and our brilliant plan was to split up the party into a group sneaking in by the balcony and a group that was going to crash down the front door. We were in the latter group, and when we realized that

  1. the ground floor was empty, and

  2. our DM was insisting it took twelve squares of movement (basically a whole turn) just to go up the stairwell,

we instead ran around the side and used Fey Step to teleport up onto the balcony. Then we spent an Action Point and used one of our illusion mage powers to make it look like the ceiling crashed down on the bad guys' heads, which dazed them for a turn.

It was pretty funny when we got to the "crash the door down" part of the plan, because the Barbarian who was supposed to do that rolled like a 3 on his Strength check and just hurt his shoulder on it. Then he tried the doorknob and it turned out to be unlocked. ^.^;

Meanwhile, upstairs our Goliath Fighter did this "Xena yell" and charged in from the balcony, only to get tripped up on the curtains and land in a tangled heap next to the wererat boss. Natural 1 on the attack roll FTW! Fortunately, most of us had better luck in the rest of the session.

We cast Fountain of Flame before our illusion even dissipated, so while the thugs were still trying to pull themselves out of illusory rubble it suddenly exploded in their faces, as a column of fire shot up to the sky. The wererat ran outside of it and crawled up the Fighter's clothes in rat form (!?), but she grabbed him and stuck him back into the fire, which only affected our enemies. After that, the Deva Cleric played Whack-a-Mole with a silver morningstar, and from that point it was just cleanup.

Trying to follow the plot

We're not really sure what's going on in this season of Encounters! Apparently this evil dood is, like, trying to usurp the post of Speaker for the town of Bryn Shander, as well as the rest of the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. So after we saved the Speaker of B.S. from the thugs (this is what the DM called her :P ) we raced across to the town hall, where evil dood was doing some speechifying.

The Speaker was all "you won't get away with this" and evil dood was like "yes I will, because I am awesome and can be in all ten towns at once! Somehow! And you'll never stop me! Ha ha!" and then teleported out.

And I was like "Well, he's got my vote! :D "

But then I had Skye roll Arcana to see if she could tell what kind of teleport spell the dood used, and she went o_o and was like "GUYS HE'S WITHIN 100 FEET OF HERE EVERYONE SPREAD OUT AND LOOK FOR HIM!" Unfortunately, we only caught a glimpse of his backside as he was taking off down the road through a crowd. Maybe next time we should station our catgirl sniper across the street on a rooftop or something.

OMG free stuff

They had some spares left over, so we got this nice poster map thing and a flyer for this season of Encounters! These were originally given out at the start of this season.

A photo of a small poster map of the Icewind Dale area, and a flyer for the Legacy of the Crystal Shard season of D&D Encounters, on top of Jewelfox's laptop.
Evil dood is the second one from the left.

On top of that, we still had the "Enchanted Heirloom" card that we won in a drawing the very first time we went to Encounters, which lets us reroll an attack once per session. We also brought our Fortune Cards, which are like an optional CCG deck where you draw a card each turn and can use its (highly conditional) power if you want.

Back in the day we earned several promos and bought like a pack every week, just because they were fun to play with. As it turns out, they stopped using them in Encounters, which is probably because of the backlash they got for adding a collectible card element to the game. >_< But the DM let us use them, because everyone else in the group had character themes and backgrounds and we didn't.

We're considering going back and redoing our character, since they seem to be allowing stuff other than in the Essentials core books. Even Hengeyokai, which are animal shapeshifters with an anthro form.

Why 4e all of a sudden?

Because we love D&D 4th Edition. ^.^;; Not the original so much as the post-Essentials 4e, which we feel has much more distinct class design and better monster statistics. It was also made after Wizards of the Coast realized the recession was cutting into their sales, so the Essentials products offer much better value in some ways; for the price of a hardcover rulebook you would get a huge boxed set, with a book, a published adventure, several sheets of tokens, and a map.

We love having so many things to fiddle with, and we also love how freeform so much of 4e is. Your options in combat are clearly laid out, but 4e doesn't try to put game stats for everything your character can do the way Pathfinder does, and a lot of stuff comes down to roleplayingness. Each skill even has an "Improvising with ____" section, which suggests possible uses for them instead of defining the only allowed ones.

It's easier to make a fun (or furry) character to play in 4e than in Pathfinder, IOO, and it's much easier as a DM to put together a balanced encounter. I don't know how much time we put into balancing, writing, and rewriting stuff for Pathfinder. Maybe we will again later -- we don't hate it or anything -- but the biggest reasons we started playing it instead of 4e were technical problems with DMing 4e online, and our open-source everything obsession. Neither are factors anymore.

We'll keep you posted on how Encounters turns out!

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)

It's like the freaking WordPress of tabletop RPGs.‏

Everyone uses it. Everyone knows how to extend it. Everyone knows how to break it. Nobody cares that it's broken.‏

The people who love it most are the ones who make money off of selling stuff for it so you don't have to write your own.

It wasn't as bad in the 3.5 days. 3.5 classes were as bare-bones as you can get. Some of the rules were really messed up (how the heck does polymorph work, anyway!?), and Pathfinder fixed some of those and clarified some things that were ambiguous.‏

But the biggest thing Pathfinder added was options. Loads of options. Tons of options. Lots more system complexity. Lots more moving parts bolted on, until it was like a blinged-out drag racer with fins and chrome hubcaps and flashing police lights.

Ranting and explanation )

I'm trying to think how to take the good parts from both 3.5 and Pathfinder. Here's what I'm thinking of so far:

From D&D 3.5

  • The basic core mechanics. How most spells work. How most classes work. Cleric domains. Each class should be only a page or two long in description. Psionic stuff's probably okay as optional add-ons.

From Unearthed Arcana

  • Action Points, ideally as the only secondary resource for most classes. Being able to add a +1d6 bonus to any roll you make really makes level 1 characters feel more heroic, and takes the frustration out of missing your attacks and skill checks.

  • Spell Points instead of spells per day. Clerics, Druids, and Wizards still prepare spells each day, but they cast them with Spell Points, which makes it feel more worthwhile to experiment with interesting spells because it's not as much of a waste if you never cast them. Plus everyone gets the concept of "mana" or "MP" more readily.

  • Certain optional class archetypes. Monk fighting styles aren't much more complicated than Wizard schools. Paladins shouldn't have to be Lawful Good to begin with. Whirling Frenzy is a neat Rage variant. So long as they don't add too many moving parts to keep track of, I'm cool with thematic abilities.

From Pathfinder

  • Advanced Race Guide rules for creating a species, but trimmed waaaay the heck down to stuff that'd be useful for anthros.

  • Certain bloodlines, mysteries, and the like could be simulated using feats, maybe. It'd be sort of like 4e multiclassing: You gain a class skill and a cool ability, maybe one for your familiar too if you have one. Higher-tier abilities depend on the lower-tier feats. Don't have enough feats? Take an Unearthed Arcana weakness, why don't you.

  • Clarifications on some spells, like polymorph.

  • Character traits, just as options. If you want you can take another feat instead. Could probably make these a lot simpler than Pathfinder has it, anyway, especially since most of the traits seem like reprints of each other (+1 to a combat stat, +1 to a skill and it's now a class skill).

Jury's still out on whether Combat Manoeuvres are an improvement on how 3.5 handles it. I think that they're doable as long as we make them an optional system, and stuff all the "fancy tricks you do in combat" into it.

We're open to suggestions and stuff.

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 ~


RSS Atom


Style Credit

Page generated Feb. 25th, 2017 09:03 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios