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Prak
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:50 pm    Post subject: Minor game stuff from around the web for commentary... Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

...which doesn't need it's own thread.


Apparently Monte Cook thinks we're assholes.

Post from Zak S' blog about balancing options by making their overuse boring.

He talks about a hypothetical equipment write up for a musical instrument where if you pass a minor dex check you get a bonus on cha checks with npcs who can appreciate music.

This is of course a very simplistic write up, but it fits Zak's high DM Fiat gaming style which is fine for a hobbyist who writes gaming stuff primarily for his own group.

He talks about how we're terrible people because we'd think it's horribly unbalanced (ok, not us specifically, but people who think that way) and says that it's balanced because if everyone takes it it becomes boring.

This is of course not balance, but disincentivization. Two entire different things which occasionally perform similar functions. I maintain that if you're going to write up musical instruments this way, then every character who cares about social interaction should take one, boring or no, because maximizing your chances of success is something people would realistically do, especially if the result of failure might be death.

None of this is particularly notable, because we all know that Zak S designs in a very different way from people here, and kind of thinks everyone who posts here is a jackass (myself included if only because of this post).

What's notable is Monte Cook's comment:
Monte Cook wrote:
"Now the people who'd say this are awful."

Exactly. This is the sort of second guessing, look out of lawyers and loopholes kind of design I just don't want to do anymore. The epiphany actually came to me in the middle of a panel at a convention. Someone was asking a bullshitty question about some crazy loophole that no one I'd ever let in a game would consider and I said, "I don't want to design games for assholes anymore." It was supposed to be one of the defining hallmarks of 5e, but I don't know if that happened. But it is basically where the philosphy for the Numenera rules came from.


So basically, Numenera was designed by a man who thinks it's appropriate to ask people to pay money for a ruleset he designed based on his and his friends' circle jerk groupthink and that anyone who wants solid rules must be an asshole.

I kind of wonder what Monte and Zak think of chess players given their opinion of people who want solid rules for rpgs.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, Mearls and Zak S. would probably argue "D&D isn't chess."

The point - which I think Mearls and Zak S. both miss - isn't that we must design games that have no possible loopholes, or that the gamemaster is always right. Any game of sufficient complexity is going to have situations that are either outside the scope of the rules or involve some weird fluke of the rules for a problematic or illogical result. That doesn't mean we don't try to build the best rule system we can. They err on the side of Magic Tea Party and say that we're assholes for sweating the details; we say they're assholes for ignoring the details and making shitty broken rule systems.

We, of course, are right. Big Grin Because of course our game systems accommodate both the people we think are assholes and the people we don't think are assholes, while their games can barely cater to the people they think aren't assholes.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well and the point I made in my first comment on that post was that it's all fine and well and good to design on the philosophy "I don't want to write games for assholes" if you're just writing a game for your friends who you've indoctrinated into your DM Fiat heavy playstyle. Zak is not doing anything wrong when he jots down a bare framework of a mechanic painted over with mindcaulk and intent on a cocktail napkin for use in his game with his friends.

What isn't acceptable is when Monte Cook writes a game for sale on that philosophy and raises half a million dollars to produce this for a large mass of people who are not a homogenous mass and which almost unquestionably includes people Monte would consider assholes.

Mind Caulk Mechanics are fine for a non-paying group of friends. They are not acceptable products to sell for real money.
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The book is a hardbound liars paradox.


Winnah wrote:
No, No. 'Prak' is actually a Thri Kreen impersonating a human and roleplaying himself as a D&D character. All hail our hidden insect overlords.


FrankTrollman wrote:
In Soviet Russia, cosmic horror is the default state.

You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'd argue that even the cocktail napkin isn't acceptable for the long-term. House rules are fine to come up with on-the-fly during the course of a game, but as we demonstrated when Zak had his hissy-cow here, the can become unworkable fairly quickly.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Inb4 the 30 page terrorstorm of one line sentences with three enters in between.
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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Prak_Anima wrote:
Mind Caulk Mechanics are fine for a non-paying group of friends.

Even among friends mind caulk is a limited resource you shouldn't go spraying willy nilly all over your rules for no reason.

The example you mentioned in this thread is also not even remotely sane.

Motivating everyone to use a ridiculous mechanic all the time and then saying it is balanced because IF everyone follows that strong motivation the outcome would be boring is just bat shit insane.

The simple fact is that example and anything like it is just an example of strongly motivating a bad game play outcome.

Sure MAYBE some people will avoid it, not many, but maybe some. More typically players will stumble across and follow the motivation, and at least temporarily experience the bad outcome before desperately house ruling it in some attempt to fix it.

That is not a good thing, the game becoming boring, or silly or... this is a game experiencing a major failure state. And with that failure state being considered possible and declared good for game balance at the point of initial design is a game designer, or even a back yard GM completely failing on basic principles.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

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BEWARE!

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CapnTthePirateG
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sigh. Speaking as a violinist myself, there's a bunch of shit wrong with that rule. There's the whole "dexterity doesn't cover musicality" thing. I'm pretty sure for actual rhythm you'd need cha or wis rather than raw dexterity (consistency, remember). Practice is IMO more important than raw dexterity. If you are sight-reading dexterity doesn't even come into play.

But going back to the actual point...if I want my Manly Conan Clone to be extremely good at picking up ladies is there any reason I can't just kinda sorta make a vague statement about "I play unaccompanied Bach for the tavern" and get my bullshit bonus? Sure Zak might enforce this but I'd be ok with a player handwaving it if they wanted to.

I will finish by pointing out that 4e's expertise feats are boring but everyone takes them anyway, so "but everyone is doing it" doesn't really work as a demotivator. Even if you make everyone talk for hours about weapons training, people will still take the feat.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Zak Smith, Zak Smith, Zak Smith...
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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ancient History wrote:
Zak Smith, Zak Smith, Zak Smith...


You have to say it while looking into Google at anything other than midnight.
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DSMatticus
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You realize that by speaking his name in the first post of your new thread, you have already doomed it to a horrible and excruciating derail. Let's see if I can help.

Musical Instrument (Small)
This could be any old musical instrument you can carry; a violin, bagpipes, a triangle, whatever. Playing a musical instrument requires a dexterity check. Successfully playing the instrument gives you a +8 permanent, nonstacking bonus to all of your ability scores forever and always because you are awesome.


Some people might say that this is such an awesome piece of equipment that you would be a fool not to take advantage of it, and therefore it's horribly broken. Now the people who'd say this are awful. Some people don't want to play fiddlers, and so their characters won't be fiddlers, and then their characters will suck at life. This is balanced, just like it's balanced that even though clerics are better than fighters, some people will want to play fighters, and then their characters will suck at life. Words, what do they mean?

I also don't know why we're starting off with the assumption that a bonus which is conditional, situational, has a chance to fail, has a resource cost, and doesn't particularly benefit from redundancy in the part is horribly broken. Unless that bonus is "I win" huge. It sounds more like the party member with the highest dex grabs a vuvuzela and obnoxiously introduces the party face whenever appropriate - "presenting the honorable sir Talky Face, now +4 talkier than before."

The result bothering him is that because of this rule, everyone and their mother becomes a musician. But that's not because the equipment is so OP everyone must have it - it's because using the equipment requires only a successful dexterity check (something everyone can do some of the time, and something most people can do half the time), and as a result the only real requirement for becoming a violinist is to have a violin in your hands. Ability checks are a shitty way to handle whether or not your character has a particular skill. A rudimentary skill system goes a long way.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

CapnTthePirateG wrote:
Sigh. Speaking as a violinist myself, there's a bunch of shit wrong with that rule. There's the whole "dexterity doesn't cover musicality" thing. I'm pretty sure for actual rhythm you'd need cha or wis rather than raw dexterity (consistency, remember). Practice is IMO more important than raw dexterity. If you are sight-reading dexterity doesn't even come into play.

But going back to the actual point...if I want my Manly Conan Clone to be extremely good at picking up ladies is there any reason I can't just kinda sorta make a vague statement about "I play unaccompanied Bach for the tavern" and get my bullshit bonus? Sure Zak might enforce this but I'd be ok with a player handwaving it if they wanted to.

I will finish by pointing out that 4e's expertise feats are boring but everyone takes them anyway, so "but everyone is doing it" doesn't really work as a demotivator. Even if you make everyone talk for hours about weapons training, people will still take the feat.


Well, all that, but also....

The specific type of instrument is left intentionally vague:
"any old musical instrument you can carry: a violin, bagpipes, a triangle, whatever"
So every character can have a different instrument, and so long as the players actually find mild silliness amusing and fun, there is no disinsentive. The fighter can carry a bongo, the bard a lyre, the wizard can have an enchanted flute that acts as a wand or otherwise channels spells, and the rogue can play the spoons, and those are all valid. The barbarian can play that thing made from a broomstick, a washtub and a bit of twine or a mouth harp. Or hell, the entire party can play the jug. Whatever.
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Dean, on Paranoia wrote:
The book is a hardbound liars paradox.


Winnah wrote:
No, No. 'Prak' is actually a Thri Kreen impersonating a human and roleplaying himself as a D&D character. All hail our hidden insect overlords.


FrankTrollman wrote:
In Soviet Russia, cosmic horror is the default state.

You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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shadzar
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:16 am    Post subject: Re: Minor game stuff from around the web for commentary... Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Prak_Anima wrote:
Apparently Monte Cook thinks we're assholes.


oh no.. wait, let's get to the root of the sentence...

Quote:
Monte Cook thinks


oh, no. not even possible. this is why you can't believe everything you read on the internet.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Prak_Anima wrote:

Mind Caulk Mechanics are fine for a non-paying group of friends. They are not acceptable products to sell for real money.


Not much danger of real money in RPG design.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I maintain that Monte Cook is a good idea man, the problem is when he writes his own entire game.
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Dean, on Paranoia wrote:
The book is a hardbound liars paradox.


Winnah wrote:
No, No. 'Prak' is actually a Thri Kreen impersonating a human and roleplaying himself as a D&D character. All hail our hidden insect overlords.


