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Annoying Game Questions You Want Answered
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tussock
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Depends on all sorts of things.

If you have "basic competency" taxes in your skill list, they need to be all taken and have points left over. But really, that shit should be free with a class package, like BAB and Saves are.

If you can super-specialise in one skill, or can spread points out over more skills, it depends if those still work when spread out, what specialising even means. In the real world having lots of specialists works better, but in an adventuring party of maybe 3 people doing a "saving the world" scene without immediate outside input, you need to reward generalists quite heavily so that things can work at all, to the point of functionally banning realistic specialists.

It depends what cooperation does, how overlapping skills function. Like 3e uses the best of everyone's Spot and the worst of everyone's Move Silently, which means one spotter and no fucking point at all in taking Move Silently, ever. But other skills you get a bonus if someone can help a bit, so you shouldn't do that if you want characters to have different skills and less choices each, but you should if you want characters to have the same skills and more choices each.

So design your skill system, get it putting out game-useful results off minimal rolls with a similar set of bonuses (or extra dice or whatever other mechanics), and then work out how to build a functional party of 3 after that. Unlike what 3e seems to have done, where they gave out 2 skill points and then tried to think of things to spend them on.
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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

how do i get caught up on the 10+ years of RPG game design discussion on here? most notably:

* making martials less shitty, making casters less godlike

* why is Pathfinder a downgrade from 3.5e

* why should i use 3.5e over any other system? are there other good systems for sword+sorcery settings?

* how about contemporary settings? or sci-fi settings, both space-faring and terrestrial (i imagine shadowrun 4e is the choice for at least some settings here)

as far as i can tell this forum has reached a bit of a consensus at these points so the accepted-claims aren't really discussed; should i just go back and read some old old threads when the consensus is still being hashed out?
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Responding out of order

Cervantes wrote:

as far as i can tell this forum has reached a bit of a consensus at these points so the accepted-claims aren't really discussed; should i just go back and read some old old threads when the consensus is still being hashed out?


I don't think that's true. There's come consensus on how to approach the problem, but not necessarily on ideal solutions. So with the caveat that I'm not speaking for anyone else or claiming to represent a consensus I don't think exists, here are some answers.

Cervantes wrote:

how do i get caught up on the 10+ years of RPG game design discussion on here? most notably:

It's not a bad idea to ask a specific question that you're considering doing. You will get a lot of push back and challenge. If you can avoid responding defensively, you will benefit from reevaluating your unconscious biases. This will make a difference.

Cervantes wrote:

* making martials less shitty, making casters less godlike

Every martial character has a ceiling on what they can do which basically equates to 'potentially achievable in real life'. They may achieve Olympian feats, but they're never going to jump so far that they land on the moon or into another dimension. There is effectively no cap on what can be done with 'magic'. It is possible for martial characters to contribute more-or-less equally with casters at relatively low levels. It is not possible for them to compete with casters at high levels in a meaningful sense. It doesn't matter how much damage you can deal each round if your opponents can jump from one plane to another in the blink of an eye and your method of getting from place to place is walking. Eventually, martial characters need to pick up a power source that lets them do magical things (ie, things that aren't possible in the 'real world'). It is possible for the power source to be 'magical kit', but the 'character' isn't as important as the items at that point, so some players may object. There's nothing wrong with basically capping all d20 classes at level 5 and then only allowing prestige classes (so fighter HAS to become STORM WARDEN or something). As far as limiting casters, their potential power comes from access to spells. The more spells they have, no matter how few they can cast at the moment, the more powerful they are. With planning (or scrolls) they can conceivably pull the best solution for any situation. What I would consider a general consensus is that focused spell lists (like the Beguiler) are better than 'wizard' or 'cleric'. Having a thematic list that includes offense/defense/utility is important so 'fire elementalist' could be a good caster class.

Cervantes wrote:

* why is Pathfinder a downgrade from 3.5e

Pathfinder changed a lot of rules, but for every positive change there is one that is negative. They refused to change 'bad rules' to maintain 'backward compatibility', but with all the other changes, there really is no backward compatibility. Effectively, the changes appear random. By and large, changes make casters better (they layered on more free stuff) and martials worse (requiring more feats or limiting what a feat in 3.x can do in PF). There are also a lot of 'fiddly bits' that don't really improve the play experience. If you play with Pathfinder, you're accepting that you're taking all of the problems with 3.5 without any real solutions, but hundreds of minor changes. There's also the issue where they issue 'clarifications' for rules that completely change what is written and then claim that it was 'always like that'. So if you follow the rules as written, later they'll tell you you're doing it wrong because you're supposed to use secret knowledge to make sure the outcomes work correctly. Effectively, the GM should ignore the rules that are written in favor of the 'real rules' that aren't written.

Cervantes wrote:

* why should i use 3.5e over any other system? are there other good systems for sword+sorcery settings?

This is a matter of taste. 3.x is a very complete system. For example, the rules for how and whether an object catches on fire exist and mathematically make sense. There are few situations where the rules are completely silent on how to handle an issue. Because there is a complete ruleset, 3.x can be clunky. You could replace it with a much more free-form system, but lots of people like crunch. If you like crunch, 3.x offers a relatively good framework for working from. It is also under Open License, so you can do a lot of things without worrying about getting sued.

Cervantes wrote:

* how about contemporary settings? or sci-fi settings, both space-faring and terrestrial (i imagine shadowrun 4e is the choice for at least some settings here)


Someone else is going to have to respond to this one.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:
* making martials less shitty, making casters less godlike

The Tomes, particularly Races of War.

Quote:
* why is Pathfinder a downgrade from 3.5e

This.

Quote:
* why should i use 3.5e over any other system? are there other good systems for sword+sorcery settings?

3.5 actually got a significant amount of flak on this board for being a bunch of mostly bullshit changes to 3.0, although I don't know if that ever all got put down in one convenient place. 3e, while definitely flawed, was a substantial upgrade to what had come before – the math was simpler, the mechanics were unified, the players were more informed and empowered, and so on. 4e and 5e were not upgrades: 4e was a badly-designed MMO simulator, and more than half of 5e is them publishing the design docs and pretending it's a game. 3.x is the best D&D that got published.

The Den doesn't agree on a whole lot, but here are some systems that get generally good press:
• Munchhausen.
• Shadowrun 4e (mostly)
• FATE (the later lower-wordcount versions)

The sad fact is that very little RPG design follows actual design procedures, and most things that are quality got that way by happy accident instead of on purpose.
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Mask_De_H
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Add Feng Shui 1e and HERO to the positive press list.
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tussock
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:
how do i get caught up on the 10+ years of RPG game design discussion on here? most notably:

Start an argument, respond with coherent and reasoned thoughts, read what people say in reply like you think they're good at this, and when they use little acronyms for things, search for those. Some of them will be good, others will not.

There was various periods of theory-crafting that never really went anywhere, but some of those are brilliant and it's just too much fucking work for anyone to fill them out.

Quote:
* making martials less shitty, making casters less godlike

Wealth by Level basically cripples martial characters in 3e, it's massively too low, like an order of magnitude, but then the high end stuff is comparatively too cheap when you can trade up with that much, so you either need a Wish economy deal at the top, or some other hard cap on trading up tiers of magic items, which you just set price points on 2 or more tiers and then put vastly more low-tier stuff in the game. So Fighters can have wings of flying, boots of leaping and springing, necklace of missiles, helm of teleportation, and a yellow submarine, and still have all the +to doing their job they need to do their job.

Then just seriously consider banning anything that multiplies caster power from items, or at least arbitrarily put in in the top tier, like free metamagic, probably shouldn't be found in items at all, or exist at all, casters being already very good. Except with damage spells, because the monsters have too many hit points.

And that whole thing where your last attack is at -15, for martials, don't do that.

Quote:
* why is Pathfinder a downgrade from 3.5e

It's in print and actively supported, whatever that's worth to you is what it's worth over 3e. They randomly line-item nerfed hundreds of things from 3.5, including almost all the useful stuff for martial characters, and then gave casters a bunch of free stuff on top.

If you know 3.5, Pathfinder is hundreds of little changes that don't really fix the basic fucking problems of the stats are too important, saves not working, martial attacks not hitting, and the monster side of the hit point functions being too high, often making them worse.
If you don't know 3.5 that well, Pathfinder is in print, and it's very pretty, not the stupidest world-building for D&D ever, it's only a little bit fussier to put a character together, and lots of people are playing it.

Quote:
* why should i use 3.5e over any other system? are there other good systems for sword+sorcery settings?

You should use 3.5 because you have the books, your players know the system, and you're familiar with playing it in a way that makes the problems less obvious rather than more obvious, so you can spend your mental energy on roleplaying and puzzles and shit. 3.5 is also good for people who know AD&D, probably works better for them than for people who only know 3.5

Other good systems are ones you have the books for and your players know. Even GURPS Dungeon Fantasy works, if you know GURPS. Learning new systems is generally not worth it, because they're all a bit shit when it comes down to it.

Quote:
* how about contemporary settings? or sci-fi settings, both space-faring and terrestrial (i imagine shadowrun 4e is the choice for at least some settings here)

Spycraft 2, I guess, same general deal though, SR4e is hundreds of pages of rules that aren't always that good, but if you know the basic system and know how to make those less obvious, then it'll be good.

Quote:
as far as i can tell this forum has reached a bit of a consensus at these points so the accepted-claims aren't really discussed; should i just go back and read some old old threads when the consensus is still being hashed out?

This forum has mostly agreed to stop arguing about the old arguments, most of which were definitively won by one side or the other at some point.

  • Like, grand universal RPG social systems are impossible, but specific sub-systems can work and can be good for your game, morale and mercenary and feudalism and submission and loyalty and Machiavelli and so on. Numbers and bonuses and outcomes and dice.
  • If your players see a crystal castle and their first thought is wrecking it for scrap to buy better magic items with, your magic item system is hurting your fantasy game.
  • if your players hear a wolf howling in the moonlight and decide to track it down and kill it for the XP, your XP system is hurting your fantasy game.
  • That morale bonus to saves thing from late 3e, you have to use that for PCs, and it really shouldn't cost anything. And the thing where you can reroll failed saves. Or just fix the saves.
  • A lot of people appreciate massively simpler "wizard" classes, like the Fire Mage. But not everyone.
  • Characters have to be able to contribute. Like, they have to be able to get to the action, have to be able to survive being there, and have to be able to contribute toward a successful outcome.
  • To some extent, you need to contribute in every dramatic scene, not just the ones you most enjoy. It's OK if some of those contributions are quick and modest, it's less so if you drift off every time diplomacy happens because your character can't do anything at all in those scenes.
  • It's very bad if a character trying to contribute can only hurt, in any scene, don't punish people for playing the fucking game.
  • 3e Feats are garbage. Like, there's a few that produce useful but probably unintended stacks of damage or whatever, but that's twenty of them at best and there's thousands and you could have them all on all the time and no one would even notice. Which is sad, and much worse in Pathfinder.
  • In respect of feats being bad, things in games that you choose, they should be simple like feats, but they should matter, because you had to choose them, so 4e powers aren't a bad thing in themselves as a self-contained level-appropriate thing you can just fucking do. Shame about 4e being so shit in terms of the numbers it outputs. See also, spells, that you chose it and it does one thing and that works about as often as it should for as long as it should, that's good.
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    Cervantes
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    PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    good stuff to read, the idea that "most systems are shit use whatever the players and you know" is def interesting.

    me and a friend DM 5e and we are bitch a lot about the thinness of the rules but it definitely has the advantage of being fairly simple to introduce to people. but the ASI/feat tradeoff is a pain, the grabbing for +1 ability bonuses is annoying, the complete lack of a competent magical item system is annoying

    the specialist caster idea is correct i think. constraints promote creativity and "illusionist" or "fire mage" is cooler than "i know all the magic and can do anything with it"

    lotta stuff i didn't reply to but i read it all and i appreciate the responses
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    Fenrisulfr
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    PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Has anyone heard of or looked at Open Legend? It's intended to be a fairly simple classless point-based system that can be used with any setting. Most interesting to me is that it's open source, so the complete rules are available at that website, and from the various blog posts I've read about it it sounds like the developer actually put some thought into the base mechanic of the game, in that he talks about probability curves and expected average value a lot.

    As a pretty rules-lite system there's a lot of "ask your GM" in there, though, and the core mechanic (d20 + attribute dice vs target number, with max rolls exploding and a dis/advantage system) makes it hard to intuitively grasp how competent any given character is. It's also a game where you're intended to limit yourself, since the spell/ability system is dictated solely by what attributes you have and "what makes sense", so it's pretty trivial to build a character that has access to basically every ability in the game.

    Having played neither it looks more interesting to me than 5e for a "simple to introduce" system, but I don't know how much of that is my bias against 5e.
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    angelfromanotherpin
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    PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    As has been said before: 'It's the 21st Century, you don't get to have epicycles in your RNG.'

    Every single part of that game seems like a retread of something that's been tried before and been problematic at best, as if the author just threw together a big pile of things he thought were neat without any particular plan. Also, the copy is full of trendy marketing buzzwords, which makes me think that their strategy is:
    Quote:
    1. Half-ass the game
    2. Double-ass the promotion
    3. Profit
    Which, to be fair, is how the most successful RPGs are doing it these days.
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    Fenrisulfr
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    PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I'm not particularly well-read with regards to tabletop systems so I'll have to defer to greater experience on the topic of it being a retread. I'm not sure what you mean by epicycles in this context though. If it's the "being more competent at a task sometimes means you're less likely to succeed" thing from the Savage Worlds thread, I don't think that's actually true with this RNG, barring possibly some weird interactions with the advantage system.
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    angelfromanotherpin
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    PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Fenrisulfr wrote:
    If it's the "being more competent at a task sometimes means you're less likely to succeed" thing from the Savage Worlds thread, I don't think that's actually true with this RNG, barring possibly some weird interactions with the advantage system.

    That is what I mean, although it's closer to the original Earthdawn version. Anytime you're comparing the total of exploding dice to a target number, the issue is there.
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    Judging__Eagle
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    PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Cervantes wrote:


    * how about contemporary settings? or sci-fi settings, both space-faring and terrestrial (i imagine shadowrun 4e is the choice for at least some settings here)



    For 1990's-era contemporarism, After Sundown played with "Origin Story" style mundane human characters will have a fairly complete mechanical system. Albeit a barely useable setting if you don't want to play a ttrpg version of Supernatural, Ghostbusters, Anne Rice novels, or similar.

    It's possible that Frank's "Ends of the Matrix" might be combined with the above (since Frank did make AS based off of SR core mechanics; something WW only tangentially understood and applied to WW products) to result in something slightly more cyberpunk than AS.

    One further note; when people here say "3.5"; while that might indicate that one should use something like the d20srd.org's 3.5 source page. However what they likely mean is using something like one of the compiled [Tome] pdfs. Mostly, as going that route means the group needs a lot less physical pages to run sessions. Aside from a [Tome] SRD pdf, not much* besides a DMG & monster manuals become necessary to play campaigns with more player options, better balanced, than trying to run a 3.5 game with a bookcase full of official WoTC hardcovers.

    *:The later additions to the repositories of community [Tome] content are good examples on the process of designing or customizing playable content. As well, Kaelik's errata & Red Rob's magic item system, both compile an ongoing list of issues that arise when running 3.5 games with multiple parts of [Tome] that were written at different times, as well as tweak issues that were observed with ongoing examples of [Tome] gameplay.
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    virgil
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    PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I'm introducing an item that reduces the atmospheric pressure in a mile radius to be as if it were at 15,000ft elevation; and dropping it on the ground in some region. What kind of effects might this have on the weather for a region that was otherwise normal Earth-like conditions before this McGuffin's introduction?
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    angelfromanotherpin
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    PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Not a meteorologist, but I think it would form a persistent low-pressure area, and become associated with a long-term cyclonic circulation. More wind would flow into it, making it windier, but also drawing other weather phenomena, from rain to hurricanes, towards it.

    Short version: Whatever sorts of weather events the area used to have, it will have more of them.
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    virgil
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    PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I to, am not a meteorologist. But thinking on it, it feels like that since this is an active force that reduces the pressure, it might actually generate a windbreak. Strongly turbulent wind along the perimeter near the ground, but an equally strong jet stream curving over this low pressure 'bubble'.
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    Aryxbez
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    PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Never played Numenera/Cypher System, but I recently back-log read about its problems on here. Seems like instead of XP, could use some kind of Narrative Currency in its place like Edge, problem is I'm not sure how much of this "Edge" should PC's have at a time, refreshing it and so on. Secondly, what can one do to reduce the DM Fiat elements of the game?
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    Longes
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    PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Play FATE. No, really, Numenera brings nothing to the table that you can't get better in FATE. Its combat is lackluster, and its exploration mechanics, supposedly the meat of the game, are nonexistent. As is the setting. The book openly encourages GM to never commit to anything and if players think that they discovered some kind of setting mystery - pull the rug out from under them.

    But if you are really determined to torture yourself with Numenera - you should start by establishing gentlemen's agreement with the GM that GM always tells you the difficulty of the checks. Numenera is heavily built around resource management, and blind checks spit in the face of that something fierce.
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    Prak
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    PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I'm starting a post apocalypse game set in the modern world after Revelation on Monday. I'm planning on having characters scavenge their gear from an angelic compound that's been thrown into chaos at the start, rather than having people worry about starting equipment.

    The plan so far is to have people just do a Search check, with various DCs dictating what they find as a general category which also allows them to say "I'm looking for an X" and just rolling for the DC that would fit under. I also am basically treating the area as an innate hazard, rather than getting bogged down in individual fights, making them roll an ability check (dex or cha) to avoid injury for every ten minutes they search, with the DC going up by 2 after every ten minute interval. If they fail a check to avoid injury, they take, like, 1d6 damage.

    Is there a better way to do this that doesn't involve going full dungeon crawl?
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    You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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    Voss
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    PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    If they say they're going to search the armory, just... tell them what's there and move on?

    I'm unclear what would be in an 'angelic compound' and why things would be so chaotic that whatever stuff they have just wouldn't be in storage or locker rooms on shelves and shit.

    Alternately, stripping corpses of theoretical combatants would be the quick way.

    But search checks to basically conjure stuff lying around, and ability checks every 10 minutes to avoid trivial damage seems... uninteresting.
    Not sure how much time each search check would take either- if its 3.5 style, you could cram 60 checks (each) in before every damage tick, and that's just beyond boring and way into pointless dice rolls for the sake of having pointless dice rolls.
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    Prak
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    PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    So, post-Revelation, God's gone, angels and demons are some of the most powerful beings on Earth, so most wasteland warlords are angels or demons.

    The PCs were inhabitants of a compound that was overseen by an archangel, which had to see to business elsewhere and the angel put in charge was nowhere near as competent or powerful, so people were able to break free of the power structure and escape.

    So everyone's looting the place.
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    FrankTrollman wrote:
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    You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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    OgreBattle
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    PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    The search checks should be more about avoiding hazards or speed than determining how good the treasure is.

    if there's a time limit to how long they can search before the demon bikers arrive it makes things more interesting.
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    virgil
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    PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I worked with a player for a custom race in my Planescape camapaign - a warforged designed to look like a formian. We decided to have their origin be undeclared as a potential avenue to explore if the party was willing to join in on such a quest. After 7 levels, they're going to do such, and now I need to think of what kind of origin to give the player's "race" that would justify an entire adventure.

    The current hook I've got is that their character had previously seen another tauric insectoid in armor walk through Sigil, then go through a portal that was guarded by a pair of giff wielding large metal staves (recognized as rifles OOC).
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    deaddmwalking
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    PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    If you're using the bit about Formians being native to Arcadia, you could have this version be from Acheron. The creation of this race could have been to create a 'more perfect soldier'. You could potentially use 'hive mind' as a plot hook - best if you can get your PC immunity. Perhaps he is 'aware' of the commands, but hasn't been 'born into the community' to the point that he automatically follows them. The PCs can arrive just as the controller decides that they've had enough battle-testing and he plans to invade a prime world. The PCs would have the option to try to destroy the hive-mind and grant intellectual independence to the Warforged Formians (a la 'I, Borg'). The forces behind the formian war-forged could be whatever you'd like - as a created race Duergar seem like a good controller. Heck, if the controller is planning on attacking his own people (forced out) or another evil race (the Drow) that could set up the question of whether to allow his plan to continue to a point or whether they value the lives of the warforged enough to try to save them from huge casualties.

    The artifact(s) that manufactures the formian warforged could also be a prize and/or something to destroy.
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    virgil
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    PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    So, possibly a lower-level variant on the base concept of Lord of the Iron Fortress?
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    deaddmwalking
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    PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I know I've read that one - it involved a super-powerful golem (mithral?) and they were trying to get it up and running? Possibly something like that. It's been a long time since I've read it, so I don't remember the particulars, but maybe it'd be worth mining for ideas (or maps).
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