jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

The old World of Darkness (and new Chronicles of Darkness) books often completely reinvented the mythical creatures you played as, and then smugly asserted that the folklore got it all wrong. So I was thinking, what if the folklore was the "secret truth" and the WoD/CoD versions were the folklore / pop culture understanding? What if ...

  • Werewolves show up in action movies as noble beasts who fight pollution on behalf of Gaia, but are actually monsters that humans turn into endangered animals who avoid humans whenever possible?

  • Kitsune are portrayed in dark urban fantasy as arrogant princelings, who serve their stern lord Inari and endanger the humans they romance. But She is actually a harmless rice goddess, and foxes who take human form place themselves in mortal danger by doing so, much like transgender humans?

  • Vampires are depicted in pop culture as rich bloodsucking seducers, who tempt mortals into a life of eternal debauchery. But what if they actually are exactly like that sparkle in sunlight?

Maybe not that last one ~

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

Content note: Mostly-positive talk about body image and issues, MtF gender transitioning, family, society, and moving.

Read more... )

Question: Should I post pics? Trans girls do that on Twitter and Tumblr and stuff, right? I'd probably make the pics access-locked, but I thought I should do an interest check first.

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

So, if you've read my access-locked posts the conflict is still going on. ^^; Someone important in my partner and friends' lives keeps saying and doing things that unintentionally hurt everyone, and dealing with the fallout -- and helping people defend themselves -- has been a full-time job these past few weeks.

On the plus side, I just got my hardcover copy of War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus, by Sophie Lagacé! And for a limited time, you can get a pay-what-you-want (as low as $0) PDF version on DriveThruRPG.

A book cover which shows a variety of Muppet-like, furry creatures, brandishing weapons to defend themselves against hostile creatures, in a grim fantasy world where the sky is grey. The caption reads 'Roleplaying in a Grimsical World of Fantasy.'

"Grimsical" is the best word.

It's a rather grim fantasy RPG, which stars cute furry characters. I love it. ^^; It has very good production values, and the author does a really good job of porting the best parts of miniatures-based RPGs into Fate Accelerated, with stunts and manoeuvres that affect and are affected by positioning.

Why does it have optional minis rules? Because it's based on the War of Ashes miniatures game(s) by Zombiesmith, the makers of Kami Tale! So you can get cute, monstrous furry miniatures for your grimdark roleplaying game.

... I want all of them.

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

So, there is this game on Kickstarter called Invisible Sun, made by a dood named Monte Cook who also wrote D&D stuff and an extremely unfortunate tabletop RPG for children.

Here are the reasons why people are talking about IS:

  1. It flatters prospective buyers liek whoa, as you can see in the title.
  2. It promises to "change the way you play RPGs," but gives few details as to how.
  3. It starts at $197 USD. And goes way up from there, with the main draw being exclusive secrets that only you get.

Most of the discussion surrounding the game is privilege-y economics stuff. "It's worth what people will pay for it," "no one has to pay $200 for a luxury good," etcetera.

I feel like what people are missing is that inequality effs your community hard.

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

Rationalists are rarely rational,

Objectivists are anything but,

Realists hold views completely at odds with reality,

And nationalists have very little faith in their or their nation-state's future.

Don't get me started on people whose publicly-facing identities (like Twitter profiles) say that they're a husband, wife, father, mother, or Christian. The more they harp on it, the more they probably suck at it.

I've also noticed that neoliberal Reddit atheists have very firm beliefs about the nature of God and how one should relate to him, and aren't shy about preaching those beliefs. But if you've read my earlier entries, you already know that.

Clarification (or "wow, you seem upset")

I'm actually in a more or less okay mood right now. There's just been some drama going on in the tabletop gaming community, where a well-respected figure basically wrote an apologium for abuse and was publicly scandalized by someone getting mad at their harasser (of several years). A bunch of women called this figure out for making them less credible and their lives more dangerous, and he went on to write like five pages of 'splaining, while a ton of guys cheered him on.

So this has been one of those weekends. -_- And it's affecting people I care about.

On the plus side, new episodes of Steven Universe are running every weekday for the next two weeks, and apparently something big's happening. So, public service announcement: Even if you're normally okay with spoilers, [twitter.com profile] mcburnett, one of the series' writers, says that you really really shouldn't spoil these episodes.

Now to commence two weeks of nerve-wracking tension, including a three-parter separated by a weekend. o-o;

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

There's a danger in getting overly concerned with tropes, and the real point is to be free to draw inspiration from where you like while creating something that means something to you.

That's from the Yaruki Zero book, where Ewen talks about anime, but I feel like it addresses a problem we have been having with trying to make the erotic rpg we mentioned awhile back. Or any of our other attempts to make "universal" games, like [community profile] fursonarpg, and try to create stuff that we don't fully understand the appeal of on the basis that someone will want to play as it.

I think there's something to be said for opening up a game's rules or a setting's canon, to allow for something new to fit in. Sort of like how halfway through the game's run Games Workshop took the unusual step of creating an idealist faction, with clean lines and anime-inspired mecha, in Warhammer 40,000.

But I feel like this stuff is maybe best done gradually, and custom-made on a case-by-case basis. The Cleric and Monk classes in Dungeons and Dragons, for instance, came about because Gary Gygax's friends wanted to play a vampire hunter and a martial artist respectively. Meanwhile, I've been doing an ongoing freeform 40k RP, that started with ideas for my Tau characters and grew to encompass [personal profile] burning_ground's Chaos Daemons and Alias / [tumblr.com profile] spinecrawlerrush's Necrons.

Sometimes we think about game design. This is one of those times. >_>b

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (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 female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (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 female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (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 female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (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:

Transcript

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 Paizo.com/prd.

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 Paizo.com 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.

Why?

Because my PFS GM lets me use the PRD.

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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