FrankTrollman wrote:
In Soviet Russia, cosmic horror is the default state.

You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I read the blog post, and while I don't think much of the rule, one reason it isn't going to be a problem is that it was indicated that failing the Dex check would result in a penalty.

If I want a bonus, and I have an action that can give me a bonus 50% of the time and a penalty 50% of the time, the only reason to perform that action is if I can't succeed without it. As the chance of failure decreases, the benefit of attempting it increases, but there is still the potential cost of carrying around a fragile piece of equipment.

But further - there's no reason to do this, anyway. Sure, player A might say 'If I play a really stirring emotional passage on my ocarina can I get a bonus on my Diplomacy check', and we know Zak S will say yes. And if player B says, 'if I stick my tongue down her throat and get her really hot, can I get a bonus on my Diplomacy check', and we know Zak S will say yes.

So ultimately, there's no reason to carry an instrument if it isn't in character for the character- whatever bullshit bonus you think you get from doing that is going to be available any one of a dozen other ways if you ask nicely.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's a BS cocktail napkin house rule which is fine if used once or twice, annoying if incorporated into an optimization protocol where it might otherwise be stylistically out-of-place, and deserving of scorn if monetized. The notion gets a half-pass from me, though, because I've wanted to play a Moon Moth game forfuckingever.

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Cyberzombie
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I tend to agree with Monte on this one. I find so much effort is wasted in some games trying to turn bad PCs/DMs into good ones, when sometimes you've just got to admit it's probably a lost cause. No game designer is going to be able to write rules that are rules lawyer proof. With the internet out there and thousands of people collaborating on how to break the rules, it's unlikely you're going to get some genius designer who can outsmart all of them.

The best defense is having a DM with some common sense and at least some respect for the spirit of the game, and to write the rules in such a way that allows some flexibility for your DM.
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TarkisFlux
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:35 am    Post subject: Re: Minor game stuff from around the web for commentary... Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Prak_Anima wrote:
Apparently Monte Cook thinks we're assholes.

Was there someone who posted here who didn't think we're assholes? Why is it a surprise that someone else does?
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DSMatticus
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Nebuchadnezzar wrote:
It's a BS cocktail napkin house rule which is fine if used once or twice, annoying if incorporated into an optimization protocol where it might otherwise be stylistically out-of-place, and deserving of scorned if monetized. The notion gets a half-pass from me, though, because I've wanted to play a Moon Moth game forfuckingever.

Having never read Moon Moth and going entirely off of a wikipedia summary, I have to ask how capital punishment for not following social customs is supposed to be compatible with individualism? That's exactly like promoting homogeneity by killing people who are too similar to one another. It's like rain on your wedding day then setting off the lawn sprinklers. It's like ten thousand spoons then ordering more spoons. It's like a song about irony that isn't ironic. It's a very ironic kind of that doesn't make any fucking sense, is what I'm saying.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Pretty sure you meant "Monte Cook knows we're assholes" (but perhaps doesn't understand what makes us assholes).
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That post was like the mirror image of Rule Zero with the onus on the players instead of the GM: there are no bad rules because good players will stay away from bad rules.

I sympathize with Monte in the sense that people who take rules arguments seriously are pretty lame. Debating the rules can be fun, but listening to one of my fellow players browbeating the GM when we could be playing an actual game is usually (a) wasting my precious time and (b) potentially reducing the limited pool of prospective GMs by one.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Monte Cook is clearly confused. It's not that he doesn't want to design games for assholes, it's that he doesn't want to design games.

Read Numenera. It's rules-light nonsense from start to go that barely resembles a playable game, but it does have a whole lot of setting material to pad out the word count.

Sure, there are several interesting mechanics in there, but the totality is rather sparse. I expect 4e Numenera will be fine game after the accretion of rules actually happens over several editions, but the first edition is the kind of outline that most people expect from a first edition by a non-professional outfit.

Monte clearly wants to write settings. The proof that the man is crazy for settings is the corebook for Numenera that has around 100 pages of rules total and around 300 pages of setting material.

The fact that Monte doesn't want to write games means that he doesn't want to ask the tough questions about game design. He doesn't want to go into depth about difficult issues in game design and come up with novel solutions because doing that gets in the way of him writing more setting material.

He's avoiding the issue of his own lack of commitment to game design by devaluing the people who want good design. The funny thing is that he might not even realize that he's doing that.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Realspeak translation at your service.

Quote:
I don't want to design games for assholes.

That's actually really hard work and takes a lot of time to get right, and even then I'm not that good, so instead of that I'm just going to do something easy and cruise along on my name. If you call me on it, I'll call you an asshole. Beware that I'm a big name so that'll stick, asshole.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

deaddmwalking wrote:
Sure, player A might say 'If I play a really stirring emotional passage on my ocarina can I get a bonus on my Diplomacy check', and we know Zak S will say yes. And if player B says, 'if I stick my tongue down her throat and get her really hot, can I get a bonus on my Diplomacy check', and we know Zak S will say yes.


Your fantasies about me are becoming increasingly bizarre.
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